Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Random #26 - On Diverse Reading

Today I posted about diversity in my reading over at my other blog.  I thought I'd post it here as well....

I like to think that my reading is diverse.  I don't try to make my reading diverse, but when I see authors from different countries, with different backgrounds sitting on my shelves, I feel like I don't have to try.  I've never had a set reading list (except in school), so I just go where my mood takes me.

Red over at What Red Read, wrote a post last month about her reading stats and trying to diversify where her reading comes from.  It was an interesting post and got me wondering about my actual reading statistics, not just what I felt that I read.  I eyeballed my reading list from the past year and could tell that it was an even split between male and female authors.  I quickly realized that I've been reading a lot series lately, which I felt might skew my stats, because several books would be by one author.  Also, reading a lot of series meant that I was reading a lot more newer books than classics.

I analyzed my reading stats, some of it was what I expected, some of it was not.  I decided to choose a twelve month period, from October 2013 to September 2014.  I thought that would give me a good look at where my reading has taken me.  In that time I read 50 books (I think that might be the most I've read in one year).  25 books were written by women, 24 by men, and the final one was a short story collection including both sexes.  That is what I expected.  What I found surprising was how many of these men and women were white Americans.  Previously, I read a fair amount of Canadian literature (being in Canada) as well as books by English authors, with a few from other countries.  I was very surprised with my findings and wondered why this was (Excel helped a lot).  In that 12-month time frame, 33 of the books I read were in series!  That's more series than I have ever read before. Not that I never read series, but they were much fewer than the 13 I read.  I didn't finish all the series, but from the spreadsheet, that's only because not all the books are out yet and many were books I or my Hubby already owned.  All these series were by Americans. 

As I compiled all this information, I remember, about a year ago, looking at my bookshelf and realizing that I had picked up a few Young Adult series recently decided I should really read them. So, I guess I started to and just hadn't realized how that decision had changed my reading habits.  I also wanted to catch up on two series I have been reading for years, but had been neglecting.  That hasn't left a lot of room for anything else.  I've also read much less classics than in previous years. Previously, I read something like 12 classics in one year.  That's way down for 2014.

This new realization concerned me, so I decided that I would look further back at my reading habits. If I take a look at all of 2013, not just the last few months, my stats improve.  There are many more Canadians and English authors on the list.  There are a few more classics, but not as many as I would have liked.  I eyeballed my list of read books for the last few years (it's a lot of books to actually analyze) and it's more what I thought it would be.  Still a lot of white authors, but not as many as this last year.  That means (to me) that the choice to read through a bunch of the YA series I own has left me with a less culturally diverse reading list.  Now I wonder why that is.

What does that mean for my reading choices going forward?  Well, I still want to shrink my to-be-read pile and the easiest way to do that is to read easy books, but I plan on being more conscious of reading too many of them.  I might research authors more; often times I don't know about an author's background until after I've read their first book.  I'm also going to get back to reading more classics. I've got a list I want to finish.  I still think I have been doing a good job, I just also think I can do better.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Last Week... #11 - Agony

Last week I sent out a couple query letters regarding my non-fiction project.  I stressed and edited and stressed some more when I sent out those queries. Was I doing it right?  Were they horrible?  Many other stressful thoughts went through my mind.  What could I do though?  I couldn't not send out queries. So I did.  I will be sending out more.  I will agonize over them again.  But I will do it.  I am hopeful, while also pessimistic.  We'll see what comes of it. 

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Quote #42 - Sylvia Plath

“And by the way, everything in life is writable about if you have the outgoing guts to do it, and the imagination to improvise. The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt.”
― Sylvia Plath, The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Random #25

T-shirt weather is over.  I seem to be having a hard time accepting it.  I love t-shirts.  I don't know why.  They can't have longer sleeves though, just enough to cover shoulder and armpit.  I changed out of the t-shirt I was wearing this morning into a long-sleeved shirt.  I was cold.  Why am I thinking about this now?  I don't know.  Why am I posting about it?  Maybe someone out there will commiserate with me.  Maybe not.  

Also, I think I'm going to go make lunch for me and my son.... and stop eating cookies.  It's not even noon!

.... and those are my random thoughts today.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Quote #41 - Virginia Woolf

“Lock up your libraries if you like; but there is no gate, no lock, no bolt that you can set upon the freedom of my mind.”
― Virginia Woolf, A Room of One's Own

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Random #24

Over at my other blog, I decided to do the Classics Club Meme October topic.  I decided that it was a great topic and wanted to share it here as well.  It's all about classic poetry. What is your favourite poem? Poetry can be so inspiring, the words, the rhythm, the picture it paints.  So much can be said in just a few short lines.  My long-time favourite poem is by Romantic, William Wordsworth:  

A slumber did my spirit seal;
 I had no human fears:
She seem'd a thing that could not feel
 The touch of earthly years.

No motion has she now, no force;
 She neither hears nor sees;
Roll'd round in earth's diurnal course
 With rocks, and stones, and trees.

It is lyrically beautiful, while also being so very sad.  I first read this poem in University.  It has stayed with me since. 

I went through poetry overload after University.  I took an entire course on poetry, plus there was poetry in other classes as well.  I spent so long dissecting classic and contemporary poetry that I couldn't read it anymore, just for the enjoyment.  A couple years ago that slowly started to change with Disney Princesses, and Rime of the Ancient Mariner (which for some reason I never read in University.)  Since, I have kept up with reading poetry here and there.  I also decided that there were some classic poems and poets I had to read.  This past spring, I started reading the complete works of Emily Dickinson.  I decided to do it slowly, as so many poems would just blend together if I read it all at once and I wanted the opportunity to savour each poem.  From the collection, I have two favourites so far:

That perches in the soul -
And sings the tune without the words -
And never stops - at all -

And sweetest - in the Gale - is heard -
And sore must be the storm -
That could abash the little Bird
That kept so many warm -

I’ve heard it in the chillest land -
And on the strangest Sea -
Yet - never - in Extremity,
It asked a crumb - of me.


Death is a dialogue between
The spirit and the dust.
“Dissolve,” says Death.
The Spirit, “Sir, I have another trust.”

Death doubts it, argues from the ground.
The Spirit turns away,
Just laying off, for evidence,
An overcoat of clay.

I know that The Chariot is Dickinson's most well-known poem, and I do think it is wonderful, but I can't have the same favourite as everyone else.  As soon as I read Hope it stuck with me and I think it might be like Wordsworth's classic, a poem I will think of for years to come.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Links Today

I miss putting links up.  I see so many great blog posts and articles and want to share them.  I just get caught up in my day sometimes....

R.L. Stine Short Story Contest - GalleyCat

The Color Thesaurus - Ingrid's Notes

Do You Write for the Market? Or Yourself? Or Both? - Fiction Notes

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Random #23

I don't know what to read next. Sometimes it is obvious which book I should pick up, but right now, I'm just not sure. I thought I wanted to read Sleeping with the Fishes, but then I started thinking about Dracula's Guest. Two books that are very far apart. A fluffy paranormal romance or a classic? One is a paperback, the other is an ebook. Are either right for me right now? Should it be something completely different?
If I'm not reading a good book, it doesn't do well for my writing.  It doesn't have to be the same genre or type of story, it just has to be good.  I have to be enjoying it.  But I also don't typically analyze my choices in regards to whatever I'm writing.  I usually only see the results after or during the reading of the book.  Now, however, that I'm deciding what to read, I've lot the flow to the next book, so I'm analyzing.  I can't take a break from reading, because that's just crazy.  Ugh, I need to make a decision.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Last Week... #10 - WIP Page Change

Picture by me. Don't know why I
included it. Probably so the post
wouldn't look boring.
I think I have finished the revisions for my non-fiction project. Yay!  I also started work on the query letter for that project.  I don't think it's right yet.  I'll probably stress over this one page letter for at least a week.  It's mostly done, but it's not quite right...  Though when will anything ever be quite right?

I've also done a little work on my novel.  It's the one where I was writing a page a day, with no outline.  When I decided to focus all my energy on my non-fiction, that project fell to the wayside. I don't think I'll be able to make up months of pages, though I will try. 
I'm also going to update my Works In Progress page.  It's not accurate anymore since I've decided to put my completed manuscript in a drawer for a while.  Hopefully it'll see the light of day again, maybe part of it, but for right now, it has to go away.   I need to focus my energy on my non-fiction and my novel.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Quote #39 - Toni Morrison

“If there's a book that you want to read, but it hasn't been written yet, then you must write it.”
― Toni Morrison