Dewey 24 Hour Readathon!

Saturday, October 22, 2016

*********  UPDATED HOUR 17 ********
This is my 11th readathon, although the April one wasn’t quite what I was expecting. We ended up in the hospital for a week with my 3-month-old daughter. It was scary and there wasn’t a lot of reading. I’m excited to have a calm readathon today (with my husband's help)! 

Pages Read: 1,012 pages 
Currently Reading: Dark Matter and Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle's Magic
Books Finished: 5: Tree of Codes, We Should All Be Feminist,
Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats, Brown Girl Dreaming, The Miracle Worker
Breaks Taken: lots, (nursing, blog updates, lunch, garage cleaning, diaper changes, fell asleep about 11 pm)
Mini-Challenges Completed: 14 (intro, six words, Litsy spine poetry, book & snack, birthday poem, memories, travel, casting, political, mid-event, video game, Fit, beverage, frightful)

You can also find me here on Instagram, Twitter, and LibraryThing and at @avidreader25 on LITSY!

End of Event Meme:
1) Which hour was most daunting for you?
Hour 15, I fell asleep and woke up two hours later.

2) Could you list a few high-interest books that you think could keep a Reader engaged for next year? Dark Matter, We Should All Be Feminist, and Brown Girl Dreaming

3) Do you have any suggestions for how to improve the Read-a-thon next year?
Nothing, it was great! Maybe ask for more volunteers if it takes any of the stress off of Heather and Andi.

4) What do you think worked really well in this year’s Read-a-thon? I loved the flow of Twitter posts this year.

5) How many books did you read? 5 completed, two more that I got halfway through.

6) What were the names of the books you read? Tree of Codes, We Should All Be Feminist, Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats, Brown Girl Dreaming, The Miracle Worker (Dark Matter and Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle's Magic - unfinished)

7) Which book did you enjoy most? Tree of Codes was unlike any book I've ever read, very memorable!
8) Which did you enjoy least?
Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats, fun but forgettable.

9) How likely are you to participate in the Read-a-thon again? What role would you be likely to take next time? Definitely!

Mid-Event Survey

1. What are you reading right now? The Miracle Worker 
2. How many books have you read so far? 4 completed
3. What book are you most looking forward to for the second half of the Read-a-thon?
Dark Matter
4. Have you had many interruptions? How did you deal with those? So many! My 9-month-old kiddo is obviously first priority. I've just tried to get more reading done while she naps.
5. What surprises you most about the Read-a-thon, so far?
I can't believe I haven't taken a nap!

Introduction Quiz:
1) What fine part of the world are you reading from today?
Indianapolis, IN
2) Which book in your stack are you most looking forward to?
Tree of Codes
by Jonathan Safran Foer and We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.
 3) Which snack are you most looking forward to?  Apple chips and yogurt pretzels.
4) Tell us a little something about yourself!
This is my first readathon with an infant, so my breaks will include nursing, diaper changes, and cuddles. She’s nine months old, so she’s already crawling and getting into trouble!
5) If you participated in the last read-a-thon, what’s one thing you’ll do different today?
I have a kindle book ready to go so I can keep reading one-handed when I need to nurse my kiddo.

- I will be updating this post throughout the day so I don’t bomb people with half a dozen new posts.
- Please turn off your comment word verification for the day! It’s such a pain for cheerleaders.
- Tweet about your day with the hashtag #Readathon or by tagging @readathon 
- If you need any ideas for great readathon books, all my previous readathon posts are below.

April and October 2011  /  April and October 2012 / April and October 2013 / April 2014 / April and October 2015 / April.

Photos by me.

Reading the States: Fiction Complete!

Monday, October 10, 2016

It took me years, but I've finally completed the fiction portion of my Reading the States challenge. My goal is to read one fiction and one nonfiction book set in each state. I try to pick a book that describes the state or really feels like it in someway. Occasionally I'll settle for a book that is just set there if there aren't a lot of options (I'm looking at you Delaware). It's been so fun getting to know each state a bit better through literature. I still have 14 to go on the nonfiction side.

For some of the states I've read multiple books set there and I included a few of my favorites in this list. If you want to see a more complete list of both fiction and nonfiction books set in the state (plus bookstores and authors who live there) check out the complete list here.
Alabama: To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
Alaska: The Call of the Wild by Jack London
Arizona: Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli
Arkansas: True Grit by Charles Portis (A Painted House by John Grisham) 
California: East of Eden by John Steinbeck (Tales of the City by Armistead Maupin, The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan, The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler) 
Colorado: Plainsong by Kent Haruf 
Connecticut: Revolutionary Road by Richard Yates
Delaware: Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk
Florida: Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neal Hurston
Georgia: Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
Hawaii: The Descendants by Kaui Hart Hemmings
Idaho: Lila by Marilynne Robinson
Illinois: The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger (The Jungle by Upton Sinclair, The House on Mango Street is Sandra Cisneros)
Indiana: The Fault in Our Stars by John Green (The Magnificent Ambersons by Booth Tarkington)
Iowa: The Bridges of Madison County by Robert James Walker (Shoeless Joe by W.P. Kinsella)
Kansas: The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum (Doc by Mary Dora Russell)
Kentucky: Hannah Coulter by Wendell Berry
Louisiana: A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole (Streetcar Named Desire by Tennessee Williams)
Maine: Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout
Maryland: The Accidental Tourist by Anne Tyler
Massachusetts: Mystic River by Dennis Lehane
Michigan: Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides
Minnesota: Peace Like a River by Leif Enger
Mississippi: The Help by Kathryn Stockett
Missouri: The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
Montana: Montana 1948 by Larry Watson
Nebraska: O Pioneers! by Willa Cather
Nevada: The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt
New Hampshire: A Prayer for Own Meany by John Irving
New Jersey: The Plot Against America by Philip Roth, American Pastoral by Philip Roth
New Mexico: Bless Me, Ultima by Rudolfo Anaya
New York: Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer (A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith, The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald) 
North Carolina: Message in a Bottle by Nicholas Sparks (The Lacuna by Barbara Kingsolver) 
North Dakota: The Plague of Doves by Louise Erdrich
Ohio: Beloved by Toni Morrison (Eligible by Curtis Sittenfeld)
Oklahoma: Where the Heart Is by Billie Letts (August: Osage County)
Oregon: If I Stay by Gayle Forman
Pennsylvania: Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
Rhode Island: My Sister's Keeper by Jodi Picoult
South Carolina: The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd
South Dakota: Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creech
Tennessee: The Firm by John Grisham (An Abundance of Katherines by John Green)
Texas: Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry (11/22/63 by Stephen King)
Utah: When the Emperor was Divine by Julie Otsuka
Vermont: The Secret History by Donna Tartt (Bittersweet by Miranda Beverly-Whittemore)
Virginia: The Known World by Edward P. Jones
Washington: The Last Town on Earth by Thomas Mullen (Snow Falling on Cedars by David Guterson)
Washington DC: Heartburn by Nora Ephron (Lost Symbol by Dan Brown)
West Virginia: Shiloh by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
Wisconsin: The Story of Edgar Sawtell by David Wroblewski (Loving Frank by Nancy Horan)
Wyoming: Close Range: Wyoming Stories by Annie Proulx

Germinal Readalong Wrap-Up

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Whoa. What a ride! This story of French coal miners going on strike in the 1860s sounded so dull to me when someone first recommended it. Then someone else mentioned it, then another person, and I began to think I needed to check it out. Before I dive into the details I will say that I ended up loving it. It's a powerful book and a few of the scenes are seared into my memory forever. What did you all think?

by Emilé Zola

From here on out there are spoilers. I'd recommend skipping the review if you haven't read it.

Étienne Lantier arrives in a French town looking for work. Soon he's down in the depths of the earth mining for coal. He becomes friends with a man named Maheu who is a hard worker and well-respected in the mine. The working conditions are atrocious and there's barely enough pay for workers to scrap by. Grumblings start to increase among the workers and eventually they decide to go to their boss to ask for higher compensation and a few small things.

Maheu is chosen to speak for everyone and he does so in a calm and dignified way. When their request is casually rejected the situation inevitably escalates. The decide to strike and a mob forms and they travel through the countryside in a whirlwind of destruction. The mob mentality makes the workers willing to do things they would never normally do, Things spiral out of control as the mob continues to progress. Even Étienne who wants to protect the pump at the beginning, later wants to destroy it in his frustration. It culminates in the death  of a man named Negrel when he falls from a roof while trying to escape the mob. The women gruesomely mutilate his corpse as the police arrive.

"It was the red vision of the revolution, which would one day inevitably carry them all away, on some bloody evening at the end of the century."

Maheu's daughter Catherine's story really struck a chord with me. She is raped by a man named Chaval, but because of the way their culture views women, she basically just becomes his property. He's brutal and jealous and she believes she has no other choice, even though Étienne loves her.

In the final third of the novel there is a collapse at the mine and workers, including Étienne, Catherine, and Chaval, are trapped underground. The scenes are harrowing as we read about their loved ones reactions above ground, but once we descend into the pits it's so much worse. I loved that after all the turmoil the workers still wanted to rescue their fellow miners.

"All the colliers rushed to offer themselves in an upsurge of brotherhood and solidarity. They forgot the strike, they did not trouble themselves at all about payment; they might get nothing, they only asked to risk their lives as soon as comrades lives were in danger."

There was one scene that chronicles the mad dash of a work horse that still haunts me. The animal, Bataille, is desperately trying to find his way out, but in his fearful galloping he becomes trapped as water rises. It was awful to read.

"It was a sight of fearful agony, this old beast shattered and motionless, struggling at this depth, far from the daylight. The flood was drowning his mane, and his cry of distress never ceased; he uttered it more hoarsely, with his large open mouth stretched out."

Another memorable scene took place above ground. The Gregorie family owns the mine. Circumstances lead them to visit one of the miner's homes with a few gifts and during the visit Cécile, the adult daughter, is strangled to death by one of the old workers, Bonnemort. That summery doesn't do the scene justice. The eerie calm as the two people looked at each other before the violence begins, the screams of her mother when she realizes what happened; it's heartbreaking. No one seems to leave this novel completely unscathed. 

BOTTOM LINE: I was expecting a boring book with political rants about social injustice. Instead I found the gripping story of a group of people mired in an impossible situation. They are desperate and in those dire moments they are capable of the unthinkable. Just a fantastic read. 

"He simply wanted to go down the mine again, to suffer and to struggle; and he thought angrily of those 'people' Bonnemort had told him about, and of the squat and sated deity to whom ten thousand starving men and women daily offered up their flesh without ever knowing who or what this god might be." 
Thanks for reading along my fellow #GerminalAlong folks! And thanks to Care's Books and Pie for hosting with me and sending out awesome postcards!