Tag Archives: seasonal reading challenge

Readathon: Judging a book by its cover.

The second mini-challenge in the readathon is hosted by Unabridged Chick.

Dig through your shelves and share with us a book cover you’d like to escape into! Doesn’t matter if the subject, plot, or genre isn’t typically your thing; in this case, we’re totally judging the book by its cover!

I did a quick search and came up with this novel, that I haven’t read yet.

Doesn’t it look like a great house to read in? Cozy rooms, lots of light and nooks, carpets on hardwood? This is the kind of feel we’re working to create in real life.

It’s Monday….what am I reading?

I’ve got four books on the go right now which is a lot.  But so far it’s working for me.

  • What to Eat by Marion Nestle. Nestle is a big-wheel nutritionist and from what I’ve read so far, sensible, straightforward, and no-nonsense. The book is rougly organzed by food group, starting with fruits and vegetables, then dairy (and non-dairy substitutes) and now I’m on the chapters on meat. The only quibble I have so far is the dietary-cholesterol-raises-blood-cholesterol story, which I’m not sure is still considered a given, at least based on what I’ve read in Gary Taubes’ Good Calories, Bad Calories and the associated research. I would be in interested in Nestle’s take on that book. While I’m only a third of the way through Nestle’s 600 page book, I’d recommend it. I’m also planning to check out her newest book on feeding pets.
  • Blankets by Craig Thompson.An at times heatbreaking graphic novel about a young man growing up in Wisconsin, his difficulties with his family, faith, and friends. I’ve been on the hold list at the library for ages for this novel and am reading it slowly, savouring it. Am about two-thirds of the way through this 600 page tome.
  • The Good Guy by Dean Koontz. I picked this up specifically for a Seasonal Reading Challenge task and have never read anything by this author before. It’s a crime/thriller novel and I am very much enjoying it. The premise is interesting, if somewhat implausible, but the characters are engaging. I’m listening to this on audio and the production is excellent. 
  • The Distant Hours by Kate Morton. I read Morton’s The Forgotten Garden last year and very much enjoyed it. I’ve had this novel on my Kindle for some time, but just started reading it when I finished the paperback I had in my purse while I was downtown and needed something else to read. Also set in England, Kent to be precise, I’m not very far in but loving it already. I suspect I’ll keep my Kindle in my bag while I’m attending TIFF, for all the lineup-and-waits, so this will be a good novel to have on the go over the next couple of weeks.


Take a deep breath…..and read!

The Goodreads Seasonal Reading Challenge Summer 2011 has come to a close.  I hit a personal best for these 3-month challenges, reading (or listening to) 61 books and almost 19,000 pages. My list is here (I managed to read the books in bold type.)

Most of the tasks have been posted for the Fall Challenge, and I’ve made up my reading list. This varies over the challenge as new books come my way or I move some around, but I’m trying to read from my shelves this quarter so that I can continue with my book purge.

I’m starting off this challenge with a few items from the library:


What to Eat by Marion Nestle. I’ve been wanting to read this ever since it was published, but hadn’t gotten around to it until it finally came up on my hold list at the library.  It’s 600+ pages of clear, straightforward, no-nonsense writing and I’m enjoying it.

The Idle Parent: Subtitled “Why Less Means More When Raising Kids”.  Recommended on the excellent blog Mental Multivitamin, I’m reading this mainly to feel better about our laid-back attitude to parenting, as it’s too late to change much at this point.

The Young Man From Atlanta by Horton Foote. I borrowed this Pulitzer Prize winning play from the library for the summer challenge, but didn’t get to that task. I’m hoping to find a place for it on my list when all the tasks have been posted.

Three graphic novels that I picked up after browsing at my local library branch. I like this genre because the story is told in fewer words but the artwork is typically engaging and tells a good part of the tale. The first two are by American writers and the third Japanese.

Filthy Rich

Narcoleptic Sunday

Ristorante Paradiso

Audiobooks that I’ve downloaded from the public library onto my iPod:

The Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Things Right by Atul Gawande. I know about the essence of this book having read an article in the New Yorker (I think), but I’m looking forward to a longer description of this approach to reducing errors in different industries.

The Night Road by Kristin Hannah. I don’t know this author and the book was published in March 2011, so I must have read a review of it somewhere and put it on my hold list.

Prisoner’s Base (Nero Wolfe mystery) by Rex Stout. I like Nero Wolfe mysteries and they’re good, quick listens.The narrator on all the ones I listened to in the past has been excellent.

The Good Guy by Dean Koontz. I chose this for a task where you have to read a book by an author who has a retired hurricane name. You “get out” of reading a second book if the book you read was written in the year the hurricane name was retired, in this case, 2007.


It’s Monday….what am I reading?

Well, I finished up last quarter’s Seasonal Reading Challenge with my best score ever!  So I’m on to a new reading list and heading full steam ahead. Last week I finished up a couple of Peter Robinson mysteries and The Silver Pigs on audio, just under the May 31st wire for the challenge.  I already had a bunch of books checked out of the library for the new challenge and whipped off a few right away:

  • The Sunday Wife by Cassandra King.  A middle-aged woman discovers who she is apart from her role as a minister’s wife.  Set in the South, I really enjoyed this novel. 
  • Lovers by Vendela Vida.  I didn’t know what to expect from this and came away thoroughly satisfied.  A middle-aged widow returns to a villiage in Turkey where she and her late husband spent their honeymoon.  She meets a peculiar cast of characters and has insights into this stage of her life.  Hard to put down.
  • The Eternal Smile: Three Stories by Gene Luen Yang. A collection of appealing graphic stories, light on text.
  • Thrifty: Living the Frugal Life with Style by Marjorie Harris.  I wanted to like this, and the sections with stories about Margaret Atwood are interesting, but there’s not much new here for someone already actively pursing this kind of lifestyle.
  • An Invisible Sign of My Own by Aimee Bender. An odd little book, one that I should have loved given the protagonists peculiar relationship with numbers (something like mine), but I had difficulty “getting” it.  Loved her novel The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake though.

Currently on board are

  • Blue Dahlia by Nora Roberts.  A guilty pleasure, Roberts’ stories.  I’m listening to this gardening-oriented book (first of a trilogy) on my iphone. Besides gardening, it’s got love, lust, a ghost, children, a dog, and Southerners….all great subjects for a romance novel!
  • An Experiment in Love by Hilary Mantel.  I picked up Wolf Hall when I was in England and found it in a seaside cafe, used, for a pound.  I’ve had An Experiment in Love on hold for a while, so want to get this one read before it’s due back at the library.
  • A Connecticut Yankee At King Arthurs Court by Mark Twain.  My friend Kathleen is just about through War and Peace via DailyLit (the email-based service that sends you a short bit of a novel every day to help you get through the classics.)  I read a couple of books this way years ago, but she’s encouraged me to give it another go. I get the bits in my feed reader every morning. This book has 142 parts and I’m reading two a day do it will take me about 10 weeks to read.

Up next:

  • Richard III by WIlliam Shakespeare.  I’m heading to see the play at Stratford with some girlfriends in a couple of weeks and had better get this under my belt by then
  • How Shakespeare Changed Everything by Steven Marche.  This is a quick read and has been widely (and well) reviewed, so it’s in my bag.
  • The Imperfectionists by Tom Rachman. A debut novel that’s getting raves.
  • The Likeness by Tana French.  A great new-ish voice in the police procedural genre.  Looking forward to this, her second book.

As always, you can check out the settings of my books on this google map Where Am I Reading 2011?

It’s Monday….what am I reading?


Seems like I mainly get to this blog on Mondays, but I’ve been more active on Facebook and Twitter these days.  It’s so quick to post links and updates via those other two media, and I”m getting lazy in my dotage.

Anyway, it’s been an interesting week on the book front. Giving up TV for Lent has vastly increased my reading time, so I’ve been going great guns on the Seasonal Reading Challenge over at Goodreads.  I’ve finished up a few books:

  • In the Kitchen by Monica Ali.  A tale of a chef in an upscale London hotel restaurant, Ali’s writing is crisp and enjoyable.  
  • Make Me a Woman by Vanessa Davis, a compilation of her hilarious comic strips detailing her life in sometimes painful accuracy 
  • Tangles: A Story About Alzheimer’s, My Mother, and Me, a biography in the form of a graphic novel,  by Sarah Leavitt 
  • Refresh, Refresh by James Ponsoldt, another graphic novel about teenage boys in Oregon, waiting for their fathers to return from deployment
  • Mr. Chartwell by Rebecca Hunt. Detailed review to follow soon (I hope).

…and audiobooks:

  • The ABC Murders by Agatha Christie.  I read all of her mysteries as a kid, but have forgotten all the plots.  This is a good one!
  • Glory in Death by J.D. Robb.  The second in this series of detective novels set in NYC in 2058.  Written by Nora Roberts under a pen name, these are fast, easy reads (listens?).
  • Dinner with Friends by David Margulies.  This Pulitzer Prize-winning play is not really an audiobook but a recorded play.  It involves two couples, one of whom is divorcing.  The pace is quick, the conversation very realistic, and the acting excellent.  

Currently, I’m reading the third Flavia de Luce mystery, A Red Herring Without Mustard, by Canadian Alan Bradley.  I love this series that centres around 12 year old Flavia, set in ’50s England.  She lives with her father, two older sisters, and a cook and a butler in a crumbling house and they are falling onto hard times.  Flavia makes use of her wits and her dead Uncle Tar’s laboratory to solve local crimes.  Extremely well-written and engaging.  

I’m listening to The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. Set in a post-apocalyptic future, this is not normally a book that I’d pick up, but I’ve read so many glowing reviews of the series that I decided to give it a go.  I’m only about 10% of the way in, but it has grabbed me and yanked me into it’s dystopian world.  It’s part of a trilogy, so there’ll be more to come!

Books up next:

  • Bride of New France by Suzanne Desrochers.  I think I read a review of this somewhere and put it on my hold list.  It details the life of a couple of young women sent to Canada as “filles du roi”
  • Alice, I Think by Susan Juby.  Someone wrote that the Alice series were some of their favorite books for girls and I thought I’d pick one up and check it out.  It won a bunch of awards when it was first published in 2003.
  • Left Neglected by Lisa Genova.  Recently published, I must have read a good review about this somewhere and put it on my hold list!  I wish the library would allow for comments when we put books on hold so I could remember why I requested them!

And audiobooks:

I just received a review copy of Tide Road by Valerie Compton from the publisher (thanks to Goodreads book giveaways), so I’ll have to fit that in somewhere soon.

Tangles….a mini book review.

Tangles: A Story About Alzheimer's, My Mother, and MeTangles: A Story About Alzheimer’s, My Mother, and Me by Sarah Leavitt
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A remarkable story of a woman’s journey alongside her mother who struggled with Alzheimer’s. I would highly recommend this to anyone facing a similar situation…the story is told with truth and love, and is a realistic portrait of the feelings of family members caring for a loved one.

View all my reviews

In like a lion?


Crikey! It’s March already.

I’ve been felled by an evil cold…yesterday was pretty much a write-off except for urgenices like dog-walking, dropping man-child’s forgotten lunch off at school, paying bills, and cobbling together dinner. Not feeling much better today, but must get some groceries and clean the horrendously vile kitchen that Michael neglected to do last evening.

Being sick did allow me to finish off a book for the end of the Winter Reading Challenge over at Goodreads, and I finished up with 600 out of a possible 975 points.  I must say that people who make it to the full 975 points must either (1) read all day, (2) read a lot of easy books, or (3) skim/cheat.  Or maybe they just don’t do anything else.  But it’s fun and I’m looking forward to the Spring Challenge that starts today. My current reading list is here, although not all the tasks have been defined yet. I’m starting with Iris Murdoch’s The Good Apprentice (audio) and Lorna Goodison’s book of short stories By Love Possessed. I’m going to try to manage my hold list at the library to permit some time to read books that I own (and can then get rid of) as we’re getting into double-stacked bookshelves and I’d really like to clear a bunch out.  I use BookCrossing to get rid of a lot of books, and am releasing one today.

Travel plans are shaping up for the spring. Michael is going on a Rome-Sicily trip with his Latin teacher and a bunch of classics students over March Break so we’ve got a few things to do to get that organized, including getting his cellphone unlocked so that he can buy a SIM card over there. Z and I are heading to England in April and I need to do some work on the paper we’re writing and book some accomodation for the time we’re there after the conference. I’m thinking that, given the short amount of time we’ll have, we’ll skip London altogether and try to visit Kent, Canterbury, plus a night in Ashford hear where some of my ancestors are buried. Once again, we find ourselves travelling over the Easter weekend so we’ll need to take in to account that things may be closed.

Carry on!

Why I love my library


I’m gearing up for the next Seasonal Reading Challenge at Goodreads. These are fun challenges and encourage me to read, read, read my little heart out.

Members are given a set of criteria for choosing books, points are assigned, and you see how many you can read over the three month period. The next challenge has the theme “Australia” so some of the tasks have that theme.

I’ve started my reading list and am fitting in various books from my hold list and personal bookshelves into the tasks. I’ll have to read By Love Possessed, a book of short stories by Lorna Goodison, in the first three days as it’s due back to the library March 3.

The point of the post title is this: pretty well all of the books I want to read are available from my wonderful Toronto Public Library…some have long hold lists, but I get myself on it and the book eventually wends its way to me.

You can look at my spreadsheet at the link to see what’s coming up. I won’t get through everything, and not all the tasks are posted yet, but the plan is coming together.

Next quarter’s reading plan spreadsheets2.google.com

Seasonal Reading Challenge (Winter Edition) starts today!


Over at Goodreads, the Seasonal Reading Challenge for Winter 2010-2011 is underway.

The theme is Asia, so apart from some of the usual seasonal aspects of the tasks, we have a bunch related to Asia.

Over half of the tasks are already posted and my reading list is underway.  As with the last challenge, I have created a shareable GoogleDoc spreadsheet with my plans for the next three months.  You can see it here, and it will be updated as more tasks are published and I add to my booklist.  If any of my readers decide to join Goodreads and/or the challenge, let me know and we can become Goodreads friends!

New Seasonal Reading Challenge starts December 1

I’ve been partiipating in the current Seasonal Reading Challenge over at GoodReads.  It’s really focussed me on getting through lots of great books, limited my TV time, and generally been a good thing for my aging brain.

These challenges are all about reading, and you collect points for reading books that satisfy certain requirements.  For example, in the current challenge, you could get 5 points for reading a book of short stories, a book with a beautiful cover, or a banned book (three of the ten 5-point tasks).  For 30 points, one of the tasks reqiured you to read two books, one with something you find on the outside of a house in the title (I read Rex Stout’s The Doorbell Rang), and one with a room in a house in the title (I read Back to the Bedroom by Janet Evanovich).  There were a total of 890 points in the various tasks, and I think I’ll hit about 500 by the end of the month when the challenge ends.

Even if you don’t participate in this group, Good Reads is a great place to track your reading and keep a list of books you’ve read and want to read. There’s an iPhone app for GoodReads which lets you track your reading even if you’re not at the computer.

The new challenge starts on December 1 and the first set of tasks have been published. I spent much of my afternoon yesterday developing my reading list for the next challenge and it’s in an online doc here.  As the 20 and 25 point tasks are published I’ll update the list.

Here are my recent reads, pretty much all of which are associated with the current challenge. Graphic novels, audiobooks, and ebooks all count towards tasks as well, so I’ve usually got something going on each device!  Here’s my tracking list for the current challenge.  The yellow highlighted entries are books I hope to finish by November 30 for a potential 100 more points.

Janet’s bookshelf: read

In A Dry SeasonThe Beekeeper's ApprenticeEssex County Volume 1: Tales from the FarmLove and SummerRaymond and HannahThe Doorbell Rang

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