In Which I Explain How I Created My Own Unique 2021 Reading Challenge

I’ve been meaning to write about how I arrived at my personalized 2021 reading challenge, but somehow got off track. I was probably reading a book…

For those of you who enjoy numbers: this is a 12″ high stack of 12 books with a total of 4,248 pages that I plan on reading in 2021. 🤓

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I barely read any books in 2020. My focus was too scattered, my anxiety was high, and I couldn’t stick with it.

I forgive myself for slip sliding away from reading for pleasure last year because I am still here in one piece, healthy, relatively sane– and with a renewed sense of purpose when it comes to reading.

Allow me to explain.

As some of you know I’m a fan of Modern Mrs. Darcy’s blog and get her newsletter. When I saw that she had created a questionnaire that I could use to make my own CHOOSE-YOUR-OWN-ADVENTURE-STYLE reading challenge I downloaded the worksheets.

By answering her simple questions, I set my 2021 intention, evaluated my reading needs, and then made a list of twelve prompts that resonated with me based on the concepts of variety and escapism. As Modern Mrs. Darcy says: “Remember, your goal isn’t just to get through this challenge. This challenge is a tool to develop the reading life you want.”

Hallelujah!

But then after further contemplating the reading life I wanted, I had a brainstorm, one in which I devised a way to make this reading challenge more personal– and a bit less costly. Please keep in mind that just because I didn’t read much in 2020 doesn’t mean that I didn’t buy books in 2020.

Thus I found myself thinking back to a decade ago when I read a wonderful memoir, Howards End is on the Landing by Susan Hill.

In this book Hill writes about her decision that for one year she would only re-read books already in the house. That is, she read what she had on hand, then mused upon what her life was like the first time she read the book. This practical approach to deciding what to read next made an impression on me.

Obviously, I guess.

Anyhow, to be clear, I won’t be re-reading anything this coming year, but I will be reading what is here in the house, pre-purchased in good faith you might say– and meant to be read by me, dammit.

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MY 2021 CHOOSE-YOUR-OWN-ADVENTURE-STYLE READ-WHAT-YOU-HAVE-IN-THE-HOUSE-ALREADY READING CHALLENGE

a thriller

a memoir

a fantasy novel

a cozy mystery

a book of short stories

a recent NYT bestseller

a novel previously abandoned

a NYT bestseller from a while ago

a novel based on something literary

a non-fiction book set where I live now

a non-fiction book set somewhere I’ve never visited

a book I’d never heard of yet is on many required reading lists

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Do you do any reading challenges? Have you ever made your own? Inquiring minds wanna know.

In Which I Read A Book, Then Hit The Wall

A Cautionary Tale from my Daily Life

YOU SEE, I WAS IN BED READING A BOOK. I had a LED clip-on light attached to the book and I was involved in the story, eyes wide open. However my eyes got tired and started to blur so I stopped reading and put my spectacles aside.

I got up from bed, walked over to the light switch on the bedroom wall to turn off the overhead light [yes this one], then walked into the dark bathroom to avail myself of the facilities therein.

As one does.

I thought I could safely walk to where I needed to be in the bathroom, but I was temporarily blinded after turning off the lights in the bright bedroom and then walking into a pitch black bathroom. Thus it came to be that I walked smack dab OH MY GOODNESS TO THE GRACIOUS into the bathroom wall.

Yes, I hit the wall, literally.

Naturally being the mature woman I am I started yelling for Z-D to come help me because I KNEW THE END WAS NIGH. I was convinced I’d broken my nose and would be shuffling off to a hospital where I’d not be able to wear a mask because of my broken nose– and I’d catch Covid-19.

It was perhaps an overreaction, but during these dreary days of the endless pandemic one cannot be sure about what is going to happen to oneself after a bathroom wall willfully gets in your way.

To his credit Z-D did not immediately start laughing when he found me holding my nose and jumping up & down like a crazy person. In fact he turned on a light, politely examined my unbloodied, undamaged nose that never even got black and blue, THEN he started laughing like I was the lead character in the funniest Marx Brothers movie he’d ever seen.

And he would. not. stop. laughing.

Asking me over and over again why I didn’t turn on the light in the bathroom before I walked in.

Then laughing. some. more.

Finding this whole ridiculous slapstick incident much too entertaining, IF YOU ASK ME.

Happy Weekend, everyone. Try not to hit the wall.

Thinking About Good Vibes Only: What Inspires You? What Limits You?

A friend said she was looking for inspiration.

She wanted it to be online, not in her real life because that was what she was trying to rise above– the people and situations therein.

To be clear, she wasn’t talking about inspiration about how to remodel the kitchen or plan a party or how to take better photos. Nothing like that.

She wanted to find something/someone online who had an encouraging message that resonated with her.

She asked me what inspired me online and I said people who write about their lives, share their joys and defeats, perhaps a few photos, a few quotes. I like getting to know individuals and how they process their lives.

However that was NOT what she wanted.

No, and this is where I thought the conversation got interesting, she was looking for an online group of people, a niche really, wherein she could belong. She said that her idea of inspiration was to be part of a group, then do what the group did.

That idea, in the context of looking for inspiration, seemed foreign to me, someone who joins in group things every so often but doesn’t make a practice of it. I’ve nothing against being part of a group, but I usually find it limiting, not exhilarating.

The conversation went on a bit longer, morphing into a discussion about what it means to be independent. That is, do you find yourself thinking you are independent because you have the freedom to join any group you want? OR because you are free to not join any group and do your own thing instead?

Obviously there are no right or wrong answers to the questions posed in this post, but the conversation prompted me to contemplate how I live my life, where I put my power, and the assumptions on which I base my actions when seeking inspiration.

Thoughts, anyone?

Words Do Not Fail Me: A Study Of Wordiness In My Blog Posts & Your Comments, Forsooth

I got curious.

I got to a’wondering about two things about this blog’s word counts. I realize that what follows is a somewhat meta post, but it’s winter and I have time to think about word counts.

My two questions are:

  1. How many words have I written in the 962 posts I’ve published here; and
  2. How many words are in the average comment here.

• Answering the first question was easy.

WordPress provides information on word count by post and by year. Looking at the chart featured at the bottom of this post you can see that I’ve written & published a total of 962 posts with a total word count of 282,612 words.

This averages overall to 294 words per post, although last year I got wordier averaging 360 words per post.

A digression… according to this article, A Word Count Guide for 18 Book Genres, Including Novels and Non-Fiction, 80,000 words is the ideal length for a novel. “If you’re working on a novel-length book, aim for 50,000 words at the very least — but it’s better to aim for 90,000. Editorial trimming is inevitable.”

Ergo, keeping the above rule of thumb in mind while applying it to my blog word count [282,612 divided by 90,000] you can see that in essence

I’VE WRITTEN THREE BOOKS.

• Answering the second question took more effort and required a few assumptions.

Because there’s no stinking way I’m going through all the comments on this blog to find the total comment word count, I made a few, shall we say, educated guesses.

Thus I decided that I’d only look at the comment word count on my 2021 blog posts AND that I’d only look at the comments made by the top recent commenters [according to WordPress] because I figure those people are a good representation of all commenters.

The top recent commenters are: Linda, LA, Dan, Nancy, Tara, and Kari. Go visit them and say “hi!”

To wit, there are 38 comments from these individuals with a total of 1616 words. This means that the average comment word count is 43 words.

Do what you will with this statistic; I was unable to find any articles written on the topic of comment word counts, so I don’t know how to interpret this number. Other than to say

THANK YOU TO EVERYONE WHO COMMENTS HERE.

Curiosity satisfied. The end.

Questions Of The Day

When you write do you keep track of your word count as you go along? Are you aiming for a specific number?

Did you know that the word *forsooth* is an archaic or humorous word meaning “indeed”?

Do you have any idea how I made the pretty text box featured near the top of this post? I hit some buttons and it happened, but I’ve no idea what I did.

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Waiting For The Inauguration, I Snark + Laugh + Celebrate A Blogging Milestone

Tomorrow is THE DAY when 81,009,468 Americans finally will get to say: “Don’t let the door hit you on the butt as you leave, Donald. You’re fired.”

[Lock him up.]

I tell ‘ya, what a clusterfork these last four years have been*. I’m emotionally exhausted by the hate, intellectually tired of the stupidity, and morally outraged by the greed.

You probably are, too.

However, be that as it may, as we wait for better days ahead, here’s a smorgasbord of four images I’ve saved over the last few months, waiting for the perfect time to share them here.

Why today? Two reasons.

First this is something to do until the adults take over the government tomorrow. And secondly, yesterday was the ten year anniversary of this blog** and I wanted to quietly make note of it.

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I saw this sticker on a car, an old Impala sedan. A bit of fast research and now I know that it’s a way to say “Baby on Board.” I’m unclear if this is new or old urban slang, but it caught my eye on a car out here in suburbia.

Have you seen this sticker before?

• • •

I’m seeing this saying all over the place, however I’ve no primary source for it which is a bummer because it is clever. I realize that attempting to overthrow the government is serious, but this sentiment amuses moi.

Thoughts, anyone?

• • •

When I opened an old family cookbook out fell this newspaper clipping for a drink called a Trojan Horse. One of my ancestors, probably my father, must have saved this absinthe, anisette, and gin drink that is described as: “infiltrates slowly without your knowing it and then hits you all of a sudden about an hour later.”

None for me, thanks. And you?

• • •

Moira Rose of Schitt’s Creek is one of my favorite TV characters. Thus I shall leave her immortal words here as a way of thanking the wonderful people who read this blog. You’re the best.

I’d be nowhere without my own wolf pack, now wouldn’t I?

• • • • •

* Don’t blame me, I voted for the lady with the emails.

** First post is here.