How To Catch People Reading In Public

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For my PopSugar challenge, I’m getting a little panicky. Ever since it was announced, I’ve been worried about how to fulfill it, and I have not yet had a sighting. The category is: a book that you’ve seen a stranger reading in public. But I don’t see people reading in public.

I don’t go out much. I was an early adopter of eBay and Amazon. When I realized I could get pretty much anything delivered to me, I was all in. There was even a time when I had my groceries delivered. (I stopped that after I asked for celery and got 1 piece of celery. Literally 1 piece.)

So, I go to Costco and the grocery store every week. I might pop into Target or Walmart monthly for paper goods or shampoo. Sometimes I drop something off at the post office, or go to the doctor/dentist/eye doctor. I ALWAYS have a book with me. (Honestly, I feel more naked without a book than without my phone.) If I have to stand in line for more than 30 seconds, I whip my book out and read.

But I don’t see anyone else reading at any of the places I go. Or at least, not books. Most people I see are staring off into space, or more often, staring at their phones. It could be that they’re all reading amazing books on the Kindle app, but it’s more likely they’re checking their Facebook or Instagram. And even if they are reading an amazing book, it’s not like I’ll ever know about it.

Same if I see someone reading a Kindle. I can’t see the title. Reader rule #1: Never interrupt someone reading. Never ever ever. The book gods will chew you up and use you as paper for the book you hate the most.

So, where do people read books? Does anyone have an answer for that? The library? A local coffee shop? I do go to the library, but primarily to pick up or drop off books. I don’t linger and stalk people. I do believe that most people at the library read their books flat (because hard backs can be hard to hold).

Then what happens if I finally do have an elusive sighting of another reader (a stranger, it specifically says) and their taste in books seems awful (Or, at least not appealing to me)?

What if I counted a book shown on Instagram? Those people are mostly strangers, and it’s obvious some of them are reading in a public place… does that count?

Help me! Tell me where you see strangers reading in public!

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2018 Book Challenges- Week 3

I’ve not made much progress on reading this week. It’s not a secret that I’m somewhat disorganized and a lousy housekeeper.

We moved into this house three years ago and still weren’t completely unpacked. My sister-in-law and her husband arrived on Saturday night, and I decided to clean up. Like for real. Finally get it all done.

I’ve tried other methods in the past, scheduling time to tackle it a little at a time, things like that. But it doesn’t seem to be how I work. I’m better at starting a task and staying on it single-mindedly. So… that’s why the poor progress on reading.

But to be honest, I always forget how much I love things to be clean and organized. Maybe they’ll actually stay this way!

Popsugar Challenge

(4/50) No progress

While I Was Reading Challenge

(0/12) No progress

The Unread Shelf

Total: 1

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We Have Always Lived in the Castle, by Shirley Jackson– I cannot believe I’ve never read this. I’ve loved her short story, The Lottery, ever since I read it in high school. I’m not sure what I expected with this book, but it wasn’t what I got. It was an interesting psychological study. Jackson’s grasp on the worst in humanity is what makes her frightening.

5 Classic Books

(0/5) No progress

Miscellaneous Reading

None

2018 Running Total: 7

Have you made any progress on your TBR or book challenges?

My 10 Most Popular Posts of 2017 and My Plan for 2018

I got a lot of new subscribers in 2017, which was nice. (I know you’re there, even if you’re not talking… come join the conversation!)

2017 was a year I tried to settle into a groove with blogging. In previous years, I tried to do daily (which was way too much) and other times when I had no schedule. In 2017, I tried to post on Tuesdays and Fridays. For 2018, I’m going to go back to a Monday/ Wednesday/ Friday format. Because of the interest in book challenges, I’m going to try to check in once a week with what I’m reading and my progress on various challenges. Starting next week, that will be on Mondays. (Happy New Year, BTW!)

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Most of the popular posts from this list are from 2017, but some are older (some much older). Without further ado, my top 10 from this year…

  1. 11 Best Non-Fiction Books About Mental Illness You have no idea how happy I am to see this at #1. People are becoming more interested in mental illness, and I think that’s a wonderful step toward conversation and destigmatizing what so many people struggle with.
  2. 10 Best Novels from Over 100 Years Ago This post is from 2011 and has consistently been one of my most popular posts. It’s a little sparse, back when I just made lists but didn’t consistently post pictures or say anything about the books. But… I guess that’s what Amazon is for?
  3. What Bullying Looks Like as An Adult Again, another post I’m happy to see as popular. We really, really need to stop telling children no to be bullies and then turn around and do it ourselves. Take a look to see the subtle ways you might be participating in bullying.
  4. Don’t Ban Eleanor & Park A post from 2016. I’m so against book banning. I think that any book that really speaks to someone is going to make someone else mad, and that’s okay. Kids need books like these. Eleanor & Park is a book I wish had been around when I was in high school
  5. Book Challenges 2018 A very recent post, but it just goes to show how interested in book challenges people are becoming. I’m going to try to be better about posting updates on my progress next year. Join me and feel free to update me on your progress too!
  6. Open Letter to the Writer Who Left My Writer’s Group You know, I almost didn’t write this post. I hate that I may have contributed to discouraging another writer. But it wasn’t done out of a spirit of meanness, and I think that it’s important to admit to my mistakes so I can become a better person. None of us are perfect. And even though the writer who this letter was intended for will probably never see it, maybe someone else who needs to see it will.
  7. 5 Things Not to Say to a Writer This post is from 2013, and I remember what made me write it. I was still working at crisis back then. We had some down time and were sitting around. I was working on a story and started bouncing ideas off my Arizona bestie, who is not a writer. He pretty much said everything on this list, and it made me crazy. When I showed him the blog post, he laughed.
  8. Promoting Kindness This post was inspired by all the vitriol I see (even among friends) over differing opinions regarding politics.
  9. 10 Best Fiction Books About Mental Illness I love that more people are trying to write characters with mental illnesses; I just prefer that people get it right. Exposure to fiction is known to increase empathy, so reading about characters with mental illness definitely can promote understanding and reduce fear of these disorders.
  10. The Pros and Cons of Writing in Coffee Shops Spoiler alert… it’s not my thing!

Doing a very scientific analysis, it seems that my most popular posts are lists of books and more personal type posts. I’ll try to keep that in mind as I’m brainstorming topics next year.

Are there any topics you’d like to see me write about? Any topics you’d like less of? I’m always open to suggestions, so feel free to comment on this (or any post) or email me at doreeweller@gmail.com.

Thanks for coming along for the ride that was 2017 for me! I’m hoping that 2018 will be even better.

Guest Post from While I Was Reading

Today’s post is a guest post from Ramona Mead over at While I Was Reading. She’s here to talk about her reading challenge for 2018.

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I’ve known the author of this blog since elementary school. We lived on the same street, and when a move in junior high took me to the other side of the school district, we lost touch. But thanks to the wonders of technology (ie Facebook) we reconnected several years ago and have rekindled our friendship, bonding over our shared passions for writing, reading, and having what others consider “too many” pets.

At the start of 2015, I followed the lead of another bookish pal, jumping into Book Riot‘s first annual Read Harder Challenge . It sounded easy enough for a nerd like me: read a book to fit into each of the 24 categories. Two books a month? Piece of cake.

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I approached my book shelves with my challenge list in one hand and a pencil in the other. I scanned through categories such as: a book that takes place in Asia, a book by an author from Africa, a book that is by or about someone from an indigenous culture, and a book by or about someone who identifies as LGBTQ.

I came to a startling realization, my book shelves are not exactly diverse.

2017 is the third year I’ve participated in the challenge, and to be extra nerdy, I did a second one, the PopSugar 2017 challenge (including the advanced categories, of course!) The challenges have expanded my horizons as both a reader and a writer. They have pushed me far out of my reading comfort zone and busted many of the misconceptions I had about certain genres such as fantasy and romance, and YA writing.

As the years have gone on, I’ve become increasingly frustrated with Read Harder’s categories. This year I’ve found them to be painfully specific. I’ve had a hard time completing some of the categories as they’re written so I’ve put my own spin on them to be able to mark it off.

It was this frustration that led me to create my own reading challenge for 2018. I enjoy categories that are more personal to the reader.

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I’ve come up with 12 categories, because while Doree and I can finish a ridiculously large number of books in a year, this isn’t realistic for the majority of readers I know. I have a few friends who have been intrigued by my completion of challenges past but too intimidated by the large number of categories to give it a try.

All you have to do is read, no other participation is required. If you start and don’t finish, that’s okay. However if you do complete the challenge, you can email me your list to be entered to win a prize at the end of 2018!!

  • Read a book that takes place in one day.
  • Read a memoir or biography of a musician you like.
  • Read a collection of poetry.
  • Read an audio book with multiple narrators.
  • Read a self published book.
  • Read a book you received as a gift.
  • Read a book about a historical event you’re interested in (fiction or non).
  • Read a book written by an author from the state where you grew up.
  • Read a book recommended by one of your parents (in-laws count).
  • Read a book with your favorite food in the title.
  • Read a book with a child narrator.
  • Read a book you chose based on the cover.

If you wish to participate in the challenge, please let me know either by commenting on this post, contacting me via Facebook, or you can shoot me an email at grazona@live.com.

You can download a printable list of the challenge categories here.

I’ve created a Facebook Group and a Goodreads Group for participants to gather for discussion and brainstorming!

I am excited to have you all along with me on this new venture! Please don’t hesitate to reach out to me with any questions, ideas, or suggestions.

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?

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?

Bookish New Year’s Resolutions

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At Austin’s Trail of Lights, 2016

Last year, I started the Read Harder reading challenge. I was enthusiastic, making the list in color and planning out the books I wanted to read. And then I just… stopped.

The problem, I realized, was that it wasn’t fun for me. I made it harder on myself than it needed to be (which is something I do). One of the challenge points was to read a book by a transgendered author. I read Six Months, Three Days by Charlie Jane Anders, and I loved it. but it was only a novella, and I decided that didn’t count. So then I started reading I’ve Got a Time Bomb by Sybil Lamb. And. I. Hated. It.

I started looking at some of the other challenge points. A book about politics. A book set in the Middle East. A book of historical fiction set before 1900. And they looked overwhelming. Not fun. So I just stopped.

But I really liked the reading challenge I did in 2015, so I thought about what I liked and didn’t like about the challenge.

I like it when it’s a scavenger hunt, playful.

I don’t like it when the criteria are too specific.

This year, I’m going to do the Popsugar reading challenge. I’ve already started thinking about what books I can use in the different categories. And on Goodreads, there’s a group devoted to the reading challenge, so we can all get different ideas for the various categories, in case they’re difficult to find books.

Hopefully, I complete the challenge this year. Or, if not complete it, I just hope I don’t get frustrated and give up. Because looking back on the 2016 Read Harder challenge, I think I would have enjoyed it if I didn’t get fixated on that one book I didn’t finish. I don’t read to challenge myself or to impress people. I read to entertain myself. And as long as I don’t lose sight of that, I should be in good shape.

Are you doing a reading challenge this year? Which one?