Fall into Reading 2010: The End

Fall Into Reading 2010 @ Callapidder DaysAccording to the calendar, today is the first day of winter, which means the Fall into Reading Challenge hosted by Kat @ Callapidder Days is officially over.

So how did you do? Did you read all the books you set out to read?

I picked out 7 titles to read at the beginning of the challenge and successfully read all of those books. There were a few other “maybes” that I mentioned I might read, and I did read two of those as well, but the original 7 were read so in my mind, I finished this challenge on November 18th when I finished The Lace Reader by Brunonia Barry. Since then I was also able to finish reading Little Women by Louisa May Alcott (my first Kindle read) which was a pretty big accomplishment in and of itself.

So in total I read 9 books this fall and started a 10th, First Among Sequels (Thursday Next, Book 5) by Jasper Fforde which I wasn’t able to finish before the end of the challenge (no big surprise there, Fforde’s books are fantastic but never a quick read for me).

Here are a few things of note about those nine books and the challenge in general (questions prompted by Kat):

FAVORITE BOOK READ THIS FALL: Definitely Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins. I read a lot of good books this month, but this was by far the best. (click here for my full review)

Runner up: Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montogmery – this book just blew me away and I am anxious to read the rest of the series on my Kindle soon.

LEAST FAVORITE BOOK READ THIS FALL: This book wasn’t on my original challenge, and technically I abandoned it before the challenge began, but my book club discussed how terrible it was a few weeks after I abandoned it, so I feel compelled to state: That Old Cape Magic by Richard Russo sucked so bad, so so horribly bad. Really, it was awful.

DISCOVERED AUTHOR OR GENRE: Brunonia Barry I think deserves a shout out here. It was mentioned at our book club meeting discussion of her book, The Lace Reader, that she actually self published this book originally because nobody would pick it up (I’m not certain this is true but it does seem plausible given the really complex plot). The story is a little out there, but really I thought it was just excellent, terrifically well written and it even had a plot twist (or several) that I didn’t see coming until the end, which is always a nice treat. I really recommend this book, it was enjoyed by the majority of my fellow book club members, too.

WHAT I LEARNED THIS FALL: I’m really tired of trying to force myself to read a book just because of some sense of obligation to finish it, or because it was a Best Seller or has a Good Message or whatever. I’ve read a lot of amazing books this year and some not so great, and unfortunately some terrible. Somewhere along the way, I stopped trying to force a book that wasn’t picking up for me and I have to say, it was a good change. There are so many amazing books out there, I don’t want to waste my time reading something that I’m not enjoying.

FAVORITE THING ABOUT THE FALL INTO READING CHALLENGE: I really like that this challenge helps me to organize my reading goals and get through the books on my nightstand and some high priority books that I’ve maybe been putting off up until the challenge starts. It’s a little extra kick to read more and stick to the stuff I’ve set out to read more.

How about you?

FIR '10: The Final Questions

Fall Into Reading 2010 @ Callapidder DaysAs part of the Fall Into Reading Challenge, Katrina @ Callapidder Days decided to post a weekly question related to the challenge.

She writes, “I thought it would be a great way to keep Fall Into Reading participants connected throughout the course of the challenge.”

This is our last Weekly Question before FIR ’10 ends! It seems like just yesterday we were just starting the challenge and now it is almost over, there is snow on the ground and winter is knocking at our door!

There are actually four question for this week:

  1. Do you write in your books?
  2. Can you read in the car?
  3. Does the rest of your family enjoy reading?
  4. What’s the longest you’ve gone without reading?

Here are my answers:

  1. No, I do not write in my books. I’ve occasionally thought that a good quote might merit it, particularly in college with textbooks, but it was just never a habit that sat well with me. I never felt my thought needed to be marring someone else’s book. I have made notes on a sticky note and put said note in the book – and have made a few highlight type note things on my Kindle but that’s as close as I go.
  2. I do not often read in the car, but I am capable of it. I know some people get motion sickness when they try, but I don’t think I’m afflicted with that particular travesty. That said, I’m rarely in a car long enough to read and when I am, I’d usually rather talk to my husband or listen to the radio (though I have been known to pull out a book if I’m sitting in the parking lot with a sleepy baby and was clever enough to anticipate that and bring along reading material.
  3. We are definitely a family of readers, although the youngest might be too young to say that with certainty. My husband doesn’t read with quite as much zest as I do, but that’s mostly just because he’s far pickier. My son loves to “read” books and be read to and I look forward to him learning to actually read and seek out books of his own choice.
  4. I don’t think I can even answer that question to be honest.

So, in one week the Fall Into Reading 2010 challenge will be over? How did you do? Have you met your goal yet?

I read all of the initial books from my FIR’ challenge list and 2 others. I’m now working on a 3rd book which was not on my initial list either, but no less exciting as it’s in a series that I love (the Thursday Next books by Jasper Fforde). What are you reading right now?

FIR' 10: Question #11: Skipping to the End

Fall Into Reading 2010 @ Callapidder DaysAs part of the Fall Into Reading Challenge, Katrina @ Callapidder Days has decided to post a weekly question related to the challenge.

She writes, “I thought it would be a great way to keep Fall Into Reading participants connected throughout the course of the challenge.”

Here’s the question for this week:

Do you ever read the end of a book before you actually get there? Have you sneaked a peek at the last page or two to find out what happens? Or do you faithfully avoid the final pages until you’ve “earned” them by reading to that point?

This used to be a weakness of mine, as a teenager especially. Reading a great love story with lots of drama, I’d tell myself I just needed to know how it all worked out. If there was going to be a happy ending or not and with whom. Sometimes the book might accidentally open to pages ahead of where I was and I’d sneak a peek at a few passages.

Back then I was also kind of a fickle reader though, prone to skipping “boring” passages and skimming others. I read what I wanted and ignored the rest and one thing I learned looking back is that habits like that don’t lead to actually knowing a story. I missed a lot of details that I had no idea were there and might never know about if I never picked up the book again.

So I try to read a lot more faithfully now – not spoiling the end anymore because that never really brings any satisfaction in the long run to a story. It’s more like a cheap thrill that could even potentially ruin the story for you.  I’ve also had to work very hard to avoid that awful habit of skim reading and have fortunately gotten much better about both bad habits and I have to say, I’m enjoying the books I read more now, probably because of that.

How about you? Do you ever sneak a peek at the end of a book you are reading?

FIR' 10 : Questions # 9 & 10: on Multi-tasking and follow through

Fall Into Reading 2010 @ Callapidder DaysAs part of the Fall Into Reading Challenge, Katrina @ Callapidder Days has decided to post a weekly question related to the challenge.

She writes, “I thought it would be a great way to keep Fall Into Reading participants connected throughout the course of the challenge.”

I was out of town last week and didn’t blog Question #9 and being the over-achiever that I pretend to be, I thought I’d just answer both today.

Here’s the question for last week:

Once you begin a book, do you feel compelled to finish it? Or have you been known to give up in the middle of a book, to walk away from a book that is just too annoying, boring, etc.?

It’s always my intention to finish a book once I’ve picked it up and for a long time I tried to struggle through to the end of a book whether I enjoyed it or not, but after awhile… there were simply too many books. My bookshelves were filling quickly than I could finish them (they still are) and I gradually came to realize that might never slow down.

Also? I read for myself, not for some lofty goal of being “well read” although that would be nice. And really who’s defining the words “well read”? I think if I’m enjoying the books I’m reading, then I’m well read. Torturing myself with books I don’t like just because someone else maybe thought I should read it? Not worth my time. So while I do try to attempt a book that’s recommended for being a classic or everyone loved it or whatever, if in the end I’m not feeling it, I’ll move onto something else.

My SIL gives every book 100 pages before bailing and I like that idea though I don’t think I’m disciplined enough to force myself to stick to one page number. Sometimes I put a book aside temporarily in favor of something else and hopefully pick it up again shortly after.

And here’s this week’s question:

Do you have multiple books going at once? Or do you prefer to stick to one book at a time?

Occasionally I’ll try to read multiple books at once, if say I’m reviewing one book but was in the middle of another, or if I just can’t seem to choose which book I want to read, sometimes I’ll read a couple pages of each for a few nights until one of the books comes to the forefront of the stack.

Also since getting the Kindle, there’s been that pull to read an e-book when I’m out and paper books when I’m home, but since I don’t get out much sometimes that might mean it could take me literally forever to finish something. I read Little Women sporadically for awhile after I first got it, but mostly read other things until we went on vacation last week when I was able to devote my time to it. Now I’m halfway through and determined to finish it so I’ve been ignoring the bookshelves in favor of my e-reading.

Basically, I have a pretty short attention span and not as much reading time as I’d like so as much as I wish I read multiple books at once, it usually doesn’t pan out for me long-term.

How about you? Can you multi-task your reading? Do you always finish the book you are reading?

mini-aside: How are your challenges going? Less than one month until the Fall season and the challenge are over and I’m pleased to report that I’ve now read all 7 of my initial picks and if I finish Little Women before winter arrives I’ll be able to add an additional 2 books to that list for a total of 9 books read this Fall and 31 books read so far this year. Not bad!

Classic Book Review : Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery

Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery I read a lot growing up but didn’t often manage to convince myself to read anything of great quality, preferring the easy and addictive Babysitters Club novels and similar fluff pieces of fiction. I’ve been trying to make amends lately, finally getting around to the classics which have up to now evaded me. Gone With the Wind, Pride and Prejudice and now Anne of Green Gables can be counted as all-time favorites.

I was immediately drawn to this cute, modern book cover in our local store and had to have it, over the more old fashioned classic covers. Even better? This was one less expensive and not abridged or anything silly like that. The font was nice and large, crisp and easy to read without being silly. I think this would be the perfect addition for any of today’s youth, too. I love the spunky look of Anne on this cover – despite the very current style, I think it perfectly portrays everything that Anne with an E is all about.

For anyone new to Green Gables, here’s a quick description from Goodreads.com:

When Anne Shirley arrives at Green Gables farm on Prince Edward Island, she surprises everyone: first of all, she is a girl. Marilla Cuthbert and her brother, Matthew, had specifically asked for an orphan boy. She has bright red hair that won’t manage and a mouth that won’t shut. Nothing will ever be the same at Green Gables!

A favorite story of generations of girls ever since it was first published in 1908, Lucy Maud Montgomery’s classic story of one girl’s profound effect on a small Canadian community has stayed in print for nearly one hundred years and has been made into a popular TV series and even a musical.

I think it might go without saying that I adored this book, but I’ll say it anyway : I adored this book. Like big puffy heart love love loved it. At first the writing style took a little time to get into, like most classic literature. It is awfully verbose and descriptive enough to give me Nathanial Hawthorne-esque flashbacks – but the character of Anne was so … heartwarming … that I soldiered through the sometimes torturous descriptions of Prince Edward Island, through the eyes of young Anne.

And I was delighted to find that as the grew older, the book got better.  I thought it was a really interesting description of the coming of age – the book’s content grows with the girl and you really come to fall in love with the main character and her cast of adopted family and friends – and you will definitely want to move to Prince Edward Island by the time you’ve finished the book!

I was giddy to find out that all of the Anne books are available for free on my Kindle and quickly downloaded them all, including the first book just because well, it’s free! I don’t read quickly on my Kindle, having so many print books also vying for my attention, but once I finish my current e-read, Little Women, I plan to dive back into the world of Green Gables and I am really looking forward to it!

Did you read Anne of Green Gables growing up? Were you a fan or not? What is your favorite classic novel?

FIR' 10: Question #8 "Where Do You GET All Those Books Anyway?"

Fall Into Reading 2010 @ Callapidder DaysAs part of the Fall Into Reading Challenge, Katrina @ Callapidder Days has decided to post a weekly question related to the challenge.

She writes, “I thought it would be a great way to keep Fall Into Reading participants connected throughout the course of the challenge.”

Here’s the question for this week:

Where do you get the books you read? Are you a faithful library patron? Or maybe a bookstore junkie? Do you exchange books with friends or family members?

I think the real question here should be, “Where don’t you get your books?” as I get my books from a wide variety of sources, including but not limited to:

  1. Amazon.com – whenever I’m ordering something and need an extra $5 or $10 or so to get free super saving shipping, I often convince the hubby to let me splurge for a book. Whether or not this actually delivers us a real savings if often tough to say but it does often result in me getting a book so I don’t dwell.
  2. The clearance racks of Barnes & Noble or Borders. I like sales and typically if I can find a book I’ve just been dying to read that’s on sale for some obscene price, I’m much more likely to spring for it.
  3. The little book section at Walmart near the bathroom. Walmart’s prices are usually awfully competitive and standing around the bathroom waiting for the kids often gives me ample time to “just have to have it puh-lease!!!!”
  4. The library of course, though not as often as I should. This spring and summer I did a great job making good use of the library but I fell out of habit this fall and now simply have too many books to read to try and squeeze a library book in, too. Our closest library has a truly terrible selection, so usually when I want a book from the library I request it online and wait for an email telling me it’s in and waiting for me. Sometimes I even make my husband pick it up for me on his way home from work – which I think classifies me as truly lazy, truly ingenious or both.
  5. Yard sales, library book sales, etc. You know those magical places where you can find a much coveted book for a dollar or two?  Love those places. But for the sake of my over flowing bookshelves I don’t visit them often.
  6. My amazing book club is trying out this fun thing where the book club president person of awesomeness checks out like fifteen copies of the book we are reading next and hands them out at the meeting. Then next month we bring the books back, she returns them and passes out the next month. We’re still giving this idea a try and seeing how good people are at returning said books but I personally LOOOOVE it to pieces as it perfectly compliments my laziness.
  7. I do get a few books for review though I certainly wouldn’t mind getting MORE of those. If anyone has a book they’d like reviewed or works for a book PR kinda firm, feel free to email me at mommablogsalot at gmail dot com. I read a lot of mainstream fiction, young adult, historical fiction, a bit of sci fi fantasy and heck, probably anything.
  8. Also sometimes people who love me a lot will buy me a book or give me a gift card to procure my own. I love these people dearly and might be compelled to jump in front of a moving bus for them. Just sayin…

Where do you get the books you read?

Book Review : The Shop on Blossom Street by Debbie Macomber

I picked up a copy of The Shop on Blossom Street by Debbie MacomberThe Shop on Blossom Street by Debbie Macomber a long time ago, eager to read this first in a series that seems wildly popular. But then for one reason or another, it just sat there, waiting for my attention in a bookshelf already crowded with stiff competition. It was on my list for the Spring Reading Thing in 2010 and I never managed to get around to it so I added it to my Fall into Reading challenge this year, determined to finally pick it up. It took me awhile but I finally did it!

Here’s a description of the book from goodreads.com:

There’s a little yarn shop on Blossom Street in Seattle. It’s owned by Lydia Hoffman, and it represents her dream of a new life free from cancer. A life that offers a chance at love . . .

Lydia teaches knitting to beginners, and the first class is “How to Make a Baby Blanket.” Three women join. Jacqueline Donovan wants to knit something for her grandchild as a gesture of reconciliation with her daughter-in-law. Carol Girard feels that the baby blanket is a message of hope as she makes a final attempt to conceive. And Alix Townsend is knitting her blanket for a court-ordered community service project.

These four very different women, brought together by an age-old craft, make unexpected discoveries — about themselves and each other. Discoveries that lead to friendship and more . . .

Although it did feel a bit predictable and formulaic at times, I enjoyed reading this book and found myself rooting for each of the characters and their desired outcomes. It was a nice light read, despite some rather heavy material. This is not a work of amazing literature. You will probably figure out the twists and turns coming before the characters do, although sometimes I think that’s half the fun – feeling maybe a little proud of yourself for being one step ahead?

This book will make you think, will make you care for characters you didn’t like at first (clearly part of Macomber’s master plan) and you will probably blow through it quickly as you quickly become a bit addicted as the story goes on. I found it made for a quick enjoyable read and I’ll likely pick up another of her books at some point in the future.

Have you read any of Macomber’s books? What do you think of them?

FIR '10: Question #7 Becoming a Reader

Fall Into Reading 2010 @ Callapidder DaysAs part of the Fall Into Reading Challenge, Katrina @ Callapidder Days has decided to post a weekly question related to the challenge.

She writes, “I thought it would be a great way to keep Fall Into Reading participants connected throughout the course of the challenge.”

Here’s the question for this week:

How did you get into reading? When and how/why did you really become “a reader”?

I think I can quite safely thank my grandmother for my love of reading. I’m not sure when I became first interested in reading but I can vividly remember how much she encouraged in and helped me to foster the interest. One of my favorite early reading memories is of going to the library with her when I was still young enough to be reading mostly picture books, though I quickly moved on to early chapter books. I asked her on one of those first trips, after getting my very own library card, how many books I was allowed to get, already seeing many many books that I wanted and having a hard time deciding.

The library, at least in those days, didn’t actually have a limit. You could check out as many as you wanted. But  I think she knew I needed a number or else she was just being silly, because she told me “seventeen books” – and not realizing it was a joke, I believed her and picked out exactly seventeen books that day and many many days thereafter. I remember the librarian being both impressed with my math skills and also at how quickly I plowed through that stack of books! (I don’t think anyone has been impressed with my math skills since, coincidentally)

How about you? When did you first truly become “a reader”?

FIR '10 Question # 6 : Where you LOVE to Read

Fall Into Reading 2010 @ Callapidder DaysAs part of the Fall Into Reading Challenge, Katrina @ Callapidder Days has decided to post a weekly question related to the challenge.

She writes, “I thought it would be a great way to keep Fall Into Reading participants connected throughout the course of the challenge.”

Here’s the question for this week:

Where do you love to read? Note: I don’t mean where do you actually do most of your reading, because that might be the carpool line, the work cafeteria, or even the bathroom (if you have to escape from a few small children in order to read a chapter of your book). I mean, what are a few of the places where you LOVE to read?

We live in a fairly small apartment with only so many rooms and no real outdoors to speak of. Sure we have a balcony, it overlooks a busy street, has an excellent view of the liquor store and usually smells like cigarettes because our neighbor is a smoker. Not ideal.

  • The only thing I read in our kitchen is cookbooks. I’m guessing that’s true of most people. I don’t read at the dining room table either, preferring a comfy place to sit while I read so I can block out “the rest of the world” and not think about my butt hurting.
  • I almost never read in the living room because there are so many distractions – computer, tv, loud children, husband – vying for my attention.
  • I’m not one of those bathroom reading people. Sometimes I wish I was, I might spend all day in there. But I’m not.
  • I do read to my children in their bedrooms, mostly the four year old’s room still, and I do love it, but I wouldn’t go in there to read a book of mine.
  • That leaves… my bedroom. Where I do the majority of my reading, and I suppose you could say I love it. I get to lay down, I’m definitely comfy. The only thing I don’t love about reading in my bedroom, is that I’m usually tired and don’t always get a lot of reading done. I sometimes think I don’t allow myself to devote enough time to reading, wanting to be on for my kids during the day and having too many other distractions during nap times.
  • Occasionally I will read in a car if the baby were to fall asleep while out running errands – but that requires me to predict this scenario and bring a book or my kindle.
  • I’ve attempted to bring a book to a coffee shop or playground, but never feel my children are old enough to watch themselves while mommy has a nose in a book, so that never really happens. Too many dangers in this world, kids awfully young.

Where would I love to read?

  • In a comfortable outdoor chair on our imaginary back porch, or maybe in a hammock in said back yard? A tasty beverage would probably be required, maybe some singing birds for ambiance.
  • If said back yard had a nice shady tree, I might opt to sit and read there on a hot day while the kids play. Perhaps a back yard picnic would be called for?
  • In Europe, on a cruise, or lying on a tropical beach – i.e. if we took an extravagant vacation, I’d probably be the dork who wanted to read anytime there was downtime. Although if kids are present, we know downtime wouldn’t really be a reality anytime soon. But in about 5-10 years – somebody please hand me a book. A stack of books. And a tasty beverage. And then go away.

Where do you LOVE to read?

FIR ’10: Reading Question #5 : How much of the book do you read?

Fall Into Reading 2010 @ Callapidder DaysAs part of the Fall Into Reading Challenge, Katrina @ Callapidder Days has decided to post a weekly question related to the challenge.

She writes, “I thought it would be a great way to keep Fall Into Reading participants connected throughout the course of the challenge.”

Here’s the question for this week:

When you read a book, do you read EVERYTHING? In other words, do you read the dedication, the acknowledgement, the foreword, the afterword, the prologue, the epilogue, the appendices, etc.? Or do you just read the “meat” of the book? Or is your approach somewhere in between?

I think how much of the “extra stuff” I read really shows how much I like the book I’m reading. A book I’m in love with, I’ll want to read it all – from the index to the “about the author” page in the back. I think you can also usually tell a lot about a book from those little details and how many of them there are. I really appreciate the efforts an author might put into those details and get a kick out of the little extras added. But if a book is just “alright” – I might not even glance at any of those extras. If the book is just awful, I might even ::gasp:: skim the book and not bother finishing at all, nevermind reading the index or dedication pages.

How about you?