Tag Archives: Library

Using a Readathon to Kill My TBR

I have been on a book searching tear, readers!  As of late, I have gone out to some of my favorite used bookstores just to poke around and see what they may have in stock.  Meanwhile, my pile of books at home just grows and grows.  Usually, I don’t mind that because I take a perverse pleasure in the torment of having so many books that it will take me a short lifetime to get through them all.  And I am inherently cheap, so I almost never pay full price for them, therefore I don’t feel guilty for spending and not reading immediately.

I don’t understand someone who will just grab whatever’s within arm’s reach to read.  I treat the moment I chose my next read like a ceremonial experience- I pace the apartment, perusing all physical books I have in the various places and bookshelves.  Maybe I will look through my digital collections on my Kindle, Kobo, and Nook.  I may go to the three online library branches I have access to via Overdrive and see what’s available immediately for download.  I have been known to walk over to the local library to see what they have on hand.  I also see what’s available in audio format from the libraries and in my Audible account that I haven’t yet heard.  As you can see- it’s a damn production.

But now my ever expanding TBR is even starting to worry me.  So you can only image how bad it must be!  I need to bust up this trend and start to knock out some books so I can purge and start all over again.  (Especially with Independent Bookstore Day occurring on my birthday this year.  Coincidence? I think not!)

While I was scanning through Twitter, I saw the announcement of the next Dewey’s 24 Hour Readathon this Saturday, April 23rd and I thought- YES!  Sign me up!  It’s the answer to my prayers.  I remember watching all the hullabaloo that accompanied the last session they held, and it looked like a lot of fun for readers. So I just signed up, and it sparked this post.  Win-win!

Now comes the joy of preparing for the readathon.  I have a lot of recent acquisitions that I am excited to dive into but am not sure if it’s the right material for this type of exercise.  I think that you want some short, fast and engaging reads to kick out and feel like you are making progress.  I recently was awarded a bonus from work which comes in the form of Amazon gift cards.  With that award, I purchased the Penguin Little Black Classics Set.  These are slim enough to feel like you are making traction in your limited time. So those will be peppered through the event.

The set of Penguin publisher's Little Black Classic books.
The set of Penguin publisher’s Little Black Classic books.

In thinking through what else to pick, I have arrived at a decision matrix:

  • preferably under 300 pages
  • fast paced read
  • guaranteed delighter
  • nothing that will require me to stop and contemplate it’s meaning
  • something I have been looking forward to
  • also, something that I will drop in a heartbeat if it isn’t working for me or I can’t glide through it with ease

And without further adieu, here is my list of potential reads for the Dewey 24 Hour Readathon!

The list of books that I am going to draw from in the 24 hour Dewey's Readathon.
The list of books that I am going to draw from in the 24 hour Dewey’s Readathon.

I am not going to list them all here, because I certainly won’t get to them all.  But I will post an update when I have completed the event, and we will see how far I got!

Let’s meet back here on Sunday, April 24th, shall we?

About Our Recommendations and Community

When I first started, I linked all books I referenced to Amazon, since it’s convenient and would allow someone ease to purchase the books I was discussing. But as I thought more about this decision, it felt like an endorsement and I want to remain company and format agnostic for now.

I have written about my approach to reading, which is all over the place- I use a Kindle, a Kobo, a Nook.  I was on Oyster and Scribd. I buy used books from local Friends of the Library stores and some of the amazing bookstores in my area.  I buy the latest hardcover from the local independent bookstores that I love to visit.  I am a library power user- I have 3 library cards because the state I live in allows me to be a member of any library in the state so long as I can prove residency on a regular basis.  And most of the work that I borrow is in digital or audio book format. But I also hunt for Kindle sales through a number of sites and on Twitter.  I get a thrill by paying $1.99 for an ebook that I am excited about and letting it sit in my digital collection until I am ready to get to it.

So I have decided that instead of linking to Amazon directly, I will in the near future link to Goodreads. (And while I know that Amazon owns Goodreads, it does off the opportunity for people to evaluate the prices that the book is being sold from some of the various companies- Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, Audible, Book Depository, etc.) The reason I think this is the right thing for me to do, is that I am hoping that readers of the blog will start Goodread lists based on the discussions, and how (or if ) they purchase the book is beside the point.  I want to keep this going as long as I can, but I also know that there may be costs down the road, if the blog grows in followers and size, and that may mean that I revisit this but for right now, the biggest goal is to connect with other to build a community of readers.

Link up with us on Goodreads and let’s see each other’s book lists!

Just out of curiosity- where do most of you get your books from?

Book Review: Our Souls at Night by Kent Haruf

I picked this book up after hearing about the story’s premise, which I found endearing and lovely.  Having just finished reading The Stranger by Albert Camus, I was feeling a bit unmoored and desolate.  I needed a boost of something more heartfelt.  I could not have planned this better, if I had tried.
A lovely hardcover of Our Souls at Night from the public library.
A lovely hardcover of Our Souls at Night from the public library.
It was a chance situation, in fact.  I had been forced from the coziness of my apartment to go down to the local library branch to prove that I was still alive and living in the area, as they request their patrons do every 2 years, in order to renew my library card. I primarily use the library for digital books, so I didn’t want to be without access to new reads for a weekend. (I’m a little anxious like that.) While I was there, I looked at their recent arrivals area and found The Cartel by Don Winslow which was recommended to me by a good friend, the Buddha manga series by Osamu Tezuka, and this gem of a book.  I was delighted!
The story is about a 70 year old widower, Louis, who is asked by a widow neighbor, Addie, whom he only knows in passing, to sleep with her in a surprisingly matter of fact manner. She is lonely and assumes that he is, too. She doesn’t want sex, but the comfort of talking to someone in the dark and laying next to someone as they drift off to sleep. They begin an intimate and caring relationship which is deepened by the arrival of her young grandson. I won’t go further into the plot as I don’t want to spoil the book.
What I loved about the book was it’s narrative style and the themes. One of the first things you notice when picking it up is the lack of quotation marks.  It threw me off balance at first, but once I adjusted, I found that device ended up drawing me in more closely. This is a quiet, slow and tender book. When I had to put the book down and then return to it, I was repeatedly shocked by how much of the story was compressed into a few paragraphs. The actions taken are small, but resonant.  The conversation is sparse, but meaningful.  It is a pleasure of a book to read.
The setting is midwestern Americana- a quiet suburb near the country. The descriptions of the scenery were beautiful, as was the delicate interplay of Addie and Louis. I especially loved how I felt safe to let go and falling into this story. I didn’t feel there was going to be a huge twist near the end that would shock or break me. I did worry about the characters, but I trusted that the author wouldn’t crush my soul. And my trust was well placed.
 I truly fell in love with these characters.  The widow Addie is so sensible and plain speaking while warm and loving. Louis is considerate while he is playing catch up to her idea. Jamie is a good kid who is scared and confused, hungry for parental love and Gene, Jamie’s father, is the scarred son who can’t move past failures. The town is also a big character in the story- reigning in, observing, judging, approving and disapproving, trying to set the pace for what should be acceptable of people their ages.
The themes Haruf are conveying hum clearly throughout the book- the crippling isolation of aging, the need to continue to take risks in life, and the importance of human touch and interaction. This is really a gem of a book.  I gave it 5 of 5 stars and I would recommend it for people who like life affirming stories, discerning readers who need well crafted books as well as strong substance, those who like character driven books, and anyone who just needs to get their heart muscle pumping again.
Our Souls at Night Book Cover Our Souls at Night
Kent Haruf
Fiction
Knopf Publishing Group
May 26, 2015
Hardcover
192
Public Library

A senior-aged widow and widower forge a loving bond over shared loneliness and respective histories, provoking local gossip and the disapproval of their grown children in ways that are further complicated by an extended visit by a sad young grandchild.