11:34pm: It Wasn't Syzygy
1993 was the year I went back to school. I had been working as a research assistant at the Canadian Network for Space Research, helpfully located in the sub-basement of the Biological Sciences building at the University of Alberta, since just after my graduation with a B.Sc. in Physics in 1991 up until the fall of 1992, when funding was cut for the "Network of Centres of Excellence" program that CNSR was part of, and my position disappeared. I spent pretty much the next year unemployed, deciding early in 1993 to go and get a Computing Science degree instead.( Here's what I was reading during the first half of that year...Collapse )
84 books in the first half of the year--I don't think I managed much more than that in the entire year of 2011. I guess that's what being unemployed and childless will get you. Plus books were shorter back then; maybe someday I'll compare page totals and see if that makes recent years look better.
Anyway, the summary stats: By genre, we have 31 science fiction, 28 fantasy, 9 literature, 7 magazines, 2 mystery, 1 horror, and 1 non-fiction and 1 humour that were atypically included in my tally. 5 anthologies of stories by multiple authors, 7 single-author collections, 5 rereads, 2 of my wife's manuscripts, and 7 library books. Comparing to the just over 6 months of 1992 I posted earlier, that's much fewer literature and library books--a total of 61 books against my "unread books" total. A whopping 39 of those books, from the beginning of the year, were my Aurora Awards reading, Canadian SF/Fantasy books that had been eligible for the Auroras that year (or were, perhaps, prequels to eligible books if not eligible themselves). Also includes the beginning of the last gasp of my Piers Anthony reading, something that had dominated my teenage years, and a few of my online reviews.
Hopefully I'll find the time to get to the rest sometime.
1. After talking to papersky at Pure Speculation last year, and also after spending three freaking weeks slogging my way through Steven Erikson's Toll The Hounds in October, I decided I needed to spend more time reading, or at least get more reading done. In the last two months of 2011 I set myself quotas in an attempt to get every book read in 3-4 days, in keeping with my previously-observed rough average of two books a week. I managed to get up to 81 books by the end of the year (17 of those in November and December, which is about 1/6 of 100 but 21% of what I actually read). So this year I resolve to read at least 100 books.
Just to be clear, because my counting method is a little odd--what I track here is prose fiction books. I track per volume, and not by any other unit, so I would count a standalone novel, a volume in a series, an omnibus, and a separately-published novella each as "one book". Also, I do tend to read a number of graphic novels, comic strip collections, non-fiction books, and other miscellanea--these do not count towards my total. This may seem a little arbitrary, but mostly it's because I maintain two parallel reading streams, one for prose fiction and one for everything else, and the "everything else" tends to be harder to track. I'll pick up one book and read it for a while, and then I may grab another one at the library and read that one, and if I lose interest in a book, it may sit around for months with a bookmark in it, but I could pick it up and finish it again, or just give up on it entirely. Whereas my fiction reading is more linear--I start the book, and I finish it before I start another fiction book.
With my quota, what it amounts to is that I count the pages in the book, decide whether I'm planning to read it in 3, 3.5, or 4 days (or possibly more or less, but I'd generally pair a longer book with a short one), then set myself a number of pages as a goal for that day. If I make those pages early in the day, then I will try to use any remaining reading time on one of my alternate-stream books, or play iPod games, or whatever. This means that I try to avoid doing those other things until I have finished my quota, which is the trickier part. If I can't finish my quota, for whatever reason, without staying up to some ungodly hour, then I try to just adjust my quota for other days, and be more strict with myself. So far it's been working, but I haven't read any outrageously long books under this system...I've got The Way of Kings, The Other Lands by David Anthony Durham, and another few thick-looking books sitting on my to-read shelf, so we'll see how those work out.
Since I am trying to make every third book or so a reread these days, I'm still counting those as well, even if they don't count as "progress" in the sense of reducing the number of unread books I own. (On the other hand, I do sometimes decide not to keep them after rereading them, so it can help that way.) I have another reread of the Harry Potter series planned soon, so with any luck I can match of some of the thinner ones of those with thicker books to read. The other books I read, I try to alternate between newer books and older ones, so it tends to go "reread--newer book--older book--reread" etc. I wouldn't necessarily claim that I'm going to make absolute progress on the number of books I've bought but haven't read yet, but maybe I'll fall behind more slowly...
2. Two of my Livejournal friends have recently taken part in something that at least one of them called WEDAY, "Write Every Day All Year", hwrnmnbsol this past year and crisper the year before that. I find it inspiring, but considering how many things I am trying to juggle in my spare time already, I don't think I could make it work. Instead, I am planning something on a weekly rather than a daily basis, which I am probably not going to call WEWAY because it doesn't resonate as well for me. I like the way that the French word for "weekly" is "hebdomadaire", so maybe I'll try to incorporate that somehow. Or I could just wimp out and call it A Story A Week or something. Suggestions welcome.
Anyway, these stories will probably be fairly random, probably around 1000 words in length, and probably posted on Saturdays, which will both coincide with the end of the first week of the year, and also alternate fairly well with the Vorkosigan Reread project where I'm posting on Tuesdays. I'll post the stories right here on this Livejournal, in all likelihood. I think I've passed the point where I'm particularly concerned about wasting my first publication by posting stories on the Internet, since I never seem to send stories out to magazines anyway, so I'm just going to be throwing them out there. I'll probably find this resolution a little harder than the reading one--and they might end up at odds with each other--but it's just once a week, I can manage that, right?
9:40pm: A Crow Short of The Murder
Sometime in 1992 (June 18th, to be precise), I decided that I wanted to keep track of what I read. Actually, I'd had the idea a few times in the past, but I'd bogged down in the format to store it in or something. But in 1992, I had this program called Framework II on my second-hand XT 8088 computer, which had a spreadsheet/database mode, and it seemed like the way to do it. I've kept it up since then, in different formats--after I couldn't run FW2 anymore, I just used a text file, until I put it into Microsoft Access, where it still resides. This list is almost completely dedicated to fiction; for some reason, though I've thought of it many times over the years, I have never gotten around to doing an equivalent list for nonfiction reads, even though I spend close to half my time reading non-fiction these days.
71 books: of those, 22 were from the library, 4 were actually magazines, 3 were my wife's manuscripts, and 6 were rereads, so that's 64 "real" books, and 36 of those, just over half were books that I owned and had not read before--books that "counted" against my quantity of "unread books", which was the count of books that I owned and had not read yet.
Of the non-magazine books, they are surprisingly evenly divided between Fantasy (24), Science Fiction (23) and Mainstream (18). I guess the Mainstream number is the most surprising, because I think of myself as a genre reader. A lot of the calls are kind of hard to make, though--Witch World is set in a fantasy-that-later-turns-into-SF, the Marquez book is sort of "magic realism" but I counted it as Mainstream, and yet Not Wanted On The Voyage I counted as Fantasy. I'm inclined to say that it averages out.
Also, including the magazines, there were 13 anthologies or collections, leaving 58 novels. 24 of those novels were in series--or thereabouts, since it's not always clear when a novel is part of a series. (For instance, Journey To Aprilioth may be in the same world as Songs From The Drowned Lands, but they're not closely related...)
I don't think there was any other I read more than two books by (unless you count the three of my wife's manuscripts)--those authors are Lin Carter, Andre Norton, K.W. Jeter, M.J. Engh, and Robert A. Heinlein. I do usually like to space out reading an author's books, unless I'm doing a series reread, and even then...
That's probably enough dissection. At some point I may get around to doing 1993, or the first half of 1993. Who knows, someday I may even catch up...
11:44pm: The Vorkosigan Saga Reread
As I mentioned a few months ago, I had started doing a reread of Lois McMaster Bujold's Vorkosigan series, and six months later, it's still going...I'm into the third book, The Warrior's Apprentice (well, the third by some reckonings--chronological, but omitting one earlier book because it's too far back and I'm not as fond of it), and it's pretty exciting. All I need are, well, a few more readers...so if you're interested and not reading it, then become a reader of it! Even if you haven't read the books, all you need to do to fix that is to read the books, and you should do that anyway.
11:18pm: A Friendly Glass of Wine This exercise was based on a selection of pictures that one of our writers' group had downloaded from the Net and printed out. I can't remember the exact picture I chose, but there was a guy wearing goggles of some sort and toasting an empty chair across from him.
10:28pm: Bollocks and Knickers I've fallen off my steady posting pace a little recently, for which I blame a busy weekend and my attempt to start a reread of Lois McMaster Bujold's Vorkosigan series over on WordPress. Anyway, this is my newest writing exercise for the Cult of Pain, and it was based on one of the prompts for the 2011 Whittaker Prize writing competition, supplied by one of the Cult's members.
9:24pm: The Hounds of Montmartre Another one of those lost weekly prompt stories. Full disclosure--I have never been to Paris, nor even to Europe; all of the details in this story were gleaned from Google, Wikipedia and/or Mapquest. Also, this story does not really have a whaddayacall ending.
8:15pm: Charming The Prince One month our writer's group were trying to do a story a week. I think we managed to get through three of them. I can't remember what the prompt was for this one, but I'm quite pleased with it, except perhaps the ending...
11:37pm: Ninjas Vs. Pirates The exercise this time was based on a page which served up random selections from the Evil Overlord Advice List and other related lists. And, because I do like me some random, I also used the Random Pirate Name Generator.
11:40pm: Guest Rights This story started as another writing exercise, a vague one to do with creating an addendum to the Ten Commandments. The best I could come up had something to do with the sanctity of the guest-host relationship. Which made me think of vampires...
11:21pm: The Fall & Rise of Crimebot This story was based on this "Movie Plot Generator" book I found at the library. It was a "Mix & Match" book where you selected three "plot" elements, a little simplistic, but there were some funny combinations. This was one of them...