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!

Friday TBR Talk

Another beautiful day here, and I’m outside in the backyard. Another Friday. Friday is vacuum day for me. To give my days some sense of structure I’ve made a little chore chart for myself (or whoever wants to help) with one or two chores for each day. Since I’m not working it has helped me retain a sense of time and purpose, and gives me one solid productive thing to do each day. And it helps me differentiate between the days so they don’t all run together! You gotta do what you gotta do.

Earlier this week, my son said, “I wish I had some new books to read.” Well that was a request that I couldn’t pass up! I immediately ordered some books from Barnes and Noble (I want them to survive the pandemic too) and here they are (minus a Big Nate book he immediately grabbed from the box):

I’ve read The Mysterious Benedict Society (awesome) and my son has read the Mac B Kid Spy (he loved it, so I thought he’d like to have his own copy) but Flora, George, and Wild Robot are all new to both of us. Have you read any of these?

Earlier today I was listening to the Reading Glasses podcast, one of my favorites, and they were talking about TBR piles and/or lists (episode 148). Mallory was saying that she feels like TBR piles and lists make people feel stress about their reading, and she advocates getting rid of them and just having some unread books in the house, interspersed with books you’ve already read. She likened her unread books to snacks, that she has the pleasure of “getting to” enjoy rather than feeling like she “has to” get to them or check off some list. Brea was saying that it makes her feel anxious to think about getting rid of her TBR list, and that she doesn’t want to forget about books since she considers herself kind of a spacey person. She advocates culling your TBR list periodically, though, if the length starts to stress you out.

I do have a rather lengthy TBR list on Goodreads, and I side with Brea in this issue. I like having one place I can go to see what might fit the mood next. In pre-pandemic times I would check my list and order things from other library branches, so that I’d have three to four books at home to choose from when the mood struck. Now I take comfort that at least I have a place to check for inspiration in case any of the 40+ unread physical books in my house don’t appeal.

Inspired by their episode, I went through my list today and I culled 26 books! It feels good. Like the equivalent of cleaning out a drawer and giving a bag of stuff to the thrift store. Sometimes I can’t even remember why I put a book on my list, or I look at it and go, “Meh.” Meh is definitely a reason to remove a book from the list,

How do you all feel about TBR lists or piles? Do you ever sometimes wish you didn’t have one? Do you periodically go through them? Do they cause you stress? Do you enjoy the Reading Glasses podcast? Let me know in the comments.

The Most Exciting Bit

Yesterday I finished reading Mary Anne by Daphne du Maurier (review will post during DDM Reading Week.) And then came what I think is my favorite part of reading: the sweet spot between books!

Once I’ve finished a book I write it down in my book journal, with any impressions or categorization that I want to include. Then I head straightaway to Goodreads, where I make sure I’ve got a star rating and the “shelves” I want. Next I go to the Listopia section of Goodreads, which in my opinion is best accessed through a desktop or iPad browser, and NOT the app. There’s a list that I add my books to called 2020: What Women Born in the 1970s Have Read So Far This Year. The list creator has been doing one for years now and I look forward to the new one each year. I add the book to the list and see if anyone else has read it this year as well. (You can rank your choices however you like.) It’s always fun to see what are the most popular books in any given year, and the sheer variety of books read is amazing. 6,691 books were listed last year.

The first 8 books on the list

 

So then I get to decide what book to read next. For me this is THE most exciting time. With a TBR list currently at 367 books, I have so many possibilities. Currently, with the quarantine and the libraries closed, I am trying to read what I’ve got on hand. I’m well stocked with my own unread books and still have 5 or 6 books from the library I’ve not yet gotten to. I know some of you plan out your reading weeks in advance, or get ARCs that you want to write about close to publication time. I don’t do either of those things, so I really just see what I’m in the mood for.

The last 6 books on the list, currently.

 

Last night I decided I was in the mood for a mystery, and I have three from the library. I chose Elly Griffith’s The Woman in Blue, which is the 8th in her Ruth Galloway series. And yes, I still need to read Adam Bede, my Classics Club pick, but frankly I’m putting it off. I started it and the dialect is very challenging so far. And it’s over 600 pages! I swear when I initially put it on my list I thought it was much shorter! 😂 Oh well, I’ll come back around to it after the Griffith.

So what do you think? Are you a big nerd like me? Do you relish the feeling of having completed a book and not knowing what you’ll read next? I’m curious about those of you who schedule your reading. Maybe you get a similar feeling at the beginning of the month when you make your monthly plan? Mood readers and planners alike, let me know in the comments.

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?

Sunday Afternoon Bookish Ramblings

It’s a beautiful Sunday afternoon at Big Reading Life Manor, and I think Spring is finally on its way. We’ve had a few sunny days here and there, enough to matter, and daffodils are blooming. On my walk in the park earlier today I noticed blossoms on the trees (don’t ask me what kind of trees, I don’t know) and that made me happy. I will seek out and clutch any tiny happy thing I can find these days, and being outside, blue skies, and new life blooming will definitely fit the bill. And as I’m writing this the ice cream truck just went past our house! That’s DEFINITELY a sign of Spring!

I got my seeds from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds yesterday. As usual I’ve purchased way more seeds than I have space in my yard for. But seeds are cheap and dreams are big, and who knows how crazy with planting I’ll get this year? It’s still about a month too soon to plant anything really, except maybe the peas (Tom Thumb, which are supposed to grow easily in pots) and the arugula (which I’ve never tried to grow.) I’m such a haphazard gardener but I’m a Master Yard Putterer.

What have I been reading lately? Well, I just finished Agatha Christie’s The Moving Finger, which is the fourth Miss Marple Book. Jackie @ Death By Tsundoku asked me a few weeks ago if I planned on reading ALL of the Agatha Christie novels, and until she asked me I don’t exactly think I had a plan to. But I was like, “Yeah, I think I DO want to read all of her novels!” And another reading goal is born. It will take me years, but that’s fine with me. There’s nothing like an Agatha Christie for fun escapism, if murder mysteries are your thing. The Moving Finger was good, about smutty anonymous letters being sent to virtually everyone in a small town, and the perilous aftermath of that. Miss Marple doesn’t even show up until 2/3 of the way through and that’s was fine with me, because I enjoyed the narrator, Jerry Burton, so much as a character. The thing a modern reader has to watch out for with Christie is that sometimes she’ll slide in a racist or homophobic line or two here and there, and it sort of jars you for a minute. I note them, think, “Yikes!” and move on, remembering that in 1942 things were different. On the plus side, it confirms how far we’ve come, right?

I listened to Colton Whitehead’s poker memoir The Noble Hustle through my library’s Libby app, and that was fun. He reads it himself and I liked his voice very much. A magazine paid him to enter the World Series of Poker and write about it. I’m not very interested or knowledgeable about poker, so the interest in this for me was mostly in learning more about one of my favorite authors. He’s funny! Darkly, cynically funny, and his main target is himself. I can see now why his fiction feels so cerebral sometimes… he freely admits to being someone who is “anhedonic,” unable to feel pleasure. Which is one reason he has such a good poker face – he’s “half dead inside!” This is the kind of sardonic humor Whitehead uses throughout the book. You get the impression that his glass is perpetually half empty but you can’t help but like him anyway. If you’re interested in this memoir I highly recommend listening to the audiobook.

Currently I’m reading Wallace Stegner’s 1987 novel Crossing to Safety for my Classics Club and Buddy Read with Rebecca and Smithereens. I’m about 40% through. I LOVE IT. That’s all I’ll say for now.

What’s up next? I’ve got a stack a mile high, as I’ve been going nuts putting library books on hold lately. It’s nice to have a lot to choose from, isn’t it? Besides the above stack I’ve got Ta-Nehisi Coates’s memoir The Beautiful Struggle, Attica Locke’s The Cutting Season, Ian Rankin’s The Hanging Garden, Claire Fuller’s Swimming Lessons, and my own purchased copy of Jenny Offill’s latest book Weather. I hardly know what to pick up next! Well, perhaps I should start with one of the Irish books seeing as how this is Reading Ireland Month and I haven’t even started, whoops!

How is everyone? Are we able to read with all the political news and coronavirus stuff going on? I know my concentration has been crap the past few weeks because of it. I hope you all are staying well and have a good tall stack of books to keep you company even if you aren’t. I hope to catch up on reading all of your blog posts soon. Be well and hold on – Spring is coming!

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?

Upcoming 2020 Books That Intrigue Me

Riffing on this week’s Top Ten Tuesday subject , I decided that I wanted to make a list of books I want to read coming out this year. Clicking on a title links to its Goodreads page if you want to find out more.

(* = books I will almost certainly buy because I loved the author’s last book)

The Glass Hotel by Emily St. John Mandel*

Weather by Jenny Offill*

Transcendent Kingdom by Yaa Gyasi*

Untamed by Glennon Doyle (the lone memoir on my list)

Deacon King Kong by James McBride

Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid (cheating because it was released in late December, but close enough)

American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins

The Resisters by Gish Jen

The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett

The Truants by Kate Weinberg

New Waves by Kevin Nguyen

House of Trelawney by Hannah Mary Rothschild

I could have kept going because there are so many intriguing books coming out this year but 12 seemed like a nice number on which to settle. It’ll be fun to see how many of these I will have actually read by the end of the year.

Any of these look interesting to you?

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?