Book time!

Last month’s goal:

“I’ll set a goal of 4 books and 2 more challenge categories.”

What happened? (Link to my Goodreads 2016 shelf where you can find individual reviews that may or may not differ from what is posted here.)

The Girl Before – Rena Olsen – 4* – (Oct 2):

girlbeforeThe tone of this book reminded me a lot of the books I’ve read by Mary Kubica.

It’s the story of a child-trafficking ring and a family who runs it. When the police invade and rip their lives apart, there’s a long struggle to convince the wife to turn on her husband, in part because she doesn’t understand they’ve done anything wrong.

Our protagonist, Clara, is a complicated character. She’s as much a victim as she is a guilty party. Seeing her come to terms with this was fascinating as she discovers her entire life is based on lies. In many ways, it’s heartbreaking to observe as she questions all of the beliefs and precepts she’s operated under for so many years. This tale was a very dark and sad, and it felt fitting to read it during October.

Little Women – Louisa May Alcott – 3.5* – (Oct 20):


I know it’s a “most beloved classic,” but it took me forever to read it. I didn’t think it was ever going to end.

It wasn’t that the words or concepts were difficult, but so much of what was covered felt so trivial and anticlimactic until the last fifth of the book. Also, all the piety and “goodness” was really tiresome. I realize it was written in a different time, but it felt like they were trying to be actual saints on earth, which translated into dullness.

However, some of the characters were lovely. I quite enjoyed Laurie and Mr. Lawrence, Jo, and Mr. Bhaer. Brooke was fun – until (mild spoiler) he married, and then he bored me.

A sidenote: Immediately after reading this, I tried to read “March” by Geraldine Brooks. It’s set in the same world but follows the March father as he’s at war. The style felt so disconnected from the world of Alcott’s original that I found it too disorienting to read. I gave up after 10 pages.

Winesburg, Ohio – Sherwood Anderson – 4* – (Oct 30):


This book was recommended by someone in my writing group as it includes connected short stories. I decided to read it as research for my own short story project.

I’m not sure how well these met the definition of short stories for me. Many of them didn’t feel stand-alone, despite bouncing around in time and POV. However, I enjoyed reading about the lives of the Winesburg residents. Some moments were beautifully connected by timelines, showing how each of the neighbors lives in the same world while having their own experiences in it.

I wasn’t as enamored by this collection as the critics, but I certainly found it useful as I embark on my stories.

I have three reading goals this year:

  1. Read 50 books: – I finished 3 in October, for a total of 45. According to Goodreads, I’m 4 books ahead of schedule.
  2. Complete the PopSugar 2016 Reading Challenge: There are 40 categories, and I’ll count no book for more than 2. I also decided not to count re-reads (unless the category specifies it must be a re-read). Numbers below are new/add’l categories completed. Two to go!
    1. January – 4 (blue cover, murder mystery, set in Europe, takes place in summer)
    2. February – 3 (culture unfamiliar with, translated to English, library)
    3. March – 10 (autobiography, political memoir, graphic novel, over 600 pages, satirical, guaranteed to bring joy, poetry, finish in a day, NYT bestseller, under 150 pages)
    4. April – 2 (road trip, published in 2016)
    5. May – 4 (YA bestseller, recommended by someone you just met, written by celebrity, protagonist with your occupation)
    6. June –  2 (Oprah’s book club, science fiction)
    7.  July – 4 (becoming a movie this year, 100 years older than me, takes place on an island, book and its prequel)
    8. August – 4 (recommended by family member, dystopian, future romance, home state)
    9. September – 3 (written by a comedian, Nat’l Book Award, first in bookstore)
    10. October – 2 (20th century classic, not read since HS)
      1. (Total = 38)
  3. Read at least 3 classics from new-to-me authors: 
    1. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland/Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll

Diversity? It could’ve been better.

Star ratings: I base this on the flat stars Goodreads displays in list-view, not the quarter-star system I assign in my reviews.

  • 5 stars: 4 books (1 re-read)
  • 4 stars: 22 books
  • 3 stars: 16 books
  • 2 stars: 3 books
  • 1 star: 0 books
  • 0 stars: 2 books (both books I started and abandoned)

Pages read:

  • January – 1608
  • February – 1420
  • March – 2521
  • April – 1258
  • May – 2197
  • June – 886
  • July – 549
  • August – 2433
  • September – 807
  • October – 1003

I fell short on the number of books by 1 but I did cross off 2 reading challenge categories, leaving just 2 to complete (fairy tales and self-help). For November, I’m going to plan on 4 books, including a challenge book and a book by a new-to-me classic author.