First of all ...I participated in my very first readathon! It was such fun and I strongly encourage everyone to take some part in October's event. There is NO pressure and LOTS of encouragement. If you can't read for all 24 hours (and I didn't even come close) - just read for a portion of the time. If life is too hectic to participate at the reader level, then consider the cheerleader option for an hour or so (the readathon cannot function without the cheerleaders - and I think they had a ton of fun posting comments on blogs and constantly tweeting notes of encouragement). I did not achieve my reading goals (in hindsight they were far too ambitious), but I did manage to read 10 hours and a total of 2 books.
The second WOW of April is my discovery of audiobooks. I have tried these in the past and have been sorely disappointed. I am definitely a visual learner - and strictly audio learning is absolutely exhausting for me. I really wanted to succeed with this medium, however, because I drive 30 minutes one way to work and feel as though I am wasting an hour day. In reading a few blogs (most notably Beth and Joanne) I discovered that not all audiobooks are created equal. Some audiobooks not only "read" the book, but also dramatize the story, using different character voices and stylistic interpretation. I wondered if I might do better with audiobooks if I picked one that is intended to be read aloud. That led me to consider fairy tales, which are rooted in the oral tradition. That eventually led me to the Harry Potter series, which I have wanted to read for a long time, but have never had the time. I cannot tell you what fun this has been. I now make excuses to get into the car (the only place that I listen to books) -- and drive out of my way to certain locations just so I can listen a little bit longer. Jim Dale is an absolutely amazing reader - and I am very anxious to "read" all the audiobooks in this series.
Ok - this naturally leads me to WOW discovery number 3: Harry Potter. Yes, I must admit - I am one of the few people on the face of the earth who have not read this series. In my defense -- I have never been a fan of fantasy fiction BUT... you can thank the blogging community for opening my eyes to this genre (most notably Susan - who wrote the most amazing post about the literary merit of science fiction). I have absolutely fallen in love with these books and will probably choose to re-read them (in paper book form) at a later date. I am flabbergasted at the way the characters are developed! I am swept away by the incredible humor (I often found myself literally laughing out loud at her descriptions of characters - or renditions of magic potions). And who can possibly find fault with her well developed themes of good vs evil; friendship; and bildungroman (coming of age). I will not review each book in the series, as I am sure that many of you have read them already (perhaps multiple times). This series has been a real treat for me and I look forward to listening to all 7 books in the series over the summer.
April also allowed me to host my first reading challenge!! I want you to know that 6 months ago I had never known the existence of "reading challenges". Since that time -- my eyes have been opened and reading is no longer an invisible pasttime. Challenges are an amazing way to bring reading out into the open. If you are unfamiliar with reading challenges, then you must visit A Novel Challenge - where all on-going challenges are described and links are provided to the detailed descriptions. In April I decided to host my own reading challenge: the Summer Vacation Reading Challenge. The basic concept is this: you may not have the money to spend on an elaborate summer vacation -- but for the cost of a book (or free if you use your local library) you can choose any vacation destination and take a literary adventure. I am amazed that I already have 17 travelers -- and I would love for you to join us as well.
In addition to these 4 major events -- I have managed to read a fair amount this month:
- Inkheart by Cornelia Funke
- Inkspell by Cornelia Funke
- Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by JK Rowling (audio)
- The Chocolate Chip Cookie Murders by Joanne Fluke
- Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier
- The Giver by Lois Lowry (review forthcoming)
- The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath (review forthcoming)
- Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by JK Rowling (audio)