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Read More for Four: The Wrap-Up

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Gentle Readers, I apologize for keeping you in suspense! Yes, I’m sure there have been many sleepless nights wondering, “Did she read the last two books? Did she meet her goal?” The answer is yes!

Since I never completely fell off the reading wagon, it probably comes as no surprise that I met my Read More for Four goal. Eight books in four months was a very satisfying conclusion to the year. My first December book was Erik Larson’s In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler’s Berlin. Although it didn’t eclipse The Devil in the White City, it kept me interested by shining a light on a lesser known part of history. That is, the way that diplomats chose to deal with Hitler’s government in the 1930s. The issues weren’t considered as black-and-white as you might expect.

I ended the month on a delightful reading note. My name finally reached the top of the library waiting list, and I read Flame of Sevenwaters by Juliet Marillier. The previous book in this series made it onto my best of 2012 list. I could easily have included either title, but I was still reading Flame when the time came for writing lists. Although I most often read realistic fiction, I’m glad that certain writers can inspire me to branch out. The Sevenwaters series fulfills my occasional desire for escapism reading while giving me characters that I really love.

Read More for Four helped me match the number of books I read last year. As previously mentioned, I keep track of my reading on a website called Good Reads. However, the site provides more stats than just number of books read. It also tallies the number of pages read each year. By that measure, 2012 trounced 2011 by more than 1,000 pages! 

Of course, all these statistics aren’t the point of reading. It’s just fun to challenge myself now and then. I never regret time spent with a book, and two new books per month was a nice pace. I’m hoping to continue it in 2013 — with less obsessive documentation on the blog. As always, happy reading!

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Read More for Four: November Report

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Read More for Four is right on track. I rallied from the setbacks of October and found books that really grabbed my attention. If my November reading had a theme, it was espionage. Rather out of character for me, but that’s just how it worked out.

I kicked off the month with Mission to Paris by Alan Furst, set in the months leading up to the German occupation of France. Fredric Stahl is a European turned Hollywood actor who comes to Paris to film a movie. Unaware of the political warfare raging for the hearts and minds of French citizens, he finds himself of peculiar interest to Nazi supporters. A customer told me that Alan Furst is the best living writer of the spy novel. I’m always interested in a World War II story, so I decided to give it a try. Mission to Paris was easy to get through, but I didn’t think it was anything special. I most enjoyed the historical factoids sprinkled throughout the novel. The plot itself felt a bit formulaic.

My second dabble in espionage was much more satisfying. Sweet Tooth was everything that I hoped it would be and more. There was another book released in November that I’m anxious to read, but I’m still on the waiting list at the library. Hopefully it will come my way in December. Just two more books until I reach my goal! Should be a cinch, right?

Here’s a link to this month’s book review:  Sweet Tooth.

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Read More for Four: October Report

This month saw a slowing down in Read More for Four. It’s so easy to get distracted in a world of wireless internet and Netflix. Still, I can’t blame Parks and Recreation for my failings. I also learned an important lesson, which is that if I don’t write a book review within a day of finishing the book, it probably won’t happen. The Snow Child deserves its own post, but all it gets is a quick recap.

Early in the month I finished reading The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey, a pioneer story inspired by a Russian fairy tale. In 1920 a middle-aged couple has left their East Coast life to homestead in Alaska. Jack and Mabel come to Alaska for a fresh start, but also to escape the disappointment of being childless. In a moment of playfulness, they sculpt a child out of snow. The next day a wild little girl emerges from the woods and changes their whole existence. It’s a story of resilience, friendship, and love that I warmly recommend.

Next came The Casual Vacancy, which took a lot of reading energy. I thought that I would cleanse my palette with a light young adult book, but instead I just read . . . nothing. Well, a fresh month means a fresh start. Luckily the zealousness of September means that I’m still on track to meet my goal! There are two exciting new releases coming this month, and I can’t wait to dive in.

Here’s a link to this month’s book review:  The Casual Vacancy.

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Read More for Four: September Report

When I started Read More for Four, I was excited to get back in the habit of regular reading. I was also nervous that I would make a sweeping declaration on the internet and then fail to meet my goal.

Well, so far, so good. The Devil in the White City got me off to a smashing start. I lost some momentum with Talking to Girls About Duran Duran, but I didn’t let it defeat me. It’s nice to know that I still have the ability to just power through a book when necessary. Thank you, college!

I’m right on track to meet my modest goal. I need to read six more books in order to match my total from last year, and I have three months to do it. I’ve started reading a book called The Snow Child, which will probably get its own post when I finish. Onward!

Here are links to this month’s book reviews:  The Devil in the White City and Talking to Girls About Duran Duran.

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Read More for Four

I will be the first to admit that I’m a little OCD. Certain activities bring it out, like organizing my books when I move to a new apartment. For years I kept a journal of the books that I read and wanted to read. Then a couple of years ago, I discovered Good Reads, a website that lets you keep track of exactly those things. I spent several summer nights transferring the data from my reading journal to the website. Yeah, just a tish OCD. But it was so satisfying!

The upshot is that I now have a very convenient way to track my reading habits. My favorite feature is the stats, which show you how many books you’ve read each year, among other things. The sad truth is that I have not been a very good reader this year. Despite volunteering at a library this spring, despite my mom loaning me books, despite getting a job at a freakin’ bookstore, I have not been a good reader.

That, my friends, is about to change. For the last four months of 2012, I am going to read more. In order to meet the number of books I read last year, I need to read eight books in the next four months. It’s a moderate goal, averaging one book every two weeks.

I think that the key to jump starting my reading is to find books that I’m excited to read. It sounds fairly obvious, but it requires some effort from me. Gone Girl got me off to a good start. To meet my goal, I will take advantage of the hardcover book borrowing program offered by my place of work. Also, I will suck up my company loyalty and use some of those Amazon gift cards to buy paperback books that have caught my eye.

To keep you informed about my mission, Gentle Reader, I will write book reviews or perhaps monthly updates about my progress. And hey, if anyone wants to join my mission, it would thrill me to no end. Read more for four!

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