Saturday, April 23, 2016

My Dewey's 24-Hour Read-a-Thon Post!

Update on 4/24/16, 12:02 p.m.
Obviously I did not get around to updating again during the actual read-a-thon, which was fine, because I didn't do much more reading since at 3:15 we left for my daughter's first tournament with her new select basketball team and didn't return until 9:50 p.m. I knew the tournament would interrupt my read-a-thon plans once we'd decided to let her join the team, but I didn't know how long we'd be gone, especially since we spontaneously decided to go out to eat with the team after the games. (It was worth it for team bonding purposes, though. We got to know the parents better, too; they're nice people.) I did manage to finish Persepolis after we got back. I don't think I could've read as many pages in a conventional book.

Here are my answers to the End of Event Survey.
  1. Which hour was most daunting for you?  Well, as I didn't exactly tax myself, none of them were very daunting, but I did get very sleepy from 10-11 p.m. 
  2. Could you list a few high-interest books that you think could keep a Reader engaged for next year? Persepolis was interesting to me and I think graphic novels in general are good to have on hand as a break from longer texts. I think sticking to shorter books was a good idea, and of course anything with an exciting plot is helpful (for me, that was Shirley Jackson's The Haunting of Hill House). It also seems fun to have a book on hand that you've been dying to get to. I wish I'd had Curtis Sittenfeld's new retelling of Pride and Prejudice, titled Eligible.
  3. Do you have any suggestions for how to improve the Read-a-thon next season? No. As a first-timer, the structure seemed like it really worked.
  4. What do you think worked really well in this year’s Read-a-thon? I especially enjoyed the Facebook group and seeing all the pictures of books, snacks, and places where people were reading. I thought everyone was lovely and encouraging. Some people would feel insecure about their progress, saying things like, "I suck! I'm still reading my first book!" And then immediately others would respond with things like, "Hey, all that matters is that you're reading and having fun." So true!
  5. How many books did you read? I finished two that I had already started and made a start on another (which I have since read more of today.)
  6. What were the names of the books you read? The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson; The Complete Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi; and Complications: A Surgeon's Notes on an Imperfect Science by Atul Gawande.
  7. Which book did you enjoy most? Hill House made me want to read everything Jackson ever wrote.
  8. Which did you enjoy least? I enjoyed all three, but I realized quickly that I'd already read Complications so the experience wasn't the joy of discovering something new.
  9. How likely are you to participate in the Read-a-thon again? What role would you be likely to take next time? I'm definitely planning to participate and hope to read many more hours next time. I can't see taking a formal role, but I loved reading and responding to others' posts on social media.

Update at 2:47 p.m.
Books I'm reading: Persepolis, pp. 232-276. Marjane has now returned to Iran and is having trouble fitting in after being in Europe for so long.
     "I was shocked. At least one street in three is named after a martyr." I feel that I understand the Middle East a little better after reading this powerful graphic novel.

Complications, pp. 1-18. Pretty sure I've read this before, but I still like it.
     "We look for medicine to be an orderly field of knowledge and procedure. But it is not. It is an imperfect science, an enterprise of constantly changing knowledge, uncertain information, fallible individuals, and at the same time lives on the line. There is science in what we do, yes, but also habit, intuition, and sometimes plain old guessing. The gap between what we know and what we aim for persists. And this gap complicates everything we do."

Snacking update: A pickle spear, chips, and fire-roasted salsa. Later, a package of cinnamon brown sugar BelVita breakfast biscuits.

Update at 12:38 p.m.
Book I finished: The Haunting of Hill House. Now I want to read everything Shirley Jackson ever wrote. Pages read: pp. 108-182 and the introduction (I was right to save it for last; like most scholarly introductions, it's full of spoilers.
     If you've never read this, I highly recommend it! A quick, mesmerizing read.

Next up: Complications by Atul Gawande.

Update at 11:09 a.m. 
I really only started reading about 10:00. It's my husband's fault for watching Freedom Writers in front of me; I've somehow never seen it but it kept pulling me in. I finally asked him to record the whole thing for me to watch later and I retreated to the bedroom.

I caught my husband's very bad, no good, terrible, awful cold so I'm not ecstatic but then again, I'd be miserable even if I weren't trying to read all day.

Books I'm reading:
The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson. Pages read: pp. 42-108. Obviously I had already started this one and now Jackson's imaginative take on a haunted house is finally catching on with me. Psychological horror is the kind I'm interested in.

The Complete Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi. Pages read: pp. 204-232. At this point in the memoir, Marjane is a teenager studying at a French high school in Vienna. Her mom comes to visit, and she gets her first real boyfriend (spoiler alert: the first one was gay.)

Snacking update:
Still super full from breakfast, but I need to hydrate, so I'm off to get a drink and start a load of laundry.

9:34 a.m.
I'm late getting started, but I knew I would be, since we had to continue our long-standing tradition of eating a hearty breakfast at our favorite local restaurant. I don't know how many Saturdays we've gone in a row, but let's just say the cashier said if we don't show up, she wonders what happened to us. This way, I'm full and happy as I start to read!

Here are a couple of memes from the first three hours:

Our Bookish Childhoods
1) Little House on the Prairie: I wanted to BE Laura. I spent many hours pretending my bed was a wagon and other make-believe games.

2) The Chronicles of Narnia: Same with Narnia; I desperately wished I could go there.

3) Little Women: I have had multiple copies over the years. Like everyone else, I identified with Jo. This book is truly a timeless classic.

4) Jane Eyre: We had an abridged version which I read when I was around 11. I was entranced and not by the "romance." Jane is such an original heroine, since she is "poor, plain, and little" but she refuses to give up her autonomy and dignity.

5) The Secret Garden. I once read that one is either a Secret Garden fan or a Little Princess fan. I liked A Little Princess but Mary Lennox's mysterious garden enchanted me.

Intro Meme
1) What fine part of the world are you reading from today?
     Burleson, TX (just south of Fort Worth, for you non-Texans)

2) Which book in your stack are you most looking forward to?
     Hard to say, they all sound good. I'm loving Persepolis, which will be my graphic novel "palate cleanser" although it's hardly light fare (seeing that it's written by an Iranian woman. I'm learning stuff I never knew about the Iraq-Iran war.)

3) Which snack are you most looking forward to?
     I'm all about the salt lately (thanks, perimenopause), so chips, salsa, and guacamole are delish.

4) Tell us a little something about yourself!
     I'm a 40 year old mom with a 13-year-old daughter and 10-year-old son. I attended four different universities but only have one degree (and one teaching credential; I also have two halves of different master's degrees). I've only ever lived in Texas but look forward to traveling more as the kids and our budget get bigger. I used to teach high school English but now I'm the office manager of our cabinet shop, which is much more flexible and less stressful than teaching public school. I'm considering library school because books are my favorite things in the world (besides my family).

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?
     This is my first read-a-thon. I'm most looking forward to meeting some new bookish friends and reading alongside my daughter. 


  1. Hi Alison, Thanks for the comment on my blog, I thought I'd come and have a look and see how you're progressing. I love the thought of all these people across the world reading at the same time :)

    I've got a copy of Persepolis but never read it. I'm looking forward to hearing what you think about it. Have you read The Little Coffee Shop of Kabul? It's about the war in Afghanistan, fiction but based on the experiences of the author who used to live out there. Good luck with the reading :)

  2. Also, working in a library is such a fun, yet challenging job! :)

  3. Also, working in a library is such a fun, yet challenging job! :)

  4. I've heard of The Little Coffee Shop of Kabul but haven't read it.

    See, being a librarian seems easy to me compared to teaching high school English! I would probably go the route of being a public or academic (college) librarian. But I'm sure those have their challenges too!