Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Mixing-It-Up Details

Ok - so I am yanking this right off of Musings of a Bookshop Girl's blog post regarding her Mixing-It-Up Reading Challenge.

The reason I want to participate is that I often get stuck in a rut with my reading. I want to read 40 books this year, and without something to inspire me (other than Book Club) to read something other than my usual, I won't. I will stick to fiction (which is strange, because the first year I did a 50-Book reading challenge I mostly read non-fiction). The problem with sticking to fiction is that I will most likely only stick to the fiction that I know. I NEED TO TRAVEL (both in reading and in real life). One of my resolutions is to travel more, so here I am. And Musings' challenge is helping me!

If her bookshop wasn't halfway around the world I would totally stop in with a thank you note personally. But it is. And while I want to travel this year, I don't quite have the funds to make it to the UK. Bummer, dude.

1. CLASSICS: This can be any classic work, from Alcott to Zola. Always fancied trying Great Expectations, or finally feel like tackling Jane Eyre? Now's your chance! From the fun to the frightening, the gentle satire to the all-out swashbuckling epic, there are hundreds of years' worth of books to choose from.

2. BIOGRAPHY: This can be modern or historical, biography or autobiography. From the latest celebrity autobiography to an academic biography of Henry VIII - it all counts! Perhaps you fancy a book on your favorite classic movie star, athlete or musician.
Waiter Rant: Thanks for the Tip - Confessions of a Cynical Waiter by Steve Dublanica
The Only Girl in the Car by Kathy Dobie
Employee of the Month & Other Big Deals by Mary Jo Pehl
Funny in Farsi by Firoozeh Dumas

3. COOKERY, FOOD AND WINE: Ideas for this one range from a delectable cookery book to a food memoir (like Nigel Slater's Toast or Anthony Bourdain's Kitchen Confidential), a book on wine to the history of marmalade.

4. HISTORY: More scope to indulge a whole range of interests here, including local history, military history or world history. It might be a biography of Anne Boleyn, a book on World War II aircraft, a study of the American civil war, or something with a much smaller focus, like Bill Bryson's At Home or Mark Kurlansky's Salt: A World History. Whatever floats your boat!
Anne Frank Remembered by Miep Gies
1 Dead In Attic by Chris Rose

5. MODERN FICTION: This covers literary and popular fiction, so you can't really go wrong with this one. From Sophie Kinsella to Haruki Murakami, Wilbur Smith to Isabel Allende, Jenny Colgan to Kate Mosse, you should be able to find something to fit your tastes!
Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter by Tom Franklin
The Lover's Dictionary by David Levithan
The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein
Little Children by Tom Perrotta
These Things Hidden by Heather Gudenkauf
Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese
The House of Velvet & Glass by Katherine Howe\
Heft by Liz Moore

6. GRAPHIC NOVELS AND MANGA: This will be an entirely new genre for me, but I'm looking forward to hitting the library to see what all the fuss is about! First on my 'to check out' list will be Neil Gaiman's Sandman: Preludes and Nocturnes and Alan Moore's V for Vendetta.

7. CRIME AND MYSTERY: This category will cover everything from the genteel Agatha Christie and the scrummy Hannah Swensen Mysteries by Joanne Fluke, through Henning Mankell and Stieg Larsson, to the gruesome forensics of Martina Cole and Val McDermid. You could even delve into some gritty true crime if that's more your style.
The Likeness by Tana French
Saving Max by Antoinette van Heugten

8. HORROR: One for Hallowe'en, perhaps! Maybe a modern writer like Stephen King or James Herbert, or you could turn to the classics with Edgar Allen Poe or the ghostly writings of M.R. James? Some YA novels would also fit into this category - Darren Shan, or Lindsey Barraclough's Long Lankin - but no paranormal romance!

9. ROMANCE: I'd say the cheesier the better for this one, but it's up to you! Mills and Boon, paranormal romance, chick lit fluff, whatever. Personally I'll be browsing our Mills and Boon shelf at the shop and pulling out the trashiest title I can find! :)

10. SCIENCE FICTION AND FANTASY: Again, plenty of scope here. From the hilarious characters of Terry Pratchett's Discworld to Tolkien's epic Lord of the Rings, Charlaine Harris's Southern Vampire Mysteries to Frank Herbert's Dune, you can go modern or classic, and pick from any number of sub-genres.
All Together Dead by Charlaine Harris

11. TRAVEL: The world is your oyster, as it were! Maybe you're going somewhere interesting on holiday and want to read up on it first? Rough Guides, Lonely Planet guides, that kind of thing. You could pick a Bill Bryson (always popular) or choose a book on a particular city, country or continent, like Francesco da Mosto's Venice or one of Michael Palin's books. Then there are all the delectable memoirs by people who've moved abroad and opened a taverna/olive farm/vineyard!

12. POETRY AND DRAMA: This could be a novelty collection of limericks, a collection by a particular poet, or if that sounds a bit daunting, a single, longer narrative poem. How about 'The Rime of the Ancient Mariner', 'Hiawatha' or 'The Waste Land'? My particular favourite is probably Christina Rossetti's 'Goblin Market', which is more like a simple fairytale that just happens to rhyme. Or you could choose a play - how about Ibsen, Miller, Shakespeare or the brilliantly witty Wilde?

13. JOURNALISM AND HUMOUR: This one might take a little more thinking about, but it should be a bit of fun! Journalism collections can range from Nick Hornby's Shakespeare Wrote for Money to Marian Keyes's Under the Duvet, Jeremy Clarkson's The World According to Clarkson to Bill Bryson's Notes from a Big Country. Anything that's been published in a newspaper or magazine first! Humour could be a book of cartoons, a novelty joke book or The Wicked Wit of Oscar Wilde!
The Good Good Pig by Sy Montgomery
Sloppy Seconds: The Tucker Max Leftovers by Tucker Max
Sh*t My Dad Says by Justin Halpern
Employee of the Month & Other Big Deals by Mary Jo Pehl
I Suck At Girls by Justin Halpern

14. SCIENCE AND NATURAL HISTORY: Again, this one throws the doors wide open for you to follow your interests. Always fancied learning more about space? Are you curious about the life of Charles Darwin? Or got a lifelong love for a particular animal? There are some wonderful 'popular science' books around too, including things like The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, David Attenborough's natural history books, and the entire works of the brilliantly funny Mary Roach.

15. CHILDREN'S AND YOUNG ADULT: This leaves the way open for pretty much anything, whether it's reading The Hungry Caterpillar or The Magical Faraway Tree to your kids, revisiting the joys of The Secret Garden or Treasure Island, or devouring something from the modern tide of YA. Lots of dystopian fiction, coming-of-age novels and supernatural shenanigans to choose from!
Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher

16. SOCIAL SCIENCES AND PHILOSOPHY: Another wide area! Books on society and women (Female Chauvinist Pigs, Living Dolls), books on society and children (Toxic Childhood, Nurtureshock), books on how television and the internet are affecting our lives, Jostein Gaarder's Sophie's World, books on Freud or Marx...

I plan on reading at least one book from all of the categories that I put in bold. The categories that I don't plan on reading up on are simply that way because I am not a big fan of smoochy romances or Manga. We'll see!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Mixing-It-Up Reading Challenge for 2012

My official, update-as-I-make-progress, Mixing-It-Up-Reading-Challenge-for-2012 Post!

The link to the actual challenge is here:

I plan on doing the "Mixing Bowl" level - one book from 9-12 categories. While I want to read a book from ALL categories, I don't know that I will and I don't want to set myself up to fail.

Here are links to the reviews of the books I have read this year (another reading goal of mine is to write at least a little bit about the book, maybe just why I did or didn't like the book, rather than just give it a ___/5 rating and move on with my day):

Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter by Tom Franklin falls under the Modern Fiction category of the challenge. It could also be a Crime & Mystery, but I think I am going to hunt for something a little more mysterious than this particular book to meet that quota.

Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher gets my credit for the Children's & Young Adult category of this challenge.

Anne Frank Remembered by Miep Gies meets the History category of the challenge.

The Lover's Dictionary by David Levithan is another book for the Modern Fiction category. I guess I could throw it under Romance but I really didn't feel like it was a romantic book so much as a book about Love, actually.

We Bought a Zoo by Benjamin Mee doesn't fall under ANY category! How crazy is that!? Either way, it is a memoir. It could possibly fall under the Journalism & Humor category since Benjamin Mee is originally a DIY author for a magazine and this soo-purchasing experience was an Animal Planet special, but I won't use it for that category unless I need to.

The Good Good Pig by Sy Montgomery is going to hit my Journalism & Humor list. While it is kind of a memoir, Ms. Montgomery is a frequent writer for many magazines/documentaries and Christopher Hogwood has come up in those writings. Bam!

Sloppy Seconds: The Tucker Max Leftovers can actually qualify as Journalism & Humor since it is found in the Humor part of a bookstore. I think I only laughed out loud a handful of times, which means either I have gotten more mature or Tucker Max has gotten less mature. (Don't worry, Tucker. It's me, not you.)

The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein is my favorite book I've read so far and the third to go under Modern Fiction.

Little Children by Tom Perrotta is another Modern Fiction read. Man, I'm getting quite a few under that category! I need to space it out!

These Things Hidden by Heather Gudenkauf is another Modern Fiction book. Don't worry, the next few I have been reading aren't, so I'm trying to cover some more ground. Also, I'm a little behind with how many books I've wanted to read at this point - so I kind of need to pick up my pace!

Waiter Rant: Thanks for the Tip--Confessions of a Cynical Waiter by Steve Dublanica is a memoir, so I guess I can count it as a Biography. I was pretty bummed out about this book. I felt it had the potential to be so good... so disappointed.

Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghase can plop down under the Modern Fiction category. I thought I would take a break from Modern Fiction for a bit, but that doesn't seem like it's happening! I am switching it up now though!

Sorry, Wrong Answer: Trivia Questions That Even Know-It-Alls Get Wrong by Rod L. Evans is a collection of trivial knowledge. Somehow doesn't fall under a category. Bummer, dude.

The Only Girl in the Car by Kathy Dobie is a memoir that gets tucked into the Biography category. One of the first memoirs I wasn't a big fan of, maybe because I wanted to grab 14-year old Kathy by the shoulders and shake some sense into her.

Singing Over Me by Danielle Stammer is a brief accounting of one woman's (and her family's) experience before, during and after the tragic Joplin, Missouri tornado that occurred in May 2011. I have had the opportunity to get to know Danielle Stammer's husband, Andrew, through work. Being able to read about their experience was great and I think it is awesome that Danielle was not only able to write about it, but have her writing published to be shared with the world.

All Together Dead by Charlaine Harris, the 7th book in the Southern Vampire Series (aka the Sookie Stackhouse books aka True Blood) has been sitting on my bookcase for literally two years and I am just now reading it. Not only am I cranking out a book that has been waiting to be read for years, but I knock out the Science Fiction & Fantasy category. AND this is my 4th non-fiction read in a row. Breakin' that streak, baby!


Sh*t My Dad Says by Justin Halpern can get tossed under the Journalism & Humor category. Definitely my favorite under that category, Sh*t is a quick read (finished it over the course of an afternoon) and made me laugh out loud a couple times. I also enjoy shit like this, so if you don't, then you probably won't like it.

The House of Velvet & Glass by Katherine Howe is another (historical) Modern Fiction read for the year. I wish I could differentiate between historial modern fiction and non-historical modern fiction, but alas, I cannot do that for this challenge.

Employee of the Month and Other Big Deals by Mary Jo Pehl is a memoir tossed in the Biography category - although it was also funny, so it could go under Journalism & Humor too.

I Suck At Girls by Justin Halpern is another Journalism & Humor book to go w/ the last Justin Halpern read (see above). I liked this book more than Shit My Dad Says.

The Likeness by Tana French is my Crime & Mystery read for the year! There might be another one or two, but holy hell. It took me nine months to getting around to finishing this book. I LOVED Tana French's first book, In the Woods but I dreaded reading The Likeness, which is why it took me nine months to finish it.

1 Dead In Attic by Chris Rose is the second History book I've read. It doesn't seem very historical, since Hurricane Katrina spit out her wrath only 7 years ago, but I think it goes down in history as a bitch of a storm.

Saving Max by Antoinette van Heugten is my second Crime & Mystery read for the year - about a mother and son who are being accused of the murder of a mentally handicapped teenager (whom Max has a history of disliking). I saw the "twist" from a mile away, but it was still a quick page-turner!

Harry Potter: Film Wizardry by Brian Sibley doesn't really fall under any category. But a kick ass book nonetheless!

(holy crap, i slacked in July. Big time!)

Heft by Liz Moore is another Modern Fiction book we read for book club.

Funny in Farsi by Firoozeh Dumas is another Biography read. She even writes about when she told her Iranian parents she was writing a book and specified it was a memoir and they asked what it would be about. Pretty cute.

Reading, whoa whoa whoa whoa, Reading

I am such a terrible blogger. Forgive me.

A few years ago (2008, I think) I decided to participate in the 50-Books-a-Year challenge over on As the clock struck midnight, I finished my 50th book. I loved reading that year. More so than other years because I had set a goal for myself. I made it a point to seek books that I was interested in, books that I knew I would finish and would want even more.

In 2011, I read 35 books. My initial goal was 30 and 1/2 through the year, I upped it to 35. I was pretty happy with that given the first half of my year was bananas busy. B A N A N A S.

This year, 2012, I decided to up it again to 40. I'm in a book club (mentioned briefly in the previous post), which will give me the opportunity to read books I normally wouldn't choose. And since I'm so dang active on pintrest, I found this little gem too: