Kicking Off 2021 Thankfully Reading Weekend

So, as I mentioned a couple of weeks ago, I’m participating in the 2021 Thankfully Reading Weekend, as hosted by Jenn of the blog Jenn’s Bookshelves (clink link in image to be taken to today’s post). This is my kickoff post for the event that starts today and runs through this Sunday, which happens to coincide with five days that I have off from work. Here are a few questions Jenn suggested we could answer, and which I will:

  • How will/did you celebrate Thanksgiving? My wife usually has to work Thursday night and this year is no different. We’re still having Thanksgiving dinner tomorrow (and Friday, thanks/no thanks to a box of produce arriving late).
  • What’s in your TBR pile for the weekend? Too many books that realistically I probably won’t get to.
  • How much time do you think you’ll have for reading? A lot as my wife works midnight shift all weekend and sleeps during the day.
  • What book are you starting out with? How We Change (And Ten Reasons Why We Don’t) by Ross Ellenhorn. I already started early this morning when I woke up too early as my mind was racing and wouldn’t let me sleep.
  • Are you reading print, ebooks, or audio? Mostly ebooks, although I do have a few print books checked out from our library. No audio planned, but I do own a few I’ve been meaning to get to.

2021 Thankfully Reading Weekend – I’m in! #thankfullyreading

As I preface before I say this every time I announce I’m joining in, I only participate in a few book blogging events every year and this (see image/link above) is one of them. This year’s event is from Wednesday, Nov. 24 through Sunday, Nov. 28. Here’s how Jenn describes the event:

There are no rules to the weekend, we’re simply hoping to devote a good amount of time to reading, and perhaps meeting some of our reading challenges and goals for the year. We thought it’d be fun if we cheered each other on a bit…Join in for the weekend or for only a single day. No rules, no pressure!

I happen to have off work for those five days, and my wife, who works night shift, is asleep during the day, so it happens to work out perfectly for me to join in. Or I should say it would seem. Realistically, with the distraction of catching up on some binge-watching, I’ll be happy if I can finish one book.

I have choices. Among them are the following:

  • Robert E. Lee and Me: A Southerner’s Reckoning with The Myth of the Lost Cause by Ty Seidule, Professor Emeritus of History at West Point 
  • Tombstone: The Earp Brothers, Doc Holiday, And the Vendetta Raid from Hell by Tom Clavin  
  • The Flying Tigers: The Untold Story of the American Pilots Who Waged the Secret War Against Japan by Sam Kleiner
  • Thursday the Rabbi Walked Out by Harry Kemelman.

I mentioned the first three in my post “My Own Personal Nonfiction November”, and I have been making my way slowly through the Rabbi Small series by Kemelman this year. This one is the seventh in a series of 12. I plan on reading the sixth, Wednesday the Rabbi Got Wet, the sixth in the series today and tomorrow.


While that takes care of my reading plans for next week, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention our other plans for the next couple of weeks. On Nov. 23, my wife and I will be celebrating our 25th wedding anniversary. I don’t have the day off, but I will be leaving work early and Kim and I will celebrate that night with a special dinner. She hasn’t decided what she is making yet.

Leading up to our anniversary, she and I are both off together from Thursday to Sunday this coming week. We’re starting “Our 25th Anniversary Extravaganza”, as I’ve labeled it, on Wednesday night by watching The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King with commentary provided by Rifftrax. Then on Thursday night, we’re watching In the Heights; Friday, King Richard; Saturday, the last two episodes of Season 1 of Ted Lasso. We have been very slowly making our way through the series, because it’s too good to…forgive the timely pun…gobble up.

So, those are my couple of weeks in a nutshell. How about you? For those of you in the U.S. who celebrate Thanksgiving, any special plans? For all of you, feel free to share in the comments what you’ve been reading, watching, listening to, or doing lately.

Celebrating Go to an Art Museum Day

Alternate title: On grief, and listening to Radiohead and R.E.M.

In the summer I realized I had some time left I still needed to take off work so I’ve had a few random days off. At the time I decided to look at a calendar of national holidays to select my day off. My last one was October 28, National Chocolate Day, even though ironically I didn’t have any chocolate that day.

This Tuesday, Nov. 9, according to the website National Today, is Go to an Art Museum Day, and it is one of the days I chose to have off. Initially, I thought about going to the Corning Museum of Glass, which is about an hour away from where I live. But this past week some unforeseen vehicle repair expenses came up, so now I won’t be going. Instead, I’m going on a virtual tour of some museums around the world that I bookmarked yesterday.

That will be in the afternoon. In the morning, I want to catch up on some meditation podcasts with Niall Breslin on Spotify and journaling.

Last Tuesday, my wife Kim took a creative writing workshop so she could do something special on the birthday of both her mother and her best friend from high school, who passed away within four days of each other in April. This Tuesday, I’m doing something similar as with the meditation podcasts and journaling, I’m remembering not only their passing – and the passing of hundreds of thousands in our country and millions around the world in the last year and half from COVID-19 – but also the passing of a few patrons who have died as well in the last couple of months.

Even though I didn’t know those patrons well, I was used to seeing – and hearing – them at the library, a couple for many of the last 11 years I’ve worked at the library. And their deaths have hit me harder than I thought they would. So I want to acknowledge that grief – and the continuing grief that both Kim (moreso, understandably, her) and I are having for Kim’s mom and best friend – on Tuesday.

If I had gone to Corning, I wanted to listen to music on the way. Since I’m not going, while I am on my virtual museum tour, I’m going to listen to a couple of albums that were released last week by Radiohead and R.E.M., remastered editions of earlier albums. The albums are New Adventures in Hi-fi by R. E.M. and Kid A and Amnesiac by Radiohead.

I plan on ending the day by watching a movie with Kim that I’ve wanted to see for a while, but just haven’t gotten to. It also fits with the art theme. It’s called Loving Vincent and is about Vincent Van Gogh. Kim already has seen it, but she said she loved it so I don’t think she’ll mind watching again.

My Own Personal Nonfiction November

This month there are several events around the Internet called Nonfiction November. In the past I have even participated in one with a group of book bloggers. It is led by Rennie at the blog What’s Nonfiction. To find out more about that event, click on the hyperlink. However, that is not what I am doing. Instead, as the title of this post says, I am doing My Own Personal Nonfiction November.

To wit, this year I have only read four nonfiction books, but I want to read more. So, this month I have picked three nonfiction books to try to get through before the end of the month. I found all of them while shelf reading at the library where I work. Shelf reading, for those who might not know, means “reading the spines of the items on the shelf and rearranging any materials that are out of order.” It’s not always a fun job, especially when the call numbers in a Dewey decimal system get long, but it can be rewarding when you find books that interest you. 

The list is as follows: 

  • Robert E. Lee and Me: A Southerner’s Reckoning with The Myth of the Lost Cause by Ty Seidule, Professor Emeritus of History at West Point 
  • Tombstone: The Earp Brothers, Doc Holiday, And the Vendetta Raid from Hell by Tom Clavin  
  • The Flying Tigers: The Untold Story of the American Pilots Who Waged the Secret War Against Japan by Sam Kleiner. 

The first two were published last year; the third, in 2018.  

While I’m not usually one to quote from a summary on a book jacket, in the case of Robert E. Lee and Me, I will make an exception, because it’s what drew me. This is the second paragraph of the summary: 

In a unique blend of history and reflection, Seidule deconstructs the truth about the Confederacy—that its undisputed primary goal was the subjugation and enslavement of Black Americans—and directly challenges the idea of honoring those who labored to preserve that system and committed treason in their failed attempt to achieve it. Through the arc of Seidule’s own life, as well as the culture that formed him, he seeks a path to understanding why the facts of the Civil War have remained buried beneath layers of myth and even outright lies—and how they embody a cultural gulf that separates millions of Americans to this day. 

Back in college, I took a class on Reconstruction with one of the central themes being that the Civil War was about slavery, period. The main book used for the course, which I highly recommend, is A Short History of Reconstruction 1863-1877 by Eric Foner. It is an abridged version of Reconstruction: America’s Unfinished Revolution. So, Seidule’s book will be like extra credit reading for me for that class almost 30 years ago. 

In the case of Tombstone, I’ve always had an interest in “The Gunfight at the OK Corral” and with The Flying Tigers, I grew up watching the TV show Baa Baa Black Sheep, about U.S. Marine Corps aviator Greg “Pappy” Boyington and his Black Sheep Squadron. He also was a member of the Flying Tigers. I’ve also always wanted to see the movie Tombstone and never have. Now maybe after reading the book, I will watch it with maybe a better understanding of the real event. 

So, do you read nonfiction? If you do, what is one of your favorites from this year or any other year, for that matter? If you don’t, why not?