Monday, January 14, 2019

The Game of Reading Becomes Even More of a Closed Loop Than Usual

Hey, let's check out how things are going with the Game of Reading! Looks like the last update here was in, hmm, April 2017, when I came up with a policy for what to do if I wanted to abandon a book.  Haven't actually used that policy yet, as it turns out, but it's certainly good to have it in place!

Yes, I am still playing the Game of Reading.  To recap: I only begin a book when I can play a (virtual) card from my (virtual) hand of ten.  Yes, it is often inconvenient, thanks for asking.  But, it's has also given the long-term planning version of Michael5000, the version of him that's all like "Here's the Kind of Reading I'd Like to be Doing in My Life," a great deal of power over the indolent day-to-day version of Michael5000, who would probably just be re-reading The Alchemist and Eat, Pray, Love and the manga version of The Life-Changing Joy of Tidying Up over and over again if someone wasn't exerting a strong hand.

What's the Game of Reading, again?

The basic structure has stayed the same.  When I started the project in 2016, with an intention to explore the concept of re-reading, I brought the complete list of everything I had read from 2009 to 2011 (as logged on over, each as a card in a (virtual) deck.  Then, there are a bunch of other cards: genres, challenging book types of various kinds, ask-a-friend cards, and a small handful of "game" cards that allow you to do things like, for instance, "discard three cards from your hand and draw up."

In 2017, I added the 2012 books and fine-tuned the deck a little bit.  In 2018, when the 2013 books came in, I capped the size of the deck at 700 cards and added a minor innovation: for a number of the "game" cards, I have to run a certain number of miles to trigger them -- cross-endeavor pollination!  2018 turned out to be a tough Game of Reading year, in that the top hundred or so cards of the deck were overwhelmingly individual titles, which didn't give me a lot of wiggle-room, and many of the titles were a bit on the challenging side too.  Which in turn meant that I got to do a lot of interesting re-reading, for instance of War and Peace.  It's all good.

New! for 2019!

With the 700-card cap in place, it put a real squeeze on this year's deck when the 2014 books were added.  I resolved this in part by further reducing the number of precious, precious "Unrestricted Book" cards.  This increases the difficulty level, but will make the "UBs" even more of a treat when they come along, I suppose.  (You, who basically have a full hand of Unrestricted Book cards all the time, don't know how to savor them.)  I also made room to raise the number of "game" cards, because those are always a hoot when I draw them.  Some of the new ones are inspired by cards in the game Pandemic.

The Current Hand

Here's what I'm holding at the moment.
  •  2018 Card #257: Master and Commander This is the first book of Patrick O'Brian's magnificent 20-volume "Aubrey/Maturin" series.  By rule, I could play it on any volume, but I recently finished my second reading of the entire series, and I've been hanging on to this card because I haven't decided whether I want to eye-read or ear-read the cycle the next time around.
  • 2018 Card #190: On Beauty
  • 2018 Card #346: Beowulf
  • 2018 Card #632: "Ask Chuckdaddy."  Chuck, who is himself off on a tear with that 100 Great Books list that was going around last year, assigned James Baldwin's Another Country.  I decided to do an audiobook, and have been waiting in the reserve line for a couple of months.
  • 2018 Card #279: The Last Days of Pompeii.  This is a real poison pill of a card.  No less a commentator than, um, me, has described this Victorian potboiler as "so tedious that to read it is an act of sheer willpower carried out chapter by slow chapter."  In this situation, you just hope for a "game" card to come along that will let you discard it.
  • 2018 Card #646: "Ask Morgan."  
  • Christmas 2018 Bonus Card: Unrestricted Book: By special rule, I get two of these for Christmas every year.
  • Card #637: "Ask Maddy."  Maddy, who is all about the early 19th century novel, has assigned me Fanny Burney's Evalina.
  • Card #288: Unnatural DeathThis title from Dorothy Sayers's "Lord Peter Whimsey" series is a nice piece of light fiction in a rather heavy hand.  Using the serial fiction rule, I will use it to ear-read another Whimsey book, Striding Folly, when it comes off of hold.
  • Card #631: "Ask Chuckdaddy."  Well, that's an interesting coincidence.  Chuck got into the spirit of the thing and had lots of ideas about what he might recommend back at card #632, so it was easy for him to pick a second choice: The Brief and Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao.  I've got it on hold!

 Let's Play!

So, about that "Ask Morgan" card.  When I told Morgan I had drawn it, he said "Do some Game of Reading write-ups on the Blog."  Now, that's an unorthodox response, so it had to go up to the reviewing officials in the booth, but the determination was that it was sufficiently analogous to the cards that require me to write posts in my Bible blog, and book-related, to be within bounds.

So, what am I doing right now?   Right now, as I write this post?  Why, I'm doing a Game of Reading write-up on the blog!  That means I have played 2018 Card #646!  Which is very exciting, because it means that I must now draw up!  Here goes:

It's Card #484!  That's too high to be an individual book, but too low to be a "game" card.  Let's check the chart!

Card #484 is one of the four "Western" cards, ladies and gentlemen!  How interesting!  The last time I drew one of these, I read my first ever Louis L'Amour.  This time, I'll read my first ever Zane Gray.  Fresh literary territory for Michael5000!  Thanks, Game of Reading!

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