20 Books of Summer (Finally!)

20-booksI’m still playing catch-up from May, where my blogging zest seemed to have left me. Thankfully it has returned and once again I’m taking part in Cathy’s annual 20 Books of Summer challenge. This time I’m once again going for 20 books, despite not completing my list either year I’ve participated. I guess I just look at the number 20 as more of a suggestion than a rule, ha ha! I’m not worried about whether or not I finish all of them, mostly I just want to get some books crossed off my TBR list and enjoy myself!

Here is my list:

  1. Last Night in Montreal – Emily St. John Mandel
  2. Shadowshaper – D.J. Older
  3. The Crossing Places – Elly Griffiths
  4. Little Fires Everywhere – Celest Ng
  5. The Fire This Time: A New Generation Speaks About Race – edited by Jessmyn Ward (my book group’s pick for June)
  6. The Power – Naomi Alderman
  7. The Radium Girls – Kate Moore
  8. The Enchanted April – Elizabeth Von Arnim (a Classics Club list choice)
  9. CivilWarLand in Bad Decline – George Saunders
  10. The Bird’s Nest – Shirley Jackson (Classics Club)
  11. Ongoingness: The End of a Diary – Sarah Manguso
  12. Wizard and Glass (Dark Tower #4) – Stephen King (I abandoned this in the spring because it’s huge and it had library holds on it. I’m determined to get it again and finish it!)
  13. Giovanni’s Room – James Baldwin (Classics Club)
  14. Dear Martin – Nic Stone
  15. Binti– Nnedi Okorafor
  16. READER’S CHOICE, according to mood (I can do this because it’s my list.)
  17. READER’S CHOICE
  18. READER’S CHOICE
  19. July Book Group Pick
  20. August Book Group Pick

The last five open slots on the list give me the flexibility I need as a mood reader. Plus, I’m a good book group member and almost always read the book, whatever it may be.

Have you read any of my picks, or are any of them on your TBR lists?

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Joining The Classics Club!

For a while now I’ve been entertaining the notion of joining The Classics Club, since so many bloggers I follow are a part of it and I do enjoy and want to read more classic literature. Since I’ve realized that, as an Obliger (Gretchen Rubin’s Four Tendencies,) I need to have outer accountability to meet inner expectations, I thought this would be the perfect little nudge I need to get me reading all those novels I’ve been “meaning to read” forever.

The (short version) rules of the Club are this:

  • – choose 50+ classics
  • – list them at your blog
  • – choose a reading completion goal date up to five years in the future and note that date on your classics list of 50+ titles
  • – write about each title on your list as you finish reading it, and link it to your main list

So by February 8, 2023, I hope to have read the following books (but I reserve the right to add and drop titles along the way:)

Gather Together in My Name – Maya Angelou

The Enchanted April – Elizabeth von Arnim

Lady Susan, The Watsons, Sanditon – Jane Austen

Giovanni’s Room – James Baldwin

Go Tell it on the Mountain – James Baldwin

Fahrenheit 451 – Ray Bradbury

The Long-Winded Lady: Notes From the New Yorker – Maeve Brennan

The Tenant of Wildfell Hall – Anne Brontë

Jane Eyre -Charlotte Brontë (reread)

The Master and Margarita – Mikhail Bulgakov

The Woman in White – Wilkie Collins

A Study in Scarlet – Arthur Conan Doyle

My Cousin Rachel – Daphne du Maurier

Great Expectations – Charles Dickens

Nicholas Nickleby – Charles Dickens

The Count of Monte Cristo – Alexandre Dumas

Adam Bede – George Eliot

Invisible Man – Ralph Ellison

Love Medicine – Louise Erdrich

Howard’s End – E.M. Forster

North and South – Elizabeth Gaskell

Wives and Daughters – Elizabeth Gaskell

Cold Comfort Farm – Stella Gibbons

Nightingale Wood – Stella Gibbons

The Thin Man – Dashiell Hammett

Strangers on a Train – Patricia Highsmith

Jonah’s Gourd Vine – Zora Neale Hurston

The Bird’s Nest – Shirley Jackson

Life Among the Savages – Shirley Jackson

The Lottery and Other Stories – Shirley Jackson

Quicksand – Nella Larsen

West With the Night – Beryl Markham

The Blue Castle – L.M. Montgomery

The Gowk Storm – Nancy Morrison (thanks Fiction Fan!)

Beloved – Toni Morrison (reread)

A Good Man is Hard to Find and Other Stories – Flannery O’Connor

1984 – George Orwell

The Last Gentleman – Walker Percy

Less Than Angels – Barbara Pym

Quartet in Autumn – Barbara Pym

The Sweet Dove Died – Barbara Pym

Ceremony – Leslie Marmon Silko (reread)

Crossing to Safety – Wallace Stegner

Anna Karenina – Leo Tolstoy

The Warden – Anthony Trollope

Brideshead Revisited – Evelyn Waugh

The Island of Dr. Moreau – H.G. Wells

The Picture of Dorian Gray – Oscar Wilde

Stoner – John Williams

To the Lighthouse – Virginia Woolf (reread)

Native Son – Richard Wright

So that’s 51 books, mostly novels, three memoirs (Angelou, Jackson, and Markham) two books of short stories (Jackson, O’Connor,) one book of essays (Brennan.) A few rereads, but it’s been at least ten-twenty+ years since I’ve read some of them. I am excited to dig in to these. Some I have been meaning to read for years, others I just learned about in the last year from fellow bloggers! Some of these I don’t know how I’ve escaped reading in school before now (1984, I’m looking at you!)

Have you read any of these? Any you’re particularly attached to or perhaps despise? Let me know in the comments!

#20BooksofSummer Wrap-Up

Well, since September is nearly halfway finished, it’s high time I shared a wrap-up of my 20 Books of Summer experience!  In my second year of participating in this reading challenge, hosted by the lovely Cathy at 746 Books, I stretched my wings a bit and tried to read 20 books instead of last year’s 10.  Nothing ventured, nothing gained, I thought.  Well, I don’t regret it, but I failed to read all 20 titles.  Despite swapping out several titles (to include book group picks and Anne of Green Gables Readalong that I’d forgotten) I still couldn’t stick to the list, and ended up with 14 books.

I’m not discouraged, though!  Being a staunch mood reader, I pretty much knew sticking to a list was impossible.  I knew the number of books would be a stretch too, since I do watch some television and have a job and a kid and sometimes I want to do yoga at night and just WHEN am I supposed to write these blog posts?!?  So I think I did pretty well considering.  I reviewed all 14, which I think deserves a gold star, or at least an extra piece of chocolate!  🙂

Here’s what I DIDN’T get to from my list (Note:  I did read Angie Thomas’s The Hate U Give, which was AMAZING, but I didn’t finish it before the deadline of Sept. 3, and I still have to write my review…)

Books I didn't get to from 20 Books of summer

Expect a review of The Hate U Give soon!  (OMG I loved that book!)

I still plan on reading these.  I own five of them (the only one I’ll be borrowing from the library is The Cutting Season.)

So how did you do with 20 Books of Summer?  Is it challenging (or nearly impossible) for you to stick to a reading list, even one you make up yourself? Or do you do well with that kind of structure?  Will you participate in 20 Books of Summer next year?  Have you read any of the books from my list that I didn’t get to?  I’d love to read your thoughts in the comments.

 

#AnneReadalong2017: Anne of Avonlea (Book 3 of #20BooksofSummer)

Note: Jane at Greenish Bookshelf and Jackie at Death By Tsundoku are co-hosting an Anne of Green Gables series readalong for the remainder of the year.  Check out their blogs for more info on how to join the fun!

“Having adventures comes natural to some people,” said Anne serenely.  “You just have a gift for them or you haven’t.”

My reading of the second book in L.M. Montgomery’s classic series was a bit more of a chore than my experience of the first one, I have to admit.  I did enjoy it, but I found it all too easy to set the book aside when I’d finished a chapter.  It consisted of vignettes about people in Anne’s life and Anne herself, just like the first.  But I felt that there was less forward momentum in the narrative, almost as if each chapter was a short story rather than part of a novel.

9780770420208-us-300Anne is 16 now and a teacher of some of the very children who were recently her schoolmates.  She still lives with Marilla, who is still experiencing poor eyesight and can’t do any close up sewing or crafting or reading.  However, they are soon joined by twins Davy and Dora, six years old, distant relations who are orphaned and need a temporary place to stay. Davy is a deliberately mischievous “handful” and Dora is… well… boring. Dora might as well not exist, in my opinion.  She’s only referenced in contrast to Davy’s behavior, and Anne and Marilla both admit to liking Davy more.  Poor Dora!  I wondered why Montgomery even introduced her in the first place.  Why not just have little Davy come to stay at Green Gables?  But I’ve not read the rest of the series – perhaps Dora has a meatier role to play in the future?

In any case, Anne is busy with teaching and with the newly formed Avonlea Village Improvement Society, in addition to her adventures with the twins and assorted neighbors and friends.  My favorite part of the book came towards the end, when we meet the “old maid” (“forty-five and quite gray”) Miss Lavendar Lewis.  Miss Lavendar is as romantic and imaginative as Anne is, and they become fast friends.

“But what is the use of being an independent old maid if you can’t be silly when you want to, and when it doesn’t hurt anybody?”

I very much enjoyed the whimsical Miss Lavendar, and was quite moved by her affection for Anne’s favorite pupil, sweet, sensitive Paul Irving.  The plotline involving Lavendar and Paul’s father, Stephen, felt romantic and satisfying.  Anne herself has just a taste of romance, her first conscious thought of what may lie ahead with Gilbert, in the book’s last pages.

Favorite line:  “… Mrs. Lynde says that when a man has to eat sour bread two weeks out of three his theology is bound to get a kink in it somewhere.”

Rating:  Three stars.  We got to meet some fun characters, but overall it felt lacking compared to the richness of the first.  Davy was a big drag for me, quite frankly. However, the book had a sweet spirit and Anne still exhibited her trademark appreciation for nature and creative daydreaming, which I enjoyed.  I do look forward to reading more about Anne’s adventures as she heads to Redmond College.  I’m hoping the change of scenery will add more momentum to the story!

20-books(This was book 3 of my #20BooksofSummer list.  Combining reading challenges!  Yes!) 

 

#20BooksofSummer REVISED: Because I’m Awful At Planning My Reading!

I knew that when I signed up for this 20 Books of Summer thing I would have trouble with it!  It’s kind of funny.  I mean, it’s only mid-June and I’m already revising my list. But I am just horrible at planning my reading.  I am a creature of whim when it comes to my books – plus I am in a book group that meets monthly.  WHICH I TOTALLY FORGOT to take into account when I wrote my first post EVEN THOUGH I’VE BEEN IN IT FOR TEN YEARS! Good grief.

140290I’m cutting out five books from my original list. One I started reading and just didn’t like (J. Courtney Sullivan’s Saints For All Occasions.  A shame, since I very much liked her other books.)  So I have already subbed in an Agatha Christie (The Mysterious Affair At Styles.)  And since I’ve become hooked on Stephen King’s Dark Tower series, I’m subbing in the third book, The Waste Lands, because I don’t think I can make it to September without reading it!

Then I’m adding my book group books for June and July to my list.  Our book for this month is Ruth Ozeki’s A Tale For The Time Being.  I’ve heard so many good things about this – I hope it’s good!  I’m going to listen to it on audio and read it, so I can try and finish it by our next meeting.

Taking Out:

  1. Lady Susan, The Watsons, Sanditon by Jane Austen
  2. Discontent and Its Civilizations by Mohsin Hamid
  3. Ghana Must Go by Taye Selasi
  4. Now You See Me by Sharon Bolton

tb-cover-993x1500Subbing In:

  1. A Tale For the Time Being – Ruth Ozeki
  2. The Waste Lands – Stephen King
  3. Unnamed Book Group Pick for July
  4. Unnamed Book Group Pick for August

I do still want to read the four I took out, but I also want to get as close to finished 20 books as I can, so they will have to wait.  This is hard!

I’ve finished the second book from my list (Into the Water by Paula Hawkins.) I really liked it.  Four stars!  I’ll be posting a review in the next couple of days.

So how are you faring with your lists?  Are you having to cut and add things like I am?

#20BooksofSummer: Taking the Plunge

Last year I joined Cathy’s #20BooksOfSummer Challenge but chose the option of reading ten books instead of twenty.  I know myself, and I know that I am a mood reader. Writing down a list of books that I MUST read ignites my inner rebel and instantly makes me want to read anything but.  And when I began thinking of my lists for this year’s challenge, I was going to go with the 10 books again.  However, having seen many lists going up this week, I’ve started to question my decision.  I think I’m going to go ahead, roll the dice, and do the FULL TWENTY!  So what if I don’t finish?  So what if I decide to swap out books?  No one is going to notice, because they’re too busy reading their own books and writing their own posts, right?  I’m not being graded on this, so why not?  Quit being such a perfectionist, Laila!  So, here is my list. (BTW, the picture below is not the full twenty – some of them will be library books I haven’t checked out yet.)

IMG_1646The Cutting Season by Attica Locke

The Drawing of the Three (Dark Tower #2) by Stephen King

Passing by Nella Larsen

Now You See Me (Lacey Flint #1) by Sharon Bolton

In the Country by Mia Alvar

Into the Water by Paula Hawkins

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

Saints For All Occasions by J. Courtney Sullivan

Discontent and Its Civilizations:  Dispatches From New York, Lahore, and London by Mohsin Hamid

A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles

Apex Hides the Hurt by Colson Whitehead

The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven by Sherman Alexie

The Reckoning (Maeve Kerrigan #2) by Jane Casey

Lady Susan, The Watsons, and Sanditon by Jane Austen

Ghana Must Go by Taye Selasi

American Street by Ibi Zoboi

At Mrs. Lippincote’s by Elizabeth Taylor

Anne of Avonlea by L.M. Montgomery

Anne of the Island by L.M. Montgomery

Anne of Windy Poplars by L.M. Montgomery

(Yes, I’m combining my #AnneReadAlong2017 with this challenge!)

20-booksThere it is!  Have you read any of these?  Are you joining the #20BooksofSummer Challenge?  

40 For 40 Update: Some Progress Is Made, And A Poll!

So a while back I wrote about turning 40 this year, and how I’d made a list of 40 small “challenges” I wanted to complete before the year is out.  Well, since my birthday’s come and gone, I thought it was time to share an update on my progress and give you a look at the whole list.  (It wasn’t complete the last time I wrote about it.)

IMG_1628Here are the challenges I’ve completed:

  1. Memorize a poem (The Summer Day by Mary Oliver)
  2. Eat a salad for lunch every day for a week
  3. Meditate at least 5 minutes every day for a week
  4. Plant something new in the garden (watermelon and pumpkin)
  5. Read one book of the Bible (Mark)
  6. Don’t get on Twitter or Facebook after 6 pm for one week
  7. Do a three-star sudoku puzzle
  8. Thoroughly de-clutter my chest of drawers
  9. Drink 8 glasses of water a day for a week
  10. Work out in the 30 Minute Fitness area of my gym

Here are some challenges that I’m currently working on:

  1. Learn some ASL signs/phrases
  2. Watch all the Iranian films in my library system’s movie collection (we have a lot!)
  3. Get rid of 40 possessions (I’ve gotten rid of ten so far)

Challenges still remaining:

  1. Read a classic book that has intimidated me (I’ve not yet chosen which book!)
  2. Go see a play
  3. Bike from my house to a local landmark (I still haven’t gotten a bike yet!)
  4. Cook something that intimidates me
  5. Bake something complicated
  6. Take a dance class
  7. Start learning how to knit
  8. Get my passport renewed
  9. Go to Toronto to visit my cousin and sight-see
  10. Visit a church
  11. Go on a hike with my Dad
  12. Play with my son right after dinner every night for a week instead of immediately washing the dishes
  13. Camp overnight with my husband and son (I’ve never camped)
  14. Take a yoga class
  15. Read a book that my husband picks for me
  16. Volunteer with an organization for an afternoon/a day
  17. Write a paper letter to a faraway friend
  18. Do one random act of kindness every day for a week
  19. Call an old friend who is faraway
  20. Go to a museum
  21. Visit Parnassus Books in Nashville
  22. Take a class – art, cooking, gardening, etc.
  23. Begin learning Farsi
  24. Spend 15 minutes reading poetry daily for one week
  25. Bake bread (I’ve never tried)
  26. Swim with my son at the neighborhood pool this summer (I’m notorious for avoiding a bathing suit)
  27. Attempt to make tadig or tahdig (a Persian crusty-rice dish that’s very popular – and delicious!  My mom used to make it when I was a kid.)

Lately my attention to the list has been poor.  The first few months of the year I was gung-ho about the project, but I’ve slacked off the last couple of months. I still want to accomplish as many of the goals as possible before the end of the year, though, so I’m renewing my focus!

Here’s where you come in:  You get to help decide which classic book I read! Take a look at my choices, all books I want to read sometime in my life.  Vote in the poll!

If you have any tips on making any of my challenges easier, I’m all ears.  I’ll be sure to post an update later in the year, and I’ll let you know the results of the book poll shortly!