Thursday, January 2, 2014

I Fail Spectacularly at my Attack the Stack Reading Challenge

It was a totally doable goal.

I thought.

Gather up the books around my house--books I'd been meaning to dip into for a while (sometimes, for years). Used books from library book sales. Brand new books piled next to my bed or in the bathroom. Books for work. Trashy books and high brow literature and skipped-along-the-way classics--gather ALL of these books together, stack them up, and, um, READ them over the course of the year.

Since I am a goal oriented person, a dutiful rule follower who delights in fun challenges, I thought I could easily "win."

Turns out I am a rule breaker with an anti-authoritarian streak. Yes, I am aware that the authority in the equation happens to be myself.

I did not read all the books in my stack. In fact, I ended up with another stack. And these stacks reproduced to create others.

Here are the books on my bedside table...

And look! Here are the books piled precariously next to my head as I am writing this blog post.
And the remainders of the other stacks, plus new arrivals.
Some stuff I learned about myself despite my spectacular failure:

1. I want to read what I want to read when I want to read it.
2. I still have a hard time putting a book down when I don't like it. I DID do this a few times, but I felt guilty. It's stupid and silly but there you go.
3. I am glad I attempted this challenge anyway. I read some books that were amazing, books I'm not sure I would've picked up if they hadn't been on my stack.
4. BUT, I also discovered new (or new to me) books that I didn't want to put off reading, and I like the freedom of being able to read those without feeling some weird self-imposed guilt.
5.  A side note here: I love reading YA books, but I think I need more of a mixture when it comes to genres and age groups. Some of my favorite books this year fell totally outside my comfort zone of reading taste.
5. I want to make another challenge for this year, something that gives me the challenge-y/goalish push that I kinda need, while at the same time providing the wiggle room/flexiness that I apparently need too.

So, without further ado I hereby introduce the 2014 FLEXY BOOK CATEGORY CHALLENGE!!!

Read at least one book per category. That's it. The only rule.

The Categories

1. YA contemporary
2. YA fantasy/Sci Fi/dystopian
3. YA historical
4. YA from a debut writer
5. YA from a writer I've missed along the way
6. Adult fiction
7. Adult non-fiction
8. A classic I'm ashamed to say I've never read
9. A re-read of an old favorite
10. Poetry
11. A short story collection
12. A graphic novel
13. A picture book
14. A middle grade book
15. A book on the craft of writing

PS. I am not giving up on my stack; there are lots of very cool-looking books that I suspect I will love if I pick them up.

For the record, here are the books I read in 2013 with a note if they were on the original stack and a link if I reviewed.

1. Altered, Jennifer Rush (stack)
2. Crown of Embers, Rae Carson (stack)
3. Send, Patty Blount
4. The Earth, My Butt, & Other Round Things, Carolyn Mackler (stack)
5. Wintergirls, Laurie Halse Anderson (stack)
6. Divergent, Veronica Roth (stack)
7. Ask the Passengers, A. S. King (stack)
8. Try Not to Breathe, Jennifer R. Hubbard
9. Henry Franks, Peter Adam Solomon
10. Pushing the Limits, Katie McGarry
11. Gone Girl, Gillian Flynn
12. Honey, Baby, Sweetheart, Deb Caletti (stack)
13. The Arrival, Shawn Tan
14. Tales from Outer Suburbia, Shawn Tan
15. What I Was, Meg Rosoff (stack)
16. Insurgent, Veronica Roth
17. You Look Different in Real Life, Jennifer Castle
18. Tension of Opposites, Kristina McBride
19. The Fiction Class, Susan Breen (stack)
20. Raven Boys, Maggie Steifvater (stack)
21. A Trick of the Light, Lois Metzger
22. High Tide in Tucson, Barbara Kingsolver (stack)
23. Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell
24. Being Henry David, Cal Armistead
25. Where I Want to Be, Adele Griffin (stack)
26. Picture Perfect, Alessandra Thomas
27. Shadow and Bone, Leigh Bardugo (stack)
28. Pretty Girl, 13, Liz Coley
29. The Ward, Jordana Frankel
30. Soul of a Dog, Jon Katz (stack)
31. Many Stones, Carolyn Coman (stack)
32. Reboot, Amy Tintura
33. The Lucy Variations, Sara Zarr
34. 17 & Gone, Nova Ren Suma
35. How My Summer Went up in Flames, Jennifer Doktorski
36. Dear Life You Suck, Scott Blagdon
37. Dr. Bird's Advice for Sad Poets, Evan Roskos
38. Eleanor & Park, Rainbow Rowell
39. The Very Thought of You, Rosie Alison (stack)
40. Of Human Bondage, W. Somerset Maugham (stack)
41. Miss Peregrine's House for Peculiar Children, Ransom Riggs
42. The Bitter Kingdom, Rae Carson
43. Insomnia, JR Johanson
44. Fat Kid Rules the World, KL Going
45. The Fifth Wave, Rick Yancey
46. The Ballad of Jessie Pearl, Shannon Hitchcock
47. Send Me a Sign, Tiffany Schmidt
48. The Sweet Dead Life, Joy Preble
49. The Beginning of Everything, Robyn Schneider
50. Rotten, Michael Northrop
51. Elsewhere, Richard Russo
52. Morning Girl, Michael Dorris
53. Rufus Goes to School, Kim Griswell
54. The Last Anniversary, Liane Moriarty
55. Burning, Elana K. Arnold
56. September Girls, Bennett Madison
57. Fall for Anything, Courtney Summers
58. If You Find Me, Emily Murdoch
59. The Sixes, Kate White
60. Until It Hurts to Stop, Jennifer R. Hubbard
61. Famous Last Words, Jennifer Doktorski
62. The Daughter of Smoke & Bone, Laini Taylor
63. Lonesome Road, Martha Bennett Stiles
64. Never Let You Go, Emma Carlson Berne
65. Okay For Now, Gary D. Schmidt  (stack)
66. Me Before You, Jojo Moyes
67. Bloom, Elizabeth Scott
68. Cracked up to Be, Courtney Summers
69. Some Girls Are, Courtney Summers
70. Writing Past Dark, Bonnie Freidman
71. Wired for Story, Lisa Cron
72. Loving Frank, Nancy Horan (stack)
73. This Is Not a Test, Courtney Summers
74. A Summons to Memphis, Peter Taylor


  1. I SO relate!! My stack grew a lot over Christmas. :\

  2. Wow! That's a huge amount of reading. I've ready about 11 books on your list, I'm sorry to say. If you liked Okay For Now, try The Wednesday Wars, also by Gary Schmidt. I loved it!

    1. Wednesday Wars is why Okay For Now ended up on my stack. And I am glad it DID end up on my stack. It was one of my top ten reads this year by far. Gary Schmidt is brilliant.

  3. Oh, come on! You read SEVENTY-FOUR books this year and you're still giving yourself a hard time? Seventy-four books is one book every four-and-a-fraction days, girl! Not to mention that in 2013 you also released a debut book of your own, which led to tours and school visits and other important but time-consuming activities. Oh, and you also blogged on this site once a month or so. And, like, conducted a non-writing-or-reading-related life. So don't look at your stacks - look at what you've accomplished!! And next time you want to say that it wasn't enough, bite down on your tongue. Really hard.

    1. Unpub, I need your voice to replace the critical voice in my head. Thanks for making me smile this morning : )

    2. You're most welcome. Someday you'll do the same for me. I'm sorry to be the one to break the news, but you have totally failed at failing.

  4. Ditto what unpub said (except she said it better than I would have and with more chutzpah). And I like your flexy challenge though I am a enough of a rebel to want to just read as much as I can and keep much of it in my writing genre. Oh, your list makes me feel behind. Good work with the reading and writing a lot in 2013.