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Summer Reading Goals: 20 Books of Summer Reading Challenge

20 books

Even though I’m no longer in school, I still find that I always get more reading done during the summer than during any other season. A big part of this is that I love to read outside; there’s just something so nice about lying on the beach or my roof and enjoying the sunshine with a good book. I also love to set summer reading goals and TBRs, so the 20 Books of Summer Challenge, hosted by 746 Books, is perfect. Here are the 20 books I’m hoping to read this summer (although I’m also hoping to get a few more in there); all are on my physical TBR shelf except for a few that haven’t been released yet and two that I’ve pre-ordered on ebook.

Nonfiction:

Hunger: A Memoir of (My) BodySmoke Gets in Your Eyes: And Other Lessons from the Crematory

I have two memoirs at the top of my TBR for the summer. Roxane Gay’s Hunger, a memoir that focuses on her relationship with food and her body, comes out in June, and since she’s rapidly becoming one of my favorite authors, I’m going to need to read it pretty much immediately. I’ve also had Caitlin Doughty’s Smoke Gets in Your Eyes on my TBR since it was released, and I’ve heard nothing but great things about this memoir by a female mortician.

Next in series:

A Court of Wings and Ruin (A Court of Thorns and Roses, #3)White Hot (Hidden Legacy, #2)Wildfire (Hidden Legacy, #3)Down Among the Sticks and Bones (Wayward Children, #2)

Sometimes I’m just really in the mood for some fast-paced fantasy in the summer. I haven’t yet started the final book in Sarah J. Maas’s A Court of Thorns and Roses series, A Court of Wings and Ruin, which was released in May, and I’m thinking this summer is the perfect time to get to it. Awesomely, Ilona Andrews, one of my favorite fantasy authors, is releasing both the second and third books in her Hidden Legacy trilogy this summer, only months apart, and since I’ve pre-ordered both ebooks, I’m very much looking forward to getting back into this series that focuses on families with magical dynasties and a lie-detecting protagonist. Another anticipated release this summer for me is Seanan McGuire’s Down Among the Sticks and Bones, which is the second book in a YA series focused on children who have traveled to different portal fantasy worlds.

Literary fiction:

The Lonely Hearts HotelHomegoingOranges Are Not the Only FruitThe Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake

The GirlsThe Panopticon

I have very, very good feelings about the books in this category. Several are books that I’ve added to TBRs before but haven’t ever actually started; most of them are books that I think have the potential to really wow me.

Short story collections:

Children of the New World: StoriesThe Unfinished World: And Other StoriesBloodchild and Other Stories

I’m falling a little behind on my goal of reading one short story collection per month in 2017, so I’m looking to catch up by reading three collections this summer. I’ve barely started The Unfinished World by Amber Sparks but I already love her lyrical style; I’ve heard that she uses magical realism and science fiction elements in her stories, which I’m always a fan of. I’m thinking that Octavia Butler’s Bloodchild will be absolutely amazing; I’m kind of regretting starting the Amber Sparks collection first because I’m kind of in the mood to start that one. Alexander Weinstein’s Children of the New World is also science fiction, and I think I could get down with some of that this summer.

Classics:

North and SouthHerland

After not reading any classics for about the past two years, I’m trying to get back into them with the help of the Serial Reader app, which helps you read small chunks of classics every day. (It’s free! And it’s really been working for me!) So far, I’m about 1/3 of the way through Elizabeth Gaskell’s North and South, which was published in 1854 and depicts a romance while also delving into class and labor struggles in nineteenth-century England. I’m definitely enjoying it so far; in the past I’ve loved the BBC miniseries adaptation and I’ll probably need to re-watch it after I finish the book. Next, I’m thinking of picking up Herland by Charlotte Perkins Gilman, author of the short story The Yellow Wallpaper, which was published in 1915 and is a feminist story about an all-female utopian society. It’s much shorter than North and South, so I’ll hopefully get to start another classic as well before the summer ends.

Science fiction/fantasy:

The Last OneBorderline (The Arcadia Project, #1)Lagoon

These might be my most anticipated reads of the summer. Alexandra Olivia’s The Last One depicts an apocalyptic event that takes place during the filming of a survivalist reality TV show; Mishell Baker’s Borderline was nominated for the Nebula and focuses on a double amputee with Borderline Personality Disorder who is in charge of policing the traffic between our world and a fantasy world; andΒ  Nnedi Okorafor’s Lagoon is a first-contact-with-aliens story set in Nigeria. I mean, how awesome do those descriptions sound?

 

What do you all plan to read this summer? Let me know in the comments!

 

 

 

Bout of Books Wrap-Up (And Days 6&7 Updates)

So that’s a wrap for Bout of Books! It’s always fun to have a readathon going to help inspire you to read more than you normally would. I definitely wouldn’t say I got a crazy amount of reading done this week, but I think I did a decent job and most importantly have (for the most part) really enjoyed the books I chose.

On Saturday, I had a very productive readathon day. I did have to work, but I listened to the audiobook of Trainwreck: The Women We Love to Hate, Mock, and Fear..and Why by Sady Doyle on my commute and also while running a bunch of errands afterwards, so my day was doubly productive. When I got home, I finished reading The Beauty by Aliya Whiteley, which turned out to be very good and even weirder than I expected it to be (which is a good thing in my book). It also had more plot twists than I anticipated, so I couldn’t have stopped reading it even if I’d wanted to. I meant to pick up another print book after that, but I started getting some things done around my apartment while listening to Trainwreck and couldn’t stop; it’s very short as far as audiobooks go, and the subject matter is super absorbing. I actually finished it late Saturday night and would highly recommend it to anyone looking for a feminist nonfiction read.

Sunday was Mother’s Day, so I spent most of the day with my family and didn’t get quite as much reading done. I did start a new audiobook, Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert, but only got a little bit into it. I also read a little more of Windwitch by Susan Dennard, which is slower-paced than I had expected.

Here are my stats for the readathon as a whole:

Total books read: 3

Pull Me UnderThe BeautyTrainwreck: The Women We Love to Hate, Mock, and Fear... and Why

Total pages read/audiobook time: 432 pages and 464 minutes of audio

Books started, but not finished: 3

Windwitch (The Witchlands, #2)The LoverBig Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear

And here are my stats for the last two days of the readathon:

Day 6

Pages read: 237 minutes of Trainwreck, 74 pages of The Beauty

Books started: None

Books finished: The Beauty, Trainwreck

Day 7

Pages read: 12 minutes of Big Magic, 37 pages of Windwitch

Books started: Big Magic

Books finished: None

 

How did Bout of Books turn out for you guys? Let me know!

Bookish Travels: NYC Edition

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Warning: this is a very nerdy and picture-heavy post πŸ™‚

I’ve been MIA from the blog a bit lately, mainly because of work, but also because last week I went to visit two of my friends from grad school in New York. I go to the city pretty often (usually a few times a year) but this was my first trip since I started book blogging and bookstagramming, so I decided that in addition to catching up with my friends (which was amazing!) I was going to nerd out hard.

And nerd out I did! I had the opportunity to do some awesome bookish sightseeing, as well as add a bunch of books to my ever-expanding TBR shelf, because I have a book buying addiction that I’m really not even attempting to curb at this point. The main event I was looking forward to, book-wise, was a visit to the Strand, the famously gigantic indie bookstore (18 miles of books!). I’ve been twice before and absolutely love climbing up the ladders to explore its gigantic shelves.

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My first bookish stop was Chelsea Market, which I’ve somehow never been to before. I used my book-ray vision to find this extremely cute bookstore, where I stared hungrily at all of the books; they had some gorgeous editions of modern classics that I somehow resisted buying.

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The next day, I stopped for a snack at a coffee shop my friend recommended, as she had passed it by and immediately thought of me when she noticed the wall of books inside: Ground Central Station on East 52nd. I loved the interior, which was dimly lit, with eclectic furniture and a wall of bookshelves; it seemed like it would be a perfect place to escape the craziness of the city and pop open a book.

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I then headed toward a main literary New York landmark, and one I was embarrassed not to have visited in the past: the New York Public Library!

I used to live in Boston and was pretty obsessed with the Boston Public Library; now I am totally devoted to my local library system that has the most ridiculously wonderful (and frequent) used book sales that I have ever encountered. But now I know that the NYPL, as well, is going to hold a special place in my library-obsessed heart.

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First of all, the library really builds up your anticipation as you walk along East 41st aka Library Way; there are plaques set into the sidewalk with quotes from famous writers that you read as you walk.

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Then you finally get there and see the humongous library in all its glory:

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And then you go inside and start geeking out about how beautiful it is:

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And then you discover that there is a STORE inside the library that not only sells books and bookish accessories but whose proceeds also benefit the library system! Seriously, this is a fantastic idea and one that I wish other libraries took advantage of (I’m looking at you, Boston). I ended up buying: a tote bag; a book of love poems by Pablo Neruda; and a mug with a Jane Austen quote about reading on one side and the NYPL lion on the other.

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The moral of this story is: if you are a bookish person and you happen to be in New York, GO TO THE LIBRARY. You will not be sorry!!

My last bookish stop was the main event: the Strand!

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Honestly, I was so wowed by the library that the Strand wasn’t quite as exciting for me as it was the first two times I’ve gone. But it was still awesome! And I still bought a bunch of books!

If you’ve never been to the Strand, it has a bunch of really fantastic aspects that I always enjoy. The basement floor has reduced price books, all of which are in great condition; there are sooo many bookish goodies including mugs, clothing, bags, writing accessories, etc; the shelves extend up so high that you have to use strategically placed ladders to find the books you want; and the display tables are excellently curated with not only a New Books table but also tables for Banned Books, books you may have missed, books everybody loves, etc. And then there are the stacks, which are ridiculously extensive and so fun to spend time exploring.

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I ended up buying another mug (this one says “A well-read woman is a dangerous creature”) and four books: Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh, The Buried Giant by Kazuo Ishiguro, The Daylight Gate by Jeanette Winterson, and Nobody is Ever Missing by Catherine Lacey.

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Also, on a non-bookish note, do any of you watch Unreal? Because this happened:

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Does anyone have any recommendations for bookish spots in NYC? I want to make a list of new places to check out during my next visit πŸ™‚

Bout of Books Updates: Days 4, 5, and 6

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I may not be reading quite as many books as predicted during this Bout of Books, but the important thing is that I’m absolutely loving all of the books I’ve been reading. And that’s rare for me, because I’m picky! In the last few days, I’ve finished the audiobook I was listening to, Notorious RBG by Irin Carmon and Shana Khnizhnik, and was both inspired and blown away by the life of the Supreme Court justice. I started a new audiobook, Not That Kind of Girl by Lena Dunham (apparently nonfiction has really been working for me in audiobooks!) and went in with low expectations which were totally exceeded. I do watch Girls, but find it inconsistent, with some episodes that are amazing and seem to be making such great insights into twenty-something life, and other episodes that are really unenjoyable.I also thought that Lena Dunham was way too young to be writing a memoir. But Lena’s memoir is hilarious and self-aware, and I love that she reads it herself.

My Brilliant Friend (The Neapolitan Novels, #1)

My main physical book is still My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante, and it is still so good and immersive. I’ve been wanting to read it slowly and savor it, even though there are still 3 other books in the series; at the same time I can’t wait to see where the story goes next. I’ve also started obnoxiously promoting this book to everyone I talk to and insisting that they read it immediately.

So here’s my reading breakdown: (I’ve never really counted the time/pages of reading before, it’s interesting to see what I can get done in a week)

Day 4:

Books finished: Notorious RBG

Books started: Not That Kind of Girl

Pages read: 27 pages of My Brilliant Friend

Audiobook time: 45 minutes of Notorious RBG and 70 minutes of Not That Kind of Girl

Day 5:

Pages read: 35 pages of My Brilliant Friend

Audiobook time: 3 hours of Not That Kind of Girl

Day 6:

Audiobook time: 1 hour of Not That Kind of Girl

Mini-Challenge: Freaky Bout of Books for Friday the 13th

 

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As you can see, the bunnies are having a great time reading a lot of vampire literature. I hope everyone is enjoying their Bout of Books!

Bout of Books Starts Tomorrow!! Here are my Thoughts and TBR…

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Bout of Books starts tomorrow! Since the weeklong readathon is less strict compared to Dewey’s, I’ve been thinking about how my reading this week will be different than normal. I typically read a decent amount in any given week, but I’d like to increase my amount of reading during the Readathon by switching up a few things:

-Listening to audiobooks during all of my driving time (instead of only occasionally)

-Reading for at least 2 hours every day (I’d like to do more than that for most of the days, but some might be busier than others and I tend to get out of work pretty late)

-Finishing at least 3 books (again, I think I can do more, but I’ll set a low goal for now)

-Posting frequent blogging updates on my progress

-Participating in as many of the mini-challenges as I can

-Bookstagramming up a storm!

 

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As far as my TBR goes, I’m currently in the middle of two books that I’m absolutely loving: My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante and A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas (which is VERY Rhysand-centric, fyi, for people who were bored by the Tamlin love story in book 1). I figure that this Readathon could go one of two ways: either I’ll focus so hard on those two books that they’re all I’ll be reading until I finish both and dive into a major double book hangover, or I’ll decide that I love them so much that I need to savor them and only read a little each day, in which case I’ll start something new sooner rather than later.

The other thing I’m thinking is that I really, really want to stick to my physical TBR shelf to keep up with the May #SmashYourStack challenge, but if I hit the aforementioned dreaded double book hangover I may hit the library or go in an ebook direction. Who knows! I’m terrible at sticking to TBRs, but I love to make them anyways.

Also! If I read 6 books (ambitious, for sure) I will beat my current record of 5 books from the last Bout of Books in January. So, that probably won’t happen.

I’m looking at reading these 5 books from my physical TBR shelf:

A Court of Mist and Fury (A Court of Thorns and Roses, #2)My Brilliant Friend (The Neapolitan Novels, #1)The Girl Wakes: StoriesDeath My Own WayStone Mattress: Nine Wicked Tales

As well as these audiobooks: I’m listening to Notorious RBG right now and really enjoying it but I think I’ll need a backup audiobook too in case I finish.

Notorious RBG: The Life and Times of Ruth Bader GinsburgNot That Kind of Girl: A Young Woman Tells You What She's "Learned"

 

 

Who else is participating?? I’d love to see your TBRs!

Audiobook Issues

I really want to like audiobooks, but I’m having some issues.

Here’s the thing: I started a job last year that has about a 25-minute commute. Nothing terrible or crazy, but long enough that I went from ecstatically rocking out every time Taylor Swift came on the radio (don’t judge, you knowΒ  you do it too) to getting really tired of all the repetitive songs and commercials. Audiobooks seemed like the perfect solution–I love books, and I have almost an hour of extra time each day that could be used to listen to them.

But! I’m a terrible listener. I don’t mean when I’m talking to someone one-on-one, but as part of an audience. In school, I always had difficulty paying attention in lectures; I always ended up teaching all of the material to myself later from notes and textbooks, unable to absorb things spoken aloud. I was a good student; it’s just that I’m not an auditory learner. And I quickly found this becoming a large hurdle to my audiobook enjoyment.

I’m an audiobook newbie; I’ve only listened to about five or so audiobooks total. But I’ve also started several that I’ve had to DNF because I was just not able to focus on them, for whatever reason. I have a hard time pinpointing why; I’m sure the narrator was doing a good job, and the stories were interesting enough, but my listening skills were just not up to par.

Only two audiobooks, so far, have really worked for me:

Why Not Me? by Mindy KalingReady Player One

I really enjoyed Mindy Kaling’s Why Not Me? because Mindy is so conversational and relatable–I could easily focus on the book because it was like we were chatting, and I just happened to be feeling very quiet at the time. And Ready Player One was just so funny and action-packed that I never even had a chance to think about whether I was paying attention; I couldn’t help it.

I’ve also tried these, and although I finished them, they weren’t great for me:

BossypantsModern RomanceAnansi Boys (American Gods, #2)

The thing is, I’d love to keep audiobooks a part of my commuting routine, but I keep striking out with the books I try.

So I’m looking for recommendations–does anyone have any suggestions for me of audiobooks you loved?

Reading the Weird in March

Earlier this week, I was in the middle of five different books and realized I wasn’t completely happy with any of them. I was enjoying them, but nothing was consuming my interest and inspiring me to reach for it obsessively. And then I figured out why: for the first time in probably years, not one of the books I was reading had any kind of fantastical or science fiction-related element.

I like to mix up my reading and read a mixture of genres, but science fiction and fantasy (along with their offshoots, magical realism, speculative fiction, etc) have always been my favorites. I love the feeling of reading something that is completely unlike anything else I’ve ever read, encountering new ideas and creative ways to tell a story. And by accidentally finding myself in a place without any of those books, I had strayed away from that. And I hated it!

That’s why the Month-Long #Weirdathon, held by Outlandish Lit (http://outlandishlit.blogspot.com/2016/02/month-long-weirdathon-sign-up.html) is coming at the perfect time for me. I’ve already realized that in order to get back into the reading zone, I need to immediately jump into some scifi/fantasy reads, and making those books as weird as possible sounds like the perfect antidote to too much realistic fiction.

AreΒ  you reading anything weird in March? My TBR post will be up soon!