2012 Reading Challenge Wrap-Up

25 01 2013

Whew!  I did it – 200 books (actually 201) read in 2012.  I had a lot of fun reading all those books, too.  I’m not sure I would have made it if it hadn’t been for some work projects, like the Magic Tree House Party and creating book lists for a local parenting publication (which I still need to post about sometime).  It also helped that I loosened up my parameters a bit, allowing myself to count graphic novels and audiobooks.  I am quite proud of my accomplishment.  It was nice to have a goal to challenge myself over the year, and even better to have achieved that goal.

But… I’m not going to do a challenge per se for 2013.  Instead, I’d really like to tackle my To Be Read list this year.  In particular, I’d like to wrap up some series I’ve been working on for a while now and get to work on some longer books and series I might have been avoiding in my quest to read more books last year (example: Game of Thrones, which I am halfway through and loving).  I also want to make more of a concerted effort to read any Newbery or Newbery Honor titles I haven’t read yet, beginning with 2012 and working my way back.  I think starting at the beginning and working my way forward might drag me down (no offense to the earlier winners and honorees).

So, here’s to another great year of reading!


December 2012 Reading Theme Wrap-Up

3 01 2013

For December my reading goal was to catch up on some of the “best” books of the year.  I turned to all those handy-dandy lists put together by journals, newspapers, librarians, etc., to come up with some titles.  I was not disappointed with any of the suggestions.

I finally had the chance to read J.K. Rowling’s first adult title, The Casual Vacancy, and even though I wasn’t sure what to expect since it was such a departure from the Harry Potter series, I was pleasantly surprised.  As I was reading it I could see it becoming a great television miniseries, because she did such a thorough job of creating a whole community full of interesting characters, and it would be fun to see them all on screen.  And sure enough, the BBC has now announced that they will be adapting it.  I’m looking forward to it!

Throughout the course of the year, I’ve definitely been reading some excellent children’s fiction titles, but I still had some gaps to fill in.  From various lists I found available, I chose to tackle these, many of which have been coming up in Newbery discussions: Liar & Spy by Rebecca Stead, The Summer of the Gypsy Moths by Sara Pennypacker, The Wishing Spell by Chris Colfer, and Glory Be by Augusta Scattergood.  I also fit in a couple of nonfiction children’s titles – Bomb by Steve Sheinkin and Island by Jason Chin – both of which achieved the combination of being both informative and entertaining.  I also highly recommend the two children’s graphic novels I read – The Secret of the Stone Frog by David Nytra and Cardboard by Doug TenNapel.

I was probably most impressed by the two teen novels I had the chance to read last month: Every Day by David Levithan and Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein.  Every Day starts with such a unique concept – the narrator is a soul that “takes over” a different body each day – and tells such a lovely story about what it means to love and be alive.  Code Name Verity is a fantastic historical fiction novel set in Europe during World War II that explores the themes of friendship, loyalty, bravery, and truth.  I wouldn’t be surprised to see at least one, if not both, of these titles on the Printz list this year.

What a great month and year of reading I’ve had!

December 2012 Reading Theme

5 12 2012

I can’t believe I’m already at the last month of my reading challenge.  I have had a lot of fun with this challenge.  Reading based on a different theme each month has really kept me going.  My ultimate goal is to read or listen to 200 books by the end of the year.  So far I have completed 184 books, so I am definitely within reach of my goal.  Just 16 books to go!

The last theme for the year is “Best Books of 2012”.  There are dozens of “Best of” lists out there, and this month I’ll be focusing on reading books that have made some of those lists.  I think this is going to be a really fun theme, and I’m looking forward to catching up on some titles I’ve missed so far this year.

November 2012 Reading Theme Wrap-Up

4 12 2012

Well, I don’t want to say that NaNoWriMo was a complete failure for me, but I didn’t get too far along in the process.  I did take a few steps though.  I set up a profile on the NaNoWriMo website (although I didn’t do it until the last week of November).  I also read one book about writing, Writing Magic by Gail Carson Levine, which I think will be very helpful when I actually get serious about writing.  The book is written for children, but it still has some good tips and fun writing prompts.  Lastly, while I did not actually write a novel – or even a chapter- I did make some more notes on the novel I’ve been thinking about for a few years.  So, I think that’s progress.  I’ll try to do better next year!

November 2012 Reading Theme

25 11 2012

Here I go again posting my theme really late in the month!  November’s theme has been NaNoWriMo.  This stands for National Novel Writing Month.  I don’t actually expect to write a novel this month, but I do want to make a start on a novel I’ve been kicking around for years now.  As this is a reading challenge for me as well, I hope to read books this month about writing and writers that will inspire me in my writing.  We’ll see how it goes!

October 2012 Reading Theme Wrap-Up

22 11 2012

My reading theme for the month of October was reading digitally.  I didn’t read an extensive number of titles on a digital device, but I did manage to use a variety of platforms for acquiring copies of the books I did read digitally.  I think that was an extremely confusing sentence, but, oh well!

What I mean to say is that I used three different methods for obtaining digital copies of books during the month of October.  First, I FINALLY finished a book I purchased for my Kindle ages and ages ago – My Blood Approves by Amanda Hocking.  I initially purchased this book because Hocking created a stir when the books that she self-published as e-books (including this one) sold millions of titles.  I can see why the books in this series have been popular – they are part of the whole vampire romance craze started by Twilight.  However, I wasn’t crazy about this book.  I really thought it suffered from not having an editor, particularly in respect to grammatical errors and cliched writing.

As for the method of digital reading, I really like having titles like this one that I’ve purchased directly through the Amazon Kindle store because of the ease of access.  I can access my Kindle books on my Kindle itself, but also using the Kindle app on my phone and tablet.  Very convenient for moments like standing in line at the grocery store when I don’t have a book with me.

The next book I read digitally was Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn.  I checked out this title through my public library’s Overdrive platform.  I had actually put myself on the waiting list for this one back in September when it was suggested for my “Suggested Reading” theme.  There was quite a waiting list for it, so I wasn’t able to get it until October.  At any rate, it was a fun, page-turning read.  October and November have been difficult months personally, and it was nice to have a book like this as an escape.

I really like using Overdrive.  I primarily read the books I check out on Overdrive through my tablet because I have an earlier model of the Kindle.  This means that I have to take a few extra steps to actually get the books I check out onto my Kindle.  But with my tablet everything is done wirelessly in a few seconds, easy-peasy.  The selection available through Overdrive is constantly improving, and it’s very handy when I want to read something but can’t get to the library.

The third title I read digitally was Hattie Ever After by Kirby Larson.  I was eagerly awaiting this sequel to Hattie Big Sky. While I still liked the first book better, it gave me a sense of completion to find out what happened to Hattie after her homesteading days.  I felt like Larson managed to maintain a balance of staying true to the independent, adventurous spirit of Hattie while still being realistic about the time period in which she lived.  Seeing Hattie in a completely different environment was also refreshing.

I was able to read Hattie Ever After, which won’t be published until February through the NetGalley service I mentioned in my October Reading Theme post.  I was pleased with how easy the service is to use, and I expect to use it much more in the future.  I also used my tablet for NetGalley, though there is a way to have titles emailed to my Kindle which I haven’t had a chance to try yet.

For the most part, I really enjoy reading digitally.  I do feel that the picture book format still needs some work as far as ebooks are concerned, but for books that are primarily text-driven, I think  having the flexibility of both print and digital is fantastic.  One other perk for reading on my tablet is reading in bed with the lights out!

October 2012 Reading Theme

26 10 2012

The theme for October (which I do realize is almost over!) has been digital reading.  When possible this month I’ve been taking advantage of various digital methods of reading.  I’ve checked out titles from my library’s extensive ebook collection, and I’ve read titles I purchased for my Kindle.  I’m also trying out a new (to me) method of receiving digital titles – NetGalley.

While publishers still provide physical Advanced Reader Copies, or galleys, of upcoming titles to booksellers, librarians, and reviewers, many are also providing digital galleys these days.  Many publishers provide these digital galleys through the NetGalley service.  A few months ago I signed up for NetGalley and set up a profile that identifies me as a librarian who specializes in titles for children.  NetGalley uses my profile to suggest titles I might like to preview, and I can also request titles from publishers that I find promising.  This month I intend to begin really using NetGalley.  I’ll let you know how it goes in the wrap-up.