Dewey’s Readathon October 2018

And it’s that time of year again! I’m participating in Dewey’s 24 Hour Readathon starting 7am Minneapolis time. My goal is 12 hours of reading, though I usually pull off closer to 8.

Hour 0: I’m sitting here in front of my happy lamp, ready to start.

Overall Progress

Them, by Ben Sasse: 54% – complete

The Passage, by Justin Cronin: 29.5hr – 32.5hr

The Witch of Willow Hall, by Hester Fox: 42% – 52%

The Wasp Factory, by Iain Banks: 60% – 80%

Weekly Update 36

44049086_10101015115207847_1877633992413413376_n

Not much to report in my personal life over the past couple of weeks. It snowed last Sunday, which was a surprise to myself. I caught this picture well before it stopped snowing – so there was more accumulation by the end of it.

This being MEA weekend, I am spending Thursday and Friday with the kids. So far, we haven’t done much interesting, though today we plan on going to the library. This weekend, I will participate in Dewey’s 24 Hour Readathon. My goal is to read 12 hours – which would be more than I am usually able to pull off for a readathon. But I like to challenge myself. ­čÖé

On the Blog

Over the past two weeks, I have reviewed Going Clear, by Lawrence Wright, Hillbilly Elegy, by JD Vance, & And I Darken, by Kiersten White. In a slightly hypomanic state, I felt the need to outline my reading goals for the rest of the year (I said that I changed my goal from 75 books to 60, but I have since then decided to add a graphic novel a week in order to make my 75.), as well as my reading goals for next year (which are subject to change). I also added a Nonfiction Challenge and a Fiction Challenge in order to diversify my reading.

Reading plans for the following week

Currently Reading

These are the books that I expect to make progress on (though not necessarily complete) over the next week. The Witch of Willow Hall, Them, and The Re-Origin of Species ARCs. The Passage and The Wasp Factory are my Halloween season reads. And The Lies We Told is this month’s Book of the Month pick.

Completed

Completed

I finished 4 books over the past two weeks. Reviews for The Hate U Give and The Lions of Valletta are coming up next week. Beyond These Walls will not be not published until January, and the review will wait until then. Though I will say that I enjoyed it quite a bit.

Acquired

Acquired

Perhaps I overdid my acquisitions over the past two weeks. I requested way too many books from NetGalley and Edelweiss, so my focus for a while will be to catch up on those ARCs. American Overdose, Fade, Bone Lines, The Patriot Bride, the Liberty Bride, The Cumberland Bride, and Beneath a Prairie Moon are NetGalley books. The Re-Origin of Species and The Torture Machine are from Edelweiss. Room and Steelheart are both Daily Deals from Audible. The Wasp Factory is a book I purchased because I wanted to read it for Halloween season. And The Lions of Valletta as a birthday present.

This update has been posted to Caffeinated Reviewer’s Sunday Post.

And I Darken, by Kiersten White

9780553522341_p0_v3_s550x406

Summary:┬áThis is the story of a female Dracul of Wallachia. (In other words, I think she’ll develop into Dracula by the end of the trilogy?) In this first book of the trilogy, Lada and her brother Radu are taken hostage by the Ottoman Empire as insurance against their father’s uprising. Lada and Radu grow up friends with the Sultan’s┬á son, growing in power.

My Thoughts:┬áThis book had a slow beginning but picked up about a quarter of the way through. I wasn’t invested in any of the characters until then. But at that time, the characters became very interesting. The concept of a female Dracul is also creative and fun. It’s nice to see a strong female anti-hero. I am very interested in reading the rest of the series to see how Radu and Lada develop.

four snowflakes

 

 

2019 Goals – Categorically Speaking

Now I will post some goals for next year: my goal for 2019 is at least 100 books.

NetGalley

I plan on reading an average of one nonfiction and one fiction ARC from NetGalley each month, for a total of 12 each in a year.

Total: 24, Running Total: 24

Award Winners

Picture4

I plan on completing 2018 and 2019 shortlists for the Man Booker Prize and the Wellcome Book Prize. Pictured above are the books on 2018 shortlists that I do not plan to have already completed. The Wellcome Book 2019 Prize longlist will be announced in February, the shortlist in March, and the award winner in April. The Man Booker 2019 longlist will likely be announced in July, the shortlist in September, and the winner in October. Depending on how I’m doing on last year’s shortlists, I may read some of the longlisted books as well.

Total: 12, Running Total: 36

Studies

I am currently trying to educate myself with a variety of literary, philosophical, and historical studies. The categories are:

a. Scripture
b. Philosophy
c. World Literature
d. Meaning of Life
e. Judaism
f. History
g. Self Help
h. Myth

Total: 8, Running Total: 44

The Well-Educated Mind

Picture5

I’m still working on the Well Educated Mind project, based on the list of books and discussion question suggestions in Susan Wise Bauer’s book, The Well Educated Mind.

Total: 12, Running total: 56

Miscellaneous Fiction

Total: 22, Running total: 78

Miscellaneous Nonfiction

Total: 22 Running Total: 100

The Final 2018 Goals

Hey everyone! There are 87 days left of this year, and I’ve decided to change my goal of 75 books this year to 60 books. That’s another 23 books I need to read in 87 days, at an average of 1.85 books per week. ­čÖé I have separated my goals categorically:

NetGalley

Picture1

I have currently been approved 8 NetGalley books, and my goal is to finish and review them all by the end of the year. That’s approximately 1 book every 11 days.

Audiobooks

Picture2

Rotating between fiction and nonfiction, I plan to finish these 8 audiobooks by the end of the year. Again, a total of 1 book every 11 days.

Litsy Markup Postal Bookclub

For the first time ever, I have signed up for the a postal bookclub through Litsy. In this one we join a group of 4 people. In November, we each pick a book, read it, and make highlights and notes in the margins. At the end of the month, we mail our book to the next person in our group, and receive one from someone else. Then we read, mark, and mail that one, and so on. As I have not been assigned a group and discussed what types of books to read, I will not venture a guess as to what my book choice will be. But this will be 2 books over the months of November and December.

General Reading

Picture3

And my final 5 books will be these.

Hillbilly Elegy, by J. D. Vance

9780062300553_p0_v5_s550x406

 

Summary: Vance reminisces about his Appalachian childhood in a struggling Ohio town. He describes why he (and people with the same poor white-kid background as he) switched from Democrat to Republican over the past decade. Despite this being touted as a book that helps you understand why Trump was elected, it was mostly a memoir and not a political book.

My Thoughts: This was an enlightening book, as it did a good job of showing how the attempts of the Democrats to help poorer people backfired on the poor white Appalachian folks, and why they would want a major change. Vance described how people flocked from deep in Appalachia to steel-working towns in Ohio before and during the Cold War. But when steel became a lagging industry after the Cold War, many people lost their jobs and struggled to find any job to support themselves. The welfare system (according to Vance) only made things worse, because it encouraged people not to find jobs.

I found Vance’s life story quite compelling, and his description of why his family switched from Democrat to Republican when they did was mostly reasonable. However, I wasn’t completely convinced by his argument that it isn’t racism that turned people┬á like himself against Obama. Vance claimed it was because they couldn’t relate to Obama because he was Ivy-league educated, from a big city, and wore a suit everywhere. That’s a load of bull. If THAT were their reason for not liking Obama, then they wouldn’t like Trump either. Unfortunately, that few paragraphs of the book colored my view of the rest of his argument.

Don’t get me wrong, I really enjoyed Hillbilly Elegy and it made a lot of good points. And, importantly, the narrative was interesting and always brought me back for more. And I would have been perfectly willing to listen to a valid argument about why their issue with Obama had nothing to do with race (I’m sure they have other reasons), but he gave a very poor excuse, which made me think it was simply that – an excuse. Vance literally couldn’t come up with a valid reason to say why they related to Trump better than Obama (other than race). This book would normally have gotten four stars, but I’m going to dock it .5 because of that big problem.

3 and half snowflakes

Going Clear, by Lawrence Wright

20180902_071335.png

Summary: Wright’s book covers the history of Scientology from the youth of L. Ron Hubbard, to Scientology’s founding, to the current scandals.

My Thoughts:┬áGoing Clear is meant to be impartial, though I found it to lean heavily in the anti-Scientology direction. For instance, it provides pages and pages of stories that make the reader cringe, followed by a short statement saying that the Church of Scientology does not verify those claims. If it were impartial, it would spend the same amount of time presenting the Church’s side as the opposing side.

It is, however, clearly well researched. I had some knowledge of L. Ron Hubbard previous to reading this book – my grandpa knew him for a short time while he was still an aspiring writer, and so my dad has stories about that. I had no clue that he was so cruel, dishonest, and mentally ill. (Other than having a clear problem with believing in his own invented stories.) The only other book I’ve read on Scientology was Beyond Belief, by David Miscavige’s niece Jenna Miscavige Hill. My view of David Miscavige was colored by Ms. Hill’s rendition of him, which was much kinder than that in Going Clear. She did briefly mention that there was rumor of his violence, but not anything that would make me suspect the violence that Wright reports. I found this book to be believable, well-researched, and eye-opening. Definitely worth reading if you’re interested in learning about Scientology from the non-Scientologist’s view. It gets four stars (loses half a star due to claims of impartiality).

four snowflakes