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A Quiet (Not So Little) Site

 

Jandy’s Reading Room will be 16 years old  in a couple months. It’s still my hobby – not an commercial site despite links to Amazon and Better World Books. I am a big supporter of my local independent bookstore (hurray for Mysterious Galaxy in San Diego) and as a librarian, I will always tell you to check your local library. The site is not a huge presence on the Web despite its size – over 2,500 pages. There’s been a lot of reviews over the years.

Despite the lack of advertising or sharing links with other bloggers, a few people find their way to my site each day. I frequently am surprised by the sites linking to mine.

alphabet 2014 500Yesterday was one of my surprise days. Escape With Dollycas Into a Good Book is a busy site. Dollycas has contests, follows challenges, features book tours, and more. She just put up an Alphabet Challenge for 2014. People accepting the challenge must read 26 books where the title starts with a different letter of the alphabet. In her explanation, she adds this:

“Need some help finding titles to match the alphabet – Jandy’s Reading Room has a wonderful list to get you started. X and Z were the toughest for me so this year I am going to try to take care of those two early.”

Wow! Thanks for the complement Dollycas. I think the title pages are helpful. I see I’m not alone.

If you’re in the mood for a different reading challenge, check out Dollycas’ blog.

Read Your Own Challenge

 

Last year Lazy Gal took a challenge to read books off Mt. Bookpile. She passed on the challenge and I accepted. She’s doing it again. So am I. Actually, I’ve been doing this unofficially for years. This helps me be accountable.

The rules – read books added to Mt. Bookpile (aka to-be-read) before 2012. The intent is to bring the pile down, of course. It doesn’t work, though, because I pick up as many as I read. Re-reads and books submitted by publicists for review don’t count.

The list at the left of this blog shows 44 books off my Mt. Bookpile in 2012. Actually there were 65, but I didn’t review all of them on the site. That sounds pretty good, doesn’t it?

Except…

I read 201 books in 2012. So Mt. Bookpile accounted for less than half. Why? There are three main reasons.

1. I read a lot from the library. I’ll see an interesting review of a book (like right now I’m reading Odd John because of a site I stumbled across) and request it from the library. Although the book may be an older one, it’s not on Mt. Bookpile, so doesn’t count in the challenge. Also, I like to listen to books in the car. Most of my Mt. Bookpile books are not available in audio from my library – I’ve checked. Then there are the new releases that I don’t buy but want to read, such as Carole Nelson Douglas’ Midnight Louie series.

2. I accept one or two advance review books a month on average. I’m then committed to those. I couldn’t count them even if I had received them in 2011. I’m picky about my books so I usually like them and then may want to follow up with more of the series.

3. I keep picking up new books. I’m one of Mysterious Galaxy’s A-list customers. When the new Jim Butcher, Margaret Maron, Jacqueline Winspear, Jasper Fforde, Ann Perry, Jayne Ann Krentz (in any guise), Nora Roberts, etc. etc. is released, I’m picking them up shortly after publishing date. They have authors doing signings in both stores all the time. I get to my share of those signings. (The last one was during Timothy Zahn’s visit, but I wasn’t there to pick up his book. My granddaughters loved all the visiting Star Wars characters.) Of the new books I bought there in 2012, about half of them are still on Mt. Bookpile, including a Connie Willis, a Lisa Lutz, a Janet Evanovich, a Nora Roberts, and more. That means I can count them this year when I finally get to them, doesn’t it?

But I finally read some great books that had been waiting for me. I finally read Ian McEwan’s Atonement and Louis Sachar’s Holes, both books that had been subtly calling my name. How long had Ayn Rand’s Fountainhead been waiting for me to pick it up? And wasn’t it about time I finally read Agatha Christie’s first Miss Marple novel, Murder at the Vicarage?

I put a good dent in my Nora Roberts collection. A few years ago I went on a mission to find all her old Silhouettes as well as her newer novels. I have almost all of her books now. While those are easy reads, they kept sitting there, along with Jayne Ann Krentz’ books. Those two have their own section, but it’s much smaller now.

A month into 2013, and I’m already reading as many non-Mt. Bookpile books than those that are. In January I read ten library books, re-reads, advance review, or brand new books. I’ve read ten from Mt. Bookpile.

Book-a-holic. Yep, that’s me.

I’m taking up the Read Your Own Challenge again. My goal this year is over 50, although the original challenge calls for 22 (an odd number – I wonder how that one was chosen?). You’ll see some of them over in the left hand column again. I want that list to be over 25.

Studying Science Fiction and Fantasy

 
Grimm’s Fairy Tales
Alice in Wonderland
and Through the Looking Glass
Dracula
Frankenstein
The Invisible Man and The Island of Dr. Moreau
Nathaniel Hawthorne’s and Edgar Allen Poe’s short stories
Princess of Mars and Herland
The Martian Chronicles
The Left Hand of Darkness
Little Brother

That is a short list of Who’s Who in fantasy and science fiction over the past 300 years or so. That is also the syllabus for the Coursera Science Fiction and Fantasy online course I’m taking right now. It is taught by Eric S. Rabkin, a professor of literature at the University of Michigan. All the Coursera classes are free and taught through respected universities.

First, I have to admit I’m out of the study habit. No, I’m not getting a grade or college credit for this course. Even so, I want to pass on the pass/fail scale. It means reading a novel (or the equivalent) each week. I have read most of these books. But a few are new to me. Although I know the basic story, I hadn’t read Bram Stoker’s Dracula. I’ve read The Invisible Man, but not The Island of Dr. Moreau by H.G. Wells. I’d read all of the Poe short stories assigned, but hadn’t read any of Hawthorne’s short stories before this – only his novels. Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s Herland is the only novel in the group that has never crossed my SF radar at all. I also haven’t read anything by Cory Doctorow, let alone Little Brother.

There is the challenge of a novel a week – plus a short essay, plus judging four (or more) essays by other students. There are also discussion forums and video lectures that are posted after we submit our essays. Silly me, I still want to read other things as well.

I quickly gave up on And the Ladies of the Club by Helen Hoover Santmyer. It’s 1000 plus pages, and is the book by real life book club is discussing next week. I still listen to books in the car and at work, so have kept up my mysteries. I still read a romance novel for a while before bedtime as well. So yes, I’m still getting a lot read.

It is very interesting, though, to re-read these books in a different light. Now I have to evaluate them – or some aspect of them. I’m reading them with a different mind set. I knew when I read Ursula LeGuin’s The Left Hand of Darkness the first time that I missed a lot. This time through, though, I’m seeing other interesting things. For example, it is written from the point of view of two outsiders who are trying to work together by the end of the book. I hadn’t thought about it before, but that is a different perspective and puts the book in a whole new light. Will my essay next week be about that? Who knows, because I’ve discovered other things as well. Re-reading a classic or loved novel is always enlightening. It’s even more so when you concentrate on the subtleties you missed the first time.

I’ve enjoyed the challenge. I’m also looking forward to reading books I don’t have to think about, just enjoy.

If you need a school fix without the challenge of the classroom, check out Coursera. The classes are free and range over more than 100 topics.

2012 Reading Resolution

 

LazyGal has issued a challenge. I can’t ignore it because I have to do it whether I take the gauntlet or not. See her post about this resolution. The 2012 Read Your Own Books Challenge was originally issued at the Tales From the Crypt blog.

These are the rules:

This challenge is for those of us who have books that we’ve purchased and just haven’t gotten to. I will go into what does and does not qualify for this challenge below.

Rules:

Starts January 1, 2012 and ends December 31, 2012
Anyone can join
You don’t have to have a blog to participate.
Non-Bloggers feel free to share your list of books in the comment section of the monthly link up post.
Reviews though not required are always nice.
Audio, E-books, Bound all count
Re-reads DO NOT count
There is no need to come up with your list of books in advance.
Challenge crossovers ok

What qualifies for this challenge?:

Any book that you have personally purchased, been gifted, or swapped, BEFORE January 1, 2012 and just have not gotten the chance to read yet.

What DOES NOT qualify for this challenge?:

Any book that has been purchased AFTER January 1, 2012.
Any book that you have been asked to review
Tour sites, Netgalley, GalleyGrab, etc.
Library Books

Levels:

Level 1 – Read 1-5 Your Own Books
Level 2 – Read 6-10 Your Own Books
Level 3 – Read 11-20 Your Own Books
Level 4 – Read 21+ Your Own Books

Like LazyGal, I have to go with Level 4 – perhaps my own Level 5 – 50+ Your Own Books. Mt. Bookpile is high. Perhaps it’s not as high as hers, but my bookshelves runneth over.

I have one already for the list. I’ll add the widget with the list in the left column.

Web site update: It takes a (long) while to convert over 2,000 book review pages from the old html to the new WordPress format. I was way too optimistic when I hoped to be done by November. I may have been half way through then.

I keep plugging away at them. Once all the pages are converted, there will be more work to be done with the web page developer. I started in June. Hopefully I will have finished by this coming June. In the meantime, I still continue adding reviews to the current site. I really want to finish so I have more reading time and so I can get back to my scrapbooking. Yes, at times I bite of huge chunks. Some day I will finish this project…

By the End of 2010 Challenge

 

A River in the Sky by Elizabeth Peters
Sizzling Sixteen by Janet Evanovich
Dragongirl by Todd McCaffrey
The Search by Nora Roberts
The Waters Rising by Sherri Tepper
Black Out and All Clear by Connie Willis
Indulgence in Death by J.D. Robb
Secrets of Harmony Grove by Mindy Starns Clark
Happy Ever After by Nora Roberts
The X Factor by Andre Norton
Something from the Nightside by Simon Green
Blood Rites by Barry Nazarian
Side Jobs by Jim Butcher
Wesley the Owl by Stacey O’Brien
Christmas at the Mysterious Bookshop by Otto Penzler

Actually I did pretty good. Of the original list, I still have three and one half books left. Then I added three books and read two of those. So I’m only one and a half books from my original goal if you count numbers.

The hardest part about this challenge was talking myself out of grabbing something else. I wanted (still do) to read these. But I also wanted to read other books on my shelves (like the Charles Martin novels I borrowed from my daughter over a year ago). Plus I’ve added a couple books to my Nook. A friend lent me The Girl Who Played With Fire that I plan to read this month. Then there are the series books I’m reading that I borrow from the library.

In other words, the list goes on and on.

Should I challenge myself again this year? I haven’t decided. I can find all sorts of reading challenges through my friend Shree. Who knows?

What Do You Get Someone Who Has So Many Books?

 

My family’s dilemma this year was as to what book to get for me. They didn’t want to duplicate what I already have. Instead, this was my mother’s solution:

There are also bookends shaped like books on a shelf, and of course, book gift certificates. That works nicely. Thank you, all!

By the End of 2010 Challenge

A River in the Sky by Elizabeth Peters
Sizzling Sixteen by Janet Evanovich
Dragongirl by Todd McCaffrey
The Search by Nora Roberts
The Waters Rising by Sherri Tepper
Black Out and All Clear by Connie Willis
Indulgence in Death by J.D. Robb
Secrets of Harmony Grove by Mindy Starns Clark
Happy Ever After by Nora Roberts
The X Factor by Andre Norton
Something from the Nightside by Simon Green
Blood Rites by Barry Nazarian
Side Jobs by Jim Butcher
Wesley the Owl by Stacey O’Brien
Christmas at the Mysterious Bookshop by Otto Penzler

Graphic Novels

 


In the last decade, comics have moved from the newspaper funny pages and comic books to slick graphic novels with meat and art. I have glanced at them, but didn’t have much personal interest in them. My daughter’s boyfriend is working on a graphic novel, but I don’t believe it’s near publication submission yet.

Then I was invited to a 14-year-old boy’s birthday party this weekend. He loves shows on Discovery Channel like Mythbusters and Shark Week. He also loves history. He had a great time at a local joust sponsored in the area a couple months ago. I didn’t have any ideas on what to get. His mom says he reads some, but not much. Perhaps a graphic novel would be just the thing. So I went to Mysterious Galaxy for help. I knew what I had in my head, but would they have it.

When the clerk helped me, the first thing she did was warn me to make sure the novel was age appropriate. Oh, yeah, I had almost forgotten these are written for all ages and some might really be graphic… We looked through books for ten minutes or so. I finally settled on the first Artemis Fowl graphic novel, although it didn’t feel right. As she was returning to the register to help someone else, she mentioned Feist’s books. As soon as I opened The Magician’s Apprentice Vol 1, I knew I had found what I wanted. Although a fantasy novel, it has the feel of midieval times. I purchased my first graphic novel.

When he opened it at the birthday party, he started flipping through it. His mom finally told him to put it down and open the other presents. I hope he really checks it out and likes it. It caught his interest, so there is a chance…

By the End of 2010 Challenge

A River in the Sky by Elizabeth Peters
Sizzling Sixteen by Janet Evanovich
Dragongirl by Todd McCaffrey
The Search by Nora Roberts
The Waters Rising by Sherri Tepper
Black Out and All Clear by Connie Willis
Indulgence in Death by J.D. Robb
Secrets of Harmony Grove by Mindy Starns Clark
Happy Ever After by Nora Roberts
The X Factor by Andre Norton
Something from the Nightside by Simon Green
Blood Rites by Barry Nazarian
Side Jobs by Jim Butcher
Wesley the Owl by Stacey O’Brien
Christmas at the Mysterious Bookshop by Otto Penzler

Easter? Isn’t It Christmas?

 

It’s only two weeks before Christmas. Much of the United States is blanketed in snow. Today, though, it’s getting up to the 70’s here in Southern California. That usually means we hear the ice cream truck all year round. While putting away the clothes I just laundered, I heard that truck’s music a few minutes ago. The tune? Easter Parade. Two weeks before Christmas? Wha????

By the End of 2010 Challenge

A River in the Sky by Elizabeth Peters
Sizzling Sixteen by Janet Evanovich
Dragongirl by Todd McCaffrey
The Search by Nora Roberts
The Waters Rising by Sherri Tepper
Black Out and All Clear by Connie Willis
Indulgence in Death by J.D. Robb
Secrets of Harmony Grove by Mindy Starns Clark
Happy Ever After by Nora Roberts
The X Factor by Andre Norton
Something from the Nightside by Simon Green
Blood Rites by Barry Nazarian
Side Jobs by Jim Butcher
Wesley the Owl by Stacey O’Brien
Christmas at the Mysterious Bookshop by Otto Penzler

By the End of 2010 Challenge

 

A River in the Sky by Elizabeth Peters
Sizzling Sixteen by Janet Evanovich
Dragongirl by Todd McCaffrey
The Search by Nora Roberts
The Waters Rising by Sherri Tepper
Black Out and All Clear by Connie Willis
Indulgence in Death by J.D. Robb
Secrets of Harmony Grove by Mindy Starns Clark
Happy Ever After by Nora Roberts
The X Factor by Andre Norton
Something from the Nightside by Simon Green
Blood Rites by Barry Nazarian
Side Jobs by Jim Butcher
Wesley the Owl by Stacey O’Brien
Christmas at the Mysterious Bookshop by Otto Penzler

Hmmm, so far I’ve taken off three books – and added on three more. I mentioned Side Jobs already. It will be the last on my list to read. But I forgot about my book club book, so it has to be on this list. We’re reading Wesley the Owl by Stacey O’Brien. I know it should be quick. I also was sent Christmas at the Mysterious Bookshop by Otto Penzler to review. I had agreed to take it a couple weeks ago. I try to read the ones I’ve agreed to take fairly quickly. Besides that, I’m looking forward to it. The short story authors look good. Sigh, I probably won’t make the challenge…

By the End of 2010 Challenge

 

A River in the Sky by Elizabeth Peters
Sizzling Sixteen by Janet Evanovich
Dragongirl by Todd McCaffrey
The Search by Nora Roberts
The Waters Rising by Sherri Tepper
Black Out and All Clear by Connie Willis
Indulgence in Death by J.D. Robb
Secrets of Harmony Grove by Mindy Starns Clark
Happy Ever After by Nora Roberts
The X Factor by Andre Norton
Something from the Nightside by Simon Green
Blood Rites by Barry Nazarian

Today I picked up my copy of Jim Butcher’s Side Jobs. If I get to it, great, but I’m not adding it to this challenge list. I’m not surprised the two first books were Nora Roberts’ novels. They are both parts of a series that I read immediately. Hopefully, the first Connie Willis novel, Black Out will be next.

By the End of 2010 Challenge

 

A River in the Sky by Elizabeth Peters
Sizzling Sixteen by Janet Evanovich
Dragongirl by Todd McCaffrey
The Search by Nora Roberts
The Waters Rising by Sherri Tepper
Black Out and All Clear by Connie Willis
Indulgence in Death by J.D. Robb
Secrets of Harmony Grove by Mindy Starns Clark
Happy Ever After by Nora Roberts
The X Factor by Andre Norton
Something from the Nightside by Simon Green
Blood Rites by Barry Nazarian

One down, twelve to go…

Life Back to Normal

 

Holidays – January 2nd wedding out of town – 3 day all staff meeting in our offices

I think all of the big stuff is done and life will now return to as normal as anything is. It was nice at the out of town wedding because my responsibilities were 1) take snapshots at the rehearsal; 2) attend the wedding and reception; 3) shop; 4) read. Between plane rides and waiting for events, I read 5 books over the weekend. Plus, since I was in Portland, OR, I made sure I visited Powell’s. It’s a good thing I was broke – I only walked out with four books. Then I returned home with a concentrated staff meeting with out of town staff coming in. I was too tired to read in the evenings (or do much besides zone out) so my reading will drop back to normal now.

Last year I did the 999 challenge as you’ve seen. This year I want to read all the books on my borrowed pile (about 20), finish up some series (such as Lydia Chin/Bill Smith by S.J. Rozan or Barbara Holloway by Kate Wilhelm), and pare down Mt. Bookpile. Lazygal can tell you how many books she has on Mt. Bookpile. I’m not sure I want to know. As it is, they overflow 2 bookcases, sigh.

Shree has posted a number of reading challenges. There are two that catch my eye and fit in with the above – Read Your Own Books Challenge and Take Another Chance Challenge

I also have to catch up on my blog reading. I’ve been behind since before Christmas…