Thursday, January 21, 2016

A (Picture) Book About Books

If You Wish, written by Kate Westerlund & illustrated by Robert Ingpen
Series? No
Publisher: minedition
Date: September 2014
Other Details: Hardcover; 32 pages
How did I get this book? borrowed from library
Rating: 5 of 5 stars
GoodReads | Author Publisher

This was my first complete book of 2016 and what a wonderful way to start the year! I discovered it while doing some research about Robert Ingpen who has done the illustrations for a whole series of classics (that I keep adding to my collection!) as well as many other books including this one. His artwork is absolutely beautiful and this story just warmed my bookish heart. Essentially, it is about a girl who learns to use her imagination while re-reading her favorite books -- she discovers how to find the "book inside the book."

This book currently has only 12 ratings and 1 review on Goodreads and I'm so surprised by that. According to the author's website, it was originally only available in German and French, but it was later published in English in the US in 2014. I'm so glad my library system had a copy to borrow, but I have a feeling this one will eventually join our home collection as well.

This is a must-read for any book lover -- child or adult! And most especially if you have a soft spot in your heart for re-exploring your favorite stories. It is a wonderful book to read aloud and there were quite a few lovely quotes I jotted down in my journal -- that doesn't happen too often with a picture book!

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

2016 Charity Reading Challenge

OK, this is my last challenge -- promise! I really love the idea of reading for a good cause, so I couldn't pass this one up. I am opting to track my reading and make a donation each quarter instead of buying books at a charity shop. There are two reasons for this -- first, I don't have any charity shops nearby and second, I am really trying to limit my book buying this year. I am planning to donate to Feeding America, FINCA, St. Jude's Children's Hospital, and some sort of literacy program -- probably one from this list.

Here's what I've decided on to guide my fund-raising:

25¢ per:
  • picture book -- 1st reads + Caldecott re-reads for Julie's challenge
  • young-reader's/beginner book
  • stand-alone short story

50¢ per:
  • novella
  • short non-fiction
  • most graphic novels/comic collections

$1 per:
  • novel (adult/YA/middle grade)
  • longer graphic novels & comic collections (like Blankets, etc.)
  • full-length non-fiction
  • short story collection
  • poetry collection

$5 bonus per:
(Those last two don't have set levels, so I am making my own!)

If it looks like the totals are getting higher than I anticipate, I may opt to donate more frequently to spread things out -- maybe monthly or bimonthly -- I'll see how it goes!

Click the badge above for more info or to sign up! And if you are joining this or any other challenge in 2016, I wish you the best of luck! Happy reading :)

Monday, January 11, 2016

Some Specific Reading Challenges for 2016

Now that we are almost two weeks into the new year, it's about time I finalized my challenge choices for the year. The first two challenges I joined are very broad and encompass all genres and types of books. My goals for those are basically to read what I already own AND to read whatever new books I purchase in 2016. But I also wanted to join a few more specific challenges that focus on the types of books I am most interested in reading in the coming months. So here they are!

In addition to Newbery Medal and Honor books, this challenge also includes Caldecott Medal winners, so I'm definitely in! I love borrowing picture books from the library to read to my son and with SO MANY available, I tend to go on runs of specific authors, illustrators, holidays, themes, etc. So why not focus on some award winners in 2016? Well, that's my new plan! Plus, I have some Newwbery books I've been wanting to read or re-read. I have a few GoodReads shelves to keep track of this challenge: Newbery MedalNewbery Honor, & Caldecott Medal. (I have a Caldecott Honor shelf as well, but those don't count!)

This challenge awards points for each type of book read:

3 points for Newbery Medal
2 points for Newbery Honor
1 point for Caldecott Medal books.

My Goal: Lowry level, 60-74 points

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I have SO MANY series I am in the middle of and would like finish. In addition to all the series I started on my own, I have a whole bunch more where I read book #1 for book club, but then never got around to continuing. I am not deluding myself into thinking I will finish them all in 2016, but I'd love to make some progress -- the number I have to choose from is rather ridiculous! I have a GoodReads shelf for all the series I am either working on or would like to start -- and any of them would count!

My Goal: Level 3 (Experienced), 3-6 series

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Well, I have to join my own challenge now don't I? I did better than I expected in 2015, so I'm hoping to just keep reading more of these great titles (and re-reading too!) I have a GoodReads shelf with lots of options to choose from.

My Goal: Rabble-Rouser level, 6-9 books

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I am completely fascinated by books that bend the rules and use fun, unique ways to tell a story. I have purchased quite a few of these books recently, so I absolutely could not pass up this challenge. Books with letters, diaries, emails, I.M.'s, drawings/photos, footnotes --etc. etc. are included in this challenge. I'm including novels in verse as choices on my GoodReads shelf for this challenge as well as books with unique kinds of illustrations (like paper cutting) and unique adaptations of original works (like Fable Comics, etc.) Truthfully, I am on the fence about some of the other illustrated books I've added to the shelf, so I will have to use my judgement as to whether or not they are truly unique once I see them in person. So consider that GoodReads shelf a work in progress :) 

My Goal: Uniquely Great level, 10 books

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And finally, a challenge I really need to help clear my shelves of ARCs! I've taken a major step back from review copies; however, I still have a shelf full of ARCs (mostly from Shelf Awareness, but also from giveaways, etc.) I never got around to and I feel guilty every time I look at them. I filled out too many request forms, entered too many sweepstakes, and before I knew it, I had more books than I could possibly review and I ended up going on a blogging break! When I came back, they already felt *late* so I just started avoiding them altogether. I gave a friend some for her Little Free Library, but I still have more I really would like to read and review before passing them on. I like that this challenge puts a positive spin on things instead of focusing on the guilt/shame of unread review copies. The guilt clearly hasn't worked, so maybe a "better late than never" approach will give me the nudge I need to finally pick them up. I'll be working my way through this GoodReads shelf.

Note: Nicole over at The Reader's Antidote has said this challenge will be returning for 2016, but I haven't seen the official sign-up yet. I've decided this is something I need regardless, so I'm unofficially joining based on last year's information. I will update the link and badge if/when the new challenge goes live.

My Goal: 12 old ARCs/review books

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Click the challenge badges above to visit the host sites for more info or to sign up! And if you are joining these or any other challenges in 2016, I wish you the best of luck! Happy reading :)

Friday, January 8, 2016

Bookish Christmas

I thought I'd take a little break from the New Year goals and challenges to rewind and share the bookish gifts we gave and received this Christmas. And don't worry, there are more New Year challenges to come :)

My inlaws did a little photoshoot while babysitting one afternoon and gave us this photo in a beautiful frame from The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. How adorable?!?!

There are quite a few friends and family members who know we are book lovers, so the little man received a few more for his collection :)

My husband and I gave these two by Nancy Tillman to our son. I absolutely love all her books because they are both beautiful and sentimental in the best possible way. Highly recommended.

Another gift from my husband and I to our son. My parents still have Volume 2 & Volume 3 from when my brother and I were kids and we borrowed those to read this year leading up to Christmas. And while I know they will happily lend them to us again, I thought I would track down a copy of the first volume to add to our own collection. They are apparently not so easy to find, but I lucked out at this Etsy shop. I think it will be nice to mix up which volume we read each year in the future.

I received the Outlander graphic novel from my aunt- and uncle-in-law. I read it from the library (last year?) and loved it, but I didn't have a copy for my collection. Now I do! :)

And finally, my cousin and her family got us this awesome heat-sensitive Harry Potter mug...

 ...and HP onesie for the little guy. But, shhhh, we all know he's really a wizard :) :)

Monday, January 4, 2016

A New Year's Reboot + Bookish Goals

I always find the start of a new year an inspiring time for goals and projects. And of course you know my favorite sort of goals and projects are book-related! So while I continue finalizing my 2016 reading challenge entries, I thought I would also revisit a few long-term projects I started back in 2013: The Classics Club and 1001 Children's Books. I've shared some new thoughts on those projects in addition to completely overhauling my Classics Club list and tweaking how I keep track of the children's books. If you'd like to see the changes I've made, click the links above. (You can always find links to those projects beneath my blog header as well.)

And while we're at it, a few additional bookish goals for the New Year:
  1. Choose a library story-time to attend and start taking my son regularly.
  2. Continue adding to my book quotes journal as I read.
  3. Get serious about reading from my shelves AND actually read any new books I buy.
  4. Support my local independent/used bookstores when I do shop.
  5. Find a better balance between reading library books and books I already own.
  6. Participate in at least one short-term, intensive read-a-thon (like Dewey's or 24 in 48)
  7. Complete my year-long reading challenges (more info on those soon!)
  8. Review more on the blog. This doesn't mean every book I read, but I want to figure out how to get excited about reviewing again, whatever shape or form that might take.
  9. Read all the remaining unread children's books on my son's shelves at least once.
  10. Re-read at least 5 books -- with all the excitement of new stories, I sometimes forget to make time to re-read. Harry Potter illustrated edition, I've got my eye on you!
My book quotes journal

Thanks for reading and Happy New Year everyone!

Update (1/5/16) : As it turns out, resolutions are this week's Top Ten Tuesday topic over on The Broke and the Bookish, so I'll be linking this post up there :)

Friday, January 1, 2016

2016 Show Your Shelves Some Love Challenge + 2016 Read the Books You Buy Challenge

First of all, I love this challenge because I think it is a really positive way to approach our TBR piles. Instead of focusing on TBR guilt or "getting through" those stacks of books, it's all about showing our books some love and that is a sentiment I can wholeheartedly get behind.

For Shelf Love 2015, I only read 20 books I owned before the first of the year. I did read a whole bunch more (including a ton of picture books) from my collection, but they were added during 2015, so they didn't count. And let's be honest, I was a library-book-reading fool in 2015! I read a LOT of graphic novels, audiobooks, and childrens' books and those are precisely the types of books I most often use the library for. I love my library, but it's time to try for a better balance (again!)

Last year, this challenge also emphasized a goal of (ideally) no book buying or sticking to a limited budget. Instead of a budget, I opted to make up a whole bunch of complicated exceptions and let's just say that part of the challenge was a major fail for me. Even though I fell off the wagon, I think I learned a lot from the experience that will help me going forward. This year, the goal is the same, but the emphasis is to "responsibly obtain books for your personal library" and I love that shift in perspective.

I've come to realize the most important thing for me to consider when buying new books is whether or not I will actually read them in a reasonable amount of time. If I'm not going to read them soon (or at least soon-ish), I really don't need to be buying them at that moment. So instead of a total book buying ban or a specific budget, I am simply doing the 2016 Show Your Shellves Some Love challenge in conjunction with the 2016 Read the Books You Buy Challenge. So my combined goal is to read more books already on my shelves AND to read whatever new books I add in 2016. If I find that new purchases are piling up unread, I will put myself in a book-buying timeout until I have caught up. Sounds simple, right? Well, I am hoping that keeping things simple will be the key to actually achieving a better balance in my reading and keeping my purchases in check.

My #ShelfLove 2016 goal: 51+ books (My Shelves and I are Going Steady)

A part of me thinks I am aiming too high, but I want to truly challenge myself this year. Also, I know I have some unread children's books, shorter books, graphic novels, and audiobooks in my collection that I've been meaning to read. So if I read those as well as full-length print novels, I really think I can do it -- wish me luck!

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My Read the Books You Buy 2016 goal: 80-100% (Mission Accomplished)

I'm aiming for the highest level because I really want to hold myself accountable when it comes to adding to my collection. I am really so spoiled to even be able to buy books, so if I buy 'em, I should read 'em! And if I am perfectly honest, I also really miss the excitement of diving right into a book as soon as I bring it home. I think the last time I did that was for the final Harry Potter book! It's time to get excited about new books again instead of shelving them away for another time.

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For more information about these challenges or to sign-up, click the badges to go to the host sites. And if you are joining these or any other challenge in 2016, I wish you the best of luck! Happy reading :)