What I’m (going to be) Reading

It’s the holiday weekend, so clearly I’m going to celebrate by talking about books. Even better: the books I’m looking forward to reading this summer.

I’ve recognized that I don’t actually want to have a blog where all I talk about is moving across town and reading, but here’s the thing: I really want to talk about reading. So I’ll deal with writing about other things on another day.

In light of the obvious fact that it is definitely not enough to just talk about what I’m reading after I read it, I give you: the books I more or less intend to probably read in the months of July and August.

Summer Reading List

 

Yesterday at lunch, having finished (and submitted) a grueling bout of all-nighter freelance proofreading (yes, grueling: at some point I really need to put my all-nighter days behind me for good), I picked The Girl You Left Behind as a palate cleanser. I’ve read just one Jojo Moyes novel before this, and would have to agree with Everyday Reading’s description of her books as chick-lit with a little heft.

So then, because I’m a top-notch Goodreads user, I promptly changed the book’s status from “to be read: fiction” to “currently reading” on my “shelves.”

(And then, because I’m an addicted Goodreads user, I skimmed the timeline of what everyone else was reading, reviewing, marking as “to be read,” etc etc books books books.)

In the midst of that, I clicked to my summer reading shelf. I thought, I really need to make sure I don’t read all the easy, interesting books  first and leave the harder, drier, “education-y” titles for last.

But lo and behold—I remembered I’m actually looking forward to everything on this list.

Whether that means I’m being a wuss and avoiding the harder, dryer tomes, or simply that I’m awesome at finding books what to read, I’d rather not decide.

Actually, let’s decide. I’ll go with, I’m awesome at picking out books.

So, anyways.

Here’s the books.

SummerReads2

The Girl at the End of the World || Elizabeth Esther
Esther’s spiritual memoir of growing up in deep fundamentalism looks like it’ll be a good—and more intense—followup to When We Were on Fire, which I read and very briefly reviewed last month.

The Sweet Life in Paris || David Lebowitz
Can I admit that while I know this was recommended by a blogger whose reading tastes I like, I cannot remember for the life of me which blogger that was? Anyways, foodie memoir. Definitely a genre I’m enjoying exploring a little.

The Interestings || Meg Wolitzer
A Beautiful Mess blog did this one for a blog book club a while back, and while I’ve yet to partake in one of those, the cover and blurb (and popularity, admittedly) of this one was enough to get it on my reading list– and the cheerful cover seemed particularly right for summer. (Although, I suppose the summery cover would be more revelant if I wasn’t planning to read this one Kindle from the library.)

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings || Maya Angelou
Like probably quite a good number of other people, Angelou’s passing made me want to dig into some of her incredibly well-recommended works.

SummerReads3

Torn || Justin Lee
I recently finished Wesley’s Hills Washed and Waiting, and Justin Lee’s perspective on the topic was next on my list.

Froi of the Exiles || Melina Marchetta
Melina Marchetta wrote Saving Francesca, which I very much liked quite a bit, and Jellicoe Road, which apparently everyone else liked and I couldn’t even get halfway through (though I wasn’t feeling terribly patient with any of my reading right about then, to be fair.) The Lumatere Chronicles trilogy is quite a bit different from either of those, as while they’re big-issues-YA, this is fantasy through and through. I liked the first, Finnikin of the Rock (even though it took longer than it maybe should have) so I’m looking forward to opening Froi of the Exiles sometime soon.

Garlic and Sapphires: The Secret Life of a Food Critic || Ruth Reichl
Did I mention that I’m very much feeling the foodie memoir subgenre?

The House of Hades || Rick Riordan
One of the things I like most about being more open to different genres is that I have even less reason to make excuses for enjoying YA or even middle-grade fiction. There’s some very good stuff in there, and the Percy Jackson books, while definitely not for every adult reader, are definitely some of that good stuff. This is the second to last in the series, and I’m planning to put it off a little so as to have less time between those and the pub date of the last one!

SummerReading1The Girl You Left Behind ||Jojo Moyes
Like I said above, Moyes seems to do really well-written chick-lit with heft. I loved Me Without You, so I have high hopes for Girl.I’ve read a chapter so far, and that one chapter would have made a wonderful short story—but thankfully it’s not, because I want more!

Women Who Run with the Wolves || Clarissa Pinkola Estes, Ph. D.
Only the vaguest of ideas of what I’ll be getting into, but the academic side of feminism is something I’ve been wanting to wade into, and I’m starting here.

Ender’s Game || Orson Scott Card
Is this YA? I’m not sure. Either way, let’s say it’s some sci-fi to balance out all of the fantasy. Because you really can’t have too much sci-fi/fantasy.
Except, you probably can be reading too many sci-fi/fantasy series at the same time. At some point, it just gets confusing: and I’m just about to that point.
Am I going to read it anyways? Yes.

Pastrix: The Cranky, Beautiful faith of a Sinner & Saint || Nadia Bolz-Weber
Another spiritual-memoir-type. I’ve had this on my list for a little while now, but I’ve been waiting to see if I can eventually get it on library Kindle. No luck so far, so at some point I’m going to go for it anyways.

 

See anything you might add to your own list? Read any of these and want to tell me what you thought? Let me know!

 

Disclaimer: This is not intended to be a comprehensive or final list. There are far too many good books out there—and already on my shelves—to do it that way. Well, that and my attention span. Oh look, let’s read that one too! And that! And that one over there! It’s a problem.

My doomed-from-the-start January reading plan

This year, I didn’t exactly make new years resolutions. What I did do is make this sort of convoluted plan to spend different months focusing on different things I want to learn/change/improve and working on different smaller goals. A month and a half into the year, I’m still trying to get the slightest idea of what that should look like.

The only area it actually made immediate sense in was some reading plans.

First, I made a reading goal. Because Goodreads tells me to (and Goodreads is the best thing that ever happened to my literary life). Background: In 2012 I read 44 books; in ’13 I upped that by a whole 4 more books. Seeing as I finished school in May, and therefore ought to have had much more time to read, I had slightly higher hopes for myself. 
 
Now, I’m going to lie to you and say that  I don’t care about the number — and have no concern with the fact that a blogger I follow reads something like 120 books in a year, on average. I promise with my fingers crossed that my reading goals for this year will have nothing to do with quantity and will totally focus on quality and diversity of material. (Fingers crossed and I promise you a pony if you can prove I’m lying — and the words “I’m going to lie to you…” don’t count.)
 
Here’s more (actual) truth: I AM going to have to focus more on quality and diversity and silly things like educating myself this year, because of one very important, sad fact:
 
Out of 48 books in 2013, only two of those were nonfiction. And of those two, one was a collection of essays on Hunger Games (The Girl Who Was on Fire: Your Favorite Authors on Suzanne Collins’ Hunger Games Trilogy) and the other was Bossypants. (Do you see a trend? I see a trend.)
 
So here’s the plan for 2014: 60 books. If I pass it, great. If I greatly surpass it, wonderful. If I miss it? Well, I won’t, because I’ll just gorge on novellas in the last two weeks of December to make it happen. (Ever since I started setting goals, I’ve done that. It’s silly, but I would never have read Lewis’s very quick, very good The Great Divorce without that silly habit, so it has it’s upside.)
 
Back to that weird, segmented 2014 plan. Second: after setting a reading goal, I began planning mini, monthly reading goals (using ‘shelves’ on GR). January, at one point, had nine books. I was crazy — especially since this wasn’t just my easier fiction of yesteryear. But realism set in (sort of), and this is what my January plan ended up looking like:January Reading List
 
I was already rereading Divergent and Insurgent to refresh what had happened in the trilogy before tackling with Allegiant (the end of which I still haven’t fully come to terms with, so Ali, I’m still planning to respond to that email. I’m still processing!). Sorry. In short, I didn’t count them.
 
Six books. That’s potentially achievable, right? Erm, nope. As of this past week, I’ve finished Allegiant, Neverwhere, White Umbrella, and a great middle-grade book called The Wednesday Wars. 
 
And those last two I finished a few nights ago. In the middle of February.
 
Suffice it to say that this plan, as a rigid structure, was doomed from the start.
 
But that’s alright. Of course I was going to struggle getting used to new genres, and of course I’m going to constantly slipping in novels that I don’t plan. The point was to read more — and to read more specifically. And there’s more to this than just picking what books I want to read ahead of time — I’m also using this as a way to group books together where I want to spend one, two, or three months reading about a specific topic, issue, or even just genre.
 
What does that mean for my current mission to turn this into an active blog? I’m going to keep note of what I’m reading, and I want to learn how to decently review a book — and that will go here. I’ll try to share why I’m picking books, and what I’m getting from them along the way. (I might even just tell you about all the books I keep buying at Open Books even though I may never get around to reading them.)
 
I also plan to fill you in on what I’m concentrating on in a given period. For February (and March, because really, that list ended up with twelve books… so maybe April too), I’ll be focusing on working through quite a few books (and dozens of articles I’ve set aside) on feminism, women’s roles, women in the church, Jesus feminism, women in general, etc etc. I’ll write about that in a couple of days (or, really, within the month at least. Realism. And baby steps.).
 
For now, go use Goodreads. It’s grand. And you can look at my list so far for Feb-March (https://www.goodreads.com/review/list/5179510-jenna?shelf=to-read-feb-march) and add me!
 
What are you reading right now? Do you write about the books you read anywhere? And, most importantly, do you have any suggestions on how to best use Goodreads, reading plans in general, or when it’s justified to give up on a book that’s dragging?