Posts Tagged ‘Books’

The one that dreams and schemes of reading the year away.

February 11, 2021

It’s no big secret – in fact, it’s not a secret at all – that every day would be Book Day if I had my way. Since a balanced approach is a more sensible way to go about things, I probably won’t be able to spend all day, every day reading, no matter how much I might want to. A twenty-four/seven reading-life would make it easier to find books to review every week, but something tells me I’ll find a way.

Some things will always be the same: I dream big when it comes to my reading life, and my reading goals for 2021 aren’t that different. 200 books. Heh, or maybe I should make it 221 books in 2021, just because I have a sense of humor. Half of which need to be new (to me) titles. That seems fair.

Another piece of the puzzle that doesn’t need to change: I want my reading selection to be varied. Diverse topics by diverse authors. Do you know one of the ways I ensure that happens? By reading harder.

This is the seventh (!!) year that Book Riot has published its Read Harder challenge, and every year I’m proud to count myself as one of the participants. Once a month I’ll share a blog update about how I’m doing, or you can also follow along on my Twitter or Goodreads account to see how my personal challenge is faring.

I might be six weeks behind in my first steps, but I’m excited to see what challenges lie ahead! Shall we?

  1. Read a book you’ve been intimidated to read.
  2. Read a non-fiction book about anti-racism.
  3. Read a non-European novel in translation.
  4. Read an LGBTQ+ history book.
  5. Read a genre novel by an Indigenous, First Nations, or Native American author.
  6. Read a fanfic.
  7. Read a fat-positive romance.
  8. Read a romance by a trans or nonbinary author.
  9. Read a middle grade mystery.
  10. Read a SFF anthology edited by a person of color.
  11. Read a food memoir by an author of color.
  12. Read a work of investigative nonfiction by an author of color.
  13. Read a book with a cover you don’t like.
  14. Read a realistic book not set in the U.S., UK, or Canada.
  15. Read a memoir by a Latinx author.
  16. Read an own-voices book about disability.
  17. Read an own-voices YA book with a black main character that isn’t about black pain.
  18. Read a book by/about a non-Western world leader.
  19. Read a historical fiction with a POC or LGBTQ+ protagonist.
  20. Read a book of nature poems.
  21. Read a children’s book that centers a disabled character but not their disability.
  22. Read a book set in the Midwest.
  23. Read a book that demystifies a common mental illness.
  24. Read a book featuring a beloved pet where the pet doesn’t die.

I can’t wait to see what this year has in store for me. Finding new favorite books has always one of of my favorite things. I can’t hardly remember what it was like before I had The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo in my life, or that exact moment in between chapters when I went from why do people like Pride & Prejudice, exactly?! to Ohhhhh, THAT’S why! Who knows what what the rest of 2021 will have in store for us. But I hope that I can look it in the eye, even if it’s just while I’m glancing up from turning the page of the book that’s inevitably in my hand.

Here’s to another year of good time, great books, and even better bookish discussions!

The one with elections, Tuesdays, Thursdays, and #NonFicNovember

November 5, 2020

Good morning, good afternoon, good evening – we no longer recognize time here at Casa de Katie, because I’m pretty sure it’s been Tuesday for almost 72 hours now.

But if it isn’t actually Tuesday the Third, then that means it’s Thursday. And on Thursdays, we review books we’ve read! And since I’ve been both blogging and reading when I haven’t been voting, let’s talk about books.

I’m not sure if #NonFicNov – or #NonFictioNovember in its longer form – is still a thing, but it doesn’t matter, because it’s still a thing in my heart. I never seem to wander past the New Releases section of my library, so designating a month for a concentrated effort in non-fiction is a good thing.

Since I’ve only read two books so far this week, I might dip back into recent reads for an extra review or two, but it’ll be recent, I swear. So let’s go…

Just the Funny Parts: And a Few Hard Truths About Sneaking into the Hollywood Boys’ Club, by Nell Scovell (Dey Street Books, 2018, 320p). The thing is, right now I find Hollywood gossip very, very attractive. Or maybe I should say distractive. It’s helping me forget about the recession, and every job I interview for but lose out to someone else, and stress that’s piling up, and yes, even the election. Because I read it all on Tuesday afternoon when during what I call Project Being Patient: Day 1. Nell Scovell is obviously an incredibly talented writer, and she is aces at being funny. She’s so smooth with the transition, like all of a sudden you’re trying not to pee your pants and wondering where the hell that came from. She’s written for an untold number of hit shows on television – of which you’d all know most of the names – and sadly, she reports on the ugly underbelly that goes with all of the happy-funny stories. (Except for The Muppets. YES, she wrote for them, too!) I wanted to hear more of the “Funny Parts” – the account read like a warning for every aspiring Hollywood writer, and that’s fine. It’s an important story to be recounted out loud. I just wish Scovell had flipped tHhe title so I knew what I was getting when I sat down to distract myself, is all. (3 1/2 out of 5 stars)

I Am, I Am, I Am: Seventeen Brushes with Death, by Maggie O’Farrell (Knopf Publishing, 2017, 304p). I just finished this book this afternoon. I had such high hopes for it, and really wanted to read it every time I saw it on my TBR…but kept forgetting to actively seek it out. On my mission this week to surround myself with non-fiction, I found this gem at the library. Yes, I said gem. The book is divided into, as promised, 17 stories. A childhood illness. An encounter with a murderer (I’m not kidding). Incredibly poignant and vulnerable stories about her daughter’s own journey – and Maggie O’Farrell’s as her mum. It was hard to put it down. I mean, it was so good that I forgot about the election while I was reading. That good. O’Farrell’s writing is like if Cheryl Strayed and Anne Fadiman had a little story baby.I highly encourage you to seek this collection out. It’s philosophizing mortality and the goodness of a sunny afternoon while just, you know, writing a quick thing you might tell you dinner partner – honest, compelling, but not gushy or emotional. Gah! Just go read it. (5 of 5 stars.)

Uncensored, by Zachary Wood (Dutton, 2018, 272p, read Oct. 2020). This review makes me feel a bit uneasy. Imma just just in. I’ve read a lot of books about race relations, racism, classism, the politics of social constructs, the politics of America, memories written by minorities living in America, and African American culture. I have a minor in African American Studies. I’m not by any means saying I’m an expert; I’m no where close. I’m just saying, I’ve read a lot. So when I say I am not a fan, it’s not because I think Zachary Wood doesn’t know what he’s talking about, or his experiences aren’t valid, or that he’s a poor writer. Although, okay, yes, a little bit the latter. I’m just saying I have a deep pool of other reading experiences to which I can compare my reading of Uncensored. Here are my problems with the book. First, Wood has an incredibly inflated opinion of himself. Every person he met, talked to, wrote about – he explicitly compared every single one to himself, and found them all wanting. Not once did he self-critique or offer up vulnerabilities or ways he might need to improve. Similarly, while Wood constantly pleaded for others to not judge him – which, okay, valid ask – he always judged others around him! It was so omnipresent, it was painful to witness. Secondly, the tone was depressing. There was no mechanism to elevate himself (well, in a constructive manner, not speaking of raising his status as others’ see him, which he was interested in). He was always woe-is-me. He survived a terrible childhood, his home life wasn’t great, they certainly were poorer than poor. But like, here’s a good example: while his family was financially destitute, Wood opted to not seek a job to earn money for himself or for his family for the stated reason that he wanted to read more. To explore academic pursuits. It’s great to have dreams, baby, but that’s a luxury. And if you don’t want to see it as such, you can’t paint it as an example of how bad life is, and how broke you are. I was left wondering: So what? Yes, Wood certainly deserved to have had a better childhood, a better educational system, a better sense of supportive community, and it’s amazing that he was able to graduate from college given his experiences. But his writing never focused on any one thing. I honestly don’t know if even Wood knows why he wrote the memoir, unless the chief goal was to have a book – any book – published. The “so what” feeling at the end of a book is not something you want a reader to be left with, not if there was any other purpose. (1 of 5 stars)

So there you go. I know I used to have more, but three reviews is a lot more than I’ve been publishing on Thursdays as of late, so I’m going to quit focusing on my failures, and instead be grateful that I’m reading, grateful that I’m writing, grateful that I’m creating – and sticking to – structure in my life. (And also that it kept me from staring at a map for even just a little bit.)

Book Reviews: The ones with suspects and prisoners, strippers and school shooting survivors.

February 28, 2019

Morning, peeps! (We should all be so lucky to be marshmalloy shapes covered in gobs of colored sugar…) Today I have quite a few books to choose from because: 1) I’ve been killin’ it with my reading pace lately, and 2) because I haven’t done my book reviews in awhile! So let’s get to it!

MarsRoomThe Mars Room, by Rachel Kushner (2018, Scribner, 338 pages, digital loan). I picked up The Mars Room because it’s a contestant in this year’s Tournament of Books, but I’ve read The Flamethrowers, which I remember hating the cover of, wanting desperately to love, and then putting down a thousand times because I just couldn’t quite enjoy the telling of. So you’d think once I remembered that, I wouldn’t have been so keen on Mars Room. I loved the cover, by the way, and fell just as hard for the pitch: unreliable narrator Romy Hall is in prison for two consecutive life terms, away from the city of San Francisco, which bound her in a way much different than her young son Jackson. The storytelling was smartly done: I loved watching Romy navigate life at women’s prison, broken and cursed. I kept thinking the fifth season of Orange Is the New Black meets Breaking Bad with the grittiness of a Leonardo DiCaprio or Jack Nicholson film. Only the difference here is that Romy got thrown in jail for being one of the other poorer characters, not Piper or Alex, but she navel-gazes like she was Piper. That could be a little distracting, I do have to admit. As much as I loved seeing the reality of prison laid bare before the readers, I loved even more – surprisingly – the way Kushner showed readers what a cursed dystopia San Francisco is to those who can’t keep swimming fast enough and are drowned by the tide. 3 1/2 of 5 stars.

ParklandSpeaksParkland Speaks: Survivors from Marjorie Stoneman Douglas Share Their Stories, by Sarah Lerner (editor) (2019, Crown Books for Young Readers, 192 pages, paperback)
Parkland: Birth of a Movement, by David Cullen (2019, Harper, 400 pages, hardcover). I bought these books on their publication dates (just a week apart) because, like many of us, I was so strongly drawn to the lessons of hope and of activism these high school students have fought so hard to teach us. Ridiculously, this is what feels like the thousandth school shooting in collective memory because there is no clear cut answer – at least that the country can agree on. That’s where the argument seems to stall. The survivors of Parkland say that’s not enough. Parkland Speaks is catharsis bound between a beautiful soft jacket cover. Essays, poems, cartoons, artwork – it is the collective hope of the students, teachers, and others impacted by the tragedy, edited by Ms. Sarah Lerner, an English teacher who watched events unfold from an uncomfortably close perspective. The collection is intimate and gorgeous; one that will help us not just pinpoint the moment the revolution was born, but also reflect on our own losses as well as love those still around us.
ParklandParkland: Birth of a Movement was written by the same journalist who penned the go-to book about the school shooting at Columbine, giving him a unique perspective for his newest project. Whereas Columbine ushered in a horrifically new era and kind of mass shooting, you can’t help but feel that Parkland might usher in the answer for the same. The reason you feel that way is because of the hope these students embody, as the world has borne witness, but also a mighty, present kind of activism MSD students have rolled out with a roaring battlecry: NEVER AGAIN. If you think 400 pages of politics and activism sounds a bit thick, you haven’t read anything by Cullen; he captures the day-to-day – sometimes moment-to-moment – activities of the students and their families so closely, intimately, powerfully that you feel the wind of the carousel as it whips you around. How many times after a school shooting have you thought Stop this ride, I want to get off? Parkland convinces you these kids are going to show us how. 5 out of 5 stars; highly recommend as paired reading.

TheSuspectThe Suspect, by Fiona Barton (2019, Berkley Books, 416 pages, hardcover). I purchased this book as a Christmas gift for myself. So many good books were published in the beginning of January by authors I’ve come to love and rely on. Fiona Barton was one. I stumbled upon her debut, The Widow, at the library. I had no idea it was her first book. It’s your basic psychological thriller: the story is set up, you get hooked, there are twists and turns, and then BAM! the surprise ending. There are bad ones, and then there are good ones. Barton wrote very good ones. Maybe not Gone Girl good, her books are a little formulaic, but good enough to keep me guessing. I love the way the point-of-view shifts, and the way that even I, after alllll these books I’ve read in my life, can’t guess the big reveal. Ooh, and also that while the books are all linked through the reporter, Kate Winters, each book is truly a stand-alone. (I’m not kidding; there was such a gap between when I read the first book and the second that I forgot Kate had been in both til halfway through!) At least, that’s how the first two were. The third one – The Suspect – was set up the same way. Only this time Kate’s son is the title character, unfortunately. The dynamic is shifted a bit, and that was a bit muddy. I found it a bit confusing, along with all of the pov shifts that I normally love. And there was something about the story just I just couldn’t hook into. Normally I race through Barton’s books – that’s why I finally just bought the third one. This time, of course because I bought the hardcover, it failed to catch me. I kept checking the page count and found I was reading fewer and fewer pages each time I sat down. I finished it in the end, but I was very disappointed. Even the big reveal was a bit dodgy and meh. So. Would I recommend? Maybe not this book. But I’m definitely still watching for the next in the series. Barton’s allowed the sophomore slump…even if it took a bit to catch her. I have hope. 2 1/2 of 5 stars.

So there you go – the books themselves are all over the place, from Cali, to Florida, to D.C. and across America, to London, and Thailand. But somehow we’ve all centered around crime. Crazy, huh? Reading is magical. And full of hope.

Book Reviews: The ones with separation because the world died and total immersion in your own little world.

February 7, 2019

That’s a much better title than, Book Reviews: The ones with hardly anything to say. because that was straight up what I typed at first. No, really, it was our working title for a good paragraph until I realized that was a little much.

But… It’s still true.

It was a slow reading week for me. Just two books. I slept for most of this past weekend – still working on getting my anti-insomnia meds just right – and I spent a lot of time reading a book by an author I usually devour, but this thriller just isn’t thrilling. I like when the main character is a reporter outside the story, not so much in it. Anyway. You’ll hear more about The Suspect next week. For this week, we have…

SeveranceSeverance, Ling Ma (2018, Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 304 pages, library loan). Severance was starred in my Little Black Book since I penned it in. It’s a The Stand plot-alike, with the world decimated by illness after getting sick from some mystery illness. See? Sounds great, right? Except while the story opens on the office where our main character (a 20-something coughMillenial Chinese daughter of immigrant parents who is delightfully awkward and dedicated to her job despite loathing it) is in the middle of an office scene, a problem that our MC describes in painstaking detail. [I have to add, too, that Severance sounds at times like it’s narrated by Velma from Scooby Doo and at times like Meg Ryan’s typewriter-loving boyfriend in You’ve Got Mail.] Rather than wrapping up the office-y bits, the story stalls there. Rather than let the office bits give us a basis for who our characters are and inform their later choices while sojourning from their origin to the meeting point after the apocalypse, Ma chooses to flip the drill. The apocalypse informs the office novel. She jumps between scenes from the office, and scenes from the journey, which I found terribly confusing, trying to get my bearings. The settings were obviously easy to figure out, but the characters, and where in the MC’s growth, and WHAT was going on – all confusing. Exacerbated by the fact that there were no quotation marks – a problem half my books from last week had too. Ugh. Sooooo, I’d say overall I liked Severance okay, and the idea to flip the script was different and cool, it just wasn’t the book I was trippin’ over myself with excitement to read. 3 of 5 stars.

DictionaryAnimalLanguagesThe Dictionary of Animal Languages, by Heidi Sopinka (2018, Scribe, 320 pages, digital library loan). This was another Tournament of Books selection, and honestly another book I only would have read because of that contest. It is gorgeously written, the language is like the world’s most comfortable bed you can sink into, surrounded by pillows and down comforters in blues and greys. Lush, but overcast in tone. That’s the best way I can describe this book: I could tell it was expertly done, that the quality was top shelf…it just wasn’t for me. It should have been – I love war stories, lives interrupted or formed in the cracks of what must be and what is happening all around them in WWI and WWII Europe. It’s fascinating! So this should have been a book for. Perhaps it was the wrong time. I just couldn’t engage, skimming and surface reading, never connecting with any of the characters or plot points. I didn’t care about older Ivory, out there in Siberia by herself (well, with Skeet), so I couldn’t care about her earlier Ya-Ya life. Or how she could possibly have a grandchild without a child of her own. I have no idea how to rate it. 2 out of 5 because a story should grab you? or 4 out of 5 because the writing was gorgeous and I think I picked a bad time to read it? Gah. It gets both. I can’t even compromise on 3 of 5 because that jumps it in the middle without explanation.

What is everyone else reading? I mentioned I’m halfway through The Suspect by Fiona Barton (that I pre-ordered for Christmas). I’m reading My Year of Rest and Relaxation by the crazy-talented Otessa Moshfegh. And I have a riot of books I bought – Becoming (technically a gift), The Bear and the Nightinggale (a re-read so I can read the rest of the series), On the Come Up (gooooooo! Angie Harris!!!!!!!), CJ Tudor’s follow-up horror novel, and all. the. library books! Ugggggh, I need to not be sleepy so I can read!! Activate Reader Superpowers!

The reading hour idea that wasn’t even mine.

February 6, 2019

Maybe you do or maybe you don’t know, but the past couple of years, Reading Hour at my house has been met with some boos.

What is Reading Hour, you may ask?

Reading Hour was the idea I started when the girls were really little – 3 and 5 maybe? because I think think that’s how old they were when I started Harry Potter – during which I would (you’ll never guess) read to the girls for thirty minutes. Aaaah, see? tricked you there! The girls would sit on the floor, chair, me, whatever’s available, and I read to them for 30 minutes. There were not phones to distract them (or me) and no laptops, etc. They had to listen.

We’ve read some amazing books over the years – the entire Harry Potter series, Bunnicula, Little House on the Prairie, Ready Player One, The Hate U Give… I’m sure tehre are so many more. There are nights they complained, but they got through it. And as for me – that mad magical thirty minutes was what I lived for!

The past year or two, the complaints have skyrocketed. We fell out of practice, and when I remembered, the girls didn’t want to be bothered. And dang they’re vocal. It wasn’t a battle I wanted to die fighting for, so I gave it up.

Until I got my clarity back.

The girls were still adamant about not wanting to have to listen to a book for thirty minutes. I was adamant that they needed to. They might not know it, but we are desperate for some family time. Game night and pizza on Friday nights is one thing. Coming together to read for just 30 minutes a night – that’s something else altogether. It was important to me. We were at an impasse I was about to use my veto on.

Until The Flu-ish One resolved the issue. We were sitting at the doc-in-the-box. She was thinking; I was busy fuming over how long they were making us wait. Two hours in the waiting room, an hour in her room before the doctor saw her… I needed to recenter myself while still rather stuck with The Flu-One.

And then Gracie spoke.

(Well…whispered. Because: throat)

“What if instead of reading one book, we all ready our own books?” she asked.

“How would I know everyone was really reading?” I asked, “instead of getting distracted by socks, fiddly pages, and dust motes.” cough:Bee Hey, I was just thinking what we were alllll thinking!

“You could ask us to read a sentence after some time had passed and see if we had really turned pages,” Gracie added.

Hmmm. She had something there. If I did sentence checks every so often, I could check in to make sure the girls were reading their books. And it wouldn’t matter how slow or fast someone read, they could all go at their own paces, so long as they were making progress and not messing around. At the end of our 30 minutes, we could all give a summary of what we read. That way, we would have the benefit of all the books! It might not be the same as making the girls read(hear) stories I absolutely needed them to read and knew they wouldn’t get to on their own, but it was a good compromise.

Sunday night, I pitched the idea for our new and improved Reading Hour. It went over REALLY, really well! Bee asked, “Do graphic novels count?” worried, I’m sure, that her books wouldn’t be “approved.” “Of course!,” I told her. “When have I ever not let you read graphic novels?” She beamed. “Even audiobooks!” I added. “…so long as you don’t fall asleep!” Everyone laughed.

So it sounds like we’re all in agreement! As soon as The Flu-ish One gets over herself, we’ll acquire our books and begin. NEW ADVENTURES! Let’s gooooooooo!

Thursday Recaps with allll the ‘Tournament of Books’ books.

January 31, 2019

Good morning, starshines! Today is Thursday (right?), and you know what that means… book reviews!

Since I’m catching up still, and I haven’t posted on Thursday since the new year has started, I have quite a few books to choose from. 17 books in fact! (I read double that number last year, but let’s cut me a break this month, considering what I had going on. Mkay?) I’ll just grab a couple of them and see how this goes…

A Very Large Expanse of Sea, by Tehereh Mafi (2018, HarperTeen, 320 pages, Hardcover library loan). I know Ms. Mafi from reading her bestselling novel Shatter Me, which seems to have started a well-to-do series. I expect a series soon and I am here for that!!! For those who haven’t read it, briefly, Shatter Me is a dystopian horror/romance in the same vein of Divergent and Hunger Games. It was fantastic! When the plot felt a little shaky, Mafi’s voice was there to rescue it, strong enough to carry everything asked of it. Given that, I was curious how Mafi would handle teen romance. Expanse is about Shirin, a bright, sarcastic, nearly-mute, Iranian, Muslim girl whose family moves constantly, so Shirin never puts down any roots or tries to talk to anyone at school. It would be pointless. Until this year. It’s just after 9/11, Shirin’s having to navigate alllll the hate that – if you remember – was even more terrifying and devastating than ever before. Shirin and her brother also start a breakdancing club at school. I loved that Mafi was breaking stereotypes by letting a strong female lead enjoy an activity we typically see associated with men. Mafi drew on her past experiences to do so, and I loved the social commentary bit…but the actual talking about breakdancing was a little boring for me. It either needed to be the entire focal point of the book and just go there, or else the technical aspects needed to be trimmed. Otherwise, a very strong showing. 4 of 5 stars.

Call Me Zebra, by Azareen Van der Vliet Oloomi (2018, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 304 pages, Digital, Tournament of Books finalist). Ohhhhh I so much don’t even want to talk about this book. Zebra has lost every around her, but that doesn’t matter anyway (hmpf!) because she’s a booklovin’ atheist anarchist on a mission to retrace the journey from Iran to the states that she and her dad took waaaaaay back in her childhood. (Pretty hand, huh?)  Dude = there was so much philosophical bullsheep that I couldn’t even barely make it halfway. This book was WAYYYY NIOT my cuppa. So I’m putting that out there. 2 of 5 stars – I could tell there were flashes of brilliance (probably more than a few) even if it wasn’t my thing.

My Sister the Serial Killer, by Oyinkan Braithwaite (2018, Doubleday, 226 pages, Hardcover library loan, Tournament of Books finalist). This book is hot, hot, hot right now and I’m so glad it made the cut for the ToB, even if it’s as this year’s Hot YA Book That Will Make Us All Think. My Sister is about two sisters, Korede (our narrator) and Ayoola, the title character. Korede feels like she’s the smart, ugly sister who is constantly bailing out her beautiful, dumb sister – I mean, she has had to help her sister cleanup after quite a few messes. Even though My Sister is a slim book, it packs a wallop, and I thoroughly enjoyed unpacking everything Braithwaite had to say about sisters – these two, and others. I mean, look at the title – even there, one can’t exist without the other: Korede is unnamed, only seen because she’s claiming her sister, but she gives her sister the big lights as subject and object. It’s glorious! The rest of the book is like that, quick little jabs in short chapters you’ll swallow whole – all the way to the sucker punch ending! 4 of 5 stars.

Census, by Jesse Ball (2018, Echo, 241 pages, Digital loan, Tournament of Books finalist). I have to be straight with you: I hate Jesse Ball. I hate him so much that I thought I would need to leave this book for last – that kind of hatred and judging the book by its author. But let me tell you this, too – I’m glad I read it, Census, because it was actually a really good book! It tells the story of a father who has found out he is dying. His wife has already passed. And he has a son he loves fiercely, a son with Down Syndrome. Clearly the only answer is to help the government take roll call. Adventures throughout England’s gorgeous countryside ensue, and if you don’t need tissues, knowing how everything will wrap up, well…you have a sterner constitution than I.  3 of 5 stars.

That’s all for this week! Have you read any other Tournament of Books finalists? I’ve also read The Parking Lot Attendant (3 1/2 of 5 stars) A Terrible Country (2 of 5 stars), and America Is Not the Heart (2 of 5 stars). I’m still looking for that one book… Every year the ToB gives me one book that surprises me and I fall in lurrrve!!! That hasn’t happened yet, but I’m patient. (Crazy idea, I know.) Give me your recs!

#24in48: Challenge Complete.

January 29, 2018

Wheeeeeeeeeeeew, what a weekend! It was filled with books and reading and social media commenting and more reading and scrambled eggs and library books and still more reading. But I did it! Between midnight Friday night and ending at exactly 5 p.m. Sunday night, I read for 24 hours, well within the 48-hour window. Let’s see how I managed to pull it off.

Keeping track. I used a cool checklist that I mistakenly attributed to someone else (who, it turns out, stole the idea), designed originally by Kristin Isabelle (@FierceFabFemme), let’s give credit where credit is due! Somehow I finished my checklist last night, and then forgot to snap a pic! Gah! And managed to leave my planner on my desk at home. Good one, Katie. Here’s one of my earlier check-ins, though:


Check-ins and Challenges. I had a blast on social media! I participated in 4 or 5 challenges, and checked-in via the 24-in-48 web site, my blog, Facebook, and all. day. long. on Twitter! In fact, I had so much fun cheering everyone on that I asked our hosts if I could help admin the next one. SO MUCH FUN!

Here are two of my challenges:


That was for the first and last books on your shelves. No dead white authors on these shelves. (Okay, there are but love that there aren’t that many in the pool.)


Here we have favorite and least favorite covers. I would frame a print of Wolves. But the Rebecca is sooooo bland! Who would want to pick that book up?!

And speaking of check-ins – here’s a picture of me at my battle station. I have about four books open, my laptop booting up, my Book of Books (my reading journal/master list) and my planner with my checklist are all open. Plus a whopping plate of scrambled eggs precariously balanced on top of everything! Love it!



Bookish clothing: Yeah, I got myself in the mood by rocking some rad bookish gear. Saturday I wore my Hermione shirt that reads, “When in doubt, go to the library.” (Which is exactly what I did on Saturday.) I had on my blue library card socks, too. On Sunday I wore my red “Read more books!” shirt from BookRiot, and my “Let the wild rumpus begin!” socks, but I didn’t take a picture of my shirt, alas.


Mugs. I started out each morning right: with a pot of coffee and a different bookish mug. I have about a dozen bookish mugs (mugs are my weakness), so it was difficult choosing my victims. But coffee was hanging in the balance, so it didn’t actually take me all that long, you understand.


Books, pages, and all that stuff. In the end, I read six whole books, most of another, and half of yet another.

  • The Polygamist’s Daughter, by Ana LeBarron (3 of 5 stars)
  • A World Without Whom, by Emmy Favilla (3 of 5 stars)
  • We Are Never Meeting in Real Life, by Samantha Irby (4 of 5 stars)
  • Search and Rescue, by Christopher Van Tilburg (2 of 5 stars)
  • Dream Big Dreams, by Pete Souza (5 of 5 stars)
  • 84, Charing Cross Road, by Helene Hanff (4 of 5 stars)
  • Most of Turtles All the Way Down, by John Green
  • Half of My Grandmother Asked Me To Tell You She’s Sorry, by Fredrik Bachman (re-read)

That’s…okay, I’m not really going to tally the pages for you. I thought I was going to, but no. Nope. Not gonna.

I had a blast! I read a lot of books. It was great motivation to put my foot up and actually rest it. I don’t know that I would have done that without the 24-in-48 Challenge. Honestly. So thank you, ladies, for hosting, and I can’t wait for the next one! (Seriously…is it this weekend? Huh? Can it be? please??)

It’s here! It’s here! The #24in48 Read-a-thon, that is.

January 27, 2018

Anyone who has been around me knew exactly what I was shouting about at the first “It’s here!” I’ve been drowning everyone with my own excitement for the read-a-thon since I realized how miraculous the timing of the event was. I mean, I’m down for whatever reading challenge you have whenever you have it – yeah, yup, uh-huh, pretty accurate. But a reading event that challenges me to sit still and stay put with my broken foot propped up on a pile of pillows? And the angels did sing, you guys.

The #24in48 Read-a-thon is basically just what it sounds like: participants are asked to read in whatever fashion, at whatever speed, timed together however they want, with the ultimate goal of reaching a total of 24 hours read within the 48-hour parameters of the read-a-thon. The official kick-off happened last night at midnight and I was totally awake and ready for it! HUZZAH! I read for two hours and then decided around 2 a.m. that reminding myself to open my eyes every paragraph wasn’t the point of the game. I still had plenty of time (and I do!) to cross the finish line. Of course then this morning I slept in for the first time in weeks! I love sleeping, I do…I’ve just been terrible at it during the weekends. I pop awake at some ungodly hour and then…just can’t sleep. And so not that I wanted to be sleepless this morning, I was just sort of counting on using those hours towards my reading tally. But now I’m well-rested and ready to slay!
I won’t post every hour like I’ve attempted in the past, or even every few. I’ll make updates on Facebook and Twitter, and probably do an update post or two, so you’ve been warned! If anyone of you are participating, let me know! And if you have any good book recommendations, PLEASE chuck them at me! I’m always looking for the next book that’s going to knock my (bookish-themed) socks right off!

Alright. That’s enough jawin’. Time to get back to the books. Let’s do this!!


Year-end Catch-Up Posts: Read Harder Challenge 2017

December 26, 2017

Morning, all! I hope everyone had a lovely Christmas! Our was filled to the brim with laughter and happy (and maybe a viewing of Stephen King’s IT), and so naturally today I’m feeling all of the productivity. So I thought why not use the day to catch-up on some posts – like letting everyone know how I did with my Read Harder Challenge?

At my last check-in, mid-year, I had nearly finished the challenge, but was bemoaning how I didn’t really want to read at all. The political sludge and general sense of doom and catastrophe was leeching my will to live or do anything enjoyable. I’m happy to say that while I might not have rediscovered (yet) a desire to blog every morning, but my ability to read on the daily came back to me, and I finished the year just slightly north of 200 books.

Still, even with my newly rediscovered joy for reading, it took a while for me to knock out the few remaining challenges. Still – that’s so much better than not crossing the finish line, which is really where I was worried I’d finish the year when I was assessing my lack of give-a-damn earlier this year.

Let’s peek at how things shook out for me. You might recall, too, that I add a personal spin to Book Riot’s Read Harder Challenge and insist that each book must be by an author of color. I’m consciously trying to raise my overall percentage of AOCs – and I have, from 11% is 2014 to 44% this year. Challenges like this are one of the ways I make it happen. So, what did I read? I’m so glad you asked!

Read a book about sports: Sudden Death, by Alvara Enrigue. This was part of The Morning News’ Tournament of Books. Not my favorite book, but interesting debating it for the brackets.

Read a debut novel: The Hate U Give, by Angie Thomas. Who hasn’t read this book this year? Goodreads reported it was the most searched for book this year. It’s also vying for my favorite read of the year.

Read a book about books: My Soul Looks Back, by Jessica Harris. I cheated a little – it’s about authors more than books, but meh meh meh…

Read a book set in Central or South America, written by a Central or South American authorFicciones, by Jorge Luis Borges. This was my first Borges. I’m not sure if it was because of the short story format, but I wasn’t terribly drawn to his style. I can see the genius; this collection just wasn’t for me.

Read a book by an immigrant or with a central immigration narrative: Lucky Boy, by Shanthi Sekaran. This book was heartbreaking. I have a lot of close friends who struggle with adoption issues and I cried through most of the novel.

Read an all-ages comic: March, by Rep. John Lewis. Rep. Lewis’s three volumes took turns circulating through all three members of my household. And then we bought copies to donate to the girls’ schools. Because yes.

Read a book published between 1900 and 1950: Passing, by Nella Larsen. This was a bit of a cheat – I’d read selections of the novel before, but never the entire thing. If you haven’t, you must. Just thinking about the injustice of racial discrimination and how far we haven’t come has me seeing red and I haven’t even had breakfast yet.

Read a travel memoir: An African in Greenland, by Tete-Michel Kpomassie.

Read a book you’ve read before: The Chaneysville Incident, by David Bradley. One of my favorite books of all time. I cringe at how misogynistic it is, but the brilliance of the storytelling sucks me in every time. And every time I read it, I want to call up my old professor and debate the ending.

Read a book that is 100 miles of your location: Monster Hunter International, by Larry Correia. This is a perfect example of reading outside my comfort zone. I never would have read this otherwise. Not my cuppa tea – I’m picky about crime books and I don’t do paranormal. But finding a book set in Dallas or close to it? Not gonna happen when you also impose filters of “AOC” and “Not previously read.”

Read a book that is set more than 5,000 miles from your location: The Association of Small Bombs, by Karan Mahajan. Another book up for Best of 2017, this one knocked me in all my feels. And that cover!

Read a fantasy novel: Version Control, by Dexter Palmer. This was another Tournament of Books book, otherwise I would have ditched. I’m not much into fantasy, but I couldn’t deny it was well done. Just not my wheelhouse.

Read a nonfiction book about technology: Hidden Figures, by Margot Lee Shetterly. Now this I could read all day long! The girls got the movie for Christmas and I can’t wait to see if it’s as good as the book!

Read a book about war: American War, by Omar El Akkad. This has interesting an apocalyptic, fantasy spin, but the pacing was broken up and hard to follow at times.

Read a YA or middle grade novel by an author who identifies as LGBTQ+: The Inexplicable Logic of my Life, by Benjamin Allire Saenz. I read two books by Saenz after discovering him this year. That’s what this challenge is all about, isn’t it? Finding new-to-us books and authors who become favorites?

Read a book that has been banned or frequently challenged in your country: This One Summer, by Mariko Tamaki and Jill Tamaki. My daughter read this after I did (she’s a sucker for graphic novels) and she and I were both gobsmacked that this could be challenged. Then we had a great talk about sexuality and how perception of it has changed from when I was a kid to now.

Read a classic by an author of color: Amiable with Big Teeth, by Claude McKay. I wasn’t a big fan, but I recognize the giant contribution of Mr. McKay to his field. I much prefer his poetry.

Read a superhero comic with a female lead: Rani Patel in Full Effect, by Sonia Patel. I make my own definitions of what is and isn’t a superhero. An outsider, a woman, who steps up and finds her voice? Superhero.

Read a book in which a character of color goes on a spiritual journey: When Dimple Met Rishi, by Sandhya Menon. It’s a matter of time before this book becomes a movie and I am HERE for that!

Read an LGBTQ+ romance novel: Aristotle and Dante Discover the Universe, by Benjamine Allire Saenz. The second of his novels I read, and my favorite of them. I get all the hype – it’s deserved.

Read a book published by a micropress: Fish in Exile, by Vi Khi Nao. Not my favorite voice, but I wanted to read more Asian authors, something I need to do more of.

Read a collection of stories by a woman: Speak Gigantular, by Irenosen Okojie. A quick read, but powerful, filled with jabs and uppercuts.

Read a collection of poetry in translation on a theme other than love: Milk & Honey, by Rupi Kaur. Pretty much my favorite poet at the moment. I will read anything she writes.

Read a book wherein all point-of-view characters are people of color: The Sun Is Also a Star, by Nicola Yoon. This is a bit of a stretch. At no point in the novel does the text explicitly state every character is “of color”, but at no point are their clues, context, or straight-up evidence that they aren’t, either. So, by default, I’m saying they are. And who’s to say otherwise?

So there you go! Another reading challenge smashed! I can’t wait to jump in and challenge myself to read bigger and better in 2018. If you’d like to play along, Book Riot already has their Read Harder challenge for next year up and running. I can’t wait to plot out what I’ll read!

30 Days of #Readathon: Best.

October 1, 2017

It’s Sunday night, and you know what’s a good way to put off going to work tomorrow? Talking about the Readathon! As you might have heard, Dewey’s 24-Hour Readathon is celebrating 10 years of readathoning excellence, and to get us all worked up to read all night, Dewey’s fantastic hosts have decided to launch a “30 Days of Readathon” countdown. Each day has a theme; you get to decide how to tackle each theme. You can post blogs, snap pictures, record videos, host podcasts – you do you! The how is up to you. The what is books, obviously. Why? Because BOOKS!

There are 20 days left before our #Readathon kicks off, which means today’s theme is “Best.” Best what? I decided to re-post a picture from October 2014, one of the best Readathon hauls I ever prepped. I borrowed nearly thirty books from the library, just to be sure I had what I needed when the mood struck. (And, yes, I read or perused most of them!)


It also counts as one of the craziest prepper moments, too! Ha!

What are some of the best moments from your Readathon-er past? Have you ever done anything totally off-the-charts insane?