My 2021 Hugo Awards Challenge

My 2021 Hugo Awards Challenge

It’s that time of year again where the flowers start to bloom on the trees and the Hugo Award nominees are announced. Out of all the bookish awards that exist in the world, the Hugo’s are one of my favorites because of the way they celebrate SFF authors and writing throughout the year.

Last year, I challenged myself to read the books within the novel and novella categories. It was tough especially given the short timeline, but I made it through. It was also a year of bad mental health, so while I did read those books and thoroughly enjoyed every one, I still struggled with reading through the entire list.

This year, I decided to challenge myself with three specific categories; novels, novellas, and the Lodestar Award for Best Young Adult Book. Because I love both adult and YA SFF, I couldn’t resist the books in all three of these categories. Luckily for me, the awards have been postponed to December due to the pandemic, so there’s plenty of time (like the rest of the year) to read them and pick out my favorites.

Of course, I’ll be sharing my picks for the awards once I’ve read all the books. Last year, I didn’t do so well with my picks but this year, I have a feeling I get the process better and want to see if I can at least nail one category.

Here’s the plan: From June 2021 – October 2021, I will be reading all the books I haven’t read yet from each of these categories plus any books I’ll need to read beforehand. Many of the books in this year’s nominees are continuations of series already in progress. As much as I want to be the person who reads a series book out of order, I’m not. I must read all for the context! Thank God for the extended date!

Here’s the books in the categories I’ll reading (from the Hugo Awards website):

I’m actually on top of my reading this year and have read three of the six books on this list. Black Sun, The City We Became, Harrow the Ninth. The books I’ll need to read from the Best Novel category will be: Network Effect by Martha Wells, Piranesi by Susanna Clarke, and The Relentless Moon by Mary Robinette Kowal.

The novella category is my least read category. Out of the books, I’ve only read Riot Baby by Tochi Onyebuchi. I’ll need to read Come Tumbling Down by Seanan McGuire, The Empress of Salt and Fortune by Nghi Vo, Finna by Nino Cipri, Ring Shout by P Djeli Clark, and Upright Women Wanted by Sarah Gailey.

Similar to the novels category, I’ve read half the Lodestar Award for Best Young Adult Book category. I finished Cemetery Boys by Aiden Thomas and Legendborn by Tracey Deonn. I DNF’d A Deadly Education by Naomi Novik, so I won’t be trying to read that one again. I’m just not a fan of her writing! I’ve tried three books of hers and they never work for me.

That leaves Raybearer by Jordan Ifueko, Elatsoe by Darcie Little Badger, and A Wizard’s Guide to Defensive Baking by T Kingfisher

On top of that, I wanted to catch up on the ongoing series that I want to read ahead of the nominated books. While I know this isn’t necessary and these books could probably be read out of order, I’m the type of person that needs to do things in the order they came. So here’s what I’ll need to read beforehand:

  • Artificial Condition by Martha Wells
  • Rogue Protocol by Martha Wells
  • The Calculating Stars by Mary Robinette Kowal
  • The Fated Sky by Mary Robinette Kowal
  • Exit Strategy by Martha Wells

It’s a lot of reading, but again there’s a huge lead time and a summer of reading whatever I want. I’m excited to get into these stories, share my thoughts with you, and host my little award show via text later in the year. Will you be reading the Hugo Awards this year?

Seven Reading Challenges to Fuel Your 2019 Reading Life

Seven Reading Challenges to Fuel Your 2019 Reading Life

I love a new year. New years always means new resolutions and while I have my own list of reading goals, I know some of you might be looking for something for yourself. I love that word, “challenge.” It means that you’re taking your regular life and trying to add more to it. It could be a new routine. It could be a different approach to what you’ve been doing. It could mean anything, but what it definitely means is standing outside of your comfort zone.

I love a good challenge and with that in mind, I put together a quick list of some reading challenges I found online. A few live on their own while others are within the Bookstagram community. I hope you find something that works for you!

The Reading Women Reading Challenge

As you can imagine, this reading challenge focuses on one overarching point; read more women. This challenge is great because it doesn’t just challenge you to read women, but it also challenges you to read diversely. I’m always up for challenges like this and while I won’t be participating in this one, if you love reading diversely and you love reading female authors, then you’ll love to follow along and try your hand.

The Guy With the Book’s #BetterReadsChallenge

Out of all the challenges, this is probably both the easiest and the hardest challenge to do. Instagrammer, @theguywiththebook, decided that this year he would read every single day. For some people, this isn’t an easy task. We all have busy lives with a lot of stuff going on and reading may have to take a back seat every once in a while. However, Faroukh challenges all of us to read every day. It doesn’t have to be all day and it doesn’t have to be an hour. He just challenges you to pick up that book and read it.

Book Riot’s Read Harder Challenge

I love the read harder challenge because it really makes you read harder. If you’re the type looking to change up your reading life this year, then definitely try this one. It’ll get you out of your comfort zone and help you discover more enjoyable reads.

Modern Mrs. Darcy’s Reading Challenge

If you’re looking for something on the easier side when it comes to challenges, I think Anne Bogel’s reading challenge for 2019 might be the one for you. It’s challenging yes, but in comparison to some of the others listed here, it feels a little bit more geared towards your own reading choices. You can easily find novels in your own collection or brand new ones at the store that fit into any of those categories. I think this is perfect for someone who wants to challenge themselves for the first time this year. No shame in that game!

The Unread Shelf’s Reading Challenge

I loved when Whitney from @theunreadshelf came up with this challenge last year and this year she’s continuing her challenge. Out of all the challenges, this is the one that’s most intriguing to me (and mostly because my unread bookshelves are bigger than my read ones). This year, you’ve got monthly prompts already set up for you and the challenge is to read what you already own. I’m very much into this idea and I’ve already started this challenge by adding two books from my backlist bookshelf to my monthly TBR. Also, I’ve got my own book club dedicated to reading books published before the current year. It’s going to be a blast to see how much shelf space I can make with this one.

Popsugar’s Reading Challenge

I discovered this challenge this year too and oh my gosh, I’m in lurve. Not only are the books on this list fun, but it challenges you to read based on aesthetics. Read a book with a plant on the cover! I mean, that could be anything. I think what Popsugar offers here is a fun reading experience. It’s not about improving your reading life or expanding your worldview. It’s about enjoying reading and challenging yourself in a different way. I might just follow these every once in a while to change up my reading life!

Goodreads Reading Challenge

The old tried and true reading challenge. Perhaps you’re not interested in upping your reading game. Perhaps the challenge for you this year is to read as much as you can. So for those folks, the Goodreads Reading Challenge is right for you. Just set the number of books you want to read this year and then do it. Read those books! But make sure to give yourself space and don’t worry if you can’t hit that goal at the end of the year. We’ve always got next year.

 

Why I’m Not Reaching My Goal of 100 Books Read This Year

Why I’m Not Reaching My Goal of 100 Books Read This Year

The other day, I took a look at my Goodreads Reading Challenge and I noticed that I’m eight books away from hitting 100 books this year. Wow.

I’m honestly surprised and happy for myself. I started off the year with a goal of 50. When I hit that goal, I bumped it up to 75. When I got that, I thought “eh, why not go for it,” and increased it one more time to 100.

I’ve never read 100 books in a year. I think it honestly took me three years to read 100 books. And with working from home part-time, I’ve had a lot of free time to read more books.

But now I’m down to the wire. I’m eight books away from the end and I’ve got a real truth bomb for you; I’m not going to read 100 books this year.

Now that we’re down to the end of the year, I’m feeling more lazy. It’s because it’s the holiday season and unlike most shopping outlets, I’m not in a mad rush to finish the year with as many books as I can. I like to end my year with a fizzle and enjoy my time with my family and friends.

If I started my year with the challenge of reading 100 books, then I would have approached it more strategically. I would have figured out the math on how many books I had to read in a month, every month, to actually make it to 100 without burning out. I would have planned my books better as well. But this year felt like a year of experiments and reading 100 books was one of them.

But I didn’t start my year off like that and I honestly don’t feel like cramming eight books into the last 15 days of the year. I think I want to spend my time with my friends and playing games and enjoying the holiday season than be cramped in my room reading because I felt obligated to finish 100 books.

And that’s the rub. Sometimes we set these goals for ourselves and we suddenly think that it’s a top secret mission. We have to read these books. We must. But the truth is that we don’t have to. It’s the reason why so many people leave their Goodreads Reading Challenge to one book in the year. They don’t want to be forcing books into their reading when they don’t want to.

So maybe next year I’ll read 100 books. I’ll plan it out so that I can finish evenly, feel less stress, and enjoy my reading life.

I Just Finished a #24in48 Readathon, Failed Miserably, And Moved On

I Just Finished a #24in48 Readathon, Failed Miserably, And Moved On

There’s no sense in crying over spilled hours not spent reading. – me

Over the weekend, I participated in a #24in48 challenge on Bookstagram. To give you some background on what that is, it’s a reading challenge to read for 24 hours within 48 hours. It’s run by the people at @24in48 and usually over a weekend. The objective is to drop everything you’re doing, stop adulting, and just freaking read! There’s also other challenges throughout the year, but this one is the biggie.

Of course this is a tough challenge because no matter how you slice it. It’s tough to read for 12 hours in a day. But I decided to challenge myself this weekend and sit on my tush for 24 hours and read books. Here’s how it went:

Continue reading “I Just Finished a #24in48 Readathon, Failed Miserably, And Moved On”

Six Great Reading Challenges for 2018

Six Great Reading Challenges for 2018

I don’t really have any resolutions for myself this year, but many of the goals I have are book based and meant to help expand my bookish horizons. I want to read more books by authors of color. I want to read more books about muslim and middle eastern people. I want to read more non-fiction. I did some analysis of what I read last year and made these goals for myself.

However, for some people, they want to feel even more challenged or challenge themselves for the first time. Maybe it’s finally picking up a book and reading one for the year. Maybe it’s reading 100 books in a year. As book readers, we challenge ourselves daily with what we want to read next. Give me something good to read, as I like to say.

Luckily for those who aren’t sure how they’d like to approach reading this year, book challenges exist for this very cause. I’m not the type of person to create challenges for other people to follow, but I’ve put together a list of some great reading challenges I found on the Internet.

Some of them are hosted by bigger well-known companies. Others are hosted by bookstagrammers like myself who just want to spread the good word. You can pick and choose whichever you want. I know that I’ll be trying my hand at a few to help my ever-growing need to expand my thinking, so don’t feel the pressure to stick with those you choose. These are just worth trying and there’s no shame in quitting if you can’t quite do them. We all know life throws us some nasty curveballs every once in a while.

For readers who want to read a few books this year

The best bet is to go with a simple challenge; give yourself a number of books to read this year and read it. This is a great challenge for those who love to read, but can’t find the time to do it. Goodreads is a great place to start your challenge! I’ve been using Goodreads for quite some years now and it’s been great to record what I’ve read, share with others, and challenge myself to read more. If you’re just starting out, this might be the perfect place to start. You can also find me there at simoneandherbooks.

For readers who want to read even harder

One challenge that I’m setting myself to do this year is the Book Riot Read Harder Challenge. Book Riot has put together 24 prompts for you to follow throughout the year. It’s designed for you to choose two prompts per month. You don’t have to do them in order and you can double up on a few if you’d like. The challenge here is to take what you’ve been reading and take it to the next step. Try your hand on this one if you’re like me and love to expand your thinking.

For readers who own way too many unread books

I came across The Unread Shelf Project on Instagram as a way to challenge yourself to read the books on your TBR. We’re all culprits of buying way too many books and we end up spending years trying to get through the backlog. The ladies at @theunreadshelf@katereadsbooks, and @calsreads have decided to take this challenge head on. You can find more about this challenge by checking out their Instagram hashtag #theunreadshelfproject2018. As Whitney says in her first post, it’s not about shaming yourself for not reading these books. It’s about slowing down and reading what you have. I think I could probably participate in this one as well!

For readers who want to read more diversely

I know I have some goals for myself when it comes to diverse reads, but I also know that Sara-Jayne over at @bookish.harpy has decided to create a unique challenge. Her #harpiesreadtheworld will be themed prompts throughout the year. The challenge is to read books within those themes. That’s it! However, the themes SJ chose will be a little tougher than just reading more stories written by POC. I’ve already got a few books down for the three prompts and I hope I can keep up with them during this busy January!

For readers who never read Harry Potter

This is a great one! I’ve read Harry Potter twice in my life, but because of my age and the age of some of my bookish friends that option came a little late for them. So, Maggie at @mugandnook decided to create a challenge of reading Harry Potter throughout the year. She’s put together a plan for pacing out all seven books throughout the year, but if you’re like me, you might want to read them all at once. As she described it, this is for anyone who wants to read or reread Harry Potter. It’s more of a buddy read than a challenge, but you can follow along at #harreadpotter for more discussions and sharing.

For readers who love to photograph their reads

Calling all bookstagrammers! If you’re just starting out as a book influencer on Instagram, then this challenge will help you get started. The lovely ladies at @theardentbiblio will be hosting photo prompts each month. The task is easy; take photos of books based on what the prompt says and post it on that day. This is a great way to ease yourself into taking bookish photos for yourself or for others! Who knows, maybe you’ll be an influencer with that sick #instalife.

My January 2018 TBR

With all this talk of resolutions, I forgot to post what I’ll be reading this month. I’ve basically themed this month as “get your act together” month. This means reading those ARCs that have been sitting on my desk for months and clearing out some books before they’re released. That’s mostly what was going through my mind when I was deciding what books I wanted to read.

For the first half of the year, I think I’m going to be doing a mix of books I want to read and books I need to read. Not everything is about work, but sometimes it can be so throwing in a few books that engage me will help break up the stuff that needs a review. Here’s a breakdown of all the books I will be reading in January!

This might look like a formidable list of books, but I’ve got a lot of time to read now with my new job and will definitely taking advantage of it. I know that my “need-to-read” books will take precedent over my “want-to-read” books, so fingers crossed for me that I get to read everything I wanted.

What does your TBR look like this month?

How to become a reader

screen-shot-2016-10-27-at-11-57-39-amI was thinking about this over the weekend while visiting my boyfriend’s family. His sister has three kids under the age of three, which makes life a little more challenging. While talking with her, she asked me for some book recommendations. “I just have these times when I read a bunch of books at once and then stop reading for a while.”

I thought that was great and proceeded to provide her with a few of my favorite books from over the summer. But our conversation made me think a little bit about readers and reading. What constitutes a good reader?

Do you need to have a bookshelf overflowing with books?

Do you have to carry a book with you everywhere you go?

What does it mean to be a reader? How can you become a reader?

Some people believe readers are intellectual people who mutter random quotes at you and tries to find the metaphor in everything they do. They read “hard books” like Proust or Faulkner or Tolstoy. However, I don’t like to see readers in that light. We’re not this exclusive club that you need to prove yourself by reading 80 books a year or written a dissertation on Barthes theory. If anything, we’re the most inclusive club you can join because every reader promotes reading to everyone everywhere.

It’s important for humans to read. There’s so many worlds and cultures and histories that you can learn from books that to not read is almost like holding yourself back from your fullest potential. It’s a disservice and even one book can break you from that shell you’re hiding in 😉

If you’re only reading a book every three or four months, that’s ok! We all have busy lives and different responsibilities. It doesn’t discount you from the readership. However, if you just can’t seem to get yourself into reading, here’s a few tips for you:

Read what you loved

Don’t go all crazy and try to read Jonathan Franzen right out the gate. You’ll end up burning out and giving up. Instead, read something that you’ve read before and you remember loving. Perhaps it’s a middle grade or children’s book, but that shouldn’t stop you. My favorite book growing up was The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis. When I first started reading more books, I started with this one because I remembered my enjoyment when reading it as a kid. Reading something you remember loving helps you find your groove. What was it about the book that you loved? What can you find in other books that follow that same line of thinking? It’s a good way to get that imagination revved and ready to read.

Find what works for you

Haters gonna hate like readers gonna read. Don’t worry about what the haters are going to say, just read for the love of reading. I never would have thought myself as the type of person to love reading romance and YA. Even silly books like Twilight and 50 Shades of Grey were enough inspiration for me to find similar or even better books than those. Yeah, these books get a lot of flack amongst other human beings (let alone the book community), but they’re books nonetheless and they sparked a readership in me that other books weren’t able to find. If you love romance novels, then love romance novels. If you love YA, then love YA. If you’re scared to read these genres out in public, get an e-reader. They’ll never know 😉

Challenge yourself

Now that you’ve gotten into the groove of reading, challenge yourself. See how long it takes you to read that book in your hand. Start a Goodreads account or even buy yourself a journal to not only keep track of what you’re reading, but also keep track of what you think. Books will do that even if you don’t want them to. They’ll make you think about things in a different way or see a different perspective.

Don’t get too caught up in the details of a character, but understand and appreciate who this character is and what they contribute to the story. Form some opinions around what you like to see when you read. Reading can almost mimic data analytics. If you’re a business person or work in operations like I do, then you’ll find patterns in the books you like. You’ll find the areas and traits that really grab hold of you and you can use that to help you to read even more.

And that’s it! Reading isn’t about how fast you can do it or how many books you can read. If you end up reading one book this year, that’s more than other people have in the last five years. If you love books, you’ll find yourself gravitating towards them. It’s like a love story. Some people have short bursts of relationships with books while others it’s a constant affair. There’s no judgments. Open your heart and read a little today!

So what do you believe makes you a reader?

Reasons why I started a book blog

And you may ask yourself
Well…How did I get here?

Lately, I’ve been thinking about why I started to blog about books. I’ve never done it before. Most of my blogs in the past were about petty teenager stuff; poems I’ve written about love interests that didn’t work out. But at some point early this year, I realized that I wanted a place where I can express my thoughts about books, about life, about the impact books have on my life.

I definitely know that I’m not blogging about books because I want to be rich and famous. Yes, I want to be rich and famous, but who doesn’t? I don’t think the approach would be to start a book blog. Let’s be honest, that’s probably the least successful way of getting rich and famous.

No, I started this blog because my brain is a garbage heap and I can’t remember plot points to books I’ve read.

I found this out last year when I challenged myself to read 60 books. On average, I could finish one book within a week (5-7 days for those doing the math). My challenge meant I would add an additional 8 books to my year. I figured that there would be some books that I finished within less than a week providing me the additional space to read more.

With my ambition came my downfall. While I was meeting the needs of my challenge, I was also forgetting what I was reading. I don’t remember much about the books that I did read. I was so enraptured in the thought that I will get behind my reading challenge that I didn’t remember what I read and what I didn’t read. It all blended together and even plots blended together. All I remember was what I liked and what I didn’t like, but I didn’t remember specific reasons why my opinions swayed one way or another.

It was most embarrassing when I was at intellectual friend’s party and people asked me “oh what did you think?” and all I can muster is “Uh…it was good!”

You want to say something cool about the book or note on an anecdote, but you can’t even remember the basic plot. You’ve got like these pseudo-intellectuals living in Brooklyn staring at you wondering if you have any thoughts about books.

That was when I decided that I needed to have a reading blog. It’s more than just journaling my thoughts about books, but it’s about being able to recall details from stories. It’s a brain dump, essentially. I’m trying to get out the most I can think about a book and in doing so somehow remember it? I don’t know, this worked in college.

I want to be a reading advocate and someone who’s bookish thoughts are listened to and considered important. I don’t want to be just some book critic with overhyped opinions inflated with intellectual language and not a lot of heart. I want what I read to invoke thoughts and my thoughts hopefully met by a like-minded audience. I’m not really doing this to find some fame or fortune, but just the opportunity to talk about books through social media.

So that’s why I started my blog. Books mean a lot to me, and I guess what I’m trying to say by having a blog is that I want to share their importance with you.

What are some reasons why you started your book blog?