28 January 2016

January: In which I am surprised that I'm on target for my reading list!

Happy January, ya'll. 
I hope everyone's reading challenge, craft challenge or life challenge is going well. With all the snow we've had this month (like the entire winter dumped on us in a single day), you would think I would only have time to read...but I spent most of the weekend knitting. Not ashamed. 

Even if I'm on track for my challenge (yay!) I'm going a little slow with the reading. I'm trying to get lots of knitting done during the winter months because when summer comes around I can't even think about touching yarn. That puts reading on the back burner for a bit. Even so, I managed to get four books read so let's talk about that. 

Luther: The Calling (Neil Cross) was the first book I read finished this year. I almost didn't finish it because even though it was really good, it was kinda creepy and gory. Not really my cup of tea, but the story was so engrossing and strange that I had to finish it. In a remarkable turn of events, this book was written AFTER the BBC series Luther because it had done so well. I find that interesting but doesn't really change the way I feel about the book. The TV series was a little violent and very dark, but intensely engaging. I'm behind on the series (I think I'm just missing season 3) but eventually I will catch up. Let's be honest--Idris Elba is my main reason for watching. Hubba Hubba. I mean, the story is written really well...

Blame (Michelle Huneven) was an office share book. It showed up in my mailbox with a post it saying "Is this yours?" It wasn't but I read it anyway. I didn't love it but it was interesting. What really threw me was the last chapter. Our protagonist gets locked in a gas station bathroom and is stuck for hours. When she gets out, though, nothing really changes. It could have been one of those scenes that gives the protagonist an opportunity to re-evaluate her situation and make changes. But she doesn't. As a reader it really bothers me. As a person, I think, maybe it bothers me more. It was a good vehicle for change and it is completely ignored. 

I am still slogging through The Bright Empires series. I had a hard time getting through book 3. There was a big gap between #2 and #3 for me so maybe that played into it. And even though halfway through each book I promise myself that I won't keep reading the series, that it is taking too much of my time, that there are too many books out there that I want to read...and then for some unknown reason, I request the next book from the library. So I currently have book #4 waiting for me. This is why I usually avoid series. Anyway...

I finished And Furthermore by Judi Dench this month too. It was very conversational, and it made me think that maybe the audiobook of it would have been a better choice. I wonder with autobiography/memoir type books if audio isn't the best way to go. Reading stories are one thing but hearing the author tell their personal stories? Possibly better. I never realized how much theatre Dame Judi was a part of. She is so much more than M (even though I love M) and so much more than any of her movie roles. 

The office is passing around the book Stiff (Mary Roach) about human cadavers. It has been on my reading list for three years so I'm excited to finally get to it. I'm not in love with it yet, but another coworker called it hilarious so I'm still hoping things will improve. 
I GUESS I'm still working on finishing the Bright Empires series. I haven't touched my Hamilton biography in ages. Sigh. Sorry A.Ham.

But the Ravenclaw house scarf I'm working on is looking A++ fabulous. 

How are your new year goals coming? Let me know in the comments! 

03 January 2016

Goodreads Challenge Update

The surprise of the weekend is that I've completed my 2015 reading challenge with three weeks until the end of the year!

I started this post almost a month ago and well, you can all see what a great job I've done of finishing it. I meant to use the last three weeks to tell you about the books I've been reading and to mention some highlights of the year. 

For all of my anti-series posturing, I've broken that rule so many times in 2015 that I don't think it should be a rule any more. I stumbled upon an Irish miniseries called Jack Taylor. When the series was over (far too quickly, for my taste) I pulled the name from the credits and found out that there were books. Lots of books. I've read eight so far and they still aren't over. They are terribly depressing and the writing is so different from anything I've read before. And I just can't seem to put them down. 

I caught up with the rest of Liane Moriarty's work this year. I can't tell you what to read, but I would stick with her more recent stuff. She has grown as a writer and the world is a better place for it. 

Hunting and Gathering by Anna Gavalda was an excellent surprise. I got it by recommendation of Rachel, so of course it had to be good. But truly. It was one of those books I was happy to be surprised by. 

I had four re-reads this year (Fangirl, Love Virtually, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets & Prisoner of Azkaban) so I count that as improvement. 

I had high expectation for Audrey and Bill, the story of how Audrey Hepburn and William Holden fell in love. They were, however, dashed in the depression of the entire affair. The golden age of Hollywood had some terribly dark corners to it. I also learned that sometimes I expect a lot from biographical/autobiographical books. Part of me expects to learn every twist and turn about the subject/author, so deep that I could say I know them. However, they write only what they want you to know and what they are comfortable sharing. And even though it makes me kinda cranky, isn't that their right? Don't they deserve some privacy? Maybe they shouldn't have decided to become famous, you say. Okay maybe. But since when did being famous divorce you from your right to privacy? I think we've let celebrity become too high an altar. 


I read more than my goal this year and my total read count grew closer to sixty, I started to get nervous. I never though I could read 60 books in a year; how am I going to top this for 2016? What if I fail? 
I started setting goals for book reading because it gives me something to do. If I don't set a goal, I won't read. That's not quite right, no. I will read, but I will read aimlessly. I will read like a hobby. I will read like I knit (or sadly, write): during a certain season and only during that season. I love books and I love reading.

 Matt Chandler said something like when love runs into the soul, it creates discipline. He meant it for more than books and reading, but for many years I have been trying to figure out what that meant. As I'm typing this, furiously before midnight and before my laptop dies, I think I maybe finally understand what he means. It's not "Ugh, I HAVE to read so let me set a stupid number." It is so much more than that. It's more like, "I love this thing, reading, and I want to do more of it. I want to learn more, love more, meet more characters, understand what makes a story great and what makes a story okay. I want to get lost in language and understand enough to know when the spark of story and brilliance is there and when it isn't."

So yes, I set my goal. I set it for 61 books in 2016. Thanks to my inability to actually and seriously stop reading, I've already got one book down. Ron Chernow's "Alexander Hamilton" is sitting on my bedside table, mocking me as I fall asleep each night. It will be a miracle if I can finish all 800 pages of it this year. Thank heavens I have a 40 page head start.