I posted a pic on Twitter yesterday, but thought I’d post here too. Yesterday I went in for what I thought was going to be an extensive tattoo, but do to some misunderstandings and problems with my original design, I just walked out with the lettering done. Which worked out because it was on the inside of my arm and would have been pretty painful along with the other part. And now it can heal a bit before I go in for the flowery part.
I get a lot of book email. I even have a separate email set up for my bookish stuff. Lately it’s Out of Print, telling me they’re having a sale and I need new shirts (I’m hiding my credit card right now). Or it is all the publishing houses telling me to read this awesome book coming out. Which I generally do. Which kinda works with the email I just got for TBR Time.
I click on it and it tells me to put in my current TBR, my total read count from last year and then my age.
I put in 800 books. That’s the number on my Goodreads account as we speak. This number is ALWAYS fluctuating. Last year’s count was 275. And for at least a little while longer, I’m 31.
My results are as follows.
Reading 800 books will take: 2 years and 10 months
You will finish your TBR pile on: January 18, 2018
And you will be: 34 years old
So there you have it, folks. I won’t have to read anymore after January of 2018. What will I do with all that free time? Obviously we know this isn’t going to happen. We add to our TBRs all the time. Either with new books that are just being published or old books that we’re just discovering. I reread stuff all the time too. Also there’s the fact, right now I’m not in the mood for Middlemarch. I might not be in the next two years.
Is this an exact science? Of course not. I doubt it’s really offered as one. Is it fun though? Absolutely.
For a reader, part of our personality is our bookcases. How we organize them. What kind of bookcases to get (I want built-ins so badly). What we put on them. I found that along with my regular categories (fiction, nonfiction, classics) I needed some special categories. Or ways to make my TBR more manageable. Not pictured are my unread and read shelves. I have two bookcases in my living room of my unread books. Then I have three bookcases in our game room of books I’ve read.
This shelf is on the bookcases in the living room where the unread books live. Since I decided to read more diversely this month I thought it would be easier to pull the related books from my shelves so I could see them all at a glance. Also on the shelf are my unread comics. Mostly because this is the emptiest shelf. This shelf will change depending on what short term reading goal I’ve adopted. I didn’t pull all my diverse titles, but the ones that appealed to me the most.
On the two shelf bookcase that used to belong to my father, I have my long term book goal. When Book Riot announced their #readharder challenge, I spent about an hour pulling books that could possibly fit the categories. I pulled multiple titles for each category to give me some options. The reason the shelf looks kind of empty is I’ve either put back books that no longer appealed to me or already read a category and put its corresponding book back. I need to go back and curate this shelf I think.
My comics shelf which is below my #readharder shelf. Both my husband and a friend of mine commented on a picture I posted on Instagram of my stack of comics telling me I needed a shelf to keep them separate from my other books. My husband apparently doesn’t live in the same house as I do because this is that shelf. One I’ve had for awhile now. To be fair he stays out of the library/game room, so there is a little forgiveness there. Since I’m still a newbie at the comics game, it’s sort of empty, but also I’ve lent a few comics out (including two-thirds of Y: The Last Man). I figure I’ll expand it to the #readharder shelf, moving those books either back into my collection or cull a bit to make a new empty shelf.
Do you have any special shelves?
I thought I was going to get a hell of a lot more reading done this week because my husband had been gone on a business trip. All that time after the kids went to bed would be mine. All mine.
Except not so much.
We ended up using FaceTime to watch television together. Ah well.
I did get through my ginormous pile of comics that I let get way too backed up. Yesterday I binged:
Black Widow #5-16 Thor #3-6 Storm #4-8 Giant Days #1 Curb Stomp #1 Ex Machina Vol 1 Gotham Academy #1 Spider-Gwen #1
In book-books, I have been slacking so hard. I’ve been finishing a reread of Anne Bishop’s The Others series to catch up with her latest book Vision in Silver. And that’s taken me all week and that’s only two books. I blame Twitter and the fact I’ve been trying to finish the last season of The West Wing. And again…that pesky husband. I haven’t even read any of the books on my diversity reading list. I’m thinking once I finish Vision in Silver (hopefully today), I am jumping right back into that. I need to make a short list for that of books I need to get through next week.
According to Wikipedia: Paranormal romance is a subgenre of both romantic fiction and speculative fiction. Paranormal romance focuses on romantic love and includes elements beyond the range of scientific explanation, blending together themes from the speculative fiction genres of fantasy, science fiction, and horror.
Comparatively Wikipedia says this about urban fantasy: Urban fantasy is a subgenre of fantasy defined by place; the fantastic narrative has an urban setting. Urban fantasy exists on one side of a spectrum, opposite high fantasy, which is set in an entirely fictitious world. Many urban fantasies are set in contemporary times and contain supernatural elements. However, the stories can take place in historical, modern, or futuristic periods, and the settings may include fictional elements. The prerequisite is that they must be primarily set in a city.
Even with those explanations, it is super hard to separate the two since a lot of sites or bookstores put the two together. I’m in a group on Goodreads that meshes them both. I’m constantly getting recommendations from one subgenre when I want another. I get it. They do sound like they should be interchangeable. They really aren’t.
Let me start with saying I have nothing against paranormal romance. PNR is where I started! With Maggie Shayne and her Wings of the Night series which to some is the original Twilight series because most of the books had “twilight” in the title (with way less sparkles). They were romance novels with fangs. Each book is about the heroine finding the love of her life (which from here on out is lohl). There’s nothing wrong with that. They’re fun romances with a shadowy side. Also the series usually run a bit differently. Generally, urban fantasy series follow one protagonist through their (sometimes mis) adventures until the over reaching arc is concluded whereas paranormal romances usually follow maybe the same group of people, but each book has a different couple to focus in on. It still might have one “Big Bad,” but each couple gets a shot at fighting/solving it.
Urban Fantasy tends to be a little grittier as well. More death and destruction. Also the supernatural element isn’t described as being something you want to meet up with in a dark alley. PNR tends to have a habit of portraying vampires for example as just “people with pointy teeth” whereas UF usually makes them scary and dangerous. Even if a couple hook up, the human is almost always aware of her/his lover’s “dark side” or “primal nature.” See Patricia Brigg’s Mercy Thompson series. She does this particularly well.
My first urban fantasy series I found out about was Laurell K. Hamilton’s Anita Blake. I offer this one up a bit tentatively. If you are familiar with LKH, you’ll know why. The Anita Blake books started out with a vampire hunter/animator (she raised corpses from the dead to sort out legal matters like a will being contested) who gets tangled up with voodoo queens, the fae, vampires, lycanthropes, and other things that go bump in the night. The first few in the series really had very little to do with romance at all. That’s changed. The books have more of an erotic flavor now. I’m not throwing shade on LKH at all, she’s actually a perfect example of what I’m talking about. The first book Anita didn’t even HAVE a love interest, unless you count the vampire she didn’t even like who was kind of stalking her. And then she’s had a few relationships since then. I’m not current on the series, but last time I checked in she was in a polyamorous relationship with a few fellas. It does have Anita managing her men and having romantic moments, but usually the main point is the individual book’s antagonist and the Big Bad that is going on to threaten the world that is the arc to the whole series. To be honest, the last one I read focused a lot more on the erotica than the action parts, but one or two books out of a series doth not a paranormal romance make.
Then there’s the Hollows series by Kim Harrison. The main character, Rachel ended up with someone she HATED by end of the series. She dated several guys through out the book and it never felt like we were just waiting for the lohl to show up because they weren’t really the point. They were just part of her life while she dodged hexes, battled demons, and avoided hits. Like the Anita Blake series did more strongly at first, the action took center stage.
All in all, I just have a problem with these being put together just because both might have non humans in them. They’re not the same. You can like both, no one is saying that. It just gets confusing when I say hey I really liked Chloe Neill’s Chicagoland Vampires what should I read next? Then someone recommends Christine Feehan’s Dark Saga which yes, has vampires, but is about different couples in each book and the end.
What other genres have this problem? Scifi and Fantasy is one that jumps to mind. Should they be always shelved together or apart? I know space in bookstores is a factor so let’s say in an ideal world.
I have a love/hate relationship with book clubs. I’ve been in a few. I helped create one. They’re awesome and awful all at the same time for me.
My first book club was started at a library I worked at for a brief time. I joined partially because I was trying to help bump the numbers and also because I really was interested. The first book was…actually I don’t remember. What I do remember is that it devolved pretty quickly for me. For Halloween they picked a spooky book, which turned out to be the fourth book in a series that only one person had read. Which is a horrible choice for a book club. There was way too much backstory that we weren’t getting. (Note: It was Still Life With Crows by Preston Child.) The majority of the actual meeting was him telling us what we had missed. After that, I don’t remember every book except it started to feel like we were only reading that guy’s favorite books and suggesting new books was pretty much not allowed. The good news was I ended up quitting the job (for a completely different reason) which made backing out easier. Also the book club met in the library and had several library staff as members which apparently the librarian didn’t like so meetings tended to be a bit edgy and not fun. The librarian was one of the evil sort that didn’t like FUN at all.
The other big book club was the one I helped to create. It was a classics book club. We started out on Facebook because as founders, myself and the other lady involved, we’d just moved to new, separate cities. So we started getting members the old fashioned way…harassing our friends and family. That started okay. Except as Zuckerberg is currently finding out, Facebook sucks for book club discussions. So we moved our happy butts to Goodreads. All was going pretty well. We were fine tuning things. It was manageable…until Goodreads featured us as a book group. Suddenly in something like a week we’d gone from maybe 50 people to over 1000. And it just grew. So did the expectations and the pressure. Now people were wanting us to do our choices a different way, or debate what a “classic” was (if I never have to have that debate again, it will be too soon). We had at our peak around 3000 members, but only maybe 100 were participating. If I could do it over, I think I’d have to have a mandatory participation clause, maybe. I got overwhelmed and honestly, a bit bored. For a year it seemed all people were voting on were dystopian sci-fi. Woman cannot live on dead white guys alone (because they almost always were dead white guys). And oh my gods, the snobbery. The people who wanted to look down on the rest because they weren’t getting the metaphors or allegories. I stepped down as a mod and lurked a bit out of habit, then quietly left.
Recently I found myself in another book club. This one is science fiction and fantasy written by self identified ladies. This is pretty exciting to me. For one, I’m not running it so I can sit back and enjoy. Two, I’ve been needing a group to get out and talk to. Due to my introvert nature, I tend to be a homebody. Books are pretty much the only way to convince me to get out. Three, reading books by diverse authors is something I’m trying to get better at. Also I don’t have a great background in science fiction/fantasy so I’m looking to broaden my horizons there too. Our first book was my first Octavia Butler which was exciting. We read Parable of the Sower and even though I had a prior engagement so I couldn’t go to the meeting, I read the book. And the next one. I also bought Kindred. Our next book is Ursula Le Guin’s The Lathe of Heaven. Another first for me.
I have concerns. I tend to get antsy about books that I’m supposed to read. Even books that I set up for myself. Why is that? I freaking don’t know. Flashbacks from high school? Also I worry about my social anxiety. I worry (see what I did there?) that I’ll worry too much and talk myself out of going. I get stressed out that I won’t “get” the metaphors and then feel too dumb to participate.
I’d like to also find/create a book group where books aren’t assigned. Where we get together x amount of times a month and just sit around drinking wine/beer/coffee and talk about all the books we’ve read since the last time we met and about the ones we want to read. Maybe set up some little buddy reads, but nothing formal. I might do this. I might already have, but with comics. Along with two other ladies, we informally decided to get together and trade the comics we own and chat about them. I’m sure regular books will get added to the conversation. When have I not used an opportunity to talk about books?
On a day where my ass is getting kicked from a sinus infection, it was perfect timing to get my Book Riot Quarterly Box. The note says : “We’ve chosen a chilling theme to go with the oh-so-chilly weather. Hunker down, huddle up, and wrap your mind around some matters of life and death and the in-between.” I am now gleeful for the cold weather the rest of the country is getting so I can get an awesome package since it’s been downright balmy here.
Half-Resurrection Blues – Daniel José Older with a custom bookmark drawn by Older: I have this one on digital, but now I have a copy to take to Book Riot Live to get signed.
#booksandbooze flask from Liquid Courage – Something else I’m taking to BR Live! Ha! But seriously the husband and I have been talking about getting a couple of these…now he needs to get his own.
Being Mortal by Atul Gawande – I’m probably not in the right mindset to be reading this since my sinus infection is making me wish for death, but I’ll be diving into it later I’m sure.
A notebook with a library card cover – I dig this so hard. It comes from no surprise to me that it’s from Out of Print. They’re the only ones who rock harder than Book Riot in the book world. I love me a good notebook.
Are you doing the Quarterly Box from Book Riot? Did you get one of the lamps or the lottery items? Spill it!
OMFG. If you follow me on Twitter you probably know where I’m going with this. I was not only one of the first 250 people, but one of the first 100 people to buy Book Riot Live tickets when they went on sale at 10am (PST) yesterday morning. I also got tickets to the event where you get to drink with some of the Riot staff and speakers at The Strand. This is amazeballs for me.
I not only get to go to New York City for the first time, but I also get to hang out with really cool bookish people (I know, seems redundant). Next on the list will be buying plane tickets and finding a place to stay. We’re going for longer than the event so you know we’re going to try to fit in some sight seeing as well.
After that excitement I devoured Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler for the WoC Scifi/fantasy book club I joined. I can’t go to the first meeting, but I still wanted to read the book. And it was glorious. I recently read Station Eleven and found a lot of similarities. One was that there wasn’t a lot of focus on what caused the world to decline, but on the survivors. On how they dealt with the world changing. Written in 1993, the book takes place in 2026-2027 and it made it all too real reading it in 2015. Butler doesn’t do anything insane. She wrote a future that was realistic. Terrifying, but completely something I can see happening. I loved it. Luckily Scribd has Parable of the Talents, the next book so I’ll be starting that shortly.
I also spent some time with Come Together, Fall Apart by Cristina Henriquez which I’m also having a great time with. I generally struggle with short stories, but Henriquez gives me just enough story that I don’t feel short changed. I’m struggling with a sinus infection right now complete with a nice headache and blurry vision so I had to give it a break, but hopefully tonight I’ll delve into more of the story.
What did you read today? Are you going to BR Live?
I only meant to pick up my son’s order of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Half Magic, and the Knight of the Kitchen Table. However, my local indie is too wonderful for words. I picked up a signed copy of Island of a Thousand Mirrors, The First Bad Man, and In Real Life from the Staff Recommendation shelves.
Jezebel just started a video series ‘in which Hillary Crosley Coker trails interesting and kick-ass women as they navigate this thing called life.’ The first guest was trans activist, author, and the all around awesome Janet Mock (fun fact: I walked in the SF Pride Parade last year and she was the Grand Marshal).
So I was thinking which bookish broads would I like to see interviewed. This list is just the beginning so blow up the comments section with others you’d like to see as well.
*Roxane Gay – It’s no secret that I love her. So a whole interview? Bring it on.
*Toni Morrison – This feels like a gimme. Of course Hillary should interview TMo.
*Mallory Ortberg- She’s hilarious and talented and does amazing commentary with classic paintings featuring the ladies.
*Kelley Sue DeConnick – Comics count too! KS is a freaking powerhouse and is making awesome things happen with comics like most recently Bitch Planet.
*G.Willow Wilson- We can’t leave her out. It’s not fucking allowed. Not only a great novel writer (Alif the Unseen) she also writes the Ms. Marvel comics.
*Jennifer Weiner – Genre always gets left out. JW is a champion for the ladies getting love in literary circles and not only writes some great books, but also has on point The Bachelor live tweeting skills .
*Seanan McGuire – I just love what this lady does. She just helped kickstart Queers Destroy Science Fiction and writes in a variety of genres.
*Jacqueline Woodson – Just won so many awards for Brown Girl Dreaming which might have changed my mind about poetry.