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.

My Dewey’s 24 Hour Readathon for October 2019

Tomorrow starts another Dewey’s 24 Hour Readathon, and starting today, I’ll be keeping track of the readathon here and on Instagram, from pre-readathon prep to post-readathon analysis on Sunday. I’m in the midst of convalescing from arthroscopic knee surgery this past Tuesday (to learn more about that, visit my previous post), and I haven’t gotten much reading done so far, thanks to a slight haze of Norco (hydrocodone and acetaminophen). However, now that I’m coming out of the fog, I’m ready for some reading.

Pre-readathon prep

I only have two books on my list that I definitely want to get to, one in a collection:

  • Four Novels: The Sun Also Rises; A Farewell to Arms; For Whom The Bell Tolls; The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway that I bought last week from our library’s bookstore.
  • Everybody Behaves Badly: The True Story Behind Hemingway’s Masterpiece The Sun Also Rises by Lesley M.M. Blume that I was reminded that I had bought last year in ebook when I saw The Sun Also Rises among the four novels.

I’m thinking that they will complement each other well for tomorrow’s readathon.

I also have other possibilities, but most likely they will be saved for next week, while I’m still off from work, and probably even later for some:

  • Where The Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens
  • Heaven, My Home (A Highway 59 Mystery Book 2) by Attica Locke
  • Orphan X (Orphan X, #1) by Gregg Hurwitz
  • The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman (an annual Halloween reread tradition)
  • Ruth Galloway Series: The First Three Novels by Elly Griffiths
  • The Lord God Made Them All (All Creatures Great and Small Book 4) by James Herriot
  • The Cuckoo’s Calling (Cormoran Strike Book 1) by Robert Galbraith
  • A Morbid Taste for Bones (The Chronicles of Brother Cadfael Book 1) by Ellis Peters.

This past week I finished one book, A Story To Tell by Lisa R. Howeler (my sister), and started another, The Best American Poetry 2014 (edited by Terrance Hayes, guest editor, and David Lehman, series editor) that I probably will finish today before tomorrow’s readathon.

My wife and I also started watching Mindhunter, Season 2 on Netflix Wednesday night, and we plan on possibly getting to these other series this coming week:

  • Good Omens, Season 1 on Amazon Prime
  • Narcos Mexico, Season 1 on Netflix
  • Money Heist, Season 2 on Netflix
  • Criminal: UK, France, Germany, and Spain on Netflix

We had started watching the Narcos and Money Heist seasons previously, but have yet to get to the other three.

The Readathon

8 a.m.: Opening Survey!

  1. What fine part of the world are you reading from today? Northcentral Pennsylvania
  2. Which book in your stack are you most looking forward to? The Sun Also Rises, the first book on my “stack” of two, the second being a nonfiction book about The Sun Also Rises
  3. Which snack are you most looking forward to? Crackers, cheese, and wine, especially after having arthroscopic knee surgery earlier this week.
  4. Tell us a little something about yourself! I had arthroscopic knee surgery earlier this week and now that the pain meds are wearing off, I’m ready to focus on reading.
  5. If you participated in the last read-a-thon, what’s one thing you’ll do different today? If this is your first read-a-thon, what are you most looking forward to? I’m not going to be as obsessed with time. Just read as much as I can, and especially with aforementioned knee surgery, rest as I need.

Update No. 1: 10 a.m.

  • I’ve read 50 pages in The Sun Also Rises.
  • I remember why I love Hemingway: the short, back-and-forth dialogue.
  • I do:n’t remember the use of the casual n-word, but when it came 50 pages in, it slapped me in the face. “The n***** drummer waved at Brett.”
  • I had breakfast: sausage, egg, and Swiss cheese on a croissant.

Update No. 2: 12:40 p.m.

  • I’ve read 165 pages in The Sun Also Rises.
  • I’m about to grab lunch: probably a turkey and cheese sandwich on rye bread with potato chips on the side.
  • I’m still enjoying the book, not just the dialogue, but the long, almost stream-of-consciousness descriptions at times. I’m remembering why he is one of my favorite authors.

Update No. 3: 2 p.m.

  • I just finished The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway.
  • And I just got these two books, in the mail, a perfect break from my Hemingway reading:
  • I’m starting with The Score.

Update No. 4: 6:30 p.m.

At about 2:30, I took a nap and woke up about 4:30, had a snack and then got back to reading The Score. I’m more than halfway through.

Best quote so far

The book is about a group of robbers planning a heist of a town. In the one part, the one robber explains to the other about taxes:

“You’re a young man, you still can learn. Pay attention to this. You can steal in this country, you can rape and murder, you can bribe public officials, you can pollute the morals of the young, you can burn your place of business down for the insurance money, you can do almost anything you want, and if you act with just a little caution and common sense you’ll never even be indicted. But if you don’t pay your income tax, Grofield, you will go to jail.”

Littlefield in “The Score” by Richard Stark

8 p.m.: Mid-Event Survey

  1. What are you reading right now? Nothing right now, but about to start Everybody Behaves Badly: The True Story Behind Hemingway’s Masterpiece The Sun Also Rises by Lesley M.M. Blume.
  2. How many books have you read so far? Two: The Sun Also Rises and The Score by Richard Stark.
  3. What book are you most looking forward to for the second half of the Read-a-thon? Everybody Behaves Badly. Other than that, I’m not sure what I’ll read although I have possibilities (see above).
  4. Have you had many interruptions? How did you deal with those? I’ve had several, including a two-hour nap. I’ve rolled with them, because I’m recuperating from arthroscopic knee surgery earlier in the week.
  5. What surprises you most about the Read-a-thon, so far? That I forgot my sister was sending me two Parker novels by Stark in the mail. It was a nice surprise and came at the right time when I needed a break from Hemingway. Now back to…well…about Hemingway, anyway.

Shortly after completing this survey, I had a small glass of wine and then promptly felt tired, so I went to bed. I did get up at about 5 a.m. and started Everybody Behaves Badly. I will be continuing that later today with my own readathon.

Post-Readathon Analysis

Especially considering that I am recovering from knee surgery on Tuesday, I am pleased with reading two books, although they weren’t the two books I expected to read. I also got started on another, the second one that I had intended to read.

What are you up to this weekend? Readathon? If so, what is/was on your stack of possibilities? If not, what have you been reading good lately or what do you have good planned to read? Whatchya up to otherwise?

Looking forward to…surgery, convalescence, and a readathon!

So finally this coming week, Tuesday, to be exact, is my surgery (arthroscopy on left knee to repair a degenerative meniscus). And while obviously I’m looking forward to getting my knee fixed, and not being in pain (duh!), I’m perhaps even looking forward more to convalescing for two weeks off work, which includes Dewey’s 24 Hour Readathon this coming Saturday. I’m also looking forward to my wife and I catching up on a few TV shows on Netflix and Amazon Prime over the next couple of weeks.

Last week after announcing that I was “starting with a clean slate again,” I did just that, by returning all of my library books, both physical and virtual, and canceling all of my holds. And even though I said I wouldn’t let you know what I chose next until after I read it, as I am apt to do, I’ve changed my mind and now will let you know what I’ve already started plus a few recent purchases and books I’ve checked out from the library this past week that are among my potential reads for the next two weeks.

What I’m reading and plan to finish today

The Best American Poetry 2014, edited by Terrance Hayes, guest editor, and David Lehman, series editor

A Story To Tell by Lisa R. Howeler (my sister)

What I might read in the next two weeks

Physical books

Four Novels: The Sun Also Rises; A Farewell to Arms; For Whom The Bell Tolls; The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway

Where The Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens

Heaven, My Home (A Highway 59 Mystery Book 2) by Attica Locke

Orphan X (Orphan X, #1) by Gregg Hurwitz

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

I purchased the Hemingway collection this past Wednesday from our library’s bookstore. I’m not normally into tomes like that in print, but this one, the print wasn’t too small so I thought I’d get it and The Sun Also Rises reminded me that I had an ebook I had purchased a while ago, but hadn’t gotten to read yet. As for the others: 1.) Our library’s book club just read Where The Crawdads Sing and after months of not being available at our library, it became available so I thought why not? 2.) I read Bluebird, Bluebird the first Highway 59 Mystery by Attica Locke and enjoyed it. I also had had this second one on hold on ebook at The Free Library of Philadelphia, but the wait was six months! So when this came in at our library, I scooped it up, with no wait. 3.) I like Gregg Hurwitz, but have been hesitating on the Orphan X series. Now we’ll see if I really want to read it. 5.) The Graveyard Book I reread every year for Halloween.

Virtual books

Everybody Behaves Badly: The True Story Behind Hemingway’s Masterpiece The Sun Also Rises by Lesley M.M. Blume

Ruth Galloway Series: The First Three Novels by Elly Griffiths

The Lord God Made Them All (All Creatures Great and Small Book 4) by James Herriot

The Cuckoo’s Calling (Cormoran Strike Book 1) by Robert Galbraith

A Morbid Taste for Bones (The Chronicles of Brother Cadfael Book 1) by Ellis Peters

The book about Hemingway will make a perfect companion to The Sun Also Rises for Saturday’s readathon, I think. Three of the other four are the starts of series I’ve always thoughts about reading and the Herriot is the continuation of a series I restarted two years ago.

What we plan on watching in the next two weeks

Mindhunter, Season 2 on Netflix

Good Omens, Season 1 on Amazon Prime

Narcos Mexico, Season 1 on Netflix

Money Heist, Season 2 on Netflix

Criminal: UK, France, Germany, and Spain on Netflix

We have started watching the Narcos and Money Heist, but have yet to get to the other three.

If you missed this earlier this week

I’ll leave you with a little music from Floating Points:

What are you reading this week? Anything good? Watching, listening to, doing anything cool? Let me know in the comments.

Signed up for the October 2019 Readathon

I’ve signed up for the October 26, 2019 Dewey’s 24 Hour Readathon. At first, I wasn’t sure that I’d have the Saturday off from work, but on Thursday, I found out that I’ll be having arthroscopic surgery on my left knee for a degenerative meniscus only a few days before the event on October 22. So now I’m definitely in, and I already have begun thinking about what books I might read as I start my convalescence.

Topping the list are two books apropos for a weekend so close to Halloween:

  • The Unforeseen by Dorothy McCardle
  • The Night of the Hunter by Davis Grubb.

The first is a recommendation from a friend, who also recommended to me I read McCardle’s The Uninvited, her first novel, which I did and enjoyed. Now I’m going to give her second novel a go. The second is the basis for one of my wife’s favorite movies of the same name, starting Robert Mitchum, and one of my favorite scenes in two movies:

A third very strong possibility is a Halloween tradition reread: The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman, which a patron at the library where I work got me started doing a few years ago. I might mix it up like I did one year and read the graphic novel adaptation by writer P. Craig Russell; illustrators David Lefuente, Scott Hampton, Kevin Nowlan, Tony Harris, Jill Thompson, Stephen B. Scott, and Galen Showman; and colorist Lovern Kindzierski.

Beyond that, I might throw in a dash of poetry, but as always, we’ll see.


As for what I’m doing this weekend, I’m…

Reading

  • The Mummy Case, the third in the Amelia Peabody mystery series, by Elizabeth Peters after reading The Curse of the Pharaohs, the second in the series, earlier this week.

Watching

  • Friday Night Dinner, a British comedy, now available on Hulu, with my wife.

Listening To

Are you going to participate in the October readathon? If so, what are you planning on reading? Either way, what are you up to this weekend? Whatchya reading, watching, listening to, doing this weekend?