Category Archives: 2013 Reading Goal

Reading Goal Housekeeping Note

Because my reading goals seem to have gotten out of hand, I’ve created specialized categories for each one in addition to the generic books category.

Reading Goal: The Complete List

I finished my reading goal! It was a good experience. I feel broader now 🙂 My goal was also handy because it was a way to justify reading time instead of doing something “useful.”

It seems like I got through a lot of goal books in the first couple of months and then slowed down drastically. I was a little surprised by the areas I had trouble with, mainly best sellers and literature. I read a lot of classics when I was young so I didn’t think literature would be a problem. However, it seems like all literature these days is depressing and I strongly prefer uplifting books. I’m not sure why I had trouble with Best Sellers. I also had a bit of trouble with historical fiction. I guess I must not like history for histories sake even though I like it as a backdrop for mysteries and romances.

I was surprised how easy the memoir and informational categories were to fill. I’m not a big non-fiction reader so I figured these would be one of the hardest categories. However, I found a lot more interesting non-fiction than I expected. Though, I didn’t finish any autobiographies/biographies, just memoirs. For the informational books, I tried to stay away from parenting books, since those are the ones I read already, and I at least partially succeeded.

I liked the structure having a book goal gave me so I think I’ll do another one. This time I’ll probably focus on children’s books more. Maybe read all the Newberys I haven’t already or possibly a “great kids books” list. However, I’m going to give myself some time to relax and read whatever strikes my fancy first.

Books I’ve Finished Recently:

  • Fiction Books Jaeger Recommends: Accelerando, by Charles Stross – This one took me a while to get into. I was having trouble caring about both Manfred and Pamela. It wasn’t until Amber came along that things seemed to get interesting.
  • Historical Fiction: Buckingham Palace Gardens: A Charlotte and Thomas Pitt Novel, by Anne Perry – This is actually a historical mystery but I’m counting it as a historical fiction novel as I feel it was historical enough it can count. I enjoyed it quite a bit and think I might add this series to the few historical mysteries I read. I started listening to it but switched toward reading at the end. I think I like the series better as a read than a listen but maybe it just depends.
  • Literature: Three Men in a Boat (to say nothing of the dog), by Jerome K. Jerome – This is probably more “classic” than “literature” but I’m going to count it toward my literature goal. I downloaded it from Project Gutenberg and read it in little bits on my phone when I was standing in line, etc. I’m not sure if this was a good way to read the book or not. It was a very random stream of consciousness-type novel. Two reasons I glad I read it: I finally understood the title choice of To Say Nothing of the Dog, by Connie Willis. I was also greatly amused by several accounts of river rage that seem remarkably similar to today’s road rage.
  • Juvenile Fiction: The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place: Book I: The Mysterious Howling, by Maryrose Wood – Fun book. It felt a bit like The Willoughbys. Kind of old-fashioned-like but obviously modern. The one thing that was annoying is the ending stopped at a cliffhanger.

Summary of Books Read

Best Sellers

Biography, Autobiography, Memoir

Fiction Books Jaeger Recommends

Christian Fiction

Graphic Novels

Historical Fiction

Informational

Juvenile Books

Literature

Mystery

Poetry

Realistic/General Fiction

Short Story Anthologies

Current Goal Counts:

Category Goal Number Read
Best Sellers 2 2
Biography, Autobiography, Memoir 2 2
Fiction Books Jaeger Recommends 2 2
Christian Fiction 2 2
Graphic Novels 2 2
Historical Fiction 2 2
Informational 2 2
Juvenile Books 12 12
Literature 2 2
Mystery 2 2
Poetry Anthologies 2 2
Realistic Fiction 2 2
Short Story Anthologies 2 2
Total 36 36

Reading Goal: Update 11

Well, progress on my reading goal has definitely slowed. Though, to be fair, I haven’t been reading a huge amount recently. I’ve been distracted by all sorts of things.

Books I’ve Finished Recently:

  • YA Fiction: Dodger, by Terry Pratchett – I’ve been avoiding Terry Pratchett’s YA books for some reason. This is odd because I have liked every YA Pratchett book I’ve read. In any case, I was desperate for something to listen to so tried this one. It wasn’t set in Discworld but rather in Victorian London. It was pretty good. In addition to this one, I also re-listened to Monstrous Regiment (brilliant) and Guards! Guards! (good).
  • Juvenile Fiction: Boom!, by Mark Haddon – I had a lot of time to listen to books while painting the basement and then dealing with the flood. This was another one which, happily, also counts toward one of my goal books. Mark Haddon wrote The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time which is a book I avoided because it was one of those that everyone was reading. Boom! was a fun book and even had a male protagonist! (see how I broaden my horizons?)
  • Graphic Novel: Saga Vol. 2, by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples – Graphic novels are still a struggle for me but I read the first volume in this series for my goal, enjoyed it, so got the second one when it came out. I was mildly amazed that the one graphic novel I read was nominated for the Hugos and actually won.
  • YA Fiction: Muddle and Win: the Battle for Sally Jones, by John Dickinson – I just finished this book today. I read most of it in the doctor’s office waiting for something useful to happen this morning. I saw a review of it on Robin McKinley’s website and requested the library buy it. I was a little surprised they were able to get it as it appears to be a UK book. In some ways it reminds me of a younger version of Good Omens except that the world is never in danger of ending and most of the action happens in Sally Jones’ head. It was an amusing read.
  • Historical Romance: In the Arms of the Heiress, by Maggie Robinson – I read this quite a while ago but recall that I liked it . . .
  • Fantasy: Crown of Midnight, by Sarah J. Maas – I read the first book in this series a while back. I really enjoyed the first book but found it wildly implausible. This one I also enjoyed and thought the motivations of everyone hung together better.
  • Romance: Blackmoore: a Proper Romance, by Julianne Donaldson – I liked this one. It’s a regency romance that actually has the heroine act like she lives during regency times. It had the feel of a Jane Austen book without being wildly derivative.

Currently Reading:

  • Juvenile Fiction: Nick and Tesla’s High Voltage Danger Lab, by Bob Pflugfelder and Steve Hockensmith – I just got this one today as part of LibraryThing’s Early Review program. I read the first chapter to Calvin tonight. He wasn’t excited but I thought it had promise.
  • Juvenile Fiction: The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place: Book I: The Mysterious Howling, by Maryrose Wood – I’m currently listening to this book. So far it’s amusing. I don’t know how to describe the feel but it’s fun.
  • Fantasy: Shadows, by Robin McKinley – This is Robin McKinley’s newest book. I’m two chapters in and not quite sure what to think of it yet. The setting isn’t necessarily my favorite but it feels a bit like Sunshine which I did like a great deal. We’ll see . . .
  • Jaeger’s Recommendation: Accelerando, by Charles Stross – While painting the basement and dealing with the flooding experience I tried quite a few of Jaeger’s recommendations via audiobooks. However, none of them were quite working for me. So, I requested hard copies of all the books from the library to try browsing each one and see which one has the most potential. This one looks like I’ll probably be able to get through it. I went to the trouble of requesting it only to discover Jaeger actually already owns this one.

I keep working on my literature goal, mostly without success. I’ve picked up and discarded numerous options. I’m most of the way through Three Men in a Boat but am not at all certain that I’ll make it all the way through. I was also thinking of trying The Invisible Man, by Ralph Ellison. I’m not sure I’d ever heard about it until Randolph County Board of Education created a ruckus over it. I was hoping for a “happy” literature book but this looks like it might be worth reading anyway.

Current Goal Counts:

Category Goal Number Read
Best Sellers 2 2
Biography, Autobiography, Memoir 2 2
Fiction Books Jaeger Recommends 2 1
Christian Fiction 2 2
Graphic Novels 2 2
Historical Fiction 2 1
Informational 2 2
Juvenile Books 12 11
Literature 2 1
Mystery 2 2
Poetry Anthologies 2 2
Realistic Fiction 2 2
Short Story Anthologies 2 2
Total 36 32

Reading Goal: Update 10

I had a fantastic day at the thrift store yesterday. I got most of the pieces for a Lego Transport Truck set and a Lightning McQueen set1 all for under $5. In addition, I ended up with 16 books!

Someone was getting rid of their Roald Dahl Collection so I ended up with 11 books by Dahl. I actually already had 2 copies of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and one copy of The BFG already. However, these all matched nicely and were the UK edition which, since Dahl is from the UK, seemed appropriate2. In addition, I got two Newbery Medal winners, a sequel to a Newbery winner, another random sequel, and then the “new” The New Way Things Work.

Books I’ve finished recently:

  • Poetry: Love Poems, by Nikki Giovanni – Ok, poetry is hard for me to appreciate. In addition, I felt there was a lot of history I was lacking to understand this collection. Nikki Giovanni is a Black American who imbues her poetry with a lot of her fight for civil rights and equality. I think I need to do more reading to really start understanding some of the poems. That being said, I really did like her poem titled “There is no reason to ask.” It talks about the uselessness of trying to find reason in actions that can’t be understood3.
  • Mystery: The Crossing Places, by Ruth Galloway – A good mystery with an archaeologist as the protagonist. For the most part I liked it but there was a personal element that made me a bit uneasy. I’m still deciding if I’ll read the next in the series.
  • Young Adult Fantasy: The Girl of Fire and Thorns, by Rae Carson – This was a very interesting novel. I liked that the protagonist wasn’t very self-confident and every one around her seemed to feel it was justified. I can think of a lot of YA novels where the heroine starts out being marginalized by society but has a lot of inner confidence. I found it really interesting to Elisa’s growth.
  • Young Adult Fantasy: Shadow and Bone, by Leigh Bardugo – Yet another young adult fantasy but I’m having good luck with them recently. This was another good one, though a bit on the dark side sometimes. Alina, the protagonist, is ordinary and wants to stay that way so she can stay close to her childhood friend. However, when they’re threatened her true nature asserts itself and she’s saves the day. Unfortunately, this brings her to the notice of powerful people who want to use her to further their agenda. Part of the book resolves by the end but it’s definitely meant to have a sequel (which happens to be sitting on my shelf now ready to be read).
  • Regency Romance: Keeping the Castle, by Patrice Kindl – This was a charming read. I label it a regency romance but it feels a little more traditional than most of the romances are these days. I can’t explain the difference but it was a nice read.
  • Paranormal (but not romance) Fantasy: This Case is Gonna Kill Me, by Phillipa Bornikova – Reviews on Amazon are mixed but I liked this novel a lot. It’s set in modern day world where vampires, among others, exist. Apparently most of the prominent law firms are run by vampires and Linnet, the protagonist, is lucky to be employed in one. Unfortunately, one of the partners doesn’t like her and so she gets assigned to a very low profile case, which turns out to not be quite so low profile after all. If you’re hoping for a romance, this is a deep disappointment. However, I enjoyed the story. It did have one thread that was very obviously left untied, presumably for a sequel. Since I wasn’t particularly invested in that thread, it didn’t bother me.
  • Realistic/General Fiction: The School of Essential Ingredients, by Erica Bauermeister. This was a charming read that I easily finished in one night after supper. I don’t remember why I picked it up but it feels a little like some of Sarah Addison Allen’s books.
  • Juvenile Fiction: Fatapoufs and Thinifers, by Andre Maurois – I ran across this book on Gail Carriger’s Blog, she of the Parasol Protectorate series. I’m always looking for good chapter books for Calvin that aren’t too mature for a four-year-old. I’ve found that more classics fit this bill than contemporary books. Anyway, it’s out of print at the moment but I hunted it down and found a copy at the University of Colorado which I was able to get via Prospector. I was excited but was not expecting the fairly fragile item I received. I quickly decided this was not something I could have around a child and instead read it to myself so I would know if I should pick up any used copies I stumbled across. Ms. Carriger said it reminded her a bit of The Phantom Tollbooth, which Calvin enjoys even though he can’t possibly understand most of it. It does have some of the same type of humor and absurd situations in it but the book isn’t as complicated. If I see a copy handy somewhere I’ll definitely grab it up for Calvin.
  • General Fiction/Mystery: The Heist, by Janet Evanovich and Lee Goldberg – This was an audio book listen. It was ok.
  • Fantasy: Witch, by Marie Brennan – I borrowed this from Anya and felt it was a slightly stronger book than the first one in the series. However, that might just have been personal preference.
  • Young Adult Fantasy: Finnikin of the Rock, by Melina Marchetta – This was a very good young adult fantasy. I had been resisting for a long time because of the title, which sounded corny to me. However, after reading the book, the title makes sense. Anyway, it follows a male protagonist4 who is an exile from a kingdom that has been cursed. He ends up being saddled with a mouthy girl from a convent. I liked this book because it had a lot of commentary about how people treat each other and mistakes people make that they later regret. Many parts of the book were depressing but it had a good ending.
  • Romance: The Arrangement, by Mary Balogh – This was a book I got via LibraryThing’s Early Reviewer program. It was a good read. Mary Balogh writes well and it was interesting having a hero that was blind. So, a good book but probably not one I’ll re-read because I prefer more sparkly banter in my romances.
  • Juvenile Fiction: The Willoughbys, by Lois Lowry – This was my most recent audio book. It is a tongue-in-cheek story about “old-fashioned” children growing up in modern times. It was really fun. A good story for Calvin to read when he gets older.

Currently Reading:
I just finished all my books and might get the chance to start another one tonight, if I ever finish this post.

Current Goal Counts:

Category Goal Number Read
Best Sellers 2 2
Biography, Autobiography, Memoir 2 2
Fiction Books Jaeger Recommends 2 1
Christian Fiction 2 2
Graphic Novels 2 2
Historical Fiction 2 1
Informational 2 2
Juvenile Books 12 10
Literature 2 1
Mystery 2 2
Poetry Anthologies 2 2
Realistic Fiction 2 2
Short Story Anthologies 2 2
Total 36 31
  1. We ended up being very, very lucky. The there were 3 Lego boxes that were all taped shut. I got these two but declined one that I think was from the Hero Factory line of products. I know it’s snooty of me but I have trouble thinking of these as “real” Legos. Anyway, it turns out I should have bought it because I ended up with pieces from it anyway and that box might have had one or two pieces for our set. In addition I ended up with a couple pieces of the Tripod Invader. We ended up pretty lucky because the pieces we are missing are fairly generic and if I scrounge we probably have replacements with existing Legos. However, I went back to the Thrift Store anyway intending to buy the other set. However, someone else had already bought it. I feel bad for them because based on what we have, there’s no way they can even approximate what it’s suppose to be. Thus is the luck of the thrift store shopper. Sometimes you win and sometimes you lose . . .
  2. I still don’t understand why publishers feel the need to “Americanize” English in US editions.
  3. Well, at least that’s what I took from it. Given it’s poetry there could be a swath of meanings that I’m missing.
  4. Look, I’m reading a book about a boy. I really need to get over my hang-up with male protagonists at some point.

Reading Goal: Update 9

It’s been a long time since I’ve posted an update but I don’t feel like I’ve read much recently.

As an aside, I’m a little stumped on my 2nd literature book. I don’t particularly want to repeat the Life of Pi experience. Using the Tag Browser in our library’s catalog I tried to find a tagmash for literature award winners and humor. The results where not encouraging. There were a couple books that had the “humor” tag but more research showed they were very dark, cynical humor. Surely there’s award winning literature out there that dares to be happy. I’m not asking for an unrealistic happily-ever-after ending, just one where normal people are happy and content with their lives.

Also, I’ve won a LibraryThing Early Review copy of The Arrangement, by Mary Balogh. I haven’t received it yet but have great hopes that it’ll be good.

Books I’ve finished recently:

  • Juvenile Fiction: The School for Good and Evil, by Soman Chainani – I started the book last night and stayed up till 1am to finish it. I’m tired and am going to go to bed when Calvin does but it was a good book. Every couple of years a village discovers that two of their children have gone missing. Later, the remaining children notice that these children are appearing in the fairy tale books they read. It turns out that the “School Master” steals only exceptionally good children or exceptionally bad children. The “good” children go to a school to learn how to be princesses and princes while the “bad” children learn how to be villains. Sophie is beautiful and is purposefully good. She even donated skin care products to the local orphanage. She can’t wait to be stolen away so she can take her rightful place as a princess. Agatha, Sophie’s good deed, is the town’s outcast child. She and her mother live in a graveyard, she has no social skills, and doesn’t really like people. Toward the beginning of the story, the two girls are kidnapped. However, Agatha ends up in the school for good and Sophie ends up in the school for bad. What follows is an interesting story about how the girls try to get back the life they’re use to. I really loved the ending.
  • Eight Million Gods, by Wen Spencer – Fun urban fantasy set in Japan.
  • Graphic Novel: Agent Gates and the Secret Adventures of Devonton Abbey: A Parody of Downton Abbey, by Camaren Subhiyah and illustrated by Kyle Hilton – I’ve only watched two episodes of Downton Abbey but that was enough to get a huge kick out of this graphic novel. Even Jaeger enjoyed it and he’s only watched one episode.
  • Bestseller: Inferno, by Dan Brown – I made it through! I had to take copious breaks in order to make it through the audio book. I listened to a bit and then listened to Kindred in Death then I started Inferno again and then stopped for a delightful re-listen of Faking It and finally managed to finish Inferno. It’s really not my thing. This one wasn’t nearly as controversial as some of his earlier books. As I mentioned before, I got a bit tired of Robert Langdon’s monologues. However, the plot itself was interesting.
  • A Countess Below Stairs, by Eva Ibbotson – I remembering really liking this book at the time but my brain is too sleepy to remember much about it. I remember thinking is was a very sweet romance.
  • Once Upon a Tower, by Eloisa James – This is loosely within a series that takes elements of fairy tales and retells them as historical romances. I like the series and I enjoyed this book but feel that some of the other ones in the series are stronger books.

Currently Reading:

  • Some of my Best Friends are Books: Guiding Gifted Readers from Preschool to High School Second Edition, by Judith Wynn Halsted – A third edition from 2009 is available but this is the one that was checked in at Erie. I got it hoping for suggestions of good audio books for Calvin. We go through an amazing number. Calvin doesn’t mind listening to the same ones over and over again but I get bored. Usually when a book is reviewed it is reviewed based on reading level not listening level. I’m finding it hard to find good chapter audio books where the issues dealt with aren’t too old for Calvin (such as first crushes, homework problems, etc). I was hoping this book might offer some suggestions, and it may, but at the moment I got sidetracked by the extensive discussion of what sort of reading environment gifted children need. I’m not sure Calvin is strictly speaking “gifted” but I do expect him to be above average and I’m starting to worry about finding an appropriate educational environment to encourage him intellectually when we hit elementary school.

Current Goal Counts:

Category Goal Number Read
Best Sellers 2 2
Biography, Autobiography, Memoir 2 2
Fiction Books Jaeger Recommends 2 1
Christian Fiction 2 2
Graphic Novels 2 2
Historical Fiction 2 1
Informational 2 2
Juvenile Books 12 8
Literature 2 1
Mystery 2 1, 1 in progress
Poetry Anthologies 2 1, 1 in progress
Realistic Fiction 2 1
Short Story Anthologies 2 2
Total 36 26

Reading Goal: Update 8

Most of last week was spent preparing for our camping trip to the Great Sand Dunes. However, I did manage to read a couple of books over the weekend.

Books I’ve finished recently:

  • Happy Money: The Science of Smarter Spending, by Elizabeth Dunn and Michael Norton – This was a pretty interesting book. Most of it I’d already heard in pieces but I thought it did a nice summary. Their basic premise is the way to maximize happiness, after necessities, is to
    1. Buy Experiences
    2. Making indulgences a treat, not an everyday affair
    3. Buying time -things like robotic vacuum cleaners, moving closer to your job so you don’t commute, etc
    4. Pay Now, Consume Later – People feel emotional pain paying for items and their enjoyment of an event is decreased if they have to pay for something right before getting/doing something
    5. Invest in others – donate to charity, etc
  • Juvenile Fiction: Crispin: the Cross of Lead, by Avi – This book won the Newbery Medal in 2003. It’s set right after the Black Plague in England. It’s the story of a boy who has to flee his home due to a falsified crime. He meets up with a man who teaches him to be more than a serf. Good story with an ending I found a little unexpected.
  • Juvenile Fiction: The Vengekeep Prophecies, by Brian Farrey – This fantasy centers around a family of professional thieves and con artists. Unfortunately, Jaxter, the protagonist, is no good at it. It’s a coming-of-age story about how Jaxter saves his family even though he isn’t a good thief.

Currently Reading:

  • Bestseller: Inferno, by Dan Brown – I’m still working on listening to this one. I got tired of Robert Langdon, the protagonist, talking and had to take a break. I might have better luck if I try to read it because then I could get through it faster and each monologue doesn’t sound so long.
  • Poetry: Love Poems, by Nikki Giovanni – Still planning to finish reading this one also. Just haven’t picked it up recently.

Current Goal Counts:

Category Goal Number Read
Best Sellers 2 1, 1 in progress
Biography, Autobiography, Memoir 2 2
Fiction Books Jaeger Recommends 2 1
Christian Fiction 2 2
Graphic Novels 2 2
Historical Fiction 2 1
Informational 2 2
Juvenile Books 12 7
Literature 2 1
Mystery 2 1
Poetry Anthologies 2 1, 1 in progress
Realistic Fiction 2 1
Short Story Anthologies 2 2
Total 36 24

Reading Goal: Update 7

Books I’ve finished recently:

  • The Shambling Guide to New York City, by Mur Lafferty – Fun urban fantasy book.
  • Historical Fiction: Heidegger’s Glasses, by Thaisa Frank – Historical fiction set in Germany during WWII. Good but also, given the subject matter, appropriately disturbing.
  • Realistic Fiction: Wildflower Hill, by Kimberley Freeman – This is probably considered “women’s fiction”. It’s the story of how two women, in different time periods, survived. It reminded me how ghastly women’s lives have been in previous time periods that aren’t that long ago.
  • Mystery: Fingerprints and Facelifts, by Rick Copp – A fun mystery with a hint, but not too much, of chick lit thrown in.

Currently Reading:

  • Bestseller: Inferno, by Dan Brown – I’m listening to this one. We’ll see if it makes it to the end. I also listened to most of The Da Vinci Code but the book was due and I returned it with about 10 minutes left.
  • Poetry: Love Poems, by Nikki Giovanni – I started reading this on the playground today. I’m not sure poetry is suppose to be read in between watching a preschooler run around a playground.

Current Goal Counts:

Category Goal Number Read
Best Sellers 2 1, 1 in progress
Biography, Autobiography, Memoir 2 2
Fiction Books Jaeger Recommends 2 1
Christian Fiction 2 2
Graphic Novels 2 2
Historical Fiction 2 1
Informational 2 2
Juvenile Books 12 5 and 1 in progress
Literature 2 1
Mystery 2 1
Poetry Anthologies 2 1, 1 in progress
Realistic Fiction 2 1
Short Story Anthologies 2 2
Total 36 22

Book Buying Spree and Reading Goal: Update 6

Today I had the luxury of spending as much time as I wanted shopping without having to hurry back home to cook supper or do some other chore. However, there is danger in having the time to thoroughly examine everything at The Bookworm and my favorite thrift store. I ended up buying 15 books.

My haul today:

  • The Killing Moon and The Shadowed Sun, by N.K. Jemisin – Ms. Jemisin is an amazing writer. I’ve been meaning to acquire the two books in the Dreamblood series for quite a while but my expenditure allocation has been a bit pinched after my piano required a major tune-up. So, I was pleasantly surprised to find her books at The Bookworm.
  • The View from Saturday, by E.L. Konigsburg – This book won the 1997 Newbery Medal. Calvin and I just finished listening to this as an audiobook. It seems a little old for him but he claimed to enjoy it1.
  • From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, by E.L. Konigsburg – This book also won a Newbery, in 1968. I remember reading this when I was elementary school and loving it. Unfortunately, I don’t remember a thing about it now. However, I’ll probably read it again and count it toward my Juvenile Fiction goal.
  • Heart of Gold, by Sharon Shinn – I don’t think I’ve read this one before but I’ve enjoyed most of Ms. Shinn’s books so I decided to go ahead and buy it.
  • Summers at Castle Auburn, by Sharon Shinn – I have read this one before, I think right after I first moved to Boulder. However, I don’t remember anything about it. I vaguely recall that I enjoyed the book but it was a quick read, not very deep. Sometimes a fluffy comfort book is just what I need so I went ahead and bought it. Hopefully I wasn’t horribly mistaken. 🙂
  • Heartless, by Gail Carriger – So, it turns out I already had this book . . . I try to keep track of all of my books in my LibraryThing catalog but apparently made a mistake. I’m not sure how as Jaeger and I just did an inventory back in October and caught a huge number of books that had never been entered. However, apparently I missed this one.
  • Iron Kissed, by Patricia Briggs – It gets better. I bought a copy at The Bookworm and then went to the thrift store and completely spaced and bought it again. On the upside, the thrift store copy is in slightly better shape2. This is one of the few paranormal series I like. Patricia Briggs writes very engrossing books.
  • The Sugar Queen, by Sarah Addison Allen – Sarah Addison Allen writes lovely books. I read this one a couple of years ago but remember it as a sweet book with a startling end.
  • What Angels Fear, by C.S. Harris – This is the first book in one of the few mystery series I really like. The series is set during the regency period in England but has a much different feel than a romance novel set in the regency period.
  • A Civil Campaign, by Lois McMaster Bujold – This is one of my favorite Miles Vorkosigan books. Miles picks out his wife but decides to woo her covertly, not even telling his prospective bride he’s interested. This results in a lot of confusion for everyone.
  • The BFG, by Roald Dahl – Calvin loves Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and I’ve been thinking of trying some other Dahl books but it’s hard to figure out which ones are suitible for a preschooler. A teacher at Calvin’s preschool suggested I should try The BFG so I’m going to read it and then decide whether or not I should introduce it to Calvin.
  • Mirror Mirror, by Marilyn Singer and Josee Masse – I don’t appreciate poetry but I feel this is a flaw so I keep trying to introduce Calvin to poetry in hopes he’ll end up more cultured than I am. This poetry picture books is very clever. On each page is one poem and then the poem lines are reversed. That is, the first line becomes the last line, the 2nd line becomes the 2nd to last line and so on. With some punctuation modification, you can end up with two entirely different poems.
  • Chinese-English Frequency Dictionary, by Yong Ho – I’ve been dabbling in learning Chinese characters. So far I’ve only learned 70 of the thousands so I have a long, long way to go. I picked this book up because it contains a lot more explanations about how to properly use a word than we have in the other resources we own.

Whew, on to my reading goals.

Books I gave up on (at least for now):

  • Realistic Fiction: The Expats, by Chris Pavone – This was an ebook and my loan ran out. I wasn’t motivated enough to check it out again3. Maybe later.
  • Juvenile Fiction: Into the Wild, by Erin Hunter – Another ebook I’ve given up on for now because my loan ran out.
  • Realistic Fiction: Sushi for Beginners, by Marian Keyes – I don’t have anything against the book, I just got distracted by other audiobooks. Maybe I’ll come back if I get desperate.

Books I’ve finished recently:

  • Short stories: Epic – I finished a short story anthology! I’m still not a huge fan of them but this one did have some interesting stories in it.
  • Juvenile Fiction: A Confusion of Princes, by Garth Nix – I loved this book. It feels a lot like a juvenile Heinlein novel4. I think I’m going to buy it because I think it’ll be a great book for Calvin when he gets a bit older. The protagonist starts as a prince who knows he’s special and better than everyone. The book is a coming of age story when the prince learns how to be a better human.
  • Informational: Not My Kid, by Sinikka Elliott – This was a fascinating book. It’s not a book about sex ed or the best way to talk to teens about sex. Instead, the author focuses on the parents’ perceptions of teens and sex. For the most part, the author just interviewed parents. However, there was one amusing case where she talked to a teenager with his mother. The teenager is relating the experience one of his friends had when his mother tried to broach the subject of sex, “He [the friend] was in a moving car with his mom when she asked him — she’s like, ‘I think it’s time to talk to you about sex.’ And he just unbuckled, opened, and tucked, and rolled out of the car . . . ‘”
  • Informational5: Let Them Be Eaten by Bears, by Peter Brown Hoffmeister – I really enjoyed this book. The book strongly encourages parents to provide many outdoor experiences for their children. I particularly liked the chapter of safety tips. He even provides a suggested adult to child ratio for excursions.

Currently Reading:

  • Juvenile Fiction: Crispin: The Cross of Lead, by Avi – I’m on vacation at the moment so I’m mostly reading fluffy stuff. However, I’ve read the first chapter or so of this book and think I’ll probably continue it. It won the 2003 Newbery Medal.

Current Goal Counts:

Category Goal Number Read
Best Sellers 2 1
Biography, Autobiography, Memoir 2 2
Fiction Books Jaeger Recommends 2 1
Christian Fiction 2 2
Graphic Novels 2 2
Historical Fiction 2 0
Informational 2 2
Juvenile Books 12 5 and 1 in progress
Literature 2 1
Mystery 2 0
Poetry Anthologies 2 1
Realistic Fiction 2 0
Short Story Anthologies 2 2
Total 36 19
  1. I wish I could figure out ahead of time which audiobooks Calvin is going to enjoy. I know he must be getting something out of this book because he never hesitates to tell me to stop an audiobook when he doesn’t like one. I strongly suspect it has something to do with the narrator, or perhaps how the audiobook is produced, because he usually makes up his mind within the first 5 minutes.
  2. The Bookworm copy wasn’t bad but has a spine crease.
  3. At the moment, there doesn’t appear to be an easy way to do one-click renewals for every ebook I have checked out. I suspect I’d finish a lot more ebooks if they stayed around long enough for me to finish them.
  4. I’m dubious about some of Heinlein’s adult novels but for the most part I really like his juvenile fiction.
  5. Yes, this would be my 3rd informational but this book and the one above came in at the same time and I wasn’t sure which one I should pick for my goal so I read them both.

Reading Goal: Update 5

I haven’t been reading as much as usual recently. I went out to Washington last week and spent the time socializing with Calvin and my mom, working, and going to bed when Calvin did. This didn’t allow much time for reading.

I only took two physical books with me and those were for Calvin on the plane. The rest were ebooks. I did get through one of them and started, but have not finished, two others. However, on the way home I got a craving to read a “real” book. I have never seen myself as being a snob that is hung up on the format of a book. I have always considered Audio books to be “real” books, perhaps even more real than print books since storytelling predates written language. However, while sitting in the Portland airport waiting for our plane I had an overwhelming urge to feel a traditional print book in my hands. As soon as we finished our supper I dragged a protesting Calvin over to Powells 1.

After arriving at Powells I browsed the sale books and then moved toward the back of the store to peruse the SF and Fantasy books. However, nothing was speaking to me so I decided to wander over to Young Adult. On the way, Calvin convinced me to buy him Otis and the Puppy. Once we made it to Young Adult I was delighted to see that a hardback copy of Graceling was available for only $6.98. I had been meaning to buy it so I grabbed it up and happily re-read it on the plane ride back to Denver.

I would have read more this week except I got side-tracked watching Going Postal which was a British TV movie based on the fantastic Going Postal book by Terry Pratchett2. I thought the TV adaption was decent. I liked some of the modifications they did but not others. I was particularly distressed by the decision to leave out Annoia, minor as her role might have been.

Books I’ve finished recently:

  • Short Stories: More Malice Domestic – This had a decent number of mysteries that I enjoyed. Some more than others but it was still fairly pleasant to listen to. Now I should go back and find the names of the authors whose stories I particularly enjoyed. Maybe that’ll help me fill my mystery quota.
  • Christian Fiction: Vicious Cycle, by Terri Blackstock – The plot resolved around drug addiction and abuse, not my favorite subjects, but I did like the story better than the first Christian Fiction novel I read.
  • Poetry: Ekaterinoslav: One Family’s Passage to America: A Memoir in Verse, by Jane Yolen – I was browsing the Erie library poetry section in hopes of finding something I’d be able to muddle through when I came across this volume. I have trouble getting poetry, too prosaic I think. However, I have read some of Yolen’s stuff before, most recently Briar Rose, and have found her to be a very good writer. Plus, the book was thin, only 53 pages. Ekaterinoslav is the story, in poetry form, of how the author’s family came to live in the United States. It was good. I particularly liked 3 the poem titled “Cholera”. Yolen wrote in the introduction that her grandmother had two or three children, she’s not sure of the exact number, who died in a Cholera outbreak that only left her with one child. She felt God was punishing her. Then she had twin girls and many more children. Yolen says, “Then she was convinced that G-d had forgiven her . . . though I am not certain Mina ever forgave G-d.” This provides context for the poem which ends, “How could she get up,/ now knowing God’s casual mathematics, / the subtraction that so divided/ her uncountable heart.”

Currently Reading:

  • Short stories: Epic – I requested this anthology from the library after giving up on Gaiman. I requested it because N.K. Jemisin has a story in it and her stuff tends to be really good. Plus, it has a lot of other short stories by famous authors whose books I haven’t read yet. I figured it might provide a nice sampling to see if I want to try any of the novel-length works of the other authors. However, what I had not noticed until I got the book is that it’s fairly large at 607 pages. I had considered taking it to Washington with me but eventually decided I didn’t have the luggage space for it. As a result, I’m only to page 150. I do think I’m going to make it all the way through though. I like some stories more than others but haven’t hated any of them yet. I haven’t gotten to Jemisin’s short story yet.
  • Realistic Fiction4: The Expats, by Chris Pavone – The premise kind of interested me: an ex-CIA operative who decides to become a “normal” housewife and move overseas to support her husband in a new job only to discover things aren’t as they seem. However, I’m a fourth of the way through and not entirely sure if I’m going to stick it out or not.
  • Juvenile Fiction: Into the Wild, by Erin Hunter – I’ve heard my manager’s daughter is (was?) really into this series so I decided that was as good a way as any to find juvenile fiction books to fill my quota. It’s a fantasy based in our world but written from the perspective of a former “kittypet” who decides to abandon his “twolegs” owners and join a wild cat community. I’m about half-way through. I could definitely see the appeal to a juvenile audience but I think I might be too old to truly appreciate the book.
  • Realistic Fiction: I just started listening to Sushi for Beginners, by Marian Keyes – This is chick lit. Chick lit is suppose to be lighthearted and fun. However, the first chick lit book I read left me feeling really stressed by the protagonist’s inability to prioritize financial independence over shoes. *gah* I read a couple others after that but they all seemed to have a fanatical devotion to fashion at the cost of practically everything else. It drove me nuts. However, I was needing to get another audiobook so reluctantly decided to give Sushi for Beginners a try. So far, I’ve been pleasantly surprised. Yes, fashion does appear but so far it hasn’t usurped the show. Plus, so far the women seem fairly sensible, though I suppose that could change.

Current Goal Counts:

Category Goal Number Read
Best Sellers 2 1
Biography, Autobiography, Memoir 2 2
Fiction Books Jaeger Recommends 2 1
Christian Fiction 2 2
Graphic Novels 2 2
Historical Fiction 2 0
Informational 2 1
Juvenile Books 12 4 and 1 in progress
Literature 2 1
Mystery 2 0
Poetry Anthologies 2 1
Realistic Fiction 2 2 in progress
Short Story Anthologies 2 1 and 1 in progress
Total 36 16
  1. Every airport should have a Powells. I get so tired of visiting airports where the only reading selection is whatever is on the current NYT Bestseller list.
  2. To be honest, I don’t like reading Terry Pratchett’s books. However, I love listening to all the audio versions of his book. Perhaps I need a translator to get the humor right?
  3. Like isn’t the right word but I’m not sure what is.
  4. So, I called this category “Realistic Fiction” but what I really meant is a book that a random person might pick up in the library wherever “general fiction” is shelved.

Reading Goal: Update 4

Books I’ve finished recently:

  • Memoir: Dreaming in Chinese: Mandarin Lessons in Life, Love, and Language, by Deborah Fallows – I picked up this book over six months ago and read the first chapter before giving up, mainly because there were so many other books that I wanted to read more. However, I needed another memoir so decided to give this book another try. My second try was much more successful. I started it yesterday and finished it today (it is fairly short). I think the last time I was intimidated by all the pinyin Fallows kept throwing around. This time, I didn’t find it as intimidating and it also offered some insights into how the language is constructed that I hadn’t heard before but make sense.
  • Graphic novel: Unwritten Vol. 1: Tommy Taylor and the Bogus Identity, by Mike Carey and Peter Gross – The first graphic novel I’ve read in years. The story was interesting but short . . . Yeah, it’s only volume 1 but I think I might have the same problem with graphic novels as short stories. I’m mildly interested while reading the graphic novel but lose interest as soon as I finish.
  • Graphic Novel: Saga, Volume 1, by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples – This graphic novel did a better job of catching me. It still feels awfully short but I’ve requested the the 2nd volume. Library Journal Review does a good job of summing up the graphic novel, “Imagining that Juliet came from Star Wars and Romeo from Grimm’s Fairy Tales might get close to nailing the genre mashup delight of this interplanetary romance.”
  • Memoir: The Journal of Best Practices, by David Finch – A really good book. I think it’s the best relationship book I’ve read in a long time. The whole book is the author over analyzing how he can change himself to make his marriage better. It’s a fascinating read and I see small bits of both Jaeger and myself in his reaction to various things.

Books I gave up on:

  • Biography: Jobs, by Walter Isaacson – What I read was mildly amusing but it was really big and I wasn’t committed enough.
  • Christian Fiction: Veiled Rose, by Anne Elisabeth Stengl – This was an ebook which I had checked out for 7 days. My loan period ran out before I could finish and I wasn’t sufficiently interested to go back and check it out again.

Currently Reading:

  • Short Stories: More Malice Domestic, short stories by various authors – I’m listening to this a an audio book and think I might make it all the way through. I really liked the first story, the others I’ve listened to so far are ok.

Current Goal Counts:

Category Goal Number Read
Best Sellers 2 1
Biography, Autobiography, Memoir 2 2
Fiction Books Jaeger Recommends 2 1
Christian Fiction 2 1
Graphic Novels 2 2
Historical Fiction 2 0
Informational 2 1
Juvenile Books 12 4
Literature 2 1
Mystery 2 0
Poetry Anthologies 2 0
Realistic Fiction 2 0
Short Story Anthologies 2 1 in progress
Total 36 13