BookTubeAThon 2018 Wrap-Up

This year I experienced a BookTubeAThon miracle. I read eight books in seven days.

Longtime readers of this blog will know that every year I create a spreadsheet outlining which books I plan to read and how many pages they all are. I use that to plan out my week. I do this because if I don’t have a clear number goal in mind, I will always give up early and decide I’ve already done enough work for the day (this is true for more than just reading marathons). So I use my spreadsheet to figure out the number of pages I need to read each day, then I make a plan for what I’ll read when.

Everything was going according to plan until Wednesday, when I stayed extra long at a work party and completely missed my daily goal. I figured I would just make it up in the second half of the week (I tend to front-load my plan for just this reason), and set to work reading on Thursday. And then, somehow, it was Saturday afternoon and I realized I would easily finish the last two books on my list before I needed to go to bed. While I suppose I could have taken this as a sign that I should slow down and do something other than read for a little while, I instead decided it would be exceptionally satisfying to say that I once read seven books in six days. And then I realized that there was a copy of Breakfast at Tiffany’s and Three Stories on my desk, which was intended to be the book I read after the challenge was over. But it’s only 142 pages – well below the number of pages I’d been averaging. So on Sunday morning I picked it up, and even with going to church and watching a movie, I was still done by 11PM.

I’m calling it a miracle because I still don’t totally understand how it happened. I have a spreadsheet detailing my original plan as well as the actual pages read every day, and I still don’t get it. There’s math and yet I can’t really tell you what happened. The numbers of course clearly illustrate how I read 1553 pages in seven days, and yet somehow it doesn’t add up.

I just read. A lot.

A few quick recaps of the books I read:

The Underground Railroad was about as cheerful as you would guess an American slavery story to be, but it was also extremely well-written and imaginative. But I suppose if you win a Pulitzer Prize you don’t need the stamp of approval from people like me.

The Princess Diarist was lovely. Half of it is Carrie Fisher casually telling you stories abut her life, and half of it is excerpts from the personal journals she kept as a 19-year-old working on the set of Star Wars. The journal entries are about as angsty as a teenager’s journal ought to be, but they are also beautiful and poetic. It’s like every line is your favorite Death Cab for Cutie lyric. I listened to it on audiobook from the library but I want a copy for my home, so this book is definitely going on my Christmas list.

Mooncop is a wonderful and bittersweet little graphic novel about the last police officer on an out-of-vogue moon colony. It probably took me all of ten minutes to read and I loved it. This was my only “cheat” book of the week.

Fly on the Wall is about a teenage girl who wishes she could be a fly on the wall of the boys locker room and then literally becomes one. It’s a fun little book and has some nice messaging when it comes to race, sexuality, and body image. Recommended for readers under 15 or anyone who just wants to feel good about life for a little while.

A is For Alibi was a little disappointing, but since disappointment is a direct result of expectations that may have been my fault. I think I was expecting something a little more complicated and thrilling. I do agree that the detective character, Kinsey Millhone, is a great personality to build a series on. So I understand how Sue Grafton was able to write 25 books about her.

What I Talk About When I Talk About Running was an audiobook I had on hold with the library that finally became available in the middle of the week. I decided it could be my book about “something you’ve always wanted to do.” I’ve always wanted to be a runner. I don’t really want to run exactly; I actually hate running. I’ve just always wished I was that type of person, the type of person who trained for marathons and got intense zen satisfaction from a two-hour run. I’m not that person. But I am a writer just like the book’s author, Haruki Murakami. He talked about writing and running interchangeably, and it was interesting hearing how he viewed each.

Fight Club was a strange experience. I read the book and then re-watched the movie to compare the two. Most of the movie was an extremely faithful adaptation of the book, something that is very difficult because of the intentionally chaotic way the book is written. I found myself seeing the movie scenes in my head as I read, and by the end I actually questioned how the movie ended, because I could see Edward Norton so clearly in the book’s ending. I never really liked the ending of the Fight Club movie, and I think the original is far superior. But somehow reading the book gave me a better understanding and appreciation of the movie, including its ending.

Breakfast at Tiffany’s was a different experience. The parts of the movie that are faithful to the book are almost word-for-word readings. But then there are entire plots added and dropped along the way. The truly shocking thing is that not only does the book not end as a happy romantic comedy, it’s not a romance at all. Holly and the narrator never have any sort of love affair. He’s clearly infatuated with her, but nothing ever comes of it and in the end she leaves him, and New York, forever. What was even more surprising is how small the character of Yunioshi is in the book, and how racially progressive. In contrast to Mickey Rooney’s racist caricature in the movie, when Yunioshi is described by a bartender in the book as a photographer “from Japan,” the narrator corrects him to say, “from California.” It’s hard to say how racially progressive the rest of the book is, because it suffers from some dated racial language that is hard for the modern reader to separate from prejudice. It’s certainly sexually progressive, with Holly Golightly being a self-described bisexual and suggesting that everyone is bi to some degree.

Because of my BookTubeAThon miracle I ended up five books ahead in my goal to read 50 books this year. I’ve been behind since February, so it feels good to not only be on track, but to have some wiggle room. Since I can’t attribute this year’s success to anything in particular, I’m not sure if I should build on it or not. Since I only had one tiny book and I ended up reading an extra one, it means that for the first time my seven books were really, truly, books. Yes, books like Fight Club and Fly on the Wall are short. But The Underground Railroad and A is for Alibi are not. Do I try for seven real books again next year? I’m not sure.

I will say that on par with reading eight books in seven days was getting BOTH of my parents and a family friend to participate in BookTubeAThon. Which means no matter what I do next year, for 2018 I can take credit for 29 books read in a single week.

BookTubeAThon 2018 – My TBR List

BookTubeAThon 2018 is almost here! For those of you who don’t know, BookTubeAThon is an annual reading challenge where participants attempt to read seven books in seven days. Anyone can participate, including you. All kinds of books count: children’s books, graphic novels, audiobooks, whatever you want. And there are seven challenges that everyone tries to accomplish. Watch the full challenge video here.

This year’s challenges:

  1. Let a coin toss decide your first read.
  2. Read a book about something you want to do.
  3. Read and watch a book to movie adaptation.
  4. Read a book with green on the cover.
  5. Read a book while wearing the same hat the whole time.
  6. Read a book with a beautiful spine.
  7. Read seven books.

Here are my picks:

  1. Let a coin toss decide your first read.
    • The Princess Diarist by Carrie Fischer
  2. Read a book about something you want to do.
    • Either The Year of Living Danishly by Helen Russell or Long Way Round by Ewan McGregor and Charlie Boorman
  3. Read and watch a book to movie adaptation.
    • Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk
  4. Read a book with green on the cover.
    • A is for Alibi by Sue Grafton
  5. Read a book while wearing the same hat the whole time.
    • Mooncop by Tom Gauld
  6. Read a book with a beautiful spine.
    • The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead
  7. Read seven books.
    • Fly on the Wall by Emily Jenkins

Mooncop, The Underground Railroad, Fight Club, Long Way Round, and Fly on the Wall were all already on my personal TBR, so they were pretty easy picks. Only one of these was on audiobook, and I’ve found that I need at least three audiobooks to have a really effective BookTubeAThon. Unfortunately there was basically nothing else on my person TBR available on audio from my local library, so I started browsing the “available now” section of the library’s audio app to get some more options. I still needed a book with green on the cover (there is absolutely no green on any of the five I’d already found), so I started by just scanning for color.

A is for Alibi is almost solid green, and a book I first considered reading only hours earlier. I’d been listening to a beautiful tribute to Sue Grafton on NPR and thought it would be worth reading at least the first book in the famous alphabet series. I wanted an alternative to one of my physical books, so when I saw The Year of Living Danishly I figured a book about living in Europe for a defined but significant time could be on par with a book about traveling around the world in one long trip as something I’ve always wanted to do.

That left me with a coin toss. I decided to go through the whole list of available titles, pull out everything that looked interesting, and make the coin toss into a sort of bracket. It went like this:

ROUND ONE

Heads
Hidden Figures
Bird by Bird
You Can’t Touch My Hair
Tails – WINNERS
The Princess Diarist
Goodbye, Things
But What if We’re Wrong?

ROUND TWO

Heads
Hidden Figures
Bird by Bird
You Can’t Touch My Hair
Tails – WINNERS
The Princess Diarist
Goodbye, Things
But What if We’re Wrong?

ROUND THREE

Heads – WINNER
The Princess Diarist
Tails
But What if We’re Wrong?

So that’s it, that’s my TBR for BookTubeAThon 2018, with my challenge two book to be decided near the end of the week when I know if I need a physical book or an audio one.

It’s not too late to pick your own books and join in! The challenge starts July 30th at midnight. Remember, you don’t need to pick seven full novels. For my first BookTubeAThon, four of my seven books were extra short ones like plays and graphic novels. It was still a challenge and still a lot of fun. The worst thing that will happen is you won’t read seven books in seven days, which is exactly what will happen if you don’t try at all.

The Katrina 2018 Reading Challenge

I may be reading 50 books this year.

Ever since I discovered reading challenges and Booktube a few years ago, I’ve wanted to have a 50 book year. It’s a very common goal online, and for avid readers it’s pretty attainable. I’m not necessarily an avid reader, but I’ve managed 24 books a year two years in a row, so it’s not an insane idea.

However I’ve recently realized that setting goals and sticking with them is only helpful so long as the goals are aligned with your interests. I’ve had a number of occasions where I stuck with a goal for far too long (usually to completion) without acknowledging that I didn’t actually want it anymore. I think I want to read 50 books this year, but more than that I want to read as much as I can while still enjoying it. I don’t want to start reading “cheat books” just to get my numbers up, and I don’t want to push myself to finish something terrible just to say I did.

So I’m setting my Goodreads challenge at 30 books, and I’m planning to read three and a half books in January. Assuming I participate in BookTubeAThon and #ReadingBingo again this year, three and a half books a month will get me to 50 and then some. So if January feels good, I’ll up the Goodreads goal a bit. If I still feel this way in a few months, it will go to 50 books.

Part of what I like about reading challenges is the way it gets you to switch up what you might normally reach for, so I decided I wanted to have a challenge list for this year as well. But in the spirit of setting goals that are aligned with my interests, I wrote my own list. It is purposely not 50 items long, and I’ll probably double up on some anyway. This way I never have to refuse a book I want to read just because it’s not on the list. If you’re looking for a challenge I’d love for you to try mine. Or better yet, write your own.

Katrina’s 2018 Reading Challenge

  1. Read a book you’ve already read
  2. Read a political or religious book you think you may disagree with
  3. Listen to an audiobook
  4. Read a book that’s over 500 pages
  5. Read a book your audience or friend group won’t be interested in
  6. Read something by Stephen King
  7. Quit a book before you’ve finished (or at least skim the rest)
  8. Read a book you were given as a gift (and didn’t specifically ask for)
  9. Read a book about (or with heavy themes on) race
  10. Read a book about (or with heavy themes on) mental illness
  11. Check out and read a library book
  12. Read a non-fiction book about your career/hobby (or a career/hobby you are hoping to get into someday)
  13. Get rid of a book immediately after reading it
  14. Read a book you “should” read
  15. Read a book you “shouldn’t” waste your time on
  16. Read a book immediately after acquiring it or hearing about it (before it even makes it to the shelf or TBR)
  17. Read a book you think might make you a better person
  18. Read the second biggest book on your shelf (or TBR)
  19. Read The Princess Bride (yes, literally that specific book)
  20. Read a book you’ve been “really meaning to read” for way too long
  21. Read a book of short stories
  22. Read a book with a cover that bothers you
  23. Get rid of a book without reading it
  24. Get at least 2 books behind or ahead of schedule at some point in the year
  25. Decide not to do one of the challenges on this list

Good luck and happy reading!