Reading Challenge – June 2015

Only 2 books again this month. I’d like to say it is because of all the time outside, but sadly it has been a very rainy June. I have 2 books already in the cue for July and we have vacation too so hopefully it is a productive reading month.

Here is what I read this month:
#16 – Category: A Nonfiction book
Title: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers, by Mary Roach
Completed: June 14, 2015

Okay, this was definitely not a book I would have normally picked up, but it turned out to be really interesting and pretty hysterical. It was all about what we have used human cadavers throughout history. The author did research and visited places where cadavers were used in order to witness some things herself. Admittedly there were parts that were gruesome, but very respectful at the same time. There are probably not a lot of books like this out there. From dissection to anatomy class, cremation to composting, this book covers a lot. A good, informative, and interesting read.


#17 – Category: A book based on a true story
Title: Lucky, by Alice Sebold
Completed: June 27, 2015

Sad. This book was a memoir written by the author of the bestseller, The Lovely Bones. She told the story of her life and her experience and the ultimate survival of a rape her freshmen year of college. Very real, but not overly gritty – honest and true account of her feelings or lack of feeling about her experience. It was hard to get through, but I will not forget it.


Reading Challenge – May 2015

Another slow month on the reading front. Here is what I read:

#14 – Category: A book with a number in the title
Title: 127 Hours, by Aron Ralston
Completed: May 10, 2015

This was such an inspirational book! After finishing it I really wanted to watch the movie. Side bar: watched the movie – SO BAD!!! Don’t bother – read the book instead! This was a hard book to get through at times because it as so graphic – the real story of Aron’s accident getting his arm stuck in a canyon, being hydrated for 6 days and eventually having to cut off his arm. Then he had to hike 7 miles with his injury and finally be rescued by passing hikers. Amazing!


#15 – Category: A book published this year
Title: I Was Here, by Gayle Foreman
Completed: May 26, 2015

This was another young author read. Good, but sad. It is about 2 best friends, aged 18. One survives her best friend’s suicide. She struggles with grief, pain and loss and explores the questions surrounding her friend’s death. It is unsettling because it references “suicide support” groups – groups that encourage suicide! I’m hoping that this is a fictional element because it is very disturbing and scary it is based on truth. Good, emotional read.


I have 11 more titles to read in 2015 to reach my goal of 26 for the year. I just updated my list of titles and need to make a trip to the library or Half-Price books soon!

Reading Challenge – April 2015

Well, I think I’ve slowed down a bit. I would like to think it is the warmer weather that is my excuse, but that has really only happened recently. No, the real excuse is that April is a crazy busy month at work AND we have had lacrosse games, etc. It is just getting into the busier season of our lives so my reading challenge is going to be more of a challenge in the coming months! However, I will reach a tipping point when it will be pool weather. Books are always welcome on my lounge chair!!

Here is how this month panned out:

#11 – Category: A popular author’s first book
Title: The Tiger’s Wife, by Tea Obreht
Completed: April 4, 2015
This was a very dense book with lots of details and description. The chapters took me on a wild goose chase to learn the back story on the characters. At the heart of the story is a young doctor’s love for her grandfather. I think I enjoyed the stories written within the novel better than the novel itself. This was not a fave or really a page turner, but I got it done!


#12 – Category: A graphic novel
Title: Ghostopolis, by Doug Tennnapel
Completed: April 6, 2015
Okay, true confessions…this is my son’s book. It is basically a comic book that I read in one day! It was okay, but science fictioney. This is definitely not my cup of tea – it was such a quick read, but sort of expensive. Good think I borrowed my copy from Zach. It did have a touching ending, however.


#13 – Category: A book set in high school
Title: The Truth About Alice, by Jennifer Mathieu
Completed: April 17, 2015
This was a book very true to its category. It was a quick read and very much about the immaturity that is high school including rumors and all the bad behavior that can come from the same. Popular kids verses nerds, etc. I’m not gonna lie, but it brought back a little bit of anxiety from my own high school experience. Let’s just say I’m glad high school and this book are done!


Reading Challenge – March 2015

Well, I had hoped to have four books done this month, but my current book has proven to be more dense than others that I have read. This is a good thing! It is very interesting and different, but just taking longer than the others. More on that one next month! Only about 100 pages left and will be done with it this weekend, but it is already April so it has to wait!

#8 – Category: Book by an author I’ve never read before
Title: Room, by Emma Donoghue
Completed: March 3, 2015
This was probably my favorite book so far! I can’t reveal too much about it or it will spoil the plot. Suffice it to say it is a tear jerker told from the perspetive of a 5-year-old boy growing up in a very sheltered life with his mom. I was obsessed with this book and read it in like 3 days. Let’s also say I am glad it was fiction! This is another author that I would love to read more of in the future. Extremely well written and highly recommended.


#9 – Category: A book set in the future
Title: Lock In, by John Scalzi
Completed: March 11, 2015
This was a very good book and a major page-turner at the end. Science fiction-esque books are not my favorite genre by far, but it was interesting and suspenseful. There were some technical parts that were a little hard to follow, but not too bad. There was a reference to AOL as something that happened “at the turn of century” that was funny and a little bit creepy. The audience knew the book took place in the future, but really had no idea just when except for that reference. I’m glad I picked this book to fit the category as I’m not sure I would have read it without this challenge.

Lock in

#10 – Category: A book with a love triangle
Title: Maybe Someday, by Colleen Hoover
Completed: March 18, 2015
Okay, so this one felt a little “teenager-esque” at the beginning. It is not really young author fiction either. It features characters in their twenties so I’m not sure if that is what bugged me or the reason I couldn’t really relate. I can’t really relate to love/relationships like that anymore! that being said, the multiple love triangles held my attention and I wanted to finish the book. This probably explains why I’m not a big love story reader unless it is more complex and has other story-lines in the book too. Now, love story movies, on the other hand – love them!


Reading Challenge – February 2015

I truly enjoyed the three books I read in February – all very different!

#5 – Category: Mystery or Thriller
Title: Mean Streak, by Sandra Brown
Completed: Feb 11, 2015
This book was a definite page turner. It was about a marathon runner who was attacked and left for dead on a trail in the woods during a long run. She is nursed back to health by a “dangerous” stranger, and just wants to get back to her husband, but soon realizes she doesn’t know who she can trust. This book is written with each chapter focusing on a different character so it keeps you on the edge of your seat!


#6 – Category: Book set in a different country
Title: The Things We Cherished, by Pam Jenoff
Completed: Feb 17, 2015
This book was mostly set in Germany and Poland and was about crimes that occurred during the Holocaust. This tragic love story was discovered and uncovered as two lawyers investigated and made the case to defend a gentleman in his nineties who was accused of crimes during this time period. The story was written with different voices and alternating between the past and present throughout the book. Very well written and another page turner and sad! I will for sure read this author again!


#7 – Category: Book set somewhere you’ve always wanted to visit
Title: Yes, Chef, by Marcus Samuelsson
Completed: Feb 26, 2015
This book was so interesting! This book is a memoir of this wonderful chef, born in Ethiopia and then adopted by Swedish parents. It was so fun to read all about his life growing up as a boy in Sweden, cooking with his grandma, Mormor and being inspired by his grandma to love cooking early in life in a little village in Sweden! Throughout his career he traveled through Europe, Africa and really all over the world, before he settled in Harlem, NY where he still lives today. Not a page turner, but interesting and I’m glad I chose this one set in the place I want to visit someday – Sweden!


Reading Challenge – January 2015

So far so good! Even though I cut the original challenge down by half – from 52 to 26 I am doing pretty well so far on my 2015 Reading Challenge!

Here are the January books that I have read:

1. Category: Became a Movie
Title: Wild, by Cheryl Strayed
Completed: Dec 31, 2014 (close enough to January!)
A great read based on the author’s journey to find herself through backpacking the Pacific Crest Trail after coping with her mother’s death at a young age. A very raw, honest, and emotional account. I saw the movie as well by the same name starring Reese Witherspoon and it was also very good. And, yes after reading this book I did find myself researching a bit about the Pacific Crest Trail. I mean, isn’t there a closeted backpacker in all of us?!

2. Category: A Memoir
Title: My Story, by Elizabeth Smart
Completed: Jan 2, 2015
This is the heartbreaking story of Elizabeth Smart’s kidnapping from her bedroom at age 14 and her 8 month nightmare with her captures in the mountains of Salt Lake City and California. She was found and returned to her home after 8 months in captivity. As a national story a few years ago, I was curious about how she overcame this trauma. The story is awful, but very faith-filled and strangely hopeful. It was not as gritty as Michelle Knight’s story.

3. Category: One word title
Title: Hatchet, by Gary Paulsen
Completed: Jan 20, 2015
This was a recommendation to me by my son as we looked around Half-Price books with my list of contenders. It is a very good quick young-author read about a 12-year-old boy’s experience being stranded on an island by himself after a plane crash with only a hatchet and the clothes on his back. He grows up in surprising ways and this experience shapes the person he becomes.

4. Category: Written by a female author
Title: The Silver Star, by Jeannette Walls
Completed: Jan 30, 2015
I really enjoyed Jeanette’s best seller a few years ago- Glass Castles, a true story about her life. However, this one was not as good of a read to me. The story started out good, but there were a few predictable turns and it seemed rushed to a close at the end. I do enjoy her writing, but this was definitely not my favorite.

Lesson learned from January? Television is very overrated!!! 🙂

Lisa’s 2015 Reading Challenge – Introduction

January 2015

So I saw this cool 2015 Reading Challenge posted on facebook and I was intrigued right away. I do love to read, but I would consider myself a feast or famine sort of reader. I’ll be into reading for a few months with a few good books that I literally cannot put down and then lose interest when those are completed. Soon enough I get consumed by another good recommendation from someone, etc. What attracted me to this particular challenge is that the reader is to read books according to various categories. For example a few of the categories include: a book by a female author, a book that scares you, and a book that was published the year you were born. As I glanced over the categories I got more and more excited about this challenge and in true Lisa form decided to include this as one of my goals for 2015.

“All these categories are so cool,” I thought. “It would be so fun to find books that fall into each category!”

So again, in true Lisa style, I began to make that list of books in a spreadsheet format listing the categories, the possible titles, authors, and a column entitled “date finished”. It wasn’t until I was listing the categories on my beloved spreadsheet that I happened to notice that there were quite of few of them! They looked more numerous running all the way down the page than they did on the pretty two column facebook image I had printed out.

“Boy, this is like a lot of books!” I thought as I skimmed down to the bottom of the column and my eyes stuck on the number 52.

“Whoa, 52 books! Like in a year? Ah, I can do that…its like a book a week. And I’ve already read a couple since New Year’s Day (counting the one I finished before the dust settled in 2014). How hard could this be? Plus some of them are going to be short! I mean, really, a graphic novel? Please…no problem!”

Feeling confident in the magic of this improbable proposition (if you write the list, it will come!) I continued on with my list and spent the entire morning researching titles that looked good to me and that fit into all 52 categories. And let me admit right here and now that I probably had more fun creating my list than I will reading any one of those gosh darned books on that list! Just sayin. Yes, I know, nerd-central.

Well, after telling a colleague (who is a very avid reader) today about this awesome challenge that I have undertaken for this year, the seed of doubt began to grow in my brain. I kept thinking 52 books….one book a week!! It was echoing in my mind like the secretaries voice to the principal in Ferris Bueller’s Day off…9 times!. So, on my way drive home from work I began concocting a revised plan. I mean, why set a completely unrealistic goal and set myself up to fail, right? I was getting anxiety already just thinking about the pressure of this challenge and it is only January 6 for crying out loud! So, new plan!

“I will do half of this reading challenge!!!”, I announced to the family over dinner tonight. And to make it a little more random, I asked my hubby and son to choose the 24 categories of books that I had to read (I have already covered 2 of them).

So without further ado (not sure how much more ado there could be as this has already been way too long), here is my category list for books I will read in 2015.

1. A book with more than 500 pages.
2. A classic romance
3. A book that became a movie (DONE: Wild,by Cheryl Strayed)
4. A book published this year
5. A book written with nonhuman characters
6. A book by a female author
7. A mystery or thriller
8. A book with a one-word title
9. A book set in a different country
10. A nonfiction book
11. A popular author’s first book
12. A book based on a true story
13. A book that scares you
14. A memoir (DONE: My Story,by Elizabeth Smart)
15. A book you can finish in a day
16. A book set somewhere you’ve always wanted to visit
17. A book with bad reviews
18. A book with a love triangle
19. A book set in the future
20. A book set in high school
21. A book with magic
22. A graphic novel
23. A book by an author you’ve never read before
24. A book that was originally written in a different language
25. A banned book
26. A book with a number in the title

I’ll gladly take any recommendations for good reads that fit these categories. But of course, I do already have a list. I think 26 is a much more realistic goal for me and hey, if I read more than I am an overachiever. Now, where is my list of academy award winning movies I need to watch…