Deal Me In 2017 – January Summary

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So, yes, my best-laid plans of producing a weekly wrap-up post (as I did in 2015) have fallen by the wayside.  The simple fact is that there are just too many participants this year to make that practical given the limited time I have to spend on this blog. BUT what I have been trying to do – and what I urge YOU to do as well – is sharing posts that I see and read on Twitter using the hashtag #DealMeIn2017. If you are a twitter user as well you can use the hashtag and help provide a sort of one-stop shopping for those of us who want to see what everyone else in the challenge has recently read and what their thoughts about it were. Check this link to see what’s been shared on Twitter thus far. See how easy that was?

By my back-of-the-envelope-math, there will be over 1,300 stories/essays/poems/plays read this year for Deal Me In 2017. That’s a big number, and one we should be proud of!

I also love the fact that we have a lot of new participants this year, some of whom seem quite gung-ho about the challenge.  New blood is always good!

What other tips or advice do I have for Deal Me In participants?

  1. Be supportive of the others doing the challenge.  Read their posts, comment on their posts, share their posts, or just “like” their posts to let them know you’ve been there. The Deal Me In “community” (does that sound pretentious?) has become for me a great place to learn of new authors and stories that I will read in the future.
  2. Don’t feel obligated to post about every single story. Some do, but the challenge is to READ the stories.  Posting is the gravy. The pressure to write a post every week can become a burden and lead to the challenge becoming stale or tedious
  3. If you are posting about the stories, use the special characters for the suits in a deck of cards. They can help spice up your posts. You can “type” the suit symbols by using the shortcuts Alt+3 (♥♥Hearts♥♥) Alt+4 (♦♦Diamonds♦♦), Alt+5 (♣♣Clubs♣♣), Alt+6 (♠♠Spades♠♠)
  4. Another way to “add value” is to share playing card pictures with your posts.  Several of us do it already, but you may be amazed to see all the playing card images available out there if you Google your card. I’ve mentioned to several participants that Deal Me In challenge has actually made me a collector of decks of playing cards. I have a box full of them at home now. 🙂

Time allowing, I will try to do some kind of monthly post to the DMI participants this year but no promises.  And if I do, I’ll end them with a question like this one:

♥ ♦What is the favorite story/essay/poem/play you’ve read thus far in the early going, and more importantly WHY is it your favorite?♣ ♠

See you next month – and keep up the good work!

The Mongerji Letters by Geetha Iyer – selection #4 of Deal Me In 2017


The Card: ♠5♠ of Spades

The Suit: For this year’s Deal Me IN, the suit of Spades is the domain of Clotho, one of the Fates from Greek Mythology who, according to Plato’s Republic sings of “the things that are.”

The Selection: “The Mongerji Letters” from Orion magazine. As of this post’s publishing, the story is available on line at https://orionmagazine.org/article/the-mongerji-letters/  I own a copy of the story via The O. Henry Prize Stories 2016 collection.

The Author: Geetha Iyer – yet another new to me author. To quote Orion Magazine’s info on her, she “…was born in India and grew up in the United Arab Emirates, and moved to the United States to study biology. She has since become an MFA student at Iowa State University’s Creative Writing & Environment program. She writes fiction, nonfiction, and poetry bent toward place-based and science writing.” She currently lives in Panama City, Panama. You may visit her website at https://geethaiyer.wordpress.com

What is Deal Me In? I’m glad you asked!  Full details maybe found here, but generally speaking it’s a reading challenge where participants read one short story a week for the year, the reading order being determined by the luck of the draw. See here for a list of the stories/essays I’ll be reading in 2017.

The Mongerji Letters

“Since the collapse of one of the last dynasties of the common era and the subsequent end of the era itself, historians have searched for descendants of the Mongerji family, as well as descendants of the scribes who, under their employ, collected samplings of flora and fauna from around the world. The only evidence discovered thus far are the letters that follow. They are from Mr. Mongerji, his wife, Kavita, and two of the three Mongerji children, all addressed to a Mr. Chappalwala, thought to have been the last of the Mongerjis’ scribes. Archivists continue to seek Mr. Chappalwala’s side of the correspondence.”

This was a rather bizarre story. The introductory paragraph quoted above is all the grounding that the reader is given. The nature of the world in which these letters were written (“created” is probably a better word) is left primarily to our imagination. What is clear, however, is that the family whose members wrote them are in decline, probably throwbacks to an older world – i.e., the “common era” referred to in the intro. The correspondence is multi-generational, but the letters covered in this story seem to span 15 years, from “__18” to “__33” – the first two digits that would tell us the century are strategically omitted…

The letters have some kind of magical quality as the envelopes that contain them also contain somehow “compressed” examples of the flora and fauna from wherever the Chappalwalas are sending them, often resulting in near tragic events upon opening – in once case a giant tree springs out of the envelope and it is all the Mongerjis can do to get it stuffed back in.  Another time, an opened envelope floods their living room with water and a living polar bear(!)

I won’t claim I totally understood this story, but it did leave me with a vague impression of the decline or even”decay” of the natural world’s beauty due to a continued siege by humanity’s progress.  The writing was superb too, and the perspectives of the different Mongerji children of the current generation added additional layers to the story’s complexity as well.

The “magic” property of the letters is not explained, but I liked the following passage because it refers to one of my favorite creatures, discovered via a prior Bibliophilopolis read – this one for The R.I.P. Challenge – The Axolotl!

“I asked Dhidhi whether if we left the fruit outside the envelope the eggs would hatch, but she said that everything trapped inside the Chappalwala envelopes was like an axolotl — it would never really grow up.”

Below: some of the beautiful artwork from Orion Magazine where the story was originally published. Did you notice the envelopes in each picture?


Playing card image in DMI header from http://nonregistrability55.rssing.com/chan-24181537/all_p1.html

#24in48 Readthon Wrap-Up: How’d I Do?

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I didn’t write any posts during the readathon this time, opting instead for a barrage of tweets about what I was reading, what was up next, etc. Since I read mostly short stories this year, in between each story, I would check the #24in48 hashtag, try to like a few tweets, and try to comment on ones that I felt connected with me.  In fact, the “interstitial tweeting” and following the readathon online made it a lot of fun this year. I should say also that one thing that I feel strongly about regarding reading short stories is that each one must be read “separately” – as its own “reading experience” if you will. If you finish one and start another immediately, you may have trouble with them “running together” when you try to remember them later.  That belief made the “interstitial tweeting” a good idea and yielded almost a palate cleanser effect before proceeding on to the next one.

What did I get read, and how much time did I spend reading?

I knew beforehand that I wouldn’t get 24 hours of reading in, but I did get more in that I have in the past – if I count some of the audible.com “reading” which I did.  I probably totaled about 13-14 hours, which is very high for me. I did finish my planned 24 short story/essay reads, which I outlined in a prior post, and ended up liking at least 20-21 of them. I also read close to 300 pages of the behemoth, “A Brief History of Seven Killings” by Marlon James, who is in Indianapolis tonight at Butler University. One of my book clubs is attending his ‘talk’ en masse, which is one reason I was hustling to get this book finished. (I should wrap it up on my lunch hour today – nothing like waiting until the last minute, eh?)

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Anyway, I haven’t enjoyed this book very much at all, and would’ve abandoned it if it weren’t a book club book. As always, I’m curious what my fellow will have to say about it.

As for my short stories and essays, I had 3 each from eight sources:

  1. Bradbury Stories: 100 of His Most Celebrated Tales – Ray Bradbury
  2. The Very Best of Fantasy and Science Fiction, Vol. 2 (anthology)
  3. Hoosier Mosaics – Maurice Thompson (short story collection)
  4. Irredeemable – Jason Sizemore (short story collection)
  5. Bad Feminist – Roxane Gay (essays)
  6. Strange New Worlds, Vol. 2 – (anthology of short “Star Trek” fiction)
  7. War by Candlelight – Daniel Alarcon – (short story collection)
  8. The End Was Not the End – Post-Apocalyptic Fantasy Tales anthology

I’ve read something from all of these already, many from my Deal Me In challenge from over the years. Each provided some fun, challenging, or thought-provoking reading entertainment.

war-by-candlelightPound for pound, the Alarcon collection was probably the best of the bunch. Bradbury’s story, “Bang! You’re Dead,” was probably my favorite from that collection.  Oddly, two of my favorite stories – and my least favorite story – came from The Very Best of Fantasy and Science Fiction anthology.  Jack Finney’s “The Third Level” was a great, Twilight Zone-y piece, and “The Country of The Kind” by Damon Knight was also a surprise favorite. I enjoyed all three of Roxane Gay’s essays, especially her one about being a “Typical First Year Professor.” She’s also coming here to town tomorrow night for an event at the Central Library sponsored by Indy Reads Books. I have my ticket for that. J

I’m a sucker for dystopian/post-apocalyptic fiction, which is why I own – and includedend-was-not-the-end stories from – The End Was Not the End anthology.  Only one of them (William Ransom’s “In the Hills Beyond Twilight”) really resonated with me, though. From Irredeemable, my favorite was “The Dead and Metty Crawford”, featuring teens hired to ‘guard’ a secluded marijuana crop, a terrifying old mountain man, and … zombies! It had some intense scenes which I “enjoyed.” Somewhat of a disappointment for me  – considering how much I liked his two stories I read during Deal Me “IN” 2016 – were the stories from Maurice Thompson’s “Hoosier Mosaics.”  “The Venus of Balhich” is the only one I’d feel comfortable recommending to others. It’s the tale of a pathetic suitor who misreads his intended’s feelings about him, with tragi-comic consequences. The End Was Not the End was my favorite book cover though, so it’s pictured at right. 🙂

That’s how I spent my #24in48 weekend.  How did YOU do this time around?

“The Anything Box” by Zenna Henderson – selection #3 of Deal Me In 2017

The Card: ♥Q♥ Queen of Hearts

The Suit: For this year’s Deal Me IN, Hearts is the domain of Atropos, one of the “Fates” from Classical Greek Mythology who “sang of things that are yet to be” i.e. the future. She’s also frequently represented as holding a pair of scissors with which she snips the thread of life which is spun by her two sisters, Clotho and Lachesis.

The Selection: “The Anything Box” which I own as part of the anthology “The Very Best of Fantasy and Science Fiction” anthology, volume 2. I have several stories from this book included in my Deal Me In list for 2017.

The Author: Zenna Henderson (pictured at above right), who I’ve never read before. She was “an American elementary school teacher and science fiction and fantasy writer,” according to Wikipedia. Many of her stories feature a school setting or the southwestern United States (she was from Arizona) – or both.  She also wrote a series of stories about “The People” – humanoids who are here on Earth because their home planet was destroyed. Sounds intriguing – perhaps I will explore these sometime…

What is Deal Me In? I’m glad you asked!  Full details maybe found here, but generally speaking it’s a reading challenge where participants read one short story a week for the year, the reading order being determined by the luck of the draw. See here for a list of the stories/essays I’ll be reading in 2017.

“The Anything Box”

“I swore by the pale hollow of her cheek that never, never again would I take any belief from anyone without replacing it with something better.”

The narrator of this story is a teacher. A teacher in what seems to be a school of the future, though that is never really explained in detail. It certainly doesn’t feel like a bright future either. That part is probably irrelevant to the impact of the story. It’s the story of Sue-lynn, one of the narrator’s students. One she doesn’t quite know what to make of at first, one who is quiet and keeps to herself for the most part…

Eventually, though, the teacher notices some peculiar behavior:

“She had finished her paper – far ahead of the others as usual – and was sitting at her table facing me. She had her thumbs touching in front of her on the table and her fingers curving as though they held something in between them – something large enough to keep her fingertips apart and angular enough to bend her fingers as if for corners. It was something pleasant that she held – pleasant and precious.”

Sue-lynn seems like a nice enough kid, but the other children have, of course, noticed that she is “different.” Her imaginary “anything box” – for that is what she’s holding in front of her – is her way to escape from her troubled home life. Her mother and father frequently quarrel, leading to the husband disappearing for long stretches of time. One male fellow-student in particular is disturbed by her and causes trouble. The teacher intervenes on Sue-lynn’s behalf, and gets close enough to her to eventually find out more about her “imaginary” box. Or is it imaginary?

I’m not 100% sure what the author intended the story to be about, but I think it may resonate with many readers the way that it did with me – that is to say in recalling school days and how, as we age, our capacity for imagination is slowly and methodically snuffed out. One of the narrator’s mean-spirited fellow teachers seems to have it in for Sue-lynn, frequently calling her “disturbed”, etc., even making us wonder if ““Maybe a child can smile a soft, contented smile and still have little maggots of madness flourishing somewhere inside,” but fortunately Sue-lynn has a champion on her side in the form of the narrator.

At one point, though, even the narrator feels compelled to intervene and stop the child’s “overactive” imagination and advises that her “anything box” is “just for fun” and shouldn’t be taken so seriously. A crisis follows in which Sue-lynn “loses” the box and blames her teacher. Later she has a “fainting spell” and a doctor is called. She seems to recover but only to the point that she “puttered along quite satisfactorily except that she was a candle blown out.”

 

Does the story end happily, though? If you’d like to read for yourself, it’s part of several anthologies. One is the one I own, and is available in kindle version for just $7.99:

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Have YOU read anything by this author before? What else by her would you recommend?

Next week: The five of spades and  Geetha Iyee’s “The Mongerji Letters” – yet another new-to-me author.

My 24in48 Readathon Plans

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What is the #24in48 Readathon? You can find out details about it here, but essentially it’s a readathon where the goal is to spend 24 hours out of a 48-hour weekend (Friday midnight until Sunday midnight) reading.   I don’t recall how flexible the start and end times are, but I usually cheat a little bit and make mine run from early evening Friday to early evening Sunday, since I’m usually asleep after 10pm… 🙂

Stories to read in 24in48 Readathon – “Deal Me In version”

I chose eight source books, all anthologies or short story collections (or essays, in one case) by one author. I picked only books that I have a kindle version of, so that I can read “on the run” on my phone or iPad, if I find myself in line somewhere or if I take a break to go grab a bite and sit at the bar.

I picked three stories from each book, somewhat based on title (or what I hadn’t read of the anthology before) but also more or less random.  I will attempt to read all 24 stories within the 48 hour period of the #24in48 Readathon (leftover reading time will be used to finish up “A Brief History of Seven Killings” for a book club meeting the week after the readathon.)  Of note also is that I’m reading three of Roxane Gay’s essays from her collection “Bad Feminist” in anticipation of my attending a talk of hers here at the Central Library on January 24th.

I’ve applied the Deal Me In ‘randomizing element’ to 24in48 at least once before, last July, where I read 24 stories and actually managed to post a brief word about ALL of them.  See posts here, here, and here for details. Wow, just looking back at those posts, I’m remembering how much fun I had last July and can’t wait to get started again. I’m sure I won’t have time to post about all the stories this readathon, but I’ll try to at least post about my progress and maybe some detail about my favorite ones.

I’ll rate the stories according to the card values in a Euchre Deck: Right Bower- 5 stars, Left Bower – 4.5 stars,  Ace – 4.0 stars, King 3.5 stars, Queen 3 stars, Ten – 2.5 stars, Nine – 2 stars.

Here are the stories I’ll be reading. Do you recognize any favorite authors or stories? Which have you read before, and how did YOU like them?

Diamonds

♦9♦“A Ribbon for Rosie” by Isla Bick (Strange New Worlds II)
♦10♦ “A Science for Being Alone” by Daniel Alarcon (War by Candlelight)
♦J♦ “A Strong Dead Man” by Daniel Alarcon (War by Candlelight)
♦Q♦ “An Idyl of the Rod” by Maurice Thompson (Hoosier Mosaics)
♦K♦ “Bang! You’re Dead!” by Ray Bradbury (Bradbury Stories: 100 of His Most Celebrated Tales)
♦A♦ “I Once Was Miss America” (essay) by Roxane Gay (Bad Feminist)

Hearts

♥9♥ “In the Hills Beyond Twilight” by William Ransom (The End was Not the End anthology)
♥10♥ “No News, or What Killed the Dog?” by Ray Bradbury (Bradbury Stories: 100 of His Most Celebrated Tales)
♥J♥ “Plug and Play” by Jason Sizemore (Irredeemable)
♥Q♥ “Seventh Heaven” by Dustan Moon (Strange New Worlds II)
♥K♥ “The Attack of the Giant Baby” by Kit Reed (The Very Best of Fantasy and Science Fiction, Vol. 2)
♥A♥ “The Country of the Kind” by Damon Knight (The Very Best of Fantasy and Science Fiction, Vol. 2)

Spades
♠9♠ “The Dead and Metty Crawford” by Jason Sizemore (Irredeemable)
♠10♠ “The First Law of Metaphysics” by Michael S. Poteet (Strange New Worlds II)
♠J♠ “The Morality of Tyler Perry” (essay by Roxane Gay (Bad Feminist)
♠Q♠ “The Third Level” by Jack Finney (The Very Best of Fantasy and Science Fiction, Vol. 2)
♠K♠ “The Venus of Balhinch” by Maurice Thompson (Hoosier Mosaics)
♠A♠ “The Watchers” by Ray Bradbury (Bradbury Stories: 100 of His Most Celebrated Tales)

Clubs

♣9♣“Third Avenue Suicide” by Daniel Alarcon (War by Candlelight)
♣10♣ “Trout’s Luck” by Maurice Thompson (Hoosier Mosaics)
♣J♣ “Twenty Year Plan” by Jay Wilburn (The End was Not the End anthology)
♣Q♣ “Typical First Year Professor” (essay) by Roxane Gay (Bad Feminist)
♣K♣ “Useless Creek” by Jason Sizemore (Irredeemable)
♣A♣ “Waist Deep” by Bill Blume (The End was Not the End anthology)

Jess Walter’s “Mr. Voice” – selection #2 of Deal Me In 2017


The Card: ♠J♠ Jack of Spades

The Suit: For this year’s Deal Me IN, the suit of Spades is the domain of Clotho, one of the Fates from Greek Mythology who, according to Plato’s sings of “the things that are.

The Selection: “Mr. Voice” from my copy of the 2015 Best American Short Stories, edited by T.C. Boyle

The Author: Jess Walter of Spokane, Washington. I’ve read a couple of books of his before, “Beautiful Ruins,” and the excellent short story collection “We Live in Water.” (Post about the latter found at https://bibliophilica.wordpress.com/2014/10/17/jess-walters-we-live-in-water/) I’ve also had the pleasure of meeting him in person when he came through Indianapolis a couple years ago for a Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library event. Learn more about him at http://www.jesswalter.com

IMG_3919-0What is the Deal Me in Challenge? Full details maybe found here, but generally speaking it’s a reading challenge where participants read one story a week for the year, the reading order being determined by the luck of the draw. See here for a list of the stories/essays I’ll be reading in 2017.

Mr. Voice

“Listen to me, Tanya. You’re a very pretty girl. You’re going to be a beautiful woman. This is something you won’t understand for a while, but your looks are like a bank account. You can save up your whole life for something, but at some point, you’ll have to spend the money. Do you understand?”

This is a story told at the present (Clotho!) but concerns a time forty years ago, when the narrator (Tanya) was a young teen girl. Tanya’s mother is a real looker, who never has any problems getting men’s attention or dates. Suddenly, however, one of the dates sticks around, and it’s not one young Tanya would expect: the 50-something “Mr. Voice,” a locally famous voice-over guy. We as readers suppose that she’s marrying him for the “security” as this is about the time she tells her daughter the quotation above. I find this a lamentably mercenary approach to life.

Frankly, Mr. Voice sounds pretty creepy at first, as poor Tanya can hear some of his and her Mom’s “intimate moments” through their house’s paper thin walls. Add into the mix a son of Mr. Voice’s from a previous marriage who, though several years older than Tanya (not to mention being gay), the young girl has a crush on, even if he is her stepbrother.

I’ve written before how I admire and enjoy stories with resilient young characters, and Tanya certainly falls into this category. What raises this story another level, though, is the surprising steadfastness that the initially creepy Mr. Voice exhibits. When things take a turn for the worse for Tanya after her mother “runs off” with a musician in a rock band, it is Mr. Voice who helps stabilize her world and gives her the opportunity to overcome her mother’s parenting shortcomings. This ended up being a “feel good” story for me, especially after Tanya narrates a glimpse of her own present life and how she deals with a “rebellious” daughter of her own – one who is fond of tattoos and piercings.

Personal Notes ♫: I have a couple of Jess Walter’s books in my TBR pile, namely The Financial Lives of Poets and The Zero, which he signed for me when he visited Indy. As he signed, I got to speak to him briefly, primarily about one of his stories, “Wheelbarrow Kings,” which I told him sounded to me like a modern retelling of “The Odyssey.” He nodded knowingly, which explains in part how he signed the book in the picture above.

Next up in Deal Me In 2017: Zenna Henderson’s “The Anything Box”

What short stories did YOU read this week?

“By the Time You Read This” by Yannick Murphy – selection#1 of Deal Me In 2017

The Card: ♥4♥ Four of Hearts

The Suit: For this year’s Deal Me IN, the suit of Hearts is the domain of Atropos, one of the Fates from Greek Mythology who, according to Plato’s sings of things that are to be.

The Selection: “By the Time You Read This” from my copy of the 2015 Pushcart Prize Best of the Small Presses anthology (# 39)

The Author: Yannick Murphy, an award-winning author currently living in Vermont. For more about her, check out her website at http://www.yannickmurphy.com (where the pic at left is found)

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What is the Deal Me in Challenge? Full details maybe found here, but generally speaking it’s a reading challenge where participants read one story a week for the year, the reading order being determined by the luck of the draw. See here for a list of the stories/essays I’ll be reading in 2017.

“By the Time You Read This”

“I killed myself because I couldn’t imagine those memories living alongside the more recent memories of you cheating on me.”

You can tell already this will be a cheery story, right? I guess it isn’t, although there are a few quite humorous moments in it as well. I didn’t know anything about the story when I chose to add it to my Deal Me In roster, I was only attracted by the title, which included the word “time.” I didn’t know it was about a suicide note. Or was it?

The writer of the note includes sections addressed to several people, predominantly her husband and daughter, but also a couple former teachers, her UPS man, and – of course – the other woman, who is the source of some of the humor. All other sections of the “suicide note” begin “Dear xxxx” (insert husband’s or daughter’s name, etc.) but the writer feels “Dear Slut” is too ridiculous. Check out the following:

“Dear whatever your name is, of course, in my eyes, you are Dear Slut, but I should really take the ‘dear’ out anyway because ‘dear’ and ‘slut’ are probably too incongruous to appear one right after the other and there is probably some rule my sixth-grade English teacher, Mr. Sun, could tell me about placing two incongruous words right next to each other. So, Slut, I am writing this to let you know…”

I liked how she solved the incongruity problem there, didn’t you? I also chuckled when future passages came around and began simply with, “Slut,”. Good stuff.

Toward the end of the story, the writer of the note seems to start having doubts about completing her suicidal act, noting certain things that she will miss out on if she follows through. I, for one, was glad these rays of hope entered this story with a dismal subject matter. Perhaps Atropos’s scissors will not yet snip the thread of her life after all.

The story also felt a little gimmicky (though writing a lengthy suicide note such as this one is a challenging exercise – and one which I think Murphy succeeds quite well at). I suppose “Write a suicide note from a jilted woman” would also make a good writing prompt for students, wouldn’t it?


This story originally appeared in issue 60 of Conjunctions Magazine (above; I like that cover art, too!), a biannual literary journal published by Bard College in New York, pictured below. (Man, that’s a lot of ivy…)

Deal Me In Coincidence: In doing the Deal Me In Challenge over the years, I’ve always enjoyed spotting coincidences of timing that may be found in the randomized order of the stories. This week’s story included a passage that is quite topical about now: “At times he takes things very seriously, and once, while watching election returns, he threw our television out the window when a certain president was elected that  he didn’t like.”

What about you? Have you read any stories or other worksof literature that focused on suicide? How effectively do you think they were done?

On deck for week 2 of Deal Me In 2017:  “Mr. Voice” by Jess Walter

It’s My Blogiversary!


Bibliophilopolis is seven years old now! I’ve published 805 posts, and am closing in on 275k page views, having settled down to averaging around 4,000 visits a month and 45-50 thousand a year these past few years.

I’d like to thank all those who have visited or left a comment or “liked”a post (probably like many bloggers, I sometimes wonder if “anyone is reading this” so all communication is welcome!) I wasn’t sure my blogging would last seven DAYS when I first started, but here we are in 2017 and Bibliophilopolis is still plodding along. I’ve also especially enjoyed the emergence of the small but loyal Deal Me In community, and am looking forward to seeing how our new participants fare this year.

As a Blogiversary “Special Offer” (okay, I’m not offering to do anything but read something) I will allow the commenters (if any) on this post the opportunity to pick one of the books I read in 2017 books. Presuming there might be more than one, I reserve the right to pick which recommendation I go with, but may also read more than one if you convince me they’re worth the time. I will also pledge to write a full review post about whichever book “wins” giving full credit – or blame! 🙂 – to its recommender.

So, recommend away. I’ll probably make my decision after a week or so.

Happy reading to all in 2017!