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Summer reading is here, and the librarians are filled with dread.

Well, not really. Some of the library staff really enjoy it. It’s exhausting, but it’s fun. Now I’m not able to participate in the reading program (since our summer one is for the children and the teens), but that doesn’t stop me from trying to read as many books as I can in a short period of time.

Current books on deck/in progress:

The City Stained Red by Sam Sykes
Time Lord Fairy Tales by Justin Richards
Otherbound by Corinne Duyvis
Kid Eternity by Grant Morrison
Welcome to Night Vale by Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Cranor (an as-yet-unread Christmas gift)
This Savage Song by Victoria Schwab (advance copy acquired at PLA)
Staked by Kevin Hearne (purchased at the signing in Denver, but also as-yet-unread)

Potential re-reads coming up:

Harry Potter 1-7 by J.K. Rowling
The Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien
Dune by Frank Herbert

Some quick updates.

We got a cat. Her name is Hermione, and she’s incredibly smart and sweet. However, it’s very true when they say that having a cat is one of the worst things a writer can ever do, re: distractions. I’m learning this all over again.

I got through season two of Daredevil and loved it. Was it perfect? No. Case in point: Asian and Asian American representation. Jon Bernthal kills it as the Punisher/Frank Castle (and I don’t watch The Walking Dead, so I really had no prior experience with his work as an actor). Foggy remains my absolute favorite character on the show. I also finally got to see the first season of Agent Carter, which is a delight. Peggy kicks ass across the 1940s, breaking limbs and stereotypes all the way.

I’ve been working on a D&D campaign for next month’s local game convention. It’s eating a lot of my creative energies, making it tricky for me to focus too much on anything else. I’ve also been reading a LOOOOOT. I knocked out V.E. Schwab’s A Gathering of Shadows a few weeks ago, and I’m in the middle of Sam Sykes’ The City Stained Red, which may be one of the best fantasy books I’ve ever read. I swear it’s like he sat in on some of my college D&D sessions and captured characterization from them. I love it. On a more realistic side, I also just finished reading Tess Sharpe’s Far From You. Holy god damn, this one was intense. Illicit love, murder, drugs, and a quest for the truth keep you turning pages non-stop. It’s not something I expected to pick up, but there was a great discussion of it during a Twitter chat about queer YA titles, and it hooked me.

It’s tempting to use some of what I’ve been reading for the D&D campaign. The magic system from Schwab’s work, for example, is one of the most clever presentations of elemental manipulation I’ve seen since Avatar: The Last Airbender. It would be fun to introduce some plot elements from books and then encourage the kids to go check those books out from my library, and would definitely boost the outreach factor. “Hey kids, if you liked my campaign, try these books!” We’ve already seen a boost in checkouts of our 5th edition manuals. Imagine what that could do for our fantasy literature circulation…

The 3D printer at work is awesome. I’m looking into utilizing it for some cosplay props, and I’m really exicted about the prospect of hosting a cosplay-themed program in our Makerspace soon.

Fireside opens for submissions this Friday. I’m going to be writing. More soon!

 

It’s Doctor Seuss’s birthday!

While the man himself was born in 1904, his birthday is celebrated annually as Read Across America Day.

Doctor Seuss was a huge influence on me when I was a child. My parents both read Seuss books to me and my sisters. I have great memories of listening to “The Sneetches and Other Stories” (which we would borrow from the YMCA Camp of the Rockies library whenever we would visit Estes Park). The first book that I read aloud was “The Cat in the Hat Comes Back,” proving to my mother at a very early age that I was capable of reading on my own. That was where my love of books really began, sitting on the couch in the living room, carrying on where she had left off while she took a phone call. To this day, I will randomly quote “Bartholomew and the Oobleck” or any one of a dozen other Seuss titles.

I love books. Three bookstores and two libraries have served as my places of employment over the last ten years, and it all started with a little rhyme. So, though he’s been gone since shortly after I learned to read, I would like to thank Theodore Geisel for all that he’s done for me and for countless other children across the world. Thank you, Doctor Seuss.

I have a snow day today.

I’m not sure how I feel about this, considering that I was only on the schedule for a substitute shift (meaning I don’t get paid).

Still, I intend to make the most of it. Right now, I’m finishing up Grant Morrison’s brilliant Multiversity and Claudia Gray’s Star Wars: Lost Stars. After that, maybe a quick revisiting of Gerard Way’s Umbrella Academy (because honestly, Séance is the best).

Sadly, I can’t watch a whole marathon of Doctor Who, because Netflix has currently pulled it from their streaming lineup. I mean, yes, I have the latest season on DVD from work, but still. It’s just not the same, and I really hope it comes back soon.

How do you like to spend your snow days?

I’ve got a lot to look forward to this year.

I’m going to get caught up on Welcome to Night Vale. I’m only about a dozen episodes behind right now. That’s not too shabby for only having started listening to the show back in February. I’m also reading the novel, which I received for Christmas. It’s proving to be just as much fun as the show itself.

My high school class will be holding our ten year reunion this summer. Despite most of us still living within a few hours of our hometown, we haven’t spent a lot of time together since graduation. It’ll be good to see old friends again.

When you’re a part of it, Ren Faire is always just around the corner. This year is the 40th anniversary of the Colorado Renaissance Festival, and to celebrate, we’ll be open for nine weekends instead of the usual eight.

I found an amazing book challenge via one of my facebook friends. Take a look. I’ll be working through this checklist as I work toward my goodreads goal of 100 books.

2016 Reading Challenge

I’m looking through potential titles to read for all of these, and I’m not going to allow a single title to fulfill multiple requirements, even though some certainly could.

I’m going to learn Numenera. I bought the boxed set last summer, and I’ve been wanting to really get into it. It seems like an absolutely incredible RPG, and I love learning new systems. I’m also hoping for some more stuff from Wizards for 5th Edition D&D.

And there’s my goals for this year.

I’m pretty damn excited for 2016. I look forward to having you along for the ride.

A while back, I wrote a post about some of the best books that I’d had to read over the course of my academic career. These were books that I might not have read had they not been on the syllabus for a class. I’m pleased to say that my own horizons were greatly expanded by this. Here’s a few more of the titles that were part of my college life.

Frankenstein by Mary Shelley. Like Beowulf from the first iteration of this post, I was familiar with the core story, but I’d never read the full text before. In my first literature class as an English major, we focused on British literature from the 19th century (this might explain my fascination with the Victorian era…). This was one of the first times I’d intensely studied the life of a writer and their times while simultaneously reading their work. The story of the creation of Frankenstein caught me almost as thoroughly as the narrative. I loved the idea of Mary Shelley taking part in a competition with her husband and friends to write the scariest story. Not just taking part, but completely rocking it, to the point where her single novel is more well-known than Percy Shelley’s collected works. Frankenstein is brooding, Gothic genius.

Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas by Hunter S. Thompson. While Johnny Depp did a fine job of portraying Raoul Duke in Terry Gilliam’s perfectly trippy adaptation, there’s nothing like reading the novel itself. Part of that may just be the result of Ralph Steadman’s illustrations  throughout the book. Thompson’s narrative weaves autobiographical elements and biting social commentary with detailed depictions of copious drug use. It’s stream-of-consciousness at its finest, and difficult to define in any other way. This one was assigned by the same American Literature professor who introduced me to the work of Alison Bechdel, and certainly caught the attention of the students in a manner unlike any other piece we read that semester.

The Bloody Chamber by Angela Carter. In my Modern British Literature class, we were given a book of short stories based on famous fairy tales. Let me start with this: these are NOT for kids. These are as dark (if not more so) than the Grimm Brothers’ versions, and are unflinching in their handling of the subject matter. They’re full of bold, strong women who handle traditional roles in non-traditional fashion. According to Carter, “My intention was not to do ‘versions’ or, as the American edition of the book said, horribly, ‘adult’ fairy tales, but to extract the latent content from the traditional stories.” These renditions of Bluebeard, Beauty and the Beast, Little Red Riding Hood, and others will leave you questioning what you might have missed in some of your other childhood favorites.

Reading is good for you, especially when you read outside of your usual range of authors or subjects. Branch out. Try something new. I hope that you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

So, Horns was freaking amazing. Very much looking forward to the film adaptation’s eventual arrival at one of our local theatres. Also knocked out Andy Weir’s The Martian and John Scalzi’s Lock In. Not a bad month of reading so far. Toss in the handful of DC’s New 52 volumes I’ve gotten through, and the fact that I’ve finished all of season two of Arrow, and it’s been an awesome couple of weeks. Now it’s just the rest of October’s obligations left ahead of me. Namely, I get to make myself look like a Capitol resident. That’s right, Hunger Games fans. It’s almost time for a Colorado Capitol Couture fashion show.

A few months ago, I wouldn’t have considered taking part in this. A few months ago, I wouldn’t have said I had the confidence to go out on a catwalk to model clothes. This year’s NDK changed that. Couple that with my ever-improving skills in costuming, and you end up with me planning to model a costume of my own design. I promise that there will be pictures, because it’s going to be glorious. The only real question now is if I can stand to go with the crazy beard styling I’m planning long enough to wear the outfit for Halloween too, or if I’m going to do something equally ridiculous and fun instead.

Oh, yes. My favorite holiday is almost here too. Halloween is just over two weeks away. I’ve got a costume that’s nearly ready, and I would like to do it, but I’m probably going to have to have a backup plan for work that morning. That’s no problem, though. I fully expect to have one costume for work at the library and another for anything else I might end up doing. My patrons are used to seeing pirate me. Other cosplay me might freak them out a little. Plus I think we have a staff meeting that morning, sooooo… Gotta tone it down just a little. It’s my favorite holiday, though, and I’ve got to live it up.

As far as new short fiction goes, I promise there are still several that will be coming soon to a blog near you. This blog. I meant this one. Yeah. Stay tuned.

So, September totally got away from me. I had August under control, with bills paid early instead of on time, lots of writing done, and so on and so forth. September? Well, I thought I was ready, but looking back at the last four weeks, it’s pretty clear to me that I was not. So, a little recap to get back up to speed before I start dropping microfiction and poetry on you again.

A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of attending my sixth Nan Desu Kan. NDK is held in Denver every September, and was the very first convention I ever attended. My girlfriend and I have gone together every year, and as always, we had a fantastic weekend. There was cosplay (of course), meeting randomly with famous voice actors (hooray for encountering Sonny Strait several times over the course of his first ever trip to NDK), supporting local artists (Sariochan, thank you for coming back every year!), entering the balcony decorating contest for the first time, and great times hanging out with friends.

The rest of September was a great big blur. I finished reading Saladin Ahmed’s The Throne of the Crescent Moon, knocked out a bunch of comics I’d been working on reading (including the first trade edition of Pretty Deadly), and watched a lot of anime. I watched all of Gurren Lagann for the first time, dug through Death Note again, and started on Knights of Sidonia and Deadman Wonderland. I also finally saw the first season of True Detective (lots of mixed feelings on that one).

Now it’s October first. NaNoWriMo is weeks away. I’ve got a Colorado Capitol Couture fashion show to do a little design/modeling for before the end of the month, and lots to continue to read. It’s October. I’m going to read Horns. 

I’ll be back soon.

Required reading. It’s a phrase that strikes fear in the hearts of lesser men and women. Despite the delays that my undergraduate career caused for my reading list, I encountered some of my favorite works of literature during those years. I had numerous lists of required material for my classes in college, and I can honestly say that my tastes have changed for the better because of it.

Some of my favorite pieces of required reading from my college courses are listed here.

Beowulf (translated by Seamus Heaney). My medieval literature professor had us read this one. I knew the story prior to taking the course, but I’d never read Heaney’s translation. Heaney maintains the verse form of the original text, but makes the legendary tale accessible to modern readers. Follow the adventures of Beowulf, mighty warrior, as he does battle with monsters and becomes a king. Side note: kennings are awesome.

Fun Home by Alison Bechdel. Bechdel’s art recreates memories of her childhood in the family-run funeral home. Along the way, she reflects on her coming out as a lesbian and explores her recently-deceased father’s reasons for hiding his own homosexuality from his family. This graphic novel and its follow-up, Are You My Mother? are fantastic. Solid writing, honest prose, and intricate drawing make Bechdel’s works must-reads. My many thanks to my American Literature professor for introducing me to her writing.

The Giver by Lois Lowry. This was one I’d read a couple of times since first encountering it in audio book format on a family camping trip as a kid. When I learned that it was on the list for a sociology class I was taking, I wanted to thank the professor for picking something that so beautifully described a small, isolated community. Jonas’ selection as his village’s new Receiver of Memory is the first step in his realization that life in his home is not as ideal as he believes.

That’s it for now, folks, but I may make another post or two along these lines. Remember, literacy is our friend, even if it’s forced on us.

It’s Friday. Around here, that means a couple of things, though first and foremost in my mind is payday. The other is an afternoon off. That means that I’m going to be free to do a couple of things I’ve been meaning to get around to. That’s right. It’s an anti-procrastination day. Anything could happen.

However, assuming the weather continues to cooperate, I’ll be heading down to my apartment complex’s swimming pool with a book or two with me. I find that it’s a good balance of working out the body and the mind. Read a chapter, swim a few laps. Repeat. Meditate on the chapter I just read while in the water. Maybe compose a bit more in one of a half dozen works in progress, or start drafting a chapter for something new. It’s self-improvement in the best possible way. I’ll have a notebook with me, of course. I always do. I feel off-balance without a notebook and pen or pencil in my pocket. Except in the pool. And the shower. Even then, writing utensils will remain close at hand. Anyway, I’m off. Enjoy your Friday, everyone.