Monday, December 31, 2018

Final #mustreadin2018 update 12.31.18

Fittingly I am squeezing in my #mustreadin2018 post on the last day of the year.  I feel like that sums up my reading year - a lot of it was squeezed in or done quickly.  Since I started tracking my yearly reading in 2014, this past year, 2018, I read the most amount of books I've ever read.  And while that should be an accomplishment, I think back to how many books I read through so fast so I could get on to the next one, and how many books I don't even remember much about.  I'm hoping to change that next year.  I want to spend more time, especially on picture books, thinking about how they can be used by teachers.  2018 was also a funny year for me because I feel like I didn't "fall" into as many books as I usually do.  There were some definite stand outs, but I felt like I had more reading slumps than usual.  I'm hoping 2019 will be an end to that, and judging from some of the ARCs I've already read, we've got some great books ahead!

Thinking about my #mustreadin2018 list, I got to all of my books except one!  I started something new two years ago - instead of making a list of must reads, I assigned books each month.  Somewhere within the month I would read those books.  I did that because I have a stack of books I just don't get to and I know they are books I want to read.  I stopped putting upcoming books that I knew I would probably read whether they were on a list or not, and focused on my towering TBR towers and to get books off of that!  That worked out better than a list except I was adding 2-3 books each month.  Sometimes I only have time for a middle grade book each week.  When you add the new releases I try to get to in a month plus these others, I fell behind quickly.  So last year I changed it to one book each month, except I had 13 books I really wanted to read so I figured June would be a good month to read 2 books.  Wrong.  I actually just finished one of the titles from June yesterday!  But, I read twelve books that have been sitting in my house... some for a very long time!  Here's the recap:

X by Ilyasah Shabazz and Kekla Magoon
Quick thoughts:  I really didn't know much about Malcolm X before I read this.  And I was happy to find out that this really concentrated on his earlier life.  Interesting read, definitely for the older crowd.

March (Trilogy Slipcase Set)
March trilogy by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin and Nate Powell
Quick thoughts:  Again, what was briefly mentioned in my history books became so much more fascinating and understandable by reading these books.  I wonder if in conjunction with mandated textbooks, if classes offered readings from books like these and from my first book, if students would have a better understanding of history and be able to change the future...

Crooked Kingdom (Six of Crows, #2)
Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo
Quick thoughts:  This was a book I added because I had the first book on my #mustreadin2017 list.  A book that was celebrated by so many readers, I didn't love it until the end.  I had a better time reading the second book, maybe because the world building was complete, so the action happened faster?  I'm glad I came back to the series and completed it.

Cress (The Lunar Chronicles, #3)
Cress by Marissa Meyer
Quick thoughts:  I've been slowly getting through this series, reading one each year.  So far Scarlet has been my favorite.  I found the character of Cress to by whiny and complaining.  I like the twists and turns this book brought to the overall plot line.

Graceling (Graceling Realm, #1)
Graceling by Kristin Cashore
Quick thoughts:  So this is a book that I've owned for years.  My 13yo was a very little girl when I bought it.  Another book that has had a lot of love by readers I trust, I really had a hard time with it.  I did not enjoy any of the characters that much and even though I liked it more at the end, definitely not enough to continue the series.  

Forge (Seeds of America, #2)
Forge by Laurie Halse Anderson
Quick thoughts:  My daughter has read all three books in the trilogy and she is not one for historical fiction.  There is a reason for that - these books are absolutely amazing.  The plot lines are tightly written and correctly match history because of the amount of research Anderson has put into each story.  I enjoyed seeing how the quote that starts each chapter will have an effect on the storyline.  I also spent just as much time reading the backmatter because it was so interesting to see how she added history into the story.

Scythe (Arc of a Scythe, #1)
Scythe by Neil Shusterman
Quick thoughts:  This is the mustread for this year that blew me away.  I had put off reading this book because of the subject matter (killing people) but after hearing everyone say how good it was, I knew it was time to read it.  I still don't like the premise, but once you read it, you can't help but understand and care for the characters.  That's what amazing writing will do.  I devoured this book, told everyone I knew to read it and then made sure to get the next one in the series read.  Now if Mr. Shusterman could just finish book three that would be great...

Bounders by Monica Tesler
Quick thoughts:  I'm really glad for science fiction like this that draws readers in and gets them excited about the topic.  Science fiction can be a hard sell for younger readers and it's not the first genre many pick up.  Writing this makes me think about how I want to for sure do a #firstchapterFriday on this series and genre in January!

Book Scavenger (Book Scavenger, #1)
The Book Scavenger by Jennifer Chambliss Bertman
Quick thoughts:  Another book I've owned for a really long time but just hadn't gotten around to reading.  This is one of those books that I think is better for an older audience than my school (we go up to 4th grade).  With the density of the book and range of the book titles, I can see older readers appreciating it more.  My daughter has read through the entire series, but she did so at an older age (6th-7th grades).

Bud, Not Buddy
Bud, Not Buddy by Christopher Paul Curtis
Quick thoughts:  Yup, another book that has been on my TBR for a really long time and I've owned the book for quite some time.  I can see why this book has been celebrated and well loved by readers.  One that was book talked by many teachers at one point, but maybe needs some more love again.  I can see a whole new generations of readers wanting to get to know Bud.

How to Steal a Dog
How to Steal a Dog by Barbara O'Connor
Quick thoughts:  See why making these must read lists are so important?  Everyone but me has read this book, now it's crossed off my list!  This book is quick to read with characters to love.  I can see why it's a hit!

When I Was the Greatest
When I Was the Greatest by Jason Reynolds
Quick thoughts:  Not my favorite of his, but I think this is one of his very early books which makes me see how his writing has gotten even better over time.  However, the books he writes, the way he writes, absolutely speaks to this generation of readers.  I'm so glad we have his voice to share with kids today.  And after hearing him speak enough times, I can hear his voice when I read his words.  

Well, that wraps up 2018!  Check back tomorrow and see some of the books I'm reading in 2019!

Sunday, December 30, 2018

Just a word... 12.30.18

It's been awhile since I've blogged.  Not intentionally, just a lot going on.  At some point last year, I really started reflecting on how busy my life was.  Busy, stressful and too much of being too much.  There were some physical side effects.  Mental ones, for sure.  I've tried to think about what can be "taken off my plate".  Really, nothing.  But maybe the balance needs to shift.  Sometimes, I feel like the picture above.  It's balanced, but there's a lot of things to balance.  And a lot of times it feels like there is no order to things.  Lots of balls in the air, but they are uneven.  Unbalanced.  And I'm the stone on the bottom, one stone, holding lots of things up.

I have not chosen a "One Little Word" for a year in a long time.  I don't like New Year's goals, and while a word is different from a goal, nothing felt authentic.

But this year, I need to strive for more balance.  Whether it's as a One Little Word, or just something I'm going to keep in the back of my mind.  Like I said earlier, I can't take things off my plate, but maybe I can arrange them differently.  So maybe the stones in the picture above can become more orderly.  I want to be present more.  I want to do what I enjoy doing, but maybe how and where I allot time to will look different week to week, month to month.  I want to do something and do it fully, not just a little bit because it's all I have time to do.  I'm not going to feel badly about saying no.  It's ok to cut back on something to make time for others.  People first.  

And I'm going to think about myself.  I don't like being stressed all the time.  I don't like the physical feeling it gives me.  If I can make some changes to  feel a balance, that's what I am going to do this year.  If I need to blog less, that's ok.  If I need to take a social media break, it will be there when I get back.  If I don't get reading done, I can't let it bother me.  To get good at something, it needs to be a focus.  So maybe I'll take on less projects and concentrate on something.  This won't be done in a day.  I'll still fail at balancing it all just right.  But I'm going to try. 

Let's do this.