Book Bingo: An Update

Back in January I wrote a 2017 preview post that included a game of Book Bingo: 24 themed reads I wanted to tackle over the course of the year. Now that we’re entering June, it seems a good time to check in and see how I’m doing (since I haven’t paid the slightest attention to my bingo card).

The results: not great.

Book Bingo Update

I’m nearly half way through the year, but I’ve only read a third (8) of the books required (24) to fill out my card.

The Books I’ve Read

By a Small Press: Encountering Riel by David Orr. This is a book by Stonehouse Publishing, a local press here in Edmonton. How small is this press, you ask? They’re only going to publish three books this year, one of which is a re-issue of a classic (Evelina by Frances Burney). Encountering Riel is about Willie Lorimer, a young poetry student who’s called to join the fight against the Metis rebel leader, Louis Riel. Regionally, this book sold extremely well. Considering the size of the press, it’s been a nice success story. I only thought the book was okay, though. Not enough Riel in it for my tastes. But if you’re into period pieces, give this one a whirl.

Biography or Memoir: Bleaker House by Nell Stevens. I wrote about Bleaker House a few months ago, so I won’t go into too much detail here. It’s about about a would-be writer who travelled to Bleaker Island, a barren scrap a land nearly as south as one can get before they hit Antarctica, to try and write her first novel in total solitude. Long story short, I adored this book.

That I’ve Pretended to Have Read: The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien. I’d read The Hobbit 1/2 to 2/3 of the way through at least five times. It had gotten so ridiculous that I just started telling people I’d finished it. Never had, though. This year, I did, and wrote a couple of pieces about it.

Science Fiction. Mass Effect: Nexus Uprising by Jason M. Hough. You know it’s a bad sign when you can’t even remember the name of the author for a book you finished six weeks ago. Truth be told, the only reason I read this is because I was intrigued by the fact that N. K. Jemison is writing the third book in this loose trilogy. These are tie-in novels for the BioWare’s latest Mass Effect video game franchise, so it makes almost no sense that a writer of Jemison’s calibre would do this. I’m so astonished, I have to read it. Hopefully it’s better than Nexus Uprising. This was a waste of time.

Six or More Words in the Title: The Heart of What Was Lost by Tad Williams. The first book I read this year. It it’s bordering on a novella (at just over 200 pages), but it’s so good. If you are a fan of Tad’s Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn trilogy of fantasy epics (the greatest series of all time, in my book), I implore you to a) read this book, and b) read Tad’s sequel trilogy, which kicks off in June with The Witchwood Crown. I. Can’t. WAIT.

An Author’s Debut: The Futures by Anna Pitoniak. The more I think about this book the more I loathe it. I wrote about why it doesn’t need to exist, and I stand by that opinion today. This one got a lot of good press, but my word, what a garbage book.

Set Before 1800: The Skystone by Jack Whyte. This was a super weird read for me, and probably the best 2-star book I’ve rated on Goodreads. It’s an alternate (and grounded) take on the King Arthur legend, and the first in a series of nine books. I quite like Jack Whyte’s style, I’m really interested in this series, but I feel like I had to send a message with the rating. It was a protest against Whyte’s complete ambivalence toward a dramatic arc. This book absolutely does not need to exist. It’s written like an unnecessary, cash-cow prequel. Except it was the first book in a series. Just strange.

With a 1-Word Title: Testament by Nino Ricci. One of my top five books of all time, probably. This was a re-read for me. I wrote about how it saved me during a low point earlier in the year. Just a wonderful, wonderful book. Criminally under-read.

The Books I’ve Yet to Read

I really have to get going on a few of these, especially since I will be spending much of June, July and August reading The Witchwood Crown and War and Peace (for an upcoming readalong … stay tuned to for an announcement). That’s over 2000 pages of reading in two books, neither of which will qualify for a Book Bingo square.

That leaves five months for 16 squares. Not a crazy task, but I’ll have to get a bit strategic, methinks.

Oh! I just realized I have a 800-pages-or-more square. I’ll knock that one off with War and Peace. So there’s that. (There’s also a before-1900 square, which also would have worked). Five months and 15 squares, then.

I’d like a bit of help with a few of these. Do you have any suggestions for:

  • A literary magazine/journal
  • A poetry collection
  • A play
  • A banned book

Or any of the open squares, really. I have some thoughts on the ones I didn’t list, but I’m open to suggestions! Let me have ’em.

Do you have any specific reading plans for the rest of the year?


  1. Lit mag – The Happy Reader, put out by Penguin Classics in the UK. Kind of hard to get a hold of, they only publish twice a year. I have a subscription and I think the next one comes out soon. I have an extra copy of this one, I could send it to you, it’s really good. The concept is one classic novel and one celebrity; there are multiple articles and essays about the novel, and the celeb is interviewed about their reading lives.

    (Looks like the next one is out this week and features Lily Cole and Treasure Island! So excited.)

    Poetry, I haven’t had much luck with lately. I heard a poem by Derek Walcott on a podcast this morning that was beautiful. I won’t pretend I knew who he was before today but he is a big deal, Nobel Prize winner, died recently.

    No help on plays…

    Banned book – hmmm there a few graphic novels, like Peresepolis and This One Summer, I liked both of those.



    1. I’ve wanted to read This One Summer for a while. Great choice!

      As for plays, I just assume I’ll be leaning on our friendly neighborhood Poetry Concierge for that one 🙂

      The Happy Reader is perfect. TREASURE ISLAND. Yes, please. Do you know if Chapters sells them? I know a few location have a really great literary magazine section.



  2. I just confirmed that I have two issues left in my subscription. Whew. It is by far my favourite literary mag. For Canadian ones I like CNQ – pretty covers and they publish negative book reviews 🙂

    Liked by 1 person


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