Monday, May 25, 2015

Summer Reading Challenge 2015

My friend Sarah Katherine asked me to do this reading challenge with her this year right after I had posted my list of 23 books for the year as a new year's resolution. She is likely already completely finished with the challenge, but I have been waiting to get farther through my original list before I start on this one. So, as summer approaches, I have decided I will make Sarah Katherine's reading challenge my summer reading challenge and finish the remainder of my list (the Andrew Peterson books, the two Julie Klassen ones that haven't come out yet, As Always Julia, and Delta Wedding) after the summer. Look at me saving the best for last (not really, I am not looking forward to those last two at all!!) And 12 books for the year is not much of a challenge for any of us, though I believe it's the categories that makes this more of a challenge; however, 12 books from Memorial Day to Labor Day is a bit more of a challenge, especially when we're not really talking about beach reads. In the end, my list has 16 rather than 12, and there's still one more I'll need to choose. So, 17 books in 15 weeks. 20 weeks into the year, I have already read 30 books, so I am hopeful I will be able to meet this challenge. I started reading the first selection (I'm not doing this in order by the way due to my reliance on library availability) Ready for the list?

#1 a book you've been meaning to read

Jack: A Life of C.S. Lewis by George Sayer - my daddy gave me this book when I graduated from Auburn. Why haven't I read it?! At first it was the RUF intern study program and then it was burn-out from the RUF intern study program, and then it was issues with my dad. Once my issues were hashed out, I had forgotten about the book entirely. But now, I'm ready! I'm looking forward to it.

#2 a book published this year

Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee - Cannot wait until July 14th!

#3 a book in a genre you don't typically read

Did y'all know there is a genre called magical realism? I did not. I am not completely sure I understand what it is, but I am going to read a book from that genre that sounds like it will be delightful. The Dress Shop of Dreams by Menna van Praag sounds like it could be a pretty good. And I am trying very hard to pick books that sound like they could be pretty good! I also feel like I can add One More Thing: Stories and Other Stories by B.J. Novak to this category. It was on the paperback bestseller list at one point recently, but has fallen off. But I almost never read short stories so it works for my atypical genre as well.  

#4 a book from your childhood

Caddie Woodlawn by Carol Ryrie Brink - this is another I can't wait to read! It is the first chapter book I ever went back and read twice! I think I'll read it aloud to Elspeth this time! Another favorite was Johnny Tremain by Esther Forbes and that may be a good one to read aloud to August if I have time for it.

#5 a book your mom loves

A Severe Mercy by Sheldon Vanauken - she also recommended The Screwtape Letters so I will try to get to that one too- can't believe I've never read it!

#6 a book that was originally written in a different language

This one was tough. I took a literature in translation class at Auburn and loved it. But there are plenty of scary suggestions out there like Tolstoy and Dosteovsky! I thought about Dumas. I loved The Count of Monte Cristo in high school, but I've heard that his other books aren't as good. And I thought about Heidi. I have my grandmother's childhood copy. But something in me wanted to read something written in the last twenty years. The classics will always be there, but I felt like I'd benefit from an introduction to a modern author from somewhere other than America. I finally decided on The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Luis Zafon of Barcelona because it is supposed to be a great book for book lovers. We shall see what this book lover thinks.

#7 a book that "everyone" has read but you

Okay, I don't know very many people. And the problem with this category is that I generally read what it seems like everyone else is reading unless I'm just not interested. Hunger Games? Not interested. Twilight? Not interested. Obviously, those are examples from a little while back. But it seemed like everyone at church up here in Iowa had read Gilead so I read Gilead. A couple of years ago, everyone was reading The Help so I read The Help. But nothing seems to be getting a lot of buzz around me these days. So I'm going to wait on this one. I feel like I'm copping out, but I just can't think of anything. I'm sure something will surface over the summer as everyone has more time to read.

#8 a book you chose because of the cover

This goes against everything in me. For one thing, we have all been taught never to judge a book by its cover! For another thing, how often do you choose a movie because you just love that actor and his body of work and the screenwriter wrote something else you really enjoyed and it really looks funny only to be horrified by the movie. Or bored silly. Or both. It happens to George and I a lot! So committing to spend the time it takes to read an entire book, as opposed to the hour and a half it takes to watch a movie (coupled with our increasing comfortableness with turning a movie off altogether when we realize it's a stinker), is kind of a big deal. Not huge, but I tend to scour Amazon reviews before I make such a commitment. Well Abby, it's time to live a little! So, with my handy dandy Barnes and Noble 15% off coupon in hand, I headed over to Barnes and Noble today to choose a book by the cover. I realize I could've gone to the library, but there aren't many displays at the library. Plus, it was a fun outing with the kids. I picked up a book called How to Be a Heroine: Or, What I Learned From Reading Too Much by Samantha Ellis. I know nothing about it but the title and the description from the little blurb on the back cover. But I'm looking forward to it!  

#9 a book by a favorite author

Maud Hart Lovelace has earned her place as a favorite of mine because of the Betsy Tacy books. If you have not read the Betsy Tacy books, you are missing out. Truly. Betsy and Tacy are two girls growing up in Deep Valley, Minnesota and the reader has the privilege and the delight to grow up with them through the ten books Mrs. Lovelace wrote in the series. There are several other books about Deep Valley that do not follow Betsy herself that I have not read, simply because when I read about Betsy, I have to stay with Betsy because I can't wait for what happens next! However, I should have read these other books in the series by now! Amabel has, and I am very eager to read her copy of Emily of Deep Valley by Maud Hart Lovelace.

#10 a book recommended by someone with great taste 

When I think of someone with great taste, I think of my friend Annie Barlow. She loves Jane Austen, so there's that, and she reads more than me, so there's the certainty she'll have some books in mind that I haven't read. She's smart and has a great since of humor so I know she will neither recommend something horribly written nor horribly dull. And we both agree on not wasting our time on anything that's overtly dark and heavy- ain't nobody got time for that! Annie recommended a couple of things to me. First of all, Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein. She also recommended Uncle Dynamite by P.G. Wodehouse. I have long wanted to read Wodehouse -since Lord Grantham mentioned him in Notting Hill. (Well, he wasn't playing Lord Grantham at the time.)

#11 a book you should have read in high school

The Once and Future King by T. H. White - I truly should have read this in high school. It's long. And at some point, our twelfth grade English teacher decided we should just split the last part of the book up and each person in the class would read a chapter and "teach it" to everyone else. I remember, even at the time, thinking this was a cop out. I think the teacher even acknowledged it. But we were taking too long with it, so we did it this way. And I remember kind of faking it with my chapter, because I really didn't know who anyone was or what was going on. I had been behind when we quit. So, I owe it to myself to read it. And I'm looking forward to doing so.

#12 a book that's currently on the bestseller list

I've been keeping an eye on the bestseller list since I decided I would do this this summer and have already added several books to my library list only to have the book fall off the bestseller list before the hold is ready. Meanwhile, all the ones in which I am not interested in the least seem to linger on the list for weeks! I am so ready for The Girl on the Train to fall off the list! Not interested! Something tells me most books that the majority of the public are going to be reading and talking about is not going to be for me- case in point, Fifty Shades of Grey. But as it happens, we had dinner last night with some new friends and as we got to talking about books, she recommended and subsequently loaned me two books that are both on the bestseller list right now. The first one is All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr. The second book is The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown.

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