Thursday, June 16, 2011

Fun With Charts, Part Two: My Reading In Perspective

I was going to give this post a title something along the lines of, 'See? Playing Charts Can be Used for Good!' but I didn't think it had that certain something. I've been playing around with Excel and thought I would use my newfound powers for good rather than evil.
As I've said before, I'm the sort of person who likes keeping a record of every single book I've read. So when I was searching for some kind of data to test my mad new Excel skills on, I thought I may as well chart my reading progress throughout the year. I mean, technically, it's almost the middle of the year, so why not, right?

(By the way - Sarah Enni does some amazing things with graphs and charts at her blog, which I can never hope to live up to. But if you're interested in YA fiction, there's brilliant graphs for you right there. :)

Anyway, I believe it's good to have some variety in your reading; try new things, broaden your horizons, that sort of thing. The only problem is, of course, that at times I can be very cautious about my reading. I can go whole weeks without trying anything new or exciting, and I inevitably go back to my favourite authors for comfort. Not that this is a bad thing, of course. I also believe if you love a book you should be allowed to re-read it at your own leisure, and without being judged for constantly reading 'the same old thing'. Still, however, I thought making up a few funky graphs would make it a lot more exciting and colourful to keep up with what I'm currently reading.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Fun With Charts, Part One: the Power of Pies

I have to admit that I was always one of those people to whom the mysteries of Microsoft Excel were... well, exceedingly mysterious. But the power of procrastination does wonderful things. So this morning, while I was (unsuccessfully) trying to study for a dangerously close exam, I suddenly thought to myself, "By golly! I sure don't know how to use Microsoft Excel! Perhaps I should go and teach myself. That would be a productive and intelligent use of my time!"

And, indeed, that's exactly what I did. Because after all, what's more important than learning to create meaningful visual representations of data? The only problem was, of course, that I didn't actually have any data.

But I didn't let that stop me, oh no! Luckily I'm the sort of person who records every single book they read in a little notebook, and so pulling out my handy notebook I got to work. The problem was, once I made one graph, it just wasn't enough. I was spookily reminded of that episode of How I Met Your Mother when Marshall becomes addicted to making charts. My favourite, which I will never forget, being of course the Cecilia chart. Pure genius.

RTW: Elevator Tales

Wednesdays are 'blog carnival' days over at YA Highway, where readers respond to questions posted by the YA Highway team. Today's question is:

You're re-reading one of your favs when someone asks the dreaded question: "What's that book about?" Give us your best off-the-cuff blurb of any book, any genre, and have your readers try to guess the title in the comments!
This is a great challenge as I often find I have trouble explaining things. (Also I find it weird when people talk to me on the lift, as if we're on the set of some sort of late-nineties romantic comedy and the old lady with the crazy hair, the tuna-fish smell and the shopping bags is about to tell me something profound and life-changing that twenty years later I'll be telling to my own kids when I tell them the story of my whirlwind romance with their father.) I'm the sort of person who, when asked to define a word, tells you to go and get a dictionary so that either a) I cover my own ignorance and shame at not knowing the answer, or b) I can cloak my own incompetence in a display of intellectual superiority.

So anyway, here goes:

"Okay. Um. So it's the story of Armageddon, right, but there's this angel and this demon who are both trying to stop Armageddon from happening for different reasons, but they unwittingly lose the Antichrist and he grows up as a normal little English boy. And it's all framed by the prophecies of this sixteenth-century witch who predicted the whole thing happening. And her great-great-great-something granddaughter is also trying to stop it happening with the help of a twentieth-century witchfinder. It's absolutely hilarious."

Any guesses? ;)