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Shannon's Serendipity-Doo-Dah Reading in 2019 (sturlington)

2019 Category Challenge

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Edited: Oct 8, 2018, 10:11am Top

Hi, I'm Shannon. Next year will be my fifth year with this group. I've tried different things every year, and though I haven't always kept up with my challenges, I've always had fun. I like to read a lot of horror, thrillers, and science fiction, and this year I've started reading more memoirs and other nonfiction. I live in North Carolina, I work as a freelance editor, and I have an awesome 10-year-old son and a rather annoying 4-year-old dog (but I love her anyway).

This year has been a tough year for me personally, so I want 2019 to be a happy year. My theme is Serendipity. Instead of planning ahead, I'm going to read what I discover and read what makes me happy. My goal is to read books when I get them or when I hear about them, so they don't go "stale" on my TBR.

For extra happy, I've organized my categories around nonsensical Disney songs. Enjoy!

Edited: Dec 29, 2018, 3:30pm Top

Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah: Happy Books

New discoveries, books that I want to read and that make me happy.

Edited: Dec 29, 2018, 3:30pm Top

Bippity-Boppity-Boo: Magic Books

Unexpected finds while bookstore browsing, in the Little Free Library, or on the library's Feeling Lucky shelf.

Edited: Dec 29, 2018, 3:31pm Top

Hi-Diddle-Dee-Dee: Famous Books

Books I have heard about in the news or that have been nominated for or won an award.

Edited: Dec 29, 2018, 3:31pm Top

Oo-De-Lally: Group Reads

Book-club selections or books I read with others.

Edited: Yesterday, 9:22am Top

This Is Halloween: ScaredyKIT

ScaredyKIT monthly selections.

January - NPR 100 Best Horror Stories List or 100 Killer Thrillers List - Elizabeth: A Novel of the Unnatural
February - The Corporeal Undead - Positive by David Wellington
March - True Crime -
April - Chills and Thrills with Modern Horror/Thrillers (2014 - 2019) - The Bone Mother
May - Children's Horror (or Horrific Children) - Baby Teeth
June - Technothrillers - Version Control
July - Vacation Month (read horror/thriller of your choice) - Last Days
August - Gothic - The Daylight Gate, What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?
September - Ghosts & Hauntings - Kill Creek, The Seance
October - Monsters & Creatures - Eternal Frankenstein
November - Stephen King and Family
December - Small Press/Indie (or catch up on a previous category) - Everything That's Underneath

Edited: Yesterday, 9:23am Top


1. Debut Novel: Elizabeth (Jan)
2. About or Featuring Siblings: My Sister, the Serial Killer (Jan)
4. Made into a Movie: Devil in a Blue Dress (Feb)
9. Essays: What if This Were Enough? (Jan)
10. Artistic character: Passing Strange (Jan)
14. Alliterative title: My Year of Rest and Relaxation (Feb)
18. Medicine/Health: Positive (Feb)
23. Middle Initial: Golden State (Feb)

Edited: Yesterday, 9:24am Top

Where in the world am I?

visited 5 states (10%)
Buy Douwe's Machine Learning Book

California: Passing Strange; Golden State; Devil in a Blue Dress
Indiana: Positive
New Hampshire: The Auctioneer
New York: Elizabeth; My Year of Rest and Relaxation
Virginia: Scribe

visited 2 states (0.88%)
Buy Douwe's Machine Learning Book

Nigeria: My Sister, the Serial Killer
United Kingdom: The Silence

Edited: Feb 2, 5:36pm Top


Based on monthly displays at my local library.

January: Best of 2018 - The Calculating Stars (DNF); New Year, New You - Remodelista
February: Celebrate Black Fiction Authors - Devil in a Blue Dress

Oct 8, 2018, 10:39am Top

The idea of non-planning is beginning to appeal to me--I may try that in 2020. Good luck with your reading!

Oct 8, 2018, 12:05pm Top

Great setup! I hope your reading year takes you to amazing places :)

Oct 8, 2018, 12:41pm Top

Excellent setup, love the choice for BingoDog - could it have been anything else! And some fabulous ear-worms for anyone visiting your thread. >;-)

Oct 8, 2018, 1:55pm Top

Love the theme! And I totally relate to what you said at the top of the thread: My goal is to read books when I get them or when I hear about them, so they don't go "stale" on my TBR.

Oct 8, 2018, 2:08pm Top

I'm placing my star, Shannon and looking forward to seeing how your year goes. I can really relate to the idea of "books going stale on my wish list" I may need to look at being more spontaneous in the future.

Oct 9, 2018, 4:26am Top

This is a great idea, Shannon. Especially the "books going stale" prevention. Happy reading!

Oct 9, 2018, 8:33am Top

>12 Helenliz: What Helen said! Nicely done, Shannon - looking forward to following your reading.

Oct 9, 2018, 12:41pm Top

Happy reading!

Oct 9, 2018, 12:53pm Top

Thanks for all the comments, everyone!

Oct 9, 2018, 3:19pm Top

Love the Disney pix! I do like these categories too.

Oct 10, 2018, 12:00pm Top

Love the pics. This is Halloween will be stuck in my head all day now. I'm gonna have to pull out my DVD.
I'm thinking of doing a very loosely structured challenge next year as well. My inner control freak is freaking out but pre-planning sure didn't work for me this year.

Oct 10, 2018, 12:41pm Top

>20 VioletBramble: Well, it's certainly the right time of year for that movie!

Oct 19, 2018, 7:09am Top

Looks like a nice, free-flowing and upbeat plan! Definitely cheers me up. I'll enjoy following along.

Nov 10, 2018, 7:49pm Top

I hope you have a great carefree reading year!

Dec 2, 2018, 6:02pm Top

I love your positive approach for 2019! I have become a huge fan of non-planning over the past two years so glad to see your 2019 reading will be of the non-planning variety.

Dec 5, 2018, 1:35pm Top

Looks like your 2019 reading will be a lot of fun.

Dec 5, 2018, 6:51pm Top

Looking forward to following your thread again this year.

Dec 13, 2018, 4:49pm Top

I will be eagerly following you this year.

My secret pleasure is pulp horror paperbacks from the 70s and 80s. In the last year or two I have started reading the occasional Stephen King book.

Dec 13, 2018, 5:26pm Top

>27 Zozette: Cool! I have a pulp horror novel from the 1970s all picked out to read in January.

Dec 25, 2018, 1:20pm Top

Number of Christmas books received: 12. Which naturally leads to another goal of reading one Christmas book per month to keep the tbr like from growing.

Dec 25, 2018, 1:38pm Top

>29 sturlington: Ooh, I like that idea. I got 10, of which 2 are already lined up for challenges, but that's quite a nice way of making sure they don't build up for too long.

Dec 28, 2018, 5:31am Top

<29 - That is a good way to keep the TBR from growing. IF you don't buy any more...:)

Dec 29, 2018, 3:30pm Top

>31 dudes22: I bought two books today! And I went to the library. I am a hopeless case.

Dec 29, 2018, 6:02pm Top

Your challenge looks fun and lovely. May this coming year be far, far better than 2018.

Dec 29, 2018, 7:56pm Top

>32 sturlington: I'm a hopeless case too, Shannon! In my defence, I did say I was going to buy no new books 'in the New Year', which obviously hasn't started yet. So I am good for two more days! :)

Dec 29, 2018, 10:20pm Top

Love your illustrations for your categories.

Dec 30, 2018, 7:48am Top

>33 RidgewayGirl: and >35 hailelib: Thank you so much!

>34 JayneCM: That's absolutely right. Besides, what good is a resolution if you can't find clever ways around it?

Dec 31, 2018, 6:43am Top

Good luck! Happy New Year!

Dec 31, 2018, 11:58am Top

Dec 31, 2018, 2:49pm Top

Edited: Jan 28, 8:39am Top

Happy new year everyone! Here is where I will track my reading for January.

(1) Passing Strange by Ellen Klages: completed 1/3; category: Famous Books (ALA Reading List); source: Xmas gift; rating: 4*
(2) CalendarCAT: Best of 2018 (from library display) -- The Calculating Stars by Mary Robinette Kowal
(2) ScaredyKIT: NPR 100 Best Horror/Thrillers List -- Elizabeth by Ken Greenhall: completed 1/11; category: ScaredyKIT; source: purchased; rating: 4*
(3) My Sister, the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite: completed 1/15; category: Magic Books; source: library lucky day shelf; rating: 4*
(4) Scribe by Alyson Hagy: completed 1/19; category: Famous Books (Indie Next selection); source: Xmas gift; rating: 4*
(5) What If This Were Enough? by Heather Havrilesky: completed 1/20; category: Happy Books; source: purchased; rating: 4*
(6) CalendarCAT Take 2: New Year, Who Dis? (from library display) -- Remodelista: The Organized Home by Julie Carlson and Margot Guralnick; category: Magic Books; source: library; rating: 4*
(7) The Auctioneer by Joan Samson: completed 1/23; category: Happy Books; source: Xmas gift; rating: 4*
(8) The Silence by Tim Lebbon: completed 1/27; category: Famous Books (ALA Reading List); source: Xmas gift; rating: 4*

Edited: Feb 11, 3:44pm Top

Gorgeous cover alert!

My first read of 2019 fit the bill: light and easy. Passing Strange by Ellen Klages is a lovely love story with a backdrop of San Francisco in the 1940s. Excellent cast of women characters.

Jan 3, 5:01pm Top

>41 sturlington: Ooh, love books from/about the 1940s! And it is a gorgeous cover!

Jan 3, 6:54pm Top

>41 sturlington: Glad you liked this one! My cousin also liked it :)

Edited: Jan 4, 12:08pm Top

Book Meme for Books Read in 2018

Describe yourself: The Outsider

Describe how you feel: Hunger or The Hunger (twofer!)

Describe where you currently live: The Cabin at the End of the World

If you could go anywhere, where would you go: Greener Pastures

Your favorite form of transportation: The Lifeboat

Your best friend is: The Reluctant Fortune Teller

You and your friends are: The Silent Companions

What’s the weather like: Strange Weather

Favorite time of day: Good Morning, Midnight

You fear: American War

What is the best advice you have to give: No Time to Spare

Thought for the day: The Reapers Are the Angels

How you would like to die: Chasing the Dragon

Your soul’s present condition: Rising Strong

Jan 4, 2:01pm Top

Love your serendipitous theme with fun Disney songs & pics! I like the idea of trying to read something right away once you discover it. I've been finding a lot of books on my to read lists lately with no idea of why I put them there.

Jan 4, 10:51pm Top

Good meme answers! I like your place to go!

Edited: Feb 3, 7:21pm Top

About two years ago, I discovered Valancourt Books, which reissues out-of-print horror, generally from the 1970s and early 1980s, in really attractive slim trade paperbacks. My latest read from them was Elizabeth by Ken Greenhall (originally published under the pseudonym Jessica Hamilton). What a disturbing little book about a 14-year-girl who seems to be a complete sociopath and also thinks she's a witch.

I think this time period was a Golden Age for horror. Rosemary's Baby had set the stage, Stephen King was just getting big, and a lot of people were experimenting. A lot of the horror was bonkers, just pure over-the-top mayhem, but it still had heart. That seemed to change when the soulless, crass commercialization of the '80s took over and publishers just put out scores of King wannabes writing to formula. It's fun to be able to go back and revisit forgotten gems from time. If you're interested, I highly recommend Paperbacks from Hell, which is a wonderful retrospective of horror and their lurid covers from the '70s and '80s.

I think we're in another Golden Age of horror right now, fortunately, but today's horror is more subtle and psychological. Not disturbing so much as in there might be a monster in your closet who's going to rip your head off but more as in everything you think you know about reality is a lie.

Jan 12, 7:07am Top

I love Paperbacks from Hell. There are so many books in it that I read when I was able to pick them up very cheap from secondhand book exchange stores back in the 1980s. Since buying Paperbacks from Hell I have read 4 books that are mentioned in it.

Jan 12, 7:34am Top

>48 Zozette: It's such a great book for discovery. Although I also recognized many of the books mentioned from my younger days gobbling up all the horror I could get my hands on.

Edited: Jan 12, 7:36am Top

I've decided not to give half stars any more in my ratings. I still use them in my catalogue for a specific purpose, but I think it's simpler for recommending purposes (here and on the wikis) to stick to whole stars. Here is my system:

5* - Terrific read; highly recommended
4* - Solid read; recommended
3* - Just meh; forgettable or disappointing
2* - Unengaging; didn't grab me
1* - Terrible; stay away!

Jan 13, 2:47pm Top

Edited: Feb 11, 3:43pm Top

Another interesting cover!

My Sister, The Serial Killer: This was a quick read with short chapters, set in Lagos by a Nigerian author, with underlying themes of loyalty to family, abuse, and the shallowness of men who "only want a pretty face."

Jan 16, 10:41am Top

I've been waiting for this to finally come in at the library. Think there are only 15 people ahead of me right now.

Jan 16, 10:43am Top

>53 LittleTaiko: The only reason I got it from my library was because it was on the Lucky Day shelf. That's a new service where they put an extra copy of popular books on the shelf and first come, first serve, but the checkout time is limited to 2 weeks.

Jan 17, 4:36pm Top

>54 sturlington: - That's a really cool feature. I don't think ours has that but then again I'm very rarely actually browsing so may not have noticed if they did. I'm typically in and out quickly to drop off books and pick up holds.

Edited: Feb 11, 3:44pm Top

Another book whose cover attracted me:

Scribe--An odd book. I'm not sure whether to classify it as dystopia or alternate history or folktale. It's set in the Appalachians of Virginia, but in a time where there is no functioning government and people rule themselves, and it has a dreamlike quality to it. Lovely writing.

Jan 18, 1:31pm Top

>56 sturlington: I have this on my shelf. The more I hear about it, the more eager I am to read it.

Jan 18, 1:42pm Top

>57 RidgewayGirl: It's a quick read. I'm knocking out the short books these days.

Edited: Jan 24, 7:22am Top

A simple book cover that I find soothing:

What if This Were Enough? is a bit uneven collection of essays, but plenty of gems in here, and I like the way she demolishes dudebro self-help culture.

Edited: Yesterday, 9:26am Top

Well, it's February.

In January, I completed 8 books and all were four star reads, so that's a pretty good start to the year, I think. (See >40 sturlington: for the list.)

(9) Golden State by Ben H. Winters: completed 2/3; category: Happy Books; source: library; rating: 4*
(10) CalendarCAT: Read Fiction by Black Authors -- Devil in a Blue Dress by Walter Moseley: completed 2/8; category: Magic Books; source: library display; rating: 4*
(11) My Year of Rest and Relaxation by Ottessa Moshegh; completed 2/11; category: Famous Books (Indie Best list); source; library; rating: 5*
(12) ScaredyKIT -- Corporeal Undead: Positive by David Wellington; completed 2/20; category: ScaredyKIT; source: library; rating: 4*
(12) The Hole by Pyun Hye-young
(13) How to Be Alone by Lane Moore

Feb 1, 8:38am Top

That's a great January! I've found that the quality of my reading, due to LT and the ToB, has increased every year.

Feb 1, 1:27pm Top

>61 RidgewayGirl: I've also become much more willing to abandon a book early on if it isn't engaging me, so I'm more excited about what I'm reading.

Feb 3, 7:18pm Top

I've noticed that my covers keep disappearing on me. Not sure what's going on there.

My first book of February is a brand-new offering from a recent favorite writer of mine, Ben H. Winters. I really admire his niche of combining noir detective stories with speculative scenarios. I've read his trilogy set just before a meteor is about to hit the Earth (The Last Policeman; apocalyptic) and his novel set in an America in which slavery persists in the South (Underground Airlines; alternate history). This one, Golden State, is set in a future after some cataclysmic event, in which the state of California has become an isolationist "Golden State," where everything is recorded for the Record and lying is illegal. Once again, though, it is the intriguing detective caught up in events larger than he is at the center of the story that makes it exciting and relatable. Ben Winters has been a great discovery for me, as I think he is truly an original voice.

Edited: Feb 11, 3:48pm Top

A compelling cover:

First five-star read of the year!

My Year of Rest and Relaxation by Ottessa Moshfegh is like a fictional recounting of a fantasy I have that I know can never be realized: to go to sleep for a long period and then wake up as a blank slate, to start over again from scratch. The unnamed narrator of this book is intensely unlikeable, but yet she is so relatable, at least for someone like me, who knows from depression. I thought this was much better than Eileen, Moshfegh's other novel that I have read, which also featured an unlikeable female lead. And I think it's very honest, which can make for hard reading. This is not a book for everyone, but I think if it does connect with you, it will connect with you hard.

Feb 12, 2:11pm Top

>64 sturlington: I agree with you wholeheartedly. What a fantastic book this is. Moshfegh writes unlikeable protagonists like no one else.

Feb 20, 11:52am Top

>63 sturlington: I'm going to have check out Ben H. Winters.

Feb 20, 12:57pm Top

>66 LisaMorr: I think The Last Policeman is a good place to start with him.

Feb 20, 12:58pm Top

All right, I'm giving up on showing covers in my thread. Every time I reopen it, the covers are all gone. So I guess you'll have to click through to the work page to see the covers from now on. (sad face)

Feb 20, 1:34pm Top

>68 sturlington: It's really frustrating. I have two threads, and the same cover shows up in one thread but not the other. Maddening.

Feb 20, 2:02pm Top

>68 sturlington: Sorry your covers are not showing. I always enjoy seeing the covers and it's a good way to keep the book in my memory. Although one click on the title and all is revealed.

>64 sturlington: Moshfegh's book is intriguing. Your five stars makes it even more so!

Group: 2019 Category Challenge

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