Tag Archives: reading challenges

The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner

I’ve been busy, ya’ll. Busy reading, that is! Here’s my list for the year:

1. Sailing to Saratium by Guy Gavriel Kay
2. Farm 54 by Galit and Gilad Seliktar
3. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
4. The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner
5. The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson
6.  Taylor’s Temptation by Suzanne Brockmann

So on track to pass the 50 book challenge! Now, Mary promised me she would write a review for TFiOS with me, so I’m not going to talk about that right now, but here are three short reviews for the others:

The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner: This is 2nd world YA fantasy and a really fun adventure. I had some… misplaced expectations that weirded out my reading of the book. For instance, I spent about half of the book thinking that Gen, the main character, was a girl in disguise. This is not the case. Regardless of my own silliness, I can’t wait to read the rest of the series. Especially since I’ve heard that the romance in the later books (there’s none in this one) is fantastic.

The only bothersome thing was there there are no female main characters, but you know what? Not every book has to. There’s space in this world for books with no women – especially when it makes sense in the setting and plot, especially when there are only five characters who have more than a few lines. Plus, I know that in the later books there are plenty of women. A lack of racial or gender or sexuality diversity is most damning as a pattern over a large oeuvre of work. Looking over all of Terry Pratchett’s work, for instance (which I bring up because I just read Tia’s review of Going Postal over at Reading in Skirts), you see a serious minority of female characters, both main and supporting, that is a problem.

The other thing that I thought about while reading this book was, How many other awesome YA books have I missed from the 80s and 90s?! This is like… not discovering Tamora Pierce or Mercedes Lackey or Gail Carson Levine (bad example for me as I only read Ella Enchanted in high school) or Garth Nix or… Augh! It’s terrifying to think. Guys, what am I missing?!

Huh, that got longer than I thought it would. Guess I’ll talk about Name of the Star (so good, you guys) and Taylor’s Temptation another day! Ta!

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2011 Book List

My 2011 book list is far from complete–I fell out of habit and didn’t update my file regularly for the last month or two of the year, and I may be missing a few. (Some are also out of order.) Nevertheless! It’s a fairly accurate representation of what I read over the course of the year. An asterisk denotes a re-read.

1. Challenges: Book Two of the Blending – Sharon Green
2. The Thing Around Your Neck – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
3. E Pluribus Unicorn – Theodore Sturgeon
4. The Green Glass Sea – Ellen Klages
5. A Girl Named Disaster – Nancy Farmer*
6. Victory of Eagles – Naomi Novik
7. Tongues of Serpents – Naomi Novik
8. Book of a Thousand Days – Shannon Hale
9. Sky Coyote – Kage Baker
10. Gathering Blue – Lois Lowry
11. A Nameless Witch – A. Lee Martinez
12. The Goose Girl – Shannon Hale
13. Plain Kate – Erin Bow
14. Monster – A. Lee Martinez
15. Dogsbody – Diana Wynn Jones
16. Enna Burning – Shannon Hale
17. Incarceron – Catherine Fisher
18. Prep – Curtis Sittenfeld*
19. Soulless – Gail Carriger
20. Emperor Mage – Tamora Pierce*
21. Sabriel – Garth Nix
22. SVH: Mystery Date – Kate William
23. American Born Chinese – Gene Luen Yang
24. It’s Too Late to Say I’m Sorry – Joey Comeau
25. Gil’s All Fright Diner – A. Lee Martinez
26. Barefoot Gen Volumes 3 and 4 – Keiji Nakazawa
27. Thirteen Little Blue Envelopes – Maureen Johnson
28. The Last Unicorn – Peter Beagle
29. The Rabbi’s Cat – Joann Sfar
30. Someday This Pain Will Be Useful to You – Peter Cameron
31. Lirael – Garth Nix
32. The Princess Diaries – Meg Cabot*
33. The Hunger Games – Suzanne Collins
34. Catching Fire – Suzanne Collins
35. Abhorsen – Garth Nix
36. Memoirs of a Teenage Amnesiac – Gabrielle Zevin
37. Dairy Queen – Catherine Gilbert Murdock
38. White Cat – Holly Black
39. Lulu Dark Can See Through Walls – Bennett Madison
40. Will Grayson, Will Grayson – John Green and David Levithan
41. Sloppy Firsts – Megan McCaffrey
42. Juniper – Monica Furlong*
43. The Swan Maiden – Heather Tomlinson
44. The Off Season – Catherine Gilbert Murdock
45. St. Lucy’s Home For Girls Raised By Wolves – Karen Russell
46. River Secrets – Shannon Hale
47. Red Glove – Holly Black
48. Terrier – Tamora Pierce
49. Princess in the Spotlight – Meg Cabot
50. Princess in Love – Meg Cabot
51. First Test – Tamora Pierce
52. Leviathan – Scott Westerfeld
53. Princess Academy – Shannon Hale
54. Boy – Roald Dahl
55. Einstein’s Dreams – Alan Lightman
56. Sellevision – Augusten Burroughs*
57. An Abundance of Katherines – John Green
58. Among Others – Jo Walton
59. The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood
60. Wild Seed – Octavia Butler
61. Whatever Happened To Goodbye – Sarah Dessen
62. Mendoza in Hollywood – Kage Baker
63. The Graveyard Game – Kage Baker
64. Staying Fat for Sarah Byrnes – Chris Crutcher
65. Whales on Stilts! – M. T. Anderson
66. Farm 54 – Galit and Gilad Seliktar
67. Sweet Tooth Volume 1 – Jeff Lemire
68. Princess in Waiting – Meg Cabot
69. Princess in Pink - Meg Cabot
70. Squire – Tamora Pierce
71. Page – Tamora Pierce
72. Lady Knight – Tamora Pierce
73. Princess in Training – Meg Cabot
74. Party Princess – Meg Cabot
75. Princess on the Brink – Meg Cabot
76. Princess Mia – Meg Cabot
77. Deerskin – Robin McKinley
78. Front and Center – Catherine Gilbert Murdock
79. Chalice – Robin McKinley
80. Black Projects, White Knights – Kage Baker
81. Forever Princess – Meg Cabot

Some data:
+ I re-read 6 books, which means I read 75 books for the first time.
+ 58 books were written by women, and 25 books were written by men. (One book was written by a brother and sister team, and one was written by two men.)
+ My most-read author for the year was Meg Cabot, who wrote 10 books out of my reading list. Second place goes to Tamora Pierce with 6 books, and third is Shannon Hale with 5 books.
+ I read 6 graphic novels (American Born Chinese, Barefoot Gen Volumes 3 and 4, The Rabbi’s Cat, Farm 54, and Sweet Tooth), 2 audiobooks (Princess Academy and Whatever Happened to Goodbye), and the other 73 books were either traditional print books or ebooks on my Kindle. For 2012 I’ll have to keep better track of ebooks vs. print.

I spectacularly failed all the reading challenges I mentally signed up for at the beginning of the year–and if I did succeed in any, it was purely by coincidence. I haven’t decided whether I’m going to do any official challenges this year, or just try to follow some basic guidelines. We’ll see whether I remember to sign up for any! I do want to read outside of my privileges (can you tell that Jessica inspired me?), and I’d like to try some more audiobooks for long car rides. Plus, graphic novels! I love graphic novels and particularly supporting self-published and small-press comickers, but you’d hardly know it from this list. I also hope to keep better track of book data (genre, pub date, etc.) so that I can do more nit-picky analysis of my reading habits.

What did your reading list look like for 2011? Do you have any reading goals for 2012?

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Combating my Privilege – Challenges

So these challenges are all about keeping myself honest and aware of my privileges – white, able-bodied, straight, cis-gendered, middle class, educated… (For the record, my three biggest non-privileges are that I am a woman, I am fat, and I have experienced mental illness. I’m also an atheist – which sometimes feels like a privilege and sometimes does not.) I do a fair amount of blog and online reading in this vein, but I also want to seek out books that are not about white, straight, cis-gendered, able-bodied people. So!

The POC Reading Challenge got it’s own post a couple of days ago because I also had a wrap-up to do from last week.


South Asian Reading Challenge 2012 

Yes, I’m doing it again and this year I will succeed, dammit! Going to set a minimum goal of just one book, so that if I fail I can be properly ashamed of myself.

Ideas – Something by Amitav Ghosh (probably Sea of Poppies), Emperor of All Maladies by Siddhartha Mukherjee, something by Salman Rushie (probably Midnight’s Children), The Weight of Heaven by Thrity Umrigar


2012 Middle East Reading Challenge 

Along a similar vein, I vow to read, at minimum, one book either set in the Middle East or by a Middle Eastern author. I think I already know the bare minimum one I will read – Mia bought a graphic novel about growing up in Israel at APE last year.

1) Farm 54 by Galit and Gilad Seliktar – This book takes place from the mid? 1970s to the late 1980s and is a semi-autobiographical account of Galit’s growing up in Israel. The main character, Noga, deals with love, sex, a lot of death, and a couple of other themes that I’m having a hard time placing. There’s a strange… Noga doesn’t feel like she has too much agency – perhaps because she is looking back on her life? Maybe because, though she is looking back at her own life, she doesn’t do a lot of introspecting, doesn’t explain why she did what she did. The whole book is very sparse.

I kind of feel like that should only count as half of a book or something – it was so quick, even for a graphic novel. Maybe I will keep my eyes open for another book to add to here.

I haven’t been able to find challenges for the following categories, so I’m just going to set some goals:

1 book from Japan – either Murakami or Ishiguro
1-5 books from the following African regions (one book per): North, South, East, West, and Central – Who Fears Death by Nnedi Okoafor
1 book by or about a transgender person AND/OR 1 book by or about a disabled person -
1 lesbian or gay romance novel -

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Themed Reading Challenges


Back to the Classics Challenge 2012

Read one classic from each category

  • Any 19th Century Classic – Middlemarch or North and South
  • Any 20th Century Classic – Cat’s Eye or Cat’s Cradle
  • Reread a classic of your choice – The Color Purple, To Kill a Mockingbird, 1984, Invisible Cities, 100 Years of Solitude
  • A Classic Play – Sam Beckett?
  • Classic Mystery/Horror/Crime Fiction – Frankenstein?
  • Classic Romance – North and South
  • Read a Classic that has been translated from its original language to your language   - Invisible Cities, 100 Years of Solitude,
  • Classic Award Winner  - Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie, Herman Hesse, William Faulker, Gabriel García Márquez, Octavio Paz, The Color Purple by Alice Walker, Gone with the Wind, To Kill a Mockingbird
  • Read a Classic set in a Country that you (realistically speaking) will not visit during your lifetime


The Dewey Decimal Challenge

This is a basic non-fiction challenge and I’ll sign up for the most basic level, which is reading one to five non-fiction books.

1) In the Land of Invented Languages by Arika Okrent


Reading My Life 2012 Challenge (okay, that’s not what she calls it, but whatever!)

I love the idea for this challenge! Pick one book that was published each year since the year of your birth. I’m going to go (everybody’s shocked) for the lowest level, 3 years. That means I’ll read one book each from 1986, 1987, and 1988, the first three years of my life.

1986 – Crap, a lot of books I *love* are from this year, like Speaker for the Dead and Howl’s Moving Castle. Oh, here we go. My dad got me Maus by Art Spiegelman for Christmas and the first one just so happens to have been published in 1986. Perfect!
1987 - Another great year for books – Watchmen and Beloved and Arrows for the Queen were published in 1987. Let’s see, what should I read? I could do Norweigan Wood by Murakami or Bluebeard by Vonnegut or Consider Phlebas by Iain M. Banks or The Forge of God by Greg Bear or Equal Rites or Mort by Terry Pratchett or Anthills of the Savannah by Chinua Achebe. This year will be harder to pick as I don’t own any of them. We’ll see what happens!
1988 – Sweet deal! Cat’s Eye by Margaret Atwood was published in ’88 and I own it! There are other possibilities, though – The Player of Games by Banks, a couple of Prachetts (Sourcery and Wyrd Sisters), or Rushdie’s The Satanic Verses. also omg but Matilda was published in ’88 and you don’t even know how much I loved that book!

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General Reading Challenges

This post is for general and/or miscellaneous reading challenges. If I include any lists here, they’re for my own reference.


Off the Shelf Reading Challenge 2012

Read books that you already own! If you acquire it in 2012, it doesn’t count. I’m going to sign up for the Trying level, which is to read 15 books from your shelves. Hopefully I will read more, but again, I don’t use reading challenges to force/pressure myself. :) (See also the Unread Book Challenge for essentially the same thing.)


The 2012 Short Story Challenge

Simple – read at least twelve short stories in 2012! I meant to read more short stories last year, so hopefully this will give me  a good kick in the pants. First on my list is Lady with the Little Dog by Chekov.

1) The Lottery by Shirley Jackson (1/7/12) – First, just go read it so we can talk about it like civilized people. I mean it, young person! It’s less than 4000 words so it won’t take long. Okay. You’ve read it, right? I really don’t want to spoil it for you. Alright. I don’t actually have a lot to say about it. The creepiest thing is that there’s absolutely no reason given for the lottery. My friend, Leah, who linked it to me, mentioned the Hunger Games, so I didn’t have a growing realization that the lottery wasn’t a happy thing – I pretty much knew it all along. But still. No justification. No religious fertility rite, no making the masses compliant. Just nothing. The Wikipedia page on the story is worthwhile – go read that, too. :P

2) Kolkata Sea by Indrapramit Das (1/10/12) – This story is very short, just over a thousand words, so there’s not a lot for me to say. This future could easily be a dystopia, right? But Das just shows people getting on, which is, imho, how it’s all going to go down. People get on.


I Want More 2012 Book Challenge

This challenge is all about reading more by authors you’ve read and loved but have more books for you to enjoy! Like normal, I will sign up for the lowest level, Waited Too Long, which bids me to read 2-4 books. My authors include – Margaret Atwood, Kurt Vonnegut, Jane Austen, Octavia Butler (though maybe she and Austen shouldn’t count as I’ve actually read almost everything by them…), Vernor Vinge, Justine Larbalestier, Elizabeth Bear,


1001 Books 2012 Edition

I’m going to go for the “Got to Trials” level, meaning I’ll read (hopefully) five books from this list. I find lists like these interesting – they show the biases of the creator. With 1001 books, though, I’m sure I can find a ton of great ones.

Possibilities (either I have access or am particularly keen) – Never Let Me Go or Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro, On Beauty or White Teeth by Zadie Smith, Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell, Life of Pi by Yann Martel, House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski, Cryptonomicon by Neal Stephenson, The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver, Tipping the Velvet or Fingersmith by Sarah Waters, Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace, something by Murakami, something by Rushdie, Cat’s Eye or something else by Margaret Atwood, Smilla’s Sense of Snow by Peter Høeg, The Player of Games by Iain M. Banks, Neuromancer by William Gibson, Ragtime or something else by E.L. Doctorow, Sula by Toni Morrison, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick, The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov, In Cold Blood by Truman Capote, Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys, Cat’s Cradle or something else by Kurt Vonnegut, Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe, The Once and Future King by T.H. White, The Talented Mr. Ripley by Patricia Highsmith, The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler, Foundation by Isaac Asimov, The Labyrinth of Solitude by Octavio Paz, Gormenghast by Mervyn Peake, Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day by Winifred Watson, Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell, The Thin Man or something else by Dashiell Hammett, The Waves or something else by Virginia Woolf, All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque, The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner, Siddhartha by Herman Hesse, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson, The Brothers Karamazov or something else by Fyodor Dostoevsky, Anna Karenina or something else by Leo Tolstoy, Middlemarch by George Eliot, The Moonstone or something else by Wilkie Collins, North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell, Dead Souls by Nikolay Gogol, Frankenstein by Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley, Sense & Sensibility by Jane Austen, The Mysteries of Udolpho by Ann Radcliffe, Evelina by Fanny Burney, Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift, Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra

Have Already Read (which doesn’t mean I can’t reread!) – The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood, Jazz by Toni Morrison, Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel, Beloved by Toni Morrison, Watchmen by Alan Moore & David Gibbons, Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel García Márquez, The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood, The Color Purple by Alice Walker, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams, Invisible Cities by Italo Calvino, The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou, Slaughterhouse-five by Kurt Vonnegut, One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez, The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath, To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien, The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger, Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell,  The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald, A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway, Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston, Brave New World by Aldous Huxley, House of Mirth by Edith Wharton, The Awakening by Kate Chopin, The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman, The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain, Through the Looking Glass, and What Alice Found There by Lewis Carroll, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll, The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne, Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë, Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen, Persuasion by Jane Austen, Emma by Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen,

OMG SO MANY BOOKS I AM FULL OF REGRET AUUUUGH

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POC Reading Challenge

2011 – Totally succeeded! I signed up to read 1-3 books about people of color (should that be capitalized?) and yeah. TOTALLY SUCCEEDED. I’m mostly working off the top of my head, because I don’t have a book list for the year. It’s probable that I’m missing at least one or two books. I’m posting links if I wrote reviews, otherwise I’ll do a mini review right now!

1) Mare’s War by Tanita S. Davis – I can’t believe I didn’t write about this! (Bargain price on Amazon!) IT IS SO GOOD, YA’LL. Snarky teenagers, a crazy grandmother, a road trip, history, love, gumption! This book has it all.

2) 32 Candles by Ernessa T. Carter – I also cannot believe I didn’t write about this. (Also bargain priced on Amazon!) I loved this book. I want all the books to be like this one. I would read all the time FOR FOREVER if all books were like this book. Which isn’t to say that I found it flawless, but that I ate it up like it was candy. Except it WASN’T CANDY. It was a freaking delicious main course of amazingness!!!! If you must know something about the actual book, it’s a romantic contemporary novel. There, now go eat it. I mean, read it. Nom om om.

3) Bleeding Violet by Dia Reeves

4) Liar by Justine Larbalestier – Review later this month!

5) Girl Named Disaster by Nancy Farmer

6) The Agency by Y.S. Lee – Starting to sound like a broken record, but I can’t believe I didn’t write about this book! I LOVED IT. Historical YA about secret societies and awesome women. SIGN ME UP PLEASE. Most definitely need to read the second book this year!

7) Santa Olivia by Jacqueline Carey – Mexican protagonist, and I think the author is white

8) The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie – Both protag and author are Native American.

9) Duty, Desire, and the Desert King by Jane Porter – I’m not sure this should reeeeeally count, as I’m sure it has nothing to do with the reality of Middle Eastern men BUT WHATEVER. White author, white heroine, Middle Eastern hero.

10) Whale Talk by Chris Crutcher – Mixed race protag, white author.

Honorable Mentions Cause I Haven’t Finished Them Yet But Whoa They’re So Good: The Warmth of Other Suns by Isabel Wilkerson and Tending the Wild by Kat Anderson. The former is about the migration of Southern Black people to the North in the twentieth century. The latter is about how Californian Native Americans managed and tended their so-called wild places, and how we should, too. They’re both non-fiction and GREAT.

A stat – Out of the ten books I have above, only five were written by POC. I’m not sure whether that’s a good thing or a bad one. I mean, at least white people *are* writing about POC? And aside from the romance novel, they all seemed (from my white privileged perspective) to do a good job. And really, the romance novel didn’t resort to Middle Eastern stereotypes as much as Romance stereotypes. OTOH, am I failing POC authors by not supporting them? Out of the POC authors, I only own one of the books. Of the white authors, I only three of the books. =\

Another stat – Two dude authors, eight lady authors! I am happy about this ratio. It is a ratio that I am happy about.

Stat no. three – 7/10 are YA, 2/10 romantically themed contemporary novels, 1/10 straight up rohmahnce.

Second-to-last stat – 5/10 of the protags were black. 1/10 mixed race. 1/10 Latino. 1/10 Native American. 1/10 Middle Eastern. 1/10 I WON’T SAY AS IT’S A SPOILER. *frowny face*

Here’s the best stat of all – I signed up to read 1-3 POC books and read AT LEAST TEN. YESSSSSSSSSSSS.

2012 – I, unfortunately, don’t see a 2012 version of the challenge! Still, this is important enough to me that I am going to make my own personal goal. (UPDATE! The POC Reading Challenge is officially back as of Jan 30. That means my goal of eight falls under their Level 3, 7-9.)

I will read at least eight books by and/or about POC in 2012. (I know, I know – less than what I managed this year? Well, I don’t use reading challenges to pressure myself, but to shift my reading focus. Hopefully I will read more than ten, but I’m not going to make that a part of my goal.)

Want to readThe Agency 2: The Body at the Tower by Y.S. Lee, The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms by N.K. Jemisin (which I own so I better get on this!), Wench by Dolen Perkins-Valdez, something by Murakami or Ishiguro maybe?, Who Fears Death by Nnedi Okorafor (I also own this – thanks, Mia!!), Tayari Jones’ Silver Sparrows, Across the Universe by Beth Revis, I have the first Easy Rawlins book so I should read that, I’d like to read a romance novel written by a POC (Brenda Jackson, maybe?), something about soccer would be awesome! (maybe The Silent Cry)

Have Read -

1) Farm 54 by Galit and Gilad Seliktar - Short review under the Middle East Challenge.

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2011 Reading and 2012 Goals

2011 – I didn’t keep very good track of my reading this year, missing a good chunk of books, so I can’t do a whole lot of summarizing or favorites or whatnot. I’m not even going to look back at my reading challenges – all I remember off the top of my head are POC and South Asian. I’m pretty sure I succeeded in the former and failed in the latter. Later this month I will post a (possibly joint with Mia) review of my last book of the year, Liar by Justine Larbalestier, which I picked as our January book club book. (Look! It’s bargain priced on Amazon! Go buy it!)

2012 Immediate Goals – I’m also thiiiiis close to finishing Sailing to Sarantium by Guy Gavriel Kay, so you can expect a review (probably just a short one) before the Liar one. (Also bargain priced!)

2012 Reading Challenges -So, I love reading challenges. I view them as a way to both focus and expand my reading. On that note, I’m planning on joining a few reading challenges again this year. I will update this post with them, but I’ll also make posts when I join them over the next few days. The first one I know I’ll want to join, my perennial challenge to read fifty books. There isn’t a blog set up like for a lot of challenges, just a few communities. Instead of participating in the communities, I am going to consider this a personal goal – no need to be social about it! :P This challenge, btw, really gave me a kick in the pants when I was 19 or 20. I had stopped reading as much after high school and missed it terribly. I found the 50 book challenge on livejournal and, with it, rediscovered my love of reading.

50 Book Challenge (links are to my reviews)
1. Sailing to Saratium by Guy Gavriel Kay
2. Farm 54 by Galit and Gilad Seliktar
3. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
4. The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner
5. The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson
6.  Taylor’s Temptation by Suzanne Brockmann

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A year in review and a year in anticipation!

Happy New Year! This is going to be quite a post. I thought I would go ahead and ramble a bit about my 2011 reading successes and failures, and then put down in writing what my goals are for 2012.

What I Read in 2011:

First off, I signed up for two challenges as I remember it– the 50 books in a year challenge and the lowest level of the people of color challenge. For the 50 books in a year challenge I wanted to make sure that I read entirely new books, rather than re-read books I was already friends with. I succeeded in all those challenges! Whoo! Links go to Amazon so you can check out these hunks of awesome for yourself.

1. The Inferno by Dante, translated by Robert Pinsky
2. Labyrinths by Jorge Louis Borges
3. Sunstroke: Selected Stories by Ivan Bunin, translated by Graham Hettlinger
4. The Innkeeper’s Song by Peter S. Beagle
5. Candide, or Optimism by Voltaire, translated by somebody I don’t remember because I borrowed this from the library and then returned it and can’t remember what it looks like.
6. The Narrow Road to the Interior by Matsuo Basho
7. Poetic Rhythm: An Introduction by Derek Attridge
8. Melodies Unheard by Anthony Hecht
9. The Legends of the Saints: An Introduction to Hagiography by Delehaye
10. Six Characters in Search of an Author by Luigi Pirandello
11. The Acoustic World of Early Modern England: Attending to the O Factor by Bruce Smith
12. The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka
13. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
14. Book of All Saints by Adrien Von Speyr
15. Our Lady of the Flowers by Jean Genet
16. Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe
17. The Folk of the Air by Peter S. Beagle
18. The Queen of Attolia by Megan Whalen Turner (Why is it that I inexplicably feel the need to include certain author’s middle names? Turner is like this. And David Foster Wallace. And a lot of southern authors from the late 1800s [George Washington Cable, Charles Waddell Chesnutt, Thomas Nelson Page...])
19. The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
20. The King of Attolia by Megan Whalen Turner
21. A Conspiracy of Kings by Megan Whalen Turner
22. Rooms are Never Finished by Agha Shahid Ali
23. The Metamorphoses by Ovid, translated by Charles Martin
24. Danger on Peaks by Gary Snyder
25. Life Studies by Robert Lowell
26. What Narcissism Means to Me by Tony Hoagland
27. Truth Barriers: Poems by Tomas Transtromer translated by Robert Bly
28. Selected Poems by Tomas Trastromer translated by Robin Fulton
29. Invisible Strings: Poems by Jim Moore
30. Interworld by Neil Gaiman and Michael Reaves
31. The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway
32. Black Zodiac by Charles Wright
33. Swann’s Way (Remembrance of Things Past, Vol. 1) by Marcel Proust, translated by C. K. Scott Moncrieff
34. The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner
35. Horse Lattitudes by Paul Muldoon
36. The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera
37. Why I Wake Early by Mary Oliver
38. One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
39. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
40. The Pisan Cantos by Ezra Pound
41. Wallace Stevens: Words Chosen Out of Desire by Helen Vendler (also known as the book written in the 80s that said everything I wanted to say in my thesis about Stevens… Sigh…)
42. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
43. A Room with a View by E.M. Forster
44. Yeats and the Poetry of Death: Elegy, Self-Elegy,and the Sublime by Jahan Ramazani (also known as the book written in the 80s that said everything I wanted to say in my thesis about Yeats… seriously dudes? Sigh…)
45. This Is Water by David Foster Wallace
46. The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy
47. The Chameleon Couch by Yusef Komunyakaa
48. Juliet, Naked by Nick Hornby
49. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson
50. Pegasus by Robin McKinley

6 Books that were amazing and I’m so happy I put the time in to read: Swann’s Way, The God of Small Things, One Hundred Years of Solitude, Labyrinths, Wallace Stevens: Words Chosen Out of Desire and Yeats and the Poetry of Death. Just, awesome. Ramazani and Vendler’s books really showed me how elegant criticism can be, and they made me think more deeply about what I want to say with my thesis. The other four books are just… delicious.

Books that I regret reading:
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
– maybe it’s just not my jive. I don’t particularly like crime/mystery, but I figured I’d give it a shot. The characters felt undeveloped (especially Lisbeth, who felt like a complete caricature), and it was very slow to start. I read it, but I’m not going to read the sequels. I also might have disliked it so much because I read it right after The God of Small Things which was beautiful and wonderful and my second favorite read of the year after One Hundred Years of Solitude.
Pegasus– Don’t get me wrong. This book is… hmm… it’s bangin’. It’s great. I love every second of it. However. It ends on a cliff-hanger. Mid-scene, basically. When’s the sequel coming out? Frickin’ 2014. I’ll definitely read the next one, but I’m sad that I have to wait two full years at least before I get to continue the story. If I had known the sequel is so far off and the way it would end, I definitely would have waited until 2013 at least to read it.
Invisible Strings– I picked this up randomly from the new books section at Alderman Library. Huge mistake. Everything I dislike about most contemporary poetry that’s being churned out.
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian– The problem is I don’t <3 middlegrade fiction. Really. Also the drawings really… irked me. I think I’m getting more picky, grumpy, and pretentious with my reading tastes as I get older. Which is sad.

The Great Vast Unknown of 2012—

2012 is going to contain a lot of changes for me. Fingers crossed, I will write (by now this verb should really be “finish writing”…) my thesis and graduate from UVA with a master’s that’s basically useless (perhaps that is winter cynicism speaking). Then I’m either going to find a beautiful job, find a terrible job, live on the street, or get a second master’s in library science. So, I have no idea what kind of time I’ll have for reading for pleasure. But I still want to complete these challenges:

The Unread Book Challenge: As I was organizing my books over break, avoiding writing the thesis of doom, I realized that I have a tremendous amount of books that I keep planning on reading. This year I want to make a conscientious effort to check books off this list. I definitely want to read, from my TBR pile: The Collected Tales by Nikolai Gogol, The History of Sexuality by Michel Foucault, The Music of What Happens by Helen Vendler, Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace (I finally own it! And can read it without fear of a library recall ruining everything), As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner, Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie, and Selected Poems by James Merrill. Bam.

The “I Want More” Challenge: reading more by authors you already love! Well. I love this challenge. I’m signing up for the medium level– which is “give me more” (5-8 books). I wanted to read another novel by Arundhati Roy, but oh wait she hasn’t written another one (yet). I’m planning on hitting up Faulkner, John Green (!!!!!! The Fault in Our Stars I am so excited that you exist so soon!!!!), David Foster Wallace, Charles Wright, and Garcia Marquez. In fact, I already checked Garcia Marquez off the list– having just finished Memories of My Melancholy Whores. Bam!

The Dewey Decimal Challenge: Well, since poetry counts… I’m gonna go ahead and be a boss and say I’m signing up for the master level– that’s 16-20 non-fiction books. Last year I read 17, I think, and I felt like it was a relatively novel-heavy and poetry-light year. So, I’m stoked! Poemz! And Criticism. Right. That too.

The 50 books in a year challenge that I don’t have a link for because I don’t know if it has a home: I want to keep this the same as last year and only count new books that I read. I’d also like to try to have at least five books (10%!) be novels written in the 2000s that aren’t YA. I feel like this is a huge gap in my reading life, and one that I’d like to address. I’ve already read Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro which was beautiful. I would like to read 1Q84 by Murakami (but it is a veritable tome and Infinite Jest is already weighing down my purse threateningly), The Blackwater Lightship by Colm Toibin (technically 1999 but whatever), Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood, and A Long, Long Way by Sebastian Barry.

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Tamora Pierce Reading Challenge

That’s right, Alyssa from the Shady Glade is hosting a Tamora Pierce Reading Challenge. Given that Pierce’s books meant a lot to me at one time or another, I can hardly resist, can I?

Mia’s doing it, too, and I also mentioned it to the most die-hard Pierce fan I know, my friend Lizzie, who, without even looking at the challenge page, knew she was going to sign up for the highest level, reading all of Pierce’s books.

I’m going to be a little more circumspect, and sign up for the Lady Knight level, where I aim to read 9 to 14 of her books. Here’s my list, though I can’t promise which order I’ll read it.

1) Beka Cooper – My book club (which both Mia and Lizzie are in) decided to read this this month, so of course I’m including it!
2-5) The Immortals (Wild Magic, etc.) – Wild Magic was my first Pierce and I somehow managed to never read the rest of the quartet. Time to remedy.
6-9) Alanna – Need I elucidate?
10) Bloodhound – The second in the Beka Cooper series.

What else? The Trickster books? Protector of the Small? Circle of Magic? Not the Circle Opens, unless I reread CoM and wanted more. It’s been too long since I read CoM that I don’t think I could jump right into Circle Opens. I’d love some opinions as I’m actually pretty ill-read in Tamora Pierce! And how about you? Will you join in?

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2011 Nonfiction Challenge

Over the past few years, I’ve been finding myself drawn more and more to nonfiction, so I’ve decided to sign up for the 2011 Nonfiction Challenge over at the Broke and the Bookish.

I’m going to sign up for, as usual, the lowest level, reading 1-3 books from the various categories she laid out. UNusually, however, I’ve got a book on the list!

1) The Ghost Map by Steven Johnson – This would probably fit best in the history category, but it could also count for science, so we’ll see where I tend to fill holes!

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