My Reading Year in 2021

Courtesy of Goodreads

In 2021, I read 76 books and 23,564 pages, or an average of 310 pages per book. In comparison to 2020, my reading increased by 9 books and 1,078 pages, but the average number of pages per book decreased by 25 pages per book.

The shortest book I read in 2021 is Hannah Lee Kidder’s short story collection Starlight. I did not much care for the collection, which I rated 3 stars and found a bit of a mixed bag. Here is my review:

The longest book I read was Tana French’s The Witch Elm, which had interesting ideas but which I did not much care for. Here is my review:

In comparison to 2020, the short story collection Starlight is 35 pages longer than Gillian Flynn’s short story The Stranger, and The Witch Elm is 95 pages shorter than Plain Bad Heroines.

The most popular novel I read is another Jane Austen (what can I say? Austen’s one of my comfort reads) – this time, Sense & Sensibility. The lease popular novel I read does not have a cover, and Goodreads would not let me upload one, but it is The Fetish Murders by Avon Curry. The Fetish Murders is a pulp fiction thriller from the 1970s that is not very good, but is very fun if you like pulp fiction and are okay with the concept of reading fiction with very outdated cultural norms. The very purpose of The Fetish Murders is to shock and titillate by bringing up the idea of cross-dressing and homosexuality, which a lot of people (myself included) have absolutely no problem with anymore… So if you’re cool with reading it as a sort of historical/anthropological study of Americana, it’s kind of interesting. If you’re looking for legitimately good literature, or something that current educated cultural norms would not consider offensive… I would recommend steering clear.

Here’s the book – please ignore my fat thumb and the silhouette of my jeans.

My average rating for 2021 is 3.3 stars. A bit higher than average, but… not great. Much lower than 2020’s average rating of 3.8.

The first book I reviewed on Goodreads in 2021 was for the ARC Why She Wrote. I also wrote a blog post about this one, so won’t bore you by going into further detail here other than to say that for what it is, I thought it was pretty good.

I have a fascination and enjoyment with reading pulp fiction. At the end of the day, the books are generally all middle-of-the-road, average 3-star reads. But they’re fun and so much occurs in these novels and I derive a sort of comfort from them. I will continue reading them, and giving uninformative, likely one-sentence reviews on Goodreads.

Overall, I had a pretty disappointing reading year in 2021. How about you? Any great reads? I think I desperately need a better year in 2022, so would greatly appreciate any and all recommendations!

Fuck It: Let’s Try Again

November was a sucky month. Everyone in my house got sick, and I did an abysmal job at NaNo. I did initially start writing more frequently, but that petered out as everyone got more feverish and crabby in my house and I was stuck on bed for the most part, when not working.

SO, I have decided I will just start over this month, but also amend my goal. Realistically, 1.7k words a day is not going to happen. But I can try to write every day.

So that’s my DecWriMo goal.

Wanna join me?

Book Review: Tales from the Darkside

In the mood for a spooky read, I was lucky enough to receive an ARC of Tales from the Darkside: The Repeater Book of the Occult, edited by Tariq Goddard and Eugene Thacker.

I really like the concept of this book – an anthology of lesser-known stories featuring the supernatural. Each story is selected and introduced by an author published by Repeater Books. Released in February of this year, October is a fitting month to read through it. Unfortunately, the rambling introduction was a harbinger of the let-down to come. Many of the stories in this collection are very well-known, and an avid reader of horror short stories has probably already read them. In addition, the introductions to the stories, if you have not already read the story, is really an essay for why the particular author selected it, and generally includes spoilers.

Here is my review, on a story-by-story basis:

  • Squire Toby’s Will by Sheridan Le Fanu
    • Decent read. Not amazing, but appropriately spooky. Includes a family of some of the worst men ever and demons.
  • The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman
    • I’m just going to assume you have read this. Great story, and one I am always up for re-reading.
  • On Ghosts by Mary Shelley
    • An essay by the authoress of Frankenstein, this essay doesn’t necessarily advocate for ghosts so much as lament the lack of magic in a world that insists on rational explanations. I did enjoy reading it, and would recommend.
  • Par Avion by Marlene Dotard
    • Yuck. This story was… not good. The glowing essay talking about how this weird chick was friends with other authors who are well known and how Marlene was so smart, and insisted on trying to draw relationships between science and belief in the supernatural is better than the story itself. Do yourself a favor, skip this story, which has generally not been well-known for a reason.
  • The Monkey’s Paw by W.W. Jacobs
    • Also assuming you’ve read this one. It is well-written, and the essay beforehand includes multiple interpretation, which are interesting to read as well.
  • A Haunted House by Virgina Woolf
    • I guess this one was inspired by a stint Virginia and her husband spent in a haunted house, which… of course it is, because wasn’t Virginia always writing about herself? It’s fine. Didn’t love it, didn’t hate it.
  • Green Tea by Sheridan Le Fanu
    • The essay before this one mentions how popular this story is, although I myself hadn’t actually read it. It’s fine. I actually didn’t much like it, but it definitely involves the supernatural.
  • Punch, Brothers, Punch by Mark Twain
    • Short, punchy, funny, and a little spooky. Very good short story, that again – you have probably already read. If you haven’t, ignore the essay and just read the story.
  • Unseen – Unfeared by Francis Stevens
    • A weird detective story that also deals with fear of “other-ness” and indicates that perhaps the monsters are created by us because we are all awful. Not terrible, but don’t know that I would recommend, either.
  • The Black Cat by Edgar Allan Poe
    • Great story that you have probably already read. In my opinion, the best short story in the collection, but also, like… it’s Poe. Like, of course it’s good… in fact, it feels a bit cliche to include it in this collection.
  • The Willows by Algernon Blackwood
    • This story is one of those naturalist things where the author is like isn’t nature amazing and fearsome? I actually don’t much like naturalist things, so I didn’t finish this one.

In summation, 4 good stories you have probably already read, a short essay by Mary Shelley that is enjoyable and that you can probably also find pretty easily on-line. Unless you want these particularly short stories in a collection, I would not particularly recommend.

What about you – have any spooky reads to recommend this Halloween?

Preptober 2021: Signing Up for NaNoWriMo

I have created my NaNoWriMo 2021 project, which I am determined to create this year. Here is my username, if you are also participating and would like to be my buddy in the site:

In the meantime, I have a ton of plotting and character development to work through, if I have time, before November 1st. I will not have everything figured out, but am hoping to have at least a few scenes planned for each of the 8 plot points per the one-page/small booklet plot I put together earlier.

What are you doing, in the last 1/2 week or so before November 1st? Let me know your plans in the comments below or in the NaNoWriMo site. I look forward to connecting and spurring each other on to ever higher word counts in our novel-writing journeys.

Preptober 2021: Plotting?

Next step in the Preptober journey is probably figuring out what you think you want to write, and if you have had trouble completing projects… putting in some thought about your work, I guess? To be completely frank, I have been slammed with work, so my Preptober has not been as focused as I would have liked. I have, however, listened to the Eva Deverell video on how to plot a novel on one page, and put together a teeny tiny little booklet to help guide me through the process. I think it will need to be expanded, and feel like I will start putting together some flash cards to help guide me through the plot as I work through it, separated by the 8 plot pieces I have in my booklet.

Seriously… how cool is this?

What are you doing to prep for NaNoWriMo? Any good videos/tips/tricks to recommend to me?

Preptober 2021: Supplies

The next step in my Preptober journey: pick up some inspirational writing supplies.

This could be a bullet journal, some of your favorite pens, sticky notes, stickers, a literal writer’s block, some amazing blueberry or coconut flavored coffee, etc. Just whatever will motivate and inspire you. For me, I have picked up a brown bullet journal:

Which includes using some of the stickers I had already lying around to try to inspire a steady writing habit:

My decoration has also included some more direct inspiration:

I will also, of course, be consuming coffee, and ransacking my children’s Halloween spoils.

What about you? What inspirational writing supplies are you planning to use for November?

Preptober 2021: Scheduling

Hi everyone! In my last post, I discussed my plan to participate in NaNoWriMo this year, and to prepare during this month of October. I performed self-reflection and motivation, and the next step, I think, is developing the time and plan for writing.

There will always be reasons not to write right now, to write later, when there’s time… But I don’t think that there will ever actually be a magic time to write – at least, not for me. So I think that being thoughtful and making the time, and then making certain to actually stick to that schedule, is important. I also think it is the only way to make sure that the writing I have decided is important to me actually occurs.

After some careful thinking, I have decided that during the week, I will be writing during lunch. I have time blocked off in my calendar for an hour for lunch, Monday through Friday, and I will practice actually maintaining an hour for lunch during the work week in October.

On weekends, I think I will be writing in the late morning. On Saturdays, 11 – noon should generally work, since it coincides with one of my son’s extracurricular activities and the other son’s naptime. So I will try to use the same timeslot on Sundays, as well, for consistency. I generally do not need to work on the weekends, though, so realistically, if I can find/make more time on the weekends, I will be trying to take advantage to catch-up if I get behind on word count.

What about you – what writing schedule do you plan to implement in November? Do you have any tips or tricks to help keep that writing schedule, or to motivate yourself to really take advantage of the time you write? Please let me know in the comments below!

Preptober 2021

I have decided to do NaNoWriMo 2021. In preparation, I have created an October calendar, which I will be working through and which is available on Etsy, if you would like a copy. I think I will also try to post as I work to prepare for next month’s writing, as well, so you could also just read my blog to see what I’m doing to prep for next month.

First step: Self-reflection.

I think it is worthwhile to think about why you want to write, at all, and journal your thoughts now so you can remind yourself why you during the next month when things get tough. For me, I am doing this in the bullet journal that I purchased.

In addition to thinking about why I want to write and participate in NaNoWriMo, I also decided to put together a couple of pages with quotes about writing from writers to help motivate me.

I have placed both of these motivational items at the beginning of my bullet journal, before I have the calendar and weekly word count tracking pages, because I think it is worthwhile to remember why I write every time I pick up my bullet journal.

Are you participating in NaNoWriMo and/or Preptober? Share a reason why you want to write or one of your favorite author/writer quotes in the comments below!