Monday, January 02, 2006

National Just Read More Novels Month

Around November all the great blogs I like to read get all quiet because everyone decides to join in on National Novel Writing Month or some such nonsense. NaNoWriMo, as it gets clumsily abbreviated, is when everyone with too much time on their hands decides to string together 50,000 words within 30 days and call it a novel. According to the official website, a few of these hard drive cloggers have actually gotten published.

I have to admit, the thought of writing a novel is pretty intriguing to anyone who has read a book and said, “I could write a better book than this poorly edited excuse.” I think even the NaNoWriMo “Winners” would have to admit that writing, like plumbing, hang-gliding, and neurosurgery, is harder than it looks. Every time I get the urge to write for potential publication, I lay down for a few minutes and it passes. I think I’ll leave writing to the professionals.

I have ransacked my Kurt Vonnegut archives to find the correct quote and I can’t so I’ll have to paraphrase something Vonnegut said when asked about the need for more writers. He replied that the world had plenty of great writers, what we really needed was a better supply of readers. (And if anyone can find the quote or find who really said it if I am just misremembering, they will earn my gratitude.)

In that spirit, I hereby, unilaterally and with no other authority that which I have granted myself, declare January to be National Just Read More Novels Month or NaJuReMoNoMo, pronounced Nah-JOO-REE-Moe-NO-Moe if you really think you are going to have a chance to say it out loud and not sound like a total dweeb.

If you’re like me, your book purchasing outpaces your book reading by a good margin. The purpose of NaJuReMoNoMo is to get around to reading all the books you buy and put on the nightstand or hide on a shelf and say you’ll get around to reading. January is a great month for this since it’s the middle of the winter, there are no upcoming major holidays to prepare for, and everyone is flush with Borders gift certificates.

Since it wouldn’t be fair to not have rules, here they are:
  1. Only Novels Count. I know that new Jared Diamond book is really interesting, but we can expand our knowledge base another month. This month is for novels.
  2. Memoirs Don’t Count. Be careful. What really is a novel is tricky. Memoirs of A Geisha is; Angela’s Ashes isn’t.
  3. It Can’t Be A Novel You Have Already Read. Re-reading doesn’t count. Try something new.
  4. You Must Start At The Beginning. Books you started but never finished can count as long as you start over and read the whole thing within the month.
  5. Have Fun. Nobody’s auditing the results. Don’t lie, cheat, or write bad checks. You only have yourself to answer to.
Since anything in the blogosphere deserves a silly logo, this is my lame attempt:


Cut and paste the following text into your blog or sidebar to show your participation:

style="cursor:pointer; cursor:hand;" width="100"
src="" border="0"
alt="NaJuReMoNoMo" /></a>

I’ll check in at the end of the month and we’ll see how everybody did.

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Anonymous said...

This is a good idea. I will not be a big participant because right now most of the books on my to-read list are non-fiction: A Million Little Pieces, which Pixel recommends and which I just now added to my list, and all the books I gave to other people for Christmas but hadn't read myself: Freakonomics, The Glass Castle, Our Inner Ape--the only novels on the list are Wicked and Son of a Witch. Besides all that, the book I just started is A Year in the Life of William Shakespeare, 1599 and the one I just finished was a memoir, Frank McCourt's Teacher Man. It looks as if I'm just not in a novel-reading mode right now. Sorry. And I also couldn't find the Vonnegut quote. I have no doubt he said it, because it sounds just like him, but I couldn't locate the exact quote. I do have one in my quote notebook that applies, though:

"Everywhere I go, I am asked if I think the universities stifle writers. My opinion is that they don't stifle enough of them. There's many a best seller that could have been prevented by a good teacher."
--Flannery O'Connor

HRH Courtney, Queen of Everything said...

Fantastic idea, especially since I'm sitting on three right now. Technically four, but memoirs don't count, so I can't put Joan Didion's book into this mix.

yellojkt said...

Great quote, karen.

Just one novel makes you a "winner". I jumped the post and read Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman in a one day marathon yesterday. I'm goint to start Flush by Carl Hiassen today. It's really aimed at young readers, but I can't get enough of him.

kontan said...

sounds like a great idea to me! i'm game to try!

Mooselet said...

I find myself in the same position as Karen - most of my reading is non-fiction. I'm desperately trying to finish a book on the Gunpower Plot of 1605 before the weekend and I have to return it to the library. Then there is the biography of Mary Queen of Scots on hold waiting for me at said library. Perhaps when I go next week I'll wander out of my non-fiction section and into the fiction zone.

I've recently read Berenstein Bear's B Book and Bears in the Night... do they count? No? Even if I've read them, say, 10 times?

Anonymous said...

Great idea, count me in. KV was soooo right we need more novels read.

And your editor wanted me to ask you to fix this sentence in that post: "Every time I get the urge to right for potential publication, I lay down for a few minutes and it passes. I think I’ll leave writing to the professionals."

should be "...urge to write for potential..."

Anonymous said...

Wow, yellojkt, that is a great idea. Sadly, though, it would take much more than one month to read all of the novels in my "TBR" (to be read) pile, even if I read nonstop, all day, every day.

"To buy books would be a good thing if we also could buy the time to read them."
-Arthur Schopenhauer

Jamy said...

Maybe this would be a good time to finish Ulysses, which I started a few months ago. Sigh.

yellojkt said...

Thanks lisa, another case of my homonym dyslexia. The other one that always slips past me is "know" and "now" (even though they are not homonyms).

I will never finish Ulysses. I still have hope for Gravity's Rainbow someday.

J.Po said...

I've got about five half-started books on my nightstand, none of them novels...afraid I'm not going to be much of a contributor here...but there's plenty of month left!

Anonymous said...

I'm on a "Trashy Novels from the 1920s" kick. Really fun stuff. My favorite writer is Ruby M. Ayres, kind of the female Zane Grey. She wrote more than 150 novels from the 'teens to the '40s (I got two for Christmas!) and no one's ever heard of her. Any one of her books would make a great movie these days (the only movies made from her books are all silent).

Right now I'm reading a Grace Livingston Hill book from 1940. Her books have great jacket pictures; turns out they also have a not-so-subtle Christian message. But the stories are good.

Another fun writer is Faith Baldwin ("Hotel Hostess," "Rehearsal for Love"), who is a little better known. We just watched a Clark Gable/Myrna Loy/Jean Harlow movie called "Wife Vs. Secretary" based on one of Baldwin's books.

The books I like are usually pretty cheap because no one (besides me) seems to find them very desirable.

Anyway.. I'm all for Just Read More Novels month. I think January is an especially good month for it. July or August can be Read More Trashy Beach Books month.

I've put your logo on my moblog. Thanks!

Pixel said...

I'm on-board with this idea, but then again, am always happiest when reading a good book. Especially if I happen to find myself on a white, sandy beach somewhere in the tropics. Fruity rum drinks are optional until ~5 PM.

yellojkt said...


Trashy novels from the 1920s sounds rich. I am ver partial to John D. MacDonald potboilers from the 1950s. It's like another universe. Plots revolve around the fact that even rich company executives only have one car in the family.

And pixel: I assume after 5 pm, fruity rum drinks are mandatory.

paula said...

Dude. This so totally fits with my diet.

"Read so you don't pig out"

I'm IN!!

(I'll even post the weight loss at the end of the month)


trusty getto said...

All I'm reading these days are novels. Cheap, easy, effortless ones. I can't say I want to structure it, or claim credit of any sort from it though. Guess I'm just a slacker ;^)

Anonymous said...

I like this idea. However, like Karen, most of my "TBR" pile is nonfiction at this point. So I'll just kind of run a parallel course this month, catching up on my reading without being an "official" participant.

yellojkt said...

I read For Whom the Bell Tolls as a Book on CD and really enjoyed it. I want to re-read The Sun Also Rises someday.

Anonymous said...

I think your central premise is a little off. As a NaNoWriMo participant, I didn't write for the purposes of publication. The only long-form writing I had ever done was for scientific research. Writing an extended piece of fiction gave me a first-hand insight that made me appreciate reading novels more. I think most writers are aware that writing a novel "is harder than it looks". Actually sitting down to write one helped me understand just what about it is that damn hard.

I loved The Sun Also Rises. It is the funniest work of Hemingway I've read.

Eric said...

You've got my support...I have enough unread books to build a raft out of and row my butt down the river. Or maybe a fort.