So, if you’ve been following me for any length of time, you know I do not do readathons. Historically I’ve never finished one out, and as a chronic mood reader, readathons—long, short, and in between—have been the bane of my blogging existence. I also have a bit of a rebel streak when it comes to what feels like required reading, and regardless of the structure of most readathons, my brain always defaults to ‘nope, not gonna do it.’
However, as a 90’s kid who’s easily susceptible to nostalgia, I would only be doing myself a disservice for not participating in the PopCulture Readathon. Hosted by Whitney (a damn delight on the TL with her reading live Tweets and overall Book Badass) and Lorryn (sweetest of beans and co-founder of the Pages & Prose Book Club) the PopCulture Readathon brings together a love of iconic 90’s movies, bingo boards, and books. Featuring four themed boards, of which you can read the prompts from one, some, or all, it makes for a good excuse to reconnect with some old faves while trekking through those July TBRs.
Books can be intimidating, even for the most avid reader—especially when they’re big books. As much as I love the satisfaction that comes with crushing a thick book, actually deciding to pick one up and dive into it in the first place takes a little more effort than I’d like to admit. Sometimes I just don’t have the attention span or the time to dedicate to a larger book; sometimes I’m just outright lazy.
ReadYourTomesAThon has entered the chat.
Created by Ness over at The Wolf and Books, the ReadYourTomesAThon is a year-long readathon meant to tackle your tomes—at your pace. The goal is to read books at five hundred pages or more, year-round. How many or how few, is up to you: as long as you read them, and especially if they’re books you’ve been putting off because of their sheer page count or because they’re backlist TBR books. Though, for those of us that like a little extra challenge, she’s also created a really fun leveling system that gives you a different librarian level for every additional volume of books you read. Kind of like leveling up a DND character… but for reading thick books.
For this readathon, I’ve gone through my physical books, making those my priority for my selections. If I happen to read books my partner owns that fit into this challenge, or get through a particularly impressive e-book, I’ll add them to the list.
Blood & Beauty
The Poppy War
Star Wars: Lost Stars
Celtic Myths & Legends
Black Leopard, Red Wolf
The Divine Comedy
Wicked & Son of a Witch
The Star Wars Trilogy
The Lord of the Rings Trilogy
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland
The Vampire Chronicles
The three from this list that I think I’m the most invested in getting through this year are The Poppy War by R.F. Kuang, Black Leopard, Red Wolf by Marlon James, and The Vampire Chronicles Trilogy by Anne Rice. I think they’re also the heaviest in terms of themes and events of the books that I own, so that should be fun. (That’s not sarcasm; I’m a glutton for literary punishment.)
For the full run-down on joining and participating in the ReadYourTomesAThon, check out Ness’ blogpost announcing the readathon, where she outlines the nitty-gritty of the rules so you can get started. After that, happy reading~
Growing up, I didn’t read a lot of poetry. I latched on to Shel Silverstein when I was young enough that my school libraries were still carrying Where the Sidewalk Ends on the shelves rather than wall-to-wall stacks of reference material. That’s about it, if we don’t count my Nan feeding an early interest in Poe and assigned readings in English making me learn about iambic pentameter (I don’t, mainly because I still don’t know what iambic means, nor why it’s in pentameter.)
As I’ve gotten older, I’ve had fluctuating opinions on poetry, from being vaguely interested but not committed enough to pull my nose out of novels, to outright confused about the boom in ‘Insta poetry’ and similar styles. Then, last year, I got my hands on an ARC for the poetry collection Sparks of Phoenix by Najwa Zebian. To say that it ignited a healthy interest would be an understatement; I fell in love with that collection and Najwa Zebian’s writing. I fell in love with the deep, simmering catharsis that worked its way through me as I read, leaving me with an experience that felt less like opening old wounds and more like peacefully acknowledging their presence.
I’ve made it a point to seek out more poetry since then. There is something elegant in the way a poet paints words on a page that isn’t captured in a novel, and two collections that I’ve read this year brought up those same feelings of catharsis and feeling seen as Sparks of Phoenix did for me last year.
January was a busy work month as it usually is (which is part of the reason this wrap-up is coming so late, but we don’t need to get into that.) However, I got in a few stellar reads during the month, including:
Some New Faves
Shame is an Ocean I Swim Across: A heart-tugging, emotional rollercoaster of a poetry collection by artist Mary Lambert. The concept of being seen in a piece of fiction was one that was really strong for me in reading this collection.
The Willies: A strikingly honest examination of queerness and whiteness told through the poetry of Adam Falker, which I was lucky enough to snag as an ARC off of NetGalley.
Adam Bomb: A slow-burn of friends to lovers romance by seasoned romance novelist Kilby Blades that had me turning every page as quickly as I could read.
The Picture of Dorian Gray: While not my favorite classic thus far, I genuinely loved the lush prose of Oscar Wilde and the decadent descent of Dorian Gray that The Picture of Dorian Gray was. Bonus points for classic queer reads.
Under the Udala Trees: A historical fiction set during and after the Biafran war in Nigeria, Under the Udala Trees by Chinelo Okparanta has already stabbed me in the heart at least twice, and I’m only on chapter eight as of writing this wrap-up.
The Water Dancer: Another historical fiction with lilts of magical realism, The Water Dancer by Ta-Nahisi Coates was a read from last month’s January selection for the Pages & Prose Book Club. My not finishing it legitimately stings; the first chapter alone is lushly terrifying; Coates’ writing is phenomenal and I’m excited with February being a slow month for me, because it means I’ll have time to really savor it.
What is Cancelathon? Why should you care? Well, because if you don’t, you’re canceled.
Not really. We don’t do that here.
Last year, the online book community faced many waves of controversies. Whether it was outrage over ARCs, think pieces about how audiobooks aren’t really books, or the ever growing divide between the young adult and adult book communities, it felt like you couldn’t go a week or even a day without something blowing up on Twitter or ending up the subject of a Guardian article.
Many of these controversies held important points of discussion under the surface. What kind of content should we be willing to allow in young adult literature? What are the accessibility issues tied with the disregard for audiobooks? Who are young adult books really for when we have shit like DickSoapGate happening?
While important, I felt like these discussions were more often than not buried under over-simplifications and ignored for the ease of utilizing cancel culture to solve what are arguably nuanced issues within the book community and publishing industry.