Five Things I Loathe About the Block Editor

  1. I hate THE WHOLE DAMNED THING on principle. But, there are also specific things that I hate about it beyond its general suckitude.
  2. The fact that the only way to not start a new block every time I hit return is, apparently, to turn whatever I am trying to do into a list. Sometimes I don’t want bullets or numbers, though, but I still don’t want my post to have a goddamned extra space between lines. There is no way to fix this without getting some sort of a degree in coding.
  3. Working with images and trying to change their alignment. This often does not work. I have been trying to center the image in my last post for thirty minutes. Yeah, not happening. Now it is asymmetrical and it bugs me. With the classic editor, I just changed the HTML. Easy Peasy Lemon Squeezy.
  4. I like to draft my posts on my google drive because of issues with site crashing. This screws up the formatting when I paste them into a post, and it is completely unfixable. THIS WAS NEVER A PROBLEM WITH THE CLASSIC EDITOR.
  5. In order to get the Classic Editor plugin, I have to upgrade my site. This is bullshit. I already pay for a domain name. I do not make money off of my blogging, nor do I want to. This is a hobby. It should be easy. It used to be easy. Before you assholes made us all accept your lame new editor.

The ONLY reason that I haven’t relocated to Blogger is because I am lazy and I actually hate it more. But dammit, did they bribe you to make your editor suck so that people would leave?


July Reading Plans

As always, a lot of my reading plans are informed by my GR groups – I moderate an Agatha Christie group that is reading all 66 of Christie’s full length novels in order of publication, as well as a vintage mystery (published in 1970 or before) side read. July has us reading Murder at the Vicarage (the first Marple!) and Strangers on a Train by Patricia Highsmith In addition, I have a small private group that reads vintage fiction, and for 2021 we are doing a project that we are calling “authors-in-residence.” We have chosen two authors per quarter, and the group members who are participating select a book (or more, if they want) to read and discuss. We start a new quarter in July, and have selected Virginia Woolf and Philip Roth as our “authors-in-residence” for July, August & September. Finally, I will be rereading The Franchise Affair by Josephine Tey for a different group, as well as The Lady in the Lake by Raymond Chandler to fill a challenge.

Even with these plans, there is room for spontaneity. I am a couple of books behind on the Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes series by Laurie R. King, and started Riviera Gold last week. I’m partway through it and enjoying the name-checking of Gerald and Sarah Murphy. I read a wonderful piece of non-fiction about them years ago, Everybody Was So Young by Amanda Vaill, so peeking at a fictionalized version of life at the Villa American is a lot of fun for me. The most recent book, Castle Shade, is also my TBR for July, if I get to it.

There are a few series that I preorder, and read pretty immediately after the books drop – and the Ruth Galloway series by Elly Griffiths is one of them. Her most recent, The Night Hawks, was published in February, but I haven’t gotten to it yet. The Lady Darby series by Anna Lee Huber, is another favorite, and the newest installment – A Wicked Conceit – dropped on May 21. Soon, for both of those!

I’m going to be putting together a few posts to catch up on my Back to the Classics Challenge. I’ve finished some of the categories, but have been very dilatory about getting the posts up, and I need to figure out where I am at and what I still have to read.

June Recap

I read 15 books in June, which is a solid month for me. So far, I’m up to 80 books this year – I set a relatively low goal for myself of 104 books, which is 2 books per week. I typically read much more than that, and I expect to hit my goal around the end of July/beginning of August. This lets me relax without racing to meet a goal at the end of the year, which is what happens when I set 200 as my bookish goal.

It was a mystery intensive month, with all but two of my reads falling into that category – although it was probably the two non-mystery books that made the biggest impact on me.

First, I reread Sharon Kay Penman’s doorstopping blockbuster of a Richard III history, The Sunne in Splendour. I’m a long-time Penman fan, and her recent death was terribly sad. I’ve been meaning to reread the Welsh Princes trilogy, and this may well be just the motivation that I need to do it. I so enjoyed this book, and, as well, it was a buddy read with some wonderful GR friends, so we’ve been having a terrific discussion about it over there in a private group.

The second book that I would mention that was a highlight of the month for me was Travels with Charley by Steinbeck. I had big plans for a Steinbeck project this year, and they have largely fizzled, unfortunately. However, I did manage to check this out of the library and blew through it in a couple of days. It was a really great read, Steinbeck’s observations are so insightful, and reading this book in particular was a time capsule of a long-gone America.

One of my favorite quotes is this:

American cities are like badger holes, ringed with trash—all of them—surrounded by piles of wrecked and rusting automobiles, and almost smothered with rubbish. Everything we use comes in boxes, cartons, bins, the so-called packaging we love so much. The mountains of things we throw away are much greater than the things we use. This is not said in criticism of one system or the other but I do wonder whether there will come a time when we can no longer afford our wastefulness—chemical wastes in the rivers, metal wastes everywhere, and atomic wastes buried deep in the earth or sunk in sea.

Steinbeck could see us, and our future, with such painful clarity.

Other bits and pieces: I’m making my way through Ed McBain’s incredibly long-running 87th precinct series, and this month I read books 9 (‘Til Death) and 10 (King’s Ransom). They were both interesting installments. ‘Til Death was a little bit lighter, with Detective Steve Carella giving wedding night advice both to his younger sister (awkward) and the groom (more awkward?). King’s Ransom was an intriguing psychological novel that asks the question: would you bankrupt yourself to save someone else’s child? Both are short, punchy and quick, as seems to be true of the entire series.

I also read 3 old Nancy Drews. Occasionally I get into a mood where I want to revisit my childhood, and Nancy Drew is a way to do it. My library has most of them in ebook, so I check them out where the whim takes me and the nostalgia doesn’t cost me a dime.

Anyway, happy July!

Almost at the midpoint of the year

It’s hard to believe that it’s almost July – summer solstice has come and gone and we’re, again, on the downside of our trip around the sun. The weather in my neck of the woods – the Pacific Northwest – has been unbearably hot for the last couple of days. We were experiencing something called a “heat dome” which left Portland with the distinction of having a high temperature that is the highest of any major US city with the exception of Phoenix and Las Vegas.

This is pretty crazy for a place that is known for rain and mist and lush green spaces. Today is much better – although it’s still hot for June. We’re looking at a high of 93 degrees. To put that into perspective, yesterday the high was 115 degrees.

The last 15 months or so has brought with it one extreme event after another – first the pandemic, then historic wildfires that forced tens of thousands of people, including me, to evacuate their homes in suburban Portland for three days, then a once in a century ice storm that knocked out power for five days and brought the region to a standstill, and now this historic and overwhelming heat wave that shattered all of the past records by almost 10 degrees.

I think that this explains, at least in part, why I have been so adverse to the idea of just sitting down and writing a blog post. I’m not really in a reading slump, although nothing is appealing to me very strongly. I feel like I’m just going through the motions as a reader, not really engaging with any of the books.

I’m already 80 books into the year, and I haven’t written a single post. I’m tracking them on Goodreads, but that’s it. I feel like I’ve run out of things to say about the activity that has brought me more solace and pleasure over the years than just about any other. But this doesn’t make sense to me, so I’m going to try something different.

I know I can’t force it, but I am going to make time for blogging about books. I may or may not end up actually publishing the posts that I write, but I’m going to write them. I’m going to talk about what I’m reading, here or on Goodreads, more intentionally and thoughtfully. Because I think that will remind of me what I love about reading and how much it adds to my life and my perspective.

Ringing out 2020 and ringing in 2021

My final tally for 2020 stands at 203 books and 63,225 pages. When I initially set my Goodreads reading challenge, I chose 150 books as the goal for the year. Since 2013, there has only been one year – 2018 – when I read fewer than 150 books. That year clocked in at 134. Because of the early spring lockdowns, I met that 150 book goal in August, and upped it to 200.

Aside from the overall challenge, I didn’t participate in any specific reading challenges except for a small genre challenge in one of my GR groups. I don’t do a lot of tracking of my reading – every year I see people make awesome graphics about their yearly reading by things like publication year, male versus female authors, genre, etc., and I am always jealous. But, by the end of the year, the prospect is really too daunting to accomplish.

One thing that I did do this year, that has been really interesting, is that I’ve kept track of how much money I’ve saved by checking out books instead of buying them. I acquired a library card when the pandemic started and have been extensively using the electronic hold system to request ebooks – to the point that I have saved $568.81 by not buying a number of the books I read this year. This doesn’t even begin to account for the number of books that I checked out, decided I actually wasn’t interested in reading right away and returned them unread to be re-requested later, if the mood strikes me.

I have added a couple of challenges to the wheelhouse for 2021, most particularly the Back to the Classics challenge. But, aside from that, I intend to continue essentially as I have been doing: reading a lot of vintage fiction, a lot of golden age mysteries, checking out books (especially more recently published books) from the library, and reading as my fancy takes me. Fingers crossed that 2021 is a better year altogether than 2020, even if it means that I read fewer books!