Book Challenges

Like I said, a slippery slope.

I said that I would be using book challenge to focus my reading and that’s still my plan. I just am going to be a little more focused.

My challenges:

Fifty Book Challenge
Five Book Challenge
POC Reading Challenge – This challenge basically says to read things about POC and by POC, though not necessarily both. I’m signing up for the 7-9 book level, but hopefully I’ll surpass it. For this and the rest of the challenges I’m not going to specify the books I’ll read, and though I have made lists to choose from, I’m not going to limit myself to them. My lists are mostly comprised of books I already own, as a way to hopefully read more of the books on my shelves! I’m planning on reading one or two things by Octavia Butler, Mules and Men by Zora Neale Hurston (it’s for school, but it counts!), anything I read for the SAA challenge (see below) and who knows what else!
South Asian Author Challenge – I signed up for the lowest level, three books, because I’m trying to keep things simple. Hopefully I will read more than that, but I’m not going to pressure myself! I have a few books that I own, so I’m going to try to stick to those. They’re books by Jhumpa Lahiri, Amitav Ghosh, and Vikram Chandra.


Book Challenge ACCEPTED

Okay, so I assume I’m a fairly typical person in that as soon as I say I won’t do something, I immediately find some version of that thing that I simply must do and vice versa (ala saying that I will say why I want to write Buddhist fanfiction and then never, ever doing it).  Case in point, in my Rose Sees Red review, I said in a footnote, “This Fifty Book Challenge started me on the extremely slippery slope of book challenges, which I am using this year only as a way to focus my reading… instead of, well, being more strict about it and picking the books before, making sure I read a certain number of them, etc.” In finding those links, I found a book challenge I simply couldn’t resist.

I also happen to have an enabling best friend. When I asked if she wanted to participate in Bill Ward’s Five Book Challenge, she responded, “Oh Oh Oh Yes I want to! A thousand times yes!!” So Mary and I have compiled a list of five books that the other has to read this year. As Bill Ward says, these books should be things that the other person would definitely benefit from or enjoy, but not ones that they would have picked up themselves. They could be books the other person has wanted to read for a while but never gotten around to. And without further ado, here is Mary’s list for me:

1) How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff
2) North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell
3) The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoevsky
4) North by Seamus Heaney
5) Good Behaviour by Molly Keane

Here you can see Mary’s penchant for English and Irish lit, with a healthy dose of Russian lit and YA lit. I actually recently saw a miniseries version of North and South and loved it, so I’m really excited about that one. (It’s on Netflix Instant right now! Go take advantage of it if you have Netflix and it’s your sort of thing; I highly recommend it.) The YA, she tells me, is weird and she wants to know what I think. Since she gave me this list before I finalized mine, I decided to also include a YA that I had some issues with. Here’s my list for Mary:

1) Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher
2) Kindred by Octavia Butler
3) Infidel by Ayaan Hirsi Ali
4) The Astonishing Tale of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation, Volume 1: The Pox Party by M.T. Anderson
5) Footprints in the Snow: The Autobiography of a Chinese Buddhist Monk by Sheng Yen

I also included an optional sixth book, because it is very short and she’s making me read The Brothers Karamazov: A Small Place by Jamaica Kincaid.

Funny, I haven’t talked about any of the books I chose for Mary on this blog, though I have much to say about them. I may reread Kindred with her because I read it a very long time ago. The others I will probably comment on on her reviews, and she may do the same on mine, I don’t know. Oh, yes, I forgot to mention that we will both be keeping track of what we’ve read on this blog. Accountability! That’s what book challenges are all about. Well, accountability and reading good books.

I’m excited for this, Mary is excited, and I hope you’re excited, too! It should be a grand old time.

Sunday Dreaming 2/21/10

The Black Jacobins – A 1938 study of the turn of the 19th century Haitian revolution.

(via Doret’s interview with Debbie Rigaud at Color Online)

Little Girls in Pretty Boxes by Joan Ryan – 1995 book about the influence of gymnastics and figure skating on the girls who practice them.

(via Robin Wasserman)

Improper Relations by Janet Mullany – Humorous regency romance. I love funny books, but there are so few of them! I’m always, always on the look-out for more.

(via Jenny at Dear Author)

Wench by Dolen Perkins-Valdez – Historical fiction. “An ambitious and startling debut novel that follows the lives of four women at a resort popular among slaveholders who bring their enslaved mistresses.” Tell me that doesn’t sound powerful. Don’t miss the NPR interview halfway down the page.

(via Carleen at White Readers Meet Black Authors)

Rose Sees Red by Cecil Castellucci (Books Read in 2010 #7)

Mwahaha, right on schedule*!

1. Heir Apparent by Vivian Vande Velde
2. Locked Inside by Nancy Werline
3. Chew Volume 1: Taster’s Choice by John Layman and Rob Guillory
4. Princess Academy by Shannon Hale
5. Book of a Thousand Days by Shannon Hale
6. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J.K. Rowling
7. Rose Sees Red by Cecil Castellucci

This is the book I got in the mail last weekend. It’s an ARC (Advanced Reading Copy) that is trying to get itself into as many hands as possible. Castellucci asked for people who wanted it and made a list, emailing each person with the address of the person following you. I love this idea, because, really, so few ARCs are made. Plus, it’s fun to hold a book in your hands that you know has been read by like twenty other people.

Anyway, onto the book! It’s about a girl named Rose who goes to a performing arts school (for dance) in New York in 1982. That it took place in 1982 is great, but I wish it had been made clearer in the beginning of the book. There were some statements made (Rose lives next to a Russian family and, well, you can see where I’m going: KGB, Soviet Union, etc.) that made me raise my eyebrow, but I honestly didn’t put it together until halfway through the book. That’s a fairly minor complaint, though, and one of few that I have. Rose Sees Red is short, but packs a punch. Rose is a freshman and hasn’t made any friends at her school yet, but she’s about to.

Rose Sees Red is about that night where you suddenly feel different and you know that everything will be better, even if some things won’t change. It’s about the period of time when you go from looking in at yourself to looking out at, not just the people close to you, not just your friends and family, but the whole world. It’s about the epiphany of empathy. There’s a lot more to mention, but seeing as how I just said the most important part, I’ll end the review here.

Rose Sees Red comes out in August! Go put it on your wish list or equivalent now before you forget. *nod nod*

*For reading fifty books this year. I started setting that goal for myself in 2008 when I realized I hadn’t been reading nearly as much as I used to. I didn’t make it that year (I believe I got to 44), but I did last year, with 52 books! Yay for me! This Fifty Book Challenge started me on the extremely slippery slope of book challenges, which I am using this year only as a way to focus my reading (more books by non-American authors, more books by POC authors, more books featuring POC characters, more books that have been sitting on my shelves unread), instead of, well, being more strict about it and picking the books before, making sure I read a certain number of them, etc.

Dang, the Cybils!

Aw, *beep*, son! The Cybils (the children’s and YA book awards chosen by book bloggers) have announced their winners! There’s some good stuff here, but I’m most excited by:

Dreamdark: Silksinger by Laini Taylor – MG (Middle Grade) fantasy. Must read the first book, Blackbringer!
Chains by Laurie Halse Anderson – MG fiction. I haven’t read anything by Anderson, but this is high on my list as are Speak and Wintergirls.
Gunnerkrigg Court by Tom Siddell – This one YA Graphic Novel, but it started out as a webcomic. Go forth and read for it is excellent stuff.
Fire by Kristin Cashore – Auuugh, auuugh. Graceling was quite good and I want to read this so badly! But I cannot buy hardcovers and I have so many books I need to read already that I feel guilty for going to the library.

Also check out their list of finalists, for there is much good to be had there, too!


I managed to accumulate three books this weekend, even though I’m still swamped with reading for school and I still have a TON of books in my TBR pile (which isn’t actually a pile, but maybe I’ll post on that later). What I’m saying here is, I do not need any more books.

I think… I think… *takes a deep breath* Hello, my name is Jessica and I’m… addicted to books. Books are to me as shoes are to the stereotypical woman: irresistible. (I’m also a wee bit addicted to the internet/my computer, and these two things do NOT go together. If I didn’t have the internet, I wouldn’t have such an overflow of books. At least that’s what I tell myself.)

Anyway, I only bought one of those three books (the only two were given to me by my dad), which is’nt SO bad. I think I’m going to start keeping track of the books I buy each week on this blog, just to give myself accountability so hopefully I will buy less books that I soooo don’t need. I’m not sure if I’ll ‘fess up about books lent/given to me, since at least then I’m not spending money I don’t have. We’ll see.

However, I will not necessarily tell you what those books are. The one I bought this week, for instance, is horribly embarrassing and I regret it already. I won’t tell you what it is, but I will tell you that it’s nonfiction because I’m sure most of you either unconsciously or consciously thought “romance” as soon as I said “embarrassing” and I want you to know that that is not the case! Plus, you know, I got it on sale! And I only bought one book, which really isn’t terrible, since I read about a book a week and therefore I’m not adding to my TBR pile, right?



[Edit: AUGH! Four books! Four! I forgot about the ARC of Cecil Castellucci’s Rose Sees Red that came in the mail! She’s doing a neat pass-it-around thing where, after you’ve read it, you mail it to the next person on the list. Good times! Also bad times! FOUR books!!!)

Sunday Dreaming 2/14/10

Of course I flaked and didn’t post this yesterday, but better late than never!

What books have I drooled over this week? It’s Feburary, which means it’s Black History Month, so all of the books will feature African American authors and/or characters.

A true story, The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind by William Kamkwamba and Brian Mealer, looks simply amazing. Again, let me just post a video:

(via Trisha at Guy’s Lit Wire)

My Life is a Rhombus by Varian Johnson looks to be a balanced and emotional look at two teenagers dealing with unplanned pregnancies and the many consequences.

Mare’s War by Tanita S. Davis is a book I’ve been wanting for a while. Two girls take a long road trip with their grandmother, who regales them with tales about her time in the Women’s Army Corps.

Zahrah the Windseeker by Nnedi Okorafor-Mbachu is another one I’ve been wanting for a while. Any sort of non-Western SF&F is immediately high on my list.

And lastly, even though this post has been full to the brim of YA, I can’t resist one last one: A Wish After Midnight by Zetta Elliot. It’s a time-travel tale, but as always it’s the recommendations from others that the characters are developed and their relationships nuanced that really makes me want to read this.
(via Paula at The Defenders Online)