20 Books of Summer- Successes and Failures

I loved the idea of setting a goal to read 20 books from my shelves in a set period of time. I’ve been wanting strategies to cull books that I don’t really want, and my “well, I’ll get around to seeing if I want to read that eventually” doesn’t work.

What I Read

  1. The Golden Compass, The Subtle Knife, and The Amber Spyglass, by Phillip Pullman I really enjoyed these, though I thought they got better as the series progressed.
  2. Roseblood, by AG Howard I didn’t really like this one. I kept hoping it would get better, but it wasn’t my taste.
  3. Bel Canto, by Ann Patchett This one was sent to my by a friend, and I kept meaning to get to it, but just never did. I loved it.
  4. The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena It was a mystery/ thriller that just fell flat for me.
  5. The Mouse and The Motorcycle by Beverly Cleary This was chosen by a friend for our Popsugar challenge, for a “book set in a hotel.” It was a delightful kids’ book, and a nice break from so much meh.
  6. The Unseen (Books 1-4) by Richie Tankersley Cusick I blogged about this series here, and ranted about it on Goodreads, but suffice it to say, I was not a fan.
  7. Tweak: Growing up on methamphetamine, by Nic Sheff I ended up listening to it on audiobook, and it was a good memoir about addiction and recovery.
  8. Wish Girl, by Nikki Loftin I actually bought this book because I met the author at the local SCBWI conference. It was a sweet story and an easy read.
  9. The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton I’m about halfway through this one, and enjoying it. A friend sent it to me after I reread The Secret Garden and talked about how much I’d loved it.

The Good

  1. I read 14 books from my list (and am working on 15), and got rid of more than that. I tried (and abandoned) Wicked. I’ve completed one other Gregory Maguire book and hated it. That meant that all of his books went into the donate box, guilt free. (And I had quite a few of them… I don’t remember where I got them.)
  2. I felt a sense of accomplishment, getting through so many books. It’s always nice to set a goal and work toward it, even if I didn’t quite meet it.

The Bad

  1. I hated reading from a pre-set list. I picked 20 books plus 5 alternates, and I struggled with them. I ended up reading 5 books in a row that I didn’t like, but I wasn’t ready to abandon. I wanted to pick something for my next book that I was a little more sure I’d like, but it wasn’t anything on the pre-picked list.
  2. When I started this, I didn’t know it was going to be a stressful summer for me. That meant that it was especially important for me to read things I enjoyed. Reading 5 books in a row I didn’t like was discouraging and made me want to stop reading off the list.

The Verdict

I’m going to set a quarterly goal of books to read off my shelf, but I’m not going to pre-pick them. That way, I can read whatever I’m in the mood for, but still cull my shelves, making room for new books.

Did you participate in 20 Books of Summer (or a different reading goal)? How’d you do? What do you think of reading challenges in general?

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How I Choose What To Read Next

I’m a moody reader, so I never know what I’m going to be in the mood for next, and I like most genres. Sometimes my book choices are deliberate, and sometimes they’re more whimsical. Here’s how I pick:

  1. A group I belong to picked it. In general, I try to prioritize these. I belong to a FaceBook YA Book Club for writers. August’s book is Caravel, by Stephanie Garber. This was recommended awhile ago by a friend, and I just never moved it to the top of my list. Now it is. I also belong to a small book club with two friends of mine. We choose a book and all pass it around. It’s supposed to be a three month cycle per book, but I think we’re a bit behind this time around (or maybe it’s just me). For that, I read LaRose, by Louise Erdrich. It was slow reading, but it’s always interesting to step out of my comfort zone and read something I wouldn’t have picked.
  2. Someone recommended it. People know I read a lot, so they’re always recommending books to me. I *try* to get to them before I forget who recommended them. By 1999, approximately half a million people had recommended the Harry Potter series to me, and I stubbornly ignored them because “it couldn’t be that good.” I don’t do that anymore.
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    Part of my wish list.

  3. I just felt like it, okay? Sometimes, I wander around my house, see a book, and I’m like, “That’s the one.” No rhyme or reason.
  4. I’m in a sad mood or feeling meh, and I need comfort. I have a bunch of go to books for when I need a pick me up. If I need to cry, I read Where The Red Fern Grows, by Wilson Rawls. I have no idea how many times I’ve read it, but I cry. Every. Single. Time. If I’m feeling stuck in a rut, and need adventure, I might read Watership Down, by Richard Adams, or Lightning, by Dean Koontz. If I just need something familiar, I might read Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen, or Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Bronte (though I usually skip the whole first section at Lowood school).
  5. I was at the library, and it screamed at me to get my attention. I try not to look at the “new fiction” shelf, but sometimes I hear the books calling my name. I know that means that other books will be neglected… but… new books.
  6. I was thinking about a passage from it, and just had to reread it. This happens to me once in awhile. I’ll be thinking about something else, or I’ll watch a movie or read another book, and a particular passage I like comes to mind. Then I’ll either flip through the book to reread just that part, or I’ll reread the whole thing. This happened recently with The Face, by Dean Koontz. No spoilers here, but there’s a part where a cop does something illegal with good intentions, and for some reason, that popped into my head, and I had to find and read that section.

As you can see, I don’t really “choose” what books to read. It’s all kind of random. But the orderly people in my life would say that I’m more governed by chaos than not, so it makes sense. I’m working my way through the 20 Books of Summer, and keeping to a pre-set list is difficult!

How do you choose what books to read next? How do you keep track of books people recommend?

20 Books of Summer Reading Challenge Check-in

The 20 Books of Summer Reading Challenge started on June 1st and ends September 3, so we’re about halfway through.

Here were my original stacks:

Of the 18 books I read in the last month and a half, only 7 were from the list, and I started and abandoned 1. So with only a month and a half left, I’m less than halfway through.

I knew this was going to be a problem for me, actually reading books from a pre-chosen list. But I’m determined to get through the ones I’ve picked.

I’ve reviewed some of these books in more depth on Goodreads. You can follow me by clicking the button to the right, if you’re interested.

What I’ve read:

  1. Roseblood (meh!- 2 stars)
  2. Bel Canto (great!- 4 stars)
  3. The Couple Next Door (overrated- 2 stars)
  4. The Mouse and the Motorcycle (fun-3 stars)
  5. The Golden Compass (pretty good- 3 stars)
  6. The Subtle Knife (second book in the series, so not as good- 3 stars)
  7. The Amber Spyglass (fantastic, makes the series worth reading- 5 stars)

Abandoned:

  1. Wicked (That one was supposed to be on my “alternate” pile. I guess I got them mixed up… oops)

Those of you who are participating in the reading challenge… how’s it going?

20 Books of Summer Challenge

20-booksCathy, over at 746 Books, is a book addict, like many of us. She started a blog when she realized that she had 746 unread books on her shelves. (I haven’t counted mine… I’m scared.)

She created the 20 Books of Summer Challenge for herself, as a way to get through some of her book stack. But it’s become an event, and many of us have joined in. Though I confess, I only recently heard about it from While I Was Reading

The challenge is simple: Between June 1 and September 3, pull a stack of 20 books and read them. She also has alternate challenges if you want to join, but can only read 10 or 15.

Here are my stacks:

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Plus 5 alternates:

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So, here we go; these are the books I’m going to read between now and the end of summer. I’m sure they’re not the only books I’ll read. For me, the challenge isn’t the quantity, but actually reading what I’d planned to. I’m not good at that; I see new books and I want to read them. For me, going to a bookstore is like going to the animal shelter… I want them all! But like 746 Books, I need to cull my stacks.

Anyone want to join in? Have you read any of the ones I’m attempting? If so, what did you think?