Halfway Through 2017: Reading Goals Check-In

So, at the beginning of 2017 I set a whole bunch of reading goals to help myself stay on track to read lots of different types of books and find new favorites. Since we’re halfway through the year (what?!) and I just met my Goodreads goal of reading 50 books (yay!), I thought I’d do a progress check-in for myself to see which goals I’ve actually been accomplishing and which I need to give a little more love to in the second half of 2017.

 

Reading Goal #1: Read more than one classic, including one longer classic

How am I doing? Not too shabby! Thanks to the help of the Serial Reader app, which I discovered on Litsy, I’ve finished 2 classics so far in 2017 (which is 2 more than I read in 2016), North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell and Herland by Charlotte Perkins Gilman, and one of those is what I’d call a “longer classic;” North and South was 531 pages long.

Reading Goal #2: Read more diversely

How am I doing? I could be doing a lot better; I definitely need to read more books by diverse authors in the second half of 2017. Right now I’m in the middle of listening to The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas on audiobook, and I’m also currently reading Hunger by Roxane Gay, but looking through the 50 completed books on my Goodreads shelf, very few are by #ownvoices authors.

Reading Goal #3: #readmyowndamnbooks

How am I doing? According to my Goodreads shelves, which I think are up-to-date, so far 28 of the 50 books I’ve read have been from my physical TBR shelf. I honestly don’t know if that’s a good ratio or not; it does seem like I’ve been reading a lot of physical books vs. library books, but library audiobooks are throwing off my ratio.

Reading Goal #4: Read more big books

How am I doing? OK, but not great. I’ve read four 500+ page books so far this year: North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell, Stiletto by Daniel O’Malley, Replica by Lauren Oliver, and The Queen of the Night by Alexander Chee. The amount of big books I finished isn’t bad, but there are so many really long books on my TBR that have been there for so long that I’d really like to tackle.

Reading Goal #5: Read more lesser-known and/or independently published books

How am I doing? On one hand, I have read some lesser-known books and I did pick up a bunch of books from indie publishers at BookCon, but on the other hand, I do feel like a lot of my reading this year has unintentionally focused on popular 2016 and 2017 releases.

Reading Goal #6: Discover new favorite authors

How am I doing? Hmmm. To be honest, I’m not sure that I can honestly say that any author I’ve discovered so far this year has become a new favorite. I’ve found new authors that I’ve really liked, but I can’t really say that there have been any that I’ve necessarily loved. So that’s a bit unfortunate. I guess that’s something I really need to address in the next six months.

Reading Goal #7: Read more books from authors I love

How am I doing? Well, so far I’ve read another book from only three already-loved authors: Jeff Vandermeer (Borne), Roxane Gay (Difficult Women), and Ilona Andrews (Magic Binds). So, not very well.

Reading Goal #8: Relax, and enjoy what you read

How am I doing? Pretty well! I’m trying not to let myself feel guilty for picking up “fun” reads rather than more highbrow literature when I’m in the mood for it.

Secret Goals

So, in addition to my stated goals from the beginning of the year, I also have a few “secret goals,” which are reading goals that either seem silly or unrealistic so I didn’t write them down. The first of these goals was to read 100 books, which I’ve never before been able to accomplish in a year. I didn’t want to make this an “official” reading goal, because I didn’t want to put pressure on myself and dissuade myself from picking up longer reads when I’m in the mood for them. Since I’m already at 50 books, though, I may just make it.

My second “secret goal” is to win a giveaway on Goodreads. I’ve been entering giveaways for books I’m interested in since I joined Goodreads and have yet to win one. I’m definitely picky about what giveaways I enter, since I only want to win a book if I’m genuinely excited about wanting to read it, which means that I do enter a lot of the more popular ones. This is the one goal I really have no control over, but I’m going to keep trying!

 

How are you all doing on your reading goals? Let me know in the comments!

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Top Ten Series I’ve Been Meaning to Start

Top Ten Tuesday is a wonderful weekly feature hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week’s theme is Top Ten Series I’ve Been Meaning to Start but Haven’t!

Two posts in two days?! What is this?!

(It’s because I need to start cleaning/packing since I’ll be going on a trip Thursday, and I’m an expert procrastinator. But also really in the mood to blog about books!)

I was super intrigued by this week’s Top Ten Tuesday prompt. I feel like I’m more apt to pick up books that are the first in a series a lot of the time versus standalones, so at first I was scrambling to see what series I haven’t checked out yet. (I actually made a couple of posts awhile back highlighting series that I’ve finished reading and my ongoing book series, if you want to check them out.) Then I realized that there are actually a bunch of them, and it made me super excited to try to find a new favorite series.

  1. Dominion of the Fallen series by Aliette de Bodard

The House of Shattered Wings (Dominion of the Fallen, #1)The House of Binding Thorns  (Dominion of the Fallen, #2)

2. The Arcadia Project by Mishell Baker

Borderline (The Arcadia Project, #1)Phantom Pains (The Arcadia Project, #2)Impostor Syndrome (The Arcadia Project, #3)

3. The Light Trilogy by Lauren Bird Horowitz

Shattered Blue (The Light, #1)Renegade Red (The Light, #2)

4. Haemans by Nicoline Evans

HaemansHaemanism: The Spread

5. Falling Kingdoms series by Morgan Rhodes

Falling Kingdoms  (Falling Kingdoms, #1)Rebel Spring (Falling Kingdoms, #2)Gathering Darkness (Falling Kingdoms, #3)Frozen Tides (Falling Kingdoms, #4)Crystal Storm (Falling Kingdoms, #5)Immortal Reign (Falling Kingdoms, #6)

6. The Split Worlds series by Emma Newman

Between Two Thorns (The Split Worlds, #1)Any Other Name (The Split Worlds, #2)All Is Fair (The Split Worlds, #3)A Little Knowledge (The Split Worlds, #4)All Good Things (The Split Worlds, #5)

7. True Born trilogy by L.E. Sterling

True Born (True Born Trilogy, #1)True North (True Born Trilogy, #2)

8. The Queens of Renthia by Sarah Beth Durst

The Queen of Blood  (The Queens of Renthia, #1)The Reluctant Queen (The Queens of Renthia, #2)

9. The Bargainer by Laura Thalassa

Rhapsodic (The Bargainer, #1)A Strange Hymn (The Bargainer, #2)

10. Tufa series by Alex Bledsoe

The Hum and the Shiver (Tufa, #1)Wisp of a ThingLong Black Curl (Tufa, #3)Chapel of Ease (Tufa Novels, #4)Gather Her Round (Tufa, #5)

 

Let me know if you’ve read any of these or are interested in them too!

 

 

It’s Monday and I’m Literally Reading All the Things

It’s Monday! What are you reading? is a weekly feature hosted by The Book Date.

I’m not going to lie, my reading this Monday is looking pretty darn awesome. As is my Monday in general, because even though it is Monday, I have a shorter week at work since I’m taking some time off to road trip to a friend’s wedding this weekend.

So, what am I even reading?

Hunger: A Memoir of (My) BodyA Court of Wings and Ruin (A Court of Thorns and Roses, #3)Smoke Gets in Your Eyes: And Other Lessons from the CrematoryHerland

This week, I’m reading two of the books I was most excited for in 2017: Hunger by Roxane Gay, which is already amazing and devastating and incisive, like everything Roxane Gay writes, and A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J. Maas, which is the last book in my current favorite guilty pleasure series. I’m also listening to Smoke Gets In Your Eyes by Caitlin Doughty on audiobook; I prefer nonfiction on audio, and I’ve been really interested to check out this memoir from a young mortician. So far it’s keeping my interest, but the real test is whether it’ll work during my 7-8 hour drive this weekend. And then today I just started a new classic on my Serial Reader app, Herland by Charlotte Perkins Gilman; I’d previously started A Room With a View by E.M. Forster, but then I realized that I’d meant to only read books by women writers this month, so I switched.

I recently finished reading:

This weekend, I finished The Seafarer’s Kiss by Julia Ember, which was one of the books that I got at BookCon. I picked this up at the booth for Interlude Press, which publishes LGBTQIA+-focused books, and everyone I spoke to at this booth was so wonderful and friendly. I was sold on picking up this book when one of the Interlude authors told me that it features Slytherin-esque characters.  It’s a really lovely Norse mythology-inspired YA fairytale retelling of The Little Mermaid with a love story between a rebellious mermaid and a tough Viking Girl. I’d definitely recommend it to anyone who enjoys mermaids and fairy tale retellings.

I’m planning on reading next:

The Hate U GiveThe Girls

I needed to line up some attention-holding audiobooks for this weekend, as I’ll be driving for about 15-16 hours total, so I currently have library holds on The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas and The Girls by Emma Cline. I’ve heard good things about both of these but haven’t actually heard anything about the audio versions, so fingers crossed. I also have some bookish podcasts saved up to listen to if I need a break from audiobooking!

May Reading Wrap-Up

It’s the end of May! What is even happening???

Seriously, it’s actually summer now.

Anyways, I had a great reading month in May. I FINALLY got out of my 5-star book slump by reading what has only been my second 5-star read of the entire year; I managed to catch up a bit on my Book of the Month Club picks by reading two of my previous selections; and I read some intensely weird fiction, which I always enjoy. Let’s break it down!

Total number of books read: 8

#readmyowndamnbooks: 6

When did I buy the books I read? December 2016 (Pull Me Under), February 2017 (Perfect Little World), March 2017 (The Beauty), April 2017 (Difficult Women, Windwitch), May 2017 (Borne)

Famous in Love by Rebecca SerlePerfect Little World by Kevin WilsonDifficult WomenPull Me UnderThe BeautyTrainwreck: The Women We Love to Hate, Mock, and Fear... and WhyWindwitch (The Witchlands, #2)Borne

Book Riot Read Harder Challenge tasks completed: 2

✓ 11. Read a book that is set more than 5000 miles from your location.
Pull Me Under by Kelly Luce Pull Me Under by Kelly Luce

✓ 13. Read a nonfiction book about technology.
Trainwreck The Women We Love to Hate, Mock, and Fear... and Why by Sady Doyle Trainwreck: The Women We Love to Hate, Mock, and Fear… and Why by Sady Doyle

 

And now, ranked from most to least awesome, here are my May reads:

Difficult Women by Roxane Gay (5 stars)  – This is, by far, the best book I have read so far this year. I picked it up when I went to an event where Roxane Gay was speaking a few weeks ago (she was AMAZING); I’ve previously only read her nonfiction (Bad Feminist was one of my favorite reads of 2016) so this was my first real exposure to her fiction writing. And wow. This book is devastating and will absolutely crush you, but it is completely worth it. The stories vary from realistic fiction to magical realism, and Gay’s style is sparse and completely entrancing.

Borne by Jeff Vandermeer (4.25 stars) – After I read the Southern Reach trilogy a few years ago, Vandermeer became one of my favorite weird fiction writers. This book definitely does not disappoint on the weirdness scale; I also really love how Vandermeer creates strong, multidimensional female protagonists. Borne is complex, haunting, and a must-read for weird fiction fans.

The Beauty by Aliya Whiteley (4 stars) – Super weird, disturbing, and very well-written. This book unfolds in a small, isolated community after a pandemic has killed all of the world’s women and the men are left to determine how to live out their lives in the aftermath. One day, Nate, the community’s young storyteller, finds that mushrooms are growing from the bodies of the dead women, and things start to get crazier and crazier from there. This is an unsettling story that packs a lot of plot and meaning into 99 pages. Definitely recommend for weird fiction fans.

Trainwreck by Sady Doyle (4 stars) – I listened to this book on audio and I thought it was a really fascinating cultural critique about how society tears down some female celebrities. There are plenty of great examples from both history and modern times, and I was very interested in the fascinating backstories of Charlotte Bronte and Mary Wollstonecraft in particular.

Pull Me Under by Kelly Luce (3 stars) – Very interesting premise and I enjoyed learning more about Japanese culture, but for me this fell short with character development.

Windwitch by Susan Dennard (3 stars) – a fun return to the world of the Witchlands and the wonderful friendship between Safi and Iseult. Unfortunately, the girls are separated for a lot of this book, but there’s still a lot of awesomeness, particularly in the interactions between Iseult and Aeduan.

Perfect Little World by Kevin Wilson (2 stars) – Unfortunately, this was a disappointment. Interesting premise, but not well-executed, and the ending felt extremely anticlimactic and predictable.

Famous in Love by Rebecca Serle (1.5 stars) – I mean, this book was pretty terrible. I only read it because earlier this month I binge-watched the new show Famous in Love on Hulu. If you haven’t watched it yet, it’s a great guilty pleasure show about Paige, who is an aspiring unknown actress cast as the lead in a Twilight-esque franchise and all of the ensuing Hollywood drama. I definitely recommend the TV show to anyone who enjoys a good YA love triangle every now and then; the book, not so much. The book is actually way more simplistic than the show and none of the characters have any depth; the show gives all of the characters much more personality and backstory so that you actually care about all of them.

 

What did you read in May? Let me know in the comments!