Books

2015 Reads, Bout of Books, and 2016 Reading Challenges

I have gobs of bookish activity to catch up on; let’s get right to it!

2015 Reads:

I read 47 books in 2015 and fell just 10% of my goal of 52 books. I was a little bit bummed, but then I checked my stats and this is the most I’ve read since 2010. In other words, I had Atticus in late October and my reading promptly took a dip in numbers. In 2011 I read 43 books, in 2012 I read 42 books, in 2013 I read 29 books, and in 2014 I read 38 books. Yay! I’ve set the goal to read 52 books this year. I was going to pick a smaller number, but I’ve decided against graduate school (that’s a topic for another post) and I should have time for reading this year.

My top seven books of the year (not including re-reads) are:

  1. Among Others by Jo Walton
  2. The Quick by Lauren Owen
  3. East of Eden by John Steinbeck
  4. The Children’s Book by A S Byatt
  5. We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler
  6. Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel
  7. Special Topics in Calamity Physics by Marisha Pessl

A few other stats with some interecting numbers:

  • I read 15 classics (published prior to 1960)
  • I read 11 rereads
  • I read 11 graphic novels
  • I read 7 Viragos
  • I read 4 non-fiction titles
  • I read 8 young adult books

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Bout of Books

 

Bout of Books
I decided to start 2016 out with a bang and readathon with the Bout of Book folks. My goal is to read 700 pages. I’m on vacation this week, so as long as no small children get ill (cross your fingers) I should be able to accomplish this. The page number goal will give me a chance to dip into big classic novels and read graphic novels, smaller books, and YA. Keepin it fresh, yo.
I’ll be posting my Bout of Books updates on Twitter and Instagram, but will be sure to do a big wrap-up next week.
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2016 Reading Challenges:
I always swear I won’t do these, but I’m a glutton for punishment.
First up is Andi’s #ReadMyOwnDamnBooks Challenge
ReadMyOwnDamnBooksbutton
My goal is to read 24 books from my stacks (i.e. already owned) and then read others from the library. I’m going on a book buying ban until my birthday at the end of April. I’m determining how much I can buy on my birthday by what I read. $2 for every book from my stacks read and $1 for each library book. Yes, I’ll still be buying books. I just need to get rid of the willy nilly book buying and stick to a budget.
2016GNButton
I’ll be shooting for completing 12 graphic novels or comics this year.
BackToTheClassics2016
My goal is to complete 9 of the 12 categories. Of course one classics challenge wasn’t enough for me. I also signed up for Becky’s Victorian Bingo Challenge. For Becky’s challenge I need to read five books from five different categories.
VictorianReadingChallenge
I don’t really have set lists for either classics challenge. I already know I will be pulling from my stacks for most of the books. A couple books I am especially eyeing include Charlotte Bronte’s Shirley, Wilkie Collins No Name, Trollope, Dickens, and some Virago titles.
Not really a challenge, but a side read is O’s readalong of The Pickwick Papers.
pickwick readalong
I’ve tried my damnedest to read this novel in the past and it just falls short for me. I’m hoping reading it by the publication schedule will help.
Speaking of O’s challenges, since I already love Brit Lit so much I decided (just now as a matter of fact) to participate in her Reading England Challenge.
reading england ii
My goal is to read at least 3 different counties. I decided to participate because I realize I tend to not pay attention to where books are set in England. I tend to smoosh all of it together. This will at least allow me to read with more awareness and less generalizing of British places.
One last challenge! Ali is hosting a #WoolfAlong this year.
virginia-woolf2
My goal is to read some of Woolf’s shorter fiction and a non-fiction book about her.
That does it for challenges next year. I may throw some more readalongs and readathons in the mix!
Happy 2016 reading, y’all!

Snapshot Saturday (On a Sunday)

snapshotsaturdaysnapshot_monstersThis weekend was rad. Giant book sale, but showed great restraint and only bought $7 worth of books. Out with my good friend Catherine for thrifting, Ikea dinner, Of Monsters and Men, and coffee. Atticus played Readathon this weekend. He piled his books in the tent and then handed them to me with a cup of coffee.

On to a new week!

Top Ten Tuesday: My Autumn TBR

toptentuesdayToday the readers at Top Ten Tuesday ask what we have on our TBR pile. I couldn’t whittle my stack to 10 items, so here are a dozen books I’d like to read this fall.

Fall TBRCurrently Reading:

The Quick by Lauren Owen

The Thing on the Doorstep and Other Weird Tales by H P Lovecraft

Ten Upcoming Reads:

Surfacing by Margaret Atwood

The Meaning of Night by Michael Cox

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

The Haunted Hotel by Wilkie Collins

Among Others by Jo Walton

The Dark Horse Book of Hauntings

The Canterville Ghost: Graphic Novel by Oscar Wilde

This House is Haunted by John Boyne

Will Storr vs the Supernatural by Will Storr

The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield

Have you read any of these titles? Let me know if any in particular would be good to save for Readathon!

Readerly Rambles: 21 September 2015

readerly rambles

What I read: East of Eden by John Steinbeck. This book was picked by you lovely reader on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and in the comments for my classic book for August (ummm it took me a while to read it). If ever there was a book to deserve a proper review it is East of Eden. I lack the ability to sum up how much adored this book in a thoughtful and critical manner, so you will have to make do with over-dramatic exclamations of fondness. Ahem: DEAR LORD THAT WAS A MARVELOUS READ!!! Now, go forth and read it. If you’re lucky I may get around to writing a proper review that reins in my exuberance.

~~~ Stats ~~~

Started: 15 August 2015

Finished: 16 September 2015

Pages: 602

Challenges:

Owned/Borrowed/Library: Owned

Stars: 5 out of 5

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What I’m reading: I’ve a few days of a book break while I bask in the glory of Steinbeck. I’ve read a handful of short stories by H.P. Lovecraft for RIPX and I plan to review those once I finish my lovely Penguin Horror copy.

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What’s up next: I have Lauren Owen’s The Quick in my bag and I plan on starting that this evening. This is also for the RIPX challenge; the Peril of the Group Read.

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Other Bookish News: I went to the public library’s book sale this weekend and behaved so well. I picked up 5 books for $5. Check ’em out –

librarybooks5In other bookish news I completely bailed on the Dog Days of Summer Readathon, BUT I am totally participating in the 24-hour Read-a-thon happening in October. Sign-ups are live! I love this year’s button, BTW!

dewey2015fall

Happy Reading!

Readerly Rambles: Book Swap and Classic Club Edition

Book Swap!

I’m participating in a wonderful Facebook book swap amongst several book bloggers. My box to my participant will ship September 1st, but late last week I received my box from Sarah. What a treat! I received two different flavors of chocolate, an adorable and autumnal owl mug, three books (My Antonia by Willa Cather, The Land of Green Ginger by Winifred Holtby, and Plagued by the Nightingale by Kay Boyle), bookish socks, an owl bookmark in my favorite shade of turquoise, and some lovely note cards. I am so spoiled. Thank you, Sarah!

swap1 swap2 swap3 swap4Classics Club Spin!

I’m intentionally not looking at my Twitter or the Classics Club blog right now. The spin number will be announced today and I don’t want to sway my book choices. As usual I’m taking these titles from my (lagging) Virago Project.

  1. Letty Fox: Her Luck by Christina Stead
  2. For Love Alone by Christina Stead
  3. Precious Bane by Mary Webb
  4. The Holiday by Stevie Smith
  5. Surfacing by Margaret Atwood
  6. Enormous Changes at the Last Minute by Grace Paley
  7. Two Serious Ladies by Jane Bowles
  8. A Pin to See the Peepshow by F. Tennyson Jesse
  9. The Lacquer Lady by F. Tennyson Jesse
  10. The Sugar House by Antonia White
  11. Gone to Earth by Mary Webb
  12. Over the Frontier by Stevie Smith
  13. The Beth Book by Sarah Grand
  14. A Lost Lady by Willa Cather
  15. My Antonia by Willa Cather
  16. The Edible Woman by Margaret Atwood
  17. The Little Disturbances of Man by Grace Paley
  18. Mary Olivier: A Life by May Sinclair
  19. The Life and Death of Harriet Frean by May Sinclair
  20. Novel on Yellow Paper by Stevie Smith

Let’s see who wins this round!

Top Ten Tuesday: Auto-buy Authors

toptentuesdayToday the readers at Top Ten Tuesday ask what authors I buy on sight. I decided to focus this list on my top female authors. If I find a book by one of these ladies I buy it. I also look to buying books recommended by these authors or novels that are compared to works by this group of women.

A picked five contemporary and five “classic” authors:

3

A S Byatt

Hilary Mantel

Hilary Mantel

5

Margaret Atwood

6

Sarah Waters

7

Helen Oyeyemi

8

Barbara Pym

Iris Murdoch

Iris Murdoch

10

Patricia Highsmith

11

Shirley Jackson

12

Sylvia Townsend Warner

Readerly Rambles: 17 August 2015

readerly rambles

What I read: I got a wild hair and decided to pick up some YA reads. I grabbed the first two books from Cassandra Clare’s The Mortal Instruments series, City of Bones and City of Ashes.

Typically I’m super hesitant to review YA books. I know I’m not the intended audience and I feel like adults can be a bit harsh on YA books. Of course I’m tired of the “love triangle” element and I could use less whining, but I live with a teen and I know that is normal for that age. I usually leave YA books mildly annoyed by the characters and wishing the plot had more depth. I can honestly say that I enjoyed the characters in these books and the plot was intelligent and fast-paced. It was a great reading experience!

The plot concerns a teen girl, Clary, who comes home one day to find her mother is gone, her home is ransacked and then she is attacked by a giant demon. Talk about a bad day. This kicks into gear an intense story involving Shadowhunters (angelic demon hunters covered in tattooed runes), demons, vampires, werewolves, and fairies. The first book had me gripped, but the second was a bit slow towards the end. I think it is because I read them back to back and the teen angst/love got a bit tiring.

The writing is lovely, the characters fresh, and there are many discussions about the importance of coffee, which is a plus in my mind. This series reminded me of Harry Potter in some parts. Not in a “coat-tail riding way,” but more in the way the characters were cast as diverse and complete “people.” It is skilful how Clare conveys her characters’ histories even when we don’t see the characters for very long. It really kept my emotions tied to the story. I wanted to see how these characters triumphed or failed. If a writer has me caring for more than the protagonist then you can consider me hooked (and I’m hooked). I’m going to wait a bit to pick up the third book, but this is certainly a series I will revisit.

~~~ Stats ~~~

City of Bone

Started: 07/26/2015

Finished: 07/29/2015

Pages: 485

Challenges:

Owned/Borrowed/Library: Library

Stars: 5 Stars

City of Ashes

Started: 08/04/2015

Finished: 08/14/2015

Pages: 453

Challenges:

Owned/Borrowed/Library: Library

Stars: 3 Stars

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What I’m reading: Yesterday I started John Steinbeck’s East of Eden and I can honestly say that I’m embarrassed I didn’t read him sooner. His writing reminds me of Thomas Hardy’s novelsit must be the unflinching look at humanity in really beautiful prose that reminds me of Hardy. I’m a little over 50 pages in, but I cannot wait to sink into this book.

What’s up next: The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters. I swear. I will really read it this time. I know it isn’t The Little Stranger. I think I’ve accepted that enough to move on and actually read the dang book. 

Other Bookish News: I had planned on doing Bout of Books, but this is the first week of faculty being on campus and I am so slammed at work. I have a feeling I will want to spend my evenings watching TV and crocheting rather than reading. I would really encourage you to take a look at Bout of Books, though! Lots of participants and great Twitter convos all week.

Happy Reading!