My Own Social Distancing Readathon

Next weekend, Saturday, March 21 and Sunday, March 22, the hosts of 24in48 Readathon are having a special Social Distancing Edition starting at 12 a.m. EST in the U.S. As they said in their post:

…as more and more countries are implementing social distancing recommendations (if not actual quarantines), we decided it was time to find comfort in books and the community that loves them.

Which brings us to the Social Distancing Readathon. Stay home. Wash your hands. Read books. March 21 & 22. 

It’s that simple. No prizes. No hourly challenges. No requirements. Just a chance to reconnect with this amazing bookish community (online! no hand sanitizer required!), read some good books, and talk about them with other readers.

If sharing your journey online, they ask you use the hashtag #StayHome24in48.

As soon as I saw their announcement two days ago on an Instagram story, I knew I was in. I wasn’t working next Saturday or Sunday so it just happened to work out that I could join. Now, though, in light of news that libraries across our state are closing for two weeks and that I work at a small town library in our state, and that I won’t be working much of that time (going to be on a rotation to check the book drop daily and a staff training day), I’m unofficially extending the readathon for myself starting today until Sunday, March 29. It won’t be 24in48. It will be more like 180in360. Ha.

I have two dozen books on the potential list. The first dozen are in print:

From top to bottom they are:

  1. The Unforeseen by Dorothy Macardle
  2. The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck
  3. Look to the Lady, the third Albert Campion mystery, by Margery Allingham
  4. Police at the Funeral, the fourth Albert Campion mystery, also by Allingham
  5. Slayground: A Parker Novel by Richard Stark
  6. The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating: A True Story by Elisabeth Tova Bailey
  7. Three Complete Novels: Call for the Dead, A Murder of Quality, and The Spy Who Came In From The Cold by John le Carré
  8. Four Novels: The Sun Also Rises, A Farewell to Arms, For The Whom Bell Tolls, and The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway (I already read The Sun Also Rises last year and now plan to read/reread the other three).

The second dozen are on ebook:

Starting from the top left to the collection to the right are:

  1. Sherlock Holmes, The Complete Novels and Short Stories, Volume 1 by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
  2. The Sherlock Holmes Book: Big Ideas Simply Explained by DK Publishing and Leslie L. Klinger
  3. A Morbid Tale of Bones, the First Chronicle of Brother Cadfael, by Ellis Peters
  4. Smallbone Deceased: A London Mystery by Michael Gilbert
  5. Mud, Muck, and Dead Things: A Campbell & Carter Mystery by Ann Granger
  6. Coffin Scarcely Used: A Flaxborough Mystery, by Colin Watson
  7. Ruth Galloway Series: The First Three Novels by Ruth Galloway
  8. Inspector Morse: The First Three Novels by Colin Dexter

The first seven ebooks are on my Kindle and the last is on Google Play Books, which I can access on my phone.

I’m already in the middle of reading the Sherlock Holmes short stories and novels, using The Sherlock Holmes Book as a companion volume, as recommended by Emma of the blog Words and Peace. I’ve also read one of the four novels, but I’ve never read any of the rest. My friend John gave me the Allingham and Macardle books. Erin of the blog Still Life, With Cracker Crumbs recommended The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating; Amanda of the blog The Zen Leaf, the Ruth Galloway mysteries. I picked up the three British murder mysteries in the middle of the above photo of the ebooks as Kindle deals. As for the le Carré, I’ve always wanted to read the George Smiley series, but never have. I’m a stickler for reading a series in order (most of the time), though, so had to wait until our library got the first two in print (which we got through a donation recently) and now I’m giving it a try as I’ve already started the first novel.

Now all this said, let’s be honest, I’ll be lucky if I get to much of anything beyond the Sherlock Holmes books, which I’m already reading, Call for the Dead and maybe The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating (a nature book in honor of the first day of Spring later this week). After all, we have streaming options in Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, and Hulu. However, as with everything, and especially good to remember during these trying times, there is hope.

A Look Back At 12-Plus Years of Blogging

Two weekends ago after I already published my post for the Sunday Salon, I received the above message from WordPress.com. I later added a message on the end of the post that I would commemorate the occasion, and all my years of blogging, in a post the following weekend. That didn’t happen, but now here I am…

Actually…

I began my first blog, in late October 2005, with the now defunct just a (running) fool  to chronicle my journey to reach a marathon by the time I was 40. In late April 2008, I started another blog, also defunct, Just A (Reading) Fool to keep track of what I had read, was reading and wanted to read. Then in December 2007, I began Journeying with the Saints (you guessed it, also defunct) to chronicle a journey through The Spiritual Exercises Of St. Ignatius of Loyola that began in September 2007 and ended May 2008. Somewhere in the midst of those blogs, I also had another blog, Unfinished Rambler, a humor blog.

In 2011, I consolidated all of my blogs into one on a self-hosted WordPress.org site and called the blog an unfinished person (in this unfinished universe) after being inspired by this quote:

“We live in an open universe,” said William James, “in which uncertainty, choice, hypothesis, novelties and possibilities are natural.”

But if the universe is unfinished, so are we. Each one of us is, in fact, an open universe. Each one of us is a microcosm of uncertainty, choice, hypothesis, novelties and possibilities. Each one of us is an unfinished person in this unfinished universe. And each one of us feels an infinite and mysterious obligation to complete ourselves and somehow contribute to the completion of the universe. [emphasis mine]

George Sheehan in This Running Life

The primary purpose of that blog was to serve as a portal into one unfinished person’s life, especially through three elements of not only who he (I) is (am), but who we all are: body, mind, and soul.

This was the header image for an unfinished person (in this unfinished universe).

I even had a signature I created that I used at the end of each post:

In 2015 or 2016, I “lost” my self-hosted site to the host that I believe changed the terms of our agreement, so after trying Tumblr and some other platforms for a year or two, I returned here to WordPress.com with the blog that you are on now: Still an unfinished person. I also decided to come out from behind the curtain and use my own name. It wasn’t, and isn’t, that I’m trying to promote my own name. I think it’s more that – now especially after turning 50 in 2019 – I can own my own name, if that makes sense.

So what have I learned after 15 years of blogging besides to own my own name?

Mainly these two things:

  • Write what you want to write.
  • Interact with whom you want to interact.

Write What You Want To Write

While it’s all well and good to have a set schedule, it’s also good to break free of that from time to time and write outside the lines. For example, occasionally, I don’t want to do a “traditional” monthly wrap-up post, with the clearly marked breaks: Books, TV/Movies, and Music. Sometimes a month just flows together. And sometimes I don’t want to title it “Pushing Forward Back…” as I have.

That also means not always keeping to those breakdowns in each week’s Sunday Salon posts: books, TV/movies, and music. The Sunday Salon is supposed to be focused on reading so sometimes I just focus on the reading and not just on list but something I’ve gotten from the reading, or even just a quote or two from the book I’m reading. For example, I did that recently with a post on a collection of poetry, Blue Horses by Mary Oliver.

Writing what I want to write also means not writing what I don’t want to write. For me, as mostly a book blogger now, I eschew book reviews. Why? Because I don’t like feeling the pressure of reading something I don’t want to read, or maybe not at this time, which is often why I don’t do well at reading challenges or readalongs. I like to read what I want, when I want, and most of the time that doesn’t mean reading newer books by newer authors. To me, there are too many books from the past by authors from the past that I want to read. For example, I’m slowly making my way through the Sherlock Holmes novels and short stories (more about what I’m reading in next week’s post).

Interact With Whom You Want To Interact

I identify myself as a book blogger so those are the bloggers with whom I like to interact. However, I choose not to interact with all book bloggers, but a select circle of book bloggers and groups, namely The Sunday Salon. Many of the book bloggers that I follow have been around for at least five years, some 10 to 15 years, and at least one even longer than that. Many have come and gone and some return later, so I’ve also learned to keep those bloggers in my feed reader in case they return (example: Florinda of The 3 R’s Blog: Reading, ‘Riting, and Randomness) and also reconnected with others through Instagram after many years of no contact.

Now this doesn’t mean that I don’t interact with new book bloggers or welcome comments or conversations or interactions with those bloggers with which I might not be familiar. I do both, but mostly I stay in the circles with which I am familiar. You are my people, book people. I embrace you:


So how did we first meet? Was it through The Sunday Salon or was it somewhere else? Do you remember? How long have you been blogging? What are the most important thing you have learned in your years of blogging? Or if you want, do your own blog post on your own blog and let me know and I’ll add the link here. 🙂

Pushing Forward Back February/March 2020

Highlights from this past month: getting a new table for our kitchen, getting a romanesco cauliflower in our Misfits Market subscription box, Seamus (as usual), and the cover art for the book Blue Horses by Mary Oliver.

February found me finally reading poetry this past week after going back and forth whether or not I wanted to read it or not. I read two Mary Oliver books: Dream Work and Blue Horses, enjoying the latter more than the former. I also read two other books this past month:

  • Heaven, My Home, the second in the Highway 59 series, by Attica Locke.
  • How To Be An Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi,

enjoying the former over the latter with those two as Attica Locke continues to astound me with her writing.

I still am continuing to read the Sherlock Holmes novels and short stories and Pillar of Fire, the second in the America in the King Years series, by Taylor Branch, something I will continue into March.

Highlights of the month include our getting a new table set for our kitchen, our watching the movie Knives Out (which was very good) and having a day off this past and my taking the day off this past Wednesday for Ash Wednesday.

March: We have no special plans, but I am taking a vacation day for the first day of Spring, which comes this year on Thursday, March 19. If the weather cooperates, maybe I’ll get out for a hike that day in the nearby Pennsylvania Grand Canyon to celebrate the changing of the seasons.

The only other thing I know for sure that I’m adding to my reading for March is Lent Is Not Rocket Science: An Exploration of God, Creation, and the Cosmos: Meditations for 40 Days of Lent by W. Nicholas Knisely, the 13th and current bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Rhode Island.

On the TV and movies front, I guess the movie I’m most looking forward to seeing is Jumanji: The Next Level, which comes out on DVD and streaming on March 17. The first one was a pleasant surprise and I’m hoping the second one will be good too. Last month, we also watched the Zombieland sequel: Double Tap and enjoyed that so hope we will continue our success with sequels.

I’ll leave you with this, from my favorite contemporary composer:

Posts from February:

None. Of. The. Poetry.

This past week I decided I’m abandoning the Poetry Reading Challenge 2020.

The option I chose was to receive a poem via email from the Academy of American Poets’ Poem-a-day Project and to pick out and write about my favorite poems from one week a month here on the blog. Then not only did I double down on the challenge, to do it each week, but also I tripled down to add listening to a poetry podcast The Slowdown by Tracy K. Smith, the former Poet Laureate of the United States and including those poems in the mix of ones from which I’d choose my favorites. 

After only two weeks of trying this, I’ve learned that neither poetry resource is going to work for me. It seems with both, that every poem, or at least every other poem, is as depressing as f***. Right now, with some stresses at work that I am dealing with, or really maybe…EVER, I don’t need that. 

I also want to refocus my reading efforts on the two fronts I already was working:

  • With fiction, to get back to “old school” detective fiction, such as Sherlock Holmes and Nero Wolfe.
  • With nonfiction, to return to reading Taylor Branch’s America in the King Years trilogy.

To those ends, this weekend I want to continue my reading of the Sherlock Holmes canon and the eighth Nero Wolfe novel, Where There’s A Will. I also want to continue reading Pillar of Fire: America in the King Years 1963-65, the second in the series, that I began a few weeks ago. 

While I only read four Sherlock Holmes short stories earlier in the week, I enjoyed reading them. With Doyle, it is not as much about the mystery as it is about how Holmes learns of the mystery and what he does or doesn’t do once he has solved the mystery. In that regard, he is much like Hercule Poirot that he allows circumstances to happen, sometimes to the detriment of others, making himself the judge, jury and sometimes executioner. I look forward to reading some more this weekend and during the upcoming week.

This doesn’t mean that I am abandoning poetry altogether. I would like to circle back to poetry in April for National Poetry Month, but on my own terms. I just have to face the fact that I am not good at long-term reading challenges with others. When I give myself reading challenges, I am mostly fine. For April, I think I will leave things more open to wherever “the spirit moves me” than saying that I will limit my poetry reading to x, y, or z.

This weekend, though, I am refocusing on older detective fiction and civil rights history. Wish me luck.

Update: Saturday was a bust for reading, but some Saturdays are like that as I just like to get out of town and go somewhere for lunch. Yesterday was such a day. I start Sunday with higher hopes, but am beginning first by reading other Sunday Salon posts and other posts from throughout the week. Among the posts are a return by Florinda of the blog The 3 R’s: Reading, ‘Riting, and Randomness and a celebration of 8 years of blogging by Karen of Booker Talk.

Speaking of x numbers of blogging, I just received a notification yesterday from WordPress.com that I have been with them for 12 years. While I think I have been blogging on and off, mostly on, for 15 years, I joined WordPress.com 12 years ago. As I have off this coming week on Wednesday and Friday, I will try to write up a post about 12 years of blogging that I will share next week.