Read: As promised, here’s my complete 2016 book list. I asterisked a few more favorites outside the top ten, and calculated a few numbers: nine audiobooks, 20 nonfiction (including memoir) out of 114 total, and 38% by non-white authors. This is better than last year, which was about 20%.
My current read is Cynthia Kadohata’s The Glass Mountains, a desert fantasy (so far) that isn’t well known, but it has dogs in it and I will gladly read anything by Kadohata. I thought this 1999 paperback was maybe self-published, because it has small type and small margins, but it seems not.
Write: I participated in Elementary Rolling Remix! Ten of us signed up to write fan fiction for Elementary, the Sherlock-Holmes-and-Joan-Watson TV show. At the end of September, there was one story, which was sent to two people for use as a prompt to re-mix in their own work, then each of those was sent to a new person, et cetera. Turnaround time for each story was two weeks. The result is twelve stories that form two chains, each starting from the one seed story. We are still in the anonymous period and trying to guess the authorship and sequence, but after tomorrow you’ll be able to see which fic(s) I wrote. Sanguinity participated too. I am not 100 percent sure of my guess about what she wrote. I, on the other hand, was SO good at being secretive during the whole writing and waiting time. So! Good! then blurted something while we were reading the batch of posted stories that gave it away.
Run: Did you maybe hear that Portland had a little winter weather? Snow days galore! My long run was scheduled for melt-out day: the rain started Tuesday night and on Wednesday the snow hadn’t really melted or lost volume, it was just mixed up with rain and ice chunks so the whole world was an ankle-deep disgusting Slurpee. Fortunately, that’s also the day the community center went back to regular hours, so I could slurpee-wade a half mile and then do the ten-mile run on the treadmill.
Ten miles on a treadmill is so mind-numbing, you guys. I don’t understand how treadmiles are so slow. The hundredths of a mile tick over so very slowly. What got me through it was the audiobook of Flying Lessons, the ten-story collection put out by Ellen Oh and We Need Diverse Books. It’s so good! There is not a dud among the ten, honestly. It starts with a Matt de la Pena story about the pickup basketball scene (written in second-person future, no less), and ends with another basketball story, Walter Dean Myers writing about a former pro ball player coaching his son’s wheelchair basketball team. Tim Tingle reads his own story, about a Choctaw Bigfoot, and it’s such a great story-telling delivery. Soman Chainani made me laugh out loud in the gym. The story by the sole new author, Kelly J. Baptist, is right up there with the rest. (Baptist won a contest to get her story in the book. Wow what a nerve-wracking thrill that would be, to land among the giants like that.)
Resist: Got my anti-Trump stickers printed.
Here’s the pdf. I used labels identical to Avery 5160, but had to tweak the table dimensions a bit, at least on my printer.
Stickers are on their way to those who requested them! Actually, writing notes and sending mail is one of the more comforting things I’m doing today.
I typed the following just after reading the inauguration speech. I read it in plain text, without annotations. These were my takeaways, which leave me sobered and sad. I hope I am wrong and overdramatic, but feel compelled to record what I thought today.
This week I started two new projects with Sanguinity!
We both joined the LiveJournal community Sherlock Holmes: 60 for 60. Each week I’ll be reading one of the original 60 Arthur Conan Doyle stories (or a fraction of a novel– the whole cycle will take 71 weeks total) and posting a related ficlet of exactly 60 words. We started with A Study in Scarlet, so my first contribution was of course about the “bull pup” Watson claims to keep but never mentions again.
I was sorry to leave the hotel: Sophie was my biscuit friend, and waited for me to finish the crumbs before sweeping. At the new house the tall man has a noisy howling-box but I must be quiet. The old dog won’t play, but I go out early with the tall man to sniff. Then run home for another breakfast!
New members are welcome to join in anytime, in case this appeals to you. This is round five, so chances are you’ll have another chance at any stories you missed.
I also bought the latest edition of my favorite hiking book, William Sullivan’s 100 Hikes in NW Oregon and SW Washington, so that Sanguinity and I can do them all and mark them off. There are so many that are wonderful but I had a “we did that” mindset, which is ridiculous. So today we checked off #8, Oaks Bottom. It wasn’t much more fuss than our usual neighborhood walks, and we heard red-winged blackbirds and saw woodpeckers working. There are multiple options for many hikes plus a bunch more at the back, so some recordkeeping details are unclear… for now I’m just writing dates and notes in the book. No set time frame.
Portland woke up to an inch or two of pretty, powdery snow! In the afternoon it started turning toward freezing rain, and the university just notified us they’ll open two hours late tomorrow, at ten. Good job, weather, at stretching out the holiday that last little bit.
I decided to walk to the community center and do my run on the treadmill. And, since I had to carry my running clothes anyway, why not carry a swimsuit and visit the pool and hot tub afterward? This turned out to be a great plan. The ellipticals were full, but I was the only one treadmilling. I called Sanguinity when I had two miles left to go, and she joined me for the pool part. There were empty lanes in the lap pool! The changing rooms weren’t all wet, because almost all the kids were playing in the snow instead of swimming! We didn’t even have to wait to go down the water slide! And there was plenty of room in the hot tub to stretch out, while looking out at the fir trees.
It’s also a good day to curl up and read Yuletide stories. Two I enjoyed from kidlit fandoms:
Happy New Year! I got up this morning and put my 2014 books-I-read list in order. The whole thing is here if you want to pore through it, but here are the highlights:
Favorite Audiobook: Graceling, by Kristin Cashore. Romantic and exciting; the full-cast audio rendition seemed cheesy at first but won me over. Strangely, the sequel Fire did absolutely nothing for me and I didn’t even finish it. I still plan to give Bitterblue a try.
Favorite Nonfiction: She Would Not Be Moved: How We Tell the Story of Rosa Parks and the Montgomery Bus Boycott, by Herbert Kohl. Nonfiction. Short essay on how elementary school curricula glide over the political and activist elements of Rosa Parks’ story to make it an individual, idiopathic anecdote (“she was tired”). Aimed at educators, but made me want to read more about the bus boycott.
Favorite Kidlit Fiction (Middle Grade and Young Adult):
The Cardturner, by Louis Sachar. Love the passion for detail about bridge, love that Sachar wrote about whatever the hell he wanted and that was bridge. And I like the story too. Were the parents too cartoonish, though?
Flora Segunda (trilogy), by Ysabeau Wilce. I love the physicality, the military mama, the cultural setting, the butlers, the uncertainty of the romance, the plot twists! Can you imagine how excited I was to get a Flora Segunda gift for Fic Corner?
Favorite Adult Fiction: Americanah, by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. I immediately felt like I knew the characters and enjoyed their observations. Good pair with Ha Jin’s A Free Life. I want to go back and read her earlier work.
Favorite Trend: Picture-book musician biographies! Some use song lyrics in the text, and 32 pages often seems about right to evoke a life and career trajectory while focusing on the music. Included When the Beat Was Born (DJ Kool Herc), Hello, I’m Johnny Cash, and The Cosmobiography of Sun Ra. Although it’s not a biography, I also loved Gus Gordon’s Herman and Rosie. So much love and music.
New Years Day is when I practice my new perfect life and all my shining good habits, like talking to you in this blog and going for walks to the park and cooking vegetables, and yet it’s still a holiday so I can do all these things at leisure and also eat nutella and reread Dykes to Watch Out For and browse a few more Yuletide fics. Speaking of which, I’ll close with links to three Yuletide fics, from kidlit fandoms, that I loved:
I signed up for my first fic exchange, The Exchange at Fic Corner 2013! About a hundred people signed up, and assignments will come out tomorrow. The fandoms I requested are:
Ramona Series – Beverly Clearly
The Melendy Quartet – Elizabeth Enright
Harriet the Spy – Louise Fitzhugh
From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler – E. L. Konigsburg
Zahrah the Windseeker – Nnedi Okorafor
His Dark Materials – Philip Pullman
Arlene Sardine – Chris Raschka
The President’s Daughter Series – Ellen Emerson White
As you can probably tell, it’s a kidlit and YA exchange. My letter here has more of my thoughts about these fandoms and what I like and what I wonder.
So I’ve been keeping the Melendy Quartet by my bedside (I like syndicated comic strips or many-times-reread children’s books for bedtime) and reading the chapters all out of order. I wish there were a Great Brain at the Academy type book about Rush at boarding school. That’s the kind of book you dream about reading and then wake up and feel so disappointed that it doesn’t exist after all.
Things I was surprised did not get nominated for The Exchange at Fic Corner: anything by Daniel Pinkwater, The Westing Game, Jean Little’s books about Kate and Emily, the Little House series, and The Hunger Games.
Meanwhile, I read the first book in the British YA adventure series about Alex Rider– Stormbreaker, by Anthony Horowitz. Oh, it reminded me so much of reading Nancy Drew books! Better prose, but since I didn’t notice the bad prose in Nancy Drew as a kid, that felt the same too. Our hero is fourteen and always knows how to land the necessary karate kick, except when he doesn’t and gets tied up. So much aplomb, plus spy toys and a giant Portuguese Man o’ War! There was a movie version, but it got a whopping 33% on Rotten Tomatoes.