Sunday, April 27, 2014

Dewey's 24 Hour Read-a-Thon: Mission Accomplished

It should come as no surprise, how difficult it is writing anything of merit after so many hours spent cramming the words of others into my head. Between the cerebral and physical exhaustion, and the elation of having successfully completed the reading of two books (where last year I failed to finish even one), I'm properly knackered. But it's a good feeling. I eschewed much of the interaction I enjoyed last time around, which was a sacrifice, but this decision was, ultimately, the key to my success. And though I may not have had as much fun with the many fine people sharing in the celebration of Read-a-thon, I did experience a tremendous degree of joy in proving to myself, once again, just how much I love to read. 

My second choice, following on the fanciful heels of The Invention of Hugo Cabret, was the inimitable classic, The Princess Bride. Not much, I trust, needs be said about a story so deeply ingrained in the pop cultural zeitgeist, owing so much to the brilliant cinematic adaptation with which so many are familiar. I'll likely cover the title and its on-screen progeny in a page-to-screen review in the near future, but for now I think it sufficient to say it was every bit the "Classic Tale of True Love and High Adventure" promised by its title page. I'm glad to have finally given myself the excuse to read it, years after having acquired it and set it aside for a special occasion. 

Read-a-thon is, and always will be, a special occasion all its own, and while I hope to avoid setting too high a standard for myself in the future, much as I did in this instance, I do expect myself to sleep before the event begins, so I can do even more reading in the allotted 24-hour span. For now, I think I'll be content with what I accomplished, applaud all that was accomplished by my fellow Read-a-thoners, and rest my eyes a little while. There's no denying the fact that I'm taken by my love for literature, and I'll no doubt find myself looking for yet another book to read sometime shortly after waking. 

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Dewey's 24 Hour Read-a-Thon: The Invention of Hugo Cabret

From the very outset, it was clear that Brian Selznick's award-winning novel, The Invention of Hugo Cabret, is a particularly fascinating volume. While always aware of the caveat against judging books by their covers, this novel's colorful and ornate dust jacket was like a beacon the first time I saw it, gleaming with promises of a worthwhile story. The volume itself is no less wondrous, filled with fantastically rendered pictures and oddly lain text, printed on surprisingly thick pages, bound in a simple yet distinguished truly is a singularly impressive book, and all this without mention of the story itself.

Hugo Cabret is a story about hope and dreams, set in a world that seems sorely at a loss for both. The titular character, Hugo Cabret, has in his 12 short years suffered no small amount of hardship. An orphan, he lives hidden in the secret recesses of a train station, keeping watch over the station's three dozen clocks. He resorts to thievery in order to stay fed, and to continue work on his main focus in life: the repair of an automaton, the completion of which was once the goal of his late father. Hugo's pursuit of this end eventually gets him into trouble on several occasions, but also introduces him to Isabelle, the ward of the toymaker from whom Hugo has been stealing parts for his mechanical man. This new friendship opens the door to a number of other introductions, troubles, and triumphs. In the end, Selznick's novel is every bit as heartwarming as it is gloomy, and the promises of its resplendent cover are all fulfilled.

I'm tremendously glad I chose to read this book as my first today. Lately I've felt the need for something lighter than the usual non-fiction on my reading list, and though Hugo Cabret was far from fluff, it still left me feeling uplifted, for which I'm thankful. Between its well-crafted story and the quality of its equally well-crafted binding, I wouldn't hesitate to recommend it to anyone, regardless of age. I have yet to meet an adult who has completely lost contact with their inner child, and this story will not only appeal to that aspect, but bring it out. We all still dream, after all...

Dewey's 24 Hour Read-a-Thon: The Best Laid Plans...

Given last year's lapse in Read-a-thon activity, I should have expected a similar hiccup the second time around. After struggling to sleep, due to my excitement over the coming event, I managed a small nap just as the sun was beginning to rise. I fully intended to waken a few hours later and tackle whichever book happened to be my first choice; instead, I awoke roughly 8 hours later, feeling thoroughly groggy, and more than a little guilty. It's now over 10 hours into the Read-a-thon, but I'm finally on task. First up: The Invention of Hugo Cabret.

Admittedly, this borders on the verge of cheating, as the book is comprised largely of illustrations, rather than text. But there's a quality to the illustrations and their purpose which requires the reader to pause and consider each scene. Much of the story is told through these expert drawings, the depth and detail of which is matched perfectly to the imaginative text they accompany. While it's true that I chose this book first for the likelihood it would be a quick read, it's also one I've long wanted to read and, as it's turning out, one which I've long needed to read. I'll need to finish before I can offer a proper analysis or final judgment, but for the time being it's a captivating and thoroughly delightful story. 

Reading and stumblings aside, I must say that, despite my middling progress, the day has still been remarkably its own. There's a celebratory tinge to the air, as if even the mundane tasks of the day are made better by the fact of this being a holiday of sorts. Much as many voice a wish that the holiday spirit could last year round, so too do I find myself wishing this enthusiasm for books—and the gleeful sharing of that enthusiasm—could be a regular theme of life. And perhaps it is, to a degree, but never more so than during a Read-a-thon. It really is a shame to have missed so much of it, but that's in the past now. The day's a-wastin', best get back to it!!!

Friday, April 25, 2014

Dewey's 24 Hour Read-a-Thon: Redux

Let's get this out of the way--it's been ages since my last post. The time away's been rather well spent, but I'd be lying if I didn't admit to hearing the blog beckon in the quieter moments of the last few weeks. Much as I felt myself gradually gravitating toward a return to regular activities here at the Fane, it's taken an occasion such as this to light the necessary fires under the appropriate keister: It's time once again for Dewey's 24 Hour Read-a-thon

The Read-a-thon, which has taken place biannually since October of 2007, is a fascinating social media spectacle to behold. Last October's Read-a-thon was my first, and it was an experience which forever altered my opinion of social media. Participants pledge to spend an entire 24 hour period reading as many books as possible (or in my case that first outing, embarrassingly, only some of one book I'd already started), blog about said books, engage in witty banter with fellow participants on Twitter and Facebook, and throw themselves headlong into the periodic onslaught of hourly book-related mini-challenges. I'd been part of of book-loving communities before, but never anything so delightfully frenzied as this. I came away from the experience ridiculously more familiar with--and appreciative of--Twitter, felt I'd finally come of age as a member of the blogosphere, and whet my appetite for literature in ways that surely contributed to the rousing success of the following month's NaNoWriMo effort. With so many wonderful attributes to its credit, I'd be remiss were I to ever allow myself to miss a single Read-a-thon again.

And yet, for all the festivities surrounding our shared love for the written word, I couldn't help having come away from the experience disappointed in myself. I didn't manage my sleep schedule properly, and napped more than a few hours of the day; I'd given myself what seemed such a short reading list, and yet failed to complete even a single volume. I could have blogged more frequently, between chapters perhaps, and what's more I should have parlayed that frequency into a long-standing habit (which is clearly not the case, as evidenced by my recent lapse). And so, in the spirit of my new approach to the concept of resolution, I have decided to tackle this year's Read-a-thon not with set goals but with an eye on doing my best to simply do more. I haven't even decided on the first (if not only) book I'll be reading--that can wait until morning--but I do know, with absolute certainty, that I will have an unbelievably good time of it. And I know the other fantastic people joining in on the fun will have blasts of their own. The time's almost upon us and, no matter what, buried in books is definitely the place to be.