Reading Your Bookish Kryptonite

Last week I shared about the words and phrases that are my book description kryptonite: the ones that make me immediately put a book aside as not for me.
bookish kryptonite
(I also forgot a few, and was reminded of them in the comments. A second post about additional ones may be forthcoming, especially focused on cover kryptonite.)

But what about when you “have” to read a book that hits one of those otherwise red flags?

This month’s selection for my in-person book club is The Lake House by Kate Morton. I love Kate Morton’s books. I wanted to dive into this book.

Except: the description mentions a baby who has disappeared. Children being harmed is #1 on my “don’t read this” list. I put off reading the book for months, in part because I was dreading the read.

And then I finally picked the book up, faced my fears, and dove in.

Hours later, and waaaaaay past my bedtime, I closed the book. Yes, the central mystery of the book is one that I generally won’t read, but I am *so* glad I trusted Morton to not be too graphic.

While I’m not going to say that I’m going to start reading all of those books I don’t read, I am glad that I didn’t stick to my list without budging. I’d have missed out on a great book.

Now I’m wondering what other books I really should try, even if they are ones I’d usually ignore. 🙂

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Previously on The Deliberate Reader

One year ago: 5 Translated Novels I Want To Read, and 5 More I’m Considering

Memorable Gifts in Literature

I hope you have a very Merry Christmas – I’ll be back next week. Until then, enjoy this look at memorable gifts in literature.

Memorable Gifts from Literature

Infographic was created by Pack & Send, but I have no affiliation with them. I just liked the infographic, and they gave me permission to post it. Thanks Pack & Send!

Birthday Reading

The Truth According to UsToday’s my birthday, and while I can’t spend it reading all day long like I did once upon a time (as in, pre-children), I can still make an effort to have a book waiting for me that I think I’m sure to love.

This year, it’s The Truth According to Ushe Truth According to Us: A Novel by Annie Barrows by Annie Barrows. Yes, Annie Barrows, the co-author of my beloved The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie SocietyThe Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows has a new book coming out next month and I got a review copy.

Because I’m a book nerd, I got curious about my previous birthday reads, so I looked in my book log (a.k.a. GoodReads) and found some of the highlights of years past:


2013: The Distant Hours (4 Stars)
And I’ve mentioned it on social media, but maybe not here: Kate Morton has a new book coming out this year – The Lake House! So exciting!

2012: Don’t Kill the Birthday Girl: Tales from an Allergic LifeDon't Kill the Birthday Girl: Tales from an Allergic Life by Sandra Beasley (3 Stars)
I remember feeling very amused reading a book with this title on my actual birthday. And feeling very grateful that I don’t have the severe food allergies the author has!

2011: nothing!
We were a couple weeks away from moving, and I was very pregnant with baby #2. I didn’t do much reading that month.

2010: The Happiness Project: Or, Why I Spent a Year Trying to Sing in the Morning, Clean My Closets, Fight Right, Read Aristotle, and Generally Have More FunThe Happiness Project: Or, Why I Spent a Year Trying to Sing in the Morning, Clean My Closets, Fight Right, Read Aristotle, and Generally Have More Fun by Gretchen Rubin (4 Stars)
If I’d thought to time it better, I could have read her new book this year on my birthday. But I just finished Better Than BeforeBetter Than Before: Mastering the Habits of Our Everyday Lives by Gretchen Rubin earlier in the month.

2009: The Contemplative Mom: Restoring Rich Relationship with God in the Midst of MotherhoodThe Contemplative Mom: Restoring Rich Relationship with God in the Midst of Motherhood by Ann Kroeker (3 Stars) and Heading Home With Your Newborn: From Birth to RealityHeading Home With Your Newborn: From Birth to Reality (4 Stars).
Why yes, I was due with my first baby the next month. Although he waited until the NEXT month to actually arrive. 😉

2006: To Live is Christ Leaders Guide: The Life and Ministry of PaulTo Live is Christ Leaders Guide: The Life and Ministry of Paul by Beth Moore (4 Stars)
I need to read more by Beth Moore – I don’t know why I stopped, as I always got a lot of out them.

2001 – EnduranceEndurance by F. A. Worsley (5 Stars)
Such a good book.


What surprises me with this is that in my mind, I’ve always made an effort to have a great book to read on my birthday. And apparently this wasn’t always the case (hence all the unlisted years above that consisted of ok or just good-but-not-great reads). Wonder what else I’m mis-remembering, or at least idealizing, when the reality is somewhat different. Or perhaps it’s just that I selected the books to read on my birthday thinking they’d be great, and then they didn’t always live up to those hopes. 🙂

Fingers crossed that this year’s book is as good as I’m hoping it will be!

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Reading after Having Children

Reading After Having ChildrenI read a lot. This is nothing new in my life, but I remember feeling aggravated pre-children when I would get condescending metaphorical head-pats about how that was all going to change once I had my first baby. I’d NEVER read again.

It’s hard to argue with someone who is so convinced they are right, and that you will never know until you join their club. I’d usually just say something about how I couldn’t imagine not reading at all, and that I grew up with the example of a mother who was a devoted reader, despite having three children. I had proof throughout my childhood that being a mother did not require putting aside your own books!

Sure, my reading habits have changed – I don’t read as much, or for the long stretches of time that I once did. And yes, binge reading is a very rare thing, but I’m still reading. Now at least I can offer an alternative viewpoint if anyone tries to claim it’s impossible to read once you’re a mom. It’s not: if it’s a priority for you, you’ll still read. And I think that’s the key to it – it has to be a priority.

Why do I feel so strongly about this?

Partially because I don’t agree with the thinking that becoming a mom automatically means never spending a moment on something you enjoy ever again, but also because I adamantly believe it sets a good example for my kids.

Reading is important, and if they see me reading it will hopefully mean more to them than if I just tell them that it’s a good thing to do. If all I do is read to them, and encourage them to read, but never do it myself, it seems like that is more likely to produce adults who think reading is only for kids. That’s not at all what I want!

Simply from a parenting perspective, I think it’s important for me to read my own books when they can see what I’m doing, not only when they are asleep or otherwise occupied. Quiet reading time for everyone! (ok, we’re not there yet, but I can dream.)

It’s nice that something I feel strongly about from a parenting perspective (promoting my children reading) aligns with something I feel strongly about for myself.

Books Read in 2014, Charts and Graphs Style

Books Read in 2014 Charts and Graphs

Total Books Read: 189
This excludes children’s books under 100 pages. Want to see the whole list? They’re all here.

Format
2014 Books Format
104 physical books (hardcover or paperback), 85 electronic books (Kindle, epub, or pdf), 2 audio books

Based on my reading habits post-baby, I expected even more electronic books than it was. Next year should be interesting, if my patterns continue the way they have the last five months…

Longest Book Read:
The Three MusketeersThe Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas at 680 pages
Second Longest? The Message of the New Testament: Promises KeptThe Message of the New Testament: Promises Kept by Mark Dever at 558 pages.

Last year I showed the total pages read, but this year I noticed that many of my books in Goodreads didn’t have page counts. Some Kindle versions and audio books still give a “page count” credit, but some showed up as 0 pages. While I would love to go through and edit all of those records with a page count, realistically I need to just let it go and not worry about it. But I’m skipping listing an incorrect total page count here.

Earliest Publication Date:
The Three MusketeersThe Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas in 1843
Next oldest? The Wonderful Wizard of OzThe Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum in 1900.

Adult Books vs. Kid Lit
2014 Books Adult vs Juvenile
162 adult, 29 juvenile and young adult books, so it’s 85% adult books to 15% kid lit.

Last year it was 80% adult to 20% kid lit, and it really surprised me that the percentages went up in favor of adult books. But then I remember all the ebooks I read this year – that probably explains it. .

Authors
2014 Books Author Gender
125 female, 54 male, 7 joint, 4 unspecified.

As unbalanced as this looks, it’s still better than last year. My fiction reading is still really heavily tilted towards female authors, and it’s only the nonfiction that helps balance it out at all. I’m still not sure that I care about this though, and include it more as something mildly interesting 🙂

Nonfiction vs. Fiction
2014 Books Nonfiction vs Fiction
117 nonfiction, 74 fiction.

This one really surprised me. I felt like all I did post-baby was read light fiction, but I’d read so much nonfiction earlier in the year that I still ended up having read more of it for the year. Again though, this stat is skewed by all the ebooks I read in an attempt to clear them off my Kindle.

Last year was 120 Nonfiction, 112 Fiction, so I did a better job of balancing between the two then.

Source
2014 Books Source
124 library, 17 review, 34 own, 15 freebies, 1 borrowed.

As with last year, this is my “Least Surprising Statistic.” I get most of my books from the library, although because of my efforts to clear books off my own bookshelves (both real and virtual), I did better than I would otherwise. “Borrowed” means a friend loaned it to me. “Freebie” are ones that I own, but I wanted to separate them out, since they’re not ones I intentionally purchased. They’re Kindle free books, or ebooks from a bundle, or bonus ebooks I received. Quality definitely varied with this bunch.

New to Me, or Re-reads
2014 Books New vs Repeats
180 New, 11 rereads.

For me, this is actually a lot of re-reading.

Nonfiction
2014 Books Nonfiction Genres
That “other” nonfiction category bugs me, but it’s such a random assortment it seemed the best (or at least easiest) way to handle them. Individual categories for each title was not happening. 🙂

Fiction
2014 Books Fiction GenresLike usual, I do love my genre fiction!

Summing Up

And a note about those two “did not finish” titles, and how I counted them. They are not included in the overall books read total, but they are counted when looking at source, nonfiction/fiction, author gender, and type. They don’t appear in the genres category either, but they would be “other nonfiction” and “juvenile fiction” if I had.

Want to do some comparisons? I shared a similar post for my 2012 and 2013 reads. The idea for these posts came from Jessica at The Quirky Bookworm. Thanks for letting me use your idea – I love seeing how my reading year looks!

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for supporting The Deliberate Reader!

Books Read in 2014 – The Compiled List

Books Read in 2014If you’ve been reading my blog all year, this is the compiled list pulled together from all my monthly recap posts, but arranged topically. It excludes all of the picture and board books I read to my kids (I hope to share those in their own post soon). However, any children’s title over 100 pages is included here.

An asterisk (*) by a title means it’s one I especially enjoyed or recommend.

Quick Links to Books by Categories:

Christianity / Theology | Memoirs / Biographies | Parenting / Relationships | Education | Personal Development, Money & Time Management| Blogging / Social Media / Writing | Cookbooks & Food | History | ebooks | Other Nonfiction | Children’s / Young Adult Nonfiction | General Fiction| Mysteries | Fantasy | Science Fiction | Romance | Children’s / Young Adult Fiction | Didn’t Finish

[Read more…]

5 Translated Novels I Want To Read, and 5 More I’m Considering

Translated Novels I Want To ReadIn honor of Modern Mrs Darcy’s reading challenge, here are 5 novels that I would like to read that have all been translated into English:

Heidi by Johanna SpyriHeidiHeidi by Johanna Spyri by Johanna Spyri
(originally written in Swiss German)

The one book I will definitely read this year, as it’s a book club pick. It seems like one that I should have read already too – how did I get to adulthood without reading this story?

The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre DumasThe Count of Monte CristoThe Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas by Alexandre Dumas
(originally written in French)

I’ve wanted to read this ever since visiting Château d’If, setting for the book. And then last year I enjoyed his book The Three Musketeers, so that’s even more reason to finally get to this one, more than a decade after that visit that made me say “I need to read that book!”

The Name of the Rose by Umberto EcoThe Name of the RoseThe Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco by Umberto Eco
(originally written in Italian)

I love historical mysteries, and this is a classic in that genre. I have no idea why I haven’t gotten to this one already – it’s one I should have read ages ago.

Suite Francaise by Irène NémirovskySuite FrançaiseSuite Française by Irène Némirovsky by Irène Némirovsky
(originally written in French)

The backstory on this is amazing, the cover is gorgeous, and I’m only afraid it will make me cry a bit too much, and wish the author had survived to finish the other three novels she’d planned.

One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia MarquezOne Hundred Years of SolitudeOne Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez by Gabriel García Márquez
(originally written in Spanish)

I avoided it when I thought I disliked Magical Realism, but after reading The Night Circus and enjoying it, I’m ready to try the one that started it all. This one seems like it might qualify for “everyone has read it but me” as well.

And five more where I haven’t completely decided if I want to read them or not:

Don Quixote by Miguel de CervantesDon QuixoteDon Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes by Miguel de Cervantes
(originally written in Spanish)

It’s a classic for a reason, and I keep stumbling across references to it which make me think I should give it a try.

Les Misérables by Victor HugoLes MisérablesLes Misérables by Victor Hugo by Victor Hugo
(originally written in French)

I read the beginning of it, but never finished it. Perhaps I should give it another try? I missed the book club meeting where this one was discussed, and that’s always such a good motivation for me to finish a book, that I’m missing that push.

One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich by Alexander SolzhenitsynOne Day in the Life of Ivan DenisovichOne Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich by Alexander Solzhenitsyn by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
(originally written in Russian)

It’s such an influential work, and feels a lot more accessible than The Gulag ArchipelagoThe Gulag Archipelago Abridged: An Experiment in Literary Investigation (P.S.) by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn.

Anna Karenina by Leo TolstoyAnna KareninaAnna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy by Leo Tolstoy
(originally written in Russian)

Seems like one I should have read already, plus I’d kind of like to see the movie and I have a thing about always reading the book first.

Crime and Punishment by Fyodor DostoyevskyCrime and PunishmentCrime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
(originally written in Russian)

In high school I tried to read The Brothers KaramazovThe Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoyevsky and gave up about a third of the way through, and that put me off trying Dostoyevsky again. I’d like to rectify that.

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Update on Books I Was Looking Forward to Reading in 2014

Way back in January I shared a list of titles that I was looking forward to reading during the year. Let’s look back at that and laugh at how few of them I actually read. On the plus side, some of the ones I did read I enjoyed, so at least there’s that.

Only one fiction title

Looking Forward to Reading in 2014: CressCressLooking Forward to Reading in 2014: Cress (The Lunar Chronicles) by Marissa Meyer by Marissa Meyer

Original thoughts: Loved the previous books in the series, so of course I wanted to read this one.

The verdict: Read it. Loved it. Impatiently waiting for the next ones in the series.

Books from Bloggers

Looking Forward to Reading in 2014: Notes from a Blue BikeNotes from a Blue Bike: The Art of Living Intentionally in a Chaotic WorldLooking Forward to Reading in 2014: Notes from a Blue Bike: The Art of Living Intentionally in a Chaotic World by Tsh Oxenreider by Tsh Oxenreider

Original thoughts: I loved her earlier book One Bite at a TimeOne Bite at a Time: 52 Projects for Making Life Simpler by Tsh Oxenreider, read her blog, and like the premise of the book. Why wouldn’t I like this one?

The verdict: It was ok, but if you’ve read her blog much at all not much of it is new. Overall I was kind of disappointed in it.

Looking Forward to Reading in 2014: Girl at the End of the WorldGirl at the End of the World: My Escape from Fundamentalism in Search of Faith with a FutureLooking Forward to Reading in 2014: Girl at the End of the World: My Escape from Fundamentalism in Search of Faith with a Future by Elizabeth Esther by Elizabeth Esther

Original thoughts: Her blog, is thought-provoking if a bit hard to read at times (I get occasional flashbacks to my upbringing, in not-a-good-way).

The verdict: Haven’t read it. The library recently added it to their collection, so I should be able to give it a try soon. Whether or not I’ll finish it is up in the air.

Looking Forward to Reading in 2014: Something Other Than GodSomething Other Than God: How I Passionately Sought Happiness and Accidentally Found ItLooking Forward to Reading in 2014: Something Other Than God: How I Passionately Sought Happiness and Accidentally Found It by Jennifer Fulwiler by Jennifer Fulwiler

Original thoughts: Love love love her blog, and have been reading it for years. Plus, conversion stories fascinate me.

The verdict: Two thumbs up!

History is Awesome

Looking Forward to Reading in 2014: A History of the World in Twelve MapsA History of the World in 12 MapsLooking Forward to Reading in 2014: A History of the World in 12 Maps by Jerri Brotton by Jerry Brotton

Original thoughts: My library career included a stint cataloging maps, and I love history, so combining the two sounded heavenly.

The verdict: Borrowed in on the kindle and it was not a good pick in that version. Then I had a baby and my virtually all my reading had to be done via the kindle. So this title has to wait.

Looking Forward to Reading in 2014: One Summer America, 1927One Summer: America, 1927Looking Forward to Reading in 2014: One Summer: America, 1927 by Bill Bryson by Bill Bryson
Original thoughts: Love his books A Walk in the Woods and In a Sunburned Country, and this sounded like just my sort of history book.

The verdict: Borrowed it from the library, but then had a baby and couldn’t focus on it like it needed. Most of my reading post-baby has been of the lighter variety. Hope to get this one again in 2015.

Looking Forward to Reading in 2014: The Bully PulpitThe Bully Pulpit: Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft, and the Golden Age of JournalismLooking Forward to Reading in 2014: The Bully Pulpit: Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft, and the Golden Age of Journalism by Doris Kearns Goodwin by Doris Kearns Goodwin
Original thoughts: She’s written another favorite title of mine, so I expected to love her latest.

The verdict: Didn’t even try it. Once again I’ll just blame the baby – this is a big work of nonfiction and will need more brain power than I had last year to give it. I’m not even sure I’ll get to it in 2015.

People are Fascinating

Looking Forward to Reading in 2014: The Heir ApparentThe Heir Apparent: A Life of Edward VII, the Playboy PrinceLooking Forward to Reading in 2014: The Heir Apparent: A Life of Edward VII, the Playboy Prince by Jane Ridley by Jane Ridley

Original thoughts: Sounded interesting, about a historical figure all but unknown to me.

The verdict: Borrowed it, and returned it unread. I’m such a mood reader, and I never felt in the mood to even try this one. Apparently I’m not as interested in Edward VII as I thought back in January.

Looking Forward to Reading in 2014: Elizabeth of YorkElizabeth of York: A Tudor Queen and Her WorldLooking Forward to Reading in 2014: Elizabeth of York: A Tudor Queen and Her World by Alison Weir by Alison Weir

Original thoughts: I do love Weir’s books, and Tudor history.

The verdict: Borrowed it, didn’t read it. See above regarding brain power and it being lacking.

No, really, I think this sounds fantastic

Looking Forward to Reading in 2014: The King of SportsThe King of Sports: Football’s Impact on AmericaLooking Forward to Reading in 2014: The King of Sports: Football's Impact on America by Gregg Easterbrook by Gregg Easterbrook

Original thoughts: I am a former (pre-children) devoted NFL fan and used to read Easterbrook’s Tuesday Morning Quarterback column every week.

The verdict: Borrowed it, and read the first quarter. Then I had a baby and had to return the book before I finished it, and haven’t borrowed it again. I’m not sure I want to honestly – it’s so depressing about the negatives regarding the football industry that it’s hard to read.

Faith

Looking Forward to Reading in 2014: Encounters with JesusEncounters with Jesus: Unexpected Answers to Life’s Biggest QuestionsLooking Forward to Reading in 2014: Encounters with Jesus: Unexpected Answers to Life's Biggest Questions by Timothy Keller by Timothy Keller

Original thoughts: Keller’s books are fantastic. This one probably is too, right?

The verdict: It was good, but not as great as I expected. This is perhaps just a reflection of my very high expectations for his books.

And, a bonus one, because it doesn’t even have a title yet (as far as I know), but apparently Rachel Held Evans has another book coming out next Fall. I find her books very thought-provoking, and whenever it releases, I’ll be anxious to read it.

The verdict: This one got pushed back to a 2015 release, so now I have it to look forward to next year!

So let’s see, out of 11 titles available in 2014, I read (as in completed) 4 of them. I read at least a chapter of 3 others, and read nothing at all of the final 4. That is really unimpressive, but probably what I get for being somewhat ambitious with my nonfiction selections in a year when I was having a baby.

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Bookworm Problems: Picking Favorites

#BookwormProblems Bookworm Problems - Picking FavoritesIf you’re a reader at all, I’m sure you’ve been asked the question:

What’s your favorite book?

I hate that question. I don’t know how to answer it – my favorite? As in, singular, one book above all others? This is an impossibility, surely you realize.

Usually I try and cheat when I answer (if I can’t get by with the non-answer of “no way can I just pick one favorite!) by mentioning one of the recent books I’ve finished that I most enjoyed. Or mentioning a few favorites in a specific sub genre: hey, let me tell you about my favorite food memoirs. All half-dozen of them. (Or maybe it’s up to a dozen at this point.) Like fantasy? So do I, so let me gush about 4 or 5 series that I love.

I somewhat envy people who have clear favorite books, an obvious answer to that question.

I definitely do not have an easy answer to that question, and what I really want to answer is “how much time do you have? Because I can tell you about some books…

Visit Quirky Bookworm for more #bookworm problems!

Bookworm Problems: The Neverending To-Be-Read List

#BookwormProblems Bookworm Problems - My Neverending TBR listMy current TBR list on Goodreads is almost 1,000 books, and even if that was the extent of the books I want to read (I’m sure it’s not), it’s still an impossible total.

Reading 200 books a year it’d take me 5 years to get through, and that assumes I add zero new books to the list. Yeah, right, that’s going to happen.

It’s so (well, heart-breaking might be a little strong, but not by much), discouraging to know that I absolutely have to make some tough choices with my reading time. There are good books I have to turn down, and good series I’ll need to pass up on finishing, if I’m going to have time for the great books that are out there.

I’d force myself to go through my list and do some ruthless culling, but that’s a bit use of potential reading time, and it pains me to do that. Instead I’ll continue to do my best at selecting well, and being willing to quit reading a book if it’s not worth the time.

Someone else tell me that they feel the same way about the impossible quantities on their “I want to read that!” list?

Visit Quirky Bookworm for more #bookworm problems!