Fans of the Bloggess, Beat the Mid-Winter Blahs With BOOKS!

Let me start by asking this. Did you know that when you create an Amazon wish list, the default address is NONE, unless you click “manage list” and add one? I did not know that. Now you do, too. It’s important for what follows.

So The Bloggess recently hosted her annual Booksgiving, where people post their wish list, and others (usually complete strangers) surprise them by treating them to their book. A group of us are huge fans of hers, and some of us missed it, so we’re going to host it in-house! YAY!

Lumen says books are GOOD!

I was going to create a spreadsheet like I do for the Christmas swap, but we’ve had a death in the family, and I am just not going to have time. But I said I would do SOMETHING, so here it is. If someone wants to create a Google Doc to share or wants to  take it over, let me know in the comments. I can lock comments here and move everything to the spreadsheet. Otherwise…

Here’s how it works:

  • Create a BRAND NEW Amazon wish list with ONE BOOK on it. If you have a preference for e-book or audio, add a comment beside the book.
  • Click on “send list to others,” and copy the link.
  • Paste it in the comments here.
  • If you are international, list your country in your comment so you can find each other.
  • To buy for others, just click their link.

Rules:

  • Only put one book on your list. Only one. If you are hoping to get a book for your kid, too, they need their own list, please. Post them both in a single comment.
  • Don’t add more stuff to the list after someone buys it. I know my Bloggess Buddies wouldn’t add stuff, but it’s best to say it because not everyone that reads this will be familiar with the swap.
  • If you can afford to buy for someone else, please do. It would be fantastic if everyone was able to get a book.
  • If you cannot afford to buy for someone else, don’t feel badly about it.

FAQ

  • Why do I have to create a NEW list? Because if stuff shows up on your list as “purchased,” people get a bad taste in their mouths.
  • To Participate, must I be a part of the Bloggess Buddies group (on Twitter the hashtag says “tribe,” but I am non-native, and I feel more comfortable using “buddy”)? Not necessarily. If you’re a regular reader, go ahead and jump in the pool!

Ya’ll, I will be out of pocket for a while. I cannot promise I can monitor the post. Use your best judgment. Most of you will recognize the folks you interact with regularly on the Twitter or from here in my comments section.

 

50 Happy Things: Because Gratitude is Contagious

There’s a whole lot of grateful going on out there on the interwebs. I just happened to catch the wave of it when Dawn over at Tales FromThe Motherland started a whole gratitude blog party. The gist is simple. Write down as many things I am grateful for as I can in 10 minutes. I had to start this a couple of times. First time around, I came up with “sticks,” and “trees.” Because apparently there was too much pressure, or I am a squirrel. So I tried it again. None of it is in any particular order

Stuff I’m grateful for:

My computer. It takes me places.

My husband. We were meant for each other. At a recent Christmas party white elephant exchange, a gift was opened, our eyes locked, and we both knew without speaking that we had to have it. When it was my turn, I took it for our own. We high-fived. It is beautiful.

It's a redneck plunger. It's beautiful. It goes perfectly with our Leg Lamp.

It’s a redneck plunger. It’s beautiful. It goes perfectly with our Leg Lamp.

The Girl-child. She is home for the holidays, and without getting all maudlin, I’ll just say that I forget how helpful and funny she is. It’s good to be a family of five again.

The Padawan. He’s a funny one, and he always makes me laugh.

Squish. He made me late for work. Because he needed to put on a fresh roll of toilet paper.  I have passed on the sacred knowledge.

NaNoWriMo. I made some real strides this year. I needed the prod back into writing, and it has taken my students to places they never thought they’d go.

Gas range. Which I guess officially makes me a boring grown-up. I’m okay with that. It cuts cooking time in half sometimes.

Tech savvocity  I never used to think of myself as tech savvy, but I  am now. I can hate on Windows 10, not because I am afraid of new things, but because it has actually given up functionality.

New things that hatch. Images are borrowed mostly from previous posts, which is why the captions are weird, but I’m almost out of room for photo storage here. Click to enlarge.

My job. I love going to work every day. Who wouldn’t?

My camera. I take thousands of photos every year. I love to catalog stuff.

The blogosphere. Referring specifically to the wonderful people that have come into my life because of blogging, in person sometimes.

Pesky cats. I don’t have words for the weird little fuzzy things that share my space. Pixel is such a kids’ cat. She hears a crash and is off to see how she can help stir things up further. Loki is her spirit-deity.

Maturity My new computer has something wrong with the display, and I had some things stolen from the mailbox at Christmas. But it’s just one of those things, a series of inconveniences, not tragedies like they might have been two years ago. 

Grocery shopping  Don’t get me wrong. I hate grocery shopping because it’s a chore, but it is also a privilege not everyone has.

Holidays. Family fun time is the best time.

Humor. I like to laugh. I NEED to laugh. I discovered The Bloggess this year. I approve. She even retweeted some of my tweets in her awkward fest a few weeks ago.

Good books. There is nothing better than losing myself in a good book. What’s the best book you read in 2015? My e-reader is hungry.

Writing. If I don’t like the world I am living in, I can write myself a new one. I need to do that more.

My friends. They keep me grounded AND encouraged.

Music Trite, but true. Sometimes somebody else sings the songs of my heart. This year I discovered Poets of the Fall.

Free books  My used bookstore has a free bin out front. I find all kinds of treasures in it, like a hardcover Lord of the Rings. Also? Kobo store has some free gems now and again.

E-readers.  I got a new one for Christmas – shiny, back-lit, glorious. I love tree books, but e-readers mean that when my sad hands get all crampy and useless, I can still read.

Getting rid of crap. After Christmas, I try to get rid of at least as much stuff as I brought into the house. I aim for more this year.

My faith. It pulls me through hard times.

My blood family. They’re weird and funny and nutty and wonderful.

My church family. See above. Family is family.

Iwako Erasers. If anyone wants to send me a bag of fifty, I’ll give them a good home.

Harry Potter. This book series has brought much joy into my life and some incredible people. It is made of magic.

SPP. The best little online game that you’ve probably never heard of. I met wonderful people there, some of whom are sisters from other mothers IRL.Also, the first time I had to come to terms with the fact that nothing lasts forever.

This is also the place where I learned that people will complain about ANYTHING. It was a giant education in a little, fun game.

SPP. This is also the place where I learned that people will complain about ANYTHING. It was a giant education in a little, fun game.

My school. I can be in the worst mood ever, but the moment I walk in, I feel the love and joy. My school feeds my soul.

Toys. I like fun. I am naturally attracted to toys.

Lego sets This morning, Squish spent several hours putting together his Mystery Machine Lego set. So I got to sleep in and then READ.

My Chemex. I’m not a hipster, but I do appreciate good coffee. I can’t go back to auto-drip now that I’ve used a Chemex.

Old dogs that can learn new tricks, like how to use a Chemex.

Storage containers As a kid, I dreamed about what Santa would bring me for Christmas. As an adult, I dream about putting it all in clear plastic boxes.

When my kids read my blog and laugh.

Being a recommended humor blog. I think that ship has sailed, but I was on WordPress’s nice list for a nice, long stint.

Good movies

The ability to like what I like without caring what anyone else thinks. This ability was a long time in coming, but better late than never.

Used bookstores.

Wool socks If it ever bothers to get cold again. It’s just after Christmas, and it’s over 70 degrees.

Family photos, especially the ones that hold family secrets. We have a hundred years’ worth of photos, and they are priceless. 

Blogs. My lunch hour is spent reading blogs. Some of my faves are The Middlest Sister, The Kitchens Garden, and 2 Brown Dawgs. I read dozens. There are more, I’m just running out of room here!

Good customer service. The champs this year – Lego Store, Chuck E. Cheese, JCPenney, Mostafa at Hewlett-Packard, and Shutterfly.

New editing tools on WordPress. And also the ability to write in the old admin format. The new one is too minimalist for these eyes to read. So thanks for looking out for us old-timers, WordPress.

Punctuation. I know it doesn’t seem like it from looking at my list, but WordPress wouldn’t play nice with punctuation and formatting today.

There are forty-something on here, I think. The numbered bullets went all nutty when I added images, so I removed them. Too much to do tonight to spend longer than twenty minutes wrestling with the formatting. Want to join us? I hope you do!

Instructions, copied and pasted from Dawn’s blog:

If you’d like to join in, here’s how it works: set a timer for 10 minutes; timing this is critical. Once you start the timer, start your list (the timer doesn’t matter for filling in the instructions, intro, etc). The goal is to write 50 things that made you happy in 2015, or 50 thing that you feel grateful for. The idea is to not think too hard; write what comes to mind in the time allotted. When the timer’s done, stop writing. If you haven’t written 50 things, that’s ok. If you have more than 50 things and still have time, keep writing; you can’t feel too happy or too grateful! When I finished my list, I took a few extra minutes to add links and photos.

To join us for this project: 1) Write your post and publish it (please copy and paste the instructions from this post, into yours) 2) Click on the blue frog at the very bottom of this post. 3) That will take you to another window, where you can past the URL to your post. 4) Follow the prompts, and your post will be added to the Blog Party List. Please note: the InLinkz will expire on January 15, 2015. After that date, no blogs can be added.

 

Pretend this is a blue frog and click here to join the party.

Room For Improvement

Dear friends, it’s a brand new year. The slate is wiped clear, and we all get to start fresh. All of us. Let’s do this together, shall we? Working together can make the world a better place.

I have goals for myself, of course. It wouldn’t be quite fair otherwise.

My Goals For Self-Improvement

  • This is the year I will finish my current manuscript and begin querying agents. I’m hoping the manuscript itself will be finished in the next month or so, a first draft at any rate. And then on to rewrites, finding beta readers, and then the query. I am excited and terrified. This particular novel is a departure from anything I’ve ever written.
  • I need to do a bit of work on the ole physique. Yeah, I know it’s cliché. Have we met? I made a conscious decision to eat whatever I wanted over the holidays. This morning, I looked in the mirror and discovered all the fluffy pigeons had come home to roost. Right on my bum-bum. I must do better. I will get back to regular exercise and intentional eating. Although I would argue my Christmas eating was pretty intentional. I intended to eat that entire basket of candy bars without sharing.
  • If I buy books, I must immediately add them to my To Be Read list. It takes the commitment level up a notch to publicly commit to reading it. No more saying “I’d like to read this new book sometime.” I’ll post my list later this week.
  • To be as generous of spirit and selfless as my husband. The other day, I went downstairs to get a movie for us to watch, and I knew that no matter what I chose, my husband would happily watch it. I could have brought “Twilight,” and he’d have still smiled. At least on the outside.

My Wishes For the World

  • For words to be used properly.  The two that come to mind at the moment are “artisan” and “handcrafted.” Here’s a flow chart to let you know if the word is being used properly.
My first flow chart. Any recommendations for programs?

My first flow chart. Any recommendations for programs?

  • For reviewers to stop expecting that every female protagonist is a role model. There is a recent trend to upbraid authors for writing women and girls that aren’t paragons of modern feminism, especially in YA. As a writer, this trend really bugs me. I’m not writing role models; I’m writing people. Not every person I meet in life is someone I will look up to. I don’t see book characters any differently. Just because the protagonist isn’t a hero doesn’t mean the book is a bad one. Flawed characters are more interesting.
  • For us to make this the year we get the facts before forming an opinion. Or taking action. Even if it involves reading a primary source. I have to turn off social media periodically when some celebrity/political figure I may or may not have heard of is accused of doing/saying/thinking something horrific, so my feed blows up with folks calling for a tarring and feathering. And then it turns out that (*gasp*) the person in question was misrepresented and the media was making mountains out of tiny little mole hills. Hear something that bugged you? Research it a little. It feels terrible to get the proverbial knickers in a knot and later find out it was a tempest in a teapot. Don’t believe me? Ask Goodreads. And I could think of at least five other examples without really trying.
  • For all of us to quit being mean in the name of Jesus. In researching my current novel, I came across two websites by two different Christian groups that broke my heart. Both sites were busy trashing other Christians for what they thought the other believed. That’s not what it’s about, friends. If we’re caught up in mocking a group of people because they believe in predestination versus free will (or salvation instead of sanctification), we’ve missed the whole point and we might as well go home. Jesus was pretty clear that the most important thing after loving the Lord is to love our neighbor as ourselves. How’s ’bout we get busy doing that? Seems more productive in the long run.

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And what are your hopes for the coming year?

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Raising the Dead

I haven’t posted in a bit. Lots to say, just not a lot of time in which to say it. I’ve been teaching camp at the zoo, and I’ve been too tired to put any thoughts together. Until now. I read a rather infuriating blog post a couple of days ago, and it inspired me to resurrect one of the favorite characters I have ever created, my redneck philosopher friend Bill. I’ll tell you his story sometime. I owe him a great deal.

For now, go and visit him here:

http://booksnobbery.wordpress.com/2013/06/20/dont-be-a-sexist-pig-a-psa-from-your-buddy-bill/

A warning. The blog link that is referred to in Bill’s post isn’t suitable for kids in my opinion, and it contains language you’ll never hear from me (or Bill). Open that part with caution.

Update: the link has been fixed. I hope.

Dear Haters

Dear Hater,

I read this post yesterday about Stephen King’s latest book release, and at first the quotes contained in it made me mad. And then it broke my heart. Because some of you are really mean, but also because you may find 10 years down the road that you’ve changed your mind, and you’re really putting your foot in it. Like I did.

I used to be like you. I thought I was open-minded, too. But at the same time, I thought my way was the only way, that anyone who thought differently was a loser wrong. And then I met sj, and my eyes were opened.

It didn’t happen overnight. We’ve been pals for over three years now, and it took almost that long before I would even hear her out, and even longer for me to admit that she was right. But she is. I am here to confess. I’ve gone over to the dark side. I love my e-reader.

I should have trusted her sooner. She had, after all, brought such delights as Firefly and Ready Player One into my life and changed my heart forever. But I am nothing if not stubborn.

When we first started talking, she’d mention her e-reader and how awesome it was. I did the smile-and-nod that you do when you’re pretty convinced that people are idiots misguided, but you’re too polite to say. We had discussions about reading pretty often because she and I spend a large number of our free time with our noses in a book. Well, my nose was in a book, hers was in a stupid electronic device. Not a book.

God help me, I felt like I was somehow superior. Because I read actual, physical books. I used to be you, hater.  I was better. I loved books more than those people tied to electronic devices. I loved the smell of books, the feel of books, the blah-blah-blah.

And then somehow it happened. Talking to sj one day, I actually experienced a moment of envy. Through NetGalley, she had access to all kinds of advance reader copies of incredible books. What? Books I couldn’t have? NO! I made it a goal to acquire a device of my own. Two hours later, I came home from the used bookstore with a Kobo I had purchased with trade credit.

I wasn’t hooked immediately. I read a few things, did a review for sj’s blog on something she hadn’t gotten around to reading yet. But over time, I’ve come to depend on my little Kobo. It’s nothing fancy. I can’t play Angry Birds or surf the net on it. It’s just for reading. And here’s a secret. In some ways, it’s better than a regular book. 

When I was ill recently, I lost some of the use in my hands. Whenever I went out for a walk, I’d return home to find my arms were too weak to even hold my e-reader, much less a hefty book. But I could prop that Kobo on a pillow and use one finger to poke the page-turner. When my eyes get wonky, I can actually change the font. So I can still read. And I currently carry 200 books with me at a time. In my purse. Need to disappear into Avonlea? I’m all set. Want to get cracking on the latest book for review? It’s right there.

Lest you dismiss the e-reader as a device for the disabled, I’ll tell you why I don’t have my e-reader all the time. My 10 year old steals it so he can use a flashlight and read under the covers at night. To him, it’s technology. It’s the future, and it’s exciting.

I think the quote contained in that post that gets under my skin the most is this:

“To those complaining about the fact that King didn’t release it on e-book, quit your whining. Reading an actual book (not a screen) is FUN. As an adult now with kids of my own who love to read, ebook are strictly for school or literary emergencies (only real book lovers know what I mean) in our house. Holding a book in your hand, cracking the spine, creasing the corners, getting water wrinkles on the pages from falling asleep with it on your chest while you float around the pool… It’s all part of the charm. If you have to have it explained, you wouldn’t understand anyway.”

It bugs me because, while I was never quite that sanctimonious, I once had similar views, and I’m embarrassed. Hater, let me dissuade you of the notion that only people who read paper books exclusively love books more, that it has to be either/or.

So don’t go there. It makes you sound narrow-minded. And elitist. And more than a little silly. I know. Because I was you.

Fortunately, books are not as judgmental as the people who read them. Harry Potter doesn’t care if I am turning a page or pressing a button. He welcomes me. So does Anne of Green Gables. And Tom Sawyer. And all my other friends. They’re happy to see me no matter how I got there.

And as for e-readers just being for literary emergencies, I don’t know about you, but my whole life is one big literary emergency. Waiting in line to pick up my kids, riding in the car when my husband is driving, all those times when I am dying of boredom. I no longer have to hope my husband hasn’t cleared out all my car-books. Because I have an entire library with me.

So hater, I invite you to open your mind a little bit, to see that your way isn’t the only way. I don’t expect you to believe me right now because you’ve just made a horse’s patoot our of yourself and are pretty much wed to your opinion. For now. But maybe one day you’ll decide to dabble on the electronic side. And we’ll be here to welcome you.

This post is much longer than I intended for it to be,  so I’ll end it here. With an apology. I’m sorry for ever doubting you, sj. You were the rightest. You always are.

Signed,

The Convertedest Convert in the History of Conversion

Virgin Shaming

I had another post all lined up for today. It was a happy one. I wanted it to run this morning, but I am frustrated. Yesterday, I was too angry to write about it. Today, the rage has faded, leaving me sad and without a lot of hope.

I’m not sure exactly how to start. I don’t even know quite how to tag this post. Is it about religion? books? stupid things that people say? stereotypes? I guess? yes? all of the above? This is hard. I don’t want it to be a long, rambly rant. I have points, and I’d love for other people to understand them. Here goes.

I unfollowed two blogs this weekend. I don’t do that often because I am pretty selective about who I follow in the first place. But I clicked “unsubscribe” with no hesitation at all. In the last few days, I dumped two blogs whose authors vilified parents who teach abstinence to their teens. Don’t leave yet! Hang with me for a few more sentences.

Let me be really clear here. These authors weren’t merely disagreeing with the stance. I follow all kinds of blogs whose authors have views different than my own. It’s a big world. If I only hung out with people who see things my way, I would have a very small circle indeed. In this circumstance, the authors were angry, disrespectful, and tried to present us as stupid. Not just ignorant. Stupid. Me no likey.

This is a loaded issue, and a personal one. That’s what really gets me. It was so personal. One of the authors went so far as to say that she felt sorry for our kids. She tried to clarify that statement in her comments, but her explanation was even muddier than the original phrasing. What I did see quite clearly is that there are underlying assumptions about teaching abstinence that border on myth.

Myth #1 – People who believe in abstinence are uptight. 

You might be surprised.

Myth #2 Teaching abstinence means that sex education involves saying “Don’t have sex until you’re married. I’ll give you a pamphlet on your wedding night.” 

I am not going into too much detail because it’s not necessary, and I’m also trying to keep this post under a million words. Suffice it to say that sex ed in my opinion should never be so black and white. There are many shades of grey. (Insert requisite Fifty Shades reference  and guffaw like a middle schooler here. Because I know I did.)

Myth #3 – By teaching my children to wait until they are married to have sex, I am judging those who do not. 

I think this may be the biggest one. There’s often the assumption that by saying something is wrong for my family, I am pointing a finger at the rest of the world. Trust me. If I’m looking for a someone to shake my finger at, I need look no further than my mirror. I’ve got enough to be going on with right here, thanks.

Myth #4 – Abstinence is unrealistic. 

I won’t disagree that it’s difficult. Learning to drive is hard, too, but if I think it’s not a good idea to run into mailboxes and school children, I’m going to teach my kids the skills to avoid them. I would be selling my kids short if I didn’t have high ideals for them. It would be inconsistent, actually. I’m going to tell my kids that they can be a marine biologist or an artist if they’re willing to work hard enough, so it would be strange to say I don’t have faith that they can delay certain pleasures until they’re married.

Both blog posts in question were in reference to things that are happening within the publishing industry, specifically with young adult fiction. I’ll address that particular topic in a future post, now that you know where I’m coming from.

If you’re new to my blog, welcome! If you’ve been here a long time, welcome back! Feel free to leave a comment below.

I Usually Avoid Controversy, But…

I don’t air my dirty laundry on my blog. I have aired clean laundry a couple of times, but only because Squish was sleeping in it. I don’t usually take on the Daily Post challenges, either, especially the ones that involve any kind of controversy. But I read today’s challenge, which discusses something-something, polls, something-something, divisive issues. And it got me to thinking. I wonder if a poll could save my marriage.

I know. The challenge is to discuss whether we prefer ebooks or paperbacks, but I haven’t the energy to beat a dead horse (Incidentally, polls show that 9 out of 10 people surveyed prefer hardcover books for beating a dead horse). I’ll cover this part kind of quick.

I have an e-reader, so I read both. Paper books have intrinsic resale value while e-books don’t even belong to you if they have a DRM, say something about e-books being freakishly expensive, add a little note about saving shelf space by using an e-reader, and done.

Now on to the real topic that is on my heart: my relationship with my husband.

Every once in awhile, we get blind-sided; totally taken by surprise; knocked for a complete and utter loop. Now is one of those times. We thought we had the parenting thing worked out. We agreed on the general principles, and we’ve been able to talk through almost any conflict that arises. But we missed something along the way. We never talked about grilled cheese sandwiches.

I’m teaching the Padawan to cook. Well, cook may be a bit of a stretch. I’m teaching him to feed himself. Last week he learned how to make a grilled cheese sandwich. He did a great job with minimal supervision. He let the butter melt, dropped the sandwich in and toasted over medium heat until golden brown, then did the same for the other side. Confidence soaring, he asked to make them for the family. Conflict arose.

There he was, prepping his bread and cheese like a little soldier, melting his butter in the pan just as he had been taught. He had no more than tossed the sandwich into the pan when my husband uttered the fateful words; “You’ll want to flip that over and get butter on both sides.” Confused and uncertain, my poor son followed his father’s instructions, which resulted in a sad sandwich that was rather dry and decidedly non-buttery.

Let me back up a moment. My husband is a good man, but he brought baggage into the marriage. He never learned to make grilled cheese properly. Left to his own devices as a college student, he taught himself to butter the bread before sticking it in the pan. It was cute at first, like watching a baby eat a sock, but it has since lost its charm, especially since this behavior has now impacted how we raise our offspring.

Words were said that cannot now be unsaid, mostly to the effect of “You’re doing it wrong,” and “That’s going to burn.” Feelings have been hurt. Mostly my husband’s. No one wants to be told their grilled cheese is dry. And my poor son is caught in the middle.

I need your help. Am I way off base here?

I know that I don’t usually bring controversy into my blog, and this is a heated topic. A delicious, melty, buttery, heated topic. Please keep comments kind and constructive. Make grilled cheese sandwiches for others the way you would have them make them for you. Or something like that.

Throwing Down the Gauntlet

I’m in for it now. You may have already met Cujo. I changed his name. Because he asked me to.      Koko the E-reader didn’t make him feel tough enough, you know? So he’s Cujo. But lest he think himself bigger and badder than he should be, I’m buying him a pink cover.

The pink cover isn’t the problem. The little light that may or may not come with said pink cover is not the problem, although if it arrives without the light, I’ll be annoyed. The problem is with the device itself.

He still works great, don’t get me wrong. I’ve been reading for hours a day for the last many days, and he’s still half-charged. The battery isn’t the problem. Nor are the buttons that actually explain what they are for when I push them. I’ve been far less frustrated with this reader than I ever was with the Kindle Fire. The problem is what Cujo contains. Books. Lots and lots of books.

Manufacturers seem to think that a great selling point for their gadgets is the books that they have preloaded onto them for free. FOR FREE, mind. Never mind that the very same titles are also available at the Gutenberg Project, and there they are also…wait for it…free. So these little beggars come loaded to the gills*** with books.  Mine came with 103 titles, and thanks to Gutenberg and my good friend, sj, I’ve added about 10 15 more.

Every single title has one little word at the end, haunting me, taunting me, challenging me. One tiny little word. Unread.

100+ awesome books, we’re talking classics, and none of them have even been looked at. I don’t know if the person who owned the device before me was a complete and total slacker, or if the used bookstore simply returned the reader to factory specs before they put it on the sale floor, but it’s the saddest thing I have ever seen. All those books failing to fulfill their literary destiny. Know what’s even sadder? I haven’t read them, either. Not most of them.

I’m going to fix that. Over the next couple of years, I am going to read my way through all of the books that are on my e-reader. Even the ones I’ve added myself. Even the ones my friends have sent me as gifts that I might not have picked up otherwise.  I’m allotting a couple of years here because I don’t plan to give up the rest of my life. Sometime in the next six months, my name will come up at the library for Jim Butcher’s latest, and I will have to take a cruise through the Harry Potter series again. And let’s not forget about Lord of the Rings. Plus I’m doing some writing of my own. But I will read these suckers. All in good time.

At the end of this challenge, I know that I will find myself enriched beyond belief, and maybe chock full of vitamins and minerals. Kind of like a breakfast cereal. I’ll be a better person, a wiser person. An older person with iffy eyes. At least one of the above.

So who’s with me? Anybody else want to tackle a daunting to-be-read list? Let’s conquer this mountain of books together!

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*** This is a figure of speech and in no way implies that e-readers and other electronic devices have gills or are otherwise suited to aquatic life. They are not and object vociferously to swimming lessons.

I Am Ashamed. I Have Cheated.

I have a confession to make. I know. It seems like I’m all the time spouting off one confession or another, but this time, it’s something big. I have cheated. For realsies. I am so ashamed.

At the very beginning of the year, I joined The 2012 End of the World Reading Challenge. The goal is simple. Read as many books as possible during the calendar year that I have never read before. And this, friends, is where I’ve strayed.

I normally manage to plow through at least a couple of books a week, so while I didn’t expect to win, I did at least hope to be competitive. Not so much, actually. I have tried to be true, to power through a book to keep up my page count. I have failed. Total number of new-to-me books read in 2012? Three. Abysmal, I know.

Maybe it’s because the books I have started this year have been bad. And that’s true. I pooped out half-way through Game of Thrones. I am quickly fizzling on A Discovery of Witches. Life really is too short to read bad books.  I’m trying to stay strong and make it through Witches because, as a  friend oft reminds me, if I don’t finish it, I’m not allowed to make fun of it. That book is a veritable craft-box of fun just waiting, so finish I will, even if it kills me. And it just might.

But as I tend to avoid things that irritate me (when was the last time I messed around on Farmville?), where does that leave me? Cheater Town. That’s right. I hear the siren song of my old familiar favorites and slide right back into their arms. Can I count them in the book challenge? Nope. Do I care? Only when I check my page count.

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Meet the Mistresses (because I don’t know what you call a male cheat-partner. The opposite of “mistress” is usually “master,” but that term may lead readers to expect a tennis tournament, and I’m not much into sports) –

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Lord of the Rings – these are a must-read. At least once a year. Do I need to explain why?

Harry Potter: See above. I don’t know how I manage to get anything done with these two phenomenal series in my house.

Gone With the Wind – A reminder of where we have come from, and how far we have to go. I can’t explain why I enjoy reading a character that I constantly wish I could smack. Hard.

The Mists of Avalon – I never read managed to make it through a single Darkover novel, but this Arthurian interpretation speaks to my heart. I don’t care how many times I read it, each time I open it, I still hope that things will turn out differently for Morgaine and Lancelet. It’s a fine example of how great ideas can transcend sloppy writing. I can’t stand any of the others in the series, even though I wanted to love them as much.

The Shell Seekers – I am a sucker for anything written by Rosamund Pilcher, but this one is the best. It’s my go-to comfort read when life gets a hairy. And I do mean comfort. It is broken-in house shoes, sweatpants, and take-out kung pao chicken rolled into a paper binding.. I saw the made-for-tv rendition. It made me want to drink.

The Phantom Tollbooth – Wordplay beats sword play any day. I missed the window for getting my teenager to appreciate this book. I feel like I have failed as a parent. But the same kid adores Roald Dahl, so maybe I’m not a complete wretch.

All Creatures Great and Small – A beautiful series that captures life in rural Yorkshire in the 1930’s. Speaks to the anglophile and the animal lover in me.

Huntress – A heroine I can so totally relate to, Grace inspires me. The biggest regret I have about sending my Kindle Fire back is that this series is only available in e-format. One day we will be together again. One day.

And as always, I’m open to recommendations. What books call your name in the quiet of an evening? What books are like old friends, the ones that take you as you are and don’t expect you to be on your best game?