My April 2020 24 Hour Readathon

Tomorrow I’m joining Dewey’s 24 Hour Readathon for the umpteenth time. However, unlike other readathons like this, I do not have a large stack of books or a goal on time. I only have two books: one that is in progress and almost finished, the first of two volumes of Sherlock Holmes novels and short stories; the other, Every Living Thing, the last part of the All Creatures Great in Small series, by James Herriot.

With the Sherlock Holmes, I’m in the middle of The Return of Sherlock Holmes, which is toward the end of the first volume. As for the Herriot series, over the last few years, I have been making my way slowly through the series, usually during other readathons, so I thought I’d return to it for yet another readathon.

I am hoping to do better for this readathon than I have for the last two readathons over the last two months: Off The Grid Readathon and Social Distancing MiniReadathon. Both were a bust (why I’m not providing links), but I’m not going to lie it’s been hard to concentrate within the last 40 days I’ve been sequestered almost continuously except for one or two trips out for medications and groceries. I’m hoping now that with the news of our part of Pennsylvania might be reopening potentially in a couple of weeks, I can focus a little more on reading. It’s not that there’s not anxiety, which I’ll spare you the litany here, but it is less anxiety, or maybe more manageable anxiety now, than what it was a month ago.

I’ll be updating here on this post and on my Instagram account: https://www.instagram.com/stillunfinished/ tomorrow throughout the day after 8 a.m. when the readathon begins.

Update No. 1: Saturday morning, 9:10 a.m.

Take off the mask you might be wearing. Give yourself a break from micromanaging how you come across to others. Allow yourself the freedom to be you, with all your virtues and vices. Doing so will embolden and empower others to try the same.

from A Mindful Year by Dr. Aria Campbell-Danesh and Seth J. Gillihan PhD

“Excellent! And a mask?”

“I can make a couple out of black silk.”

“I can see that you have a strong, natural turn for this sort of thing. Very good, do you make the masks…”

from “The Adventure of Charles Augustus Milverton” in The Return of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

In light of COVID-19 and as a nation we are being told to wear masks to help prevent the pandemic’s spread, out of context the above mask quote from the book of daily reflections I’ve been using for this year seems to be counter to that directive. However, in context, where the previous reflection before that invitation is about depression, it isn’t; to wit: “Sadly, due to social stigma, many of us often hide what we’re going through from others” and “It takes courage to let go of a positive facade. There is freedom to be found in making peace with where we are and what we’re experiencing. The great irony is that accepting our situation allows change to take place — it allows us to return to what matters most to us and take action in line with our values.”

To that end of taking off the figurative mask, I do suffer from depression, and not just because of COVID-19 and family and friends that I know who have had either presumptive cases or actual cases, but because I’ve always suffered from depression. I’ve taken Prozac for almost the last 30 years and just before the stay-at-home order, I began teletherapy (because of the physical distances involved) with a counselor through a free program offered by our insurance. In short, it is going well, but that doesn’t mean it’s always easy. Making it easier today is this readathon, with all of my notifications shut off and only periodic updates here on the blog and on Instagram.

As for whether or not to use a silk mask, I refer you to this article from The Washington Post about what materials you should use, as recommended by the CDC. Holmes and Watson’s masks were being made for a burglary in the short story above, and even though Watson was a doctor, he was a fictional doctor. *I* also am not a doctor, even if I did stay at a Holiday Inn Express once (or maybe twice).

Update No. 2: Saturday morning, 10:20 a.m.

I just finished my second short story of the day, “The Adventure of The Six Napoleons,” which I remembered what happened as I was reading, after reading my first short story of the day, “The Adventure of Charles August Milverton” mentioned above. Both are short stories in The Return of Sherlock Holmes in the first volume of two that I am reading of the Holmes canon.

I also am using The Sherlock Holmes Book: Big Ideas Simply Explained by DK Publishing as a guide, as recommended by Emma of the blog Words and Peace. I’m not always finding the plot synopsis that helpful, although at times I do because I’m not really following what is happening. However, I am finding the historical background of the stories, especially as cases relate to real-life events happening during Doyle’s time, fascinating.

Update No. 3: Saturday afternoon, 12:20 p.m.

I just finished “The Adventure of the Three Students” within the last hour. I also have been checking in briefly on Instagram and providing updates and comments there. However, I still have notifications shut off. I think I might take a brief poetry break before returning to finish The Return of Sherlock Holmes in this first volume of two of the Holmes canon. Here are highlights of the first quarter of this readathon in photos:

Update No. 4: Saturday afternoon/evening, 6 p.m.

I just returned from a walk and am getting ready to have dinner, barbecue seitan pizza, with my wife before she goes to work tonight for a 12-hour-shift. On my walk, I listened to “The Adventure of The Golden Pince-Nez” as narrated by Simon Vance, for my fourth Sherlock Holmes story of the day. Where have been I since this morning?

  • I took a nap for about an hour.
  • I tried to read a collection of poetry that I thought would be good, but it wasn’t…at least, not for right now.
  • I searched for other poetry and found some that I might read later tonight and for audiobooks via Audible (two free credits as a Prime member with a 30-day trial). I found Simon Vance reading The Complete Sherlock Holmes and also his narration of A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens. Since I already was reading the Holmes collection, I decided to start there instead of tackling Dickens right now.

During dinner, we’ll probably watch some Brooklyn Nine-Nine, and then after she leaves at about 7:30, I’ll return to either more reading or listening of Sherlock Holmes or poetry. Here are some photos from my walk via Instagram:

Last Update

I finished my readathon last night by listening to and reading the last two short stories in The Return of Sherlock Holmes . 

So how are you and reading getting along during all “this”? Are you able to concentrate? If so, what are you reading? If not, what would you like to read when you are able to concentrate? If joining the readathon, let me know your plans. If not, no worries, you don’t have to tell me why not. I get it, we’re all in different places, not only geographically but mentally and physically and also just with whatever we have planned for our weekends, even if not going out anywhere. Wherever you are, whether in the U.S. or elsewhere, hope you, your families, and friends are staying safe and well.

24 thoughts on “My April 2020 24 Hour Readathon

  1. I wish I had realized the readathon was this weekend. Most readathons are during the week and I’m busy with work. I was still busy yesterday with yard work and picking up my veggie/fruit baskets from the local produce store. See what I’ve been up to at Girl Who Reads

  2. I have joined in for every readathon since I started blogging twelve years ago. My coughing still continues on, though, and I never got around to writing a post. I read for about two hours yesterday, a pretty light readathon for me, but I guess that’s better than nothing.

    Running across quotes about masks in two different books? Weird. Just plain weird.

    If I take off my mask, (see that big smiley face across the front?) you can see that I, too, suffer from depression. I’ve had two big bouts of it in the past, both times when I was isolated and away from others, so this pandemic worries me a lot. I seem to find relief in Zoom, and I’m taking advantage of that every chance I get. Maybe we can also try Scrabble one of these days, too.

    1. My readathon also was pretty light, but I finished four short stories and now can say that I have finished the first of two volumes of a Sherlock Holmes collection. Now on to the second one and maybe some other reading in May, but we’ll see. *I also sent you an e-mail in response to the last paragraph of your comment, because one, I didn’t want to ramble on too much and two, because there are some things that still remain behind the mask, at least for now*

  3. I swear I left a comment earlier, but I guess maybe it fell into the void, so I’m trying again to see if this one comes through. :-/

    I never realized the joys of walking with audio books until this readathon. I loved having Harry Potter along on my walk today. And I loved that Pennsylvania seemed to have decided to throw us a token semi-nice day before again descending back into winter.

    Hope you found some good poetry for tonight!

    1. Megan, sorry about that. Your comment got kicked to spam last week. I forget sometimes to check. Just saw today. I’m listening to a 1981 radio serial today of A Canticle for Leibowitz by Walter M. Miller, Jr. I’ll probably get out for a walk today because here in Pennsylvania today it is a very nice day and listen to it then.

  4. Glad to hear the Readathon is making life a bit less depressing for you today. It’s been a help to me, too, to have something to look forward to this weekend other than more bouncing off the walls of my apartment. While it’s undoubtedly a lucky thing to be able to work from home like I have been, adding job stress to covid stress has really not been easy. Depression runs in my family and I’ve no doubt I have it, too, just not yet officially diagnosed. =/

    Anyhow, I hope you have a great day of reading and are able to lose yourself in a good book!

  5. Awesome! Yes, all the background info in the book was so fascinating. I actually read all the material on each story after reading each story, to be sure I had understood everything and to catch on elements I may not have known

  6. I was on the fence about joining, but I’m finally feeling a little more like myself this week. Still might not get much read, but I’m okay with that. I read a lot of James Herriot in high school (I wanted to be a vet), but I don’t remember if I ever finished the series. Wishing you a good reading weekend!

    1. I couldn’t remember either if I had finished the series or not when I first started reading/rereading a couple of years ago. Now that I’m further along, I realize that I didn’t, but it’s been good to read, especially for readathons…or at least to read parts of it during readathons, to help with being inspired to read. I’ll check in with you later.

  7. I’m finally able to join but unable to focus at all. I just feel like puttering around the house. Doing little things. I am reading but not too many pages at a time. Right now, Small Great Things by Picoult. I didn’t realize it was a pretty heavy topic.

  8. I’m going to join this, too, hopefully! I am finally working on reading the Women’s Prize longlist, so those are the books I’ll be reading. I’ll probably finish one and at least start another.

  9. I will take part in this one! No promises, how much I will actually read. I posted my plans in my blog. I will also post updates on Instagram and have been posting for some of the photo prompts over there.

    I want to finish my two current buddy reads, Behemoth and the Rhysling Anthology 2020, on the weekend. I might mix it up with some short stories and comics.

    As for reading in general, I seem to be less able to concentrate. My reading buddy carol calls it Quarantine Brain. I read a lot of popcorn fiction this month, aka creature features with scary spiders and assorted monsters…

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