Monday, February 11, 2019

The Game of Reading and the Oobleck

Since last month's Game of Reading reminder, the reading went through a bit of a slow patch but has since picked up.  Here's how it all went down.

Christmas 2018 Bonus Card: Unrestricted Book: On January 14th, I burned a precious Unrestricted card and started Listen to This, a collection of essays by the excellent music critic Alex Ross that I had picked up at an odd little used book store down the way.  [I drew Card #425: Unrestricted Book!  Nice.]

Card #637: "Ask Maddy." When we last saw The Game of Reading, I had several audiobooks on reserve but had resorted to my long, periodic fallback listening of Gibbon's Decline and Fall.  When Fanny Burney's Evalina arrived, I switched over.  Now, an 18th century epistolary novel about a young woman's boy troubles is not what many folks will choose to run to.  Burney, though, was a pretty shrewd observer of the myriad ways that gallantry can be weaponized against women, and was no dull wit; you can imagine her trading sick barbs with an avuncular Benjamin Franklin in a London coffeehouse, had they ever met.  I had to relisten to long sections, sometimes more than once, when I had lost the thread of the period language and pacing.  But, I was willing to go back and try again, because it was a well crafted novel that rewarded attention.  Thanks, Maddy!  [I drew Card #569: Trollope.]

Card #484: Western. I read Riders of the Purple Sage, by Zane Grey.  If you imagined what a book about the American West written by a New York dentist and serialized in Field and Stream in the early 1910s would be like, you would be pretty close to Riders of the Purple Sage, and for good reason.  It is pretty bad.  When I drew a "Western" card last year, I was pleasantly surprised by Louis L'Amour, so I guess now I know which side I'm on vis-a-vis the twin titans of Western pulp.  I'm a L'Amour man! [I drew Card #382: Picture This, by Molly Bangs.]
Abandoned: 2017 Card #445.  While doing some literal housecleaning, I also did some housekeeping of my book lists and discovered that I had returned a hoary old History of the Willamette Valley to the library without finishing it.  That triggered the Abandonment Rule, devised in April 2017 but never before invoked; basically, it means the the old "History" card returned to my hand.
Card #288: Unnatural Death, by Dorothy Sayers.  Finishing Evalina, I decided it was time for some cozy British detective action.  Under the Serial Fiction Rule, I did not have to listen to Unnatural Death itself, but could pick any of the "Lord Peter Whimsy" books.  I chose Striding Folly.  It turns out that Striding Folly is just a collection of three short stories, two of which I've read in some other form before, so I burned through this card pretty quickly.  [When I took back the abandoned card, my hand grew to 11 cards.  Therefore, after I played Card #288, I didn't draw up.]

Card #631: Ask Chuckdaddy.  I began listening to The Brief and Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, a snarky and amusing novel set against the unspeakable horror of mid 20th century Dominican history.  I'm about two-thirds through, and really enjoying it.  [I drew Card #312, The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest, and groaned a little.]

Card #382: Picture This, by Molly Bangs.  A short and charming illustrated guide to the basic psychology of pictures and illustrations, by an artist of children's books.  Simple, insightful, and short. [I drew...
Card #655: Immediately return one card to the deck, and draw two.  That was exciting, but I didn't have to think very hard about my choice.  I immediately discarded the extravagantly tedious Bulwer-Lyton saga of 2018 Card #279: The Last Days of Pompeii.  [I drew Card #611: Pick a Book off of a Randomly Selected Library Shelf, and Card #287: Anna Karenina]
Card #425: Unrestricted Book.  I used this to read Dr. Seuss's Bartholomew and the Oobleck, which is an undisciplined use of an Unrestricted card bordering on recklessness.  But, I remembered that it was a favorite when I was a wee bairn, and wanted to see how it had held up.  It's pretty good.  [I drew Card #597: Something From the (literal) Home "To-Read" Shelf.]

Card #597: Something From the Home "To-Read" Shelf.  Bartholomew didn't take me too long to get through, so I went upstairs and grabbed J.G. Farrell's The Singapore Grip.  I was hoping it might match the off-kilter acidic comedy of his terrific Troubles, and so far it seems like I'm in luck.  [I drew Card #472: Detective.]

The Current Hand

Here's what I'm holding at the moment.
  • 2018 Card #257: Master and Commander
  • 2018 Card #190: On Beauty
  • 2018 Card #346: Beowulf
  • 2018 Card #632: "Ask Chuckdaddy."  This will be James Baldwin's Another Country, on audiobook.
  • Card #569: Trollope.
  • 2017 Card #445: History
  • Card #312, The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest
  • Card #611: Pick a Book off of a Randomly Selected Library Shelf
  • Card #287: Anna Karenina
  • Card #472: Detective. 
I like this hand!  Good balance of specifics and options, good balance of ease and challenge, good options for the page and for audio alike.  I like this game!


Morgan said...

Are you planning on reading the Larssons in the order that they come up?

Chance said...

What a wonderful game! I love this kind of stuff. One year I read books in alphabetical order. One year only nonfiction. Last year it was 52 books. This year my challenge is 104 in a year. But I am really interested in this challenge you've made. It has all the silliness and randomness that appeals to me.

Chance said...

I'm taking this idea and running with it. You can't stop me!

Michael5000 said...

Morgan, I think I re-listened to the first one a while back. I figured that Card #312 was Most Likely to Be Discarded, until an unfortunate draw this week of "Confessions of an English Opium-Eater."

Chance, it has a great deal of obvious silliness and randomness, underlain by subtle seriousness of purpose. The silliness is the fun part of course, especially the baroque frills. If you run very far with it, I'd be curious how you build your deck.