The wonderful people that organize Dewey's 24 hour read-a-thon every October and April also run a "reverse" read-a-thon in July. No, that doesn't mean the books read you. It means that it starts and ends 12 hours before the usual time. So if you're reading in Turkey, for example, you would normally start at 3 pm on a Saturday afternoon and end at 3 pm on Sunday afternoon. For the reverse read-a-thon, however, you would start at 3 am and end at 3 am the next day. For me, this means instead of getting up early to start at 5 am PST, reading all day, trying to read all night and/or getting some sleep and trying to get up early again in order to finish with the other readers, I started at 5 pm on Friday night, read until 2 am, got a decent night's sleep, and read again until 5 the next day.
That's the theory anyway.
I realized the Reverse Read-a-Thon was coming up Thursday evening, so I went into it with neither Read-a-Thon stack nor Read-a-Thon snacks. Not only that, but I was on the family schedule to make dinner that night, and my husband had a live online bridge tournament, so I couldn't pass it off to him. I started pizza dough well before 5 pm so all I had to do was throw on toppings and stick them in the oven. I made the great sacrifice of not caramelizing onions, which is 80% of why we even make pizza from scratch, but I didn't want to spend the time. The good part was, I made a ton of pizza (three pies for three people), so I didn't really have to cook anything the rest of the Read-a-Thon.
I did have two books I was reading on my computer, which is not my preferred way to read, so I started off by finishing both of them. The first was The Stone Sky, the final book in N. K. Jemisen's Broken Earth series. I was probably 3/4 done with it, so it was an easy "finish" to launch me off. It is such an interesting series, which can be read and enjoyed for the world building, or analyzed for the analogies to our world, specifically, the treatment of Black people in the United States. This last book got a little science heavy for me--I like my sci fi longer on fi than sci--but the series overall is amazing. I don't know why the covers are so boring--to indicate that this is NOT YA?
The next book I wanted to finished was Flora Segunda. I was only about 10% into that one, so it took me the rest of the evening to finish it up. My niece had recently posted a photo of her reading with her cat, and I could make out enough of the text on her open page to be curious, so I asked her what she was reading. When she told me, I looked it up, and when I saw Goodreads user Julian say fun and surprisingly harsh YA fantasy novel I knew I had to give it a try. Given that Flora is a Segunda because her parents named her after their daughter that died as a child, it does have a certain grimness at odds with its whimsical, Victorian flavored humor. That and the subtitle, which is Being the Magickal Mishaps of a Girl of Spirit, Her Glass-Gazing Sidekick, 2 Ominous Butlers (One Blue), a House with Eleven Thousand Rooms, and a Red Dog.
After finishing my two books, I still had energy for a new book. The Read-a-Thon bingo card included choosing your first book at random, so I decided to number off a stack of my books and use a random number generator to pick what came next. Dear Sweet Pea, Julie Murphy's middle grade debut, was perfect for late night reading--not only was the font NOT tiny, but the story flowed smoothly into my tired brain. It was terrific, although you have to realize that Julie Murphy gentled up for middle grade is going to be adorable to the point of toothache. Is that cover not the cutest?
I crashed at that point, decided not to worry about an alarm, and slept for a solid seven hours. I wasn't too motivated in the morning, spending some time with my coffee, then with Twitter, then with my husband. I finally settled in to reading again with another middle grade from my classroom library that I've been meaning to read, Indian No More. Two things I either didn't know or had forgotten about it are that it starts in Oregon, and that while it's technically historical fiction, it's very closely based on the author's own experiences. That explains why the first part felt rather dry, as if it was more focused on educating me than telling me a story, and I started to worry that this would not be a book I could get kids to read. But as I kept reading, I got more and more invested in the story.
The book was short, so I still had plenty of time for a full length book. My daughter is heavily into true crime podcasts right now, and had talked me into buying her a copy of I'll be Gone in the Dark. She offered it to me to read for my Read-a-Thon, and since one of the categories on that bingo card is "outside your comfort zone," I decided to give it a try. The fact that I fell asleep about 1/4 of the way in and napped past the end of the Read-a-Thon is not the book's fault. In fact, once I woke up, I stayed up until I finished the book anyway. It's not gory, but if I didn't have a pretty strong ability these days to block out horrifying hypotheticals, it would freak me out.
In a sad piece of synchronicity, both I'll be Gone in the Dark and Indian No More were published after the author's premature death, and required colleagues to use the author's notes in order to put it all together. Michelle McNamara's death at 46 was a result of an "undiagnosed heart condition" that didn't mix well with her anti anxiety meds. Charlene Willing McManis died of cancer at age 55.
Overall, it was a weird Read-a-Thon for me. I didn't interact with others or participate in the online challenges. I just this minute realized I didn't even fill out the "books completed" form. But given that I missed April's entirely, for no reason other than quarantine ennui, I'm still taking it as a win. It was great to have the incentive to finish up the books I'd started and plow through a couple of books I can recommend to students, and now I'll be able to talk about the Golden State Killer with my daughter, which is an unexpected parenting goal.