Classic Double Challenge

This year I decided to take it easy blogging-wise: I’ll review as much as I can, post when I can, make the rounds among my favorite blogs, and try not to overcommit myself.  I was planning to avoid most challenges, too (except, of course, my favorite – R.I.P.), but that particular plan shot right out the window when I saw this:

classic double challenge

The Classic Double Challenge, hosted by Melissa of One Librarian’s Book Reviews.  Basically the challenge consists of reading a “classic” and a retelling of the same story.  (Melissa has very loose definitions of both “classic” and “retelling,” which I love.)

Now, there are many, many bookish things that make me ridiculously giddy.  Books that make me laugh until I wet myself, phenomenal illustrations in picture books, authors that pull off multiple narrators with finesse, Neil Gaiman, Mo Willems, John Green, etc, etc.  But at the top of that list is retellings and revisionings of old stories.  Friends, they make me swoon.  So when Jessica over at The Bluestocking Society announced she was breaking her challenge ban to join the Classic Double Challenge, I hesitated for about .5 seconds before deciding to join as well.  I’m going to start off “small” and plan to read just two books (one classic, one retelling), but there’s a good chance I’ll read more than that by the end of the year.

I haven’t decided which books to read, though.  I’m leaning towards rereading Oedipus Rex by Sophocles and The Darker Face of the Earth by Rita Dove.  I’m also a huge sucker for fairy tale retellings, so I’m going to check out Melissa’s list for ideas.  I may also steal one of Jessica’s ideas; perhaps Twelfth Night by William Shakespeare and Illyria by Elizabeth Hand or another Shakespeare/retelling combo.

Anyone else joining this challenge?  (If you’re not, you should!  We can be giddy together.)  Any book suggestions?

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!

As you may have noticed, it’s been fairly quiet around here lately.  2012 was a bit of a tough year and so my blogging and internet life suffered as a result.  Thank you to everyone who stuck around in spite of my frequent absences; you are a wonderfully patient bunch!  You are one of the reasons I continually vow to do better.

In the spirit of New Year’s, I’ve made a few reading goals for 2013.  I decided the other day that this will be the year I finally read Pilgrim at Tinker Creek by Annie Dillard.  I started this book many years ago but got sidetracked by school and never finished it.  Since I live just a few miles from the actual Tinker Creek featured in the book I’m going to read it (appropriately) while sitting by the creek.  (I’m a cold-weather wuss, though, so I’m going to wait until it warms up a bit first.)  My tentative plan is to read it in May.  If anyone would like to join me (literally or figuratively), drop me a line!  I’d love the company.

My other reading goal is just a continuation of a reading goal I made a few years ago: read deliberately.  2012 was a great reading year.  I read and reread a lot of fantastic books.  I attribute that to the fact that I read very few books I didn’t really want to read.  I trusted the recommendations of family and friends, put down books that didn’t capture my interest, and stopped feeling bad about returning books to the library unread.  I need to work on releasing the ignored, unread books that I own, though.  I think I’m going to start giving them a year.  If I still haven’t read them then, they’re going in the donation pile.

And that’s it (for now)!  What about you?  Any reading goals for 2013?

2012 in Review

fault

January

The Wednesday Wars by Gary D. Schmidt (reread)

Wildwood by Colin Meloy

We, Robots by Sue Lange

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

Good Enough to Eat by Stacey Ballis

The Tiger’s Wife by Téa Obreht

tiger

February

I Am Number Four by Pittacus Lore

The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin (reread)

How to Save a Life by Sara Zarr

Inside Out & Back Again by Thanhha Lai

The Thorn and the Blossom by Theodora Goss

Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen (reread?)

Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan

What Looks Like Crazy on an Ordinary Day . . . by Pearl Cleage

crazy

March

Dead End in Norvelt by Jack Gantos

Why We Broke Up by Daniel Handler

Love Medicine by Louise Erdrich (reread)

Dear Dumb Diary: School.  Hasn’t This Gone on Long Enough? by Jim Benton

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins (reread)

broke

April

The Last Report on the Miracles at Little No Horse by Louise Erdrich (reread)

Timeless by Gail Carriger

The Family Man by Elinor Lipman

MWF Seeking BFF by Rachel Bertsche

The Hunger Pains by The Harvard Lampoon

The Wee Free Men by Terry Pratchett (reread)

A Hat Full of Sky by Terry Pratchett (reread)

last report

May

Wintersmith by Terry Pratchett (reread)

I Shall Wear Midnight by Terry Pratchett (reread)

How Beautiful the Ordinary ed. by Michael Cart

My Latest Grievance by Elinor Lipman

Outlander by Diana Gabaldon

Castle in the Air by Diana Wynne Jones

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

Out of Sight, Out of Time by Ally Carter

The Color of Earth by Kim Dong Hwa

ready

June

Sabriel by Garth Nix (reread)

Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman

The Inn at Lake Devine by Elinor Lipman

Entwined by Heather Dixon

The Girl Who Could Silence the Wind by Meg Medina

The Dearly Departed by Elinor Lipman

Then She Found Me by Elinor Lipman

Into Love and Out Again by Elinor Lipman

A Girl Named Zippy by Haven Kimmel (reread)

Dear Dumb Diary: The Super-Nice Are Super-Annoying by Jim Benton

Dragonfly in Amber by Diana Gabaldon

neverwhere

July

James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl (reread)

She Got Up Off the Couch by Haven Kimmel (reread)

Perla by Carolina De Robertis

Going Postal by Terry Pratchett

Please Ignore Vera Dietz by A. S. King

There is No Dog by Meg Rosoff

Holes by Louis Sachar (reread)

Coraline by Neil Gaiman (reread)

postal

August

Final Jeopardy by Linda Fairstein

I Wish I Had a Red Dress by Pearl Cleage

The Aviary by Kathleen O’Dell

Isabel’s Bed by Elinor Lipman

Daughter’s Keeper by Ayelet Waldman

Babylon Sisters by Pearl Cleage

Dust Girl by Sarah Zettel

I’ve Got Your Number by Sophie Kinsella

Fifty Shades of Grey by E. L. James

Story of a Girl by Sara Zarr

The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce

harold

September

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

Bel Canto by Ann Patchett

Where’d You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple

Lies, Knives, and Girls in Red Dresses by Ron Koertge

Liar & Spy by Rebecca Stead

In the Woods by Tana French

The Hero’s Guide to Saving Your Kingdom by Christopher Healy

woods

October

Let’s Pretend This Never Happened: A Mostly True Memoir by Jenny Lawson

The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland and Led the Revels There by Catherynne M. Valente

The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin

The Mark of Athena by Rick Riordan

Dealing With Dragons by Patricia C. Wrede

Dare Me by Megan Abbott

Searching for Dragons by Patricia C. Wrede

The Pursuit of Alice Thrift by Elinor Lipman

The Giver by Lois Lowry (reread)

fairyland

November

Calling on Dragons by Patricia C. Wrede

How Children Succeed: Grit, Curiosity, and the Hidden Power of Character by Paul Tough

Tell the Wolves I’m Home by Carol Rifka Brunt

The House I Loved by Tatiana de Rosnay

wolves

December

Every Day by David Levithan

The Likeness by Tana French

Faithful Place by Tana French

Broken Harbor by Tana French

Flygirl by Sherri L. Smith

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern (reread)

night

*Note: I gave all the titles in bold a four- or five-star rating on Goodreads.  I gave most of the remaining titles a three.  (edited 1/1/13)

October Reads

Look at me, posting this in a semi-timely fashion! I may get out of this blogging funk yet.

Last month I read . . .

Let’s Pretend This Never Happened: A Mostly True Memoir by Jenny Lawson

The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland and Led the Revels There by Catherynne M. Valente

The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin

The Mark of Athena by Rick Riordan

Dealing With Dragons by Patricia C. Wrede

Dare Me by Megan Abbott

Searching for Dragons by Patricia C. Wrede

The Pursuit of Alice Thrift by Elinor Lipman

The Giver by Lois Lowry (reread)

Miscellaneous stats:

  • one reread . . . sort of (it should be three rereads, but it’s been so long since I read the Patricia C. Wrede books I’m not counting them)
  • read one based on the recommendation of book bloggers (but I can’t remember who) (The Happiness Project)
  • read two for my 5th-8th grade book club (Dealing With Dragons, The Giver)
  • read one for my brand new, in-person book club (Dare Me)
  • read three new-to-me authors (Jenny Lawson, Gretchen Rubin, Megan Abbott)
  • all nine were library books
  • eight paper books; one ebook

Random October Awards:

The Horrifyingly Hilarious Award: Let’s Pretend This Never Happened: A Mostly True Memoir. This is one of those books that is just . . . wrong on so many levels. Wrong in that all the while you’re laughing so hard you can barely breathe you’re thinking, “I really, really shouldn’t be laughing at this.” Neil Gaiman summed it up perfectly: “The Bloggess writes stuff that actually is laugh-out-loud, but you know that really you shouldn’t be laughing and probably you’ll go to hell for laughing, so maybe you shouldn’t read it. That would be safer and wiser” (from the back cover). Not for the easily offended or sensitive.

The Case of the Missing Editor Award: The Mark of Athena. While I am a fan of Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson and Heroes of Olympus series (and think the Heroes of Olympus series vastly improved after the first book), his books are starting to remind me of the later Harry Potter books. I really enjoyed The Mark of Athena, but that sucker could have been about 300 pages shorter. (Seriously, Riordan? 586 pages?)

The Vandalism Award: The Pursuit of Alice Thrift. This is a lovely book, exactly what I’ve come to expect from Elinor Lipman, and it distresses me to give it this award. But someone (I don’t know who) went through this book and scribbled out all of the profanity. This pisses me off for two reasons: one, they defaced library property; and two, I abhor censorship. I get it if you don’t like profanity. But if it bothers you so much you feel compelled to scribble in a book that doesn’t belong to you, then maybe you should read a different book. And if you’re doing this as a public service, try using something other than a blue ballpoint pen as that actually calls more attention to the word, not less. Argh! The one bright spot in all this was that they missed a “son of a b*tch,” which pleased me way more than it probably should have.

And that was October! I have no idea what November will hold; I have such a wide variety of books waiting beside my bed I hardly know where to begin. What about you? What are your reading plans?

September Reads

I have a bad habit (as you’ve probably noticed) of falling off the electronic radar whenever I’m feeling overwhelmed, stressed, busy, etc. Don’t worry – it’s nothing earth-shattering, just the usual stuff Life likes to throw our way to keep things interesting. If I ever go an entire month without reading, then you can worry.

Enough of all that! On to the books!

In September I read . . .

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

Bel Canto by Ann Patchett

Where’d You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple

Lies, Knives, and Girls in Red Dresses by Ron Koertge

Liar & Spy by Rebecca Stead

In the Woods by Tana French

The Hero’s Guide to Saving Your Kingdom by Christopher Healy

Miscellaneous stats:

  • no rereads
  • read three (I think) based on the recommendations of book bloggers (Where’d You Go, Bernadette, Liar & Spy, The Hero’s Guide to Saving Your Kingdom)
  • read three based on the recommendation of a book blogger/in real life pal (Gone Girl, Bel Canto, In the Woods)
  • read six new-to-me authors (Gillian Flynn, Ann Patchett, Maria Semple, Ron Koertge, Tana French, Christopher Healy)
  • five were library books, two were loaned by a friend
  • all seven were paper books (no ebooks)

Random September Awards:

The WTF Award: Gone Girl. Jennifer of The Literate Housewife warned me. All the same, I was wholly unprepared for the big WTF moment in Gone Girl. (I actually stopped reading so I could go email Jennifer “WTF?!?!?” in very large, very bold letters.) Those moments just keep on comin’ after that and I read the rest of the book with my mouth hanging open in shock. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, you really, really need to read the book.

The Flip/Flop Award: Where’d You Go, Bernadette. I honestly don’t remember much about the book, but from what I recall I really liked the first half of the book but the second half was a flop. Too bad.

The Cheers Award: The Hero’s Guide to Saving Your Kingdom. This book was a hoot and a half. It riffs on fairy tales while still paying homage to them, is full of quirky characters (including the four Princes Charming), and includes a random reference to the old TV show Cheers that most kids probably won’t get but I thoroughly enjoyed. If you’re looking for a fun afternoon read, this book is the way to go.

How’s everything going in your neck of the woods?

R.I.P. VII!

It’s time again for one of the most popular reading events in the book blogosphere – R.eaders I.mbibing P.eril (R.I.P. for short).  This is the seventh year Carl of Stainless Steel Droppings has hosted this event and the third time I’ve participated.  I’m ridiculously excited about this event, especially since the weather in Virginia right now is absolutely perfect for a shivery read – cloudy, cool, and smelling of autumn.

My plan is to read at least one book as well as participate in Carl’s group read of The Graveyard Book in October.  (I actually reread it just last year with the 5th-8th grade book club I host at the library.)  I don’t usually listen to a lot of audiobooks but I may listen to this one.  Last year I heard a clip of Neil Gaiman reading it and it was fantastic.

You should definitely sign up for R.I.P. VII if you haven’t already!  It’s a blast.  No blog necessary; anyone and everyone is welcome.  Check out the R.I.P. VII post if you have questions.

Hope your autumn is filled with hot cider and great reads!