Stuff and Nonsense: no book buying challenge


Showing posts with label no book buying challenge. Show all posts
Showing posts with label no book buying challenge. Show all posts

5.30.2015

#ShelfLove No Book Buying Challenge: Sales Pitch


May’s monthly No Book Buying Challenge update is supposed to be my best sales pitch, explaining why I should be allowed to buy a book.

The book: Ancillary Mercy by Ann Leckie

Why I want it:

  • I absolutely adored Ancillary Sword!
  • I'm reading Ancillary Justice for this challenge!
  • It's far future space opera!
  • With AI-controlled human bodies!
  • And fun with gender pronouns and socio-sexual constructs!
  • I'm a completist!

Why I should be allowed to have it:

  • I have actually been a good little #Shelflove participant! While, yes, I have purchased three books in five months, I have also read three challenge books in the same amount of time. And one of those reads was Villette, a novel that worked hard to crush my love of Charlotte Bronte. (The ending! Why, Charlotte? Whyyy?)
  • Ancillary Mercy doesn't release until October, which is most of the way through the challenge, making it a reward I will continue to work toward not an instantaneous act of self-gratification.
  • If I pre-order Ancillary Mercy now, Amazon's Pre-order Price Guarantee means I'll pay the lowest price -- this has worked out well for me in the past.

4.30.2015

#ShelfLove No Book Buying Challenge: Avoiding Relapse


I skipped March’s monthly No Book Buying Challenge post topic because first I was sick and then I had a little surgery and then I was so strung out on feel-good drugs (seriously, percocet is my pharmacological bff and we’re going to get matching tattoos that say “pain is the mind killer” because fuck stoicism) that I couldn’t have written anything coherent. It would have been something like “Libraries. Free books at libraries. Ebooks. Good. Free, too. And audiobooks. Get them.”

Anyway ... on to April’s post topic! How am I sticking to my book buying budget and refraining from full-on bookaholic relapse? Umm ... have you seen my Amazon shopping cart? That’s how I cope. I just add things to the cart for the day I can buy them. January 1 is only 245 days away, you know. Currently there are eleventy-million bookish items in my cart. If I’m smart, I’ll wishlist them and browbeat gently encourage my family to purchase them for my birthday and Christmas ...

Also, I remind myself that abstaining from bringing new books into the house frees me from the stress caused by shelf panic. You know, that tight feeling you get in your chest when you realize there’s no room in your house for new books unless you remove some old ones. (And then there’s also the guilt. Guilt over all the money I’ve spent -- or others have spent for me -- on books I haven’t read).

This isn’t to say I haven’t bought any books in 2015 – I picked up two pretties in England and preordered Rat Queens, Vol 2: The Far Reaching Tentacles Of N’Rygoth because SO MUCH FUN -- but that’s a lot fewer than I’d purchased by this time last year!

4.14.2015

Silas Marner, Part Two: Chapters XVI - Conclusion

Sixteen years have passed since Silas Marner found a golden-haired child at his hearthside. He is very much a different man from the one who tore into the Rainbow, desperate for the return of his gold. And Eppie? All grown up now and quite beautiful in all the ways that matter most. Twice Eppie's biological father has suggested to his childless wife that they adopt a her, and twice his wife has refused his whim, ignorant there is a particular reason to want Eppie.

But then the squire's shiftless son, missing all these years, is found! Or, rather his body is found, and there can be no doubt it was he who had stolen Silas' money. Eppie's father, finally accepting that secrets will out, tells his wife about his prior marriage and unrecognized daughter. Together, they approach Silas and Eppie about adopting the girl and securing her a better future than Silas ever could. But Eppie, darling Eppie, refuses. She will not leave her dad or the life she has always known. The wealthy-and-socially-well-placed-but-childless couple try to sway her, but are rebuffed and withdraw. And then Eppie marries her own true love in a quiet country wedding and everyone that matters lives happily ever after! Amen.

I have to say that, having read Silas Marner alongside two Charlotte Bronte novels, I find Eliot's blend of Realism and Romanticism quite refreshing. Bronte's writing can become quite overwrought and impenetrable when she touches on religion and Eliot, while she seems to share many of the same opinions, manages to make her points more clearly and, perhaps, more kindly. (I say that having read all of one Eliot novel -- I understand I may be very very wrong about her).

Silas Marner is my second selection for the 2015 Back to the Classics and No Book Buying reading challenges. I claim it as "A Classic with a Person's Name in the Title" for Back to the Classics.

Silas Marner by George Eliot (Harper & Row, 1965)

4.10.2015

Silas Marner, Part One: Chapters I - XV

Silas Marner is my second selection for the 2015 Back to the Classics and No Book Buying reading challenges. I claim it as "A Classic with a Person's Name in the Title" for Back to the Classics. I've never read an Eliot before and the challenge(s) seemed like a good incentive. My copy is actually my mom's, but I liberated it from the old homestead manymany years ago with intent to read it, but "so many books, so little time" &etc.

I'm dividing my "review" of the book into two parts, just as the book itself is divided in two simply because I've been reading a lot English literature from this time period and am trying to pace myself -- rather than overdose on it and go off it when there is still so much to read.

So, Silas Marner was an honest, if exceedingly naive, man of faith who has his life destroyed by the wretched machinations of his best friend, William, who persuades the rest of the congregation that Silas stole money from the church. Not only does the church turn against Silas, taking away his spiritual home, but his beloved takes up with traitorous William. Fickle, fickle love! Embittered and depressed, Silas takes himself off to the countryside where he ends up working as a linen weaver in a small village. His neighbors find him strange, if not downright suspicious, and his lack of sociability keeps him on the outskirts of society. Where Silas seems happy to be. Betrayed by kith and kirk as he has been, why should he trust or love anything else again? Better to put all his adoration and faith in the gold coins he keeps buried under some loose floor bricks.

Alas, the local squire has a shiftless and unscrupulous son who, seizing an opportunity, robs Silas of his gold. Silas is despondent and, for the first time, willfully throws himself into village society in an attempt to get his gold back. Certainly, his neighbors are interested in his disaster, but no-one seems capable of doing anything about it. Folk are torn -- was the money taken by a tramp, as some say, or was the gold taken away by whatever diabolical powers Silas consorts with?

So, no gold for Silas! But, you know, some sympathy from the neighbors is no small thing when you're a weird, myopic outlander in a small, completely self-centered English village. And then Heaven brings Silas a new source of gold in the form of a small motherless child.

You see, the local squire has another son who made a bad match by marrying an opium addict. He's kept the marriage secret and been bribing his wife to stay away, but now she's come for her reckoning. "Happily," she dies of hypothermia (and/or overdoses) practically on Silas' doorstep and the squire's son is now free to marry the Right Sort Of Girl and make totally legitimate babies with her. He's pretty sure he should do something for the child Silas has taken in, but not right now ...

Meanwhile, Silas is totally enamored with this small child who reminds him so much of his dead sister and, under the gentle tutelage of his new friend, Mrs Winthrop, he sets out to raise Eppie up as a proper village girl, rooting himself even more deeply in the village and slowly becoming One Of Us.

Have to say I am really impressed by Eliot's story-telling abilities. She creates a universe in a village, fills it with ordinary people, and makes all it seem both perfectly real and important. It's impossible not to wince as Dunsey so easily spots Silas' "carefully camouflaged" hidey-hole or mourn with lonely Silas over the loss of the one thing that gave his life not necessarily joy, but purpose. No character in this book is flawless or heroic and yet there is basic human goodness found in all of them. Well, except William, Dunsey, and Molly. It was a little disappointing that William and Dunsey, responsible for such wickedness, should pass so easily from the story without ever coming to account. And that Molly should be so one-dimensional when even the old parish clerk gets a full fleshing, well, that seemed unfair. All very moral, though.

In raising Eppie, Silas grows away from the lonely, untrusting man experience has rendered him. Slowly he opens his heart and becomes reconciled with his past. All the ways he could have become a sorrier or more wretched creature are neatly sidestepped by his love for this small child and, more wonderful to him, her complete unquestioning love of him. Don't usually see father-daughter relationships portrayed with this kind of sympathy or fineness in novels like this, so it's quite charming to see.

And, "Eppie in de toal hole!" What a scene! Mrs Winthrop has gently suggested Eppie needs some disciplining lest she grow too wild and Silas cannot bring himself to do the usual thing, like strike her, so tries Mrs Winthop's other suggestion, which is to lock her in the coal hole. Of course, he's made wretched over the whole thing and lets Eppie out at her first cry ... only to later find her popping in an out of the coal hole as if it is a new game. Poor Silas! To have gone from a young man of place and some prospects, to unloved outcast, to father of this little minx! And Eliot has written the scene so clearly that it is like watching a scene unwind in a film -- the small child craftily acquiring the forbidden scissors, the escape, the desperate search, the relief at finding the child, the grief at punishing her, her cheerful inability to be punished.

Reading historical fiction always makes me want to Know All The Things, so here's a few videos about how flax would have been turned into linen way back when:




Silas Marner by George Eliot (Harper & Row, 1965)

4.07.2015

Shirley: The End


A double wedding! Isn't that what I wanted for Caroline and Shirley and yet ... frankly, their weddings leave me feeling dirty. Caroline and Robert have come to their marriage seemingly as equals, both having been tempered by time and experience, but since so much of that suffering could have been avoided altogether by just talking to each other (I know, Shirley isn't that kind of novel), it's a bit frustrating.

What follows is a bit disjointed as I am full of FEELS and insufficient amounts of literary criticism to support them:

Shirley and Louis have a real master-servant relationship going that squicks me out. It's what Shirley wants, she says. But she fell in love with him as a school girl and he her teacher and the whole "new" master-dog relationship smacks of a return to that juvenile state.

I just find it rather confusing, because Bronte has set Shirley up as a sort-of model for the equality of women. She is wealthy and independent, free to dispose of her property however she pleases, and marry or not marry as she desires. But then, of course she will chuck that equality straight out the window when she gets married, because she's a woman and everything she owns becomes her husband's under law. So, I can see why Shirley wants to marry a strong man (if marry she feels she must -- and she's no Carolyn, so necessarily bound for "natural state of marriage") who will challenge her, but I don't quite see why she wants a "master."
Tartar looked, slavered, and sighed, as his manner was, but yet disregarded the invitation, and coolly settled himself on his haunches at Louis Moore's side. That gentleman drew the dog's big, black-muzzled head on to his knee, patted him, and smiled one little smile to himself.

An acute observer might have remarked, in the course of the same evening, that after Tartar had resumed his allegiance to Shirley, and was once more couched near her footstool, the audacious tutor by one word and gesture fascinated him again. He pricked up his ears at the word; he started erect at the gesture, and came, with head lovingly depressed, to receive the expected caress. As it was given, the significant smile again rippled across Moore's quiet face.
Mind you, I'd been suspicious of the whole Shirley-Louis Thing since the above scene where Louis mastered Tartar -- his smiles so clearly smacked of foreboding. Shirley was proud beast to tame and Louis brought her to sit quietly at his side just as he did with Tartar. Maybe if Shirley hadn't delayed the wedding date for months or chafed at the bars of her matrimonial cage, but Bronte tells us that is exactly what she does and so it's hard to believe Shirley is truly happy with her choice. And I want everyone to be happy.

Tl;dr

I am very dissatisfied with the romantic wrap-up.

(IDK, Charlotte Bronte, but a lot of your romantic heroes seem like dicks and I have a hard time buying into the relationships you're peddling. Even Rochester, obsessive crush of my youth, is not a dude I'd recommend to any of my friends).

Anyway ...Shirley was my first selection for the 2015 Victorian Bingo, Back to the Classics, and No Book Buying reading challenges. I claim it as a 19th Century classic for Back to the Classics and "name as a title" for Victorian Bingo.

Shirley by Charlotte Bronte (Penguin Classics, 2012)

2.27.2015

Shirley: Two-Thirds Through


Set in Yorkshire toward the end of the Napoleonic Wars, when the Luddites rioted over the mechanization of mills and the mill owners suffered from the collapse of cloth exports. In spite of all this, the half-Belgian Robert Gerard Moore rents an empty mill and proceeds to introduce the latest "labor-saving machinery" -- much to the ire of the local poor who, after being stirred up by out-of-area agitators, attempt to destroy his work.

Certain inventions in machinery were introduced into the staple manufacturers of the north, which, greatly reducing the numbers of hands necessary to be employed, threw thousands out of work, and left them without legitimate means of sustaining life ... Misery generates hate; these sufferers hated the machines which they believed took their bread from them; they hated the buildings which contained those machines; they hated the manufacturers who owned those buildings.

Meanwhile, Moore's young cousin, Caroline Helstone, is in love with him ... but she senses that affection is not returned. And how could it be, she asks herself? She, the penniless niece of a country rector would be no great match for a mill owner desperately in need of capital. Better he should marry Shirley Keeldar, a wealthy and independent heiress very used to being the master of her own destiny. Better Caroline should quietly creep away and become a governess. (If only the governess she knows would stop telling her what a terrible idea that is!)

Take the matter as you find it: ask no questions, utter no remonstrances; it is your best wisdom. You expected bread, and you have got a stone: break your teeth on it, and don't shriek because the nerves are martyrized; do not doubt that your mental stomach—if you have such a thing—is strong as an ostrich's; the stone will digest. You held out your hand for an egg, and fate put into it a scorpion. Show no consternation: close your fingers firmly upon the gift; let it sting through your palm. Never mind; in time, after your hand and arm have swelled and quivered long with torture, the squeezed scorpion will die, and you will have learned the great lesson how to endure without a sob.

Add in dozens of secondary characters, subplots, and (possibly unnecessary) plot twists and you end up with a novel dense as a plum pudding (as Doris Lessing might say). And yet, dense as it is, I also found it wickedly compelling. This is probably not surprising as I love just about any novel that wants to discuss industrialization's impact on labor, the Napoleonic Wars, the social and economic plight of unmarried/unmarriageable women, and the institutionalization of poverty in 1800s England. And it has two unmarried women remaining good friends even though there's a totally marriageable man (kinda-sorta) standing between them.

I feel that I should warn prospective readers that Shirley is a decidedly different book from Jane Eyre and, if you approach it expecting to feel about it as you might feel about Jane Eyre, you are going to be disappointed. Even though I was forewarned and attempted to start Shirley with no Jane Eyre-influenced bias, I found the first few chapters hard going -- who cares about grasping, self-important curates and their dinner habits? But then I realized Caroline was a completely estimable heroine and quite fell in with the story.

Despite her seemingly gentle demeanor, Caroline's private thoughts are actually quite unconventional and satirical. As she grows into womanhood and realizes that marriage may not be in her future, she strives to embrace the mindlessly feminine tasks that are to make up her life ... while also clearly chaffing against them. Why, Caroline wonders, can't she be a useful spinster? Rather than some kind of genteel placeholder, sewing clothes for the Jew's basket and making visits until she dies? She's self aware enough to know her position is untenable, but she lacks the freedom or power to change it. (And I suspect her situation would have resonated with many a female reader of the day).

At heart, he could not abide sense in women: he liked to see them as silly, as light-headed, as vain, as open to ridicule as possible; because they were then in reality what he held them to be, and wished them to be,--inferior: toys to play with, to amuse a vacant hour and to be thrown away.

And then there's Shirley! A young woman of wealth, beauty, and breeding who cares little for traditional feminine tasks and enjoys referring to herself (and acting as) Captain Shirley Keeldar, Esquire! Is it any wonder she and Caroline should be great friends? Even though Caroline fully expects Shirley to marry Robert and lives daily with that heartache? But does she begrudge Shirley her beauty or wealth or love? No, because (and unlike the other unmarried ladies of her neighborhood) Caroline is not a husband-hunter who schemes, plots, and dresses to ensnare a husband. (Granted, I would really have liked Caroline and Shirley to talk about the elephant/man in the room and hashed everything out, but Shirley isn't that kind of novel).

If men could see us as we really are, they would be a little amazed; but the cleverest, the acutest men are often under an illusion about women: they do not read them in a true light: they misapprehend them, both for good and evil: their good woman is a queer thing, half doll, half angel; their bad woman almost always a fiend.

Anyway, I've still a third of the novel to get through and I have guarded hopes that Caroline and Shirley will somehow manage to make marriages of equals and turn Moore's impoverished mill into a worker's utopia.

Shirley is my first selection for the 2015 Victorian Bingo, Back to the Classics, and No Book Buying reading challenges. I claim it as a 19th Century classic for Back to the Classics and "name as a title" for Victorian Bingo.

Shirley by Charlotte Bronte (Penguin Classics, 2012)

2.08.2015

#ShelfLove No Book Buying Challenge: Monies


In 2014, I spent approximately $170 on books, including e-books and graphics. In 2015, I'm trying to spend $0 ... but it will probably be more like $50 because I'm not amazingly good at forgoing shiny new books with prettypretty covers. Seriously, the Penguin Pocket Hardbacks make me itch to get all spendy. That said, if I could, I'd happily buy a copy of every book designed by Coralie Bickford-Smith just so I could have them to look at.

What am I doing with all the money I "save" by not buying books? I'd like to say it's going into something awesome like a travel fund to go bird watching in Ecuador, but it is more likely to just vanish into the gaping maw that is general household expenses. Ah, the joys of being a responsible adult.


Yeh.

1.11.2015

#ShelfLove No Book Buying Challenge: Behold, the TBR Pile of DOOOM!


The 2015 No Book Buying Challenge officially kicked off on January 1, so here's a photo of some of the unread books littering my home that I hope to tackle during this challenge.

Please note it includes a whole bunch of books The Husband decided to give me for Christmas even though I told him he should stop buying me books as I never get around to reading them because THE LIBRARY IS FULL OF BOOKS and I spend five days a week at the library so, you know, there are a lot of opportunities for library materials to com home with me. And. They. Do.

Also, The  Husband has a terrible habit of buying me quirky or good-for-me nonfiction books I don't know I want. But I love him and he does put up with my ridiculous anxieties about everything in the universe, so ... I will read his books. So help me.

Anyway, my TBR:


These are not all the unread books in my house, but the idea of photographing them all was a wee bit overwhelming. So the ones in the photo are just the ones I'm most likely to read for this challenge. I actually have enough unread "classics" in my house that I should probably sign on for the Victorian Bingo or Back to the Classics challenge! But that would probably be over committing myself!

12.16.2014

#ShelfLove No Book Buying Challenge


I'm generally pretty terrible at reading challenges, but the number of unread books on my shelves continues to grow, not shrink, and Something Must Be Done. So ... I've signed on with the No Book Buying Challenge. In 2015, I will abstain from buying books -- no matter how inexpensive they may be -- and stick with what's already on my shelves.

Well, mostly abstain. While my enthusiasm is great and my intention is good, I cannot promise I won't go on a binge in April when we are in England for a family wedding. Books brought home from foreign parts are simply the best books, don't you know!

There are six levels to the No Book Buying Challenge:
Yellow Belt —-> 1-10 books: shake hands with your shelves
Blue Belt —-> 11-20 books: pat your shelves on the back
Green Belt —-> 21-30 books: give your shelves a warm friendly hug
Purple Belt —-> 31-40 books: regular date night with your shelves
Brown Belt —-> 41-50 books: my shelves are now my bff
Black Belt —-> 51+ books: my shelves and I are going steady

I'm aiming for the Blue Belt, as I definitely own more than ten unread books, but I don't want to promise more than twenty, because too large a number will, six months in, seem overwhelming. I'm reading a mixture of "real" books, graphics, and e-books. (I'll also still be reading library books, of course, but they don't count for this challenge).

Anyway, if you have lots of unread books lying about and/or want to rein in your profligate book-buying ways, the No Book Buying Challenge seems like a great motivator. Visit ChapterBreak for more details!