kaylaraeintheway reads her own books in 2018
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This year, I am making it a personal goal to only read what is already on my shelves, since I have 400+ books that are languishing in my apartment just waiting to be read. I will not buy any books (barring extreme exceptions that are yet to be determined) - books as gifts are ok!
1. What We See When We Read by Peter Mendelsund
2. Walkabout by James Vance Marshall
3. The Log Cabin: An Illustrated History by Andrew Belonsky
4. Like a River Glorious by Rae Carson
5. The End We Start From by Megan Hunter
6. Into the Bright Unknown by Rae Carson
7. Lady Killer vol. 1 by Joelle Jones
8. Too Much and Not the Mood by Durga Chew-Bose
9. Nimona by Noelle Stevenson
10. The Hum and the Shiver by Alex Bledsoe
11. The Blue Fox by Sjorn
12. Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O'Dell
13. The Bright Hour: A Memoir of Living and Dying by Nina Riggs
14. Felicity: Poems by Mary Oliver
15. Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
16. The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson
17. News of the World: A Novel by Paulette Jiles
18. Winter in the Blood by James Welch
19. West of Eden: An American Place by Jean Stein
20. An Extraordinary Union by Alyssa Cole
21. Too Fat Too Slutty Too Loud: The Rise and Reign of the Unruly Woman by Anne Helen Petersen
22. Her Body and Other Parties by Carmen Maria Machado
23. The Fire This Time: A New Generation Speaks About Race ed. Jesmyn Ward
24. Heart Berries: A Memoir by Terese Marie Mailhot
25. Life on Mars: Poems by Tracy K. Smith
26. My Story by Marilyn Monroe
27. Monstress Vol. 1: Awakening by Marjorie Liu
28. The Secret Lives of Color by Kassia St. Clair
29. The Art of Travel by Alain de Botton
30. Stardust by Neil Gaiman
31. Dread Nation by Justina Ireland
32. Tangerine by Christine Mangan
Book Riot Read Harder Challenge 2018
A book published posthumously: The Bright Hour by Nina Riggs
A book of true crime:
A classic of genre fiction: Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
A comic written and illustrated by the same person: Nimona by Noelle Stevenson
A book set in or about one of the five BRICS countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China, or South Africa):
A book about nature: On Trails: An Exploration by Robert Moor
A western: News of the World: A Novel by Paulette Jiles
A comic written or illustrated by a person of color: Monstress Vol. 1: Awakening by Marjorie Liu
A work of colonial or postcolonial literature:
Romance novel by or about a person of color: An Extraordinary Union by Alyssa Cole
A children's classic published before 1980: Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O'Dell
A celebrity memoir: My Story by Marilyn Monroe
An Oprah Book Club selection:
A book of social science:
A one-sitting book: The End We Start From by Megan Hunter
The first book in a new-to-you YA or middle grade series:
A sci fi novel with a female protagonist by a female author:
A comic that isn't published by Marvel, DC, or Image: Lady Killer vol. 1 by Joelle Jones
A book of genre fiction in translation: The Blue Fox by Sjorn
A book with a cover you hate:
A mystery by a person of color or LGBTQ+ author:
An essay anthology: The Fire This Time: A New Generation Speaks About Race ed. Jesmyn Ward
A book with a female protagonist over the age of 60:
An assigned book you hated (or never finished):
kayla, the goal to read your own books is/should be one of mine, especially as I enjoy my shelves when I get to them. I look forward to following your reading in 2018.
>7 ipsoivan: Glad you're going to be following along! I was going through my shelves last week and was struck by how many great things I already have that I have forgotten about. This goal will certainly test my self-control, but I'm excited!
Maybe we need a mutual support group. I was in the ROOT group for a couple of years, but found CR readers read more closely to my interests. Of course this means that I'm more frequently tempted to read books not on my own shelves...
>9 ipsoivan: It's definitely a slippery slope! But I'm definitely up for cheering on/encouraging others who want to stick to their own shelves. Part of the reason why I posted my goal is so that others can hold me accountable haha
Happy New Year everyone! I'm so excited to kick off my 2018 reading. But before I do, here are my favorite books I read in 2017:
Good Morning, Midnight by Lily Brooks-Dalton
Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders
Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly
My Life with Bob: Flawed Heroine Keeps Book of Books, Plot Ensues by Pamela Paul
Lassoing the Sun: A Year in America's National Parks by Mark Woods
The Planets by Dava Sobel
Shadowbahn by Steve Erickson
Gloryland: A Novel by Shelton Johnson
New and Selected Poems: Volume One by Mary Oliver
Fire Season: Field Notes from a Wilderness Lookout by Philip Connors
The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood
Turtles All the Way Down by John Green
Winter: Five Windows on the Season by Adam Gopnik
Overall, I really enjoyed this past year's reading and I'm looking forward to reading from my shelves this year.
>6 kaylaraeintheway: Interesting list! But I almost immediately got stuck on true crime, not a genre I think I have any interest in.
A good posthumous book I read last month was Tea With Mr Rochester by Frances Towers, short stories, 1940s.
I share your overall goal, although I've never managed to achieve it yet!
>12 wandering_star: True crime has never interested me either, but I suppose that's the point of the challenge! I'm willing to give it a try for the sake of reading outside of my comfort zone a little bit.
Thanks for the recommendation! I love short story collections.
Finished my first book of 2018! This book, ostensibly a rumination on what it means to "read" something, is beautifully designed (which is no surprise, considering the author is the associate art director at Knopf); I thoroughly enjoyed how visual everything was, and so much was conveyed through the graphics (all of which are in black and white). That being said, I was unsure what exactly Mendelsund's main point was. There are some beautiful passages about memory and imagination, and I nodded in agreement at a few points, but now I am kind of struggling to "summarize" what this book was about. Maybe that's the point; it's more of a mediation on reading rather than a scientific deep-dive. Overall, I enjoyed this unique book and will keep it on my shelf, if only to peruse the stunning visuals.
Walkabout by James Vance Marshall
First of all, I wish I didn't read the introduction for this edition (NYRB Classics), because it gave away some major plot points, so warning to all those who have that same edition!
This short novel was interesting; two young American children crashed in the desolate Australian outback on their way to Adelaide and must somehow survive a long journey to the nearest civilized place. They eventually come across an Aboriginal boy, who feels a sense of obligation to help the children survive in this (to them) harsh and unfamiliar environment. I couldn't help but wonder how much research, if any, the author did into the culture and customs of the Aboriginal boy he depicts. He certainly knows the landscape of the Australian desert; his descriptions of the flora and fauna are quite lovely.
It's also interesting to note the time period in which this was written; originally published in 1959, and with the American children hailing from South Carolina, they (especially the older sister) are hindered by their learned prejudices and biases against anyone with skin darker than theirs.
In all, I did enjoy this book, and it did elicit some deeper thoughts and questions about colliding worlds, life, and death.
The Log Cabin: An Illustrated History by Andrew Belonsky
I, like many Americans, am enamored with the idea of a log cabin in the mountains, hot cup of tea in my hand, wrapped in a cardigan. But how did we get to this point of "cabin chic"? How did the log cabin, once looked down upon as the dwelling of poor people and vagrants, become a giant symbol of American patriotism and pioneering? Andrew Belonsky's book traces the history of the log cabin from the first English settlers in Jamestown (who, in fact, did not introduce the log cabin to America; that would be the Finns and the Scots-Irish) to the campaign-boosting origin stories of hopeful presidents, to the Disney-fied theme park attractions, and finally to the fashionable aesthetic we see today. It was certainly very interesting to examine the history of America through the history of a structure, and I learned quite a bit while reading this book (the historical pictures throughout helped). He even managed to end on a hopeful (and self-admittedly schmaltzy) note about the resiliency of America - much like the log cabins that still stand today.
My only complaint is that sometimes the modern, trendy speak Belonsky peppers in (#haters, natch, etc.) is jarring, and not really necessary. But that did not take away my enjoyment of reading this book!
I am at the point where I never read an introduction before I read the book - most of them are just essays on the book - wonderful, insightful and full of spoilers. This book sounds interesting.
Good luck in the goal to stick to books already on your shelves! I really need to start getting through some of the backlog on mine at some point.
>14 kaylaraeintheway: I enjoyed What We See When We Read when I read it. I really liked the design of it.
>18 AnnieMod: I've found the same thing. I used to always read introductions but I got really tired of it starting to explain the entire plot so I now just skip them.
Hi Kayla. Great first three, Walkabout sounds especially interesting to me. Were all three off your shelves?
>18 AnnieMod: I've definitely learned my lesson!
>19 ELiz_M: I got Walkabout and like 10 other nyrb books in one go a while back; it's so easy to pick and choose when they all sound so interesting!
>20 valkyrdeath: >21 mabith: Thanks! So far so good with reading from my own shelves
>22 fannyprice: You'll definitely enjoy Log Cabin if you loved At Home (hmmmm I should read that one...)
>23 dchaikin: Yes they were! The Log Cabin was a very recent acquisition, but it still counts as I got it at the (very end of) 2017. It feels great knowing that I have read such interesting things from my own shelves, and I'm really looking forward to see what else I "discover"
Like a River Glorious by Rae Carson
It's been almost a year since I read "Walk on Earth a Stranger", the first book in Rae Carson's Gold Seer series, and I was worried I would have some trouble remembering characters or events that happened in that book. However, Carson does a good job with subtly reminding the reader of the people and things that came before, so I was able to jump right into "Like a River Glorious" (side note: I love the titles she's chosen for her books). Leah Westfall and her ragtag group of friends (the ones who survived the dangerous wagon train journey out west, anyway) have set up claims in Glory, California and formed the beginning on their own little town. Thanks to Leah's "gold sense" (she's able to detect and summon gold, a very handy power to have during the Gold Rush), she and her friends become quite prosperous. But of course, good things can't last, and eventually Leah's murderous, douchebag uncle finds her and keeps her and a couple of her friends captive at his mining operation. What follows is a desperate plan to learn what horrors are being committed there in the name of gold, and how Leah and her gang can can stop them from happening. Rae Carson does not shy away from depicting the atrocities that were done against Native Americans and Chinese immigrants, which I think is a good thing (historical fiction, even when tinged with fantasy and magic, should not skirt around the shameful aspects of U.S. history).
I really enjoy this series, and I'm eager to get to the final book!
The End We Start From by Megan Hunter
I finished this book in one sitting (which, admittedly, isn't very hard to do, since it's relatively short and sparsely written - in the best sense). We follow an unnamed woman as she, her husband, and their newborn baby must get to safety after a near-apocalyptic flooding in England. We know only what she does - snippets from the news; food shortages, civil unrest. Her whole being is centered on this little baby that she clings to the same way that he clings to her - for life and love. Megan Hunter is a beautiful writer, able to convey so much in a bundle of short sentences.
Book Riot Challenge: One-sitting Book
Into the Bright Unknown by Rae Carson
The final book of the Gold Seer trilogy finds Leah Westfall and her friends in San Francisco at the peak of the Gold Rush. The new city is full of people eager to make their fortunes, and those who want to swindle it away from them. One of those men, Hardwick, is the worst of the lot, and of course Leah and the others find themselves caught up in his trap. It takes all of their wits (plus Leah's power to sense and control gold), to rescue the city's downtrodden and ruin Hardwick for good. Once again Rae Carson proves she did her research, and does not shy away from depicting the harsh realities of life in early California (especially for everyone who was not a rich white man. The more things change...).
I'm always sad when a series comes to an end, and this was no exception. I hope that Rae Carson has some more stories to tell!
Lady Killer vol. 1 by Joelle Jones
A fun, violent, beautifully drawn comic about a female assassin in the 1960s. She is good at what she does, but she also wants to keep her idyllic family life too. Of course, this leads to some problems...
I'm always happy to support comics written and drawn by women, and I'm eager to pick up the second volume of this series!
Book Riot Challenge: Comic That Isn't Published by Marvel, DC, or Image
>31 kaylaraeintheway: I don't think I've come across this series before. Looks like there's satirical elements in there. Hopefully I'll get a chance to give it a go at some point.
Too Much and Not the Mood by Durga Chew-Bose
I LOVED this essay collection. Durga Chew-Bose writes like you think; starting with one idea then flowing seamlessly into something (or several things) that, at first, seem unrelated but then all come together at the end. I found myself underlining several sentences and passages as I read. Whether she's deconstructing an emoji, recalling a childhood fishing trip, or describing herself and a girl who doesn't exist, Chew-Bose, so eloquently and with beautiful clarity, puts into words what I (and I'm sure many other women my age) have been thinking and feeling.
Nimona by Noelle Stevenson
This is a delightful and touching comic about a villain, his new shape-shifting sidekick Nimona, and a hero who works for the not-so-great Institution. Noelle Stevenson set her story about what is means to be a hero/monster in a modern-medieval kingdom that has both peasants and TV news cycles, so that's a fun mix. Also, Nimona is a complex character that so many people can relate to. I now want to pick up Stevenson's other comic, Lumberjanes (which I hear is also fantastic).
Book Riot Challenge: Comic Written and Drawn by the Same Person
>34 kaylaraeintheway: I loved Nimona and feel like I want to read it again now. I really enjoyed the Lumberjanes books that I've read too, though they lose something for me whenever the original artist isn't involved.
The Hum and the Shiver by Alex Bledsoe
This was a very interesting book, and while I liked it, I wish I liked it more. Bledsoe introduces a very intriguing and mysterious group of people (the Tufa) who live in a valley of Tennessee and keep mostly to themselves. When Bronwyn, a young war hero and Tufa First Daughter, returns from Iraq after a dramatic and televised rescue, several people are caught up in her struggle to maintain her own fierce identity while also feeling the magical pull of the music of her people. It was very clear to me that Bledsoe is a Male Writer, as he focuses a lot on the sexuality of Bronwyn in a way that kind of made me cringe (it can be done well, folks). But I kept reading because I liked Bronwyn as a character and wanted to see where things ended up. This book is the first in a series, so we'll see if I feel the draw back to the Tufa...
The Blue Fox by Sjon
This short novel was definitely unique, and I may need to re-read it in order to fully appreciate it. I found myself having to back and forth a few times to re-read names and relationships between characters, but I still liked the mystical, almost mythological, elements of the story (the fox, a strange girl, the bleak Icelandic landscape). If anything, reading this did awaken an interest in Icelandic/Nordic literature that I did not really have before.
Book Riot Challenge: A Book of Genre Fiction in Translation
Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O'Dell
I first read this in 3rd or 4th grade, but I didn't remember most of what happened so I don't even count it as a reread. This is a classic book about Karana, a Native American girl who is left behind on an island off the California coast in the 1800s (what I didn't know was that it was based on a true story, which is pretty cool). She spends many years (mostly) alone, surviving on her own with the occasional animal and human companion. This is a very internal book, made up mostly of descriptions of Karana's thoughts and actions. It is beautifully written, and even though you get the sense that nothing bad will happen to her, the suspense is still present. Although, the ending seems a little more ambiguous now that I'm reading it as an adult...
Book Riot Challenge: Children's Classic Published Before 1980
The Bright Hour: A Memoir of Living and Dying by Nina Riggs
This memoir, about a woman dying of breast cancer, is heart-wrenching, funny, poignant, and pretty much amazing. Everyone should read this. Don't have much more to say than that!
Book Riot Challenge: A Book Published Posthumously
Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
I was supposed to read this book in high school, but I had senioritis and Cliff's Notes-ed my way through it which, now that I've finally read this book, was STUPID because this is AMAZING. Of course, one can't help but read this in the context of the current state of the world, which is somewhat terrifying. But I love that it's not as bleak, in the end, as so many books/movies/shows on right now. There are always book people.
(Side note: I read the 60th anniversary edition, which has a great intro by Neil Gaiman and some excellent new and old essays and pictures for the supplemental material).
Book Riot Challenge: A Classic of Genre Fiction
Felicity: Poems by Mary Oliver
It's Mary Oliver, and I love her. I can always come back to her poems.
The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson
This book scared the shit out of me (probably didn't help that I read most of it late at night while in a building built in the 1920s that makes all kinds of spooky noises). I can't remember the last time I was genuinely scared while reading a book. Shirley Jackson truly is the master of horror and suspense, without being gory or over-the-top. Actually, one of the scariest scenes for me was one in which she doesn't even describe what caused one of the women to scream and run. And the way she writes the thoughts and spirals of Eleanor is so great and unsettling. I will definitely be reading this again, and even though I know what's coming, I know I will still be scared.
>43 kaylaraeintheway: Lol. I enjoyed the book when I read it a few years ago, it's a good haunted house story. I found the differences between it and the (1999) movie interesting (even if the movie gets generally negative reviews; it had various aspects I thought were pretty good). Also, Lili Taylor seemed to nail Nell perfectly, so I had trouble not totally envisioning her while reading it, though the rest of the characters weren't quite as faithful. :P
You’ve been reading lots of fun books. I got a kick out of your comments on Hill House, which I listened to last year and loved. A bit of a masterpiece of structure.
Some great reading again here! I think Fahrenheit 451 and The Haunting of Hill House both deserve their status as classics of their respective genres. The 1963 film of The Haunting was one of my favourites from when I first saw it as a kid, and when I finally read the book I was really glad to see the source material was just as good if not better. It's been many years since I read Fahrenheit 451 now so I may need to revisit it.
Very interesting reviews.
I'm quite interested in the Shirley Jackson.
And I'm glad you liked Fahrenheit 451, as this is one I loved. As a matter of fact I usually never read the books I had to read for school, though I already loved to read at the time but this is one of the few (maybe there are only two?) that grabbed me and that I'm really glad I was assigned.
I like your reviews and I'm glad to see that you made up on Cliff-Notes-ing Fahrenheit and read it. It is still quite relevant today, I agree.
News of the World: A Novel by Paulette Jiles
A simple but emotional historical fiction novel about an old Captain who is tasked with bringing a young German girl back to her family (she had been captured by the Kiowa 4 years before). He has spent the last few years traveling around small towns in Texas reading the news of the day from newspapers all over the world. However, his task is slightly complicated by the half-wild Johanna who is caught between two worlds. The relationship that develops between this unlikely pair is without a doubt the heart of the novel. This was a great book, and I'm inspired to do some more research/reading about captive children.
Read Harder Challenge: A Western
Wow, I have been woefully behind on updating my reading these past couple months...I've been reading lots of good stuff, but I just haven't had the time or inclination to post about them. Now that I'm in summer mode here at UM, I hope to 1) read more and 2) stay on top of my reviews/thoughts about what I read.
Luckily Montana finally decided it's spring, and the weather has been amazing. That, combined with the fact that it stays light until almost 10 PM, makes for great outdoor reading opportunities. I'll do mini catch-up for what I've read since the last time I posted here in a little bit!
Winter in the Blood by James Welch
I've been intentionally trying to read more Native authors, and James Welch was at the top of my list after listening to a panel on his works at a local book festival last year. He writes with brutal honesty about the hardships of life, specifically for Native Americans. I can't say if I enjoyed this book, since it's not the most uplifting of stories, but it is extremely well-written.
West of Eden: An American Place by Jean Stein
This was a very interesting look at Hollywood, told by the people who were there to see it all happen (actors, actresses, authors, producers, etc.). I've always been fascinated by Old Hollywood and the history of LA. and this book is a great addition to my growing collection of books on the subject.
An Extraordinary Union by Alyssa Cole
This is my first romance novel, and I'm so glad I chose this one to start off a new-found love for the genre. Not only is the main protagonist a woman of color, but she is strong and independent and does a lot of the saving herself. Also, the historical period (the Civil War) is a unique one to center a romance in, but that makes it all the more exciting. I really loved this book, and I'm eager to get my hands on the sequel.
Too Fat, Too Slutty, Too Loud: The Rise and Reign of the Unruly Woman by Anne Helen Petersen
Petersen presents common "complaints" about women today through examples of famous women who people point the finger at for embodying those traits. Instead, Petersen turns the negative connotations on their heads and praises the women who dare to be other than what some would deem acceptable. Nothing in here is terribly revolutionary, but it was still enjoyable to read these feminist essays.
Her Body and Other Parties: Stories by Carmen Maria Machado
LITERALLY THE BEST SHORT STORY COLLECTION I'VE READ
The Fire This Time: A New Generation Speaks About Race edited by Jesmyn ward
As a white person, I will never fully understand what it means to be a person of color in America. The best I can do is to educate myself, and pay attention to what the people who have those experiences have to say. This is an excellent collection of essays and poems about race, inspired by James Baldwin's similarly-titled work. Highly recommended reading for all.
>54 kaylaraeintheway: It does indeed seem like you've been reading lots of good stuff!
I'm not into romance and find it great that you are able to like a genre new to you!
You are putting me back on a fence about Her body and other parties, as I loved the single story The Husband Stitch but read mixed reviews about the entire collection.
I heard about The fire this time a few days ago, and it's been calling my name. Your review makes it call louder.
Heart Berries by Terese Marie Mailhot
I heard buzz about this memoir for weeks before it was actually published, and I'm glad to say that it definitely lived up to the hype! Such a powerful and unflinching memoir from a great new voice in Native American literature.
Life on Mars: Poems by Tracy K. Smith
Poems on space travel, David Bowie, and the family experience? Yes please! This was a great collection, worth of all the awards.
My Story by Marilyn Monroe
Marilyn Monroe is a fascinating woman, even years after her death. This unfinished memoir started with her less-than-happy childhood and follows her rise to fame. It was interesting to read about her experiences at Hollywood parties, where she never truly felt like she fit in and preferred to stand aside and watch everyone. She was a woman of many layers and surprising depth. I'm eager to read more about her.
Monstress Vol. 1: Awakening by Marjorie Liu
The art in this comic is soooo good! The story is also interesting, but I found it too complicated to follow at times.
The Secret Lives of Color by Kassia St Clair
I love histories like this: a focus on a very specific yet unconventional thing. In this case, colors! I learned so many interesting tidbits, and it's fun to see how something like color was affected by history.
The Art of Travel by Alain de Botton
Beautiful reflections on traveling, both personally and with famous writers, artists, and philosophers as guides.
Stardust by Neil Gaiman
This is my favorite Neil Gaiman novel (and quite possibly my favorite novel, period), and one that I re-read whenever I'm in a slump and need some extra magic in my life. I just love this story so much! It's frequently advertised as a fairy tale for adults, which is an accurate description, but if you've ever read Gaiman, you know that there is a lot more to his stories than can be conveyed in a one line blurb.. Plus, the man knows how to write a beautiful, evocative sentence.
>56 kaylaraeintheway: Though I'm tired of books with "the secret life" in the title, The Secret Life of Colors sounds great!
Dread Nation by Justina Ireland
Jane McKeen is a young black woman in Maryland during Reconstruction - only, this isn't your regular high school history class Reconstruction. Shortly after the War Between the States began, the dead began to walk the fields of Gettysburg, so the opposing sides stopped fighting each other and began fighting the undead. The government instituted the Negro and Native Reeducation Act, which required black and Native children to attend combat schools so that they can train to protect rich white folks and fight the shamblers (as zombies are called in this alternative history). Justina Ireland does not shy away from the horrible racism and backwards thinking of this time period, which only fuels the fire within Jane and her friends to defeat not only the restless dead but those living who think people of color are inferior creatures. I really enjoyed this book, and I can't wait for the next one!
>61 kaylaraeintheway: Interesting premise. Sounds like it holds up without being too cute about it though.
Tangerine by Christine Mangan
This was a good book. Not great, like I was hoping it would be (at least, not great to me). The descriptions of Tangier and the way the various expatriates felt about it, while interesting at first, just got repetitive. I found myself rushing to get to the end, which was ultimately unsatisfying to me.
On Trails: An Exploration by Robert Moor
The history of life on this planet can be seen as a single path made of the walking of it. We are all the inheritors of that line, but also its pioneers. Every step, we push forward into the unknown, following the path, and leaving a trail.
This is a very interesting (and beautifully written) book about trails: why they happen, how they happen, and what it means to follow them. He goes millions of years to the past and the technological advances of our future, from microscopic beings oozing along to the earth's largest mammals carving their own paths. He waxes philosophical on what it means to be truly free to travel thousands of miles on foot. I really liked this book; now when I hike, I can't help but wonder what it took to form the path I am following.
>64 kaylaraeintheway: This sounds like a good one. I love walking and hiking and natural history so sounds right up my alley.
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