Wednesday, December 30, 2015

2015 Challenges: In Which I Discover That Challenges Are Challenging

When I started blogging in June, I found a number of super exciting sounding challenges.  I busily signed up and tried tracking what I'd read so far, but it turns out, I was approaching it backwards.  Instead of reading books that met the challenges, I was reading what I wanted, then trying to wedge the titles into the categories I was still missing.  I backed off after a few months, but decided to share my results all the same.

I am participating in attempted the 2015 Reading Challenge organized by The Modern Mrs. Darcy.  Titles in bold are the ones I completed.

A book you've been meaning to read: Yes Please by Amy Poelher.  I was on the library's wait list for months, but finally received it.  It was...okay.

A book published this year:  Me Being Me Is Exactly As Insane As You Being You by Todd Hasak-Lowy  The local used paperbacks shop offers ARCs with a request that you donate a dollar to the local library (since they can't sell them).  I was fortunate enough to pick up this and All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven.  Which reminds me...I should visit that shop again soon!

A book in a genre you don't usually read:  Dog Songs by Mary Oliver  I don't read much poetry, but Oliver is very accessible.

A book from your childhood:  Ozma of Oz by L. Frank Baum--graphic novel adaptation by Eric Shanower and Skottie Young  This was my favorite of the Oz books as a kid, and the graphic novel adaptation was fun and true to the book.

A book your mom loves:  As I Walked Out one Midsummer Morning by Laurie Lee or The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron

A book originally written in a different language: The Dinner by Herman Koch (Dutch) And wasn't that creepy.  It reminded me of Mystic River in that the parents are totally okay with ignoring all moral laws for their kids.

A book "everyone" has read but you:  Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn  I never buy books for myself (just as gifts and for my classroom), but this was at that same paperback store for a screaming deal, and I had heard so many people mention the title that I picked it up without even knowing what it was about.  I probably enjoyed it more for having no idea what I was in for!

A book chosen because of the cover:  Shadows and Bone by Leigh Bardugo

A book by a favorite author:  The Woodcutter by Reginald Hill  Hill writes on of my all-time favorite mystery series.  He also elicits the question "Is it better to start at the beginning of a series, even though the author is not all that great yet, or to pick up the story mid-stream, when the author is fully developed?"  This book avoids the question by being a later stand-alone novel.

A book recommended by someone with great taste:  Wonder by R.J. Palacio  My teaching partner raved about it.  When I bought it, many of my students greeted it with cries of joy and recognition.  So after I got it back from the first student who borrowed it, I took it home and read it for myself.

A book you should have read in high school:  Moll Flanders by Daniel Defoe, Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert, David Copperfield by Charles Dickens, or Agnes Grey by Anne Bronte.

A book that's currently on the best seller list:  The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins, All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr, The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah, or In the Unlikely Event by Judy Blume.

In short, I completed 9/12 of these books.  I struggled with this, because it became a matter of deciding which books I'd read might fit under what category, as opposed to picking the book to meet the category requirements.  

I'm joining the 2015 Book Blog Discussion Challenge at the Discussion Dabbler Level.  I will try to incorporate 1-12 Discussion posts this year. They are tagged "Discussion," oddly enough.

I also struggled with this one.  I don't have very many readers, so I didn't get very many discussion buddies, so it was hard to stay motivated.  But I did enjoy reading others' discussion posts!  And I won one of the giveaways, so that was pretty exciting!

I have joined The Midnight Garden's 2015 Classic Young Adult & Middle Grade Challenge.  I've posted four reviews of such classics, and aim to finish four more by the end of the year.  Find them here!

Um, yeah, no.  Once summer ended, I didn't read or re-read any more classic YA or MG novels, because I was busy reading current ones to recommend to my students.  Are the classics still worth reading for today's tweens and teens?  Yes, but they are a hard sell for kids who don't already consider themselves readers.

Goodreads Goal:  Having read 134 books in 2014, I'm attempting to read 200 books in 2015.  I made it on Dec. 30, by grabbing a graphic novel that's been on my shelf for months.  

I'm pretty sure I'll get this one done.   200 was a big jump for me, and I certainly wouldn't have made it if I weren't so focused on YA novels.  Some of these were notable picture books, graphic novels, and other super short books, but I decided that if it made enough of an impact that I wanted to rate and remember it, it counts.  I may scale back my goal for next year though--175?  

At first I thought I wouldn't do any challenges in 2016, seeing how I struggled with them.  (I didn't even mark on here the Bingo card I attempted.)  But then I got interested in the 12 Month Classic Challenge, and then I saw the challenge to read all the Youth Media Award YA books, and those both really appealed to me.  So I think I'll try those in 2016.  They are more focused than the ones that I flailed away at this year.  

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