Thursday, July 2, 2020

June Reading Wrap Up

Man, I really meant to write another post in June and clearly that did not happen. Because you know...*gestures around*. I don't know that I have much to recap about June in general. Get outside. Wear a mask. Donate, protest, do what you can.

But hey, here's the lil monster reading. He especially likes this part of the book because it involves cake. To the best of my knowledge, he's only ever had cake once (for his first birthday) but he KNOWS.
Also, he's slowly learning his colors and letters, which is a) his "lel-low" (yellow) and "puu pur" (purple) are the MOST adorable and b) his learning this is making me feel far better about the amount of Sesame Street (and Cocomelon, and Gecko's Garage) he's watching.

Anywhoo, let's see those stats.

Number of books read
4
Peril at End House by Agatha Christie
So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo
Blanche on the Lam by Barbara Neely
Educated by Tara Westover

Number of pages read
1,160

Fiction
50%

POC authors
50%

Female authors
100%
US authors
75%

Book formats
audiobook: 100%

Where'd I get the book
Library: 100%

Book club books
25%

Decade published
1930s: 25%
2010s: 75%

Resolution books
75%
Peril at End House was published pre-2000 and by a non-US author (Christie, UK)
So You Want to Talk About Race and Blanche on the Lam are both by Black authors.

Wednesday, June 3, 2020

May Reading Wrap Up

It's June. May was fast and everything is terrible right now and I'm so very tired (and have the privilege of being tired and being able to disengage when needed). There are lots of organizations that you can donate to if you're able (NAACP, various bail funds, SPLC, CUAPB to name a few).

I stuck to comfort reads again this month and honestly, this is probably going to be a theme for a while. But still reading, so that's something. Oh yeah, and probably a lot of Poirot because he is ridiculous and those rich people murder mysteries are very fun and comforting.

And hey, it's been a while since I've included a pic of the goblin so here's one where he's trying to decide his next read.

So, let's see those stats.

Number of books read
5
The Well of Lost Plots by Jasper Fforde
The Southern Book Club's Guide to Slaying Vampires by Grady Hendrix
Double Sin and Other Stories by Agatha Christie
Murder in Mesopotamia by Agatha Christie
Appointment with Death by Agatha Christie

Total pages read
1,566

Fiction
100%

POC authors
0%
Female authors
60%

US authors
20%

Book formats
audiobook: 80%
paperback: 20%

Where'd I get the book
chain bookstore: 20%
Kindle/Audible: 20%
Library: 60%

Rereads
20%

Decade published
1920s: 20%
1930s: 40%
2000s: 20%
2020s: 20%

What will happen next month? Who can say?

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Comfort Reads

I have really failed updating here this month. It's just, man, everything is a lot even when there isn't a lot going on. Also I'm supposed to be on vacation right now which obviously is not happening and there are MUCH bigger problems in the world, of course, but I'm still majorly bummed.
Anyway, let's not wallow (too much) but instead, let's talk about comfort reads. Because that is basically all I can handle right now. I don't necessarily just mean rereading my favorites (though I am doing that) but just reading things that are fun and not too taxing. Reading that requires effort and makes you work for it and tackles difficult subjects is GREAT and I love it. When I have the mental energy for it. Which I don't right now. Because work and the goblin and general anxiety are taking up a lot of space.
Which isn't the worst. Because I'm still reading. I was worried some of that would fall to the wayside because the majority of my reading happens during my commute. You know, that commute that is no longer happening. In theory I have time to sit and read. Except I find that when I have that time to just sit there, I would rather do something less mentally taxing. Like aimlessly scrolling through various social media sites and watching reruns of House Hunters. But I am having continued success listening to books.
I've relistened to some Bill Bryson because I love me some random facts. I've been listening to a bunch of Hercule Pirot and while technically they are new to me, let's be real, the stories are not that different from each other and I am just enjoying the ridiculousness that they entail (some intentional, some not). Also there is a lot of Christie in general and a lot available on various library apps, which is helpful when I can't really leave the house.
Ultimately, I want things that aren't going to make me work too much. I want them to be familiar and easy and that will make me smile. I will get back to more difficult reads, those that challenge me and present to me different points of view and experiences. I love those things too. But right now, that's not what I need. That's not what I can handle. And it's not what I'll appreciate. So instead let me snuggle up (metaphorically, since I'm typically doing something like cooking while listening) with a book that is the equivalent of a big cup of tea/coffee/vodka/whathaveyou.

Tuesday, May 5, 2020

April Reading Wrap Up

So we are all in agreement that April lasted like 3 minutes, right? I need us to all get on board with this so I have a good excuse why I hardly posted in April. I mean, other than the whole pandemic thing, because that is also a major reason why I didn't get anything done. Turns out, trying to work while quarantined with a small monster means there's no time to do anything. Except watch clips from Blue's Clue and Sesame Street because man, have I watched a lot of that because screen time limitations, what are those?

Let's look at my reading for April, shall we? I veered strongly towards comfort reads, because you know

Number of books read
4
Lost in a Good Book by Jasper Fforde
The Martian by Andy Weir
Toddlers are A**holes: It's Not Your Fault by Bunmi Laditan
At Home: A Short History of Private Life by Bill Bryson

Total pages read
1,456

Fiction
50%

POC authors
25%

Female authors
25%

US authors
50%

Book formats
audiobook: 50%
ebook: 25%
paperback: 50%

Where'd I get the book
Chain bookstores: 25%
Kindle/audible: 25%
Library: 50%

Rereads
75%
Decade published
2000s: 25%
2010s: 75%

Resolution books
25%
Toddlers Are A**holes is by a POC author from Canada. Also the only female author I read this week and the only non-reread. Those two facts don't make it a resolution, just something I thought I'd share.

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Let's Talk About Audiobooks

As I believe has been clear by my reading stats from the last year+ (which you're fastidiously committing to memory, right?) I have swung heavily in favor of audiobooks, primarily due to the fact that my time sitting without distraction has decreased significantly (no longer commuting by train, small monster in house). If you didn't memorize past stats and are curious, in 2018 23% of the books I read were audiobooks. In 2019 it jumps to 78% and so far this year it's at 74%. So lots of listening. And I have found certain things to be true. Now of course, this is just me and your mileage may vary

1. Nonfiction is way easier to listen to than fiction
I have found it far easy to submerse myself in a fictional world if I'm sitting down and looking at words on a page than if I'm listening. Maybe it's because if I zone out a bit with an audiobook, I could miss crucial details of the story. Not to say I don't sometimes zone out while reading but it's easy enough to glance up a few lines (or skip back a couple pages). With an audiobook I have to try to skip the play back and many times I'm doing other things while listening to an audiobook, like driving or cooking or cleaning so skipping back takes that much extra effort and most of the time, I don't bother.

That doesn't mean I can't do fiction audiobooks. As a matter of fact in 2019 my audiobook reading was split almost 50/50 between fiction and nonfiction. But I do find nonfiction to be easier. Fiction has to work a bit harder.

2. Who is doing the reading matters almost as much as the book itself
I don't think when I first started listening to audiobooks that I entirely took into account the narrator. I knew it was important to an extent. If I'm listening to a book for the first time and have no point of comparison (i.e., I haven't read it before) then it's hard to say if my experience with the book was improved or impaired by the narrator. But the more listening I've done, the more I realize that the narrator can make or break a book. To be fair, I have more examples of them breaking a book. Mostly because if I love a book I've listened to, I'm going to give credit to the book itself and I don't have too many (or any as far as I can tell) examples of me having read a book I was lukewarm about and then spending the time to then listen to it to find out if the narrator could have saved the day. I do, however, have a couple examples of books that I've really loved and when I listened to them, I was very...eh about.

The Martian by Andy Weir, read by Will Wheaton.
This one was upsetting because I was VERY excited for this audiobook when I heard he was going to be narrating it. See I looooove this book. And I also looooove this movie. Already, two forms, big fan. And I like Wheaton's reading. He narrated a Joe Hill short story that I was a fan of so I thought this is perfect. And reader, it was not. Part of it may be the fact that when I read the book, I could sort of skim over the math or super sciency bits and there were lots of those. In an audiobook, no can do, at least not easily. But that's not on the narrator. But the way some of the characters were portrayed was not my favorite and I spent much of the time thinking "No, sorry, Mitch wouldn't say it like that." Even Tom a few times commented that he didn't like this audiobook. Alas, alas.

Dad is Fat and Food: A Love Story by Jim Gaffigan, read by Jim Gaffigan
This one is confusing. Because Gaffigan is reading them and he's a standup comedian so it feels like if anyone should get the material right, he should. Also a lot of the stuff in these books are bits from his standup routines I've seen before. So I KNOW he can deliver it well. And yet in the books, many places fall flat. It won't stop me from listening to it cos overall I still think they're pretty funny but it's very strange

Spook: Science Tackles the Afterlife by Mary Roach, read by Bernadette Quigley
In this case I haven't read the book before and I haven't seen this book performed elsewhere. But I have read a fair amount of Roach's stuff so feel confident saying that I would have enjoyed this book better had I read it instead of listening. There were odd pronunciations and some accents attempted that made me cringe a bit and took me out of the book.

3. Big cast recordings are lots of fun
Some fiction audiobooks that I've particularly liked have been cast recordings with a whole bunch of actors and I've enjoyed these immensely. World War Z is the obvious (for anyone who reads this or knows me) choice because I listen to that about once a year. It has a great, varied cast. Some chapters/characters/readers I like better than others but overall it's great. But it's not just an anomaly. The Graveyard Book and Locke & Key are both excellent and worth multiple listens. That's not to say that fiction only works when there's a cast (I will always love you, Jim Dale Harry Potter series), but something about hearing these different actors take on the various roles makes it that much easier to lose yourself in the story and hear it closer to the way I hear it if I'm just reading to myself.

Now if you'll excuse me, I need to figure out what to listen to next.

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

March Reading Wrap Up

March. What a month, huh? Normally, I'm a big fan of March cos it's got my birthday in it. Birthdays are slightly less fun when you can't leave the house. And also when you had tickets to see Ali Wong. But I know I am lucky. But also I am disappointed. Lots of emotions all the time. Tom and I are working from home (luckily, we can) and daycare is closed (of course) so there is a lot of juggling and multitasking and general stress. But sometimes there is reading. I mean, more often there is bad TV/movies (I am watching Geostorm as I write this, while simultaneously listening to the Geostorm episode of How Did This Get Made. Once you start multitasking, it's hard to stop), but sometimes, there is reading. Why don't we talk about that?

Number of books read
6
Go To Sleep, I Miss You by Lucy Knisley (which I read twice and thus counted twice in the other stats)
The Cases That Haunt Us: From Jack the Ripper to Jon Benet Ramsey, The FBI's Legendary Mindhunter Sheds New Light on the Mysteries that Won't Go Away by Mark Olshaker and John E. Douglas
Caffeine: How Caffeine Created the Modern World by Michael Pollan
Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup by John Carreyrou
The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde
A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail by Bill Bryson

Number of pages read
1,955

Fiction
14%

POC authors
0%
Female authors
29%

US authors
86%

Book formats
audiobook: 57%
hardback: 29%
paperback: 14%

Where'd I get the book
Chain Bookstore: 14%
Indie Bookstore: 29%
Kindle/Audible: 43%
Library: 14%

Rereads
43%
Decade published
1990s: 14%
2000s: 29%
2010s: 14%
2020s: 43%

Resolution books
29%
A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson - published prior to 2000
The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde - non-US author (Wales)

I ALSO managed to write two posts, other than my wrap up post, in March so that's another goal met! Can I do it again in April? Who knows because seriously who knows anything that's happening anymore. But anyway wash your hands and stay home (if you can).