Home > The Ray Bradbury Reading Challenge

This is the Ray Bradbury reading challenge which I first wrote about here. The goal is to read 1 poem, 1 short story and 1 essay/nonfiction work every day for 1000 days. Each day I'll post an update of what I've been reading here with a few thoughts. If you've been here before you might remember me doing weekly updates but I think this system works better.

Have a recommendation for what I should read next? Feel free to shoot me a suggestion.

Day 38

Day 37

Day 36

Day 35

More Plath and Murakami today, though I'm heading towards the end of my time with latter. Also read a nonfiction piece as part of my research into a piece I wrote for Climate Conscious

"In me she has drowned a young girl, and in me an old woman
Rises toward her day after day, like a terrible fish." - Sylvia Plath

Day 34

I spent some time today learning about the life of Wangari Maathai, the Nobel peace prize winner and founder of the green belt movement, the latter of which continues to empower vulnerable women through the act of planting trees. The above nonfiction piece by the Guardian was written about her in 2009 a couple of years before her passing and was pretty illuminating. Also enjoyed today's poem courtesy of the poetryfoundation.org and another story from Murakami's Blind Willow collection.

"The tree is just a symbol for what happens to the environment. The act of planting one is a symbol of revitalising the community. Tree planting is only the entry point into the wider debate about the environment. Everyone should plant a tree" - Wangari Maathai

Day 33

I read a lot of nonfiction today, but the above article by John Gordon was the most interesting. Quite enjoyed the following quote too:

"All you wanted was your Aunt Bethel’s Buffalo Wing dip recipe, now yo u’re watching some drop-dead gorgeous young trad-wife cook wings in her kitchen fo r a brand partnership with Frank’s Red Hot. Meanwhile, Aunt Bethel went QAnon." - John Gormon

Day 32

I didn't fancy another Murakami story today, so I went with a sci-fi story instead, only to be disappointed with my decision. The Fisher piece is from his book ghosts of my life which I've read before, but I enjoyed the refresher.

"I knew it wasn't so much the tattoo but the making, the idea
of scars" - Ada Limon

Day 31

My incredible literary analysis for you all today is that White Basin is a brilliant poem you should seek out, Chance Traveller is a rather good story, and Plato's Socrates would be an annoying git to know in real life.

"The garden
was still flowering strongly that November. I watched her
gaze at the roses through two layers of glass." - Linda Barbour

Day 30

First time during this challenge that I've read all the same authors two days in a row. The result of my choosing to stick to the books I have at hand rather than scour the internet.

The plato piece is from the Norton anthology of theory and criticism - a beast of a book that would probably take a quarter of this challenge to complete.

"I was always reading, so people thought I wanted to be a writer. But I didn't. I didn't want to be anything" - Haruki Murakami

Day 29

The Ice Man is a Murakami story told from the perspective of a woman. So, naturally, instead of a "not exactly beautiful" female love interest, we get a "not exactly handsome" man, which I found quite amusing.

"Dreams come from the past, not the future. Dreams shouldn't control you - you should control them" - Haruki Murakami

Day 28

I'm not 100% sure, but I believe that Bukowski's Cold summer was written in the lead up to his death. In any case, Bukowski is kind of like the Hemingway of poetry, in that he captures so much without directly addressing the things he's discussing.

"My wife is with me. I am sorry for my wife, I am sorry for everybody's wife" - Charles Bukowski

Day 27

Felt like I hadn't read some truly great poetry in a while, so it was grumpy Bukowski to the rescue today.

"what’s the matter with you, buddy? he asked. I submit my poems to the magazines, I said. you submit your poems to the magazines? he asked. you are god damned right I do, I said." - Charles Bukowski

Day 26

Idea for a drinking game: read a Haruki Murakami story and take a shot everytime he brings up Jazz, an introverted man and a "plain-looking" romantic interest. I promise you'll be smashed in no time.

“There was something odd for him about not feeling lonely. The very fact that he had ceased to be lonely caused him to fear the possibility of becoming lonely again.” - Haruki Murakami

Day 25

I'm a sucker for boyhood friendship stories, darkly comic poems and coffee. So, today was a good day for reading. Incidentally, the Carroll piece in particular reminded me of one of my favourite quotes from one of my favourite shows, Twin Peaks:

"Every day, once a day, give yourself a present. Don't plan it, don't wait for it, just let it happen. It could be a new shirt at the men's store, a catnap in your office chair, or two cups of good hot black coffee"

Day 24

Nausea 1979 showed a lot of promise but Murakami's decision to end on a meta note felt a bit flat here. But fascinated to Presume provided some food for thought on an article I'm working on

Day 23

None of these really struck me as fascinating, but all good stuff here nonethless. Though A Poor Aunt Story was a bit of a drag.

"The dead only speak through poetry So make the poems be the things That you give everything" - Dorothea Lasky

Day 22

Cat's, the internet and eerie stories have defined my reading over the last few weeks. Today was no different

"Gone are the tacit alliances with fellow subway riders, the brief evolution of sympathy with pedestrians. That predictable progress of unspoken affinity is now interrupted by an impulse to either refresh a page or to take a website-worthy photo. I have the nervous hand-tics of a junkie. For someone whose interest in other people’s private lives was once endless, I sure do ignore them a lot now." - Alice Gregory

Day 21

More comical absurdity from Murakami. But the essay on trauma culture is what really engaged me most. The brandification and commodification of private human experiences is one of the more troubling trends that have been amplified in the digital era, and Liu really capture the issues at hand.

"By focusing on all forms of trauma except exploitation, trauma culture has helped disguise the economic violence at the heart of neo-liberal macro economic policies"

Day 20

Highly entertaining and comical reads from Murakami and Harris, the former proving he can in fact be funny when he wants to be.

"And as he would crumble to the ground Holding his privates (This magnificent fury Beyond his comprehension)" - Claudia Chwalisz

Day 19

No points for guessing what form today's poem was in.

“Many of the best and most spiritually nourishing things in life are all too often rendered invisible by the tyrannies of time, money and force of habit.” - Henry Wismayer

Day 18

Today's reads more than made up for yesterday's poor showing. Hunting Knife was one of the more mysterious reads from the Blind Willow collection. While the nonfiction piece was the only truly interesting thing I've read on AI since the arrival of ChatGPT.

"Was it all an illusion Or was I the illusion? Maybe it didn't matter. Come tomorrow, I wouldn't be here anymore." - Haruki Murakami

Day 17

Honestly, I didn't think a lot about these three pieces. The Mirror was a bit of a throwaway and City Pastoral didn't do much for me at all. Maçães's essay was probably the most thought provoking of the bunch but not so much that i'd recommend it is essential reading by any stretch

Day 16

Aeroplane was pretty much every Murakami love story ever, but that's not neccesarily a bad thing. Meanwhile DiResta's essay on algorithums and their effect on human behaviour is both facinating and concerning.

“Trying to litigate rumors and fact-check conspiracy theories is a game of whack-a-mole that itself has negative political consequences.” - Renée DiResta

Day 15

Death is everywhere in New York Mining Disaster, but what an absolutely fantastic tal that reminded me why I enjoy Murakami's work so much.

"A poet might die at twenty-one, a revolutionary or a rock star at twenty-four. But after that you assume everything´s going to be alright." - Haruki Murakami

Day 14

Poems named after times of the year are generally dire. But February is about a cat trying to rest on his owner’s head and is actually pretty terrific. So was Birthday Girl and Lindberg's article too

“Of course I’d like to be prettier or smarter or rich. But I really can’t imagine what would happen to me if any of those things came true. They might be more than I could handle. I still don’t really know what life is all about. I don’t know how it works” - Haruki Murakami

Day 13

Going to be reading just Murakami stories for a while, simply because I need to get through some a book I have lying around. But as good as Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman was, Cuney's poem stole my heart. It's only a short but there's a lot captured and stored up in those words.

"But there are no palm trees on the street, and dish water gives back no images." - William Waring Cuney

Day 12

The housefly website is like a graphic story with some surrealist poetry thrown in but isn’t really either. Arguably doesn’t belong here, but I’m including it anyway because I make the rules and wanted to share it.

"It was a little secret, our morning almost meetings. At that brief moment, the world is silent, and only we exist, sharing that small bubble of grass and branches. Lately, I've been walking slightly closer to her hoping for a reaction. A glance, a movement. Nothing." - Rainstorm in July

Day 11

Decided to source my reading from the internet today. Or specifically Neocities, where you are pretty much guaranteed to come across something facinating sooner or later.

“I dream of a chunky little handheld computer, not small enough to follow you everywhere in your pocket, but worth taking with you everywhere in the way that a really good paperback book you’re in the middle of reading is.” - Emille M Reed

Day 10

The eccentric "Captain Charlie" from 'Hit on the Head' is my favourite Mitchell character profile yet. Meanwhile Sheep in the Fog was beautiful but tragic, with or without hindset.

“When a man takes to meddling with Egyptian Mummies fresh out of the tomb, damn near anything’s apt to happen” - Joseph Mitchell

Day 9

More Mitchell again.This time the piece was on the “Queen of the Bowery,” Mazie Phillips-Gordon. She was a real-life heroine of sorts who gained a reputation for her kindness towards the ever-increasing homeless population of New York in the 1920s and 30s (as well as her no-nonsense attitude). Linda Pastan's piece was a real surprise treat too

"I think of Degas’ words as the snow continues to fall, blanking out the green earth, bleaching the sky" - Linda Pastan

Day 8

Today's short story could equally be placed under the nonfiction I suppose, but it belongs more under the short story section. Mitchell fabricated and embellished his stories/character profiles anyway. But what he uncovers through them is a kind of greater truth nonetheless.

“To a steady McSorley customer, most other New York saloons seem feminine and fit only for college boys and women; the atmosphere in them is so tense and disquieting that he has to drink himself into a coma in order to stand it.” - Joseph Mitchell

Day 7

Aickman's story, where he warns us about the dangers of the phone some fifty years before smart devices, is the standout again. Just wonderfully eerie and chillign stuff

“It is plausible that the reading of history, journalism, and fiction puts people into the habit of inhabiting other peoples’ minds, which could increase empathy and therefore make cruelty less appealing.”

Day 6

Likes yesterday's Aickman story so much that I read some criticism on it, along with two short pieces about two different forms of heartbreak.

“the mattress sighs as you lower your- self into the breathing dark. A lifetime away, her voice rehearses what it is” - Michael Murphy

Day 5

The 40 years of the internet seems an odd choice I know, since the article is itself a decade old. But I found it fascinating. Especially the insinuation that the internet would exponentially evolve in the coming years.

The Aickman story was the real treat though. Had everything you'd want from one of his stories: surreal imagery, psychological horror, sexual undertones, and the ever-looming fear of modernity.

“Coming home is terrible whether the dogs lick your face or not; whether you have a wife or just a wife-shaped loneliness waiting for you.” - Eva H.D.

Day 4

Probably the most disapointing reading day so far. Even the Aickman story didn't live up to his usal standard

"That night, I opened your wardrobe and found a trophy of vultures, their necks pierced by hanger hooks." - Pascale Petit

Day 3

Robert Aickman stories are rarely outright scary. Often, it's only once you've put one down that you realise it's creeped under your skin

"No milk. It is black coffee, pure but strong, that fortifies against the powers of darkness with which the world is filled." - Robert Aickman

Day 2

Unfortunetely, Cat In The Rain was not in fact a Hemingway story written from the pov of a cat

“I’m no more your mother Than the cloud that distils a mirror to reflect its own slow Effacement at the wind’s hand” - Sylvia PLath

Day 1

Air and light and time and space by Charles Bukowski is one of my all-time favourite poems and Mr and Mrs Elliot is Hemingway at his most brutal. The real diamon in the rough here though is the Anti-consumerist piece which I discovered over on Medium.

“Millennials may have avoided the Ikea catalogue trap of a consumerist lifestyle, but in doing so, they’ve traded in an old misery for a new one. Instead of being unhappy buying and selling things, they’re unhappy buying and selling themselves.” - Thomas Ambrosini