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Reading check ins 2020 > Week 35 Check In

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message 1: by Sheri (new)

Sheri | 877 comments Mod
Hi everyone,

Hope everyone is hanging in ok.

This week I finished:

The Sparrow - I liked this overall, but there were quite a few uncomfortable parts. I think it'll make a lot of good discussion in book club though. I was going to use this for Read Harder's doorstopper (book over 500 pages) written by a woman after 1950, but the actual novel was only about 485, the rest was reading questions and author interview and preview for the next one. I had other books I was going to read for the prompt though, so that's fine.

The Tyrant’s Tomb - another addition in The Trials of Apollo, i like the series. This one seems a bit darker than some of the others.

We're Gonna Die - read harder play by an author of color and/or queer author. I'll say I don't really get reading plays. They're meant to be performed, and I just never really feel like like I get much out of reading them. this one in particular was more of a single-person show and was meant to have a live band and singing. Most of the text was stage direction of dancing and repeating the same song lyrics over and over. The description had claimed there would be music included, but the description must have been from the physical copy, the hoopla file didn't have anything attached.

Currently reading:

Wow, No Thank You. - enjoying this so far, even if it's not normally what I read. Interesting because I go to Chicago pretty often, and I'm from Michigan so I'm familiar with Kalamazoo. I can recognize some of the things she's mentioning.

Nocturna - still plugging away. Have trouble concentrating on the audio book, it's a little more complicated of a plot than I prefer for audio, lots of perspective shifting. Library didn't have the ebook digitally though, so making do!

QOTW: Has your reading changed in the last ten years?

I would say yes, in the sense that in the last ten years I've gotten a kindle which has made using the library so much easier. I don't really like driving in general, and dealing with having to make trips to pick books up and drop them off is frustrating for me, I generally only do it if I absolutely can't find a book another way. So once I got a kindle and was able to access digital library books, suddenly I was able to read way more new content, instead of buying however many books I could afford at the time and then re-reading all my books endlessly to make up in between buying them. So I might not read MORE but I read differently. This has also allowed me to read way more diversely because I don't have to weigh the merits of trying a new author that might mean having spent money on a book I don't actually want to read five times. Even if the library doesn't have it, there's a lot of kindle deals, quite often something I was interested comes up for just a couple dollars. much easier to take the plunge than paying $8-10 if it's mass market, or $15-20 if I can only find it in trade. And I especially wouldn't be reading current books if they expected me to shell out for a hardcover. I still love physical books, but now i basically only buy them if a) I'm in an indie bookstore I want to support or b) it's a book i LOVED and I want to physically own. Although I'm slightly more willing to drive to the library now that i'm in the habit of using it in general, more. Mainly due to reading challenges, I am not going to go buy a bunch of books for them that i might not enjoy, and I can't rely on the digital selection having books that would work that I actually want to read.

message 2: by Rebecca (new)

Rebecca | 164 comments I could really do with a week without multiple terrible events in the news, but here we are.

I wanted to read Sissy: A Coming-of-Gender Story because the author is an alum of the same university as I am (and also is in She-Ra but I'm behind and haven't gotten to that part yet NO SPOILERS). Then I read some reviews and discovered that they apparently did not appreciate attending said university, and I became concerned. I decided to read it anyway, and I'm glad I did. Although I am a cishet female introvert, I identified with a lot of aspects of the author's childhood, and I found them and their story engaging. The college part was, well... not to defend the school, but I think some of the problems the author attributes to the specific institution would hold for elite universities generally and even society at large. The author clearly put effort into recognizing their privilege throughout the book, but there were still a few moments toward the end that came across as a bit entitled. Overall I enjoyed the book, and I would definitely recommend it to people who grew up in North Carolina, in the Methodist church, with woods in their back yards.

Next I guess I will count The Eleventh Hour, which is a book my husband read as a child and suggested I check out. I'm kind of torn about this one; I do enjoy trying to solve mysteries and some puzzles, but there are many more puzzles in the book than are helpful for solving the central mystery (and some of them are intentionally misleading). After interpreting hieroglyphics and deciphering alphanumeric substitution ciphers and unscrambling anagrams, I reached a point at which I was just NOT going to squint at tiny drawings of tennis balls to read the letters on them. Maybe if I'd been the right age to pore over the book for days... but then I'm not sure what the right age would be, given the contrast between the simplistic rhyming story and the difficulty of the puzzles.

The last book this week, What It Means When a Man Falls from the Sky, was for readabookwithkara.com. This is a book of short stories by a Nigerian-English-American author, mostly realistic fiction but some with sff/magical realism elements. Each story is spare, lovely, brittle, and tragic, like an egg fallen from a nest. I would recommend this collection and am looking forward to the discussion that should be posted this weekend. (I don't know whether I'll continue with this "book club" as the next book seems kind of dark and is also wait-listed at the library; I might circle back when the book and I are both ready.)

QOTW: I have been putting more effort into diversifying my reading across several axes (genre, author demographics, date, etc). I do think it's been helpful to my personal growth. My reading habits as far as quantity, (lack of) purchasing, and that sort of thing have been pretty stable over my adult life (the last six-ish months excepted).

message 3: by Sarah (last edited Aug 27, 2020 08:00PM) (new)

Sarah Pace (space1138) | 127 comments Yep, hanging in just fine, and still waiting for calls back on job applications. This week, in addition to all my class reading:

Sword of Destiny and Blood of Elves. For all the mixed reviews that I've heard of these, being sooooo different from the series, I'm really enjoying them. So much more nuance, back story and "why" than the series has, even as good as it is. I have the rest of the series queued up at the library for over the next few weeks.

I'm trying to put my finger on why I like it so much, as there are strong elements that are usually turnoffs for me. I determined that after a long career in martial arts, I tend to really like ninja-esque stuff, and even though Geralt isn't exactly one, this seems to be scratching that particular itch nicely. Might be a sign that I'm long overdue for a read of Brent Weeks' Night Angel trilogy.

Abaddon's Gate. Not really far enough in to make a judgement, but so far it's been quite good. The rest of the series has been excellent, so I fully expect it of this, as well. I'm liking them enough that I actually broke down and bought the series, which is something I don't do very often anymore. I've also been working through the in-between-book novellas, which have made for fascinating interludes.

Does getting a degree in librarianship qualify as changing my book habits??? I don't know that my reading quantity has changed in the past 10 years, but I'm making a definite effort to be a bit more diverse in my reading, and am picking up considerably more non-fiction than I used to. In the past 10 years, I've also made the begrudging switch to about 1/3 of my reading being on my Kindle (my 10-year-ago self would kill me if she heard that confession), and I am making a greater effort to use the library rather than have to finance this habit myself.

message 4: by Daniele (new)

Daniele Powell (danielepowell) | 165 comments A single finish this week: Leonardo and the Last Supper, a non-fiction look at the circumstances under which da Vinci created one of his greatest masterpieces. I thought it was a little heavy on the politics and warring, even though I fully understand that his patron remaining in power was vital to the project's completion. Still, some very interesting tidbits for this former art history student. Used for Gryffindor/Gold/set in the Renaissance.


And the library has decided that my next read is Too Much and Never Enough: How My Family Created the World's Most Dangerous Man, as my hold has come in. Won't fit a prompt in the One PHRC challenge, but fits the new release prompts of several other challenges I'm tracking.

QOTW: First, I've returned to reading, something I had put aside in my previous relationship. I've expanded my horizons in terms of style and developed an enjoyment for memoirs and various forms of non-fiction I wouldn't previously have picked up.

Kindle and Overdrive have been a tremendous assist in this regard, since I don't have to commit to buying books until they've earned a spot on my bookshelves.

I've also tried to diversify the authors I read, although I'm still working my way through the English/American classics I didn't read in school (since we were reading French classics). Again, Overdrive has been a lifesaver. My local library is tiny, and its English section is even tinier.

message 5: by Megan (new)

Megan | 236 comments I finished The Cornwalls Vanish just in time for IRL book club #2 the other night. It definitely picked up in the second half, but I don't think it was one of James Patterson's better books. Too many characters introduced for seemingly no reason and immediately killed off, and kind of a strange ending. Goodreads lists it as the first in a series, but I'm not really sure where it would go from the way it ended.

I'm now reading A Wild and Precious Life for IRL book club #3, and I love it - I was initially concerned when I was reading the introduction and found out that it wasn't finished when Edie Windsor passed away, but the co-author found a really cool way of handling it, which I now wish could be used in every autobiography. Each chapter is told in Edie's voice, as she remembered events, but that is followed by several paragraphs of additional information and sometimes conflicting accounts from the co-author's interviews with her friends and family, and his research through Edie's papers (since that's a thing that rich people apparently have). It makes it a lot more interesting than a typical autobiography, since you get multiple perspectives on events and get to learn more about what happened to the supporting characters.

QOTW: Oh my goodness, yes! Everything about how I read has changed in the past ten years! Ten years ago, I was primarily re-reading things I'd already read, wasn't in any book clubs, didn't have any interest in ebooks...and now, like several others of you, I primarily read ebooks for convenience of library usage and Kindle deals, I've found many favorite books and authors through the book clubs, and I hardly ever re-read anything. There wasn't one specific event that prompted all of that, but the confluence of finding a library I liked and getting involved in the book clubs were probably the primary factors.

message 6: by Jen (last edited Aug 28, 2020 11:03AM) (new)

Jen (piratenami) | 220 comments Oops, I got super busy at work last week and missed the previous check-in! But because of that, I didn't really have any updates for last week, either. This week, though, I'm on vacation. We're not going anywhere due to the pandemic, but I still took the time anyway.

Last week, I just had a couple of comics finishes.

Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood - this was my choice for Popsugar's read a banned book prompt. Powerful graphic memoir about a girl growing up in Iran during the Islamic Revolution and the war with Iraq.

I've also been working my way through Kaoru Mori's manga, and read Emma, Vol. 3.

Still reading The Fifth Season. I didn't get much chance to read last week, but I'm going to try to read more during these two weeks off.

QOTW: Oh, definitely. In 2013 or 2014, I joined a book club on LiveJournal (I miss that place) which was run by some friends from my former WoW guild. Before that, I'd been almost purely a fantasy and sci-fi reader (with a brief foray into my grandma's Harlequin romance collection in my early teen years). For that book club, we rotated genres every month, and I got so much more exposure to different genres and styles. I wound up discovering how much I enjoyed romance, mysteries, and some thrillers. I even read quite a bit more nonfiction. I am now much more widely read across genres.

I, like many of you have already said, also discovered ebooks and Kindle, which is now my primary mode of reading almost everything except comics and manga. One primary advantage for me with regard to ebooks is the ability to read occasionally during downtime at work while still paying attention to my computer/email. It's also easier to carry books with me on my phone or Kindle than haul the physical ones around with me.

message 7: by Shel (new)

Shel (shel99) | 270 comments Mod
Just one finish last week, The Human Division by John Scalzi. It's an interesting installment in the series, because it was initially released as a serial novel in 13 episodes. The episodes connect and there is an overarching progression, but the story is sort of disjointed because of the format. It ended strong, though, and I bumped my rating up to 4 stars because it left an intriguing mystery that I can't wait to learn more about in the next book.

I'm now about a third of the way into The Stone Sky, last book of the Broken Earth trilogy, and wow.

QOTW: Definitely a change over the past ten years, in two big ways. One is just volume - my eldest kiddo is nine, so I've been a parent for nine out of the last ten years, and that's cut into my reading time just a bit! I'm starting to approach pre-parenthood numbers again (used to read 75-80 new books a year, not counting re-reads, was down to 38 at my low point after kid #2 was born, am up to sixty-something right now), and a lot of my reads are books I've read out loud to one or more of the kids - some old favorites, but also new stuff like the Percy Jackson series, that I never read. The second change is more of a focus on broadening my horizons (both in terms of genre and in seeking out more diverse authors).

message 8: by Shel (new)

Shel (shel99) | 270 comments Mod
Sarah wrote: "Abaddon's Gate. Not really far enough in to make a judgement, but so far it's been quite good. The rest of the series has been excellent, so I fully expect it of this, as well. I'm liking them enough that I actually broke down and bought the series, which is something I don't do very often anymore. I've also been working through the in-between-book novellas, which have made for fascinating interludes."

I LOVE this whole series. Spousal unit and I are watching the TV series on Amazon Prime right now and it's reminding me how much I've loved the books. I can't WAIT for the last book to come out - all the page says is expected publication 2021.

message 9: by Susan (new)

Susan LoVerso | 298 comments This past week I finished The Wedding Date. It was only okay for me. There was a bit too much of the lack of communication trope that I don't like in romance novels. But it filled its fluff role well enough.

I am listening to Cibola Burn, the Expanse book 4. So Sarah I am just ahead of you. As per the other books, it is very good and engaging and I am enjoying it a lot. I get a lot of walking in listening to these books because I want to keep listening. So my brain and my fitbit are both happy.

My husband and I have seen all of the TV series, before I started reading any of them. We're rewatching with our (adult) daughter and her boyfriend. We're at the beginning of season 3 with them and it is very enjoyable to watch after reading the book now too.

I also started reading Small Fry: A Memoir. I am about 100 pages into it, so about 25%. So far I am fairly meh on this. It is the memoir of Lisa Brennan Jobs, the daughter of Steve Jobs. The book itself is very random, bounces around a lot in terms of her age. There are several stories where they simply end and I have no idea why I needed to know this thing.

QOTW: Although I still read paper books, I have only recently started listening to audiobooks in a big way for myself, personally. When our kids were growing up we did a lot of audiobooks on cassette tape in the car for road trips.

I am also reading more. Ten years ago I was fully into three pre-teen and teenage years with my kids. Now they're all 20-somethings living out of state. Avid readers, all of them.

message 10: by Kristi (new)

Kristi (midwinter) | 54 comments I can't remember the last time I posted an update, so I'll just skip to the "big" titles :) I'm seeing ads for this everywhere and I was lucky to get a prime spot on the reservations list at the library, so I read Mexican Gothic before a lot of people. Generally, I really liked it. It's a fantastically creepy gothic story, and the prose is beautiful! It deserves every rave it's receiving. That said, I was kind of disappointed that it didn't have much to do with Mexico. It was very much a classic European gothic story - even the %&*! house was imported from the old country! I was really looking forward to a story saturated with unique Mexican details, and a different twist on the classic trope, but nope...it was just your standard gothic story re-located to a Mexican hilltop town with a handful of local characters. Hmph. That doesn't take away from the fact that it's a really good story...it just missed the mark for me.

Towing Jehovah. This is listed as satire, but to me it read like an absurdist comedy...and in that vein, I loved it. It's a madcap tale centered around the premise that God died and his massive corporeal body is floating in the ocean somewhere near the equator. A disgraced supertanker captain is called out of retirement by the Vatican to tow the holy relic to the arctic for entombment. Along the way, we meet the oddball crew of the ship, the stranded traveler they pick up along the way, and deal with all the natural and unnatural obstacles that stand in the way of this simple tow job. It won a World Fantasy Award and I can see why. Totally wacky, but entertaining.

On the Plain of Snakes: A Mexican Journey. This is my first time reading a Theroux novel. He's a lifelong travel writer who set his sights on driving the US-Mexico border to see what things are really like there. Inspired by what he saw, he decides to extend the journey to take a deep dive into Mexico to visit the communities where immigrants begin their journeys. He comes at this with a lot of high-minded literary analysis, which was all well and good, but tedious by page 400. Still, it's a nice look at the stories behind what we see on the news every day. Definitely worth the time spent reading it.

QOTW: I had a major job shift in 2010-11 that took a serious chunk out of my reading time, but other than that blip, things have pretty much held steady over the past 10 years. I think the biggest change is that I'm more discriminating about what I read, and have no qualms about quitting a book that's not holding my attention. I read everything from pop culture tie-ins to scholarly works, so I'm not too picky about topic or genre, but it has to be well written, or at least entertaining.

message 11: by Susan (new)

Susan LoVerso | 298 comments Kristi wrote: "...and have no qualms about quitting a book that's not holding my attention."

Yes to this! Sometime in the last 10 years I gave myself permission to DNF any book. It was very liberating. My time is valuable.

Also when reading non-fiction, I have frequently found that there can be a lot of repetition because the author has to meet some minimum page count and doesn't quite have enough material.

message 12: by Sheri (new)

Sheri | 877 comments Mod
Welcome back, Kristi! Good to see you again!

message 13: by Shel (new)

Shel (shel99) | 270 comments Mod
Susan wrote: "Yes to this! Sometime in the last 10 years I gave myself permission to DNF any book. It was very liberating. My time is valuable.."

Yes! Me too! It's quite empowering :)

message 14: by Sheri (new)

Sheri | 877 comments Mod
I admit I'm still working on the DNF thing haha. If Im just reading a book for fun, I'll abandon it pretty readily if I'm not feeling it. But if i'm doing a reading challenge, I always feel compelled to finish it because DNFing means i have to find something else. Sometimes I will anyhow, if it's really bad. But if it's just ok, or was a hard one to fill, I'll soldier though. Also for book club books, I'll usually try to finish just so I can at least talk about it.

message 15: by Sarah (new)

Sarah Pace (space1138) | 127 comments Shel wrote: "Sarah wrote: "Abaddon's Gate. Not really far enough in to make a judgement, but so far it's been quite good. The rest of the series has been excellent, so I fully expect it of this, as well. I'm li..."

Yeah, Hubs and I are really loving it too.I now have all of the books, and am thinking more and more that I want to just cruise through and experience the last 5 adventures that way first, though.

message 16: by Shel (new)

Shel (shel99) | 270 comments Mod
If you are interested, I mod another Goodreads group and we read the series together a while back and discussed each book in depth. The threads are all archived in our series discussion folders. It was really fun to speculate with other folks reading them at the same time! Our threads are open indefinitely so don't be shy about posting your thoughts :)


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