When I started this blog, I was in a job that I liked and had been doing for a while, so I could afford the mental space to relax a bit, read books and spend the time blogging and reviewing. Things started to change at work, and I enjoyed it less, so I retreated even more into books as a restorative balm. And when I say retreated- I pretty much hibernated into reading.
I had set a goal for myself to read 50 books in the year 2016 on GoodReads. I felt that was reasonable and something I could look forward to completing. I had no idea that I would ever do something like this… 171 books- that’s 342% more than my goal.
And about two months ago I started a fantastic new job at a new company. I am being stretched in new and exciting ways in my new role, and it’s thrilling. I expected that my reading would subsequently decrease as I engage more with getting acclimated to the new job. But I am working much closer to home and am finally able to use the mass transit system, which means I can read on the train and if I can’t read, I can at least listen to an audiobook. If anything, this new commute time has added to my reading time, not hindered it. And my new company cares about that oft thrown about phrase “Work/Life Balance” so I am not answering emails all night and weekend. It’s marvelous.
And not only is the year not over with yet, but we are coming up on the next “Dewey’s 24 Hour Readathon” that I loved so much six months ago. I am hoping to use this as an opportunity to get closer to 200 books read this year. At this clip, I think it is possible.
But with all that reading, I have been awful at the writing and blogging side and now is the time to pick it back up.
So I wanted to pop back in, say hello and get back into the spirit of blogging about books. I have some exciting books on the horizon and some gems that I want to share from my reading this year.
I hope you will check back from time to time! So please tell me, how is your reading year going? What have been your favorite books? I would love to hear from you.
That’s it for now. I am off to start planning my proposed pile for the readathon next weekend.
It’s the first day after the Dewey’s 24 Hour Readathon and I am still feeling the afterglow. I mean, I am a solid reader, with a capital R. I tend to read at a minimum 2-3 books a week. But even I was delighted and overwhelmed in the best ways possible about how fun it was to push everything aside to concentrate on the goal of reading as much as I could in 24 hours.
Here are my results:
Five books completed
Three physical books (one was a galley/ARC, and one was a library book), and two ebooks
A mix of genres:
One graphic novel
One African fiction
One noir translated from Japanese
One gay YA romance
943 pages finished
17 hours completed before passing out cold
Things that I discovered-
I already read a lot, but a challenge put me into “beast mode”/hyper drive.
I love, love, love getting a reflexology session while I read. It may be the most decadent luxury I can image (that is still productive). It was worth every single penny, and more.
Audiobooks aren’t good for readathons because they are so slow compared to how fast I can read.
I don’t like rules. Even the ones I make myself. I had a whole group of books that I thought I would limit myself to for the challenge. HA! Nope. I added the Anne Frank in at the last minute and didn’t feel bad for a moment about it.
This is the 16th book in the endlessly charming No.1 Ladies’ Detective Agency books, set in Botswana. Mma Precious Ramotswe is the owner of the first detective agency run by a woman in the southern African nation. She is aptly served by her extremely efficient secretary, Mma Makutsi, who is apt to remind people that she graduated secretarial school with 97% grades. They are very funny together as they solve cozy crimes.
What I love most about the series is the tiny glimpses into southern African life as it brings back the most poignant of memories from when I was raised in the area as a little girl. Small references will create floods of memories, so these books are an exceptional joy to me. (And I enjoyed the HBO version of the stories. The casting was fantastic, as was the set.) So while the characters are wonderfully drawn, the setting has an equal weight in the story.
My husband had to ask me what I was reading because I would frequently let out a giggle or HA! while reading the story.
Good for: I would recommend this book to anyone who likes cozy mysteries, who wants to get a glimpse into daily life in Botswana, or anyone who likes humorous palate cleansers in their reading mix.
I am of the mind that we cannot understand this story too deeply and that the multitude of formats (autobiography, play, movie, graphic novel, etc.) only helps us get to the heart of this tragedy. Last year, my husband and I went to Amsterdam and one of our key moments was the tour of the Anne Frank House. It affected us profoundly, as I noted in the previous post.
This graphic novel was wonderfully done. I found the backstory of her maternal and paternal families and the political backdrop context very helpful to understanding the results and how it impacted the family. And see the previous post for the surprise I found in the book.
Good for: anyone who wants a new way of approaching the Anne Frank story, history buffs, families that want a way to engage their middle grade and above kids into the story.
Few people are unaware of the name Gillian Flynn from her NYT bestseller and the subsequent movie for Gone Girl. She has a gift for the fast paced and interesting thriller. I wanted to take a completely different course for the read after the Anne Frank book, and thought this would be a good choice. Plus it’s a novella so it would be a quick read.
This story was engaging from the very moment it opens- bawdy and seedy that let me know immediately this was no middle-grade book! We were back in the land of adults and all their foibles in search of solving the mysteries of what the fates held in store for them. This had allusions to some of the eerie books of the past- The Woman in White by Wilke Collins, as an example. It was thrilling and perfect to get my blood racing. If I had to do it again, I would have put it later in the readathon as I was starting to fade.
Good for: anyone who liked Girl Gone, fans of the spooky Victorian novel set up, those who like con artist themes, fans of noir
After getting my blood pressure up with The Grown Up, this book pushed the boundaries of how far my heart could expand before bursting. It’s such a great example of how the YA genre being published today is rich, diverse and engaging. Simon is a 17-year-old who is struggling to determine when and how he should come out to his friends and family. He is involved in an email relationship with a boy who goes to his school, but they are anonymous to each other out of fear of public ridicule for being gay and also that the other will reject them. But when they email, using secret email addresses, they can be honest and share the same struggles that they are having. Through these emails, they fall in love. But because it’s a YA, things are never that uncomplicated, so there are the trials and tribulations as expected in a bildungsroman.
Good for: someone looking for a great gay romance story, anyone who likes YA or wants to see it done very well, those who love a good bildungsroman (as I do).
This was the last book I completed. I could have just stopped after this one, and been perfectly happy with such a strong collection of books for my first readathon, but I pressed on anyway (unsuccessfully).
This was a stark, cold, distant Japanese noir telling of a young man who finds a gun. The fact that it is next to a body of a dead man is of no concern to him. The gun becomes his passion and obsession. I won’t spoil anything except to say that I found this book similar in style to The Stranger by Albert Camus with it’s bleak, emotionless telling. I thought it was fantastic and will probably read it again.
Good for: those who love the noir genre, readers of existentialism, anyone who likes Japanese novels in translation
Ultimately this was one of the most fun days I have had in a long time, and I cannot wait to do it again. I may even try to get a small group of friends together for a weekend retreat to do something similar!
Thanks to the generous and amazing people who cheerleaded us through the hours, hosting mini-challenges and tweeted encouragement our way as we progressed through it all. It was an absolute delight and a great way for me to bust through my TBR pile.
Having finished Simon vs. the Homo Sapien Agenda, I was happy to be moving into book 5. I wanted something slimmer because to be honest, the last one could have bogged me down if it was poorly written. It was a 300 page book, but it flew by.
So I chose a slim tome for book 5. I picked the new release I heard so much about, The Gun by Fuminori Nakamura. It was fantastic. Where Simon vs. the Homo Sapien Agenda was emotive, passionate and heart expanding, this was stark, cold and dark. Japanese noir meets The Stranger. I loved the writing and the metaphors and was impressed with the translation.
Both are highly recommended, but for different reasons: Simon… is fantastic for YA fans, those who like coming out stories, someone who wants a modern gay romance. The Gun would be for someone who likes grim and stark stories, someone who wants realism and not fantasy, anyone who likes books in translation, those interested with modern Japanese culture, and fans of noir.
I’m starting to fade. It’s over an hour after my bedtime and all the ingested caffeine is making me feel all fuzzy, but my eye balls are drying out. Must. Press. On.