The year is half over

I failed to post my book count at the end of May because IRL has been busy. Four of the children celebrated their birthdays. One of the children now has a driver’s license. There have been checkups and extra Doctor visits for sprained wrists and tick bites. Summer camp supplies were gathered, packed, used, scrubbed and set aside for the next week of a child away at camp. A tree fell and the plumbing malfunctioned. Receptions were attended. I marched in my very first parade. Rallies and protests are happening with increasing frequency. Life is busy.

The one year of reading is now half over and I have read 71 of my 100 book goal. I need more book suggestions. No zombies though. I like witches and vampires and fae and regular humans. I am not a fan of zombies.

I get unreasonably excited when books I like are adapted for other media. Like, this:

April Book Count

As of the end of April, I had read 49 books so far this year. Books that live in the upstairs hall on a couple of tiny bookshelves which are older than my children. My husband’s books are on a brand new, hand built bookcase in the basement. I am thrilled with this arrangement. He is confused.

A few months ago, the husband built a bookcase for the basement so that we could “have our books downstairs by the bedroom” and also upstairs in the living area. The day he finished the shelves, he put a pile of his books on one of the new basement shelves. We admired the bookcase together. “This was a fun project.” “They’re lovely shelves.”

The next day, while he was at work, I took all of his books from the upstairs bookcase and moved them to the shiny new bookcase in the basement. Then, I rearranged my shelves so that they didn’t have to be vertically double stacked to keep series and authors together. The husband came home and stared at the bookcases while fidgeting with his beard hair. “I don’t understand why our books need to be separated. Don’t you want some of your books upstairs and some of them easily accessible when you are reading in bed?”

I can’t imagine how I would choose if all the Seanan McGuire books should be up or down or if I should be sure they’re shelved with Jim Hines since they’re the same genre/publisher or a thousand other sorting options. Even if I could sort the books into two definable shelving categories, that isn’t the main reason I chose to shelve them as I did.

Doug’s book collection consists of almost every book he has ever owned. From the assigned reading from his high school years all the way up to the books that I have gifted him on holidays, his book collection is an IRL source page of his life. It’s a museum.

My shelves breathe. With the exception of the authors/books that I keep because I love them too much, I hold onto series only until the author claims it is completed. Then, they get traded for new-to-me books. My shelves are this moment in time. They are filled with the stories and ideas that are currently bouncing around my head.

I am not more or less sentimental about the books on my shelves than the husband is about his. They’re just different styles.

He still doesn’t understand.

March Book Count

I read 12 books in March to bring my 2018 total up to 37 books. While my biggest reading obstacle remains the inability to walk in a bookstore and buy the many, many books that interest me, it leads directly to the second largest obstacle. I spend hours wandering the local used books store in search of new things to read that I can buy with trade credit. A close third is the children are starting to hide their books to keep me from asking if I can trade it, but it’s the second obstacle that I want to put in focus.

After avoiding the romance section for my entire freaking life, I became the last human on Earth to learn that the romance section is so large it is broken down further into the book genre categories that include the ones I enjoy. Urban fantasy and paranormal romances? Sure. I’ll try.

As hoped, the books are largely true to their sub-genres. All goes according to the formula until after a grisly zombie battle or a terrifying ghost attack and the “romance” appears. While the main characters are still covered in gore from their fight, they go at it like rabbits. I’m not talking about a fade-to-black sex scene either. It’s vividly detailed with more foreplay than any IRL human being has the time or creativity to attempt.

This is all fine and good because the actual story is still fun and the sex scenes are the opposite of unpleasant. The sudden clarifying realization that all the women you know with tidy stacks of romance paperbacks are reading books with entire chapters of softcore porn requires more than a minute of mental processing. It’s a leap that begins with “but my grandmother” and ends up somewhere in the neighborhood of “you go, girl.”

February Book Count

I read 12 books in February. That makes a total of 25 books read this year. So, I changed my mind about the reading goal for 2018. The new goal is:

Despite the dire warnings of others who spent a year reaching for the 100 book goal, having a reading goal isn’t making reading less fun or the least bit stressful. It does make old paperback series more desirable than the lengthy tomes that win writing awards. It also means I spend my spare moments fantasizing about ways to acquire more books.

short stories

Series authors sometimes write short stories between books. These short stories are usually published in multiple author collections. It’s fun to track the short stories down after reading the entire series or when authors take several years between books. Unless the author’s last name is Rowling, nobody considers the short stories to be a necessary part of the series of novels.

The proper use of a short story explicitly calls out a character as a valkyrie, while the series books made the character’s identity perfectly clear without ever using the word valkyrie. The short story is bonus material.

The misuse of a short story has a major repercussions interaction with banshees in a short story that is hinted at, but never fully explained in the series books. The short story is important to the novels, but left out of them.

If your short story is important, it should be physically included at the beginning or end of a regular book in the series. It’s difficult enough to track down all the books in the series. Don’t make story continuity impossible by hiding part of the series in some other author’s book.

January Book Count

I read 13 books in January. It will be summer before I have a month with a double digit count again. Winter break and ice days were the primary reasons I was able to read so many books. It also helped that I spent December collecting books to read. I’ve blown through most of my stockpile and when I don’t have a book ready and waiting, I find myself reading slowly to keep from being bookless.

I’m at a point where I need to spend extended time in McKays searching for new books and series. It’s not that I haven’t been to McKays enough lately. I drop by McKays so frequently that I sometimes catch myself wondering if I’m wearing the exact same outfit I wore when I visited them a few days earlier. I’m sure the McKays employees have customers lumped into broad categories, because lately I’ve been the “looking for the next in a series” shopper. I walk directly to a specific aisle, rapidly touch every single book in one or two sections, and then I leave. Used book stores are wonderful for finding new books and starting new series. They’re terrible for hunting down book #4 in one series and #6 in another series. They’re even worse if you’re checking endlessly for a fairly new release to be brought in by another reader.

When total frustration at the inability to finish a series has me using real money instead of McKay’s trade credit, I usually end up shopping the used book sellers on Amazon. They’re less expensive and faster than eBay. I do wish that Amazon would make it easier to eliminate former library books from the available choices. McKays rarely buys back former library books.

I should have created a GoFundMe for bookstore credits months before starting this reading adventure. This would be so much easier if I could walk in Barnes & Noble and buy a giant pile of books each month.

hairdon’t

I cancelled three hair appointments in November. The cancellations were due to the husband having meetings, social dates and hot yoga classes that he didn’t tell me about in advance. The appointment given to a child turned out to be so expensive that I didn’t even try to get my hair cut again until December. When December arrived, I cancelled yet another appointment because a child was sick. Eventually, I walked in a low-budget salon in the mall that I’ve frequented for decades. “It will be 20 minutes.” I bought a coffee and returned to the bench just outside the salon. After 40 minutes, I walked in the salon. “The stylist had to re-do someone’s color and now we’re all going on break. It’ll be an hour.” I know that was my cue to leave. They had no intention of cutting my hair. Someone recently told me that I look like a “Let me talk to your manager” woman. I’m not. I am and have always been a doormat. Southern women without money are raised that way. It’s a tolerable existence until you are no longer young and attractive. Then, your options are polite invisibility or b*tch.

Given a choice between going home and being a stubborn moron, I chose the later. “I’ll wait.” I leaned against the salon opening with my arms crossed and waited. Ten minutes later, they told me to sit in a stylist’s chair. The stylist took a pair of shears, snipped a chunk of hair from the back, then held out her hand and said, “Seven dollars please.” I handed her a ten and left.

As soon as I got home, I realized the back of my hair was more crooked than if I had tried cutting it myself. After all the grief it took to get this much done, I’m embracing the cruddy haircut until spring.