Tag Archives: good reads

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:


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



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



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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Good to great reads

Like most people, I have a list of books I want to read.  Some people keep their lists in their heads.  Others, like my mom, have a sheet or two of paper with titles scrawled all over them.  Mom keeps hers in her purse.  Whenever we talk about books, which is often, and I say, “You need to read…”, she pulls out that rectangular piece of paper and a pen.  Diligently, she writes the title and author down in her small and delicate handwriting.

My list, however, is too long to fit on one or even two pieces of paper and my list grows every day that I’m at work.  So, I use an online database to help keep track of what I want to read and what I’ve already read.  Years ago I started with Shelfari, but have since changed over to Good Reads (Shelfari requires an Amazon account).  Good Reads has so many great features, like setting your own goal and then keeping track of how far ahead (or behind, like me) you are.  You can see what your friends are reading and update them on your progress of your current reads.  The best feature above all, though, is the giveaway page.  This is where users can go and enter for a chance to win ARCs (that’s Advanced Reader’s Copy for those of you not in the know) of books.

The first time I looked at the list of ARCs, there were over 700 titles.  I browsed them all, not wanting to miss anything.  While browsing, I learned about some new books and found others that were already on my to-read list.  Of course, I entered my name to win copies of several books.  The nice thing about this is that it tells you how many copies will be given away, how many people have entered, and how much time is left to enter.  I haven’t won anything yet, though.

I could go on (and on and on) about Good Reads but I won’t.  Hopefully I’ve whetted your appetite enough that you visit the site yourself.  If I know you, friend me!

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Posted by on July 7, 2011 in About me, Entertainment, Literature


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The best part about being a teen

No, I am not a teenager. I do not want to go back to those difficult years when my life had limited experience. Even though I’m almost 30, I still read teen novels. I read more of them now then I did when I was an actual teen. The teen section at my bookstore* has the best written adventure and fantasy novels that I’ve read. There are some I won’t touch, mostly the superficial series, like Clique and Gossip Girl (I really don’t care to read about 15 year-olds having sex and doing drugs). If you’re looking for a fun, easy read, whether you’re 15 or 30 or even 45, here is a list of my favorite teen books:

The Maze Runner by James Dashner

This is the first book in a trilogy. Thomas wakes up in a metal chamber with no memory except for his name. When the doors finally open, he finds himself in a large clearing with a couple of buildings spread about and a group of boys who’ve built their own society there. They call the clearing the Glade and Thomas comes to learn that it lies in the middle of a maze. Each day, certain boys run out into the maze to find an exit, to no avail. Everyone has to be back to the Glade by sundown or the Grievers, vicious monsters (yes, they were scary, even to me) will kill them. But then things start to change when the first girl is sent to the Glade. Suddenly, it is more important for them to solve the maze than ever before. Will they find their way out? What awaits them outside of the maze? Are their families still alive? Will they ever gain their memories back? This is actually the first book that made me want to call in sick to work, just so I could finish reading it.** It captivated me from beginning to end and when the next book, The Scorch Trials, comes out in October, you can bet that I will be locked up in my room reading it. (Side note: Dashner’s other series The 13th Reality is also a good read.)

Incarceron by Catherine Fisher

Finn has only known life inside the prison Incarceron, where riots break out daily and red eyes watch every move made. Songs are sung of the legend Sapphique, the only prisoner to escape. Finn dreams of Outside and desperately wants to get there. One day a key comes into his possession – a key that is said to lead to Outside.  So Finn, with a couple of companions, starts out on a journey. At the same time on the Outside, young Claudia is looking for an entrance to Incarceron. She figures she must be close because her father is the warden and holds the only key to the prison. Her search is heightened when she is told her arranged marriage will take place sooner than first expected. Through a magical item, Finn and Claudia start communicating. They work together to get Finn out and stop the marriage from happening. This is another book with twists and turns in every chapter. It had my head spinning. The sequel, Sapphique, is due out in the US at the end of the year.

I’d Tell You I Love You But Then I’d Have To Kill You by Ally Carter

Despite the long name, this is a quick read.  It’s the first book in yet another series about Cammie who attends a very prestigious school…for spies.  Cammie is known amongst her spy friends as The Chamaeleon because she’s got a knack for blending in and going unnoticed.  But things start changing when a townie notices Cammie while she’s out on a mission.  Now she and her super-smart friends use their spy skills to solve the biggest mystery they know: boys.  This book, and its sequels, is a fun, fast-paced read.  The second book Cross My Heart And Hope To Spy brings another boy Zach, who’s also a spy, into Cammie’s life and many mysteries surround him.  The questions raised in the second book about Zach get even more muddled in the third book Don’t Judge A Girl By Her Cover.  I can only hope that some light will be shed when the fourth book Only The Good Spy Young comes out in late June.  I should point out that I just love these titles, which is what attracted me to the series in the first place.

Wuthering High by Cara Lockwood

Troubled teen Miranda gets sent to a boarding school on an island.  The school is old and creepy and to make matters worse, there is no cell phone signal.  The teachers are only known by initials, like Headmistress B, Coach H, and Mrs. W.  The first day at the new school, Miranda meets a mysterious guy Heathcliff who calls her Catherine.  Miranda’s roommate, Hana, claims to have seen Dracula.  Then even weirder things start happening when Miranda finds out a secret about the teachers and how close her world and the literary world are linked.  This book, and the other two in the series, actually made me want to start reading classic novels.  I’ve never had a book do that before, which I think shows the mark of a good author.

*To be clear, I don’t own the bookstore. It’s a chain bookstore, but I like to claim ownership to the store at which I work.

**No, I did not call in sick. It was really, really tempting, though.


Posted by on May 16, 2010 in Literature


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On the fence about abortion? You won’t be anymore.

For the longest time, I’ve gone back and forth over whether I’m pro-choice or pro-life.  At first I sat on the fence.  “Well, it’s okay if the woman was raped or it was incest.”  Looking back, I think I was afraid of the conflict and to voice my true opinions.  Then I was strictly pro-choice.  “A man (read: white man) cannot tell a woman what to do with her body!”  I still firmly believe this.  Then I wavered over to the pro-life side.  “I’m a vegetarian.  If meat is murder, then so is an abortion.”  While I still believe this, one thing is for sure: after reading Cristina Page’s How the Pro-Choice Movement Saved America, I will never align myself with the pro-life side.

While the book does talk about abortion to a fair extent, it talks more about preventing the need for abortion, stopping or reducing the amounts of unwanted pregnancies, and providing comprehensive sex education and health care, among other things.  Page’s thesis is that the pro-choice movement has done more to reduce the need for abortion than the pro-life side, who works toward stopping people from having sex if its purpose is not for creation.

In every chapter Page presents a testimony to the different ways the pro-life movement is fighting to completely stop anyone who is even remotely thinking about having sex for fun.  Page starts with the horrifying cases of women going to get their birth control prescription filled only to be turned down by a righteous pharmacist who is against abortions.  This is completely absurd and Page backs up my feelings toward this.  First of all, what pharmacist is to say what is best for this woman?  That is what her doctor is for.  Maybe she is getting birth control pills because she has had heavy, irregular periods and terrible cramps for the past 10 years and the pill will help alleviate the pain and control the timing and flow of her period.  This woman may very well be waiting until she is married to have sex, but the righteous pharmacist just jumps to the conclusion that the pill is for pleasure and not at all for medical reasons.  Second, the pill does not abort a fetus.  It is scientifically impossible for it to do so.  What it does do is help prevent pregnancy, but does not terminate a pregnancy should one occur.  Unfortunately, as Page points out, some pharmacists (and other right-winged extremists) do not see a difference: preventing a pregnancy is the same as killing a child that God has created.  If you are on the pill and having sex that is not pro-creation, you are obstructing God’s plan and are therefore evil.

Another chapter includes why even condoms are bad, according to the right-winged extremists who, incidentally make up statistics about the failure of condoms in order to scare kids into thinking it isn’t safe to use.  Ironically, what ends up happening is that kids think that it is pointless to wear a condom and then have sex without one, which severely raises the risk of an unwanted pregnancy and the need for abortion.  This also ties in with the abstinence-only sex education that W so widely promotes.  Our children are only being taught one thing: wait until marriage.  So those who don’t wait (and what a staggering statistic that is) don’t know what the phrase “safe sex” means, again raising the risk of unwanted pregnancy and abortion.  Should it solely be the school’s responsibility to teach sex?  No.  Parents need to get involved, too, but many parents are too afraid to approach their children about this so if the only information these kids are getting is from the school, and the school does not provide them with what effective birth control is (ie: how to wear a condom properly) then they’re going to just have sex anyway.  Don’t get me wrong, I applaud the people who wait until they’re married.  But I’m a realist and know that not everyone will wait.  I also firmly believe that to cut back on the amount of STDs and teenage pregnancies today, we need to be telling our children everything there is out there on sex, not just, “Ignore those raging hormones.  They’ll go away in about 20-30 years.”

The scariest chapter (they were all quite terrifying to me), was how the pro-life movement in America has drastically changed how people live and are treated in countries all around the world.  The most staggering story was how one American-based group comprised of just six people stopped $34 million in funding to UNFPA (United Nations Population Fund, formally United Nations Fund for Population Assistance) who, among other things, provides safe health care for new mothers and infants in third world countries.  By getting the president’s attention with fraudulent accusations, the small group Population Research Institute changed thousands of people’s lives.  One calculation was that $34 million could have prevented “4,700 maternal deaths and 77,000 infant deaths” (page 138) world wide each year.

To this date I still go back and forth in my head as to whether I’m for or against abortion.  Perhaps you do, too, or you know you are one or the other.  Wherever you stand on the debate, make sure you know you are behind it a hundred percent.  If you’re pro-life, be sure you are also against sex outside of the marriage, comprehensive sex education, and many, many other things that would prevent unwanted pregnancies and abortions in the first place.  Take a look at this book and decide whether you can stand for all of that when you say you are pro-life.  Before I read this book I thought I could say I was pro-life, but seeing what pro-life really stands for, I will not say that any more.  I’m going to say I’m pro-alternatives and pro-education.  Ask me if I’m against abortion and I’ll tell you that we need to have an alternative first for everyone, not just privileged white women, before we eliminate abortion all together.

How the Pro-Choice Movement Saved America: Freedom, Politics and War on Sex by Cristina Page published by Basic Books ISBN: 0465054897

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Posted by on August 11, 2009 in Literature


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