Reading Challenges Update

I thought this would be a good week to update my progress on my personal reading challenges, particularly as the year is rapidly coming to a close. My plans for this weekend is to create an actual page where I can update my progress on a regular basis. Until then, here is where I currently stand:

Austen In August (5/5)

1. An Austen novel I’ve never read: Emma 

2. An old favorite: Northanger Abbey

3. An unfinished work completed by another author: The Watsons and Emma Watson by Jane Austen and Joan Aiken

4. An interesting mashup/adaptation of a Jane Austen work: Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith

5. A nonfiction book about Jane Austen or her time period: Jane Austen and Her Times, 1775-1817 by G.E. Mitton

Yes, it took me a few days longer than the end of August to complete it (more reviews forthcoming). Considering I created this challenge, I figure I’m allowed some additional days. I had so much fun in participating for the first time! As an added bonus, please allow me to share a picture of the fabulous prize I won:

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Photo Credit: Natalie Getter

This beautifully illustrated copy of Persuasion was generously donated by the Folio Society. I was so excited to receive this as I have never won a book before! It comes in a slipcase with a quote from the book on the front. I have my copy proudly displayed on my bookshelves.

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Photo Credit: Natalie Getter

Back to the Classics Challenge 2017 (7/12)

I seem to be rocking the classics fairly well this year. If I complete the five remaining categories, I will earn three entries into the grand prize, a gift card to use towards more books! I’m really happy that I found this challenge, as it has given me an excuse to add more classics to my life (like I really needed a reason).

1.  A 19th Century Classic: Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson

2.  A 20th Century Classic:

3.  A classic by a woman author: Emma by Jane Austen

4.  A classic in translation: The Adventures of Pinocchio by Carlo Collodi

5.  A classic published before 1800:

6.  An romance classic: A Long Fatal Love Chase by Louisa May Alcott

7.  A Gothic or horror classic:

8.  A classic with a number in the title: Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

9.  A classic about an animal or which includes the name of an animal in the title:

10. A classic set in a place you’d like to visit: Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen

11. An award-winning classic: Dune by Frank Herbert

12. A Russian Classic:

 

R.eaders I.mbibing P.eril XII

I learned about this event from fellow book blogger Sarah at Sarah Reads Too Much. I’ve never participated in one R.I.P event before, but it sounds like a lot of fun. This is hosted by estellasrevenge.net and mycapriciouslife.com, and that’s where you can go to sign up as well. The purpose of the R.I.P. challenge is to enjoy books that fall into categories such as mystery, suspense, thriller, dark fantasy, horror, and the supernatural.

It’s not necessarily a challenge, unless you want to make it one. It’s more about bringing readers together to enjoy some chilling tales. There are different levels, so I’m thinking about doing Peril the First which means reading four books that fall into one of the above categories. I also want to tackle “Peril of the Short Story” as well. The book for discussion in October is Slade House by David Mitchell. I’m planning on tackling that one plus three more along with a short story collection. I would like to read an Agatha Christie for the challenge plus I recently bought The Fireman by Joe Hill.

 

And finally…..

“My Best Friend Likes to Torture Me” Challenge (0/1)

Image result for infinite jest

Last night, my best friend unofficially challenged me to take on the mammoth Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace. I had never heard of it, and this thing looks like a beast. He knows I don’t back down from a challenge, so it’s on!

 

Are you doing any reading challenges? Any recommendations for future challenges? Please comment below!

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Summer Book Haul Part 2-What Should I Read in September?

Welcome to Part 2 of my summer book haul. As I reveal how the rest of the summer went, I thought this would be a great opportunity to get some feedback from you guys regarding what I should read during the month of September. You can read Part One of my summer book haul here.

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Photo Credit: Natalie Getter

As usual with my book grabs, I tried for an eclectic mix of older and newer works. Here are my latest finds:

The Book of Strange New Things by Michel Faber: I have so many books by this author that I’ve never actually read. This one is supposed to be quite an epic work of science fiction regarding a missionary sent to another planet to teach religion. As with all of Faber’s works, this one is very morally and philosophically complex.

The Life of Elves by Muriel Barbery: As with Faber, I picked this one up based on the reputation of the author. Barbery has received critical acclaim for The Elegance of the Hedgehog (another one on my shelves). I love modern spins on fantasy so this one appealed to me.

The Dinner by Herman Koch: Another new author! This little novel has received a lot of buzz regarding a scandalous situation. I am quite curious.

Winter Town by Stephen Emond: I had never heard of this author before, but it sounds promising. It’s the story of two childhood friends, a boy and a girl, and what happens when one of them starts making changes to her lifestyle. The book is a combination of text and comic book art. It seemed similar to a book I loved last year, Craig Thompson’s Blankets.

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith: I actually just finished this one. Who doesn’t love a classic female author combined with brain-eating monsters? I will be reviewing this one within the next few days. I have to say I probably will never read this again, but it was a fun little adventure.

Utopia by Sir Thomas More: This little classic written in the sixteenth-century describes the perfect society on a tropical paradise. This could possibly work as my pre-1800 classic for one of my challenges.

The Marble Faun by Nathaniel Hawthorne: I bought this one while on vacation along with The Dinner. I haven’t read any Hawthorne since The Scarlet Letter in high school.

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Photo Credit: Natalie Getter

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins: This psychological thriller was a bestseller in 2015 and later adapted into a movie. I decided I needed to cover some more contemporary works in my blog, so thought this one might be interesting.

Swimming Lessons by Claire Fuller: Speaking of contemporary thrillers, this is a story about a wife who vanishes and the trail of letters she left behind inside her husband’s books. It’s a book about books. How could I say no?

A Scanner Darkly by Philip K. Dick: One of my favorite books of last year was Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? I’m anxious to try another classic from one of the greatest science fiction writers who ever lived.

Armada by Ernest Cline: After reading Ready Player One, I never thought I would give Ernest Cline another try. However, this story of a teenager who has to stop an alien invasion sounded intriguing so I’m willing to give Cline one more try. But only one!

An Artist of the Floating World by Kazuo Ishiguro: One of my goals is to eventually own every book by this author. If you have not read my review of Never Let Me Go, I suggest you right that wrong this very instant!

Lady Susan/The Watsons/Sandition by Jane Austen: I picked this up mostly for Lady Susan since I already own the other two. It will also be interesting to read the background behind each one as well.

The Murder of Roger Ackroyd by Agatha Christie: With this one, I will have righted a major wrong by reading a book by the most famous author of detective fiction that ever lived. While I was putting this one up, I remembered that I also have Murder on the Orient Express. Decisions decisions.

Due to my book buying severely outweighing my book reading, I’ve decided to put up a temporary book ban until the end of the year. This will allow me to catch up on not only these books but previous hauls as well.

I decided to make September “A Viewer’s Choice” kind of month. I would love a comment from you guys suggesting two or three titles on what to read next. It could be from this list, a previous book haul list, or something completely random (hell I probably own it).

I will read every recommendation in the comments. Here’s your chance to tell me what to read next! Comment your ideas down below!

 

Summer Book Haul Part One-Teach Me to Outgrow My Madness

As I sit here trying to shove new books onto my collapsing shelves, I realize it has been quite some time since I did a book haul update. I’m dividing my entire summer haul over two or possibly three entries. I contemplated no longer doing these types of blogs, but realized that the books I buy say just as much as the ones I read. This week’s installment is dedicated to all the short story collections I purchased over the summer.

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Photo Credit: Natalie Getter

Nocturnes by Kazuo Ishiguro: I couldn’t resist getting this book of five interconnected stories from one of my all-time favorite writers. Seriously if you haven’t read Remains of the Day and Never Let Me Go, please do so immediately. Music is an important part of the author’s life and described as an “essential character” in this book. I’m quite curious to see how that works.

Vampires in the Lemon Grove and Other Stories by Karen Russell: I’m always on the lookout for intriguing sounding tales from unfamiliar writers. This collection contains stories featuring fantastic elements in the vein of some of my favorite writers like Kelly Link. My excitement is off the charts!

The Lottery and Other Stories by Shirley Jackson: Since reading  We Have Always Lived in the Castle     last year, I’ve been dying to read more Shirley Jackson. I love how she is able to write both spine-tingling horror as well as humorous slice-of-life fiction. Based on the cover blurb, this book puts together some of her best short fiction. This was worth buying just for the classic title story that was my favorite short story from high school.

Stories of Your Life and Others by Ted Chiang:  I’ve been wanting to read more quality science fiction, and there’s been a lot of buzz online about Ted Chiang. Hopefully, I can get this one soon.

Teach Us to Outgrow Our Madness by Kenzaburo Oe: Instead of several short stories, this one is comprised of four novellas. Honestly, I knew nothing about this writer before purchasing this book. Once again, I was attracted to it from the descriptions on the back cover. Perhaps Murakami has a contender in my heart.

The Mother Garden by Robin Romm: I bought this while on vacation at a used thrift store. This looks like a fascinating collection of shorts dealing with themes of loss and grief. The title story alone sounds promising. It’s about someone who decides to create a literal garden of mothers to make up for the loss of her own.

My only problem now is deciding which one I should read! My hope is that I can acquire some ideas through these writers to strengthen my own creative powers. Next week, I will write part two of my summer book haul (with a birthday coming up, maybe my accumulations aren’t over). I’ve made the difficult and painful decision to instill a temporary book buying ban while I catch up.

Have you read or heard about any of these books? Please comment below as I would love to read your thoughts!

 

 

Austen in August: My New Challenge

AustenInAugustRBR-Button

I found this great new challenge hosted by Roof Beam Reader called “Austen in August.” I realized I haven’t read any Austen this year, so I thought this would be a great opportunity to finally read Emma. They are also hosting a book group for Northanger Abbey. There are also several Jane-inspired books on my shelves that need to be read.

With that in mind, I’ve decided to add a new mini-challenge for the month of August. My plan for the challenge is to complete five books. Here are my specially designed categories:

1. An Austen novel I’ve never read: Emma

2. An old favorite: Northanger Abbey

3. An unfinished work completed by another author: The Watsons

4. An interesting mashup/adaptation of a Jane Austen work: Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith

5. A nonfiction book about Jane Austen or her time period: Jane Austen and Her Times by G.E. Mitton

I’m planning to add a page to this site outlining the challenges I’m participating in this year. Hopefully, my personal challenge has inspired you to pick up an Austen book and create your own challenge. Click THIS POST to sign up!

Are you involved in any reading challenges? What are some of your favorite Austen classics? Comments are always welcome!

Something Old, Something New: March Book Haul

My latest book haul is a combination of familiar authors and brand new ones. As I turn around and look at my bookshelves, I can see that there is very little space left for anything else. In fact, there is none left. I had to get a little, shall we say “creative” with organizing the books. I’ll have to take a picture of my severe lack of space on a future blog. In the meantime, here are my latest acquisitions:

OLDAUTHORS

  • The Crane Wife by Patrick Ness-My first book review of 2017 was the phenomenal A Monster Calls. I’m curious to read the first adult novel from Patrick Ness.
  • The Fireman by Joe Hill-Years ago, I read both Heart-Shaped Box and Horns from this author.  I’ve heard several positive reviews about this one which is set in a world where people contract a disease that causes them to spontaneously combust!
  • The Elephant Vanishes by Haruki Murakami-This is the first collection of short fiction I’ll be reading from one of my all-time favorites!

In addition to these favorite authors, I picked up some intriguing selections to see if I discover any new favorite ones:

NEWAUTHORS

  • The Bees by Laline Paull-I read a review of this one on a reading blog that I follow. As the title suggest, the entire book takes place in the world of bees.
  • The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides-Sadly, I have yet to read anything by this author that has several titles on the 1001 list. I figured this would be a good starter.
  • The Accidental by Ali Smith-Speaking of authors who have made the 1001 list, here is another one I haven’t checked out yet.
  • It’s Kind of a Funny Story by Ned Vizzini-My wife recommended this one, so I’m quite thrilled to check it out. Since I work in the mental health profession, I’m looking forward to reading this one soon.

My short-term reading goals are to start working my way through all my book hauls for the past few months in addition to getting my classic challenge list completed.

Have you read any of the books listed on this post? I would love to hear your thoughts!