Friday Links: Reading Your Way into Summer

TGIF! It’s been a long and not-so-terrific week for me, filled with insurance talk: car insurance to handle the repairs to my new car after it was rear-ended on Sunday, and the health insurance machinations in Washington, D.C. all over the news and social media. My reaction? I really just want to go hide and read a good book.

Reading has always been my reaction to stress. Sometimes I reach for a feel-good favorite, while other times I want to read about people solving their problems so I know there’s hope that things will turn around. Books really are my answer to most everything. So this week’s links come down heavy on the book talk and recommendations. It’s officially summer, so let the great seasonal book binge commence. (And if you’re in the southern hemisphere, well, curling up with a book is still a good idea.) Wishing you all a wonderful weekend filled with productive writing time and lots of excellent stories. Enjoy!

10 Famous Book Hoarders – Check out these enormous book collections and the people who own them.

The 17 Best Young Adult Novels of 2017 – Some terrific sounding titles to add to your TBR pile, or your kids’.

Now Is the Time to Read These 11 Novels about Female Artists – Delve into the worlds of these fascinating and talented women.

24 in 48 July Readathon Sign-Ups – The 24 in 48 readathon has been set for July 22-23, and sign-ups are officially open. For the uninitiated, this readathon involves trying to spend 24 hours reading over the course of two days (so, 24 out of 48). There’s lots of chatter on social media during the readathon about what everyone’s reading and loving (or not), snacking on, using for a quick break, and so on, plus fun challenges to keep things interesting for anyone who feels like playing along. I highly recommend, even if you can only join in for a few hours.

Speaking from the Shadows: 5 Books that Tell the Monster’s Story – One obvious choice, but this is still a great list if this perspective interests you, or you just want a change of pace.

A Brief History of Pen Names – An interesting look at some of the reasons writers have used pen names through the years.

The Story Museum – If you live near or are visiting Oxford, England, this museum sounds like a must-see for anyone with a literary bent, young or old.

Leading Ladies in Lit: 16 Books with Fierce Female Protagonists – Pretty much what it says on the box. Some terrific sounding titles here.

Science Fiction Short Story Collections by Authors of Color – Book Riot compiled these recommendations as part of a celebration of what would have been Octavia Butler’s 70th birthday.

Friday Links: Books as Writing Teachers

Happy Friday! Apologies for the lack of links last week. I was in San Diego for the RWA National Conference, and though I intended to post, my schedule kind of ran away with itself (and with me). It was a wonderful conference, so I only feel a little bad. But I’m back with an assortment of things to keep you reading and writing through the upcoming weekend, especially if — like me — you’re facing triple-digit temperatures for the duration. But I will say that if you feel the need to take a movie break along the way, I highly recommend the new Star Trek movie, which I saw last night and was terrific. I suspect I’ll be sneaking in a repeat viewing.

Now on to this week’s Friday Links. There’s a particular emphasis this week on improving your writing through reading widely and well. Wishing you all a lovely weekend filled with fun and inspiration, and hopefully some progress on your current WIP. Enjoy!

24 in 48 Readathon – My favorite readathon is taking place this weekend. For those of you who aren’t familiar, the idea is to read for 24 hours out of 48 between Saturday and Sunday. It’s low pressure, with people reading however much they can, with a bunch of fun social media activities and friendly sharing of book recs. There’s still time to sign up!

Do Writers Need to Be Alone to Thrive? – An interesting look at the benefits of solitude for a writing career.

What Our Editors Look for on an Opening Page – Some great insider tips from the folks at Penguin Random House.

15 Literary Magazines for New & Unpublished Writers – A list of markets for writers looking to break into publication.

Welcome to the Last Bookstore – A great short documentary featuring Josh Spencer, who owns and operates the iconic bookstore in downtown Los Angeles.

7 YA Books that Are as Good as a Writing Class – I’m not sure I’d go quite that far, but these titles will definitely illustrate some wonderful writing techniques if you read them closely, plus give you good insight into the recent YA market.

On the Journals of Famous Writers – Interesting look at the differences in writers’ journals and what can be gained by reading them.

 

Summer Binge Reading

Half the planet is in summer reading mode, even if summer won’t officially begin for a few more days. But summer reading means different things to different people. Some think about light beach reads enjoyed in the sunshine, others seek to catch up on the hefty titles they couldn’t spare the attention for during the winter months, and still other readers care less about what they’re reading and more about binging on books in general.

For those of you intent on cruising through a bunch of your TBR pile, I have wonderful news: not one, but two readathons on the horizon.

What’s a readathon you ask? It’s pretty much what you think it is. Organizers set their own rules for each specific event, but the basics remain the same. A time period is set, and readers dedicate themselves to reading as much as they can between the start time and the finish time. Some events challenge you to read for twenty-four hours straight. Others ask you to set goals for what percent of the time period you will spend with your nose in a book. But all readathons allow you to schedule a book binge with a clear conscience, because while that readathon is taking place, you’re supposed to be reading.

Regular readers of this blog might recall that I became a readathon convert last fall with the 24 in 48 Readathon in November. I spend so much of my reading time focused on client work or submissions that it’s not always easy to get around to those published books lining my shelves and piling up next to my bed. I love the idea of setting aside a weekend with the expressed purpose of reading for myself. And I am definitely overdue for a bit of personal reading time.

So if you’re feeling the need to read, check out one or both of these upcoming readathon events. I’m already signed up for 24 in 48 in July.

The Tenth Annual 48-Hour Book Challenge

This challenge runs from Friday, June 19th, through Sunday, June 21st. You choose when to start and finish within that three-day time frame, but you much pick a 48-hour window — Friday at noon to Sunday at noon, for example. Within your chosen 48 hours, you decide how many reading hours you want to shoot for, and the Mother Reader blog, host for this event, is providing prizes for top readers in various time frames. And even if you don’t win, you’ll get tons of reading done! Complete rules and instructions are up at the site. This sounds like a fun challenge and I only wish I could take the time to participate this weekend.

24 in 48 Readathon

This challenge runs from 12:00 a.m. on Saturday, July 11th, until 11:59pm on Sunday, July 12th. The premise is simple: read for 24 hours total, spread out however you wish, during the 48 hours of the challenge. This leaves plenty of time for things like sleeping and stretching and grabbing a bite to eat. I participated in last November’s challenge and had a great time. Rachel Manwill, the force behind the challenge, sets up fun check-in tasks and prizes throughout the weekend, and everyone is great about sharing what they’re reading and how they’re progressing on social media. As I said above, I’m already on board for this one.

 

 

Reading in a Busy World

Most bookworms complain at some point or another that there’s just not enough time to read. Lives are busy, work and home and friends and family all clamor for your attention, and many days it’s hard to find a half hour of personal time to devote to the book on your nightstand. Certainly it’s the rare Sunday afternoon when you can sprawl on the couch with a pile of books and a hot drink and while away the hours.

Of course, reading is like writing, in that if it’s a priority for you, you make the time. The hour before bed, the time spent commuting, a book stashed in your desk for your lunch break — these things become sacred and automatic. But what about scheduling a chunk of time for an all-out reading binge? If writers can devote November to writing a novel, can’t readers devote some quality hours to making a dent in their to-read pile?

Reading marathons seem to be popping up around the internet. I’ve spotted a few where readers pledge to read for 24 hours straight, but in my mind that seems too harsh a goal. After all, if you’re looking forward to reading the books, you want to be awake and alert for all of them, not just those you choose for the first hours of reading. But recently I ran across the 24 in 48 Readathon, and that sounds much more appealing — and reasonable — for someone looking to devote a chunk of time to reading.

The premise is pretty straightforward. You choose a 48-hour time period and pledge to read for 24 of those hours. The official 24 in 48 site is currently gearing up for a group readathon the weekend of November 15th and 16th, with the clock running from 12:01 a.m. on Saturday morning through 11:59 p.m. Sunday night (essentially midnight to midnight), and some participants are Tweeting or blogging about their reading as they go. However, you could just as easily pick a couple of days of your own based on your schedule and do a personal readathon.

Once you’ve carved out your 48 hours, curate a stack of books to read, allowing for changes in mood and energy, lay in a supply of snacks and drinks, and be sure you have all the extras that you might need over the course of your reading adventure. Extra light bulb for your favorite reading lamp? Box of tissues for the tear-jerker in the TBR? Fuzzy socks and the blanket your grandmother knitted for you to keep warm when the temperature drops? Then have at it.

Work has forced me to slow down my personal reading again the past few weeks, but of course new books keep showing up in my apartment, so the idea of a catch-up reading weekend really appeals. I’m hoping to clear the decks sufficiently so I can join the readathon on the 15th, and if I do, I’ll Tweet my experiences @NepheleTempest. I hope a few of you can join in, as well. Do check out the 24 in 48 site, especially their FAQ page, for all the details and added inspiration. And whether you have two days or twenty minutes to devote to your TBR, happy reading!