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…


Dewey’s 24 Hour Read-a-Thon – The Wrap Up

I did it! I made it through my first 24 hour read-a-thon. Though I couldn’t read all of those 24 hours, I feel pretty good about what I did accomplish even if I didn’t read as much as I would have liked.

I’m a little disappointed that I didn’t participate more with other readers online through the blog, Goodreads, Twitter or other platforms. That was one thing I was looking forward to, but I never felt like I had enough time to actually do it. I feel like the slowest reader ever.

Here are some interesting statistics from my April 2018 read-a-thon:

Total pages read – 544
Hours actively reading – 16
Books involved – 6
Books finished – 2
Print books – 4
Ebooks – 1
Audio books – 1
Women authors – 3
Men authors – 3

Closing survey:

1. Which hour was the most daunting for you?
The hardest was probably hour 19, 11:00pm-midnight, my time. With the entire household asleep besides me, I really struggled to stay awake. I allowed myself a two-hour rest after that, and resumed reading again at hour 22.

2. Tell us ALLLLL the books you read!
I read only one book in its entirety, finished another that I’d already started prior to read-a-thon, read/listened to bits of two other books that I was also in the middle of already, and started one just for read-a-thon that I didn’t quite finish. The books:

Bible (NIV), Numbers, chapter 3
Down Cut Shin Creek, by Kathi Appelt & Jeanne Cannella Schmitzer
Neverwhere, by Neil Gaiman
The Silver Chair, by C. S. Lewis
This Changes Everything, by Naomi Klein
City of Glass, by Cassandra Clare

3. Which books would you recommend to other readathoners?
I would recommend any of the books I read during read-a-thon. All are great for very different reasons.

4. What’s a really rad thing we could do during the next Read-a-thon that would make you smile?
Just keep doing more of what you do! I didn’t participate on social media as much as I thought I might, but I at least tried to check in periodically.

5. How likely are you to participate in the Read-a-thon again? Would you be interested in volunteering to to help organize and prep?
There’s a good chance I’ll do something like this again. At this point, I probably wouldn’t be able to participate as a volunteer, but I do appreciate all that everyone did and sacrificed in order to do so. Thank you!

The next Dewey’s 24 Hour Read-a-Thon is in October. It won’t be soccer season. And I won’t be in the middle of a writing challenge. So as long as it doesn’t fall on an important family birthday weekend, maybe I’ll be able to read more than I did this time. 

What did you read this weekend?

Dewey’s 24 Hour Read-a-Thon – Midway & Beyond

I have survived more than half of the read-a-thon so far. I was nearing the halfway mark on City of Glass, by Cassandra Clare when I had to pack up and go out again for my semi-monthly writer’s group meeting. Since I am supposed to be working on a writing goal this month, I figured I shouldn’t skip out on this.

While I was out and about earlier today taking my boys to their soccer games, I got to read a few pages of the ebook I started prior to this challenge – Neverwhere, by Neil Gaiman. I read a bit more of this while I ate dinner, and I am close to finishing this book.

I also had to take a little mini-break this afternoon, and laid down with my eyes closed for about twenty minutes or so while I listened to This Changes Everything, by Naomi Klein. I was a little concerned I would fall asleep, however, so I didn’t let myself get too comfortable.

I have been able to keep to a pretty normal meal schedule so far, though not particularly healthy. Things could get interesting later as I head into the wee hours. I’m still feeling pretty good so far, and I feel pretty confident I can make it through this event. Though, I do wish I was a faster reader, and could get through more books than I’ve been able to so far today.

Recap of what I’ve read so far today:
Numbers Chapter 3, by Moses – 1 page
Down Cut Shin Creek, by Kathi Appelt & Jeanne Cannella Schmitzer – 55 pages
City of Glass, by Cassandra Clare – pages 1-178, 178 pages
Neverwhere, by Neil Gaiman – pages 224-270, 34 pages
This Changes Everything, by Naomi Klein – 35 minutes/20 pages (approx.)
The Silver Chair, by C. S. Lewis – pages 110-121, 11 pages
Total pages: 299

I missed the mid-point survey, so I’ll put it in here:

1. What are you reading right now?
City of Glass, by Cassandra Clare and Neverwhere, by Neil Gaiman.

2. How many books have you read so far?
I finished one and read/listened to parts of four others.

3. What book are you most looking forward to for the second half of the Read-a-thon?
I’d just like to finish the one(s) I’m already working on!

4. Have you had many interruptions? How did you deal with those?
Just soccer games and writing group meetings. Nothing major! No, the real interruptions (the unplanned variety) have been all of my own making – checking the blog, Twitter, Goodreads, etc.

5. What surprises you most about the Read-a-thon so far?
I don’t think I’ve really been surprised by anything. Disappointed in my page count, perhaps, but not surprised.

Six more hours to go. What are you reading?

Dewey’s 24 Hour Read-a-Thon – It Begins!

I’ve been at this read-a-thon thing for three hours now, and I thought perhaps I should check in. I’ve finished one book and started another. Granted, the book I finished was a 55-page children’s book about the pack horse librarians of Kentucky – a fascinating bit of American history I’ve only recently learned about!

The book is Down Cut Shin Creek: The Pack Horse Librarians of Kentucky, by Kathi Appelt and Jeanne Cannella Schmitzer. It is full of period photos and great information on one of the most successful, if short-lived programs of the New Deal’s WPA. I am really excited to read about this program and now I want to know even more!

Now, at the beginning of hour 3, I’ve consumed my first cup of coffee and started reading the first book on my original TBR pile: City of Glass, by Cassandra Clare. I’m only about twenty pages in so far, but I’m off to a good start.

Soon, however, I will have my first required interruption. My kids have soccer games today, so reading will not be possible for at least a couple of hours. It will be a good chance to get outdoors and breathe some nice cool (and probably damp!) Oregon springtime air.

Here are my responses to the opening survey:

1) What fine part of the world are you reading from today?
I’ll be reading today mostly from my home in Salem, Oregon. I’ll be reading around the kids’ soccer games, and my own writing challenge I’m already participating in (Camp NaNoWriMo).
2) Which book in your stack are you most looking forward to?
There are way too many books on my TBR for today, mostly because I wanted to have lots of choices. I think I’m most excited to continue with Cassandra Clare’s Mortal Instruments series, starting with City of Glass.
3) Which snack are you most looking forward to?
COFFEE!! That’s a snack, right?
4) Tell us a little something about yourself!
I’m a mom to three boys, two cats and a dog. I love reading (obviously!) and I’m also working on writing a novel of my own.
5) If you participated in the last read-a-thon, what’s one thing you’ll do different today? If this is your first read-a-thon, what are you most looking forward to?
This is my first read-a-thon, and mostly, I’m looking forward to the interaction with other readers, and just seeing how much I really can read in 24 hours.

Are you participating in Dewey’s 24 Hour Read-a-Thon? How is it going for you?

Readathon Prep: The TBR List

I don’t know if it’s really an official reading list for the April 2018 Dewey’s 24 Hour Reathathon. Since this is my first time participating, I’m not really sure what to expect. In order to maximize my reading time, however, it makes sense to have some sort of list available from which to pull a book if and when I need it, rather than agonize over what to read next. So, here goes.

From my 2018 Reading Challenge list:
My first priority will be the books next up on my current reading list for this year. In this case, the final four books in Cassandra Claire’s Mortal Instruments series:

City of Glass
City of Fallen Angels
City of Lost Souls
City of Heavenly Fire

Also, I won’t be finished with Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norell, by Susanna Clarke or Shadowplay, by Tad Williams, so I may spend some time on one or both of these.

For a change of pace:
If I need to change things up during the day, I think I’ll pull a few other books aside just in case I need them. Like continuing with some old and new favorite series:

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, J. K. Rowling
Grave Peril, Jim Butcher
The Sea of Monsters, Rick Riordan
Firefight, Brandon Sanderson

or, some recently acquired ebooks and/or audio books:

The Gender Game, Bella Forrest
Because You Love to Hate Me, Ameriie
Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry, Mildred D. Taylor
When the Moon is Low, Nadia Hashimi

I will also make time for my daily scripture reading as well as reading with my kiddos. They have a variety of books from their school library, plus we are reading through the Chronicles of Narnia series, currently, The Silver Chair.

This feels like a huge list, and obviously, I won’t read them all. I’m not that good. Not by half. Still, I can see where choices will be a good thing in order to press through 24 hours straight of (mostly) only reading.

April Challenges – Writing & Reading

April seems to be a good month for challenges. Maybe it’s a good time to revisit those resolutions made at the beginning of the year. Time to renew efforts toward reaching goals. This April I have decided to challenge myself in my writing and my reading.

I’m currently participating in my eleventh Camp NaNoWriMo event. Could it really be that many? I had to count twice to be sure. But with two per year since 2013, it really is that many!

My goal this year is a nice, moderate 25,000 words. I’m working on two of my middle grade adventure stories from the series Silver Compass Adventures that I introduced back in 2016. I hope to finish at least one of them by the end of the month.

So far, I’ve made good strides on both stories. My word count has hovered around the “on target” mark, but mostly just below. I’ve designed a spaceship and written a ghost story. Both of these things were huge obstacles in completing my novels, so this is great progress.

I’ve also gone and done this thing. This maybe a little bit crazy sort of thing. I signed up to participate in Dewey’s 24 Hour Readathon taking place on April 28. I learned about it by reading something much like this blog post, though I can’t remember exactly where. If you don’t know what it is, check out the web site. If you do know what it is, and maybe you’ve done it before, I’d love to hear about your experience!

It seems unlikely I can really read for twenty-four hours at the end of a month-long writing challenge, and on a day when I have soccer with the kiddos and a writers’ group meeting! Nevertheless, it sounds like fun. Crazy fun, to be sure, but nothing ventured, nothing gained, right?

I think I will use this as an excuse to binge read the rest of the Mortal Instruments series by Cassandra Clare. I read the first two books last year, but I haven’t managed to get back to it yet. The remaining four are on my 2018 Reading Challenge list. I’d like to see how far I could get on a day dedicated (almost!) entirely to reading.

Still, being new to this 24-hour reading thing, I think I will have some other books ready at hand in case I need something different in order to keep going. Maybe something shorter and lighthearted. Perhaps a nice comfort re-read, such as Harry Potter, or something from that growing pile of middle grade novels I’ve been collecting on my Kindle!

Are you participating in Camp NaNoWriMo or the Dewey’s 24 Hour Readathon? Another writing or reading related challenge? I’d love to hear what your goals are for April!

Fantastic February!

In January I finished reading a total of 15 books. I set myself a goal of 50 for the entire year. I never thought I could read so many books. To be fair, a good number of the books I’ve read so far are quite short. A few are even children’s chapter books that I read with my children.

Now, here it is February. I’ve decided to bump up my reading goal for the year to 60. I’m working away at the 2018 Popsugar Reading Challenge – I’ve completed 5 of the 50 prompts. But I have to be honest, I don’t know that I can maintain this pace. How do I keep interest high for the remainder of the year in order to be sure I can complete the challenge?

I stumbled across this mini reading challenge and this neat blog, Books & Munches. The February reading challenge issued by this blogger is to read fantasy and paranormal books for the month. That won’t be hard for me as it’s my favorite genre. Most of the books on my list already are fantasy or science fiction.

Here are some fantasy books on my list:

Starcrossed, by Josephine Angelini
Cinder, by Marissa Meyer
Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norell, by Susanna Clarke
City of Glass, by Cassandra Clare (along with the rest of the Mortal Instruments series)
Sightwitch, by Susan Dennard (expected to be released February 13)
Six of Crows, by Leigh Bardugo

I doubt I can read all of those during the month of February, but it will be fun to see how much I can get done. Reading more of my favorite genre should prove to be a great counterpoint to the true crime book I’m currently reading for the 2018 Reading Challenge.