Reading list 2016

New books: 13 (4,537 pages)

Tiffany Tsao, The Oddfits
Brandon Sanderson, Shadows of Self
Andy Weird, The Martian
Kazuo Ishiguro, The Buried Giant
Brandon Sanderson, Bands of Mourning
Margaret Atwood, The Heart Goes Last
Anthony Doer, All the Light We Cannot See
Alwyn Hamilton, Rebel of the Sands
David Flusfeder, John the Pupil
Patricia McKillip, The Bell at Sealey Head
John Grisham, The Last Juror
Jennifer Trafton, The Rise and Fall of Mount Majestic
Oliver Sacks, An Anthropologist On Mars

Previous years: 2015 | 2014 | 201320122011 | 2010 | 2009 | 2008 | 2007 | 2006 | 2005 | 2004

Reading list 2014

New books: 16 ( 6,376 pages )

Ina Taylor, The Edwardian Lady
Uwem Akpan, Say You’re One of Them
Brandon Mull, Beyonders: Chasing the Prophecy
Diana Peterfreund, For Darkness Show the Stars
Brandon Sanderson, Beyond Elysium / Firstborn
Brandon Sanderson, Alloy of Law
Brandon Sanderson, Words of Radiance
Brandon Sanderson, The Rithmatist
James Dashner, The Maze Runner
John Green, The Fault in Our Stars
Sam Kean, The Tale of the Deuling Neurosurgeons
Nicholas Evans, Dying Words
Young-ha Kim, Your Republic is Calling You
Kate Danley, The Woodcutter
Robin Hobb, Assassin’s Apprentice
James Joyce, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man

Previous years: 201320122011 | 2010 | 2009 | 2008 | 2007 | 2006 | 2005 | 2004

Dreams and great fiction

Only once in my life have I had the slightest impression, during a dream, that I was dreaming. Jarom, on the other hand, always – or nearly always – knows he’s dreaming (known as lucid dreams). One of my friends even has a “pause” feature in her dreams when something doesn’t line up with reality, so she can explain to herself that it’s ok in a dream.

I, on the other hand, have incredibly vivid dreams in which I am completely immersed. For me they are reality while I’m dreaming. Sometimes this is not so great; as a kid and even for the first few years after I got married, I’d dream that there were spiders or bugs in my bed and wake up (partly – enough to scream and thoroughly freak out) to get away. Other times my day is colored by the feeling of my dream.

Until recently I felt guilty for being so strongly impacted by dreams. When I’m awake I know they aren’t real, and realize that many of the elements just didn’t make sense, and yet I was getting wistful and a little disappointed that the dream didn’t continue. I wanted to experience the rest of the story.

Then it occurred to me that the way I feel during a dream is similar to the way I feel when reading a really great book for the first time. Good examples for me are The Name of the Wind and Inkheart, both of which I read without stopping on fantastically enjoyable late nights. Even though I love rereading these books, there’s nothing quite like the first read – getting to know the characters and watch the story unfold. Although in an especially good book, it seems more like participating in the story than watching it.

Aha! That’s what my dreams are like. They are new stories I’m participating in for the first time. There are repeating elements, of course, but this only lends to the sensation that all of my dreams are simply chapters in a very large book, and they are related to a single overarching plot. By my estimate, until about 2010, 1 in every 5 of my dreams took place in the ballet studio I danced in growing up. Given how much time I spent there, it makes sense that so many of my dreams used it as a setting. Even in the past few months I’ve dreamed I was back at the studio – this time as an adult, awkwardly trying to resume dancing after so many years. High school is another frequent setting, although here again I am cast as an adult – married! – finishing a few high school classes after graduating college and having kids. My identity as a college graduate, wife, and mother always plays into these dreams, as does a theme of having forgotten about a class I was taking (usually calculus or AP physics). I also often dream I’m in a large grocery store, a combination of Costco and my local supermarket, and there is drama of varying sorts. Interestingly, Evan and June rarely show up in my dreams (so far), but Jarom has been a frequent character for the past . . . 14 years.

Last night I dreamt that one of my friends was setting up a practice as a dentist, that I had a puppy named Mel, and that I helped host a dinner party which somehow involved watercolors. These are just a few basic elements of the dream, of course; the plot isn’t there – only some facts that provide a sort of framework for the actual story.

Having realized why I enjoy dreaming so much, I don’t feel quite so guilty about being grouchy when someone wakes me up right in the middle of a fascinating dream.

What do you dream about?

The Sorting Hat

I can’t be the only one who does this, right?

Jarom and I love to play Sorting Hat – which is, to figure out which Hogwarts house our friends and family would be sorted into. It’s best if you make an initial sorting when you first meet someone and then revisit your guess once you’ve gotten to know them better.

Recently I started reading Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone to Evan at bedtime. June was jealous so I’m also reading it to her, separately. Today I’m working on a crochet project while I watch the first Harry Potter movie.

My own assessment of myself is that I’d be in Ravenclaw. On days when I feel blah, I tell Jarom I’d definitely be in Hufflepuff, but he says I’m clever enough to be Ravenclaw. And good company there with Luna, right?

Where do you put yourself? Do you agree that I’d be Ravenclaw?

Reading list 2013

New books: 29 ( 10,247 pgs ) 

Longest book: The Way of Kings (1008 pgs)
Shortest book: Legion (88 pgs)
Oldest book: Pollyanna (1913)
Newest book: Spark: A Creative Anthology, Volume III (November 2013)
Best book: tie – The Hobbit / The Graveyard Book
Best children’s/YA book: Genesis
Worst book: The Ghosts of Varner Creek
Most disappointing book: Angela’s Ashes

Hilari Bell, The Last Knight
Mark Dunn, Ella Minnow Pea
P.A. Moore, Courthouse Cowboys
J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit
Robin Sloan, Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore
Frank McCourt, Angela’s Ashes
Ben Winters, The Last Policeman
Michael Weems, The Ghosts of Varner Creek
Kathleen Ernst, Old World Murder
Brandon Sanderson, The Way of Kings
Brandon Sanderson, Warbreaker
Brandon Sanderson, Legion
Eleanor Porter, Pollyanna
Neil Gaiman, The Graveyard Book
Orson Scott Card, Speaker for the Dead
Bernard Beckett, Genesis
Therese Walsh, The Last Will of Moira Leahy
Orson Scott Card, Shadow of the Hegemon
Brandon Sanderson, Steelheart
Emily Arsenault, The Broken Teaglass
Paulo Coelho, The Devil and Miss Prym
John Grisham, The Firm
John Grisham, The King of Torts
John Grisham, The Partner
John Grisham, The Runaway Jury
John Grisham, The Summons
Brian Lewis, ed., Spark: A Creative Anthology, Volume I
Brian Lewis, ed., Spark: A Creative Anthology, Volume II
Brian Lewis, ed., Spark: A Creative Anthology, Volume III

Previous years: 20122011 | 2010 | 2009 | 2008 | 2007 | 2006 | 2005 | 2004


Last week I decided I wanted some more direction with what books I read. Remember I keep track of my reading with a really great spreadsheet? And a lot of years, I’ve set specific goals – sometimes the number of books I read or the total number of pages I read between January 1 and December 31. Once I read 26 books, each with an author whose last name started with a different letter of the alphabet. Last year it was just nice to be done with school (finally!) and have a chance to pick my own books, so I didn’t challenge myself.

I got carried away last week, though. I started by finding a few title challenges, where you have to read a book with a number in the title or something you’d see in the sky (airplane, sun, comet, parachute). I ended up with four or five of those challenges, at six requirements apiece, and dumped them all into a big list. Then I decided I’d combine that with an alphabetical title challenge – 26 books, with titles like Angela’s Ashes and The Broken Teaglass. I allowed overlap between these two lists: I could count The Broken Teaglass for both the alphabetical challenge (the letter B) and the keyword challenge (something you’d find in the kitchen).

But no, this wasn’t enough. On top of that, I added an alphabetical surname challenge like I did a few years ago, but made a rule that there couldn’t be any overlap between the two alphabetical lists. So I wouldn’t be able to count Emily Arsenault, author of The Broken Teaglass, for the letter A in my author list because I’d already counted the book for the letter B in my title list.

It gets better. I’ve now been keeping a spreadsheet of my yearly reading since 2004 and decided to set some milestone goals as well: 120,000 total pages read in the past 10 years, and 400 total new books read in the same time. My current numbers are 115,969 pages and 390 books, so this is doable.

Well . . . I should say, it would be doable if that were my only goal for the rest of the year. All of these challenges together, though – pretty overwhelming. I do still have to be a responsible parent and sleep and stuff like that.

My solution: make it a before-I-turn-30 goal. It gives me until next July, which is much more realistic, and it seems more monumental. Monumentaler, if you will. I’ve already picked out all the remaining books I need to complete these challenges, except one with a party or celebration in the title. Can you think of a good book that could fill this requirement? Let me know in the comments!

Reading list 2012

New books: 40 ( 15,328 pgs ) 

Longest book: The Wise Man’s Fear (994 pgs)
Shortest book: Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (160 pgs)
Oldest book: Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (1964)
Newest book: Ruins (October 2012)
Best book: tie – Mistborn / The Name of the Wind
Best children’s/YA book: Walk Two Moons
Worst book: Our Tragic Universe
Most disappointing book: The Flame Alphabet

Kira Salak, The White Mary
Neil Gaiman, Stardust
Sunshine O’Donnell, Open Me
Joshua Ferris, The Unnamed
Michael Scott, The Alchemyst
Roald Dahl, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
Veronica Roth, Divergent
Chris Van Allsburg, The Chronicles of Harris Burdick
Alan Bradley, The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie
Ann Aguirre, Enclave
Roy F. Baumeister and John Tierney, Willpower
Lisa McMann, The Unwanteds
Sheridan Hay, The Secret of Lost Things
Susan Beth Pfeffer, Life As We Knew It
Brandon Sanderson, Mistborn
Brandon Sanderson, The Well of Ascension
Brandon Sanderson, The Hero of Ages
Jon Ronson, The Psychopath Test
Amy Stewart, Wicked Plants
The Arbinger Institute, Leadership and Self-Deception
Tony Hillerman, Listening Woman
Tony Hillerman, The Dark Wind
Ally Condie, Matched
Tony Hillerman, The First Eagle
Douglas Richards, Wired
Patrick Rothfuss, The Name of the Wind
Brian Jacques, Taggerung
Ransom Riggs, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children
Pittacus Lore, I Am Number Four
Ben Marcus, The Flame Alphabet
Scarlett Thomas, Our Tragic Universe
Brandon Sanderson, Elantris
John Grisham, The Litigators
John Grisham, The Associate
John Grisham, The Appeal
Patrick Rothfuss, The Wise Man’s Fear
David Levithan, Every Day
Sharon Creech, Walk Two Moons
Orson Scott Card, Ruins
Brandon Sanderson, The Emperor’s Soul

Previous years: 2011 | 2010 | 2009 | 2008 | 2007 | 2006 | 2005 | 2004