Tally Monday- April 17, 2017

Checked Out



  1. Annihilation by Jeff Vandermeer
  2. Authority by Jeff Vandermeer
  3. Acceptance by Jeff Vandermeer



TBR Your guess is as good as mine.

Another week of basking in War and Peace.  I am beginning to hate Tolstoy who has ripped out my heart a couple of times now.  And it’s hard to predict, you guys.  Sometimes a character’s story will pick back up and I’ll catch myself clenching my teeth, awaiting the oncoming disaster.  Only, the disaster doesn’t come.  The story line swerves and the character lives to see another day.  Then something wonderfully hopeful happens and I get so excited for the wonderful, happy thing to come and it doesn’t happen.  Someone takes a lover instead or freaking dies.

Touche, Tolstoy.  Touche.

This morning I caught myself wondering how he did it.  How did he make me care about these characters?  They never seem technicolor to me, though they never seem flat either.  There is just enough there for me to think of the characters as real people.  They have just enough personality to be distinct but little enough for me to paint them with my own ideas and impressions.  It’s a fine line but he walks it well.

This week I will finish War and Peace and then I will launch headlong into The Stand.  One big book to another.  I’m looking forward to it, though.  I need more Stephen King in my life.

I bought the whole Southern Reach trilogy last week because I was feeling kind of down and they are pretty.  What can I say?  There are worse habits to have.

The Podcast Problem

The other day my phone warned me that it was nearly full.

“How can that be?” asked Hubby.

I shrugged.  Then I pulled up my storage management and saw that Podcasts were taking up 35.5 GB of space on my phone.

Hubby looked at me, aghast, and said, “WTF is wrong with you?  Why do you download them?”

Easy.  I download my podcasts so I can listen to them when I don’t have a wifi connection.  I am one of those people, you know.  I connect automatically almost everywhere I go on a regular basis.  When I walk into Meijer to get groceries, I automatically connect to their network and my Meijer app pings.  I connect at home.  I connect first thing in the morning at work.  I connect at all of my friends’ houses.  I connect at the local McDonalds.  My phone is set up to use the wifi if it is available and NOT to use data, because that got us in trouble once.  (Did you know that you actually have to set your phone up like that?  Our home internet was a little slower than our iPhones liked and apparently was switching to data constantly without us knowing until our bill came.  Our wifi is faster now and we’ve learned our lesson.)

I took a day to think about how I wanted to handle the situation while I desperately cleaned out photos and apps.  See, because my Podcasts are downloaded to my device, they don’t disappear if I fall behind and something gets removed from the feed.  I can listen to them in the car without fear.  When our internet is down, I have a cache of treasure ready to go.  I never worry about not having something to listen to.

But I have fallen behind.  I know that.  I fell behind when I started this job because I can’t listen at my public desk and the work that I do at my off desk requires a lot more of my attention.  (I’m bad with numbers and I manage a budget.)  I listen to audiobooks in my car because I am also behind on my TBR list.  I just don’t have as much time to listen anymore.

And so I made a decision.  I am going to finish up the Ramona series on audio, which should not take long, and then I will transition into my Podcast listening through maternity leave.  I planned on listening to podcasts then anyway because they are right on my phone.  In the meantime, I’ll keep up with my regular listening around the house.

This morning I added up how many podcasts I have downloaded.  1170.  Fucking seriously.

Now, on the other hand, Hubby had me change the podcast in his car the other day and I said, “Don’t you have it downloaded.”

“No,” he answered.  “I just stream mine.”

I looked at him, aghast.  “WTF is wrong with you??”

Tally Monday- January 9, 2017

Checked Out

None, thank God.


  1. Maestra by LS. Hilton
  2. As Close to Us as Breathing by Elizabeth Poliner
  3. Siracusa by Delia Ephron
  4. Gods in Alabama by Joshilyn Jackson


  1. The Maldive Shark by Herman Melville

TBR 22ish, probably closer to 25

Panic at the Library.  That would be my band name.

The days and weeks are ticking by, speeding up like a train pulling out of the station.  Or like a madman preparing to run someone over.  Whatever.  However you want to think about it.  The fact of the matter is that I have 11 weeks until maternity leave and I have not put a dent in my TBR pile at all.  At.  All.

Why?  Oh, I don’t know.  Five million bazillion reasons.  The first being that I am tired.  The second being that I am mostly brain dead at this point and scrabbling to function like a human being 40 hours a week.  The third being that, honestly, I don’t want to read this shit.  I do not want to read that stuff for work still, even the book that I am really enjoying.  It’s well written and packed full of information but it is not what I want to read.

Which brings us around to my little problem.  When I can’t sleep at night, which is more often than not these days, I pull out my Kindle and read The Handmaid’s Tale.  It’s taking me a long time because I am basically reading only in bed and only until I am tired but, you guys, I just realized that I feel like I am taking sips of good literature and it’s all that’s getting me through.  When I catch myself worrying that I no longer love to read, I remind myself that these little tastes of dystopia are refreshing and make me happy, even when they give me nightmares.

Because all it takes is a couple of shitty books in a row to ruin a reading life.  And I have never, ever felt so much for those poor saps who hated everything that was assigned to them in school.  They are, undoubtedly, ruined for at least a while, if not forever.  If you hated The Crucible and Walden in 10th grad in my school, there’s a good chance that you have never recovered.

And yet I have hope.  Hope springs eternal.

You can tell because I bought four ebooks this week.  I got a $50 Amazon gift card for Christmas and in the interest of making it last as long as possible I have taken to scouring the Kindle deals and stocking up for whatever may come.  I hear Kindles are helpful when nursing.  And I also have a feeling that not sleeping is going to continue well past birth.  I have months of inadequate sleep ahead of me.  I may as well make the most of it.

As much as I was complaining about the Little Black Classics a couple of weeks ago, it has gotten me to finally read some people I have never attempted before.  Recently I read my first Dickens and my first Melville and both were pretty decent.  I currently have no plans of going out and conquering Great Expectations or Moby Dick, but I feel a bit braver having read the small selections and understood them.  At least I think I did.  I don’t really have a sounding board, so we can just pretend.

This week I have some goals.  First, finish season 3 of Erueka.  Actually, it’s season 3.5 which is pretty tricksy of them.  Second, catch up on my Splendid Table podcast.  I’ve only got about 13 episodes left and I plan on plowing through them this week, even if my next audiobook finally comes in.  Finally, I need to finish three books.  Three.  Well, I better get on winning the lotto because it doesn’t sound like I have any time left for work.

My Reading Life in Review

As the end of the year nears, I find myself looking back over my reading for the year and I find myself feeling, well, unsatisfied.  To tell the truth, I’m not even sure why.  If I look back at the books I’ve read, I see a few that I really enjoyed.  H is for Hawk, Barkskins, Lumberjanes, The Southern Vampire series, the Little House books, Giant Days, Marvel and a Wonder, The Girls, a touch of Stephen King.  I liked these books but it feels like I am picking them out of a sea of other shit.  And it’s not even like the other shit is SHIT.  A lot of it was really good.

So, why do I feel like I wasted a year of reading?

I’m not sure.  I wonder if it has to do with the Little Black Classics, which took the place of my short stories and which feel, well, like a lot of filler.  I wonder if I read too many comics this year because they do kind of feel like cookies to me, little delectable things that I enjoy but that don’t fill me up for long.  Is it simply that I’m not reading what I want to read when I want to read it?

I’ve taken down 122 books so far this year and I admit that this number in impressive.  But so much of it feels like junk food when I look back.  I want to read something with more meat, you know?  And I’m not trying to devalue any of these things at all.  Lord knows I’m not going to devalue cookies.  It’s just that I think I may have had too many and am getting bloated and developing diabetes.  Is this analogy working?  I don’t know.

So, what the fuck is it that I want out of my reading life next year?  No clue, you guys.  No clue.  I guess that I don’t want to waste my time because I know that there is going to be  so much less of it.  I want to finish a book and feel satiated by it.  I want more classics and more family sagas and more depth and more meaning.  I want less “OMG!  You need to read this now!”

Over the next couple of weeks, I’ll be considering what I want out of my reading life in the next year and how to get it.  If you have any ideas, comments, opinions, admonitions, please share.

Sketchy, Doubtful, Incomplete Jottings by Johanne Wolfgang von Goethe

This was a Little Black Classic and it is, literally, a bunch of little jottings.  But some of them struck me and I thought that I would share them.

“It is much easier to recognize error than it is to find truth; the former lies on the surface, this is quite manageable; the latter resides in depth, and this quest is not everyone’s business.”


“Ingratitude is always a kind of weakness.  I have never known competent people to be ungrateful.”


“All we devise and do is exhausting; happy the man who doesn’t get weary.”


“When one is old, one has to do more than when one was young.”


“The most mediocre novel is still better than mediocre readers, indeed the worst novel still participates in some way in the excellence of the genre as a whole.”


My Bookish Pregnancy

Is it like this for all book nerds?

Do they spend their gestating months thinking about what books to add to their child’s bookshelf?  Are they gifted a book at only three months?  Do they seek out their childhood books, the few they still have, and set them aside for the baby?

Is it normal to have a reading plan for before birth and one for after?

Do their husbands assure them that the two month maternity leave will help them keep their reading numbers up while everyone else chuckles and says smuggly, “You’ll never read again”?  Do they look at the piles of books they own and think, “For two months I’ll read nothing but you”?

Do they plan to read whatever they are reading to the baby until he’s old enough to understand?  (There’s no need to ruin him with existential dread before preschool, after all.)

When people keep offering them changing tables do they keep wondering where the hell the book shelf is going to come from?

I don’t know.  But this is what my pregnancy is like.

Get Through the TBR Stack- November Edition

Well, i said that I would do it, and I did.  I redid my TBR list.  I wanted to restack the books last night too but instead I worked on a paper chain.  Don’t judge me!  Anyway, I organized this one much the same as the last: alternating shortest books with books I’ve had checked out the longest, library books first, and then shortest with longest until I ran through them all.  Ready?

  1. The Torrents of Spring
  2. Inexcusable
  3. In Watermelon Sugar
  4. Alive
  5. The Drowned World
  6. Gabi, Girl in Pieces
  7. The Geek’s Guide to Unrequited Love
  8. The Duke and I
  9. Mirror in the Sky
  10. Niceville
  11. Gormenghast
  12. Pond
  13. The Godfather
  14. Sleeping Giants
  15. Cider House Rules
  16. The Happiness Project
  17. The Bazaar of Bad Dreams
  18. This Side of Paradise
  19. Petals in the Wind
  20. Need
  21. Where the Heart Is
  22. Circling the Sun

I’m a little panicked now.  Are you?