This year, along with a goal of reading at least 50 books, I wanted to focus on reading the books I already had in my shelves that were not read yet. My bookshelves seem to be bursting at the seems with books I have read and saved to read again, and with books I really do want to read, but it is easy for me to get distracted and turn my attention to the library, the book section at the thrift store or an unexpected trip to the book seller and then there are even more books to stuff into those shelves. I've been trying to be aware of collecting clutter and have been earnestly trying to simplify what we keep around the house, especially after my husband and I each lost a parent and were involved in sorting out their belongings and then having to move a surviving parent to an assisted living arrangement because they need more care than the siblings can manage on their own. So much stuff!
Here's the Read My Bookshelves Challenge List. I wanted to make it simple so I had the flexibility to throw in an additional book here and there that caught my interest, and have a challenge I could succeed at, but I also wanted to accomplish the objective of reading books already on my shelves that were waiting to be read. There are 12 books listed, one for each month, chosen at random from my shelves that have been arranged alphabetically according to author. This has turned out to be the best way for me to keep track of what I have and to find books when looking for them. I have really liked the flexibility of being able to throw in an extra book here and there but still work on the original challenge. I get frustrated sometimes with book challenges that are all consuming and don't leave you any flexibility to go with your current interests every once in a while and if my book reading becomes a chore, then, for me, that defeats the main purpose of my reading.
- The Creative Brain (Andreasen)*
- Between a Heart and a Rock Place; A Memoir (Benatar)*
- Academ's Fury (Butcher)*
- Graceling (Cashore)*
- Crossed (Condie)*
- Victorian and Edwardian Ghost Stories (various)*
- A Darkness Forged in Fire (Evans)*
- The Fantasy Writer's Assistant (Ford)*
- The Jaguar Prophecies (Gunderson)*
- Twice Told Tales (Hawthorne)*
- Spillover (Quammen)*
- The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms (Jemisin)*Read Your Bookshelves Challenge-Book ReviewsThe Creative Brain- (Nancy Andreasen) Interesting non-fiction about the brain, not overly technical, understandable, it talks about creativity and the creative process, how the brain develops and functions, the thin line between genius and insanity, and brain plasticity. The book also contains suggestions and exercises to help you "train your brain" to keep it functioning properly.Between a Heart and a Rock Place- A Memoir (Pat Benatar)- A nicely told story by rock queen Pat Benatar about her life and her music career. This is a woman of incredible talent and who is made of strong substance to survive and ultimately thrive is the music industry. I have always admired her for her talent and because she was not all over the news with scandals and all kinds of dirty laundry like so many other so called "stars". She is judicious about what she speaks up about and also allows others to have their own opinions about things without all the name calling and nastiness that seems to be the political climate of now a days. This woman is so talented, is drop dead gorgeous in her 60's, has a healthy family life, and was a trail blazer for women in the music industry. I admire her even more now after reading this book and will continue to enjoy her music.Academ's Fury- (Jim Butcher)- I became a Jim Butcher fan after reading his Dresden Files series, and I search out all other things that this author writes because they are always interesting, entertaining and filled with action. I am two books into this fantasy series now and even though it is slower reading than the Dresden Files, (the books are the thickness of bricks), the story is set in a rich and realistic world where the history and customs of the people have been creatively crafted by the author, the characters are well developed, and it holds the readers interest through the many pages. When I get into one of these they are hard to put down and I always want to find more time to read because I want to find out what happens next. This series takes a time commitment but I am willing to follow the author on the journey even though it will take a while.Graceling- (Kristen Cashore)- This book was an interesting fantasy story and I have been wanting to read it for a few years. I chose it for the reading challenge because I have been wanting to read it and see if I was interested in getting the other books in the series. It had an interesting plot about a girl who goes on a journey and learns of her heritage. It was a satisfying read but the author hinted about the evil nature of the old king in the story, (which the girl turns out to be his heir), and it involved nastiness and the abuse of children for his evil nature so I am done with the series. I don't need to read about that as I read for recreation and experience, not to wallow in the sins of others whether they be real or fake characters. I stopped reading a Tad Williams (Otherland) series for the same reason, have been warned off the Game of Thrones books for the same reason (and have no desire to watch the TV series), I just don't need that in my life. I would feel differently if I was purposely reading a documentary or something like that.Victorian and Edwardian Ghost Stories- I love ghost stories as long as they are not mainly horror/slasher, gore filled types of tales. I enjoy the psychological tension, the subtle feeling of unease that permeates in creepy places and the twists that many of the old fashioned (1800's type) ghost stories have in them. This was a thick tome filled with those types of stories. Most of them were good, some were outstanding, a few were duds or so bogged down in wordiness it was tiresome to get through the tale. That is what you get with these types of collections, but overall I did enjoy it even though it seemed a bit daunting when I started reading it because of the length of the book.A Darkness Forged in Fire (Iron Elves Book 1)- Chris Evans- Well this one was kind of a disappointment, also the first book of a series that I had been looking forward to reading. Basically 600 pages of not much happening, poorly developed characters for the most part, a lifeless supposed romantic attraction, typical power hungry bad guys, and a very stereotypical fantasy plot that I am getting so very sick of. It is becoming difficult to find fantasy anymore that is not full of stereotypes that it just bores you to death if you have read a number of these types of books. How do author's with mediocre work like this even get published? Give me Brandon Sanderson or Jim Butcher any day over this guy. Six hundred pages! Man, I must have been really bored or had insomnia to actually finish it.The Fantasy Writer's Assistant-Jeffrey Ford- A collection of short stories by gritty author Jeffery Ford. His writings are generally filled with weird stuff so I knew what to expect, but the stories are usually pretty compelling, none the less. I've read about six books by this author so I have enjoyed his work in the past. This collection seemed really out there and was hard to get into. Only one or two stories were really worth the time or even understandable for me. Oh well, I have another story collection (The Empire of Ice Cream) by this author which I will eventually read, but after this I am in no hurry to do so.The Jaguar Prophesies-Phyllis Gunderson- This book falls under the category of LDS fiction, it was a short novel about the ongoing mysterious adventures of a middle aged female archeologist. I like books with female leads, and being a middle aged female myself I could relate to the main character. I read another book by this author so when I saw this one at the D.I. thrift store, where I haunt the book aisle, it seemed worth the 75 cents to acquire it. Not a bad plot and interesting enough for me to pick up other books by this author if I see them while haunting the used book section of the thrift store.The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms by N.K. Jemisin- This one started out with promise but ultimately turned into a bust. The main theme I took away from this book was that the central character just wanted to lust after the dark god in this book. She was a lame person who ultimately achieved nothing in the story except, like I mentioned above, lusted after and had steamy relations with (that thankfully were not described much or I would have put the book down long before finishing it) the dark god in this story, and this is supposed to be a trilogy. Wow. I guess it's like common core math...it makes no sense, and as a reader I felt cheated after reading this book. The author didn't deliver. The book started by setting up an interesting world where there are diverse cultures and the main character is called back to the most important kingdom of this world after the death of her parents, as she is the granddaughter of the reigning leader. This old king has three heirs, a niece, a nephew, and the granddaughter and is taking the measure of them all to see which one he will confer the kingdom on after his death. This ruling family has the ability to command the so called gods of this world, as there is a lot of mythology entwined into the culture of the world in the novel. Instead of taking this interesting premise into what could have been a book worth reading, the author makes it all about the main character lusting after the dark god of the world's mythology and the story premise goes nowhere. Much that happens in the story does not make sense, especially the ending.Oh well, 2 1/2 (1/2 for the Jeffrey Ford book), busts in the 12 reads chosen from my TBR shelves is not so bad I guess. After the Jemison book I tried reading a YA book that my granddaughter expressed interest in, to preview it, so I could judge whether I wanted to let her have the book and was again disappointed at the snotty and ridiculous characters in that book, so that one went into the circular file as well. I used to have an aversion to throwing away any book, but lately it feels like I have encountered more garbage books than usual and no longer feel bad about throwing the drek away or returning it to the library unfinished. I then turned to a reliable author for a quick and interesting read to get the bad taste out of my mouth from two bad books in a row. This happened to be Lincoln Child's Full Wolf Moon, which the same granddaughter also expressed interest in and I wanted to preview that as well before giving it to her to read. While his stuff may not be earth shattering literature, I have always received a good, action filled story, with various twists and turns, and have never felt cheated out of my time when finishing one of his books. (I read the book in two days and did not feel cheated out of my time, in fact, I think I will let my teenage granddaughter read it.)