On Joining the Legendary Book Club of Habitica

Apparently I didn’t actually join the Legendary Book Club of Habitica when I joined the guild’s 2016 Modest Reading Challenge. Or maybe I did and they kicked me out because I didn’t post enough? But I did complete the challenge, which was a mere 12 books. Anyway, when I went to look at the 2017 challenges, I made sure to join the guild. And this year I decided to attempt the Ultimate Reading Challenge, which is 52 books.

I know, I know, I said I was done joining annual challenges, but I took a peek at this one and realized that it’s composed almost entirely of tasks I already have for other challenges. So I would be a fool not to join. A fool, I say! So, here are the 52 tasks (in no particular order):

Since double-dipping is discouraged in this challenge, and I have to mark a task as completed in order to get the xp for it, I’m going to be declaring each task as it is completed and just hope it works out well. Most of these I have a pretty good idea what I’m going to read, but a few are new tasks. Like “a book with a chase scene.” Anybody have any suggestions for that one?

More 2017 Reading Challenges

Okay, the first week of 2017 has already come and gone (and Betty White is still alive!) so it’s time to nail down my reading challenge goals for the year. dff0b868f44a5487f22365767ea081d0

The aforementioned Book Riot Read Harder Challenge and Award-Winning Science Fiction and Fantasy Challenge have both been updated for 2017.

Book Riot specifically states that double-dipping is acceptable for Read Harder, so I may do a little bit of that, but I will still try not to. The method I plan to use is to note all applicable categories when I finish/review the book, but I won’t officially declare the book for the category unless it doesn’t fit any other categories for that challenge. Needlessly complicated? Probably. That’s just how I roll.

For Shaunesay’s AWSFF Challenge, I am shooting for the Orion level (9 to 12 novels). (Shooting…stars….get it? ::sigh::) The categories only come into play for the bingo games, and Shaunesay is clear that not only may a book not count for more than one bingo square, it may not count for more than one bingo. I will definitely be giving bingo a try on the card that is a holdover from the 2016 challenge, but I doubt I will get very far on the Grand Master bingo cards. I’ve printed them out and will see how it goes, but I don’t hold out much hope for success there, as most of the GMs on the cards are not ones I’m already intending to read this year.

Speaking of bingo, there’s a Goodreads challenge group for 2017 Book Bingo. It has a lot of crossover to other challenges, and (unless the rules explicitly prohibit it) I always permit myself to count a book across multiple challenges, so this one should be relatively easy. So far I’ve finished two books for 2017, and I can fit both of them onto this board, which bodes well.

Another challenge with a game board is my local library’s GenreLand Challenge. It doesn’t have signups and prizes like the library’s summer challenge does, but it’s a nice low-pressure way to read eclectically throughout the year.

There’s another category-based challenge I’m doing since it also has a fair amount of crossover to other challenges. It’s from online book shop Better World Books, which is partially to blame for the fact that my library is measured in tons.

And I had better stop there, so I’ll wrap up with a quick reminder that the three (okay, maybe four if I make good on that threat to host a cat-cover challenge) reading challenges that I am hosting can be found in my new Goodreads group, Challenges from Exploding Steamboats. Invite all your Goodreads friends and frenemies!

 

My 2016 in Books

I finished 65 books in 2016, and the Goodreads site put together a nice little summary for me. As usual, I’m running behind on writing book reviews, but I’m certainly in much better shape than I have been some years. I’ll be giving priority to reviews for the Award-Winning Science Fiction & Fantasy Challenge so I can get those linked to Shaunesay’s challenge blog. I think I wound up with a whopping three qualifying reads for that challenge, falling short of my goal of five, but I will try it again this year.

I successfully completed two challenges in 2016. I read books for all 24 tasks of Book Riot’s Read Harder Challenge, but I took advantage of the double-dipping option, so that does not reflect 24 separate books.

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Challenge completed on December 26th!

Though looking it over, I think I probably could have almost completed it without any double-dipping. Then over at Habitica‘s Legendary Book Club, I read 12 books, one for each month’s task in the Modest Reading Challenge. Sometime this week I need to check in over there and see if they have any new challenges I want to do, but it will need to wait until the houseguests have departed.

I did not fare quite so well on my Personal Reading Challenge or PopSugar’s Ultimate Reading Challenge. My 2016 PRC had 30 reading prompts, and I completed 27. Which isn’t too bad, I suppose. That comes out to 90%, which is definitely a passing grade. But it also allows for some double-dipping. I completed only 33 of PopSugar’s 41 challenge prompts, which comes to 80%, but I didn’t do any double-dipping on that one. Between the two challenges, I have 11 prompts unfulfilled, so I will be adding them to my 2017 PRC, which doubles it. Dang.

I haven’t yet chosen my top reads of 2016, but you can watch that link for developments over the next few days. The 2016 Stinker of the Year Award, however, goes to The Cat in the Hat by Dr Seuss.

 

 

My 2017 Personal Reading Challenge

As I mentioned in a recent post, this year I started a Personal Reading Challenge based on 2015 reads that didn’t fit into that year’s challenges. My 2016 challenge consisted of 30 categories, and I have only five left to complete. Time is running short, but it is do-able. Fortunately for 2017-me, next year’s list is considerably shorter:

  1. A self-published book
  2. A book about a haunted building
  3. An illustrated children’s book
  4. A book with a key on the cover
  5. A book with the word “Girl” in the title
  6. A story told from a non-human POV
  7. An award-winning book
  8. A book with a woman on the cover
  9. A book by a medical doctor
  10. A book about a sheriff
  11. A book with a cat on the cover

And I fell short on two 2016 challenges (this one and PopSugar’s) so I’m adding those prompts to this one:

  1. A book featuring a bookstore
  2. A book set in a retirement community
  3. A book set on another planet
  4. A book you haven’t read since high school
  5. A political memoir
  6. A book at least 100 years older than you
  7. A book from Oprah’s Book Club
  8. A book recommended by a family member
  9. A book with a protagonist who has your occupation
  10. The first book you see in a bookstore
  11. A book about a road trip

As before, feel free to join in! You can comment on this post and/or on your own blog or Twitter or whatever. I’m also starting a Goodreads group for this and other challenges I pose. I’d love to hear your suggestions for books for these categories.

A Challenging Season

Okay, let’s try to think happy thoughts, like maybe I will actually live to see 2018. (That’s looking pretty iffy with the incoming administration, but stranger things have happened.) So let’s take a look at the upcoming reading challenges.

The PopSugar reading challenge has become something of a staple in my life, so I will be setting up a 2017 shelf for that one. I have just now discovered the Goodreads group devoted to this one, and I am pleased to see that PopSugar has been paying attention to its discussions and suggestions. Another Goodreads challenge group I joined this year is the one for Book Riot’s Read Harder Challenge. I stand a solid chance of completing that one this year! I’m looking forward to next year’s, but as far as I know, they haven’t posted it yet. I’m also looking forward to next year’s Award-Winning Science Fiction & Fantasy Reading Challenge, even though I’m still behind on the 3-month version running through the end of this year.

I am continuing my Completist Christie Challenge, of course, and I welcome people to join me. I don’t feel like administering others’ involvement, but discussion on the post is certainly fine. Likewise, I will be repeating my Personal Reading Challenge in 2017, so watch for that post. (Yes, I know, I still need to go in and do a massive update on the 2016 post.)

And now my friend Michelle Stockard Miller has created an entire Facebook group just for reading challenges, the aptly named Sleep Less – Read More. And…wow…okay, let’s see what I’m letting myself in for.

I am selecting the Mt Vancouver challenge level in the Mt TBR Reading Challenge 2017. That’s 36 books from my TBR piles. Here’s hoping I upgrade and scale even larger peaks as the year goes on! It looks like I will be joining several of the challenges posed by Bev Hankins. The Follow the Clues Mystery Challenge puts a clever spin on the game by requiring links in a “chain of evidence.” I’m going for a six-book “infraction” to start with and maybe I’ll be able to level up! Oh, and sure, let’s do the Vintage Mystery Cover Scavenger Hunts. Both of them, why the hell not! I’ve just printed off the checklists and noted the date ranges on them, and my goal is at least six checks on each list.

Jamie Ghione is running several challenges in 2017, and I think I will give the Humor Reading Challenge a shot at the Cartoonist (1 to 5 books) level.

I was considering using the Christmas Spirit Reading Challenge to bridge 2016 and 2017, but I just don’t think I’m up for it this time. It starts next week, and I need to get focused on NaNoWriMo instead.

I might host a real challenge myself for 2017. I’ve been trying to make “Start Less – Finish More” my personal reading mantra, and I track my ratio. I’m not doing all that well. So the No Book Left Behind Challenge would be for encouraging me to go find all those books I have abandoned and either finish them or give up on them. It should be a nice complement to Bev’s Mt TBR challenge. And maybe I can find a Keep Them Moving challenge over on the BookCrossing forums. Oh, dear, that’s another dangerous place!

Shaunesay’s First Challenge Hosting

One of my BookCrossing friends is hosting her first reading challenge! 

I already have a bunch of books picked out for other challenges through the end of the year, but I’m a sucker for challenges with bingo cards, so here I am! I think I will try for one bingo. That lands me smack dab in the middle of the Ursa Major challenge level. I’ve pored over the awards lists, and this is my tentative challenge list:

I also just posted a giveaway in the BookCrossing Forums. This is for two copies of The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood. Please note that you must be both a BookCrosser and a registered challenge participant to enter the drawing.

This challenge promises to be a great time, and I hope to see you there!

Bout of Books 17, Day 1 Challenge

For #BoutOfBooks 17, the first challenge (hosted by Writing My Own Fairy Tale) is to post about my most and least favorite film adaptations of books. This is actually a little difficult for me, as I learned long ago that I very rarely enjoy both the book and the movie (or show), so I tend to pick one and then never bother with the other. There are exceptions, of course. (And they are often associated with a reading challenge, which also explains why I have yet to write my book review for Pope Joan.)

This may not be entirely fair, but for most favorite, I am going with a film that I enjoyed but a book that I could barely begin, let alone finish. Seabiscuit (2003). Seabiscuit Poster It’s been far too long ago for me to give you a movie review at this point, but I distinctly remember being pleasantly surprised that I liked a movie about horseracing so much. Back then I had pretty much zero interest in the topic. I was eager to read the book — and then so terribly disappointed. A few chapters in, I had to chuck it. It was good only as a cure for insomnia. (I should probably mention that the vast majority of Goodreads reviewers disagree with me on this point.) So props to the filmmakers for turning a really boring book into a highly entertaining and critically acclaimed film.

For least favorite film adaptation, there are many to choose from, but I’m going to go with my gut and say Rebecca (1940). Rebecca Poster Yep, the Hitchcock classic. I know, I know, there are so many more terrible movies from books. And I hated Hitchcock’s The Birds (1963) so much that I have since refused to watch any Hitchcock adaptation of du Maurier’s work. But du Maurier’s Rebecca is a novel near and dear to my heart, one of the few books that I have re-read multiple times. Like many readers, I tend to make a movie in my head while I’m reading, and there were several scenes about which I felt very strongly. I had a remarkably vivid vision of how the ball, in particular, should look. And Hitchcock flat ruined it. Not just that scene, but that’s what makes my blood boil even now. It’s a good thing for him he was cremated and his ashes were scattered in the Pacific Ocean, because I wanted very much to dig up his corpse and mutilate it.

High Summer Read-a-thon Wrap-up

I was and am still behind on my reading for July, but I did get some quality reading in for the High Summer Read-a-Thon (#HSreadathon) last week. This is a read-a-thon coordinated over at Seasons of Reading, and they also have a Facebook group for discussion.

The first books I finished were ones that I had already started. 2016 Fourth Annual Battle of the Bards Poetry Contest is a collection of finalist and honorable mention poems from the local library’s contest. (My entry is on page 14.) The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August by Claire North is something like what you might get if you were to ask John le Carré to reboot Groundhog Day. Big Magic is a refreshing take on the “just do it” genre of self-help books for creatives and makes me want to read something else by Gilbert.

Later in the week I started Promises, Promises by L-J Baker and Wages of Rebellion by Chris Hedges. I have yet to finish either one. I’m not really in the right frame of mind for Baker’s screwball sense of humor right now, and reading Hedges during this election season, while a smart thing to do, is a scary and depressing thing to do. I really should find some middle literary ground right now. Maybe a nice cozy mystery or a fun steampunk adventure.

I Am the 1 Percent

On Goodreads, anyway.

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If you say so.

I’m still not entirely sure how they calculated this, though, and chances are they will never reveal their algorithm. They’re Amazon, remember? And I still remember how Amazon’s recommendations algorithm used to think, based solely on my age and gender, that I was a rabid fan of all things Barney the Purple Dinosaur. It’s a bit ironic that I called them out on this in one of my most-liked reviews. With a whopping four likes, it’s tied with my review of Garfield Minus Garfield.

But I won’t pretend that I’m not pleased with this bit of recognition for something that has become an important part of my literary life, so thank you for that, Otis & Elizabeth. I’ve long kept a private reading journal, and I enjoy having this platform where I can share (some of) my (hopefully properly filtered) thoughts with and connect with other book people.

And they have stats!! I love stats. They are so much fun to play with. (One of my favorite grad-school reading assignments was a book called How to Lie with Statistics.) I’m sure I knew before today that there were various personal Goodreads stats available to me, but this is the first time I clicked the little link at the top of my “My Books” page and looked around. Interesting stuff. And it’s given me some ideas for adjusting how I enter and maintain my data there in order to make the stats cleaner and more useful to me.

I’m also a little more committed now to clicking the like button without overthinking it. My brain is a huge fan of overthinking, so this will take some effort, but it will be worth it. I think.

With My Eyes

I belong to an online salon, and one of its other members recently posed the following question: What’s your favorite way to read? He was not pleased when some of us answered that our preferred reading mode was with our eyeballs. I can’t speak for the others, but I wasn’t trying to be a smart-ass, honest.

It’s just that “way to read” is pretty vague, and I didn’t feel like analyzing all the options, so I went with a broad choice: with my eyes, as opposed to with my ears or with my fingers. I have tried several times to learn braille, as I have had vision problems since childhood and very nearly lost my vision in one eye a few years ago, but I thoroughly suck at it. I have come to appreciate audio-books, but listening is still something I have to work at. On the other hand, I’ve been reading with my eyeballs since I was three and am pretty much incapable of ignoring text, so “with my eyes” is the clear winner. I haven’t actually tried reading with my tongue or my nose, but I don’t anticipate that the results would be encouraging.

I do read e-books, and I have three Kindles if you count my phone (which also boasts at least two other e-reader apps), but in most situations I much prefer to have a dead-tree version. (Of those, I possess…well, let’s just call it more than three.) Even for travel, when mass is an issue.

Part of it is nostalgia, true. I love having tangible reminders of my favorite reading experiences and author events.

The smell of antique books takes me back to my grandparents’ home in St Joe. Grandpa had an estate sale addiction hobby and never failed to return with at least one box of books. Their two-story foyer/stairwell was lined floor-to-ceiling with shelves crammed full of books, and Grandpa always made sure I left with a fresh supply of reading material.

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One corner of the library after my parents moved out and put the house on the market.

 

My own childhood home also had a library, and I loved organizing my shelves (and everybody else’s), so it’s no surprise that I was also a student librarian in middle school. But my preference for “real” books also has a basis in practicality. I like to be able to flip back to earlier passages, scan ahead to see if a boring book picks up steam, scribble in the margins, puzzle over previous readers’ bookmark choices, build Christmas trees out of them…. IMG_20151225_170753 And don’t forget BookCrossing!

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Just one of the book buffets at the 10th Anniversary BookCrossing Convention in Washington, DC.

I’ll admit it, my inner smart-ass was tempted to answer with “hanging upside down from a railway bridge.” I can read just about anywhere, which my mother appreciated when I was a child. As long as she could stick me in a corner with a book, I’d stay out of trouble. And I’m the one who shows up at the 4th of July picnic with a flashlight and a book. In truth, though, I prefer sitting in my blue armchair next to the fireplace for reading. IMG_20150917_191801 I bought it specifically for that purpose. I was wandering through IKEA with no actual furniture-buying intent (I go primarily for the frozen Swedish pancakes), but I needed to sit for a bit (hey, IKEA can be physically taxing), and the chair I selected turned out to be perfect for reading.

Oh, who do I think I’m kidding? I was at IKEA to buy bookshelves.

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IKEA calls this a TV stand. ::smh::