At The End Of Dewey’s Readathon: 4/23/2016

Guys. GUYS. We did it. WE FUCKING DID IT. 24 GODDAMN hours later, I AM STILL AWAKE. Woo! A quick data rundown:

Books completed:

  1. Margaret The First by Danielle Dutton
  2. The Sorrow Proper by Lindsey Drager
  3. What Is Not Yours Is Not Yours by Helen Oyeyemi
  4. Study Hall Of Justice (DC Comics: Secret Hero Society #1) by Derek Fridolfs, Dustin Nguyen (illustrations)
  5. The Vegetarian by Han Kang
  6. Ramona The Pest by Beverly Cleary
  7. The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling (on audio)

Currently reading:

  1. A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Bachman (on audio, about 75% done)
  2. The Moor’s Account by Laila Lalami (literally only one chapter in though)
  3. The Bad-Ass Librarians Of Timbuktu: And Their Race to Save the World’s Most Precious Manuscripts by Joshua Hammer (on audio)

Reading time: 21:05:39

Page count: approx. 2035

Guys, this readathon has been a fabulous experience. Definitely had stamina issues, whined about being tired, and listened to audiobooks for the better part of the last 8 hours, but I don’t regret staying up for 24 hours at all (actually, I don’t know how I feel about that yet. I’ve been book delirious since midnight). The mini-challenges were great, even though I didn’t participate in all of them, I did win one (it was one of the earlier ones, I just didn’t notice until 4 a.m.). They were so creative!

Props to all of the hosts: Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Goodreads, the Readathon website, and all of the mini-challenges. Fantastic way to harness the bookish community.

Cheerleaders: You guys did good. GIFs on POINT. Ridiculously impressive. Team Penguin, you guys were trailblazers!

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That’s all I’ve got, mostly because I am ready to go the fuck to bed. Hope everyone enjoyed this edition of Readathon! See y’all in October, mark your calendars! As for now, goodnight!

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-J

Dewey’s Hour Zero (4/23/2016)

GOOD MOOOOOORNNIIIIIIINNNNNGGGGGG FOLKS!

Hope everyone is having an excellent start to the day!

I didn’t sleep very well last night, and woke up this morning from a very realistic dream of getting fired. Isn’t that fun? Anyway, THE DAY IS FINALLY HERE! Since I’m up, I figured I’d start off with the Hour Zero post:

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1) What fine part of the world are you reading from today? Chicago, Illinois.
2) Which book in your stack are you most looking forward to? Margaret The First by Danielle Dutton and What Is Not Yours Is Not Yours by Helen Oyeyemi
3) Which snack are you most looking forward to? Cheese and crackers, and the chocolate chip cookies. ALWAYS the cookies.
4) Tell us a little something about yourself! To make this quick, I’m cheating and just throwing my blog bio in here: Born in India, raised in the Middle East, currently in Chicago. Booknerd, Behavior Analyst, intersectional feminist, Whovian, recluse, and Scotch pundit. Pronouns she/her. Cantankerous. Fledgeling member of the bookternet. Always reading.
5) If you participated in the last read-a-thon, what’s one thing you’ll do different today? If this is your first read-a-thon, what are you most looking forward to? This is my first readathon, and I’m so excited that I’m worried I might not read from the excitement. I’m going to have to pace myself with the social media stuff for sure. The feeling of community and sense of belonging with the bookish internet, and being given the chance to interact with so many bookish people I admire via this readathon, is definitely a giant plus for me.

Okay friends, off to shower. Be back for bookish shenanigans in approximately 40 minutes, aaaaaaaaannnnd BREAK!

-J

On the eve of my Dewey Debut

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So, unless you don’t read books, or have been living under a rock, or do not know me in real life, everyone knows that Dewey’s readathon happens tomorrow. Over 1600 participants, isn’t that amazing? The idea of just bunch of people from all around the world dedicated the same chunk of time towards reading books and gushing about them on social media, is giving me all the feels:

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This is my first time participating in the readathon (although if you follow me on social media I’ve only been gushing about it for a month now). I found the readathon when participating in 24in48 readathon back in January, went wayyyy down the rabbit-hole of the origin story and the posts from the October event, predictably fell in love with the premise, and have had my calendar marked with this event. Since then, I have been interacting with Andi and Heather (our champion organizers) on and off on social media over the last couple of months, so I’ve been EVEN more excited about this (Here’s a well-known secret- if it’s about books, it doesn’t take me that long to get excited about it). 

Andi was kind enough to allow me to host twitter parties at the beginning of this week, and it was a blast! We chatted about themes, TBRs, beverages, snacks, and ALL OF THE BOOKS! Got some great advice from readathon veterans, a few of which I’m putting in place.

Shaina, who is the coolest, and the wittiest, and the nerdism in Readathon is insidious… (hehe, see where I’m going with this. I’m not even a little sorry.)

Anyway, Shaina started the #thon4ham tag a few nights ago, and she’s come up with so many brilliant ones that I just had to Storify them (I had a few, but nowhere as good as the ones she came up with).

I curated my readathon stack- started out feeling completely overwhelmed by the GIANT pile of unread books in my room. So I decided to throw in some criteria for selection: books I owned that were written by women, so that anything I read tomorrow will count towards Read My Own Damn Books and the Read The Books You Buy challenges.

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Look at how pretty they are 😍

I put this off for the last possible minute for two reasons: in order to stick to a written grocery list, and not to eat all of the snacks before Readathon even started. The checkout person at Mariano’s was definitely judging me (she was barely 18 and probably wondering why I’m not just buying booze on a Friday night).

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Knowing me, this is what is going to keep me going after midnight anyway.

The Facebook Readathon page has been ON FIRE, and someone on there suggested that a group of us could meet up at some point in the day for silent-reading-time-in-the-proximity-of-local-redathoners. So there’s a few of us meeting up at Bru Chicago in Wicker park, between 1 p.m. and 5 p.m. (in case more people want to hang).

Got me some Readathon swag, because, I had to. 

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That design on the mug is EVERYTHING. 

My social media strategy for tomorrow is going to be…err, I don’t know yet. I’m drafting two major blog posts tonight, for the 12-hour and 24-hour marks. Blogging is time-consuming, so I’m not going to kill myself trying to be super active here. I will tweet and instagram every 3-4 hours, participate in the mini-challenges on the readathon website at the same times, and occasionally Snapchat (you can find me at jananivaidya). This is sounding terribly complicated as I sit here typing this.  As for cheering, I will be cheering on twitter only, because even though I really want to go on people’s blogs, my focus for this readathon is still going to be reading. I know there’s people like my friend RDB who will exclusively be cheering this time, so I don’t feel terribly guilty for not making the effort. 

Okay, gotta run, got a bunch of chores to finish up tonight and get a good night’s sleep. If you’re not really doing anything tomorrow, go sign up for the readathon! You don’t have to read/stay awake/social media for 24 hours, you can have fun with it however you want. 

Fellow ‘thoners, hope you have a BLAST tomorrow! Woo!

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Until tomorrow,

-J

 

Reblog: 10 Reasons You Should Participate in Dewey’s 24-Hour Readathon: A Storify Tale — Shaina Reads

Shaina gives you 10 excellent reasons to sign up for Dewey’s readathon this weekend!

In case you missed my rapid-fire tweeting about why you should participate in Dewey’s 24-Hour Readathon yesterday, I’ve compiled all ten reasons and added commentary and GIFs (naturally).I hope that it persuades you to participate on April 23![View the story “10 Reasons You Should Participate in #Readathon” on Storify]

via 10 Reasons You Should Participate in Dewey’s 24-Hour Readathon: A Storify Tale — Shaina Reads

The Week in Reading: Sunday, April 17th, 2016

Heyo,

SPRING IS HEEEEERRREEEEEEEEE!! (and here’s proof):

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I know, I’m eternally grateful for a backyard this time of the year. 

Not a lot of bookishness to write home about this past week (Chicago traffic prevented me from getting to that Book Swap on time, grr), but I did get a few books out of the way:

Funny Girl by Nick Hornby

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I listened to this on audio, and this is my first Hornby book (I have yet to read About A Boy or High Fidelity. I know, you’d think Hugh Grant/baby Nick Hoult on-screen charm would have led me to pick up the book, but I got busy reading other things along the way. I will get to those, eventually). Anyway, I had spotted it in some of my recent bookstore visits, so when I saw that it was available on one of my many rabbit-hole scroll adventures on Overdrive, I went for it. Here’s the plot: Back in the 60’s, Barbara from Blackpool has just been crowned a beauty queen, but wants so much more. She wants to be the next Lucille Ball so she travels to London, hoping to become a TV comedy star. After experiencing some of the struggles that come with trying to make it big in showbiz, she winds up in an audition and lands a role that is perfect; literally, it is crafted for her. The novel goes on to examine her life of a TV star- accompanied by fame, fortune, a stage name (Barbara becomes Sophie Straw to increase the likelihood of stardom), media scrutiny, complicated family ties, and of course, romance. 

There were a lot things I enjoyed about this book: Barbara is quick-witted, and has no qualms about shutting down the mansplainers around her. Slapstick comedy, British humor, and an ensemble cast-of-sorts, there were quite a few moments in the first 2/3rds of the book. The characters have a hilarious moments even though they are generic, given the setting of the story. The parts of the novel that had all the members of the TV show in the same room interacting with each other were definitely entertaining. Hornby does a really good job making you feel like you are smack-dab in the middle of a swingin’ London from the 60’s. The novel lags off a bit in the last 100-odd pages when the novel follows each of the characters lives after the show ends, but it has a sweet moment when the group reunites at a specific life-event. Hornby makes some attempt to rekindle a romance between Sophie and her former lover with a semi-deep conversation, but it trails off very quickly. I almost wonder if this would have done better as a long comedy sketch, or any sort of visual adaptation, as opposed to novelization. All in all, if you’re looking for something light and quick to read, you could pick this up. 

No One Knows by J. T. Ellison

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This was one of my picks for Book Of The Month Club, recommended by Liberty Hardy. I read this book in two sittings. It is a good-old fashioned thriller, fast-paced with twists thrown your way that will keep you in “just one more chapter” mode till you’re done. High-school and college Janani almost exclusively read mystery/suspense novels, so this was a sweet reunion with the genre. Aubrey Hamilton’s husband Josh is declared dead by the state of Tennessee- five years after his disappearance. Five years ago, the couple were at their close friends’ bachelor/bachelorette parties, and Josh hadn’t been seen since. Aubrey is depressed, lonely, bitter, and barely coping. She keeps looking back to their marriage, wondering if she ever knew the man that she loved, or was she reading too much into a standard homicide. Meanwhile, the day Josh is declared officially dead, a new yet familiar figure, Chase, appears in Aubrey’s life. Coincidence? She doesn’t know what to think. Was he really dead? Was he kidnapped? Did he run away? Did Chase have something to do with all of this? 

I don’t want to give anything away, so I’ll just say this- if you’re looking for a fast and gripping mystery/thriller that will have you stay wayyy up past your bedtime, look no further. Twists on twists on twists. Red herrings. The works. Enjoy!

Boy, Snow, Bird by Helen Oyeyemi

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I’d already purchased Oyeyemi’s new book of short stories before this book came in from the library, so I decided to save that one for Dewey’s readathon next week. There are three women featured in this novel- Boy, Snow, and Bird, and the book is split into three parts. The story incorporates elements of mysticism and fairy tale, and discusses race, which of course stoked my enthusiasm and were the reasons I picked it up in the first place. The story goes like this: Boy Novak runs away from her home in New York to Massachusetts in the 50’s, marries a widower who has one daughter (Snow), and later gives birth to a child (Bird). Here’s the thing: Bird is born dark-skinned, inadvertently exposing Snow and her father, Arturo, who were light-skinned passing off as white, as African-Americans. Oyeyemi uses this to explore race relations in the 50’s.  So I have several feelings about the book. The prose? Loved it. Very lyrical, beautifully written. The first section of this book had me completely enamoured. The second section was also very good, for the most part. Things unraveled a bit for me in the last part of the book. I think Oyeyemi had some great ideas and vision for what the book should be, but it fell just a bit short of that for me. I was looking for more content on some of her reveals, which she didn’t have. It seemed like that the author was aiming for a Snow-White re-telling, but it didn’t quite work out that way. I enjoyed reading it, but it left me wanting more. However, this doesn’t make me dread her new book, mostly because I have heard spectacular things about it (I imagine she has progressed significantly since this one). We shall see. 

American-Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang

HOW HAD I NEVER READ THIS BEFORE? That’s it, that’s my review. (just kidding)americanbornchinese

We have three main characters in this graphic novel: Jin Wang, a kid that’s desperate to fit in and become your classic All-American boy; The Monkey King, an old Chinese folklore about a Monkey King who wants to be acknowledged as a god and will do anything to make that happen; and Chin-Kee, the ultimate derogatory Chinese stereotype, whose cousin Danny, the popular kid, is so embarrassed by cousin Chin-Kee’s annual visits that he has to switch schools each time. In the beginning, they seem to be three separate storylines, but they all come together in the end. This reminded me of the stories I read growing up as a child, in terms of structure. It is nearly fable-like. The illustrations are gorgeous, and are a perfect accompaniment to the utterly heart-breaking and poignant storyline. Here’s a book about the immigrant experience, adolescence, and self-acceptance for the young mind. It certainly pushes you to experience feelings of discomfort, especially every time you read Chin-Kee’s story. The overarching theme of “accept who you are, don’t change for anyone” might feel simple and idealistic, but it works for the intended audience. 

Meanwhile, I finally got around to curating my Dewey’s Readathon stack ( April 23rd, mark your calendars! If you haven’t signed up yet, go now). I decided to go with a theme to make the selection process a little easier: books I own that were written by women. This was mostly in order to make some progress with #readmyowndamnbooks and #readthebooksyoubuy, so yes, very strategic criteria-selection as well.

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My plan is to at least start all of these books and make some notable progress during the readathon. I will be actively cheering and socializing, so I’m probably being a little too ambitious. We shall see. 

Additionally, I will be hosting Twitter parties on Monday and Tuesday evening, 8 p.m. CDT, which I am very excited about. My plan is to prep for some fun discussions later tonight. Thanks Andi for the opportunity!

Reading forecast for the upcoming week: To finish reading as many library books as I can, and actually return ones that I don’t feel like reading at the moment instead of renewing them again. So much DNF-guilt, I tell ya. 

That’s all from me folks! Back to Hamiltome (nearly done with it, SO BEAUTIFUL). What have you guys been reading?

-J

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Weirdathon round-up

So as I was emerging from my reading slump, I discovered reading challenges and readathons. As I discovered by following book bloggers and bookworms on twitter, there’s quite a few of these floating around. I participated in my first one January which was the 24in48 Readathon hosted by Rachel Manwill (incidentally, she’s also the curator of the 2016 Book Riot Read Harder Challenge and the 2016 Panels Read Harder Challenge). It was a beautiful weekend filled with books, reading, interacting with other participants, and a general sense of belonging with the bookish community which was a potent reinforcer of my reading behavior. I also attended my first Read Harder Book Group in Chicago (Yes, I was pleasantly surprised to have been ‘featured’ in their recap). Clearly, interacting with the bookish community in person or online is functional in maintaining high rates of reading. 

Then in February, Lotte hosted the #5books7days readathon, which unsurprisingly was a lot of fun. I did attempt to curate a stack, but obviously didn’t stick with it. It was the challenge that lead me to reading my first Daniel José Older book, for which I’m grateful. 

Along came March, and the wonderful Julianne (Outlandish Lit) hosted a month-long Weirdathon.

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The challenge was pretty straightforward: “Read as many weird books as you can during March.” It has been real fancy- with tasks, giveaways, weekly weird-offs between book bloggers, and tons of awesome recommendations. I participated, and although I didn’t cross of all the tasks, I thought I’d do a short *snort* recap of the weird books I did read:

1. Shadowshaper by Daniel José Older:

shadowshaperFirst of all, Daniel José Older is amazing at writing POC characters. Second, I wish this book had existed for me to read back in high school or even college, because I would’ve eaten it right up back then as I did now. The main character Sierra is such a kickass protagonist. Weeping murals, supernatural order that connects with spirits via music, paintings, and stories, once-friendly-now-turned-evil-and-greedy-Shadowshaper, it’s everything I wanted to kick-off this ‘thon. I listened to the audiobook, narrated by Anika Noni Rose, who did a brilliant job with the narration and gave life to the characters. I definitely recommend you get your hands on this book.  

 

2. The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making (Fairyland #1) by Catherynne M. Valente

fairylandTwelve-year old September’s ordinary life in Omaha takes a turn when she is invited on an adventure one day by the Green Wind, who alludes to her services being required in Fairyland. Once there, she meets a very fickle Marquess who requires her to retrieve a talisman from the enchanted woods…or else. Through her journey, she meets and befriends several creatures, including a book-loving Wyvern (my personal fave).

Looking for an Alice In Wonderland sort of reading experience? Look no further. 

 

3. The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

night circusH.O.L.Y. S.H.I.T. HOW HAD I NEVER READ THIS BOOK BEFORE. 

“The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it, no paper notices plastered on lampposts and billboards. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not.”

(Hmm, I sort of don’t want to summarize this one.)

Basic plot: Two young illusionists are in competition with each other, and the circus is their playing field. They’ve been trained all their lives for this by their respective masters. The “game” can only end with the last man standing.

I refuse to say anything more. Just go to your nearest book source and read this ASAP if you haven’t already. SO GOOD. This made my all-time favorites list. 

 

4. The Wicked + The Divine Volume 1: The Faust Act by Kieron Gillen, Jamie McKelvie (Illustrations), Matt Wilson (Colorist),Clayton Cowles

wic div.jpg“Just because you’re immortal, doesn’t mean you’re going to live forever.”

Once again, I am reluctant to give too much away. So here’s the premise: Every ninety years, twelve gods incarnate as humans. They are loved. They are hated. In two years, they are dead. A friend had lent me their copy and it had been sitting on my shelf for months, so I decided that weirdathon was as good a time as any. Boy, this absolutely fits the bill. Gorgeous illustrations. Needless to say, I’ve got the rest of them waiting to be read. Kieron Gillen is a fucking genius. 

 

5. All The Birds In The Sky by Charlie Jane Anders

all the birds.jpgAh science fiction. Gotta love it. Brings worlds together.

The shelf-talker at the bookstore said that this book brought Hermione Granger, Artemis Fowl, and Marvin (from Hitchhiker’s) into the same universe. That’s pretty much the best description I could offer to you.

Go read it, sci-fi nerds. You’ll love it. If you’re not a sci-fi nerd, I recommend you take a peek.

 

 

6. Jane Steele by Lyndsay Faye

jane steele.jpgI don’t know if it’s just me, but it seems like retellings have been in-style recently. There’s several reasons why I was looking forward to this book. Feminist protagonist? Check. Brontë sister? Check. Reimagining Jane Eyre? DOUBLE check. 

“Reader, I murdered him.” 

Jane Steele, our protagonist, is a Jane Eyre fangirl, and her life eerily mirrors our Brontë heroine. Dark humor, gothic fiction, pertinent POC characters, a murdering  protagonist, and a dash of romance- this book had me at the edge of my seat and gasping audibly, especially those last 100 pages. Plot lines, character development, structure, and writing were A++++. GO READ THE BOOK.*

 

That’s about it, I think. Thanks to Julianne for hosting such a great readathon! I enjoyed reading ALL of the books, and my favorite part of the whole thing were the weekly weird-offs (good old-fashioned book bloggers duel, what’s not to love?)

*Disclaimer: There will be a lot of times in this space where I shall urge you to GO READ THE BOOK because I absolutely loved it. I make no apologies. 

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Until next time, folks! 

 

-J