Posts Tagged ‘Reading challenge’

Mid-year Check-in: Read Harder Challenge 2017.

June 14, 2017

We’re at the halfway point of 2017, and as I set down my summery drink* I realize how much sweat and hard work has gone into this year already, because I just wrote the challenge was for 2018, not 2017. (Yeah, I’ll get right on that correction. Oops.)

This reading year has been a struggle for me. I’ve spent most of my time re-reading favorites (thanks, Goodreads, for finally allowing those re-reads to “count”), sinking into steamy romances, and…well…not reading. The last time I had this much trouble finding time and energy to read was the year before my divorce when things weren’t going the greatest for me and so I spent my time not thinking about anything. You’d think escaping into fiction would help, but for some weird reason, it doesn’t. This year, in the middle of this political nightmare, things are much of the same. My reading tallies are a hot mess!

Except when it comes to my Read Harder Challenge.

I was pleasantly surprised to see how close I am to finishing already! But I do have a few categories I still need to fill, and I need your suggestions to help get the job done! So let’s see where I’m at…

Read a book about sports: Sudden Death, by Alvara Enrigue

Read a debut novel: The Hate U Give, by Angie Thomas

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 author:

Read a book by an immigrant or with a central immigration narrative: Lucky Boy, by Shanthi Sekaran

Read an all-ages comic: March, by Rep. John Lewis

Read a book published between 1900 and 1950:

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

Read a book that is 100 miles of your location:

Read a book that is set more than 5,000 miles from your location: The Association of Small Bombs, by Karan Mahajan

Read a fantasy novel: Version Control, by Dexter Palmer

Read a nonfiction book about technology: Hidden Figures, by Margot Lee Shetterly

Read a book about war: American War, by Omar El Akkad

Read a YA or middle grade novel by an author who identifies as LGBTQ+:

Read a book that has been banned or frequently challenged in your country: This One Summer, by Mariko Tamaki and Jill Tamaki

Read a classic by an author of color: Amiable with Big Teeth, by Claude McKay

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

Read an LGBTQ+ romance novel:

Read a book published by a micropress: Fish in Exile, by Vi Khi Nao

Read a collection of stories by a woman: Speak Gigantular, by Irenosen Okojie

Read a collection of poetry in translation on a theme other than love:

Read a book wherein all point-of-view characters are people of color: The Sun Is Also a Star, by Nicola Yoon

See? So much better than I thought it was going to be when I sat down, looked at what I had, and figured out what could go where.

Now here’s where you come in – what should I read to fill up my bingo card? For my “within 100 miles of your location” clue, think of anything in the Dallas/Fort Worth area. (It makes it easy, no?) One last requirement – if you’ve noticed (or remember from my other posts), I am filling up my challenge with books by people of color. I do diversely on my own, but this is one more way to make a very focused effort to do an even better job.

So hit me up with your recommendations! I’m only 5 books away from standing up and yelling BINGO!! …And maybe treating myself to something from the Book Riot store.

 

 

*Not really. But if wishing made it so…

#24in48 Readathon: Mission complete!

January 23, 2017

I was going to write about how Gracie, Bee, and I watched the Patriots annihilate the Steelers to advance to Superbowl LI, but we still have to win the Superbowl, and I don’t want to anger the Football Gods. Because I really want Goodell to have to hand the trophy to Tom Brady on the podium.

So we won’t talk about that, because: laden with superstition. Instead, we’ll talk about our the #24in48 Readathon we participated in! We had a blast! The girls and I jumped the gun and started Friday night. We got three hours in, and I finished my first book – a smutty romance, which was just the thing to get my mind off of other things that might have been happening Friday. Ahem.

On Saturday, the girls and I went all. out. We all wore literary shirts (Bee had to borrow one of my short-sleeve shirts to wear over a long-sleeve shirt), and I passed out literary socks for everyone to wear. (Who knew I had so many?!) We were dressed to impress!

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[For those who can’t see, mine is a Hermione Granger quote that says “When in doubt, go to the library”, Bee is wearing my “Team: Don’t Read Crappy Books” tee, and Gracie’s is her new Alice shirt.]

Then we tucked in. I spent Saturday reading all of the March graphic novels by John Lewis. Bee finished reading The Gunslinger, although when I questioned her about it, the graphic novel seems a bit different from the novel. So Imma have to read it before I give away certain plot points. [Uh, like the No Traveling Alone rule.] And Gracie finished reading Taken, about a teen who’s kidnapped and locked in a trunk. And lemme tell you how glad I am that I don’t have a trunk because Gracie desperately wanted to see if she could get out of one. Sigh. Teens!

After awhile, I convinced the kiddos to come out of their reading lairs. Bee spent the day switching between her bed and the couch, and Gracie had made a nest in our Book Nook – the spot behind the lounge chair, against the half wall and near the fire place. It’s the coziest, nookiest nook in the house.

Eventually we went to the library, to break up the day, and left with piles of books. Naturally. Then we treated ourselves to an early sushi dinner, because we had forgotten to eat lunch. (Reading good books will do that.) Then it was back home to read, read, read.

I ended the day with 15 hours of reading (if you count the time carried over from the night before), and the girls 10 hours. Not bad!

Sunday I read a Janet Evanovitch mystery and then called an early end to our Readathon because the reading wasn’t doing much for my sinus headache. I was supposed to sneak in a visit with some friends of ours, but I just couldn’t socialize. Not even fake-socialize. So we grocery-shopped and watched football.

Final book tallies! Me: 5 books, 20 hours. Gracie: 2 books, 12 hours. Bee: 4 books, 12 hours.

I am so proud of my squinkies for hanging in there! I know an entire weekend of reading isn’t high up there on their favorite ways to spend a weekend, but they do like the clout of saying they joined a Grown-up Book Event. I like that I “tricked” them into reading and got to spend so much time with them. Good job, us!

Here’s to reading! And many more readathons in our future.

 

Readathon, here we come!

January 17, 2017

This weekend is the next #24in48 readathon, and I can’t wait! The premise is pretty self-explanatory: you have 48 hours (Saturday and Sunday) in which you try to read for 24 hours. It’s different from, say, the 24hour Readathon because you can, you know, sleep.

That being said, the rules are bendy! Because it’s a readathon! It’s designed to be fun and get you to read! So if you want to start on Friday night after work, like I do, go for it! You can make the rules be whatever you need them to be. If you don’t hit 24 hours? Hey, you read a lot! That’s awesome! So decide what you can do, what you want to do and have fun.

The girls are just as excited. They participated in the last one and didn’t come close to the #24in48, but they read for hours and hours and hours and it was so much fun! They like the atmosphere and the idea of participating in a “grown-up” event. Because of course my tweens do. They also love that I splurge on lunch – I order in sushi and treat ourselves because by that point we usually have been reading for at least 4-6 hours! We break up the afternoon by reading at the library, and then back home. We surge ahead, breaking up our evening with dinner, or a walk in the park. Sunday, we break up our reading by heading to our local Barnes and Noble for some cafe treats and some more luxurious reading. (The girls are scandalized by the idea of reading books at the bookstore that we don’t intend to read. They think it’s like dine-and-dash.)

The girls are usually tuckered out by that point, and I don’t push it. They can join when they like, and do other stuff when they need to. They like stacking up the books they’ve read. I post online what they’ve accomplished and that helps, too. They like the bragging rights. And I get that. I like being able to say how many hours, chapters, or books I’ve read. It keeps me going when my eyes are tired (or my ears, although audio is usually only if I have to get stuff done, or to break things up). However it happens and whatever we read, it’s a good time.

I have a shelf of books I haven’t read yet, and I’m going to get through some of them. I’m thinking Harry Potter and the Cursed Child finally, and that Freddie & Me graphic novel about Freddie Mercury? Definitely!

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The Rob Lowe and Ellen DeGeneres memoirs would make for some good, quick reading. Oh, and when we go to B&N, I am definitely checking off my poetry challenge for READ HARDER. I can probably make it through a bunch of books, if I average three hours per book.

The girls have a few choices. I know they got almost an entire shelf for Christmas, but some seem to have walked off already (which is good! It means they’re being read…)

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Bee is most of the way through The Gunslinger graphic novel adaptation (HUZZAH!), so she should finish that. Gracie is reading the 13 Birthdays book in that series. I want her to read Heartless so I can send it to Kim. I know we’ll have the Kindles charged and I’m sure I’ll be convinced to buy a few e-books. Mama’s money gets thrown around just a little this weekend. Because: BOOKS!

I can’t wait to share it all! So keep an eye open this weekend. Or, you know, mute me if it’s annoying. It will be sad to miss the Women’s March on Austin because we have obligations Saturday, but we will be reading John Lewis’ March this weekend. All three of us. Mandatory reading. (Which is funny, because when I ordered it, all three of us were arguing over who got to read it first. Subtitled: DOING IT RIGHT.) So! yes! Happy weekend ahead! Hope you join us!

 

Challenge(s) accepted, 2017.

January 10, 2017

Everyone who knows me knows that the amount of reading I accomplish is directly linked to how healthy and stable my sanity quotient is. Now whether a healthy emotional outlook begets more reading, or more reading time brightens my perspective – that’s a chicken or egg question if ever I heard one! But I can say for sure that they’re related.

As I think about other challenges I have going on in other spheres of my life, and as other friends very purposefully on living better, stronger, healthier lives, I’ve been thinking about how I might be able to harness my reading for good. What reading challenges do I accept for this year? Can they make a difference?

Obviously I think they can. Very simply put, I think reading adventures let us practice our empathy systems, and prepare us for facing in “real” life the same challenges, situations, and characters we meet in the pages of the stories we explore. What we choose to read matters. Because I want as broad an experience as possible so that I can have as close to limitless opportunities to learn and grow as a person, I want to read big-big. I need to be mindful of that. Which is why I’ll be focusing first and foremost on two challenges meant to help me read more diversely. BookRiot’s READ HARDER challenge I’ve talked about before. It’s my third year participating in their challenge, and I love it more and more every year. It’s helped me get my reading diversification up to 25% by people of color, and that’s with an intense mindfulness about what I read; it’s why I go bananas when people say if they’re left to their own devices, they’ll read outside their comfort zone just fine.

I’ve also decided to join the 2017 Diverse Reads Books Challenge. I like that it’s more elastic than a concrete number of challenges offered by READ HARDER, and that it can grow (or shrink) with me as I read more (or less) this year. The trade-off is that I have to define it as I go along, and sometimes I need a little more direction than that if I’m swimming outside my lanes. (For those who think the same way, the co-hosts have posted a monthly theme to help you focus your story searches.) I also like that Diverse Reads asks that you not only consume stories, but review them, as well. If you’re gonna participate, go all out. Don’t “just” read without contributing. Lend your voice to the cause. Give back. And that, for me, is raising a few more questions. What will it mean for me, a CIS-gendered white woman, to review diverse books? Sure I qualify as #ownvoices for some of the categories – chronic illness, mental health – but I can’t say I’ve felt marginalized much in my life, and that makes me very, very privileged. So how do I walk that tightrope? I believe the point is that I try, and I do so very deferentially.

I will continue, though less fervently, my Great Stephen King Re-Read Challenge. I’ve gotten more than halfway through, towards what I think of his modern career (his adult life, when I came into the pack…somewhere around Insomnia) and not quite “post-modern” (when he un-retired). These are the books I’ve usually only read once, so it will be fun to revisit them.

I’ve decided to officially halt my read-through of presidential histories. Presidential history is – for me, right at this moment – incredibly painful and supportive of our most shameful selves. I literally just can’t right now, not when I could be giving my time to causes so much more worthy that need my time and support.

I am already looking forward to repeating #NonFicNov in November, because how else would I round out a reading year that gravitates so naturally towards fiction? All year I hoard non-fiction selections to binge on that month, and it’s a fantastic change of pace.

The last challenge that I’m tossing around possibly joining in a rather half-hearted fashion is the A-Z challenge on Litsy. With everything I have going on, I don’t really need another challenge. I’m like the kid burdened with so many extra-curriculars I’m gonna topple right over! On the other hand…I do read a lot, and so why not see if I can check off one more box? So I think this one might be a “if I get it done, great; if not, meh” kinda deal.

There you go: more challenges than I can shake a stick at! Now’s where I admit to the downside to such directional reading – having all of these challenges makes me want to stack up my reading in a hurry! So many challenges that I need to have more than “just” five books read!

And so off Katie disappeared, white-rabbiting her way through her 2017 reading lists, not to be seen for many, many months…

#ReadMyOwnDamnBooks Challenge Update

February 2, 2016

ReadMyOwnDamnBooksbutton

I wasn’t going to join Andi’s #ReadMyOwnDamnBooks challenge. Why? Well because I’m not one to have entire bookshelves and ebook collections stacking up on me. Before Christmas? I had five books on my shelf that I hadn’t gotten to during the year. Five books.

And then Christmas happened. Christmas happened and I was drowning in new books (in a completely delightful way) and I realized how many, many books I had to read.

Add to that the fact that it was the new year! 2015 challenges had finished! The longlist for the Tournament of Books was out! New challenges for the new year had begun! Anticipatory book lists for the year ahead were being published left and right, “Best of” lists for the past year were being thrown at me, and all I wanted to do was buy! new! books!

And that jerk shelf with all my Christmas books sat right there staring at me. Asking me if I was going to spend money on books. More books. Really? When I had about 30 sitting right there?

So I did it. I joined Andi’s challenge. Because of the brilliant “You do you” twist, I was able to couch it just the way I needed to: I would read my own damn books…and any others that were free. I do a fair amount of reading on my phone or ereader while I’m out and about and I don’t gift those sorts of books to myself very often. Which means I don’t have stacks of them waiting. Which means I had to get them somehow without breaking my challenge (and going broke all at once). So by allowing myself to read free books, that mean I could still pick up books – digital or otherwise – from the library without breaking the “rules.” Perfect, right?

So how did I do? Let’s look:

  1. Everything, Everything, by Nicola Yoon – Christmas gift
  2. The Sky Is Everywhere, by Jandy Nelson – Gift card
  3. Lumberjanes #1, by Noelle Stevenson – Christmas gift
  4. Find Me, by Laura Van den Berg – Gift card
  5. Hamilton, by Ron Chernow – Re-read, previously owned
  6. Humans of New York: Stories, by Brandon Stanton – Christmas gift
  7. My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry, by Fredrik Backman – Library
  8. This Is Where It Ends, by Marieke Nijkamp – Gift card
  9. The Kindness of Enemies, by Leila Abouelela – Library
  10. Tiny Pretty Things, by Sona Charaipotra – Library
  11. The Best American Travel Writing: 2005, edited by Jamaica Kincaid – Christmas Gift
  12. Yes, Chef, by Marcus Samuelsson – Library
  13. One Day, by David Nicholls – Previously owned (one of the five I didn’t read last year)
  14. Last Night in Twisted River, by John Irving – Previously owned (one of the five I didn’t read last year)
  15. Twelve Years a Slave, by Solomon Northup – Library
  16. The Sympathizer, by Viet Thanh Nguyen – Library
  17. Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, by Jesse Andrews – Christmas gift
  18. Dumplin’, by Julie Murphy – Gift card
  19. What Was She Thinking?, by Zoe Heller – Previously owned (one of the five I didn’t read last year)
  20. The Book of Aron, by Jim Shepard – Library
  21. Our Souls at Night, by Kent Haruf – Library

It must be perfect, that lovely little system of mine. Because I’m proud to say that after accepting the challenge during the first week in January, I haven’t bought a single book. If my reasons for taking up the challenge were to curb spending, I would say it’s an unfettered success.

But I still have a shelf and a half filled with unread books. Let’s keep playing in February, shall we?

The Great Book Haul of 2015.

January 7, 2016

Last night, I turned to Jeff, batted my eyes, and asked him oh-so-sweetly if he would pretty please run out to the mailbox and grab the book that had arrived. He looked at me like I was nuts. Which, yes. And also maybe because it was raining, and he was already in his pajamas pants. And he was going to have to grab the giant umbrella that actually covers all of a grown-up (that I had already grabbed – I’m so nice) and put on shoes. The fact that I just got eleventy hundred books for Christmas and yet somehow had yet another book in the mailbox might have had something to do with it. But it was raining! And I didn’t want the book to get wet!

It’s true. I ordered a few books right after Christmas. But I had a gift card and there were a few books that I really wanted that didn’t make it under the tree. So I fixed it.

And now I need to fix something else.

I did get an awful lot of books. Let’s look at what those where, and then we’ll look at this “fixing” thing I keep talking about.

What books did I find under the tree? Everything, Everything, by Nicola Yoon; The Best American Travel Writing, edited by Jamaica Kincaid; Bodies That Matter, by Judith Butler; Fobbit, by David Abrams; The Beach, by Alex Garland; Liar, Temptress, Solider, Spy, by Karen Abbott; The Pear That Broke Its Shell, by Nadia Hashimi; The Complete Cast of Characters in LiteratureTwisty Little Passages: An Approach to Interactive Fiction, by Nick Montfort; Winter Journal, by Paul Auster; Summer and Bird, by Katherine Catmull; Under the Dome Part II, by Stephen King; Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, by Jesse Andrews; No More Heroes, by Stephen Thompson; Crazy, by Benjamin Lebert; Lexicon, by Max Barry; This Is the Story of a Happy Marriage, by Ann Patchett; Blockade Billy, by Stephen King; Tortoises and Turtles, by Liz Palika; Humans of New York: Stories, by Brandon Stanton; and Fifty States: Every Question Answered.

And then I bought Find Me, by Laura Van Den Berg; Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy; Girl at War, by Sara Novic; Storyteller: The Life of Roald Dahl, by Donald Sturrock; Mortality, by Christopher Hitchens; I Am Princess X, by Cherie Priest; This Is Where It Ends, by Marieke Nijkamp; and The Last Policeman, by Ben Winters. Because I have a problem.

Should I still feel the need to claim more, Kim got a pretty decent haul, too. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo series, by Stieg Larsson; Duma Key, by Stephen King; The Sellout, by Paul Beatty; Handling the Undead, by John Sjvide; The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven, by Sherman Alexie; Driving with Dead People, by Monica Holloway; Bosnia: A Short History, by Noel Malcolm; Trigger Warning, by Neil Gaiman; A Man Came Out of a Door in the Mountain, by Adrianne Harun; City on Fire, by Garth Risk Hallberg; Skippy Dies, by Paul Murray; Call Me Zelda, by Erika Robuck; Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald; Innumeracy, by John Allen Paulos; Those That Wake, by Jesse Karp; A Severed Wasp, by Madeleine L’Engle; Cold Plague, by Daniel Kalla; The Seeing Stone, by Kevin Crossley Holland; The Arm of the Starfish, by Madeleine L’Engle; The Gone-Away World, by Nick Harkaway; The Pesthouse, by Jim Crace; Humans of New York: Stories; How to Survive Anything; Hunting and Gathering; Espionage: Spies, Codes, Ciphers & Secret Weapons; Covert Ops: Secrets of the Most Powerful Agencies in the World; Prepare for Disaster; and Best Infographics of 2015.

Which is awesome, right? All of these books? Well wait just a second. I had (most of) all of these books…and then went and used a gift card to get more. A gift card I could have used to fulfill my Read Harder challenge as the year went on. Or on (gasp!) something other than books! Heresy, I know!

So here’s where a bit of “fixing” comes in. Andi over at Estella’s Revenge is hosting a challenge – and you guys know how much I love a reading challenge! It’s the #ReadMyOwnDamnBooks challenge, helping everyone get through the piles and shelves and bookcases stuffed full of books and caches and caches of ebooks. “Come and join me!” she implored. “It’ll be fun!” she insisted. And I wanted to and it would be…except when she was asking, I thought it was a bit unwarranted. I only had three or four of my own books on the shelf that I hadn’t read. I’m a buy-as-I-go – or, more likely, borrow-as-I-go – kind of girl. I could join the challenge for half a minute, but then I’d be out.

And then Christmas.

Which is how I came to join the #ReadMyOwnDamnBooks challenge of 2016. I pledge (don’t do it!) to not buy another book (pre-orders aside) until I finish all of the books (oh god) I got for Christmas. So help me book gods.

#15in31 challenge update: Week 2 and wow do I read a lot.

October 15, 2015

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I have to admit: even my jaw dropped a little when I saw how many books I finished this past week. I guess between my speedreading superpowers and the fact that I’ve been getting in some reading before bedtime again and that Bee’s After Care program no longer lets the kids out early – even 15-20 minutes early – means I have more chunks of time to sit and get my books on. Which, hooray!

So what did I read this past week?

Book115. Texts from Jane Eyre, by Mallory Ortberg. (Henry Holt & Co., 2014, 226 pgs.) My partner in crime, Corrie, gave me this for my birthday and I’ve been meaning to read it, but somehow kept forgetting about it. It’s the perfect palette-cleanser after a long day at the office. Want to re-hash favorite scenes (or newly imagined scenes) between favorite literary characters as if they were texting from the next room? BOOM. Someone’s already done it for you. I liked how the scenes were short enough that I could sip from them while I was doing chores without throwing off my mad housekeeping skillz (snort) or keeping me from zipping through the book in an hour. Great, as long as you’re not expecting heft or a life-changing literary experience. 3 of 5 stars.

Book126. A Possible Life: A Novel in Five Parts, by Sebastian Faulks. (Henry Holt & Co., 2012, 304 pgs.) This has been on my TBR for awhile now, and I finally snagged an e-copy from my library. I know I’m not much of a short-story person, but when the stories are linked, usually I can sink deeper into them and enjoy myself. Also, these were set during WWII, Victorian England, a 19th century French village – some of my favorite settings! This should have been okay! Yeah – should have been. Turns out it wasn’t really. The plot(s) were fine, it’s just that I had a hard time connecting with the voice. I was ho-humming along, but not really, because I just didn’t care what happened to my characters. Something felt off. I was conscious of reading. It was well done, but Faulks is clearly not an author I can connect with. (Though I’m happy to report that at least the WWII story was my favorite, just as I had predicted. At least I was able to get that much out of it.) 2 of 5 stars.

Book137. What Can I Do When Everything’s on Fire?, by Antonio Lobo Antunes. (W.W. Norton & Co., 2008, 585 pgs.) This was another e-book I filched from the library, but I have to confess: I didn’t finish it. I got about 200 pages in and was still really struggling with the stream-of-consciousness. I never really fell into the narrator’s head, which can make it really difficult. I mean, this story has been compared endlessly to a Faulkner-esque babbling of mad genius, and for good reason. I just…meh. It wasn’t the fault of the translation – it was gorgeously done. In fact, I wasn’t even conscious, like you can be, that it had been written in another language. I wanted to like it – you know descending into madness is my wheelhouse – but if 200 pages hasn’t done it, the next 300 usually won’t. 2 of 5 stars.

Book148. Rose Madder, by Stephen King. (Viking, 1995, 480 pgs.) This was a re-read for my Stephen King Re-Read Project (things do look fancy when they’re all capitalized, yes?), and it’s in my Top 5 of King’s books, easily. I remember reading it when it first came out and delighting in every word. Okay, not every word – some of it is a bit trite – but the rest is so wonderfully King that you can’t help but overlook the few bumps. After all, there’s travellin’ and some allusions to a certain Dark Tower quest… 5 of 5 stars (and not just because I was so thankful for a good story after the other bombs!)

Book169. Skippy Dies, by Paul Murray. (Faber & Faber, 2010, 661 pgs.) Gracious, this was a huge book. And a lot was happening! It was one of the books included in my BookRiot Quarterly Box of Awesomeness that my sister gifted me for my birthday, which was rather cool because Skippy Dies has been on my To Read list just about since it came out. It’s a boarding school (Irish, not British)(but may as well have been) kind of book, with a goodish number of characters I had trouble keeping straight and all kinds of hijinks and plotlines afoot. I didn’t want to use the word “hijinks” though because it’s misleading: I heard the book was a slow-burn, but it’s not – nothing ever burns. I mean, sure, stuff happens. Plenty of stuff happens! Stuff with the kids, stuff with their teachers, stuff, stuff, stuff. And you’re reading the whole novel trying to figure out how – or maybe why? – our titular character dies in the prologue. But nothing ever caught fire for me. I wasn’t whipping pages trying to find out more; I was just trying to get through it all. There were a bunch of unnecessary plots, in my opinion, and a stronger editor may have helped. But really, it just didn’t do it for me. (Though I’ve been assured that his new book is much different. I’m hoping this is a Secret History/Goldfinch kind of divide for me, where i hate the first book, but love the second. 2 of 5 stars.

Book1510. None of the Above, by I.W. Gregorio. (Balzer & Bray, 2015, 352 pgs.) Ending on a high note! Woot! You know how many times I’ve commented that maybe I just didn’t like a book because it wasn’t the right time? Funny thing: my hold for this finally came through at the library. So I go to download it (it was an ebook) and the servers go down at the library! I mean, really?! I was so afraid my checkout process would time out or the hold wouldn’t still be held and gah! I NEEDED to read the book so bad by that point! A YA book dealing with the popular girl-next-door who finds out her senior year that she’s intersex? COME ON, SERVERS! Of course my problem was eventually solved and I started reading…only to find out I had actually started reading the story before. And forgot or something? I vaguely remembered thinking the writing was a bit too kitchy in the first chapter; a little too YA for me. But this time, this time I was able to push through with only a few winces and hooboy am I glad. This book was marvelous. We need more books like this. So many more! Gregorio – who’s a surgeon in addition to writing books – dealt with the subject with immeasurable grace and incredible realism. There were a myriad of reactions to Krissy’s unplanned reveal and so many consequences – and not all of them were terrific. Some broke my heart. And some made me smile as if Krissy was a real live person to root for. Gregorio showed rather than told, and asked questions and left a few unanswered. Because not all questions about identity and sexuality and just being a person even have answers, you know? My favorite part was the author’s note at the end that discussed why she used some terms – including hermaphrodite – and listed other books that could help or discussed similar topics and also a list of research material. Every library, every school, every reading list needs to include this book. 5 of 5 stars.

Whew! That’s a lot of reading. You can tell the weekends when I don’t have a house full of kids, can’t you? Heh. Now off I go – I have a few minutes before I’m needed anywhere and there’s this YA book about another difficult topic that I’m almost finished with…

An October reading challenge! (Because Hi, have you met me?)

September 29, 2015

Hi, my name is Katie, and I’m a bit of a book-aholic. Which is why I was thrilled when Andi from Estella’s Revenge decided to host a #15in31 reading challenge!

15in31The challenge is as simple as it is slightly insane: read 15 books in 31 days. Or at least try to. Either you meet it or you don’t – and even if you don’t, any reading is an epic win!

I’m pretty sure I’m going to hit my mark though. As I’ve said recently, I’m starved for stories right now; I can’t read enough of them! I’ve read 16 books in September already, and that’s with devoting most of my weekend time to getting Jeff and the Xman moved in and their old house cleared out. Right now I’m reading A Little Life and re-reading The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and Rose Madder and reading The Martian out loud to the girls. And still I use the word “starved”!

So what am I looking forward to reading next month?

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1. Skippy Dies Paul Murray.  One of my Quarterly Box books! String theory aside, this book has been on my TBR forever and I can’t wait to fall into the intrigue of boarding schools again. (My heart will be secretly waiting for whispers of magic and muggles, but I’ll try to contain myself.) An actual paperback awaits.

2. The Girl Who Played with Fire – Stieg Larsson. I’m re-reading the series so I can read the new book, which I’ve heard is amazing! Of course, it has to wait until I finish re-reading the first book, but that shouldn’t be a problem – I got through 20% yesterday. (At least I think I did: I’m reading an old-school paperback.)

3. The Martian – Andy Weir. Yep, just assuming I won’t have finished the Out Loud Read-along with the girls. We’re lucky if we can get through 25-30 pages a night, with all their questions. It can be pretty advanced, science-wise, and then Bee likes to make fun of all the curse words, so I don’t mind. Much. Paperback version – and not the movie tie-in one.

4. Blindspot – Jill Lepore and Jane Kamensky. Another re-read, one I usually hanker for in October, though I’m not sure why. It’s a hilarious send-up of 18th century fiction, written epistolary style in a way that really works. Good, old-fashioned historical romance, with a bit of intrigue! This is a well-worn hardcover, though I wish I had a paperback.

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5. The Tsar of Love and Techno – Anthony Marra. I fell hard and fast for Marra’s first near-perfect novel, A Constellation of Vital Phenomena. In fact, I think I finished it the very day it was released. I’m not a short story fan, but I’m very much looking forward to his new debut…especially if the stories connect. (Kim, keep an eye out – I’ll send you the hardcover as soon as I finish!)

6. Mister Max: The Book of Lost Things – Cynthia Voigt. If I finish The Martian in time, this will be our next Out Loud book. If not, I’m going to read it anyway. I tried once before and didn’t get very far, but it’s been sitting on our shelf since Christmas and no one has picked it up. That hurts my heart.

7. These Things Happen – Richard Kramer. I read the first chapter online and really liked the story about a boy’s coming of age as he travels between two sets of Manhattan-ite parents: his mom and stepfather and his recently-come-out father and partner. From what I’ve read, the writing is fantastic. I can’t wait to dive into the rest, paperback-style.

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8. Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers – Mary Roach. I think this is my last book for the Read Harder challenge! Huzzah! Also rather appropriate for Halloween, no?

9. Serena – Ron Rash. While comparisons to John Steinbeck and Cormac McCarthy don’t exactly have me running to my library to grab my holds that have come in, the book was on any number of Best Of lists and was a finalist for a PEN/Faulkner award. A tale of corruption, greed, and adventure in 1930s American wilderness – it’s all going to come down to voice, isn’t it? Library ebook.

10. Trigger Warning – Neil Gaiman. Yes, another book of short stories, but it’s Neil Gaiman!! Of course I’m going to read it. And love it.

The other five books are just going to have to fall into my hot little hands. That’s how I determine most of what I read next anyway. It’s going to be a fun month and a fun challenge. If you want to join, stop by and leave a linky with Andi over here on her post!