Monday, December 29, 2014

Book Riot's Read Harder Challenge for 2015

I've decided to join Book Riot's Read Harder Challenge for 2015. I think I'll be able to complete most of it from books I already own (excluding the one published in 2015 for obvs. reasons) so I'm expanding the challenge to include the goal to read from my shelf.  Hopefully this challenge will be a good bridge to reconnect me with the world of book blogging once my house project reaches completion in the next few months.  Here are the 24 categories with my potential picks:

A book written by someone when they were under the age of 25
     : The Heart is a Lonely Hunter, Carson McCullers

A book written by someone when they were over the age of 65
     : All That Is, James Salter

A collection of short stories (either by one person or an anthology by many people)
     : Bark, Lorrie Moore

A book published by an indie press
     : The Biographical Dictionary of Literary Failure, C.D. Rose (Melville House)


A book by or about someone that identifies as LGBTQ
     : The Hours, Michael Cunningham

A book by a person whose gender is different from your own
     : We Are Not Ourselves, Matthew Thomas

A book that takes place in Asia
     : Please Look After Mom, Kyung-sook Shin

A book by an author from Africa
     : We Need New Names, NoViolet Bulawayo


A book that is by or about someone from an indigenous culture (Native Americans, Aboriginals, etc.)
     : Caleb's Crossing, Geraldine Brooks

A microhistory
     : The Big Burn, Timothy Egan

A YA novel
     : Looking for Alaska, John Green

A sci-fi novel
     : The Killing Moon, N.K. Jemisin (from a Book Riot Quarterly Box)


A romance novel
     : The Girl You Left Behind, Jojo Moyes

A National Book Award, Man Booker Prize or Pulitzer Prize winner from the last decade
     : The Goldfinch, Donna Tartt

A book that is a retelling of a classic story (fairytale, Shakespearian play, classic novel, etc.)
     : Mr. Fox, Helen Oyeyemi

An audiobook
     : Uncle Tom's Cabin, Harriet Beecher Stowe


A collection of poetry
     : The Portable Dorothy Parker

A book that someone else has recommended to you
     : The God of Small Things, Arundhati Roy

A book that was originally published in another language
     : Doctor Zhivago, Boris Pasternak

A graphic novel, a graphic memoir or a collection of comics of any kind
     : Les Miserables, Stacy King (Manga Classics)


A book that you would consider a guilty pleasure (Read, and then realize that good entertainment is nothing to feel guilty over)
     : Where'd You Go, Bernadette, Maria Semple

A book published before 1850
     : Northanger Abbey, Jane Austen (annotated version by Belknap)

A book published this year
     : ???

A self-improvement book (can be traditionally or non-traditionally considered “self-improvement”)
     : Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, Barbara Kingsolver


Monday, December 1, 2014

For the Record: November 2014

So, the year is racing through its final days.  Most years it seems to come too soon, but my house project has made this year seem twice as long (or more) so I'm ready for it.  Progress is good! On the home front we have paint, floors, and cabinets happening, which is much more thrilling than it may sound.

My blog has been nearly nonexistent this year. Multiple times I've considered dropping it altogether, but I've hung in there in hopes of being able to become more active once my house is finished. I really do love the friends I've made and the conversations I've had, on top of how much it helps my mental organization and thought processes in general. So I keep typing, and soon perhaps I'll be able to begin visiting again. I'm hoping to catch all of those delightful year-end posts—I love seeing that overview of the reading life.

My reading this month felt very scattered, partly due to the reread of All the Light We Cannot See, but also because many of the things I read were light in one way or another.

6 Books Read in November: (62 year-to-date)

2 Nonfiction:
  - What We See When We Read, Peter Mendelsund (4) Very simple to read, yet captivating all the same.  There isn't a large amount of text, nor is the main idea fully explored, yet it was pleasing to experience.
  - Judging a Book By Its Lover, Lauren Leto (2.5) I was hoping for either a) some insight, or b) some humor, but didn't find much of either.  As the text was really about the author's own experiences and opinions, it would have been much more enjoyable to read if it had been a series of blog posts instead of in book format. Since I didn't connect with it much, I found it only mildly entertaining.

1 Re-read:
  - All the Light We Cannot See, Anthony Doerr (5) My book club read this with me this time. I found it just as enjoyable the second time around, and loved hearing other opinions about the story and writing style.  One in my group, a former science teacher, adored the science behind the light and radio waves discussed throughout the book.  At the National Air and Space Museum I saw an exhibit that touched on what she was saying: "Light allows us to see into the past and reveals the nature of things forever beyond our reach." Since only a small fragment of light is visible, there is a rather large portion of light that we cannot see.

1 Classic:
  - All Quiet on the Western Front, Erich Maria Remarque (4) My 14yo is reading this for school, so I thought I'd get up to speed. I loved the perspective this was written from—not only because he was German, but because it was written so soon after the war. The years surrounding the Great War were such a pivotal time in modern history; reading literature written during that time has a unique tone that speaks more to me of the era than any current story I've read set in that time.

2 Others:
  - The Best of McSweeney's, Edited by Dave Eggers (3.5) Some good stuff, but a lot of boring (read: overinflated sense of self) stuff also.  This took me 11 months to get through.  Do you have any idea how good it felt to be done?  Mostly it served as a way to get a taste of McSweeney's. It was a beautifully made book, but that was its biggest strength.
  - Code Name Verity, Elizabeth Wein (3) Enjoyable, but a little silly and hard to believe. I enjoyed the focus on women in war, and bits and pieces about aviation, but the writing style clashed with the WWII setting, and the characters never became more than caricatures. Like a cheesy tv program you can't stop watching: good, but also not.


2 Current Reads:
  - The Goldfinch, Donna Tartt. My current audio book - I'm enjoying it but don't get many chances to listen to it.  It's a long one!
  - Nora Webster, Colm Toibin. I'm just barely into it, but am very ready for a virtual visit to Ireland!


On My Nightstand:
I've been toting around The High Divide by Lin Enger (because I need to read it for LibraryThing's Early Reviewers) and Main Street by Sinclair Lewis (because I loved Free Air).