Friday, March 31, 2017

2017 Quarterly Goal Check-In

Way back at the end of last year I made some reading goals. What would generally happen is that I would wait until December and then frantically try to complete them. This year I thought I would write an update every three months just so I can measure my progress. The overall goal of setting goals is to make significant progress, even if I don't actually complete my original goals. At this point my goals are not changing, i just want to have an idea of how I am doing and if there are certain ones that are being ignored so I can do better at working on all of them for the next three months. There are two posts that I am going to be referencing. If you missed them you can find them here and here

I had four main goals and a list of 5 books I would finally read in 2017.

Goal #1 Read a minimum of 120 books
This averages out to 10 books a month which is completely doable for me. As of today I have read 38 books so I am well ahead of schedule. 

Goal #2 Read the books I own
Of those 38 books, 17 of them have been books off of my own shelves that I have read for the first time. 6 more of them were rereads pulled from my own shelves. That leaves 15 that were borrowed from the library or from friends. I think that is a pretty good percentage!

Goal #3 Have less than 100 books on my Goodreads TBR
At the beginning of the year I had 436 books on my tbr. As of right now I have 304. (I think I had less than 300 at one point but then I added some new ones.) Again, I think that's pretty good progress. In the month of March I banned myself from going to the library in an effort to focus on my own books so I'm hoping to see this figure come down significantly in the next couple months...there is a readathon coming up after all...

Goal #4 Read at least 20 books toward my classics club goal
This is a list of 50 classics that I want to get to in the next five years and at the beginning of the year a had read only one of the list. As of right now, I have read 2 off of the list. I read Oliver Twist earlier this year which was an exciting accomplishment for me. I am also in the process of reading The Moonstone which is also on the list so I will soon be up to 3. However, I am going to have to buckle down a little more on this goal if I want to accomplish it.

I also made a list of 5 books that I will finally read in 2017:
One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich
Brave New World
The Pillars of the Earth
I Will Bear Witness
The Silmarillion 

As of right now I have read exactly none of these books...I haven't even started any of them. Brave New World is one I am hoping to get too soon (also a bonus because it's on my classics list!) and I have tentative plans to read The Silmarillion with my reading buddy once we finish The Moonstone. So at least there is progress on the horizon!

Overall, I think I am doing well with my goals. I just want to stay on task throughout the year and not fizzle out. How are your reading goals for 2017 going? 

Monday, March 20, 2017

Weekly Wrap Up 3/20/17

I finished up two books this week, one of which I had been working on for a long time. So even though it's only two, I still feel accomplished!

Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke
True confessions: It took me four months to read this book. I have been plugging away at it for what seems like forever. In other words, this book moves very slowly, especially in the beginning. This novel tells the tale of two rival magicians in early nineteenth century England. It reads almost like a Dickens novel with many over the top characters to keep track of. In the end, I did end up really enjoying the novel. It picks up speed the further into it you get but still be prepared for a fairly long commitment. If you can stick with it long enough the pay off is definitely worth it. 

Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen
True confessions: I read this book in two days. (It would have been one but I started it in the evening.) I really really loved this book. It's not great literature. There is nothing profound about it. The story line is fairly predictable. But there was something in the story that I just connected with. Claire and Sydney are sisters. Claire has always been the dutiful steady daughter and Sydney is the wild one who ran away and is now returning home with her young daughter in tow. Two sisters learning to trust each other, to embrace their family legacy, and to find out who they really are. A sweet and simple story that just made me happy. I need to read more books that just make me happy. 

Monday, March 13, 2017

Weekly Wrap Up 3/13/17

It's time again for a wrap up of what I read this week. But wait, it's not Friday! You're right, it's not Friday (unfortunately). I'm going to try switching to Mondays for a few weeks and see if it works better for me. It seems more logical since the weekend is when I tend to finish a lot of books. Anyway, the books I read in the last week (or 10 days):

The Haunting of Maddy Clare by Simone St. James 
This is a ghost story set in England in the early 1920s. Sarah Piper is hired as an assistant to a paranormal investigator and they are soon entangled in a mystery surrounding the suicide of Maddy Clare, a 19 year old maid. I really liked the story. It's quite dark and creepy so if that is not something you enjoy then this book may not be for you. I did have one or two big issues with this book and that is keeping me from singing it's praises unreservedly. There are two sexual encounters in this book. Now, I am not a complete prude. Sex in a book will not automatically discredit the book for me. However, in this particular case, the are completely irrelevant to the story. Seriously, there is no need for them to be there. They are only there for the sake of having sex in the book and that is something that bothers me. So take that as you will. Maybe that doesn't bother you. Then by all means, read the book. But for me, even though I enjoyed the story, this is not a book I would recommend to someone else. 

Fablehaven by Brandon Mull
This is a middle grade fantasy. Kendra and Seth are sent to live with their grandparents for a few weeks while their parents are on vacation. They discover that grandpa and grandma are the keepers of a magical preserve where fairies run rampant and dangerous things live in the woods (which they are forbidden to enter...which, of course, doesn't stop them...). I did get slightly annoyed with the kids constantly breaking the rules. Seriously, every single bad thing that happens in the books is because the kids didn't obey their grandparents. I guess it would have been a pretty short book without all of that though. I liked this book. I thought it was cute and it read quickly. I'll definitely check out the next book in the series at some point. 

Skating Shoes by Noel Streatfeild
This is the book referenced by Meg Ryan's character in the movie You've Got Mail. She refers to it as her favorite of the shoe books but then comments that it is out of print. Good news guys, It's no longer out of print! Harriet and Lalla are young girls who meet on the skating rink and become fast friends. They come from different backgrounds and each has something to teach the other. A very sweet story.

I also finished up two of the non fiction books I had been reading.
Habits of Grace by David Mathis
This is a book on spiritual disciplines. I thought it was good, theologically sound reading. For me, it did not go quite as deep as I was hoping for but if you are new to the concept of the disciplines then this is a great read!

The Knowledge of the Holy by A.W. Tozer
This was a reread for me. If you haven't read any books by Tozer than this is a great place to start. If you have read other books by him, but not this one, you should definitely pick it up. If you have already read this book, read it again.

Friday, March 3, 2017

Weekly Wrap Up 3/3/17

Here's what I read this week:

The Faraway Tree Stories by Enid Blyton
This is a collection of three books: The Enchanted Wood, The Magic Faraway Tree, and The Folk of the Faraway Tree. I remember my first and second grade teacher reading these books to us and I have loved them ever since. They follow a group of children who discover a magical tree filled with magical creatures. At the top of the tree is there are a variety of magical lands and the children have many adventures. These are whimisical and creative and wonderful for reading aloud. A word of warning though: DO NOT buy new editions of these books. They have been edited. Track down an older copy. My edition is from the mid 90s and is the original text. Let's face it, Dame Slap doesn't make any sense at all if she doesn't do any slapping...

Trapped in Hitler's Hell by Anita Dittman
An autobiography which tells the story of a Jewish Christian during the holocaust. I thought this was a pretty interesting perspective on the atrocities that happened during that time. Ms. Dittman had an Aryan father and because of that was treated better than many Jews (though she was still treated poorly). I ove reading about World War II and the holocaust so this was right up my alley. 

Shakespeare's Secret by Elise Broach
This was a quick middle grade read. When Hero and her family move into the new house will they discover the missing diamond and uncover the true identity of Shakespeare? This was a cute, fun read although the ending was a little abrupt and unbelievable. 

I have set a goal of reading 31 books this month, as well as a couple other "31" goals. (In case you don't know or haven't figured it out yet, I'm really good at setting unrealistic goals and then failing.) But it is day 3 and I have read three books and am well into several others so I think I'm off to a pretty good start.