No More Sleeps Till

Onesies for grown men

These days, a cursory flick down the Facebook news feed will throw up a few dozen instances of adults who, as they look forward to a vacation or major religious holiday or a weekend away from work, elect to count down to this momentous event using the classic child’s calculation:

Just four more sleeps til Chrimblemass!

When did this become acceptable behaviour? These are people that are permitted to vote, drive a motor vehicle, drink alcohol, and maybe even carry a gun. They go onto a public forum, one where they’re still connected, not just to their family and friends, but also to casual acquaintances, work colleagues, and ex-sex collaborators. And then they express themselves using the locutions of a friggin’ toddler.

Chalk it up to rampant infantilism. Put it up there on the board with onesies and selfies (“look, I exist and am the centre of the universe!”) and Kwazy Cupcakes and the slow, inexorable annexation of Hollywood by Marvel Comics.

While Syria burns, and the polar ice caps dissolve, and Brazil prepares to host a World Cup that even its own police forces are protesting against… well, we can head down to the multiplex and chow down on Haribo Cavitytastics and watch Gosling, Knightley, Efron, one of the Olsens and Channing ruddy Tatum as the ass-kicking Power Pack!

All the problems there are in the world, and this is the generation that needs to lead the way in fixing them? We’re royally screwed. We’re in flight from reality, abdicating our responsibilities.

Ignore me, I’m just venting. This is emphatically not a claim for the moral high ground. Anyone that cares to check my GoodReads feed will see how many comic books – digital trade paperbacks? – I’ve read in the last year. (Eleven.) And Guardians of the Galaxy looks like it’s gonna be a blast.

Probably I’m just sore. Only this week, I turned the corner into a new decade. The male of my parents, before they came to visit, said “only four more sleeps till we see you!” I should be wearing tweed and smoking a pipe by now, and my retired elder comes out with that? Appreciate the sentiment and all, but abhor the mode of expression.

A line has to be drawn somewhere.

No more “(X) more sleeps till”, people!

Seriously. FFS.

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How to Read 52 Books Per Year

Have said before how much I love tracking apps/sites/gizmoids, like Last.fm and NaNoWriMo, for spurring that urge to get more done. Even if you’re only keeping score with yrslef, it’s a competitive urge. I know if my Nike+ stuff is ready to go, I’ll run more often than when the iPod is out of charge, or the armband thingy has been lost down the back of the drawer agin.

For the 2013 GoodReads Reading Challenge, I originally set a target of 20 books. This was revised to 25, 30, 35, 40, 47.5, and eventually 52. Thanks to a two-month sabbatical from work, and then from being unemployed for the last three months of the year, I managed to smash dent that target, and reached a total of fifty-five books read.

There are folk on G’Reads that set, and hit, targets of 70, 80, 90 books and probably more. I’ve no idea how they got that far, frankly. I was pleased enough with my just-over-half-a-ton.

The first thing to admit is that eighteen (18!) of the books were graphic novels. OK, comic books. They were booklength trade paperbacks/hardback-length collections. It has been suggested that having those in the list somehow invalidates the challenge. To which, with the greatest respect: balls it does.

Because the list also included hefty tomes such as The Corrections (653pp), Perdido Street Station (640pp), A Dance with Dragons (1,387pp), and the utterly monumental Infinite Jest (1,483pp). A little light, superheroic, image-based relief is just the fricken’ ticket after c.1.5k pages of David Foster Wallace’s chapter-length footnotes and interminable, if brilliant digressions.

As it goes, Infinite Jest absolutely floored me. That was a read that kept my brain fizzing throughout, an utterly astonishing work. It does go down better with a bit of research, whether during or after reading, but I’m the kind of nerd that digs that. Predictably-sadly it immediately started influencing my own humble scribblings. (You know the kind of book that for a while after you see yourself trying to emulate, right? Gotta watch that nonsense.)

And I thought that would be my read of the year, but right at the death I picked up Hilary Mantel’s Bring Up The Bodies, and BY JOVE it’s a phenomenal read. For the strength of the writing, line-by-line. For the strength of characterisation – even the smallest of supporting characters leaps off the page, vivid and true. For the plot which, if you only know the tiniest bit about Henry VIII, you know roughly where it’s beheaded. Even more astonishingly, Bring Up The Bodies is the second part in what is surely shaping up to be one of the greatest literary trilogies of all time.

So anyways, 2014? I’m aiming for 50 books. It’ll be more of a stretch, since I’m not planning on not working for five months of this year. But let’s see how it goes.