Category Archives: 2013 Reading Goal

Reading Goal: Update 3

Books I’ve finished recently:

  • Juvenile Fiction: Bridge to Terabithia, by Katherine Paterson – I’ve owned this book for years (decades?). I bought it because I found it used and it was a Newbery medal winner. So, I finally decided to read it. It was good but sad.
  • Informational: Accidental Systems Librarian, by Nicole Engard with Rachel Singer Gordon – I got this for free via the LibraryThing Early Reviewers program. I was innocently reading along when I suddenly ran into a quote I had given when I took a library-related survey a while back. That was unexpected. Many librarians are quoted in this book but it was still fun to run across my name in a real book.
  • Juvenile Fiction: Inkheart, by Cornelia Funke – I started out listening to this. Objectively, I knew it was interesting but it wasn’t working for me as an audio book. Finally, I checked out a physical copy at the library and managed to finish it off. Good story but I’m relieved to finally be done with it.
  • Juvenile Fiction: Dead End in Norvelt, by Jack Gantos – Won the Newbery in 2012. Good book but everyone in it was crazy.

Books I gave up on:

  • Short Story Anthology: Fragile Things, by Neil Gaiman – I stopped listening to the audio and started reading a chapter a night. It still wasn’t working for me. So, I’m going to wait for my copy of Epic: Legends of Fantasy to come in. I’ve loved almost all of N.K. Jemisin’s novels and she has a short story in this anthology. (Which reminds me, I really, really, need to buy the two books in the Dreamblood series.)
  • Mystery: Buried in a Bog, by Sheila Connolly – Also gave up on this one. I suspect I’d like it better as an audio book but an audio version doesn’t appear to exist.

Currently reading:

  • Biography: Jobs, by Walter Isaacson – I’m not sure if I’m going to make it through this book or not. It’s obviously well-written but it’s huge and I’m not entirely sure if I care enough to make it to the end. We’ll see . . .
  • Memoir: The Journal of Best Practices, by David Finch – So far I’ve read the introduction and I think I might actually be able to make it through the whole book.
  • Christian Fiction: Veiled Rose, by Anne Elisabeth Stengl – I was looking for something to read on the weekend and downloaded this from the library. It’s Christian fantasy (allegory?). It’s ok so far. At the very least, I like it better than the last Christian fiction book I read. I believe it’s the second in the series but it sounds like the first book doesn’t have to be read in order to read the 2nd.

Current Goal Counts:

Category Goal Number Read
Best Sellers 2 1
Biography, Autobiography, Memoir 2 2 in progress
Fiction Books Jaeger Recommends 2 1
Christian Fiction 2 1, 1 in progress
Graphic Novels 2 0
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 0
Total 36 9

Reading Goal: Update 2

I’ve made some progress on my reading goal.

Books I’ve finished:

  • Literature: Life of Pi, by Yann Martel
  • Jaeger Recommendations: Old Man’s War, by John Scalzi – pretty good, will probably read the next one
  • Juvenile Book: Hatchet, by Gary Paulsen – this is my first Paulsen book and I was pretty impressed by the book
  • Best seller: The Innocent, by David Baldacci – an addictive thriller. However, I’m not sure if I’ll read more, it doesn’t lend itself to calmly drifting off to sleep.

Currently Reading:

  • Short Story Anthology: Fragile Things, by Neil Gaiman – still working on this one . . . I think maybe I should give up on the audio version and try reading one story every night. Neil Gaiman, as always, is a great narrator but I’m still having trouble listening to it.
  • Juvenile Fiction: Inkheart, by Cornelia Funke – I’m listening to this and I think I might have better luck if I just read it. I’m a couple hours from the end. The story seems compelling but it’s not quite working for me as an audio book.
  • Mystery: Buried in a Bog, by Sheila Connolly – I checked this one out because I like listening to cozy mysteries. However, I appear to be having the opposite problem as the two above with this book. I’m about half way through and considering finding a different one. Unfortunately, this book does not appear to be available as an audio book.

I just finished The Innocent and I haven’t decided on my next genre yet. I feel like something different. Maybe I should try a graphic novel . . .

Current Goal Counts:

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

Reading Goal: Update 1

A couple of posts ago I mentioned I was going to try to read a certain number of books from various categories. I have not made a huge amount of progress. The only book I’ve finished so far was a Christian fiction book. However, I have nailed down at least some of the books I’m going to try.

The Christian fiction book I read was Just Beyond the Clouds, by Karen Kingsbury. It was fine. The handling of the protagonist’s former fiance made me uncomfortable but other than that it was a nice and sweet book. The book appears to be well-thought of on Amazon and LibraryThing but it didn’t particularly speak to me. I think perhaps it was because neither partner in the romance was particularly proactive. Perhaps some of this is due to the genre and the characters being accepting of God’s will. However, a little more spunk would have been nice to see.

For my next Christian Fiction book I think I’m going to try a non-romance. After I stopped reading Christian fiction the thriller/mystery/fantasy sub-genres really exploded. It’d probably be good for me to get a feel for some of those books.

Jaeger kindly provided a list of his recommended reads for me. My current plan is to start with Old Man’s War. This is a book I picked up and started reading once but only read a couple of chapters before I got distracted. Since then, I’ve read Heinlein’s Starship Troopers1, of which Old Man’s War is, I believe, a homage. I expect I’ll enjoy the book once I get past the lack of a female protagonist2.

The book I’m currently reading is Life of Pi, by Yann Martel. I’m counting Life of Pi towards my “literature” category based on it winning The Man Booker Prize in 2002. When I first started working in the library it was a really big hit. I was told by numerous librarians that I should read it but never did. However, with the movie currently out, it seems as good a time as any to read it. I am currently number 83 on the request list for the Blu-ray version of the movie so should have plenty of time to finish the book, and forget about it, before I watch the movie.

First impressions of Life of Pi: it’s a good book. It’s not a book that I would normally spend time reading but I don’t think I’m going to want my time back. I started it this evening and am currently at chapter 15. Assuming the book continues as it started, I think Jaeger would greatly enjoy reading it.

I’m also currently listening to Fragile Things: Short Fictions and Wonders, by Neil Gaiman. If I ever finish it, this will count as one of my “short story” categories. Neil Gaiman is one of the very few authors who does a fantastic job narrating his own books. I enjoy many of Gaiman’s books3. However, I’m not sure I’m going to make it through this one. I’ve finished listening to the introduction, which was fascinating, and the first story, “A Study in Emerald”. I’ve enjoyed Sherlock Holmes ever since finding copies of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s stories on a CD full of public domain books in the mid-90s. “A Study in Emerald” offered a very amusing twist on the typical Sherlock Holmes story. However, I’m having trouble moving on to the next story.

I only listen to audio books when I’m doing something else at the same time such as making supper, exercising, etc. Usually, when I’m listening to an audio book, I’ll start out by listening to the book intermittently. The book will eventually grab me and I’ll start listening to it every reasonable chance I get. Then, at the end, I will go out of my way to extend whatever task I’m doing in order to finish the book. To a certain extent, my reading usually follows the same pattern, minus the multitasking, usually. The problem is with short stories I can’t go through the progression. Just as I get into the story, it ends, and I’m left feeling . . . unsatisfied, I guess. Jaeger keeps trying to get me to listen to various Podcastle or Escape Pod stories. I have the same problem with them. It’s frustrating.

My next book, after I finish Life of Pi is going to be a mystery: What Darkness Brings, by C.S. Harris. Unfortunately, this is a mystery series that I have already found and enjoyed so I don’t think it’s eligible for my mystery category.

Current Goal Counts:

Category Goal Number Read
Best Sellers 2 0
Biography, Autobiography, Memoir 2 0
Fiction Books Jaeger Recommends 2 0
Christian Fiction 2 1
Graphic Novels 2 0
Historical Fiction 2 0
Informational 2 0
Juvenile Books 12 0
Literature 2 1 in progress
Mystery 2 0
Poetry Anthologies 2 0
Realistic Fiction 2 0
Short Story Anthologies 2 1 in progress
  1. I have had a unjustified dislike of Starship Troopers ever since the movie came out. This is because our local theater decided to carry it instead of Gattaca, which I had been looking forward to. Several years later, I watched the Starship Troopers movie, or at least fast forwarded through it, and remember shaking my head in stunned disbelief at what had upstaged Gattaca. I had been assured that the book was nothing like the movie but still was prejudiced against it. However, Jaeger owned the book so one night I picked it up and read it. I enjoyed it a fair amount though I was bemused by the level of proselytizing that went on in it.
  2. Conventional wisdom, which I believe is backed by research but don’t have the time to hunt down, claims that boys don’t read books about girls. However, girls allegedly don’t mind reading books about boys. This has never been true for me. In a pinch, if the books are good, I will read books with male protagonists. However, I always strongly prefer female protagonists.
  3. Listening to The Graveyard Book got me through some supremely hellish breastfeeding attempts after Calvin was born. Gaiman is one of several authors that I owe a huge debt for keeping me sane that first year after Calvin was born.

Reading Goal

A couple of days ago I started reading The Book Whisperer: Awakening the Inner Reader in Every Child by Donalyn Miller. I saw Miller’s newest book, Reading in the Wild pop up in our “new at the library” email. It looked interesting but was described as a companion to her first book so I put a hold on The Book Whisperer instead. I’m only about half-way through it but I’ve really enjoyed what I’ve read so far.

Miller expects each child in her class to read at least 40 books during the school year. She allows her students a lot of latitude in what they read but does request a certain number from specific genres. Her requirements are as follows:

Poetry anthologies 5
Traditional literature 5
Realistic fiction 5
Historical fiction 2
Fantasy 4
Science Fiction 2
Mystery 2
Informational 4
Biography, autobiography, memoir 2
Chapter-book choice 9

As I was reading this list, I realized my personal reading would profit from a wider selection. I mainly read for comfort at night and it’s easy to get in a rut. As a result, I’ve decided to create my own reading goal for the next year. I’m still mulling this over but I’m leaning toward the following:

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

Best Sellers
I have a tendency to avoid obvious best sellers. It’s not that I automatically think they’re going to be bad. After all, most best sellers are best sellers for a reason. However, I think I get author fatigue when I see an author consistently in the best seller list. I see the titles and names so much I feel like I’ve already read the books, even when I haven’t, and don’t want to take my time to do so again.

Biography, Autobiography, Memoir
I have a had time reading non-fiction that isn’t immediately useful to me. I have no doubt that biographies, and memoirs have value but I find it hard to care.

Fiction Books Jaeger Recommends
When it comes to fiction, Jaeger and I read the same genres but read different sub-genres. I’ll let Jaeger come up with a list of books he thinks I should try and I’ll pick a couple of them. Note: I have specified fiction books. I have no desire to try to wade through The Generalissimo.

Christian, Graphic Novels, Historical, and Mystery Fiction
These are all genres that are hugely popular within our library district. As a result, I feel like I should have a bit more familiarity with them than I do. I did read a lot of Christian fiction back when I was a teenager but I’m not very familiar with the recent trends. I’m also going to exclude the few mystery authors that I already read regularly from qualifying for this list since the idea is to expand my horizons.

I’m somewhat ambivalent about this one. I do read a fair amount of non-fiction but it’s all very specifically targeted to whatever is currently relevant in my life. I read a subject obsessively and then stop when the books start repeating each other. I wonder if I should pick specific informational subjects to read. I’ll have to think about this one a bit more.

Juvenile Books
My main purpose for reading in this category is to become more familiar with books Calvin is likely to enjoy in the coming years. Of course, I remember (and usually still own) all my favorites from when I was young. However, I’m sure there are many wonderful books that have been published since I was a child. At the moment, I don’t have a good feel for what types of books are available for the juvenile audience these days.

Growing up, I read a lot of classic literature. However, I haven’t read much recently and should probably get back into the habit. Contemporary literature might be a good place to start.

Poetry Anthologies
I don’t like poetry. I really don’t. It’ll be good for me to see if I can find poetry I do enjoy. If nothing else, it’ll be a good experience for me. Maybe. My main reason for caring about poetry is I want Calvin to have an appreciation for it. I doubt it’s something he’ll acquire unless I, or someone around him, can get excited about it.

Realistic Fiction
I’ve always been a genre reader. I think it’ll be good for me to try reading whatever it is that gets shelved in the regular fiction section.

Short Story Anthologies
Like poetry, I don’t like short stories. I think it’s because by the time I get into the story, it ends. It’s very annoying. Maybe I can consider short stories little trailers for the type of stuff different authors write.


  • Donalyn Miller had a rule for her students that if a book was over 350 pages, it could count as two books. I think that bar is a bit low for me. However, if a book is particularly large, I might consider counting it as two books. Steve Jobs, by Walter Isaacson, is on our bookshelf and is staring me in the face. It might be interesting but it looks awfully thick.
  • I reserve the right to cross two categories off at once if a book falls into both.