Monday, July 14, 2014

Deal Me In "Lite" -- An Introduction

For some time now I have followed the short story reading plan known as “Deal Me In” found on the Bibliophilopolis blog.  For those of you unaware of this plan, it is the original (as far as I know) brainchild of Jay, Bibliophilopolis’ blogmeister.  The short explanation of how his reading plan works is this: At the beginning of the year, Jay picks four categories of short stories (horror, sci-fi, etc.), and out of these four categories he then chooses 13 short stories, often all from the same anthology.  Each category or anthology gets assigned to a particular playing card suit (spades, hearts, diamonds, or clubs), and then each story gets assigned to a particular card within that suit (Ace through King).  This results in 52 stories, one for each week of the year.  Jay’s original post from 2011, when all this started, can be found here, and his post for the 2014 version of the challenge can be found here.

Jay's excellent logo for his challenge.

Now, I absolutely LOVE projects like this and I haven’t the slightest idea why.  The randomness of picking what to read next definitely intrigues me, for sure.  And the idea of reading manageable short stories, one a week, is also highly appealing.  But I like many others have a problem with stick-to-it-iveness in a thing like this, so I started by simply observing the process from afar by following Jay’s blog, enjoying his posts and the posts of the other bloggers engaging in their own Deal Me In projects, but not willing to get my feet wet.

BUT.  The other day it hit me that we had reached the halfway mark of the year – now past it, of course – and it might be a perfect time to launch a modified version of this project that I am calling “Deal Me In Lite.”  You see, I finally want to have my own DMI project, but I missed the boat at the beginning of the year.  However, that’s no reason why I can’t have some fun with it anyway for half a year, at least, and then hopefully it will be so much fun and so interesting that I will be raring to go with the full version of DMI come January.

So here’s my plan.  There are 26 weeks in the remainder of the year from July 1, which is when I devised this plan.  I still wanted to use four suits like Jay does, so that meant that two suits would have six cards and two suits would have seven, to make the math work out correctly.

My four anthologies that I will be reading from are:
1. Bradbury Stories: 100 of Ray Bradbury’s Most Celebrated Tales (I was excited to see that this is now in a Kindle edition, because I have the dead tree version, and it is a HUGE book, running to almost 900 pages!!)

2. The Best American Short Stories 2007, edited by Stephen King

3. The Classic Humor Megapack (a Kindle volume of humorous short stories)

4. Growing Up in the South: An Anthology of Modern Southern Literature, edited by Suzanne Jones

And here, for reference, are the stories I will be reading from these anthologies:

Spades: Bradbury Stories
A: “February 1999: Ylla" (Week 14)
2: “Junior" (Week 13)
3: “Hopscotch" (Week 24)
4: “The Illustrated Man" (Week 23)
5: “The Smile" (Week 17)
6: “All on a Summer’s Night" (Week 1)
7: “Let’s Play ‘Poison’" (Week 19)

Clubs: The Best American Short Stories 2007
A: “Solid Wood” — Ann Beattie (Week 4)
2: “Toga Party” — John Barth (Week 2)
3: “Where Will You Go When Your Skin Cannot Contain You?” — William Gay (Week 5)
4: “The Boy in Zaquitos” — Bruce McAllister (Week 20)
5: “Dimension” — Alice Munro (Week 6)
6: “The Bris” — Eileen Pollack (Week 25)

Hearts: The Classic Humor Megapack
A: “The Angel of the Odd” — Edgar Allan Poe (Week 10)
2: “A Double-Dyed Deceiver” — O. Henry (Week 21)
3: “Titbottom’s Spectacles” — George William Curtis (Week 11)
4: “My Double: And How He Undid Me” — Edward Everett Hale (Week 3)
5: “A Visit to the Asylum for Aged and Decayed Punsters” — Oliver Wendell Holmes (Week 12)
6: “Who Do You Think Did It?” — Stephen Leacock (Week 8)

Diamonds: Growing Up in the South
A: "The President of the Louisiana Live Oak Society” — Ellen Gilchrist (Week 22)
2: “Sucker” — Carson McCullers (Week 7)
3: “Everyday Use” — Alice Walker (Week 9)
4: “Amazing Grace” — William Hoffman (Week 15)
5: “Everything That Rises Must Converge” — Flannery O'Connor (Week 26)
6: “An Odor of Verbena” — William Faulkner (Week 18)
7: “The Man Who Was Almost a Man” — Richard Wright (Week 16)

I hope this mini project will be fun and that you will enjoy following me as I read through Deal Me In Lite!


  1. Hello!
    I was so excited to see your comment this morning, and I love the variation of Deal Me In that you've come up with. (I wish I had thought of it before I did my mid-year post - maybe I could've lured a few more into the Deal Me In web...)

    You have a lot of great authors (of which I've read many) in your list, but I have only actually read two of the stories. I particularly like your diamonds suit (and of course, a Bradbury suit can only be awesome).

    I should point out, for the record, that the concept of using playing cards to select what to read next was not my original idea. Another blog back in 2011 was doing something similar to read one BOOK a week (I think that project petered out rather quickly, though). The short story wrinkle is mine, all mine, though. :-) Also, the logo for deal me in was made by the blogger, Mannomoi (linked on my blog).

    Creating the roster of stories is half the fun in this project, isn't it? I hope you are able to use Deal Me In to help make reading a story a week into a habit, as it has worked out for me. In my first year doing the project I fell waaaay behind a couple times, but did end up finishing it by year end. The last couple years I've been pretty consistent. I think it helps to have a designated day to pick your short story and read it (saturday mornings is my short story time). One of the beauties of Deal Me In, though, is if you do fall behind, it doesn't take very long to catch up!

    I'll link back to your blog in my weekly wrap up post next week and hopefully the other DMI'ers will check out your blog as well.

    Good luck!


    1. Jay, thanks for your kind words, and for your support of my little variation on your challenge. Thanks for clarifying the history of the challenge as well. I am enjoying this project immensely, and I'm looking forward to making it a habit!

  2. Welcome to DMI! You have a great list! I've enjoyed Ray Bradbury's stories over the past couple of years and Flannery O'Connor has been a wonderful discovery. My Week 29 story was "Everything That Rises Must Converge". It's now one of my favorites.

    1. Thanks for the welcome! I love pretty much everything Flannery O'Connor ever wrote (although I confess I don't understand some of it), so when I saw her story in that collection, I knew it was going on the list!!

  3. Welcome aboard! I have that Bradbury anthology too. It's a great book, but it is such a *tome*. Poe in a humor anthology? Is there anything that guy couldn't do?

    1. Thanks for the welcome. And re: Poe -- I know!! I can't wait to see what kind of humor story Poe might have written. When I saw it listed in the table of contents, I knew it was going on the list!