Deal me in!

Fellow blogger “Prongs” – of the Padfoot and Prongs blog fame – posted recently about an idea she had. Her goal is to read 52 books this year (not coincidentally, that’s one per week, isn’t it?), and she already has a list of books she plans to read and has left room for a few “wildcards.” This last term is quite appropriate, as it ties in with how she is going to randomly select which book to read next. She has assigned each book to a particular card in a standard deck of playing cards and will “draw” them one at a time to determine her reading order. (isn’t that great!) At the rate of one per week she’ll be done by the end of the year.

I was inspired to somehow adopt this idea myself, but I wasn’t sure how. I am very “protective” of my reading schedule and don’t like to be bound to mostly obligatory reads. This is why I don’t often participate in challenges or read alongs. Also, I don’t often have a whole year planned out in detail; sure, I have a TBR list a mile long (like most of us), but it is in no recognizable order (possibly ALSO like most of us 🙂 ). So, I thought doing fifty-two books this year was too restrictive for me. Then I thought, “Well, why don’t I just read (draw one card) once every four weeks and read the related book?” that would let me go through the entire deck in just four years. But then I thought, “Jay, you know you could never stick with any project for FOUR YEARS!”

Then it hit me. Short stories! I love the short story form, and I must’ve read about fifty of them last year anyway! So, I could adopt this (way cool) idea for 2011 and apply it to reading short stories WITHOUT seriously affecting my normal reading pattern. Brilliant!! (lol)

My thought is this, I’ll have each suit represent a category of stories – maybe one suit could be stories that are already in my queue (e.g. The last two Stories in Stephen King’s Full Dark, No Stars collections). Another might be sci-fi or fantasy, another might be re-reads of favorites (ooh, I like that one), but I would definitely want one “suit” to be “Recommended by Others.”

So now I’m off to work to come up with a list, but here’s where I NEED YOUR HELP: please comment and leave me a short story recommendation. I’d love to have one fourth of my stories be recommended by my fellow bloggers. Heck, suggest more than one if you want to. I’ll probably just crate a new page on my blog with the list of what card equals what story as I begin to fill it in. The first two weeks of 2011 I can “cheat” and just finish my Stephen King stories, but after that it’s “game on!”. Who’s with me?


  1. Bellezza said,

    January 4, 2011 at 8:18 am

    First, I’m so glad you visited my blog; it’s nice to meet you! Secondly, not being a short story reader naturally, I do, in fact, have two wonderful suggestions for you. I’m not sure if you like Haruki Murakami’s work, but a great way to dive into his writing is with his short stories. I most particularly like the collection Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman, but I hear great things about The Elephant Vanishes and After The Quake, as well. The later two are on my list for 2011. But, and here’s the exciting part, because Murakami loves Raymond Carver, I picked up a collection by Raymond Carter and I LOVE IT!!! Love. It. Can’t even tell you how much. Here’s the link on amazon. I don’t have one favorite yet, I’m just starting at the beginning and working my way through, but each one gives me something to think about for days. I’ll be interested to hear what you decide to read for this card/story idea of yours.


    • Jay said,

      January 4, 2011 at 7:01 pm

      Hi Bellazza,
      Nice to “meet” you too, and thanks for the return visit. I’ve heard of those two – more so Raymond Carver, who I resolved to read after reading about him on some other blog recently – and will certainly add them to the list.

      Thanks for the link too. I’ll post my whole deck of cards once I’ve completed it (as of now, I guess I’m not “playing with a full deck” 🙂


  2. Chelle said,

    January 4, 2011 at 2:09 pm

    May I suggest Tobias Wolff and Sherman Alexie as two great short story writers? I’m always tempted to join in challenges but I rarely do since I know I get almost claustrophobic feeling when I want to read a book but feel like I can’t because it won’t fit the challenge. Anyways, good luck!


    • Jay said,

      January 4, 2011 at 6:55 pm

      Hi Chelle,

      Thanks for the suggestions and thanks stopping by my blog. I actually haven’t heard of those two, but I will do a little research and add them to my list.

      I’m the same way as you about all these challenges floating around out there. But if it’s MY OWN challenge, then it’s okay, I guess. 🙂



  3. Dale Barthauer said,

    January 4, 2011 at 5:51 pm

    I recently read Thomas Hardy’s The Three Stangers – I enjoyed the writing style. It’s been a long time since I’ve read anything by him. Another story I’m wanting to read in the near future is Leo Tolstoy’s Master and Man. I’m not sure what the definition of “short” is. Tolstoy isn’t exactly known for his brevity, but this story takes up pages 63 to 110 ( I don’t feel like doing the math!) in my book. One other suggestion is Wendell Berry – he’s a native Kentuckian that I read last summer. I enjoyed his short stories and novels very much.


    • Jay said,

      January 4, 2011 at 6:21 pm

      Hi Dale,

      Thanks for the suggestions. I’ve actually read a few of Tolstoy’s short stories and also have a book of Hardy’s, but the only one I remember today is The Waiting Supper, which was great but kind of long too. Tolstory had a really great short story called “The Three Hermits” or something similar.

      I haven’t heard of Wendell Berry, but I’ll throw him in the hopper as well.

      Have you started A Prayer for Owen Meany yet?



      • Dale Barthauer said,

        January 8, 2011 at 8:39 pm

        Yes, I’ve started A Prayer for Owen Meany and am really liking it. I’m only on page 55 or so, but I’ve laughed out loud a lot! Have you ever seen the movie version, “Simon Burch”? Don’t know why they changed the name. Guess they didn’t think Owen Meany was commercial enough?


  4. Jay said,

    January 8, 2011 at 10:08 pm

    I haven’t seen the movie version. I just started reading this afternoon and only made it up to page 40 or so (out of 600+); I’m liking it so far, but I’m not going very fast. I love the title character…


  5. Prongs said,

    January 9, 2011 at 12:25 pm

    Wow I have no idea how I missed this post! Thanks so much for the mention, and so glad you decided to adapt this for yourself!!! I can’t wait to follow the progress. I would suggest ANY AND ALL short stories/novellas by Stephen King as a starter, including the ones you are working on. I will have to give some thought on others. I will say I have picked up ‘My Mother She Killer me, My Father He ate me’ which is a collection of short, re-imagined fairy tales by current authors. Might be a great place to start!


  6. Jay said,

    January 9, 2011 at 12:57 pm

    Hi Prongs,
    That new book sounds great. I have a few fairy tale collections lying around the house too; it would be interesting to read a modern “take” on them. Love that title too!. I may change some of my “recommended by others” suit here this week before I draw my first real card (as I mentioned above, I was already into the new Stephen King book when your idea came along).

    Thanks for following my progress, I will be doing the same with yours :-). Whenever I post about one of the stories in my deck, I’ll try to remember to link back to your page.


  7. October 3, 2011 at 3:53 pm

    […] my ongoing effort to catch up on my 2011 reading project, I’ve read six more short stories (click on ‘deal me in selections’ to the left […]


  8. October 3, 2011 at 3:55 pm

    […] – only about 125 pages – and was a very good book, but it wasn’t scary enough. My own personal short story reading project for 2011 (Project “Deal Me In!”), which I’m woefully behind on has conspired a little to […]


  9. jeffbaker307 said,

    December 27, 2020 at 1:06 pm

    If you’re still doing this, I’d recommend “Two Handed Engine” by Henry Kuttner and C.L. Moore who were husband and wife and often collaborated on fiction.


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