The Dusty Bookshelf Challenge

Most of every year is routine, for each autumn, winter, and spring is much the same: class, assignment, work, class, assignment, work, read, read, read, drown in textbook, scream. Study for exams. Stab exams with pencils. Read, read, read. …Drown in textbook. Stab textbook. Hit textbook. Kill textbook. Scream. Battle-cry. Victory-yell. I’m not a violent person, and books are my most valued items, but hobby-reading doesn’t reside on the same level as school-reading. Believe me when I say I wouldn’t feel the smallest drop of rage or regret if one my textbooks was ripped apart. I’d revel in the highest merriment. Who cares if they cost hundreds of dollars? As any student knows, unless you enjoy studying, to constantly absorb yourself in a textbook for exams becomes taxing. It’s wearing, and it’s dull–especially if the content is dull. While school-reading drives me batty, hobby-reading balances my crazy with just enough sanity.  Where I run in to  trouble is when school and other matters seep into the untainted parts of my life. Downtime gets slaughtered, coping mechanisms poof, and chaos erupts like Godzilla on an endless rampage.

beauty & beast gaston no picturesThat’s what happened to me this spring. It was one class–one, measly class–that tossed me overboard. My tolerance for stress shrunk to an inch as my work ethic deteriorated. I am so done, I said. Done, done, done. This one class broke me, possibly for the best. When I go back to school, it will not be to finish my science pre-requisites–and yet! While medical anthropology gave me enough backbone and fury to quit doing what I don’t want to do career-wise, it almost killed my love for reading. …But not my love of books.

You see, I’m a book hoarder. I get such a thrill in purchasing and borrowing books a little more than I do reading books, so by the time summer comes and school’s exhausted me, I don’t read. Scratch that. I do read, but not nearly as much as I would like. What’s worse are my bookshelves, or more specifically, what is on my bookshelves. Unread books upon unread books, and the collection only aggregates.

Right before the New Year, I vowed to several bookish resolutions–challenging myself. I immediately broke my promise not to buy books unless I intended to read them shortly after buying them. (I mean, it is kind of difficult to read all 16+ books purchased in one month, and then the 20+ books brought home from the library…) This only adds to my owned-but-unread books problem. If anyone recalls, I also challenged myself to read at least five books that I own, and not to involve myself in more than three reading challenges. I’ve kept good on the latter, but I’ve managed to read two books from my personal collection–excluding purchases I instantly read.

I hope to change this. Really. Enter the Dusty Bookshelf 2013 Challenge. This challenge is for anyone who has let books sit on his or her shelves for too long, or even to tackle unowned books that have found a long-term residence on a to-read list.  If you’re interested, sign up by joining the Goodreads group or by commenting on this post–don’t forget to link your own blog post, however, that includes the Dusty Bookshelf badge with a list of books you’d like to read! In all, there are four levels to choose from:

  • Pixie Dust: 0-5 books
  • Dust Bunny: 5-10 books
  • Cobwebs: 10-15 books
  • Grungy: 20+ books

Because it’s late in the year and I do have a number of books-for-review I need to clear, I am aiming for the Pixie Dust level. A list of books I want to read can be found here, as it’s also where I will keep track of my progress. (Although my goal is to read between zero to five books, I listed ten for variety’s sake.)

Happy reading, everyone! I hope your TBR piles are tamer than mine.

the dusy bookshelf

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Reading Challenge: Fall into Reading 2012

The first day of autumn whizzed by and didn’t even know it. Because classes begin this Thursday, I somehow moved autumn to the 27th as well. No wonder the sun is beginning to hide as beautiful grey clouds take over, nippy air refuses to warm up, and… I have a cold with a fever that makes my brain feel like a dumb blob cooking inside my cranium. Yes, summer is officially over. Despite the all-over body chills, aches, and sore throat, I’ve read some great books these last few days! Sick days are always tolerable so long as I have a good reading stack at hand, and you can bet that I have more books planned for the rest of the season. Enter: Callapidder Days’ Fall into Reading 2012 challenge.

I considered the several other challenges I signed up for, and I imagined a reality in which I have a smaller book list. It doesn’t feel right. Me with 10 or even 20 books planned, that is. I like to believe I can read every book I spy with the tiniest flicker of interest because I’m a crazy nut, so what better way to stay on track? Fall into Reading is the perfect challenge for me, meaning: instead of overflowing my TBR list with additional titles, I get to focus on books I’ve already set out to read. This challenge runs from September 22nd through December 21st, and anyone can sign up at any time! Reading lists, of course, can be as long or as short as you wish them to be. I hope a few of you will opt to join me, and I look forward to seeing what others will read over the next three months.

My Fall into Reading 2012 book list:

This would be the  extremely downsized version, and I shall stick to it (or try). There are more books I’d love to read for certain this season, but who am I kidding? There are always  more books I’d love to read. Want to read. Need to read. I don’t doubt that I will move quickly through some of these books while others will take me longer to finish, but I think this is a more manageable count than before. For curious snoops, I will keep track of this list (as well as other books I read) here on GoodReads.

Bis später!

Yeah, that’s 50 Shades topping the pile like a queen but don’t judge me because it’s audio and it’s funny, all right.

Reading Challenges: R.I.P. VII & The Literary Others

Even if I disregard all the challenges I’ve signed up for over at GoodReads (at least 3 or 4, if I remember correctly) and leave the oh-so-very overwhelming ONE READING CHALLENGE outside GR, I’m not doing too well. Should I bother to look at the books I’ve read this year, I’m certain I will spy a few translated works. Not to forget that I am currently staring at another several translated books for this particular challenge, yet I experience a ridiculous time trying to sit down and actually read them. My problem is not only hoarding books (which results in some conflict, attempting to choose one book, only to succeed in not reading anything because I’ve been too busy book-hopping). In fact, I have second problem: reading challenges. I have somehow stuck the idea in my head that why yes I can read these 10 YA books in three months and these 10 historical fiction novels in the next six months and I can probably manage another 5 classics, and oh — I forgot about the YA alphabetical challenge! Only 13 more…

I shouldn’t neglect the number of books I pick up at random — books that have no relation to any challenge whatsoever, and I grab these books by multiple truckloads like a book-obsessed, caffeinated terror (because that is what I am). It is fair to assume, then, that completing even one challenge feels like a special accomplishment for me. Regardless of the fact that I can admit to this — that the chances of me finishing any challenge by the end of 2012 appears highly unlikely — I’m going ahead with two more! Woo.

The first reading event I’m joining is R.eaders I.mbibing P.eril VII (September – October), hosted by Carl at Stainless Steel Droppings. This “challenge” is intended to be a FUN event (but aren’t they all?), so the goal is to read as many or little perilous stories as you wish. Should you click over (which I hope you do and think you should), you’ll find there are several R.I.P. happenings taking place this September and October. Currently, there is a read-a-long of Sarah Waters’ The Little Stranger, and I may take part in October’s read-a-long (Gaiman’s The Graveyard Book). While I am eager to attempt Peril the First (4 books), I may wind up with 2 or simply 1 book — who’s to say? Here is a list of some books I’m considering:

I’m not about to claim I will read even 3 of these, but a girl can try. If you have any good recommendations, shoot them my way, please.

The second challenge, The Literary Others, is another event hosted by Roof Beam Reader occurring in October. In light of LGBT History Month, pick however many books you wish to read as long as they are LGBT-related/themed OR written by a gay author. If this interests you even slightly, I suggest you head over to the sign-up post and comment before October 10th! (Psst: Participants who register early can enter giveaways.)

My list so far consists of:

The last few YA LGBT books I read were disappointing, so I’d especially love it if someone has good young adult books in mind for this event — please share with me? (So long as you do not recommend The Vast Fields of Ordinary. I will absolutely not read that again.)

Cheers!
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A challenge: listen up, library book addicts.

Sara, at Sara Jayne’s Eclectic Reading Blog, has proposed a challenge for fellow library raiders. If, like me, you find yourself at the library every week to pick up a new (and very tall) loot tower on hold, I am willing to bet you have an obsession. You’re a book addict who can’t resist the high of requesting book after book after book. I know this, because I experience the same problem.

My name is Raya, and I love books. I love requesting books and finding books more than I love reading books. It’s a life-sentence affair with the written word.

As a book enthusiast, I read, discover, and suggest dozens upon dozens of stories. Perpetually scanning fellow book bloggers’ blogs for new, interesting novels, I also graze GoodReads shelves and let their recommendations feed my TBR list until the stack threatens to topple. My to-read list is so bloated that it will remain fatally plump long after I am dead. Considering all the books and authors I mark down for later reading, and out of all the books I put on hold, how often do I take time for casual shelf browsing at the library? Hardly ever. I walk through the doors, grab those books, check out, and strut to my exit like no one eyes the nut carrying 15 books.

(One might conclude that small dents form in this TBR overgrowth, seeing as how I visit the library at least once a week. To strip the truth naked of any obscurities: no. The list is as fat as ever and still growing, which is a commonality many bibliophiles and lit-lovers share.)

I catch myself wishing for the few minutes I spend inside the library to stretch. I miss my long visits, sitting comfortably between shelves and examining summaries and pages. Although I still do this, it’s not as often as I would like — nor is it as long as I would like, which is why I agreed to join Sara’s challenge:

  • At your library, find one book that is entirely new to you. It should be a book that you haven’t read reviews on and it is NOT on your TBR list. Take note of the author: have you read his or her writing before? Find a writer and introduce yourself to this person’s work!
  • Read the book (and hope it’s a good one)
  • If you like, review the book on August 24th

It’s one thing to find books online and then pick them up, because you know what you’re getting. Interrogating shelves for a satisfactory read is something else; you sit on uncertain ground. The synopsis might captivate, and the page you skim might read well, but there are no reviews to help you decide. Unless you cheat by asking a librarian, access a library computer, or browse the Internet on your cell, these book are entirely unfamiliar. You can’t feel certain on what to expect, but you can hope to enjoy it. Picking up random books is my favorite way to find wonderful stories I might have otherwise never read — if only I did it more often!

If you like to discover books and drop by your local library, stop by Sara’s post and leave a comment! I made a library trip (again) today, and while the new batch of held items I picked up forced me to return more unread books, I took time shelf-hopping as well…

The End of the Alphabet by C.S. Richardson
Published Jan. 22nd, 2007 | Doubleday Canada

Ambrose Zephyr and his wife Zappora Ashkenazi (“Zipper”) have achieved a happy and balanced life together. She is the yin to his yang. He is the only man she has loved without adjustment. The two live contentedly in a narrow London terrace full of books.

That contentment is thrown into turmoil on or about Ambrose’s fiftieth birthday, when they receive the news that he has contracted a mysterious illness that will most certainly lead to his death within the month. In panicked delirium, from beneath their bed Ambrose withdraws an oxblood suitcase containing the ephemera of his long-suppressed life’s ambition: to travel the world in a pilgrimage through the alphabet, from Amsterdam to Zanzibar. [Read more…]

I hope everyone’s week kicked off with a pleasant Monday. Happy reading!

Some updates:

1. My mother aged x number of years yesterday (7/31) — I dare not give away her age, as she lied about it for nearly ten years. For ten years, she was 25 if not 30, and her real age became lost. Unless I do the math, I am unlikely to remember how old she is. Even she forgets how old she is. In any case, it’s customary in my family to keep our birthdays quiet and small, and she wanted to celebrate by eating at IHOP. I don’t think I’ve gone to IHOP since my mid-teens, but I strongly connect this particular restaurant to all things that are right and divine with breakfast. One bite of a blueberry pancake at IHOP means an explosion of ten-thousand heavenly realms inside my mouth. Yum.

Well, one bite of IHOP’s chicken fajita omelette means a sudden burst of culinary punishment. It represents almost — almost — all that can go wrong inside a kitchen. It was cold with chicken pieces hard as stone, and is that chocolate sauce mixed into the salsa? Yes, that is chocolate sauce mixed into the salsa. I felt sure that my grandmother’s queen-bee air succeeded in offending the waitress, and I became a victim by association. Convinced that the cook (or waitress) may as well have spit into the food, I would have felt safer eating my dinner off a 7-Eleven bathroom floor.

Nauseated, I refused to eat the remainder of this omelette grotesquery, and I have not fancied the thought of eating since that very moment of disgust. To be honest, I have refused to eat food entirely today and resorted to coffee as my primary energy source.

My head is on verge of exploding. I caved back into the necessity of eating for survival, but it will be a long while before I step foot inside another IHOP… or any food-serving place that I cannot refer to as “my kitchen,” for that matter.

2. Today is August 1st. Remember what that means? The Austen in August reading challenge has commenced! If you don’t follow Roof Beam Reader or missed my post last month, you can check out the master post now. My planned Austen schedule is as follows:

Given that I always have a huge stack of other books to read, I’m giving myself a week for each Austen novel.

3. I had hoped to review R.J. Palacio’s Wonder by Thursday (tomorrow for me, but today for most), but I had to return it lest my library fine grow even larger. There will be no book reviews from me this week, but next week I’d like to review Legend and/or Divergent.

4. I no longer trust my WP reader. I sporadically check blogs when I realize I haven’t seen any recent posts, but if you suspect I’m not receiving yours: please do inform me.

Now that I’m on the topic of blogs, thank you to Enchanted by Books, Nerdy Book Reviews, and PidginPea’s Book Nook for the award nominations! I appreciate the thought and recognition, and I will hopefully make the award posts this weekend. Until then, click over to see these lovely bloggers’ content!

5. I am rediscovering my Tumblr and trying not to feel jilted by the amount of lost followers. I guess that is what happens when one does not reblog cat photos and unpunctuated text posts for three months. Who wants to send me a number?

Reading Challenge: Austen in August

If, like me, you have always thought to read an Austen novel but never made time — or perhaps you’d simply like to read more Austen / Austen-related works — then join me next month. Take advantage of Austen in August (click to read sign-up post!) , a reading event hosted by Roof Beam Reader where we aim to read anything-Austen. This not only includes any and all novels by Jane Austen, but biographies and other Austen-based works (Austenland and Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, for example).

Come August, I will dive into this challenge for the proper shove I need. For years, I told myself to read Pride & Prejudice, eyeing the rest of Austen’s work with equal amount of twinkle and fancy, but failed to take action. I always have a hefty load of books ready to read, all scattered and stacked across the floor and table tops, and I plan to make room for at least two Austen novels in August: Pride & Prejudice and Persuasion (or Northanger Abbey… my mind finds it difficult to choose, as usual).

If you wish to participate, visit the sign-up post and leave a comment. Happy reading!
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Quarterly Reading Challenge #5 (Books 6-10)

My e-mail has shot up to an unpleasant number and I’ve considered nuking my inbox. I’d like to say I’ve been busy with important real-life details, but even those have semi-spiraled out to a point beyond taming. Rather, I’ve been busy doing the usual, which involves anything I consider a distraction. Yet I implore: academics take some priority.

Partially consumed by Life’s sharp, nondiscriminatory teeth–swallowed and nearly eroded by its stomach acid–I briefly emerge. A mountain of schoolwork awaits review this weekend, as finals live in the future of next week. I feel diminished to a high schooler when I say, “Studying? Eww.” To succeed, my reading obsession calls for an interlude and I have difficulty accepting that (obviously). Since last Sunday, I have zipped through seven books, but in my defense: three were children’s books, one a short Lorca collection, and another a graphic novel. (If you want to include last Saturday, I have read ten.) Also in my defense: despite study time, I am no closer to grasping conic section formulas than I was a week ago. Math is always a cruel beast, and I doubt half of it will apply to my future job.

“Wow, glad I knew how to locate the foci to your parabolic-shaped Scabies rash,” said no one.

But here I am, ready to list off the remaining five books for the fifth YA quarterly challenge. To see books 1-5, click here. I commence: Continue reading