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Slicey's 75 Books Challenge for 2019 - Maiden Voyage

75 Books Challenge for 2019

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Edited: Jan 4, 5:11pm Top

I'm new to LibraryThing and this will be my first year setting a reading goal for myself.

I used to be a voracious reader and I found reading to be especially easy and rewarding during the 5 years that I worked in a bookstore. In recent years, however, I have hardly read at all. I've spent much more time immersed in the stories created for television and much less time between the pages of a good book. And while my goals for the types of books I would like to read are fairly lofty, the books I actually tend to complete are more likely to be complete fluff.

Therefore, my goal for this year is to tackle my multiple Mt. TBRs, to read more non-fiction (that I tend to buy and never read), and to read more culturally diverse books and more books of literary significance.

I recently returned to BookCrossing and that has successfully spurred me to read more, especially from my TBR stack, so I've already gotten a jump-start from the last two months of 2018. I hope to continue this streak for the year.

This is just one of 6 overflowing bookshelves in my house of books I haven't read yet.

Edited: Jan 28, 11:22am Top

Favorite Books from 2018

I didn’t really start keeping track of my books until November (or even start reading), so I had limited books to choose from for this list.

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo
Walking the Bridgeless Canyon – I actually read this one twice. I’m in a lesbian book club at my church and we first read this title over the course of a month. It was so in-depth and there was so much good information in it, that when we started a new book club we decided to read this one again, only slower. I’ve read a lot of books by gay and straight authors about being a gay Christian or about the Church and sexuality, but this is by far the best of the bunch. Incredibly well-researched with a lot of historical context, this book would encourage both religious and non-religious people to examine with fresh eyes the role that religion, politics, and culture have had on the discrimination of and acceptance of LGBTQ persons.

Edited: Jan 7, 3:59pm Top

Book-Related Goals for 2019
1. Dig deep into my TBR shelves and clear out as many books as possible, especially those that have been in the pile for more than 5 years.
2. Read books by black authors or featuring black characters, as well as from the African diaspora. (Goal to read most of these by the end of February 2019)
3. Read books that empower women. (Goal to read by end of March 2019)
4. Read books by LGBTQ authors of featuring LGBTQ characters. (Goal to read by end of June 2019)
5. Read books from TBR pile that other members are requestiong via swap.

Edited: Feb 11, 11:45am Top

What I’m Currently Reading

Shameless: A Sexual Reformation by Nadia Bolz-Weber

Far From the Tree by Virginia DeBerry and Donna Grant
Next Up…

The Color Purple by Alice Walker
Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward

Edited: Jan 28, 11:25am Top

Want to Read

This list will be updated this month with books I currently own or plan to buy that I realistically want to read this year. Not ALL of my TBRs, but the ones that I honestly hope to get to. (Do they fulfill any of my goals from above? 1,2,3,4)

The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware
The Life and Death of Sophie Stark by Anna North
Inspired by Rachel Held Evans (3)
The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters (1,4,5)
Twilight of the Elites by Chris Hayes
Little Bee by Chris Cleave (2)
Incendiary by Chris Cleave (2)
Who By Fire by Diana Spechler
Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty
Jewel by Bret Lott (1)
Sing You Home by Jodi Picoult (1)
Handle With Care by Jodi Picoult (1)
The Fault in Our Stars by John Green (1)
The Life All Around Me by Ellen Foster by Kaye Gibbons
Harvesting the Heart by Jodi Picoult (1)
Great Small Things by Jodi Picoult(1)
Fat Angie by e.E. Charlton-Trujillo (1,3,4)
Ash by Melinda Lo (1,3,4)
Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi (2)
Leap: Leaving a Job with No Plan B by Tess Vigeland (3)
This May Sound Crazy by Abigail Breslin (3)
The Japanese Lover: A Novel by Isabel Allende (5)
A Widow for One Year by John Irving (1,5)
Neuromancer by William Gibson (1,5)
The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion (5)
The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas (2)
Bel Canto by Ann Patchett (1,5)
Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood (1,5)
Cold Mountain by Charles Frasier (1,5)
An American Marriage: A Novel by Tayari Jones (2)
The Girl with Seven Names by Hyeonseo Lee (3,5)
Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward
Shameless by Nadia Bols-Weber

Edited: Feb 11, 11:02am Top

2019 Books Read


Lucky Alan: and Other Stories by Jonathan Lethem
Delicious Vegetarian Food (Step-by-step) by Bay Books
A Paris Affair by Tatiana de Rosnay
Dead After Dark by Sherrilyn Kenyon
This May Sound Crazy by Abigail Breslin
The Girl with Seven Names by Hyeonseo Lee
Hope: A Memoir of Survival in Cleveland by Amanda Berry and Gina DeJesus
Mountain to Mountain: A Journey of Adventure and Activism for the Women of Afghanistan by Shannon Galpin
Enlightenment (Book One: The Bathala Series) by Reno Ursal
Love in the Time of Global Warming by Francesca Lia Block
The Awakening by Kate Chopin (re-read)

The Blind Side by Michael Lewis

Edited: Feb 1, 1:07pm Top

2019 Book Stats

I include books with multiple authors in my count, but do not count co-authors or ghost writers whose names do not appear on the book cover.

It is not always possible to determine an author's race or sexuality, and diverse authors may write stories without any diversity, and vice versa.

Fiction: 6
Non-Fiction: 5
Male Authors: 2
Female Authors: 12
Minority Authors (POC, LGBT): 3

Jan 2, 8:17pm Top

Welcome! Your goals line up well with a bunch of us, so I don’t think we’re going to help you shrink the TBR much... 😀 Anyway, please join us on the nonfiction challenge each month - that should help you bump up the nonfiction reading!

Jan 3, 4:22pm Top

Welcome and happy reading in 2019!

Jan 4, 5:00pm Top

I'm supposed to be getting rid of books from my house, but I accidentally just bought 30 new books during my lunch break today. Oops.

Jan 4, 6:04pm Top

I hate it when that happens... 😂

Edited: Jan 18, 10:43pm Top

Happy 2019
A year full of books
A year full of friends
A year full of all your wishes realised

I look forward to keeping up with you this year.

Edited: Jan 8, 12:07pm Top

Lucky Alan: and Other Stories by Jonathan Lethem

I read half of these stories and skimmed the other half. I found this collection to be very "NYC" and a bit pretentious.
There is one story about a couple who loves well-crafted sentences and I felt like this book was mostly the author in love with his own sentence creation. This is probably a good fit for some readers, but not for me (1 star for my enjoyment, 1 star for the well-crafted sentences, even if I didn't enjoy them).

Delicious Vegetarian Food (Step-by-step) by Bay Books

This is a UK printing, but the ingredients and instructions seem easy to change to U.S. versions. It's a little recipe-heavy on the tofu and eggplant, but I enjoy that there are a lot of Asian recipes included. Keeps it from being boring. There are some good passages about protein, fat, and carbohydrates and their role in your body and how the vegetarian diet can get the proper nutrients.

A Paris Affair by Tatiana de Rosnay

I didn't really expect to enjoy a collection of short stories about infidelity, but I found this surprisingly good. Each story managed to be different and interesting. They are well-written and I would be interested in the author's other writings.

Edited: Jan 11, 11:46am Top

Dead After Dark by Sherrilyn Kenton and J.R. Ward

I hadn't read these authors before, but it's obvious why they are so popular. I thought the first story by Kenyon should have been a full novel - there were plenty of characters and the story was big enough it could easily have been 300 pages instead of 90 pgs. And it's obviously part of a series. The second story was really intriguing and had plenty of twists I've not seen in this genre before that increased my enjoyment of it. The third story was historical romance, and some of the rules in this fantasy world building I didn't understand. There were a lot of fantasy beings that were only partly explained. The fourth story started out with the two most interesting individuals with unique powers, but it lagged when the fantasy world intruded. The "big bads" were ancient Hindu gods, I think. Once more, lots of named beings, whose relationship with their world and ours I didn't really understand, and frankly they were more cheesy than scary. There were also several inconsistencies in the writing with continuity errors that took me out of the story a bit. I would still recommend this collection to fans of the genre.

Edited: Jan 16, 2:24pm Top

This May Sound Crazy by Abigail Breslin

This was sort of terrible. I bought it because I was planning on reading some strong female empowerment books this year, and I like Abigail Breslin as an actress. The vast majority of this book did not seem empowering. It seemed like a super privileged, Upper West Side teenager with only "first world problems" giving relationship advice. I don't know how many boyfriends and different relationship experiences a 19-year old can have, but she managed to fill a whole book with them. I am definitely not the target for this book, but I think a 14-15 year old might find this empowering. There was one or two good chapters on breakups - getting over them and also how to break-up with someone in a kind way. There were some good tips on friendship as well, but the entire thing reads like a personal Tumblr account - complete with emojis and text speak. There also wasn't anything her that you couldn't find in Seventeen magazine or Teen Vogue articles, but like most teenagers, Abigail thinks her life is interesting enough that you would want to read about it. But we don't get much of her life, just first names of friends and guys she likes. I'll skip the books by teen authors in the future.

Edited: Jan 23, 5:13pm Top

The Girl with Seven Names by Hyeonseo Lee

This was so good and incredibly easy to read. You think you know what North Korea is like - with the propoganda and lies, keeping people in check, worshiping the "great leader" - but you don't really know. The author was born in the late 1970s, before North Korean experienced the worst famines, and she was fairly insulated from a lot of the worst of life in this country due to the job her father held, the strong-willed mother who bribed her family's way out of any punishment, and the location of their home - on the border with China - only a small river separating them from smuggled goods that kept them in pocket money that others in their country didn't enjoy. To learn that to not properly dust your photo Kim Jong-Il is a grave offense - much worse than dealing opium or even illegally crossing into China - really highlights the bizarre dystopian lives North Korean people lead. The chapters are short, the author tells a story amazingly well in a language that isn't her first, second, or third language; the plot is engaging, and nearly unbelievable. I highly recommend this book, or at the very least, to watch the author's Ted Talk. The injustice in this world and the cruelty that human beings can inflict on each other is almost too much to bear at times, but it is important to know that these things happen and that people endure this and some can survive it.

Jan 28, 11:28am Top

Hope: A Memoir of Survival in Cleveland by Amanda Berry and Gina DeJesus

This is the true story of the 3 teenage girls abducted in Cleveland, Ohio in the early 2000s by Ariel Castro. Their escape captivated the nation, but they didn't speak much publicly about what they endured during their captivation. This story is written in their own words (by 2 of the 3 survivors), aided by the diary kept by Amanda Berry during the 10 years she was held prisoner. The story is rounded out by reporters who lend details about what was happening in their community during this time. The story is fascinating in its details, especially in the coincidences and tiny, seemingly insignificant decisions that led to the abductions, and in the sheer volume of interactions that their captor had with their friends and family members while the women were missing.

The book is easy to read. Each short chapter is headed by a date. It is both heartbreaking and voyeuristic without being too graphic. And the title "hope" is fitting because so many of the people involved maintained hope in the face of adversity.

Jan 28, 3:59pm Top

Mountain to Mountain: A Journey of Adventure and Activism for the Women of Afghanistan by Shannon Galpin
I got so frustrated with this author the more I read. It's like a diary from a self-centered person who tries to blame everyone else for their circumstances and isn't being honest with her therapist. She's one of those women who talks about all her male friends and claims she has never had many female friends because she's not a "girl's girl" when in reality it's a way to distance herself from the fact that she's probably a selfish a-hole and that's why no women want to be friends with her. I kind of want to hear the viewpoints of her "colleagues" in the middle east and of her ex-husband and of her friends. I have no problem with someone wanting to spend all their time in a foreign country, evading adult responsibility. But don't do it under the guise of being a women's activist and humanitarian.

Pass on this book and watch the movies "He Named Me Malala" and "Whiskey Tango Foxtrot" or read the books that inspired them. You'll get more out of it than you would from this mess. See Full Review

Edited: Jan 28, 7:20pm Top

Love in the Time of Global Warming by Francesca Lia Block

This YA book is a beautiful, small format hardcover. It's a retelling of the Odyssey story in a present/future day Los Angeles. The protagonist is a teenage girl who is dealing with an apocalyptic event and its aftermath. She is strong, determined, and passionate. She forges her own path, convinces others to listen to her, and shows great bravery in adversity.

It's written in a beautiful magical realism style that makes the story part Dream-world, part fantasy. The young characters are interesting and diverse. The drawback is that it is confusing as a reader because the book starts out in a realistic style. A girl with a family. A girl who survives an earthquake and flood. A girl who wonders how far this event stretches and wonders if it has been locally catastrophic or wholly apocalyptic. A girl who flees for her safety from a real-world threat of looters. A girl who then immediately enters a world outside the doors of her home that is suddenly fantastic. Is this Odysseus, magical dreamworld real or imaginary?

I would have preferred the story to stay realistic or for the magical realism to have been present from the beginning. I love authors Isabelle Allende and Gabriel Garcia Marques, but they keep the reality suspended the entire time. Or not suspended, but rather seamlessly intertwined with the magic. It is an imperfect read (3 stars), but the book itself is pretty and there are queer characters, so those elements add an extra half-star for me.

Edited: Feb 1, 12:48pm Top

10. Enlightenment: The Bathala Series by Reno Ursal *

Early Reviewer Copy: This novel suffers from too many footnotes and a multi-layered supernatural story that I believe it too complex for a teen audience.

I was excited to read this book based on the premise. I've never seen a romance or YA book with Filipino characters before and I liked the idea of the main characters being Filipino. We need more diversity in literature and this is a great culture to explore. The Filipino-American culture integrated into the story and the Filipino history and mythology(?) was great for the first few chapters, but all the footnotes to read got tedious pretty fast.

*I gave it two stars for effort in my official review, but just 1.5 here because I actually didn't finish the book.

Edited: Feb 12, 2:38pm Top

The Awakening by Kate Chopin

This was a re-read. This was one of my favorite reads from high school and a while ago I bought a copy from a used bookstore. Decided to include this in a feminist bookshop because what I remembered from this book was that the protagonist wasn't interested in sitting at home and tending house for her husband and taking care of her kids. I remembered that she only saw one way out from the restrictive box that women were put in.

Upon re-reading this, I viewed it differently and found I had less sympathy for Edna. Her decisions were less motivated by what was expected of her as a woman and more motivated by her desire for a love affair and apathy towards her husband. Her status and wealth meant she had freedoms that other women didn't, if only she would take advantage of them. Her imprisonment was one of social conventions, and I think that should be the real lesson from this book. That social norms that dictate our actions based on fear and conformity are ridiculous. Instead of being motivated to abandon life as a traditional wife and mother, the motivation should be to not care what others think of you and to realize that happiness can be found outside of the approval of polite society, if we are brave enough to pursue it.

The face that this book manages to hold up - and need little in the way of translation or explanation more than 100 years later is testament to the fact that perhaps American society hasn't changed all that much since the late 1800s.

Group: 75 Books Challenge for 2019

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