Reading Milestone: Completing the Newberys

This is a semi-challenge update…not a proper one going through all the challenge books I’ve read, though I know I missed June’s usual update (I’ll aim for getting September’s up…)  I couldn’t pass up sharing a milestone more than two and a half years in the making: I finished reading the Newbery Medal winners this week.

When I started this goal at the beginning of 2016, I had already read (some time over my lifetime) 32 of the then-94 total Newbery Medal winners.  I read 22 in 2016, 20 in 2017, and 22 in 2018, including the two new winners added since I started.

The first one I read for the challenge was the surprisingly upbeat Number the Stars by the very reliable Lois Lowry (1990), and the last was the rather dated Daniel Boone by James Daughtery (1939).

The most intimidating (but unexpectedly engaging on audio) was The Story of Mankind by Hendrik Willem van Loon (1922), the very first winner.

There’s a stereotype that Newbery Medal winners are tragic, which I can’t agree with.  Some yes, but not most.  There were even some animal ones where the animal survived, and not every wise mentor died by the end.  Still, the saddest was Kira-Kira by Cynthia Kadohata (2005) and the grimmest (not quite the same thing) was Sounder by William H. Armstrong (1970), although Avery Brooks (Captain Sisko) reading the audiobook helped.

On the other hand, I can’t say that any stand out as particularly funny (though some are more light-hearted), which seems unfortunate.

The book that took the most effort was The High King by Lloyd Alexander (1969), because it’s Book Five in a series and I read all the others first.

A lot of the books were good–and a lot were not, at least to my taste!  I can’t seem to pick a least favorite, because there were probably a dozen that were about equally so-so.  My favorite is The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill (2017), which wasn’t even on the list when I started.

Since beginning this challenge, I met my now-husband, got married and moved.  The world went through some upheavals, I published one novel, completed NanoWriMo twice and finished a draft of my Phantom of the Opera trilogy.  So in many ways, this challenge began in a different lifetime entirely…

I don’t exactly feel, now that I’ve finished, that I took a trip through the best contributions to children’s literature since 1922.  It wasn’t a (not very) secret gold mine of excellent children’s fiction.  However, there is something very satisfying about completing a survey through…well, what has at least been considered the best contributions to children’s literature.  Many of them are famous ones, and it’s satisfying too to be able to look at titles I’ve heard for twenty years and feel that I finally have an acquaintanceship with the book behind it.

I’m curious about other people multi-year reading challenges.  Does it feel strange to finish something so lengthy?  Were you satisfied with the reading in the end?

2018 Goals and Reading Challenges

Happy 2018!  Starting into a brand new year makes it time to look at plans for the months to come.  I’m doing this a little differently this year…because I have kind of a lot going on.  So this is a bit more of a goals post than strictly (only) a Reading Challenges one.

Firstly–I don’t usually write hardly anything at all about my personal life on here, outside of reading and sometimes travel (usually with a literary bent).  But the beginning of the year, especially this year, seems like the right time to share some personal news.  Mainly, I got engaged this past summer! 😀 We’re getting married in May, so I am (and have been) deep into wedding planning, as you might imagine.  This is one reason I got a little distracted from reading challenges in the last few months…

So my biggest goal for 2018 is…to get married! ❤

Secondly, I’m obviously still going to be doing some reading (hopefully plenty of it).  I want to be more relaxed about it, though.  I’ve been reading the Newbery Medal winners for the past two years, and I want to finish out that goal.  I have 21 books left, which is about the same I’ve done each of the last two years.  Newbery Medals are usually pretty quick (though sometimes depressing!) reads, so that’s very do-able.  I also want to do the Diversity challenge again because it still feels tragically important, but I’m going to broaden my definition beyond just race. Continue reading “2018 Goals and Reading Challenges”

2017 Reading Challenges: Finale!

We’re into 2018 so it’s time to look at how my reading challenges turned out.  I frankly got very distracted from them this year in the last few months.  When NaNo finished I decided to look at them again, and did a bit of a scramble to finish two during December!  Well, you’ll see…

PictureNewbery Medal Winners
Goal: 20 Newbery Medal Winners, halving the number remaining
Host: Smiling Shelves

I did well with this most of the year, and threw in two more in December to reach my target.  My first read of the year, Kira-Kira, and my last read, Sounder, tie for most depressing Newbery to date!  Good Masters, Sweet Ladies was my favorite this year, which was entirely a surprise!

  1. Kira-Kira by Cynthia Kadohata
  2. The Whipping Boy by Sid Fleischman
  3. Last Stop on Market Street by Matt de la Pena
  4. Good Masters, Sweet Ladies by Laura Amy Schlitz
  5. Crispin: The Cross of Lead by AVI
  6. King of the Wind by Marguerite Henry
  7. Joyful Noise by Paul Fleischman
  8. The Higher Power of Lucky by Susan Patron
  9. Miracles on Maple Hill by Virginia Sorenson
  10. The Wheel on the School by Meindert De Jong
  11. A Visit to William Blake’s Inn by Nancy Willard
  12. The Cat Who Went to Heaven by Elizabeth Coatsworth
  13. I, Juan de Pareja by Elizabeth Borton de Trevino
  14. MC Higgins the Great by Virginia Hamilton
  15. The Dark Frigate by Charles Boahman Hawes
  16. The Summer of the Swans by Betsy Byars
  17. Young Fu of the Upper Yangtze by Elizabeth Lewis
  18. The High King by Lloyd Alexander
  19. …And Now Miguel by Joseph Krumgold
  20. Sounder by William H. Armstrong

Continue reading “2017 Reading Challenges: Finale!”

2017 Reading Round-Up

We’re almost the end of 2017, and I think it’s a good time to look at the good, the bad and the weird of my 2017 reading.  I read 162 books in the year, similar to last year, although I feel like I’ve read far more nonfiction and audiobooks than my usual paper fiction from past years.  As reading evolves, here’s what stood out…

1) Best of…
I’ve been splitting my “Best of” books for the past few years, so that I can highlight the ones that were best in very specific ways.

1A) Best Premise: All Our Wrong Todays by Elan Mastai
We’re the dystopia, and the ‘50s visions of the idyllic future really happened in another universe that’s supposed to be the real world.  The book was good, but that premise is just brilliant.

1B) Best World Building: Read My Mind by Kelly Haworth
I loved the religion-building especially, but this entire alternate world with a pantheon of gods and generally accepted magical abilities was so interesting and so vividly, clearly brought to life.  Wonderful.

1C) Best Romance(s): The Sun Is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon and Holding Up the Universe by Jennifer Niven
Surprisingly enough, two of my three favorite romances this year were in contemporary YA books.  In the first, Natasha and Daniel have a Before Sunrise like experience, spending one day together and falling in love (I hate instaromance, except in the rare case when it’s done really, really well).  In the second, Libby and Jack are two struggling characters who find out they can accept and complement each other.  Very fun romances both.  And that third book I mentioned?  Makes the list elsewhere…

1D) Best Hero(ine): Notorious RBG by Irin Carmon and Shana Knizhnik
I’m reading so much more nonfiction that I think it fits to choose a real person as my favorite heroine of the year.  A very inspiring book, and Ruth Bader Ginsberg’s existence in a troubled world is deeply reassuring. Continue reading “2017 Reading Round-Up”

2017 Reading Challenges: Halfway Update

The end of September must mean time for a challenge update!  I’ve moved forward pretty well in most challenges, with sporadic focus on them…but that’s been enough for most.

PictureNewbery Medal Winners
Goal: 20 Newbery Medal Winners, halving the number remaining
Host: Smiling Shelves

I’m right on track here, with five new ones added–a good amount for a quarter.  I didn’t have great success with the books, though.  I particularly disliked the main character in MC Higgins the Great (he thinks it’s fun to jump girls walking alone–not okay) and particularly disliked the writing style of The Dark Frigate (written in 1923, but reads like 1823 and not in a good way).  The others were better, but cross fingers for some stand-out good ones in the last quarter?

  1. Kira-Kira by Cynthia Kadohata
  2. The Whipping Boy by Sid Fleischman
  3. Last Stop on Market Street by Matt de la Pena
  4. Good Masters, Sweet Ladies by Laura Amy Schlitz
  5. Crispin: The Cross of Lead by AVI
  6. King of the Wind by Marguerite Henry
  7. Joyful Noise by Paul Fleischman
  8. The Higher Power of Lucky by Susan Patron
  9. Miracles on Maple Hill by Virginia Sorenson
  10. The Wheel on the School by Meindert De Jong
  11. A Visit to William Blake’s Inn by Nancy Willard
  12. The Cat Who Went to Heaven by Elizabeth Coatsworth
  13. I, Juan de Pareja by Elizabeth Borton de Trevino
  14. MC Higgins the Great by Virginia Hamilton
  15. The Dark Frigate by Charles Boahman Hawes
  16. The Summer of the Swans by Betsy Byars

Continue reading “2017 Reading Challenges: Halfway Update”

2017 Reading Challenges: Halfway Update

With six months of the year come and gone, it’s time to see how Reading Challenges are going.  I’ve felt like I wasn’t really focusing my reading lately, and that plays out in the books I’ve read–plenty of good books, but not targeted ones, so challenges haven’t moved very much.  Here’s what we have though!

PictureNewbery Medal Winners
Goal: 20 Newbery Medal Winners, halving the number remaining
Host: Smiling Shelves

Only a few new ones here, though since I read so many in the first quarter I’m still good overall.  It’s been harder lately to find audiobooks (I’m running through the ones the library has!) so that’s slowed me down.  These are mostly shorter reads though, so I should be able to do better in the next six months with a little focus.

  1. Kira-Kira by Cynthia Kadohata
  2. The Whipping Boy by Sid Fleischman
  3. Last Stop on Market Street by Matt de la Pena
  4. Good Masters, Sweet Ladies by Laura Amy Schlitz
  5. Crispin: The Cross of Lead by AVI
  6. King of the Wind by Marguerite Henry
  7. Joyful Noise by Paul Fleischman
  8. The Higher Power of Lucky by Susan Patron
  9. Miracles on Maple Hill by Virginia Sorenson
  10. The Wheel on the School by Meindert De Jong
  11. A Visit to William Blake’s Inn by Nancy Willard

Continue reading “2017 Reading Challenges: Halfway Update”

2017 Reading Challenges: First Quarter Update

Three months into the year can only mean it’s time for my quarterly update on reading challenges!

PictureNewbery Medal Winners
Goal: 20 Newbery Medal Winners, halving the number remaining
Host: Smiling Shelves

A good start to the year, although I think I must have read these in a clump–it felt like I was doing constant Newberys for a while, yet it’s not actually that many for the year yet!

  1. Kira-Kira by Cynthia Kadohata
  2. The Whipping Boy by Sid Fleischman
  3. Last Stop on Market Street by Matt de la Pena
  4. Good Masters, Sweet Ladies by Laura Amy Schlitz
  5. Crispin: The Cross of Lead by AVI
  6. King of the Wind by Marguerite Henry
  7. Joyful Noise by Paul Fleischman
  8. The Higher Power of Lucky by Susan Patron

Continue reading “2017 Reading Challenges: First Quarter Update”