Close-up on the book cover of The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton

The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton

So although it’s a day later than initially planned, I did finish the big tome I’ve been working through for the last month. And, of course, this post is a day later still.(1)

Considering how far off-schedule I am for these reading challenges, it almost seems futile to list what categories different books cover. Almost.

I’m not gonna beat myself up for how far off the mark I end up being come December 31, and I’m not gonna try crazy book bingo stuff to check off more categories. Despite that new “lazy gal’s” approach to reading challenges, I still want to be able to go back at the end of the year and see which categories I covered and which I didn’t.

So, in that spirit:

  • Around the Year #14: Title, cover, or subtitle related to an astronomical term.
  • PopSugar #33: With a zodiac sign or astrology term in the title.

I’m also amused to note that this is the second Booker prize-winner I’ve read in a row. Aren’t I so very cultured?

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From the Hat: Spring Fever

This may become a perennial complaint, but I am really not feeling the love for the journal/blogging prompts I have collected in ye olde “hatbox.” Clearly, there was a point where I liked them enough that I spent however-many hours cutting up little squares of colored card stock and painstakingly copying out dozens of these things. But now, when I try to draw a card from the “hat,” I—at least 9 times out of 10—read it and curl my lip in a flood of “eh”…

But, I’m still grooving on the concept of using these random topics to stretch my writing muscles, and so I’m going to try and do at least one of these “From the Hat” posts each week. (Given the fact that I’m in such a dry spell around finishing books and watching new movies, I might actually benefit from pulling topics out of the hat more often.)

So, tonight’s pull is……

How will you be “mad” this spring?

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Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel

Okay, obviously I have a little explaining to do on that first category match, since wolves are not actually one of the animals associated with the Chinese Zodiac.(1) In all honesty, this was perhaps my least favorite of all the Around the Year categories, given my suspicions of colonialist baggage. around it all. So initially, I wasn’t sure whether to play along or break away entirely.

As I was mulling over that decision, I was also pondering the extreme degree of difficulty that would be invoked if I tried to find a book connected to the animal from my birth year—the rooster. Then, in a Goodreads discussion board about that exact conundrum, someone shared information about a Tournament of Books that’s affectionately known as “the Rooster.” There’s even a list collecting the titles of the books that have won the Rooster since the contest began.(2)

And there on that winners list was a title I’d already slotted into PopSugar’s category for books I’d meant to read in 2018 but hadn’t. (I originally had it slotted for 2018’s “animal name in title” category, but I decided to read Six of Crows instead.) Since I’m always looking for twofers, I threw Mantel into the rooster category and called it a win.

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Either-Or

I don’t know if I’ve talked about it here on JALC, but there was a stretch of time during my Philly years that I became a low-grade devotee of short-form improv. All of which is a somewhat pretentious way to say I took a few classes, did a few student shows, and attended the occasional improv “playdate” with other amateurs who just wanted to keep to fun of the practice going.

But one of the reasons I’m drawn towards the more pretentious phrasing around being a “devotee” is the way in which studying improv during those few years was absolutely transformational for my life, my career, and my psychological health. This is not hyperbole: legit transformed.

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You Have the Right to Remain Fat by Virgie Tovar

I was a little strategic (and/or sneaky) in choosing the first entry in my HAES/prediabetes/whatever-the-fuck-I-have reading list. I chose something short, something I could read quickly. Something in the memoir/manifesto vein that wouldn’t demand much of me. Either in the sense of nutritional guidance I expect from future books, or in the sense of digesting lots of footnotes—which I also expect from future books.

And this slim volume fit the bill.

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February Recap and Looking Ahead

So, with the end of another month, time to milk another post out of the ongoing process of monitoring my progress on all these reading challenges. (One, two, three.) As with January, I’m going to do a small snapshot report on where I stand in regards to my initial reading plan, and where there’s been changes.

And, in light of the new diagnosis and research project I have going on, I’m also going to be putting some thought into a change of direction for the rest of 2019.

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Binti by Nnedi Okorafor

  • Around the Year #9: from one of the top 5 money-making genres
  • Book Riot #6: by an author of color and set in or about space

For the record, the five popular genres I could have chosen from were:

  1. romance/erotica
  2. crime/mystery
  3. religious/inspirational
  4. sci-fi/fantasy
  5. horror

Most of these choices are not my bag, though if there’s ever a future year where I have to take on both these “big 5” genres and the 1 Mil+ Goodreads thing again, I may finally just put a clothespin on my nose and read 50 Shades. But for this year, sci-fi was definitely the best choice for me. I don’t follow the genre nearly as well as I did back in high school, but I have more of an interest in sci-fi than in the other 4 types of book.

As, in fact, evidenced by the way I’ve collected a wee small collection of sci-fi books along the way through my addiction to Kindle daily deals. I purchased Binti because it was listed as a big award winner in sci-fi—like Hugo and Nebula awards, which are legitimately a Big Deal. I was also looking to widen my understanding of contemporary sci-fi by grabbing a title written by an African-American woman.* And I am very glad to have been introduced to Okorafor’s body of work.

Still, I have so many mixed feelings about this book.

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