It’s Monday, April 27th. What Are You Reading?

April 27, 2015 2015, it's monday, what are you reading? 0

monday

Happy groggy Monday, lovelies. I’m still feeling the zombie effects from Saturday’s Readathon, but it was a great weekend for reading! I managed to read five books on Saturday and even though many were short it was a great jumpstart. I didn’t have much time to get to Dead Wake last week, so I’m still working my way through that one. I also started War of the Encyclopaedistis by Christopher Robinson and Gavin Kovite, which I’ve been excited for, but haven’t dug too far into quite yet.

Just a note! If you’ve been following The Socratic Salon, we now have a Goodreads group where you can keep up with upcoming discussion dates and makes suggestions.

It’s Monday, What Are You Reading?

Dewey’s 24-Hour Readathon: April 2015

April 25, 2015 2015, book events, readathon 29

24 hour readathon

Good morning, lovely readers! Readathon is upon us. I’m breakfasting and getting myself presentable…no, no I’m not at all. Breakfast, yes. Presentable, no. Today is all about the books and I’m embracing them in full comfort. I shared some of my reading plans yesterday, so here’s my intro!

1) What fine part of the world are you reading from today?

The lovely Richmond, Virginia. The sad news? After a streak of beautiful weather, it’s downright chilly today. I’m a little bummed that porch reading looks unlikely.

2) Which book in your stack are you most looking forward to?

I’m really excited to be mixing it up with two poetry collections this time, but I think I’m most anxious to read Girl at WarI’ve heard nothing but good things!

3) Which snack are you most looking forward to?

Oh, you guys…I may have stocked up on all the things I never usually eat. There will be candy. And ice cream…but not my usual Blue Bell, and I’m not happy.

4) Tell us a little something about yourself!

Most of the dirty details are on my About Page, but my husband is working all day so I’m ready to hunker down and get reading (with my pup by my side)!

5) If you participated in the last read-a-thon, what’s one thing you’ll do different today?

I’ve done this several times now, so I’m starting to get it down to a science. I always have to remind myself to keep social media at a minimum (it’s so tempting!) and to take eye breaks so I don’t get headaches. Let the reading begin!

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Getting Geared Up for Readathon

April 24, 2015 2015, book events, readathon 14

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We’re almost there! Tomorrow morning kicks off another day full of reading with Dewey’s 24-Hour Readathon and I’m getting myself all set to go. I just need to head to the grocery store for some last minute snacks (essential!). I thought I had a stack set earlier this week, but library holds and a rave from Monika at A Lovely Bookshelf had me switching things up, so here’s where I’m at now.

tracking pre

This is from the handy little spreadsheet I have set to go for tomorrow. It’s highly unlikely I’ll finish everything (I’m not seeing 1,163 pages in my sights, even though two of the books are poetry), but I do like having options. I plan to update a single post here starting in the morning and do some sharing through Twitter, Instagram and Tumblr as well. I’ll also be hosting as we move into the late hours, so look for me driving the @readathon bus.

Are you joining in on the Readathon? What are your plans?

The Fishermen by Chigozie Obioma

April 23, 2015 2015, ARC, reviews 9

The Fishermen by Chigozie ObiomaThe Fishermen by Chigozie Obioma
Published by Little, Brown on April 14th 2015
Source: Publisher
Pages: 304
Buy From IndieBoundGoodreads

 

Set in 1990’s Nigeria, The Fishermen starts as the strict father of four young boys takes a job in a distant city, which makes it possible for the brothers to break a family rule and pick up fishing. While at the river, the brothers encounter a well-known madman who delivers a prophecy that will forever impact both the boys, their family and the town they live in.

Nine year old Benjamin, the youngest of the four brothers, narrates the novel, which builds its backstory through his sporadic memories. This technique left me feeling slightly disconnected and unsure of the story’s progression through much of the first half, as it regularly seemed to be taking steps back just as it was gaining momentum. But by the midpoint, as the prophecy is revealed and comes to fruition, the pace makes a positive forward shift.

In its powerful second half, The Fishermen is nearly impossible to put down. Fate and family swirl together in a churning narrative and land in the novel’s heartbreaking final pages. Though it takes time to build to its conclusion, The Fishermen is well worth the read and an exciting debut from Chigozie Obioma.

 

Rethinking Reading Statistics

April 21, 2015 2015, discussion 41

rethinking reading statistics

For the past few years, a growing push for diversity in publishing and reading has led to campaigns like We Need Diverse Books and a focus on diversity throughout the bookish internet. One way many readers, myself included, have hoped to increase diverse reading is by tracking books and documenting reading statistics. Last week, BookTuber OneSmallPaw wrote a fabulous, thought-provoking post called Booktube Stats and the Denial of Intersections (which Monika at Lovely Bookshelf also highlighted in her Sunday Salon post) looking at some of the problems with these statistics. Danielle’s major concern is the erasure of intersections when tracking for diversity, which I’d highly recommend you read in her own words (including her follow up post). I know many others have expressed similar concerns, so I’m not sure if its timing or the way Danielle phrased everything, but this is the first time everything really came together the right way for me.

“The harmful nature of the graphs becomes even more apparent when compared with these creators’ graphs of their genre trends. There may be twenty categories representing all different types of books, but individual identities get boiled down to a mere two. Can a graph featuring two identifiers really represent all the diversity that exists in literature?”

Statistics

And there it is. Straight from my own blog, right below multiple genre categories.

The initial reaction for some is to get defensive, to skip over the idea that makes them feel uncomfortable or wrong and jump to something they can criticize instead. I know, I’ve done it before. But when I looked at my statistics after reading Danielle’s post, it was clear something wasn’t right. Among other fantastic points, Danielle mentions, “If you care about the LGBTQ+ community, you will think about your use of only two gender identifiers.” and I hadn’t even considered it.

I’ve never set goals for any of my reading categories, since it was less about reaching a specific point and more about making me aware. And it’s worked. I actively seek out titles by diverse authors, make lists for my library to purchase, and understand that I have to look a little beyond what’s put in front of me by most publishers. Now that this is part of my reading life, will it change just because I don’t enter a number in a spreadsheet? I would hope not.

That said, I do think tracking can be useful, but each method I’ve mulled over still seems problematic. Take the 2014 Women of Color VIDA Count.

“When we undertook the conception of the 2014 Women of Color VIDA Count, we consulted with a number of people, including the social psychologist, Ashaki Jackson, to help develop the survey that would allow people to self identify race. We are not qualified to determine and assign race to any writer of the more than 2,000 in the 12 publications we have traditionally counted — the recent example of Rashida Jones being publicly identified by an interviewer as a white woman is one example of why. We felt that to impose our own definitions of racial identity onto others would lead to a process full of misunderstanding and erasure, and, in a way, might even serve to fortify the very power systems we hope to call into question. So we designed the survey and began reaching out to writers online.”

This great statement from VIDA highlights Danielle’s points, while also pointing out some of the problems we run into while tracking—reaching out to writers isn’t necessarily an option for every reader, every writer or every book.

So, am I planning to stop using my spreadsheet? No, I like data way too much to give it up. But I do think I’ll be making some changes. Beyond that, I don’t have a clear answer…I’m just glad to be thinking. And something tells me that a willingness to rethink is a sign I’m headed in the right direction, statistics or not.

It’s Monday, April 20th. What Are You Reading?

April 20, 2015 2015, it's monday, what are you reading? 29

mondayYou would think with last week’s gorgeous weather, I would have spent every waking moment outside with a book Sadly, I didn’t get quite as much reading in. The upside is that I’m totally getting quality over quantity. I finished Sara Taylor’s The Shore, which is definitely up near the top of my favorites for the year, but I’m still working on The Turner House by Angela Flournoy. Erik Larson’s Dead Wake is up next, since it’s my book club pick for the month, and I’m quite excited to get to it. I’m also hoping to snag a copy of John Krakauer’s Missoula when it comes into the library tomorrow.

Readathon is coming up this weekend, so I spent some time putting together a nice stack of books and making some reading plans. Are you joining in? There’s still time!

It’s Monday, What Are You Reading?