Saturday, January 16, 2010

3 Down, 47 to Go

Just a quick update on my reading goal for the year. I've finished 3 books so far. Not a bad start. I'll be posting my thoughts some of the books I read, but not all.

I've got a post on the first, Manhood for Amateurs, coming up shortly. Second was The Eyes of the Dragon, and third Lyra's Oxford. Lyra's Oxford was really only a short story with a very nice woodcut map (and some other random items) that fleshes out the world of Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials trilogy, but I'm counting it anyway, as it's a stand alone book. I've also read a comic collection that I'm not counting towards the total, Invincible volume 11: Happy Days.

Up next? I'm not sure, but I think I'm going to go for some non-fiction.

Listening: Dark Ages by Soulfly

Thursday, January 07, 2010

What To Read?

In my previous post, I mentioned one of my goals for 2010 was to read 50 books. 50 doesn't really sound like all that many books, but I don't think I've read 50 books (not counting graphic novels) in a single year for quite a while. I got the idea for this goal over on LibraryThing, where there are a variety of book challenges going on: 50, 75, 10 books in each of 10 different subjects, books you already own but haven't read, and so on.

I've set a few limits and guidelines for myself, in order to help me focus and keep on target for making my goal this year.
  1. Only 20 graphic novels count towards the 50 books: This is to keep me from choosing the easy way out, and finishing early. I tend to read at least 2-3 graphic novels or comic book collections a week, sometimes many more than that. Since I read them both for pleasure and for work (I'm the graphic novel subject librarian for the library where I work), I'll quickly hit 50 books without reading anything but graphic novels.
  2. Graphic novels that do count must be complete, stand alone stories: A large percentage of the graphic novels I read are simply compilations of a run of comics. In order to count, the book must be a stand alone story. Titles like Batman: Year One or Mouse Guard: Fall 1152 would count, but Invincible Volume 11 would not. 
  3. Focus on books I own, have checked out from the library, or have wanted to read for a long time: I have a very long "To Be Read" list, and it grows longer each week. Instead of reading from this list, I just add to it, and never seem to read what I have already put on the list. Instead I read whatever I saw most recently that struck me as worth adding to the list, so the longer a book is on the list the less likely I'll read it. By trying to read mostly books that I already want to read or own instead of whatever I come across new, I hope to make a small dent in the pile. I'm sure I will not stick to this 100%, but that's fine. 
  4. Mix up genres a little: I tend to read the same genres over and over-fantasy, science fiction, horror, and similar. I'm going to make an effort to occasionally read something different, just to make my list a bit more rounded. I'm sure the bulk of titles will be in these areas, though.
With those ideas in mind, here is a quick starter list of potential books, taken from my book shelves at home and in my office at the library. A few of these I've owned since high school, yet have never read. Others I've picked up in the last year or so. Any could be next, so could something not on this short list. As of this writing, I've actually completed one (Manhood for Amateurs) and started another (Eyes of the Dragon) from my list.

See anything that I should read right away?

A Feast for Crows
George R.R. Martin
Clive Barker
Anno Dracula
Kim Newman
Tim Powers
Everyday Life in Early America
David Freeman Hawke
Expiration Date
Tim Powers
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
J.K. Rowling
Into the Heart of Borneo
Redmond O'Hanlon
Magician: Apprentice
Raymond E. Feist
Manhood for Amateurs
Michael Chabon
Moving Pictures
Terry Pratchett
Neil Gaiman
Orchid Fever
Eric Hansen
Return to Lankhmar
Fritz Leiber
The Amazing Adventures of Cavalier & Clay
Michael Chabon
The Blade Itself
Joe Abercrombie
The Bloody Chamber
Angela Carter
The Bridge of San Luis Rey
Thornton Wilder
The Children of Hurin
J.R.R. Tolkien
The Coming of Conan the Cimmerian
Robert E. Howard
The Crystal World
J.G. Ballard
The Elric Saga: Part I
Michael Moorcock
The Eyes of the Dragon
Stephen King
The Good Life
Helen and Scott Nearing
The Jungle Books
Rudyard Kipling
The Land that Time Forgot
Edgar Rice Burroughs
The Pine Barrens
John McPhee
The Savage Tales of Solomon Kane
Robert E. Howard
The Scar
China Mieville
The Traveling Vampire Show
Richard Laymon
The Truth
Terry Pratchett
Voice of the Mountain
Manly Wade Wellman
Witches Abroad
Terry Pratchett
Wizard and Glass
Stephen King

Listening:  Muse-Origin of Symmetry

Friday, January 01, 2010

Goodbye 2009, Hello 2010

2010-Another year down, and the start of a new one

2009 was a pretty big year for me: 10 years living in Charlottesville, 5 years married to Laura, and the biggest event (for me, at least) that began in 2009 is still yet to come-we are starting a family! (If you haven't heard this news yet, it's because we only began telling people outside our immediate families over the past 2 weeks) This still several months down the road, in June, but it's a big event that is taking up a fair amount of my thoughts lately.

2009 also brought the first of what is hopefully the start of an annual event, a "guys only" trip with two of my closest friends, Nakia and Tim. This year we spent a long weekend camping.
I began taking pottery classes at the McGuffey Art Center, which I'm enjoying quite a bit and plan on continuing in the future.
An attempt at guitar lessons wasn't quite as successful-I enjoyed them but found that I don't have the determination to practice on a regular basis. When a gap of a few weeks between lessons hit, I stopped practicing and never started again. Maybe I'll find the drive in the coming year (I hope that I will).
I saw a number of concerts this past year-Metallica, U2, Municipal Waste, Bruce Springsteen, Phish, and several others, all of which brings my list of bands I can remember seeing to 233 (many of them multiple times).
I lost 25 pounds, then gained 10 back.
I didn't do all that much gaming this year-a fair amount of Rock Band/Guitar Hero, several board game nights with friends and coworkers, but only a few rpg sessions.
I started using Twitter, then stopped. I didn't post a single blog post. I spent a lot of time on Facebook in the first half of the year then trailed off over the summer, never really going back to it with the same determination to keep up. I lost track of some friends (online and IRL), hopefully we'll reconnect in the new year.
We went on a big vacation this year-a cruise to the Greek Islands, Croatia,  and Venice, Italy. A trip I'll remember for a long time to come, as we saw some amazing things I never expected to see in person.
I cut my comic book pull list down quite a bit, but I still find that I'm not really enjoying reading comics as much as I used to. I still enjoy them, but I'm finding that I'd rather read them in big chunks, full stories instead of 32 pages at a time in the monthly format.

So, 2009. Lots of positive, some negative, and a little neutral. I call it a positive year overall.

What does 2010 bring? Change, for sure. I'll be a new father, which I am very excited about, and very scared as well. More live music, hopefully. Maybe some more gaming, at least in the first half of the year. Increased communication with people I lost touch with over the past year. Bigger projects at work. A new start at the gym, and hopefully lose some more weight. More pottery to bring home and find places for around the house. Maybe I'll stop buying monthly comics and go over to all trades and collected volumes? I hope to make blogging a more regular thing (if I can find a theme that keeps me coming back to it). I want to read more, especially books that have been in my "to be read" pile for a long time. I'd like to spend more time outside-hiking, gardening, whatever.

Here's a short list of goals for 2010, something I can refer back to in the coming year and measure myself against. Am I just optimistic right now, or can I actually meet most of these? 
  • Read 50 Books: only 20 graphic novels count towards the 50, focus on my "to be read" pile, not on new books
  • Loose Weight: 15 pounds will put me at 185, my goal from last year
  • Prepare for fatherhood: Lots of things here-combining the office and guest room, taking stock of what we have vs. what we need, deciding what I can get rid of to make more room, etc.
  • Spend more time outside: hiking, walking, gardening, biking, whatever
  • Pottery classes: Make more useful things, and less random bowls, flowerpots, and boxes
  • Blog: find a theme? I need something that makes me want to come and write more-games, books, music, maybe reviews of the things I am reading/listening to/playing?
  • Game more: I love playing and running RPGs, why don't I play them more?
  • Paint 26 miniatures: finishing 1 miniature every 2 weeks should be doable
  • Movies with Laura: I enjoy movies, Laura loves movies, yet we seldom watch the same ones. I'd like to make more of an effort to watch them together
That's 9 goals (so far) for 2010. Let's see how I do.

Currently listening to: the dog snoring on the floor next to me