All ball, we all play ball, we’re just waiting for the hammer to fall

The only words in my head are Dr. Seuss rhymes, along with the occasional Queen or Elton John lyric (we watched Bohemian Rhapsody last week and we’re watching Rocketman tonight), so I think I’ll take last night’s waste of time as a lesson and spend this time reading.  (I’m waiting for John to come in from the studio so we can finish the movie.)  Only two and a half weeks before Hugo voting closes!

There goes my evening

I have spent the last half hour doing nothing.  Not a relaxing nothing.  More like a deer-in-headlights nothing.  A stuck-between-too-many-things-to-do nothing.  Procrastination of the if-I-wait-long-enough-to-decide-what-to-do-with-myself-I-won’t-have-time-to-do-anything kind.

At the very least I could have been reading.  I gave up on one of the Hugo books (nominated for the YA award) yesterday.  It wasn’t bad, but it didn’t grab me, so last night I started one of the remaining Best Novel nominees, one I’ve been looking forward to because it’s by Seanan McGuire and I have yet to read anything by her that I didn’t thoroughly enjoy.  So why wasn’t I reading that?

I can go do that now, but sleep is looming, and even though it’s the weekend, I’m planning on getting up stupid early to run (before it’s hot), and I don’t want to skip tomorrow because I skipped today because I was up for two hours last night with Jack and when I’m up that long with him in the middle of the night, my 5am run is the first thing to go in favor of just a little extra sleep before I have to get up anyway because 6am is work time for me.

[Pausing for breath]

Well, that was helpful.

 

Six weeks to go!

Yesterday, while complaining musing about the difficulties of choosing my next book, I mentioned that the only thing that makes that decision easier is having a specific reading project.  Well, the universe listened and released this year’s Hugo voter packet to voting and attending members of WorldCon, so…I’m all set for the next six weeks.

Whew.  No stress about what’s next on the list.

Do I feel a tiny bit limited because now I feel like I HAVE to read the Hugo-nominated books and short stories and novellas?  Maybe, but that’s because I’m dumb.  An organization that I voluntarily joined and support and enjoy is giving me free books to read so I’ll be informed enough to vote on which ones are best.

Do I feel a little bit stressed about getting it done in time?  Yes (I have six weeks), but I can manage that kind of stress. I’ve already read three of the six nominees for best novel and two of the six nominees for best YA novel.  And for best series, I’m pretty sure the trilogy I’m reading right now is getting my vote.  Out of the other five series nominated, I’ve read all of one (Expanse), most of another (InCryptid), and the first of a third (Wormwood) that I didn’t like very much.  That only leaves two, and I think I can live with myself if I don’t get through them in time.

I can do this!  Prioritization!  Focus!  Staying up late!

A time-turner could be handy here

Mel just asked me for book recommendations, and while we were talking about that, she remembered reading something of mine the last time she visited that turned out to be scary.  She couldn’t remember the title or the author, and her description of the book didn’t ring any bells for me.  While she was checking with Corey (who read it, too, after SHE recommended it), I fell down the rabbit hole that is my Kindle library.

Guys, I have 711 Kindle books, and I haven’t read most of them.  I WANT to read them all – I was just browsing to see if any of the titles reminded me of the book Mel was talking about, and instead I was hit with this overwhelming desire to quit my job and hire someone to take care of Jack and just read all day every day until I can catch up.  If only we could win the lottery…

Part of my Kindle problem is that I can’t SEE the books.  I have plenty to read, but it’s hard to decide what’s next (unless I have a specific reading project) because I forget what I have, and there’s no easy way to view it all.  I want a holographic bookshelf.  I would like to project the title pages of my Kindle books onto a wall so I can browse through them as if they were on a bookshelf, not just a list, and decide what to read next.  Maybe that’s our million-dollar app idea!  Projection would be the hard part… (Yes, I know I can view my Kindle contents as a grid.  It’s not the same.)

Let’s shelve that idea for now, and get back to the point which is I DON’T HAVE TIME TO READ.  I’ve got a bookshelf overflowing with dead-tree books I don’t have time to read, either.  More on this in the near future.

The books Mel was thinking of (Corey identified it) were White Silence and its sequel, Dark Light, by Jodi Taylor.

Losing it

I finished my last book during Jack’s nap today, and (le sigh), really enjoyed it all the way through.  So glad it’s nominated for a Hugo.  And, since Jack is STILL napping, I get to start a new one!  AND and, it’s by an author I love.  I’m only three pages in, but I am confident I’m going to be happy with this book, which (again) is SUCH a nice feeling.

Speaking of pages, this is the first time since the end of January that I’m reading an actual dead-tree book.  Apparently, I’ve forgotten how they work.  I got to the bottom of a right-hand page and SWIPED.  Honest-to-god, cross-my-heart, SWIPED at a page as though it were my Kindle.

WHAT IS HAPPENING TO ME?

It’s a small thing, but it’s a big thing

I love it when I’m totally engrossed in my book.  I’ve only felt that about one other one in the last eight (including this one in that count).  I had a good string before that, though.  Even when I can only read in short snatches or in the few conscious minutes I have before passing out at night, it’s always a really good feeling to want to get back to my book.  So much better than having to remind myself which book I’m reading.

Anyway, yay for Catfishing on CatNet and yay for Naomi Kritzer.

Are obnoxiously arrogant teenagers better than brooding vampires?

Oh, this book I’m reading.  It’s young adult, which usually means it’ll be fast-paced at least, and the premise is interesting, and it’s not TOO teen-angsty (yet), and no one has asked me to sympathize with an ancient brooding vampire inexplicably in love with a 15-year-old (YET).  Okay, that last one isn’t fair – none of the characters are ancient brooding vampires, or even vampires at all.  But there’s at least one really obvious plot twist coming (I KNOW WHO YOUR FATHER IS, MAIN CHARACTER), and if I’m meant to believe none of these characters even suspected, then the author thinks I’m an idiot.  Maybe I’ll be pleasantly surprised and be totally wrong.

I sound like I don’t like the book.  I’m enjoying it, when I have time to read, but I’m usually really tired by then, and I can’t get very far in one sitting before I’m unconscious.  This is a terrible position to be in.

To any readers still out there

I never meant for this blog to become mini book reviews only.  I’m at least a little bit grateful that I’m able to keep up with those (or at least catch up every month or two), and a lot of that has to do with how SLOW my reading pace is lately.  I used to be able to read while nursing Jack, but he got faster, and then we started weaning, and now we’re done.  Now I only get to read before bed, or on the rare evening I don’t have to work (like tonight! Except I’m doing this instead!).

Speaking of work, I’m still working part-time (20 hours a week).  My company is still letting me do it, and I have no intention of changing it.  I get a couple of hours in early in the morning (like 5:30 to 7:30), the occasional meeting during the day, and IF Jack naps in the crib, I work then.  If I don’t hit four hours, I do the rest after Jack goes to bed.  During the day, Jack is still pretty…needy? Clingy? Insistent that I be physically attached to him while he plays?  Point: I can’t get any work or reading done while he’s awake.

Jack is still perfect and wonderful, of course.  He’ll be 18 months old in 2 days, which is CRAZY, like completely bonkers.  Not that he survived, or that we kept him alive, but DUDE.  I have an 18-month-old.  Wut.

I thought I’d have more time!

Nursing Jack, wonderful in itself, has been especially great because it’s time I’ve been able to read.  Even if only for 5-10 minutes, I get to read multiple times a day.  Lately…not so much.  I’m still nursing him as much as ever, but he rarely settles down and just eats anymore.  Instead, he does gymnastics.  Or parkour.  Sometimes he ends up practically upside down.  I need both hands, making it pretty difficult to read.  He does it almost every time, even before bed and in the middle of the night, and especially before naps, and once he settles into sleep, I’m getting him into the crib pretty quickly.  I am NOT complaining about him napping in the crib instead of on me – that is WONDERFUL and HELPFUL and I use that time to get work done so I don’t have to work as late at night.  Occasionally (okay, all the time), I wish I were holding him for a nap instead because he’s so cuddly and warm and sweet, but really, he sleeps longer in the crib, and we all need that.  A napping baby is a charming, adorable, and funny baby who sleeps better at night.

What was my point?

Right.

So I lost my nursing/reading time to acrobatics, and I have to use napping time for work (like, ahem, right now).  I try to read in bed at night, but that’s not working, either.  For the last five nights in a row I’ve done that thing where you’re reading and then you wonder why you can’t see your book anymore and you realize your eyes are closed and when you open them the words on the page don’t look at all familiar so you go back a page or two and try again but then, whoops, you can’t see the book anymore and who flipped ahead to that page and oh, crap, I’m just going to go to sleep.

Sometimes I need structure

We’re going to Boskone (a science fiction convention in Boston), and I have a reading plan to fill the few weeks before we get there.  There’s a long list of authors participating, many of  whom I’ve read, more I’ve heard of but haven’t read yet, and even more I haven’t heard of, so in the next few weeks (and for the past week), my goal is to read at least one book by an author I haven’t read before who will be participating in this convention.  So far, I’ve read Updraft by Fran Wilde and I’m on the third of a trilogy by Sarah Beth Durst.  Next might be a couple of short stories by John Chu or a novelette by Vajnar Rajna or the first in the Craft sequence by Max Gladstone.  And I need to find a copy of Rebecca Roanhorse’s book.  After that, we’ll see how much time I have before the convention and how many others I can fit in.  At least a few, but how to choose when I haven’t heard of the author?

Ooh, the schedule has been posted.  I’m so excited!

Jarring

You know how some people spend a lot of time on playlists (the same type of people who used to spend a lot of time on mix tapes)? They want to get the right songs in the right order because it matters.  There’s a scene in High Fidelity (book and movie) where the main character talks about that.

I have never been that kind of person, and it shows most blatantly in my book choices.  Occasionally I’ll pick a book because I’m looking for a certain kind of experience (one year, I timed it so that I would be reading a book by Robin McKinley on my birthday because I knew I would love it and I wanted to be reading something I’d love on my birthday), but that choice (or any other book choice I make) almost never has anything to do with the book I just finished.  It leads to some pretty abrupt transitions.

Case in point: today, I finished a light and lovely book about two girls making their debuts in society in Regency England.  A few hours later, I started book 5 in a series about an alien invasion and the soldiers who have to fight them in space.

Keeps me on my toes.

Website update

I mentioned this a while back, but my book list (my What I’ve Been Reading page) crashed earlier this year because the way I’d been building it wasn’t ideal.  My solution has been to load each book as its own blog post and tag and categorize each one so they’ll show up on the new What I’ve Been Reading page. Unfortunately (for me), I have to create a new blog post for each book.  I’ve done that for all of 2018, but my next task (in all my free time) is to keep working on the list, all the way back to 2009. If you have subscribed so you get emails every time I post something, I apologize for flooding your inbox.  It’s going to keep happening here and there.  But I like the way it looks now!  So there’s that.

Also, I should be using this time to work, not write, so bye.

I’ve forgotten the sound of pages turning

I have a book problem (aside from the addiction).  I love my Kindle, and I have a TON of books to read on it, but I also have a ton of physical books I want to read AND I CAN’T READ THEM RIGHT NOW.  Because of Jack.  The only time I have to read is when I’m nursing him, and I can’t juggle a real book and him at the same time.  Hardcover books are out, of course, and so are trade paperbacks.  I thought I could manage a mass market paperback because I know I can hold it one hand, but I can’t turn the page and hold it at the same time, so there goes that option.  I can hold my Kindle in one hand and still manage to tap or swipe with the same hand to turn the page.  (Thankfully, I can do that with either hand.)  And I really don’t want to read a book on my Kindle if I already have the physical copy.  I’m certainly not going to buy it twice, but even getting it from the library feels wrong.  It feels like cheating to have a book on my shelf that I’ll never touch because I read it in another format.

I could read when he’s sleeping during the day, but so far, either I’m sleeping too or I’m using that time to blog (like right now), sort through the mail and pay bills, make pies (every spare moment yesterday), inventory the baby gifts and make a list of thank you notes to send, do laundry (I should have put that first), shower (should have been second), eat a meal (should have been third)…  You get the picture.

So I keep giving my bookshelf wistful looks when I walk by, but all those books are going to have to wait until I’m not sure when.  When Jack has a more structured nap schedule?  No, I’ll probably have to work during those hours.  When Jack is old enough to read to himself?  Oh, no, I can read those books when Jack is eating solid food and sleeping 12 hours every night.  ‘Cause that’ll happen someday.  Right?

Comfort reading pays off

I just finished Trading in Danger, by Elizabeth Moon, and I really enjoyed it.  (I bought it because it was recommended as good space opera on Tor.com and also, the author co-wrote a few books with Anne McCaffrey, so there’s some built-in trust.)  It reminded me a lot of Tanya Huff’s Valor series (Torin Kerr is my favorite space marine).  This one is space military-adjacent, with a spunky young main character who has to save her ship and her crew, and it’s the first in a series, so I’ll be keeping an eye out for the next one at used bookstores.  Dad, I do have this first one on my Kindle, if you want to try it.  Light, fun, exciting.  (I also have a physical copy of it because sometimes I forget what I already own…)

And now, I have my usual problem: what to read next?  Despite my lack of success with the Hugo books, I had a limited list and I knew I wanted to read them all, so I just plowed through it.  Now, though, I have…48 physical books on my bookshelf (I just counted), all of which I want to read, and I have 295 books on my Kindle that I haven’t read yet, WHICH IS A CRIME.  And to make matters worse, which also makes me happy, which makes matters better, but harder, there’s a library book sale in Warwick tomorrow and of COURSE we’re going.

So the REAL question is this: should I put myself through the turmoil of picking a book tonight or should I wait until I get home from the book sale tomorrow (because we’re going first thing, naturally), when I will have more books to choose from and probably a harder decision?

On the one hand, why do today what I can put off until tomorrow?  On the other hand, what will I read tonight?

MY LIFE IS SO HARD.

Hugo burnout

I had to take a break from reading only Hugo-eligible books.  Since I started that plan (right around New Year’s Day, I’ve read 19 Hugo-eligible novels and novellas.  I’ve really liked seven of them, but that leaves too many books in recent memory that I didn’t like all that much.  That hurts my brain.  I need to go back to my normal approach to choosing books, and for next year’s Hugos, I’ll just have to sprinkle in eligible books throughout the year.  I think it’s the only way I’ll survive.

I started my break, and I feel SO MUCH BETTER.  I never expected to be so stressed out by this.  When I don’t like a book, or when I put one down without finishing (I only did that ONCE), and the stakes are whether or not I nominate it for a Hugo, I feel like I’m letting the author down.  As if my one nomination is going to make a difference.  Still, I’m sorry, author!  I feel bad!

Nominations are due a week from Friday, so this will soon be in the past.  Until it’s time to vote.  But that part should be fun.

First Hugo Casualty

Six Wakes is the first novel I picked up with the express purpose of deciding if I would nominate it for a Hugo.  It only took me a few pages to decide that I would not.  It took me nearly halfway before I decided not to even finish it.  I don’t think I’m being pickier than usual, or feeling self-important about my new-found (new-bought) influence in the SFF world, but I did fret about putting this one down completely.  The writing is…not great (noticeable from the first few pages).  It certainly doesn’t live up to the premise, which is pretty cool, but maybe the book could have been saved by a good editor.  Maybe it WAS saved, and this was as far as she could take it.  I stuck with it because I liked the story and figured I could still find out what happens – just because I may not nominate something doesn’t mean it’s not an enjoyable read – but then I stopped enjoying it.  I started skimming.  !!!

Tip for Future Me: if you’re skimming a book because you want to know the end but you can’t handle reading every word, put it down and look up the plot summary online.  Save your reading time for books you want to read.

Anyway, I feel guilty about it, but I put the book down for my own sanity and then promptly read the plot summary online.  And now I know the end…and I’m kind of glad I didn’t keep reading.  It doesn’t sound like it pays off.