Thursday, August 27, 2015

20 Books of Summer: Update #4

Here is where my project stands now that we're nearing the final month of the project:
  1. N.P. by Banana Yoshimoto [Completed in June]
  2. The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami  [Completed in July]
  3. Girl in a Band by Kim Gordon 
  4. Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee [Completed in July]
  5. Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami Audition by Ryu Murakami [swapped]
  6. Brave Genius by Sean B. Carroll 
  7. In Cold Blood by Truman Capote   Underground by Haruki Murakami [swapped] [Completed in August]
  8. Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neal Hurston  Lord Arthur Savile's Crime by Oscar Wilde [swapped]
  9. The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield
  10. The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson
  11. Lulu in Hollywood by Louise Brooks
  12. The Last Four Days of Paddy Buckley by Jeremy Massey
  13. If On a Winter's Night a Travler by Italo Calvino 
  14. The Babysitters Club: Mary Ann Saves the Day  by Ann M. Martin and Raina Telgemeier [Completed in July]
  15. Drama by Raina Telgemeier [Completed in July]
  16. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee [Completed in July]
  17. The Sputnik Sweetheart by Haruki Murakami [Completed in July]
  18. Sisters by Raina Telgemeier [Completed in July]
  19. Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage by Haruki Murakami Gone Girl by Gillian Flyn [swapped]
  20. Dance Dance Dance by Haruki Murakami   After the Quake by Haruki Murakami [swapped]
To date, I have read 9 of my planned 20 books.  Currently, I have six of the remaining books in my queue in various states of completeness.  The books that I have yet to start are relatively short and shouldn't be a major reading obstacle for me provided I have the time and energy to read them.  I should easily be able to get close to my goal of twenty books read over the summer; conservatively, I should complete at least fifteen books by the chronological end of summer.  

You will also notice that I have continued to make substitutions to my list as my reading interests have changed and as I have made more book purchases over the summer.  I imagine that this list will continue to evolve up until this challenge is over.

Let me know in the comments if you have any suggestions for powering through books you have that are "in progress."
Tuesday, August 25, 2015

The Challenge: Bout of Books 14.0 Wrap-Up

Just as I had feared, I ended up not making as much progress during Bout of Books 14.0 as I had anticipated.  When you're an adult, working full-time and having to respond to the demands of day-to-day life, it can be a well a true challenge to live up to your best intentions . . . TBRs included.

By Sunday night, I hadn't completed a single book that was on my TBR.  I was about twenty-pages from the end of Underground and about two-third of the way through Gone Girl; I had just started reading the second story in After the Quake.  For a busy workweek, that isn't something to sneeze at.

Let's put my failed goal into perspective, shall we? 

Seventy-five percent of Americans over the age of sixteen read at least one book a year; of this seventy-five percent, the median reader read fifteen books a year.  Taking all Americans into account (including the twenty-five percent who don't read at all), the average American reads six books a year.

As of Sunday, I had read two books of essays, two works of non-fiction [otherwise un-categorized], eleven novels, and twenty-six children's and young adult books.  That's forty-seven books so far this year.  To make significant progress in an additional two books isn't a failure in my eyes.

Maybe I need to stop making prescriptive TBRs or even announcing my participation in read-a-thons.  It's challenging to commit yourself to a hard and fast reading goal where there are so many other phenomena that are competing for your time and attention.

Maybe, instead of making challenge specific TBRs or even monthly TBRs I should take another crack at setting reading goals for the month, like a thousand pages or five books in a month?  Maybe I should make a master list of the books I have not read that I own or create a TBR of books that I have checked out on my various library accounts?  Maybe what's needed isn't to put my TBR fail into perspective, but to re-imagine, re-define what the TBR means . . . at least to me.

What do you think?  Let me know in the comments.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

The Challenge: Bout of Books 14.0 TBR

It's that time again, Bout of Books.  From Monday August 17th to Sunday August 23rd is the Bout of Books 14.0 read-a-thon.  Long time reads of TLD may remember that I have a bad track record with read-a-thons (see . . . my previous blog entry): when you are a grown-up-adult-working-lady, there any many other commitments that eat into your reading time.  For people like myself, people who have to pay for insurance and put in a solid forty hours a week, Bout of Books is a more forgiving challenge: no insipid challenges, no aggravating "reading challenges," no shrill hosts, or any asinine videos squee-ing about binge twelve hour reading sessions.  This, dear readers, is a read-a-thon for all people, even grown people.

As such, I am affirming my participation in Bout of Books 14.0 week-long reading challenge.  

This week I am hoping to get through six books of different flavors.  Here is my BoB 14.0 TBR:

Underground by Haruki Murakami
I am 2/3 of the way through Murakami's look at the 20 March 1995 sarin attack on the Tokyo subway.  As much as I enjoy Murakami's fiction, I enjoy his non-fiction almost as much.  This book is at both captivating and deeply disturbing.  I will do a proper review on this one when I complete it.  As yet I am about 100 or so pages from the end and shouldn't struggle to complete this book by midweek.  

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
I'm listening to this one on audio book.  I am only reading this one because I resent the idea of being left completely behind on this protracted cultural moment.  Also, I have a goal of "reading" five audio books this year.  I doubt that I would have chosen to read this book otherwise  I have this one on my iPod and listen to it during my commute or during my prep period at work.  Currently, I am bogged down about a 1/3 of the way into the book.  This.  Is.  The.  Book.  That.  Will.  Not.  End.  Hilfe! 

The Bloody Chamber by Angela Carter
This is a recent acquisition that was inspired in large part by a cadre of BookTubers who have sung the collection's praises. For those unfamiliar with Carter's work, The Bloody Chamber is a set of fairy tale retellings that are decidedly sinister in tone. The book is relatively short and seemingly episodic, so it is formally well suited to read-a-thon reading.

Brooklyn by Colm Tóibin
This is another recent purchase of mine. I bought this book primarily because the film adaptation comes out in the fall and the trailer was rather appealing. I'm the type of person who likes to read the book before seeing the movie; I like to have a lot of well-informed reasons to hate the adaptation.

Simply put the book is about a young Irish woman who comes to America a falls in love. Just as her American life starts to look up, she has to return to Ireland because of a family emergency. The young woman then has to choose between her old life and her new one. I'm hopeful this won't be too treacly or "You drank da moonay, Da!"-type depressing. 

After the Quake by Haruki Murakami
This is a collection of Murakami’s short stories that are set around the 1995 Kobe earthquake in Japan.  I love Murakami a great deal and short stories are well suited for the type of episodic reading during stolen moments that a read-a-than entails.  Also, since I am also reading Underground, it makes sense that I would read the other book Murakami wrote about the dual tragedies of 1995.  Right?  Right.

And lastly . . .

Lord Alfred Saville’s Crime (Penguin Little Black Classics No. 59) by Oscar Wilde
I have long been an Oscar Wilde fan and, a few weeks ago, when I bought my first “Little Black Classic,” a series of slim volumes meant to celebrate Penguin’s 80th anniversary, I picked up this little gem from the Book Depository.  This small collection is about seventy pages in length and should read very quickly; if I am lucky I may be able to read this in one marathon sitting.  If I like the format of this one, I may pick up a few more in the series.

As I move through the week, I will try to keep everyone updated about my progress.  I am working two evening shifts at the library this term and should have some quiet time on my hands to do some lesson planning, writing, and reading.

Wish me luck! 

P.S. If any of the books on my TBR catch your fancy, please feel free to use my Book Depository affiliate link [in the right hand column] to make your purchase . . . which will keep me in reading material and blogging fodder.  
Monday, August 3, 2015

Booktube-A-Thon 2015 TBR

As I am sure most of you know, this week is the 2015 Booktube-A-Thon.  Between today and Sunday, participants will be reading as much as they can, trying to meet a series of challenges and engage in periodic sprints.  A series of Booktubers are hosting the event on YouTube and Twitter; you can follow them here and here.

This year's reading challenges are less obtuse than they have been in previous years:

  1. Read a book with blue on the cover.
  2. Read a book by an author who shares the same first letter of your last name.
  3. Read someone else's favorite book.
  4. Read the last book you acquired.
  5. Finish a book without letting go of it.
  6. Read a book you really want to read.
  7. Read seven books.
All of these are pretty do-able, right?  Right.

As day one draws to a close, I wanted to publicize the books that are on my TBR.

A book with blue on the cover: If You Feel Too Much: Thoughts on Things Found and Lost and Hoped For by Jamie Tworkowski 

A book by an author who shares the same first letter of your last name: I don't think I own a book by someone with a last name beginning with "H," so I have selected Underground by Haruki Murakami . . . because his first initial is the same as my last one-- just let me have this one!

Someone else's favorite book: "A Good Man is Hard to Find" by Flannery O'Connor, a short story that is one of author David Sedaris's favorites.

The last book you acquired: Brooklyn by Colm Toibin

Finish a book without letting go of it: The Book for People Who Do Too Much by Bradley Trevor Greive 

Read a book you really want to read: The Wresting Game by Ellen Raskin 

Read seven books: Lord Arthur Savile's Crime by Oscar Wilde

I'll post my daily updates one day removed.  Stay tuned for my Day 1 recap tomorrow!