Challenges

2019 Reading Resolutions and Challenges

Happy 2019!

I had a wonderful year of reading and I am really excited for another! My biggest resolution is to read and enjoy the books I already own. Since the book buying ban was an absolute flop I am instead trying to be more gentle and encouraging about my book buying. Therefore, for every 5 books I read off my massive physical TBR, I am going to give myself permission to buy a new one. Perhaps the carrot will work better than the stick.

All of the following challenges were chosen to support this major goal: read the books I already have.


Goodreads Challenge

I found success in this one last year and I hope to do the same this year. I will be keeping my goal of 100 books but this year I plan to scrupulously log everything – even if I feel I slightly embarrassed by my choices! I read for fun and I would never judge another reader and I will just have to trust that the same is true in the people around me.


Series Serious Love

This is a challenge of my own invention inspired by one of my favorite new blogs, The Perks of Being Noura. I have complied all of the series that I already own at least one book for (or, embarrassingly, the whole series) and I want to work through all of them this year. You can see that page here.


Hot Listens 2019 Audiobook Challenge

This is an audiobook challenge and I credit it for introducing me to the joys of audiobooks. Last year I managed 15 and so this year my goal is to obtain the Socially Awkward level of listening (15-20). You can join me in listening here.


Beat The Backlist

I joined this last year and, while is inspired me to read many of my backlisted books, I was terrible about actually participating. This year, I am joining again and I am going ALL IN. You can join this challenge here.


The Learn Something New Reading Challenge

Perhaps my most favorite part of 2018 was participating in the NonFiction November. I am already excited to see what NonFiction November 2019 brings and in order to be more prepared I want to participate year long in this challenge. You can sign up here.


Harry Potter Complete Read Through

I miss Harry, Ron, Hermoine and (most of all) Neville. So, I resolve to re-read or read all of the Harry Potter books and related stories. This includes the three unread books on my massive physical TBR shelf.


The Library Love Challenge

This challenge is hosted by Angela at Angel’s Guilty Pleasures. I chose this challengeto further encourage me to avoid impulse buying new books. The basic goal is to read at least 12 books this year from your library. You can sign up for this challenge here.


If none of these appeal to you please check out Girlxoxo’s fantastic blog where there is an amazing list of all the reading challenges out there. I was tempted by many (MANY) more but I am determined to clear those shelves this year!


Tell me, please!

What are your resolutions? Are you using any challenges to get you to a goal?


Challenges

My Massive TBR 2019

These are the physical books I already own that I vow to work through during 2019. As I read them I will cross them off and if I buy more I will add those in bold.


Harry Potter 

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, Screenplay

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, Illustrated

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

The Tales of Beedle Bard

Harry Potter, a history


Non Fiction

Good Manners for Nice People Who Sometimes Say F*uck by Amy Alkon

A Glorious Freedom by Lisa Congdon

Quakery by Lydia King, MD

Empire of the Summer Moon by S.C. Gwynne

Karate-Do, My Way of Life by Gighin Funakoshi

The Number Devil by Hans Magnus Enzensberger

Mindful Games by Susan Kaiser Greenland

Uppity Women Speak Their Mind by Vicki Leon

Bullshit by John Grant

Mindfulness by Tessa Watt

Emotional Intelligence by Dr. David Walton

Have you Eaten Grandma? by Gyles Brandreth

Snacks, a Canadian Food History by Janis Thiessen

How to Teach your Children Shakespeare by Ken Ludwig

Brainstorm the Power and Purpose of the Teenage Brain by Daniel J. Siegel, MD

The Four Tendencies by Gretchen Rubin

The Sherlock Holmes Handbook by Ransom Riggs

Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates

Reference (I will consider these read if I consult them at length ten times)

A Treasury of Favorite Poems

You can Do It! by Lauren Catuzzi Grandcolas

The Art and Science of Handreading by Ellen Goldberg and Dorian Bergen

1000 Books to Read Before You Die by James Mustich

Awakening Your Ikigai by Ken Mogi


Series

The Dead in their Vaulted Arches by Alan Bradley (Flavia de Luce)

Seventy-Seven Clocks by Christopher Fowler (Peculiar Crimes Unit)

Arch Enemy by Frank Beddor (Looking Glass Wars)

A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab (Darker Shade Magic)

Court of Thorn and Roses by Sarah J. Mass (Court of Thorn and Roses)

Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J. Mass (Court of Thorn and Roses)

Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Mass (Court of Thorn and Roses)

Another Fine Myth by Robert Aspin (Another Fine Myth)

Queen of Tearling by Erika Johansen (Queen of Tearling)

The Invasion of Tearling by Erika Johansen (Queen of Tearling)

The Fate of the Tearling by Erika Johansen (Queen of Tearling)

Thunderhead by Neal Shusterman (Arc of a Scythe)

Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard, The Ship of the Dead by Rick Riordan (Magnus Chase)

Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard, The Hammer of Thor by Rick Riordan (Magnus Chase)

Blue Lily, Lily Blue by Maggie Stiefvater (Raven Cycle)

The Raven King by Maggie Stiefvater (Raven Cycle)

Fantasy

The Language of Thorns by Leigh Bardugo

Eon by Alison Goodman

Sky in the Deep by Adrienne Young

Mirage by Somaiya Daud

Shadow and Fox by Julie Kagawa

Fire and Stars by Audrey Coulthurst

Girls of Paper and Fire by Natasha Ngan

Catching Stars by Cayla Keenan

Roseblood by A.G. Howard

Un Lun Dun by China Mieville


Science Fiction

Live Free or Die by John Ringo


Fiction

Mrs. Sherlock Holmes by Brad Ricca

Pride by Ibi Zoboi

The Real Michael Swann by Bryan Reardon

The Hunting of Prince Dracula by Kerri Maniscalco

The Accident Season by Moira Fowley-Doyle

The Extraordinary Adventures of Alfred Kropp by Rick Yancey

The Price Guide to the Occult by Leslye Walton

Star Wars (William Shakespeare) by Iran Doescher

The Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George

Swords and Scoundrels by Julia Knight

The Gunslinger by Stephan King

Hotel on Shadow Lake by Daniela Tully

The Mask of Zorro

The Map of Salt and Stars by Jennifer Zeynab Joukhadar

The Darkling Bride by Laura Andersen

The Philosopher’s Flight by Tom Miller

My Plain Jane by Hand, Ashton and Meadows

A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman

Scarlet by A.C. Gaughen

Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman

Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman

Ace of Shades by Amanda Foody

The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde


Historical Fiction

Carter Beats the Devil by Glen David Gold

Votes for Women!

The Removes by Tatjana Soli

The Librarian of Auschwitz by Antonio Iturbe

Mrs. Houdini by Victoria Kelly

Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke

Remarkable Creatures by Tracy Chevalier

Gentlemen and Players by Joanne Harris


Classics

Hamlet by William Shakespeare

Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie

The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger

Mary Poppins Comes Back by P.L. Travers


Children’s Books

Nightbooks by J.A. White

Greenglass House by Kate Milford

Of Two Minds by Carol Mata and Perry Modelman

Nevermore, The Trials of Morrigan Crow by Jessica Townsend

Who Could That Be at This Hour? by Lemony Snicket

Montrous by MarcyKate Connolly

HeapHouse by Edward Carey

Sherlock Holmes and the Baker Street Irregulars by Tracy Mack and Michael Citrin

Tom’s Midnight Garden

Castle Hangnail by Ursula Vernon

The Wonderling by Mira Bartok

Frogkisser by Garth Nix

The Scourge by Jennifer A. Nielsen

The Strength of the Wolf Pack, Disney

Finding Serendipity by Angelica Banks

Furtunately, The Milk by Neil Gaiman

Just Ella by Margaret Peterson Haddix

Here Be Monsters by Alan Snow

Esperanza Rising by Pam Munoz Ryan

Detective’s Assistant by Kate Hannigan

The Dragon’s Eye by Dugald A. Steer

Hello, Universe by Erin Entrada Kelly

Al Capone Does My Sheets by Jennifer Choldenko

Out of My Mind by Sharon M. Draper

The Never-ending Story by Michael Ende

Shakespeare’s Secret by Elise Broach

The Thing About Jellyfish by Ali Benjamin

The Night Diary by Veera Hiranandani

The Legend of Greg by Chris Rylander

Before Tomorrowland, Disney

Evil Genius by Catherine Jenks

Polar Bear Explorers’ Club by Alex Bell

Challenges · Uncategorized

2018 Challenges Update

Well, I can tell you two things without even checking: first, I was much (much) better at tracking my reading and second, it’s like I didn’t even try to stop buying books. But, let us look at the cold hard facts.


Reading Challenges

I participated in so many challenges this year. The Goodreads Reading Challenge, The Modern Mrs. Darcy Reading Challenge, The Book Riot Challenge, The Beat the Backlist Challenge, The When Are you Reading Challenge, The Audiobook Challenge, and the No-Book-Buying Challenge. How did I do?


Goodreads Reading Challenge

My goal was to read 100 books this year and I read 123! Success! According to Goodreads I also read 35,318 pages and my most often read author was the romance writer, Penny Reid. Which brings me to a confession: I don’t log every single book. If I am embarrassed by the cover (not the story, just the cover) I won’t log it. So, all of those long sleepless nights that were brought to me by insomnia were accompanied by books borrowed from the Kindle Free Library. The Kindle Free Library is deeply populated by books with weird covers. If I am embarrassed I will just elect to not log it. Shameful, because those books sat with me all night long. In addition to faithfully logging books I am promising to log ALL books for 2019. Either you are all going to see a lot of weird covers or I will plan ahead enough to have regular books ready to go on my kindle.


When Were You Reading Challenge

Sam from Taking on a World of Words not only hosts my favorite weekly roundup (WWW Wednesday!) but also a historical fiction reading challenge. I did…..poorly. I have come to the realization that I only enjoy historical fiction when the story grabs my attention.

  • The complete challenge will include 12 books from the following eras:
    • Pre 1500
    • 1500-1599
    • 1600-1699
    • 1700-1799
    • 1800-1899 The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle by Avi, The Watchmaker of Filigree Street by Natasha Pulley
    • 1900-1919
    • 1920-1939
    • 1940-1959
    • 1960-1979
    • 1980-1999
    • 2000-Present
    • The Future Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

Read Harder Challenge from Book Riot

I did far better with this challenge and completed 14/24 goals. The ones I didn’t finish were, if I were being honest, books that I would never read. Books about nature / westerns / anything on Oprah almost universally disagree with me. Also, while I am sure I read a few books that would fit into the missing categories my biggest problem with this challenge is how persnickety some participants were. If you follow the Goodreads chat boards on this challenge some people were serious about what qualified and what did not. This is not my mentality when participating in a reading challenge and so I never posted anything. Still, this challenge found me finally reading Pride and Prejudice which was absolutely wonderful. I can’t believe I waited so long!

1) A book published posthumously
2) A book of true crime Heist by Jeff Diamant
3) A classic of genre fiction (i.e. mystery, sci fi/fantasy, romance) The Last Unicorn by Peter S. Beagle
4) A comic written and illustrated by the same person – Witch Boy
5) A book set in or about one of the five BRICS countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China, or South Africa) Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi
6) A book about nature
7) A western
8) A comic written or illustrated by a person of color – Pashmina
9) A book of colonial or postcolonial literature
10) A romance novel by or about a person of color – When Dimple Met Rishi
11) A children’s classic published before 1980
12) A celebrity memoir W. Kamau Bell
13) An Oprah Book Club selection
14) A book of social science Grit
15) A one-sitting book – I Work at a Public Library… by Gina Sheridan
16) The first book in a new-to-you YA or middle grade series – Every Day by David Leviathan
17) A sci fi novel with a female protagonist by a female author Just One Damned Thing After the Other by Jodi Taylor
18) A comic that isn’t published by Marvel, DC, or Image The Sandman, Volume 1, Preludes and Nocturnes by Neil Gaiman
19) A book of genre fiction in translation
20) A book with a cover you hate 69 Million Things I Hate About You by Kira Archer
21) A mystery by a person of color or LGBTQ+ author
22) An essay anthology
23) A book with a female protagonist over the age of 60
24) An assigned book you hated (or never finished) Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen


Audiobook Challenge from HotListens.com

I did it! I wanted to get the stenographer level (10-15 audiobooks) and I listened to 15! And, I fell deeply in love with audiobooks. Now, if I don’t have an audiobook ready to go I don’t even know how to drive! Here are the audiobooks I enjoyed this year.

1. Fahrenheit 451

2. Artemis Fowl #1 by Eoin Colfer

3. Canada by Mike Myers

4. Stuff Matters by Mark Miodownik

5. Fairytales by Hans Christian Andersen

6. How to Be a Pirate by Cressida Cowell

7. Heist by Jeff Diamant

8. The Princess Diarist by Carrie Fischer

9. So that Happened by Jon Cryer

10. Today I Will be Different by Maria Semple

11. The Wild Robot Escapes by Peter Brown

12. Furiously Happy by Jenny Lawson

13. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen


The Modern Mrs. Darcy 2018 Reading Challenge 

Success here!  Modern Mrs. Darcy puts out a reading challenge every year and, if memory serves, there were some options for 2018. I enjoy her reading challenge because there aren’t so many categories that you are overwhelmed but they are varied enough to actually expand your reading repertoire.

  • a classic you’ve been meaning to read Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
  • a book recommended by someone with great taste The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman.
  • a book in translation Classic Fairytales by Hans Christian Andersen
  • a book nominated for an award in 2018 Circe by Madeline Miller
  • a book of poetry, a play or an essay collection Howl and Other Poems by Allen Ginsberg
  • a book you can read in a day I work at a Public Library
  • a book that’s more than 500 pages Iron Gold
  • a book by a favorite author Circe by Madeline Miller
  • a book recommended by a librarian or indie bookseller The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
  • a banned book The Absolutely True Diary of a Part Time Indian by Sherman Alexi
  • a memoir, biography, or book of creative nonfiction Stuff Matters by Mike Miodowski
  • a book by an author of a different race, ethnicity, or religion than your own To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han

Beat the Backlist Challenge

This one is hosted by Novel Knight and was a great inspiration for reading all the wonderful books I already owned. However, I could not figure out how to log my participation. So, while I kept track I did absolutely no good for my team, The Dewey Dragons. Sorry Dragons!!

I really like emphasizing my books, I just wish I could have more fully participated. Still, look at how many wonderful books (22!) I read off my own shelf.

The Watchmaker of Filigree Street by Natasha Pulley

A Problematic Paradox by Eliot Sappinfield

The Fellowship of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien

The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang

Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertini

Foolish Hearts by Emma Mills

Trollhunters by Guillermo del Toro and Daniel Kraus

Caraval by Stephanie Garber

The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

Regarding the Fountain: A Tale, in Letters, of Liars and Leaks

The Last Unicorn by Peter S. Beagle

Daughter of the Pirate King by Tricia Levenseller

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

Scythe by Neal Shusterman

Lord of the Rings, The Two Towers by J.R.R. Tolkien

The Problim Children by Natalie Llyod

The Wild Robot Escapes by Peter Brown

The Alice Network by Kate Quinn

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

Wishtree by Katharine Applegate

Lord of the Rings, Return of the King J.R.R. Tolkien


Book Buying Ban 2018

This was my biggest failure. The less I felt like I was “allowed” to buy, the more I wanted to buy buy BUY ALL THE BOOKS. I even stopped keeping track of my beautiful purchases because I was embarrassed. This is how it went (roughly because I am still sure I bought more and was too ashamed to admit it).

January: Owl Crate delivery: The Cruel Prince

February: Owl Crate delivery: The Hazel Wood

March: Birthday Books! Good Manners for Nice People Who Sometimes Say F*ck by Amy Alkon, Mrs. Sherlock Holmes by Brad Ricca, Let’s Talk Spanish50 Things Every Young Gentleman Should Know by John Bridges, Swords and Scoundrels by Julia Knight, Toasts by Paul Dickson, The Real Rock BookStupid Historyby Leland Gregory, Uppity Women by Vicki Leon, The 2548 Best Things Anybody Ever Said by Robert Byrne.

April: Things have gone sideways…..

May: I stopped trying. I need books! Don’t try and stop me!

June: Back on the wagon. I received two new books from subscriptions (OwlCrate and page Habit) and purchased only 1, The Kiss Quotient by Helen Huang.

July: Purchased Surprise Me by Sophie Kinsella and Find Your Adventure by Nicole Larue in Montreal. Also, two French/English dictionaries.

Kill the Farm Boy by Delilah S. Dawson and Kevin Hearne, Canadaby Mike Myers, two Jodi Taylor books, Wish by Deborah Bladon and 69 Million Things I Hate About You by Kira Archer on Kindle. I had insomnia!!! The Alice Network by Kate Quinn, The Invasion of Tearling Trilogy by Erika Johansen, All the Ever Afters by Danielle Teller.

Owlcrate My Plain Jane

PageHabit The Real Michael Swann

AugustTo All The Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han, The House With a Clock in Its Walls by John Bellairs, Greenglass House by Kate Milford, Ten Dead Comedians by Fred Van Lente. P.S. I Still Love Youby Jenny Han and Always and Forever Lara Jean by Jenny Han.

September: Major personal upset. Books bring me solace and so I buy as many as I want.

October:

November:

December:


Challenge Wrap Up

All in all, I LOVED the challenges. The only one I wound have been disappointed about not finishing successfully was the Goodreads challenge. All of the others were there to encourage me and push me outside of my usual reading. I am not sure yet which ones I will do again but I am so happy looking through all of the ideas.

Also, I know now that if I am really going to challenge myself to vary my reading I need a better plan. It is not enough to hope that my own books and interests will fulfill the required slots, I need a cohesive reading list for all the categories. So, this year I am looking carefully at the categories so that I am not stuck with an insurmountable one.

I think it is safe to say that the Book Buying Ban is falling squarely into the “never again” category. This challenge made me just want all the books. It was like being on a terrible diet and suddenly everything I owned looked gross and diet-like. This year I will certainly try to enjoy what I own but if I see a book I want to read I am absolutely going to buy it.


Tell me, please!

How did your challenges go? Any you recommend?


Challenges · Classic · Fantasy

Lord of the Rings Trilogy

It is a classic story for a reason. I have always meant to read the books and when I saw Ryan reading them this year I was inspired to pick them up and enjoy the journey.

Book One: The Fellowship of the Ring

This is the portion of the story that I am most familiar with. Sadly, there was a lot less of Legolas than I wanted. Also, the book has a LOT of singing. I really struggled with the songs because I kept singing them to the tune and tempo of a sailor’s ditty. Just imagine it with a little harump and accordion workings. Nasty Hobbits. All in all I did feel that the first book went fairly quickly. I ended it feeling smug and determined to just zip through the entire series. “Just twenty pages a day!” I told myself. Hah!

Book Two: The Two Towers.

This book took me, literally, four months to finish. This is the book that separates the reader from the determined fan. If I could get my hands on those Ents I would tell them to hurry the hell UP. This book is slow and you really start to feel the fatigue of the massive journey. It doesn’t help that throughout the second book you meet countless new characters and, frequently, each character has multiple names. It begins to feel like a fantasy version of War and Peace and I regretted not making a chart. At one point I think I sleep-walked and hid the book from myself. I have never been more thrilled than when I closed the second book.

Book Three: The Return of the King.

This is my favorite movie in the trilogy so I was hoping for a little more action. Thankfully, Tolkien delivered in spade here. While the first two books spend a great deal of time walking and looking around, the third book has epic battles, valiant speeches and  loads of action. This book continued to confuse me with the multiple names (Strider is Aragorn but also King Elessar) and the names which are very similar (hello Eowyn and Eomer!) but finally I watched Frodo drop that dang ring into the Fires of Mordor!!! The hands down absolute best moments for me were the fifty or so pages after the destruction of the ring and the crowing of the King where the Hobbits return to the Shire. These scenes were not in any of the movies and I loved seeing the completely transformed Hobbits go forth in defense of their home without any aid and triumph.


A few thoughts.

My favorite character was and always will be Legolas. However, I don’t know that I would have noticed him if not for the movies. Truthfully, I would never have read these books but for the movies because the whole thing sounded wretched to me. But, I am so glad that I did.

The hero of this story is absolutely, hands down, Samwise Gamgee. I aspire to be as good a person, as strong a character and as supportive a friend as Sam.


Tell me, please!

Have you read LOTR? Who is your favorite character?


all ages · Challenges · historical fiction · Uncategorized

The War That Saved My Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley

thewarsaved

I have been seeing this book everywhere. It is on display at all of my favorite bookstores both major and minor. I didn’t pick it up because I was sure it was going to be bad-sad (that sadness that feels foisted upon you by authors). Finally, I requested it from my local library because I wanted to give it a chance. I am so glad I tried it.

This book is Ada’s story but it so much more. Ada is nine (maybe) and her brother Jamie is six in 1939 when Hitler has begun to threaten England. Children are being sent to the country for safety. We have all read this story haven’t we?

But, this is where author Kimberly Brubaker Bradley changes the tune. Ada is not just poor and unloved by her cruel Mother. She was born with a clubfoot. In 1939 having a clubfoot was treatable but Ada received no medical attention for her’s and has been kept in her one room apartment in London nearly her entire life.

Whenever I read stories of London’s children being sent to the country during World War II I am struck but the terrible decisions families made to keep their children safe. As a kid, I couldn’t dream of being away from my parents. As an adult, I cannot imagine handing a child over to a stranger on the other side of a train.

But, for Ada, could this separation might be her salvation? Since the book is called, The War that Saved My Life, it is a good guess that the answer is yes. But, what I think made this book really magical was the way being in the country affected Ada.

I loved this book so much I had to own it. I cannot wait to read the sequel The War I finally Won because all of these characters because very dear to me. So, if you enjoy historical fiction or are participating in the When Are you Reading Challenge like I am, this is a fantastic juvenile fiction novel.


 

Challenges

When are you Reading Challenge

I found this great challenge on Taking on a World of Words.  The challenge was simple – read 12 books set in 12 different time periods of world history in 2017.  I didn’t know about it or start it until June 2017 but I love a good challenge!

  • The complete challenge will include 12 books from the following eras:
    • Pre 1500 The Inquisitor’s Tale by Adam Gidwitz
    • 1500-1599
    • 1600-1699
    • 1700-1799
    • 1800-1899
    • 1900-1919
    • 1920-1939 The War That Saved My Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley
    • 1940-1959
    • 1960-1979
    • 1980-1999
    • 2000-Present
    • The Future

So, who feels like joining the challenge this late in the game? If you join, please comment below and make sure and head over to Taking on a World of Words to officially sign up!