2016 reading challenge

huzzah i met my reading challenge for the year! i set a goal of 60 books, and i met it. (not that the last two years haven’t been great reading years). 

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but what’s REALLY interesting is my pages read:

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first, i think it’s interesting that 2012 and 2013 were within 400 pages of each other. and this year, i read 2000 pages more than those two years.  (i don’t know what happened in 2014 or 2015.)

generally there are a couple books each year that i start and then decide, naaahhh, and toss aside. i mark them as “read” on my goodreads because otherwise they just hang out in my queue forever. i know in 2013 i started infinite jest – a lot of pages – and quit after less than 100 pages. so these numbers aren’t completely indicative of my reading habits. BUT this year, i know of two books i quit – one i was 3/4 done with (just couldn’t anymore) and the other i’d gotten about 1/4 of the way through – that one was “duma key” by stephen king, so it was pretty long. 

i wish i could set a goal by pages, not books read. i can choose books that are 250 pages or books that are 800 pages, and they both count as one. 

wait for it

lots of driving = lots of time. normally i just turn on the radio and listen to mpr or some pop song while i drive to work, but on the weekends i’ve got 3 hours of driving time that could be filled by…

podcasts? yes. audiobooks? yes. mostly audiobooks. i’m multitasking! kind of.

reading a book book and listening to an audiobook are completely different experiences. a book book holds your attention undivided. a book book will let you zoom over words as fast as your brain processes them. a book book will let you reread a sentence over and over without having to fiddle with controls.

an audiobook, unless you’re sitting in your living room, raptly staring at your playing device, does not have your undivided attention. while i’m driving, i listen, then i’m worried about that guy coming up awfully quick on my bumper. then i’m listening, and then i’m seeing some weirdo trying to merge in a 75-mph lane at 35 mph and trying to move over. i’m listening, then i’ve got to figure out how to handle all this traffic. oh! an orange cone! but, for the most part, i know what’s going on.

if i want to reread something or skip ahead, i need to mess around with my controls. in fact, i don’t know if i want to skip ahead, ever, because i can’t do that overall skim with my eyes on a page while i’m mid-paragraph. plus, it’s frowned upon to mess around with your phone while driving.

an audiobook has one pace: spoken word. now, granted, i can scrub it up: 1.25x, 1.5x, 1.75x, etc., but i find that anything faster than 1.5x is just too scrubbed to make sense of the words.

that said, some books were just made (written?) for audiobook.

i just finished neil patrick harris’ autobiographical choose your own adventure, and i would HIGHLY recommend checking out the audiobook. while you’d think that a choose your own adventure would not lend well to the audio format, he and the producer worked to make it absolutely great.

he reads it himself, and while you might be able to infer certain things from written word, it was great to hear his inflection as he intended in his writing. it was great hearing him say “LEGEN – wait for it – DARY.”  it was even better hearing him intone “THEEEE EENNNDDD” whenever you met your untimely demise in one of the “adventures.” 

the best part? HE KNOWS HOW TO PRONOUNCE MISCHIEVOUS*. wtg, nph.

four stars: would choose to adventure listen again!

*where is that I after the v? THERE IS NONE. quit inserting it. say mischief. now add an “ous” after it. TADA. mischievous. 

Review: The Flight of the Silvers

The Flight of the Silvers
The Flight of the Silvers by Daniel Price
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

the time quandries. the parallel universes. the paradoxes. ugh! it’s hard to wrap your head around these things, but this book tackled them head on. the linearness of time is so hard to dismiss when trying to think about the ideas of parallel universes and how endless they must be. i liked how this book was all about the weirdness of time, plus an apocalyptical plot to boot. unfortunately for me, i came to the end of the book before the story was done; i didn’t know this was a trilogy! that’s fine by me – more books to look forward to.

a couple weird things that stuck out at me: naming the characters by their professions and/or relationship status was a little odd to me. the artist? we know his name is zack. the sisters is ok, but to call amanda the widow? like her entire character was driven by the fact that her husband is dead? at least calling hannah the actress didn’t drive attention to the fact that everyone thought she was a slut (and so what if she likes to have sex? that’s her prerogative. no need to call it to attention). it’s kind of weird that theo, david, and mia didn’t have such nicknames; consistency would be nice if omnisciently calling the main characters by nicknames.

and if it weren’t for another review on goodreads that brought my attention to the reiterative nature of hannah’s chestal area, i may not have noticed it, but man, attention is brought to her boobs and figure quite a bit.

BUT. the plot is great, and i’m looking forward to the next book.

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fangirl review

pfft, rainbow rowell, i said. meh, who cares, i said. she can’t be that good, i said. 

well, i read a rainbow rowell book. and i take it all back.

maybe it was the hipsterishness that i feel surrounds eleanor and park, or maybe it’s the hippie name (you’d think i’d be on board with that!), but i poopooed her as a YA author that i just would choose not to read. 

but i was in the library looking at the YA section, and there was her book “fangirl.” the protagonist writes fanfic of what is essentially the equivalent harry potter in her world. why not? well, it was like reading about my first year of college, the way she described her introverted, shy heroine. i was ok with it. and it’s not just fluff; the writing is eloquent. flowy. just right. 

so i guess i’ll get my hipster on and check out eleanor and park next time i’m at the library. 

book review: “red rising” trilogy

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i’ve been waiting for so long for the final book of this trilogy to publish and get to my doorstep. ok, so it was only a year, but still. 

i reviewed the first book of this series, “red rising”, back when i finished that. i was enamored. i was not as enamored by the second book when i first read it, but now i reread them in preparation for the final book, i liked it a bit more. anyway. let’s talk about these books.

it’s hard coming into these books right after a very frilly, very thorough writer*; pierce brown’s style in these books is very frank, honest, and gritty, and comes in the first person of our hero, darrow. but as you get in a little deeper, you understand that this man can write action, and the compact sentences help create a world of class war. 

we’re in a world(s) where the elite have their heels on the tiers of lower classes and have the technology and bodies to back it up. our hero, helped out by a cast of characters along the way, rises from the very bottom to the very top to make mayhem and tear down the classes. 

like i wrote in my first review, brown’s influenced by many writers, and you can tell as you read through the plotline, but it’s so mashed up and in such an exciting package, you push that aside.

plus, how can you go wrong when the hero’s nickname is “the reaper.”

the last 100 pages or so of “red rising” is still my favorite section of the books. it’s raw, animalistic, and really when darrow sees what he needs to do and how he needs to act. he understands that to make this work, he needs to rely on and trust his friends and make real relationships. while that’s my favorite, the end of the third book was really close; i was grinning like a fool as i read the end of “morning star.” without giving too much away, let’s say i felt what i felt at the end of HP7. 

wholehearted five stars to this trilogy. the last book is what i wanted “mockingjay” to be. it’s on par with HP. it’s the end of every star trek film on steroids. if they decide to make a movie, i will be very terrified and very excited at the same time. 

* the typos. my god, the typos. and ORIENTATE is NOT a word. i had to wonder where on earth the copy editors were. i’ll forgive him though; he did use farther correctly every single time. also, just a note: these are adult books, not YA. mr. brown himself has said that these are adult books. i think a lot of teens read them, but a lot of teems read other adult books as well. 

delving into the deep

i just finished up the short story patrick rothfuss wrote for a collection by george rr martin, which means i am once again rothfuss-less. i just read 2000+ pages and now i’m wallowing in book grief. 

this is part of the reason i’m avoiding reading harry potter again – there is so much a person gets invested in in a series like that, and when it’s over, it’s such a loss. i’m friendless, storyless, worldless. 

this is not to say i won’t pick them up again. if that were the case, i’d never read again. to take the time out of your day to visit a world not your own, a life not your own, and recreate it with your own scenes is something pretty incredible. i really do feel sorry for those people who watched the HP movies before reading the books. or any books, really. to experience those stories with your own imagination is a pretty powerful thing. (it’s also a huge disappointment when it hits the big screen and the scenes play out nothing like you’d expected.)

rothfuss had his books optioned for a film/tv adaptation, and i’m scared outta my pants, one for the adaptation itself and two because how will this dent his time with book 3? (i know; i know. that’s the selfish side of me.)

but there are always more books. so i’ll keep on reading.

second time through

i just finished reading pat rothfuss’ “name of the wind” for the second time, and it was even better the second time around! 

i love his writing style. what i remember the first time i read this book was that i was not too excited to start reading it. i felt like fantasy reading had stopped being really alluring to me. but i gave it a shot and decided to read a couple chapters. once i got past the first few pages, i was hooked. and it wasn’t necessarily because of the plot or the genre; it wa because rothfuss is perhaps the most beautiful prose-ist i can think of. 

they say fitzgerald had a way with words. i would argue rothfuss is the fitzgerald of our time. there are sentences that are just beautiful, and each one makes you want to read the next. there are double meanings as well as lovely, tumbly jumbles of words. 

he’s got the first two of the kingkiller chronicles done, and he wrote ” the slow regard of silent things” a while ago. there’s a short story in a george rr martin book i’ve got to get ahold of so i can read that. but we’re still waiting on book three of the kingkiller chronicles, which is rumored to be in editing process. 

i can’t wait! 

Review: Who Do You Love

Who Do You Love
Who Do You Love by Jennifer Weiner
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

i’ve read jennifer weiner since her first book, good in bed, was published. i’ve enjoyed every book, but this was not one i particularly enjoyed. her other books, if i remember correctly, are not romance novels. they typically have a woman who is trying to solve a problem that doesn’t 100% revolve around a man. now, it’s been a while since i’ve read most of her books, so i could be wrong, but my memory tells me that her plotlines generally have other major issues and also include a romantic relationship issue along with it.

this book was pretty much how rachel finds her true love and gets him in the end. sure, she has other things happen in her life, but andy is the overarching theme and the other issues are just piddly things. andy also has his own chapters, describing his life and its ups and downs, and i feel like his life story is a lot more interesting than rachel’s. but rachel is his overarching theme.

and the smut! ok. i do not read romance novels. i am not a romance novel person. i will occasionally run into a book with smut, but generally it’s not pervasive enough to overwhelm the literary factor. i feel like this book’s percentage of smut is above and beyond weiner’s normal levels, and if i’d known it was going to be this enmeshed in the story, i probably wouldn’t have read it.

what could have made this book better? i think if she had written this in first person andy and let rachel take the other side, this may have had potential. less smut? maybe rachel really focusing on her heart issues more? more description and angst over andy’s running problems? i’m not sure.

anyway, i wouldn’t recommend this book with gusto. well, maybe a romance novel enthusiast, but not a jennifer weiner novel enthusiast. be forewarned, jen weiner fans.

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reading reading reading

i’ve done the goodreads book challenge that last few years, trying to increase the number of books i read in a year (competition with myself gets me going on certain things [reading, running]). this past year was not a good year for finishing up books. i don’t know what happened, but i fell short on the number of books, AND i fell short on the number of pages read.

in 2014 and 2013, i read drastically different numbers of books, 62 in ’13 and 46 in ’14, but i had a surprisingly close same number of pages read, right around 22,700. (to be fair, i read a LOT of stephen king in ’14, and his books are at least 500 pages each.)

so in ’15, while i read more books than in ’14, my page count was off by about 2,000. boo on me. 

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so i signed up again this year, setting 60 books as my goal. we’ll see how it goes, and hopefully i’ll devote enough time to reading this time around.

book review and beef: searching for sunday

i just finished a book called “searching for sunday” by rachel held evans. in it she describes her search for the right fit of a church/religion. overall, i liked the book and could relate to it more often than not, even though she was pretty adamant in her beliefs 99% of the time  and was just having problems finding the right place to celebrate them.

however, i had a problem with exactly one sentence during her section on “communion”. (she titled her sections after the sacraments.)

Certainly nonbelievers can care for one another and make one another food. But it is Christians who recognize this act as sacrament, as holy.

that’s quite a presumptuous statement, ms. held-evans. 

even nonbelievers can recognize the importance of food. food is a universal, a common thread among all people, no matter religion, race, or creed. it is the very stuff of life, quite literally, and for anyone to not understand that food, whether created for others out of need or care or for yourself to stave off hunger for another six hours, is a necessary and fundamental part of life and one to celebrate, is pretty ludicrous.

when i make food for others, i know that i’m participating in creating a building block of life – and those who receive it and eat it are receiving it with thanks and gratitude. a great thing; a wonderful thing; a meaningful thing. 

one definition of sacrament is “a thing of mysterious and sacred significance.” i think everyone can agree that giving food to others in times of need is a thing of significance, and as a person who just went through a pretty weird tragedy, can be a thing of mystery. does “sacred” necessarily need to be a part of it? sacred is 100% tied to religion, but things of mystery and significance can hold dear spots in people’s hearts without being tied to a religion or specific god. 

holy’s definition is pretty straightforward: “dedicated or consecrated to God or a religious purpose.” take out the god and religion, and we have “dedicated or consecrated to a purpose.” what better way to describe preparing food for others? especially when preparing food for others during extreme times – times of joy, sadness, hopelessness, hunger. 

rachel can believe what she wants to about food as a thing of mystery and significance – a thing dedicated or consecrated to a purpose. but i’ll tell youthis: nonbelievers and believers alike can understand the importance of food and how it’s tied to emotion. i’ll sit at the table, pull up a chair, and share my food with those who need it, even if they believe I can’t see the importance of what i’m doing.