100 Books Bucket List

Somewhere in that series of posts setting the context for my 2019 reading challenges, I mentioned an extra twist I was using to “level up” the complexity of my reading plans: a crosswalk with my “Bucket List Poster” to see if I could check off a few of those boxes along the way.

The poster is actually one of a set of three posters I purchased last spring: one for books, one for movies, one for music albums. I’m not entirely sure about the methodology of choosing what made the list—okay, I don’t have any idea what the methodology was. Some mix of legit Anglo-American classics, with some other titles tossed in to represent different genres (e.g., non-fiction, fantasy epic, kids lit, murder mystery), international perspectives, and titles that represent their zeitgeist.

My guess is that the company making these posters is British, both because of some of the inclusions (Dodie Smith? Kenneth Grahame?) and, more importantly, because of the absolute erasure of African-American and post-colonial titles. All of which is to say I wouldn’t want this to be the only source of new titles for me to choose and read,  but I’m happy enough to include it as a piece of a broader landscape.

Besides, having these hanging above my desk at home is a decor choice that is just so me, and I can’t deny the fun of scratching off a new title once I’ve read/viewed/listened to it.

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Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward

I do what I can to fill out my reading categories using books I already have, whether they’re on Kindle or physically on the bookshelves. But there’s always a few categories that don’t readily lend themselves to that approach. PopSugar’s call-out to ghost stories this year is definitely one of those outlier categories, so I did what I usually do to make a selection: crawl the challenge discussion boards on Goodreads to get some ideas.

Between the good reviews (both on the boards and in the press), the National Book Award, and the resonance with my ongoing desire to keep reading more books by African-American authors, this seemed a book well worth the choosing.

And indeed it was.

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Off to Be the Wizard by Scott Meyer

(So far as my Around the Year plan goes, this book was read a tiny bit out of sequence: I jumped to it while waiting to get off the libe waitlist for category #6. Considering how sick I was this past week, it’s probably just as well that I had a non-taxing title like this one to be working through.)

Based on my experience with the PopSugar challenges over the past few years, I would postulate that the staffers over there* are kinda obsessed with the notion of literary genre.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t say that as a slam in the tiniest bit. After all, I spent all my grad school years being obsessed with literary genres, their categorization schema, their overlaps, and so on. But the notion of genre–especially obscure and unusual genres–has definitely been a recurring theme in their construction of topics. I found it most challenging last year when we were asked to read a book in a genre we’d never heard of before: several google searches on the topic only uncovered genres I had heard of before. Too bad I didn’t know about this year’s list while making my 2018 strategy, because 2019 PopSugar names not 1, but 2, different genres I had never heard of till looking at the categories list.

Including “LitRPG.”

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Hag-Seed by Margaret Atwood

It is taking some real self-discipline to post a book review tonight. I skipped last night ‘cos I was binge-watching the end of Season 5 from Game of Thrones, and I’d be quite happy to cuddle in with my iPad to watch another few eps tonight.

But I need to get back on schedule for the reading challenge, so I’m limiting screen time today in order to read and report out on what’s been read.*

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Radical Candor by Kim Scott

This is another “bonus book” that I decided to swap into a category. When I was planning my lists, I chose Freakonomics for a PopSugar category about “inserting a phrase into the common lexicon,* a choice that will also allow me to scratch off one of the squares on my “Bucket List” poster. And, because Freakonomics was written by an economist, I slid it into the “business book” category—even though I knew I was reaching with that. After all, for all I know, Freakonomics is going to be less of a business book and more from a behavioral economics perspective.**

In the meantime, a coworker of mine recommended this book, so I put it on my “hold” list in Libby. A copy was released to me a couple weeks ago, so I set aside my other challenge titles to read this. (Yet another reason why I’m a bit behind schedule for February’s challenge categories.)

Turns out I needn’t have thrown of my schedule this way to accommodate the library timeline, because I liked this book enough to purchase it for my home library.

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Caveat Emptor: The Secret Life of an American Art Forger by Ken Perenyi

This is another one of those impulse “daily deal” purchases. With advertising copy like this—

The astonishing true story of America’s most accomplished art forger: a kid from New Jersey who became a master, fooling experts and eluding the FBI for thirty years.

—a New Jersey connection*, and a decent string of 4- and 5-star Amazon reviews, what’s not to like?

More than I expected, actually

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Belated Book Recs: MLK 2019

I’ve been wrestling with the notion of weighing in on what I am sarcastically calling the “Covington Catholic clusterfuck,” but I really don’t have any hot take on it that isn’t actively plagiarizing other people’s intellectual labor and insights. Here’s a few links and random thoughts:

  • On why that unedited video doesn’t actually exonerate these teenage racists: WokeSloth and Twitter.
  • On the general foolishness of chanting “build that wall” at someone whose ancestors were here LONG before yours.*
  • And here’s an extra thought (freely lifted from a friend FB page): would this whole sorry confrontation have been de-escalated earlier if there had been been more NPS Rangers on hand, rather than them being so short-staffed on account of the shut-down?

And that’s all I care to say about that tonight.

So, in lieu of socio-cultural commentary, what focus am I going to use for an MLK Day post?

Books, of course.

Continue reading “Belated Book Recs: MLK 2019”