Readathon Start (and Inglorious End)

I’m sad to report that my participation in this year’s readathon never really got off the ground. I was out super-late the night before, and then had a (pleasant) unexpected social obligation when I woke up on Saturday, so my slightly late start became extremely late. No snacks were laid in, no to-be-read pile was eagerly assembled and photographed… in fact, I didn’t even pick up a YA or children’s novel, which would have at least been easier to finish in this time frame. My OCD is such that I was frustrated from the beginning being out of sync with the readathon schedule and with trying to finish up books that I’d already started. AND I didn’t took my own advice and was felled by a nap in Hour 3. I didn’t even use all the train time that I’d alloted for reading, since I ended up having a conversation with Mr. Penny (and even a nutjob like me will acknowledge that talking to your husband is better than reading).

So my official stats are below, and I think I learned that I should make readathons an official event, with even a minor sense of pomp and circumstance, or just not bother. This was all my bad, though… the readathon was super-well-organized, and a bunch of lovely cheerleaders stopped by my last post to say hello, so I’m really looking forward to making a better showing for the next one in October.

Official finish line stats:

Title of book(s) read:
Soulless by Gail Carriger
The Art of Eating In by Cathy Erway
Lamb in His Bosom by Caroline Miller
The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin
Number of books completed since you started: 2 (but they had been started prior to the readathon)
Total pages read: 283
Amount of time spent reading: 5 hours (woe is me!)

Published in: on April 11, 2010 at 9:45 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Dewey’s 24-Hour Readathon: The Plan

I’m so excited for Dewey’s readathon this weekend, even though I won’t be able to attempt the full 24 hours. Any excuse to hole up in my apartment with snacks and my TBR pile is A-OK by me. I don’t have a strong set plan right now… I probably won’t quite make my time zone’s start time at 8 a.m., but I’ll try to get up respectably early and read ALL DAY (interruptions only for snacks and a quick trip to the library to refuel). Then Mr. Penny and I have tickets to Anyone Can Whistle (call me, Sondheim!), but the long train ride will be prime reading time, also, and I’ll probably be a little bit eye-tired at that point anyway. Then stay up late-ish, wake up early-ish, and break in time for the MoCCA festival (which last year coincided with MotherReader’s 48-Hour Book Challenge).

I’m going to try to knock out at least one complete book, hopefully more than one, but I’m trying to be modest in my expectations. I have a lot of dribs and drabs of books I’ve been in the middle of for a while, as well as a HUGE TBR pile from three different libraries, so I might be keeping track of pages read more than books completed. I’ll probably try to post updates and tiny reviews as I go (mostly, to document my snack situation). I’ll try not to put my head down and get caught unawares by napping, which was my downfall during 48HBC.

Can’t wait!

Published in: on April 9, 2010 at 1:52 pm  Comments (12)  
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ALA Midwinter 2010: Boston, Meetings, and Exhibit Floor Loot

Late (as always, but whatever… POPCORN!)… I went to Midwinter as an ALA Emerging Leader, I emerged all over the place, I got to hang with my blogging buddy in her old stomping grounds, I saw a very ill-advised production of [title of show], and I picked up tons of swag. Which, frankly, I wasn’t going to blog about, because all those posts where people crow about all the free stuff they’ve ended up with have always reminded me a little bit too much of my mom’s joy in eating all the free samples at Sam’s Club and calling that “lunch”… but now that I’m the one with the swag, I understand better the urge to crow about it.

So here’s the pile of stuff I’m beating my chest over this month…

ARCs that I will probably read at some point (except I’m old-school, so I really want to call them galleys, and honestly I have this weird squick about them):

Books that I will probably read at some point:

Books/ARCs going directly to classrooms in my building:

It all fit in a box that only cost $10 to ship! Thank god for library rate.

Published in: on January 28, 2010 at 11:43 pm  Comments (1)  

Bloggiesta Wrap-Up

Hello, Pedro (and Maw Books). Here’s my Bloggiesta wrap-up:

Hours spent blogging/Twittering/reading & commenting on blogs: 10

Tasks completed:

  • First post of the year here at Dreadful Penny: Bloggiesta, Resolution-ish, and Book Blogging in General
  • Long Gchat with Diablevert in preparation for our next Along with a Hammer post
  • Signed up to be a Powell’s Partner (less for the piles of cash that I’m sure are about to come pouring through that little linky, and more for an easier way to upload quick links to books and book jackets)
  • Signed up for Evernote to keep track of all the logins and bits of info I always seem to need whenever I’m blogging, then lose track of
  • Started a page for all my 2010 reading challenges, which is in draft form now, but I hope to complete and make live this week
  • Ummm… worked on this wrap-up? Ooh, and all these mini-challenges…

Mini-challenges completed:

* Rebecca from The Book Lady’s Blog – 2010 Resolutions: My laissez-faire manifesto was my first post of the year, and kicked off my Bloggiesta participation.
* Pam from MotherReader – Comment Challenge: Entered and enthusiastically begun (although there was perhaps some cheating with the comments left in the Bloggiesta mini-challenge posts being counted… but I think that’s OK, right?). I got my ten in to complete this mini-challenge and will do my best to keep up for the rest of January (and thanks to folks who’ve stopped by to comment here!)
* Danielle from There’s a Book – Cheatsheets: Made cheatsheets for the two memes I’ve done in the past, and hope to participate in more in the future (Weekly Geeks and What Are They Reading?), made a trial cheetsheet for future Goodreads round-up posts, and recorded some basic info about my pages and sidebar in case I ever majorly screw something up.
* Pam from Bookalicio.us – Copyright & Footers: You can’t really get your copyright notice into the footer on your WordPress-hosted blog without upgrading and futzing with the stylesheets, so you’ll find mine on the bottom of my sidebar.
* Beth from Beth Fish Reads – Categories & Labels: My tags were not too bad, but even the few labels I had suffered from obscurantism and coquettishness. No need to be coy, so I cleaned them up and streamlined, for the most part.
* Jackie from Farm Lane Books – Back It Up: Actually just figured out how to do this the other day with another blog, so now completed for this and Along with a Hammer.
* Karin from Karin’s Book Nook – Dead Link Hunt: My results were, frankly, inconclusive, as the two link checkers I tried threw up all sorts of weird results and internal server errors that I think had very little to do with the average visitor’s experience with the site. But, I still consider this one completed.
* Jenn from Jenn’s Bookshelves – Brainstorming Blogging Topics: This was easy… writing the posts will be the hard part.

Most of the work was spent on this blog, but I’m adding some baby steps to my to-do list for Along with a Hammer and my professional blogs. The best part of many of the mini-challenges is that they really don’t take all that much time, and you feel so productive after completing them (which is pretty much the exact input/output ratio for effort/reward that keeps me motivated).

Since Weekly Geeks this week was also devoted to bloggish/bookish housekeeping, I’m going to figure that this post can count for that too. (Multitasking!)

Published in: on January 11, 2010 at 5:55 pm  Comments (6)  

Bloggiesta, Resolution-ish, and Book Blogging in General

So here we are, 2010…. *looks new year in the eye with slight skepticism and hand poised on her six-shooter.*

I started this blog as an off-shoot of a co-blogging project that continues in fits and starts (mostly fits on my part–my esteemed Pulitzer co-blogger Diablevert is the one with her shit together 99% of the time while I’m hanging on her lovely coattails) and as a way to participate in the fun events that I’d started to read about in my now full-to-bursting Google Reader. (I’m still overwhelmed/in awe/envious of so many blogs, so many pages read, so many words written… so much energy devoted to these projects!) I mean, to set aside 48 hours to do nothing but read and eat snacks seems wasteful most weekends, even for a librarian, but PERFECTLY NORMAL AND MAYBE EVEN PROFESSIONAL SO PLEASE LEAVE ME ALONE if you’re writing about it.

The problem is what you do with the darn thing for the rest of the time. Setting up a writing practice has always been difficult for me, whether it’s creative writing of all kinds, keeping a journal (or those godforsaken morning pages when you’re in an Artist’s Way phase… two pages? longhand? before 6 a.m.? I mean, can Julia Cameron even comprehend the struggle of my tiny little-old-lady handwriting attempting to fill that much page real estate before the sun comes up?), and, now, blogging.

Here’s part of the problem: I don’t really like writing book reviews. I love Goodreads (insert big sloppy open-mouthed kiss here) because three or four pithy sentences dashed off immediately after reading seem so substantial. Plus, you get to click on stars that light up to reflect your opinions! And then other people fight with you about them and all your friends’ opinions about books live happily together in a big virtual literary Avenue Q! Yay the internets! But writing substantial book reviews on ANOTHER whole website with only my fake name on it where those thoughts have to stand alone and maybe be considered really mean and start flame wars (I’m looking at you, rage-filled thoughts about The Actor and the Housewife) AND take away valuable reading/living/watching Battlestar Galactica time to even maintain said site… that just gets me down.

So, in 2010, I’m going to embrace the idea that a school librarian’s book blog can not actually contain very many book reviews at all, and mostly just be all about showing up to the party with snacks. There are a bunch of reading challenges that I’ll be participating in (some of which I’m totally cheating on, since I’ve accidentally completed them in past years without even knowing it) and I’ll keep showing up for all-night reading marathons. Maybe I’ll even catch up on Goodreads (Goodreads, call me!) and figure out a way to feed my teeny tiny reviews here as I write them. But, mostly, just as I have firmly NOT resolved to make this the year that I lose 20 pounds and clean out my closets, I’m not going to make any particular resolution about blogging except to, y’know, occasionally remember that I have one. In fact, I may be setting up a “friends with benefits” relationship with my blog… I promise to take it to homecoming, no pressure, and we can totally make out in the back of my mom’s car and I can use its name on Mr. Linky to sign up for things, but it shouldn’t expect me to, like, call the next day, or anything.

P.S. I realize this is like the Dazed & Confused equivalent of a Bloggiesta kick-off post, but, well, I’m participating, andI suppose one should begin as one means to go on.

Published in: on January 9, 2010 at 12:45 pm  Comments (13)  

Happy Blog Birthday, Biblio File!

Thanks for the opportunity/excuse to carve out an uninterrupted block of reading time before everything gets truly crazy for the holidays! I was happy to celebrate the blog birthday of one of my favorite reads, Biblio File, today by reading Ash by Malindo Lo and half of The Magician’s Ward by Patricia C. Wrede. The instructions were:

  1. Read for five consecutive hours: Check. (11:30-4:30 today)
  2. Read someplace you love reading: Check. (Started off lying around on our bed, then moved to the neighborhood diner for lunch, then headed to the new coffee shop down the street, then finished up on the couch in the living room. It was my first time in the new coffee shop, which didn’t have the perfect reading atmosphere what with the drafty front door and the widescreen TV with the Patriots game on, but I’m so excited to have an alternative to the Starbucks on the corner that I’ve been boycotting since we moved here that I’m here resolving to go back regularly for the chai and the principle of the thing.)
  3. Practice your other favorite reading rituals: Check. (Bed, Sunday afternoon, food, chai, sunbeams.)
  4. Read something you WANT to read, not something you HAVE to read: Check, and what a relief this was. (Picked two light fantasy reads off the giant stack of library books that have been gathering dust.)
  5. Blog about it: Check. (See… above?)

Blogging has been a challenge for me this year (and will probably be a big part of my upcoming New Year’s resolutions), but I’m so happy I started for two reasons: reading great blogs like Biblio File to stay on top of the avalanche of young adult books on the market, and having a forum for participating in this type of reading event. From the 48-Hour Book Challenge that got me started to Dewey’s Readathon that I missed this time around (but am ready for next year!) to this cool way to celebrate a blogging milestone, I feel closer to a community of readers when I participate in these events, less like carving out blocks of time to do this reading is selfish and more like it’s a personal and professional necessity. I’ve been doing a ton of “required reading” these days for work, Pulitzers, and the two book clubs I’m in, so I really need some motivation to dig into the books that I was excited to check out many moons ago, but have drifted to the bottom of my piles.

As for the books, neither disappointed. Ash was a sweet, sad read, and although I would have liked more scenes with Ash and Kaisa and the ending felt a bit rushed, I liked the idea of the King’s Huntresses as a strong line of powerful women in a key position at court. So far The Magician’s Ward is a great continuation of Mairelon the Magician, with Kim and thieves’ cant and the delightfully obtuse Mairelon and seriously the WORLD’S WORST COVERS and the budding romance all a-budding. I remember a fair bit of Regency lore from Jane Austen and sneaking my mom’s romance collection while she was at work (hi Mom!), and it’s a fun time period to revisit outside the confines of bodice-rippers.

So one more happy birthday to Biblio File, congratulations to Jennie, and praise be for a Sunday afternoon wrapped up in reading!

Published in: on December 6, 2009 at 9:57 pm  Comments (4)  
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Reader… I read it.

Alas, BBAW goal-setting has already fallen by the wayside. I sigh, and promptly digress.

I’ve had lectitans’s Weekend Wonderings post on my desktop for weeks, vaguely thinking about my reading personal history. It’s hard to come up with a clear narrative; I honestly don’t remember learning to read or many picture books that I loved, although my family has told me stories about it. So, instead, here are some moments that rise to the top of my memory when I think of my extremely bookish development:

  • Like I said, I don’t remember learning to read, but my mom says that I was read to constantly as a child (always with a finger following along under the words, even though Mem Fox insists that doesn’t speed a child in learning to read) and that I could read on my own by the time I got to preschool. I don’t remember a time before reading, so I’ll have to trust her on this one.
  • I was an obsessive re-reader until I got to college. I easily read the Little House books, the Xanth books, the Lioness Quartet, A Little Princess, Little Women, and a bunch of others twenty or thirty times. I read The Last Unicorn every year for a long while, and The Stand whenever I was home sick.
  • There was a tiny used bookstore downtown that my mom and I visited regularly that still lives as the uber-bookstore in my memory. It was run by a sweet old lady that my grandmother had worked with a long time ago, and she was always extremely affectionate and welcoming towards me, although I used to pull books off the shelves and sit in the aisles and read in a way that must have been disruptive for business. When they went out of business when I was in high school, I not only cried over it, but I took home their remaining stock of bookmarks and bought a number of books that had sat on their shelves, unloved, for as long as I could remember, including a (to this day, unread) copy of Horatio Alger’s Ragged Dick.
  • I used to type out recipes from The Little House Cookbook on my mom’s old electric typewriter, but I can’t remember ever actually cooking one of them.
  • I had this weird large format board book version of “The Wild Swans” fairytale with holographic illustrations of posed dolls that I loved for no good reason, and it’s one of the few tattered picture books that I kept. In fact, as a child I had an extreme aversion to books with broken, taped-together spines, but I loved that one, even though the illustrations kinda freaked me out in retrospect.
  • I loved the public library as a child and would check and recheck out the same books obsessively, mostly Georgette McHargue’s The Impossible People, the Lioness Quartet until I got my own copies, and The Philharmonic Gets Dressed. A summer afternoon hat trick was convincing my grandfather to take me to the park, the public library, and out to the stands by the lake for fried fish goodness and ice cream.
  • I liked catalogs better than toys, or at least that’s how I remember it. I would pore obsessively over the JC Penney’s Christmas catalog and the early American Girl catalogs, before the dolls got Hannah Montana-popular like they are today.
  • I was never much of a school library user (ironic, because I became a school librarian, right?). I vaguely remember my elementary school librarian as mean, I can’t even picture my middle school library, and I spent too much time practicing the piano in the band room and in the theater to step foot in my high school library more than once or twice.
  • Books I’m thankful my teachers introduced me to: my elementary school enrichment teacher for reading us The Brothers Lionheart aloud, my sixth-grade teacher for reading us short scary stories and what must have been an edited-on-the-fly version of I Am Legend, my junior year English teacher for The Grapes of Wrath.
  • Middle school was a really rough time for me. I only had a few friends, I was at my most awkward and awful, and I hated school. But I remember my mom taking me to the mall (which was at least forty minutes away) multiple times a week so that I could go to Waldenbooks and refill on science fiction paperbacks. If I got lucky, we’d go to this used book warehouse and/or science fiction bookstore in Syracuse on the weekends to do the same. We’d eat french fries in the car and sing along to the oldies station on the drive, or she’d just let me stare out the window and mope. She must have spent a small fortune on Mercedes Lackey, Piers Anthony, Robin McKinley, Christopher Stasheff, Christopher Golden, Stephen King, and R.A. Salvatore mass market paperbacks, but waiting for the next book and staying up all night to read them was the only thing that sustained me through those brutal two years.
Published in: on October 11, 2009 at 12:37 pm  Leave a Comment  
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BBAW: Setting Goals

BBAW_Celebrate_BooksEven though I’m pretty reactionary about the abundance of goal-setting in public education right now (i.e., Isn’t “read 25 books this year” a good enough goal? Do we really need 12-year-olds to make goals like “Improve my ability to make text-to-self connections” or does that take some of the joy out of the whole enterprise?), I’m ready to set a concrete goal for this blog: write more. I don’t think it’s realistic to review every single book I read here (even my beloved Goodreads account has fallen by the wayside this summer), but I do think I can write some kind of something (and not always a meme, for the love of Pete, although they are quite nice) once a week. For a year. I can assess myself next year during Book Blogger Appreciation Week and then this all will have come full circle in a very satisfying way.

Published in: on September 19, 2009 at 5:19 pm  Leave a Comment  
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BBAW: Thanks for the Books, Bloggers

BBAW_Celebrate_BooksSchool is kind of kicking my butt these days (in an absolutely good, but constant and overwhelming way), so today’s BBAW post is basically going to be a list of books that I may have picked up someday, but definitely was driven/shamed into reading when the rest of the  world did, thanks to book bloggers and Google Reader.

  • Honestly, seriously: The Hunger Games. I mean, I loved Gregor the Overlander, and I would have picked it up eventually, but it hit the blogosphere so hard that I would have been ashamed to leave it unread for a minute longer than I had. This is also true for Wintergirls.
  • Masterpiece, when I heard about the E.B. White Readaloud Award
  • Mairelon the Magician, thanks to The Enchanted Inkpot’s book club
  • Books 85-100 on Fuse #8′s Top 100 Picture Books poll. As a middle school librarian, I don’t get to rock the picture books too often, so taking the time to read through this list is great exposure to all the greatest hits. So far I’ve been especially happy about Little Pea, Anatole, The Gardener, Swimmy, Dinosaur Bob and His Adventures with the Family Lazardo, and The Little Mouse, the Red Ripe Strawberry and the Big Hungry Bear.
Published in: on September 17, 2009 at 12:02 am  Comments (1)  
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BBAW: Reading Meme

2009 Book Blogger Appreciation Week Logo

I love memes. For the lazy/stressed out/timid blogger like me, they are such a boon to get you writing and just posting SOMEthing, for the love of God. So thanks, Book Blogger Appreciation Week for providing this quick and easy one. So here are my five-word answers to the BBAW reading meme:

Do you snack while you read? If so, favorite reading snack?
No snacks, but sometimes chips.

Do you tend to mark your books as you read, or does the idea of writing in books horrify you?
Library books, so no pens.

How do you keep your place while reading a book? Bookmark? Dog-ears?
Bookmarks, always. Punish dog ears!

Laying the book flat open?
Not usually. Hurts my brain.

Fiction, nonfiction, or both?
Both, plus comics and poetry.

Hard copy or audiobooks?
Bad at listening. Reading easier.

Are you a person who tends to read to the end of chapters, or are you able to put a book down at any point?
Section breaks good, chapters better.

If you come across an unfamiliar word, do you stop to look it up right away?
No way. It’s not homework.

What are you currently reading?
Drums, Girls, and Dangerous Pie
(That worked out well!)

What is the last book you bought?
Absolute Sandman, worth the cash.

Are you the type of person that only reads one book at a time or can you read more than one at a time?
The more, the merrier. Mostly.

Do you have a favorite time of day and/or place to read?
On train. In bed. Always?

Do you prefer series books or stand alone books?
Trilogies not always necessary, please.

Is there a specific book or author that you find yourself recommending over and over?
Tamora Pierce. The Lightning Thief.

How do you organize your books? (By genre, title, author’s last name, etc.?)
Genre, kinda, Size, mostly. *sigh*

So easy, and now I’m radiating a sense of accomplishment.

Published in: on September 16, 2009 at 12:04 am  Leave a Comment  
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