One of my favorite Booktubers (Booktube is the bookish community on YouTube) is Canadian Rick Mac Donnell. I like him because he’s unpretentious and he’s passionate about books. He can also be a bit dorky, which I find endearing. He clearly is not interested in being an “influencer “. He doesn’t always read trendy books and I appreciate that. He’s also brutally honest: his scathing “exorcism ” of Lucy Ellman’s Ducks, Newburyport is awesome to behold. He also has shaken up the bookish community on both Booktube and Bookstagram with what he calls the Booktube Spin and I finally took part in it in June.
The Booktube Spin is a game show of revolving books. Rick has made a spinning wheel on his computer with 20 spots. You pick 20 books and you assign a number for each book. Whatever number the wheel lands on, you have two months to read the book. He encourages everyone participating to post the books and the number you gave them before the spin. It’s a great way to get a book off of your TBR that you’ve been wanting to read, but for some reason, you haven’t.
The first spin was in January of this year. I was trying to decide if I wanted to read The White Tiger at the time I was reading Americanah. I didn’t feel like adding a third book to the mix. The second Booktube Spin was on April 28th and for some reason, I missed the announcement until after the spin. However, Rick messed up by announcing the third one a month in advance. He woke up one morning and Tweeted that the next spin was in June. However, it was supposed to be in July, but like the nice guy he is, he’s giving us three months to read a book.
Rick suggests making four categories of five books, which really helps you narrow down what books to pick. I also made it easy on myself by using the order of the books I put in stacks to determine what number I gave it.
This is a list of my categories and the number I gave them:
LGBT books (It was Pride month)
1) After Delores by Sarah Schulman
2) Before Night Falls by Renaldo Arenas
3) Eighty-sixed by David B. Fienberg
4) The Lost Language of Cranes by David Leavitt
5) The Berlin Stories by Christopher Isherwood
6) Silas Marner by George Elliot
7) The Scarlett Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne
8) Tono-Bungay by H.G. Welles
9) Bel-Ami by Guy de Mausspant
10) A Passage to India by E.M. Foster
Books by Authors I Haven’t Read
11) Johnny Got His Gun by Dalton Trumbo
12) Tropic of Cancer by Henry Miller
13) Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami
14) The Book of Laughter and Forgetting by Milan Kundra
15) Plainsong by Kent Haruf
Book by Authors I Have Read
16) Innocent Blood by P.D. James
17) Goodbye to All That by Robert Graves
18) The Bell by Iris Murdock
19) Men at Arms by Evelyn Waugh
20) The Plot Against America by Philip Roth
Most of the books I picked weren’t that long and I figured I could read in three months. They were all books I’ve been wanting to read but for some reason, haven’t picked it up.
The night before the spin, he told me there was a surprise. I assumed because he’s Canadian, he got Margaret Atwood or Alice Munro to do the honors. That didn’t happen but what did seemed to have more twists and turns than a General Hospital episode. Without much fanfare, he spun the wheel and it landed on number 2. The book he chose was Frankenstein (He picked all classics, but ranked them from ones he wanted to read to classics he wasn’t excited to read). He felt bad he only had one short book to read within three months, so Rick decided to spin again. This time it landed on Tristan Shandy by Lawrence Stern, which is a meandering novel of the 17th Century, which if you see the video, Rick was not happy about.
As for me, my #2 pick was Before Night Falls, which I’m currently reading. It’s a memoir by Renaldo Arenas about his life in Cuba before and after Castro took over. I saw the film when it came out in theaters. My #20 book was The Plot Against America by Philip Roth. As much as I want to read it, I want to read Quicksand and Passing by Nella Larson because the film adaptation of Passing is supposed to come on Netflix later this year. I’m glad I took part in it this time. I’m not sure I will always have the time to participate in the Booktube Spin but it’s a great option when you are unsure what book you want to read next.