Reading Challenges

Reading Challenge | Books I Want to Read in 2021

Hello and welcome to a list or challenge of sorts. I wanted to share some of the many, many books I want to read in 2021. I thought it would be fun at the end of the year to look back and see if I ended up reading this books or if I ended up liking them. I will be completely honest, there is a reread on this list of one of my favorite books so that one I know I will already love. Anyway, on to the books!


The Books


What books do you really want to read in 2021?

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Reading Challenges

Reading Challenge | 2021 Reading Goals

Hello and welcome to a quick post to showcase the reading goals I have for myself this upcoming year. This year I am keeping some of the same I have had for year and others are new. I feel like it is a good mixture to challenge myself, but keeping in mind the unexpected nature 2021 will most likely have.


The Goals

Use the library once a month – I plan on using the digital resources that are part of my library membership this year. I want to use it at least once a month, but I hope to use it more.

Read 12 nonfiction books – I love reading non-fiction and I want to ensure it stays part of my reading rotation because I know as 2020 went on I read less and less of it because I wanted a bit of escapism.

Read 50 books – I do this goal every year, this is just to ensure that I read a book a week, but also some leeway if life gets in the way.

Read the International Booker Prize – I read a shortlist every year and this year I decided to read this one. I dedicated an entire post to it, Reading Challenge | Reading a Shortlist 2021, where I went over all the books that I plan on reading for this one.

I want to read 2 trilogies by Robin Hobb – I want to read both The Farseer Trilogy and Liveship Traders Trilogy this year because I hear such wonderful things about her works. Thanks to my wonderful boyfriend, I have the first two books of The Farseer Trilogy in the illustrated editions!

Reread The Hobbit and the Lord of the Ring Trilogy – I love these books and it has been quite a while since I last read them and I feel like I have forgotten so much. It is time to remedy that!

Lastly, keep my owned TBR under 10 books – in 2020 I was able to get my owned TBR to 0 and I want to keep it under 20 books. I will give myself exceptions to this around gift giving holidays and my birthday because I always get books as gifts.


What reading goals do you have for yourself in 2021?

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Reading Challenges · Reviews

Reading Challenge | MyTBR.co Issue 1

Hello and welcome to a new quarterly series on my blog where I get reccomedations from mytbr.co and read and review them to see how well they can guess my reading tastes from me filling out a huge form non their website. I will not hesitate to say I got this idea from watching Books and Lala over on youtube and seeing her trying the same book service and I wanted to try it for myself.


This is to go over the first recommendation letter I received them from. In this letter I was recommended The Hunger by Alma Katsu, The Incarnations of Susan Barker, and The Changeling by Victor Lavalle. I will say that my first reaction to this recommendations were, “Wow, these sound amazing”. So far, this service is off to a really good start.

The Reviews

The ChangelingThe Changeling by Victor LaValle
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book ended up being so much more enjoyable than I thought it was going to be. It was beautifully written and surprising. I expected the story to be one thing, but it transformed into something magically different in the best way possible. I really enjoyed the rollercoaster of emotions this book put my through as a reader as well as a family legend that ties into myths.

View all my reviews

The HungerThe Hunger by Alma Katsu
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This was a very intriguing, imaginative and haunting horror. Not only was this horror atmospheric, but it mixed “real world” horror and monster based horror. This mixed with history only made it just seem even more real. The writing was well done, the pacing, characters, and relationships were all done so well. I will be trying more books from this author in the future.

View all my reviews

The IncarnationsThe Incarnations by Susan Barker
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This novel was just something outside of the genre it was labeled as. It is a thriller, fantasy, and historical fiction all mixed into one. This book follows a cab driver in Beijing and the story goes through time as you learn about his past lives as he does. Each life had its own chapter where you explored the lives of these two souls, the lives they lived varied quite a lot and they endured a ton as well (violence, sexual violence, and suicide to name a few). The writing itself was beautiful, and the way the author organized the book was perfect. At no point did I think the pacing was off or was bored. I was glued to this book when I was able to find time to pick it up. Another aspect I enjoyed was the fact that the author intertwined these stories with Chinese folklore, classic, and history.

View all my reviews


Overall, I would say that this service did a really wonderful job in picking books for me for this round. I ended up giving every book a 4 or 5 rating and when I did get to pick up these books I tended to read them for long periods of time. I very much look forward to my next recommendations.


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Reading Challenges

Reading Challenge | 2020 Reading a Shortlist

Hello and welcome to the final installment of my Reading a Shortlist Challenge where I read the 2019 Booker Prize Shortlist. This is the second time I am challenging myself to this challenge, and wont be the last. This year I set a challenge to read the 6 books, but I will be honest at this point in time I decided not to read one in part because I don’t agree with the outcome of this award in 2019. I will explain this a bit more, but here are my thoughts on the 5 books I did read!


Ducks, NewburyportDucks, Newburyport by Lucy Ellmann
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

This is a book I would have never tried to read if it was not on the shortlist for the Man Booker Prize. Saying that, you can most likely see I ended up giving this book 1 star. While the idea of this book did sound very appealing as soon as I started to read it a red flag for my personal reading tastes went up. The first few pages was just a never ending list with commas, never a period. The book was being told by someone who is just rambling on and on, which I can see is most likely a choice to get the feel for how thee narrator is feeling about life.

For me, this was so stress inducing for a few reasons. I felt like I was reading the equivalent to Willy Wonka (Gene Wilder movie) taking the winners down the chocolate river through a tunnel. It was just getting more and more intense because I was reading faster and faster just trying to find a period. I. just wanted a natural stopping point to put the book down. The second being, I personally dislike stream of consciousness writing.

Mainly due to the formatting and how the author choose to write this book, I did not like it. But, thesee are mainly personal reasons and if any of these don’t bother you I say give it a go. Like I said the idea of this book is great, it was just ruined for me based upon the formatting.

View all my reviews

Girl, Woman, OtherGirl, Woman, Other by Bernardine Evaristo
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Another book on my quest to read all the 2019 shortlisted books! I am pleased to say that reading this book was a very different experience than reading the previous book I read in this challenge. I truly loved the writing style of this book and how it was set up. The is a collection of short stories where all of the characters are connected in one way or another. I personally have never read a collection like this, but it made all the difference for me.

Every voice in this book has a powerful story to tell, each perspective is of an individuals who is minority in the Britain. Each one of the authors story was wonderfully written, their writing talent is truly something of wonder, their voice is strong and confident, which I truly enjoyed. As I read I was invested in the characters even though we were not with them the entire book. I tend to have difficulty doing this in short stories since we spend so little time with characters. But, the quality of these stories really elevated my reading experience. Also, really liked how the author discussed huge topics such as feminism, racism, different forms of abuse, love, and many more. I am thankful that this book was on the shortlist, because sadly this book is not talked about otherwise and it truly is a shame. I honestly think she should have been the only winner as well.

View all my reviews

QuichotteQuichotte by Salman Rushdie
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Overall, I really liked this book it addressed a lot of issues in our society when it comes to both race and mental illness. I recommended this to quote a few people after reading this retelling of sorts of Don Quixote. But, it is more than a retelling, as I mentioned it address quite a few topics, but does so as a magical realism novel mixed with a couple other genres.

View all my reviews

10 Minutes 38 Seconds in this Strange World10 Minutes 38 Seconds in this Strange World by Elif Shafak
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I want to start off by saying that this is one of the most inventive and unique books I have read based upon the idea alone. But, this book is penned by a very talented writing and it just makes the book that much better. The first part of this book follows the 10 min. after death of a woman named Leila, who lived a very interesting life. You learn about her life through various memories that come to her in her last moments of life. It really hits home the “life flashes before your eyes” idea.

The second part discusses humility, society, and just being a decent human and how a system takes that away. How some individuals in life and in death can be discriminated against. It was a very interesting book that not only showed you the life of the characters, but also talked about society and highlighted how friendship can be such a powerful thing. I feel like this is a book I will be rereading because I feel like I can get even more out of it.

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An Orchestra of MinoritiesAn Orchestra of Minorities by Chigozie Obioma
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

So, this is a very imaginative story. I really loved the premise of the tale and I really enjoyed that it was narrated by a guardian spirit called a chi. The writing itself was really wonderful and I think the author has a gift for sure. I would really like to see what else they have written because the writing is that good.

Unfortunately there were a few things I personally could not get over. The use of a really inappropriate word that honestly has no business being in a book published in 2019, so many other words could have been used to get the point across with ease. Secondly, this was said to be an interpretation of the Oddesey and I did not pick up on it personally, but I am very open to being wrong about this. If you have read it and I just missed it, please let me know.

Also, this book was filled with female objectification and I can only hope that the authors purpose in this is to bring light to this. The main character cannot take any responsibility and is pig headed. He commits a horrible act who hurts someone he is meant to “love”. I put it into quotes because it isn’t love. The women in this novel are nothing more than their use to the main character. I had such high hopes for this novel, while I did not like this tale at all I will be checking out the authors other work because their writing itself was done very well. I plan on picking up The Fishermen in the next few months and very much look forward to it.

View all my reviews


Now, for the book I decided I did not want to read, The Testaments by Margaret Atwood. I decided not to read this for a few reasons, but the most propionate being I really think Bernardine Evaristo should have been the only winner. The second being I have tried multiple times to try and read The Handmaid’s Tale and I could not get into it at all, the writing bored me.

Overall, I am really happy with this years challenge, I ended up liking a majority of the books. Plus an authors whose writing I liked and will give another try since the book itself, plot wise, was not something I enjoyed. In previous years I was not so lucky. I have also recommended quite a few of these to friends and family and loaned them out, which is a huge complement to any book in my eyes.

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Reading Challenges

Reading Challenge | Reading a Shortlist 2021

Hello and welcome to one of the first posts where I go through some of the goals I have for myself in 2021. One challenge I have for myself is reading a shortlist. This past year I did the Man Booker Prize, which is not just the Booker Prize. I will be posting a wrap up to that tomorrow, so keep an eye out! This year I decided I am going to read the International Booker Prize 2020 Shortlist.


I decided to do the international edition of this literary award so I read more from around the world and read some more translated works. I realized in 2020 I do like translated books quite a bit and I thought this would be a great way to learn about new authors.

The Shortlisted Books


After reading the description of each of these books I can honestly say I think this year is the most I have been excited to complete this reading challenge. These stories sound wonderfully written, unique, and they all sound like something I would be interested in if I was not doing this challenge. I already picked up Hurricane Season to get started on this in January and I will continue from there.

Do you have any book awards that you follow or keep tabs on?

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Lets Talk

Let’s Talk | Using a Commonplace Book

Let's TalkHello and welcome to my post where I am sharing my reading notebook and I would love to hear your thoughts! So, a few months ago I came across the idea of a commonplace book while researching different note taking methods on youtube. I came across Amy Landino’s video, which I will link to below and went from there. As someone who loves note taking, notebooks, and the link I am honestly surprised that I have not heard about this sooner. A commonplace book is defined as…

Commonplace Book  – source: Lexico powered by Oxford

NOUN

  • A book into which notable extracts from other works are copied for personal use.


What is a Commonplace Book and What Method I am Using?

Now, there are many ways to organized a commonplace book, some people use notecards and a series of boxes or dividers, digitally create one, or use an old fashioned notebook. I feel like the method you use really comes down to your personality and why you are using it. From the light research I have done, I see a lot of authors using the notecard system, if you want to check that version out, I suggest starting out with Amy Landino video called My Box of Inspiration! How to Create a Commonplace Book. I have not watched any other videos by her or anything, but I felt like she did a wonderful job explaining her version of a commonplace book. Now, as for myself personally, I went for using an actual notebook.

There are a few reasons why I went with an actual notebook. The first being it is the most historically accurate and pays a bit of homage to the history of a commonplace book. This is not to say the other methods are less, I am just a huge history nerd. See, commonplace notebooks have actually be around for a very long time, they were very prominent during the Middle Ages and Renaissance periods (source, source) and a lot of them were almost like scrap books of information.  Just like actual scrap books, they really varied from person to person depending on their lives and interests. It is even featured in some literary works ranging by Virginia Woolf and can even apparently be found in A Series of Unfortunate Events.  (source). As someone who like historical stuff, I am used this in historical context of everything including the kitchen sink. A lot of people who use them now organize them based upon theme and honestly me organizing my months and such is more effective for me. I do not want to create sections in a notebook. Although if I ever do I feel like a travelers notebook would work wonders for that.

Now, that I rambled about the first reason, to be fair the biggest reason for me personally, here are the other two. I have a ton of notebooks. I love stationary so I have it laying around, but it brings me true joy when I actually use them. On top of that I feel like I absorb more when I physically write and then put things into my own words. I feel like this is something I personally can only accomplish with the notebook style. While a notecard system would have me writing, I wouldn’t really have room to reflect or put it into my own words. So, that is how I decided what method I was going to use and now onto the notebook itself and my experience.


My  Commonplace Notebook

Dark brown notebook with tan inserts, one is labeled common place book. Notebook is placed open on a color striped blanket.

So above is a picture of the notebook I will be using as my commonplace notebook. It is a A5 side travelers notebook with a beautiful brown fake leather cover. Inside I have a few dot grid inserts so I am free to format as I please. As some of you might know I am someone who loves bullet journaling and I have fallen in love with dot grid paper.


My Thoughts and Outcome

So, I have really enjoyed using a commonplace notebook. It has been great to keep all the random things such as quotes, ideas, and little tidbits. I have been using it on and off for about a month and half and I feel like it is really beneficial to have an outlet. While I have a bullet journal, I am more worried about keeping it neat and tidy. The coommonplace notebook I am free and happy to doodle, write, and more without having to worry.


Bonus: a bit ago another blogger I follow posted on the topic as well WHAT IS A COMMONPLACE BOOK & HOW TO USE IT

Do you have a way to organize your notes?

Do you use a commonplace book, maybe even without knowing it?

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Reviews

2020 Shakespeare Challenge | August

Hello and welcome another check in for my 2020 Shakespeare Challenge. If you would like to learn more you can look at my initial post called,  Blogmas | Goals | 2020 Shakespeare Challenge. This month I read The Comedy of Errors and errors there where!


This book is just a mixture of mess ups and miscommunication. It kinda reminded me of the exaggerated outcome of the telephone game, if you are familiar with that. The main aspect of this play is mistaken identity, which has been present in quite a few of his other plays that I have read this year. In this play in particular it it comes from not one, but two sets of twins and their loved ones having no idea who is who and let the mayhem begin.

I have to admit, that this is one of the better plays when it comes to mistaken identity. There were a few times where I giggled to myself while reading this, which is great because not a lot of his comedies have actually made me laugh or feel humor. Maybe I am finally getting Shakespeare’s sense of humor? Either way, without giving away too much, there is a lot of misunderstandings, surprises, and puns galore!

This review isn’t that long due to the fact that I feel like a lot of the humor would be removed from this play if it is really discussed as much as I normally do. I would rather you read it for yourself and truly get the laugh out of it than being ruined by my review. But, overall I think this is one of the better comedies as I said earlier. I think it is worth checking out if you like his other plays or even has not read any of his comedies before.


Next month I am reading another comedy by William Shakespeare called Much Ado About Nothing, I have heard a great deal about this one so I am excited!

What are your thoughts on this play?

What is your favorite play by Shakespeare?

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Reading Challenges

Challenge | One Week Reading Before Bed

challenges

So, the first half of may has been a reading mess. I only read 22 pages on May first and it is now May 10th and another page has not been read. Then I came across an old video of Ariel Bissett’s called “i tried reading before every day for a week’ and I was inspired to give it a go and maybe jumpstart my reading again.


The Video


Reading Journal May 10th-May 16th, 2020

5/10: 25 pages of Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen

5/11: 344 pages of Taming of the Shrew by William Shakespeare

5/12: 41 pages of Middlegame by Seanan McGuire

5/13: 30 pages of Middlegame by Seanan McGuire

5/14: 20 pages of Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen

5/15: 15 pages of Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen

5/16: 22 pages of mystery book


Reflection

So,  there are a few things I noticed throughout this process. First, I got back into the habit of reading and enjoying it. The main point of this was to help with me get back into reading. Like I said in the intro, this challenge came into being because I went a long time without reading that was not the cause of a slump. Well, I am happy to report I am reading constantly again. Plus, I wasn’t even feeling forced or pushed into reading, which I was a bit worried about if I am honest.

The second thing I noticed is I found I wanted to read at other points of the day as the challenge continued. At the start I didn’t have the urge to read throughout the day. But, since I was getting back into the habit and as I got closer to the end of this challenge, I would want to read in the afternoon and had to hold off. I feel like scheduling time to read or restricting when I can read, doesn’t fully work for me. Apparently my mood reading isn’t just restricted to what I want to read.

I think I am going to continue to make reading part of my nighttime routine. I enjoyed how relaxing and calming it was. Overall, I really had fun giving this a go. I love reading challenges and I would like to do more in the future. But, I think this one will have a bit of a lasting impression on me. I just need to make sure my nighttime reading is away from a screen and not read too late into the night.


Do you have a consistent reading habit?

Do you normally read a particular time of day

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Hauls & Unboxings

Read 5, Buy 1 | April 2020 Haul

Read 5, Buy 1

Hello and welcome to another check in for my Read 5, Buy 1 challenge. I am happy to report I did a lot better with my challenge this time around! The OWLs Readathon really pushed my reading, which was just wonderful plus a lot of fun. Without further delay, here is my progress of my challenge for April!


The Breakdown

They Will Drown in Their Mothers’ Tears by Johannes Anyuru

Macbeth by William Shakespeare

Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman

The Magician King by Lev Grossman

HausMagick: Transform Your Home with Witchcraft by Erica Feldmann

  • The Goddess Year by Skye Alexander

 

How to Read Literature by Terry Eagleton

Heart-Shaped Box by Joe Hill

The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater

Beach Read by Emily Henry

The Widow of Pale Harbor by Hester Fox

  • The Spendid and the Vile by Erik Larson

 

Girl, Woman, Other by Bernardine Evaristo

Salvation Station by Kathryn Schleich

Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas 

The Fiery Cross by Diana Gabaldon

  • 10 Minutes 38 Seconds in this Strange World by Elif Shafak

 


Extra Books

The Canary Keeper by Clare Carson, which was gifted by Adrianna from Romance Book Binge. I was so surprised to see this in my mailbox and was even more excited that I can now read this book. I have heard such great things and the description just sounds promising for me.


Overall, I did very well this month. I read quite a bit more than I usually do and being gifted a book and not buying too much really aided in my getting my TBR this month. This was a huge help because my birthday is in May and well,  always end up getting a few books so my TBR goes up without me doing any buying.


Are any of these books on your TBR?

What is the last book you added to your TBR?

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Hauls & Unboxings

Read 5, Buy 1 | January & February 2020

Read 5, Buy 1

Hello and welcome to a post that is a mixture of a bookhaul and a challenge update. This time I will be diving a bit into my Read 5, Buy 1 that has been going on so far this year. I will admit, this will not seem like much of a success, but I think it is.


  • Crime and Punishment
  • The Dutch House
  • Widow Weed and Weeping Veils
  • The Morrigan
  • Mythos
    • Quichotte
  • Farmhand 1
  • Farmhand 2
  • The Wicked King
  • A Midsummer Night’s Dream
  • Bonhoffer
    • The Magicians Trilogy
  • Where the Crawdad’s Sing
  • God Country
  • The Langoliers
  • Ducks, Newburyport
  • The Unhoneymooners
    • Prodigal Son
  • No One Is Too Small to Make a Difference
  • Little Children
  • The Starless Sea
  • Othello
  • Cujo
    • Blood of Elves

-All Books Added-

  • The Night Country by Melissa Albert – PreOrder before challenge started.
  • Prodigal Son by Dean Koontz – Buy 1
  • Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman
  • One Voice, Two Lives: From Auschwitz Prisoner to Airborne Trooper by David Wisnia – Bought before challenge started
  • Quichotte by Salman Rushdie, Buy 1

  • The Magicians Trilogy – Buy 1
  • Imaginary Friend – Broke Challenge for signed copy

Things in Jars by Jess Kidd – BOTM

The Sundown Motel by Simone St. James – BOTM

Blood of Elves by Andrzej Sapkowski – Buy 1

How to Read Literature by Terry Eagleton – Gift

They Will Drown in Their Mothers’ Tears by Johannes Anyuru – Gift

A Matter of Interpretation by Elizabeth  – Won in a giveaway


So, I would have to say overall I am doing pretty darn good. I only broke by Read 5, Buy 1 only once since my BOTM does not count or at least I am not counting it. I decided early on that I am only going to get one book box now, since I limited it to only one book I decided that my BOTM would be a pass. As for my gifts and won giveaway, I can’t really count that because I did not buy the books. Also, I am aware I am cheating a bit when I count a trilogy as one, but it was a single purchase and I am buddy reading the entire series with Reg and Jenna. I can’t not have the books.

As I said, overall I am feeling pretty well about this challenge, I have not been perfect about it, but I feel like my buying has certainly gone down and I am saving money and my owned and unread books are getting a bit more love and attention. If you want to see a list of all my owned and unread books, you can find that here: Bookish Luna’s Owned TBR Shelf.


Anyway, Out of all of these books, which one do you think I should read first?

What is the last book you added to your TBR?

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