Mid-Year Reading Stats (and Book #9 of 20 Books of Summer)

We are well into July so it’s time for a mid-year look at my reading stats and progress on reading goals for the year. Reading is generally is going pretty well for me right now, although the deep concentration I enjoyed during my furlough period, when I was a reading machine, is much lessened by time constraints. I have to dip in and out of books in small doses, which is what I mostly did pre-pandemic, but somehow the quality of my attention is more fragmented. I guess considering everything that’s going on, I’m doing fairly well. 

Books read: 66

Fiction: 52

Nonfiction: 14

Adult/YA: 45

Middle Grade (mostly read with my son:) 21

Male Authors: 23

Female Authors: 43

Authors of Color: 16 (24%)

Genres: Classics (10) Literary Fiction (9) Mystery (8) Memoir/Biography (7) General Nonfiction/Essay/Self-Help (7) Romance (3) Short Stories (1)

Favorites So Far:

Favorites Read With My Son:

READING GOALS:

1. Read 20 Nonfiction Titles. On track!

2. Reread Four Books I Own. On track! Just one more to go.

3. Read 12 Titles From Classics Club List. On track! I’ve read 7 so far. I have 27 more to go in total before the deadline of February 2023.

4. Read More Authors of Color. On track! Last year’s paltry 18% gave me a low bar to clear. I’m hoping to hit at least 30% for this year.

In other news, my ninth book of the 20 Books of Summer challenge is Agatha Christie’s The Murder of Roger Ackroyd (1926.) I had high expectations for this one, but something prevented me from connecting to the story fully. I can’t quite pin down what was amiss. It could just be reader’s frame of mind here, because so many people count this one as a favorite. Hercules Poirot is our detective, and he’s as charming and astute as ever. Maybe I missed his frequent sidekick, Captain Hastings. I didn’t warm to the narrator of the tale, Dr. Sheppard. He was devoid of personality so perhaps that’s what kept me at a remove.

51DcQZO7VMLOne of the wealthiest and most well-liked people in the small village of King’s Abbot, Roger Ackroyd, is found murdered in his study. Of course there are many suspects who’ve been in or near the estate at the time of the murder. Ackroyd’s niece, Flora, engages Hercule Poirot to assist the police and clear the name of her fiancé, Ralph Paton. Poirot is in town attempting to relax in retirement (which struck me as funny since this is only the 4th book in a series that would stretch to more than 40 titles.) He even says at one point, “In all probability this is the last case I shall ever investigate.”

I did enjoy the number of suspects, and there are lots of subplots and intrigues to follow and try to work out. As usual I didn’t guess the murderer until very late in the game. I can see why this was a seminal work of mystery, in that the innovative twist is clever and controversial. While I did enjoy it overall, I can’t say it’s one of my favorites. ⭐ ⭐ ⭐

So how are you doing with your own 2020 reading goals? Let me know below.

 

 

 

My 20 Books of Summer List

I love that Cathy keeps the rules for her annual challenge on the loose side; it fits my Mood Reader personality. And as an mentioned in my last post, I’m back to work, so my reading time is definitely cut short. In fact, since the last time I posted, I’ve read only 100 pages of Barbara Pym’s Excellent Women – all week! My brain feels like oatmeal with all the new procedures and spatial configurations that our library is enacting in the name of safety. On my work breaks, when I would normally read, I’m watching episodes of Bosch on my phone.

But I’m gonna trust that eventually I will get back on track, so I’m putting out my 20 Books of Summer list. I have fifteen hard copies on hand right now, and I’m gonna leave my last five books open, so I can choose some at whim. (I do have a list of options made, of course!) I’m fairly certain one of my extra five will be Michael Connelly’s latest book, Fair Warning, which is not a Bosch book but is about reporter Jack McEvoy instead.

Here we go.

  1. The Secret Adversary – Agatha Christie
  2. Poirot Investigate – Agatha Christie
  3. Weather -Jenny Offill
  4. Quartet in Autumn-Barbara Pym
  5. The Right Swipe – Alisha Rai
  6. A Murder is Announced – Agatha Christie
  7. The Blue Castle – L.M. Montgomery
  8. The Reckoning – Jane Casey
  9. Swimming Lessons – Claire Fuller
  10. How to Be An Antiracist – Ibram X. Kendi
  11. The Murder of Roger Ackroyd – Agatha Christie
  12. The Chalk Pit – Elly Griffiths
  13. New Waves – Kevin Nguyen
  14. The Blackhouse – Peter May
  15. A Dark and Twisted Tide – Sharon Bolton
  16. TBD
  17. TBD
  18. TBD
  19. TBD
  20. TBD

I have some romances on my TBR but just don’t have physical copies of them so I will probably choose many of those to round out the list. I’d like to read The Bromance Book Club, A Hope Divided, The Unhoneymooners, and Get A Life, Chloe Brown.

Since the aim of this challenge is to clear a bunch of books from your TBR, then I will win no matter how many of these I actually finish. Good luck with your list if you’re participating, and let me know if you’ve read any of the books I’ve listed. Have a good weekend and Happy Reading!

Classics Club Spin #23 List

The good folks at the Classics Club have decided to host a Spin, whereby they will choose a number between 1 and 20. Participants are to make a smaller list from their master list of classics yet to read, numbered 1-20. The number will be announced tomorrow, April 19. As I am doing well with my challenge, sticking to reading one book a month from my list, I thought, Why not participate? I recently finished Stella Gibbon’s Cold Comfort Farm (review to come) and so the Spin pick will be my May classic. Participants have until June 1 to read their book. Here’s my list:

  1. Fahrenheit 451 – Bradbury
  2. The Tenant of Wildfell Hall – Bronte
  3. The Master and Margarita – Bulgakov
  4. A Study in Scarlet -Conan Doyle
  5. Great Expectations – Dickens
  6. Adam Bede- Eliot
  7. Invisible Man – Ellison
  8. Love Medicine – Erdrich
  9. Howard’s End – Forster
  10. Nightingale Wood – Gibbons
  11. The Thin Man – Hammett
  12. Jonah’s Gourd Vine – Hurston
  13. Life Among the Savages – Jackson
  14. The Blue Castle – Montgomery
  15. Beloved – Morrison
  16. Less Than Angels- Pym
  17. Quartet in Autumn – Pym
  18. The Picture of Dorian Gray – Wilde
  19. Stoner – Williams
  20. To the Lighthouse – Woolf

I am hopeful that the spin will result in one that I own a copy of, just to make it easier and cheaper. 🤞 Which ones have you read and enjoyed? Which have you not enjoyed? Do you know if any of these have particularly god audiobook versions?

2020 Reading Goal Check In

Let me start this post by paraphrasing something I saw and loved on Instagram this week. You’re not required to be productive in a FREAKING PANDEMIC. Full stop. Okay, now that that’s out of the way, let’s talk 2020 reading goals. It’s almost the end of March, which means that the year is almost 1/4 through!

My four reading goals for this year are:

  1. Read 20 nonfiction titles
  2. Reread four favorite books.
  3. Read 12 titles from my Classics Club list.
  4. Read more authors of color (higher than last year’s pitiful 18%.)

I’m psyched to say that so far I’m on track with all of my goals. I’ve read eight nonfiction titles, and reread one book (Sylvia Boorstein’s It’s Easier Than You Think.) I’ve read three Classics Club books, and so far my authors of color is at a better 24%.

I’m toying with rereading a Jane Austen novel soon, as they are the ultimate in comfort reading for me. And this lady needs some comfort reading! I haven’t read Persuasion in a long time so that might be the one.

What’s my favorite read so far this year? Ugh, it’s tough. It’s either Your House Will Pay by Steph Cha or Crossing to Safety by Wallace Stegner. Or The Singer’s Gun by Emily St. John Mandel. OR Christy Harrison’s Anti-Diet. Too hard!

One thing I’ve loved so far this year are the great books my son and I have been reading together. So far my favorites are Fudge-a-Mania by Judy Blume and Mac Cracks the Code by Mac Barnett.

I hope you all are staying safe and healthy, able to take walks outside or do yoga or something else to clear your mind, and able to pry yourselves away from the news. It’s hard for me but I’ve been a bit better about not constantly checking news or Twitter. I’ll leave you with something hilarious I found on a friend’s Instagram story. It’s a Choose Your Recluse chart using famous movie characters. I think I’m a cross between Boss Lady and Sloppy Wizard. Which recluse are you?

Friday Afternoon Bookish Ramblings

It’s a beautiful sunny but cold day here at a Big Reading Life Manor, and it’s been a while since I’ve posted. I just haven’t had time or energy to write about books or anything else. There is sleep to prioritize (self-care 2020!) and also I’ve been finishing watching The Good Place and Netflix’s Next in Fashion. But today I have a bit of time and wanted to catch up on things. So, hello! I hope your week has been a good one. I don’t know about you, but I’m pretty much sick of winter. I’m sick of gray and I’m sick of rain. I’m trying to remind myself that everything changes, and so will the seasons, in time.

Anyway, I’ve read some good books lately, for which I am grateful. One five-star read (The Singer’s Gun by Emily St. John Mandel, which had been on my TBR List since 2015) and three four-star reads: Heart Berries by Terese Marie Mailhot, Body Positive Power by Megan Jayne Crabbe, and Another Brooklyn by Jacqueline Woodson. Two of the latter were ones I owned, so whoopee for reading my own books! Lately I’ve been really trying to look at my own shelves and also the beginning of my TBR list and trying to choose reads from those. It’s a constant struggle to balance those considerations with the newest, shiniest books that I have on hold at the library. You can relate, I am sure.

51anPJ5-ihL._SX329_BO1,204,203,200_What am I currently reading? Lindy West’s new essay collection The Witches Are Coming, which is AWESOME and so smart and funny. I’ve only read the first four essays but so far she’s killing it. I just finished Mavis Gallant’s short story collection In Transit, which I’d been reading since December. It was good – she’s masterful at capturing humans trying and failing to relate to one another. But for me overall it was a bit depressing and I’m relieved to be finished. I am not sure what work of fiction I’ll pick up next. I think I need something light to boost my mood! I may try Helen Hoang’s romance The Kiss Quotient, which I just checked out from my library.

Next month I plan to participate in Cathy’s Reading Ireland Month, so I need to pick at91Vq1lzeOaL least one Irish book – this event always sneaks up one me. I also will be reading Wallace Stegner’s Crossing to Safety with Smithereens as a buddy read – another selection from my Classics Club list. Please read along with us in March if you’d like!

So that’s it from me for now. I’ll leave you with some body positive affirmations from Megan Jayne Crabbe’s book (if you’re on Instagram, you should consider following her @bodyposipanda. She’s delightful.)

I’m grateful for everything that my body allows me to do in the world, and all the ways it takes care of me.
I am hotter than the inside of a poptart in this outfit!
There’s no such thing as a problem area, my body is not a problem to be fixed!
My softness is beautiful.
My cellulite clusters are constellations mapped across my thighs and I am magical.
I deserve the space I take up in the world.
I am good enough.
My body is not the enemy.

Also – how do we like this new “block editor” thing WordPress has given us? I don’t like it at all and when I tried to switch back to the classic editor it’s made my spacing weird in this post. Hmmmph. Oh well. I hope you have a very good weekend, friends – may you have lots of time for reading!

 

Why Do I Own So Many Unread Short Story Collections?

I finished a five-star read yesterday, and I was unsure about what to pick up next. I guess I’ve got a small book hangover. Currently I’ve been slowly reading Mavis Gallant’s collection In Transit (inspired by Buried in Print’s Gallant reading project.) She is a marvelous writer but, as often is the case with short stories, I need to take my time and not rush through. I want to give each story its due time to contemplate.

I was looking at my unread shelf at home and noticed a trend. I have a lot of unread short story collections. Eight of them in fact. That may not be a lot for some of you, but it feels like a lot to me, particularly because I’ve had some of them for years. I don’t want to pick another one up until I finish the Gallant book, because I can’t imagine trying to read two short story collections simultaneously. (Do people do this?)

img_5313Why do these books linger on my shelf? Why do I keep buying more?

Okay, I buy them because I buy books, duh, it’s what I do. I think they linger because I have the impression that a short story collection is a commitment. I feel like they take longer to finish than a novel, and they do. But why does this make me hesitate about reading them? It’s the same thing with nonfiction. I hesitate to choose it because I think it will take me longer. WHAT IS THIS OBSESSION WITH FINISHING A BOOK QUICKLY? I know I’m not alone in this, but why are we (mostly fiction readers) this way? Why am I so consumed with more, more, more?

Part of it is that I am always reading about new books coming out, adding more to my TBR list every week. Part of it is working at a library surrounded by books all day, seeing and holding the new books in person. Part of it is participating in the bookish community, seeing people reading all these amazing books at what seems like a breakneck pace and comparing myself.

It’s a wonderful NON-problem to have many more books I want to read than I have time to actually read. How lucky are we to live in a time and place where our access to books is so unfettered and free?

I am going to try and incorporate these short story collections throughout the year and not worry about how long it takes me to finish them. And if I’m not enjoying them I’m going to release them to a new home where hopefully they will land in the right hands. AND I’m also not going to buy any more collections until I get through at least half of the ones I have already.

How about you? Do you have a stack of short stories or nonfiction or something else that you’re just not getting to because it will take “too long?”

Library Checkout, January 2020

It’s been a while since I’ve written a Library Checkout post, and I thought I’d go ahead and let y’all know what I’ve been borrowing and putting on hold at the library. If you also are a heavy library user, join in on Bookish Beck’s meme or please let me know below what you’ve been checking out!

LIBRARY BOOKS READ:

 

A Good Man Is Hard to Find and Other Stories by Flannery O’Connor ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐

Black and Blue (Inspector Rebus series #8) by Ian Rankin ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐

Piecing Me Together by Renee Watson ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐

With my son:

Jedi Academy #1 by Marc Brown (cute!)

My Life As A Meme by Janet Tashjian

CURRENTLY READING:

Your House Will Pay by Steph Cha (currently very absorbing)

In Transit by Mavis Gallant (short stories, going slowly, I’ve kind of out this one aside a bit but it’s still good)

How to Eat Fried Worms by Thomas Rockwell (reading aloud with my son – loving it!)

CHECKED OUT, TO BE READ:

Rules For Vanishing by Kate Alice Marshall (on Gin Jenny’s -Reading the End- recommendation )

Bitter Orange by Claire Fuller (Anne’s – I’ve Read This- recommendation)

Strangers at the Gate by Catronia MacPherson

Mac B Kid Spy #2: The Impossible Crime by Mac Barnett (my son read these and I read the first one and loved it.)

WAITING FOR ME AT THE LIBRARY:

The Dutch House by Ann Patchett

Why We Can’t Sleep by Ada Calhoun

RETURNED UNFINISHED/UNREAD: none

IN THE HOLDS QUEUE (among others):

How to Do Nothing: Resisting the Attention Economy by Jenny Odell

The Witches Are Coming by Lindy West

Red, White, and Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston

How We Fight For Our Lives by Saeed Jones

Have you read anything from my list?

Reading Goals for 2020

And now one of my favorite things about book blogging… the annual setting of the goals! Oh, how the possibilities are endless in January. And then somewhere in October the cold hard realities set in… 😂

As usual, I am not going to put too much pressure on myself with a huge list of goals. I’ve picked four goals to pursue. Without further ado:

Goal #1: Read at least 20 nonfiction titles this year.

I follow so many bloggers who regularly read some excellent sounding nonfiction, and I keep adding titles to my TBR list, but my ratio of nonfiction to fiction is still pitiful. This year I am aiming a little higher and hope to start knocking some of those titles off my list.

Goal #2: Reread at least 4 books from my owned shelf.

I keep books that I love and think I will reread “sometime.” But in reality I just don’t end up doing that, and they sit there collecting dust. Last year I reread just one title, and it was a library book! So this year I’m making this a focus.

Goal #3: Read at least 12 titles from my Classics Club list.

If I am to stay on track to finish my list in February 2023 then I need to stay on task with this project.

Goal #4: Read more authors of color. Last year my percentage was a pitiful 18%. Not good enough.

So that’s it. I feel like these are manageable. And as blogger Naomi once reminded me, it’s not so much the achieving of the goals as the pursuit and improvement that’s important.

59927359120__83537172-c8c3-49da-9fc9-cf768a1e7dc1To switch topics here slightly, I began the new year with a feat of reading that I never do… I bought a book and read it right away! I got some gift cards to the local independent bookstore for Christmas and of course they burned a hole in my pocket. I bought Prince’s The Beautiful Ones, and I’m pleased to say that it’s a solid four star read. A must-read if you’re a Prince fan. It’s a wonderful glimpse into his childhood and his family, the early days of his recording music. It saddens me that he died before completing it… it’s such a tantalizing look at a brilliant, playful mind. He definitely left us too soon and is terribly missed. So there’s one nonfiction book to start the year off right!

I can’t wait to read all of your reading goals for 2020, if you choose to set them. I hope your reading year is getting off to a good start!

Classics Club Spin #22 List

It’s time again for another Classics Club Spin, so here’s a rare non-Friday post from me. If I can read and review whatever classic book the Spin Gods choose for me by January 31 then I’ll be doing great (I’ve got some chunksters here so who knows?!) Here’s my list:

  1. Fahrenheit 451 – Ray Bradbury
  2. The Master and Margarita – Mikhail Bulgakov
  3. A Study in Scarlet – Arthur Conan Doyle
  4. Great Expectations – Charles Dickens
  5. Invisible Man – Ralph Ellison
  6. Howard’s End – E.M. Forster
  7. Wives and Daughters – Elizabeth Gaskell
  8.  The Thin Man – Dashiell Hammett
  9. Life Among the Savages – Shirley Jackson
  10. The Blue Castle – L.M. Montgomery
  11. The Gowk Storm – Nancy Morrison
  12. Beloved – Toni Morrison
  13. A Good Man is Hard to Find and Other Stories – Flannery O’Connor
  14. The Last Gentleman – Walker Percy
  15. Crossing to Safety – Wallace Stegner
  16. The Warden – Anthony Trollope
  17. The Picture of Dorian Gray – Oscar Wilde
  18. Stoner – John Williams
  19. To the Lighthouse – Virginia Woolf
  20. Native Son – Richard Wright

susan-yin-2JIvboGLeho-unsplash
Photo by Susan Yin on Unsplash

On Sunday the 22nd, they’ll pick a number and then I’ll know which book I have to look forward to in January. Which one would you pick for me?

Revisiting Reading Goals

Now that we’re into December (how??) and four weeks from now we’ll be into the New Year, it’s time to see how much progress I’ve made on my yearly reading goals. To refresh your memory, they were:

1. Read more from the New Books shelf at work (public library)

2. Read The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas

3. Read more poetry (four collections)

4. Read more from my own bookshelves

Let’s break it down.

1. Nope. Not really. I had this idea that each month I’d choose a New Book from the shelf kind of randomly, hopefully venturing into genres and authors I didn’t normally read. Didn’t do that at all, ha ha! I did read some New Books but they were books from authors I’d have read anyway, like Elizabeth Gilbert, Kate Atkinson, and Michael Connelly. Truly, I only chose three books randomly from the New shelves this year: The Wife Between Us by Greer Hendricks, Burnout by Emily Nagoski, and Royal Holiday by Jasmine Guillory.

2. Yes! I DID read The Count of Monte Cristo. It took me months. But it was worth it. Surprisingly fast-paced (for the most part – there were a few slow sections) and entertaining.

3. Working on it. I’ve read two collections of poetry and have two more checked out from the library. I’ll have them finished by the end of the year. I’m glad I set this intention. I’ve always been a poetry fan but I easily forget to fit it into my reading.

4. Yes! I read 14 books that I owned this year. That’s more than the twelve I’d hoped to read. I didn’t do all the monthly prompts from The UnreadShelfProject on Instagram, but I did so some, and I think that alone made me more conscious of how I need to be reading my own books and not just books from the library.

These are a few of the books I read that I owned this year.

 

All in all, I’m happy with my goals. 3 out of 4 is good enough for me.

How did you do with your goals, if you set any? Are you thinking of what you’ll reach for next year? Or do you preferred not to set formal reading goals?