Tag Archives: reading challenges

Living My Best Life: The Dewey’s 24 Hour Readathon Wrap-Up

Well, that was a fantastic day, readers!

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 thriller
    • One noir translated from Japanese
    • One gay YA romance
  • 943 pages finished
  • 17 hours completed before passing out cold
My Dewey's 24 Hour Readathon Experience
My Dewey’s 24 Hour Readathon Experience

 

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.
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.

 

Here were the books I read:

The Woman Who Walked in Sunshine by Alexander McCall Smith.

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.

Anne Frank: the Anne Frank House Authorized Graphic Biography by Sid Jacobson and Ernie Colon.

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.

The Grown Up by Gillian Flynn

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

Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli

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).

The Gun by Fuminori Nakamura

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.

Dewey’s 24 Hour Readathon: Hour 5- 1 book down!

It’s been a delightful morning, reading for th Dewey’s 24 hour Readathon. It took me a while to get started, as my eyes were just not focusing because of allergies. And with the husband underfoot, there were distractions aplenty. 

But as we come into hour 5, I finished the first book- The Woman Who Walked In Sunshine by Alexander McCall Smith. This is a part of the No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series, which I love. It’s light and fun but the colloquialisms make it that you want to slow down and enjoy it a bit more. Which is the antithesis of what you want when you are trying to read for speed. But even my husband remarked about how I kept laughing and giggling as I was reading. 

This book is highly recommended for anyone who likes a good cozy mystery, anyone who is interested in the culture of Southern Africa, or anyone who wants a light and enjoyable series to follow that spends equal time with characters and setting.

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?