Reading Recap: January 2019

You probably thought, after last year’s intense reading challenge, I was done with monthly reading recap posts.  I did too.  It turns out, though, I read a lot of really good books this month and want to talk about them.  I don’t know if I’ll do a recap every month.  It depends on my schedule and how much I want to talk about things.

I won’t bore you with statistics (those will come at year’s end–I’m keeping a spreadsheet), but I did finish ten books this month.  This adds up to 2,857 pages.

Every morning, right after breakfast, I spend 15-20 minutes with some kind of faith-based nonfiction.  This month, I flew through three books.  Right away, I finished The Sacred Enneagram by Chrisopher Heuertz.  I’ve heard Heuertz on the Sleeping at Last podcast and heard good things about the book.  While I didn’t think it was that well written (portions were redundant and there were too many Wizard of Oz references), I walked away from the book thinking a lot about contemplative prayer (which I have now adopted into my regular spiritual routine).  I then breezed through The Eternal Current by Aaron Niequiest, which offered an accessible introduction to sacred practices.  Contemplative prayer came up again, which was super interesting.  Finally, I read my fourth Richard Rohr book, The Naked Now.  This one was on Christian mysticism, breaking down dualistic thinking, and practical ways to develop contemplative practice.  I found it intriguing how each book flowed seamlessly into the next, the themes building upon each other.

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2018 Reading Challenge Wrap-Up

Well, friends, I have officially completed my big New Years resolution from 2018!

At the start of this year, I launched an ambitious challenge to take careful statistics of all the books I read. Along with recording information for all the books I finished, I published a series of twelve recaps, creating an index with my thoughts on each title.

In 2017, I read more books than I ever had before (over 220), but I wanted to know more. How many pages do I read in a year? What formats do I usually read? Of everything I cover in a year, how many are rereads? What about quality vs. quantity? If I read a bunch of short, easy books in one month, does that mean I’m more productive than a month where I read less, longer ones? Are there any trends that emerge?

Because I’m a total nerd, these are the things I think about. This year, I was determined to find answers. Plus, setting a “read X amount of books this year” goal is just too easy.

Throughout the year, I recorded in a notebook everything I read including title, author, a very subjective rating on a five-star scale, and some quick thoughts. At the end of each month, I pulled my stats together, noted emerging trends and observations, and wrote a mini-review for each book. (The reviews got more elaborate as the project went on.)

Part of my motivation for the month-by-month approach was to stop periodically and think critically about what I was reading. I certainly didn’t read much highbrow literature this year (don’t worry, Tolstoy, once I’ve recovered from grad school I am coming for you), but that’s no reason to turn my brain off completely. When noting my thoughts, characteristics like writing quality, character development, world building, themes, etc. were at the forefront of my mind. These were so helpful! For books that weren’t great, I could always find something to appreciate. For the best books, I was able to express WHY I found them so enjoyable. This was integral in helping me understand why I enjoyed certain books over others.

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Reading Recap: December 2018

It’s finally here, the last recap of this year’s reading challenge.

December was a mixed month for books.  Life has been absolutely insane for the past few months and, as a result, I haven’t been reading as much as I’d like.  Since my job transition and grad school semester ended, I’ve slowly been getting back into the swing of things.

My main take-away this month is I’ve rediscovered my trick for getting myself to go to the gym: designating a book on my Kindle that I’m only allowed to read while working out.  I’ve explained this to a few people recently and they keep looking at me like I’m crazy.  But it actually works!  I’ve been tearing through Sarah Dessen’s older novels and they are keeping me on the cardio equipment longer and longer each time.  So I’m not only working out, I’m actually enjoying it!  It’s a win-win!

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Overall Statistics:

  • Number of books read: 7
  • Number of pages read: 2,470
  • Number of audiobooks listened to: 0
  • Number of rereads: 2
  • Longest book: Archenemies by Marissa Meyer
  • Shortest book: The Bible Tells Me So by Peter Enns
  • Highest rating:
    • The Bible Tells Me So by Peter Enns (4.75 stars)
    • Just Listen by Sarah Dessen (4.75 stars)
  • Lowest rating:
    • Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald Screenplay by J.K. Rowling (3 stars and that is being generous)

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Reading Recap: June 2018

One of my motivations behind carefully recording my reading statistics this year is that I hoped to identify certain trends that emerge.  I’m into my seventh month of record-keeping and have started to notice some interesting things.

The most notable detail for me is that, even though I finished less books than May, I read almost 1,000 more pages.  It’s interesting to think about quantity vs. length.

Looking at this month’s finished titles, it has also become apparent that, when I am busy and stressed, I turn to old favorites.  Even when I’m exhausted and don’t have the energy to read, I don’t stop reading.  I just revisit what I’ve loved in the past.  As C.S. Lewis puts it, “I can’t imagine a man really enjoying a book and reading it only once.”  Some books are just as good as I remember, some grow and change with me, and others lose their shine.

Do you ever reread books?  Do they get old or are you always noticing new things?  I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!

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Overall Statistics:

  • Number of books read: 8
  • Number of pages read: 3,974
  • Number of audiobooks listened to: 2
  • Number of rereads: 4
  • Longest book: Cress by Marissa Meyer
  • Shortest book: I’m Still Here by Austin Channing-Brown
  • Highest ratings:
    • Paper Towns by John Green (5 stars)
    • All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr (4.75 stars)
  • Lowest rating: Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World by Joanna Weaver (2.5 stars)

Some notes on my stats:

  • Audiobooks are included in total page count.  It takes me longer to listen to a book than read it, so I count them
  • My ratings are on a 5-star system and are ridiculously subjective

If you want more information about each book, follow the links embedded in the titles.  That will bring you to the book’s Goodreads page.

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Reading Recap: April 2018

Oh, April, thank goodness you are a thing of the past.

This month, I had my first true reading slump in years, which was frustrating.  A two-week bout of anxiety, a death in the family, and a misguided jump onto the hype-train that was Ready Player One took all the wind out of my sails.  I spent two weeks on a book that should have taken two days and I didn’t even like it.  What a huge waste!

When it only took three days to make it through the 600 page beast that is Obsidio, I knew I was back to normal.  After that, I cruised through the rest of the month.

Halfway through April, I received the syllabus for my summer class, Library Services for Young Adults.  My goal is to have all the required books finished by the time the semester starts.  (Yes, I am a crazy person.  Embrace it.)  I’ve already covered nearly half of the list and definitely think I can finish by the end of May.

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This post is part of my 2018 Reading Challenge.

Overall Statistics:

  • Number of books read: 13
  • Number of pages read: 4, 098
  • Number of audiobooks listened to: 3
  • Number of rereads: 4
  • Longest book: Gemina by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
  • Shortest book: The Separate Rose by Pablo Neruda
  • Highest ratings:
    • The Book Thief by Markus Zusak (5 stars)
    • Obsidio by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff (4.5 stars)
    • The Fault in Our Stars by John Green (4.5 stars)
  • Lowest rating:
    • Ready Player One by Ernest Cline (1.5 stars)

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What I’m Reading: Early November Part 1

Hello, there!  I’m back and ready to share this past month’s batch of reads.  I’m running a bit behind, so this will come in two parts.  Keep a lookout for the next installment sometime next week!  Enjoy, and be sure to let me know what you’ve been reading in the comments.

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