West Virginia is reading 150, and I am too

A book club has always required a level of commitment I can’t seem to muster. I don’t really want to read the same book as everybody else. And although I might like to get together and talk about the book, I’m not sure I’d actually make it on a regular basis.

At last, here’s a book club I can get behind.

It’s the West Virginia Reads 150, and all you have to do is read.

Sponsored by the West Virginia Library Commission, the effort is encouraging West Virginians, as individuals or in teams, to read 150 books in any format in honor of this, West Virginia’s sesquicentennial year.

I had read about the effort but hadn’t really planned to take part until I saw a group taking shape among a few Twitter users. I volunteered to join up and became a member of the ‘TwitLits,” which is not a good name for a biker gang but fine enough for a book consumption effort.

When my kids were really little, my reading efforts sagged because there was so much else to do. But lately I’ve been on the upswing. Getting an e-reader meant that reading material is always available — and downloadable at the touch of a button (although you have to watch this a bit if you are an impulse buyer). The click, click, click of turning “pages” is a little reward. I think of myself as a hamster seeking word pellets. And even the heaviest of books always weighs the same on an e-reader. Hardly anything is intimidating.

And, of all things, the least literate resident of my home, our dog, ncourages reading. He likes to just hang out on the couch in the evenings, and so I hang out with him — usually with something to read. Meanwhile, doggie snores.

I’m performing fairly well with my reading group. So far I have downed “The Night Circus” and “Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk.” I liked both, although “Billy Lynn’s” gave me more to think about. (As an aside, I was reading about “The Night Circus” after I finished it and came across a site for “The Semi-Literate Yinzer Bookclub,” a Pittsburgh area group that rates books by numbers of pierogies. Check them out and be sure to read their “about us.”)

The West Virginia Reads 150 initiative is a good incentive to read and keep reading. And I have a lot more on my pile including “Ender’s Game,” “Bossypants,” “The Poisonwood Bible,” “Los in Shangri-La,” “The Half-Made World,” “The Center of Everything” and “Mercury Falls.”

Any recommendations?

Jennifer Garner, in cartoon form, stars on PBS Kids

Ever wonder what Charleston’s Jennifer Garner might be like as a cartoon? Well, now we know!

The longtime Charleston resident is guest starring on “Martha Speaks” on PBS Kids. Taking a role with kids or dogs always presents the danger of being upstaged, but that might not hold true if you’re already a cartoon.

In an episode called “Too Many Marthas,” the talking dog known as Martha is in for a surprise when another doggie Martha shows up. Garner’s cartoon character helps to straighten matters out with lines like, “Martha is tall and thin. You’re stubby and round and freckled.”

This all happens on Feb. 4. I bet Garner’s own kids will enjoy the episode.

Check out a preview.