2017: A Year In Review

Reading challenge: 139/75

So back when I first began this blog, one of the challenges I wanted to do was set a goal in Goodreads, and then NOT CHANGE IT! I set my goal of 75 books based on how I did in 2016, and I ended up reading 139.

It felt strange to me after I hit the 75 goal mark to keep adding to my challenge without changing the number, but I did. Maybe it seems strange, but keeping the goal the same was a reminder of how different this year was compared to the last, and continued to remind me that it isn’t about the number, but about focusing on the reading itself.

Favorite reads by month:

There were some amazing books in 2017. And some not so amazing. I also reviewed a majority of the books I read, and that experience was better than I expected. Reviewing books changed the way I read. Rather than simply zoning out into the book, I became a more active reader. I payed attention to the things I was enjoying and the things I wasn’t. It made me notice writing techniques in a different way, and I think it made me not just a better reader, but a better writer as well.

This discovery was surprising, as I didn’t expect writing reviews to change the way or read or the way I write. It was a pleasant discovery. And while reading books I don’t enjoy wasn’t exactly a pleasurable experience, I also found value in completing those books. Again, it made me focus more on why I wasn’t enjoying it. Which helped make me aware of things to avoid in my own writing.

So whether I loved a book, or felt blah about a book, each one was an experience worth having. Here’s a breakdown of my favorite read by month, and some notables. I couldn’t just choose one!!! I’ve also linked each title to my review, if you’re interested.

January – 9 books read

How to Build a Girl

Notables: Girl on a Train, Tony & Susan

February – 6 books read

How To Murder Your Life

Notables: Red Queen

March – 6 books

Female Of The Species

Notables: All The Ugly & Wonderful Things, Carve The Mark

April – 11 books

Strange The Dreamer

Notables: Me Before You, Simon vs The Homosapien Agenda

May – 15 books

Six Stories

Notables: Follow Me Back, The Last Neanderthal, 10 Things I can See From Here

June – 15 books

Nyxia

Notables: Block 46, Lost Boy, Women No 17, Crowns of Croswold

July – 14 books

The People We Hate At The Wedding

Notables: Spoonbenders, Arena, The Address

August – 13 books

The Reminders

Notables: Fitness Junkie, Emma in the Night, Afterlife

September – 16 books

Wonder Woman: Warbringer

Notables: The Salt Line, Good Me Bad Me, Mask of Shadows, Final Girls

October – 19 books

Hearts Invisible Furies

Notables: The Creswell Plot, Beneath the Trees, Blades Edge, Daughter 4254

November – 12 books read

Nevernight

Notables: Turtles All The Way Down, The Nine, Exquisite

December – 14 books read

Everless

Notables: Godsgrave, The Wife Between Us, Gunslinger Girl, The Wolves of Winter

The other reading challenge I signed up for was the Book Riot Read Harder challenge. This one I didn’t do so well at.

Of the 24 challenges, which range from “read a book about sports” to “read a book published by a micro press”, I completed 10 of those challenges. Which is disappointing, so I will be trying this one again in 2018.

It wasn’t listed in my goals, but I did sign up for a few other challenges throughout the year and several read-a-thons. They were a lot of fun and got me into different reading patterns.

2018 Goals

For 2018 I want to do several things with my reading.

First, I plan on doing another Goodreads challenge, which I will update once I’ve set it in stone.

Second, do another challenge like BookRiot’s, to add more diversity to my reading.

Third, read more of what is on my shelves, and only request what I really want to read. Mediocre books have taught me a lot, but they are also a chore to get through. I need less of that this year.

Fourth, review everything, even if it is a book just for me.

Of course, I will have other goals, namely in writing, and hope to get more writing posts into this space, but that will be another post in the New Year!

I hope everyone has a safe and happy New Year!!! Tomorrow the entire year opens up to us, blank with enormous possibility. Let’s cheer each other on and make it the best one yet!!!

A Review: The Hot Guy

The Hot GuyThe Hot Guy by Mel Campbell

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I liked the premise of this book, and really wanted it to be more. It sounded fun, had some really funny, witty writing and even had a decent plot line.

Which makes this a difficult review to write, because I did enjoy the read. But, in order to enjoy it, I had to suspend my belief in how things work in the real world. And not in a fantasy, action adventure, use your imagination to dream big type of suspension. More like, I had to believe that simply waving a ridiculously attractive man on a Jumbotron would be enough to cause a stampede of women trying to simply touch him.

Unfortunately, for me, it was a bit too ridiculous. It was also a bit sexist, so be warned. (See example above)

In this town, there is one guy, a ridiculously attractive guy, that every woman knows as ‘The Hot Guy’. This guy is the balm to every woman’s need. Simply show up at the bar he regularly attends, flirt, and BAM! Your problems are solved.

Obviously, there are issues with this one plot point alone. Women do not need a hot guy to validate their beauty, importance, intelligence, etc. Nor do they not need to have sex in order to feel better about themselves. And they certainly don’t need a meaningless one night stand.

I’ll suspend my irritation on this, and go with the more empowering view that women can do whatever they like, including sleeping with a man, for one night, for whatever reason they want. Fine. Good. But, the whole idea is to sleep with him to get over another man. In order to find ‘the one’. It’s a bit of a stretch for me. Moving on.

When Cate gets dumped by her mediocre boyfriend, she finds herself in said slump. So, her friends jump to action taking her to meet, ‘The Hot Guy’. Somehow Cate is the only woman in this area who has no idea this is a thing.

Anyway, she sleeps with him and finds she really likes him. So the one night stand, turns into a weekend, which turns into more.

Her friends, knowing how to handle all her relationship woes, are adamantly opposed to this. They tell her she can’t handle dating someone that hot. It’s too much pressure. Someone else can take him away. When she refuses to listen, they try to create chaos to help the break up along. Who needs enemies, right?

Adam, however, is apparently completely oblivious to how hot he is. He has no idea that women have been using him for sex his entire life, or that he is a commodity in this small town. All he wants to do is direct, and doesn’t understand why everyone just wants him to act.

There is an attempt in this plot to use the man as a sex object and sex symbol, and the women as the ones in positions of power. He just wants to find a nice girl and settle down, while fulfilling his dreams. Even being pushed into acting is a focus on using him for his body, and not his mind. I appreciate the attempt to highlight sexism in this way.

However, it just didn’t hit the target for me.

Let’s take the women. First, we are to believe that women are willing to work together in the name of sisterhood so that everyone can take their turn with ‘The Hot Guy’. Yet, the second he dates one seriously, all bets are off. They kidnap Cate, they threaten her, they try to bribe her, all to break up with Adam. So much for sisterhood.

I was hoping for a Bridget Jones-esque romp through the hilarious and often painful world of dating. Love is messy, but it can also be painfully funny. Instead, we are given an outlandish mockery of these ideas.

When you have his parents hoisting ladders to his bedroom window (so she can escape in the middle of the night, like the rest), strange side plots with ex-girlfriends, and a group of obsessed women who have a Facebook page and a waiting list (yes, I am not making that up), well, it’s a bit too much.

The difference with Bridget Jones, is that while I’ve never slid down a fireman pole in a skirt on National Television personally, I can see it happening. I can even see myself doing it, if the circumstances were aligned. With The Hot Guy, I just didn’t buy it.

Before Brad Pitt was Brad Pitt, he was attractive. But he wasn’t women losing their minds attractive because he wasn’t Brad Pitt yet. He was just good looking guy X. And while he like looking at good looking guys, and may even find ourselves doing ridiculous things to gain their attention, I’ve never heard of women losing their minds over some random guy.

I also didn’t buy that Adam was clueless. How many one night stands does a guy think is normal? I mean, every Friday for years. Enough to have a Facebook page and women lined up? His parents helping girls escape in the night so that they didn’t have to explain to him that women wanted him only for his looks? Nope. Not buying it.

Even with those issues, there are some genuinely funny parts. The writing is witty. The characters are true to themselves, ridiculousness and all. If you could suspend the disbelief, and just enjoy it at face value, it is a funny read.

I received a copy from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

View all my reviews

Follow Me Back – Review

We live in a social media world. For better or for worse.

There was a time, not so long ago, when sharing every aspect of your personal life would have been considered obnoxious and narcissistic. Who needs to know where I am or what I am eating every hour of the day? Those private details were shared in tabloid magazines about celebrities. Something we only wanted to know about celebrities.

I’m also sure, if you had asked most of the population back then, about whether people would one day all open themselves up to that level of public awareness, most would say no. Who could imagine a world like that?

Turns out, at least a few people did, and social media was born.

Take a society already obsessed with celebrity, and make everyone easily accessible. Or, at least give the impression of being easily accessible. How does that change us? What dangers does that bring? These are the questions raised in Follow Me Back.

“You wanted this, Eric. You worked your ass off to get discovered. Remember?” ∞ “I just didn’t totally understand what I was signing up for.”

When we dream of being famous, of living a life of luxury unimaginable to most, we tend to see the nice shiny pieces of that life. I’ve always been fascinated with how we idolize celebrities in our society. We mock them when they shut down a store to shop, yet if they try to walk down the street, we mob them. We ridicule their concerns for privacy yet pay for overpriced magazines to glimpse a picture of them on the beach, or in their backyards.  We expect them to be available to us all the time. To be the people we believe they are. Nevermind who they actually are.

Before social media, celebrities had their stalkers. They’ve always had obsessed fans, willing to do anything to get a napkin dropped, a fork used, a shirt forgotten. But in a world where information about location was slower, where you relied on physical sightings or inside sources, those fans were easier to predict. Easier to contain.

Now, all it takes is a tweet. 140 characters. An Instagram photo. A Facebook update. And within seconds, everyone in the world can access that information. Anyone can access that information.

Eric Thorn is a singer. Locked in a contract he didn’t understand, and is now beginning to hate. He has mobs of fans. Fans with Twitter handles like @MrsThorn or @TessaHeartsEric. Millions of girls dying to meet him, to profess their undying love for him. It’s exhilarating. It’s smothering. It’s terrifying.

There’s another side to social media. The side that allows us to experience life in a different way. To open ourselves up to new experiences and ideas. For some people, social media helps them feel not so alone. Helps them find people who they can connect with. Helps them enrich their lives in ways they would never dreamed.

That’s where Tessa Hart finds herself after a traumatic experience leaves her unable to leave her house. She finds her release in writing fanfic about her favorite pop star Eric Thorn. Following him and his fan accounts is a release for her. Her way of finding social interaction in her isolated world. When one of her stories goes viral, her follower count rockets up. The hashtag #ericthornobsessed trending to #1.

Tessa believes she sees something in Eric Thorn that others don’t. A fear that she relates to. Her therapist thinks she’s projecting. Is it possible to see something in a photo? In an online video? Is it possible to see something no one else sees? Or do we just see what we want?

A twist of fate intertwines Eric and Tessa. I could tell you more, but where would the fun in that be? Needless to say, you will not see the plot twists and turns until they happen.

This is a book where everything you think you know is wrong.

It isn’t just the plot twists that makes this novel compelling and insightful. It’s more an analysis about the role social media plays in our lives.

We follow people without thought. Sure, there are reasons. We like their books, their music, their art. Sometimes we even know them. But I’m also sure there are people we follow, people we are friends with, that we don’t really know.

Social media is a strange intimacy. People who are active on their accounts give us glimpses into their lives. It can feel like we know them. We see them in bed, walking down the street, at their tables. We see what they watch, what they read, what they listen to, what they eat, what they wear. It can feel like we know them as well as we know our closest friends.

To us, they are someone we know. Someone we feel genuine affection for. But to them, we are a fan. One follower in a sea of thousands. Perhaps even millions.

If they comment, or retweet, or like what we post, it’s a thrill! We feel a connection, a touch of intimacy that validates how we feel about them. And if they actually follow you back? Confirmation that somehow we made it on a radar of impossibility.

These strange intimacies are the world we live in. These private worlds that feel just as big and just as real as the one we breathe in.

Follow Me Back was a seamless glimpse at how social media and celebrity worship can create an alternate reality. We see how social media can be useful, even helpful but also harmful. There is a deep look at privacy and intimacy. This commentary is subtle and done skillfully. It takes a plot twist to bring this examination to light.

This book will make you take a step back and look at your own habits. Are you part of a fandom? Could there be a dark undertone lurking beneath the love and adoration? What about social media friendships? Can you ever really know who you are talking to?

As more apps are developed and more accounts are created, this is a conversation we all need to be having. What is the line between fandom and obsession? How much of our lives should be available and accessible?  How do you stay social while still protecting yourself?

It will make you think of social media and the role it can play with mental health. For some people, finding a group to talk to can be life-saving. Life-changing. But it can also be a Pandora’s box. An opening into a world of obsession and temptation that can easily spiral out of control.

Follow Me Back is a brilliant blend of Young Adult fiction wrapped in a psychological thriller. The plot is fast paced, each page demanding to be turned. I devoured this in a day. Yet you are still lulled into a state of complacency. Of believing you know what the end will be, in scope if not detail. Yet, the reality is so different, so unexpected.

If there’s one thing social media has taught us, sometimes what you see is not what you get. Sometimes a perfect and beautiful feed can hide something darker. Often, who we are is much different than who we want the world to see.

 

I was given a copy of this book in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.

April wrap up

Half way through May, and I realized I hadn’t done an April wrap up. The horror!

The good news, I’ve managed to write a review for all the books I read, so YAY ME!!! If I didn’t post all the reviews on my blog, they are all on Goodreads. FIND ME HERE

Here’s a quick recap:

  • Crimes Against a Book Club – 🌟🌟🌟🌟
  • Ruby – 🌟🌟
  • Simon Vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda – 🌟🌟🌟🌟
  • The Falconer – 🌟🌟🌟
  • Strange The Dreamer – 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟
  • My Life to Live – 🌟🌟🌟
  • The Rebellion’s Last Traitor – 🌟🌟🌟
  • New Boy – 🌟🌟🌟
  • Me Before You – 🌟🌟🌟🌟
  • Hunted – 🌟🌟

Strange the Dreamer is setting the bar pretty high for best read this year. Though, it’s still tied with Female of the Species. I hope to read a lot more books that make the competition fierce for the top spot!

Reading for review is a new process for me. I am finding that it is helping me with my own writing as it opens the critical part of my brain that I need to analyze and evaluate my own work. Reading a variety of books is also helpful.

I find that I tend to go for the same books and the same authors all the time. Expanding on what I read, introduces me to different voices and styles that I may have been missing before. It helps me look at my own work through new eyes.

Anyway, I’m going to keep this one short and sweet! Did you read any of the books I listed? Are any on your TBR? Leave a comment and let’s chat!

Dominion: Sneak Peek & Review

Like a cold hand massaging my brain I feel Roman infiltrate further and all of a sudden, my eyes lose sight of the room.

I’m sitting at a small white table. The room is bare except for a clock above the door and a one-way glass window. Sitting at the table with me are three children.

“It’s us,” I whisper.

“Of course it is.” Roman’s voice sounds even closer than before, and even more drained. I look in the direction of his voice and see him sitting on the floor, his knees propped up, his hands clasped. His arms reach out, his wrists lazily resting on his knees. Something is different. He smiles. It’s soft. “Listen,” he says to me.

“This is so boring,” little Roy knocks down a 3D puzzle. “I’ve already put this stupid thing together five different ways.”

A pop crackles through the speaker overhead and a voice comes through. “That’s better than other people, Roy. Most adults can only assemble it one way. There are many who can’t put it together at all.”

I don’t recognize the voice, but I’m sure it’s Lobb. Or the other doctor that Reggie always talks about. Dryer.

“It’s still dumb.”

The voice trailed through the speaker again with an interruption in the feed. “Do you all need a break?”

“Yes, please,” the young Reggie speaks up politely.

At that, the door opens and the children, including myself, stand up and walk out. When we leave the room, a woman with a large set of white teeth grins at us. Her eyes are a dark coffee brown. Her hair, midnight russet and shining with gloss. I remember the lipstick. She always wore red lipstick the shade of strawberries. The smell of mint. She always smelled like mint.

Miss Mandy’s not much younger than I am. Well, my adult self. “Do you want recess time?” she asks.

My head nods involuntarily and I speak up. It’s a young voice. No accent. Innocent, but impatient. “Duh, Miss Mandy.” I smile.

The woman laughs and pats my head. “Come on, sweetie.”

She cares for me. Maybe all of us. I feel it. I remember it.

Miss Mandy leads us down a brightly polished white walkway. It’s wide. Simple. I can hear conversations happening in another room. Through another glass door is a small area of grass. Maybe the size of a fighting ring.

“Can you stay, Miss Mandy?” I ask.

She shakes her head, a shaking smile on her face. I remember wondering why she looked so sad. “I have to go back and help Ethan and Dr. Lobb. But I’ll bring you out some sandwiches when I’m finished. Have fun, Rans.”

I grin and run to join up with Roy and Roman. I can feel my desire to play with Reggie is lacking. She’s too serious and it bugs me. I almost want to smile at that thought. Not a lot has changed over the years we’ve been apart, I see.

“I really wish I could go home with Miss Mandy,” I say offhand to Roy. “She was telling me yesterday about her dog. His name’s Sergeant Pepper. Plus, she has a boyfriend named Quinn.”

“Why does that matter?” Roy lifts an eyebrow and kicks around a black and white ball. He splits into his duplicate and they both take turns kicking it back and forth before Roman slides in and kicks it away. Roy rushes over and steals the ball again, keeping it from Roman.

“Because they’re like a family. I just think that would be fun.”

“Family?” Roy Two bolts forward and kicks the ball directly back to Roy One, glaring at Roman who is looking more frustrated.

“We’re kind of a family, right?” Roman jumps in. “I mean, I’m your actual brother. I think that’s better.”

“It’s not the same,” I fold my arms.

“Just because we don’t have a fluffy dog?” Roy teases.

“Sergeant Pepper is a greyhound. So, he’s not fluffy, stupid.”

“Whatever,” he shrugs

Roman runs forward and steals the ball away, but for only a split second. Roy takes it back and kicks it back and forth between his duplicate. I can see the anger growing in Roman’s face, which is turning a brilliant shade of red. He’s going to start yelling soon.  

“Guys?” We all turn our heads at the sound of Reggie’s voice. She looks tired. Like she just had a vision.

“What, Weirdo?” Roy pants, picking up the ball and twisting away from Roman. His duplicate folds his arms.

She glances to the side and doesn’t answer. She is kind of a weirdo. “At least she’s not my sister,” I elbow Roy in the side.

“Reggie?” Roman narrows his eyes and walks toward her. “What is it?”

She looks up at him and if I’m right, I can see a flicker of hate in her eyes. “We can’t stay together.”

“What?” Roy laughs.

“They’re . . . they’re not telling us the truth.”

“Who?” I ask, feeling the annoyance of my younger self.

“Dr. Lobb. Dr. Dryer.” She continues to watch Roman carefully. The focus in their eyes tells me they’re communicating. I hate when they leave us out.

“She’s right,” he agrees.

I feel the images around me start to thin out and I look around. The walls of the underground bunker are bleeding through. Reggie and her small bed are hazy, but they faintly show through the fabric of this past reality. Roman is losing his grip on my mind. He can’t keep showing me the past. But it’s enough. I remember he’s controlling it. I have to get out.

Immediately, I swivel back and start sprinting for the fence. My feet beat against the grass, the air swirls in my long childhood hair, and using the full force of my small body, I break through the wood. Splinters shoot in every direction. The grass falls out beneath my feet and the air fragments into a million shards, all exploding out from around me.

My eyes burst open and I take a deep breath of the cold air of the bunker.

REVIEW:

Dominion is the fourth book and final book in The Enertia Trials series. It cannot be read as a stand alone.

I love dystopian novels. There’s something about imagining how the world progresses that is really interesting to me. How does a dysfunctional species move forward? Probably dysfunctionally.

In this future, the struggle is to maintain your humanity against a government that wants control and perfection. No matter the cost. I liked how the people created to emphasize this perfection are the ones who ultimately fight against it. I’ve always liked the idea that what we aim to control is usually what destroys us.

There are three books of build up, leading to this conclusion. Each book builds to not just the plot, but the world at large, making this a very complex story. Each character gets an added layer, so by the end, you are attached to them.

Overall, I enjoyed the story. You can really see the writing develop from one book to the next.

This is a fast paced, fun read, with a satisfying ending.

Grab your copy tomorrow!

I was given a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review by the author.

A review: Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda

Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens AgendaSimon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I loved this book! It was such an adorable, easy read.

Simon is such a lovable character. Even when he is having a bad day, you just want to hug him, don’t you? There is so much I adore in this book, I don’t even know where to start.

Wait, yes I do, the parents.

As a parent, I find that a lot of books, especially in the YA realm are sparse on the parent front. Either they aren’t really solid characters, or they have an antagonistic relationship with the main characters, or, in the case of most dystopians, they don’t even exist. I don’t say this to criticize other books, because every character has its place. Even parents. And, let’s be real, teenagers drive parents crazy. Even the good ones. That said, I love Simon’s parents. They are cute, supportive parents who make mistakes and are just struggling to raise a teenager. Believe me, I get where they are coming from!

Simon and his friends made me laugh so much! They remind me of when I was in High School, and had a group of close-knit friends. When we would do things out of character, and everything felt so big, and new. When we would laugh and cry and fight. When going to class could offer amazing insights and unexpected delights. When sitting on the floor of a random party was considered a good night.

Albertalli makes this book so relatable, so warm and funny, that anyone can empathize with the struggles Simon goes through.

We make a lot of mistakes in High School. Hell, we make a lot of mistakes in life. How do we handle them? How do we learn to deal with them? That ends up defining who we are as adults. These kids make mistakes throughout this book. Simon makes many mistakes, and he also finds himself on the receiving end of other peoples mistakes. It is a good lesson that life often doesn’t cooperate when we have plans.

The one thing I really liked was how this book analyzes the topic of coming out. At one point, he asks, “don’t you think everyone should have to come out? Why is straight the default?” And this is a really insightful question. Again, as a parent, there are things that you wonder as your child develops. Are they healthy, are they eating, are they growing. And as they enter adolescence, how will their sexuality emerge? Whether or not my child was gay or straight was never the issue for me, but I did ponder how to bring up the conversation. Because, whether we talked about girls or boys, learning how too set boundaries and be safe still needed to be discussed.

Boundaries are at the core of this book. When to set them, how to have them, what to do when someone pushes them. Simon has to make choices regarding his own boundaries when blackmailed. And other choices as life plays out.

Physical boundaries are often analyzed and discussed, but what about the more ambitious ones? I really think there is an important conversation about boundaries in this book. What someone can physically do to your body is definitely an important topic. It is equally important to discuss the non-physical boundaries as well. Bullying and violation through words is something that happens every day. While the subject matter in this book was kept on the lighter end of the spectrum, it still has the potential to hurt.

I also loved how Simon’s sense of self developed. He has to confront things about himself throughout the book. Who he is as a friend, a son, a brother, a boyfriend. Sometimes he finds that who he is and who he wants to be, don’t quite match up. So again, he has decisions to make. Can he become who he wants to be? And in doing so, he has to decide, really decide, who that is.

The struggle to find ourselves isn’t unique to adolescents. Or to boys. Or to homosexuals. We all go through that. It’s a lifelong process. Simon laments how his parents make a big deal over any small changes he goes through. “I try not to change, but I keep changing, in all these tiny ways. I get a girlfriend. I have a beer. And every freaking time, I have to reintroduce myself to the universe all over again.” And yes! Welcome to life, Simon, welcome to life.

I would encourage parents to read this book. At worst, you will laugh and remember what it was like to be young. At best, you will have some subject matter to discuss with your own kids. No matter who you are, or why you decide to read this, I highly recommend it. Read for the laughs. Read for the life lessons. Just read!

View all my reviews

#readathon

I realize that I am late to most things Internet. What can I say, I like to discover new things only to find out that they’ve been around forever. It’s my thing.

Anyhoo, I recently stumbled on this thing called a readathon. It’s a 24 hour reading marathon challenge. http://www.24hourreadathon.com And I thought, that sounds interesting! SIGN ME UP! I didn’t really sign up for anything, but I shared and texted and tweeted and followed and updated appropriately. Ironically, it turns out there is an ACTUAL sign up, but more on that later.

Now, one would think that for any good #bookworm or #booknerd, this would be a breeze. I mean, an excuse to the world around me, to Shhhhh I’m Reading? Brilliant!

Turns out, reading for 24 hours is harder than you initially imagine.

Let’s start with the logistics of it. First, this requires planning. I underestimated the amount of planning required. I underwent this challenge with a friend, http://www.thepagesinbetween.com , so our first task was what to read.

We decided to try and read together, so the daunting task of pulling a stack of books out of the TBR pile, became slightly more complicated. But, like any good book nerds, we dove into the task with wild abandon. Once we had our stack, Tracy commented that we should probably remove any firsts in series. Duh. Good idea! The stack shrank.

Since this is a reading challenge, we wanted to show off our literary prowess, in sheer number if not content, so we wanted books we suspected would be fast reads. And the stack shrank, finally, to three shiny beautiful books for us to begin reading bright and early Saturday morn.

We were so optimistic. We had such high hopes. We were clearly delusional.

The challenge was set to start at 8am New York time. I’m in Las Vegas. That meant 5am. Already I was not off to a good start. I can barely get up at 5am to catch required flights or do things for, you know, actual life. Getting up to read was not going to happen. Bad book nerd. I woke up and started at 8am my time. 3 hours behind.

Not only that, but I had not finished the book I was currently reading the day before. I can’t pick up and switch books like some people. I cannot manage multiple reads at a time. I just can’t. I finished the 150 pages or so, which set me back another 2 hours.

I should also comment, that said book, was Me Before You. I don’t know if anyone has read this book. (Probably everyone, but as I stated at the start: LATE TO THE PARTY) Needless to say I spent the next hour curled in a ball sobbing my eyes out.

Oh yeah, this day was progressing excellently.

After food and reassuring hugs from the hubs, I picked up our first book selection: Hunted.

I was very excited to jump into this book. I sat down to read, and remembered I hadn’t updated Twitter. Since I was there, I might as well search #readathon and see what everyone else is up to. Oh, right, reading.

Then the dogs were being so damn cute. So we played. Oh wait, reading. Yes, back to the reading.

Somehow, I ended up on Facebook. What is going on here? READ DAMN YOU!!!

Oh! The mail! With #bookmail! EEK!!!!! Obviously, I also needed to update this major event on Instagram.

WHERE I FOUND OUT I WON A MASSIVE GIVEAWAY!!!!!

I may or may not have run around the house screaming. Once the adrenaline wore off, I decided I needed coffee. It was 5 pm and I was only 100 pages into my second book. Well, secondish book. This was not going well. #booknerdshame

Surprisingly, coffee helped. Also the sun set, which also helped. Weird.

That’s not to say I buckled down and focused. Oh no.

Since we had coffee at 6pm, we had energy, so why not take the dogs on a midnight walk? And then shut the house down. And then clean up the kitchen.

Ok, time for a bath. I can always get some serious reading done in the bath. And I did! HOORAY!

I finished Hunted around 2am and feeling like I had sandpaper lodged behind my eyelids, threw in the towel and conceded defeat.

I technically logged 18 hours of *attempted* reading. The key word there is attempted. I read around 520 pages. One and a halfish books.

Here’s what I learned.

Sitting and reading for 24 straight hours is A LOT harder than you think! Even if you love reading. Even if you are surrounded by books you love. Even with a friend, messaging and encouraging each other. Life does not stop. It’s rude like that.

I also learned, after the fact, that there are actual sign ups and challenges and activities on the readathon website to help focus and encourage readers. Who knew? Oh right, probably everyone.

Other fun facts:

  • reading and walking is difficult. I may have gotten into it with a doorway that moved.
  • reading and cooking is also difficult. We didn’t require a fire extinguisher, but there was a close call.
  • Snack planning is a vastly underestimated skill and I failed miserably.
  • Meal planning is vital.
  • If you’re going to convince your husband to stay up super late with you, make sure you turn off the alarm. Sleep deprived husbands are grumpy.
  • Coffee is life.

The biggest thing I learned? Doing crazy challenges and weird book related activities is FUN! Did I make it the full 24 hours? NO! Did I read even half of what I thought I could? NO! But I still had a freaking blast!

Trying to focus on anything for 24 hours IS challenging! It makes you aware of the little things you find yourself doing throughout your day that you don’t notice. Time spent on social media. Phone calls and texts from people you love. Eating. Needing to move. Bathroom needs. How dust accumulates in weird places.

It’s amazing really. I thought sitting and doing something I absolutely love would be a breeze. A walk in the park. Easy. I suppose it makes more sense that as part of the human condition, or perhaps just my rebellious nature towards authority, we are creatures of resistance. Tell me I have to do something, even something I love, and I will find a million other things to do instead.

The Dewey Readathon happens twice a year, every year. October 21 is the next challenge day.

Am I participating? YES! And I will have better snacks! Hope to see you there.