#RockMyTBR Challenge 2016

Sarah’s #RockMyTBR is a challenge focused on reading all of those books that have been sitting on our shelves for ages! I want to read at least 40 books on my shelves, mostly ones I haven’t read, but a few I have. I want to focus on curating my collection to books I really, absolutely, and totally adore. It’s part of my personal challenge to have less stuff and do more with what I have.

My personal particulars about this challenge is that none of these books can coincide with the other challenges in which I’m participating. They can, however, be books I’ve read before, but I want to keep rereads for this particular challenge to a minimum.

Here’s a partial list of what I plan to read:

  • Harold and Maude, Carol Higgins
  • Wolf Hall, Hilary Mantel (read it ages ago, want to revisit before reading the second)
  • Bring Up the Bodies, Hilary Mantel
  • The Shadow of the Wind, Carlos Ruiz Zafon
  • The Blue Flower, Penelope Fitzgerald (personally recommended to me by Julian Barnes)
  • Stoner, John Williams
  • The Pursuit of Love, Nancy Mitford
  • From Russia With Love, Ian Fleming
  • The Red Tent, Anita Diamant

THE OFFICIAL LIST

  1. The Crimson Petal and the White – Michel Faber
  2. The Bad Beginning – Lemony Snicket

Back to the Classics Challenge 2016

I want to have a more focused reading year because 2015 seemed somewhat lackluster and all over the place, so I’m participating in a few challenges in 2016! The first one is the Back to the Classics challenge hosted by Books and Chocolate. There are twelve categories, and I think that’s a reasonable amount to do. I have a personal goal to read 24 classics with 12 of them new to me, so this will be a nice challenge in conjunction with it. Aside from the one reread, each of the books read for this challenge will be ones I’ve never read but have always been meaning to read!

Here are the categories:

1. A 19th Century Classic – any book published between 1800 and 1899.

I’m not sure if Thomas Hardy’s Far From the Madding Crowd fits this one as it was revised in the early years of 1900, but as it was first published in the 1870s, I’ll probably count this one toward this point.

2. A 20th Century Classic – any book published between 1900 and 1966. Just like last year, all books MUST have been published at least 50 years ago to qualify. The only exception is books written at least 50 years ago, but published later.

Because I’m still surprised at myself for never reading his works before, I’ve picked John Steinbeck’s East of Eden for this bit.

3. A classic by a woman author.

There are a few I’d like to read for this bit, so it’s a toss up right now between Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights and Virginia Woolf’s Mrs Dalloway. I’ll read you Wuthering Heights for once and for all this year. I’ve tried so many times to finish it, but I’ve never been able to.

4. A classic in translation. Any book originally written published in a language other than your native language. Feel free to read the book in your language or the original language.

Leo Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina is fitting the bill for this one.

5. A classic by a non-white author. Can be African-American, Asian, Latino, Native American, etc.

I feel like a terrible reader because I’ve realized lately that I don’t read many works by diverse writers, so I’m going to fix that. For this challenge I’ve chosen James Baldwin’s Giovanni’s Room.

6. An adventure classic – can be fiction or non-fiction. Children’s classics like Treasure Island are acceptable in this category.

I think for this one I’ll be reading Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Lost World.

7. A fantasy, science fiction, or dystopian classic. Dystopian could include classics like 1984, and children’s classics like The Hobbit are acceptable in this category also.

I’ve picked Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World for this bit.

8. A classic detective novel. It must include a detective, amateur or professional. This list of books from the Golden Age of Detective Fiction is a great starting point if you’re looking for ideas.

There are two Sherlock Holmes novels I’ve not read… so it’ll be one of those.

9. A classic which includes the name of a place in the title. It can be the name of a house, a town, a street, etc. Examples include Bleak House, Main Street, The Belly of Paris, or The Vicar of Wakefield.

James Joyce’s Dubliners will fit!

10. A classic which has been banned or censored. If possible, please mention why this book was banned or censored in your review.

D.H. Lawrence’s Lady Chatterley’s Lover!

11. Re-read a classic you read in school (high school or college). If it’s a book you loved, does it stand the test of time? If it’s a book you disliked, is it any better a second time around?

I read Edith Wharton’s House of Mirth for a Women Writers course I took for my undergrad degree, so I think after taking my masters and having a bit more life experience, I’m ready to come back to it for a second time and see if it’s still as striking to me now as it was then.

12. A volume of classic short stories. This must be one complete volume, at least 8 short stories. It can be an anthology of stories by different authors, or all the stories can be by a single author. Children’s stories are acceptable in this category also.

I have a book of Henry James’ New York Stories, but it’s a bit big, so I might have a look through my collection once it’s unpacked. But as this is a challenge, I’m going to stick to a larger title!

I’m really excited about this challenge, and it’s because I’m excited about reading all of the books. Well, most of them. As mentioned above, Wuthering Heights has always been a challenge for me, but I am determined to finish it this year.

2016 Challenges and Goals

I know a lot of people set goals and resolutions for the new year, but it’s such a great time to do it! I’m moving at the end of this month (ick, timing), so being in a new place in the new year will be absolutely a great time to start reinforcing good habits and practices. I won’t list my personal goals as they don’t really fit in with the bookish theme I want to keep with this blog, tf

READING GOALS

  • Read a minimum of 100 books (tracked by Goodreads and my spreadsheet). 100 is a good number for me. I don’t feel too bad if I just read a hundred, but when I read more than that, it feels like a real accomplishment.
  • Read all of (or at least a majority of) the ARCs I’ve been approved for (on Netgalley and Edelweiss). There are fewer than 15. Sometimes about a third of them I don’t finish because I don’t like them, but I want to be better about this and get my percentages to 75% or higher. I get approval happy and have had a few books sitting on my iPad from… over a year now. I’m going to start with the oldest first and move forward. It doesn’t necessarily help that I just got a little download/request happy and filled up my queue with a bit more. I’m just really excited about these titles and need to read them now!
  • Use my library more. I want to save a good amount of money in 2016 to travel and to pay off some lingering bills, so instead of buying a lot of books (not working at a bookstore currently helps with that) I want to use my library!
  • Purchase no more than two books a month. The only times I can purchase more are when I’m taking books to my local used bookstore and have the credit for them, when I finish one of the Penguin Drop Caps and want to read the next letter, or during my birthday month (April).
  • Write about the books as I’m reading them. I started doing this last year when I started Madame Bovary (which I currently haven’t finished but I remember everything that happened). I paused every three or four chapters and wrote something about it: a summary of what happened and/or my thoughts about it, even if it’s just a few sentences. This also ties into my own personal goal of writing in a journal more. I’m going to use a journal as a catch-all for everything rather than have individual journals for different things.

BLOG GOALS

  • Post at least three times a week (hopefully Sundays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, but whenever I feel like it because sometimes scheduling these things doesn’t always line up with my work schedule). If it makes it easier for me, I might have “writing days” in which I write a lot of posts and schedule them to be posted at a later date. Scheduled posts would work well with ARC reviews, too, because I wouldn’t want to post reviews too early.
  • Comment on blogs I like and use social media more! I visit a lot of blogs but I never comment, mostly because I feel like I have nothing to say but most of the time I feel too shy to say anything. Oops.
  • Use more images in my posts! I’ve been teaching myself Canva because it makes it really easy and helps make everything uniform!

READING CHALLENGES

I’ll make specific posts for these soon! Some of them are happening around the book blog world and some of them are my own personal challenges.

  • Flights of Fantasy – read at least 12 new to me fantasy titles.
  • #RockMyTBR – read at least 40 books I already own, cannot combine with other challenges.
  • Classics Challenge – personal challenge; read at least 24 classics, 12 must be new to me.
  • Star Wars/Star Trek – personal challenge; read at least 5 Star Wars novels and 5 Star Trek novels and review them.
  • Strips/physical ARCs – personal challenge; working for a bookstore allowed for stripped titles and ARCs to be taken home. I have quite a few of these so I’d like to read at least 10 of these and review them.

If I finish my above challenges, that puts me really, really close to my 100 title goal for 2016. I’m ready for it!

Reading… or not reading…

I’ve been going through some life stuff and work stuff, and that’s left me drained of a lot of energy I wanted to devote to reading. I’m half disappointed in myself because I feel like I could have made the effort to read more, but at the same time, I felt so exhausted. I came home from my job, did work for my classes, and then puttered around online. But with some changes happening, I’ve been more inclined to read, so out of the fifteen books I have set to finish by 13 October, I’ve read three listed and another I hadn’t listed!!

  1. A Whole New World – Liz Braswell
  2. Uprooted– Naomi Novik
  3. Lair of Dreams – Libba Bray
  4. The Swans of Fifth Avenue – Melanie Benjamin
  5. The Gap of Time – Jeanette Winterson
  6. J – Howard Jacobson (gotta read those Man Booker nominations!)
  7. The Portrait of a Lady – Henry James
  8. Queen of Shadows – Sarah J. Maas
  9. Madame Bovary – Gustave Flaubert (I actually started this last year!)
  10. The Night Manager – John Le Carré (started this in March; need to finish it)
  11. The Buried Life – Carrie Patel
  12. Life After Life – Kate Atkinson
  13. The Glass Sentence – S.E. Grove
  14. The Paris Wife – Paula McLain
  15. So We Read On: How The Great Gatsby Came to Be and Why It Endures – Maureen Corrigan

So, I finished Queen of Shadows, The Gap of Time, and The Buried Life, and I enjoyed each of those very much. I also read David Orr’s The Road Not Taken: Finding America in the Poem Everyone Loves and Almost Everyone Gets Wrong. I ordered this and the book of Frost’s poems (also edited by Orr) because I’m teaching poetry in my class. I thought it would help structure my thoughts on how to talk about writing about poetry, and it ended up being more of a personal experience. Changes are happening, and Frost’s “The Road Not Taken” is one referenced a lot big life changes happen. I think I’m going to write about that for a future post. Here’s to more reading now that I already feel so much less weighed down by things!

September TBR & Reading Goals!

It’s that time again. I’ve let my reading fall to the wayside. I’m going to read 200 pages every day between now (13 September) and 13 October. I don’t have a reward at the end. I just want to be able to say I did it. And maybe instead of doing a personal challenge like this for two weeks, doing it for a full month will get me in the habit of finding time to read. In addition to reading 200 pages a day, I want to get in the habit of writing a little bit about what I’ve read each day.

My sub-goals for this challenge are to finish my Netgalley books, to read my next Blogging for Books choice, and to read at least ten books I’ve had forever and haven’t gotten around to reading yet. So, my tentative TBR is as follows:

  1. A Whole New World – Liz Braswell
  2. Uprooted– Naomi Novik
  3. Lair of Dreams – Libba Bray
  4. The Swans of Fifth Avenue – Melanie Benjamin
  5. The Gap of Time – Jeanette Winterson
  6. J – Howard Jacobson (gotta read those Man Booker nominations!)
  7. The Portrait of a Lady – Henry James
  8. Queen of Shadows – Sarah J. Maas
  9. Madame Bovary – Gustave Flaubert (I actually started this last year!)
  10. The Night Manager – John Le Carré (started this in March; need to finish it)
  11. The Buried Life – Carrie Patel
  12. Life After Life – Kate Atkinson
  13. The Glass Sentence – S.E. Grove
  14. The Paris Wife – Paula McLain
  15. So We Read On: How The Great Gatsby Came to Be and Why It Endures – Maureen Corrigan

It’s a hefty list, but these are books I’ve been meaning to read, meaning to get around to finishing, and have been interested in for quite a while. I think it’s manageable, though, and that’s what really matters. I also tried to mix it up by incorporating different genres and styles of writing so that I don’t feel overwhelmed or bored by once genre or one author. It’s a definite mix, and I’m excited for it! I need something personal to work for, and I think reading through my ever-growing stack of unread books is a good way to start.