31.12.14

2014 Year-end Reading Round-up

A slightly updated post from the one I posted in the Semicolon Year-end Lists,

304 books read - 4 over goal! Not as good as last year, and no real reason except work stress. And now I'm down to 2113 books left to read, but at this pace I might go over (I do plan on living more than another 7-8 years!). So maybe I should stop tracking that? For lists and review links, go here, here, here and here (the totals on the review blog won't match these because I don't add the books I read for professional review).

And here's the 2014 reading analysis (2013 numbers in parens):
  • number of books read in 2013: 304 (325) 
  • best month: tie between March and August/38 (April/29) 
  • worst month: April/9 (October/8) 
  • average read per month: 25.33 (27.08) 
  • adult fiction as percentage of total: 18 (24.92) 
  • children's/YA fiction as percentage of total: 58 (40.6) 
  • Advance Readers Copies:202 (209) 
  • e-books: 0  (2) 
  • books read that were published this year: 233 (226) 
  • books that will be published in the coming year: 25 (20) 
  • five star reviews (aka "Must Read"):  20 (25) 
  • one star reviews (aka "DNF"): 17 (20) 
 In addition, I met the Reading Challenge I set myself, repeating the one from 2012, regarding "oldies" and Mt. Bookpile is at 252 (down from 2013! At this rate, I'll demolish it in another 15 or so years.). Since life seems to be holding steady just now, my goal for 2015 is to read another 300 books and get the mountain below 225. Let's see how that goes, shall we?

Notes from Mt. Bookpile

With a lot of hard work, I made it to my goal - thank you to the Thanksgiving and Winter Break gods!  Lots of YA this quarter, most of which was picked up at the ALAN conference in late November.  As always, you can see what else I've read over on the review blog

Biography/Memoir
Children's/Young Adult

Fiction/Literature
Horror
Mystery
Non-fiction
Science Fiction/Fantasy

2.12.14

Culture Vulturing in 2014

(a post sitting in draft format for quite some time - yes, I am a Lazygal!)

Over a year ago, having moved to NewJob, NewTown and NewState, there was some question of how much culture vulturing could be done - it's plausible that Thing One was more worried than I, but neither of us should have been.  Here's what the past year(ish) has looked like:

Freud's Last Session, produced by a local professional theatre company, was a play highly recommended by Thing Four (yes, folks, there is a Thing Four).  He'd seen it several times in NYC and was thrilled that I'd get a chance to see it.  Being a huge C.S. Lewis fan, it was interesting to see how this imagined conversation unfolds, a meeting of science versus faith.  To be honest, the Lewis character didn't impress me, but watching Ken Tigar as Freud more than made up for it.  Overall, a good way to start our culture vulturing for the year.

Next up was the Jay Geils Jazz & Blues Review in a smallish hall.  I've previously blogged about Bad Behavior during a concert - this was that concert.  The music was good, although having the bandleader constantly reminding us who was whom and the name of the group was a little... disconcerting?  annoying?  unnecessary?  There was no J. Geils Band music played, no Peter Wolf making a surprise appearance, and that was ok.  This was clubland, with a few standards and more original music that sounded familiar and was fun to listen to.

School ending is my cue to start prepping for ALA, this time in unspeakably hot Las Vegas. My Cruise Director, the wonderful Wendy, is a Cirque du Soleil fanatic and suggested Zarkana. I've seen Cirque three times before, all at Battery City Park in a round tent, so seeing them in a traditional theatre was a different experience.  I missed the ribbon dancers, but OMG the sand artist!

Then came summer and our trek to Montreal, in part to see the opening weekend of the International Fireworks Festival - this time, we didn't pay the big loonies to sit in the special seats but found a riverside perch and watched from afar - and in part to see/hear a little of the International Jazz Festival.  We'd missed seeing Rachid Taha and Michel Rivard (still on my To Be Seen List) but got tickets for Coeur de Pirate.  The songs were mostly in English from the Paroles album, the patter in rapid Quebecois with a few exceptions (like Place de la Republique).


What's fascinating is how Monteral handles this festival: an area of downtown, a relatively significant space akin to Lincoln Center and environs, is shut down to vehicular traffic for a few weeks.  Outdoor acts, outdoor dining and outdoor strolling are encouraged; dinner one night was a melange of scotch (sold from a booth, just like any other beverage or food), Belgian waffles, hot dogs and bubble tea.  All purchased from a booth, all eaten al fresco while listening to various jazz and jazz-related groups doing their thing for free in the plaza.  Heaven!

Shortly before school started Thing One, Thing Four and I went to This Is Our Youth, which I'd suggested because 1. it was Steppenwolf (my first job was at Circle Rep, which was transferring a co-production of Balm in Gilead from CRC's theatre to the Minetta Lane) and 2. it was Kieran Culkin, the best actor in the clan (and a former student).  Kieran didn't disappoint, Michael Cera was a bit of a surprise, but the female?  Meh.  And since she's pivotal, it detracted from the production for me.  Thing Four had seen, and loved, the original, and was similarly "meh" about it.

My senior year of high school brought J. Giels' Centerfold and Tom Petty's Refugee into my life... and having seen Jay Giels perform, it was only fitting that my "school's starting" treat was seeing Tom Petty!  The opening act, Steve Winwood, was good, playing only a few songs that others knew, despite a long, distinguished career.  Then Tom and the Pretenders showed up and played a great selection of hits and new music, Refugee among them.  There was even an extended sing-along portion (Thing One did wonder why we'd paid so much to have Petty act as our backup band... but I think he was kidding!). 

That was supposed to be the ending to my Culture Vulturing year but the gods were smiling! On Facebook I noticed that Camille O'Sullivan was doing a three-week residency at Irish Arts (and I know the tech director there) so on a Friday night, with a fever, Thing One and I headed to NYC to see her after seven years.  It was a small theatre, and she needs a slightly larger supper club atmosphere, but she's truly wonderful fun.  Why she never plays the US is completely beyond me!  This year alone I've introduced her song stylings to a few special colleagues and students - and here's a video for you:



So there you have it.  Several months of theatre, music, fireworks and fun.  Who knows what 2015 will bring?