The Long and the Short of It – New Challenges to Beat the Rut!

Hello my effulgent, ethereal Bookbaggers!

Recently I divulged a deep dark secret to you all about my book polygamy – books and I are (or were) in a rut and it was going to take some work to pull out of it. I also gave you a teaser about a possible challenge (or as it turns out challenges!) which I hoped would facilitate healing the rift a little. Perhaps just talking about the rut helped because that afternoon I finished the last story in Metro Winds by Isobelle Carmody and it was so good and left me with such hope for my bookish relationship that I jumped right into a challenge before I had even worked out the rules!

In all fairness, I have been mulling over (*cough*procrastinating*cough*) two possible challenges for a while, one which would help me get back into the two titans on my reading pile – The Sending by Isobelle Carmody and Brisingr by Christopher Paolini – and one which would address the collections of short stories I often neglect, and get me onto a few short books/novellas that have been highly recommended to me. All I had worked out so far was that collectively I had over 1000 pages left in The Sending and Brisingr, I wanted to try to read one short story a week, and I wanted to throw out my usual method of choosing books and pick a book under 200 when I next finished one.

I had already established that I had three books on various TBR piles which were under 200 pages – Highrise by J G Ballard, which Sarah has wanted me to read forever; A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess, which I have been meaning to read for years; and I Am Legend by Richard Matheson which my workmate Scott proclaimed essential reading – and then I discovered that one of my library books – The Game by Diana Wynne Jones - was also part of the under-200 club, which of course I was tickled pink about because that meant I had a candidate from each pile (Highrise being on the Borrowed-From-Others pile since Sarah lent it to me; A Clockwork Orange on the Books-I-Own-But-Have-Yet-To-Read pile; and I Am Legend on a second pile I have made of my own unread books since the old one was getting too tall, which I’m just calling the New-Books-Bought pile)!

I decided right then and there that I was starting the challenge so I collected the contenders, separated their names out of the Jar-Of-Choosing and picked a slip at random.

The four contenders eagerly waiting to be chosen

The four contenders eagerly waiting to be chosen

The book picked was The Game, which I thought nicely fitting as Metro Winds was also a library book and I was pretty certain it would also do it’s job of rut-breaking because A. It’s not only short, but is technically a children’s book so simple in language and structure, the literary equivalent of wearing training wheels; B. The blurb and cover are quite alluring; and C. Diana Wynne Jones. I was completely right as I zipped through The Game in two sittings (would’ve been one if I hadn’t started it on the way to work) and was all inspired to get to another short read!

This time I asked my mum if she could pick one of the three remaining slips (as she didn’t know what the colours meant she would be completely impartial) and lo and behold she chose Highrise :D I started it yesterday on the way home from work and 30-odd pages in I’m already intrigued and from what Sarah has told me I should ready myself for a disturbing ride :) (pretty sure putting a smiley face after that means I’m about 10% psychopath)

As I’m already onto the second book in the challenge let’s make it official:

Short and Sweet challenge badge

And these are the rules I’ve scrounged up:

  1. Whenever a book is finished choose from the nominated contenders with under 200 pages
  2. Continue until all books under 200 pages are finished
  3. In addition, read at least 1 short story a week (currently from The Living Dead anthology)
  4. Update progress once a week

As I said above the contenders (that is the ones left :P ) are:

a clockwork orange

Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess

i am legend

I Am Legend by Richard Matheson

If I discover any others in the under-200 club lurking on my bookshelf or piles, I’ll add them to the list :)

As for the challenge to rekindle my romance with The Sending and Brisingr:

1000+ pages of epic fantasy challenge badge

The rules I’ve set myself for this challenge are:

  1. Read at least 50 pages of The Sending and/or Brisingr each week
  2. I will try to read at least 1 chapter from each book, but failing that at least a few pages of one and the rest from the other – basically I want to read a bit of both every week not just the 50 pages from one while the other is neglected
  3. The challenge will end when I’ve finished both books… since collectively they have 1065 pages left, if I keep to my quota it’ll take me about 22 weeks (which considering I love the number 22, is pretty neat-o :) )
  4. I’ll do an update once a week along with my progress in Short and Sweet 

As with past challenges you are welcome to join me and tweak the challenge in whatever way works for you, and feel free to nab the challenge badges to use on your blog/site/face/whatever.

Stay tuned for an update in my progress, but probably not next week as I will be enjoying my short Easter break, a mixture of fun (friends from Sydney are visiting and I’m going to Swancon) and stuff I’m trying to fit into office hours while I’m off work (dentist, nutritionist, and exercise physiologist appointments). In fact, even though I’ve jumped the gun with one of the challenges I hear by officially start them on Monday the 21st and will do my first update the Monday after (or at least some time that week :P )

On that note, I bid you farewell for the moment Bookbaggers and leave you with a gif of ferrets stealing shit, coz why not? :P

ferrets stealing stuff

Book Polygamist Marriage Difficulties; or My Affair with Graphic Novels

My polygamist relationship with books is in a rut. This has happened before and we have gotten through it. My loyal spouses have forgiven dalliances with a series of flashy, superficial harlots (mostly from the realms of TV and portable gaming, Pokemon being a reoccurring tryst) as they know that I will eventually grow bored and come crawling back, but my recent indiscretions hit a bit close to home. While the same five books have remained at my side since last year, or very early January, my eye has been wandering and my tastes have taken a graphic turn…graphic novels that is. Since finishing Etiquette and Espionage by Gail Carriger on the 4th of January, I have enjoyed seventeen graphic novel or comic mistresses and until recently my traditional books have been barely touched.

It’s not their fault of course. In my less proud moments I may have blamed my infidelity on the size of both The Sending by Isobelle Carmody and Brisingr by Christopher Paolini, but that’s pretty hypocritical considering I’m “plus-size” myself. I’ve also found myself judging two of the others – The Living Dead by Various and Metro Winds by Isobelle Carmody - for almost the opposite failing as they’re anthologies of short fiction, a genre I am notoriously bad at neglecting. And lastly my treatment of one of my beloveds, Guards! Guards! by Terry Pratchett, is bordering on abuse as not only have I been cruelly ignoring it, but it has also been rolling around in my handbag for a while, receiving bent corners, scuffed pages and a sad curling of the cover design.

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And what have I been doing whilst my steadfast books have been collecting dust or taking endless trips in a bottomless pit of whatever-the-hell-women-chuck-in-their-handbags (am I right gents?)? Parading past an almost endless array of beautiful, glamorous, flawless graphic novels which smugly sit atop the pile of books, likely taunting them while I caress their glossy pages.

While I don’t want to end my graphic novel affair, guilt and a longing for pages covered in text has drawn me back to my loyal novels. Guards! Guards! has been lovingly extracted from the receptacle I call “The Red TARDIS” to rest once more atop the pile in safety, and I have once again turned my attention onto it’s Discworld tale of dragons, magic and incompetent policing. Metro Winds and The Living Dead have both been revisited, and with renewed fervour for Isobelle Carmody’s short story game, the former is almost complete. I am yet to embrace The Sending and Brisingr once more, but methinks a mini-break over Easter will rekindle our romance.

While I did feel bad about my book snubbing, I have to say a quick word about the graphic novels that have distracted me. During my somewhat boring and highly budgeted Christmas/New Years break, and then into the first months of the work year where I faced a complete change in location, responsibilities and staffing around me, graphic novels were there for me with their exciting visuals, quickly engaging stories and a healthy dash of humor. If I didn’t have them I would probably not have read at all, which in my mind is a worse reading rut, so for that they deserve some credit.

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As a further step toward renewed marital bliss I’m also planning to embark on my first challenge of 2014. At the moment I’m still working out reasonable goals and the like, but I will say that it will involves my two large tomes (The Sending and Brisingr) as well as at least one book of short stories (The Living Dead on its lonesome probably as Metro Winds is one short story from the end and will likely be finished before the end of the week) and future candidates that are under 200 pages. I hope to finalise how the challenge will go and post about it next week, before I have a short break over Easter :)

I hope my little polygamist confession struck a cord with some of my Bookbaggers. While I can’t imagine sticking to only one book at a time, sometimes my reading habits cause lulls as well as peak periods. As a community I think book-lovers can drift over into judgemental territory on occasion, proclaiming someone “not a true book-lover” if they don’t read in a certain way; or only read certain genres; or enjoy other formats such as film, television and gaming; or just go through a time where they’re not reading. I don’t think it’s my place to judge them back, but in my mind the fantastic world of books would be more welcoming if we all excepted that we’re different and that even if you take the good part of a year to finish one book; or choose to only read romance novels; or abandon that best-seller for a bit to binge-watch Game of Thrones; or take a break from reading altogether to recharge your waning enthusiasm – we’re still readers and that’s just fantastic :)

On that note, I’m going old school again:

happy reading! (…or not – i’m not judging :p)

Adventures in Etymology: Dyscalculia

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Dyscalculia

Reason for Adventure

This is an Adventure in Etymology that comes purely from my day-to-day non-reading life. One of my Facebook friends (and a Book of Faces Bookbagger!) introduced me to the word, and the knowledge that there is a learning disability for numbers and maths as dyslexia is to words and letters. As I’ve never been great with maths I right away connected with the word, plus it’s a fantastic sounding word – very Latin :P – so perfect for this feature.

Dictionary.com Definitions/Origins

Pronunciation:
dis-kal-kyoo-lee-uh

Form:
noun

Definition:
1. acalculia. (Dictionary.com based on Random House Dictionary)

2. severe difficulty in making simple mathematical calculations, due to cerebral disease or injury (Collins English Dictionary)

3.  Impairment of the ability to solve mathematical problems, usually resulting from brain dysfunction. (The American Heritage® Stedman’s Medical Dictionary)

Origin: 
1950–55; dys- + calcul(ate) + -ia

Sources:

dyscalculia. (n.d.). Dictionary.com Unabridged. Retrieved March 23, 2014, from Dictionary.com website: http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/dyscalculia

dyscalculia. (n.d.). Collins English Dictionary – Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition. Retrieved March 23, 2014, from Dictionary.com website:http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/dyscalculia

dyscalculia. (n.d.). The American Heritage® Stedman’s Medical Dictionary. Retrieved March 23, 2014, from Dictionary.com website:http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/dyscalculia

Online Etymology Dictionary Information

dys-
word-forming element meaning “bad, ill, abnormal,” from Greek dys-, inseparable prefix “destroying the good sense of a word or increasing its bad sense” [Liddell and Scott], “bad, hard, unlucky,” from PIE root (and prefix) *dus- “bad, ill, evil” (cf. Sanskrit dus-, Old Persian duš- “ill,” Old English to-, Old High German zur-, Gothic tuz- “un-”), a derivative of *deu- “to lack, be wanting” (cf. Greek dein “to lack, want”). Very productive in ancient Greek, where it could attach even to proper names (e.g. dysparis “unhappy Paris”); its entries take up nine columns in Liddell and Scott. Among the words formed from it were some English might covet: dysouristos “fatally favorable, driven by a too-favorable wind;” dysadelphos “unhappy in one’s brothers;” dysagres “unlucky in fishing;” dysantiblepos “hard to look in the face.”

calculate (v.)
1560s, “to compute, to estimate by mathematical means,” from Latin calculatus, past participle of calculare “to reckon, compute,” from calculus (see calculus). Meaning “to plan, devise” is from 1650s. Replaced earlier calculen (mid-14c.), from Old French calculer. Related: Calculable.

*As Dyscalculia wasn’t listed this was the closest I could get*

Source:

Harper, D. (2014). Online etymology dictionary. Retrieved March 24, 2014 from http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=calculate&allowed_in_frame=0

Harper, D. (2014). Online etymology dictionary. Retrieved March 24, 2014 from http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=dys-&allowed_in_frame=0

For more information on Dyscalculia go to www.dyscalculia.org :)

Collective Nounitude: Swans

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Swans

The Wild Swans by kelleybean86 (DeviantART) used with artist's permission Check out more of her beautiful art at kmcmorris.com

The Wild Swans
by kelleybean86 (DeviantART) used with artist’s permission
Check out more of her beautiful art at kmcmorris.com

Most Common:

A Bevy of Swans

Alternatives:

A Wedge of Swans (flying in a V)

A Bank of Swans (on the ground)

A Drift of Swans

A Eyrar of Swans

A Flight of Swans

A Game of Swans

A Herd of Swans

A Lamentation of Swans

A Sownder of Swans

A Team of Swans

A Whiting of Swans

A Whiteness of Swans

A Squadron of Swans

A Moron of Swans (not from a swan fan obviously :/)

 a Taleb of swans (Ha! It’s ballet backwards!….except spelt wrong..)

A Serenity of Swans

A Neck of Swans

A Pen of Swans

A Grace of Swans

An Elegance of Swans

A Lake of Swans

A Glide of Swans

A Bottleneck of Swans

My suggestions:

An Ugly Duckling of Swans (for a group of awkward signets)

A Float of Swans

A Hiss of Swans

Swans Finals Campaign by Bojan1558 (DeviantART) used with artist's permission

Swans Finals Campaign
by Bojan1558 (DeviantART) used with artist’s permission

Reason for choice:

Reading Shades of Grey by Jasper Fforde, where the characters often mention giant, carnivorous swans :Pshadesofgrey

Sources:

Wikipedia

rinkworks.com

collectivenoun.co.uk

all-sorts.org

The 2013 Book Polygamist Awards!

Welcome Ladies, Gentlemen and super-intelligent cats who secretly surf the web while their owner is at work, to the 3rd Annual Book Polygamist Awards!

Since 2011 the Awards have been publicly aired on my humble little blog, rather than the bottomless pit of Facebook, or the relative privacy of my book journal, and as long as Book Polygamist sticks around each year I will share my quirky Awards with you, my precious few Bookbaggers :)

Like last year and the year before the Awards will be broken up into two categories: the Annual Awards, which are the same each year, and the Special Awards, which change with the calibre of books read and any patterns I notice.

This year, since I read more comics/graphic novels than ever before there will be some Awards specifically for the format i.e. Best Inside Art.

So without further ado I present: The 2013 Book Polygamist Awards!!!

Annual Awards

Shortest Read (Book):

the-amber-amuletThe Amber Amulet by Craig Silvey - approximately 1 hour

Honorable Mentions:

The Tiny Wife by  Andrew Kaufman - approximately 2 hours

Married With Zombies by Jesse Petersen - 6 days

Longest Read:

Tales of mystery and imaginationTales of Mystery and Imagination by Edgar Allan Poe - 1 year, 1 month and 1 day!!!

Honorable Mentions:

Catch 22 by Joseph Heller - 43 weeks, 6 days!!

Kraken by China Miéville - 30 weeks, 3 days!

Most Books/Graphic Novels Read by a Single Author:

Gaiman,_Neil_(2007) Neil Gaiman - 2 books (Anansi Boys and Neverwhere) and 6 Graphic Novels (The Sandman Vol # 1, #2, #3 and # 4; Death: The High Cost of Living; and The Books of Magic)

Honorable Mentions:

Stacia Kane – 5 (Unholy Ghosts; Unholy Magic; City of Ghosts; Sacrificial Magic; Chasing Magic)

Gail Carriger – 5 (Changeless; Blameless; Heartless; Soulless Vol #1; Etiquette and Espionage)

Best “New” Author Award:

Every year I try to discover authors I’ve never read before (in addition to my old favourites and follow-ups to “new” authors from previous years) and then I compile a list of ones I want to read more from, and pick one from the bunch that’s the stand-out. It’s always a tricky process because I find so many great authors that are new to me, but usually I just weigh-up the impact they made on me with the amount of work they have that I can continue on with, plus take into account how new they are to writing, and how unknown they were to me (and sometimes others) before I discovered their work. In the case of the winner for this year I had never heard of them before picking up the first book, and since then their series was one of the highlights of my reading year and has become a bit of an obsession for me and my best friend, Sarah :)

stacia kaneStacia Kane (Unholy GhostsUnholy MagicCity of GhostsSacrificial MagicChasing Magic)

Honorable Mentions:

 China Miéville (Kraken)

 Max Brooks (World War Z)

 Jasper Fforde (Shades of Grey)

Special Awards

The Best End to a Series Award:

house of many waysHouse of Many Ways by Diana Wynne Jones

Honorable Mention:

chasing magicChasing Magic by Stacia Kane

This is a cheeky honorable mention because it’s not actually the end of the series, but at the time of reading it I did think it was the end, and it was a fucking awesome end! Lucky for me and Sarah the next book is due to be published at some point :D

The Best Start to a Series Award:

shadesofgreyShades of Grey (Shades of Grey Book 1) by Jasper Fforde

Honorable Mentions:

Unholy Ghosts by Stacia Kane

Married With Zombies by Jesse Petersen

The Sandman Volume 1: Preludes and Nocturnes by Neil Gaiman (writer), Sam Kieth (penciler),Malcolm Jones III (inker), Robbie Busch (colourist), Todd Klein (letterer)

 FreakAngels #1 by Warren Ellis (writer) and Paul Duffield (artist)

The Longest and Strangest Title Award:

BookofHumanInsectsThe Book of Human Insects by Osamu Tezuka

Honorable Mention:

Ball Peen Hammer by Adam Rapp  (author) and George O’Connor (artist)

The Tick That Off The Bucket List Award:

catch22Catch 22 by Joseph Heller

in 2013 I continued the accidental tradition of reading a book from my Top 10 Classics I Want to Read list – in accidental order and all! – which definitely deserved another award! To continue this tradition I will have to read The Catcher in the Rye by J D Salinger this year so I better locate it quick smart :P

The My Brain Hurts But I Love It! Award:

kraken-by-china-mieville-UKKraken by China Miéville

As I said in my Top 10 Books I Read in 2013 list, this book was the literary equivalent of taking a trip and at times the language and sheer craziness of the world hurt my brain, but I loved every second of it! :P

Honorable Mentions:

Shades of Grey by Jasper Fforde

Catch 22 by Joseph Heller

Best Cover Art (Book):

the-tiny-wifeThe Tiny Wife by  Andrew Kaufman

Honorable Mentions:

shadesofgreyShades of Grey by Jasper Fforde

Neverwhere (1)Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman

kraken-by-china-mieville-UKKraken by China Miéville

the-amber-amuletThe Amber Amulet by Craig Silvey

Best Cover Art (Graphic Novel):

willow wonderlandBuffy the Vampire Slayer: Willow – Wonderland 
by Jeff ParkerChristos N. Gage (writers) Brian Ching (penciler), Jason Gorder (inker),
Michelle Madsen (colourist), David Mack (cover artist), and Joss Whedon (executive producer)

Honorable Mentions:

persepolis coverPersepolis by Marjane Satrapi

the unwritten vol 1The Unwritten: Tommy Taylor and the Bogus Identity (The Unwritten, Volume # 1) by Mike Carey (writer), Peter Gross (artist), Chris Chuckry and Jeanne McGee(colourists) and Todd Klein (letterer)

BallPeenHammer_COVER_300rgb(1)Ball Peen Hammer by Adam Rapp  (author) and George O’Connor (artist)

buffy talesBuffy the Vampire Slayer: Tales by Joss WhedonJane Espenson,  Becky Cloonan (writers)
Tim Sale,Doug PetrieLeinil Francis YuGene Colan and others (artists)

Best Inside Art (Graphic Novel):

buffy talesBuffy the Vampire Slayer: Tales by Joss WhedonJane Espenson,  Becky Cloonan (writers)
Tim Sale,Doug PetrieLeinil Francis YuGene Colan and others (artists)

This is a bit of a cop-out as this anthology contains a whole bunch of amazing artists making it the easy choice, but with such diverse art from story to story this was a clear winner. Below is an example of some of my favourite art styles for you to ogle :P

Buffy tales art

Honorable Mentions:

Zombies Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens, Jim McCann (writers), David Baldeon (penciller), and Jordi Tarragona (inker)

Star Trek TNG: Hive by Brannon Braga (story) and Joe Corroney (art)

Most Fun Challenge:

comiccompanions-badge

While I set myself some great challenges last year, I had to choose Comic Companions as the best as it led me to read so many amazing comics and graphic novels! This year I’m not continuing this challenge but I’ve decided the graphic novels pile is just as important as the others so I’ve been going through the same process in reading them – when I finish one I pick another from the pile (or rather a random green piece of paper from my book-choosing jar so I don’t have to choose which wonderful graphic novel I want to read next – I’m chance’s bitch instead :) )

Best Book Chosen for Old Books October:

Guards! Guards! by Terry Pratchett

guards guardsI haven’t actually finished Guards! Guards! since I’ve been pretty slack with reading this year, and I got distracted with other books and comics at the end of last year, so I’ve been reading this very funny Discworld novel for a while, but every time I do read a bit its highly entertaining! Plus the other book I chose for Old Books October is Brisingr by Christopher Paolini which I have been even more slack with, so this was a no-brainer :P

Best Graphic Novel Chosen for Old Books October:

The Sandman Vol. 4: Season of Mists by Neil Gaiman (writer), Kelley JonesMalcolm Jones IIIMike DringenbergMatt WagnerP. Craig Russell,George PrattDick Giordano (artists), Daniel VozzoSteve Oliff (colourists), and Todd Klein (letterer)

sandman4

Best Book Chosen for New Books November:

Shades of Grey by Jasper Fforde

shadesofgrey

Best Graphic Novel Chosen for New Books November:

 FreakAngels #1 by Warren Ellis (writer) and Paul Duffield (artist)

freak angels vol 1

2013 was a really interesting year for me, both in my reading life and personal/professional life, and I certainly have some good memories from it. I hope all my Bookbaggers also had an excellent year with a bevy of brilliant books (gosh I love alliteration :P) and tons of good memories, and that your 2014 is just as fruitful :)