Monday, January 7, 2019

December Reading Wrap Up

Wow. 2018 is done. Man, December went fast. Super fast. Guess that's what happens when the holidays come around and also maternity leave is ending so you're freaking out a bit (a lot). So yeah, I clearly got no blogging done but I did get some reading done. Reading with my ears, at least. As of late that has been much easier to accomplish than sitting down and reading reading, though now that the commute is back, perhaps that will change.

Why not get right into the December stats? Let's do it.

Oh but first, a follow up to last month's turkey butt. December had reindeer butt. Thank you, baby clothes makers, for putting so many designs on the bums. You're doing great work.
Anyway, stats.

Number of books read
5
Becoming by Michelle Obama
Almost Midnight by Rainbow Rowell
Stephen Fry's Victorian Secrets by Stephen Fry, John Woolf and Nick Baker
Twain's Feast by Andrew Beahrs and Nick Offerman
New Family Values by Andrew Solomon

Number of pages read
1,076

Fiction
20%

POC authors
20%
Not great but it's something, which is more than I can say for the last few months
Female authors
40%

US authors
80%

Rereads
20%

Book formats
audiobook: 80%
hardback: 20%

Where'd I get the book
Gift: 20%
Kindle/Audible: 80%

Decades published
2010s: 100%

Resolution books
40%
Becoming by Michelle Obama (POC author)
Stephen Fry's Victorian Secrets by a bunch of UK authors

Will I get a 2018 round up post done? It's always possible! I mean, this one took me like 4 days to get finished but you never know.

Monday, December 3, 2018

November Reading Wrap Up

November is done. The year is almost done. That is crazy. Time, right?

This was the very first Thanksgiving I haven't spent with my dad. Usually I travel to South Carolina to visit him and my stepmom and their various animals, but since I have my own little monster this year and Tom was, as always for the holidays, away for work, I really didn't want to make the trip by myself. I know, I know, they say traveling with children at this age is relatively easy. Except a 2+ hour flight followed by 2 hour car ride, while trying to schlep not only the boy but all of the accessories babies require (OMG so much stuff) sounded all kinds of awful and stressful. BUT luckily my dad and stepmom came up to visit the week before so while we didn't have a Thanksgiving meal together, we were able to spend time together.

But the reading. How'd that go? Not too bad, largely due to audiobooks. And there was a bunch of Harry Potter in prep for some HP trivia. Oh and while this is unrelated, I saw someone point this out and it just made me so happy
It's wild how like...JKR is so skilled at so many aspects of writing, especially in little character moments, but when it comes to implications of throwaway lines she just...not a single thought.
Like in
Chamber of Secrets, when Harry is talking to Tom/Voldemort and is like, you framed Hagrid, Tom is like, yeah he was always trying to raise monsters.
He says that Hagrid tried to raise werewolf cubs under his bed like...
Oh you mean like, children? Like human children?
I love HP so much, for the stories and the characters yes, but also for the shit like this.

Oh, and before we get to the stats, how about a quick picture of the little monster in his Thanksgiving best?
Anyway, onto the stats!

Number of books read
6
I'm a Stranger Here Myself by Bill Bryson
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by JK Rowling
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by JK Rowling
The Tales of Beedle the Bard by JK Rowling
Where Should We Begin?: The Arc of Love by Esther Perel
Horrorstor by Grady Hendrix

OK so the Esther Perel one may be a podcast? But I got it through Audible and instead of "episodes" it has "chapters" and basically I'm counting it as an audiobook.

Number of pages read
1,440

On that note about Perel, I can't find a page count. But I did some math to figure out how many pages could be read in a minute. Obviously there will be variations but basically I found a page count for a book, how long the audiobook was, and went from there. If you're curious, I came to about 1/2 a page for every minute.

Fiction
67%

POC authors
0%
I will do better. I'm sorry

Female authors
67%

US authors
33%

Rereads
83%

Book formats
audiobook: 50%
hardback: 17%
paperback: 33%
Me w/ the audibooks (plus baby strapped on me)
Where'd I get the book
Chain bookstore: 33%
Gift: 33%
Kindle/Audible: 33%

Decades published
1990s: 50%
2000s: 17%
2010s: 33%

Resolution books:
83%
I'm a Stranger Here Myself, Sorcerer's Stone and Chamber of Secrets were all published before 2000
Sorcerer's Stone, Chamber of Secrets, Tales of Beedle the Bard and Where Should We Begin are all by authors from outside the US (UK and Belgium)

Thursday, November 29, 2018

Mini-Reviews: January 2018

November almost got away from me. Guess that's what happens around this time of year. As soon as you hit October things start picking up and I swear it's a sprint through the holidays. But I'll go into more of that with my November wrap up post.

For now, let's see if I can get through a few more mini-reviews! And I'm finally into 2018 so for a brief period I will be within a year of getting these things out, which is pretty exciting.

And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie
This was a re-read, sure, but one I realize I had never written about here. I picked it up again after Tom and I had visited the Strand. While waiting for me to finish browsing, he picked up a copy of this and started reading the ending because it's one of his favorite pieces. Which inspired me to revisit the entire book and even knowing how it ends (or at least mostly remembering how it ends) it was still great. There's a reason it's sold so many copies and if you haven't read it yet, you should probably get on that. Also I should probably read some more of her stuff since this is, I think, the only thing of hers I've read.
Gif rating:

The Girls by Emma Cline
This was a selection for book club and one that had made the rounds when it came out. ALSO this review is slightly easier as I had written out thoughts and emailed them to someone right after reading this so score one for past me. Anyway, this book was fine. I was entertained and it's a sorta-version of the Manson family and I like crime stuff so this fit my interests but ultimately wasn't that memorable. I was happy that the story focused mostly on the girls and little on Russel (the Manson figure), which would have been boring so that's a good thing. Oh but I have a note about how the author used the word "moist" a lot so that's a negative.
Gif rating: 

Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead by Tom Stoppard
I love this play. Love love love love love this play. I will randomly quote pieces from it. When I was studying abroad in Italy and for Italian class we had to put on a short skit, my friend and I translated the "Do you think death is a boat?" scene and no, no one in the class got it but whatever, we were amused. I heart Shakespeare but I don't even know if that much knowledge of Hamlet is necessary to enjoy this. Read a cliff notes summary and you have enough background. But I acknowledge that an existential, absurd play about two minor characters from Hamlet who have no idea what is going on but just sort of go with things and should probably figure out which one is which, but does it really matter? And while I could go on and on and include a whole bunch of lines (ultimately the entire play? probably), let me just share with you that boat scene.
Rosencrantz: Do you think Death could possibly be a boat?
Guildenstern: No, no, no...death is not. Death isn't. Take my meaning? Death is the ultimate negative. Not-being. You can't not be on a boat.
R: I've frequently not been on boats.
G: No, no...what you've been is not on boats.
...Look, I understand why no one in class got it. Anyway.
Gif rating: 

All January 2018 books read
And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie
Where The Line Bleeds by Jesmyn Ward
Attachments by Rainbow Rowell
The Girls by Emma Cline
Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead by Tom Stoppard

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Mini-Reviews: Wrapping up 2017

I realize 2018 is almost done and I'm just getting through the last of the mini-reviews for 2017 but that is what it is. Will I be able to catch up on 2018 before 2019 is over? Only time will tell.

To see the first part of December mini-reviews, check out the last mini-review post and man it has been a lot longer than I thought. October was a blur of, honestly, watching a lot of Disney movies on Freeform. They showed Monsters, Inc and Monster University about every other day and I think I watched at least part every single time. #priorities

December 2017 (part 2)

Almost Midnight by Rainbow Rowell
This is made up of two short stories by Rowell, one of which (Kindred Spirits) I had read and reviewed previously, and which I loved and have reread a few times. Midnights is an equally adorable sweet love story about high school friends Margaret and Noel at an annual New Year's Eve party growing together each year. The dialogue is fun and cute, something Rowell does oh-so-well. And the stories are short so really, there's no reason not to read this. I may go reread them right now...
Gif rating:

Welcome to Night Vale by Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Cranor
While I haven't listened to the podcast in awhile, I still have a special place in my heart for Welcome to Night Vale so I was pretty excited to read the book. First things first, you should probably listen to the podcast before reading this. At least some of it. You don't need to get all caught up (cos there are soooo many episodes) but at least get a feel, learn who the main characters are, get a feel for the style. Because I don't think the book will make any sense without some background. Not that it makes a huge amount of sense anyway, but that's Night Vale. The book was...fine. Overall, I'd rather listen to Cecil's comforting tones instead of reading it so maybe the audiobook would be better? But I also wasn't 100% into the story. I prefer getting these small glimpses into the lives of the Night Vale residents via community radio. A longer story delving deeper didn't really work for me since it got fairly tedious.
Gif rating:

You Don't Have to Like Me: Essays on Growing Up, Speaking Out and Finding Feminism by Alida Nugent
I don't remember when I first started following Nugent as the Frenemy but I was a fan and hey, this is a book about feminism and funny stuff and collections of essays from hilarious ladies is my jam so yeah, of course I was gonna check it out. So I enjoyed it but also, at this point, I honestly don't remember much of it. I liked it at the time but it didn't really stick with me. I may give it a reread (or at least skim through it). So I guess, if you like this sort of thing, check it out? Maybe from the library or something. Entertaining if not super memorable.
Gif rating:

Now onto the 2018 mini-reviews

*Full list of December 2017 books read
Reset: My Fight for Inclusion by Ellen Pao
Neurocomic by Dr. Matteo Farinella and Dr. Hana Ros
Almost Midnight by Rainbow Rowell
Welcome to Night Vale by Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Cranor
You Don't Have to Like Me by Alida Nugent

Thursday, November 1, 2018

October Reading Wrap Up

Time is flying and that's crazy. I mean I realize that's what time does and it marches forward* and all. Anyway, October is done and once again I had almost no Trick-or-Treaters (except two children who came to both my front and back doors and were legit surprised when the same person answered both) so I have a big bowl of candy and what oh what will I do with it? The goblin had his first Halloween wherein he spent most of the time looking around confused and/or napping. But what an adorable piece of sushi he was.
At some point I will stop adding pictures of him to the top of the blog posts. But not yet. 

Anyway, October reading. I messed up the pattern I had going (1 book in July, 2 in August, 3 in September) by reading too many books in October. Or reading/listening since audiobooks played a part in this. Mildly disappointed, though since I read 5 in October I could go for a Fibonacci sequence pattern instead. Except I'm not going to do that. 8 books in November. Ha. 

Let's get to those stats, shall we?

Number of books read
5
My Boyfriend Barfed in My Handbag by Jolie Kerr
Spook: Science Tackles the Afterlife by Mary Roach
Pretty Girls by Karin Slaughter
Notes from a Small Island by Bill Bryson

Number of pages read
1,711

Fiction
20%
Turns out when I'm looking for easier reading, I turn to nonfiction. Probably because it's easier to put down and pick up again without having to remember lots of characters and plot points. 

POC authors
0%
I'm mad at me too

Female authors
60%

US authors
100%
Rereads
40%

Readalong/Book club selections
20%

Book formats
audibooks: 60%
ebooks: 40%

Where'd I get the book
Kindle/Audible: 100%

Decades published
1990s: 40%
2000s: 20%
2010s: 40%

Resolution books
40%
Which sounds impressive but it is only because 2 of the books I read were published before 2000. Both Bryson books, ones I have read many many times, although this is the first time I listened to them so that was fun.

Oh November, what will you bring? 

*Unless you're in the afterlife which, according to The Good Place (which you're watching, yes? Because it is super fantastic) is Jeremy Bearimy instead of straight.

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Kids Books, I Have Thoughts

Since the little guy came along, I've been reading a lot more kids books. Because obviously I'm reading to him already. And we have lots of children's books due to excellent gift choices from friends and family AND the fact that my mom saved our children's books. I've already gone through 2 of those boxes and have a few more to dig through so there will be many books for the boy and right now the biggest problem is lack of bookshelf space. So far I have a large stack of Dr. Seuss books and dinosaur books. So many dinosaur books. Really hope he's into dinosaurs because that is definitely a theme in these books (And clothes. And music.*)
No dinos here, but look at this face
But here's something I've come to realize reading a bunch of children's books out loud after not having done that for many years: a lot of these books are so bad.

There are those that aren't great in terms of content. So far I haven't come across any in our collection that are SUPER terrible but there are pieces of some that I'm like "perhaps we'll skip this section". Or some that are just outdated in terms of facts (turns out dino books from the '70s don't have the whole evolution thing down yet). Or the Berenstain Bears book about how everyone is either a "he" or a "she" that maybe we won't be reading.

There are those stories that don't have the most...exciting plots, but I'm not worried about those. Tell me all about animals on a farm or about picking up a friend at the airport**.

But the books that bother me the most are the ones that are just poorly written. If you're going to write a children's book that rhymes (as so many do and I am down with that), yes, you need to make sure the words rhyme, but maybe lets pay some attention to meter and foot as well. You don't need a PhD for this, just try reading your stuff out loud and if it sounds off. Because this stuff is going to be read out loud.

So let's see, what books have been a success (at least from my pov. The boy isn't yet voicing his opinions in any reliable way)

Anything Dr. Seuss. I had a lot of his stuff growing up (including a couple that were my dad's growing up) and there can be some small parts here and there that are a bit...outdated. But overall I don't find myself cringing while reading them and Seuss understands the importance of making them sound good, of finding the rhythm to the words. Current fav is Yertle the Turtle.

In My Heart: A Book of Feelings by Jo Witek, illustrated by Christine Roussey. It's an adorable book about all of the feelings (sad, happy, silly, angry) that you can have and that it's OK to have these feelings.
A Day in the Life of Marlon Bundo by Jill Twiss presented by John Oliver of Last Week Tonight. LGBT love story about bunnies at the White House and voting out the stinkbug in charge who does not want two boy bunnies to get married and this is the type of stuff we need right now.
Little Feminist collection (Activists, Artists, Pioneers and Leaders) by Emily Kleinman, illustrated by Lydia Ortiz. The board books are short (1 sentence per page, about 4 pages per book) which is about the attention span he has right now.
Runaway Bunny by Margaret Wise Brown, illustrated by Clement Hurd. A classic about a mom following around the little bunny who wants to run away (without being like that other book where the mom breaks into her adult son's house) and it is cute and also mentioned in Where'd You Go, Bernadette which is just bonus points.


There are more we've read and enjoyed but the goblin stirs so we'll have to stop here. Oh and if you have recommendations for children's books, I'm all ears!


*Did anyone else have the Wee Sing series growing up? Because they were swell.
**Legit the subject to one of the books we have and big fan when we learned THAT'S what the book was about. Sometimes life is mundane, but it is nice to pick up friends at the airport. So those are two good lessons