September 04, 2014

The anniversary and the moratorium

Welcome to September 4. This is the official 11th anniversary of this blog—though it was actually created in July of 2003, the first post went up in September. This has traditionally also been the date on which I rolled out a new look for the Crusty Curmudgeon, though this is something I've done very little of in recent years. Ever since they rolled out Blogger 2.0 some years ago, re-skinning a Blogger blog has meant more than just writing up a new HTML template and style sheet. I already know what I want the next iteration of the CC to look like, and plan on learning the new language. Sometime.

September 4 is one of two times of the year that I tend to reflect on the state of the blog, the other being New Year's Day. Usually I don't have much to say in September, either than that my writing hasn't been as prolific as I hoped, but I expect to get better, and despite my decreased output, I'm not going anywhere just yet. So, by way of my twice-yearly status updates: Unfortunately, my blogging hasn't been as prolific as I would like (though it has increased recently), I expect to post more in coming weeks, and despite my decreased output, the Crusty Curmudgeon is not dead yet. So there.

September means it's also time once again for Science Fiction-Free September: my annual tradition (now in its 11th year) of declaring a one-month moratorium on the reading of science-fiction. I started this habit back in 2004, when I realized I'd been reading nothing but a steady diet of SF novels for the better part of the summer, and was afraid I would contract some sort of literary malnutrition. I go beyond merely avoiding science fiction, and usually plan the month as some sort of reading "project" in which I tackle literature that is considerably outside of my norm. In the past I've focused on required reading from school (that I never read), Canadian literature, history and biography, and sometimes just an all-out effort to finish off as many half-completed books as I could.

This year, I have no particular theme. A month or so ago, a friend gave me a copy of Stephen King's Doctor Sleep, his recent sequel to his classic The Shining. I have been reading King's novels in chronological order, but I only just finished The Eyes of the Dragon, and I owe my friend a bit more respect than getting to his gift in about 2017. So it will kick off SFFS, and I'll resume the King chronology again in October.

Then, after that, I'm going to do some mopping up: Truman Capote's In Cold Blood and Mervyn Peake's Gormenghast have both been sitting in my "In Progress" pile for far too long. If there's still some September left, I'll finish off the month with a long book that's been in my "Planned" pile for several years: Bleak House, by Charles Dickens: part of my ongoing read-anything-by-Dickens-that-isn't-Great-Expectations-or-A-Tale-of-Two-Cities. And, of course, I will continue my tri-annual reading of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, which I am doing this time around via audiobook. (Since I've never been a huge reader of fantasy, I exempt other genres of speculative fiction from the moratorium.)

It seems odd to declare a moratorium on a literary genre that I haven't actually read a lot of this year: looking at my reading list since January, I've actually only read two SF novels. Nonetheless, I enjoy the chance to broaden my literary horizons a bit. If you like feel free to follow along and tell me what you thought of my choices this year.