Book Challenges- Week 14

So… I made no progress on reading challenges this week. I mostly re-read books. In my defense, Blogging A to Z is a massive undertaking, and I’m writing a new novel while simultaneously brainstorming how to edit my old one. I didn’t have much mental space for new books. Maybe next week.

Popsugar Challenge

(11/50)

While I Was Reading Challenge

(4/12)

The Unread Shelf

Running Total: 3

5 Classic Books

(0/5) No progress

Miscellaneous Reading

images

The Maze Runner, by James Dashner (YA science fiction): Thomas wakes up in a strange world populated by other teenage boys. He has no real memory of who he was before, but things feel familiar. Not long after he arrives, a girl arrives and tells them that “the end” has been triggered, before falling into a coma. Thomas and the others have to figure out how to get out of the maze before they die. Fast, fun, and action-packed, it was a page-turner. I don’t always love being confused in books, but the pacing was good, so I enjoyed following along with Thomas, figuring out what was going on when he did. I’m not sure yet if I’m going to continue the series or not. Everyone I talked to agreed that the others aren’t as good as the first, though some people definitely liked them.

Unknown

Ready Player One, by Ernest Cline (science-fiction): We went and saw the movie last weekend, and I loved it! It differsΒ significantly from the book, and while that would normally irritate me, in this case, I think it worked well. Of course, I had to reread the book, and it was just as much fun as I remembered. There are people out there who have criticisms, and like every other book, this one isn’t perfect. But it is a lot of fun, nostalgic, and a fast, easy read. I’m always up for that.

Unknown-2

I Remember You, by Cathleen Davitt Bell (YA fantasy? magical realism?): Astute readers may remember that I just read this back in February, but I wanted to reread it pretty much as soon as I finished it. This time around, I listened to it on audiobook, and the narrator was lovely. Not long after Lucas and Juliet start becoming friends, he tells her that he has memories of her, of things that haven’t happened yet, or things that happened differently that time than this time. Juliet has to balance her growing attraction to him with her skepticism about what he’s saying.

Abandoned

None this week.

2018 Running Total: 38

 

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

Advertisements

Saving the End Until Later

Recently, when I was re-watching Battlestar Galactica, a main character talked about his favorite book, and how he doesn’t know how it ends because he never finished it. His argument is that he loves the book so much that he never wanted it to end.

Um… say what?

There are a lot of bookish habits I find odd, but this one is almost incomprehensible. I can honestly say it never occurred to me to not finish a book I love. When I don’t finish a book, it’s because it’s so awful that I just can’t.

When I love a book, it’s hard for me to put it down. I race to finish it. I don’t want to do anything but read that book. For me, it’s like being in love. Sometimes I read so quickly that when I get to the end, I start over again so I can enjoy it at a more leisurely pace.

I’m not sure that I could stop reading an excellent book (especially a favorite) if I tried.Β I’d be thinking about it, dreaming about it, creating my own endings. And anything I could come up with probably wouldn’t be as good as what the author could come up with.

I wonder if this was just a weird character trait that someone picked because it seemed interesting, or if people actually do this.

Have you ever done this or heard of this? Are you a savor-er or a gulper?

How To Catch People Reading In Public

IMG_0886

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!

Audiobooks are Easier to Abandon

I’ve written a few times about how I have a newly discovered liking for audiobooks. And it’s true. With the right book, I really do enjoy them.

However, I’ve noticed a pattern. I abandon more audiobooks than I finish. At first, I thought I was just choosing books that I didn’t like, that I would have abandoned anyway. I abandoned so many audiobooks last year that I stopped keeping track of them.

But recently, I started listening to a book I’ve wanted to read forever: A Million Junes, by Emily Henry. The book has everything I should like. It’s YA, it’s a little magical, with an interesting premise.

I made myself listen to it a few times and just… stopped.

I don’t want to keep listening to it, but I still want to read it.

And that’s when I started to look critically at the audiobooks I abandoned. They still interest me. I looked at Feed, by Mira Grant, and I realized it’s about siblings during a zombie apocalypse! What’s not to like?

But I abandoned it without a qualm an hour or so into it.

Audiobooks require an enormous amount of concentration for me. They work for me while I’m driving long stretches because I’ve been driving for a long time and can do that automatically (for the most part). But unless I’m really into it, I don’t use them for mindless chores around the house. I like quiet on my daily walks so I can hear the birds or the stream rushing. And I’m certainly not going to sit on the couch and listen to an audiobook; if I have nothing else going on, I’d much rather read it.

I think that I’ve given up on some good books because I didn’t read them in the right format. Knowing that, I’m going to go back through my list (at some point) and check them out again.

Of the books I’ve actually completed on audiobook, most of them were biographies of comedians, read by the author. These aren’t books I’d normally read, but they were interesting on audiobook. I do enjoy comedy specials, so perhaps that’s the difference? I’ve also been successful with some YA (a couple books by Rainbow Rowell, a book by Jennifer Niven) and books I’ve read before.

I think that I either need to be more selective with audiobooks or make sure I have access to the paper copy to switch back and forth. I hate wasting my time by abandoning a book an hour into it, especially if I might actually like it if I were reading to it instead of listening to it.

Does anyone else have this issue?

SaveSave

How To Read Childhood Favorites the “Right” Way

IMG_9546I love rereading books that I used to love. Nostalgia books, I suppose you could call them.

It used to never be a problem for me, but as I’ve gotten more serious about writing, and as I’m critiquing other writer’s works on a weekly basis, it’s gotten more difficult not to read things with a critical eye.

Two years ago, I made the mistake of gifting my all time favorite book to my critique partner. As I reread it after I gifted it, I started seeing areas I knew he would criticize. And he did criticize those areas, and many more I hadn’t anticipated.

Suddenly, I didn’t love the book as much as I used to. It wasn’t the perfect example of a novel that I’d thought it was. I was disappointed, and for a long time, didn’t want to read any of my old favorites, worried that I wouldn’t love them as much as I used to.

Recently, I got the urge to reread The Forbidden Game trilogy, by LJ Smith. Without overthinking it, I started the first one.

I ended up reading it in two minds. My critical reader found all the flaws. (And there are flaws.) But my nostalgic reader found all the reasons I’d always loved it. And my nostalgic reader was louder.

It’s easy to find the flaws in something, to pick it apart, to criticize. That’s why anyone can do it.

And as a writer, it’s important that I can be constructively critical to my work and to the work of other writers who want to improve. Sometimes, as a reader, it’s important to do too. It’s good practice, and helps judge what works and what doesn’t.

But there are sometimes when I don’t want to pick things apart or find ways to improve something. Sometimes I just want to enjoy it, recapture that uncomplicated pleasure that came with reading it in the past.

The meaning of a particular book and how it resonates with the reader can change over time. There have been books I’ve connected with more or less over time, depending on where I was in my life.

But I don’t ever want to get to the point where I look at a beloved book, and only see the flaws. That serves no purpose. And I certainly don’t want to avoid rereading a favorite book out of fear.

All books have magic, and magic is a personal thing. But the key is that we, as readers, have to be complicit in creating that magic. It doesn’t exist without a reader who’s willing to be immersed in the book.

A book that resonates with me, at any point in my life, doesn’t have to be perfect. That’s an unrealistic standard. If it made me feel something deeply at any point, then it was “perfect” for me at that moment.

So, from now on, when I’m rereading a book, I’m going to keep in mind that it’s okay for it to have flaws, and those flaws don’t diminish its value one bit.

After all, at one point, I didn’t even see the flaws. They were always there, but I was so immersed in magic that I missed them. And I’m not going to let anyone take that away from me… not even myself.

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?

5 Things Friday

It’s been a busy month for me, and while I have a lot of great ideas for posts, I don’t have the energy to do them justice right now. So, instead of skipping today, I thought I’d do a fast and fun five things Friday. (It’s apparently a thing.)

One

What I’m Reading

Because I tend to reach for things I’ve already read when life gets stressful, I just finished rereading The Language of Flowers, by Vanessa Diffenbaugh.

IMG_9454

Two

What I’m Writing

I’m just about to start seriously editing the last novel I wrote, Not Dead Enough, a YA thriller about a teenager whose boyfriend died in a car accident. But when she starts getting messages from someone claiming to be him, she has to question if she’s being stalked, or if he’s somehow communicating with her.

I’m also writing a novel tentatively called The Cycle about a woman whose children get taken into foster care. She grew up in foster care and group homes. The story is told with dual timelines of her at 13 and 22. Actually, that’s probably what made me think aboutΒ The Language of Flowers.

Three

What I Read This Week

Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty, which I rated 4 stars on Goodreads

Wish Girl by Nikki Loftin, which I rated 4 stars on Goodreads

The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh, which I rated 4 stars on Goodreads

Four

When I Wasn’t Reading

I was writing, chauffeuring my two sick cats to the veterinarian, finishing some touch up work on the bathroom I painted awhile back, and walking the dog.

Five

Favorite Picture of the Week

Version 2

This greedy squirrel is pretty much constantly eating. One of my cats loves watching him, and we call her a “TV addict.”

What have you been doing this week?

 

SaveSave