Reading in August: to plan or not plan

Every month there are bookish challenges around and August is no different. My Twitter feed is full of Austen in August and Women in Translation Month, both of which tempt me for different reasons.

I’ve read three Jane Austen books and so far not been blown away, but I keep wondering if she’s a writer I’ll appreciate more as I get older. She’s certainly not flowery, which I have less and less patience for. And she’s smart, which I do like. It’s hard to talk myself into reading a book that I suspect I’m not going to enjoy. But I have heard good things about Mansfield Park, so maybe I’ll give that a go.

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Sunday Salon: Book lists

The Sunday SalonI love lists. I especially love lists of books where I can tick off the ones I’ve read – which usually, though not always, makes me feel good about myself. I have a few lists that I have created myself, such as the Luke Cage Reading List, plus I have my own version of the Gilmore Girls Reading Challenge, heavily edited by me on my many rewatches of the show (which have actually become much rarer for me since the frankly disappointing Netflix reboot).

The only list that I have set myself as a goal to complete is the Classics Club, and even that one is open to being changed over the five years of the challenge. I’m currently a little behind on that but at halfway through the challenge period I’m not too worried.

Every few years I do a quick count of how many books I have read from certain prize lists (I generally do best at the Women’s Prize for Fiction) and one day I will actually store that information in a spreadsheet so that I don’t need to start from scratch each time.

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New Gilmore Girls reading list


When the new Netflix series Gilmore Girls: a Year in the Life was announced I was so excited I marked the date in my diary. But it turned out that last weekend was the only date I would be able to see my best friend before the end of the year, which is basically the only thing that could possibly have delayed me shotgunning those new episodes the second they became available. (The three-day delay was totally worth it. We had a fab weekend together at the seaside.)

Once I did get back home to our own sofa and TV, it didn’t take me long to watch the new mini series. And because it’s what I do every time I watch Gilmore Girls, I kept note of every book, author and play mentioned. I don’t think these should count towards the original Gilmore Girls Reading Challenge, so I haven’t followed my usual rule of limiting the list to only Rory and Lorelai’s reads. And I know I’m not the first to do this. But I figure it’s still interesting, and probably not just to me, so here goes.

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Book bingo six-week update


It’s about six weeks since I first posted about the Books on the Nightstand Book Bingo and it’s going surprisingly well. I’m currently reading The Memory of Love by Aminatta Forna, which could tick off either of two categories: “With a main character over 60” or “Set in Africa”. I have a couple of options lined up for “Popular science” and a few others should be easy enough (“Mentioned on The Gilmore Girls”, for example).

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Books on the Nightstand Book Bingo

The truly excellent podcast Books on the Nightstand sadly came to an end on 7 July this year, but hosts Ann Kingman and Michael Kindness kindly left us with one last Summer Book Bingo.

Yes, I know it’s 5 September, which seems like an odd time to announce a summer reading challenge. The thing is, the official challenge runs from 30 May through 5 September, but I had a busy summer so I decided my own personal book bingo would run from 5 September until the end of the year. (Ann and Michael encouraged their listeners to make rules that suit them!)

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Gilmore Girls returns!

gilmore-girlsThe news that Netflix is going to revive Gilmore Girls with a series of four feature-length episodes written by original creator and producer Amy Sherman-Palladino and Daniel Palladino has got me pretty excited to say the least. While, like everyone else I am curious to see who will be back and what developments will have happened in their lives in the last 8/9 years (and whether they map what I imagined for the characters), I am also looking forward to a general revival of interest in the original TV show, so that my fandom doesn’t seem quite so out of date!

I am unapologetically a Gilmore Girls fan. I don’t own any merchandise but I recorded every episode off the telly and have watched them all…well, a lot. Now this may seem a decidedly unbookish topic for a book blog (though it’s my blog and I’ll write about whatever I want to) but Gilmore Girls might be the most bookish fictional TV there ever was. In fact, it’s so bookish that there are countless reading lists out there based on it, including my own version of the Gilmore Girls Reading Challenge in which I have attempted to list every book read in the show by Lorelei or Rory. And let’s not forget that the show’s star Lauren Graham is a bona fide author (of a book that has been languishing on my wishlist since it was announced).

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Summer Book Bingo

This is yet another belated post, as I was meant to publish this on Memorial Day weekend (that’s the spring bank holiday for my fellow Brits, the one a couple of weeks ago). Anyway, the fab folks at Books on the Nightstand have for a few years now been setting a Summer Book Bingo challenge. You go to the website, generate your own unique reading bingo card, and set about trying to read books to complete a row or column on the card by Labor Day, which is apparently 7 September. I love this idea and have decided to join in this year, so here is my card:

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Reading goals this year and next

My aims for this year’s reading were threefold: more science fiction, popular science and re-reads. The results have been…varied.

In 2013 I read six SF books, eight if you include graphic novels. This year so far I’ve read seven SF books, so not a huge leap forward, but if I include graphic novels it’s 17. So it’s a win but it does feel a little bit like I cheated to get there.

2014-pop-sci-reading-challengePopular science I worked harder on. I even made it an official reading challenge. I did revise my aim down from one per month to 10 over the year and I’m currently reading number 10, so that’s another win! Well, as long as I finish this book it is. It’s looking pretty good. This challenge definitely stretched me beyond my comfort zone and helped me to feel much more knowledgeable about non-fiction in general. Which is fab. I even wrote about popular science for For Books’ Sake.

Re-reads though? Oh dear. I re-read two books this year. Which is two more than last year! But it’s still only two, which really doesn’t constitute a big fat tick. And with my beautiful library housing thousands of books that I kept because I want to re-read them, I really have no excuse. Well, there’s the TBR – that’s my excuse.

So for next year do I want something completely different or more of the same? Well I’d like to pick back up on translated reads definitely. For 2015 I’ve subscribed to Peirene Press as well as And Other Stories, which should help. Or just make my TBR bigger. One of those.

classicsclub6But the biggie in new challenges is that I am joining the Classics Club. I have given myself the goal of reading 50 classics in five years. The list of classics I intend to read is over here. I’ve tried to make sure there are books I’m looking forward to reading and books I’m a bit scared of on there, so it should be an interesting one! There were already a lot of classics on my TBR, so the challenge should also help with reducing that.

I should probably set a third aim. Three is a good number. Should I try re-reads again? Maybe I should return to my cookery book challenge, which is looking a little sad as it is. Or I could try something completely new…but what? Any ideas?