Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Alphabet Soup Reading Challenge 2018

Dollycas over at the Escape with Dollycas blog is hosting this cool challenge again, and I decided that I could manage this in 2018. The plan is to mainly use my TBR pile, with maybe a few library books here and there to get those pesky letters like Q and X taken care of. You can get all the details and sign up here. I love to sort and categorize books, so this is a fun thing to do with my reading. Suggestions for books that begin with specific letters are most welcome!


Monday, January 1, 2018

2018 Reading Challenges

This is just a post listing my reading challenges so I don't accidentally forget one, and so I can easily link my reviews. I have cut back on challenges in general and I am trying to only do them if I can use my TBR pile to fulfill the requirements, rather than relying on the library.

Links in this post go to my challenge posts, where there are details about how to sign up, the rules, etc. I will add challenges if I sign up for more - and I would love to hear about any cool challenges that aren't listed here that I might be interested in!

Back to the Classics Challenge

Mount TBR Challenge

Color Coded Challenge

TBR Pile Challenge

Planet Earth Challenge

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Mount TBR Challenge 2018

Bev at My Reader's Block is hosting this awesome challenge again in 2018 too, and you can sign up and get all the info here. Although I didn't make my goal of 60 books in 2017, I'm going to stick with the Mount Kilimanjaro level again for 2018 just for the sake of continuity. I'll keep track of the books I read and link the reviews here as I read.

Color Coded Reading Challenge 2018

Bev at My Reader's Block is hosting this fun challenge again, hooray! I love categorizing my books for this challenge. You can get the details and sign up here.

Here are the categories, I will fill in book titles as I read and review them.

*Read nine books in the following categories.
1. A book with "Blue" or any shade of Blue (Turquoise, Aquamarine, Navy, etc) in the title/on the cover.
2. A book with "Red" or any shade of Red (Scarlet, Crimson, Burgandy, etc) in the title/on the cover.
3. A book with "Yellow" or any shade of Yellow (Gold, Lemon, Maize, etc.) in the title/on the cover.
4. A book with "Green" or any shade of Green (Emerald, Lime, Jade, etc) in the title/on the cover.
5. A book with "Brown" or any shade of Brown (Tan, Beige, Sand etc) in the title/on the cover.
6. A book with "Black" or any shade of Black (Jet, Ebony, Charcoal, etc) in the title/on the cover.
7. A book with "White" or any shade of White (Ivory, Eggshell, Cream, etc) in the title/on the cover.
8. A book with any other color in the title/on the cover (Purple, Orange, Silver, Pink, Magneta, etc.).
9. A book with a word that implies color (Rainbow, Polka-dot, Plaid, Paisley, Stripe, etc.).

Suggestions for books to fulfill the categories are always welcome!

2017 - This Year in Reading

This year was sort of a mixed bag for reading - I didn't read as much as I hoped I would, and I even managed to not complete one of my reading challenges. Reading only 52 books in a year is sort of embarrassing for me, to be honest. To reframe this as a positive, I read 1 book per week on average, and at least I have some room for improvement next year, ha ha.

Let's do a quick challenge recap:

Back to the Classics Challenge: completed!
Color Coded Challenge: completed!
TBR Pile Challenge: completed!
LGBTQIA Challenge: completed!
Mount TBR Challenge: only 35/60 books read :(
Classic Book of the Month Challenge: I read the books I had planned to read for this, so I'm happy with it and I'll call it complete, even though I didn't read all 12

Not bad, all in all. It's better than NOT reading at all.

For 2018, I have a few goals:

1. Read the ARCs I have on hand. This is super embarrassing - I was sent some ARCs for review in 2017 that I haven't managed to read. Partly it's because I don't enjoy reading on the computer, but at this point I need to put that aside and fulfill my commitments.

2. Finish all of the challenges I sign up for. This shouldn't be too hard for me, as I normally do complete them all, with this year's incomplete challenge excepted.

3. Participate in the challenges I sign up for more. I am really bad at this - I tend to sign up for challenges and then I forget to participate in the check in posts, and I forget to post my reviews and etc. Partly this is because I don't really care if I win a prize or not - reducing my TBR pile is reward enough, ha ha. But it's also because I'm lazy and I would like to change that.

4. Read at a higher rate than 1 book per week when possible. Any reading is always better than no reading, but I am wasting time in unproductive ways and I should really redirect that into enriching my mind with reading instead of less brain-enhancing pursuits.

I think that's it for now. I would like to thank all of the people who read this blog, whether or not you ever post here - I appreciate you visiting and reading my reviews. I hope you all have a wonderful, happy, healthy, and book-filled 2018.

December - This Month in Reading

I managed to read 4 books this month, although only 2 were for challenges. December can be a really difficult month for reading for me, between work and holiday nonsense, so I'm OK with this. I do hope to do better in 2018 though.

I won't go on and on in this post, as I'll write a 2017 wrapup post today as well.

Happy New Year!

TBR Pile Challenge 2018

I'm so happy to see that Adam at Roof Beam Reader is back to hosting this challenge in 2018! I did OK with doing this as a personal challenge, but a formal challenge is always more fun. Plus, it's great that Adam's doctoral thesis is completed  - congrats! :)

You can read the rules and specifics and sign up here.

Here is my list for 2018, in no particular order.

1. On Such a Full Sea - Chang-Rae Lee (2014). I'm not sure how this book came to be on my pile, but it's high time I read it. Should be good.

2. Woman in the Shadows - Jane Thynne (2014). This might be one my Library Sale shelves books, not sure. Looks good though.

3. Charles Jessold, Considered as a Murderer - Wesley Stace (2010). This is one of my very last Borders Last Days Sales books. It even still has the Borders price sticker on the back. I have no idea what this is about but it's time to dust off the cover and find out.

4. Measuring Time - Helon Habila (2007). Another Library Sales shelves book that should be really good.

5. Blindspot - Jane Kamensky & Jill Lepore (2008). This is one of the oldest residents of my TBR pile, a classic TBR book that I got from the Library Sale shelves because it looked interesting and then it somehow took up residence on the pile and never left. Until now.

6. The Lowland - Jhumpa Lahiri (2013). I have liked her other stuff, so this one should be good as well.

7. A Lesson Before Dying - Ernest J. Gaines (1993). Can't believe I've never read this book - I've even seen a really good version of this story as a play.

8. The Master Butchers Singing Club - Louise Erdrich (2003). Grabbed this one off the Library Sale shelves based on the author's reputation, so I'm hoping to love this book.

9. Mornings in Jenin - Susan Abulhawa (2010). Yet another Library Sale book. I think this one will be challenging but enjoyable.

10. 365 grains de sable (365 grains of sand) (1991?). This children's book is a collection of very short stories, one for each day of the year. I am going to try to read one per day, as it's all in French, so that will be good practice. I haven't listed an author, as the information inside indicates that these stories were translated from the original Italian by "Jean-Luc," with illustrations by "Matal." Should be a fun read that I need to stop putting off.

11. Les précieuses ridicules - Molière (1659). This play was on my 2017 list but I didn't manage to read it, so I'm prioritizing it in 2018.

12. Fatherland - Robert Harris (1992). Another book from the 2017 list that I didn't manage to read.

Alternate books:

1. The Egyptologist - Arthur Phillips (2004)
2. Buying on Time - Antanas Sileika (1997)

Back to the Classics Challenge 2018

This has become one of my favorite challenges, and I'm so happy Karen K. of Books and Chocolate is hosting it again for 2018! You can get all the details and sign up yourself here. If you signed up, please share your list with me, I'd love to see it.

Without further ado, here is my list for 2018.

1.  A 19th century classic - any book published between 1800 and 1899. Hernani - Victor Hugo (1830). This is actually a play, and I'm interested to see how it differs from the first Hugo novel I read, The Hunchback of Notre Dame.

2.  A 20th century classic - any book published between 1900 and 1968. Just like last year, all books MUST have been published at least 50 years ago to qualify. The only exception is books written at least 50 years ago, but published later, such as posthumous publications. The Road to Wigan Pier - George Orwell (1937). I love Orwell's writing, so I'm looking forward to this.

3.  A classic by a woman author.  An Interrupted Life and Letters from Westerbork - Etty Hillesum (written between 1941-1943, published posthumously in 1981). For obvious reasons, this wasn't published in the author's lifetime. Should be difficult yet rewarding.

4.  A classic in translation.  Any book originally written published in a language other than your native language. Feel free to read the book in your language or the original language. (You can also read books in translation for any of the other categories). Modern translations are acceptable as long as the original work fits the guidelines for publications as explained in the challenge rules. Night Flight - Antoine de Saint-Exupéry (1931) Translated from the original French. Everyone and their brother (including me!) has read The Little Prince, but I'm looking forward to reading this nonfiction book.

5. A children's classic. Indulge your inner child and read that classic that you somehow missed years ago. Short stories are fine, but it must be a complete volume. Picture books don't count! Le petit Nicolas (Little Nicholas) - René Goscinny,  illustrated by Jean-Jacques Sempé (1959). Cannot wait to read this book, although it will be a little challenging as it's a classic French children's book and I have it in the original French. Should be a fun test of my skills :)

6.  A classic crime story, fiction or non-fiction. This can be a true crime story, mystery, detective novel, spy novel, etc., as long as a crime is an integral part of the story and it was published at least 50 years ago. Examples include The 39 Steps, Strangers on a Train, In Cold Blood, The Murder of Roger Ackroyd, etc.  The Haycraft-Queen Cornerstones list is an excellent source for suggestions. The Original Illustrated Sherlock Holmes - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. My version is a hardbound gift book copy of a complete collection of the 37 original Holmes stories as they appeared in The Strand in 1891-1893 and and again in 1903 - 1905, as well as The Hound of the Baskervilles, which was published in The Strand in 1901 - 1902. All told it's more than 600 pages, so this will be a nice big book to sink my teeth into.

7. A classic travel or journey narrative, fiction or non-fiction. A journey should be a major plot point, i.e., The Hobbit, Unbeaten Tracks in Japan, Kon-Tiki, Travels with Charley, etc. Travels with Charley - John Steinbeck (1962). I coincidentally happened to have a copy of this book in my TBR pile, so this works perfectly for this category! Let my literary crush on Steinbeck deepen!

8. A classic with a single-word title. No articles please! Proper names are fine -- Emma, Germinal, Middlemarch, Kidnapped, etc.). Frankenstein - Mary Shelley (1818). I can't believe I've never read this book, this seems like the perfect opportunity.

9. A classic with a color in the title. The Woman in White; Anne of Green Gables; The Red and the Black, and so on. The Case of the Gilded Fly - Edmund Crispin (1944). I hope this counts, as "gilded" means "covered with gold." This author is new to me and I am hoping I love this book.

10. A classic by an author that's new to you. Choose an author you've never read before. Rosemary's Baby - Ira Levin (1967). I have a cool vintage hardback copy of this book on the TBR pile, and Levin is definitely new to me, so this is perfect.

11. A classic that scares you. Is there a classic you've been putting off forever? A really long book which intimidates you because of its sheer length? Now's the time to read it, and hopefully you'll be pleasantly surprised! La symphonie pastorale (The Pastoral Symphony) - André Gide (1925). I've been putting this book off for years because it intimidates me, as it's in the original French and I think it might strain my language skills quite a bit. Time to bite the bullet and read this book already!

12. Re-read a favorite classic. Like me, you probably have a lot of favorites -- choose one and read it again, then tell us why you love it so much.  McTeague - Frank Norris (1899). This is one of my favorite books full stop. I haven't reread it in years and years (since before 2011, when I started this blog) and I can't wait to read it again in 2018.

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Chapter and Verse: New Order, Joy Division and Me - Bernard Sumner

Another Yule gift that I decided to read immediately. I'm also a fan of Joy Division and New Order, although I confess I have been out of the loop of the latter band's output for a while, through no fault of the band. This book got a bit more into how some specific songs came about and etc., while also providing a thorough background of how both of these bands came to be. It was also very sad to read about Ian Curtis and what drove him to end his life at an early age. All in all it was a well done look inside these bands and the lives of successful musicians.

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Cured: The Tale of Two Imaginary Boys - Lol Tolhurst

This book was a Yule gift that I couldn't wait to read, so I spent all day reading it. The author is a cofounder of the band The Cure, one of my favorites from back in the day. The memoir is enjoyable - it's always interesting to hear about the childhoods of famous people and how an iconic band came to be. Although I do wish there had been more info about how some particular songs came to be, and the inspiration for them, etc., I'm sure there are books out there that discuss such things if I care to do some investigating. All in all this is an absorbing read and not to be missed if you're a fan of the band.