Sunday, October 2, 2016

Reconsidering This Space

Hello? Anybody still there? It's been a while, I know! Well, if you've stuck around to see this post, know that I really appreciate the fact that you are here still sharing the bookish love. In the past several months, I've really only posted about challenges and reading events, but I've found I really do miss writing about other things. And most of all, I miss the little community in this corner of the internet. I read other blogs much more often than I post here, so I still get to be in on the fun, but they are all very inspiring and thought-provoking! I often find myself with ideas, but no time to get them typed out coherently. We all know that life happens (I have a toddler now! How did that happen so fast?!) and I'm glad for it. But I was thinking that maybe instead of trying to figure out how I can get this blog back to how it used to be, maybe I should reevaluate how I use this space. There is a reason I never closed up shop completely, and it's mainly the small community of readers and fellow bloggers who have somehow managed to connect here. So what's a girl to do going forward? The following are the answers I've come up with (so far!)

  • Reviews will be short and on Goodreads. For months (years actually!), I've actively resisted posting my thoughts on Goodreads when I mark a book as finished and give it a rating. I did this because I kept thinking "No, better not, this should be a review on the blog first." And how many of those actually became reviews? Hardly any! It's time to admit that most of my review-ish thoughts are best recorded when the book is fresh in my mind and that 95% of the time, I only have a few lines (maybe a paragraph) to share anyway. The other day, I just started doing this with picture books and it felt so great to get those thoughts down. And just like that, the (imagined) pressure of needing to have all review-ish thoughts specifically on the blog was gone. So if you want thoughts on specific books I've read, I'd love to be Goodreads friends -- if we aren't already :)
  • If I do have a lot to say about a specific book or my experience reading a book, genre, author, etc., those are the kinds of thoughts I will post here. I'm thinking things like my Reading Winnie-the-Pooh as an Adult which was my last "real" post -- four months ago! 
  • I want to write more about my reading life in general -- whether that is thoughts on audiobooks, the library, book collecting/organizing -- basically, anything reading-related that is not a review.
  • I want to write more about children's books and my experiences reading to my son. I think I shied away from this a bit without even realizing it. But children's books are a big part of my life now and I am finding so much joy in them. They may not be for all adult readers, but I am so very grateful to be able to explore this whole world of books that I never read myself or I don't remember reading, as well as revisiting the childhood favorites I do remember.
  • Come December/January when all the year-long reading challenges start popping up, I am going to be very, very picky about what I join. In 2016, I joined eight which was a major drop from prior years, but it's still too many to keep up with. Whatever I join, I want to realistically be able to keep up with my updates, be an active participant, and really use each challenge as a (fun) tool to focus my reading. Focusing my reading has always been a big reason I join challenges, but I can't focus on 8 (or more!) different goals if I am really honest with myself. 
  • Cutting back on challenges, I've also decided it's time to retire as host of the Banned Books Challenge. I was never the most active host anyway, so if any participants or interested bloggers are reading this and would like to take over for 2017, that would be wonderful!
Alright, I think those are all my thoughts for now! Thank you again to anyone who's stuck around. I look forward to putting these ideas into action and getting back in the blogging groove with a refreshed mindset.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Reading Decathlon

A big thank you to Kay for inspiring me to join the Reading Decathlon hosted by Epic Reads. I recently learned about the 7 in 7 Readathon, but completely missed this year's edition. This decathalon is basically a 10 in 10 readathon, just without any set dates, so you can give it a go whenever you like! I just love the idea of reading a book a day as a challenge and having the freedom to choose a 10 day period that works best for me makes it even better. Yes, I have a toddler (Really! I do! When did that happen, by the way?!?!?) Yes, I'm super busy with work and life and all that jazz. BUT there are different levels including #ReadingForBronze which allows for any combination of short stories, novellas, graphic novels, novels, etc., etc. 

Full details here

Really, this is about giving my reading life a little boost. I've been very happy with my reading this summer, but I still get distracted and fritter away time on the internet or my phone that could be better spent. I have a HUGE stack of library books that fit this challenge perfectly plus plenty from my own shelves. I won't even post a list because I doubt I'd stick to it, but I'll make sure to check back in once I'm done. Right now I'm thinking a mix of graphic novels and children's/middle grade novels, but who knows, 10 days is a long time! 

My main goal here is to make better use of the free time I do have and try to turn that into a habit. And while reading is NOT about numbers, stats, or obligations for me, I know it will feel good to check so many books off my TBR in a such a short time frame. Anyone want to join me?

P.S. I will post something other than a reading challenge one of these days, I promise! I just can say when...

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Make Me Read It Readathon: The Votes Are In!

More info/sign-up here or here.

Thank you everyone who voted! Here's a screenshot of the results for next week's readathon:

I will be packing the top 5 books to enjoy on vacation. Will I have time to read them all? I can't say for sure, but I can try! A 24 in 48 Readathon is also coming up July 23-24, so I just may carry over the rest of my list.

I wanted to start next week with a clean bookish slate, but I am a couple of chapters into The Rose & the Dagger and I know I will not be able to finish it before Saturday. I'm not quite sure what to do about that yet. Oh well, a bookish dilemma isn't really such a bad dilemma to have! Happy reading everyone :)

Monday, July 4, 2016

2016 Reading Challenges: Mid-Year Progress

The other day, I did my mid-year check-in for the #ShelfLove challenge, so I thought I would take a look at my progress (or lack thereof) for all of my 2016 challenges. I thought I joined less this year? Actually, I did join less, but there are still a lot. Oh boy. Next year, I really need to work on my definition of "a few." Here we go...

Goal: 300 books
Progress: 193 books
That's 44 ahead of schedule -- doing well! This does include all types of books -- picture books, novellas, stand-alone short stories, graphic novels, audiobooks, etc., etc., so I've actually upped my goal a couple times since the beginning of year.

Show Your Shelves Some Love Challenge
Goal: 51+ books I owned prior to 2016
Progress: 20 books I owned prior to 2016
Could be better, could be worse! Full update here.

Goal: 80-100% of books I buy in 2016
Progress: 32% of books I bought in 2016
Well, it could be worse. I do think I need to cut myself off and play catch up though. I haven't even read all the picture books I bought this year yet! Is it possible to be in a read-aloud slump? Thoughts for another day, perhaps. For the record, I did NOT include the following in my stats:
1. books bought as gifts
2. cookbooks
3. books I had read previously, but bought a copy for my collection
4. books in an alternate format (i.e. audiobooks, illustrated editions, etc. of books I already own)

Goal: 60-74 points
Progress: 24 points
I was churning through Caldecott Medal books with my son, but then we hit a bit of a slump. We've also read a lot of Caldecott Honor books which don't count!

Goal: 3-6 series
Progress: 0 series
I've read 11 books that are part of a series (including graphic novels), but I have not completely caught up on any one series yet. Technically I am caught up on the Lumberjanes trade editions, but two more volumes come out this year, so I won't call that series done yet.

Goal: 6-9 banned or challenged books
Progress: 4 banned or challenged books
Since this is my own challenge, I'm glad I'm making decent progress on it.

Goal: 10 uniquely formatted books
Progress: 5 uniquely formatted books
Half way there and these books are just so much fun. I don't think I will have a problem reading 5 more this year.
Goal: 12 old ARCs/review copies
Progress: none!
I'm jumping ship on this one! I loved the idea of this challenge that ran in 2015 (and a few years prior), but it never officially came back for 2016 as I hoped it would when I "signed up." Since I'm not getting anywhere with the goal I set for myself anyway, I'm just going to call it quits. I should probably just donate the remaining ARCs I have on my shelf anyway, to be honest.
Goal: Track my reading and donate to a different organization at least once per quarter
Progress: On track!
I've donated every two months and chosen St. Jude's Children's Research HospitalReading Is Fundamental, and FINCA so far.

Friday, July 1, 2016

June #ShelfLove Update

It's time for a Mid-Year Check-In! Oh boy. Well, it seems I am always overambitious at the beginning of the year. I have ALL THE GOOD INTENTIONS in January. I always think it will be incredibly simple to just read from my own shelves and not go overboard with buying new books and borrowing from the library. But then I learn about interesting new books. Or I hear rave reviews from trusted sources. Or I find a new author or genre I want to try. Or a favorite author publishes a new book. Or I walk into a bookstore or visit a book website... You get the idea -- there are so many scenarios where all those good intentions fly right out the window. I conveniently forget just how many unread books I have in my house already. It's a sort of blindspot of mine I suppose. There is good news though! So some updates:

1. So far I have read 20 books that were on my shelves prior to 2016. In 2015, I read a total of 20 from my shelves for the whole year, so I'm well ahead of last year's pace. My goal for 2016 is 51+ though, so I better get back to it!

2. There are 6 months left in 2016, so there is plenty of time left to rearrange my TBR and balance out my reading choices.

3. I also have the Read the Books You Buy challenge going, so if I read some of my more recent acquisitions (i.e. purchased during 2016, rather than prior to 2016), they may not count for ShelfLove, but they are still books from my own shelves. So, progress?

During June, I read one measly book from my own shelves:

The Wrath and the Dawn, by Renée Ahdieh

June TOTAL:  1 book read from my shelves
2016 TOTAL: 20 books read from my shelves

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How has your 2016 reading been going?

Monday, June 20, 2016

Make Me Read It Readathon: Sign-Up & Voting

Thanks to Kay over at It's a Book Life, I found out about this really fun readathon that just so happens to be taking place while I'm on vacation at the beach. There will be a lot of family wanting to take turns playing with the little man, so I'm thinking the timing is perfect. Plus, I am TERRIBLE at picking out books for travelling, so I can use all the help I can get! Here's how it works:

More info/sign-up here or here.
Look at the books you own, either physical, e-book or ones you've borrowed from the library and pick out a few you really want to read, or feel like you should read. It’s up to you how many you pick, personally I'd pick a few more than you expect to be able to read in a week. Example: if you think you’ll only read two, pick out five books or if you think you can read seven, pick out ten.

Make a list of these books on your blog, or make a video, or a Goodreads shelf or post a picture on Instagram—whatever is easiest for you. Then get friends, other bloggers/booktubers etc. to vote on which books you HAVE to read.

When the readathon comes along, you read the books in the order of most votes. For example, if one book gets 10 votes—you read that first, then the one that got 7 and so on. If there's a tie, then it's your preference. The goal is to read as many as possible.
The read-a-thon will take place from the 9th to the 16th of July in your timezone. You can start anytime you want on the 9th, so just fit it around whatever works for you! As for the voting, that’s up to you too!
* * * * *

I usually over-pack books for vacation because I am, 1. overambitious and 2. so unsure of where to start that I tend to bring an excess of options. I can pretty much guarantee I will not read more than 5 books on vacation, even considering the types I'm choosing for this event -- novels in verse, uniquely formatted books, middle grade -- i.e. quicker reads. So help a girl out and vote for up to 5 books from the choices below (titles link to Goodreads). Voting will end on July 6th and then I will simply pack up the top picks, thus eliminating the second-guessing and last minute agonizing over my shelves. THANK YOU fellow readers!

* * * * *


Thank you to everyone who voted!

* * * * *

P.S. I am not factoring audiobooks into this event. I am in the middle of Diana Gabaldon's The Fiery Cross and will soon be taking a break and switching over to Libba Bray's The Diviners for book club. Wherever I am at with these two, I plan to carry on during the readathon for travel hours and other times I am on the move or want to give my eyes a break.

(Updated: 7/7/2016)

Sunday, June 5, 2016

April/May #ShelfLove Update

These days, time to do anything that requires me to be sitting still is at a premium. I've been itching to blog more, but it's getting harder to even find time to read anything that is not an audiobook (reading on the move!) or a picture book (though I seriously love those too!) My little guy recently started walking, sorry I mean running, so he's been keeping me busier than ever. Since I have some rare time for an update, I thought I'd do a little catch-up for the past two months...

April's discussion topic was Libraries. In short? I freaking love my library. They have story-times for "tiny tots" up through school age, plus all sorts of other fun programs. I can take out stacks of picture books so I don't get bored to tears of the same old stories over and over again. And let's be honest, at just over 1 year old, I am enjoying these books more than my son is! Thanks to my library, I have expanded my reading repertoire and branched out into comics/graphic novels and audiobooks. And though I still like to buy books, I've culled a lot and I am trying to be much more deliberate about what I choose to add to our collection. The library is always there for me to try a new author or genre on a whim or learn more about a certain topic (like how to feed a toddler...) without defaulting to making a purchase. I also met my book club at the library! We do our own thing now, but I am grateful to have met some great bookish friends though my library.

May's discussion topic was Literary Dream Trips. Well, I had the most amazing opportunity a few years ago to visit Scotland, aka home of JK Rowling and the setting of Outlander. I don't think I could top that if I tried, but I would love to visit other smaller/local literary sites (houses of authors, etc.) or events someday. And I would also really love to visit the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art in Massachusetts -- maybe when the little guy is a bit older.

As for my progress with the #ShelfLove challenge? In April and May, I read the following books that were on my shelves prior to 2016:

The Winner's Crime, by Marie Rutkoski (had print, but switched to audio)
Drums of Autumn, by Diana Gabaldon (re-read; mostly on audio this time around)

April/May TOTAL: 2 books read from my shelves
2016 TOTAL: 19 books read from my shelves

It seems I read mostly from the library in April and May. See, I told you I love my library! But as we approach the halfway mark of 2016, I think it's a good time to reexamine my shelves and prioritize some books I've been meaning to get to for ages. Wish me luck!

* * * * *

How has your 2016 reading been going?

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Reading Winnie-the-Pooh as an Adult

As popular as Winnie the Pooh was when I was a kid, I never actually read any of the original stories until very recently. I remember Pooh cartoons and Pooh stickers (stickers were SUCH a thing with the girls when I was in grade school -- does anyone else remember this???) And if my parents ever read me any Pooh books, they were likely picture book adaptations.

So of all the books we received at our son's baby shower last year, I was most looking forward to reading the original Winnie-the-Pooh friends of ours gave us. And with such a beautiful edition to start our collection, I just couldn't resist adding The House at Pooh Corner as well as the two volumes of poetry When We Were Very Young and Now We Are Six. I was a little amused to see two of the used copies I bought were actually inscribed because they looked like they were barely even opened, let alone read. I look forward to the day my son asks me who Rosie or Jack & Whitney are -- I don't know kid, but they were missing out on these books, I can tell you that much.

The Stories

Now, I knew Winnie-the-Pooh and The House at Pooh Corner were not particularly short, but I was still surprised to realize they were each close to 200 pages. Both volumes are divided into 10 chapters, each of which is its own story. They are connected, but I think they could be read on their own as well. The writing style is sort of meandering which definitely took some getting used to, but I thoroughly enjoyed these stories once I got the hang of the dialogue. I struggled a bit reading them aloud, so it's good my son is a bit too young to notice! These are true classics that I know I will reread more than once. In fact, I've already listened to the first volume on audiobook. The professional narrator did a much better job than I did for sure! The Piglet noises were a little jarring, but the audio does bring the characters and stories to life. Between reading and listening, it is so clear to me now how the cartoon versions of these characters evolved from the source material.

The Poems

As for Milne's poetry, I didn't know much at all beforehand except that When We Were Very Young and Now We Are Six are part of the Pooh collection. Now having read them, I think that's actually a bit of a stretch. Pooh and Christopher Robin make a few appearances, but that's about it. The majority of the poems have nothing to do with Pooh and cover a variety of other topics. They were still enjoyable, but not quite what I was expecting. I think they will only improve with rereading because I'll know better what I'm getting myself into. Also, I know I have a tendency to rush through poetry, so I'm certain there is more to appreciate in these volumes than I absorbed the first time around.

Now that I have read these four, I'm on the fence about trying The Return to the Hundred Acre Wood. It is a companion volume written 80 years after The House at Pooh Corner by another author, but supposedly captures the style of the originals in a series of new adventures. If any Pooh aficionados have an opinion one way or the other, please let me know what you think! And of course, I'm intrigued by the Winnie the Pooh cookbook, but maybe I'll just see if the library has that one.

Classics Club Review #9

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Classic Children's Literature Event -- April 2016

Hosted by Simpler Pastimes

I have been on a major children's book kick lately. Combined with the fact that I revamped my Classics Club list to focus mostly on children's classics, I just couldn't pass up participating in this event!

There are no "children's classics" police for this challenge, but I'm going to try to stick with the suggested guidelines and read books at least 50 years old -- after all, that leaves plenty to choose from!

I would like to start off by reviewing A.A. Milne's Winnie the Pooh books which I've already read. Next up, I should read Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson since I picked it for the Classics Club's latest Spin. I'm also a few stories into The Complete Tales of Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter which I'm reading to my son -- I may not finish them all this month, but I'd definitely like to continue. If I have any additional reading time, I can choose from the (many) children's classics on my shelves:

The Secret Garden, by Frances Hodgson Burnett
A Little Princess, by Frances Hodgson Burnett
Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, by Lewis Carroll
Through the Looking Glass, by Lewis Carroll
The Jungle Book, by Rudyard Kipling
Just So Stories, by Rudyard Kipling
Five Children and It, by E. Nesbit
The Enchanted Castle, by E. Nesbit
Aesop's Fables, by Aesop
Pinocchio, by Carlo Collodi
Peter Pan, by J.M. Barrie
Grimm’s Fairy Tales, by Jacob & Wilhelm Grimm (selected edition)
The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, by L. Frank Baum
Around the World in Eighty Days, by Jules Verne
Twenty Thousand Leagues Under The Sea, by Jules Verne
Charlotte's Web, by E.B. White
Stuart Little, by E.B. White
The Wind in the Willows, by Kenneth Grahame
Anne of Green Gables, by L.M. Montgomery
The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, by C.S. Lewis
A Wrinkle in Time, by Madeline L'Engle
The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood, by Howard Pyle
The Story of King Arthur and His Knights, by Howard Pyle
Pippi Longstocking, by Astrid Lindgren
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, by Roald Dahl
From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, by E.L. Konigsburg 
(that last one was published in 1967 -- I'll call that close enough!)

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

March 2016 Take Control of Your TBR Pile Challenge: Wrap-Up Post

I almost didn't write this wrap-up post because I thought it would just be a rehash of my March #ShelfLove Update. But for this month-long challenge, I could read any book published prior to March 1, 2016 (library books included!), so I actually read quite a few more:

Children's/Middle Grade
Wonderstruck, by Brian Selznick
The One and Only Ivan, by Katherine Applegate
The House at Pooh Corner, by A.A. Milne
Now We Are Six, by A.A. Milne

Young Adult
All the Bright Places, by Jennifer Niven

Graphic Novels
Amulet, Vol 4: The Last Council, by Kazu Kibiushi
Amulet, Vol 5: Prince of the Elves, by Kazu Kibiushi
Amulet, Vol 6: Escape from Lucien, by Kazu Kibiushi
Jane, the Fox, and Me, by Fanny Britt

TOTAL: 9 books read

Thanks to Kimberly over at Caffeinated Book Reviewer for hosting again! As my blogging has gotten more relaxed, I'm finding I really enjoy month-long challenges. I like having a focus for my reading for the month without the time pressure of shorter challenges. There are a few I have my eye on for upcoming months like the April Children's Classic Literature Event and Kimberly's May Clean Sweep ARC Challenge -- anyone want to join me? My sign-up for the Classic Lit event will be up soon!