Short Stories and Secret Shame September

Fáilte my fabulous, fascinating Bookbaggers!

Oh my gosh hello! It must seem that I have been away more than not this year and that I am a terribly neglectful blogger since I last posted near the end of August! I hate making stupid excuses like work and sickness and a social life because really I know that life gets in the way for all bloggers at some point, and I never judge the bloggers I follow for being absent, but this time I actually have a pretty interesting excuse. My absence over September was a self-imposed necessity to keep my lip zipped because on the 1st I had jury duty and was picked for a three-week-long case.

I did think about posting a quick note to let you know that I would be on a hiatus, but as we were instructed not to post on social media what we were doing, I thought blogging would also be a big no-no. When the case finally finished on the 22nd I thought “Huzzah! I can finally blog!” but I did not factor in that I would be going from listening to people talk while sitting on my butt, back to my regular job where I would likely have a pile of work to catch up on and would be exhausted once I got home.

Then I had the very strange experience of doing just four days of work before we were on term break and I had a week off! Logically this would be a perfect time to catch up on the blog, but I found that once I was able to relax I just wanted to unwind after the bizarre month I had and try to do things I hadn’t had time for like doing my tax return, catching up with the grandparentals after their trip to Bali and shopping for summer pajamas before our Australian weather devolved into the 7th circle of hell (my hometown of Perth especially doesn’t seem to understand what Spring is if the mix of hot days and freak thunderstorms are anything to go by).

I returned to work Monday and since we’re now in the final term of the year it has calmed down enough that I have the time, energy and motivation to finally tell you about my September 🙂

Firstly, I never got around to introducing my new pile which gives a second life to the Short and Sweet challenge, so that’s a good start.

As I said in my last Challenge Update I no longer had any books under 200 pages to continue Short and Sweet, but I did have a large number of short story collections which I have made its own pile. I think that means that Short and Sweet will at least go until the end of the year, but if I enjoy having an anthology of short fiction on the go all the time then I’ll make it a regular thing like I did with comics 🙂

At the moment I have 13 books of short stories that I have put together in the pile (mostly my own, but two borrowed from my mate Scott – the Richard Matheson’s since I loved I Am Legend):

The book of the dead
edited by jared shurin
The Book of the DeadGrimm Tales: For young and old
by Philip Pullman
Grimm Tales Philip PullmanThe Complete Illustrated Lewis Carroll
by Lewis Carroll
The Complete Illustrated Lewis CarrollLiving With The Dead
by Martin Livings 
Living With The Dead by Martin LivingsUnder My Hat: Tales from the Cauldron
edited by Jonathan Strahan
Under-My-Hat Fantastic Wonder Stories
edited by Russell B. Farr
fantastic-wonder-storeis The Girl With No Hands
by Angela Slatter
The Girl With No Hands by Angela SlatterThe Lady of Situations
by Stephen Dedman
The Lady of SituationsMatilda told such dreadful lies
by Lucy Sussex
matilda-told-such-dreadful-lies-webFearie Tales: Stories of the Grimm and Gruesome
edited by Stephen Jones
illustrated by Alan Lee
Fearie-Tales-Stories-of-the-Grimm-and-GruesomeThe Powerful Owl by Candida Baker
powerful owlButton, Button by Richard Matheson
button.tifDuel by Richard Matheson
duelLooking for jake and other stories by China Miéville

looking for jake

I’ve been really slack with reading any stories from The Living Dead zombie anthology lately because I have been reading some cracking books (more on that later) and in fact I haven’t read any since the last update, so I have re-set myself the challenge to read at least one story a week and then maybe I might actually get to pick a new one before the end of the year!

In addition to the revamped Short and Sweet Challenge I also set myself a special challenge for September which I meant to announce at the end of August and then when I didn’t finish in time I though “Well I probably will only have jury duty for a week tops so early September should be fine”….yup, that worked out well past me :/

The challenge involves reading a single book that I call my Secret Shame to friends and family that I have admitted my secret too. I think if you look deep enough every avid reader has one Secret Shame – maybe it’s a genre of books that they don’t want to be associated with, or a bad habit such as dog-earring pages that they don’t want to admit to, and I think for many it would be that sad book at the bottom of their TBR pile or pushed to the back of their groaning shelves.

Mine would be in the latter category:

Secret shame september

Back in 1997 when I was a shy, odd and exceptionally nerdy 11-year-old in Year 6, I had a brilliant teacher called Mr Stein – a sort of aging hippy who was passionate about books, music and the environment and was by far my favourite teacher throughout school. However, at the start of the year I did not have this opinion. All of us new Year 6s had been told by the older kids that Mr Stein was the worst – really strict, grumpy and a man who would not put up with mucking about – and being the nervous little mite I was, I was terrified that I would be in the class with this monster instead of with the second Year 6/7 class. When I saw my name on his door my heart sank, but it took maybe a day to realise that the older kids had greatly exaggerated and while Mr Stein was strict and certainly wouldn’t suffer fools, he was a fair and engaging teacher and only made trouble for kids who attracted trouble in the first place.

Because I was such a shy and nervy kid I often did badly at the start of the year before I got my confidence up and even if my work was top-notch I was always behind in social interaction and class participation, but Mr Stein – unlike some teachers before him – endeavoured to break me out of my shell by encouraging me to get involved in areas that interested me, like creative writing and environmental issues. By the end of the year I had improved noticeably, so much so that I won the “Most Improved” award for my class. Mr Stein chose the books for my prize – a dictionary of nature, and Watership Down by Richard Adams which if you are a Bookbagger from way back you will know is still one of my favourite books. Since, as he predicted I adored the book and it hadn’t been too much of a struggle despite being a little above my age level, he loaned me his own copy of another Richard Adams novel called Shardik.

Shardik was a different kettle of fish than Watership Down as it was an adult fantasy, but I gave it a go anyway. I never really got past the first few chapters as the language was more advanced and I hadn’t quite gotten into Fantasy at that point (at least beyond children’s fantasy/adventure), but every time I asked Mr Stein if he wanted it back, he told me to keep trying. Somehow in the midst of Year 7 I not only gave up trying to read it, but I forgot to give it back and Mr Stein never reminded me. For years after I kept meaning to read it and then return to my old primary school to give it back, but it never happened and eventually in resided at the very back of my bookshelf, behind another layer of books – out of sight, but not forgotten. If I was close enough to someone and the subject of old books on TBR piles came up, I would spill my Secret Shame and swear once again that I would read it, but again it never happened.

Then a few months ago I acquired a small additional bookshelf from what my mum calls Le Verge (that often magical collection of odds and sods people put by the road in front of their house for pickup by the council or perusal by treasure-hunting locals) to help tame the overflow from my other shelves, and during a cull I found Shardik again, tattered, musty and forlorn amongst dozen of past op-shop and library discard purchases, many of which went in the donation box.

ShardikAt that point I decided that I would finally read the poor thing (even though I may not be able to find Mr Stein and return it to him after) and since September was approaching I thought Secret Shame September had a great ring to it – my love of alliteration at play once more 😛

Since the book has a little under 60 chapters I set myself the very ambitious goal of reading two chapters a day, but since it is so fragile it is a purely read-at-home-while-cradling-gently-so-it-doesn’t-disintegrate sort of book and thus I’m still making my way through. I’m about half-way now (chapter 32) so not doing too badly. Like I said above I have been distracted by some pretty awesome books recently (which I may even share with you in a separate update-ish post since I don’t want my returning one to be too giant) so I haven’t read any for a little less than a week, but I’ll try to read a bit more sometime this week.

I think that’s sufficient for now Bookbaggers, but I’ll leave you with a few fun things to make up for my disappearance 🙂

Firstly I took this quiz during Banned Book Week and posted it to the Book Polygamist Facebook page:Which banned book are youI got Slaughterhouse-5 by Kurt Vonnegut which I had never read, so I thought why not buy it and read it for Banned Book Week? I didn’t end up getting it until the last day of Banned Book Week and I didn’t start it until the 1st of October, but it was so good and such a short read (177 pages) I polished it off over one weekend.

This leads onto my next bit of fun which is another Thug Notes video:

Lastly, it’s Mental Health Week here in Oz and our public broadcast station the ABC is doing an initiate called Mental As…, showing a series of programs related to mental health in an effort to promote awareness, stop the stigma of mental illness and raise money for mental health research. As I have an anxiety disorder and most of the people in my life have struggled with mental illness at some point in their lives or have loved ones that have (and don’t we all really?) this event is important to me and I was keen to watch the programs, particularly Felicity’s Mental Mission, a doco by Felicity Ward which aired Monday. There are a few short clips on YouTube from the show, but I thought I’d share with you the hilarious, but poignant song by comedic musical duo Sammy J and Randy:

If you are in Australia (or elsewhere but you know how to get around all the technical stuff which stops you from watching geographic-specific videos) you can watch the full show on iView until the 5th of November.

I think that’ll do for now, O wonderous Bookbaggers 🙂

Stay tuned for a run-down of all the books I’ve read since I last posted (at some point soon) and some Notable Quotables which I’ve been collecting, but until then:

Don’t be afraid to ask somebody R U OK? even if you think they’ll give a stupid answer…

don't be lasagna

or have a extreme reaction…

post-51047-Doctor-Who-shut-up-gif-Imgur-s-Puqd

and a hug is always nice, even if it may be one-sided at first…

doctor-who-deep-breath-peter-capaldi-clara-hug

And if you or someone you know are struggling with mental health issues there are tonnes of organisations and associations out there that can help such as Lifeline and Beyond Blue (Australia), Mental Health America or NAMI: National Alliance on Mental Illness (USA) Mind or Rethink (UK). These are only a couple of examples of organisations in the countries that most view this blog, but other international organisations can be found on The Centre for Global Mental Health website or by Googling something like “mental health help *insert country/city/town/desert island/etc.*”.

Cya next time Bookbaggers!

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Challenge Update #13 – Week 2 of War & Pages + Its Almost Old Book October! :D

Howdy my scintillating, spectacular Bookbaggers!

Welcome to the second update of War & Pages + some other little updates challenge-wise 🙂

war &  pages challenge badge

I had another nice weekend of reading (mainly on Sunday) cuddled up with the dogs while it rained outside – one of my favorite settings for a long reading session 🙂 – and I easily made my quota:

Catch 22:

25 pages (3 chapters)catch22

World War Z:

38 ½ pagesworld-war-z-book-cover

Total:

63 ½ pages

In other news I’m getting pretty excited because there is less than a week until the start of Old Book October 😀 And if that wasn’t exciting enough I am tantalizingly close to the end of three books – Heartless by Gail CarrigerChasing Magic by Stacia Kane (which both have around 100 pages left) and World War Z by Max Brooks (which has even less than 100 and considering its part of the challenge could be the first one I finish depending on how exciting the other two get  :P) – just in time to choose ones for the event! 😀

Since I did a guilty preemptive pick earlier this month, whichever book I finish first will be replaced by Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman, but after that it will be all Old Books until the end of October!

I also wanted to read a Banned/Challenged book in honor of Banned Books Week and sort of in answer to a challenge posted by Tara from The Librarian Who Doesn’t Say “Shhh”. However, because of all the other challenge action, i didn’t want to commit to a long book, so while I’ve been reading all the lists of frequently challenged books (a bit of an obsession of mine this week!) i kept my eyes peeled for short, yet interesting children’s books or graphic novels. In the list of Books Challenged or Banned 2012-2013 I found the perfect book: Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi

persepolis

Persepolis is the perfect fit because:

  1. I have wanted to read it for years, and especially since I started my Comic Companions challenge
  2. As a graphic novel its not too long to distract me from other challenges so I should be able to at least start it while Banned Books Week is still going
  3. It can also be the Comic Companion for Neverwhere (I did technically already choose, and read, Star Trek TNG: Hive as Neverwhere‘s Comic Companion, but since that was weeks ago I wanted a new one :P)
  4. A quick search on my work’s catalogue revealed that we have it in the collection at a different campus so I was easily able to place a hold and get it sent to me the next day!

The biggest selling point though was the little blurb under its entry in Books Challenged or Banned 2012-2013:

Removed, via a district directive, from all Chicago, Ill. public schools (2013) due to “graphic illustrations and language” and concerns about “developmental preparedness” and “student readiness.” Seventh- and eleventh-grade students study the graphic novel about the author’s experience growing up in Iran during the Iranian revolution as part of Chicago Public Schools’ Literacy Content Framework. As the news spread of the directive, students mobilized a media campaign in opposition to “banning a book that’s all about the freedom of speech.” Students took to their Facebook and Twitter accounts, checked out all library copies of the book, wrote blogs, sent e-mails, wrote investigative articles for the student newspaper, contacted the author, staged protests, and appeared on local radio and television programs. Eventually, the school issued a letter telling high school principals to disregard the earlier order to pull the book. source: May 2013, pp. 103–4

Source: Doyle, R.P. (2013). Books challenged or banned 2O12–2O13. Retrieved from http://www.ila.org/BannedBooks/BBW_2012-2013_Shortlist.pdf

How could I resist reading a banned/challenged book which prompted such a passionate reaction from the students? Plus it was one on this year’s list which is a fitting way to get involved on my first year actively celebrating Banned Books Week 🙂

I’ll update you on what I thought of it in a future challenge update along with other exciting challenge stuff, plus my official listing of the rules and contenders for Old Books October on the 1st of October, but until then:

Ban Bombs – Not Books!

(That may be a controversial sign-off but I stand by it! Please send complaints to bookpolygamist(at)gmail(dot)com so they can be blithely ignored 😛)

Top Ten Things You Need to Know About Banned and Challenged Books

Two reblogs in a week, oh my! I just had to reblog this because I have been reading up on Banned Books Week, and banned/challenged books in general pretty much all day and this list from Tara of The Librarian Who Doesn’t Say “Shhh” shows why the event is so important. If you want to learn some quick facts about banned and challenged books, Banned Books Week and how to get involved this is a great place to start 🙂

Banned Books Week

I don’t usually Reblog (in fact this is my first) but since Christie from bibliophiliacs is actually doing regular posts for Banned Books Week I thought I’d share it around 🙂 I won’t be doing what she is, but perhaps I’ll come up with a little something by the end of the week 😛

Happy (illicit) Reading!

bibliophiliacs

This week, the week of September 22nd to September 29, is Banned Books Week.

This is the description that the American Library Association’s Office for Intellectual Freedom (what an awesome thing) has on their website:

Banned Books Week is an annual event celebrating the freedom to read. Typically held during the last week of September, it highlights the value of free and open access to information. Banned Books Week brings together the entire book community –- librarians, booksellers, publishers, journalists, teachers, and readers of all types –- in shared support of the freedom to seek and to express ideas, even those some consider unorthodox or unpopular.

I’m going to do posts this week about banned books.  Some of the ones that have been banned and are still banned will surprised you, or maybe not if you’re more cynical than me.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower is the one I’m…

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