My First Classics Club Spin! (Classics Spin #17)

I’m delighted that there’s a new Classics Spin just a few weeks after I decided to join the Classics Club! If you don’t remember, the Classics Club is a reading challenge (sort of) that celebrates “classic” literature and when you join you make a list of fifty titles you want to have read and written about in five years. For the Spin, I take twenty of my chosen books and number them 1-20. On Friday, March 9, the leaders of the club will post a number. I then have to read the book that corresponds with that number by April 30!

I like this idea, because I haven’t yet begun to read any of my classics. This is the push I need! Here’s my list of 20:

  1. Gather Together in My Name – Angelou
  2. Giovanni’s Room – Baldwin
  3. The Long Winded Lady: Notes From the New Yorker – Brennan
  4. The Master and Margarita – Bulgakov
  5. Great Expectations – Dickens
  6. Count of Monte Cristo – Dumas
  7. Love Medicine – Erdrich
  8. Wives and Daughters – Gaskell
  9. Life Among the Savages – Jackson
  10. Quicksand -Larsen
  11. The Gowk Storm – Morrison
  12. A Good Man is Hard to Find – O’Connor
  13. 1984 – Orwell
  14. Less Than Angels – Pym
  15. Ceremony – Silko
  16. Crossing to Safety – Stegner
  17. The Warden – Trollope
  18. Brideshead Revisited – Waugh
  19. Island of Dr. Moreau – Wells
  20. Native Son – Wright

 

I don’t know if there are any that I don’t want picked at the moment. Well, maybe not the Bulgakov. I’m kind of hoping for #18 or #9. But I’ll be happy with whatever number comes up! Then I’ll be on my way. ūüôā I’ll be sure to let you know the verdict after March 9!

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Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Books I MEANT to read in 2017 and Didn’t

I am not a regular participant in Top Ten Tuesday¬†(hosted by Broke and Bookish, for now) much anymore, but this is one theme I’ve done in the past and enjoy writing up.¬†It’s the Top Ten Books You Meant to Read in 2017 and Didn’t Get To. ¬†So many good intentions and only so much time in the day, right? ¬†I’m sure we all have a list of the things we wanted to read last year. ¬†But just because we haven’t gotten to them yet doesn’t mean we can’t read them this year. ¬†There’s always hope.

We all know that I didn’t get to Wilkerson’s The Warmth of Other Suns and Dumas’ The Count of Monte Cristo. ¬†But what else had I been hoping to read last year?

The Portable Veblen by Elizabeth McKenzie. Stefanie, Teresa, and other bloggers who’ve read this have rated it charming and funny, and it looks like the kind of smart, quirky book I need in my life.

The Fire This Time:  A New Generation Speaks About Race, edited by Jesmyn Ward.    I own a copy of this, and I WILL get to it in 2018.

Sleeping Giants by Sylvain Neuvel.   Looks like my kind of weird.  Maybe by the time I get to it the third one in the trilogy will be out!

On Turpentine Lane by Elinor Lipman.  One of my favorite comedic novelists.  Also very underrated.

March: Book 3 by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, and Nate Powell. ¬†I had a copy of this checked out from the library but I didn’t get to it before I had to turn it in – it had holds! And then it just got lost in the shuffle.

Born a Crime by Trevor Noah. ¬†I’ve heard so many good things about both the book and the audiobook that I ended up waffling between the two formats and never getting either one.

Difficult Women by Roxane Gay.  I enjoy short story collections, but I tend to put them off indefinitely!

The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl by Issa Rae. ¬†One of three Kindle purchases I made last year that I haven’t read. ¬†I just don’t like reading on a screen as much as reading on paper, so I put it off.

Any of George Saunders’s short story collections (besides Tenth of December.) ¬†He’s one of my favorite writers (based on December and Lincoln in the Bardo,) so why haven’t I read any other of his books?

Discontent and Its Civilizations: Dispatches From Lahore, New York, and London by Mohsin Hamid. ¬†Another book I had in my hands from the library and didn’t read.

 

Have you read any of the books on my list? ¬†Do you also check out library books and never get to them, and then they get lost in the shuffle? ¬†Anything you wish you’d read last year that you’re determined to read this year? ¬†Let me know in the comments.

 

 

 

BRL Best of 2017 and Year End Reflections

It’s that time again, friends, when we’re all taking stock of our reading and making plans for next year. ¬†This has been a good reading year for me overall, although I didn’t fulfill many of the goals I set for myself at the year’s beginning. ¬†I still read some enlightening and entertaining books, participated in the #AnneReadalong2017, the R.I.P. Challenge and Reading Ireland Month, and hit a new Goodreads Challenge goal! ¬†So without further adieu, here is my Best of 2017 list (in no particular order.)

  1. ¬†Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders. ¬†Moving and inventive, unlike anything else I’ve ever read. ¬†Saunders is a master of the human heart and a risk-taker. ¬†I will read anything he writes.
  2. The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead. ¬†Searing, violent, suspenseful, and unforgettable. ¬†Whitehead’s finest work to date.
  3. At Mrs. Lippincote’s¬†by¬†Elizabeth Taylor. ¬†A witty, melancholy novel WWII British marriage and motherhood with a feisty heroine. ¬†I’m delighted to have finally discovered Taylor.
  4. My Name is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Strout. ¬†Some have loved this, some haven’t, but for me it was beautiful and devastating in the best sense.
  5. The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas. ¬†A young black heroine teens can relate to, a realistic and loving family, and a heartbreaking exploration of police brutality in a poor African American community. ¬†I’m thrilled this has become a best seller and is being made into a movie.
  6. The Stranger in the Woods by Michael Finkel.  My only nonfiction to have made the list.  I just adored this slim, page-turning book about a real-life hermit in Maine who survived the elements and eluded capture for decades.
  7. The Watsons Go To Birmingham 1963 by Christopher Paul Curtis.  A gem, a book I recommend for everyone.  Warm, funny, and heartbreaking all at once.  A great way to introduce a very heavy topic (the Civil Rights Movement and the Birmingham church bombing) to younger readers.  I listened to the audiobook and it was terrific.
  8. Exit West by Mohsin Hamid.  I was captivated by this slim novel that mixed fantasy, dystopian, and contemporary literary fiction elements to create a moving exploration of love and war in an unsettled age.
  9. Anne of the Island by L.M. Montgomery.  The third book in the series, this one focuses on Anne at college.  I loved reading about her being on her own and making friends, having fun before settling down into a more conventional role.
  10. Rilla of Ingleside by L.M. Montgomery.  The last book in the series, I was take by surprise by how much I loved it.  Darker than the rest, I was enthralled and moved by how the women of the community rose up to meet the challenges of World War I and the emotional toil of sending beloved sons and brothers overseas.

As for the numbers, here are my final reading stats for 2017:

Total books read (as of 12/27/17:) 90

Fiction: 77

Nonfiction: 12

Poetry: 1

Mysteries/Thrillers: 13

Graphic Novels/Comics: 3

Audiobooks: 6

Authors of Color: 18

Middle Grade: 15

YA/Teen: 11

Rereads: 7

Goals I Completed:

Read 6 YA books.

Read 6 middle grade books.

Choose 6 “random” reads. ¬†I was trying to inject more “whimsy” into my reading life.

Goals I Didn’t Complete:

Authors of Color at 35% or higher.  Nope.  I only read a measly 20%.

Authors in Translation.  Not a one.  UGH.

There were other goals I didn’t complete but those were the biggest ones and I won’t bore you with the others. ¬†As I’ve mentioned before, I am a mood reader, I hate reading off of a list (even one I make myself!), and I just don’t do well with self-imposed goals. ¬†(I’m definitely an Obliger, if you follow Gretchen Rubin’s Four Tendencies personality framework.) ¬†Which makes sense that I was able to complete my challenges and readalongs, because those all involved OUTER accountability. ¬†Anyway, next year I am setting NO READING GOALS whatsoever. ¬†I am just going to enjoy reading whatever I want, wherever my curiosity takes me. ¬†I may participate in readalongs and challenges, I may not.

So, how about your own reading goals for 2017? ¬†Any that you’re proud of reaching, or sorry that you didn’t reach? ¬†Have you read any of my Top Ten? ¬†What did you think? Talk to me in the comments below!¬†

 

 

BRL Quarterly Report #9

Well, since October is very nearly over (do you realize how close we are getting to the holidays??) it’s past time to do another Big Reading Life Quarterly Report!

big-reading-life

Books Read (July-September:)  17

Fiction:  13

Nonfiction: 4 (This is the Story of a Happy Marriage – Ann Patchett, The Temporary Bride – Jennifer Klinec, Hunger – Roxane Gay, and The Stranger in the Woods – Michael Finkel)

Audio: 3 (all Harry Potter books: Sorcerer’s Stone, Chamber of Secrets, Prisoner of Azkaban)

Middle Grade: 3 (see above)

YA/Teen: 5

Authors of Color: 3

Published in 2017: 5 (The Dry – Jane Harper, Hunger – Roxane Gay, The Stranger in the Woods – Michael Finkel, The Hate U Give – Angie Thomas, and Magpie Murders – Anthony Horowitz)

Favorites This Quarter: The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas (my review here,) Hunger by Roxane Gay (review here,) and The Stranger in the Woods by Michael Finkel (review here.)

Reading Goals: ¬†Ha ha ha! ¬† ¬†ūüôā ¬†After having finished two of my goals (Random Picks and YA Books) I’ve pretty much abandoned the rest of my reading goals that I came up with in January. ¬†And I’m okay with that, honestly. ¬†For a while now my reading pace has been sluggish, and my concentration has been abysmal, so if I can finish my other RIP Challenge book, finish out the #AnneReadalong by the end of the year, and read my book group books, I’ll consider it good! ¬†I’m trying to take (admittedly self-imposed) pressure off my reading life.

Also, a happy development! ¬†I recently went over the 350 followers mark! ¬†I don’t quite know how that happened, but it’s really neat to see the numbers grow. ¬†I know that far fewer than that actually take the time to leave comments, but I want you who regularly read my little blog and comment that I REALLY do appreciate you so much. ¬†I love that I’ve gotten to “know” so many thoughtful, funny, kind book lovers around the world! Your passion for reading and writing inspires me daily to keep reading and writing, even when times are tough.

So how have your last few months in reading gone? ¬†Any surprises or challenges in your reading life lately? ¬†Have you abandoned any of the goals you may have set up for yourself in January? ¬†What’s been the best book you’ve read in the past 3 months?

#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! ¬†ūüôā

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.

 

#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?