Thursday, February 11, 2016

Drowning in Books

In 2015 I read more books then I ever have before.  I set a goal to read 100 books and also made it a goal to buy fewer books and use the library more.  Final tally for 2015 was 106 books – I was thrilled.  Totally rocked that goal.  And for eight months I successfully reduced my book purchases to ten books from January through August.

Then I discovered BookOutlet and the flood gates opened.  From Sept through the end of the year I bought 91 books.  I obviously didn’t notice that at the time, but it’s so easy to go overboard at BookOutlet.

This year I’m struggling with quite the slump.  I read four books in January.  Not horrible, but a tiny number for me.  I’ve started seven other books and just not picked them up again once I’ve put them down.  I’ve started to wonder if I’m dealing with “Decision Fatigue”.

Is everyone familiar with the phrase “Decision Fatigue”?  I started reading about it a couple years ago.  Basically as you make more and more decisions your brain gets tired and doesn’t think everything through.  Numerous studies have shown the affect of decision fatigue on everything from what to wear to the decision of judges to how it disproportionately affects the poor.

I’m starting to wonder if having too many book options is making it harder for me to choose what to read next AND making it more difficult to commit and focus on a book once I’m reading it.  I seriously bought an entire years worth of reading material last year when I probably already had that on my selves.  Not to mention ebooks from the library I can borrow with the push of a button.  There’s just always another option for reading material and I’m starting to think my brain is refusing to choose.

I think another issue for me is that my go-to genre is Women’s Fiction followed closely  by Contemporary YA.  These fly off my shelves almost immediately and what’s left are genres I enjoy but don’t gravitate too.  There’s also a fair amount of books outside my comfort zone to stretch my reading experience.  Once I’ve read my Women’s Fiction and Contemp YA, I spend a lot of time staring at my book asking, “What am I in the mood for?”.  All of the books on my shelves sound amazing, but whether I love them or not depends on if I’m in the right mood when I pick them up.

I did break my slump a little this weekend (by reading a ton of Women’s fiction books on Kindle).  I’m just trying to come up with a strategy to tackle the analysis paralysis when it comes to choosing my next ‘out of the box’ read.

Anyone else dealing with this?  I definitely welcome any ideas to move on.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Top 9 New Years Resolutions

Every Tuesday the ladies over at The Broke and the Bookish host a book related Top 10.

Top 10 Tuesday

This week is a freebie and since I missed Resolutions a few weeks ago I figured I’d go ahead and do it now.

Reading Goals

1. Complete the BookRiot 2016 Read Harder Challenge

2. Complete My Big Fat Book Challenge

3. At least 1 classic (probably Jane Eyre)

4. Read more books I already own than books I purchase.

Blogging Goals

5. Write at least one post a month that is not a meme or review

6. Comment more on other blogs/be more active on Twitter

Other Goals

7. Make more of an effort in social situations – I’m an introvert and sometimes I just don’t feel like being social, but last year I felt like I didn’t make ANY effort to be social and I was missing out.  I’d like to find a balance.

8. Learn Audacity

9. Keep my house picked up

Monday, January 18, 2016

Top Ten (12) Books I've Recently Added To My TBR

Every Tuesday the ladies over at The Broke and the Bookish host a book related Top 10.
Top 10 Tuesday THis week is Top 10 Books I’ve Recently Added to My TBR.  I did a first draft of this topic about two weeks ago thinking a book or two might change for the final version.  Then this post showed up on Bookriot.  So rather than just my last ten books added to my TBR this is my Top Twelve I’ve added in the last two months. 

 9780399175411_OutrunTheMoon_BOM.indd

Title:                  Outrun the Moon
Author:             Stacey Lee
On April 18, an historic earthquake rocks San Francisco, destroying Mercy’s home and school. With martial law in effect, she is forced to wait with her classmates for their families in a temporary park encampment. Mercy can't sit by while they wait for the Army to bring help. Fires might rage, and the city may be in shambles, yet Mercy still has the 'bossy' cheeks that mark her as someone who gets things done. But what can one teenaged girl do to heal so many suffering in her broken city?
I happened to catch part of a documentary about the earthquake of 1906 and immediately searched for any fiction set there.  Discovering that Stacey Lee has one coming out this year felt like kismet.

 Exit bear

Title:                  Exit, Pursued by a Bear
Author:             E.K. Johnston
In every class, there’s a star cheerleader and pariah pregnant girl. They’re never supposed to be the same person. Hermione struggles to regain the control she’s always had and faces a wrenching decision about how to move on. The assault wasn’t the beginning of Hermione Winter’s story and she’s not going to let it be the end. She won’t be anyone’s cautionary tale.
I’ll admit I’m in on this one for the cover.  Obviously, I think the summary sounds intriguing and I’m also curious about the title.

 Bitch Planet

Title:             After You Bitch Planet
Author:        Kelly Sue DeConnick, Valentine De Landro 
In a future just a few years down the road in the wrong direction, a woman's failure to comply with her patriarchal overlords will result in exile to the meanest penal planet in the galaxy. When the newest crop of fresh femmes arrive, can they work together to stay alive or will hidden agendas, crooked guards, and the deadliest sport on (or off!) Earth take them to their maker?
This is for the comic book category in this years Read Harder Challenge, but I’m super excited about it.

 The Way I used to Be

Title:                  The Way I Used to Be
Author:             Amber Smith
Eden was always good at being good. Starting high school didn’t change who she was. But the night her brother’s best friend rapes her, Eden’s world capsizes.
Told in four parts—freshman, sophomore, junior, and senior year—this provocative debut reveals the deep cuts of trauma. But it also demonstrates one young woman’s strength as she navigates the disappointment and unbearable pains of adolescence, of first love and first heartbreak, of friendships broken and rebuilt, and while learning to embrace a power of survival she never knew she had hidden within her heart.
This is well reviewed and sounds like something that will move me (I probably won’t LIKE it).

 Firsts

Title:                  Firsts
Author:             Laurie Elizabeth Flynn
Seventeen-year-old Mercedes Ayres has an open-door policy when it comes to her bedroom, but only if the guy fulfills a specific criteria: he has to be a virgin. Mercedes lets the boys get their awkward, fumbling first times over with, and all she asks in return is that they give their girlfriends the perfect first time- the kind Mercedes never had herself.
When Mercedes’ perfect system falls apart, she has to find a way to salvage her reputation and figure out where her heart really belongs in the process. Funny, smart, and true-to-life, FIRSTS is a one-of-a-kind young adult novel about growing up.
This totally depends on execution, but it seems like it has potention to tell the sex-shaming story from a different angle.

 The nest

Title:                  The Nest 
Author:             Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney
Every family has its problems. But even among the most troubled, the Plumb family stands out as spectacularly dysfunctional. Years of simmering tensions finally reach a breaking point on an unseasonably cold afternoon in New York City as Melody, Beatrice, and Jack Plumb gather to confront their charismatic and reckless older brother, Leo, freshly released from rehab. Months earlier, an inebriated Leo got behind the wheel of a car with a nineteen-year-old waitress as his passenger. The ensuing accident has endangered the Plumbs joint trust fund, “The Nest” which they are months away from finally receiving. Meant by their deceased father to be a modest mid-life supplement, the Plumb siblings have watched The Nest’s value soar along with the stock market and have been counting on the money to solve a number of self-inflicted problems.
Hearing that Amy Poehler recommends this one made it an auto-add for me.  Sounds like what I read more of pre-blog and I’m pretty excited about that.

 Your heart is a muscle

Title:                  Your Heart is a Muscle the Size of a Fist
Author:             Sunil Yapa
The Flamethrowers meets Let the Great World Spin in this debut novel set amid the heated conflict of Seattle's 1999 WTO protests.
I was drawn to this by the title and simplicity of the cover.  I added it to my list because it sounds interesting and it will probably fit the political category for the Read Harder Challenge.

 station eleven

Title:                  Station Eleven
Author:             Emily St. John Mandel
Spanning decades, moving back and forth in time, and vividly depicting life before and after the pandemic, this suspenseful, elegiac novel is rife with beauty. As Arthur falls in and out of love, as Jeevan watches the newscasters say their final good-byes, and as Kirsten finds herself caught in the crosshairs of the prophet, we see the strange twists of fate that connect them all. A novel of art, memory, and ambition, Station Eleven tells a story about the relationships that sustain us, the ephemeral nature of fame, and the beauty of the world as we know it.
Somehow I hadn’t heard of this until my secret santee requested it for Christmas.  Once I read the synopisis I had to add it to my list, just waiting for the library.

 Fates and Furies

Title:                  Fates and Furies
Author:             Lauren Groff
Every story has two sides. Every relationship has two perspectives. And sometimes, it turns out, the key to a great marriage is not its truths but its secrets. At the core of this rich, expansive, layered novel, Lauren Groff presents the story of one such marriage over the course of twenty-four years.
At age twenty-two, Lotto and Mathilde are tall, glamorous, madly in love, and destined for greatness. A decade later, their marriage is still the envy of their friends, but with an electric thrill we understand that things are even more complicated and remarkable than they have seemed. 
After seeing this on lists for awhile I finally decided I should give it a shot.

 

 All the birds in the sky

Title:                  All the Birds in the Sky
Author:             Charlie Jane Anders
Childhood friends Patricia Delfine and Laurence Armstead didn't expect to see each other again, after parting ways under mysterious circumstances during high school. After all, the development of magical powers and the invention of a two-second time machine could hardly fail to alarm one's peers and families.
But now they're both adults, living in the hipster mecca San Francisco, and the planet is falling apart around them. Laurence is an engineering genius who's working with a group that aims to avert catastrophic breakdown through technological intervention into the changing global climate. Patricia is a graduate of Eltisley Maze, the hidden academy for the world's magically gifted, and works with a small band of other magicians to secretly repair the world's ever-growing ailments. Little do they realize that something bigger than either of them, something begun years ago in their youth, is determined to bring them together--to either save the world, or plunge it into a new dark ages.
Magic and apocalypse.  Nuff said.  Added bonus it fills a hard to fill category in the challenge.

 Me earl dying girl

Title:                  Me, Earl, and the Dying Girl
Author:             Jesse Andrews
Greg Gaines is the last master of high school espionage, able to disappear at will into any social environment. He has only one friend, Earl, and together they spend their time making movies, their own incomprehensible versions of Coppola and Herzog cult classics.
Until Greg’s mother forces him to rekindle his childhood friendship with Rachel. Rachel has been diagnosed with leukemia—-cue extreme adolescent awkwardness—-but a parental mandate has been issued and must be obeyed. When Rachel stops treatment, Greg and Earl decide the thing to do is to make a film for her, which turns into the Worst Film Ever Made and becomes a turning point in each of their lives.
After Elizabeth’s stellar year of recommending books to me this one definitely makes my list.

 $After you_thumb[1].jpg

Title:                  After You
Author:             Jojo Moyes
Louisa Clark is no longer just an ordinary girl living an ordinary life. After the transformative six months spent with Will Traynor, she is struggling without him. When an extraordinary accident forces Lou to return home to her family, she can’t help but feel she’s right back where she started.
Her body heals, but Lou herself knows that she needs to be kick-started back to life. Which is how she ends up in a church basement with the members of the Moving On support group, who share insights, laughter, frustrations, and terrible cookies. They will also lead her to the strong, capable Sam Fielding—the paramedic, whose business is life and death, and the one man who might be able to understand her. Then a figure from Will’s past appears and hijacks all her plans, propelling her into a very different future. . . .
I finally read Me Before You a couple weeks ago and it’s been all I can do to wait for a library copy of the sequel and not purchase.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Top Ten 2015 Releases I Meant To Get To But Didn't

Every Tuesday the ladies over at The Broke and the Bookish host a book related Top 10.
Top 10 Tuesday

2015 was an amazing reading year for me.  I hit triple digits in books read for the first time every and so many of them were just stellar.  I got in a good mix of debuts and established authors.  Plus I felt like I stayed fairly up to date on what was new.  Unfortunately, I want to read ALL. THE. BOOKS. and there just isn’t enough time.  Here are the Top Ten 2015 Releases I just couldn’t squeeze in (this list could have been much longer).

The Hunted

10) The Hunted by Matt de la Pena – I loved The Living and can’t wait to find out what happens next…but evidently I can wait.  I was just never quite in the mood for it when I had it checked out from the library.

 

 

Precious Ones

9) The Precious One by Marisa de los Santos – I adore her writing.  It’s gorgeous, but this is another library book I just didn’t get to while it was checked out.  Soon.

 

 

Under painted sky

8) Under a Painted Sky by Stacey Lee – Love the cover and all the bloggers I follow who’ve read it highly recommend it.  I had it checked out from the library last year, but I have a tendency to end up with 20-30 books check out at once.  Too many choices can actually make it really hard to pick up a book.

 

A madness so discreet

7) A Madness so Discreet by Mindy McGinnis – The book cover is amazing and the premised sounds fascinating.

 

 

 

P.S. I Still Love You6) P.S. I Still Love You by Jenny Han – If this had been out when I finished To All the Boys I Loved Before in December 2014 I’d have read it immediately.  Still bought it on release day, but just haven’t gotten to it yet.

 

 

Saturn Run5) Saturn Run by John Sandford – I read ALL Sandford novels on release day.  Seriously, HOW have I not read this yet?

 

 

 

Accidental Saints4) Accidental Saints: Finding God in All the Wrong People by Nadia Bolz-Weber – I think this was another victim of “too many choices”.  It came out in October – so many books I wanted to read came out that month and I struggled to choose.

    

Mr Kiss and Tell3) Mr. Kiss and Tell by Rob Thomas – I think I’ve waited on this because I was disappointed Kristen Bell didn’t narrate the audio book like she did for the first one.  But I got it from my Secret Santa this year so I should read it soonSmile

       

Tonight the streets are outs2) Tonight the Streets are Ours by Leila Sales – October curse strikes again.  I’ve reread This Song Will Save Your Life at least three times and am totally excited to read this book…just haven’t yet.

 

 

Queen of Shadows1) Queen of Shadows by Sarah J Maas – Yep that’s right, I haven’t read it yet.  My only excuse is that it’s a long one and I work for UPS.  November-December are crazy for me.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

2015 End of Year Survey

Once again it's time for Jamie's annual survey.  I love filling these out - I always learn something about my own reading habits.

reading-stats-2015-1024x278

Number Of Books You Read: 110
Number of Re-Reads: 8 - I only officially counted the books that I reread in a different format in this case all books I listened to on audio for the first time.
I do a ton of re-reading, but it’s too hard to keep track of.  I frequently return to my favorite parts of books, but I don’t always read again from start to finish.
Genre You Read The Most From: Contemporary Romance

best-YA-books-2014

1. Best Book You Read In 2015?

winterYoung Adult Fiction – Winter by Marissa Meyer

 

 Career of Evil

 

 

Adult Fiction - Career of Evil by Robert Galbraith

Come as you are

 

 

Nonfiction - Come as You Are by Emily Nagoski

 

 

2. Book You Were Excited About & Thought You Were Going To Love More But Didn’t?

An Ember in the Ashes

 

An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir– This was just REALLY heavy so while the story was good I just didn’t love it.  I’m still planning to read the sequel.

 

 

 

3. Most surprising (in a good way or bad way) book you read? 

The Royal We

 

The Royal We by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan.   I was really expecting this to be cheesy, but there was a lot of depth to the story.

 

 

 

4. Book You “Pushed” The Most People To Read (And They Did)?

The Lunar Chronicles  by Marissa Meyer

cinderScarletcresswinter

When Books Went to War by Molly Guptill Manning

Books went to War


5a. Best series you started in 2015? Cormoran Strike novels by Robert Galbraith
b.   Best Sequel of 2015? Career of Evil also by Robert Galbraith
c.  Best Series Ender of 2015?  No surprise here, Winter by Marissa Meyer was the perfect conclusion to The Lunar Chronicles.
6. Favorite new author you discovered in 2015? This is the hardest question for me.  I read quite a few freshman novels, but I’m hesitant to add them to favorites until the sophomore book lives up. I’m going with Juliette Mariller and honorable mentions to Becky Albertalli and Celeste Ng in anticipation of book 2.

7. Best book from a genre you don’t typically read/was out of your comfort zone?

Books went to War

 

When I read nonfiction it tends to be somewhat in story form.  I rarely read history nonfiction and I LOVED When Books Went to War by Molly Guptil Manning.

 

 

8. Most action-packed/thrilling/unputdownable book of the year?

Career of Evil by Robert Galbraith and Winter by Marissa Meyer

 Career of Evilwinter

9. Book You Read In 2015 That You Are Most Likely To Re-Read Next Year?
 Happiness for Beginners
Happiness for Beginners by Katherine Center - This is SUCH a Brandy book. I love flawed main characters who give me all the feels.  Definitely a reread for 2016.  Thanks to Elizabeth for the recommendation.
 
 
10. Favorite cover of a book you read in 2015?

A court of thorns and roses

 

A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J Maas

I also love the Winter cover, but it’s already been in this post at least three times.

 
 
11. Most memorable character of 2015?
Winter is a crazy memorable character.  Catch the double meaning?  She’s crazy memorable, but also just a little crazy. 
I also adore Sorcha/Jenny from Daughter of the Forest.
12. Most beautifully written book read in 2015?Daughter of the forest

 

I tend to notice the writing in books if it’s super basic or just bad, but beyond that I just read.  That said, Daughter of the Forest by Juliet Mariller is beautifully written and I NOTICED.

 
13. Most Thought-Provoking/ Life-Changing Book of 2015?

Come as you are

 

Come as You Are by Emily Nagoski.  I can’t remember the last book that challenged so many things I thought I knew. So imformative and interesting.  I just recommended it to a friend of my mom’s.  Kinda weird, but cool. Side note:  The author narrates the audio book and it’s really good. 

 

14. Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2015 to finally read?

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte.  I mean I can totally believe I haven’t read it cause I’m just not a classics person, but since the end result was LOVED IT…Why didn’t I read this years ago?

15. Favorite Passage/Quote From A Book You Read In 2015?
16.Shortest & Longest Book You Read In 2015?

Shortest: Gingerbread by Rachel Cohn 205 pgs

Longest: Winter by Marissa Meyer 827 pgs

17. Book That Shocked You The Most

The Royal We by Jessica Morgan and Heather Cocks

18. OTP OF THE YEAR (you will go down with this ship!)

Jane/Mr. Rochester from Jane Eyre

Helen/Jake from Happiness for Beginners

Sorcha/Red from Daughter of the Forest  

19. Favorite Non-Romantic Relationship Of The Year

Scarlett/Winter, Cinder/Thorn, Cinder/Iko all from Winter by Marissa Meyer. 

20. Favorite Book You Read in 2015 From An Author You’ve Read Previously

Winter by Marissa Meyer, A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J Maas, The Cuckoo’s Call by Robert Galbraith (aka J.K. Rowling)

21. Best Book You Read In 2015 That You Read Based SOLELY On A Recommendation From Somebody Else/Peer Pressure

Daughter of the Forest/Jane Eyre

I think these are the two of Elizabeth’s recommendations that she had to PUSH the hardest to get me to read.

22. Newest fictional crush from a book you read in 2015?

Jake from Happiness for Beginners

23. Best 2015 debut you read?

Simon vs the Homosapien’s Agenda by Becky Albertalli

24. Best Worldbuilding/Most Vivid Setting You Read This Year?

Winter by Marissa Meyer

A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J Maas

25. Book That Put A Smile On Your Face/Was The Most FUN To Read?

Simon vs the Homosapien’s Agenda by Becky Albertalli

Top Ten Clues You’re Clueless by Liz Czukas

26. Book That Made You Cry Or Nearly Cry in 2015?

Lots of them. Probaby 60% of them.  But “Cried the Most”?  The Royal We.

27. Hidden Gem Of The Year?

My Heart and Other Black Holes by Jasmine Warga

28. Book That Crushed Your Soul?

Daughter of the Forest by Juliet Mariller.  It also put everything back together againSmile

29. Most Unique Book You Read In 2015?

Winter by Marissa Meyer

30. Book That Made You The Most Mad (doesn’t necessarily mean you didn’t like it)?

Dating Husbands by Lindy Zart – I thought the writing was bad.  The author did a find and replace every time the main character said fuck and changed it to flip.  SUPER distracting.

 

book-blogging

1. New favorite book blog you discovered in 2015?

Scribbles & Wanderlust

2. Favorite review that you wrote in 2015?

The Royal We by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan – for two reasons – first of all I felt like I was able to clearly articulate my feelings for the books without giving away key details.  Also I’d been attempting to get the “picture partially in the color box” HTML effect FOREVER and finally got it.  Unfortunately, I hit a blogging rough patch shortly after that so I’m going to have to figure it out again.

3. Best discussion/non-review post you had on your blog?

Writing Insecurities

4. Best event that you participated in (author signings, festivals, virtual events, memes, etc.)?

I’m really happy I did the BookRiot Read Harder Challenge

5. Best moment of bookish/blogging life in 2015?

It was pretty quite this year… probably Rainbow and David’s signing at the Bookworm in Omaha.

6. Most challenging thing about blogging or your reading life this year?

I’ve had pretty major family issues since September and my blog has been my last priority.  That’s really disappointing because I was having a fairly consistent year until then.

7. Most Popular Post This Year On Your Blog (whether it be by comments or views)?
The Trouble with Ratings

I was shocked by this one. I figured my most viewed post would be a Top 10 Tuesday.

8. Post You Wished Got A Little More Love?

In general my blog did better on traffic this year.  I wouldn’t mind a little more comment love in general, but no biggie and no specific posts.

9. Best bookish discovery (book related sites, book stores, etc.)?

Book Outlet – this might be the worst actually.  I was doing SO much better NOT buying books this year and using the library instead, but I purchased an embarrassing about from Book Outlet starting in September.

Bookriot – They have a great mix of bloggers and I get an interesting mix of recommendations across genres.  This is where I heard about Come as You are by Emily Nagoski.

10.  Did you complete any reading challenges or goals that you had set for yourself at the beginning of this year?

I read more than 100 books, but did not complete the Read Harder Challenge.

looking-ahead-books-2015

1. One Book You Didn’t Get To In 2015 But Will Be Your Number 1 Priority in 2016?

I don’t have one specific book.  My number 1 priority in 2016 is going to be completing my Big Fat Book Challenge.

2. Book You Are Most Anticipating For 2016 (non-debut)?

Is the fourth Cormoran Strike coming out in 2016? 

3. 2016 Debut You Are Most Anticipating?
No idea – I have no idea what’s coming out this year.  Suggestions?
4. Series Ending/A Sequel You Are Most Anticipating in 2016?

City of Mirrors by Justin Cronin!!!!!!! Finally!!!!

5. One Thing You Hope To Accomplish Or Do In Your Reading/Blogging Life In 2016?

Continue to challenge myself by reading diversely – I’ll be participating in the 2016 Read Harder Challenge.

6. A 2016 Release You’ve Already Read & Recommend To Everyone: NA

Friday, January 1, 2016

The Big Fat Book Challenge

My TBR list is overflowing with big books that I REALLY want to read, but fail to make time for in favor of new releases that can be read in a sitting or two.  In 2016 I really want to make time for some of the chunkers sitting on my shelves.

Obviously, what counts as a “Big Book” is somewhat arbitrary – not only because you have to set a number of pages that count, plus different editions of books can vary in terms of pages.  That said I’m counting anything over 500 pages as a “Big Book” and I’m going to use the number of pages from the first edition printed. 

My goal is to read 6000 pages of Big Books.  That could be twelve 500 page books or that could be six 1000 page books.

Planned Big, Fat Books

This is my plan with some alternates, but I could end up with completely different final choices if I end up DNFing some (life is too short to waste time on a bad/boring book).

1. Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace (1079 pgs) 

2. Shogun by James Clavell  (808 pgs)

3. The Executioner’s Song by Norman Mailer (1056 pgs)

4. Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norell by Susanna Clarke (782 pgs)

5. The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt (771 pgs)

6. The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis (767 pgs)

7. The City of Mirrors by Justin Cronin (688 pgs)

8. The Winds of War by Herman Wouk (896 pgs)

9. Antarctic Navigation by Elizabeth Arthur (798 pgs)

10. Son of Shadows by Juliet Marillier (608 pgs)

Alternate Options

Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry (843 pgs)

City on Fire by Garth Risk Hallberg (944 pgs)

I Know this Much is True by Wally Lamb (897 pgs)

The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett (973 pgs)

Almanac of the Dead by Leslie Marmon Silko (768 pgs)

Roots by Alex Haley (729 pgs)

Kushiel’s Dart by Jacqueline Carey (701 pgs)

The Potato Factory by Bryce Courtenay (739 pgs)

Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese (560 pgs)

Anyone else feel like they never tackle the bigger books on their TBRs?  I’d love company on this challenge if anyone else wants to join.

Thursday, December 31, 2015

Read Harder Challenge–the Results

This is the first year I’ve done an official challenge (beyond the Goodreads book count).  I was drawn to the Bookriot Read Harder Challenge because it had very diverse categories, several that wouldn’t be too hard, and a few that would be a really big stretch for me. Twenty four categories is exactly 2 a month and since my goal for the year was 100 books read that didn’t seem bad at all.

Well 2015 is over and I did not complete all 24 categories.  I did complete 19 total and four out of the five categories I was most concerned about when the year started.  Even though I didn’t finish, I’m so glad I participated and I would never call this a failure because I read so many books outside my comfort zone that I never would have otherwise.  I read several books I’d never have heard of without the challenge.

Pre-challenge I’d never even heard of a microhistory, but I read When Books Went to War by Molly Guptill Manning in January and its one of my most recommended books of the year.  Jane Eyre has been on my TBR for a long time, but I don’t gravitate towards books written a long time ago.  On Elizabeth’s strong recommendation, I finally read it in August to complete the “Book written 150 years ago” and fell in love with Jane and Mr. Rochester. 

Even categories I wasn’t concerned about resulted in some great reads.  I’d always planned to read The DUFF, but just never felt compelled to pick it up.  Since the author wrote it before she was 25 it fit in a category I was struggling with.  I went in with average expectations and The DUFF was awesome.  There was so much more to this book than I expected going in.

As for the unfinished categories, I attempted at least one book in each of them – I just have very little luck forcing myself to read things I’m not enjoying.  I’m keeping those categories in the back of my head to try and complete someday.  I’m definitely planning to participate in the 2016 Read Harder Challenge.