Dear Fellow Reader,
Happy New Year! I have a couple things on my mind that I thought I would share with you. I even sneaked in three short book reviews!
Have you made reading goals for 2017? Prior to last year, I had never thought about reading goals. Last year, I happened to be at the Goodreads site at the beginning of the year and read about their reading challenge. You can sign up to challenge yourself to read a certain number of books for the year. Then you log the books into Goodreads and it keeps track for you. At the end of the year you get a summary of your totals. For example, I found out that I read one book that was only 26 pages (the shortest book I read) and one that was 415 pages (the longest one I read.) The average length of book that I read was 286 pages. I read 53 books last year for a total of 14,883 pages.
While these stats are interesting, I found the best part was knowing how many books I read last year. I have never kept track before and it was interesting to see the number. I did set a goal for this year of 55 books. I think that you might find it interesting to set a goal for yourself also. If you are not on Goodreads already, you might want to check it out.
The other thing on my mind is book clubs. As you may know, I have moved in the last year. I didn’t know anyone where we moved and I had to find a way to meet people. One of the things I looked for right away were book clubs. I am currently participating in two book clubs. I have been going to a book club at the local library and one through the local newcomer’s club.
What I like about book clubs is that I get a chance to meet other people who like to read and want to talk about books. I obviously read a fair amount and it is interesting to hear other’s perspectives on the books. The other thing I really like about book clubs is that you get a chance to read books that you might not ordinarily read. Actually, I think that is the point of book clubs. There may be some of the books that do not on the surface sound that interesting to me but because of book club, I read them.
For example, the library book club read The Wright Brothers by David McCullough. I had given this book as a gift but didn’t think that I would be interested in reading it. I don’t read a lot of non-fiction and so this book would not normally be on my TBR (to be read) pile. But much to my surprise, I really enjoyed the book. I did not know very much about the Wright Brothers and it was an interesting story.
Another non-fiction book that I would not have picked up to read was They Are All My Family: A Daring Rescue in the Chaos of Saigon’s Fall by John P. Riordan and Monique Brinson Demery. This is the story of an Assistant Bank Manager for (what is now) Citibank in Saigon trying to get his employees out of Saigon prior to the fall of Saigon in 1975. I didn’t have any interest in reading about war. That is not what the book is about and I found it interesting. The story was made more interesting to me because the author, John Riordan grew up in a neighborhood not far from where I used to live and he now lives not far from me. Those kinds of personal ties add a little more interest to the story.
I have found with book clubs that if there is a disagreement about the book that the discussions are often better. For example, The Wright Brothers was more of a favorite with the group than they anticipated. The discussion was good and interesting. But when we read Kitchens of the Great Midwest by J. Ryan Stradal, the conversation was lively. Most of those at the meeting felt that they would never recommend this book to anyone. I am included in that group. For the first third of the book, all I could do was sit and shake my head and wonder who had picked this book. I stopped reading it for two weeks. Only because the meeting was coming up and I thought I should finish the book, did I go back and finish the book. I will say that when I went back, the book seemed better and I could finish it. But the discussion was much livelier because the book engendered strong feelings.
Most book clubs will plan their books out in advance. I urge you to give a book club a try. You will be able to read books that you might not have ordinarily read and learn things through the discussion that you might have missed. In case you were wondering, this month’s book club books are The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah and Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake by Anna Quindlen. I have not finished The Nightingale yet. I had read Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake before but I re-read it for the discussion.
What is on your TBR pile?
Thanks for reading!
P.S. – As I have told you before, I do publish what are called “Affiliate Links” to the books I talk about. These links, if used, take you to Amazon.com so you can purchase the book. By using these links, I do get a small reimbursement. Sounds good, right? Here is the thing, I have never made a cent with these links. So, if you don’t want to use them because you dont’ want me to make money, go ahead and use them because in essence, I don’t. Some people make money on these. I have not figured that out yet. If I ever do, I will let you know. Below are links to the books discussed today.