Sunday, March 18, 2018

When you finally read that book that's been on your shelf forever... and it's... fine...

{This is my third TBR-themed post inspired by Caffeinated Reviewer's March Take Control of Your TBR Challenge}

You don't love it, but it's not a complete disappointment either. Maybe it's a mixed bag sort of book. Maybe it's a decent read, but it doesn't inspire any strong feelings -- a middle of the road 'I Liked It' 3-star read. You know the ones I mean. The book is good. It's fine. But it's not all that special. I've read a lot of 3-star books over the years and there's nothing wrong with that. But there's something about holding onto a book for SO LONG only to find out it was just *fine* or *OK* that's feels different than if it had been a library borrow or recent purchase.

Unless a book was a gift or a freebie, if it's on my shelves, it's safe to say I think I'm going to love it. If I expected a book to only be a 2- or 3-star read, it wouldn't have survived all the bookshelf culling I've done over the years. I would have donated it, sold it, traded it in, or sent it off to some book drive or other. I don't intend to acquire and hold onto books I think will just be *fine* or *OK.* Don't we want more than that from the books earning a spot on our shelves? I know I do! It's unrealistic to think every unread book will end up being a 4- or 5-star read, but a reader can dream, can't she?

A few recent titles that fit the bill are....

My Ideal Bookshelf, edited by Thessaly LaForce & illustrated by Jane Mount

I've had this book since 2012. It's one of those titles I kept noticing on my shelf and wondering why in the world I hadn't gotten to it yet. I love books about books and I've loved the Ideal Bookshelf concept ever since I first heard about it and yet... there it sat. I finally cracked this one open because I've been reading more collections of shorter works alongside whatever other *main* book I'm reading -- essays, short stories, that sort of thing. And I hate to say it, but it wasn't as fantastic as I thought it would be.

I love the illustrations, but I didn't know a lot of the contributors. My predominant feeling while reading was that I was woefully under-read to appreciate most of it. And many, many times when I recognized a title on someone's shelf, it wasn't one that was discussed in the accompanying essay! The vast majority of children's books scattered throughout were not elaborated on and those are the ones that intrigued me most. Why did Roseanne Cash put Little House in the Big Woods on her shelf? Why did an artist/urban planner choose a Richard Scarry book? What's the story behind the legal scholar/professor including The Phantom Tollbooth and Now We Are Six? Only one person chose a Harry Potter book (how?!?!), but there wasn't any story behind it. One shelf included A Wrinkle in Time, Harriet the Spy, and The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, but not a word about any of them. And the Childcraft encyclopedias! Does anyone else remember those?!? They were a throwback to my own childhood I had completely forgotten about until the moment I spotted them in these pages -- and I wanted to know more!

I still marked a lot of great quotes and there were a few essays that were real gems, but overall this averaged out to a 3-star book, rather than the 5-star home-run I expected it to be. I do understand that if each contributor elaborated on a dozen or more titles the book would have gotten unwieldy and my own areas of interest are not going to be the same as everyone else's. I just wanted more from this one!

I can't even tell you how long I've had this one because I bought a used copy from the now defunct website. But it's been many, many years, I know that much. Summers came and went and for one reason or another I kept not picking this book up during those warmer months -- and it went completely off my radar for the rest of the year because I thought it was a "summer book." When I finally picked it up, I quickly discovered I was wrong! The essays are organized by season of life (Child, Mother, Grandmother) and include all different times of year, holidays, etc.

As with almost all essay collections, I enjoyed some better than others. These are all personal and obviously come from the author’s own specific experiences, family, and memories. As such, I found some more relatable than others. There were some outstanding stories that brought tears to my eyes and plenty of other interesting ones even if they didn’t speak to me in quite the same way. I originally rated this book 4-stars, but then knocked it down to 3. Maybe it really should be 3.5? The stories I loved I really, really loved, but the rest were just OK for me. And in retrospect, I can't shake the feeling that the book is almost too idyllic. I don't wish drama and dysfunction on anyone's family and I'm not saying the author was being dishonest either, but we all look back with rose-colored glasses sometimes, don't we?

Greenglass House, by Kate Milford

I bought this at my local indie and it sat on my shelf for about a year. When I was reminded it has a snowy/winter/Christmas setting, I went so far as to buy the sequel with the idea that I'd then read them both during the 2017 Christmas season. Anyone else ever buy a sequel for a book they haven't read yet, because you just know you're going to love them? Please say it's not just me! And oh, how I thought I would love this book! And it ended up being... just... fine. It was good, but it wasn't great (for me). For a middle grade novel with a mystery/suspense element, it took me a really long time to finish. And by the time I did, I didn't jump into the sequel because I needed a break from Greenglass House and I had too many other books I wanted to get to. A month and a half later, I actually just picked it up today during my son's nap, but wasn't sure if I was actually going to commit to reading it. However, I was pleasantly surprised by the shorter chapters and how engaged I was feeling early on, so I'm sticking with it. I'm starting to feel like winter's days are actually dwindling, so I'm glad I gave this series another chance this season after all!

* * * * *

What is a book you had on your TBR for a long time that didn't blow you away as much as you had expected? I'd love to know!

Thursday, March 15, 2018

The Unread Shelf Project 2018: My Sign-Up Post

{I already posted about the March challenge for this project, but I've finally gotten this (lengthy!) sign-up post together.}

I've been following Whitney's @theunreadshelf account on Instagram since early January. I found her when there was some New Year buzz around her #theunreadshelfproject2018. It's mainly an Instagram thing and my account is mostly just pictures of my kid, so I told myself I wasn't going to join. But I've really enjoyed following along for some TBR-tackling inspiration anyway and I've been feeling inspired to do more than just follow along lately. I don't have a Bookstagram account, but I have a book blog, so why not participate in my own way? Other bloggers have been writing Unread Shelf Project posts outside of Instagram, so here we are! Below is Whitney's original post explaining the basics and rationale behind the project:

Who’s excited for 2018?! πŸ™ŒπŸ½πŸ’ƒπŸ½πŸŽ‰. . . I’m joining up with @katereadsbooks_ and @calsreads to host The Unread Shelf Project 2018 - to encourage and challenge you to read the unread books you already own. Check out my story for a video about it and keep reading! . . It is sooo easy on social media to get caught up in book FOMO and frantically buy more books than we can possibly tackle quickly. I currently own 161 unread books...🀦🏽‍♀️ Which is about half the books we have in our 900 square foot house, which is kinda amazing we have room for all those. πŸ˜‚. . . Anyway! In 2018, I am committed to reading my unread shelf and not buying or borrowing books until I meet my goals. It’s an exercise in contentment, self-discipline, and enjoying what I have instead of accumulating more. . . Over the next few weeks, we will be sharing our personal goals for #theunreadshelfproject2018 and week- or month-long challenges to help us get there. . . This is not an exercise motivated by shame or guilt. It’s a recognition that many of us have more books than we need, and it’s time to slow down and READ. . . I hope you will join us, whether you have 10 or 100 unread books! The first challenge for you over the holiday weekend is COUNT YOUR UNREAD BOOKS. To set a realistic goal, you have to know where you’re starting from! . . Feel free to share your total in a story or post, and tag me and #theunreadshelfproject2018 so others can follow! You can also repost this graphic to show you are participating! . . I can’t wait to see what you all come up with. Happy reading! (And counting! πŸ˜‰) . . #theunreadshelfproject #kcbookstagram #bookstagram #unreadbooks #readingchallenge2018 #readyourowndamnbooks #books #readingchallenge #contentmentchallenge
A post shared by Whitney - The Unread Shelf (@theunreadshelf) on

The key points for me are:
"It’s an exercise in contentment, self-discipline, and enjoying what I have instead of accumulating more."
"This is not an exercise motivated by shame or guilt. It’s a recognition that many of us have more books than we need, and it’s time to slow down and READ"
Other than the Instagram focus, I had two more reasons for not joining earlier: 1. I was sticking to my decision to not join more year-long challenges and 2. I reallllly didn't want to face the music and tally up all my unread books. My change of heart on reason #1 is that I'm considering this a replacement for the 2018 Goodreads Challenge I never joined. Plus, this is a project, not a challenge right? Ahem. Anyway. As for reason #2, I had a rough idea of my number of unread books from Goodreads, but my tracking has gotten unwieldy over there. (It couldn't be because I have too many books could it? Nah, that can't be it...) I'm much better at using Goodreads for ratings, reviews, and connecting with other readers -- cataloging over there has not been my strong suit, hard as I've tried to keep everything all in one place. So when Whitney shared a screenshot of the app she's been using called Book Buddy (free version with 50 book limit or unlimited pro version for $4.99), I went ahead and took a chance on the pro version.

A big part of me thought it was a huge waste of time to go through and scan all my unread books into another service, but I also liked the idea of a fresh start for tracking my TBR and turned it into a bit of a project with my son. Though he did lose interest before we finished, it occupied us for a decent chunk of time we were stuck inside. He was a particular fan of the sound effect when a barcode failed to scan which sounds like a car horn (don't worry, you can turn the sounds off if you're not entertaining a toddler!)

So we combed through the house and scanned in only unread books and books I've read since the beginning of 2018. My unread number is embarrassingly huge, but I'm going to throw in a few explanations/excuses. First of all, I've included just about every single unread book in the house across all ages, genres, and formats (minus a very few of my husband's books I don't plan to read). Picture books, fairy tales, middle grade, poetry, easy readers, ebooks, audiobooks -- all of it. So that stack of early readers from a garage sale my son is still too young for? They're on my Unread Shelf. And the pile of picture books from the used bookstore or the library discard shelf we didn't get to yet? Yup, those are too. And on and on. I also included some books I've technically read before, but purchased with the intention of re-reading. I know that inflates my unread number, but I wanted to see the full scope and then take it from there.

Going through my shelves as I just did for this project reminds me of the wealth of great stories I already have at my fingertips. It reminds me I already have a great variety to choose from depending on my mood. I am fortunate that it's easy for me run to the library to borrow books on a whim and that's amazing! But it's far too easy to reach for the library stack because there are due dates to comply with. So this is about shifting my focus, slowing down, and enjoying what I already have. And it's also about clearing out some of the excess to send off to new homes and share with others -- culling is definitely part of my plan for this project.

Now here is the part where I tell you I've been going back and forth about whether or not to share my actual Unread Shelf number here on the blog. For a long time, I had a TBR counter on my sidebar, but I got rid of it because it didn't actually help keep me accountable like it was intended to. At times it seemed like it downright backfired and I really don't want to repeat that experience with this project. So it feels like cheating, but I'm going to keep the numbers to myself. I will admit this much -- I don't have an unread shelf, but more like an unread library -- eek!

I try to remind myself that all those unread books includes digital as well as print. It includes a lot of freebies (Amazon First ReadsAudiosync, Volumes etc.), used books, library discards, and bargain books, but it's still a LOT of books, no matter how good the deals were. I'm trying to think of books as good investments (which Julie reminded me of recently!) and I love to lend out books, but building a family library has definitely outpaced my reading ability. And even though I want to make progress on my Unread Shelf, it's NOT all about numbers. I want to think of our library as a resource and remember that reading is not a race. I don't want to reduce my reading life to stats and an overgrown checklist -- the app and the numbers are simply tools to help guide and organize me. If those tools start getting in the way, I have no problem letting them go.

I'm not sure exactly how I will do updates going forward, but I'm setting my official first goal to read all of the unread picture books that have been lingering around. I love picture books, so that's a goal I can get excited about. I probably just need to "borrow" a stack from our own shelves instead of the library for a few weeks and I should be all set :)

The title of this very blog refers to my overflowing shelves -- or what I thought were overflowing shelves nearly seven years ago. And the whole point of starting a book blog was to read more of them! But I seem to veer further off course the longer I hang out in the bookish corners of the blog/podcast world. In a lot of ways, I'm actually OK with that, but maybe this project will help me get back to my bookish roots. I know there are so many great stories just waiting for me to uncover -- and I look forward to experiencing them :)

Sunday, March 11, 2018

When you finally read that book that's been on your shelf forever... and you love it!

{This is my second TBR-themed post inspired by Caffeinated Reviewer's March Take Control of Your TBR Challenge}

When I finally dig into books that have been sitting on my shelf forever, thankfully it's not all DNFs and disappointment. Sometimes it feels like a treasure hunt. Like I've uncovered a diamond in the rough and I just can't believe I didn't pick that book up sooner. What was I thinking?!

I'm going to use a loose definition of "forever" for the purposes of this post, but let's call it at least a year, though I'm sure I'm not the only bookworm who has unread books hanging around a lot longer than that! Here are a few I've read since December that fit the bill:

A Wrinkle in Time, by Madeline L'Engle

According to Goodreads, I put this on my "Have a Copy" shelf in February 2013 -- that's 5 years ago! I had found a matching set of books #2-5 of the Time Quintet at my local used bookstore and felt I should remedy the fact that I missed out on them as a kid. Whether because the person who traded them in held onto Wrinkle or because another reader snapped it up before me doesn't really matter, but I wasn't surprised to see the most popular first book was not there. And it certainly didn't deter me from scooping them up and then tracking down the missing title elsewhere. And even though I did that rather promptly, the entire series still sat unread on my shelves for 5 long years. My mom even borrowed, read, and returned most of the series before I ever cracked the first one open! (Side note: She started feeling lost in book #5 and gave it up. I've since learned there is apparently some controversy over whether or not books #4-5 are *really* part of the series as it was originally a trilogy? I don't know enough about it to comment, but if you have any insight, please share!)

When I finally picked up Wrinkle for two different read-alongs, it only took a couple of pages to know it was going to be a really special book. The writing is excellent and I found it so very engaging -- the kind of book I just want to get lost in. I almost want to compare it to how it felt reading Harry Potter for the first time, though that might be a slight exaggeration. I did get a tad bit lost with some of the science-y stuff later on and I struggled a little bit with concentrating on book #2, but overall, I've been so glad to finally be experiencing this new-to-me series.

The Snow Sister, by Emma Carroll

I bought both of these in December 2016, thinking I'd read them during that Christmas season... and I didn't. Womp, womp. I brought Winterson's short story collection with me to my grandmother's house for the holiday, but never made it past the introduction which I didn't find all that inspiring. I tried again for Christmas 2017 and I'm so glad I finally did! Not every story was a hit for me, but I really appreciated the variety and breadth of the stories as well as the excellent writing. Even with a few meh stories, I book dart-ed a TON of memorable quotes and passages.  I even loved the little anecdotes that accompanied the recipes -- which I originally thought I would skim or skip in favor of the *real* stories. Lesson learned.

As for the Emma Carroll book, I can't say I'm surprised I loved this slim heartwarming Christmas novel (novella?) My love of middle grade has only grown in the past year though, so maybe I was better off waiting? But still, its short page length really left me kicking myself for not picking it up sooner. I find that seasonal books have an even higher likelihood of languishing on the shelves because if I don't get to them the first time, that typically means a whole year will pass before I even consider picking them up again. Those seasonal/holiday reading windows always feel so short! And if I miss the boat a second time, we're talking another whole year, and so on and so forth. I'm trying to establish a habit of pulling out all the seasonal books well ahead of time so I can see what my options are at certain times of year. It's a work in progress, but it definitely helps focus my reading choices and if I do skip a book, it's more likely to be a conscious decision rather than me just forgetting I had it until the season has come and gone.

* * * * *

Do you have a book you ended up loving after it sat around for awhile? I'd love to hear about it!

Thursday, March 8, 2018

#TheUnreadShelfProject2018: March Challenge

I'm doing this a bit out of order since I haven't even posted anything about joining The Unread Shelf Project 2018 yet... but oh well! I'll get to that at a later date, but the short version is basically to read books from your shelves. It's mainly an Instagram thing and is hosted by Whitney @theunreadshelf -- go check out her account and #theunreadshelfproject2018 if you're on Instagram :)

For the month of March, Whitney's challenge to participants is to choose a book to read by the end of the month. And if you don't read it, you have to get rid of it! Sell, donate, trade-in -- that's up to you, but out of the house it goes. The idea is that by giving yourself a deadline (sort of like a library book!) you will either be motivated to finally read a book you want to keep OR it will be the perfect excuse to admit it isn't for you and send it off to a new home.

So the point of this post... my chosen book for this challenge:

My Bookstore: Writers Celebrate Their Favorite Places to Browse, Read, and Shop edited by Ronald Rice & illustrated by Leif Parsons

This is the third and final book-about-books I bought over five years ago that's been sitting on my shelves ever since. I read the other two recently -- one was a DNF and the other was good though it didn't quite live up to expectations. So it's time to read this last one and see once and for all if it's a keeper or not. I'm reading a few essays at a time and am about 40 pages in so far. It's the perfect book to spread out over a couple of weeks and a perfect book for this challenge.

I have a feeling I could repeat this challenge for myself in the future -- but I'll have to see how I feel about it at the end of the month!

* * * * *

Have you ever tried anything like this? I'd love to know!

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Links I'm Loving Lately [2]

{A lot of bloggers share link round-ups, but I was particularly inspired to get in on the link love by Reading With Jade's recent Blog Posts I've Enjoyed Lately series.}

It's just shy of a month since Links I'm Loving Lately [1], so it's time for another round!

Posts That Put a New Book On My Radar

+How to Make Using the Library Less Stressful: Part 3 {Everyday Reading}
+A Life Well-Nourished: Reading Intentions For 2018 {Top Shelf Text}

+Life Weeds {No Sidebar}

The Mom Life

+Funfetti Chip Scones {Sally's Baking Addiction} < -- haven't made these yet!
+Meatball and Rice Skillet with Baby Peas {Belly Full} < -- a favorite easy dinner!

* * * * *

Seen any great posts lately? Share in the comments if you'd like :)

Saturday, March 3, 2018

Monthly Book Budget Update #2

{February has come and gone, so it's time for another budget update to help keep myself accountable. Update #1 is here.}

Well, in February, I blew through most of my budget on the first of the month. I had Amazon points and a Book Outlet reward, so I placed an order on each site and both exceeded my "freebie" amounts. This left me with just $2.72 to spend when later that day I went to cancel Audible and was offered $7.49/month for 3 months if I kept my account open -- and I wasn't passing that deal up! I toyed with the idea of not *counting* it, but decided I'm better off counting everything I said I would (gifts/donations being the only exceptions that cost me anything). That way, I'll know exactly how much I went over by when making any future budgeting plans. So I kept my Audible account open and my budget dipped into the red at -$4.77.

For a while after that, I was really enjoying the freedom of a spent budget. If that sounds a bit contradictory, hear me out for a second. Whitney over @theunreadshelf on Instagram talked in one of her stories last month about how putting a limit on when she allows herself to buy books (her birthday, library sale, etc.) for #theunreadshelfproject2018 she's hosting takes away the stress of decision-making. She's not spending time and energy debating the should I, shouldn't I? of book browsing, shopping, etc. because she already knows the answer: I'm just not buying books!

So I was sitting happily in that negative budget, just not buying books, when the Newbery and all the other ALA Youth Media Awards were announced. And I still get email offers. Annnnnnd they were running a 3/$30 teen book sale. So I looked. And 4 winner/honor books I was eyeing were on sale. And I splurged. Award month is not a good month for me to be on a budget!

I was feeling OK with this decision and I didn't waste a lot of time agonizing over it. These awards only happen once a year and I wouldn't be likely to find these hardcovers for $10 each again. (Excuses, excuses I know!) So I placed the order and went back to "just not buying" books -- sort of. I bought two books for a Valentine's Day gift and was charged for a book I ordered at a huge price drop in December that finally was back in stock. I'm pretty sure that one will be an Easter gift though, so it also falls in the "gifts don't count" category.

I should have been more than done for the month, but with two days left in February I ventured to our local used bookstore with a stack of trade-ins and who was I kidding to think I wouldn't leave with books for my son and I? I got to go on this trip solo too, so I had plenty of time to browse and the combination of used books and supporting a local business gets me every time. Let's just say I'm glad I get to start over for March!

* * * * *

How are your 2018 goals going so far?

Thursday, March 1, 2018

When you finally read that book that's been on your shelf forever... and it stinks!

{Inspired by Caffeinated Reviewer's March Take Control of Your TBR Challenge I recently joined, I thought I'd do a series of TBR-themed posts. Keep an eye out for at least two more coming up soon!}

Has this ever happened to you? It just happened to me last weekend with The Books They Gave Me, edited by Jen Adams.

It might be a bit overkill to say it stinks, but it sure was a letdown. I didn't rate it on Goodreads because I didn't finish it, but I was hovering between 1- and 2-stars when I DNF'ed it instead. A few stories were good, but there were far too many others I just did not care for.

Reading an underwhelming book isn't exactly breaking news -- it happens to all of us at times. The thing about this particular book is that I know it has been sitting on my shelf for over 5 years. It's a book about books I thought I would absolutely love. AND it's basically just a collection of short snippets, so it doesn't make a whole lot of sense that I didn't at least dip into when I first bought it. But nope. I didn't read a single story (that I can recall) until last weekend. After putting it aside and picking it back up a few times thinking maybe I should just power through since it's so short, I finally DNF'ed it. I'm not a big DNF-er, but I'm trying to be better about admitting defeat and cutting my losses in terms of time invested in books I don't really care for. Because with all the great books out there, why not move onto something better?

I really am fine with having a DNF, but couldn't help thinking: I can't believe that book has been taking up shelf space for 5+ years! Forget the (minimal) time I spent trying to enjoy the book, it took up bookshelf real estate for sooooo long. I don't know about you, but when that happens, I can't wait to get that book out of my house and on its way to a used book shop or donation bin. Just because I don't like it doesn't mean no one else will like it. But it is making me wonder just how many other duds are lurking on my shelves that I should be clearing out. Thankfully picking up those lingering books doesn't mean all DNFs and disappointment -- there have also been hidden gems lurking on my shelves, but that's a post for another day :)

* * * * *

What book did you end up not liking after it sat on your shelf awhile? I'd love to know!

Sunday, February 25, 2018

March Take Control Of Your TBR Pile Challenge: My Sign-up Post

I don't join too many month-long challenges, but this one hosted by Kimberly over on Caffeinated Reviewer is a favorite. This will actually be the 5th year I participate -- I missed the year I was 8 months pregnant -- hmmmm.... I wonder why?

Anyway, the idea is simple: "for the entire month of March, you focus on reading/listening to books in your TBR pile released before March 1, 2018. They can be eBooks, physical books or audiobooks."

I'm not much of a new release reader, so these rules aren't actually much of a challenge for me. But I am going to add my own focus and try to read only TBR books I own during the month. Different readers define their TBRs differently so there is no rule against library books for this challenge -- just the one I'm self-imposing because my shelves are bursting at the seams :)

Come join!

I usually don't bother with a book list for the month because I'm pretty terrible at sticking to that sort of thing, but there are a few I am definitely planning to read:

Books #2-5 in the Time Quintet are to continue with Top Shelf Text's read-along. I *should* be done with A Wind in the Door before March starts, but in case I lag behind, I'm including it here.

The middle grade novel-in-verse Finding Wonders: Three Girls Who Changed Science is a March Diverse Books Club pick. 

* * * * *

Anyone else joining? What's on your TBR stack for the month?

Monday, February 19, 2018

The Classics Club: Wrap-Up

Well, the 5-year end date (February 8th) for my Classics Club project has officially come and gone. Any regular readers of this little corner of the internet probably won't be surprised to hear that I did not complete 50 classics in the past 5 years. Once I switched my focus to children's classics and loosened some self-imposed restrictions (i.e. I wanted to count all the Winnie the Pooh books as just 1 entry for the Classics Club, rather than 4), I did manage to read 32 (list of titles here). I'm pretty pleased with that number, but it's a far cry from my original goal.

And the part of this project meant to encourage blogging about classics (rather than just reading them) was a total flop for me. I only blogged about 15 of the books which includes one brief mention, some mini-reviews, and only a total of 8 individual posts:

Looking back on this list, it strikes me that even though I really struggled to blog about classics, several of these posts were so fun to write (and discuss in comments). Those last three " an Adult" ones were some of my very favorites and it was so wonderful to hear other readers' memories and experiences of beloved books. I need to remember that as I continue on my classics journey, without the added *pressure* of a Classics Club list.

I'll admit, I am still tempted to try again and jump back in with a new list, but if I am really honest with myself, I need to admit that joining this (wonderful!) group hasn't actually motivated me to pick up classics with any kind of regularity. And funnily enough, I've completed not one, but TWO more classics since my Classics Club period came to an end! I was about 25% of the way into A Little Princess on the 8th which I finished a few days later. I then went on to start and finish A Wrinkle in Time this past weekend. That's two classics in 11 days compared to 32 in roughly 1,825 days!

I won't pretend I'll be keeping up that pace, but clearly something else has been encouraging me to pick up classics when I don't have a Classics Club project to work on. The short answer is the CarrotTopPaperShop Kindred Spirit Club. Jenny Williams, the artist behind the shop, has just recently started a bit of an impromptu book club amongst her newsletter subscribers over in her Kindred Spirit Facebook group. I'm trying to be on Facebook as little as possible these days, but I still joined in order to jump in on the discussions. I haven't contributed a whole lot, but I enjoy hearing other people's thoughts and most of all I really just enjoy reading along with a group -- especially when it's a classic I've otherwise delayed picking up.

So while the Classics Club does bring readers/bloggers together, we're all still really just doing our own thing. At least for the moment, the book club approach is the way to go for me. And it certainly helps that almost all of the books suggested for future discussions are ones I have on my shelves and/or actively want to read. Jenny's shop (and her taste in books) has a focus on literary heroines, so I probably shouldn't be surprised! I also think the more I read with this group, the more I will get in the habit of reading classics and the easier it might be to pick them up on my own going forward -- we shall see!

* * * * *

P.S. I'd be remiss not to mention that Madeleine of Top Shelf Text just hosted a read-along of A Wrinkle in Time over on her Instagram account and I plan to continue reading along with her for the rest of the series. It was quite the convenient overlap that I could read A Wrinkle in Time along with so many people :)

* * * * *

Check out CarrotTopPaperShop for prints, greeting cards, totes, bookplates, and more -- she has lots of great stuff perfect for a library, nursery, kids room, or anywhere, really :)

The next Kindred Spirit Club Facebook discussion of A Wrinkle in Time will take place on March 6th if you want to join!

Subscribe to the Kindred Spirit newsletter for updates, deals, etc.

And find more info about The Classics Club if you want to join up there!

Monday, February 12, 2018

The 2018 ALA Youth Media Awards have been announced!

Blog posts two days in a row is practically unheard of for me. But I just watched the live webcast of the ALA Youth Media Awards and you guys, it was so exciting! It's like a kidlit-loving bookworm's Oscars, but better! (Just let me nerd out, OK? I know you understand.) I missed the first 15 minutes because the link I bookmarked yesterday was wrong -- it just kept repeating a Jack Black snippet about libraries over and over again (a bit maddening, to be honest!) Anyway, I found the correct link and watched the remaining 45 minutes. My son goes to his grandparents' house on Mondays, so it was a wonderfully uninterrupted 45 minutes, too. Of course I have plenty of work and housework waiting for me, but this was too good to miss!

Since I've gotten much more immersed in children's literature over the past year, this was really the first time I knew enough about new books being published to eagerly anticipate the announcements. In past years, it wouldn't be uncommon for me to not have heard of a single title until after the awards were announced. Not this year! I had heard of lots of the books that won AND I've actually read some.

There are so many awards and wonderful books to explore, but I thought I would just share a quick list of the books I've already read -- and loved -- that took home a medal or an honor this morning:

First up, two Diverse Books Club picks!

This book won all the things. It's just that good.
The Hate U Give, by Angie Thomas (audiobook narrated by Bahni Turpin)

Coretta Scott King Author Honor 
{outstanding books by an African-American author}

Printz Honor 
{excellence in YA}

Odyssey Award 
{best audiobook for children and/or young adults}

William C. Morris Award 
{debut book for teens}

We Are Okay, by Nina LeCour

Printz Award
{excellence in YA}

* * * * *

Next is an outstanding novel-in-verse. I'm not sure I've ever seen a book win an honor or medal for both the Printz (teen) and Newbery (children's)? Does anyone know if that's ever happened before? The Newbery is for ages up to and including 14, while the Printz is for ages 12-18. This book's jacket says for ages 12 & up -- so it makes sense! I just feel like this particular overlap is possibly even less common than the Newbery-Caldecott overlap. If you know any more about this, please share in the comments!

All the honors. It's so good.
Long Way Down, by Jason Reynolds (audiobook narrated by the author)

Newbery Honor
{most outstanding contribution to children's literature}

Coretta Scott King Author Honor 
{outstanding books by an African-American author}

Printz Honor 
{excellence in YA}

Odyssey Award Honor
{best audiobook for children and/or young adults}

* * * * *

Next is an audiobook honor I actually listened to on audio! Stephen Fry is one of my all-time favorite narrators and I was so excited to see this production get a nod.

A Boy Called Christmas, by Matt Haig; narrated by Stephen Fry

Odyssey Award Honor
{best audiobook for children and/or young adults}

* * * * *

Next we have the picture books. I borrowed a LOT of new picture books in 2017 from my library, so I found the picture book awards particularly exciting!

Out of Wonder, illustrated by Ekua Holmes; written by Kwame Alexander with Chris Colderly & Marjory Wentworth

Coretta Scott King Illustrator Award 
{outstanding books by an African-American illustrator}

A Different Pond, illustrated by Thi Bui; written by Bao Phi

Caldecott Honor
{most distinguished picture book for children}

I only gave this one 3 stars when I read it. I think I need to revisit it.
Wolf in the Snow, by Matthew Cordell

Caldecott Medal
{most distinguished picture book for children}

* * * * *


These last two I have not read yet, but they were on my TBR before the awards were announced. While I really would like to read ALL THE BOOKS that won awards today, these two are on my shelves already waiting for me.

Alex Award 
{adult book with appeal to teen audiences}

I won a free copy of this ARC in a Goodreads giveaway, but never read it!
Hello, Universe, by Erin Entrada Kelly

Newbery Medal 
{most outstanding contribution to children's literature}

P.S. I will be buddy-reading this book with Julie from Smiling Shelves starting on Wednesday if anyone wants to follow along over on Litsy! Find us @Bucklingbkshelf  @smilingshelves

* * * * *

Check out all the winners and honors here. The top two titles I want to read and/or pick up a copy of (that I don't already have) are: Piecing Me Together, by RenΓ©e Watson and #Notyourprincess: Voices of Native American Women edited by Lisa Charleyboy & Mary Beth Leatherdale.

Have you read any of today's winners or honors? Which ones are on your TBR? I'd love to know!