A finale of sorts

It’s probably clear by now, given that it’s December 18th, that I’m not going to finish the last two books on my Popsugar reading challenge this year. I have lurched through about half of All the President’s Men, but it is truly bewildering in its pointless detail, and I just can’t make myself read any more of it.

I’ve received my print copy of War and Peace, in the recent translation that was recommended, but I’m not going to haul it around with me (it is quite sizeable) during my holiday travels, so I won’t start it until after the new year.

I’m not sure whether I’ll do any more reading challenges in 2016. I did come across a list of “the ten best books of 2015” – highly contentious stuff but this list seemed like a decent start – so I might just read all of those.

I found this challenge really fun; it got me to read some of the classics and a lot of stuff I would never have gotten around to otherwise.

Merry Christmas to those who celebrate and a happy season to you all. I have been sewing a bit, and hopefully soon I’ll have some finished projects to share.

2015 reading challenge: August report

Down to the short rows, as the saying goes.

A book from your childhood:
Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret by Judy Blume. Grade: A
Margaret xkcd

A banned book:
Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt. Grade: B

A book with a color in the title:
Skye Blue by Alexa Land. Grade: B

A book that came out the year you were born:
Roots by Alex Haley. Grade: B

A book you were supposed to read in school but didn’t:
My Antonia by Willa Cather. Grade: A

A book set in high school:
Up the Down Staircase by Bel Kaufman. Grade: A

Months completed: 8 of 12 (67%)
Challenges completed: 48 of 50 (96%)

2015 reading challenge: July report

I only finished one challenge book this month, but I’m about halfway through Roots, by Alex Haley (man that book is long). I’ve also received my copy of War and Peace.

A book set somewhere you’ve always wanted to visit:
Don’t Let’s Go to the Dogs Tonight by Alexandra Fuller. Grade: B

Months completed: 7 of 12 (58%)
Challenges completed: 42 of 50 (84%)

2015 reading challenge: June report

This month was the first time that this project started feeling like a burden. I took a bit of a step back from it, since the whole reason I joined in was to broaden my reading material, not to torture myself or never read anything fun ever again. I ended up completing quite a few categories, but didn’t get through all fifty. I’m pretty close, though!

A book your mom loves:
Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania by Erik Larson. Grade: B
[My dad actually recommended this. He’s recently started a men’s book club.]

A mystery or thriller:
Cetaganda by Lois McMaster Bujold. Grade: B
[Sci-fi, yes, but this one’s definitely a mystery too.]

A book you started but never finished:
No Limits by Lori Foster. Grade: C

A book written by an author with your same initials:
Hard As It Gets by Laura Kaye. Grade: A

A play:
Three Screenplays by Edward Burns. Grade: C

A book with bad reviews:
Frog Music by Emma Donaghue. Grade: C
[The popularity of Amazon reviews has flattened out the rating of most books to between 3 and 4.5 stars – it’s pretty hard to find a well-known book that goes below or above that range once it’s been out more than a month or two. Frog Music comes in at 3.3 stars, as of this writing, which is closer to the bottom than the top of that range.
(The other approach, probably more intellectually solid, would have been to find a literary critic and choose one of the books they panned.)]

A classic romance:
Sprig Muslin by Georgette Heyer. Grade: D

A book with magic:
The Queen of Attolia by Megan Whalen Turner Grade: B

Months completed: 6 of 12 (50%)
Challenges completed: 41 of 50 (82%)

I went ahead and used Laura Kaye this month for the “A book written by an author with your same initials” category – which are my first and middle initials, not my first and last – but when I was deciding what to do for this category a while ago, I did a web search and was browsing a list of famous authors with last names starting with T. On there was Leo Tolstoy. I’ve never actually read any Tolstoy, and so I figured I could kill two birds with one stone and complete that category, and the “a book with more than 500 pages” category, by actually tackling War and Peace. I’ve ordered a copy of the recent Vintage Classics translation, which is supposed to be quite accessible. It’s over 1200 pages, so it might take me the rest of the year just to finish it!

2015 reading challenge: May report

April showers bring May books? Sounds good to me. Here are the categories I completed this month.

A book with a one-word title:
The Unspeakable by Meghan Daum. Grade: A

A book that takes place in your hometown:
Season of the Witch: Enchantment, Terror, and Deliverance in the City of Love by David Talbot. Grade: C

A book by a female author:
How to Be Both by Ali Smith. Grade: B

A trilogy:
Young Miles by Lois McMaster Bujold. Grade: B

A book based on or turned into a TV show:
So, Anyway by John Cleese. Grade: C
[A bit of a cheat, yes, since this is a biography about Cleese and his creative life, including writing for and acting in TV shows, including Monty Python’s Flying Circus.]

A book that scares you:
Trigger Warnings by Neil Gaiman. Grade: B

A book that became a movie:
As You Wish: Inconceivable Tales from the Making of The Princess Bride by Cary Elwes and Joe Layden. Grade: A
[Again a bit of a cheat, since it’s about the filming of The Princess Bride and not the book The Princess Bride itself, but I make my own rules!]

A book written by someone under 30:
What If?: Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions by Randall Munroe. Grade: B
Sneaking in under the wire, here, as Munroe’s Wikipedia page indicates he was born in October 1984 and this book was published in September 2014.

A book you own but have never read:
An Atomic Romance by Bobbie Ann Mason. Grade: C

Months completed: 5 of 12 (42%)
Challenges completed: 33 of 50 (66%)

I’m tantalizingly close to being done, as you can see, which has got me wondering if I put my head down and read like crazy I could get done in June, and thus complete the whole year-long challenge in six months. We’ll see – one of the categories I haven’t yet completed is “a book with more than 500 pages”…

2015 reading challenge: March report

Third month for the Popsugar reading challenge.

Here are the categories I completed in March:

A book by an author you’ve never read before:
The Bohemians: Mark Twain and the San Francisco Writers who Reinvented American Literature by Ben Tarnoff. Grade: A

A book of short stories:
Shifting Shadows by Patricia Briggs. Grade: B

A graphic novel:
Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi. Grade: A

A book with nonhuman characters:
Blood of Tyrants by Naomi Novik. Grade: B

A book that was originally written in a different language:
The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo. Grade: C

Months completed: 3 of 12 (25%)
Challenges completed: 14 of 50 (28%)

2015 reading challenge: February report

Second month for the Popsugar reading challenge. I’m getting to the point where I’ve knocked off most of the easy categories, and need to start choosing ahead of time which categories I want to complete, rather than reading a book and fitting it into the categories ex post facto.

By the way, I’ve included grades (A-F) for each book, and will go back and add them to the January post as soon as I publish this. They aren’t intended as some sort of overall guide to literary merit, just a loose approximation of “Did I enjoy reading this? Did it accomplish what it set out to do?”

Here are the categories I completed in February:

A book published this year:
Procrastinate on Purpose: 5 Permissions to Multiply Your Time by Rory Vaden. Grade: C

A book with a love triangle:
The Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter. Grade: B

A book you can finish in a day:
Funny Girl by Nick Hornby. Grade: B

A book that made you cry:
Boy on Ice by John Branch. Grade: B

Months completed: 2 of 12 (16.66%)
Challenges completed: 9 of 50 (18%)

2015 reading challenge: January report

Sometime around Christmas I came across a reading challenge dreamed up by the website Popsugar. It has 50 different challenges like “a book you started but never finished” and “a book more than 100 years old,” that kind of jazz. I hardly need more encouragement to read, but I thought it might be a fun thing to do and track for the year, and share on my blog (even though it’s not sewing) in case others are doing the challenge too, or want to join in.

Here are the categories I completed in January:

A nonfiction book:
My Kind of Place: Travel Stories from a Woman Who’s Been Everywhere by Susan Orlean. Grade: B

A book based on a true story:
The Last Great Walk: The True Story of a 1909 Walk from New York to San Francisco, and Why it Matters Today, by Wayne Curtis. Grade: A

A book based entirely on its cover:
The Great Typo Hunt: Two Friends Changing the World, One Correction at a Time by Jeff Deck and Benjamin D. Herson. Grade: B

A memoir:
Driving Over Lemons: An Optimist in Andalucia, by Chris Stewart. Grade: C

A book set during Christmas:
Second Act, by Kaje Harper. Grade: B

Months completed: 1 of 12 (8.33%)
Challenges completed: 5 of 50 (10%)