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):
Grimm Tales: For young and old
by Philip Pullman
The Complete Illustrated Lewis Carroll
by Lewis Carroll
Under My Hat: Tales from the Cauldron
edited by Jonathan Strahan
Looking for jake and other stories by China Miéville
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:
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.
At 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:I 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…
or have a extreme reaction…
and a hug is always nice, even if it may be one-sided at first…
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!