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 😀 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 😛 ) 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 
  5. *UPDATE 06/06/14 – I’m now aiming to read at least 100 pages each week, 50 pages from each book*

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 😛 )

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

ferrets stealing stuff

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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)