Readasaurus Rex: 2018 in Books

Factually inaccurate already! After taking this screen shot, I added a book I forgot about… and I read 31 books and ~9,500 pages in 2018

Frank (my blog, for any newcomers) turned 9 this week. Frank is now a third-grader with a very busy Chuck E. Cheese birthday party schedule, and that’s why I haven’t written in so long.

Except you and I both know that’s not true.

Really, it’s just a combination of a lot of things. Work and Rotary keep me very busy. I’ve been in a little bit of a writing slump, despite participating in a memoir writing group every other month to keep me doing something. I’ve been knitting a lot. And I’ve been reading.

In 2018 I read 30 books 31 books (I discovered 1 I hadn’t included as I was writing this) out of a goal of 18. That’s pretty consistent the whole year through since I was at 15 books at the beginning of July. It’s the most books I’ve read in one year in …. a really long time (maybe ever). I know there are people on Bookstagram and other reading communities who read like…. 100+ books last year. I also know there are regular people with full lives who read 5 books last year. Any reading is great. You do you.

Every year I like to post a recap of what I read this year, as well as what I liked and didn’t like, and link it to my Goodreads review. None of these are affiliate links and nothing was provided by a publisher because I’m not influencer-y enough for that.

And away we go…. Continue reading

Reading at the Halfway Point, or Why Reading is the Best Part of Summer

Though not a fast reader by any stretch of the imagination, I’m most definitely an avid reader. I always have at least one book going, and sometimes two or three.

It’s not uncommon to find people who love summer. They love being outside and don’t mind being hot, sweaty, swollen, and gross, I guess. Those are all of the reasons why I don’t like summer, by the way. I don’t tolerate heat well, and having anxiety means that I just frequently end up with my heart pounding, sweating even more than is normal for summer, and then I feel embarrassed and disgusting. Summer makes me feel really bad about myself.

Alas, this is not a post about any of that stuff, really, so allow me to now get to the point.

The one thing that has consistently always been a summer favorite of mine is reading. When I was a kid, we had this super old free-standing canvas hammock, and I would lie on that and read for hours in the sun. Later, when the hammock was gone, it was a chaise lounge chair where I sat to read in the yard. When it rained, I would plop down on the couch and read books while everyone else watched TV. Then I’d stay up late into the night reading with a flashlight under the covers.

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Theft By Finding: Diaries 1977-2002 by David Sedaris [Review]

Today I’m doing a little something different. The book review part isn’t different; I’ve reviewed a number of books here before (although, not for quite some time). Upon finishing this particular book at 12:30 a.m., I slept on it, and then I spent a good deal of time writing a longer review on Goodreads than I normally do. I use Goodreads a lot because if I don’t write down some details of a book I just finished, I won’t remember it. I refer back to it a lot just to refresh my memory if someone says, “Have you read_____?” and I have, but I can’t remember a damn thing about it because it was so long ago. I had a lot of thoughts, and I’m sharing it here because when I started to read this book, a lot of people said, “Let me know how it is!” This is my review. Happy reading! Continue reading

Frank Reads: Favorite Books of 2015

Screen Shot 2015-12-27 at 8.42.06 PM

Right off the bat, let me be clear that, while I did read a number of new releases in 2015, others were older. So when I say that this post is about my favorite books of 2015, I mean that it’s my favorite books that I read in 2015, regardless of what year they actually came out. Also I realize that this post is coming a bit late, but life got in the way.

So… books. I like ’em. I don’t remember the last time I didn’t have something I was reading. I’ve heard there’s a recovery period after college, but for me that lasted only a few months while I got settled into teaching, and then I started tearing through books again (“tearing” might be a generous term for me because, as with everything I do in life, I read very slowly because I’m afraid of missing something, much like I eat very slowly because I’m afraid of choking, and I run very slowly because I suck).

Process

I use Goodreads to track everything I read, manage my TBR list (which is unmanageable at this point anyway because every time I hear about a book I want to read, I go to Goodreads and add it immediately to my “want to read” list), and set yearly goals for myself. The Goodreads reading challenges are definitely not perfect, but I’ve found that it works well for my purposes. If you wonder what books I’m in the process of reading at the moment, check out the Goodreads widget in the sidebar.

Right, then. In 2015, I made it a goal to read 19 books. I read 21, so I met 111% of my goal. Here’s my data, along with the books I read in the order that I read them in 2015:

Renee’s Year in Books

click to enlarge

I think it’s interesting that Sara Bareilles’ book was the least popular but also the highest rated. Not as many people reading it as something like Why Not Me, but I loved it. I love Sara Bareilles. Also Mindy Kaling.  Continue reading

Frank Reads: Go Set a Watchman — Part 2: Reviewing the Book

photo credit: my books

photo credit: my books

In Part 1 of this post, I spent some time talking about the issues surrounding Go Set a Watchman‘s publication. In Part 2, I’m going to talk about what I actually thought of the book. So let’s get down to it, shall we? If you haven’t read the book yet and you plan to, be aware that this post will contain spoilers.

Expectations

First, having been following the story of this book’s publication since it was announced, I had an idea about what to expect. I wasn’t expecting a sequel to To Kill a Mockingbird, and I still maintain that it shouldn’t be read that way. I was expecting a rough draft of the book, which meant that I was also expecting it to be kind of awful, as most rough drafts are (thus the “rough” part). A few weeks before the book’s release date, it came out that in this book, Atticus Finch is a racist. I had adequate time to steel myself against that, as well. You don’t have to like it. You just have to know that it’s there so you can prepare yourself to deal with it.

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Frank Reads: Go Set a Watchman — Part 1: The Problem With Publication

Harper Lee Books

photo by me — these are my books.

If you’ve spent any time in the world (maybe watching the news or scrolling through social media updates), you have undoubtedly heard that Harper Lee, the reclusive author of one-hit-wonder (and one-hit-written, or so we thought) book To Kill a Mockingbird, had a “lost manuscript” that was recently published. You remember To Kill a Mockingbird. You probably had to read it in high school. Scout. Jem. Boo Radley. Tom Robinson. Atticus Finch. It’s a classic, and a much beloved one, at that. While TKAM isn’t really a book about race, per se, it does examine the topic in a way that is very memorable to most people who read it: Atticus Finch, upstanding southern lawyer during the Depression, defends Tom Robinson, a black man who is accused of raping a white woman who lives on “the wrong side of the tracks.” In the end, it’s clear that Tom is innocent and the girl’s own father attacked her, but Tom is still convicted because it’s Alabama in the 1930s and that wasn’t how the world worked. It was barely, if at all, how the world worked in the early 1960s when the book was first published.

I spend a considerable amount of time on the “Bookternet” — the part of the internet that is basically just a whole bunch of book nerds reading, writing, and talking about books and publishing and all that goes along with them. When this “new” Harper Lee manuscript was first announced, it was maybe the biggest thing I’ve ever seen happen to the Bookternet, and though I’ve heard just about every review and criticism of the book in the loosest sense (second and thirdhand accounts that I only halfway pay attention to), I’ve tried to largely avoid and ignore them. This meant staying away from my favorite podcasts and websites for a while so that my opinion would be my own.

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