Reading Challenge Speed Bumps & Distractions

I haven’t finished a book from my 2018 Reading Challenge for quite a while. Consequently, I have also not posted a new book review. I haven’t quit reading, I’ve just run into a few… challenges.

Speed bumps…
Speed bumps are intended to slow traffic down. And they have the same effect on a reading challenge. They just look a little different. In this case, a speed bump looks looks a lot like an enormous book.

When I arranged my reading list for this year, I intentionally stacked my books so that the largest ones would be read first. My thought was that it would be easier to get the biggest books finished early on, and not reach the end of the year with them still looming.

As a result, I’ve ended up in the midst of my largest print book so far – Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell, by Susanna Clarke at 846 pages – at the same time that I am working my way through my longest audio book – This Changes Everything, by Naomi Klein at 20+ hours.

Clarke’s book is sort of slow and meandering, though not dull, or boring. Besides, I am not a fast reader by any stretch of the imagination, no matter how much I’d like to be. And I usually only get to listen to the Klein book during my brief 20 minute drive home from work each day.

Besides the slow read through of an enormous book, I’ve found my attention pulled away by other books. I have recently acquired a number of e-books, so I’ve been trying to work my way through the backlog. After finally reaching the end of the Complete Tales and Poems of Edgar Allen Poe, I went back through my e-library and started with the books I’ve had the longest.

Neverwhere, by Neil Gaiman
Protecting Her Heart, by Chris McFarland
The Paper Magician, by Charlie N. Holgrem
Blood Sisters, edited by Paula Gruen

These were intended to be short, fun reads to keep me busy in the “in between” times, like waiting in line at the grocery store. However, I’ve found myself compelled to read them more and more, and not just in short bursts.

I also picked up Shadowplay, by Tad Williams. I started this series last year, and finally decided I didn’t want to wait any more to continue reading it. It sits on my bedside table and I read a little bit of it each night before sleeping.

Then I decided to participate in Dewey’s 24 Hour Read-a-Thon and chose not to continue my current print book, but instead picked up an entirely different book – City of Glass, by Cassandra Clare. I read most of this book during the event, but couldn’t quite finish it.

So I find myself caught up in more books than is probably healthy. Worse, most of what I’m currently reading isn’t for the 2018 Reading Challenge. Up until this week, that didn’t matter since I was current, or even ahead of schedule for the Challenge.

I keep telling myself it’s only May, however. There’s still plenty of time left in the year to get past this speed bump. Now let’s see, what’s next on my e-book list…

The Magician’s Nephew: a Review


I started my 2016 Reading Challenge with The Magician’s Nephew, by C. S. Lewis, which is the second book on my list as I didn’t yet have the first one, and I just couldn’t wait a moment longer. So, on a Thursday, a work day no less, I chose to begin reading the one book I was supposed to read in a day. It took me all day, reading on breaks and between fixing dinner for my children and putting them to bed, but I did read it in a day.

The Magician’s Nephew is the story of Digory Kirke and Polly Plummer. The two young children meet one cold, wet summer in London and begin a friendship that will carry them through some wild adventures. They travel to another world, encounter a wicked witch and embark on a journey that will test their new friendship.

C. S. Lewis wrote a charming, childhood tale that takes the reader on a wild, magical adventure to other worlds. The main characters, Digory Kirke and Polly Plummer are typical curious and adventurous children. Lewis portrays well the innocent, yet self-centered nature of a child as the two new friends explore, play and fight with one another. Despite the trouble they manage to find, both of their own making, and that of others, love and friendship win out in the end.

Little Digory Kirke is the true hero of this tale. Pulled from his country home and thrust into an unfamiliar and unfriendly city, Digory manages to find friendship and hold on to a childlike innocence despite the wickedness of the adults around him. Faced with choices no child should have to make, he proves that good can overcome.

Originally published in 1955 as the sixth book in the Chronicles of Narnia series, The Magician’s Nephew, is really a prequel, and probably not meant to be read as the first book. When the books were reprinted in 1980 by Harper Collins, they were reordered at that time to a chronological sequence. But many, perhaps most, Lewis scholars feel this was not the author’s intention. You can read the debate here and decide for yourself.

Lewis wrote from an omniscient narrator point of view. There is considerable authorial intrusion with the narrator often breaking into the story to speak directly to the reader. Some might find this too intrusive, but for the most part, I felt this gave a sort of storyteller feel to the book. For the most part. Meaning there were a couple of instances where the intrusion was a little disruptive.

Over all, I enjoyed this book, and I look forward to reading the rest of the series. Though, I think I will go back and start with The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. Maybe I can talk my boys into reading it with me.

2016 Reading Challenge

I ran across this reading challenge in my news feed, and I decided I couldn’t pass it up. That it was so accommodating to my current to be read list (one that is ridiculously long!), made it all the easier to go for it. When it came down to actually choosing the books I would read for this challenge, however, it wasn’t as easy as it might have first seemed. I thought I would share my journey through this challenge, starting with what I’ve chosen to read and why I selected these particular books.

1. A book published this year – Truthwitch, by Susan Dennard (released January 5, 2016)

I first ran across this review by Aila of this new book on Twitter. I fell in love with the cover, and took a closer look. This book sounds like just the sort of story I love to read, and I’m really excited to check it out. (See my review of this book here.)

2. A book you can finish in a day – The Magician’s Nephew, by C. S. Lewis

The Narnia books have been on my TBR list for far too long. And, since I seem to be such a slow reader, I thought one of this length might be better suited for this particular challenge. I’m a mom of three who works full-time outside the home, so reading time is sadly limited. I’m going to find a weekend day I can set aside to devote to finally reading this book. Of course, this one comes with six more books to read, so it won’t really be a one day event. (See my review of this book here.)

3. A book you’ve been meaning to read – Divergent, by Veronica Roth

I’ve been wanting to read this one for awhile now. This was perhaps the hardest book to decide on, for there are a number of books I’ve been “meaning” to read. I saw the movie, even though I’d wanted to read the book first, and I enjoyed that. I’m fairly certain the book won’t disappoint. (See my review of this book here.)

4. A book recommended by your local library or bookseller – The Name of the Wind, by Patrick Rothfuss

I went to my recently discovered local bookseller, Escape Fiction (my new favorite place!), and asked the shop owner for a recommendation. He recommended this book, telling me it is among the best fantasy novels ever written. And he seemed quite shocked I have it already on my bookshelf at home and have not yet read it! (See my review of this book here.)

5. A book you should have read in school – Fahrenheit 451, by Ray Bradbury

This is another book I’ve been “meaning” to read. It’s already on my TBR list, so it wasn’t too much of a stretch to put it here in this category. I’m only sorry I haven’t read it before now. (Here is my review of this book.)

6. A book chosen for you by your spouse, partner, sibling, child or BFF – Classified Woman, by Sibel Edmonds

I decided to let my sister choose this one for me as I knew she would offer me a book that would challenge my thinking. I don’t consider myself a closed minded sort of person, but I do get a little stuck in my comfort zone. I’m looking forward to reading what she picked out for me. When I asked her why this book, she said because she feels it’s one every American should read, “so we can begin to understand the level of corruption we are up against.” (Read my review of this book here.)

7. A book published before you were born – Anne Frank: the Diary of a Young Girl, by Anne Frank

This book is perhaps another I should have read long before now, but I have not. This one found it’s way on to my list last year while I was doing some research for a young adult novel I’m writing. I read the autobiography of Meip Gies, the woman who helped to hide the Frank family, and I’m looking forward to reading Anne’s story. (Read my thoughts on Anne’s diary here.)

8. A book that was banned at some point – Slaughterhouse Five, Kurt Vonnegut

I chose this book because it’s already on my TBR list. When I looked up banned books in order to choose one, there were so many I haven’t yet read. To be honest, I know very little about this book. I’ll let you know more once I’ve read it. (Here is my review.)

9. A book you previously abandoned – Ivanhoe, Sir Walter Scott

This one has quite the story. I had picked up this book back in high school thinking to read it and write a paper on it, in order to get some extra credit for my English class (yes, I was a bit of an overachiever in high school). The extra credit thing never materialized, and in truth, I never even cracked this book open. I don’t think I’ve ever put a book down once I’ve started reading it no matter how bad I thought it was, so this was the only one that fit the category. (Here is my review of this book.)

10. A book you own but have never read – Stop That Girl, by Elizabeth McKenzie

Some years back I attended a writers’ conference where Elizabeth McKenzie was one of the presenters. I attended her workshop and enjoyed her presentation. So much so, that I picked up her book. I was so excited to read it, I really don’t know why I didn’t read it right away. It’s time to fix that. (You can find my review of this book here.)

11. A book that intimidates you – H. G. Wells, Collector’s Book of Science Fiction

This book includes three of his novels and several short stories as they first appeared in the original science fiction magazines. I find this one intimidating because it’s H. G. Wells. And it’s big. This one has been sitting on my bookshelf mocking me for far too long. (Find my review of this collection here.)

12. A book you’ve already read at least once – Ender’s Game, Orson Scott Card

It was a real toss up on this one. I’ve been wanting to reread this for awhile now, but also Tad Williams’ Otherland series. But it basically came down to this: four books, or one? Yes, I realize there are more Ender novels, but this one stands well on its own. (Read my review of this book here.)

So, there’s my reading challenge list. Twelve books, twelve months. Five women authors, seven men. More than half science fiction/fantasy. Two non-fiction.

I’ll post a review of each book once I’ve finished reading it. I’d love to hear about what you’re reading. Leave a comment.

Thanks for reading!