10 January, 2016

#TBRTakedown update and Read Harder 2016

What did I read between January 3rd and today?

Well, I think I did well on the challenges *pats self on back*.

I finished Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress by Dai Sijie, Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mendel, Fatale, Vol. 1 by Ed Brubaker, and The Silkworm by Robert Galbraith. I also read (most) of my homework for the week, got halfway through Come as You Are by Emily Nagoski and started Pedagogy of the Oppressed by Paulo Freire. I touched everything on the list, and completed 5/7 challenges.

I also unintentionally completed 3/24 2016 Read Harder Challenges. Station Eleven filled the dystopian novel slot. Fatale, Vol. 1 completed the graphic novel without a superhero challenge. The Silkworm, unsurprisingly, won an Audie for best audiobook - it was great!

Challenges without hard and fast rules and timelines seem like a really nice way to encourage more thoughtful reading, but not feel overwhelmed by it.

05 January, 2016

2016 Read Harder and an update on #TBRTakedown

Today. I. Go. Back. To. Work.


Even though I have worked a bit since the 23rd of December, I've also had two stretches of consecutive five day mini-vacations. This has been fabulous, as "the job" is not really my cup of tea.

But, today I go back, and I am procrastinating on here until I absolutely must leave.

Check out the NYPL's amazing recommendations for the 2016 Read Harder Challenge: http://www.nypl.org/blog/2015/12/15/read-harder-challenge

I am all over this challenge, and I've already ticked off one of the goals without even meaning to (read a non-superhero graphic novel completed with Fatale by Ed Brubaker). In general, after reviewing what I read last year, I do also hope to read more books by authors of different cultural and ethnic backgrounds to my own. With that being said, I do tend to agree with Rincey that this sort of collecting of racial diversity is pretty problematic. Is it more important to read interesting and diverse material, or to check off boxes on a list of certain categories that fulfill arbitrary diversity requirements? I would argue that the first is most important, and the second sort of misses the point.

Quick #TBRTakedown update: I am enjoying this challenge. Granted, I haven't been at work yet this week, so I've had some time to enjoy it, but even so I wasn't sure whether my reading brain would thrive on specific goals or fall into a slump. I'm glad it's thriving! I've finished Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress by Dai Sijie, as well as Fatale, Vol. 1 by Ed Brubaker. I am also fairly well into Station Eleven (which is so intense and great so far), Come As You Are, and The Silkworm. I'll need to do some reading for school tonight, so may fall back on some of the books, but so far I've made a decent dent in everything.

Wish me luck and love in the new work year, and I'll wish you all the same!

04 January, 2016

Where did I end with the 2015 Read Harder challenge?

A book written by someone when they were under the age of 25 - Never finished this! Please provide any recommendations below for 2016, as I had some troubles finding authors' works published this early that I haven't already read.

A book written by someone when they were over the age of 65 - M Train by Patti Smith! Fabulous, fabulous and quite different from Just Kids, which is also one of my favorites.

A collection of short stories (either by one person or an anthology by many people) - Small Victories: Spotting Improbable Moments of Grace by Ann Lamott

A book published by an indie press - Asterios Polyp by David Mazzucchelli (Pantheon = indie imprint of Knopf.

A book by or about someone that identifies as LGBTQ - Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic by Alison Bechdel

A book by a person whose gender is different from your own - The Divide: American Injustice in the Age of the Wealth Gap by Matt Taibi

A book that takes place in Asia  - The Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri

A book by an author from Africa - I failed this one big time, especially since I've had Chimamanda Ngozie Adichie's books on my TBR for a few years now. Will be pulling them to the top for this year, and I'd also like to read The Fisherman, and other books. Please leave any recommendations below!

A book that is by or about someone from an indigenous culture (Native Americans, Aboriginals, etc.) - This one was also a miss in the end. I had hoped to see if I read diversely without categorizing, but it looks like when it comes to cultural and ethnic diversity, I am not way up there within these conditions. As mentioned above, please leave recommendations below!

A microhistory - Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer

A YA novel - Alanna: The First Adventure by Tamora Pierce

A sci-fi novel - The Book of Strange New Things by Michel Faber

A romance novel - Together Tea by Marjan Kamali. This isn't your typical romance novel, but it was stellar and unexpectedly so, for me, given that I kind of judged the book by its cover. I highly recommend this book.

A National Book Award, Man Booker Prize or Pulitzer Prize winner from the last decade - George F. Kennan: An American Life by John Lewis Gaddis

A book that is a retelling of a classic story (fairytale, Shakespearian play, classic novel, etc.) - Castle Waiting, Vol. 1 by Linda Medley

An audiobook - The Farseer Trilogy by Robin Hobb

A collection of poetry - 100 Poems by Jen Campbell

A book that someone else has recommended to you - Wild by Cheryl Strayed

A book that was originally published in another language - Embroideries by Marjane Satrapi translated from the Persian

A graphic novel, a graphic memoir or a collection of comics of any kind (Hi, have you met Panels?)
 - Ms. Marvel, Vol. 2: Generation Why? by G. Willow Wilson

A book that you would consider a guilty pleasure (Read, and then realize that good entertainment is nothing to feel guilty over) - The Last Summer (of You and Me) by Ann Brashares

A book published before 1850 - The Frogs by Aristophanes

A book published this year - Carry On by Rainbow Rowell

A self-improvement book (can be traditionally or non-traditionally considered “self-improvement") - The Unapologetic Fat Girl's Guide to Exercise and Other Incendiary Acts by Hanne Blank

So, overall I missed three of the challenges, and I didn't even really try. I wanted to use this year to see how diversely I could read if I just read what interested me. Here are a few more stats for you guys:

32/47 books, or about 68% were written by women.

4/47, or 8% had LGBTQ+ themes (this is definitely an area where I could branch out, and would love some recommendations). 

13/47, or 27% were nonfiction.

15/47 were written by authors who aren't/weren't from the U.S. (32%).

4/47 were written by someone who isn't white (8%). This one I take as a real challenge for this year. I need to broaden my reading culturally and ethnically. A few of the books I've listed on my #TBRTakedown should help with this a bit, but it's one of my biggest areas of improvement in terms of diverse reading.

03 January, 2016

#TBRTakedown 3.0

HAPPY 2016!

I've wanted to try a readathon for a while (since I've been following people on BookTube). This video details a challenge that looks, well, challenging, but also fun: #TBRTakedown 3.0. It's running from tomorrow until January 10th, and these are the challenges and my picks for fulfilling them. One small caveat, my Master's program does start up again full-time this week, as does work, so I am trying to make this a bit more doable for myself in a couple ways. I am not going to be mean to myself and not count books that I am currently in the midst of/need to finish first, and I am also going to count my required school reading!

1: Most recent TBR pile -- Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress by Dai Sijie (currently reading)

2: TBR for over a year -- Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel.

3: Read a book outside your comfort zone -- Come as You Are: The Surprising New Science That Will Transform Your Sex Life by Emily Nagoski, Ph.D. (currently reading)

4: First in a series -- Fatale by Ed Brubaker

5: Complete series/read sequel -- The Silkworm by Robert Galbraith (currently reading)

6: Read a fire-colored book -- Pedagogy of the Oppressed by Paulo Freire

7: A non-novel item -- Required readings for this week from Campaigns and Elections: Players and Processes by Stephen K. Medvic