Sunday, May 24, 2009

TSS - Bookish Thoughts

I wasn't quite sure what to write this Sunday morning of Memorial Day weekend. It is the official start to the 2009 summer season, and while that means a much-needed break from the regular routine of life, it also means a change of educational focus for me. From June 16 - July 29 I will not be the teacher, but rather the student, and in preparation for this summer of study I need to pre-read about 10 books (not to mention 4 Shakespearean plays) before I board the plane. I have given much thought as to how I might review the books for the blog and have decided that I will wait to post reviews until I have actually had the class that discusses the book. That way I can post the general class discussion (for those who care to read), rather than just my own thoughts.

So, if I don't post reviews of these books until mid-June at the earliest, what do write about now?! I actually have 3 books that I need to review - and I know I will have at least 1 post about BEA (Book Expo of America), so I will have some material about which to write.....but for today's post I thought I might review my challenge status for 2009, and my blog status to date.

So far this year I have read 30 books and listened to 3 audio books for a total of 10,529 pages (this does not count the books that I re-read each year for the classes I teach). These numbers are by no means stellar in the book blogging world, but they are significant for me. While I would like to complete the 100+ book challenge some year, I am trying to challenge myself to read 52 books this year: a book a week. I seem to be on task, at least for now.

I have not only learned to keep track of books read (and in what genres), I have also started to write book reviews. While I am still learning (and have a long way to go), this has been a wonderful, educational experience. I am finding that I now read more closely - knowing that I must keep track of certain details for the review. I find that I take more time when I complete a book to formulate my thoughts and opinions - and this in turn helps me to appreciate the book and the author even more. I am slowly learning to develop a system for reading and rating books. Using the ideas that I garnered from a previous post, I have now started to use an index card as a bookmark. As a thought occurs to me, I quickly jot it down on the card - along with the page number - and then keep reading. If I am reading a book from my own personal library, I keep track of significant pages on the blank page in the back of the book. This has made writing the reviews much easier, and now I have a written record of my thoughts/feelings, etc for posterity's sake.

I have the goal of doing book reviews on a more regular basis next fall. I should have Tuesdays and Thursdays free - and I would like to use that time to read more books of my own choosing, to hone my book review skills and, in general to create a more professional blog. I am hopeful to gain tips on this process when I attend BEA next week. In some respects I am very excited about going to this event, and in other respects I feel like I am crashing the party. I do not consider myself a book professional (yet) -- but rather a book professional wanna-be. I am anticipating that I will be very overwhelmed, I will do a LOT of observing, and I will learn what I want to accomplish over the next year in order to fully appreciate the BEA 2010 event.

So how about those book challenges? As I have mentioned before.....I had never known reading to be a competitive sport until I discovered the book blog world last fall. The first time I read about a reading challenge I was intrigued; the 2nd time I was mesmerized; and the third time I was hooked! Now, since I tend to have a compulsive personality, I really tried to curtail the number of challenges I signed up for this first year, however, I know that will increase significantly next year :)

In all I would say that I am doing better than I expected, but I certainly have some catching up to do. I keep a detailed list of my challenges - and a running tally of what I have read for each - in a link at the top of my header. Here is a summary of those stats:

Support your Local Library Challenge: read 14 out of 25 books
I don't think I will have a problem finishing this challenge.

Shakespearean Summer Challenge: read 0 out of 4
I know I will finish this challenge, however, since I have to read 4 Shakespearean plays for one of my classes this summer.

The Summer Vacation Reading Challenge: read 0 out of 4
This challenge only started on Friday, so technically I am not behind AND since it is hosted by me, I know I will finish it (if for no other reason than to avoid embarrassment).

18th and 19th Century Women Writers:
read 0 out of 8
I feel horrible about this one. I originally signed up because I thought I would be taking a Jane Austen course this summer. Alas, that course wasn't offered this year. I still want to read all 6 Jane Austen books in a concentrated time period, but I am just not sure that will happen in 2009. I know I will read at least 2 books for this challenge - but I will probably not accomplish the minimum goal of 4 (sorry, Becky!)

Casual Classics Challenge: read 2 out of 4
I have faith that I will complete this one as well.

TBR Lite Challenge: read 3 out of 6
I am hoping that I can complete this one too. I am allowed to change the titles of the books on my original list, and I may need to utilize that option in order to complete the challenge.

Cozy Mystery Challenge: read 2 out of 6
I plan to complete this challenge after my summer school course. I will be ready to read some easy-going cozies at that time, so I am confident that I will be successful with this particular challenge.

Just for the Love of Reading Challenge: COMPLETED!!
I read a total of 12 books from January through April.

So how about you have any reading goals for these summer months?


  1. I like your idea of waiting until after the class discussion to post your reviews of the books you read for class. I look forward to reading about your summer reading. :-)

    It sounds like you have had a great reading year so far, Molly.

    I have found that review writing has impacted my reading in much the same way--it really has made me a more careful and more appreciative reader.

    I can't wait to hear about your BEA experience. I was surprised at how many of you are going. I think it's wonderful. I'm so jealous!

    It sounds like you are doing great with your challenges, Molly.

    Summer is really no different for me than any other time of year reading wise, and so I don't have any new goals. I will continue on the same path I've been on. :-)

    I hope you have a great week!

  2. I am hoping to get caught up a little on my 100 Books reading challenge - I have had somewhat of a reading slump in April and May - so hopefully things will pick up this summer.

    Good luck with your class.

  3. An index card as a bookmark is a great idea! I may have to "borrow" it.

  4. Sounds like you've got some great tactics worked out. I need to tally my challenge totals too. Will probably wait til end of June, sort of a halfway mark.

  5. You are having a great year, Molly! I think it's a very good idea to post the reviews of your course books along with some notes on the class discussion.

    Have fun at the BEA. I considered driving down for the weekend, but we have a wedding to attend. Maybe next year...

  6. Congrats on completing the Just for the Love of Reading Challenge-to me, that's what every challenge is about! :-)

  7. I keep a reading journal but I also do the index card thing. It makes it so easy to jot down notes.

    I can't wait for BEA. I am so excited.

  8. I write notes as I read also and have found that I remember so much more about the books I read as a result. I also try and write book reviews as soon as I am finished, while it is still fresh in my mind.

  9. Sounds like you've got some good reading coming up. I'll look forward to the reviews of the books you have to read for your class!

    I can't say that I have any specific reading goals coming up... I'm only participating in three challenges, the 100+, Classics, and Pages Read challenges. I think my main goal is to average 3-4 books per week for the rest of the year... But knowing that I'm going to be going through a job change at some point may make that a tough goal to reach, we'll see...

    Great Sunday Salon post, my friend!!

  10. Sounds like you have a lot of reading to do but to us reading is never really a chore, is it?

    I started my first book for the Summer Vacation challenge and I am almost half-way through it. So far, so good.

  11. Hi Molly--
    First off, BEA sounds amazing and I am jealous!

    Second, you are having a great year of reading. 10,000 pages already? You have me beat.I would love to be able to do a book a week, but it just doesn't happen for me right now--I am hoping it is just the stage of life I am in. ;)

    My summer reading is the same as the rest of the year--I am plodding along with my challenges and try to stick with my reading plan, but I do manage to sneak a few unscheduled reads in once in while,most likely during the summer.
    I kept my challenges down this year compared to last year and I made sure there was a lot of overlap amongst them as I hate to feel like a failure--especially at something I love to do!

    I hope you have a great Monday!

  12. I can't wait to read your class discussions about your required reading.

    You're doing great on your challenges.

    Have fun at BEA and have a great week.

  13. Molly, I am hoping that you will share all your observations from the BEA. I like your approach of being the sponge that soaks up all you see and learn. I'm looking forward to those posts.

  14. Good luck with your masters, Molly! I look forward to hearing about all those class discussions. I love how those can make me gain a new appreciation for a book.

    I always take notes of passages that stand out for me or ideas that cross my mind while reading. It definitely makes writing reviews easier.

    Have fun at BEA! I wish I could be there too. I look forward to reading all about it, though!

  15. Good luck with your summer classes Molly. It sounds like you have a good plan.

    I have found that I am learning and expanding my book reviewing skills over time as well. I like the notecard idea to jot down ideas.

    Have a wonderful time at BEA and I look forward to hearing about it. I'm dreaming about it for next year.

  16. I am sooo behind the challenges I've joined. I only hope I'll be able to complete some of the at least.
    I think that the idea of posting the class discussion about the books is very interesting and I am definitely curious what people outside the blogosphere have to say about certain books.
    Oh, the index card as a bookmark is something I'll have to think about using. i never thought of it but it seems quite useful.

  17. I admire you for returning to school, which I'm sure would be a very fun and enriching experience for you. I'll be teaching summer session beginning June 8.

    I am very easy on challenges this year because there're special projects that I would like to do this year, like reading The Tale of Genji from cover to cover.

    I try to review books as soon as I have finished, but even if I cannot get to reviewing right away, the scribbles of notes would help refresh my memory.

  18. I truly enjoyed your thoughts for Sunday Salon. I love the idea of an index card. Thank you for sharing your tips.

  19. Thanks for making reading so much fun!

  20. I really enjoyed reading your sort of self-evaluation of where you've come from the past few months. I really admire your drive to make your blog the best it can be and it is obvious that you put a lot of time and thought into your posts and reviews. You mention that you'd like to be a book professional one day--I'd love to hear more about that! I've often wondered about other bloggers' goals and what they hope to acheive with their reading and writing.

    Which classes will you be taking this summer? (I notice that you don't typically respond to comments in the comment form--not sure if I should subscribe or not? Guess I will...)

  21. Trish - you are SO right. I do not typically respond to comments and I desperately NEED to do that. That is my number one improvement project for June

    I am enrolled in Middlebury College's Bread Loaf School of English Master's Program. The program is geared toward teachers, although that is not a requirement. I take 2 3-credit hour courses each summer for 5 summers. This will be my 2nd summer in the program. I will be taking a course entitled: Rewriting a life: Teaching Revision as a Life Skill - and then a pedagogy course on Shakespeare.

    Since the courses are so intense (one semester worth of work in 6 weeks) - I will not have time to do any personal reading. I do want to maintain my blog, however, so I thought I might post what I learned in class each day. We'll see

    Thank you for the positive comments and the gentle nudge to comment myself. I sincerely appreciate it.


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