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Waaaay too many books, not enough time

One of the things I love about Good Reads is that users can set reading challenges every year. This year I had to up my goal a few times because I read a lot of picture books. The challenge doesn’t make you specify what kind of books or number of pages; it just counts the quantity of books.

As of this posting, my “to-read” shelf is at 631 books.1 I can’t possibly read that many books in a year; I fall asleep when I read (hey, it relaxes me!). Still, on average it takes me a week to get through a 300 page book. So a realistic challenge for me would be to read 52 books in 2014 (not including picture books).

But what to read? With over 600 choices, I thought it would be best to put down the titles on a “short list” and read those first. I tried to get a variety of genres as well as finish up some series I started. So, divided by genre, here are the 52 books I will read in 2014:

Classic

A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court by Mark Twain

Brave New World by Aldous Huxley

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith

Franny and Zooey by JD Salinger

On the Road by Jack Kerouac

Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston3

 

Fiction

Lost Lake by Sarah Addison Allen

Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion

Silver Linings Playbook by Matthew Quick

Ella Minnow Pea by Mark Dunn

 

Non-Fiction

The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins

Lucky by Alice Sebold

Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott

The Great Typo Hunt by Jeff Deck

Love You More by Jennifer Grant

College Girls by Lynn Peril

Homer’s Odyssey by Gwen Cooper

The Tao of Martha by Jen Lancaster

I am Malala by Malala Yousafzai

Unlikely Friendships by Jennifer S. Holland

The Good Girls Revolt by Lynn Povich

102 Minutes by Jim Dwyer

For Her Own Good by Barbara Ehrenreich

 

Young Adult and Teen

The Void of Mist and Thunder (13th Reality #4) by James Dashner

Reached (Matched #3) by Ally Condie

Divergent (Divergent #1) by Veronica Roth4

Lovesick (Ghostgirl #3) by Tonya Hurley

Delirium (Delirium #1) by Lauren Oliver

Hollow City (Miss Peregrine’s #2) by Ransom Riggs5

Shelter Me by Alex McAuley

The One (The Selection #3) by Kiera Cass

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

City of Ember by Jeanne DuPrau

Fever (Chemical Garden #2) by Lauren DeStefano

Sever (Chemical Garden #3) by Lauren DeStefano

Perfect Ruin by Lauren DeStefano

Horten’s Miraculous Mechanisms by Lissa Evans

Ascend (Trylle #3) by Amanda Hocking

Wonder by R.J. Palacio

Me Since You by Laura Wiess

The Impossible Knife of Memory by Laurie Halse Anderson

The Rule of Thoughts (Mortality Doctorine #2) by James Dashner

Unhinged (Splintered #2) by A.G. Howard

The Testing (The Testing #1) by Joelle Charbonneau

The Fire Chronicle (The Books of the Beginning #2) by John Stephens

The Curse of the Broomstaff (The Janitors #3) by Tyler Whitesides

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

When Did You See Her Last? (All the Wrong Questions #2) by Lemony Snicket

Shutdown (Glitch #3) by Heather Anastasiu

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz

So, just over half of the titles I picked are young adult and teen. This really doesn’t surprise me since it’s what I read most of the time. A lot of the titles, from all the genres, were books that I bought on impulse6 because I HAD TO READ THEM RIGHT AWAY. Some I’ve had for years. Others, just a few months. Either way, I thought I should whittle them down first before trying to accumulate more, even if they are just digital. 

The ones I don’t currently own, I will rely on getting from the library. Now that I’m in a smaller town, access to free books is a bit more limited. Indy had over 20 libraries to pull from so almost everything I wanted was available. Here, not so much. There are only a handful of libraries at my disposal so my choices are more limited. Should I not be able to get a title through the library and am unable to afford to buy a copy, I will substitute the title for another in that genre.

And if when I get through my list, I’ll refill my coffee mug and start a new one.

 

1. To give you an idea, my “read” shelf, compiled over 7 years, is at 567. So, it would take me a good 8 years to read everything on my “to-read” shelf if I don’t add anything to it.2

2. Yeah, right.

3. I was supposed to have read this for a class in college. I don’t remember which class and the only thing I remember about the book was the beginning, which I liked, so I think that I didn’t actually finish it. Oops.

4. I want to read this before I see the movie, which is set to release in theaters in March.

5. It’s been over two years since the first book, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, came out and left its readers hanging off a cliff!

6. No, Mom, I don’t own ALL of the books on my list. Just most.

 
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Posted by on December 14, 2013 in About me, Literature

 

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Magical, mesmerizing, and other “m” adjectives

I’d first heard about Sarah Addison Allen at work when her first book, Garden Spells, became the company’s handsell for six weeks.  I didn’t actually read the book then,* despite how much a coworker said I would love it.  It wasn’t until a few years later when my roommate Jackie brought home Allen’s second book, The Sugar Queen, from the library.  She was quickly infatuated with the writing and urged me to read it.  Her excitement was catching so I thought I would give it a shot.  From that day on, I didn’t look back.

The Sugar Queen is about Josey, a lonely woman living with her mother in Bald Slope, North Carolina.  She feels obligated to help her mother to make up for being such a terrible and spoiled child.  They go about their days in routine until one day Josey wakes to find a strange woman has taken up residence in her closet.  This woman’s appearance shakes up Josey’s routine and sends her on errands outside her comfort zone.  But soon her reclusive life becomes less so as she starts meeting people and making friends.  One friend she meets is Chloe, who, since she was little, has books appear to her when she needs them.  After she kicks her boyfriend out of their place, a book called Finding Forgiveness appears.  She ignores it, but it continues to stalk her, showing up at various points in her apartment, her workplace, and even at a bar.

Chloe was the first reason I loved The Sugar Queen so much.  Who wouldn’t want books to magically appear to them whenever they needed them?  The second reason was the writing.  Allen’s words draw the reader in quickly and doesn’t let them go, even after the book is finished.  I don’t stop thinking about the book until long after I’ve finished it, which is a rarity for me.  Typically, I just move on to the next book.  I also liked the way the book ended (don’t worry, I won’t say what happens).   There’s a little twist at the end, one I didn’t see coming on the first read-through.  But the reason why I like the ending overall is because everything is just right.  There aren’t any loose ends dangling, or questions left unanswered.  It all comes together neatly by the last page.

After having such a fun time with The Sugar Queen, Jackie and I decided we needed to read her first book, Garden Spells. In this book, Claire Waverly gets the shock of a lifetime when her sister Sydney comes home after a decade on the road.  With her is her daughter, Bay, who has the uncanny ability to know where things belong, like silverware or people.  While Sydney tries to leave behind her abusive past, Claire attempts to thwart the desires of her new neighbor with food.  See, the Waverly garden is a magical one.  Or, at least, the Waverlys know which herbs and flowers bring out certain attributes in people when eating food made with them.  For example, the honeysuckle wine helps the drinker see in the dark, though it can reveal other things as well.  Also in the garden is an apple tree, which will actually throw apples at people, trying to get them to eat the fruit.  The Waverlys never eat the apples and always bury the ones that get thrown.  They don’t eat the apples because it is believed that the consumer of an apple from that tree will see the greatest event of her life.  As Claire tells Bay, if it’s a good event, then you have to live your life knowing that nothing else will ever make you as happy.  If it’s a bad event, you have to live your life knowing that something awful is on the horizon.  As with The Sugar Queen, Allen’s writing in Garden Spells is enchanting.  The plot is quirky and the characters are intriguing.

The Girl Who Chased the Moon finally arrived on bookstore shelves last year, after publication was pushed back (I nearly chewed my fingers off waiting for it to be released).  Once again, Allen wove a cast of odd characters, magical food, and a mysterious town legend into an unforgettable novel.  In the novel, Emily moves in with her grandfather after her mother dies.  Her grandfather is the town giant – literally.  The wallpaper in Emily’s room, her mother’s old room, changes depending on her mood.  She meets Win, a mysterious boy she is drawn to and who is drawn to her.  Her grandfather warns her to stay away, but she can’t seem to.  Then there’s Julia, a baker famous for her pies.  Every day she makes fresh pies because it is something she needs to do.  It isn’t until later in the novel that the reader finds out why.  (I won’t spoil it for you here.)

Next month, The Peach Keeper will be released.  I know little about it but I know that, like Allen’s other books, it is a book I want to own in hardcover.  Allen’s books are ones worth owning because one will want to go back to them time and time again.  They have a magical and mesmerizing pull on the reader that will demand attention multiple times.  Second, third, and even fourth read-throughs are a must.

*Previous handsells we had didn’t seem up my ally so I was slower to jump on board and read them.

 
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Posted by on February 15, 2011 in Literature

 

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