I started reading War & Peace on July 13th, 2015, purely so that I’d be able to tell people I’d read that monstrous thing. I had a plan – read fifty pages a day and finish it in less than a month. Little did I know how unrealistic that plan was. It was my last summer vacation; I had places to go and people to see. And also, I had one thousand pages of size six font to power through. By the end of August I’d barely reached the fourth hundred page. Two more reading bursts in September and January left me with a bookmark neatly forgotten between pages four hundred thirty and four hundred thirty one. I couldn’t get myself to mark it as “abandoned” on Goodreads. According to my account, I am still “currently reading” it.
Completely unrelated, on June 27th, 2017, I broke my ankle. I also injured my wrist, and suddenly I found myself a prisoner in my own home with a cast on my leg and on my arm, in a wheelchair that barely passes through the apartment hall.
I’d never put War & Peace back on my bookshelf. It still lay around on my desk, waiting to be rescued. And suddenly, locked indoors with nothing to do and not much ability to do it with, my crazy plan seemed possible again.
So here I am. July 3rd, 2017. On page 20. Starting from scratch. These blog posts will document my second attempt. Summaries, thoughts and opinions, maybe some tips I pick up along the way for those planning to embark on this journey themselves. This time, with all five A Song of Fire and Ice novels under my belt and some experience in reading encyclopedia-sized books, I hope I make it.
I don’t know if this will be a weekly thing. Maybe twice a week. Maybe less. I might read other books in addition and I might not. I might include some medical updates along the way. I’m not setting any rules – this plan is scary enough. I invite you all to join me. Hopefully by the end of it I’ll also be able to walk again, which is not a bad incentive. (I’ll be able to walk even if I don’t finish but let’s not think about that).
- Title: Small Great Things
- Author: Jodi Picoult
- # of Pages: 512
Justice will not be served until those who are unaffected are as outraged as those who are. BENJAMIN FRANKLIN
Ruth Jefferson is a labor and delivery nurse at a Connecticut hospital with more than twenty years’ experience. During her shift, Ruth begins a routine checkup on a newborn, only to be told a few minutes later that she’s been reassigned to another patient. The parents are white supremacists and don’t want Ruth, who is African American, to touch their child. The hospital complies with their request, but the next day, the baby goes into cardiac distress while Ruth is alone in the nursery. Does she obey orders or does she intervene?
Ruth hesitates before performing CPR and, as a result, is charged with a serious crime. Kennedy McQuarrie, a white public defender, takes her case but gives unexpected advice: Kennedy insists that mentioning race in the courtroom is not a winning strategy. Conflicted by Kennedy’s counsel, Ruth tries to keep life as normal as possible for her family—especially her teenage son—as the case becomes a media sensation. As the trial moves forward, Ruth and Kennedy must gain each other’s trust, and come to see that what they’ve been taught their whole lives about others—and themselves—might be wrong.
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood
And sorry I couldn’t stop right there
And be one traveler long I stood
And looked at the ground
Praying it would swallow me whole
Then closed my eyes and spun around and opened my eyes and walked straight ahead and got lost.
Has that made all the difference?
- Author – Pat Mervine
- # of Pages – 26
- *includes illustrations
How Katie Got a Voice (and a Cool New Nickname) is a story told by a fourth grade classmate of Katie, the new girl in school. Everyone in the school has a nickname related to individual interests and personalities. When Katie comes into the class, the students are eager to involve her in their activities and to learn what is special about her. This proves to be quite a challenge. Katie has significant physical disabilities. How can Katie fit in with her classmates when she can’t even talk? When Katie is introduced to assistive technology, she is finally able to communicate with her new friends. As a result, the students are delighted to see her as a person with many interests and abilities, just like them. Katie knows she is a valued member of the school when she is given her own special nickname.
My father knows twenty three languages, not including various baby dialects. My father has two first names and two last names and three more in the middle. And a hyphen. My father is a hyphenated guy. My father is the one billion and sixth tallest man in the world. My father gave birth to himself. My father was a published poet at the age of twelve, and wrote his first biography at nineteen. The sequel, Plus One Year, made him the first twenty year old bestselling author. My father has read Artamène ou le Grand Cyrus, the longest novel in the world. And at the point he didn’t even know French. My father made it around the world in eighty days. By foot. My father’s brain is faster than my calculator. My father’s cursive is legible. My father never burns his toast. My father knows when the avocado is ripe. My father can build a card house in the wind. My father can take money out of a piggy bank without breaking it. My father’s teeth are whiter than my wall. My father has a black belt in all forms of martial arts. My father is a professional dancer. On ice and underwater. My father is best friends with the prime minister of Israel. My father is best friends with the president of Palestine. My father has managed to keep this a secret from both of them. My father never finds himself stuck without a bookmark. My mother says my father is an expert at lying. My father says he’s actually just a very good story-teller.
Random-point-in-life-crises usually happen at night. Not saying just “mid-life” because this shit usually happens much earlier than that. Unless your life is halfway up by the time you’ve hit puberty. Or finished high school. Or finished college or got fired or really just had any terrible night at an age where you could form coherent thoughts. They usually happen after watching some indie film, or just anything in a foreign language, while making yourself feel guilty for not doing the things you’re actually supposed to be doing.
All of a sudden from master procrastinator and quite possibly soda addict you’ve gone into full philosopher mode. Everything becomes so profound you’re not even sure anymore whether you seriously feel like you’re drowning or if at this point you’re just mocking yourself. Plato, Aristotle, Kant – they’ve got nothing on you. If your questions and queries become any more questioningly inquiring the universe just might fall apart. No, not the universe. Reality. Anything outside of your own mind is unsure, the external world cannot be known, and might not even exist. You realize you’re quoting the Wikipedia article on solipsism and then you’re fucking proud of yourself for reading philosophy articles on the internet.
At this point you’ve grown hungry, possible even starving, because really who knows or understands anything at all. Desires cannot be measured. Nothing makes sense. Everything is a lie. You go search for food, possibly stopping to impart some information to your cat, if you’ve got one.
You’re not really sure what to do now. In some faraway part of your brain you realize the wise decision would be to go to sleep. You organize your computer files and scroll through endless Buzzfeed posts instead. Eventually the panic of going to sleep once it’s light outside settles in. There’s something unsettling about going to sleep when the entire sky is shouting at you that you’ve missed the opportunity to rest. It’s like being yelled at by your mother, but on a whole other scale. Also, the sky is blue. You crawl into bed, promising yourself you’ll shower first thing tomorrow morning. Well, it’s not exactly tomorrow – technically speaking it’s already tomorrow now. That’s supposedly unimportant stuff but at this time, in this state of mind, it’s actually vital you take a moment to recognize this technicality.
The antidote to over thinking, over analyzing, and life crisis-ing is not-night-time. Once it’s properly day again you realize how stupid you are and how unproductive it is to waste away the night, thus ruining the following day as well. You’ve literally achieved nothing. In fact, you’ve even regressed because now you’re very tired, you’ve eaten way more than you ever planned on eating and you have a brand new stock of terrible poetry saved in various states of completeness all over your computer.
Really, your entire life is one big crisis. You can feel the clock ticking, the time passing by. You still haven’t discovered the meaning of life. You’ve probably just gained a few pounds, lost a couple of inches from sleep deprivation, and ruled out a future in creative writing.
Well, considering the fact that you’re a fully formed human who still has no clue what that even means and you’re hopelessly confused about practically everything, and you’re going to die anyway and probably be forgotten the minute it happens, that’s actually a considerable achievement for one night, don’t you think?
The year is nearly over, and with it end a whole list of challenges and begin a whole bunch of other ones. This year, as always, I didn’t reach many of my goals. What usually happens is that I get off to a very good start, and then life gets in the way and by the time the year is over I’ve achieved so much, but not in the categories I planned on succeeding in. This year I read more than one book that was over 500 pages, but I also quit two midway. I planned on completing both 2012 and 2013 Eclectic Reader’s Challenges but finished only one. However, on the way I discovered a hidden love for memoirs, which is really the main idea behind those challenges. I also read two more books from the BBC 100 Book List. I barely passed the halfway mark on my goal of 50 books for the year, but on the other hand I read five books in one week and finally started using my Kindle, after owning one for at least a year and a half prior to use. I’m a to-do list kind of person, but I usually get sidetracked or discover new things and forget old plans, and I always end up somewhere far away from where I thought I’d be in the beginning. I make New Years resolutions, complete barely any, but do so many other things I never dreamed I’d do. All in all, I guess I make up for my failures with unplanned triumphs.
I’ve decided to lower my expectations for 2014. I am now in junior year, which is the hardest year of school, and along with Israel’s mandatory army service I’ve got a busy year of exams, hard work and planning for the future. Instead of taking on too much, I’ll plan for a bit and then see how I proceed.
As I did this year, I still want to retry the 2013 challenge, along with 2014. However, thanks to the Kindle and Goodreads I can now find books I want to read that fit the categories, and not force things in. My 50 books goal seemed achievable around June, but by the start of the school year I knew it was doomed. For 2014 I’ll set it to 35-40, and see how that works. I also want to try and read more Hebrew. This year I read two books in Hebrew, after originally thinking I’d alternate every other book. That expectation was insane, it’s impossible to go from reading almost no Hebrew to something so intense such as that. Instead, I’ll try and read at least 5-10 this year, and see how that goes.
In terms of blogging, I’d consider this year a success. I started this reading blog without ever having written so much as a book review. I was scared it would fail, that no one would care. I turned out to be wrong. I wrote seven reviews this year, including one I used for a book report that got me a perfect 100. I even reviewed a Douglas Adams book, which I thought I would never be able to do proper justice to. I now have 112 followers (along with a writing blog that has nearly 40) and views from over twenty countries including Pakistan, Egypt, Bermuda, South Africa and more. I’ve had highs and lows this year, with a break during the fall, but my record breaking 29 views on April 16th. All in all, I think it’s gone well for my first year and I’m definitely sticking around. I’d like to do more reviews this year, maybe even come up with memes and post ideas of my own. Again, we’ll see what happens.
“That’s a wrap,” as they say. 2013 was an interesting year. I shared my poetry and short stories in front of a crowd for the first time, had my work showcased in two zines, had a writer write a poem about my work after hearing it and being inspired. I started two short story collection ideas.
My first book for the new year is going to be The Reader by Bernhard Shclink, except I’ll be reading it in Hebrew. In fact, most, if not all of the books I read for January and February will be in Hebrew.
I think I’ll finish this off with a marvelous quote by Zig Zigler that says ““it’s not how far you fall, but how high you bounce that counts.” I hope you’ve all had a great year, and that the coming one is even greater.
So long, and thanks for all the fish.
It’s nearly eight pm, Monday, the 30th of December 2013 and I have finished my Silence of the Lambs Kindle Edition and with it the 2012 Ecelctic Reader’s Challenge. I was very worried I wouldn’t finish it in time, and the feeling of joy right now is undescribable. There’s not much to say – I just had to share with you all.
Tomorrow I’ll put up my last post for the year – a summary, and plans for the future. I’ve been waiting nearly a week to publish it, I can’t wait!
I just. I’m done. With 2012. I am so happy.
Anyone else do ERC this year? Or last? Or attempt both at once?
Hey everyone! It seems like everything on the Internet these days has to do with Christmas, including this week’s Top Ten Tuesday topic, hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. I do not celebrate Christmas, so I guess this is more of a
Books I Wouldn’t Mind People Bringing Me
- Maus, Art Spiegelman – this is one of the books I’m planning to read for the ERC challenges. Unfortunately, I highly doubt I’m going to aquire this in any way other than ordering it from Amazon and waiting for someone to bring it to me, or pay the crazy shipping rates. So yes, Santa would be nice. No international shipping fees, thank you very much.
- Humans of New York, Brandon Stanton – I really want to get this for my birthday. The photographs are beautiful, but it’s the captions that made me fall in love with the man and the concept. And the book looks amazing.
- The Letter Q: Queer Writers’ Notes to their Younger Selves – seems like an interesting choice for ERC 2013 LGBT category. I want to get into reading more non-fiction.
- The Zombie Survival Guide, Max Brooks – a book I wanna hold in my hands, not read on a Kindle.
- Flash Fiction: 72 Very Short Stories
- Not Quite What I Was Planning: Six-Word Memoirs from Writers Famous & Obscure
- I Can’t Keep My Own Secrets–Six-Word Memoirs by Teens Famous & Obscure
- Tweeting the Universe: Tiny Explanations of Very Big Ideas
- Waiting to Be Heard: A Memoir, Amanda Knox
- The Woman Who Can’t Forget: The Extraordinary Story of Living with the Most Remarkable Memory Known to Science – A Memoir, Jill Price
Wow, seems like I really do have a bunch of non-fiction books here, compared to my usual fiction to non-fiction reading ratio. I got into memoirs because of the ERC challenges, and then read maybe two or three last year and am planning to cover at least four or five this coming year. A bunch of these aren’t exactly “reading books,” such as Six-Word works, but they’re books I’d like to have available on my shelf for whenever I feel like browsing through some short pieces. The choices this week are actually a lot different from my usual choices during these Top Ten Tuesdays. Have to admit I’m pretty pleased.
Any of you share the same books as me? Different? Let us all know in the comments below!
EDIT: Yes, I’m the type of person who writes up a post four days in advance and then doesn’t post on time.