January jackpot

 

 

***SPOILERS POSSIBLE

I am trying a new thing this year. I am going to draft this blog post as I move along in my readings to jot down my summaries and thoughts while they’re still fresh and to try to write a little every day. As I said in a past post, my biggest reading goal for this year is to shop my own shelf. Thus far, 4 books into it, I have utterly failed as only one of them came from my own shelf. :p To put more pressure on myself and to keep me accountable, I will now indicate which of the books I read every month I actually own (the titles will be underlined). So here goes nothing ….

 

Sleeping Beauties (The Kings!) ♠♠♠♠♠

106

First of all, the cover art is absolutely to die for. But even better is the content. Feminism in books is utterly important. Feminism by male authors is plainly surprising. Feminism done by the two Kings is mind-boggling. How is it possible that they get women like that? How is it possible to craft such relatable, strong, and complex female leads?

The concept of this book is profound – what would the world be like without women?! The two authors set the scene in a realistic way albeit creating a fantastical world of two realms – one without women and one with only women. Each realm has their trial and tribulations, each their advantages and disadvantages. One woman might be at the center of it all – or is that just another ploy?

I loved reading this book. It took me a while. In fact, I started it in 2017. But besides the Dark Tower series, I haven’t read a Stephen King book that didn’t take me a while. You need to digest his storied, savor them, think about them, and best talk about them.

 

My Favorite Thing Is Monsters (Emil Ferris) ♠♠♠♠♠

107I can’t begin to describe how beautiful the illustrations in this graphic novel are. The detail and the color choices really define this book. On top of it, the concept of it being a notebook made me truly feel I am getting a glimpse into someone’s private thoughts and experiences. Karen’s struggles and ideas about the world seemed real. I could relate to her and her idea that being an immortal monster protects you from the harshness of real life. She’s not a reliable narrator which kept me engaged in the story. I saw everything through her eyes and felt everything the moment she felt it. This is a book I’d like to own one day. It’s a piece of art through and through. I can’t wait for the second installment as that ending is really a cliffhanger!

 

The Snow Child (Eowyn Ivey) ♠♠♠♠♠

108This novel had everything: magical descriptions, fairytale stories, strong characters, and beautiful language. The fact that the author never reveals whether or not the snow child was human or some fantastical being makes this story even more special. This is not a book with a surprise ending or really a lot of action. This is a book that lives on emotions, experiences, and the mundane all wrapped in a cocoon of poetic writing. Read it on a winter night. Read it when the world feels melancholic. Read it when you’re sad. Read it when you want to feel all the feels. This book is not the answer to life’s questions but it is an answer. It is one of those novels that you can read during any stage of your life and you will find something to relate to. This is a book in which you can get lost. It is a hopeful book, a wise one, a steady companion, and a friend to turn to. Eowyn Ivey has talent and we need more of it in our lives.

 

The Last Boyfriend (Nora Roberts) ♠♠♠♠

109This is the second book in Roberts’ Inn BoonsBoro series. Take all my reviews of her work with a grain of salt as I have a total soft spot for her in my heart. I quite enjoyed this book although I liked Clare and Beckett’s love story better than Avery and Owen’s. Don’t get me wrong, it felt real and believable but it didn’t feel magical. And when I read a romance novel, I am looking for magic and over-the-top love. Some of the side stories in this book were really good though – they were extremely relatable (for me) and gave the character’s complexity. We also get a glimpse into the third love story with that delicious kiss between Hope and Ryder – who are my favorites. The interplay of broody and uptight really makes for good entertainment. I can’t wait for my library copy of the third book to come through.

 

Lovely, Dark and Deep (Amy McNamara) ♠♠

110I was so excited to read this book. The cover art immediately drew me in. The topic is hands-down one of my favorites – grief! The author is a trained poet. It sounds like a winning combination. In reality, unfortunately, this was painful to get through. The protagonist was so whiny (and spoiled) that not even grief could explain it. I just cannot imagine that is how teenagers experience loss and adversity. The references to poetry and the attempt at poetic writing didn’t feel organic at all. I seriously would have given this novel 1 star hadn’t the last like 40 or so pages sucked me in a bit. Maybe by that time I had gotten used to the hours of inner monologue and the over-the-top “why is this happening to me” attitude of Wren but at least a plot had emerged. Her love interest, Cal was a much, much more interesting character and I wish the author would have chosen to switch between viewpoints so he could’ve had an actual voice. Honestly, I would not recommend this book to a young person in grief.

 

Bossypants (Tina Fey) ♠♠♠♠♠

111I love Tina Fey. She is smart, funny, and sexy. I think she wrote Liz Lemon for me. “Working on my night cheese” is my mantra. I can’t believe it took me this long to read her book. In fact, I didn’t even read it – I listened to it. And if you know me at all, that says something. Audiobooks aren’t my thing – most of the time I miss stuff because I get too distracted doing other things and when I finish an audiobook, I feel like I cheated because I actually didn’t read. Thus far, I’ve seen audiobooks as a utilitarian device – a Popsugar category called for it or I needed to finish a book but just couldn’t find the time to sit down with it. But I really, really wanted to like audiobooks because I could increase the number of books I can “read” per year substantially. Someone suggested “memoirs” to me because it wouldn’t matter so much if I missed a portion and that I should find some that are read by the author. Tina Fey it was! And I had to admit, I enjoyed every minute of it. She kept me engaged aka I didn’t get distracted and she made me laugh so many times I lost count. In fact, I truly believe that I hadn’t enjoyed her book as much had I read it – her reading it really made it! I, of course, immediately downloaded multiple other books by comedians I love – Amy Poehler, Nick Offerman, and Mindy Kaling just to name a few – and I am really looking forward to listening to them tell their stories uncomfortable that note, the cover of her book makes me feel so deliciously uncomfortable that I want to look away but I can’t 😉

 

Carrie (Stephen King) ♠♠♠♠♠

1I loved this book. It’s all kinds of special to me. I was talking to a friend about Sleeping Beauties. We were discussing how Stephen King became to be so in tune with women. One idea I had was that his wife might be a strong influence (citing Neil Gaiman and Amanda Fucking Palmer as an example). Well, now I know King must just have an innate capability to get women (or his mother taught him well whichever). Carrie was his debut and what a fucking debut it was! It came out in 1972 when men (and women) didn’t talk much about coming-of-age and menstruation (in fact, sadly, that’s still kinda true today). To me, Carrie is all of us during puberty (and probably later in life). I know I was confused, my hormones were rampant, I was way too sensitive, and all I wanted was for others to understand me, to feel what I felt, to suffer when I suffered (don’t roll your eyes teenagers are petty 😉 ). It blows my mind, like for realz, how King was able to harvest these emotions and put them into a horror story. Genius! That man truly is amazing! I am sad I didn’t read Carrie earlier in my life. But I also love that I can read a story today that allows me to travel back in time.

 

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (C.S. Lewis) ♠♠♠♠

2

 

The second book in the series (yes, I am going chronologically in the story, not by publication date). This was a fun and quick read. I would’ve devoured this as a youngun. I am looking forward to the next book. And, hey, maybe I’ll even watch the movie one day. I don’t even mind all the Christian undertones as C.S. Lewis makes up for it (in my mind) by also having strong female (and male) characters, fantastical beings, and lots and lots of action.

 

 

Beasts of Extraordinary Circumstance (Ruth Emmie Lang) ♠♠♠♠

3I meant to read this novel last year. The concept was just so intriguing to me. Yes, Ruth Emmie Lang delivered. This was a lovely debut. I loved that the story was told through snippets from different characters as they encountered the protagonist Weylyn. We have to wait until the very end to hear any of his thoughts. The story takes you through the life of this mystical person and his magical capabilities – we see him grow up from a young boy who lived with wolves to a middle-aged man who finally accepts who he is. To me, this also was a coming-of-age story, one that took a little bit longer than going through puberty. Certain excerpts from his life held me more captive than others – I loved, loved, loved all his interactions with animals, specifically the wolves. I was less interested in his stint in North Carolina where he battled a hurricane, but that was really only one small story of the book. I think the author has a unique imagination and I am looking forward to more books by her.

 

The Perfect Hope (Nora Roberts) ♠♠♠♠

4

 

The last book in this trilogy. I was really looking forward to Ryder and Hope’s story as they seemed to be the most complex of all the characters. This was again a very solid book by Roberts. I was hoping for a bit more sulking, brooding, and misunderstandings and conflicts but overall I liked the love story. We finally also find out who Billy is and his connection to the three brothers. I have to say Nora Roberts is the queen of romance trilogies. They’re never boring or repetitive.

 

 

Megg & Mogg in Amsterdam (Simon Hanselmann) ♠♠♠

112Um, this was disturbing and oh so weird. It made me feel uncomfortable on several occasions but I truly believe that is the point of this series. Heads up to Hanselmann for portraying mental illness so raw. I think we need to be confronted with it like that! We need to finally face what people go through and start to, as a society, take steps to be more open about it and to support individuals with mental illness. I am giving this three spades because I didn’t quite enjoy the style of illustrations. Graphic novels to me are highly visually driven and I didn’t get that from this book. I will for sure check out some of Hanselmann’s other work though.

 

A Conjuring of Light (V.E. Schwab) ♠♠♠♠♠

115All the feels!!!! This series is just so damn good. It has a very strong, lovable, flawed female lead, a believable love story, friendship, brotherhood, adventure, and an evil villain. In this third installment, we finally get to learn about some of the backstories making the protagonists who they are. I didn’t realize how much I wanted to know about those histories until I read them. Everything flowed together so seamlessly, and I really admire V.E. Schwab for being able to write that. The Shadow King is an amazing evil spirit. He’s the perfect adversary to Kell and Lilah, to the Maresh family, to Alucard, and yes even to Holland. I thought the way the three Antari had to come together to defeat him was a brilliant twist in the series and Holland sort of redeemed himself with that. In fact, learning about his past, made me relate to him more and made me understand why he acts the way he acts. Lilah and Kell’s love story is also great. It feels natural and not too YA-ish. This series is definitely worth reading. The world building feels complete and the story feels whole! A big plus is that I really, really like the cover art (and I am not even a fan of black-white-red combos).

 

Yes Please (Amy Poehler) ♠♠♠♠

116I made it through a second audiobook in one month! Go me! As I said earlier, audiobooks rarely work for me, but this “listening to comedians read their memoirs” thing appears to be really working for me. Amy Poehler’s book was quite different from Tina Fey’s. It had a lot more serious and emotional content and felt really written from the heart. Amy reading it made it very personal and I could tell that there were several subjects she struggled with. Of course, there were many funny parts, too. Amy Poehler is fantastically sarcastic – a type of humor that I can very much relate to. Tina’s book kept me more engaged but I enjoyed how real Amy’s book felt.

 

The Girl Who Never Read Noam Chomsky (Jana Casale) ♠♠

117

 

This one was a struggle bus for me. I loved the concept of it – so raw, so honest. But the execution was just completely meh! Or maybe even less than meh. I feel this was a huge missed opportunity for a self-empowering, superwoman kind of book! I think the author has a unique way of thinking and I really hope she writes another book and she’ll grow with that.

 

 

The Pisces (Melissa Broder) ♠♠♠♠

118Um, yes, merman erotica is a think and Melissa Broder made it come to life in this novel dealing with the multiple facets of depression. This was a fast read for me but I did find myself bored at times, specifically when the very relatable protagonist became unlikable and all she did was obsess over a (sort of) unattainable mythic creature. And the sex scenes – they were crass and very, very explicit. Honestly, there was only so much merman sex I could take before the novelty factor wore off. Creating a relationship between a human and a fantastical being as a metaphor for depression though was absolutely brilliant. So, if you don’t shy away from reading about bloody intercourse or the million ways a merman can please a human vagina, you should definitely read this book.

 

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Lewis Carroll birthday and Book Fairies shenanigans

Guys!!!!!

Lewis Carroll and Alice in Wonderland must be celebrated! The wonderful people at The Book Fairies are doing it in the best way possible. Let’s get our game on and hide copies of this beloved book all around the world!

I will be participating! Or at least I will try! I need to get myself a copy first I wouldn’t mind leaving somewhere 😉 but that shouldn’t be impossible. Gah, I wish I wouldn’t be so forgetful and had already done this!

Anyhow, if you so choose to participate post your book drop on social media using #bookfairiesinwonderland and #ibelieveinbookfairies.

This effort truly deserves six hearts ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ and six spades ♠♠♠♠♠♠.

Alert – this is not a book post :p

…. although it includes a book. Meet my new getting-my-life-together-person and with that I mean, Alice, my bullet journal.

20180105_123902

Yes, I named it. Did you expect anything else?

One of the most helpful suggestions I ever received was from a late mentor who said I should write every day as this is the only way I can hone my skills. I’ve always had trouble with keeping on track. My dissertation was primarily written between the hours of 1am and 5am and thus I was mostly useless during the day. I wanted this to change (I realize that my middle-of-the-night-writings aren’t very conducive to co-writing papers) and scoured the interwebs for solutions and bullet journaling was suggested as a way to keep your life on schedule.

It immediately was attractive to me because 1) I love lists and 2) I like doodling. I’ve been using my BuJo (yes, I am hip with the lingo of the kids) for three or so months now and I gotta tell you it’s working. I am currently writing a scientific paper and although it’s slow going I get to check off to-do-lists and have little moments of success as I go along. Plus, I get to swear in it! Guys, that’s the most liberating thing in writing. My BuJo is also forcing me to write something (even just a few words sometimes) every day.

So how is this related to this blog? Other than me just trying to write more 😉

My BuJo also includes notes on my books and in fact has lead to an entire separate notebook being filled with stuff about books. Last year, I drew a bookshelf on a large piece of paper and would fill in the book titles I read. I immensely enjoyed this but kept thinking that I will probably lose this piece of paper over time (cause you know that’s how I roll). So, this year, I keep track of my readings (just a quick list) in my BuJo and further write out my thoughts on this blog and in the separate notebook. So at the very least, I’ll have a little record of my literary adventures in Alice, which I plan to keep (and I think is less likely to be lost) once I filled the journal.

Are you into bullet journaling or art journaling? How did you get started?

I’ve tried multiple ways of keeping track of things since I started and I have to say this month’s very simple daily lists are my favorite so far. And of course, I love the collections. Here is a picture of my book-related one. I might color it in when I feel like doodling. in the future.

20180105_123703

Remember in my Dewey swoon post, how I talked about that books are my friends? I feel the same way about Alice. If I could rate her, she’d get 6 spades and would be added to my all-time favorites list.

Booking it into 2018

To my fellow bibliophiles,

I dare not believe it is already 2018. I am now of that ripe age where time flies, kinks in my neck are the new normal, and reading becomes difficult with just the slightest dimming of light. Just joking, I am still a young spring chicken 😉

I have to say I am quite pleased with my accomplishments in 2017, at least when it comes to the book department. 105 books aren’t too shabby. I hope you’ve been reading my monthly updates where I summarize my thoughts on the books I read. And I hope if you haven’t, you vow to do so henceforth. Because I am clearly an accomplished blogger – I mean I know all my letters and sometimes I even put them together coherently.

For 2018, I set my reading goal to 75 for no other reason than that I belong to a Goodreads group called 75 books. And despite the name, you don’t even have to read 75 books ;). I also believe that 75 is a reachable number even if life comes in the way of reading. So, we shall see.

I think I am going to keep the current format of monthly updates and the odd extra one in between. My real change for this year lies within how I will procure 75 books. No, I am not going to steal them, although on occasion I have considered it when I saw someone read a coveted book from my TBR in public. So instead of jumping to the dark side, I am going to shop my own shelf (not that there is much light in between my stacks of books anyway)!

I am also still debating how committed I am to this year’s Popsugar Challenge as it always leads me astray, and with that I mean to the bookstore or the library and not to my own shelf. But then again, it does have some very delicious categories this year. Decisions, decisions! I wonder if it can be done to finish the challenge with only books from my shelf? And the ones I will get from my BOM box – yeah, you thought I was gonna cut myself off entirely …. joke’s on you. Or me? New Year’s resolutions are for the weak (that’s what I keep telling myself aka that’s what feeds my addiction).

Well, either way, this should be a fantastic year for the printed word!

Cheers (quite literally as I may or may not be drinking champagne),

*ich lese*

December is for cozy reads

***SPOILERS POSSIBLE

December was kinda slow for me. In fact, I finished four books during the last two days of the year. I love Christmas though, so prepping for that and enjoying the holiday season took on priority this month.

 

Casino Royale (Ian Fleming) ♠♠♠

100My first Ian Fleming novel! I love, love, love the James Bond movies. I grew up watching the oldies over and over again, and I truly enjoy the newer ones as well. I always thought of 007 as a womanizer but one that truly respects what women bring to the table – including their intellect. Well color me surprised when I read this novel, which is written from Bond’s viewpoint, and I learned how truly sexist my favorite agent is. I know it reflects the time in which it was written but I am nonetheless disappointed. I also found Fleming’s writing sensational rather than literary, but that could be because of the genre – I am not too familiar with espionage lit. I think I am going to read another Bond novel in the future just to see, but thus far, the movies are much better and a lot more suspenseful to boost than this book.

 

The Girl in the Tower (Katherine Arden) ♠♠♠♠♠

101

What a surprise this book was! I felt so-so about the first book as it was long-winded and had too many side stories. But this one was captivating, heroic, feminist, and magical. I am so thankful the publisher send me an advanced copy to review. I cannot wait for the third book in the series!!!!

 

 

 

The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde ♠♠♠♠ and The Body Snatcher ♠♠♠ (Robert Louis Stevenson)

I quickly read these two short stories and they were very entertaining. Both creepy and mysterious, I preferred Jekyll and Hyde because 1) it just plainly was a better story and 2) it was enriched by a series of letters which allowed the reader to discover the truth along with the characters.

 

Lab Girl (Hope Jahren) ♠♠♠♠♠

103

This book was amazing! I first tried it as an audiobook but kept missing plot points. I am so glad I started over in print. I devoured her story. I saw myself in her. As a female scientist, I think I often face similar hurdles. As a fellow perfectionist, I definitely have to censor myself frequently and force myself to let it go. And as a paleobiology enthusiast, I gobbled down all the extra facts she alluded to in between her life story. All in all, this was a fascinating read.

 

 

Little Women (Louisa May Alcott) ♠♠♠♠♠♠

105

Gah, how I love this book. This re-read started off a little slow and low-and-behold I was already thinking I had to remove it from my all-time favorite list. And then I cried when Beth almost died, I cried again when she actually died, and I cried some more when Teddy told Joe he loved her so. Of course, I see myself in Joe. But I also admire Meg’s kindness, Beth’s wisdom, and Amy’s zest for life. The March family is dear to my heart and I am so glad this re-read manifested that again.

Many November thanks to my books

***SPOILERS POSSIBLE

November was made up of creepy reads, plain wtf-did-I-just-read? reads, and even an audiobook. I had friends join me for Thanksgiving at a cabin where I had ambitious dreams to read beside the fireplace. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen as I had way too much fun playing with the kids and taking my dogs for long walks.

 

The Magician’s Nephew (C.S. Lewis) ♠♠♠

94

I struggled with which book to read first in this series. I decided to go with chronological order rather than publication order and thus this was my first C.S. Lewis novel. I am happy I chose this book as it provided a lot of background information, but unfortunately, it was a bit boring. The most exciting part was toward the end when I learned about how to wardrobe became to be – this also made me really look forward to the next book!

 

 

The Summer Book (Tove Jansson) ♠♠♠♠♠

95I’ve known Tove Jansson’s work from her moomins’ children stories and thus I was really looking forward to reading an adult book by her. And let me tell you, I loved it. I have a soft spot for novels dealing with death and grief and this one combines coming-of-age and nearing-the-end so beautifully and so raw, that I couldn’t put the book down. I know Tove wrote the book to deal with her own mother’s passing and that really shone through – everything felt so true and real and full of love. I would highly recommend this book to anyone dealing with those emotions. Many passages reminded me of A Monster Calls and I am really starting to appreciate literature as a means to cope with death.

 

The Next Always (Nora Roberts) ♠♠♠

96As it nears the end of the year, and thus the end of the PopSugar reading challenge, I always have to scramble for books to fulfill the categories – and nothing promises a quick read more than Nora Roberts. And she delivered again. This trilogy is her usual spiel – three brothers and three best friends – well, of course, they’re all going to fall in love, and I will be center stage for that. This was a solid first book in the series. It held me captivated and made me emotional (enough) at times. I am looking forward to reading the next two.

 

Dark Harvest (Norman Partridge) ♠♠♠♠♠

97

My Goodreads review says it all – this is full of depravity, much too real human interactions, and creepy Halloween spookiness. I loved it. This book is dark – both literally and figuratively (although the Oxford dictionary doesn’t distinguish between them anymore, tsk, tsk!) and is only for you if you don’t mind reading about the deepest and coldest places of humanity.

 

33 Snowfish (Adam Rapp) ♠♠♠♠

98

WTF did I just read? I don’t even want to summarize this. While Dark Harvest can be chalked up to being fantastical and just a Halloween story (and thus we can overlook that humans are assholes), this book does not let you ignore this. Some people have it hard. Some people need to fight to stay alive. Some people will never win in life. But the protagonists of this novel are so low on the totem pole that even a glimmer of hope just gets shoved in their faces. This book is not for the faint of heart but I am so thankful that Adam Rapp had the courage to write this, and especially to write this for young adults!

 

Lisey’s Story (Stephen King) ♠♠♠

99

This is what happens when Stephen King writes a love story. The book was decent and the content imaginative – I would expect nothing less from King, but I just couldn’t get into it and I blame it being an audiobook for this.

 

 

 

 

 

FALLing in love with October

***SPOILERS POSSIBLE

As you can tell I am super behind on my monthly updates. In fact, it is January 2nd of 2018! But whatevs, updates are updates. If I remember correctly, October was a pretty busy reading month for me – with the help of Dewey’s readathon of course. And I was able to keep that momentum up until Thanksgiving where I got busy hosting and cooking and entertaining kids of all ages (see next month’s update).

 

The Hangman’s Daughter (Oliver Pötzsch) ♠♠♠♠ and 1/2♠

84

 

I loved the theme of this book. It was a fast read and held my attention. I had two issues with the book. 1) The writing seemed immature and unpolished – is this an issue with translation or skill? I don’t know.  But I think I will read the sequel in German. And 2) I wanted to read more about the actual hangman’s daughter. I know this is the first book in a series but I really hate when the content doesn’t hold what the title promises.

 

 

 

I’ve already summarized my thoughts and rated these books during my readathon wrap up post (here). All, in all, they were all special. I really should read children’s books and short stories more often.

The Color of Earth (Kim Dong-Hwa) ♠♠♠

87The illustrations in this graphic novel are stunning. They’re whimsical yet powerful. They speak of deep-rooted culture but seem contemporary and novel. I love the idea of having a coming-of-age graphic novel. A major problem with this one though is its antiquated views of women. I don’t understand how the author was able to handle getting your first period so eloquently and natural but then depicted men putting women in their place and women just accepting it. How is it possible that the author is simultaneously progressive and outdated? I am going to read the two sequels and see what happens.

 

El Deafo (Cece Bell) ♠♠♠♠♠

90

What a special book. Hearing and hearing loss are near and dear to my heart (since I am an auditory neuroscientist) and Cece Bell did a wonderful job taking a difficult topic and making it accessible to others. I am not deaf myself but I was able to relate to the main protagonist in a very real way. As I said in my Goodreads review, I am going to recommend this book to everyone.

 

 

The Monk (Matthew Lewis) ♠♠♠♠

91I picked up this book for the RIP readathon and because it is widely recognized as the first gothic novel. I gotta be honest, this was a long read for me. It was hard to get into it at times, even though it had all my favorite things to read about: love, lust, deception, the devil, weird spiritual sacrifices, metaphors and allegories, as well as stubborn and outdated worldviews. While reading, I was certain this would be at most a 3 spade book, until I reached the ending. Peeps, the ending makes the whole novel!!!!! Also, the edition I had, came with an introduction by Stephen King and that was just the most amazing thing to read!

 

Outlander (Diana Gabaldon) ♠♠♠ and 1/2♠

92

This book came so highly recommended, I couldn’t wait to start reading it. … Well, it wasn’t as good as I expected it to be. I wanted more history and descriptions of the highlands and less love story. My attention at times was completely in the story and then I found myself so bored that I only could get through by promising myself a break every 20 pages or so. The book also felt way too long! Are 800 pages really necessary? I think I am going to read the sequel but I am not sure yet.

 

 

Through The Woods (Emily Carroll) ♠♠♠♠

93

 

Another RIP read. It felt very adult and very creepy. Just the kind of graphic novel I like. Also, that cover page is one of my favorite things I’ve ever seen.

Dewey’s readathon wrap-up and stats

As promised, here are a few stats from this readathon. I read a total 1091 pages over a period of 20.5 hours. I took an unscheduled 3.5-hour nap aka I fell asleep over my book. I completed three books (one literary novel, one novella, and one graphic novel). readathon-oct2017You can see my short story and graphic novel spurts in the graph to the left. The turquoise bars are my pages per hour and the blue line is the cumulative page count.

Besides tracking my reading progress, I also noted down other info. For example, I had only one latte, but several cups of soda. I ate one biiiiig meal, a burrito bowl, and really only snacked on some chocolate – I gotta be honest, I am surprised by my lack of snackiness. I think I was really wrapped up in reading this time. This is also evident by me only participating in one challenge: 10 books in 10 years and generally spending little time on social media. I checked in a few times on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook and dedicated hour 14 to write my one intra-readathon blog post. I also hosted hour 8 on the Goodreads group, but oddly enough I still got quite a bit of reading done during that time.

I think this was my best 24-hour readathon, yet. It feels like I went back to the roots of it – reading, reading, reading; and THEN chatting with bookish friends. All in all, I am super happy with how it went. I celebrated Dewey and 10 years of readathon the way I know best – sitting in silence with a good book, immersed in a different world, surrounded by my puppies, a good cup of coffee, and a soft blanket.

 

The books I read were all fascinating in their own way. They brought me joy, made me think, and put my imagination in high gear. 79Momo by Michael Ende was a re-read for me. I remembered reading it as a young teenager and had only the fondest feelings for it. And they were reaffirmed yesterday. Momo is an amazing piece of work, and probably even more relevant to me now then it was before. I am one of those time-stricken, busy adults who rarely takes the time to indulge in childish pleasures like pretend-play, eating ice cream with friends, or telling stories. Re-reading this novel, I vow now to change that. I want to allow my inner child to resurface every so often so that I can, too, live my life using my time wisely, *says she and crawls into her blanket fort*.

78

 

Gwendy’s Button Box was my first Stephen King short story. The topic of having the power to decide people’s fates is scary and burdensome in my eyes. Reading about it made me stop and think quite often. How have my actions so far affected people? And I don’t even have a magical button box.

 

 

80

I had really high hopes for The Encyclopedia of Early Earth as I love, love, love Isabell Green’s The Hundred Nights of Hero. As expected the stories and tales were whimsical, the worlds unique, the characters relatable, and the illustrations beautiful. Yet, it lacked the je-ne-sais-quoi, that special extra spark that The Hundred Nights of Hero has. Nevertheless, it’s still a really, really solid read and showcases Greenberg’s immense talent as a storyteller. I am looking forward to any of her future work.

 

 

81The Hen Who Dreamed She Could Fly is a fable, an encouraging tale of a hen who dared to want more than life dealt her. It is a saga about perseverance, love, ingenuity, and courage. As a tale solely based on a mother’s and father’s love, it teaches us about how sometimes love is all you need. But also how sometimes that love can make you blind and hold you back. I’ve read somewhere that this story was likened to George Orwell’s uproars in Animal Farm and that it should instill hope in us like Paulo Choelo’s The Alchemist, and I agree, but would also like to add that it is more than that. Because we all feel some days that our wings have been clipped, that our friends don’t support us, and that life stalks us like the weasel stalks the hen, and yet somehow amongst all that we find resolution and learn that maybe we can’t fly but we can run fast, or maybe we are not good with words, but we can cunningly predict our adversaries next steps, and this is what this novella is about. Sun-mi Hwang beautifully took a simple story and created a life lesson. I only got half-way through this during the official readathon but finished this book since. I just couldn’t stop. I had to read it all the way right away.

 

82

 

Sleeping Beauties by Stephen and Owen King is a supernatural thriller carried along by creepy and wondrous fairytales. It’s also a political statement and utterly contemporary. I was able to read about 320 pages of it during the readathon and it is on my priority list to finish ASAP. In fact, I’ve been reading it today to find out what happens next.

 

 

—— Thank you if you’ve read this far! —— I’ve said how I love reading before and how books are my friends – so that is my primary motivation in partaking in Dewey’s readathon twice a year. But there is also this other notion – that maybe I can inspire others to read (more) and to get excited about literature. One way of doing that is to ensure that kids (and adults) have access to books and the proper help learning how to read. East Nashville Hope Exchange is such a wonderful organization aiding at-risk kids in their reading endeavors. Again this time, I pledged to donate money toward this organization. Furthermore, I have wonderful friends who also pledged to donate in my name and the name of Dewey and her readathon. I encourage you too to get involved in your community and to donate your time and/or money. If you feel so inclined to donate to my organization of choice, let me know and I and the kids would be so grateful. Please leave #ichlese and #deweysreadathon in the comment section of your donation as that will help me and the good people from ENHE keep track of my fundraising efforts.

A new personal record!

I’ve read 1091 pages, y’all! All that pre-planning really paid off. In the past, I’ve usually had one or two books I was really excited about and then “fillers” (all books from my TBR picked at random). This time, because of me starting bullet journaling I believe, I put a lot more thought into my stack. I picked fiction and non-fiction.  Fantasy, horror, historical romances, YA, I book I read in the past, short stories, and graphic novels made up my list. Diverse lengths and varying medias (Kindle and actual books),  heavy reads and fluffs, as well as large print and illustrations all, played into the selection process. I was very systematic about it and I think that is the way to go from now on – a very scientific approach I would say 😉

As I said, I ended up reading over 1000 pages and I am so happy with that – especially since the money I am raising with this goes toward such a wonderful cause (East Nashville Hope Exchange for the win!).

I spent much less time on social media and I didn’t participate in any challenges really. I also snacked less (what’s up with that?!). I wrote zero reviews for the books I read and that will change in the future. You’ll see a wrap-up post with all that later today probably after I catch some (more) ZZs (yes, I fell asleep reading my last short story on my Kindle and barely woke up in time for the readathon ending despite the fact I had precautiously set an alarm).

For now, I will just answer the end-of-readathon survey questions.

1. Which hour was most daunting for you?

I guess that would have to be hour 20 as that’s the one when I suddenly, without forewarning, fell asleep!

2. Tell us ALLLLL the books you read!

Momo – Michael Ende (completed)

Gwendy’s Button Box – Stephen King and Richard T. Chizmar (completed)

The Encyclopedia of Early Earth – Isabel Greenberg (completed)

Sleeping Beauties – Stephen and Owen King (320 pages)

The Hen Who Dreamed She Could Fly – Sun-mi Hwang (70 pages)

3. Which books would you recommend to other Read-a-thoners?

Momo and Sleeping Beauties. Also, The Hen Who Dreamed She Could Fly is a lovely short story.

4. What’s a really rad thing we could do during the next Read-a-thon that would make you smile?

Maybe a thread of quotes from books people are reading. I am always looking for inspiration. Or maybe some twitter rap battle with only quotes from books 😉

5. How likely are you to participate in the Read-a-thon again? Would you be interested in volunteering to help organize and prep?

P(of all of this) = 1. And yes, I would love to help organize or prep. I wrote a warm-up post this time and it was an amazing honor and experience.

 

________________________ East Nashville Hope Exchange

For anyone interested in donating toward this cause, please let me know how much you donated so I can keep track. Go to their website, select the donate button (about halfway down the page on the right), type in your amount and your payment method and please leave #ichlese and #deweysreadathon in the comment section (“add special instructions to the seller” for PayPal for example) before submitting your donation. Thank you so much. (East) Nashville kids will appreciate your contribution!

10 YEARS IN 10 BOOKS … and a little hour 14 ramblings

So, I decided I needed a break. Thus, this blog post. I have been fairly absent from social media for this readathon so far, and I haven’t really participated in any challenges. Honestly, though, I really enjoy just reading this time. Starting off with Momo, wait actually, … Starting off with writing a warm-up post and really focusing on what Dewey’s readathon means to me, I recognized that it is all about the books and the book community. Thinking about how books are my friends made me nostalgic for my younger years when I would get so invested in fictionary worlds and would just lose myself in stories. I think this is when I must’ve (I was unaware of this myself until just a few moments ago) decided that I will honor Dewey by reading this time – quietly and by myself! In the past, I have tried to partake in many of the challenges, I would take tons of pictures during the day to post here on the blog later, and I would visit the various social media sites and leave comments and thoughts – this time I have to remind myself to do that! Hey, isn’t that the best though???? Each readathon is different and unique and we experience it anew every time?

Anyhow, I am all of a sudden rambling on 😉 … I do want to complete the 10 Books in 10 Years challenge though. I think this one really captures the spirit of this readathon for me.  I will briefly tell you why you should read this book (adding links to my Goodreads review if they exist).

So without further ado …

2007    Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows (JK Rowling)

If you’re human, you should read this series. If you don’t know how to read, you should have someone read it to you – your friend, your mom, a stranger. Make it happen. I am currently re-reading all the books and will of course be adding a longer review then (the first time around I only left notes in a notebook to myself).

2008    The Heretic’s Daughter (Kathleen Kent)

This was the toughest year for me to pick a book from. Come on 2008, where are all the amazing books? I guess I haven’t read that many from that particular time. I am going to ponder my choice for a bit, and don’t be surprised if I end up changing my answer. But for now, The Heretic’s Daughter it is. This book is about witches. I liked it. It’s sort of historical fiction.

2009    Leviathan (Scott Westerfeld)

Steampunk novels. I discovered them only this year. I chose this book for one of my Popsugar reading challenge categories and ended up loving the genre, and this particular book. Meanwhile, I’ve finished the trilogy and you should, too.

2010    The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake (Aimee Bender)

Another book I read this year. It’s lovely and weird and beautiful and full of odd things.

2011    A Monster Calls (Patrick Ness)

This, my friends, is on my all-time-favorite list. I recommend it to everyone. It wrecked me in the most beautiful way possible. I think about it constantly!

2012    The Martian (Andy Weir)

This book is funny and witty! It’s full of science, yet portrays the human condition incredibly well. Read it and laugh. And then think about it.

2013   Americanah (Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie)

What a beautiful book. It’s fiction but reads like the author’s biography. To me, it hit so many high-points as an immigrant myself.

2014    The Sleeper and The Spindle (Neil Gaiman)

The illustrations alone are mesmerizing. Combing this with Gaiman’s genius to tell a tale full of the fantastic and the novel, yet so full of the familiar, and you have a winning combination. Another one of my all-time-favorites.

2015    Between The World and Me (Ta-Nehisi Coates)

If you know me, you know reading non-fiction doesn’t come easily to me. And this book was a struggle – both language and content were difficult for me. Yet, I highly value this experience. I am glad I struggled because the book embodies that. This man is a lot smarter than me. He is well-versed and highly educated. His words touched my heart. Because they were raw and honest!

2016    The One Hundred Nights of Hero (Isabel Greenberg)

This is one of those graphic novels that just oozes genius! I loved every minute I got to spend with the book. To this day, I sometimes just take it off my bookshelf to hold it for a bit and remember how I felt when I read this story for the first time (another all-time-favorite here, obvi).

2017    Norse Mythology (Neil Gaiman)

I like to imagine that this came about from Gaiman’s notes he gathered to write American Gods. How he managed to turn a history lesson in an amazing tale like Norse Mythology is beyond me. I bow to you, Neil Gaiman.

 

Well, there you have it. My humble recommendations. Have you read any of these books? What did you think? What else would you recommend?

 

Other stats:

Books completed: Momo and Gwendy’s Button Box

Current read: Sleeping Beauties

Current page count: 701

Coffee: only 1 large one! but also soda 😉

Snacks: burrito bowl for lunch, y’all …. otherwise I’ve been a pretty good girl … I am not much of a snacker during the day, but you just wait until the midnight hour …