15 in 31 Update

I set myself a goal of reading 15 books in the 31 days of October.  It was a challenge I saw on twitter and I was really behind with my reading goals so I thought why no give it a go.  I wrote about my reasons for doing it here.

Well now it’s the last day of October so I should probably write a post detailing my progress.  I’m terrible for posting about challenges and things I’ve decided to do and then not getting back here to update so this is my attempt at breaking that habit.  Of course part of the problem is that I’m also really really good at deciding to do things whilst also being really really bad at actually doing them.  I’m an ideas person not a doing person.

I didn’t actually manage to read 15 books this month.  I read 9.  Plus I’ve nearly finished an audiobook (I had hoped to finish that today but given how late it is that’s unlikely now) and I’ve read a bit of another book.  I’m really pleased that I’ve read as much as I have – my motivation for a lot of things, blogging, reading, crafting etc has been lacking this month because it’s been a bit of a boom and bust between busy busy busy and quiet and tired. Amongst all the other things that make up daily life I started a part time course, went to Birmingham for the day to visit a uni friend, went to London for two days, went to the end of season supper at the sailing club, had lots of problems with taxis and became an aunt.

The 9 books I read this month are:

  1. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time by Mark Haddon.
  2. A Farewell to Arms by Earnest Hemmingway
  3. Amsterdam by Ian McEwan
  4. An Island of Our Own by Sally Nicholls
  5. Star Trek New Frontier – The Returned part 3 by Peter David
  6. Still Reigning by @Queen_UK
  7. Dance Dance Dance by Haruki Murakami
  8. The Little Flower Shop By The Sea by Ali McNamara
  9. Jacob’s Room by Virginia Woolf

Some books I loved, others I liked. One I was disappointed by and one I felt like I didn’t understand. So all in all a mixed bag of reading.

Auntie Emma

Last week I became an Aunt for the first time! Several of my cousins have children as do one or two friends and lot of those kids know me as Auntie Emma (something which surprised me).  But last week I became a proper Auntie.  My brother and sister in law welcomed their first child which was really exciting.

Henry David Nicholas was born Tuesday 13th October 2015 weighing 8lb 1oz.

The level of excitement in the Crees family really had to be seen to be believed. I think in the past week most of us have fallen in love with the baby but calmed down somewhat. I haven’t seen my Mum with him since the weekend but I’m not sure the same could be said for the new Granny!

We didn’t know he was a boy but I’d been saying since the day I found out Geri was pregnant that I thought it would be a boy.  Until the day he was born when I was waiting for news and the word niece kept coming to mind and making me wonder if I was wrong.

Here are some photos (clicking on any photo brings it up bigger)

HENRY 008(photo shows me holding Henry when I met him in the hospital the day after he was born. It’s taken over my shoulder and my face isn’t visible. My shoulder and arm are, I’m wearing a bright pink fleece.  Henry is asleep with his eyes closed and has lots of dark hair)

20151014_154239Ben and Geri holding Henry in the hospital. Geri is in bed and they are looking at Henry, not at the camera.

20151014_155437

Me holding Henry in the hospital. He’s tucked against my shoulder and I’m smiling. The blanket I made for him is over him and I have one of my hands on top of it helping to support him/hold it in place.

cropped blanketThis is the blanket I made for Henry.  Photo was taken in my messy lounge and the light isn’t great for the colours (cream, beige like and a midbrown) but it shows the detail. It’s being held up in front of someone but their head is cropped out.  The blanket is crocheted and is made up of 25 granny squares joined together with a thick cream boarder round the whole blanket.  For some reason I always thought granny squares were too complicated for me but when I set to learning to make them for this blanket I quickly got the hang of them and after several trial runs to get colour combos and hook sizes right I now love making them.

I have loads more photos – I swear between all the people he’s met thousands must have been taken – but a lot of them are still on my phone so I’ll leave this here.  But I reserve the right to do the excited Aunt thing and post more soon (I went to something new yesterday and was asked in advance to prepare a presentation introducing me. My slides were all photos and I put one of Henry with the blanket I made him in – snuck it in on the excuse I could talk about my crafts. But really I put another photo in for crafts and used that photo of Henry to boast about being a new aunt)>

Readathon – October 2015

It’s the readathon today!

Usually on the morning of the readathon (it runs lunchtime to lunchtime in the UK) I would go buy supplies. But I’ve been waiting in to get my broadband fixed (and fixed it is!) so with an hour to go I’m off to Sainsburys quickly.

I’d like to read 4 books but I’ll be very happy with 3 and would settle for two.

2:45pm update: I’ve been listening to the audiobook of Dance Dance Dance by Haruki Murakami for the last week or two and so far I’ve listened to that for 33 minutes (I was listening at 1.5x speed so actually listened to around 45 minutes of it) of that while putting my shopping away and making and eating a sandwich. I had intended to listen for 30 minutes but I did the extra couple of minutes to finish the chapter.

5:08pm update: I treated myself to two new books when I had an hour or so to kill after the wheelchair rugby yesterday in Westfield Stratford. What can I say? They have Foyles in Westfield and I love Foyles and rarely get to one (although as they know have a branch in Grand Central in Birmingham I may get to one slightly more often now). One of the books (Wicked by Gregory Maguire) is something I’ve been wanted to read ever since I saw Wicked the Musical last year, keep looking at in bookshops and not buying. I decided yesterday was the day to finally buy it.  But that’s not a readathon book because I want to take my time with it.

The second book I bought was An Island of Our Own by Sally Nicholls.  She’s a kidlit writer I’ve read other books by and know they are short but fun books that I enjoy a lot. Plus it has a gorgeous cover so I couldn’t resist buying it.  It’s got 221 pages and I read it cover to cover in just over an hour and a half – the way it’s spaced/typed etc means it’s an extremely quick 221 pages as several pages are blank.

8:31pm Update: Since I last updated I’ve read another book. Star Trek: New Frontier – The Returned Part 3 by Peter David. That’s a novel that’s being seralised in ebook format over three parts and it had 171 pages. I was a little disappointed by this. I love Star Trek books and Peter David is my favourite author. This had all the things I love about his writing but didn’t seem as good as previous. I know from reading serialised novels in other genres that I’m not a massive fan of the format and I suspect I may have enjoyed this a lot more had it been a whole book. However the editing also left something to be desired – the main character in another Star Trek series is mentioned once and her name was spelled the wrong way.  I’d like to read all three parts back to back and see if I get more from it that way. But I’m not sure I will.

I also listened to some of more of Dance Dance Dance while sorting dinner – another 35 minutes.  I’m beginning to suspect I’ll finish that during the Readathon but I think it’ll be back to the books for my next read. I’m gonna take a break for a little while first though.

Update 12:41 am: this will be my last update until tomorrow morning my time as I’m going to bed once this is posted.  I found it hard to get back to reading after my break to eat my dinner.  But I did eventually get back to it and listened to another 10 minutes or so (another chapter) of Dance Dance Dance.  I then read Still Reigning by @Queen_UK on my Kindle which has 272 pages according to goodreads, amazon and my kindle but frankly it felt shorter and I’d have guessed 172 pages.  That may just be because it’s short chapters on a variety of subjects made it fly by. I used to love @Queen_UK tweets but they’ve gone downhill later. And I really loved Gin O’Clock.  Still Reigning however I didn’t enjoy as much. I was glad I read it because I was curious and keen to read it but if a third comes out I probably won’t.

Sleep time.

Update 10:44 am. I wasn’t up as early as planned but I’m now listening to the end of Dance Dance Dance.

11:33 Update: I’ve finished Dance Dance Dance, listening to another 38 minutes to do so.  This is probably going to be my last readathon update because I can’t fit another whole book in in the time left and I have some writing and other stuff I need to get done before going to visit my very new nephew (he was born on Tuesday) and the rest of my family in the late afternoon.  But once I’m home this evening I’m planning to read If On a Winter’s Night A Traveller by Italo Calvino.  I was planning to read that this morning and finish Dance Dance Dance but frankly I went back to sleep after my alarm went off.

I’ve really enjoyed this readathon – two of my three reading challenges are looking much healthier for doing so.  But it’s fair to say a lot of what I thought I’d read when I was hosting the @readathon twitter account earlier in the week and when I posted my pre-readathon post I didn’t. Which is cool, I’d suspected I wouldn’t. I’m hoping that I can finish the several books I’m in the middle over of the next few days and get it looking much better.  I’m also really excited because I won a $15 book from BookDepository as a door prize for taking part in the readathon and I’ve asked for Katy by Jaqueline Wilson which I’ve been really wanting to read but was waiting for it to come out in paperback. Yay!

Thanks to everyone who has taken the time to read and comment on this post – I hope to get round and visit blogs etc in the next few days.

Running total: 3 books, 664 pages, 1 hour, 56 minutes of audiobook

Readathon thoughts and tips

Readathon blog.
For the last four years or so (I think) I’ve been taking part in Dewey’s 24 hour readathon every April and October. My first readathon was an October so I think the one this Saturday/Sunday will be my 9th.
I enjoy the readathon and get a lot out of it. So much so that I’ve been spending a few hours this week running their Twitter account @readathon. I’ve enjoyed that too and at some point soon I must add some of the people I’ve chatted to there to those I follow on my own account. Meeting new people is one of the best things about the readathon for me. The best thing is obviously the books.
Over the last however many years I’ve learnt about what does and doesn’t work for me with the readathon. Here are a few thoughts/ideas/tips/tricks about that.
The most important thing is to enjoy it. It doesn’t matter if you read one page, one chapter, one book or ten. If you take part, if you read you’ve met the most important goal.  
That’s something I tend to struggle with remembering during the event when I’m seeing others update that they’re on their 400th page and I’m not as far as I’d like to be. I sometimes get to the point where I’m like “this readathon thing is a ridiculous idea I can’t keep up, I’m never doing it again!” At some point I’ll come to my senses and realise it’s not a race. And I always come back to it the next readathon. 
So my second point/tip is linked to that. Recognise where you’re at and plan your reading and your day around that. Equally recognise that sometimes what you’ve planned isn’t what you need at that time and it’s ok to go off plan.
If you’ve been reading my readathon tweets you might know that I would love to really get stuck into a long classic book and was thinking about doing that this weekend. But based in the fact every single person who replied when I posted that said shorter books were the way forward and thinking about what my week is like I’ve shelved that plan.
My week is full of fun things but it’s busy. And I have a physical disability which doesn’t affect my reading but does cause fatigue. I also have depression which doesn’t usually affect my reading but is worsened by fatigue. I’m looking forward to everything I have on this week and think the readathon is going to be a good way to recharge.
But my plans are taking that into account and are much longer than I need to give me choice and the chance to abandon something if it isn’t working for me.

I’ve got in mind

A YA book by a favourite author – I often fly through her books and her YA one is about 100 pages shorter than her usual adult fiction.

The final part of a serialised Star Trek novel by my absolute favourite Star Trek writer.

An audiobook 

A book from a childhood favourite series (not sure which series yet)

Something by Ian McEwan. I just discovered him properly last week and want to visit the library and see what other books of his they have.

Perhaps a shorter classic.

And because he seems to often feature in the readathon for me this list looks wrong without adding a mention of a possible Haruki Murakami book
I’ve also got in mind taking a break from my wheelchair to read, going to my favourite coffee shop to read for a bit, my favourite easy dinner and lots of sleep around the reading.
How do you see the readathon working for you?

“Special Needs”

Language around disability is a really tricky thing. Some terms are acceptable to some people and completely unacceptable to others. Some are fine for disabled people to use amongst themselves or to refer to themselves but problematic when used by strangers.  And there are times when disabled people argue amongst themselves about the terms.  People first language and identity first language are two of the biggest culprit’s there.

One term that I’ve been saying I don’t like and arguing against for the last few years is “special needs”  I can explain why I don’t like it but it’s something I find others always agree with although some people do come to see my point after I explain even if they don’t agree with me.  Basically as a disability specific term it makes no sense.

For the last few days I’ve been reading The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime by Mark Haddon.  I finished it this evening and it’s safe to say it’s one I’ll be thinking about for a fair while.  The main character is Christopher, a teenager with Asperger’s Syndrome.  I’m not qualified to comment on his portrayal – I liked him as a character but I’ve heard and read various things from people who are on the autistic spectrum that it’s quite problematic. Which unfortunately isn’t that unusual when a disabled character is in a book.

But that’s not what I wanted to blog about.

There’s a moment in the book when Christopher is talking (as narrator) about the term “special needs” and it basically sums up what I’ve been saying about why I don’t like the term. It was a big “yes!” moment of validation for me. So instead of explaining my dislike I wanted to share the quote. It’s one of those that if I was sharing a link to it on twitter I’d probably just caption it “this.”

“All the other children at my school are stupid. Except I’m not meant to call them stupid, even though this is what they are.  I’m meant to say that they have learning difficulties or that they have special needs. But this is stupid because everyone has learning difficulties because learning to speak French or understanding Relativity is difficult, and also everyone has special needs, like Father who has to carry a little packet of artificial sweetening tablets around with him to put in his coffee to stop him getting fat, or Mrs Peters who wears a beige-coloured hearing aid, or Siobhan who wears glasses so thick they give you a headache if you borrow them, and none of these people are Special Needs, even if they have special needs.”

– From The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon (chapter 71, page 56)