Tag Archives: Books

Announcing the 2021 When Are You Reading? Challenge

31 Dec

It’s back again! I’ll be running the When Are You Reading? Challenge yet again in 2021. Hopefully, I’m not scrambling to finish it on New Year’s Eve next year (less than two hours left in the final audiobook as I type this!). I think the set up worked well last year so I’m going to run with it again.

The premise of the challenge is to read one book from each of twelve time periods. It’s up to the reader where a book lies. You can do it based on publication date or setting, whatever you want. Feel free to switch it up, too.

The challenge page will be set up today. If you’d like to participate, leave me a comment somewhere on the blog letting me know and giving me a link to your challenge page or post. I’ll add a link to my challenge page so other readers can visit you and see what you’ve been reading. 

The time periods are:

  • Pre 1300
  • 1300-1499
  • 1500-1699
  • 1700-1799
  • 1800-1899
  • 1900-1919
  • 1920-1939
  • 1940-1959
  • 1960-1979
  • 1980-1999
  • 2000-Present
  • The Future

I do hope you’ll consider joining me. I’ve had a lot of fun with this challenge over the past several years and I’m looking forward to doing it again.

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on Goodreads, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

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Literary Pregnancy

23 Apr

Maybe this is nothing. Or maybe I’m on to something. I’m not sure. Either way, I’d love if you could chime in and let me know if I’m going crazy.

I noticed this a while ago and brought it up to my husband who shrugged, brushed it off, and let me move on. But I brought it up to him again on Monday and he told me I might as well blog about it. So I decided to try listening to him for once.

Does anyone else feel like far too many fictional females get pregnant?

I’m usually not bothered by it, but I’m in the middle of reading The Alice Network by Kate Quinn which includes three pregnancies. I’m also reading The Lola Quartet by Emily St. John Mandel which involves a pregnancy. I feel like I’m surrounded by literary fetuses and I think I’m overwhelmed.

I think there are a few reasons for this. Becoming a mother is a major life change and gives a lot of character development. Also, sex makes for good plotting and pregnancy can be a result of sex so books move in that direction. Pregnancy also builds tension because of unknown due dates or unknown fathers or pending abortions. This can lead to emotional turmoil, also good for tension. These are mostly dramatic results, there’s also happiness and joy but those don’t seem to be turning up in the books I’m reading.

I noticed this first when I was reading Armada by Ernest Cline. Two of the characters are intimate once and the woman gets pregnant. It seemed a bit too convenient for me. I get that it happens and it only takes one time, but I think it happens disproportionately in literature.

And that’s where my frustration lies. Pregnancy in books seems to defy the odds of nature. The amount of failed birth control and virginity-losing pregnancies in books seems to be a good bet in Vegas. It just doesn’t seem possible. I was so convinced Eilis in Colm Tóibín’s Brooklyn was going to find herself pregnant that I was shocked when she didn’t.

Maybe I’m rambling. Maybe I’m off base. Maybe I’m spot on. What do you all think? Is the fertility of fictional woman off the charts? Leave a comment and let me know what you think.

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on Goodreads, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

600 Books

17 Mar

One of the things I love about Goodreads is that it tracks how much you’ve read. I love the data about my average length, average rating, reading speeds, etc. I love data so it’s perfect for me to nerd out.

And it gives me great milestones. Recently, I added my 600th book to my Read shelf! Now, I know that about 70 of those were ones I marked as ‘Read’ when I signed up to the platform and wanted to add some of my old favorites. But that still means I’ve read over 500 books since signing up in 2012.

I know for some book bloggers, I read like a turtle. And since I love turtles, I’m OK with this. I’ve seen people with Read lists in the 1000s or more. This is a fun landmark for me and I’m excited to have made it here. I’m sure I’ll post again at 700 which will be in about 2 years or so. Imagine the celebration when I reach 1000.

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on Goodreads, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

500 Books!

29 May

I’m at 501 now, but I wanted to have a post to recognize that I’d hit 500 books read on Goodreads! It feels like a major mark so I’m celebrating.

Now, this isn’t that I’ve read 500 books since I started this blog or that I’ve read 500 books total in my life. The number is likely much higher than that. When I got Goodreads, I went back and added some books I’d read long ago to my read shelf and rated them when my memory was sufficient. Other times I didn’t rate them but added them anyway. So this 500 is somewhat of an arbitrary number if you really think about it. But hey, it’s still a landmark!

I’ve been using Goodreads for almost six years and in that time I’ve read 334. It will be some time before I hit 500 books read while I’m a Goodreads user but I’ll look forward to that date.

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on Goodreads, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

Continuing a Series

13 Mar

I found myself reading more and more stand-alone books. Growing up, I read a lot of series but as I started college and my career, this has drastically tapered off. I’m guessing it’s a combination of books I’m interested in being stand alone but I think it’s more that I’m terrible at finishing series.

I noticed this last week on WWW Wednesday when a commenter mentioned finishing Elena Ferrante’s The Neopolitans series. Even though I’d read the first book and enjoyed it, I didn’t feel any desire to pick up the second book. I noticed that I’ve done this with several books. Nancy E. Turner’s Sarah Angus Pine series, Brad Meltzer’s Culper Ring series, and Louise Penny’s Armand Gamache series are just a few examples since I started this blog. I’ve read the first book of all three of these series and enjoyed it, but I have no idea when, if ever, I’ll finish the series.

I think part of this is due to how I structure what I’ll read next. I’m faithful to my TBR to a fault. I always try to read what I’ve been waiting for the longest time to start. That means that if I read a book and enjoy it enough to want to read the second in the series, I’ll add the second but it goes to the bottom of my list so it will be a while before I get to it. This really spaces out my time between books and makes it easy to be less excited about the second book in a series. There are times I’ve forgone my strict TBR like when I binge-read Veronica Roth’s Divergent series, but this isn’t the norm.

I think the other reason is that I reason with myself that even though I liked the book and I’d probably enjoy the sequel, I’d probably like to read another book more, so I might as well forgo the series and start on something completely different. This happens to me more than you’d think. I won’t even put the book on the bottom of my TBR and I’ll continue as if there’s not more to know about the awesome story I already started and really liked. I’ve found myself thinking of the book months later and only then adding the next in the series to my TBR. I found myself doing that with George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire and with Ruth Downie’s Medicus series earlier this year. I’m now in the middle of both series and do plan on reading more of them… eventually.

How about you, reader? Do you have an easy time finishing a series or do you struggle as much as I do? If you struggle, what makes you put it off?

Until next time, write on!

You can follow me on Goodreads, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

A Tough Nerd Decision

18 Oct

If you’re a WWW Wednesday-er, you might have heard me mention this before. I’ve recently made a really hard book-nerd decision and I still have mixed feelings about it but I will go on. Let me explain.

I love buying books as I’m sure many of you reading this do as well. I have an entire shelf devoted to these books that I have bought and not yet read. It’s almost full. As in this is a problem. The compounding factor is that for so long, I would buy books that were on my Goodreads TBR that also had audiobook copies available at my local library. For a long time, that was no problem as there were so many audiobooks at the library I didn’t own physical copies of. That’s ended. I’m out of easily available audiobooks that are on my TBR. I’m starting to listen to books I hadn’t planned on reading and some of the books on my TBR are sinking farther and farther away from me as they drift down the pile.

I got sick of this. I’ve listened to three books this summer I never intended to listen to (I won’t say which) and while two were good, one wasn’t and the whole time, I kept wishing I was going through my shelf books instead. So, I’ve decided to do that.

Unless there’s a very good reason I want to read a physical copy of the book (some are rather visually put together), I’m going to listen to the audiobook if I can get to it first. eaudio is the easiest by far, but some physical audiobooks can be good as well. I’m looking forward to getting through these books in one form or another so I can start with those I’ve been putting off because my TBR is just so big!

I’m still iffy on this decision. It feels wrong, like I’m betraying my books! What do you think? Is it wrong to listen to an audiobook when you own the physical copy as well? What about if it was ebook and book? Is that different? Leave a comment and let me know how you’d feel!

You can follow me on Goodreads, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

Sam’s Favorite: Books I read before Goodreads

26 Mar

I’ve run into a problem the last few weeks where I don’t have enough content to post something on Thursdays. I’ve decided I’ll use this time to post some topics that are a little more personal. Last week, I talked about how I read more than one book at a time. This week, I want to feature some great books that got lost in my Goodreads shelves.

These include some of my favorite books of all time! These are the 5-star books I read before I started tracking my books on Goodreads. I’m listing them in alphabetical order to show impartiality. And you’ll notice Harry Potter missing from here. That could be its own post. Use the links to take you to the book’s page.

The Hunger Games and Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins.

  • These books were some of the first ‘can’t put it down’ books I’d read in a few years. My husband lent me the first one and I devoured it! The second and third were Christmas presents to him and I refused to let him read on without me. He read 2/3 of ‘Catching Fire’ out loud to me as we drove to Cincinnati for a family vacation. The third is purposefully missing from this list because I was disappointed with the ending.

Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen

  • I can’t explain why, but I love circus books. Especially historical circus books. Is that specific enough? I thought this story was so well woven and the characters were really well done. The movie was okay but didn’t have the visual prowess the book did.

The Outsiders by SE Hinton

  • When I’m asked for my favorite book of all time, this is the book I tell people. The story moved me when I first read it in middle school and to this day, it still makes me want to cry. It’s an amazing story.

A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving

  • John Irving is my favorite author and this is my favorite book by him. It’s the first I read and my favorite high school teacher recommended it to me. It’s a great story. I lent my copy to a co-worker and I’m afraid I’ll never get it back!

The Guinea Pig Diaries by AJ Jacobs

  • Jacobs is my favorite non-fiction writer. His longer works are great, but these short little experiments were great! Each was well thought-out and executed and I loved them all. I used the ‘Outsourcing’ story for a class project and my professor loved it.

A Separate Peace by John Knowles

  • The first book I read for school and wanted to re-read later. It was the first time I ‘got’ symbolism and it reminds me of The Dead Poet’s Society in setting. Great book.

Sometimes life before Goodreads seems like it was a lifetime ago when really it was a few years. What are some of the best books you read before Goodreads? Leave a comment and let me know!

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on Goodreads, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

Tips to Being a Successful Book Polygamist

19 Mar

It’s been a while since I did a free form post, but this is something that’s been close to my heart for a while. Every WWW Wednesday, at least one person will comment on how many books I read at one time. To me, there’s no other way to do it! I had this on my brain when I saw a post from Sheila at Book Journey on Reading Styles and I figured it was time to share my tips and some tools that I love.

My ability to read multiple books at once had one secret: diversity! To me, there are two types of diversity in books that make it easier to read a few at a time. The first is the plot. Diversity in genre and setting helps me keep plots from confusing themselves in my head. For example, right now I’m listening to two audiobooks. One takes place in 2000 BC England and the other takes place in North Dakota 1988. (Comment below if you think you know what they might be!) When two books are set in different places or times, it’s harder to get them confused. I read two books set in India at the same time once, but one was modern and the other was set in the 1700s. Time helped me keep them separate even if the setting was the same.

Genre is another way to very the plot. A romance novel and a crime novel might have similar settings, but the nature of the story will help the reader keep the plots separate. I’m reading Christian fiction and non-fiction about WWII. No chance of confusing those!

Piece of advice #2: Have books for different times. I have a book I read during breakfast and one before bed. I have an audiobook for the car and one for when I’m cooking. My assigning these books different times of the day helps me remember that in the morning I read about the rapture and before bed I read about the Manhatten project. In my car, I hear about Native Americans and in my kitchen I hear about Pagan gods.

My third piece of advice is to use different formats. I find that I don’t confuse the plot of my audiobook and my ebook. One I hear and the other I read. Absorbing the story in different ways keeps it separate in my mind. At any given time, I’m working on an eBook, audiobook, and physical book. If you’re lucky enough to have a library card, here are some great resources I’ve found at my library. If your library doesn’t have these, ask if they might be interested in getting them!

Physical Books
Inter-library loan- Get books from other libraries and check them out at your home library. The downside is that it takes a long time for them to come in sometimes.
Reciprocal membership- See if your library offers the ability to get a library card from a partner library.
Membership at another library- Look at libraries in the towns where you work or go to school if it’s different from your own. Some libraries offer the option for students, employees, and business owners to have a card in the community even if you don’t live there.
Library used book sales- I buy most of my books used. My library sells trade paperbacks for $1 and that’s a deal no one can beat. When I go to libraries, I always look for their book sale and see if I can snag a winner. The summer is a great time for big sales.
ARCs- If you’re willing to gamble on a new author or new book, ARCs are great. You can be an early reviewer of a novel that might not have been released yet. There are a million different ways to get ARCs. My favorite is Goodreads Giveaways.

3M- I don’t have much experience with 3M but my librarian friends tell me it’s a very user-friendly platform that’s especially great for eReaders.
Overdrive- Probably my favorite reading app! Overdrive allows you to rent eBooks in several different formats. Some you see in a web browser and some are downloaded to the Kindle app. I’m sure there are other formats, but these are the two I’m most familiar with.

Books on CD- Easiest to get from the library. These are perfect for long car rides or commuting.
Audible- I don’t have a subscription, but I’ve used the app. It’s really simple to use and Audible has a copy if you’re willing to shell out the cash. Good for new releases or titles you don’t want to wait for.
Overdrive- Again, one of my favorite apps. Though this one is a bit hit-or-miss for me depending on the format of the file. Some are simple to download to my phone, but some have to be converted and added to iTunes before I can listen to them on the go. I prefer the former, obviously.
Hoopla- This is my newest love for books. Hoopla has super simple downloads of audiobooks and has some titles available I haven’t seen on any of these other sites. It’s still new and I can only see it growing.

I hope these tips and tools can help you! There are some great resources out there if you’re willing to look for them. If you’re like me, you need to fund your reading habit at the lowest possible price, which is why I’ve tried to list many of the resources that are available at a low cost if provided by your library. I’m no expert and don’t pretend to be, but if you want to know more please Google these services and ask your library! As a Friends of the Library Board member, we love knowing what patrons want from their library.

Let me know if you have any advice for book polygamy! It could be fun to read even more.

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on Goodreads, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

Novel Girls Holiday Party, NaNoel

24 Dec

Last Thursday my Novel Girls had our first annual Holiday party which KK accurately dubbed NaNoel (in the spirit of NaNovelGirls during NaNo). I really hope we can do this each year because this was hands down my favorite holiday party yet this year. That’s the best out of five so far, in case anyone wants to run an algorithm for this.

What made it so great? A large part was the people. My work Christmas lunch was great and my husbands Christmas dinner were nice, dont’ get me wrong, but the company is less intimate. Our white elephant with some college and work friends our age was an improvement for sure. SG’s Holiday wine and cheese party was great, too, though I didn’t know half the people there until two glasses in. But this party was reminiscent of when my girlfriends in high school would get together around the holidays and get each other gifts; the presents were so tailored to each of us that it was scary. Each one is my favorite Christmas gift so far.

KK was kind enough to host us so I made the trek out to her house after work and like the over-eager beaver I am, got there an hour before Nicole and SG. Once we all arrived there was pizza and laughing and a lot of amusing tweets (if you have the time, check out my Twitter feed, available on my right sidebar). I was just bursting and insisted that they open my present.

I’d gone back through our tweets since August and compiled. I used a picture from SG’s party of the four of us and made the image visible through the letters of the tweets. Make sense? SG posted a picture of it on Twitter so maybe that will help. It seemed so appropriate that our picture would be in words. Jay did the whole thing in Photoshop and I’m eternally grateful to him.

We opened KKs gift next. She’d ordered us each cuff bracelets with quotes from something we love on them. Mine says “I solemnly swear that I am up to no good.” Could this be more perfect?!?! I’m completely in love with it. SGs said “The world was hers for the reading” from A Tree Grows in Brooklyn and Nicole’s said “I’ll be the prince and you be the princess” from Taylor Swift’s Love Story. They’re so appropriate that I’m almost sickened.

SG gave us what every book nerd needs more of; books! I collect postcards and SG got me Everything is Connected– a collection of postcards with various instructions on them that the reader is supposed to leave around for others to find. It sounds super fun. KK got Alice in Tumblrland, re-told fairy-tales with a modern twist. This is so perfect for KK that I was surprised SG didn’t write it herself. Nicole, the lone poet among us, got a wonderful book of poetry by SG’s favorite poet. I love when books seem to choose the reader.

Continuing with the literary gifts, Nicole went for books and notebooks. I got a book about doing writers workshops, lotion, and a mug that says “Do not disturb, internal dialogue in progress.” I almost died laughing. We all got lotion that matched the colors in the rest of the gifts (because Nicole is coordinated like that). SG and KK got really nice notebooks, which was especially perfect because KK finished her old notebook in October, squeezing her NaNo outline onto the last page. How symbolic.

I’m still floating from such a great night with my friends. What was your favorite gift this year? Have you given a perfect literary gift? What was it? What’s the best one you received? I’m celebrating Christmas early with my family this year so I’ll (hopefully) be opening more books soon! I’ll keep you all posted.

Have a safe and happy holiday! Enjoy the time with friends and family.

Until next time, Reader, write on.

Goodreads Challenge: Complete!

20 Dec

I’ve decided that with my vacation from work, I’m going to take a vacation from blogging as well. I have one more book review to write, but the plan now is that I’ll be back sometime in the first week of January. I encourage you all to take the time off, too!

2013 Reading Challenge

2013 Reading Challenge
Sam has
completed her goal of reading 70 books in 2013!

So as my last planned post of the year (we’ll see if that holds), I wanted to announce that I completed my book goal for the year! I set the bar hight at 70 and passed the finish line on Monday. In celebration, I’m going to share the books below along with my rating. Because I’m a nerd, there are some statistics at the bottom. You can view them all on my Goodreads Reading Challenge page. I’ll include a link to those I reviewed.

  1. Geek Love by Katherine Dunn (2)
  2. Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson (4)
  3. Love is a Mix Tape by Rob Sheffield (3)
  4. The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest by Stieg Larsson (4)
  5. Room by Emma Donoghue (4)
  6. Never Let Me Go by Ishiguro Kazuo (3)
  7. Devil in the Details by Jennifer Traig (3)
  8. History of a Pleasure Seeker (3)
  9. The Great Train Robbery by Michael Crichton (3)
  10. Bossypants by Tina Fey (4)
  11. The Leftovers by Tom Perrotta (4)
  12. The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern (5)
  13. Me Talk pretty One day by David Sedaris (2)
  14. Then We Came to the End by Joshua Ferris (3)
  15. The Magicians by Lev Grossman (2)
  16. Excel VBA Programming for Dummies by John Walkenbach (4)
  17. First Darling of the Morning by Thrity Umrigar (4)
  18. What is the What by Dave Eggers (4)
  19. Freakonomics by Steven Levitt (5)
  20. Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand (4)
  21. The Silver Linings Playbook by Matthew Quick (4)
  22. The Writer’s Guide to Everyday Life from Prohibition Through World War II by Marc McCutcheon (5)
  23. A Stolen Life by Jaycee Dugard (2)
  24. The Dante Club by Matthew Pearl (3)
  25. One Thousand White Women by Jim Fergus (3)
  26. Juliet, Naked by Nick Hornby (4)
  27. A Secret Gift by Ted Gup (2)
  28. Reading Lolita in Tehran by Azar Nafisi (3)
  29. Born to Run by Christopher McDougall (4)
  30. Let’s Pretend This Never Happened by Jenny Lawson (4)
  31. Defending Jacob by William Landay (4)
  32. The River of Doubt by Candice Millard (3)
  33. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green (4)
  34. Inferno by Dan Brown (3)
  35. Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls (3)
  36. The Ice Queen by Alice Hoffman (1)
  37. Vixen by Jillian Larkin (2)
  38. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak (4)
  39. The Mill on the Floss by George Eliot (3)
  40. Life of Pi by Yann Martel (4)
  41. The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver (4)
  42. Enders Game by Orson Scott Card (4)
  43. The Lock Artist by Steve Hamilton (4)
  44. Angle of Repose by Wallace Stegner (4)
  45. Grand River and Joy by Susan Messer (4)
  46. Airman by Eoin Colfer (4)
  47. The Girl in the Polka Dot Dress by Beryl Bainbridge (3)
  48. The Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling (3)
  49. Blink by Malcom Gladwell (4)
  50. Post Office by Charles Bukowski (2)
  51. The Paris Wife by Paula McLain (2)
  52. The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson (4)
  53. Night by Elie Wiesel (4)
  54. Affinity by Sarah Waters (3) – and Book Club Reflection
  55. Loba by Diane de Prima (1)
  56. Burning Bright by Tracy Chevalier (3)
  57. Walking the Bible by Bruce Feiler (4)- and Book Club Reflection
  58. The Absent Lord by Jason Beacon (3)
  59. The Almond Tree by Michelle Cohen Corasanti (4)
  60. The Tilted World by Tom Franklin (3)
  61. Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides (5)- and Book Club Reflection
  62. The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro (2)
  63. Stones from the River by Ursula Hegi (3)
  64. The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman (5)
  65. The Aviator’s Wife by Melanie Benjamin (3)
  66. The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson (2)
  67. The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury (4)
  68. Daughter of the God-King by Anne Cleeland (4)
  69. The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis (4)
  70. Some of Tim’s Stories by S.E. Hinton (4)

Stats: My average rating is 3.4 for this year. I read a total of 23,804 pages for an average of 340 pages per book. 36 of my books were audio books and the other 34 physical books. 20 of these books were for my book clubs.

How about you, Reader? Did you meet your reading goal? How close have you come? I’ll do another post about which ones were my favorites and what I recommend. Right now I’m plodding through Harry Potter y la Orden del Fenix (yes, in Spanish) so it will be a while till I finish another book.

Until next time, write on.