To Count or Not To Count

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I’ve seen a few different blog posts and articles over the past few days that question whether or not one should set a yearly reading goal  so I thought I’d weigh in with my two cents. Or maybe four cents depending on how long-winded I decide to be.

I admit it, I’m a big fan of Goodreads. I’ve been a member since 2007 and I have shelved every book I’ve read since then by the year I read it. I’ve also participated in the Goodreads Reading Challenge every year since 2012 by setting a goal of how many books I want to try to read. I also participate in other reading challenges such as the Ultimate Popsugar Reading Challenge which sets out parameters for books to read. For example, in the 2017 Popsugar challenge, I am supposed to read a book with a red spine, listen to an audiobook, and read a book written by more than one author, among other things.

My goals vary from year to year and sometimes I even change them throughout the year. Some years, if I’m particularly busy or going through a depression that causes me to be unable to focus on reading, I read far fewer books than in other years. If Goodreads lets me know that I’m behind in my goal reading, I don’t let it bother me. If I catch up, great. If I don’t, maybe I need to lower my goal.

In 2016 my original goal was 100 books. I haven’t read that many books in the past couple of years and I wanted to read more this year. When I hit 100 books, I upped my goal. No stress. Some books I read in a day or two. Some books I read in a week. Some books I’ve started months ago and not finished yet. I’ll pick them back up later. Reading is my relief from stress not a source of stress!

I’m sure there are other people out there who feel pressured by the goal but for me it’s just fun for myself. Sure, I can always use how many books I’ve read in a meeting where we’re forced to tell some ice breaking fact about ourselves and, yes, it’s always fun to see the look on people’s faces when I say I’ve read 317 books so far this year, but the fact is, I read for my own personal enjoyment so I track what I read for my own personal enjoyment too.

I also don’t stress out about the length of the books I read or the seriousness of the topic or whether or not I read only classics or great literature. I read mass market paperbacks and I’m proud of it! I even occasionally buy books at the grocery store or the drug store. (I’ll post more on book snobs at a later date.)

I like to try to read more this year than I read last year. I like to read a variety of different genres. I like to read about different topics, people, events. I just flat-out like to read. I read paperback books, hardback books, and e-books. I read YA books, kids books, adult books, novels, anthologies, short stories, books published by major publishing houses, and self published kindle books. I read good books, average books, amazing books, terrible books, and books I don’t finish (because life is too short to read a book you hate).

If setting a goal stresses you out and making reading less enjoyable for you, don’t set a goal. But if you can set a goal and have fun with it, do it. Just read!

2016 Reading Challenge

2016 Reading Challenge
Cindy has
completed her goal of reading
300 books in
2016!
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Little House in the Big Woods

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Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder, Illustrated by Garth Williams

Read July 3, 2016

4 stars

It has been more than 30 years since I last read the Little House series. I decided that I wanted to read them again this year and see how they kind of stood up to the test of time I guess.

I loved LHIBW! It’s such a simple story but I felt a lot of emotion while reading it. Maybe it’s my old age but I sometimes miss the simpler times. Granted, I never knew times as simple as the Ingalls’ family, but it definitely hit that sentimental note for me. I loved the way she explained how things were made: how Ma colored the butter in the winter with carrots just because she thought yellow butter was prettier; how they stored their food for the winter in the cellar in the attic; how they made maple syrup and sugar. I could definitely go on.

The writing is simple as it’s for children and at first the short sentences felt choppy to me. After a very short time though, I was so engrossed in the story that the sentence structure ceased to exist and it was just Laura telling me a story. And as far as I’ve ever been concerned, that is the greatest mark of a good author.

I’m re-reading the entire series as part of a buddy read and I am excited to read the others in the series.

star 4

4 stars

top 10 things on my reading wish list

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toptentuesday

Today’s Top Ten Tuesday topic (I love alliteration!) is the top 10 things I have on my reading wish list. (if you could make authors write about these things you would. Could be a specific type of character, an issue tackled, a time period, a certain plot, etc.) The Broke and the Bookish

1. More fictionalized histories of obscure celebrities. Think Alice I Have Been by Melanie Benjamin. She took a person that we all knew in abstract, Alice Liddell, the young girl that was the inspiration for Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland, and told us a completely plausible, yet wholly fictional story, of her life. (She also did this with The Aviator’s Wife and The Autobiography of Mrs Tom Thumb.)

2. Historical fiction set somewhere other than Regency era England. Specifically, historical fiction set in early America. A few years ago I read One Thousand White Women:  The Journals of May Dodd by Jim Fergus. It was so good! I practically devoured it and it was an idea, a perspective, that I had never read before. I’d love more stuff like that.

3. Books about people who love books. A mystery in a library that has be solved by the librarian… A love story starring a nerdy clerk in a bookshop… And not another swoony, teen, I love Mr Darcy book, please.

4. Authors who aren’t afraid to tell funny stories in funny ways. I love puns. Everything is better with a few bad puns thrown in. But good bad puns, not bad bad puns. You know? Think Janet Evanovich or Rick Riordan.

(this is hard!)

5. Give me more strong, female protagonists in YA with less angst. I hate angst. I know, it’s a necessary part of adolescence, but please, for the love of all things literary, give me a girl with some good sense and no whining.

6. More books set in the 1920s and 1930s. (and 1950s)

7. Jamie, from Perpetual Page Turner, suggests novels that change childhood figures.

“I don’t know if this makes me morbid or not but I’d really love to see a psycho Santa Claus who is a murderer or a Tooth Fairy that steals more than your teeth or Cupid falling in love with a human. ANYTHING.”

Fascinating. I’m all for a little morbidity now and again anyway. Someone write this!

8. More alternative history novels or novels that tell a story that runs concurrently with a huge historical event. Think The Book Thief or even Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter.

9. Someone give me the grown up story of Ramona Quimby!

10. And last, but certainly not least, I’m adding this one because it has always been a pet peeve of mine but it seems the be getting worse and worse, give me more books that are well-edited, that have all the words spelled correctly, and that uses actual words instead of made up words that don’t exist. (And I’m not talking about jokey, funny words, I mean please stop authors from using the word unthaw. Unthaw is not a word. If you unthaw something, you are FREEZING it.)

Well, that’s my list. Does anyone know of any books that might fit some of these? If so, please leave a note in the comment section and I’ll check them out. Happy reading, y’all!

Top Ten Tuesday (on Wednesday)

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One of the book blogs that I read, The Broke and the Bookish, has a weekly list that they do called Top Ten Tuesday. It happens on Tuesday (usually) and it’s a top ten list of whatever their category for the week happens to be. Since one of my resolutions this year is to update this blog more often, I thought this was an appropriate week to begin participating in Top Ten Tuesday.

January 7 2014: Top Ten Goals/Resolutions For 2014 (bookish, not bookish or a blend)

* Blog more actively, more regularly, and better. I tend to write blog posts in my head while I am work or driving or at the grocery store but then I never seem to get around to actually writing and posting. I enjoy my blog when I use it, and while I don’t want it to start to feel like a chore, I need to do more things that I enjoy, hence, I shall blog.

* Finish unpacking. I bought my house and moved in June and I still have a room full of boxes that need to be unpacked. Most of my rooms have a half lived in feeling to them. It’s easy to become overwhelmed and then end up sitting on the couch in front of the television or with my nose in a book and just ignore the room’o’boxes.

* Grow my new business. I started a home business making wreaths and other handmade items and the wreaths have been extremely popular this Christmas. I want to expand my business beyond just local sales and build up my inventory for my etsy store and perhaps look into some consignment sales in a local shop.

* Read 104 books. That’s two a week for fifty-two weeks. I have read 200+ books in a year in the past but these last few years I’ve finished less than 100 each year. While it’s great that I’m doing more than just reading, I have an extremely long to-read list (not to mention the boxes of unread books in my back room waiting to be unpacked) that I would like to make a dent in this year.

* Budget budget budget. I did some research into different budgeting styles and found one that I think will work well for me so I am beginning my 2014 budget with the goal of saving money for my “emergency” fund as well as the possibility of new counter tops in the relatively near future.

Now I must get ready for work. I know this is only five items and not ten but the rules for Top Ten Tuesday do state that you can do less than ten if you want to and since I am now running behind schedule and I tend to break resolutions anyway, I think five is a good starting point.

Are any of you working on New Year’s Resolutions for 2014? Feel free to share in the comments!

The Sugar Queen by Sarah Addison Allen

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The Sugar QueenThe Sugar Queen by Sarah Addison Allen

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Entertainment Weekly said that The Sugar Queen was “like a dessert.” Considering that I just devoured it like it was a slice of chocolate cake, I would have to agree.

I bought this book several years ago at a book fair. I picked it up in the first place because I loved the cover. This is usually one of the biggest things for me when picking up books by authors I’m not familiar with. Second, after reading the teaser on the back cover I was intrigued. And then finally, I was getting it for $3.50 instead of $13. I love books, but I also love a bargain.

For whatever reason, The Sugar Queen sat lonely and unread on my bookshelf for several years. A few months ago I moved and both of the Sarah Addison Allen books that I own (I didn’t even know I had two!) ended up in the first box of books that was unpacked. (There are many, many more still waiting for me.)

We are having a little down time at work due to some department changes and I knew that I was going to be bored by 9pm last night (I work until 11p), so I decided to take a book along with me, even though we aren’t really supposed to read at our desks. I grabbed The Sugar Queen, settled it in my purse, and headed off to work.

When I got home from work last night I had read the first four chapters and I was hooked. The story is woven like a web, and each person is a string in the web, so every movement one string makes, it affects the ones around it. Each character, whether they were aware of it or not, and for a long time most weren’t, was affecting those around them in such subtle ways. It really is beautifully written.

There is also an element of magic in the book but it’s not really a focus so much as just a matter of fact part of the whole. Books follow Chloe from the time she is a lonely little girl living with her great-grandparents. It seems perfectly normal in the context of the world SAA has created, when the first book pops up in front of Chloe, trying to help her handle her feelings. It’s just part of who she is.

Josey lives a lonely existence, hoping to one day gain her mother’s love, while constantly being reminded that it’s not likely to ever happen. You are able to watch Josey blossom like a tulip in springtime between the first and last pages of The Sugar Queen. And while nothing overtly magical happens to or around Josey, you do start to see that she has a magic all her own.

Della Lee, probably the most disadvantaged of the three women, yet possibly, in the end, the smartest, is an interestingly, complex character. But still simple in some ways as well. She’s very matter of fact, not a lot of thought needs to go into things. Do you like something? Yes, then do it, have it, eat it, go to it, etc. No, then don’t. I came to enjoy the relationship that she and Josey had as much as if she was living in my closet! (That will make more sense when you read the book)

When I went to bed last night I planned to read another chapter or so before going to sleep. After all, I did have to work this morning. But, as so often happens, next thing I knew, it was two in the morning and the story was done.

I like to stop after reading a book and think about the characters and the lives they might be leading now, after I’ve closed the book on this particular moment of their life. I savored the story of three women, each one different but still a little bit the same, wondering what they might be doing now. I will certainly be picking up more works by Sarah Addison Allen.

5 stars

5 stars

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