Every Saturday we hope to share with you our thoughts on reading and books. We thought that it would be good practice to reflect on our reading lives and our thoughts about reading in general. While on occasion, we would feature a few books in keeping with this, there would be a few posts where we will just write about our thoughts on read-alouds, libraries, reading journals, upcoming literary conferences, books that we are excited about, and just book love miscellany in general.
For this last Saturday of the month, I thought I’d share some updates on how my reading challenges are going before January is over. One month done, eleven more to go. I’m doing two reading challenges for 2016: Goodreads and Book Riot. I thought of doing the Popsugar Reading Challenge but I decided to do it if and only if I have extra time in my hands.
Of course, I can duplicate titles that would fall in whatever category for either challenge. However, my goal is not merely to complete the challenge but to read a specific book for each category in each reading challenge – if at all possible. Not so sure about my reading habits this year so I won’t be doing Popsugar anytime soon.
Looking at both challenges, I think I’m off to a good start. Below are some of the books that I’ve read this year. I’ve included short Goodreads reviews on some of the titles.
Task 19: Read a nonfiction book about feminism or dealing with feminist themes
Headscarves and Hymens by Mona Eltahawy
“If I were to use paint to indicate the places where my body was touched, groped, or grabbed without my consent, even while wearing this hijab, my entire torso, back and front, would be covered with color.” – Mona Eltahawy
While it was tempting to read books with the word ‘feminism’ in the title, I decided to go for Mona Eltahawy’s collection of essays regarding the plight of women in the Middle East. I found this at the library several months ago and I thought it would be perfect for the task. This is a painful but powerful and necessary read.
My Goodreads rating: 4/5
Task 1: Read a horror book
Penpal by Dathan Auerbach
Of so many horror books to choose from, I decided to go for the less popular one. Halfway through the book, I regretted it. Oops.
Penpal is a horror collection that started as a Reddit post. I don’t read stuff on Reddit, so I have no idea how the thread went. Told in the first person point of view, this book contains six interconnected short stories derived from childhood memories. Each story is about 30-40 pages long, mostly because of unnecessary details in the book. It was quite painful to read. (And it’s not the same kind of ‘painful’ as Eltahawy’s work.)
My Goodreads rating: 2/5
Task 11: Read a book under 100 pages
Cinderella: An Art Deco Love Story by Lynn Roberts and David Roberts
This is one of Read Harder’s easiest tasks, especially since I read a lot of picturebooks. Yay for that! As you may have already seen, I featured this book three days ago. If you missed it, you can read about it here.
My Goodreads rating: 4/5
Task 4: Read a book out loud to someone else
The Missing Piece by Shel Silverstein
Shel Silverstein is an amazing children’s writer. The Missing Piece is one of my favorite works of his and, for some reason, it is the first book that comes to my mind when I see “read out loud.” I read this book to Daniel last week, before bedtime. The Missing Piece is my first re-read this year.
My Goodreads rating: 5/5
For the Read Harder Challenge, I finished four tasks so far. Not too shabby. I’m also currently working on the following titles (that are both halfway done):
Task 5: Read a middle grade novel
Fish in a Tree by Lynda Mullaly Hunt
Task 9: Listen to an audiobook that has won an Audie Award
The Graveyard Book performed by Neil Gaiman
Two surprisingly good reads this year
A Thousand Nights by E.K. Johnston
“They would wash and prepare me like a bride, but I knew that I was being dressed for death.”
I’ve never read One Thousand and One Nights, though I’m familiar with the plot. Not having anything to compare this book with, I really enjoyed reading A Thousand Nights. E.K. Johnston did a great job transforming a classic tale into something that is just as beautiful and poetic. The story is told in two points of view and there is no romance involved, at least not in the usual way that romance is portrayed in YA novels. A Thousand Night explores the special bond between sisters, the love shared by families, a community’s strong sense of faith, and the battles between monsters and men, and demons and smallgods.
My Goodreads rating: 4/5
The Hundred-Year-Old-Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared
by Jonas Jonasson
“Never try to outdrink a Swede, unless you happen to be a Finn or at least a Russian.”
I’m only halfway through this book but enjoying it so far. It’s such a riot! I watched the movie version last weekend and was just as funny, though lacking in a lot of details. As expected, book is better and funnier, but the movie is still worth checking out.
For Goodreads, I’ve read 22 of 125 books. Of the 22 books, 17 are picturebooks and 5 are novels. I really would love to read 125 novels this year but, given that rate, I’m not too sure if I could accomplish that. (See below.)
A week before Christmas, I was offered and accepted the full-time position as Circulation Assistant. I would mainly focus on library statistics. I haven’t played around with Excel for years and years, so I decided to sharpen my knowledge by borrowing these manuals from the library. (The book with the purple cover – Microsoft Excel Made Easy – is my own copy that I purchased through Barnes & Noble for only $4!)
I’m probably overdoing it but I miss being in school, and reviewing this manual is kind of like getting homework done and studying for a test – only, I’m not being graded. (I probably should be, because the stat values need to add up correctly and make sense, if you know what I mean.) I’m also probably going to take a short course on Excel sometime during fall this year, so reading these books in advance would be very helpful.
On top of these, I also decided to join the Ohio Library Council this year. I haven’t received official letter of my acceptance but the check I wrote for the membership fee has been cleared, so I expect to be hearing from them soon. I’m not sure what programs and activities they have for the year but I’m pretty excited. This may or may not keep me busier.
Having read 4 of 24 and 22 of 125 books for my two reading challenges isn’t so bad. I have 11 more months to work on them. I’m aiming for a more productive reading year. Fingers crossed! ♦