Battle of the Books

People may think my book choosing methods are strange, but honestly, I just find it amusing. Considering my lack of interest in sports, a book bracket may be as close as I get to some type of Fantasy League. Here’s the breakdown:

I chose two books from eight different categories, yielding sixteen titles total. (Well, six. I doubled up on two categories.)

  • Stephen King Classics: Cujo vs Misery
  • Travel: A Year in Provence vs PTown
  • LGBT fiction: Will Grayson, Will Grayson vs The Brothers Bishop / In The Line of Beauty vs Hero
  • YA series (having 3 or more titles): Insurgent vs Rebel Heart / Beautiful Darkness vs Reached
  • Kindle Books (fiction): Ten vs Better Nate Than Ever
  • Fiction: Little Children vs Dogs of Babel

Once selected, I set the titles against one another in their respective categories and flipped some coins and followed the paths of the bracket tree. The resulting list will govern the order of the books I will read over the course of the next year. With my recent acceleration in reading (like reading 35 books in 14 weeks for class) I imagine this will be a breeze. I may push a title to the front of the list as an audiobook becomes available through OverDrive or my library.

  1. Reached
  2. Insurgent
  3. Cujo
  4. Dogs of Babel
  5. Hero
  6. Ten
  7. The Brothers Bishop
  8. A Year in Provence
  9. Rebel Heart
  10. Beautiful Darkness
  11. Will Grayson, Will Grayson
  12. In The Line of Beauty
  13. Misery
  14. Better Nate Than Ever
  15. PTown
  16. Little Children
Battle of the Books
Battle of the Books

Here we go!

Waiting for Spring

For the class I’m taking this semester, I’m required to read some 35 books. Thanks to the library, Overdrive, and Audible, I’ve finished most of them in record time. In between my borrows and holds, I’ve snuck in a few titles from my own list, slowly marking them off too, but I feel as though I’ve hardly made a dent. In fact, after crossing off almost a dozen titles, I uncovered several books that I had yet to catalog, and all my feelings of accomplishment deflated. Then I realized just how many titles from my class I’ve completed. Of the 35, I’ve finished 26 completely with two more titles in progress. Though I can’t claim ownership over most of these titles, I also can’t help but feel as though they should be accounted for in some way. Once the class wraps and the semester is over, I plan on going through many of the titles… ones I liked and ones I didn’t particularly care for. After reading so many, I have lots to say! Thanks to this class, I have a much better sense of what really constitutes a young adult book… And it’s more than just strong-female-characters-in-a-post-apocalyptic-dystopian-world-trilogy.

As for my own personal collection… I continue to plod along. I feel discouraged at times when I look at the three bookshelves bulging with books. I’m very tempted to go through and weed titles out — shocking! — but I’m also having a difficult time choosing which I would part with… at least in any substantial quantities. I could probably come up with a dozen or so, but that number seems so inconsequential.  Each time to try to subtract a title, I justify keeping it, now for the sake of my librarian degree. “Oh, I may need that title for a reference in class one day!” Spring at the latest. That’s when the weeding will happen. If not before… It depends on how awful the winter is.

 

In other news… I received Veronica Roth’s Allegiant a day before the release date! This never happens to me — getting a pre-ordered item before it hits the streets. I always hear about it happening with books and video games, and I’m always jealous…Except I can’t quite enjoy it this time because I haven’t yet read Insurgent! Ugh!  At least I won’t have to interrupt the flow once I start reading them.  Now that I mention it, perhaps I should have another Gauntlet… Look forward to a throw-down in the next entry!

Rules of the Domain

As I approach another anniversary with this blog, I decided to go through and do a bit of housekeeping, both on the site and at home. After packing up my life and moving to a new apartment, many of my books have been scattered throughout my living space without any sense of order or proper placement. Though there may be a box or two of books still taped up, I was able to organize all that had been unpacked.

The end of summer marks the end of sunny vacations and hot, sticky days, but as autumn draws closer, my mourning is cut short. The fall ushers in a new school year. A time when the air is filled with potential. High expectations and a recharged sense of accomplishment. My summer has been far from uneventful — I believe I have read more books this summer than I have in the past several years. The selection was not the most traditional beach reads, but working my way through The Sickness has kept me steadily motivated.

Now that a new semester approaches, I am faced with a staggering mountain of books to read. (I should have known… it’s a young adult literature class!) Thirty-five books in total, to be read over a fourteen week period. “Oh, for sure I already own a good chunk of this reading list,” I thought. But after looking over the selection, I only recognized three titles: The Perks of Being a Wallflower, A Child Called “It”, and Flowers in the Attic. Less than 10% of this list were books I had heard of. I took pause. After a few calculations I looked down at my paper in disbelief.

Total Pages: 11,080

That staggering number has me freaked out. That’s an average of 121 pages every day — I’m lucky if I can read 12 pages a day! I took a moment to consider a few points: I’m starting the reading list early. I do not have to purchase any books. I have at least an hour of listening time for audio books every workday.

“Okay,” I said polishing my glasses, “Let’s do this!”

The last item of business to attend to was my domain. Not my living space, but my web domain. WordPress has been offering that I “Go Premium” ever since I started this blog, and underestimating my early commitment, I put off purchasing the dot-com for my site. Today I decided to make the purchase, solidifying my little blog in the Internet world, only to be sadly disappointed. “Go Premium today – make http://www.booksick.me yours” said WordPress. Wait, “dot-me”? What happened to dot-com? I quickly typed into the navigation bar, hoping my fear isn’t true… but unfortunately, it seems as though someone else has purchased the dot-com domain for booksick. It seems to be some type of search aggregator, but to be honest, I didn’t spend much time on the site, refusing to give the other pages more hits.

After a bit more research, the knife of remorse only dug deeper. The domain was purchased 31 August 2013 09:24:00. Just two days ago. The expiration is 31 August 2014 09:24:00 — and you can bet I have set my calendar. I’m staring down that date, now charged with even more purpose than before. It will be mine.

*  *  *  *

Currently, I’ve finished the two books chosen for Week 1, and I am working on a book from Week 2. I also found a book from Week 4 on OverDrive that I’ve been listening to while I wait for my holds at the library. Though my school books will not be listed within the master list, I will be sure to address them in each entry.

Audiobibliophile

Since obtaining my library card just over two weeks ago, I have “read” three books and I find myself ravenously scouring Overdrive to find more and more. Never had I considered audiobooks as valuable as I do now.

Previously, I had looked at audiobooks and scoffed, mainly at the price. Why purchase 6 – 8 discs of audio for upwards of $30 or $40 when I could purchase the physical copy of the same book for less than $15 (in most cases)?  I simply regarded the products as premium editions that I chose not to afford. With my history of reading books no more than once, I knew I would get more for my money by simply buying more physical books than audio books. 

After my move, I now have a 30 minute drive to and from work, giving me an hour of prime listening time — what a fool I’ve been! Now I look forward to driving so I can get through as many chapters tracks as I can. Audiobooks have certainly changed the way I read, and I’m taking this knowledge and using it as a strong medicine to help knock out much of this booksickness. 

I’ve listened to audiobooks in the past and remember experiencing a very similar feeling. Shelf-reading during my college years working in the library is how I was able to get through most of Stephen King’s Dark Tower series, as well as The Stand… But at that time, I checked out audiobooks, ripped the MP3 tracks to my computer, and then returned the discs the following day. I still don’t quite understand what my rush was. Perhaps a sense that I still needed to HAVE something in my possession, similar to collecting my books, is what drove me to saving the audiobooks to my computer. In any case, though I may be one of the last out of the tunnel, I have seen the light. I hear the heavenly chorus of narrators and their words, like hymns, take me to my own realm of euphoria.

~

I still stand by what I’ve always advocated in the past, and I make a point to bring up to booksellers and librarians alike: publishers should produce an edition of the printed book that also contains its audiobook and ebook counterparts. Perhaps as codes to be redeemed through apps such as iTunes or Overdrive. In any case, I think that prospect would go over quite well. 

Since I’ve been trucking through these titles rather quickly, please pardon the slightly out of date Book List page. I’ve placed holds on the audiobook versions of the books I am currently reading… at least the ones I could find. This Sickness may shrink drastically if I keep up this dosage! 

The Worst Librarian

No, this entry is not about a negative customer experience in a library. This entry is about how my metaphorical library card should be revoked. Why?

I have never owned a library card. 

Yes, though I’m in graduate school for library science, I have never borrowed books from a library — outside of school that is.

Through the early years at school, we were never given a card, number, or any kind of way to identify us other than our name. At university, my student I.D. was used in substitution.

So, as you can guess, I’ve never checked out a book from a public library. I know. Blasphemy. My librarian peers are pulling their hair out.

I suppose my love of books, or rather, purchasing books, has been the main reason for the delay. Okay, let’s be real: excuse, not reason. 

When I first got into my new (used) car, I found a gold card… a library card belonging to a boy named Noah. I say boy because there were little-kid stickers on it. A cartoon elephant, actually. I saved the card and I’m not sure why. Maybe because I never had one of my own… maybe because it belonged to a child and I held on for safe-keeping… maybe it was the part of me that always wanted to be a librarian. Whatever the reason, it has held some significance in my life.

In an effort to further subdue my Sickness, I think it’s time to get a library card– a real one. Then my peers can let their hair grow back in, and I can be welcomed in to my academic circle as a REAL card-carrying member.

Every Fangirl’s Fantasy

As I begin to scale these towers of books, I can’t help but point out a recent trend that I have unknowingly subscribed to. This category I speak of is one that I feel I may have passed over or not even noticed in years past. Yet somehow, this particular microcosm of fiction has wriggled its way into popular young adult literature (not to mention my bookshelves) and is swiftly spreading… almost like weeds.

Thanks to the success of other fantasy series such as Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling and The Twilight Saga by Stephanie Meyer, fangirls (and boys) are coming out of hiding by riding on the coattails of their predecessors. Pouring out of parents’ cars to swarm midnight releases nationwide, teens arrive decked out in what I can only call “Pedestrian Comic-Con Chic.” This seems to be happening more and more. Now book launch parties have become more commonplace for the everyday “flavor-of-the-week” tweener pop craze rather than a spectacular event reserved only for the crème de la crème of juvenile literature. But I digress…

Strong female characters in post-apocolyptic dystopian fantasy fiction trilogies.

Gosh, that sure is a mouthful. And I thought Barnes & Noble was crazy for naming a whole section “Paranormal Teen Romance.”

Now, before I go further, I should probably mention that this topic may very well be a springboard into several of my first book reviews. Honestly, it’s because I have read quite a few already, so please bear with me as I trudge through this mini-genre of books over the next few blog entries. (I’ll try to break things up here and there so I don’t scare away too many potential readers.)

1. The Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins
2. The Matched Trilogy by Ally Condi
3. The Mortal Instruments Trilogy by Cassandra Clare
4. The Dustlands Trilogy by Moira Young
5. The Forest of Hands and Teeth Trilogy by Carrie Ryan
6. The Divergent Trilogy by Veronica Roth

The six trilogies mentioned above contain books that I have either already read or ones that I own. I will also mention…

7. The Chemical Garden Trilogy by Lauren DeStefano

and a special mention to…

8. The Maze Runner Trilogy by James Dashner

The Chemical Garden Trilogy is a series that I can absolutely see myself buying that will fit right alongside the others in this little collection I already have going on. While The Maze Runner Trilogy on the other hand, offers the same general world setting as the others, but with a male as the central character — though, not exactly a departure from the traditions of what seems to be going on in this genre, a different perspective can shed light on many new things. These last two trilogies I mentioned are ones I do not own, and for the purpose of this blog, I will refrain from purchasing for the time being.

So far, three of the six trilogies are complete, while the remaining three are missing their second and/or third companions. With that in mind, I will start reviewing the completed series first, allowing more time for the remaining series to round themselves out.

~

Will Suzanne Collins will become the next J.K. Rowling?
Is a trilogy ever too long, or not long enough?
Team Peeta or Team Gale?

Tune in next time for my review and insight into The Hunger Games Trilogy.

The Sickness

BookSick
adjective

1. to be more concerned with collecting and owning books than reading
2. to derive pleasure in the acquisition of books

ex: I just got back from my friend’s apartment, and I’m worried he may be BookSick.

Symptoms:
I love reading, and I never go anywhere without a book. I buy books noticeably faster than I finish reading the ones I already have. I justify buying more books by buying clearance and used titles. I have strong urges to collect all the books written by the same authors. I multiple books at the same time. I spend hours in bookstores. With the exception of one book, I have never read a book more than once.

Treatment:
Now that I own… a lot of books, it’s time to buckle down and read. Part book review part self-therapeutic diary — this blog will help me document my journey as I work through my rather substantial personal library. I will finish the books I start reading. I will read one book at a time.

I cannot begin this process however, without recognizing certain obstacles.

First, I work a full-time job in retail. This means I work at least 40 hours every week. During the upcoming holiday season, those hours will increase. My job does not exactly facilitate reading during downtime, but reading ebooks on my phone is entirely feasible.

Second, I am an active member of a book club that meets once a month. Let’s face it, many of the books chosen will not be coming out of my own library. I will do my best to borrow rather than buy these titles.

Third, and most notably, in the fall of 2011 I will be joining the ranks of students aspiring to graduate with a Master’s Degree in Library Science and Information Studies. This part-time program will most likely consume one of my two days off every week.

Knowing my limitations, I will set a low goal for the time being, and I reserve the right to adjust the goal depending on the circumstances of my three limitations. That being said, I hope to read at least two books every month. One being a book club selection and another from my library.

Wish me luck!

And I’ll do my best not to buy more books.