Monday, December 11, 2006

A Post About Books...What a Novel Concept!

I've been so busy during the past couple of weeks that I've hardly had time to take a deep breath and write...anywhere, including here. It's finals for my class, which means papers to grade. It's advent, which means more time in prayer and more time with family. It's moving toward Christmas, which means extra work in my morning job at church.

To cap everything off, the website I write book and movie reviews for ( has decided that in lieu of a end-of-year bonus this year, they are having a huge holiday write-off sweepstakes. Anything I review that is a first review (has not been reviewed by anyone else on the site) can be registered in the sweepstakes and has a chance to be drawn. I was really hoping for a bonus this year (could use it!) so I'm a bit disappointed that it's a write-off instead. December is a generally so full of other more important things (see paragraph above) that review-writing takes a deserved back seat. Still, we need the income and I have won something in two sweepstakes with epinions before, so it seems silly not to give this a go, especially by writing several children's book reviews which don't take a huge amount of time to be done well. The prizes are generous. Winning any of them would be a real encouragement. So a few late nights of reading and writing reviews have been (and will continue to be) in order. Though I think I may have to give myself some down time in January on that front.

Despite the fact that I began this blog almost a year ago with the express intent of writing about books I was reading, I realized the other day that it's been a while since I've done a "bookish" post. This rambling catch-up post isn't going to be much of one, but I thought I would at least provide a brief list of "current" and "recent" reads, since I haven't for a while. I've been scrolling back through my archives here in the interest of compiling a list of what I've read/commented on all through 2006 (and if I get a chance, I plan to post my personal "best of..." or favorites list before year's end). One thing that's jumped out at me is that I was much better at keeping track of books I was reading in the first few months of the year. Then this lapsed into a more general journal and place of reflection. I don't think there's anything wrong with fact, I've really enjoyed using the space for reflections on a variety of topics, including motherhood. But I'd like to try to be more intentional about reflecting on books here, especially as we round the corner toward 2007.

Currently reading....

Orthodoxy by G.K. Chesterton
Flirting With Pride and Prejudice Essays edited by Jennifer Crusie

Recently finished reading...
Engaging God's World by Cornelius Plantinga
Suspense and Sensibility: A Mr. and Mrs. Darcy Mystery by Carrie Bebris
I Shouldn't Even Be Doing This, a memoir by Bob Newhart (that one was my husband's fault...he was reading it and it kept on just sitting there in the bathroom!) :-)
Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons by Siegfried Engelmann
The Films of Kenneth Branagh by Simon Crowl

And on the children's book front:
Little House in the Highlands by Melissa Wiley
Cassie Loves Beethoven by Alan Arkin (yes, the actor)
Countless Christmas pictures books
Ditto lots of picture and encyclopedic books about penguins (the sweet girl's current obsession)

I'm sure I'm forgetting something, but it's the best I can come up with for now. Running on tired fumes this evening!


Erin said...

Fiddlesticks... I didn't realize the sweepstakes was in lieu of a bonus. Makes sense, but I'm going to be bummed if I don't win once... And the way my luck has been with the first reviews so far, I'm not holding my breath... Still, it spurs me onward, I guess. I just wish that the two weeks before Christmas - the two weeks I most need time - are the two weeks when I'm the most wrapped up in work... Thank goodness I'm not a keyholder this year! Here's to a little seasonal sanity... ;)

Beth said...

Yah, I'm pretty sure the powers that be are saying its in lieu of a bonus. I actually went over to the epinions message boards (not a place I usually hang out) and wound my way through some long (rather whining!) threads to try to figure out if that was true. And I'm pretty sure that was confirmed.

Obviously they're planning on giving away lots of money, and that's very nice, but it's going to go to a limited number of people. What most frustrates me is the timing. If they had done this in November, I think they would have gotten better writing participation -- and perhaps a lot of reviews would have been posted in time to actually help people make Christmas shopping decisions.

As it is, I'm just frustrated because I don't legitimately feel I've got the time to write -- December is so busy on work and family fronts, as you mentioned. I think I could come up with a number of "first reviews" (especially of children's books) but I also don't want to throw up sloppy reviews just for the sake of the sweepstakes. I'd really like to guard against that.

I'm also curious to know what you think about all reviews from "somewhat helpful" and up qualifying. Seems like they're not being terrifically concerned about quality here.

Sigh. Once again, I seem to be in a re-evaluation mode about how much time I should spend on epinions. I'd like to make next year a different kind of writing year (different focus, I mean -- on work I actually send out!) though it's hard to know exactly how to do that.

Erin said...

Yeah, I think you're right that November would have worked better, and I don't really get why they extended it to helpful and somewhat helpful reviews. Very helpful has always been the standard in these contests, so it seems strange to change it now. Ah, well... For some reason I'm in a writing frenzy on Epinions, and it's partly the sweepstakes but not entirely; I think half my reviews this month so far haven't been first ones. Maybe it's just running off all this nervous energy I seem to have right now... Here's to us both getting published in the coming year by folks other than Epinions!

Beth said...

Glad to hear about your writing frenzy! I know they're not all "first reviews" but may enough of them be that you have a shot at winning something. You've certainly contributed a lot of terrific reviews to the site this year! I especially love your children's book reviews. I hope that they make you a TR in books soon, because you certainly are one.

Glad to hear you're on a writing frenzy. Between finals and needing to get the house cleaned and trying to write the family advent letter/poem and of course preparing for Christmas services at church...well, I've been trying to push some reviews out, but thus far haven't managed as many as I would have liked. I've still got several "first reviews" up my sleeve that I'm hoping to write and fire off for the next couple of sweepstakes rounds.

One wonders what kind of backlash there might be in January, when all the writers writing so feverishly now suddenly take some time off to rest!