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2016 Reading Challenge Complete & My Year in Books

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2016-year-in-books

The Book Culling (pt 1B)

too high tbr

I noticed something about others’ New Year Resolutions.

Rather, I noticed a lack of resolutions in that most of my acquaintances declared they weren’t making resolutions, but taking things day by day and doing what made them happy.

I would argue that this is a kind of resolution, but I digress.

With that in mind, I took a second look at my TBR.

284 books is quite a large number, and most of them ended up there because of some magazine’s Top Reads / Best Books / All [X] Should Read [Y] list.

Why should I waste my time reading things someone else says I should read?

Didn’t I already do that for 17+ years?

I think it’s time to read the books I want to read, and not base it on some arbitrary list.

The Book Culling (pt 1B)

I’m not going to list the books eliminated in this round.

I started with 284 books.

I ended with 188 books.

188 may still be high, and I may never finish the list – especially since I’m certain to continue adding to it – but they’re the books I want to read*.

Huzzah

*Subject to change without notice.


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The Book Culling (pt 1A)

Leather Books with Ladder

Yesterday, along with finishing my first books of 2016 [4 down; 96 to go], I took a good look my Goodreads TBR.  I wondered how I came to have over 300 books on the list, and decided to see if I could narrow the list down a bit. Here’s what happened:

Beginning: 303 books

Duplicates

These were books I’d read, but for some reason still appeared on the “to-read” list. Books removed:

Ender’s Game

Smoke Gets In Your Eyes: and Other Lessons from the Crematory

Why did I Add This?

These were books that I had no recollection of ever adding to the list. Now, before you ask, I did check out the synopsis page before removing them. My best guess is that these books were added to my list as a result of entering a giveaway. Books removed:

The Peculiar Life of a Lonely Postman

Dragon Choir

Contention

The Dinner

In Times Like These (In Times Like These, #1)

The Chronothon (In Times Like These, #2)

Year of the Cow: How 420 Pounds of Beef Built a Better Life for One American Family

The Sunlit Night

The Smuggler’s Gambit (Adam Fletcher Adventure #1)

Graynelore

Tangled Gardens Coloring Book: 52 Intricate Tangle Drawings to Color with Pens, Markers, or Pencils

Interest Has Waned

I remember adding these books, but for one reason or another I really have no interest in reading them (or in anyone spending their hard-earned money on one as a gift). Books removed:

Lens of War: Exploring Iconic Photographs of the Civil War

In Defense of Troy: The Prince’s Ascent

Dreams to Remember: Otis Redding, Stax Records, and the Transformation of Southern Soul

The Monogram Murders: The New Hercule Poirot Mystery

The Road Not Taken: Finding America in the Poem Everyone Loves and Almost Everyone Gets Wrong

27 Views of Asheville: A Southern Mountain Town in Prose & Poetry

Keeping an Eye Open: Essays on Art

John le Carré: The Biography

Abandoned, Will Not Return To

There is only one book in the category. When I saw it on the list I said “ha ha ha – NOPE!” Seriously – I said this out loud, annoying Smokey. Book removed:

Finnegan’s Wake

Final: 282

Moving Forward

First, I’ll be more careful about adding books to my TBR.

Second, I’ll get around to sorting my physical books . . . eventually.

This will constitute “The Book Culling (pt 2)”

What Think You?

Do Any of These Books Deserve a Second Chance?


Have a suggestion for a poem, photograph, or future post?

Drop a note in the prompt box!

Don’t forget to follow me on:

Facebook – where I share news stories, articles from other blogs, and various and sundry miscellany that happens to catch my eye. It’s stuff you won’t see here! Well, mostly.

Instagram – where I show you my Life in Motion and share quotes and such. The widget only shows my last three photographs – don’t you want to see them all?

Twitter – where you can see my thoughts in 140 characters or less. Also, funny retweets.

[SPOILER ALERT]*

bookstack1

Tracking my TBR on Goodreads presents me with a dilemma: the book review.

It has nothing to do with spoilers; frankly, I love knowing the ending in advance. I always read the last few pages just to see how things turn out. Doctor Who airs in Britain before it airs in the United States, and I’m the guy looking up Wikipedia articles or fan pages to find out what happened. I want to know how things happen even on shows I don’t watch. For example, my wife enjoys Pretty Little Liars, and she wasn’t able to watch the season finale until after it had aired. I looked up fan reactions to find out who died. I still don’t know what her reaction was since I fell asleep.

For the record, science backs me up: people usually enjoy a spoiled book or show rather than an unspoiled one.

Although I don’t mind knowing what happens, I worry about being influenced by others’ perspectives. For example, I recently finished The Kite Runner and found it lacking. However, I had also read several reviews that were rather critical of the novel. Although my criticisms were not the same, I wonder if I began reading with an eye to find fault. I’d like to think I keep an open mind; for every book I agree with someone about there are others with which we disagree.

Furthermore, I hesitate to write my own reviews. I’ll give it a star rating based on my opinion, but that’s just it: it’s my opinion. Why should my opinion color someone’s experience?

Perhaps I’ll start doing things differently. I think I’ll read the book first and then read the reviews to see if others felt the same way. Not for validation or vindication, but just to see how others see what I see.

After all, if a book doesn’t cause discussion, is it worth reading in the first place?

 

The Blogger Returns

returnkey

After getting back to work and being able to take a break from my vacation, I’m back into my writing routine. I took a look at the articles that have been simmering for the past few weeks; it’s a wonder some of them haven’t boiled over! The good news is that I can finish these up and stay on schedule for the next few weeks while I polish some of the latest ideas I’ve been working on. The question remains: what to write about first? My answer: the post closest to completion: my first experience with an e-reader.

As you may remember, a few weeks ago I began preparing for Banned Books Week. No, I’m not going to tell you my list, but here’s a hint: at least one of the 7 is in the public domain, available on Project Gutenberg, and listed on GoodReads. I’ve always had an aversion to e-readers, but in this case reading the book in some kind of electronic format would save me 14.99 +tax. (Jinkes! A clue!) My wife kindly volunteered the use of her Nook, a gift I had (begrudgingly) bought for her a year or two ago.

I’m sure you’re all on the edge of your seats with anticipation.

It wasn’t long before I found my first complaint. Unlike real books, the Nook required charging. Despite the fact that I had successfully downloaded the file (and could read it in Notepad if I really wanted to), I had to wait for 45 minutes while the Nook charged. Really!? I like to be able to start reading as soon as I get home. However, I wasn’t going to give up just yet.

Once I transferred the file (and found it in the right folder), I started reading. It took me a few tries, but eventually I was able to consistently turn the page without highlighting anything. That night I read for several hours with no further complaints.

I loved the fact that the Nook remembered my place. I have a nasty habit of either not using bookmarks or having them “accidently” fall out. In fact, I just like thumbing through books and grabbing random phrases. But in this case, it would have been catastrophic to lose my place. (Look gang! Another clue!)

Eventually I had another problem: lighting. I’m used to reading in low light, but the Nook doesn’t really allow that. Despite touting itself as having ink and paper qualities, the screen just doesn’t reflect light the way white paper does. Since I’m not a caveman and pay my electric bill, this was not a hardship.

It took me a couple of days, but I eventually finished the book. Then I sat down and made some lists.

Pros:

  1. Easy to transport. Being able to take my book almost anywhere was a tremendous advantage.
  2. Free books. Need I say more?
  3. No worries about losing my place
  4. No paper cuts
  5. Something to write about

Cons:

  1. Dependent on electricity
  2. Difficult to look back for information since I don’t make a habit of remembering page numbers
  3. Difficult to highlight or take notes
  4. No paper feel/smell

The result? The Nook didn’t win me over to using e-readers, but neither did it alienate me. I’d probably use one again if there was a book I really wanted to read and could get it for free. Other than that, I’d gladly pay more for the real thing.

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