Friday, September 30, 2016

September Wrap-Up

September has been a crazy month. In case you missed me completely obsessing over it for the past few months, I moved into college at the beginning of the month! I'm starting my first year at Smith, and so far, I love it. I have a lot less time to read (at least for leisure), but I'm sure that when I get better at balancing things, I'll get more time.

I'm really excited about all of my classes - I have America in 1925, Introductory Logic: Valid and Invalid Reasoning, Elementary Modern Hebrew, What I Found in the Archives, and a running class to make sure that I don't spend all of my free time sitting on the couch. I have more homework than I'm used to - especially more reading - but I'm spending so much less time in class that it's been really manageable so far.

A few days ago, the temperature dropped about 20 degrees, which means I'm actually experiencing seasons for the first time in my life! I'm very excited. It's already pretty much as cold as it ever gets where I live, so it'll definitely take some getting used to, but I think I'm up for that.

As for blogging news, I've gotten a lot better at planning and scheduling posts! I made a goal of having a post every Tuesday and every Friday, and I think I only missed one this month. There was one point where I actually had posts scheduled two entire weeks in advance, which felt pretty incredible.

This is going to be a much shorter reading wrap-up than usual. I can't remember the last time that I've read this little.


DAVE BARRY TALKS BACK by Dave Barry: So this was also on my wrap-up last month. I still haven't decided whether I'm going to go back and edit that yet. I thought I was going to finish it on August 31, so I put it in there in advance, but then I finished it the next day instead. It was a really nice break - it's been too long since I've read a Dave Barry book. They always make me laugh!

IRON CAST by Destiny Soria: This book comes out next month, and you need to get it. It has pretty much everything - action-packed plot, great characters, intriguing story. If you want to hear more about it, you can read my spoiler-free review here.

IN OUR TIME by Ernest Hemingway: This is my first required reading for class (America in 1925). I really liked the first few stories, but the later ones didn't capture my interest at all. And even with the stories I liked, I had so many mixed feelings. ½

IT LOOKS LIKE THIS by Rafi Mittlefehldt: I have so many complicated feelings about this book, so I think I'm going to do a combined review of this and discussion about queer books in general. Look out for that in the next few weeks.

  • LONGEST BOOK: Iron Cast, 384 pages 
  • SHORTEST BOOK: In Our Time, 156 pages
  • FAVORITE BOOK: Iron Cast
  • DIVERSE READS: 2 (Iron Cast, It Looks Like This)
  • NONFICTION: 1 (Dave Barry Talks Back)

How was your month? What was your favorite book you read? Tell me in the comments!

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Ten Books on My Fall TBR

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature at The Broke and the Bookish. This week's theme: top ten books on your fall TBR.
I'm not usually a big fan of TBRs. I pretty much never stick to them, so I just don't see the point. But since I started college, I've been reading a lot less than before - besides required reading, I think I've read about 100 pages in three weeks. So I think it's probably a good idea for me to prioritize what I want to read.

I also have to give a shout-out to the book club that I'll (hopefully) start participating in this fall - Austentatious! We're reading a different Jane Austen book every month until January. I didn't participate in August, because I'd already reread Pride & Prejudice recently, and I'm thinking I might have to skip September's reread of Persuasion, too. But starting next month, it's all books I haven't read yet, and I'm really going to try and do those!

Books that have been released already:

SHADOW AND BONE by Leigh Bardugo (Grisha Trilogy #1): This is getting ridiculous. I'm already the last person in the world to read this trilogy, and I told myself that I'd catch up before Crooked Kingdom's release - which, incidentally, is today. And I still haven't even started this book. This is probably the one I'm most ashamed of, but I'm going to get to it.

WHAT WE LEFT BEHIND by Robin Talley: I have no clue why I didn't get to this last fall. I read Lies We Tell Ourselves as soon as I could get my hands on it, and I loved it, and I promised myself that I'd read all future Robin Talley books as soon as I could. That didn't happen. But I'll read it soon!

A DARKER SHADE OF MAGIC by V.E. Schwab (Shades of Magic #1): I've been hearing good things about this book from so many people for so long, and I've really wanted to read it. I really want to read it! And I finally got myself a copy, so now I have no reason not to.

AS I DESCENDED by Robin Talley: I am so amazingly excited about this book, and I can't believe that I have a copy right now because I've been looking forward to it for so long that it being here doesn't actually feel real. I think I'm going to put this off a tiny bit longer, since it sounds like a perfect Halloween book. 

EMPIRE OF STORMS by Sarah J. Maas (Throne of Glass #5): This is actually what I'm reading right now, but I'm going to count it on the TBR anyway because there are still so many pages left. I really need to get on this one - I'm not going to be able to avoid spoilers forever! 

Books that are being released today or haven't been released yet:

LIKE A RIVER GLORIOUS by Rae Carson (Gold Seer Trilogy #2): Happy book birthday to this one! I absolutely loved the first book in this series, and I'm so excited to see where this is going. It has so much potential! I really have no idea what's going to happen, but I'm excited for it anyway.

BLOOD FOR BLOOD by Ryan Graudin (Wolf by Wolf #2): I've probably said this about a million times by now, but I can't believe that I almost didn't read Wolf by Wolf. I wasn't sure whether I would like it, and it ended up being one of my favorite books of this year! It kept me on the edge of my seat the whole time. I'm pretty sure this book is going to destroy me, but I need it.

A MILLION WORLDS WITH YOU by Claudia Gray (Firebird #3): The Firebird trilogy is one of my favorite ongoing series, and I can't believe it's coming to an end! I'm not ready to say goodbye to this world (these worlds?) yet, but that's not going to stop me reading it as soon as I possibly can.

GEMINA by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff (Illuminae Files #2): Illuminae was another unexpectedly amazing book this year, so I'm really excited for the story to continue! This will also be really good when I don't have a lot of time because of the unique format. I'll be able to fly through a giant book and feel accomplished!

MARIAN by Ella Lyons: This book has my name on it. It's a retelling of Robin Hood, but with queer ladies. I really don't think I need to say anything else.

What are your most anticipated reads this fall? Do you have less time to read in the fall, like I do? How do you balance things? Tell me in the comments!

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Why Do We Read Classics?

First things first: I know that there are thousands of people, from book bloggers to literary critics, who have written about this topic before. I wasn't inspired by any particular one of them, but it's a common topic that I happen to have a lot to say about. And because of that, I'm probably just going to be rambling here.

There are billions of lists entitled something like "X Books Everyone Should Read in Their Lifetime," with X being any number from 5 to 1,001. (And probably more than that,t those are the really intimidating ones. And most of the books on these lists are "classics," a term that no one can ever quite define beyond the basics of a) lots of people have read it and b) it was probably published a long time ago. Classics has become a genre of its own, uniting books as different as Animal Farm, The Iliad, and Persuasion.

So why are these lists so popular? Why do we read classics? I've come up with a few possibilities that I think are fairly common, though they in no way represent the full spectrum of reasons that people read classics.
  • These are classics, so I should read them. This is who I used to be - reading classics for the sake of reading classics.
  • Classics are so deeply set into culture that I should read them to figure out other references. I think this one might be more for movies than books, but classic books are referenced in so many newer books - and so many other things - that reading the original can give you a new appreciation for a lot of things. And that's not even counting retellings.
  • I'm being required to read this book for school. For this one, all I can do is apologize and hope you're getting some enjoyment out of it.
A while ago, I lived by those reading lists. I didn't read a huge number of classics (and I still don't read all that many), but I always had the idea that someday, I'd cross all the books off of all of those lists and read all the classics that ever existed. It wasn't until about a year ago that I stopped to ask myself why that was so important to me.

There is no single genre that I can look at and honestly say: "I want to read all the books." Not even weirdly specific ones like dark young adult American historical fiction, although that's probably the one that comes closest. So why would I do this with classics, which have a lot less in common than books in other genres?

A number of unfortunate experiences with required reading in school had already taught me that I wouldn't like every classic I read (*cough*Death of a Salesman*cough*). But then how would I decide which ones to read? And then, a solution: why not judge them like any other book?

There are a few things that I usually take into consideration when deciding whether or not to read a book, and they all apply to classics:
  • The blurb. This is probably the most important part. If a blurb catches my interest, I'm going to want to read the book and find out more.
  • The author. From Jane Austen to Sarah Dessen: if I like one book by an author, I'm probably going to want to read more.
  • The hype: Classics do have a bit of an unfair advantage in this category, since they've had decades longer to build up the hype, but if lots of people I know and trust are giving any book, classic or otherwise, good reviews, I'm a lot more likely to pick it up.
I'm personally quite happy with my current method of picking classics, and while it has reduced the number on my list, I still have quite a few to go. I'll probably make a post soon about classics that I want to read.
    There is no right or wrong reason to read classics, only reasons that are right or wrong for individual people. Reading classics for the sake of reading classics was wrong for me. But now, I've found a way that works.

    Why do you read classics? What are some of your favorites? Have you ever made your reading plans to fit a book list? Tell me in the comments!