Sunday, December 31, 2017

2017 Reading Challenge Wrap-Ups

I've already joined all my challenges for 2018, so it feels a little weird to go back and revisit the 2017 ones now, but I still like to see how they all turned out right at the finish line. I already discussed these 2017 ones quite a bit back in October when I debated what I would (or would not) join again in 2018. I am standing by my decision to join very few this year which includes skipping a fun challenge I did really well on as well as two that line up perfectly with my reading goals, but I just don't want to be bothered with all the tracking -- or the "pressure"! I actually think I might do better reading from my own shelves and reading new books I buy if I don't have challenges hanging over my head. We shall see!

Goal: Read all the Sherlock short stories and novels.
Status: ABANDONED!

This one is not actually over yet, but I abandoned ship many months ago. I enjoyed the few stories and one novel I read, but I do not work well on a schedule. At all. I'll get back to these in my own time. AND there is now a fantastic Stephen Fry narrated Audible edition, I have so many hours of listening to look forward to :) :)

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Hosted by Novel Night
Goal: 50 books published prior to 2017
Status: COMPLETE!

I have 114 books logged for this challenge, plus tons and tons of backlist picture books (though I gave up on submitting those after September!). I'm in the middle of a couple more backlist books I may or may not finish before the end of today. I had not made myself any goals for the Hogwarts mini challenge which included 4 different (optional) scavenger hunts, but I've completed and submitted all of them! As of yesterday, I only had one book remaining for the Hermione's Library hunt, a title with the letter Q in it. I had not been counting any picture books for the scavenger hunts (even though they do count), but decided being one book shy, I would sneak one in. I chose The Rooster Who Would Not Be Quiet! by one of my very favorite storytellers Carmen Agra Deedy. It was definitely a book for me, rather than for my son, so I'm calling it good enough :)

This challenge looks like a huge success for me on paper (ahem, screen), but I'm still not joining it again for 2018 (tempting as it is!) because I feel I spent WAY too much time tracking and logging stuff for it. I'd rather get that time back for more reading or blogging.

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Hosted by Julie @Smiling Shelves
Goal: Konisgburg level which requires 75+ points
Status: COMPLETE!

I chose the highest level for this challenge and blew past my goal! I rounded out the year with 100 points and am so happy with all the wonderful Newbery and Caldecott books I read this year.

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https://blbooks.blogspot.com/2016/11/picture-book-reading-challenge.html
Original artwork by Charles Haigh-Wood (1856-1927)
Hosted by Becky @Becky's Book Reviews
Goal: Complete Checklist of 102 categories
Status: COMPLETE!

I loved this challenge! If picture books aren't your thing, I totally get it. And even if they are your thing, maybe it seems silly to have a challenge for books that often can be read in 15 minutes (or less!), but I really liked how this helped me pick up titles, authors, and illustrators I never would have before. Sure, I completed lots of categories without even trying, but having some categories I needed to seek out in order to cross them off was a little bit like a bookish treasure hunt :)

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Goal: My Shelves and I are Going Steady, 51+ books
Status: INCOMPLETE

I only read 37 books for this challenge this year. That might sound pretty good to a lot of people, but it's a lot lower than I was hoping for! I read lots more from my shelves if I could count books purchased during 2017, but those count for the final challenge below, not this one. I'm not joining ShelfLove again, but since I am giving myself a monthly book budget in 2018 (more on that soon!), I sincerely hope to read many more that are already on my shelves now in the coming year.

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Hosted by Book Date
Goal: Maximizing Returns, 61-80%
Status: FAIL!

I actually stopped tracking this sometime in the fall. I went to a few too many garage sales and made a few too many Book Outlet bargain orders and just got tired of logging everything (and watching my stats drop!) Maybe that should have motivated me to stop picking up new books altogether, but challenge stats aren't going to dissuade me from picking up a $5 bag of used books at a community fundraiser garage sale or $1 books from the library sale shelf. Even without official numbers, I know I didn't hit 61% and I quite likely missed by a LOT. While I still find reading books I buy in a timely manner to be a worthwhile goal, I don't want the pressure of tracking it all. In 2018, I'm giving myself a limited monthly book budget, so I'll have to decide if I want to spend it a pile of cheap used books, a cartful of bargain books, 1 or 2 brand new books or audiobooks, or some combination thereof. This should keep things in check by forcing me to be more discerning in what I pick up -- which should in turn help me read (most) of them in a reasonable amount of time. And if I pick up some $1 bargains that I don't read for a few years, so be it!

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How did your reading challenges go in 2017? Are you joining any for 2018?

Thursday, December 28, 2017

2017 Bookish Reading Plans: How'd I Do?

Before I finalize my bookish plans post for 2018, I thought I should take a look at how I did on my plans for 2017:

1. Continue writing short reviews on Goodreads, but... 
2. remember I don't have to review every book! 
YES! I did both of these. Almost every book I read got logged on Goodreads and I "reviewed" many of them with just a line or two of my thoughts. Lots more books got only a star rating -- or occasionally nothing at all if I was too undecided.
YES! I demolished my goal for this challenge and loved so many of the books I read for it. I'd like to up my ratio of Newbery to Caldecott books in 2018 though. The Newberys I read in 2017 were some of my very favorite books of the year, so lets keep 'em coming!

4. Read a variety of picture books
YES! I read at least 1 book for each of the 102 categories in this challenge. Hopefully I can get a post together soon with some highlights!

5. Read poetry and short stories
YES! There is room for improvement, but I definitely read more poetry and short stories than I had in previous years.

6. Read classics
SORT OF. I read some classic children's novels (and bunches of classic picture books), but I didn't really get around to the classics I had in mind when I made this goal. 

7. Read at least five new-to-me authors (thanks Jade!)
YES! Lots more than five, actually.

8. Read (A LOT) more from my own shelves (#ShelfLove!)
Well.... I did do (slightly) better than in 2016, but there is a LOT of room for improvement. 

9. Read new books I buy during 2017 in a timely manner
SORT OF. I bought a lot of books in 2017. Book Outlet bargains and used books were a pretty large percentage of my purchases. I also frequented (that particular word is oh so appropriate here!) my local indie and various online book sites. I read a lot of these books, but there are still an embarrassing number of unread ones on my shelves. This is why there will be a book budget for 2018 -- more on that soon!

10. Use the library, but not as much as I have been (to help with #8)
I THINK SO? I feel like I had a better balance this year, but I didn't really keep track. Striking a good balance between library and purchased books continues to be a work in progress.

11. Implement a book buying ban for YA and adult titles (exceptions for books to be read right away)
MOSTLY. I bought relatively few YA and adult titles in 2017, but I definitely did not read every single one I did purchase. I more than made up for the decrease in YA and Adult with an increase in Middle Grade and Picture Books. That wasn't exactly the point of this goal, so here's another good reason for my new 2018 book budget!

12. Use my wishlist shelf on Goodreads as a sort of waiting period to discourage impulse purchases
SORT OF. I used my wishlist shelf, but it didn't curb my impulse purchases as much as I hoped it would. 

13. Spend less time researching, browsing, and shopping for books
NOPE. This is going on my 2018 list again for sure. And I need to remind myself of it any time I get sucked into a bookish internet black hole. I have found an awful lot of great books through my browsing and researching, but it really is not the best use of my time to do as much of it as I have been doing.

14. Better curate my bookish email subscriptions, newsletters, and blogroll
MOSTLY. This is also going back on my 2018 list since it's a continual work in progress. I'm much more careful than I used to be about curating my feeds, but the overwhelm can easily creep back into the various corners where I get my bookish news. When Feedly or email or Instagram, etc., etc. start feeling like a chore instead of an inspiration, I know it's time for another cull.

15. ENJOY reading and sharing books with my son
YES! This is really always the most important goal. I definitely did enjoy my own reading as well as reading with my son and I hope for lots more of that in the new year!

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How did you do on your reading goals for 2017? Are you making any new ones for 2018? I'd love to know!

Thursday, December 21, 2017

2018 Modern Mrs. Darcy Reading Challenge: Sign-Up Post

I know, I know. I said I was done with challenges. But I'm making one exception. Anne Bogel recently launched the eighth year of her Modern Mrs. Darcy Reading Challenge though this is actually my first year joining. I've seen it in the past, but always skipped it because I felt I had already joined too many other challenges -- which I most certainly had! But I only joined three this year focusing on children's books, so this one really resonated with me when Anne explained her reasons for bringing it back. Apparently she was seriously thinking about not doing a challenge for 2018, but I'm really glad she changed her mind! I'm paraphrasing as best I can from my memory of her Instagram story, but basically Anne said her goals are to help people: get more out of their reading lives, get better at choosing books that will be great reading experiences, establish a reading habit, make time for reading, and focus on quality over quantity. So I decided this was exactly what I needed for my "adult" reading in 2017.

I do have a pretty well established reading habit, but it's almost all kid-lit lately. I love kid-lit, but I've realized I am seriously out of the habit of choosing titles outside of Middle Grade and Picture Books. They are generally less of a time commitment, so my reading outside of those categories has been steadily declining. I'm not abandoning kid-lit by any means, but I'd like to make more time and space for great adult and young adult titles in the new year -- and this seems like just the thing to help me do that!

More info & sign-up on the Modern Mrs Darcy site!
Image from Modern Mrs. Darcy

Are you joining for 2018? If you're looking for a category based challenge, I can't think of a better one. Anne carefully chose the 12 categories based on feedback of what has actually worked for real readers. Plus, there are all kinds of fun goodies to download when you join like a phone wallpaper, bookmarks, and goal trackers. Here's to a year of great reading!

Monday, December 4, 2017

2018 Reading Challenge Sign-Ups

So, I really am quitting most reading challenges for 2018. I went through all the pros and cons and very few challenges made the cut to re-join for next year. I will sign up for the broad, number-based Goodreads challenge in the beginning of January as I always do. Once again, I will set a very high goal that reflects all of the types of books I read including picture books, chapter books, poetry, short stories, and graphic novels which enable my stats to climb so high. Sometimes I wonder why I bother with this one, but at this point it feels like a tradition.

The other two challenges that made the cut had a common theme: children's literature. Why am I not surprised?! I decided I would join the Picture Book Reading Challenge again as long as the categories were mostly different -- and they are! So that one is a go and my goal is to complete the entire checklist again. I've been rocking the Newberys and Caldecotts lately and have a LOT more of them on my TBR, so the Newbery Reading Challenge is also a go and I'm aiming for the highest level again.

And I'm sneaking just one new challenge into my lineup. Becky who hosts the Picture Book Reading Challenge also has a similar Middle Grade Reading Challenge that is just too tempting to pass up! I figure this one will work for two main reasons: first, it overlaps with the Newbery Challenge and second, like the picture book challenge, it features an awesome checklist of options. I have found the checklist format is pretty ideal for me in terms of keeping track. I have no delusions of completing all 104 categories for this one, but I know I can complete the minimum of 6. I won't set a goal higher than 6, I'm just curious to see how many I can check off by the end of the year. Becky has even ruled that counting a single book for two qualifying categories is allowed (but not more than two!)

Both picture book and middle grade challenges have an option to focus on a single author's body of work which I'm really intrigued by. Deciding on just one author will be a difficult choice, but I definitely want to at least consider this option for both challenges.


MY GOAL: Konigsburg level = 75+ points

Point System
3 points for a Newbery Medal Winner 
2 points for a Newbery Honor Book 
1 point for a Caldecott Honor or Medal Book

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Original artwork by Charles Haigh-Wood (1856-1927)
Info & Sign-Up
MY GOAL: Complete Checklist + Complete Option 2

Option 1: Read six picture books of your choice.
Option 2: Choose one author to focus on. Perhaps read through an entire author's work.
Option 3: Read as few as six, or as many as you like, from the checklist below
  
1. Title beginning with A
2. Author beginning with A
3. Title beginning with B
4. Author beginning with B
5. Title beginning with C
6. Author beginning with C
7. Title beginning with D
8. Author beginning with D
9. Title beginning with E
10. Author beginning with E
11. Title beginning with F
12. Author beginning with F
13. Title beginning with G
14. Author beginning with G
15. Title beginning with H
16. Author beginning with H
17. Title beginning with I
18. Author beginning with I
19. Title beginning with J
20. Author beginning with J
21. Title beginning with K
22. Author beginning with K
23. Title beginning with L
24. Author beginning with L
25. Title beginning with M
26. Author beginning with M
27. Title beginning with N
28. Author beginning with N
29. Title beginning with O
30. Author beginning with O
31. Title beginning with P
32. Author beginning with P
33. Title or Author beginning with Q
34. Title beginning with R
35. Author beginning with R
36. Title beginning with S
37. Author beginning with S
38. Title beginning with T
39. Author beginning with T
40. Title or Author beginning with U
41. Title or Author beginning with V
42. Title or Author beginning with X or “Ex”
43. Title beginning with Y
44. Author beginning with Y
45. Title or Author beginning with Z
46. An alphabet book
47. A counting book
48. A color word in the title
49. A number word in the title
50. Concept book of your choice— picture book
51. Concept book of your choice — board book
52. bedtime book —board book
53. bedtime book — picture book
54. book that rhymes —picture book
55. book that rhymes — early reader OR board book
56. holiday of your choice — board book or early reader
57. holiday of your choice — picture book
58. wordless picture book
59. new to you author
60. new to you illustrator
61. favorite author
62. favorite illustrator
63. free choice
64. fairy or folk tale adaptation
65. fairy or folk tale traditional
66. a title with the word “first” in it
67. a book set in the state you live
68. a book set in a place you’d like to visit
69. a book set in an imaginary place
70. a book set in the past — fiction or nonfiction
71. a book set in the present
72. picture book for older readers — fiction
73. picture book for older readers — nonfiction
74. early reader — fiction
75. early reader — nonfiction
76. picture book with photographs
77. one word title
78. long title (four or more words)
79. oversized book
80. tiny book
81. a book about playing (hide and seek, tag, or peekaboo, etc.)
82. a book about school
83. a book about hobbies (art, dance, music, crafts, sports)
84. a title that is a question
85. a title that is an exclamation
86. an award winner or an honor book
87. a collection (of poems OR stories)
88. a book with animals (fiction)
89. a book with animals (nonfiction)
90. a book about books or reading
91. a book celebrating family
92. first book in a series
93. any book in a series
94. book with an adventure or misadventure
95. a book about a pet
96. A title with the word “yes” or “no” in it
97. A title with the word “big” or “little” in it
98. a classic published before 1968
99. a book you think should be considered a classic
100. Out of print
101. Library book
102. Impulse Pick
103. Board book published in 2018
104. Picture book published in 2018

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Girl reading a book by Federico Zandomeneghi
Info & Sign-Up
MY GOAL: Minimum of 6 from checklist (but hopefully a lot more!) + Complete Option 2

Option 1: Read six middle grade books of your choice. 
Option 2: Choose one author to focus on. Perhaps read through an entire author's work. 
Option 3: Read as few as six, or as many as you like, from the checklist below

1. Title beginning with A
2. Author beginning with A
3. Title beginning with B
4. Author beginning with B
5. Title beginning with C
6. Author beginning with C
7. Title beginning with D
8. Author beginning with D
9. Title beginning with E
10. Author beginning with E
11. Title beginning with F
12. Author beginning with F
13. Title beginning with G
14. Author beginning with G
15. Title beginning with H
16. Author beginning with H
17. Title beginning with I
18. Author beginning with I
19. Title beginning with J
20. Author beginning with J
21. Title beginning with K
22. Author beginning with K
23. Title beginning with L
24. Author beginning with L
25. Title beginning with M
26. Author beginning with M
27. Title beginning with N
28. Author beginning with N
29. Title beginning with O
30. Author beginning with O
31. Title beginning with P
32. Author beginning with P
33. Title or Author beginning with Q
34. Title beginning with R
35. Author beginning with R
36. Title beginning with S
37. Author beginning with S
38. Title beginning with T
39. Author beginning with T
40. Title or Author beginning with U
41. Title or Author beginning with V
42. Title or Author beginning with X or “Ex”
43. Title beginning with Y
44. Author beginning with Y
45. Title or Author beginning with Z
46. 2018 Newbery Winner or Honor
47. Newbery Winner or Honor from 2010-2017
48. Newbery Winner or Honor from 2000-2009
49. Newbery Winner or Honor from 1990-1999
50. Newbery Winner or Honor from 1980-1989
51. Newbery Winner or Honor from 1970-1979
52. Newbery Winner or Honor from 1960-1969
53. Newbery Winner or Honor from 1950-1959
54. Newbery Winner or Honor from 1940-1949
55. Newbery Winner or Honor from 1932-1939
56. Newbery Winner or Honor from 1922-1931
57. Notable Children's Book from 2018 or 2017
 58. Any book by a Wilder Award author
 59. verse novel
 60. graphic novel
 61. biography or memoir
 62. nonfiction
 63. poetry
 64. audio book
 65. first in a series
 66. any book in a series
 67. last book in a series
 68. favorite author
 69. new to you author
 70. British author
 71. Australian author
 72. Canadian author
 73. translated into English from another language
 74. American author
 75. set in the state you live
 76. set in a place you'd like to visit
 77. set in an imaginary place you'd like to visit
 78. picture book for older readers
 79. book about a pet
 80. animal fantasy
 81. fantasy
 82. alternate reality
 83. science fiction
 84. adventure
 85. action/suspense
 86. mystery/detective
 87. realistic fiction
 88. school setting
 89. multiple points of view
 90. historical fiction -- world war I
 91. historical fiction -- world war II
 92. historical fiction, your choice
 93. historical fiction, mystery or suspense
 94. oh the sads
 95. happy, happy ending
 96. laugh until you cry
 97. coming of age
 98. "diary" or "notebook"
 99. classic, your choice
 100. out of print
 101. library book
 102. impulse pick
 103. published in 2018
 104. YOUR pick for Newbery 2019

Bonus/alternate picks:
 made into a good movie
 made into a horrible movie
 book from your childhood
 free choice
 multiple authors
 orphan child
 vacation setting or road trip
 first crush
 new book by favorite author
time travel or steam punk

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Are you joining any challenges this year?