Book Meme

My Facebook book list.

There’s been a meme circulating on Facebook for the last couple of weeks with the following instructions:

In your status, list 10 books that have stayed with you in some way. Don’t take more than a few minutes and do not think too hard. They don’t have to be the “right books” or great works of literature, just ones that have affected you in some way. Tag 10 friends including me so I can see your list.

I was tagged by an old uni friend to take part, and found it harder than I expected. The more I tried not to think too harder the more I found myself second guessing everything. I ended up stopping and starting the task a few times, as soon as I became aware of my brain getting too involved I closed the note file and came back later.

I thought it’d be nice to put the list up here and to add a thought or two about what each book means to me. Without further ado, here’s my list of ten.

Outsiders1. The Outsiders – S. E. Hinton
Quite simply this book means everything to me. I don’t remember why I picked it up, but I remember clearly the impact reading it had upon me. This book made me think about books completely differently, and made me realise I was entirely serious about wanting to write books for teens of my own.

WKDAS2. What Katy Did At School – Susan Coolidge
One of the many frequently re-read books of my childhood. This, along with its predecessor What Katy Did and the four books in the Little Women series, was what I turned to when I needed something familiar and comforting. This one in particular delighted me with its descriptions of a school experience so completely alien yet fascinating.

Matilda3. Matilda – Roald Dahl
I’m not sure this one actually needs any explanation does it? Like so many bookish children I loved the books of Roald Dahl, and this one in particular left a long lasting impression upon me.

 

TCE4. The Cupid Effect – Dorothy Koomson
I have loved each and every book written by Dorothy Koomson, her characters leap off the page and have a way of worming their way into my heart. It is Ceri from this book who I have loved most dearly of all – reading the book by the side of a pool on holiday I had to keep stopping so I could tell my friend just how exactly like me Ceri was. I think this was the first time I read a grown up character who felt so entirely like me – a really special reading experience.

image5. Banished – Liz de Jager
A list of books that have stayed with me wouldn’t be complete without Banished, first in my lovely friend Liz’s Blackhart Legacy trilogy. I’ve blogged before about my pride in watching Liz work towards getting this book published, being involved in that even just a little means this book (and its sequels) will always hold a special place in my heart.

TCOTW6. The Call of the Wild – Jack London
I don’t actually remember too much about this book, it’s the reading experience itself that I remember. Starting middle school I was lucky to be put into a class with a teacher who spotted that I changed my library book on a daily basis and made it her mission to introduce me to different authors and books, hoping to find something that would take me longer than a couple of hours to devour. The memory of this teacher going above and beyond is the thing that stays with me most, and this book in particular reminds me of her.

GM7. Graffiti Moon – Cath Crowley
This book completely blew me away. Told in dual narrative, gritty and gripping – this was a book I both couldn’t read fast enough and never wanted to finish. This added a whole new layer to my desire to write, helping me realise what I wanted to write.

 

NAC8. Noughts and Crosses – Malorie Blackman
The phrase game changer is used far too often, but I think both this series and author deserve the title. Personally this book made me stop and re-evaluate so much of what I thought, knew and had experienced. I don’t believe anyone can read this series of books and not come out the other end changed in some way by the reading experience.

NL9. Northern Lights – Philip Pullman
On four separate occasions I picked this book up at the library and took it home to read. On the second and subsequent occasions I quickly realised I had read this book before and then became excited to read it again. I have no idea why the cover and title refused to stick in my brain, but getting to repeatedly revisit the start of this series was no bad thing. This series again allowed me to think again about what fiction for children could be.

Rule10. Rule – Jay Crownover
The most recent book on my list, this again is a book that’s changed me as a person. As a series I’m more than a little obsessed, and it is the characters who drive my love for these books. Reading about them, about who they are and what they stand for has prompted me to look at myself and ask the same questions of myself.

Have you taken part in the meme? What books have stayed with or had an impact on you?

Personal · Reading

My 2014 in books – the halfway point.

I love reading and I love statistics so I always love posts about reading stats, whether my own or others’. The last time I talked properly about the stats behind my reading was at the end of 2012 (you can see that post here) – I wasn’t so good about keeping detailed stats in 2013 unfortunately.

I didn’t set any specific reading goals at the beginning of 2014, I simply decided I wanted to be more mindful about what I was reading. I wanted to continue to extend the range of books I was reading, and I wanted to make sure there was greater diversity in my reading both when it came to the characters in the books and the people who were writing them. With that in mind I drew up a spreadsheet so that I could track all sorts of data about what I was reading and have been filling it in ever since.

I wasn’t going to write a halfway post which is why now I’ve decided to do it it’s coming towards the end of July rather than the beginning (I am still only counting the books read between 1st January and 30th June). Part of this was because I didn’t read as many books as I’d hoped in the first half of the year. I think though that it’s still worth looking at how my reading in the first six months of the year breaks down – I have a feeling the picture in the second half of the year may be a little different. No graphs in this post I’m afraid, you’ll have to come back at the end of December for that fun!

The Basics.
So far in 2014 I’ve read 32 books. Of these the target age breakdown is as follows:

Children’s (8 and under) – 2
Middle Grade (8 – 12) – 10
Young Adult – 15
Adult – 5

I’m a little surprised by this, whilst I knew the Children’s figure would be low I definitely didn’t expect the Middle Grade figure to be as high as it is. I love middle grade fiction but hadn’t realised I’d read quite so much already this year.

Only one of the books was non-fiction, of the 31 fiction books I read 1 was a novella, 2 were picture books and the rest were novels. I haven’t read any short stories or graphic novels yet this year.

The Authors.
So far this year I’ve looked at a couple of traits for the authors who’ve written the books I’ve been reading. In terms of nationality they breakdown:

Australian – 1
French – 1
Irish – 2
American – 9
British – 19

I really wish there was a bit more of a range here. I’m really pleased to see that I’m reading lots of books by British authors, but I’m going to try harder to read more broadly for the rest of the year.

The gender breakdown is also something I’ve been interested in. So far I’ve read 19 books written by a female author, 12 books written by a male author and one book co-written by a male and female pairing.

8 of the 32 books are début novels, 7 of the these are by female authors. The début novelists come from 4 of the 5 nationalities I’ve read (Australia, France, USA (2) and UK (3) ).

The Books.
I’m not going to drill too deeply into the data I’ve been collecting on the books in this post. I’m going to pick out three of the things I’m really interested in but save the rest for my big round up at the end of the year – I think there will definitely be a couple of posts in it.

One thing I have been curious about is whether I naturally lean more towards standalone books or those which make up series. So far I’ve read 18 standalone books, 8 series openers, 3 books that are second in a series, 1 that’s third in the series, 1 from a series of companion novels and 1 prequel (the novella). This is pretty much as I expected, I sometimes find series harder to keep track of so have a bit of a habit of reading the first book in a series and then waiting until I can read all of the subsequent books in a row.

In addition to looking at the the gender of the author I’m also looking at the gender of the main characters of the books I’m reading. This one’s a little more tricky to record, there are books where I’m finding myself wondering about the most accurate way to describe it – some are dual narrative (though this is easy, I’m just recording the gender of each narrator), more difficult are the ones where I find myself wondering whether they have a true main character or fall more into the ensemble grouping. As it stands the breakdown is as follows (only includes novels and novellas):

Male Ensemble – 1
Dual Narrative Male and Male – 1
Mixed Ensemble – 3
Dual Narrative Female and Male – 4
Male Main Character – 8
Female Main Character – 13

For the same set of books I’ve also been looking at representation of diversity. I’ve been noting books that feature at least a significant supporting character from one or more minority groups. 5/29 feature at least one LGBT character, 3/29 have at least one character with a disability and 11/29 have one or more characters of colour. I’m being at least a little deliberate in my aims to read books with more diverse characters – if they’re not being read and talked about they’re not going to increase in their numbers. This is an area I really hope to do yet more with over the second half of the year.

The rest of the year.
I’m glad I’ve taken the time to look back at what I’ve been reading so far this year. There are some gaps I want to fix; to read more non-fiction books and some short stories and graphic novels for starters. I also want to try and broaden my reading further, I want to make sure I’ve read books by authors from all of the continents. Finally I want to keep doing what I’m doing, but just do more of it. Reading as many varied books as I can and talking about them.

Book Stuff · Life

Bookshelf Love.

Over the last couple of months my bedroom has been completely redecorated for the first time in far too many years. I’ve been putting it off for a long time, I knew that I’d have to go through everything and get rid of a lot of the stuff I’d accumulate over the course of about 15 years – not a fun prospect. After 30 years my parents have got to know the sorts of things to do and say to encourage me to do things, and so I was promised brand new bookcases as part of the redecoration – suddenly the idea didn’t seem quite so awful.

I have done pretty much all the clearing out and I’ve been rewarded with a gorgeous room, new bed, and the promised bookcases. Last Thursday I was given custody of these bookcases, made to measure by my dad:

I took a look at the many boxes my books were temporarily residing in and knew that I needed to stop and make a proper plan of action – I only wanted to put the books on the shelves once, and I wanted to take advantage of having so much more shelf space and have my books in a nice, orderly manner.

I ended up making lots of piles of books on the floor:

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(this all made sense in my brain).

And then I started to fill the shelves. For the big bookcase I started by putting the adult hardbacks and trade paperbacks on the top shelf (split into fiction and non-fiction) and the adult paperbacks on the next 2 rows of shelves.

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The children’s and young adult books then went onto the same 2 rows of shelves, I put them in front of the adult because I know I’m less likely to want to refer to the adult fiction.

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The third row got the tv tie-in fiction, again double stacked, and has the one empty shelf at the moment – my library books are currently sitting it in but I know that won’t last! The bottom row got two shelves of my film and tv reference books, and then my random non-fiction.

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The smaller bookcase got custody of my unread books – that’s the top two rows. The bottom left is my graphic novels and the bottom right is my slowly growing writing reference book collection.

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I know that when I work my way through my unread books I’m going to have to have a rethink. I’ve already got a couple of ideas, though it should be a good few weeks before I’m having to put them into practice!

Book Meme

55 Book Questions.

I saw this over at Readaraptor ages ago and knew it was my kind of meme. I’ve put it for a while – 55 questions felt like a lot to answer in one go – but I’ve finally sat down and filled it in.

1. Favourite childhood book?
A ridiculously hard question to begin with! I read and read and read as a child, so there are so many books I could pick from. I’m going to go with a favourite from the earlier part of my childhood and pick Val Biro’s Gumdrop books.

2. What are you reading right now?
I’m just starting The Secrets Between Us by Louise Douglas – the first of my books for the Transworld Book Group Challenge.

3. What books do you have on request at the library?
None at the moment, I’ve recently requested and read Vampire Academy and Swim the Fly.

4. Bad book habit?
I’m not sure that I have any, unless buying too many counts as a bad habit?

5. What do you currently have checked out at the library?
The two I’ve already mentioned, and Girl Meets Cake by Susie Day.

6. Do you have an e-reader?
Yes I have a Kindle and I love it dearly.

7. Do you prefer to read one book at a time, or several at once?
I always try to only have one novel on the go at a time, but I may have a short story collection that I’m dipping into at the same time and a textbook or two on the go.

8. Have your reading habits changed since starting a blog?
Only in the books I’m reading. I went through a stage where I was only reading books that I was being sent rather than books I was choosing but I’ve tried really hard lately to balance back out what I’m reading.

9. Least favorite book you read this year (so far?)
I Heart Hollywood by Lindsay Kelk. It just didn’t work for me, and helped me to realise that my reading tastes have changed.

10. Favorite book you’ve read this year?
Not sure I could pick just one, it would have to be between Cuckoo by Julia Crouch, Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld and Before I Go To Sleep by S.J. Watson

Continue reading “55 Book Questions.”

Personal · Reading

Reading Record : December 2010

Time for the final reading round up of 2010, and December turned out to be another decent reading month with 9 books finished. They were:

“Archives: The Very Essence of Our Heritage” by Christopher Kitchen
“Bliss” by Lauren Myracle
“Artistic Licence” by Katie Fforde
“Life Skills” by Katie Fforde
“The British Inheritance: A Treasury of Historic Documents” by Andrew Prescott
“Queen Victoria: Demon Hunter” by A.E. Moorat
“Darkside” by Belinda Bauer
“The Christmas Cookie Club” by Ann Pearlman
“Twelve Days of Christmas” by Trisha Ashley

In total over the course of 2010 I read 105 books. I’m fairly happy with this as a total, particularly when I remember that for the first few months of the year my reading mojo had all but disappeared. Hopefully I’ll keep hold of it for 2011 and be able to beat my total.