Here’s a rare thing on my blog, which shouldn’t be for a blogger who once upon a time identified himself as a “book blogger”: An actual update on what I’ve finished lately over the last couple of months and what I am reading now.
A Month in the Country by J.L. Carr. May 10
The Last Bow, the Sherlock Holmes short story collection, which also includes the short story of thesame name, by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. May 29 – reading in the second volume of a collection of short stories and novels
Every Living Thing, the last part of the All Creatures Great and Small series, by James Herriot. June 14
Devotions: The Selected Poems of Mary OliverStarted May 6
The Best Poems of Jane Kenyon Started June 6
To Be Read
The Case-Book of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle – which, when finished, will mean I have read the entire Sherlock Holmes canon by Doyle and also is in the second and final volume of the collection I’ve been reading from since last year.
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.
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.
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:
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.
After not getting any reading in yesterday for this extended weekend’s Thankfully Reading Weekend, today I did get a little in toward the end of the day. I continued reading The Lord God Made Them All, the fourth book in the All Creatures Great and Small series (at least in the order here in the U.S.), which I started a couple of months ago but haven’t finished yet. I slowly am making my way through the series (the first couple a reread, the rest new to me) that I started last year.
Most of the day, though, was spent with my my wife celebrating Thanksgiving here at home since she is going back to work tonight (midnight shift into Friday morning) after being off from work since last week. We had turkey and all the fixings. Well, I did anyway. Since she is a vegan, she didn’t have turkey but a “Tofurkey” ham, but all our fixings were the same: sweet potato and green bean casseroles, and pumpkin pie.
As planned, we watched our traditional Thanksgiving movies Planes, Trains, and Automobiles and Pieces of April. We also watched Home for the Holidays, one of my wife’s favorite Thanksgiving movies.
After she went to sleep for a few hours, I finally was able to settle down and read:
Tomorrow, I still plan to start a reread of Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman. However, I might not get to reading Always Look on the Bright Side of Life: A Sortabiography by Eric Idle as I initially had planned this weekend. For now, I just plan to go back and forth between The Lord God Made Them All and Good Omens. We’ll see how that goes.
Stay tuned. I’ll be back to report on my progress tomorrow night, Saturday and Sunday nights too.
Jenn at Jenn’s Bookshelves is hosting Thankfully Reading Weekend again, this year from Wednesday, Nov. 27 through Sunday, Dec. 1, and I’m joining in. As Jenn says, “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.” I plan on starting at 5 p.m. on Wednesday, after work, and continuing through Sunday night.
The only time I know for sure that I won’t be reading — well, of course, other than sleeping — is Saturday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. when I’m working at the library. I also probably won’t be reading during times when my wife and I are watching something on streaming together as she is off both Thanksgiving Day and Black Friday. Other than those times, I plan to devote a good chunk of the long weekend to reading.
So what will I be reading? I’m not exactly sure, but I have possibilities, including the following three very strong probabilities:
The Lord God Made Them All, the fourth book in the All Creatures Great and Small series, by James Herriot, as I continue making my way through the series (the first couple a reread, the rest new to me) that I started last year.
Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman, since we just watched the series on Amazon and I felt it was/is time for a reread.
Always Look on the Bright Side of Life: A Sortabiography by Eric Idle, which I bought via a Kindle deal last year but haven’t read yet.
I only just noticed that all of my choices are British. While not by design, it will be nice to get out of the U.S. for a while over the holidays, given our current political climate. I mean, the United Kingdom isn’t having any issues right now politically, are they? 😉
So how about you? Are you reading over the holidays? If so, what are you planning to read? IF NOT, — because I’m not judging if you spend time with family and friends and/or busy at work — AND PLEASE SEE THIS PART OF THE POSSIBLE QUESTIONS :), what are you reading otherwise that is good? Or what do you have on the radar that you are looking forward to reading?Because I really want to know and I and my readers might get some good ideas for you and vice versa.