Friday, October 2, 2015

September Reading Wrap-Up

This week has thrown me. I think it's something at work cos there were a few of us who could not figure out what day it was or the fact that September is over. Maybe it's because October means another quarter has ended which means things are about to get super busy for a couple weeks and we are all in denial about that. But regardless, multiple times on Wednesday myself and others said "...but wait, October is tomorrow? How the hell did that happen?"

I did not get quite as many pages read this time around but still a respectable number. See what happens when I can't play around online during my commute because NJTransit has somehow made the entire line a deadzone? Now, shall we look at some stats?

Number of books read
How to Live Safely in a Science Fiction Universe by Charles Yu
We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche 
Packing for Mars by Mary Roach
At Home: A Short History of Private Life by Bill Bryson
Us by David Nicholls
People I Want To Punch In The Face by Jen Mann

Number of pages read

Percentage of fiction read
33% - first time this year non-fiction has surpassed fiction

Percentage of female authors
50% - well, look at that

Percentage of white authors
Percentage of US authors

Book formats
ebooks: 67%
paperback: 33%

Percentage of rereads
17% - I had such a good time re-reading A Walk in the Woods I decided I needed more Bryson

Percentage of review books
0% just...nope

Books by decade
2010s - 100%
...seriously, every book was written within the last 5 years
Books by genre
Essay - 33%
History - 17%
Lit Fic - 17% (this is pretty much my "I have no idea what this book is but it's fiction so...")
Sci-Fi - 17%
Regular Sci - 17%

Resolution books
How to Live Safely in a Science Fiction Universe  - author isn't white!
We Should All Be Feminists - author is neither white nor from the US!
Us  - author is not from the US!

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Mercy would here be criminal

Monkalong post one and I have actually managed to get the reading for the first post done on time!

I never know what to talk about in these first posts so why don't we start with what I knew about The Monk before starting the book:
Alright, good post.

So yeah, I didn't know anything about it other than Alice (aka Reading Rambo) said we're doing this readalong and yeah. I figure even if the book is not my thing the readalongs are always fun so it doesn't really matter what we read. Good thing so far this book is kicking ass.

First things first, we're all agreed that Aunt Leonella is the best, right?

Antonia, why do not you speak, Child? While the Cavalier says all sorts of civil things to you, you sit like a Statue, and never utter a syllable of thanks, either bad, good, or indifferent!
My dear Aunt, I am very sensible that...
Fye, Niece! How often have I told you, that you should never interrupt a Person who is speaking!? When did you ever know me to do such a thing?
The best.

(Also, does everyone's version have lots of words capitalized? Like not just first words of sentences and proper nouns? Is that a thing?)

So we have Antonia being boring and pretty, and Leonella being awesome and pushy and then two guys (Lorenzo and Christoval) being boring and falling in love with Antonia because of course. They, along with the whole of Madrid, are getting ready to listen to a sermon by the mystery priest Ambrosio. He's essentially a saint, having grown up with the monks after being left on their doorstep.

Too great severity is said to be Ambrosio's only fault. Exempted himself from human failings, He is not sufficiently indulgent to those of others

So you just KNOW he's going to have a fall from grace.

We transition from Lorenzo and Antonia via Lorenzo's sister, the nun Agnes. He falls asleep at the church and when the nuns come for confession he sees a man hide a letter, later picked up by his sister. But Ambrosio finds the letter and reads it cos being practically a saint means not respecting other people's mail. The letter informs Ambrosio that Agnes is planning on running away
with Antonia's uncle relative

because she is PREGNANT
Ambrosio tells the head nun who I believe literally dragged Agnes away promising various harsh punishments while Agnes yelled curses and the priest

Then we move into the next part of the story where Ambrosio thinks he's the best (Pride told him loudly that He was superior to the rest of his fellow-Creatures) and he even has this novice monk Rosario that is fawning over him.

Then it turns out that Rosario is dun dun DUUUUN...A WOMAN! Whaaaaaa?
She is madly in love with Ambrosio who agrees not to turn her in because she threatens to kill herself so yeah, lots of stable people here. He agrees to give her three days before she must leave and she agrees if he'll give her a flower but then he's BIT BY A DEADLY SERPENT and the Monk-doctor tells him he will totally be dead in three days. Except, he isn't. The swelling is gone and everything looks fine. But Matilda/Rosario is saying ominous things about how they'll never see each other again after three days and in truth she sucked the poison out so he could live. She uses the fact that she's about to die to convince Ambrosio to sleep with her and he does it because she reminds him of this version of the virgin Mary who has been giving him impure thoughts.

He forgot his vows, his sanctity, and his fame: He remembered nothing but the pleasure and opportunity.

We are only like 20% in and already Ambrosio has given into temptation. Lewis does NOT mess around.

What is going to happen with Ambrosio? And is Agnes OK? Is Leonella going to show up again and keep hitting on Christoval? Will the gypsy curse prove true and Antonia be killed? (Oh yeah, there's a gypsy curse. And a nun curse. THIS BOOK IS NUTS) How many more "gasp" gifs can I find, cos I'm thinking I'm going to need some more if this keeps up.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Bookish coincidences

(This isn't really a real post but it's something odd I wanted to call out and also hey, look, now I have another post done!)

I started listening to Serial the other day. You know the podcast that was a big thing awhile ago? I am amazing at jumping on trends after the moment has passed. But I was up to date on Freakonomics and wasn't in the mood for Welcome to Nightvale but still wanted to listen to something while working and said "Hey, here's a thing that people like and SNL did that parody and PBS Idea Channel had 2 episodes about it, so yeah, let's try that."

I listened to the first 6 episodes while working and later starting to make dinner. That's something like 3 1/2 hours. Then listened to another hour today while cleaning, so yeah, I am enjoying it.
But I'm not (just) writing to be like "Check out this thing I like that you probably know all about already." I'm also writing because I didn't expect there to be overlap between this podcast about a 15 year old murder and A Walk in the Woods but there is! Kinda!

At one point in the podcast the host is meeting with a law professor who runs an organization The Innocence Project, which reexamines cases where it seems the person could have been wrongly convicted. One of the cases she had worked on (not sure if part of that organization or just a case she had taken) was a guy who had been accused of murdering two hikers in Shenandoah National Park. You know, the hikers Bryson mentions in his book as the ones that were killed a few weeks after he and Katz passed through the park.

There isn't anything more to this other than a coincidence but I thought how strange it was that that was the case she had worked on and referenced during the podcast. And of course I recently re-read the book because I was going to see the movie (which I did, and which does not mention the murders because, you know, why would it?)
Sometimes coincidences are a real thing. Get off your throne, Mycroft. 

Something to take from this? Umm, listen to Serial and read A Walk in the Woods. Just cos those are two very cool things. I told you this was a non-post.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Reading format: How do you choose which to read when you choose what to read

I was looking through my reading stats the other day* and while I knew I'd been reading a lot of ebooks lately, I didn't realize how many. Turns out it's slightly more than half so far (54% to be exact) which surprised me. So then I was thinking about why I select any particular format to read and figured I'd write about it here cos it's my blog and isn't that the point?
I hardly read hardback books for the reason that hardback books are heavier than other formats. This year I've only read 1 (Fat Girl Walking) and that was because it was a review copy sent to me and thus I took what was offered. I like what hardback books look like but the last hardback book I actually bought was probably Christopher Moore's Sacre Bleu, which I bought because I was at a book signing for the book which had just come out. (I actually bought Jenny Lawson's Let's Pretend This Never Happened the day before for the same reason [book signing]).

Audiobooks are rarer than other formats, mostly because I don't drive so I don't have the excuse to listen to them on my commute. I've listened to WWZ a few times while working, but it's more background since I know the story so well. If it's something I really want to pay attention to, trying to do it during work would be a bad idea.

That leaves paperback and ebooks, which by a large margin, make up the majority of my reading.

When it comes to ebooks, I usually select them for one of two main reasons: it's on sale OR  I'm at the airport/on vacation and suddenly realize I have no packed enough books.

It's on sale is the most common reason I read ebooks. Most of the ebooks I have I bought for under $5, usually thanks to Kindle Daily Deal emails or else Book Sliced alerts. I am cheap and easily swayed by deals.

It's not often I find myself at the airport without enough books to read, but that has far more to do with the fact that I'm not exactly a world traveler and definitely not because I'm excellent at planning ahead. I know a few books (Game of Thrones, The Martian) I bought because I was at the airport waiting for a flight and realized I was almost done with whatever my last book was and would need to get something before I was in the air and book-less. Even in those cases, I'll typically look through my TBR list and then buy whatever ebook is the cheapest.

There are a few other reasons I might go with an ebook. Most review copies are offered this way. When it came to the rest of the Game of Thrones books I decided that ebooks were probably the best way to deal with those chunksters.

That leaves paperback, which is my default when the other stuff above doesn't work out. I'm more likely to spend more on a paperback book than on an ebook and I will often deliberately wait on purchasing a newly released book until it's out in paperback. There are a couple books I own both in paperback and as an ebook (Shades of Grey) because one copy when on sale and I really love the book and wanted a copy of my shelves, but this is rare. Because it's hard to justify buying the same book twice and I'm also running out of bookshelf space.
I'm on the road to this
Though Just the Right Book did just send me a paperback copy of Landline which I own as an ebook and I debated keeping the new copy. Until Tom sputtered "What? You're not keeping a book YOU ALREADY HAVE AND READ. They'll send you a new book." and sent them back Landline which they replaced with Black Chalk.

What's your preference? How do you choose which type to go with?

*Thanks to my handy-dandy tracking sheet.

Monday, September 21, 2015

How far can a person hear?

Following up it's less-than-successful selection of Still Life with Bread Crumbs comes Bird Box. Never let it be said that Just The Right Book gets stuck in a rut picking the same type of book over and over.

Bird Box is a strange story, but it's a horror-apocalypse so yeah, I guess strange is par for the course. There's...something out there. There are rumors of murder-suicides occurring in distant countries. Slowly rumors give way to news reports and the threat is getting closer. Yet no one knows what it is. It's difficult to provide much information if everyone who sees the thing is dead. Society quickly devolves into chaos* with people covering all windows, only going out blindfolded, and btw, that includes driving.

The story flips back and forth between the present day when our protagonist and two small children travel down a river, seeking safe haven, and flashbacks that explain how we got to this stage.

The present day scenes are tense. We know something is out there. Or at least, we know that they think something is out there. It's hard to really say if there's anything there or if this is mass hysteria on a global scale. What we know for sure is that most people absolutely will not look outside, will not venture outside without blindfolds on, no matter what. That includes Malorie, who has been living in a house for years with two small children and diminishing supplies. The kids are barely old enough now (only four) but they can't keep waiting. And besides, the children have been trained since birth to rely on senses other than sight, so they can help when it comes to navigation. Of course, it seems that there is something following them. Was it really a good idea to leave the house?

The flashbacks are fairly typical of what you can expect to find with an apocalypse story, with a bunch of strangers who find themselves banded together, trying to do what they can to survive when the world they've always known is gone. Malorie finds herself at the home after her own world collapses. She finds out she's pregnant the day the new stories start to pickup and her own life shatters.

The flashback scenes are mostly concerned with people trying to figure out how to get by, day-by-day, as well as some minor attempts to understand exactly what is going on. And of course, the characters have to decide who can they really trust.

The book is no doubt creepy and there are a lot of tense moments, but it doesn't really build to much. It has good moments and a very interesting premise, but I think it would have been better as a short story.

GIF rating:

*WWZ has sort of ruined this for me. I get that you sort of need everything to have gone to hell in order to tell the story but getting from "fully functioning society" to "living hell" always feels a bit like the underpants gnomes. I need phase 2 explained better.

Title quote from page 16

Malerman, Josh. Bird Box. Ecco, 2014.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

I should really pay more attention to web traffic

I was going to write a blog post about why I select whatever format (ebook, physical book, etc.) at any given point and I was looking for an old post I wrote about how I wasn't sure if I'd ever want an eReader (past me is so dumb) but I couldn't find it. So I decided "Google knows all. Let's ask it for the link to that post." I searched something along the lines of whatredread "should i buy" Kindle. Google did not turn up this post but instead turned up a Buzzfeed list 21 Things Men Should Never Be Ashamed Of.
Which...OK, that's odd. Then I look in the little description and my blog link is in there.

I click on the link and turns out Buzzfeed used one of the GIFs I use during our How To Be A Girl readalong in their list. Huh. Interesting. It's also on the Spanish version of that post.

So then I decided to just search "Whatredread" but that didn't turn much I didn't already know about. Instead I decided to start searching whatredread buzzfeed and see what turns up. Turns out that wasn't the only list.

A GIF from one of the Franzen readalong posts made its way onto a list of 20 Socially Unacceptable Things Everyone Wishes They Could Say and on a list of The 24 Completely Irrational Stages of Having an Internet Nemesis.

So there you go. I have no idea if that affected traffic. I probably should pay more attention to things like that. I feel like if some people at work read that last sentence they'll have a minor heart attack*.

Now I'll go back to trying to find that earlier post. Or, you know, not.

*Paying attention to web traffic is one of those things we're supposed to do.