2019 Airing of Grievances: Least Favorite Books of the Year

24 Festive Tasks: Door 19 – Festivus: Task 1

Overall, 2019 was a phantastic reading year for me with decidedly more highs than lows.  Of the latter, my worst reading experiences were, in no particular order:

Laura Restrepo, Hot Sur: OK, forget the “in no particular order” bit for a moment.  A main character expecting me to empathize with her for siding with the psychopathic rapist of the woman she calls her best friend … and actually trying to talk her best friend into agreeing her horrific experience was all just a “misunderstanding”?  Sorrynotsorry — just, nope.  A hard DNF, and that main character deserved everything she had coming to her as a consequence.

Renée Ahdieh, The Wrath and the Dawn: Shallow, infantile in tone, and, most importantly, abominably bady researched.  I didn’t DNF quite as quickly as Hot Sur, but I barely made it past the 1/3 mark.  I might have been marginally more understanding if it had come across as YA fantasy (which was frankly what I’d expected), but it’s written as historical fiction — and getting core historical details wrong in a book of historical fiction is just about the worst sin you can commit in my book.

Sam Kean, The Disappearing Spoon: Well, let’s just say Mr. Kean is decidedly not Helen Czerski (which is NOT a good thing), and he also isn’t half as funny as he apparently thinks he is.  What he seems to think is humor, to me comes across as arrogance and unwarranted judgmentalism — and his research / fact checking on everything “non-physics” is plainly abominable.  Almost as importantly, his fractured narrative style and lack of clarity completely failed to translate to me his own professed enthusiasm for his subject.  Another book where I never got past the initial chapters.

Georgette Heyer, A Blunt Instrument: Heyer at her worst — clichéd, biased, snub-nosed, with one-dimensional characters and a mystery whose solution is staring you in the face virtually from page 1.  I only finished it for confirmation that my guess was correct (which, dare I say “of course”, it was), but it was a struggle of the sort I never experienced with Heyer before or since (and I’ve finished all of her mysteries in the interim).

Clarice Lispector, The Hour of the Star: I know Lispector is highly regarded, but she’s obviously not for me — I detest speech that is so deconstructed to barely make sense (even to mother tongue speakers, as it turns out); combine that with the drab narrative (if that word is even justified) of a drab character living a drab life, and you’ve lost me for good.  It was a blessing that this is a very short book; if it hadn’t been, this would have been another DNF.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

(Task: The airing of grievances: Which are the five books you liked least this year – and why?)

 

 

Original post:
ThemisAthena.booklikes.com/post/2022452/24-festive-tasks-door-19-festivus-task-1

24 Festive Tasks: Door 19 – Festivus: Book

Owl Be Home for Christmas - Donna Andrews, Bernadette Dunne

Not quite as hilariously funny as the first three Christmas books from the series that I read — maybe Ms. Andrews’s brand of humor is beginning to pall for me after all, or maybe Bernadette Dunne (whom I ordinarily really like as a narrator) just doesn’t work for me quite as well here as she does otherwise — and the “who” (and at least in part, “why) was a fairly obvious guess … but there’s still more than enough humor and hilarity to make this an easy fit as a Festivus book, so here we go.

(Task: Read any comedy, parody, or satire.)

Original post:
ThemisAthena.booklikes.com/post/2010143/24-festive-tasks-door-19-festivus-book

24 Festive Tasks: Door 19 – Festivus: Task 2

The Adventures of Pippi Longstocking - Astrid Lindgren, Michael Chesworth, Florence Lamborn, Gerry Bothmer Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy, John Bayley, Larissa Volokhonsky, Richard Pevear

Admittedly I wrote this quite a while a go, but since anything involving Pippi Longstocking will almost automatically be a match for a holiday featuring “feats of strength” … here is, rather unapologetically, my Goodreads Celebrity Death Match Review Elimination Tournament entry of long ago featuring the match-up of Pippi Longstocking vs. Anna Karenina (spoiler: Pippi wins hands down):

Girl Power, or:

Celebrity Death Match Review Elimination Tournament Review:
Anna Karenina (12) vs. Pippi Långstrump (21)

A countryside railway station in indistinctly northern surroundings. Count Vronsky and Anna Karenina are standing together, both looking into the distance but in opposite directions.

VRONSKY (contemplative): Now, look at that … a girl carrying a horse …

ANNA (turning): What’s that you said – a girl?

VRONSKY: … carrying a horse.

ANNA (talking over him): Of course, I should have known – you’re looking at another woman. Again. So what’s so special about this one, huh? (She takes a closer look at the figure in the distance and curls her lips in contempt.)

Her freckles? Those ridiculous reddish braids of hers? Or – or – her shoes? Oh my God, they must be at least two sizes too large!

VRONSKY (to himself): Here we go again. – (Soberly, to Karenina): Anna, please …

ANNA (still not listening): I bet you can’t wait to take those shoes off her and clothe her feet in some sort of delicate slippers. Silk, or damast, or something. Or velvet. Or nothing – and then just kiss them. And go on kissing her all the way up her legs, and then … and then … (She breathes heavily, unable to continue.)

VRONSKY: Anna, for God’s sake, she’s just a girl! She can’t be more than, what, nine or ten … or, well, at least she doesn’t look … (He casts a doubtful glance at the horse, which is now standing on solid ground again.)

ANNA: Ah, but you don’t know, do you? And I am sure you would love to find out …

VRONSKY (exasperated): Anna, please! Do you seriously think I’d be interested in a woman who can carry a horse?!

ANNA (pouting): Oh, so she’s a woman now to you already, is she? A few seconds ago she was still merely a girl … I should have known I would never be able to trust you! You’ll always find a way to betray me! I should never have followed you! Why, oh why did I ever abandon my beloved son for your sake? Oh, Seryozha … (She bursts into tears.)

VRONSKY (after contemplating her for a long moment): Look, Anna, I don’t think this is going anywhere. I …

ANNA (howling): You’re leaving me! (After a pause, with a baleful look at the figure in the distance): For HER!

VRONSKY (through his teeth, struggling for composure): I am going to my club.

(He turns on his heels and leaves.)

ANNA (sobbing uncontrollably): I’ve lost him. And after I gave up everything for his sake. I am nothing without him! Oh, what shall I do??

A humming from the tracks, first gentle but with a steadily increasing volume, announces the arrival of a train. With a desperate sob, Anna Karenina throws herself onto the tracks. The sudden, harsh squeal of the train’s breaks alerts Pippi Longstocking, who up to now had been blissfully unaware of the scene at the station. She comes rushing over, placing herself in front of the train, and tries to stop it with her bare hands. All she manages, alas, is to slow it down; but not before it has severed Anna’s head, which rolls sideways and comes to a stop at Pippi’s feet. Pippi contemplates it with a half-sad, half puzzled expression.

PIPPI (bemused): It’s a pity she never knew my Pappa. He would’ve told her just to sing to herself. Whatever it is, there’s nothing so bad that it can’t be made right again by singing a song, he always said …

(Alerted by a monkey’s chatter, she looks to the roof of the station house.)

PIPPI: Mr. Nilsson! What are you doing up there? Come down at once!

Laughing, Pippi climbs onto the roof herself to retrieve her monkey, leaving Anna’s severed head and body behind on the tracks.

(Task: Battle of the Books:  pick two books off your shelf (randomly or with purpose); in a fair fight, which book would come out on top?  The fight can be based on the merits of the book itself, its writing, or full-on mano a mano between two characters.  Which would win the feat of strength?)

Original post:
ThemisAthena.booklikes.com/post/2006126/24-festive-tasks-door-19-festivus-task-2

Festivus: Door #19

Reblogged from: Moonlight Snowfall

17 - Solstice
3 - Melbourne Cup Day
21
9 - World Philosophy Day
12 - St. Andrew's Day
24

22
15 - International Human Rights Day
1 - dia de los Muertos
13 - Advent
18 - Hanukkah
6 - Veterans / Armistice Day

5 - Bon Om Touk
14 - St. Nicholas’ Day
7 - International Day for Tolerance
20
11 - Thanksgiving
23

10 -  Russian Mothers' Day
2 - Japanese Culture Day
19 - Festivus
16 - St. Lucia's Day
8 - International Children’s Day
4 - Guy Fawkes Night

Well, I got busy decorating and cleaning, and completely forgot to post my holidays! Sorry everyone!

 
Festivus
Door 19:  Festivus
 
Task 1: The annual airing of grievances: Which are the five books you liked least this year and why?
 
Task 2: Battle of the Books: pick two books off your shelf (randomly or with purpose); in a fair fight, which book would come out on top? The fight can be based on the merits of the book itself, its writing, or full-on mano a mano between two characters. Which would win the feat of strength?
 
Task 3:  Go polemic on one of the characters from an entrant in your five least favorite books, or just have a go at one of the books (the book, not the author, please) in Task 1.
 
Task 4: As miracles go, a “Festivus miracle really is’t one – it’s just something marginally unusual that someone mentions and which someone else then declares Festivus miracle, as a pun on the Christmas miracle trope. (E.g., in the original Seinfeld episode, it’s a coincidental meeting: “Oh, I didn’t expect to run into you here!” a Festivus miracle!) Create a “Festivus miracle” dialogue/ situation; the greater the parody the better.
 
Book: Read any comedy, parody, or satire.
 

 
NEW: Once you’ve completed a task or tasks, please use the handy form, located in the spoiler tags (to keep things tidy) to let us know. This will make tracking points MUCH easier for the 24 Tasks Team.
[spoiler]

* Required
 

Blog Name: *

 
Festive Task Door Completed: *
Choose
Dia de los Muertos
Japanese Culture Day
Melbourne Cup Day
Guy Fawkes Night
Bon Om Touk (Korean Water & Moon Festival)
Veterans / Armistice Day
International Day for Tolerance
International Children’s Day
World Philosophy Day
Russian Mothers’ Day
Thanksgiving
St. Andrew’s Day
Advent
St. Nicholas Day
International Human Rights Day
St. Lucia’s Day
Winter Solstice
Hanukkah
Festivus
Christmas
Kwanzaa
New Year’s Eve / St. Sylvester’s Day
Hogswatch
Twelfth Night / Epiphany

 
I’ve completed the following task for this holiday: *
Choose
1
2
3
4
Book
BONUS TASK

 
Have you completed some of the tasks for this holiday already? *
Choose
Yes
No

 
If you have completed tasks previously, which ones? * (Required if answered yes to the previous question.)
Book
T1
T2
T3
T4
BONUS
 
(Optional) Link to your blog post:

space
[/spoiler]
 
Previous door’s tasks are “beneath the fold”

 

Previous Doors’ Tasks and Books

 

 
Dia de los Muertos
Door 1:  Dia de Los Muertos
 
Task 1: Compose a limerick or short poem in honor of a favorite book character.
 
Task 2:  If you like Mexican food, treat yourself to a favorite dish – and / or make yourself a margarita – and share a photo.
 
Task 3: Write an epitaph for the book you most disliked this year.
 
Task 4: Do you have any traditions or mementos of happy memories of a loved one that you feel like sharing?
 
Book: Reread a favorite book by a deceased author or from a finished series, or read a book set in Mexico or a book that either has a primarily black and white cover or all the colors (ROYGBIV) on the cover, or a book featuring zombies.
 

 

 
Japanese Culture Day
Door 2:  Japanese Culture Day
 
Task 1: Tell us about a cultural festival or event in the area where you live.
 
Task 2: Try a flavor of Kit Kat other than chocolate and report back if you liked it.
 
Task 3: Try your hand at folding a paper crane. Instructions: https://www.instructables.com/id/How-to-make-a-Paper-Crane-1/
 
Task 4: If you like Japanese food, treat yourself to a favorite dish.
 
Book: Read a graphic novel or a book set in a school or academic setting.
 

 

 
Melbourne Cup Day
Door 3:  Melbourne Cup Day
 
Task 1: Pick your ponies.*
 
Task 2: Roses are the official flower of Flemington Race Track; write your own “Roses are Red, Violets are Blue” poem for one of your favorite or most hated books of all time.
 
Task 3: Aussies shorten everything, so Melbourne Cup Day is just called “Cup Day” – post a picture of your favorite cup or mug for your daily fix of coffee, tea or chocolate.
 
Task 4: Prepare your favorite dessert – in a cup! Post a photo of it for us to enjoy vicariously.
 
Book: Read a book about horses, with a horse or with roses on the cover, about gardening, or set in Australia, or written by an Australian author.
 
* Ponies (horses) running the race will be posted here by Darth Pedant, guest hosting for MurderByDeath, as soon as they’re announced, or thereabouts. The official field is published on November 3rd.

 

 
Guy Fawkes Night
Door 4:  Guy Fawkes Night
 
Task 1: Make a list of the top 3 treasonous crimes against books that an author can commit.
 
Task 2: Start a revolution: What one thing would you change about the book reading world? (Be it publishing, distribution, editing, cover art, bookstores – anything having to do with books.)
 
Task 3: Make a little straw (or wood / cloth / wool / fabric) effigy of the book character you like least.
 
Task 4:

How do you order the books on your shelves?
 
Book: Read a book set in the UK, a political thriller, a book involving any monarchy or revolution, a book about arson or related to fires and burning, a book whose plot involves costumes / fancy dress, or that has masks on the cover, or that is self-published.
 

 

 
Bon Om Touk
Door 5:  Bon Om Touk
 
Task 1: List / tell us about your favorite rainy day reads.
 
Task 2: String up some fairy lights around your books / bookcase / kindle and share a picture of the results.
 
Task 3: Dragons and dragon-like serpents (imugi) are important to Korean mythology (as they are to that of other Asian peoples). So – which are your favorite literary dragons (fictional, mythological, whatever)?
 
Task 4:The South Korean flag features images of ying / yang (the blue and red circle in the center) and four sets of three black lines each representing heaven, sun, moon and earth and, in turn, the virtues humanity, justice, intelligence and courtesy. Compile a list or stack – 4 books minimum – composed of books that either have opposing words in their titles (e.g., war / peace; asleep / awake – not necessarily both words in the same title), or that feature the words “heaven,” “sun,” “moon,” “earth,” “humanity,” “justice,” intelligence,” and / or “courtesy.”
 
Book: Read a book by a Korean author or set in Korea, that takes place at sea or on a river, where the plot involves a festival, where the moon or rain plays a pivotal role in the plot, or with rain, water or the moon on the cover.
 

 

 
Veterans / Armistice Day
Door 6:  Veterans / Armistice Day
 
Task 1: Sunrise services are a staple of this day: Take a picture of the sunrise where you live and share it with us.
 
Task 2: In keeping with the minute of silence, tell us about the authors who have passed this year that you will miss the most.
 
Task 3: Rosemary is for remembrance, but it’s great for chasing away moths, silverfish and other bugs that can damage books (and linens). Make a sachet with some rosemary, lavender, dried basil, etc. to keep on your bookshelves – post a picture of the results and let us know what combinations of herbs you used. A list of possibilities can be found here: https://www.mnn.com/your-home/organic-farming-gardening/stories/12-plants-that-repel-unwanted-insects
 
Task 4:The Forest of Compiègne, just outside Compiègne, France, is the site of the signing of the 1918 Armistice. It was also the site of the signing by the French of a truce with the Germans following the German invasion in 1940. – Find a green space in your local area (or favorite area) and go for a walk or bike ride of a mile (or 1.61 km) and post a picture or screenshot of the map of where you walked / biked.
 
Book: Read a book involving a war, battle, or where characters are active military or veterans, or with poppies on the cover, or honor the ‘unknown soldier’ of your TBR and read the book that’s been there the longest.
 

 

 
International Day for Tolerance
Door 7:  International Day for Tolerance
 
Task 1: Find a redeeming quality in a book you read this year and didn’t like.
 
Task 2: Share a story about yourself, or a story about your family that’s survived the generations, or share a particular tradition your family has passed on from generation to generation and if there’s a story behind why, tell us about it.
 
Task 3: The French expression for tolerance towards others is “laisser faire, laisser aller” (roughly: “let them do as they want, let it go”). Have you ever “let go” a book (e.g., given it away or decided not to yield to the temptation to buy it) and later regretted that choice?
 
Task 4:If you were offered an all-expenses-paid trip to one (one only!) of UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites, which one would you pick (and why)?
 
Book: Read a book about tolerance, or outside your comfort zone, or set in Paris (seat of UNESCO).
 

 

 
International Children’s Day
Door 8:  International Children’s Day
 
Task 1:  What was your favorite children’s book growing up? Your favorite middle grade book?
 
Task 2: Rediscover your childhood with a yo-yo, a slinky, – whatever toy you loved from childhood you still have access to, or make and blow some bubbles! Take a picture and share your fun with the rest of us.
 
Task 3: Make some art – draw a picture, or color one in and share the results with us. Free printable bookmarks can be found on Google images
 
Task 4: As a kid, did you enjoy visiting amusement parks and carnivals? Which were your favorite rides or shows? Do you still have any photos, or is there a memorable event you’re happy to share? – Alternatively, if you’re a parent now: Do you visit amusement parks / carnivals with your kids?
 
Book: Read a children’s or YA book or a book where children or teenagers play a significant role, or written by an author who was under the age of 18 at the time of publication.
 

 

 
World Philosophy Day
Door 9:  World Philosophy Day
 
Task 1:  Share your reading philosophy with us – do you DNF? If so, do you have a page minimum to read before you declare it a DNF?
 
Task 2: Share your reviewing philosophy with us – how do you rate a book? Do you have a mental template for reviewing? Rules you try to follow, or rules you try to break?
 
Task 3: How do you stay zen / sane over the holidays or in other stressful periods?
 
Task 4: Did you love or hate the books you had to read for school? Looking back, which ones (good or bad) stand out to you the most?
 
Book: Read a book about philosophy or a philosopher, or a how-to book about changing your life in a significant way or suggesting a particular lifestyle (Hygge, Marie Kobo, etc.).
 

 

 
Russian Mothers' Day
Door 10:  Russian Mothers’ Day
 
Task 1:  “Three Russian writers walk into a bar …” (Take it from here – the wilder the merrier!)
 
Task 2: Towards the end of the 17th century, there was a Russian apprentice carpenter and shipwright going by the name Peter Mikhailov in the Dutch town of Zaandam (and later in Amsterdam), who eventually turned out to be none other than Tsar Peter the Great, whose great interest in the craft would become pivotal to his programs for the build-up of the Russian navy and naval commerce.
So: Tell us about a favorite book, either nonfiction history (demonstrably true facts, please, no conspiracy theories or unproven conjecture) or fiction – all genres, not limited to historical fiction –, dealing with a member of royalty “moonlighting” as a commoner.
 
Task 3: Until WWII, the most famous part of the Catherine Palace at Tsarskoye Selo near St. Petersburg was the so-called amber room. It was looted, lock stock and barrel, by the Nazis, and has since vanished from the face of the earth, with its fate a complete mystery to the present day. Let your imagination run wild: What do you think may have happened to it? (Kidnapped by aliens? Spirited away by dwarves and hidden in a secret cavern deep below the face of the earth? Sold, piece by piece, to finance … what? The Nazi war effort? The restoration of the Romanovs to the throne of Russia? Stalin’s pogroms? What else?) Don’t hold back, we’d love to know!
 
Task 4: Forget-me-nots and handmade medals of honor are important Russian Mothers’ Day gifts. Create a medal of honor (with or without the image of a forget-me-not) for a favorite book character or for a family member or friend of yours that you’d like to pay respect to.
 
Book: Read a book set in Russia, by a Russian author, featuring a story within a story (like a Russian “matryoshka” doll), or featuring a character who is a mother.
 

 

 
Thanksgiving
Door 11:  Thanksgiving Day
 
Task 1:  If you have kids or pets, tell us about something “bad” they did that was so funny you couldn’t help but forgive (“pardon”) them. If you have neither kids nor pets, was there such an event in your own childhood – or with kids or pets in your family or circle of friends?
 
Task 2: Tell us: Of the books that you read this year, which are you most thankful for, OR was there one that turned out to be full of “stuffing”? Alternatively, which (one) book that you read anytime at all changed your life for the better?”
 
Task 3: Share your favorite turkey or pie recipe.
 
Task 4: Send a friend you’re thankful for having a postcard (in the mail!). Snap a picture of the postcard image (not the message) and share it with us.
 
Book: Read a book with an autumnal cover, set in New England, where a turkey shows up in the story, with a turkey or pumpkin on the cover, or with the theme of coming together to help a community or family in need.
 

 

 
St. Andrew's Day
Door 12:  St. Andrew’s Day
 
Task 1:  Tell us: Who is your favorite Scottish (or Scots-born / -descendant) writer?
 
Task 2: Ian Rankin likes to say that the Scottish national diet is sugar, fat and alcohol. The traditional Scottish dessert – Raspberry Cranachan – contains all three of these (and of course the alcohol in it is the national drink, whisky), but it’s also delicious! So … make Raspberry Cranachan: http://allrecipes.co.uk/recipe/2852/raspberry-cranachan.aspx (For a non-alcoholic version just omit the whisky – or substitute with orange juice.)
 
Task 3: St. Andrew was a fisherman by trade: Which book(s) from your TBR that you read this year turned out to be the year’s greatest “catch”?
 
Task 4: If you could create your personal tartan, what would it look like? Or if you have a favorite existing tartan, which one is it?
 
Book: Read a book set in Scotland.
 

 

 
Advent
Door 13:  Advent
 
Task 1:  Share a picture of your advent calendar.
 
Task 2: Tell us: What is your favorite holiday tradition?
 
Task 3: Prepare an apple cider wassail bowl or a wassail bowl containing your favorite drink or fruit. Post a picture and enjoy!
 
Task 4: Tell us about an event in the immediate or near future that you’re looking forward to.
 
Book: Read a pastiche, a book authorized by a deceased author’s estate, the 4th book in a series, a book with the word “four” in the title, a book featuring four siblings, or a book with a wreath, pines or fir trees on the cover.
 

 

 
St. Nicholas Day
Door 14:  St. Nicholas’ Day
 
Task 1: Write a book wish list to St. Nick / Santa Claus for books that you’ve been eyeing but can’t justify the expense of purchasing. (E.g., art books? Collector’s editions? Boxed sets?)
 
Task 2: In the Netherlands, ‘Sinterklaas’ is celebrated with ginger biscuits, marzipan and hot chocolate with cream; in Germany, it’s St. Nicholas’ Day with gingerbread, chocolate and / or nut or almond cookies, chocolate candy, and tangerines (or oranges). Choose one or more of the above as a holiday snack and post a picture for us to drool over.
 
Task 3:  St. Nicholas is a man of many names in English alone – Santa Claus, Saint Nick, Father Christmas … although in the English speaking world he only comes once (at Christmas, not also on December 6 – whereas in Germany and the Netherlands he makes his visits under different names on both occasions). Which of your favorite books were published under different titles in the same language, e.g., in North America vs. Britain? Have you ever bought a book under a title unfamiliar to you, only to discover belatedly that it was one you already own / had already read under a different title?
 
Task 4: A Czech Republic tradition for St Nick’s Day is groups of three “people” – St Nick, Angel, and Devil – to roam the streets the night before St Nick’s Day and stop children to ask them if they have been good during the year or not. Most kids say yes, sing a song or recite a poem. The three “strangers” then decide if the children are telling the truth. The good kids get candy / treats from the Angel, bad kids get potatoes or coal from the Devil. So: Post a song or poem (your own or someone else’s) that involves candy, potatoes, or coal.
 
Book: Read a book with an orange or red cover, set in the Netherlands or Germany, by a Dutch or German author, or with nuts, chocolate, coins, canals or beer on the cover.
 

 

 
International Human Rights Day
Door 15:  International Human Rights Day
 
Task 1: Cook a dish from a culture other than your own or something involving apples (NYC = Big Apple) or oranges (for the Netherlands, seat of the International Court of Justice & International Criminal Court).
 
Task 2: Create a stack of books or a list with books by some of your favorite female and / or minority authors (minimum: five) and tell us what you like about their writing.
 
Task 3:  Nominate a (fictional) character from one of the books you read this year for a Nobel Prize – regardless which one – or for a similarly important prize (e.g., the Fields Medal for mathematics) and write a brief laudation explaining your nomination.
 
Task 4: Reconstitute one of the bodies or institutions of the United Nations (Plenary Assembly, Security Council, Secretariat, International Court of Justice / Criminal Court, World Bank, etc.) with some of your favorite characters (minimum: five) and explain why you chose them and what you’d expect them to achieve.
 
Book: Read a book featuring a strong female character (or characters), by an author from any minority group, a story about a minority overcoming their oppressors, or revolving around the rights of others either being defended or abused, a book set in New York City, or a book originally written in a language other than English and / or your mother tongue or by anyone not Anglo-Saxon.
 

 

 
St. Lucia’s Day
Door 16:  St. Lucia’s Day
 
Task 1: Famous first words: Tradition has it that the winners of the Nobel Peace Prize are woken up by the St. Lucia maidens, as St. Lucia’s Day (Dec. 13) is just three days after the Nobel Peace Prize awards ceremony and many laureates stay long enough to be able to take in the St. Lucia festivities. Imagine one of your favorite (fictional) characters had won that prize: How would you think (s)he would greet the maidens? (If you’ve used the Nobel Peace Prize for Door 15, Task 3, this can be the same character, of course … or a different one, just as you wish.)
 
Task 2: Compile a list of five or more carols, poems, short stories, novels or other pieces of writing that feature sleigh rides.
 
Task 3:  Trolls, gnomes, dwarves and similar beings (some evil, some less so, almost all of them mischievous) are a staple of Scandinavian mythology and folklore, as well as other folklores and mythologies around the world and, of course, fantasy and speculative fiction. Who is your favorite such creature and why? (No matter whether mythological, fictional or from whatever other source.)
 
Task 4: The historic (3d century AD) St. Lucia was Italian; yet, like those of many other saints (including, e.g., St. Andrew and St. Nicholas), the most important celebrations of her holiday don’t occur in her place of origin but somewhere else in the world.
 
Book:  Read a book set in Scandinavia / Northern Europe, by a Northern European / Nordic author, with a predominantly white cover (or white with red lettering), newly released in November or December of this year, or set in the candle-lit world (i.e., before the discovery of electricity – roughly, that is, before the late 19th century).
 

 

 
Winter Solstice
Door 17:  Winter Solstice (Yule / Yaldā Night / Dongzhi / Soyal):
 
Task 1: Yule task (Germany / Scandinavia): Burn a Yule log – or if you don’t have a fireplace, light a candle to chase away the winter and welcome in the longer days. If you live in the Southern Hemisphere, light a candle to mourn the slow but inexorable retreat of the sun.
 
Task 2: Yaldā Night task (Persia / Iran): Stay up all night reading a good book (or at least stay up past your usual bedtime).
 
Task 3:  Dongzhi task (China): To commemorate Marco Polo’s memoirs of his trip to China, write a fictional diary entry or letter home from an imagined trip to a faraway place (real or invented) – or if you actually have written such a letter in the past and are happy to share it with us, please do!
 
Task 4: Soyal task (Zuñi & Hopi / Native American): While systems of written symbols and communication already existed with the Pre-Columbian Native American cultures, to many tribes even today (including the Zuñi and Hopi) the oral tradition is still important. Have you ever had stories told to you (e.g., as children’s bedtime stories, or at night during a camping vacation)? Or if you haven’t, try to imagine a “storytelling” situation you’d like to experience?
 
Book:  Read a book that takes place in December, with ice or snow on the cover, where all events take place in a single day or night, that revolves around the solstice, set in Persia / Iran, China or the American Southwest or prominently featuring Persian / Iranian, Chinese or Native American characters, or a collection of poetry.
 

 

 
Hanukkah
Door 18:  Hanukkah
 
Task 1: Spin the dreidel to determine which book is going to be the first one you’ll be reading in the new year. Find a virtual dreidel here:
https://www.activityvillage.co.uk/make-a-dreidel
http://www.jewfaq.org/dreidel/play.htm
http://www.torahtots.com/holidays/chanuka/dreidel.htm
 
Task 2: Latkes or donuts are fried in oil to remind Jews of the oil that lasted for eight days: Fry yourself up some latkes or donuts. Share your recipe with us if they came out tasty.
 
Task 3:  Read a book by candle light (or flashlight).
 
Task 4: The 6th night of Hanukkah is dubbed “Candle of Righteousness”; at this time believers are expected to make a charitable donation. Make a blessing bag or food donation to a local food bank (or another charitable donation if there is no food bank anywhere near you).
 
Book: Read a book about light, miracles, featuring Jewish characters, set in Israel, that is the second book in a series, with the word “two” in the title, or with a light on the cover.
 

Original post:
ThemisAthena.booklikes.com/post/2003702/festivus-door-19

2018 Airing of Grievances: Least Favorite Books of the Year

24 Festive Tasks: Door 19 – Festivus, Task 1

I’ve been blessed with a pretty amazing reading year in which disappointments were few and far between — so it was fortunately not difficult at all to spot the small number of candidates for my “grievances” list when scrolling back through my shelves.  They are / were, in no particular order (except for no. 1):

Margaret Drabble: The Red Queen
Pretentious, artificial, historically incorrect and, most of all, monumentally self-involved.  If this is the type of book that Drabble’s sister A.S. Byatt criticizes under the byword “faction”, then I’m with Byatt all the way — and that statement is far from a given where Byatt’s own fiction is concerned.  Someday I’ll seek out the actual memoirs of the Crown Princess whose story inspired this poor excuse for a novel.  I doubt I’ll go anywhere near Drabble’s writing again anytime soon, however.

Original review HERE.

 

Stephen Brusatte: The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs
Speaking of monumentally self-involved, this wasn’t much better than Drabble’s book in that particular department.  It does contain the actual bit of paleonthological information, but that bit is essentially hidden between tales of Steve the Great and his almost-as-great famous friends and acquaintances, as well as Brusatte’s pet theories — pun not intended — and a lot of generalization on subjects that don’t necessarily lend themselves to same.  (Also, Brusatte obviously loves T-Rex … and his obsession with the Rex’s “puny arms” has me wondering about the wider psychological implications of Brusatte’s fascination with the big bad  boys (and girls) of dino-dom.)

Original review HERE.

 

Jennifer Wright: Get Well Soon
Our third candidate under the “monumentally self-involved” header.  Leaving aside that the book’s subtitle (“History’s Worst Plagues and the Heroes Who Fought Them”) is a complete misnomer, this, too, is chiefly about the bright and sparky Ms. Wright and her opinions, frequently at best shallow research, and largely inappropriate oh-so-clever (NOT) quips, asides, and pop culture references.  At least two of the “plagues” mentioned in the book actually are not epidemics at all (which shows that indeterminate “medical horrors” is what Wright was truly after), and on the epidemics that do get mentioned, entire chapters of medical research and the world-renowned scientists chiefly responsible for that research don’t even get so much as a passing mention.  Virtually the book’s only saving grace was Wright’s stance against anti-vaxxers and similar superstitious nonsense — the sum total of which, however, would easily have fit into one of the magazine articles that Wright produces when she’s not pretending she is a science writer.

Original review HERE.

 

Ethel Lina White: The Lady Vanishes
One of the rare examples where I like the movie adaptation (by the one and only Alfred Hitchcock, no less) vastly better than the literary original.  “Woman in peril” stories aren’t my cup of tea to begin with, but leaving aside that I rather like Hitch’s spin on the conspiracy at the heart of the book, most of all, the two protagonists (Margaret Lockwood’s Iris and her “knight in shining armour”, portrayed by Michael Redgrave in the movie) come across as much more likeable and believable in the screen version — the guy in particular is nothing more than a pretentious prick in the book, for however much he’s supposed to be the Hero and Iris’s big savior and love interest.  All in all, Hitchcock elevated what seems to amount at best to B movie material on paper into one of his early masterpieces — no small feat on his part.

Original review HERE.

 

Francine Mathews: The Cutout
Not strictly a disappointment, as I was a bit skeptical going in anyway; however, it had an interesting premise and started well and thus got my hopes up to a certain extent — only to deflate them pretty thoroughly, alas, before it had really gotten going.  Totalitarian political machinations in a post-collapse-of-the-Wall Europe may have sounded interesting when the book was written in the early 2000s — and sound even more up-to-date these days, in fact — but it would have required a different writer to pull this off convincingly.  Matthews has no understanding of Germany, German society and politics, nor that of the Eastern European countries where her book is set (if she ever lived in Berlin or any of the book’s other main locations, she obviously had virtually zero interactions with anybody other than her American intelligence colleagues), and unfortunately, name-dropping half a street atlas’ worth of names of tourist sites and major traffic arteries is no replacement for a believable reproduction of local atmosphere. Similarly, not one of the characters is anything other than a two-dimensional cipher, and by the time the book reaches its end, it degenerates into the cheapest of cheap spy thriller clichés once and for all.

Original review HERE.

 

Honorable mentions:

(Or would that be “dishonorable mentions”?)

John Bude: The Lake District Murder
I already used this for the task of finding something redeeming in an otherwise disappointing book (International Day of Tolerance / Door 6, Task 1), so I won’t formally use it again in this particular context — besides, unlike the five above-mentioned books it didn’t actually make me angry … it just fell flat of what it could have been.

Original review HERE.

 

Joanne Fluke / Laura Levine / Leslie Meier: Candy Cane Murder
A huge disappointment only considering how popular these three ladies’ books are (particularly so, Fluke’s) — ultimately, I guess this was nothing more than a confirmation of the fact that cozy mysteries aren’t actually my kind of thing (with the sole exception of Donna Andrews’s Meg Langslow series).  Of the three entries, Meier’s was by far the weakest, but I neither cared particularly for Fluke’s nor ultimately for Levine’s, either — though in the sense of “amongst the blind, the one-eyed man is king”, Levine’s was the strongest entry in an overall weak threesome.

Original review HERE.

 

 

Original post:
ThemisAthena.booklikes.com/post/1824367/24-festive-tasks-door-19-festivus-task-1-airing-of-grievances

Oscar Wilde: A Woman of No Importance & Model Millionaire

24 Festive Tasks: Door 19 – Festivus, Books


Wilde’s second play; an acerbic take on the narrowness of fin de siècle English morality; or more particularly, supremely hypocritical perceptions of women’s role in society.  Unlike in Wilde’s later plays, the beginning comes across as a bit of an over-indulgence in the author’s own clever wit, with a veritable fireworks of sparkling onelines and repartees following in quick succession without greatly advancing the plot (which is what earns the piece the subtractions in my star ratings — it’s the perfect example of too much of a good thing); but once the plot and the dialogue centers on the opposing protagonists, it quickly finds its feet. — As Festivus books go, it’s rather on the dark side, but it’s a satire nevertheless, so I’m counting it for that square … and though (unusually for Wilde) the last line is telegraphed a mile and a half in advance, I nevertheless enjoyed saying it along with the play’s heroine from all my heart.

 


The short story Model Millionaire was my encore enjoyment to follow up A Woman of No Importance; and it couldn’t be any more different in tone and intent — the tale of a gentleman who believes he has done a kindness to a raggedy beggar modelling for his artist friend … only to find that he could not possibly have been any more mistaken, and that in fact it is he who is ultimately at the receiving end of an unexpected kindness.

 

 

Original post:
ThemisAthena.booklikes.com/post/1821787/24-festive-tasks-my-final-books-doors-16-17-and-19-human-rights-day-st-lucia-s-day-and-festivus

24 Festive Tasks: Door 19 – Festivus, Task 3 (Book Stack / Scales Feat of Strength)

Die Romane: Buddenbrooks. Königliche Hoheit. Lotte in Weimar. Der Zauberberg. Joseph und sein Brüder. Doktor Faustus. Der Erwählte. Bekenntnisse des Hochstaplers Felix Krull. - Thomas Mann The Collected Jack London - Jack London, Steven J. Kasdin Deadly Pleasures: The Black Tower / Death of an Expert Witness / The Skull Beneath the Skin - P.D. James The Complete Works (Oxford Shakespeare) - William Shakespeare, John Jowett, Gary Taylor

The books I picked for this task:

 

* My hardcover boxed set of Thomas Mann’s complete novels (7 books)

* My one-volume omnibus of The Collected Jack London,

* A three-novel book club P.D. James omnibus edition named Deadly Pleasures (and containing the novels The Black Tower, Death of an Expert Witness, and The Skull Beneath the Skin)

* … and, of course, my Oxford Shakespeare Complete Works.

 

Altogether, they came to a weight of 8.5 kg (= 18.7 pounds).

 

Original post:
ThemisAthena.booklikes.com/post/1820556/24-festive-tasks-door-19-festivus-task-3-book-stack-scales-feat-of-strength

16 Tasks of the Festive Season: Updates / Blackout

I’ve yet to read at least one book for some of the squares, but I’ve completed a minimum of either one book or one task for all of the squares, and in several cases, more.

 

 

The Markers:

Stack of Books: Books read

 

 

 

Red Bows and Ribbons: Other Tasks completed

 

The Squares, Books and Other Tasks:

Square 1: November 1st: All Saints Day / Día de los Muertos & Calan Gaeaf

Book themes for Día de Muertos and All Saint’s Day: A book that has a primarily black and white cover, or one that has all the colours (ROYGBIV) together on the cover.

Book themes for Calan Gaeaf:
Read any of your planned Halloween Bingo books that you didn’t end up reading after all, involving witches, hags, or various types of witchcraft –OR– read a book with ivy or roses on the cover, or a character’s name/title of book is / has Rose or Ivy in it.
=> Terry Pratchett: Carpe Jugulum
1 point.

Tasks for Día de Muertos and All Saint’s Day: create a short poem, or an epitaph for your most hated book ever.
=> Epitaph for 50 Shades of Grey and Twilight
1 point.

Tasks for Calan Gaeaf: If you’re superstition-proof, inscribe your name on a rock, toss it in a fire and take a picture to post –OR– Make a cozy wintertime dish involving leeks (the national plant of Wales) and post the recipe and pictures with your thoughts about how it turned out.
=> Bami Goreng
1 point.

 

Square 2: November 5th: Guy Fawkes Night & Bon Om Touk

Book themes for Guy Fawkes Night: Any book about the English monarchy (any genre), political treason, political thrillers, or where fire is a major theme, or fire is on the cover.
=> S.J. Parris: Heresy
1 point.

Book themes for Bon Om Touk: Read a book that takes place on the sea, near the sea, or on a lake or a river, or read a book that has water on the cover.
=> P.D. James: The Lighthouse
1 point.

Tasks for Guy Fawkes Night: Post pictures of past or present bonfires, fireworks (IF THEY’RE LEGAL) or sparklers. Or: Host a traditional English tea party, or make yourself a nice cup of tea and settle down with a good book to read. Which kind of tea is your favorite? Tell us why.
=> Tea and book
1 point.

Tasks for Bon Om Touk: Post a picture from your most recent or favorite vacation on the sea (or a lake, river, or any other body of water larger than a puddle), or if you’re living on the sea or on a lake or a river, post a picture of your favorite spot on the shore / banks / beach / at the nearest harbour.
=> Norfolk Coast / Rhine Valley at and near Bonn
1 point.

 

Square 3: November 11th: St. Martin’s Day & Veterans’ Day / Armistice Day

Book themes for St. Martin’s Day: Read a book set on a vineyard, or in a rural setting, –OR– a story where the MC searches for/gets a new job. –OR– A book with a lantern on the cover, or books set before the age of electricity. –OR– A story dealing with an act of selfless generosity (like St. Martin sharing his cloak with a beggar).
=> Kazuo Ishiguro: An Artist of the Floating World
1 point.

Book themes for Veteran’s Day / Armistice Day: Read a book involving veterans of any war, books about WWI or WWII (fiction or non-fiction). –OR– Read a book with poppies on the cover.

Tasks for St. Martin’s Day: Write a Mother Goose-style rhyme or a limerick; the funnier the better. –OR– Take a picture of the book you’re currently reading, next to a glass of wine, or the drink of your choice, with or without a fire in the background. –OR– Bake a Weckmann; if you’re not a dab hand with yeast baking, make a batch of gingerbread men, or something else that’s typical of this time of the year where you live. Post pics of the results and the recipe if you’d like to share it.

Tasks for Veteran’s Day / Armistice Day: Make, or draw a red poppy and show us a pic of your red poppy or other symbol of remembrance –OR– post a quote or a piece of poetry about the ravages of war.
=> Quotes and poppies
1 point.

 

Square 4: November 22nd and 23rd: Penance Day (22nd) & Thanksgiving (23rd)

Book themes for Penance Day: Read a book that has a monk, nun, pastor / preacher, priest or other representative of the organized church as a protagonist, or where someone is struggling with feelings of guilt or with their conscience (regardless over what).

Book themes for Thanksgiving Day: Books with a theme of coming together to help a community or family in need. –OR– Books with a turkey or pumpkin on the cover.

Tasks for Penance Day: Tell us – what has recently made you stop in your tracks and think? –OR– What was a big turning point in your life? –OR– Penance Day is a holiday of the Protestant church, which dates its origins, in large parts, to Martin Luther, who published his “95 Theses” exactly 500 years ago this year. Compile a catalogue of theses (it needn’t be 95) about book blogging! What suggestions or ideas would you propose to improve the experience of book blogging?

Tasks for Thanksgiving Day: List of 5 things you’re grateful for –OR– a picture of your thanksgiving feast; post your favourite turkey-day recipe. –OR– Be thankful for yourself and treat yourself to a new book – post a picture of it.
=> 5 things to be grateful for.
1 point.

 

Square 5: December 3rd and following 3 Sundays: Advent

Book themes for Advent: Read a book with a wreath or with pines or fir trees on the cover –OR– Read the 4th book from a favorite series, or a book featuring 4 siblings.

Tasks for Advent: Post a pic of your advent calendar. (Festive cat, dog, hamster or other suitable pet background expressly encouraged.)
=> TA’s Advent calendar.
1 point.

–OR– “Advent” means “he is coming.” Tell us: What in the immediate or near future are you most looking forward to? (This can be a book release, or a tech gadget, or an event … whatever you next expect to make you really happy.)

Bonus task: make your own advent calendar and post it.

 

Square 6: December 5th-6th and 8th: Sinterklaas / Krampusnacht (5th) / St. Nicholas Day (6th) & Bodhi Day (8th)

Book themes for Sinterklaas / St. Martin’s Day / Krampusnacht: A story involving children or a young adult book, or a book with oranges on the cover, or whose cover is primarily orange (for the Dutch House of Orange) –OR– with tangerines, walnuts, chocolates, or cookies on the cover.

Book themes for Bodhi Day: Read a book set in Nepal, India or Tibet, –OR– which involves animal rescue. (Buddhism calls for a vegetarian lifestyle.)
=> Aravind Adiga: The White Tiger
1 point.

Tasks for Sinterklaas / St. Martin’s Day / Krampusnacht: Write a witty or humorous poem to St. Nicholas –OR– If you have kids, leave coins or treats, like tangerines, walnuts, chocolate(s) and cookies in their shoes to find the next morning and then post about their reactions / bewilderment. 😉 If you don’t have kids, do the same for another family member / loved one or a friend.

Tasks for Bodhi Day: Perform a random act of kindness. Feed the birds, adopt a pet, hold the door open for someone with a smile, or stop to pet a dog (that you know to be friendly); cull your books and donate them to a charity, etc. (And, in a complete break with the Buddha’s teachings, tell us about it.) –OR– Post a picture of your pet, your garden, or your favourite, most peaceful place in the world.
=> Pet & peaceful garden
1 point.

 

Square 7: December 10th & 13th: International Human Rights Day (10th) & St. Lucia’s Day (13th)

Book themes for International Human Rights Day: Read a book originally written in another language (i.e., not in English and not in your mother tongue), –OR– a book written by anyone not anglo-saxon, –OR– any story revolving around the rights of others either being defended or abused.
–OR– Read a book set in New York City, or The Netherlands (home of the U.N. and U.N. World Court respectively).
=> Patrick Senécal: Le vide, part 1 – Vivre au Max
1 point.

Book themes for Saint Lucia’s Day: Read a book set in Scandinavia (Denmark, Norway, Iceland, Sweden and Finland for the purposes of this game) or a book where ice and snow are an important feature.

Tasks for International Human Rights Day: Post a picture of yourself next to a war memorial or other memorial to an event pertaining to Human Rights. (Pictures of just the memorial are ok too.) –OR– Cook a dish from a foreign culture or something involving apples (NYC = Big Apple) or oranges (The Netherlands); post recipe and pics.

Tasks for Saint Lucia’s Day: Get your Hygge on — light a few candles if you’ve got them, pour yourself a glass of wine or hot chocolate/toddy, roast a marshmallow or toast a crumpet, and take a picture of your cosiest reading place.
=> Hygge!
1 point.

Bonus task: Make the Danish paper hearts: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jur29ViLEhk

 

Square 8: December 12th – 24th: Hanukkah (begins 12th, ends 20th) & Las Posadas (begins 16th, ends 24th)

Book themes for Hanukkah: Any book whose main character is Jewish, any story about the Jewish people –OR– where the miracle of light plays a significant part in the stories plot.

Book themes for Las Posadas: Read a book dealing with visits by family or friends, or set in Mexico, –OR– with a poinsettia on the cover. –OR– a story where the main character is stranded without a place to stay, or find themselves in a ‘no room at the Inn’ situation.

Tasks for Hanukkah: Light nine candles around the room (SAFELY) and post a picture. –OR– Play the Dreidel game to pick the next book you read.

Assign a book from your TBR to each of the four sides of the dreidel:

נ (Nun)
ג (Gimel)
ה (He)
ש (Shin)

Spin a virtual dreidel: http://www.torahtots.com/holidays/chanuka/dreidel.htm
– then tell us which book the dreidel picked.
=> Dreidel pick: ה (He) – Kazuo Ishiguro: An Artist of the Floating World 1
point.

–OR–
Make your own dreidel: https://www.activityvillage.co.uk/make-a-dreidel, –OR–
Play the game at home, or play online: http://www.jewfaq.org/dreidel/play.htm and tell us about the experience.–OR– Give some Gelt: Continue a Hanukkah tradition and purchase some chocolate coins, or gelt. Post a picture of your chocolate coins, and then pass them out amongst friends and family!

Tasks for Las Posadas: Which was your favorite / worst / most memorable hotel / inn / vacation home stay ever? Tell us all about it! –OR– If you went caroling as a kid: Which are your best / worst / most unfortettable caroling memories?

Bonus task: Make a piñata (https://www.wikihow.com/Make-a-Pi%C3%B1ata), hang it from a tree, post, basketball hoop, clothesline or similarly suitable holder and let your neighborhood kids have a go at breaking it.

 

Square 9: December 21st: Winter Solstice / Mōdraniht / Yuletide & Yaldā Night

Book themes for Winter Solstice and Yaldā Night: Read a book of poetry, or a book where the events all take place during the course of one night, or where the cover is a night-time scene.

Book themes for Mōdraniht: Read any book where the MC is actively raising young children or teens.

Book themes for Yuletide: Read a book set in the midst of a snowy or icy winter, –OR– set in the Arctic or Antartica.

Tasks for Winter Solstice and Yaldā Night: Read a book in one night – in the S. Hemisphere, read a book in a day. –OR– Grab one of your thickest books off the shelf. Ask a question and then turn to page 40 and read the 9th line of text on that page. Post your results. –OR– Eat a watermelon or pomegranate for good luck and health in the coming year, but post a pic first!.
=> Bibliomancy: William Shakespeare’s answer (9th line of p. 40 of the Complete Works, Illustrated Stratford Edition)
1 point.

Bonus task: Read a book in one night.

Tasks for Mōdraniht: Tell us your favourite memory about your mom, grandma, or the woman who had the greatest impact on your childhood. –OR– Post a picture of you and your mom, or if comfortable, you and your kids.

Bonus task: Post 3 things you love about your mother-in-law (if you have one), otherwise your grandma.

Tasks for Yuletide: Make a Yule log cake — post a pic and the recipe for us to drool over.

 

Square 10: December 21st: World Peace Day & Pancha Ganapati begins (ends 25th)

Book themes for World Peace Day: Read a book by or about a Nobel Peace Prize winner, or about a protagonist (fictional or nonfictional) who has a reputation as a peacemaker.

Book themes for Pancha Ganapati: Read anything involving a need for forgiveness in the story line; a story about redemption –OR– Read a book whose cover has one of the 5 colors of the holiday: red, blue, green, orange, or yellow –OR– Read a book involving elephants.
=> Henry Wade: Lonely Magdalen
1 point.

Tasks for World Peace Day: Cook something involving olives or olive oil. Share the results and/or recipe with us. –OR– Tell us: If you had wings (like a dove), where would you want to fly?
=> Spaghetti and tomato sauce
1 point.

Tasks for Pancha Ganapati: Post about your 5 favourite books this year and why you appreciated them so much. –OR– Take a shelfie / stack picture of the above-mentioned 5 favorite books. (Feel free to combine these tasks into 1!
=> Most and least favorite books of 2017.
1 point.

 

Square 11: December 21st-22nd: Soyal (21st) & Dōngzhì Festival (22nd)

Book themes for Soyal: Read a book set in the American Southwest / the Four Corners States (Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, and Utah), –OR– a book that has a Native American protagonist.

Book themes for Dōngzhì Festival: Read a book set in China or written by a Chinese author / an author of Chinese origin; or read a book that has a pink or white cover.

Tasks for Soyal: Like many Native American festivities, Soyal involves rituals such as dances. What local / religious / folk traditions or customs exist where you live? Tell us about one of them. (If you can, post pictures for illustration.) –OR– Share a picture you’ve taken of a harvest setting or autumnal leaf color.
=> Carneval in the Rhine Valley — 11/11, 11:11 AM Kick off
1 point.

Tasks for Dōngzhì Festival: If you like Chinese food, tell us your favorite dish – otherwise, tell us your favorite desert. (Recipes, as always, welcome.)

 

Square 12: December 23rd Festivus & Saturnalia ends (begins 17th)

Book themes for Festivus: Read anything comedic; a parody, satire, etc. Books with hilariously dysfunctional families (must be funny dysfunctional, not tragic dysfunctional). Anything that makes you laugh (or hope it does).

Book themes for Saturnalia: The god Saturn has a planet named after him; read any work of science fiction that takes place in space. –OR– Read a book celebrating free speech. –OR– A book revolving around a very large party, or ball, or festival, –OR– a book with a mask or masks on the cover. –OR– a story where roles are reversed.
=> Dorothy L. Sayers: Murder Must Advertise
1 point.

Tasks for Festivus: Post your personal list of 3 Festivus Miracles –OR– post a picture of your Festivus pole (NOTHING pornographic, please!), –OR– Perform the Airing of Grievances: name 5 books you’ve read this year that have disappointed you – tell us in tongue-lashing detail why and how they failed to live up to expectations.
=> Most and least favorite books of 2017.
1 point.

Tasks for Saturnalia: Wear a mask, take a picture and post it. Leave a small gift for someone you know anonymously – a small bit of chocolate or apple, a funny poem or joke. Tell us about it in a post. –OR– Tell us: If you could time-travel back to ancient Rome, where would you want to go and whom (both fictional and / or nonfictional persons) would you like to meet?

 

Square 13: December 25th Christmas & Hogswatch

Book themes for Christmas: Read a book whose protagonist is called Mary, Joseph (or Jesus, if that’s a commonly used name in your culture) or any variations of those names (e.g., Maria or Pepe).

Book themes for Hogswatch Night: Of course – read Hogfather! Or any Discworld book (or anything by Terry Pratchett)
=> Terry Pratchett: Hogfather (buddy read)
1 point.

Tasks for Christmas: Post a picture of your stockings hung from the chimney with care, –OR– a picture of Santa’s ‘treat’ waiting for him. –OR– Share with us your family Christmas traditions involving gift-giving, or Santa’s visit. Did you write letters to Santa as a kid (and if so, did he write back, as J.R.R. Tolkien did “as Santa Claus” to his kids)? If so, what did you wish for? A teddy bear or a doll? Other toys – or practical things? And did Santa always bring what you asked for?

Tasks for Hogswatch Night: Make your favourite sausage dish (if you’re vegan or vegetarian, use your favorite sausage or meat substitute), post and share recipe.

 

Square 14: December 25th Dies Natalis Solis Invicti & Quaid-e-Azam’s Day

Book themes for Dies Natalis Solis Invicti: Celebrate the sun and read a book that has a beach or seaside setting. –OR– a book set during summertime. –OR– set in the Southern Hemisphere.
=> Ian Fleming: The Man With the Golden Gun
1 point.

Book themes for Quaid-e-Azam: Pakistan became an independent nation when the British Raj ended on August 14, 1947. Read a book set in Pakistan or in any other country that attained sovereign statehood between August 14, 1947 and today (regardless in what part of the world).

Tasks for Dies Natalis Solis Invicti: Find the sunniest spot in your home, that’s warm and comfy and read your book. –OR– Take a picture of your garden, or a local garden/green space in the sun (even if the ground is under snow). If you’re in the Southern Hemisphere, take a picture of your local scenic spot, park, or beach, on a sunny day. –OR– The Romans believed that the sun god rode across the sky in a chariot drawn by fiery steeds. Have you ever been horseback riding, or did you otherwise have significant encounters with horses? As a child, which were your favorite books involving horses?

Tasks for Quaid-e-Azam: Pakistan’s first leader – Muhammad Ali Jinnah – was a man, but both Pakistan and neighboring India were governed by women (Benazir Bhutto and Indira Gandhi respectively) before many of the major Western countries. Tell us: Who are the present-day or historic women that you most respect, and why? (These can be any women of great achievement, not just political leaders.)

 

Square 15: December 25th-26th: Newtonmas (25th) & St. Stephen’s Day / Boxing Day (26th)

Book themes for Newtonmas: Any science book. Any book about alchemy. Any book where science, astronomy, or chemistry play a significant part in the plot. (For members of the Flat Book Society: The “Forensics” November group read counts.)
=> Provisorially: Val McDermid: Forensics
1 point.

Book themes for Boxing Day/St. Stephen’s Day: Read anything where the main character has servants (paid servants count, NOT unpaid) or is working as a servant him-/ herself.

Tasks for Newtonmas: Take a moment to appreciate gravity and the laws of motion. If there’s snow outside, have a snowball fight with a friend or a member of your family. –OR– Take some time out to enjoy the alchemical goodness of a hot toddy or chocolate or any drink that relies on basic chemistry/alchemy (coffee with cream or sugar / tea with milk or sugar or lemon, etc.). Post a picture of your libations and the recipe if it’s unique and you’re ok with sharing it.

Tasks for St. Stephen’s Day / Boxing Day: Show us your boxes of books! –OR– If you have a cat, post a picture of your cat in a box. (your dog in a box works too, if your dog likes boxes) — or any pet good-natured enough to pose in a box long enough for you to snap a picture.
=> Cats in (and on) boxes.
1 point.

BONUS task: box up all the Christmas detritus, decorations, or box up that stuff you’ve been meaning to get rid of, or donate, etc. and take a picture and post it.

 

Square 16: December 26th-31st: Kwanzaa (begins 26th, ends 31st) & New Year’s Eve / St. Sylvester’s Day

Book themes for Kwanzaa: Read a book written by an author of African descent or a book set in Africa, or whose cover is primarily red, green or black.
=> Margery Allingham: Traitor’s Purse

1 point.

Book themes for Hogmanay / New Year’s Eve / Watch Night / St. Sylvester’s Day: a book about starting over, rebuilding, new beginnings, etc. –OR– Read anything set in medieval times. –OR– A book about the papacy –OR– where miracles of any sort are performed (the unexplainable – but good – kind).

Tasks for Kwanzaa: Create a stack of books in the Kwanzaa color scheme using red, black and green and post your creation and post a photo (or post a photo of a shelfie where black, red and green predominate).

BONUS task: Create something with your stack of books: a christmas tree or other easily identifiable object.

Tasks for Hogmanay / New Year’s Eve / Watch Night / St. Sylvester’s Day: Make a batch of shortbread for yourself, family or friends. Post pics and recipe. –OR– Light some sparklers (if legal) and take a picture – or have a friend take a picture of your “writing” in the sky with the sparkler. –OR– Get yourself a steak pie (any veggie/vegan substitutions are fine) and read yourself a story – but take a pic of both before you start, and post it.–OR– make whatever New Year’s Eve / Day good luck dish there is in your family or in the area where you live or where you grew up; tell us about it, and if it’s not a secret recipe, we hope you’ll share it with us.

MASSIVE HUGE BONUS POINTS if you post a picture of yourself walking a pig on a leash. (Done to ensure good fortune of the coming year.)

 

The Bonus Jokers:

Surprise, Surprise 1: Melbourne Cup

My “ponies”:

1. Marmelo
2. Almandin
3. Johannes Vermeer

2 bonus points (Johannes Vermeer)

 

Total Points, to Date:

30 points.

 

 

 

 

Original post:
ThemisAthena.booklikes.com/post/1615040/16-tasks-of-the-festive-season-updates-blackout