#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.

 

Advertisements

#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?  

Top Ten Tuesday: My Spring TBR

Hey there!  It’s Top Ten Tuesday Time again, hosted by The Broke and Bookish – they’ve been on hiatus and I haven’t participated in one for a while.  But I do so love talking about TBRs – my own and yours as well!  It’s so much fun to anticipate the things we *might* read soon.  I am not a book planner, but I know some of you follow a pretty strict schedule. I’m very moody when it comes to reading, so I may get to these this Spring – or I may not!  I intend to read them sometime, in any case, so this list is partly based on what my library holds look like, and partly random.

All We Shall Know by Donal Ryan.  I WILL read this very soon, as it’s one of my choices for 746 Books’s Reading Ireland Month.  So I plan on taking it with me to the beach next week!

Kissing the Gunner’s Daughter by Ruth Rendell.  It’s been too long since I’ve read an Inspector Wexford mystery and this is the next one on the list (I’m working my way in order, very slowly.)

51Ma6eymR0L._SX330_BO1,204,203,200_Exit West by Mohsin Hamid.  This one just sounds too good, and I’m high on my library’s hold list for it.

The Book of Unknown Americans by Cristina Henriquez.  I’m going to suggest this as one of our book group’s choices when it’s my turn to host next month – I hope they choose it!

Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance.  I have to admit, I’m not super excited to read this, but I want to at least give it a try, since it’s such a big book for our moment in time.  If any of you guys have read it, please let me know what you think.

The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl by Issa Rae.  I bought this on Kindle for $1.99 recently and it looks funny and sharp.

Whatever Happened to Interracial Love by Kathleen Collins.  Another recent super cheap Kindle find.  Short stories written by an African American woman in the 1960’s only just now published.165208

Difficult Women by Roxane Gay.  Love Roxane Gay.  More short stories.

Woman No. 17 by Edan Lepucki.  “A sinister, sexy noir about art, motherhood, and the intensity of female friendships” according to Goodreads.  I liked her first novel, California.

Happy All The Time by Laurie Colwin.  Romance and comedy of manners.

Have you read any of these?  Do you plan to?  Do you plan out your reading by month or season, or do you fly by the seat of your pants?  (And what’s up with that saying anyway?  That’s a weird one.)  What’s on your Spring TBR?

 

 

Top Ten 2016 Books I Meant to Get to Last Year

This week’s Top Ten Tuesday topic, hosted by The Broke and Bookish, is Top Ten Books from 2016 I Wanted to Read But Haven’t Yet.  There is only so much time in the day, what with having to work, converse with one’s husband and child, and binge-watch Supernatural – or whatever your priorities might happen to be.  I totally intend to read these ten books. Sometime.  You get it, right? 51tusm5ixll-_sx331_bo1204203200_

Modern Lovers by Emma Straub

Today Will Be Different by Maria Semple

The Fire This Time: A New Generation Speaks About Race edited by Jesmyn Ward

9781594206856_custom-fe4eae454a97795906f50c3ff61245f8a47f095e-s300-c85The Portable Veblen by Elizabeth McKenzie

Another Brooklyn by Jacqueline Woodson

Commonwealth by Ann Patchett

Behold the Dreamers by Imbolo Mbue

Sleeping Giants by Sylvain Neuvel

Here Comes the Sun by Nicole Y. Dennis-Bennows_146853560754311

Swing Time by Zadie Smith

I could probably have chosen ten different books for this list, but these were the ones that leaped out at me as I perused my massive Goodreads list. Maybe you’ve read some of these?  Let me know what you think of them.  What shows were you binge-watching in 2016 instead of reading books? Is there one book from 2016 you wish you’d gotten to last year?

 

 

 

 

 

 

BRL Best of 2016

Well, Christmas has come and gone, and it’s been a truly lovely one here for our family. My son is five, and he is still at a sweet age to believe in Santa and the magic of Christmas, and not too cool yet to sing carols with his family on Christmas Eve while Dada plays guitar.  (He still calls my husband Dada. We’re hanging on to that as long as we can!)  Our parents are all still healthy and with us, and even though they’re long divorced, my mom and dad get along well enough to spend Christmas Day with us at my in-laws house.  I’ve had some days off and return to work tomorrow.  My family has baked and listened to Christmas CDs and watched The Charlie Brown Christmas Special and drove around looking at lights.  We’ve done all the holiday things we love to do, including reading lots of Christmas picture books!  It’s been so sweet and I really feel grateful.

That said, I’ve not done a lot of reading the past few weeks, and I’ve done even less blogging.  But I feel the desire for both returning, and I’m super excited about my reading plans for 2017!

But before I get to that post, I need to take stock of my reading for 2016.  So without further ado, here’s the Big Reading Life Best Of List!

visit-our-site-to-find-out-more-spark-com

  1. (TIE) Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi and The Book of Night Women by Marlon James.  Both novels deal with slavery – James’s book is set in Jamaica on a sugar cane plantation, while Gyasi’s spans continents and centuries.   Both illuminate the horror of slavery in ways I’d never even considered before.  Both are stunning.
  2. Born to Run by Bruce Springsteen.  A memoir as open and vulnerable, but also as joyful and hilarious, as The Boss himself.  I truly appreciated Springsteen’s willingness to call out his own bullshit while not “telling tales” about others.  I especially loved the sections in his childhood and young adulthood.  I love this guy.
  3. Mr. Splitfoot by Samantha Hunt.  Weird, sad, and hauntingly romantic.  I haven’t been able to forget about this one all year.
  4. Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison.  Words fail me here.  Utterly magical.
  5. The Nest by Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney.  This  kind of book is my catnip anyway – multiple perspective family saga!  Rich People Problems!  But I was wholly invested in these messed-up, authentic characters.  Truly a standout of its type.
  6. March Books One and Two by John Lewis.  While I haven’t yet read the third in the series, I am wholly taken with the first two.  They’ve shown me the power that a graphic novel can have to illuminate and educate.
  7. Purple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.  Quietly devastating and powerful coming of age story in Nigeria.  So glad I finally read it.
  8. Jane Steele by Lyndsay Faye.  So. Much. Fun.  Romance and gothic intrigue, a respectful but liberated take on Jane Eyre.  It’s not for everyone, but I just adored it.
  9. Sweetbitter by Stephanie Danler.  A surprise love for me this year.  Something about this novel just hooked me and didn’t let go even as I could see its flaws.

Goodreads tells me that I completed 80 books this year.  Of these 21 were by authors of color, which is about 26%.  Not quite as high as I’d intended at the beginning of the year, but an improvement on last year.  More stats:

Audiobooks: 4 (Interestingly, all were nonfiction.)

Graphic Novels/Comics: 14 (the most I’ve ever read!)

Nonfiction: 20  (8 were memoirs.)

Middle Grade: 3

Mystery/Crime/Thriller: 10

Rereads: 4 (an unusually high number for me)

Fun Fact:  The only YA titles I read all year were all comics/graphic novels!

So there you have it.  It’s been a very good reading year.  I began the year participating in a reading challenge (the TBR Triple Dog Dare) and ended the year rereading a trio of books, apparently seeking comfort (Little Women, Murder on the Orient Express, Anne Lamott’s Traveling Mercies, which I’m still reading.)  I’ve been thinking about my reading goals for weeks now, and am really excited to share them in my next post.

I hope you all had/are having very Happy Holidays!  Have you met your reading goals for this year, or made progress towards them?  What was your standout book for 2016?  Have you read any of my top ten?

 

Top Ten Tuesday: Anticipated 2017 Books

This week’s Top Ten Tuesday topic (hosted by The Broke and Bookish) required me to do a little research.  It’s the “Top Ten Books I’m Looking Forward to in the First Half of 2017.” I panicked a little.  Initially I could only think of two books coming out in 2017 that I knew about and was looking forward to reading.  Last year I relied on The Millions’ Most Anticipated List to clue me in to what was in store for 2016.  But that list wasn’t published until January 4 of last year.  (Look for the new one in a few weeks!)  I read a lot of backlist titles and tend to know about new books about a month or two in advance, once I start seeing them in magazines, blogs, and BookRiot.  However, with a little digging, I found nine titles that intrigue me.

Her Every Fear by Peter Swanson.  Oh man, did I ever enjoy his previous thriller, The Kind Worth Killing.  It came out around the same time as that book about the Girl and the Train and I thought it was WAY better and deserved some of that book’s press.  So I am *really* excited for this one. (Jan. 10)

51semvp8mrl-_sy344_bo1204203200_Difficult Women by Roxane Gay.  Short stories + Roxane Gay = Laila happy.  (Jan. 3)

Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders.  Yes, it’s about that Lincoln.  From Goodreads:  “Set over the course of that one night and populated by ghosts of the recently passed and the long dead, Lincoln in the Bardo is a thrilling exploration of death, grief, the powers of good and evil, a novel – in its form and voice – completely unlike anything you have read before. It is also, in the end, an exploration of the deeper meaning and possibilities of life, written as only George Saunders can: with humor, pathos, and grace.”  (Feb. 14)

Woman No. 17 by Edan Lepucki.  I really liked her debut novel, California, and this one sounds like a winner.  “A sinister, sexy noir about art, motherhood, and the intensity of female friendships, set in the posh hills above Los Angeles.”  (May 9)

41-fxnlisol-_sx329_bo1204203200_The Leavers by Lisa Ko.  This won the 2016 Bellwether Prize for Socially Engaged Fiction and it sounds terrific.  It “follows one young man’s search for his mother, an undocumented Chinese immigrant who disappears when he’s 11 years old, after which he is adopted by a white family (from Goodreads.)”  (May 2)

The Boy on the Bridge by M.R. Carey.  I tore through The Girl With All The Gifts in a couple of days.  I think this one’s set in the same universe – maybe a prequel?  I’m here for it. (May 2)

American Street by Ibi Zoboi.  YA Haitian immigrant experience in Detroit?  Sounds really good.  Also, the cover is stunning. (Feb. 14)

americanstreet_wblurbThe Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley by Hannah Tinti.    “A father protects his daughter from the legacy of his past and the truth about her mother’s death in this thrilling new novel from the prize-winning author of The Good Thief.”   Plus, I really enjoyed her first novel, The Good Thief.   (March 28)

Magpie Murders by Anthony Horowitz.  FictionFan gushed about this one on her blog, naming it her best crime novel of the year.  (It’s already out in Scotland – lucky!)  That’s all the endorsement I need.  (June 6)

Do any of these tempt your TBR?  Is there a 2017 release that you think I would like that I neglected to put on the list?  Let me know your thoughts in the comments.