Top Ten Tuesday – Top 10 Reading Resolutions for 2014

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme created by The Broke and the Bookish. Each week, participating bloggers respond to the given topic with their own top 10 list.  I participate as time allows and as the theme appeals to me.

Running a little late on this one today.  Good thing none of my resolutions have to do with doing things on time.

I’m not that big on making resolutions.  However, I already have several goals in mind for what/how I want to read this year.  All of the goals kind of mingle together, with the general theme being that I want to become more familiar with common authors and genres.

Multiple books by different authors in different genres

A sampling of many different books
Photo CC by Joe Shlabotnik

The ultimate goal is to improve my skills as a future readers’ advisor librarian.  Reading across the board is just the first step.

  1. Read (in general).  When I was younger I used to read all the time.  You would rarely find me without a book.  Entering adulthood, I was overwhelmed with other responsibilities (mostly involving choices that make it seem like I have been in school eternally).  I turned to other methods of decompressing.  As I near graduation, though, I want to return to enjoying reading as a hobby.
  2. Read outside my comfort zone.  I know the authors and genres of books that will be an easy, entertaining read for me, without too much brain power.  These books have fulfilled a need: rest, relax, don’t think too hard (usually after a semester has ended).  But I want to expand my reading selections.  I want to discover new authors and was recently surprised by a book outside my typical genre choices.
  3. Complete the Literary Exploration Challenge.  To complement the previous goal, I want to read from a variety of genres.  Following the Literary Exploration Challenge, I am going to attempt the Insane Challenge to explore a multitude of new books.  I may even throw in aspects from a couple of other reading challenges I have seen, such as choosing a book that meets a certain theme or whose title includes a certain keyword.
  4. Read 50 books.  That number is a little intimidating to me, but I do not think it is unachievable (particularly if I complete the Reading Challenge).  In fact, I hope to read more than that, but I want to aim for some number.  I have seen people participating in the Goodreads challenges in the past.  This year I have pledged my number.  Apparently Goodreads will tell you when you are falling behind (or so I’ve heard; I have yet to experience the “friendly reminder”).
  5. Read new books.  This probably seems ridiculous for most people who keep up-to-date with all the new books.  Honestly, because I have been so removed from most books for what feels like so long, I would not feel comfortable talking to people about books, particularly new books.  If I was to go through the “Must-read” and “Best of” lists from the last, oh… 10 years, the number of “Read” books would be very, very low.
  6. Catch up on old books.   There are household names whose books I never read.  One of my goals this year is to fit some of those books and some of those authors into my reading.
  7. Learn to write book reviews/annotations.  Many of the reviews I read seem to contain the majority of the book review clichés contained in this Examiner article (thanks to Molly at wrapped up in books for sharing this).  I need to find examples of good reviewers and learn what works and what does not work.
  8. Learn appeal factors and what makes a good read-alike.  I follow Becky over at RA for All and plan to use the categories from the reviews on her students’ blog as a guideline for information to include in my practice reviews.  I also love the way Becky chooses books as read-alikes.  She does not just use the theme of the book or the genre (which is an easy trap to fall into), but rather the tone, pace, setting, etc.
  9. Learn to speed read/skim books.  These books will not be included in my total of actual books read for the year.  This will just be an exercise as a method of becoming familiar with more books and authors very quickly, learning the writing style, pacing, and basic format.  There is certainly no replacement for actually reading a book, but there is also no way to read every book ever written.
  10. Don’t stress out about not completing any of the above. I do not need to be perfect.  I do not need to achieve everything.  I have a lot of other hobbies and still at least one semester left of graduate school.  I need to make sure I give myself a break.

What are your goals for reading this year?  If you met your goals last year, share them in the comments.

Top Ten Tuesday – Top 10 Books I would recommend to Aunt Judy

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme created by The Broke and the Bookish. Each week, participating bloggers respond to the given topic with their own top 10 list.  I participate as time allows and as the theme appeals to me.

My aunt Judy is the reason I started reading any sort of murder-mysteries or thrillers.  One holiday weekend when I was visiting, we were headed to the beach and I had nothing to read, so I grabbed Sue Grafton’s A is for Alibi off her shelf.

I have since found out from speaking to her that she really enjoys crime and mystery novels that have strong women protagonists.  She also tends to read a lot of books in series.  I know for a fact she enjoys Sue Grafton, Janet Evanovich, Kathy Reichs, and Tess Gerritsen.

For today’s top 10, I have come up with 10 crime or mystery series featuring women protagonists that I think aunt Judy should try.

Pictures of five covers of the first books in the series

  1. Inspector Lynley series by Elizabeth George – One of the main characters is Detective Sergeant Barbara Havers who, along with Detective Inspector Thomas “Tommy” Lynley investigate crimes.
  2. … in Death series by J. D. Robb – Although I am not sure the future setting of this will necessarily appeal to her, I think that aunt Judy would at least give the book a try.  If the writing and stories are satisfactory, I think she is able to get past futuristic settings when reading.
  3. Women’s Murder Club series by James Patterson – Featuring four leading ladies of different professions, this series is likely to intrigue her.
  4. Joanna Brady series by J. A. Jance – I’m not entirely sure how she’ll feel about the Arizona setting, it may not affect her at all.  Again, if the story is compelling, I don’t think setting is an issue.
  5. Kay Scarpetta series by Patricia Cornwell – Reminiscent of Tess Gerritsen’s Rizzoli and Isles books, or even Kathy Reichs’s Temperence Brennan books, Dr. Kay Scarpetta sounds like a character that would fit in well with what aunt Judy already reads.Pictures of 5 more titles I would recommend to my aunt
  6. Charlotte McNally series by Hank Phillippi Ryan – She seems to go for more traditionally police or doctor-detective type characters, but I think she would be willing to at least try a book about a TV investigative reporter trying to solve crimes.
  7. Jessie Drake series by Rochelle Krich – Another female detective investigating murders that she probably has not read yet.
  8. Irene Kelly Mystery series by Jan Burke – Based in Southern California, much like the Kinsey Milhone books by Sue Grafton, a reporter uncovers secrets as she digs for the truth behind mysteries.
  9. Cordelia Gray series by P. D. James – There are only two books in this series, but I think the character would be one that aunt Judy would really enjoy: a newly-minted private investigator.
  10. Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes series by Laurie R. King – The leading female character in this might be a bit young (15 years old) compared to what she normally reads, but, again, I think she is willing to give most books a shot.  I like the Sherlock Holmes aspect of the book, but it would be interesting to see what aunt Judy’s reaction to it would be.

There you have it.  Ten book series I think my aunt Judy should read.  They won’t really expand outside her preferred genre, and that’s okay.  There certainly are plenty of lead female characters to choose from in the murder-mystery arena.

Top Ten Tuesday #2

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme created by The Broke and the Bookish. Each week, participating bloggers respond to the given topic with their own top 10 list.  In case I haven’t mentioned it before, I will participate sporadically, and hopefully more often once I am able to begin reading more regularly again.

This week’s theme is Top Ten Sequels I Cannot Wait to Get My Hands On.  I know that many people will be writing about all the new sequels that are coming out soon or that just recently came out.  Considering I do not get a chance to read as much as I would like, many of the sequels I would like to read are already out (and have been for a while!), or I haven’t even had a chance to start the series yet.  So this week, I am adapting the theme to be the

Top Ten Sequels/Series I Still Need to Read

The first five list items are books where I have read the first book but need to finish the series.

Pictures of the Titles from Veronica Roth, Ally Condie, and Stieg Larsson that I have not yet read

1. Insurgent and Allegiant by Veronica Roth

2. Crossed and Reached by Ally Condie

3. The Girl Who Played with Fire and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest by Stieg Larsson

Pictures of the covers from the Amulet and Good Thief's Guide Series

4. Amulet Books 2-5 by Kazu Kibuishi

5. The Good Thief’s Guide to… Paris, Vegas, Venice, and Berlin  by Chris Ewan

The last five list items are books where I have heard really good things about a series but have not yet been able to read any of the books in the series.

Pictures of the covers of the first book in each series I have not yet read

6. Terry Pratchett’s Discworld Series

7. Cassandra Clare’s The Mortal Instruments Series

8. Debora Geary’s A Modern Witch Series

9. Jim Butcher’s The Dresden Files Series

10. George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire Series

Well, now you all know how very far behind I am in reading. 🙂

Top Ten Tuesday – Unusual Character Names

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme created by The Broke and the Bookish. Each week, participating bloggers respond to the given topic with their own top 10 list.

Top Ten Unusual Character Names Encountered in Books

There are any number of other characters, particularly from fantasy/SF books, that are certainly unusual or that stand out.  These are just the first ones I came up with from the top of my head and a quick glance at my Goodreads list.  They may not be all that unusual, but some of them I just really like.

1. Fone Bone, Phoncible P. “Phoney” Bone, and Smiley Bone from the Bone series by Jeff Smith

2. Agnes Quill from Agnes Quill: An Anthology of Mystery by Dave Roman

3. Alisande and Stegoman from the Wizard in Rhyme series by Christopher Stasheff

4. Antimony Carver and Gamma Czarnecki from Gunnerkrigg Court by Thomas Siddell

5. Ella Minnow Pea from Ella Minnow Pea by Mark Dunn

6. Zaphod Beeblebrox and Veet Voojagig from the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams

7. Elphaba Thropp from Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West by Gregory Maguire

8. Quoyle, Petal Bear, Wavey Prouse, Mercalia, and Bunny from The Shipping News by Annie Proulx

9. Artemis Fowl from the Artemis Fowl series by Eoin Colfer

10. Triss from Triss by Brian Jacques

What unusual character names have you come across while reading?