just plain rambling

Book B’go (Book Bingo for Underachievers)

I tried writing a preamble for this post… and after about 500 words of dross (and no end in sight), I ditched it in favour of the following:

  • I have thus far avoided book bingo-type challenges for various complicated reasons, but the main one can be more or less deduced from the title of this post.
  • I read an intriguing review of a graphic novel and wanted (needed?) an excuse to read one.
  • I also wanted (needed?) an excuse to read some stuff that I might not otherwise read.
  • Upon deciding all of this I spent an absurd amount of time trying to find a name for a bingo card that only had three columns.

There. Done. So this is what the card looks like:


B’ G O
Something from my Goodreads to-read list Something from Bibliomama’s All-Star round-ups A poetry book or collection
Something I didn’t read in high school A graphic novel or short-story. Something A.J. Fikry recommends
Something A.J. Fikry would never read. A zombie book. A classic.


And this is what it means:

Something from my Goodreads to-read list. I know, this kinda seems like cheating if the goal is to read something I might not otherwise read, but the fact is that for any book that hits Goodreads without magically landing in my hands in less then 36 hours, the chances of it getting read are right up there with the chances of winning the lottery. So I’m holding a lottery: pick something from the list using a random number generator, and then actually read it… regardless of whether I can remember how it got on the list in the first place.

Something from Bibliomama’s All-Star round-ups. By this I mean something from one of Allison‘s 3-, 4-, and 5-star round-up posts. And this is cheating, because I totally would have done this anyway.

A poetry book or collection. I have a weird relationship with poetry. I’ve written poetry (or, well, rambly prose uninfluenced by grammar, does that count?), but any time I try to read it I feel like I’m missing something. This frustrates me so much that I once wrote a poem about it… I may not get poetry, but I’m all over irony.

Something I didn’t read in high school – This could be something everyone else had to read in high school, but I somehow managed to avoid missed out on (Of Mice and Men and The Catcher In The Rye come to mind). It can also be something I technically had to read, but didn’t (The Great Gatsby … which I didn’t read because I didn’t get it, or like it, and for someone who adored reading, the thought of reading something you weren’t enjoying just did. not. grok.)

Graphic Novel – I suppose this doesn’t require much explanation, except perhaps to say that I don’t mean 50 Shades of Grey. I’m going to do this because, if I’m going cling to the opinion that comic-books aren’t literature, then I should at least make it an informed opinion. And who knows, I may even like them. (Which would be nice, because I don’t actually like being a snob.)

A. J. Fikry recommends – I recently read, and have very nearly finished re-reading, The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry. Sprinkled throughout the book are reviews of short stories (and possibly some novels) – and I want to add nearly all of them to my to-read list. The fact that in the time it takes to read one book twenty new ones get added to GoodReads may have something to do with my burgeoning to-read list.

Something A.J. Fikry would never read.  Honestly, I could have created an entire bingo card based on this book. This square comes from A.J.’s response to a question about what he likes to read. His answer:

I do not like postmodernism, postapocalyptic settings, postmortem narrators, or magic realism. I rarely respond to supposedly clever formal devices, multiple fonts, pictures where they shouldn’t be—basically, gimmicks of any kind. I find literary fiction about the Holocaust or any other major world tragedy to be distasteful—nonfiction only, please. I do not like genre mash-ups à la the literary detective novel or the literary fantasy. Literary should be literary, and genre should be genre, and crossbreeding rarely results in anything satisfying. I do not like children’s books, especially ones with orphans, and I prefer not to clutter my shelves with young adult. I do not like anything over four hundred pages or under one hundred fifty pages. I am repulsed by ghostwritten novels by reality television stars, celebrity picture books, sports memoirs, movie tie-in editions, novelty items, and—I imagine this goes without saying—vampires.

Suffering, as I do, from some of the same literary snobbery as good old A.J,, I figured both of us should read something from this list. Actually, I’m surprised zombies aren’t on there, and since they aren’t, I also have a square for…

A zombie book. I’ve never intentionally read a zombie book. I did start one accidentally once, and was completely drawn in. But around the same time I discovered it was about zombies, I hit a scene that was just so disturbing that I had to put it down.

A classic. By this I mean something that it seems like everyone has read, or should have read, and is constantly referred-to by other books and book reviews and just writers in general and so it makes me feel dumb because I’ve never read whatever-it-is. Some titles that come to mind are Mansfield Park, Anna Karenina, and Lolita… but in this (and any other category) I am totally open to suggestions.

What are you reading? Any  suggestions?


  1. I LOVE THIS, and not just for obvious reasons. What are the unobvious reasons? Crap. Uh, it’s funny and well-written and I don’t get to read enough of your writing. Also, I feel much the same way about poetry. I had forgotten what a snob A.J. was and how much of what I read would make him turn up his nose. I actually didn’t make a point of reading recommendations from that book the way I did with Among Others either – I should remedy that. I’d say let me know if you want me to recommend a less-disturbing zombie book, but you have full access to my Goodreads list so I guess I already have?

    1. I just looked up Among Others (all the while thinking “look, even your *comments* have me adding to my list”), when I discovered that I’d already read it. Now I remember – vaguely – I definitely remember feeling like I was missing out on a lot because I’m so poorly read in the sci-fi department. I even tried to correct that after reading that book. I’d say that sci-fi isn’t my thing, but then I LOVED When You Reach Me. Maybe it mattered that I didn’t realize it was sci-fi when I started? Dunno.

      As for the zombie book, The Girl With All The Gifts really is an amazing book – it wouldn’t have been so disturbing if I hadn’t been so thoroughly drawn in. Not to say I’m not open to other suggestions!

      And THANK YOU. Your comments made me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. You might want to be careful about complimenting me on my writing, though, or you may find yourself stuck reading more of it :P. #stopdontstop

  2. For a graphic novel, I would recommend Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood, by Marjane Satrapi. It’s the story of her youth in Iran and it’s so fresh and funny and moving and insightful. She’s just a preteen girl and all that comes across along with a hint of the political stuff. I loved it so much I read it twice when I had it out from the library, then went and got all her other books too.

    For a zombie book, I recommend World War Z by Max Brooks – I am not into zombies at all but it is great, very well written and gripping and sticks with you, not in a graphic way but in an every day kind of way. It actually makes you think about what you’d do in an zombie apocalypse, and how you’d handle it. Nothing at all like the movie, so even if you’ve seen the movie don’t worry, they basically have nothing in common except the title.

    As for a classic – what qualifies? I recently had The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler out from the library and it was SO fabulous, the absolute epitome of hard boiled detective and his way of describing things in a single line is BRILLIANT. Probably considered the ultimate in trash during its time…but we can call it a classic now, can’t we?

    1. Thanks Lynn! These sound great!!! I really didn’t know what I was going to do about the graphic novel, the one that inspired these musings doesn’t seem to be available here. But Persepolis sounds really intriguing on several levels.

      And World War Z sounds really good too. I was reading The Girl With All The Gifts, but had to put it down, it was just too disturbing, at least at the time. I’d like to give it another go though. At this rate I’ll have read two zombie books by the end of the year – what would A.J. think?!?!? 😉

      The Big Sleep… was that made into a movie? Either way, I haven’t seen or read it. But I love what you say about describing things in a single line, I really admire authors who can say so much in just a few words… all of these are going on the list. Thank you!

  3. Great post! I agree with Lynn on WWZ for the Zombie book- hear it’s really good- and the movie doesn’t do it any justice.

    I was looking through my books last night and came up with some classics too. Ayn Rand “We the Living”; Kerouac’s “On the Road”; “Shane”- a classic western; John Wyndham’s “The Chrysalids” for some classic SF and Richard Brautigan’s “Trout Fishing in America” for some hippie classic.

    I just read The Grapes of Wrath” which I didn’t read in high school, because my teacher had a thing for Thomas Hardy and Shakespeare. Probably at the same time…

    Anyway- it sounds like a great challenge. I may just join it too. 🙂

    1. I’d love that, Jenn!!!! Play along, make your own card, whatever you like :). I remember you mentioning the Grapes of Wrath, I haven’t read that either. I’m trying to remember what I *did* read in high school… precious few novels, I think. Lord of the Flies… and then the Great Gastby (which as I mentioned I skipped). Other than that, I think it was mostly Shakespeare (which doesn’t make sense, because I also haven’t read much Shakespeare). So what exactly did I do for 5 years of high school English???? No idea.

  4. My favourite poetry book is The Golden Gate by Vikram Seth. He wrote my fave book of all time, A Suitable Boy, which is almost 1500 pages long. Thankfully, The Golden Gate is a whole lot shorter, but also a lovely book. It’s an entire novel in verse that takes place in San Francisco in the early 1980’s. I got so into the story that after a while I didn’t even feel like I was reading poetry. It’s also a really interesting look at San Francisco in that era.

    1. That sounds really neat, thanks Mary Lynn! I will definitely look at that. I would so love to love poetry.

    1. Good point, Jenn – and I’ve got at least two collections in the house already :). Now I have the image of the polar bear in the frigidaire stuck in my head… (with his seat in the meat).

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *