Saturday, December 12, 2015

Alrightreads: Faves and worsties 2015



I read quite a lot of books this year. Here's probably what I thought about them, if we're going to pretend I'm capable of mentally juggling hundreds of books read over the course of a year in various moods and states of distraction and to put those into some kind of definitive ranking to find the most alright read of the year.

I've tried, anyway.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Alrightreads: December



That'll do, maniac, that'll do. I read the equivalent of a book a day in 2015, which in reality was nothing like that. There were times I delighted in watching the flimsy titles speed past, other times I sabotaged myself with a long and arduous tome in failed attempts to snap myself out of it.

It was mostly good. Well, it was alright. Next year I'll write a book a day, it's only fair. Tedious stats coming soon.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Alrightreads: November



Last month's theme was a little exhausting, so this month I rehabilitated with worthless trash and another safe round of repeats after hitting 300.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Alrightreads: October



Being able to read what I want is way too much freedom, so I took a quick glance at some of the "books" on my "shelves," trying to identify a common enough theme that would narrow things down and force me to read things I'd never bother with if not the association, and decided to make this funny foreigners month.

More specifically/generally, that means either: (i) things written about funny foreign cultures/people, either by funny foreigners themselves or by normal people, or (ii) just anything that wasn't originally written in the English language. I read the English translations though, obviously. I'm not magic.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Alrightreads: September



Another month of repeat authors/series/themes in reverse chronological order, because why not keep imposing pointless rules on myself?

I don't like these repeat months all that much, I'd rather be reading something new. But what can you do? Next month, only titles starting with Z.


Sunday, August 30, 2015

Alrightreads: August



So am I just going to keep listing every book I ever read from now on, like some kind of Art Garfunkel? Hopefully it's just for the rest of the year. Next year can get its own damn gimmick.

It's not going to quiet down any time soon, as this month my wife got an new phone for her birthday and I inherited the old one, so I now have a portable, fun-size e-reader and audiobook player (I don't know if it has other functions).

Now I can keep reading while pretending to sleep! It's like being eight again. Hopefully I won't ruin my eyes as much this time.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Gareth Shinks' Absolutely Boring, Normal Day (demo)



I was putting together a blog post of synopses for things I'm clearly never going to write – story concepts anarchically bashed out on Notepad between cryptic password reminders and dream notes, older ideas languishing sadly in the '2011 Stuff' folder – when I was astonished to see that I had actually got round to writing this one.

Or at least made a determined start on it before getting visibly ground down by the tedious task and spoiling it before quitting. I wrote this a few years ago while stranded in a Malaysian city for several weeks, for reasons that I won't bore you with because you're about to be bored out of your goddamned mind as it is.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Alrightreads: July



So I did my arbitrary 100 books. Not all were equally worthy, and my attention wandered during some of the ones I didn't really enjoy but forced myself to get through in the name of fun. It's almost like it's all just a meaningless activity to give me something to do and cut down on the TV.

So there's no point stopping now; only stopping pretending it's some kind of challenge or achievement. Will I still bother to read as much without the fear of defeat pushing me on? One way to make sure could be to actually read things I might actually like. Which probably means things are going to get even more repetitive.

So to begin/end I went on a victory lap/month, revisiting favourite authors from the year so far and giving less favourite ones a second chance. It turns out you're allowed to do that.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Alrightreads: June



After spending a month at the grown-up table (with a couple of exceptions), it was back to lightweight books in both senses for June. It was much more enjoyable, taking me back to those days of dipping in and out of several library books a night. Do you remember libraries? And pavements? And weather?

It's not only so I can get through this quicker. I prefer concise stories that are less likely to leave me lost and confused when my attention wanders every couple of chapters (especially treacherous with audiobooks) and having to catch up with the Wikipedia summary that's been floating in my tabs all week.

And when there's the occasional non-fiction topic I feel like reading about, and I convince myself to turn to an authoritative book on the subject rather than click through a few quick web pages that would satisfy that curiosity in a matter of minutes, I'd rather not be bogged down with the encyclopaedia.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Ranking the Dizzy games, even though it's 2015 and I'm nearly 30



When listening to audiobooks, I like to have something to keep my eyes busy without being too much of a distraction to the old noggin. I used to do this by going on day trips and walking around. More recently, I've been playing through every one of Codemasters' Dizzy adventure games on Amiga and Spectrum emulators. I am nearly 30 years old. I liked some of them better than others.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Alrightreads: May



Anyone who's commissioned repetitive corporate work from me knows that I'm a firm believer in doing things properly and by the book, though preferably with the minimal amount of time and effort expended.

It's satisfying to tick off a book a day and get this self-imposed task over with quicker, but those picture books and Choose Your Own Adventures have to be balanced out. And however much I might enjoy all those undemanding pick-'n'-mix short story anthologies, when this is over, it's the (necessarily longer) stories I've spent more time immersed in that are going to be the most memorable, for better or worse.

So this month, I restricted myself to books of at least 480 pages. It was supposed to be 500 pages, but then I saw that the bird book I'd been looking forward to was a bit shorter than that (including full-page title pages, and admittedly quite a lot of said pages were taken up by pretty pictures). What are you going to do, mark me down?

Monday, May 4, 2015

A weird tale



I may have given up on the dream of writing creatively for a living as soon as I left university and entered the real world (not going back there again), but I can only consume so much of other people's works before I feel guilty and need to give something back, however paltry. Maybe I'll write a story a month? Not going to happen.

I wanted to call this 'Gob of Death,' but feared that might compromise the tone somewhat. Then I resorted to silliness anyway, never mind.


Octopus photo credit, before I forget: Alexander Semenov.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Alrightreads: April



I hadn't intended to read a book a day this month, but when it got to about half-way through and I realised things were averaging out that way, I thought I might as well commit.

Admittedly, I didn't exactly tackle any whopping Dickenses or David Ickes this month. I've bought myself the time for those now.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Alrightreads: March



Having only decided half-way through February that I was going to try to read (and tediously catalogue) 100 books in 2015, I was fortunate to have another largely empty month that I could fill with digital sheaves and jarring LibriVox accents.

Ending Q1 in the black with 27/100 books read (however that works out as a percentage) was more important than earning money or going outside. One day they'll make books portable, I have to dream.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Closure

Whether you read a lot of books, pore over a newspaper or magazine every day, or you just waste a lot of time reading websites of no nutritional value such as this one, there's no doubt you will have read more open brackets in your life (and other types of punctuation marks than closed ones, due to the illiteracy or forgetfulness of the authors or copy editors involved.

As long as spelling and grammar checks remain passive rather than enforced, this is a problem that doesn't seem to be going away (if anything, advances in technology have made it worse. But I can at least reduce the burden of your open bracket debt by presenting a selection of closed brackets for you to read through at your leisure.

I haven't done any research or got any kind of reliable estimate of the type of figures involved, but here's a round 500 in a neat enough square sort of shape that should at least go some way towards helping:


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If you have the nagging feeling that that wasn't enough, feel free to read through it again as many times as needed until that feeling goes away.

Don't worry if you think you might have accidentally read it too many times and have now read more closed brackets in your life than open ones, as that just means you'll have a handy stockpile to be getting on with. The open brackets will sort themselves out.

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Alrightreads: January & February



Last year, my friend/rival Oliver wrote a blog post about his failed attempt to read 100 books in a year that inspired me to try the same before pathetically failing myself.

This year he wrote about his more successful failed attempt that inspired me to try again and do it properly this time.

Maybe when I try again next year they'll even be proper, adult books with hardly any drawings at all.



Sunday, February 22, 2015

A whole new level of self-indulgence



I've reached that stage in our life's journey when occasional Facebook searches to see what past acquaintances are up to have started to carry a reasonable risk of showing these people with babies in their arms.

So far, it's generally been the people I would have least expected or hoped to take on that sort of responsibility in their lives, but five years is a long time and people can change. Just because, when I knew him, he'd do things like leave a half-eaten chicken in a bag in the corner of his bedroom for a week or two, wonder why he could hear the sound of pattering rain on a clear day, eventually realise it was the sound of feasting maggots, take care of the problem with a vacuum cleaner, then wonder why his living room was hosting more flies than usual that summer, doesn't necessarily mean he shouldn't be trusted to look after a living, breathing human being.

Since I'm only marginally above that level of incompetence myself, I won't have any photos of mewling, puking offspring to share with you for a good while yet (if ever). But I do have some photos of myself as a young child, courtesy of my Mum who scanned and emailed them for my wife to have a laugh at. And you thought this blog couldn't possibly get more onanistic - don't underestimate me again!