Tag Archives: #killyourTBR2017

Sophia’s Bookish Monthly TBR – COMPLETE!

The Bookish Monthly TBR is the last of the three main challenges I took on this year – my second year in a row with no stragglers and the earliest finish yet: December 18th!  Last year I was reading challenge books up to December 28th, and in 2015 I didn’t even complete either challenge (more on that white whale in another post).  I have one book left to meet my Goodreads goal of 150, but a few hours of reading over the holiday weekend will take care of that no problem.  And with any luck, Bookish will release the 2018 TBR list in the next couple of days so I can get that spreadsheet up and running!  Here’s what I read for the second half of this year’s challenge:

Bookish First Half

July – Read a book about an overlooked figure in history.26030711

Rise of the Rocket Girls: The Women Who Propelled Us, from Missiles to the Moon to Mars

Nathalia Holt

I enjoyed reading The Girls of Atomic City by Denise Kiernan – a very different perspective on World War II, but a bit disjointed and not totally satisfying – so I was cautiously looking forward to Rocket Girls.  Fortunately, it did not disappoint.  It’s engaging and informative, with a sociable tone and accessible information on the technical aspects of rocket building.  It was fascinating to learn about the beginnings of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and impressive to see how many barriers the women who worked there faced and ultimately broke through.  These are stories that should be told and contributions that deserve to be recognized.  In this same vein, I plan on reading Margot Lee Shetterly’s Hidden Figures soon.

August – Read a collection of essays and short stories. 24611587

Slasher Girls & Monster Boys

April Genevieve Tucholke

This was a fun bunch of spooky stories.  As a whole the collection was fine – easy to read, some nice tension, and a few surprises, but nothing hugely impressive overall.  However, there were three very strong stories that were good enough for me to justify adding a full star to my Goodreads rating: In the Forest Dark and Deep by Carrie Ryan, which offered an extra gruesome version of a Wonderland tea party; Sleepless by Jay Kristoff, wherein Norman Bates uses the internet; and The Girl Without a Face by Marie Lu – you must have done *something* to provoke that ghost into haunting you.  I would consider purchasing a copy of this book just to be able to re-read these stories in particular.

September – Read an entire series.9317452

Rivers of London/Peter Grant, Books 1-6

Ben Aaronovitch

This was a whirlwind of an audiobook marathon: I blasted through all six books in about as many days right down to the wire, finishing the last one on September 29th.  I enjoyed each of them pretty much equally – this series is excellent fun and the audio narrator is fantastic.  The concept of ancient deities claiming guardianship of the various rivers in England combined with London’s blend of cultures and history provides a great foundation for something beyond your typical detective story.  A perfect blend of suspense, dry humor, and pop culture references, this series is definitely worth revisiting multiple times.

October – Read a book that scares you.18498558

Bird Box

Josh Malerman

Yeah, this book scared me.  It had me crawling right out of my skin.  And I try not to read scary things too soon before bed, but I NEEDED to know what happened next.  And then, I wasn’t able to fall asleep because I NEEDED to know how it ended.  So I stayed up way too late on a weeknight for the sake of avoiding disturbing dreams and finished it.  This book was too much of a good time to really analyze it critically – for avid horror readers it may be nothing new, but that doesn’t mean it’s not a nice, solid contribution to the genre.  It’s creepy and tense and stressful and compulsively readable.  Check it out.

November – Read a graphic novel or comic book.35631919

Rat Queens, Volume 4: High Fantasies

Kurtis J. Wiebe

I adore Rat Queens.  The first volume was awesome – what’s not to love about a scrappy, snarky, boozy band of lady mercenaries?  The subsequent volumes were still fun, but the Queens deserved better.  I’d heard that the comic was going on an indefinite hiatus, so I was surprised to see Volume 4 pop up in the library catalog.  It was nice catching up the ladies, but overall it felt like a limp attempt at a not totally necessary reboot.  Hopefully the series can find its stride again and return to the glory of volume 1.

December – Read a book about belief.17568801

Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth

Reza Aslan

I don’t practice any religion, and I haven’t spent much time studying the Bible, so I can’t react to this book from a spiritual or theological perspective.  But most of what I’ve learned about the Judeo-Christian tradition has been within the context of history as a whole, and from that perspective, this book is compelling.  Aslan takes the mythic figure of Jesus as presented by the Gospels and builds a more complete portrait of the man by describing him relative to the social and political realities of his time.  It’s fascinating to see him re-framed as a seditious revolutionary, whose words and actions were (and arguably still are, apparently) considered radical and dangerous to the general order of things.

Sophia’s Bookish Monthly TBR – Halfway!

This year I decided to add yet another reading challenge to my list, because there’s no such thing as too many challenges, right?!  Bookish.com created a list of monthly categories intended to help you clean out your TBR pile.  I’m officially at the halfway point, and so far it’s been a lot of fun!  I like the relaxed pace, and the tasks are just specific enough to get you thinking but not so much so that you feel the need to do any shoehorning.  Here are my books for the first 6 months:

27161156January – Read a book that supports your New Year’s resolution.

Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis

J.D. Vance

After the horror of our last presidential election, I decided I wanted to make more of an effort to understand how we as a nation arrived at this point.  To that end, I’ve been building a list of books focusing on regions, cultures, and experiences within the United States that are different from my own.  Hillbilly Elegy was the first step.  It’s an interesting memoir – Mamaw is by far the star of the narrative and I’d love to know more about her – but Vance’s social analysis was not as well-formed.  He was very fortunate to find himself on a path where his hard work did actually pay off, allowing him to boost himself out of the poverty that plagued his ancestors.  As a result, he can’t seem to help repeating that tired trope: the only people stuck in poverty are those who refuse to help themselves.  Poverty is far more complicated than that, and he comes across as condescending and judgmental towards anyone who doesn’t finish school or ‘settles’ for a lifetime of blue collar work.

18584855February – Read a love story.


Marissa Meyer

In this engaging prequel to Lewis Carroll’s classic stories, Meyer imagines how the decapitation-happy Queen of Hearts came to be the scourge of Wonderland.  This book swept me off my feet – I tore through all 453 pages in a single weekend.  Her vision of Wonderland expands on Carroll’s, including the use of familiar nursery rhymes.  It’s also shot through with references to Edgar Allan Poe’s The Raven, adding a sense of unease and lurking horror.  I really felt for Cath and her struggle with first love and trying to do right by her family’s expectations without sacrificing her dreams.  Knowing she ends up a raging, tyrannical monarch only compelled me to read faster so I could find out how she got there.

589071March – Read a book published the decade you were born.


William Kennedy

I was originally planning on using this book to fulfill a task on a different challenge, but I found a replacement and decided to use it for the TBR instead.  This is not an easy book, and I’m not sure I liked it all that much.  But I do appreciate the literary merit and the tragic intensity of the story.  Francis Phelan is an interesting character, his difficult life and personality flaws make you want to judge him and sympathize with him in equal measure.   Kennedy also captures that hollowed-out feeling of inevitable doom during the Great Depression.  I came away from the book feeling heavy and sad.

16059322April – Read a National Book Award winner.

The Unwinding: An Inner History of the New America

George Packer

The Unwinding is another on my list of books about the state of the U.S.  This one was a solid block of text – no charts, no graphs, no pictures.  The narrative is divided into sections by year, starting in the 1970s.  Packer follows three individuals from various backgrounds throughout the book, and features a notable public figure or event in each section.  Each year is introduced by a single page word collage, collecting headlines, song lyrics, and quotes from public figures and popular media into a hodgepodge of visual sound bites that set the tone for that moment in time.  This was a maddening, eye-opening, and fascinating read.  Packer masterfully weaves each thread together, creating a concerning and frustrating portrait of cultural upheaval.

30045683May – Read a book about mental health.

The Little Book of Hygge: Danish Secrets to Happy Living

Meik Wiking

I probably fudged the category a bit with this one, but it does pertain to mental health.  Hygge is the Danish concept of the sense of well-being you feel when you’re in a comfortable, cozy space, often with people you care for and/or delicious food.  I first saw the word on a friend’s Instagram post and upon finding several new books about it, I checked out the first one available at my library.  While I wasn’t necessarily expecting an analytical opus on the subject, this book was a little fluffier than I’d hoped.  It offered basic guidelines for what is essential to establishing hygge in your home, including recipes and lighting ideas.  Still, it’s a nice concept – I definitely feel at peace when snuggling under a blanket by a fire with a snowstorm billowing outside, or reading on a rainy afternoon while drinking a hot cup of tea.

21413846June – Read a book set outside of your home country.

Wolf Winter

Cecilia Eckback

I had high hopes for this book.  The summary on Goodreads hooked me right away – a brutal murder on a creepy mountain in 18th century Lapland?  Awesome.  It was intensely atmospheric, pulling the reader right into a sense of isolation and bitter winter weather.  There were some magical realism elements that added a surreal touch.  Ultimately though, there were too many threads, and by the end it felt like the author wanted to use all of these ideas but couldn’t decide which should take precedence.  As a result, the ending felt jumbled and confused.


Reading Challenges of 2017

Let’s just start with this, shall we?


Because this is essentially what 2017 is going to look like for me. It’s a whole new year, and even though my book love was dragging at the end of 2016, I am ready and motivated and will do my damnedest not to get distracted by other books until I have finished all the challenges. Two weeks in, and my willpower is still holding, even though I desperately want to give in to some sequels that keep calling my name.

Book Riot’s 2017 Read Harder Challenge
Of course this one is at the top of the list. Twenty-four categories of awesomeness, and books for 16 of them are already in my house. I am lifting my “no rereading” ban this year, because Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison (#17 – Classic by author of color) has been on my TBR for years. I read it 17 years ago for a college English class, so I’d like to think enough time has passed that it’s alright to reread it.

This year will also be different in that my husband won’t be participating. He is back in school, so fun reading has been mostly sidelined for him. Sophia will be late joining the party – she has a massive TBR stack of library books that need to be read and returned (she works at a library, so no late fees, which unfortunately encourages book hoarding tendencies).

What am I excited about this year? Well beyond the fact that I already have over half the books at home, the categories feel more challenging this year. Micropress? Nonfiction about technology? Set within 100 miles of where I live? There are some good categories for sure.

PopSugar 2017 Reading Challenge
The behemoth got a bit bigger this year. In addition to the normal 40 categories, they upped the ante by adding 12 more in their “advanced” reading list. I am not going to let myself touch the advanced list until I’ve finished the normal one (though I have already chosen six of the books). The ante was also upped with the categories they chose. They feel much more rigorous, more horizon-expanding. I’m going to have to dig for a few of these – “story within a story”, “month/day of the week in the title”, “book bought on a trip”.

PopSugar was my Achilles heel last year. I didn’t finish it until the evening of December 31st. My reading motivation was down the drain, and even though I could have had it done months earlier, I kept getting distracted by other reading challenges or other non-reading challenge books. The latter being the main culprit. “I will not get distracted” is my reading challenge mantra for 2017.

Bookish: 12 Ways to Kill your TBR this Year
I saw Bookish’s challenge last year, but didn’t add it to my challenge list because, well…I was already participating in three of them. One more seemed a bit much. This year, however, I am adding it to the happy family that is Emma’s obsession with reading challenges. Both Sophia and my step-mom will (hopefully) be participating as well. I really hope my step-mom does as it is not as hard as other challenges. Twelve books in twelve months. A different theme each month. Very doable. It will help to make a small dent in my TBR mountain.

YALSA’s The Hub Reading Challenge
No link for this one yet since it hasn’t come out yet (probably towards the end of January, like last year). I am excited to see what books are on it this year. It definitely expanded my YA horizon. I tend to stick with YA fantasy and graphic formats, so this challenge forced me to read a larger slice of the YA pie. Like last year, my aim is at least 25 books, but not every book.

Emma’s Amazon Challenge
This one stems from the fact that I have 1000+ books sitting in my “books to read” wishlist on Amazon. The struggle is real. Some of these books will be removed from the list because of other reading challenges, but once I’m done with those (minus Bookish), my goal is to start knocking these bad boys out. Not the whole thing, of course. It would take me three years of dedicated reading to do that, as the list currently stands.