Monday, January 4, 2016

2015 End of the Year Survey.

Every year, Jaime at the Perpetual Page Turner hosts an end of year survey for bookish folk to recap what they read the previous year. I've filled it out a number of times, as I find it to be a great way to see what I loved, hated, and want to do more of in the new year.

I'm going to answer as many questions that apply to my reading as possible, but I delete those that I didn't have an answer for.


Number Of Books You Read: I read 75!
Number of Re-Reads: 13 (and that doesn't include any Fables. I'm sure I read the first 8 before)
Genre You Read The Most From: Young Adult or Graphic Novels.
Pages Read: 19953

1. Best Book You Read In 2015?
Looking at my list, there are a few that stand out:
-All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven
-The Martian by Andy Weir
-Ghost Medicine by Andrew Smith
-Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng

Truthfully, The Martian probably wins. I mean, I convinced my husband to read it....

2. Book You Were Excited About & Thought You Were Going To Love More But Didn’t?
Perhaps The Girl on the Train, although, I don't usually read thrillers, so I guess I wasn't surprised that I didn't love it all that much.

Also want to say how disappointed I was in the end of Fables. Boo.

Oh, and Serena. I'm sure the only reason I finished it was because I was in the care driving home from Florida and just needed to get through it.

And one more...Where'd You Go Bernadette? I didn't get it.

 3. Most surprising (in a good way or bad way) book you read? 
I would have to give this to two books-The Alex Crow by Andrew Smith because of pure craziness. And The Red Pony by John Steinbeck...I just loved it.

 4. Book You “Pushed” The Most People To Read (And They Did)?
Definitely The Martian. Not only did I convince my non-reader of a husband to read it, I've pushed it on fellow teachers and some other friends.  

 5. Best series you started in 2015? Best Sequel of 2015? Best Series Ender of 2015?
I devoted a big chunk of time this year to reading all 22 volumes in the Fables series. It started out amazing...and then fizzled.

The only other series I read was Daughter of Smoke and Bone, which I enjoyed for what it was.  

 6. Favorite new author you discovered in 2015?
Looking at my list, I read a lot by authors I've previously read. So...I would have to say Liana Moriarty. I enjoyed What Alice Forgot more than I thought I would and want to read more of her work.

7. Best book from a genre you don’t typically read/was out of your comfort zone?
The only real book I read outside my comfort zone was The Girl on the Train, and while it wasn't my cup of tea, it was still good (if that even makes sense).

 8. Most action-packed/thrilling/unputdownable book of the year?
There were a number of titles I flew through in one sitting-All the Bright Places, Landline, and Ghost Medicine  all spring to mind. But really, it goes back to The Martian.

 9. Book You Read In 2015 That You Are Most Likely To Re-Read Next Year?
The Martian? No, really. I actually listened to it this year, so I think reading through the print version might be in the cards.

10. Favorite cover of a book you read in 2015?
I loved the edition of Ethan Frome I read in the spring:

11. Most memorable character of 2015?
Because it was the most memorable book at the end of the year, Troy Stotts from Ghost Medicine.

12. Most beautifully written book read in 2015?
Definitely a tie between Everything I Never Told You and A Lost Lady.

13. Most Thought-Provoking/ Life-Changing Book of 2015?
I think Go Set a Watchman offered everyone a lot to think about. 

14. Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2015 to finally read? 
Perhaps Tina Fey's Bossypants. 'Twas hilarious.

15. Favorite Passage/Quote From A Book You Read In 2015?
I'm actually going to pull the quote from the opening in All the Bright Places, even though it's not by Niven...

"The world breaks everyone, and afterward, many are strong at the broken places." Ernest Hemingway

16.Shortest & Longest Book You Read In 2015?
The longest book I read was Dreams of Gods and Monsters by Laini Taylor at 613 pages. Truthfully, that shocked me. I love reading chunksters!

The shortest is Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton (truthfully I read a lot of short books this year).

17. Book That Shocked You The Most
All the Bright Places. For sure.

Oh, and The Alex Crow. Because really.

18. OTP OF THE YEAR (you will go down with this ship!)
(OTP = one true pairing if you aren’t familiar)
Snow and Bigby in Fables

19. Favorite Non-Romantic Relationship Of The Year
I really loved the relationship between the friends in Ghost Medicine.

20. Favorite Book You Read in 2015 From An Author You’ve Read Previously
All 3 of the Smith titles I read this year were fabulous, with Ghost Medicine taking the top spot.I also really enjoyed A Lost Lady by Willa Cather.

21. Best Book You Read In 2015That You Read Based SOLELY On A Recommendation From Somebody Else/Peer Pressure:
So many...but The Martian springs to mind!

22. Newest fictional crush from a book you read in 2015?
Uhhhhh....none of them.

23. Best 2015 debut you read?
Probably Everything I Never Told You.

24. Best Worldbuilding/Most Vivid Setting You Read This Year?
Brandon Sanderson's Mistborn. Just a fabulous setting. AND I STILL NEED TO READ THE REST OF THEM.

25. Book That Put A Smile On Your Face/Was The Most FUN To Read?
I loved the memoirs I read by Amy Poehler, Tina Fey, and Mindy Kaling. All had me cracking up at different points.

26. Book That Made You Cry Or Nearly Cry in 2015?
All the Bright Places and Ghost Medicine.

27. Hidden Gem Of The Year?
Ghost Medicine. Seriously. It was one of the last books of the year and it was so flipping good. More people need to read Smith. Period.

28. Book That Crushed Your Soul?
All the Bright Places. It reminded me of some students. Broke me down over and over again.

29. Most Unique Book You Read In 2015?
I really loved Anya's Ghost. I definitely think it was incredible unique!

30. Book That Made You The Most Mad (doesn’t necessarily mean you didn’t like it)?
Teacher Man. I just...thought I would get so much from it, but I found it so dry....

Sunday, January 3, 2016

2016 Reading Plans and Challenges.

I used to be a very avid participator in reading challenges, events, and readalongs. But over the years, as I've become busier with teaching, those things have fallen by the wayside. It was easy for me to dive into anything that seemed interesting when I had nothing really going on.

But now, so long after creating this space, I have come to only enter and participate in those things I'm truly interested in. I stumbled upon the book blogging community by accident, and while I love certain aspects of it, I'm selfish in many ways at this point in my life. I want to read what I want to read...with not real rules or expectations or demands placed on my time.

I read for two primary reasons-to educate myself and to forget about the real world. And, quite honestly, the books I read for those categories are incredibly different and diverse. I love reading YA literature, science-fiction, and fantasy, and those are things I will continue to read (and not feel bad about it as I have in years past), but I also love the classics. They give me the opportunity to exercise my brain and challenge myself.

And, over time, I have come to realize that having a balance between those two kinds of reading escapes is what works for me. When I start demanding things of myself, I get stressed and fall into a reading slump.

However, I really like making lists of things to read and committing myself to some things I might not get to otherwise. Enter: Reading Challenges.

Now, one thing I'm doing differently this year is making sure that I'm picking books I'm really excited about (in the past, I've picked books that I felt I "needed" to never read them). I'm also working on reading from my own shelves. I have also reached the point in my life where my acquisitions need to slow down. I literally have hundreds of books in my small apartment that I've never read. I need to remedy that.

So, here are my plans for this year.

This "Challenge" isn't really a reading challenge. Instead, it's more of a lifestyle change. I've always been an avid book buyer. Going to the bookstore generally means I bring home 4-5 books, read 1-2 of them, and then repeat the process. So, I have a lot of books on my shelves. I have enough unread books to read for years without buying anything new.

So, as of the first of this year, I'm putting myself on a "no-buy." Exceptions include picking up books by favorite authors, getting books as gifts or in bookswaps, grabbing something from the school library, or if it's a title that will help my teaching in some way (I often pick up history books to look at topics I'm teaching in more detail-I find that necessary). I did order a few books I've been craving since instating my "no-buy" but I truly do feel setting myself up to read from my shelves is the way to go this year.

If you're interested in #Readmyowndamnbooks you can visit Andi at Estella's Revenge to learn more.

#PotterBinge is an event that I'm already participating in, but I'm going to continue my reread of the series throughout this month. So, I found it fitting to include here. I would like to do more rereading in 2016, which leads me to...

My own Reread Project. I actually need to update the page I made for this project, as I HAVE reread quite a few books in 2015 (most recently The Old Man and the Sea). There are quite a few classics I want to get back to, so I think setting a goal of 5 rereads for the year is a great place to start!

While we're talking about classics, I'm also going to be taking a more active part in The Classics Club's Women's Classic Literature Event. I have quite a few classics on my shelves by women that I'd like to get to in 2016, so this is the perfect venue to get to those and share that with other readers.

(I actually made a personal goal to be more involved in the Club in general...especially as I helped create and cultivate the Club at it's website).

And, speaking of awesome women, I also need to turn my attention back to Willa Cather. I also need to update the page for this project, as I have made progress. I would like to read 3 books by Cather this coming year to make some good progress toward completing her complete works.

And...I would also like to make some progress reading Dickens. It's actually been a year or two since I've read any Dickens, but I'd like to read at least 2 of his works this year. I'm still not sure if I want to go in order of publication, but we'll see what grabs me.

The last of my personal projects is my Shakespeare Project. While I have read MANY of his plays, and most of those multiple times, I still have a ways to go to get through his complete works. I'd like to make a dent in the histories, but I'm only 3 away from finishing off his, we'll see what ends up happening. I think 6 plays over the course of the year is a manageable number!

The Mount TBR Reading Challenge coincides really well with all of my other challenges and projects, as I really AM focusing on reading books that have been sitting for a period of time. There are different levels to this challenge, which you can read about on the challenge page, but I'm going to go for Mt. Kilimanjaro, which is reading 60 books from your TBR. As I read 75 books total in 2015, I think this is a perfectly manageable number, and as all the unread books on my shelves are on my ever-growing TBR, this is a perfect challenge to coincide with #ReadMyOwnDamnBooks. Bring it on.

*I really like that I don't have to make a list of books for this challenge. Hurrah!

The only "Traditional" reading challenge I'm participating in this year is the Back to the Classics Challenge. I've participated in this one a number of times (sometimes I've completed it, sometimes not even close). I enjoy the categories, so it's a good place to go to when I'm not sure what to read next. And a few of the titles will crossover to other challenges and projects. :)

Here is my list with the challenge requirements:

1.  A 19th Century Classic - any book published between 1800 and 1899.
I'm probably going to read a Dickens title for this category. I'm leaning toward The Old Curiosity Shop (Will count toward my Dickens Project)

2.  A 20th Century Classic - any book published between 1900 and 1966. Just like last year, all books MUST have been published at least 50 years ago to qualify. The only exception is books written at least 50 years ago, but published later.
I'm leaning toward a title by Virginia Woolf (will also count toward my Women's lit Challenge)

3.  A classic by a woman author. 
Any of my remaining titles by Willa Cather-most likely The Song of the Lark.

4.  A classic in translation.  Any book originally written published in a language other than your native language. Feel free to read the book in your language or the original language.
I already know that this is going to be Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy. I tried to read it a couple years ago but set it down and never returned to it.

5.  A classic by a non-white author. Can be African-American, Asian, Latino, Native American, etc.
Truthfully, I'm having a hard time selecting a title within the time frame, so I will have to come back and update this one (the title I wanted to read, Bless Me, Ultima was published in 1972, so it isn't old enough to count for the challenge).

6.  An adventure classic - can be fiction or non-fiction. Children's classics like Treasure Island are acceptable in this category. 
I'm going to put down Don Quixote for now, but that might change. :)

7.  A fantasy, science fiction, or dystopian classic. Dystopian could include classics like 1984, and children's classics like The Hobbit are acceptable in this category also. 
Ummm, is it cheating if I just say 1984? ;)

8.  A classic detective novel. It must include a detective, amateur or professional. This list of books from the Golden Age of Detective Fiction is a great starting point if you're looking for ideas.
I've been craving a reread of some Sherlock Holmes, so I think one of the novels will be a good choice for this category.

9.  A classic which includes the name of a place in the title.  It can be the name of a house, a town, a street, etc. Examples include Bleak House, Main Street, The Belly of Paris, or The Vicar of Wakefield.
I have a few options for this: A Tale of Two Cities, The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, or The Hunchback of Notre Dame most likely....

10. A classic which has been banned or censored. If possible, please mention why this book was banned or censored in your review.
I'm thinking either a Hemingway or Gone with the Wind....

11. Re-read a classic you read in school (high school or college).  If it's a book you loved, does it stand the test of time?  If it's a book you disliked, is it any better a second time around?
I think I'm going to tackle Oedipus Rex for this category. It's one that I know I read in high school, but I don't have any strong memories about it.

12. A volume of classic short stories. This must be one complete volume, at least 8 short stories. It can be an anthology of stories by different authors, or all the stories can be by a single author. Children's stories are acceptable in this category also.
This is another great option for some Sherlock Holmes stories. I also have an anthology of Mark Twain stories, so that's another idea.

There you have it, my 2016 reading plans. Let me know what you're planning!