Monday, December 31, 2012

Kathleen's 2012 in Books

None of us has posted much this year, but we've definitely been reading. My goal was to read at least 100 new-to-me books this year, and I made that easily -- I've read 111, not including re-reads (and I do re-read a good number of books each year; I just don't track them).

So, here are some of my stats from Goodreads:

Books I rated 5 Stars
There are 11 of these, which is more than I thought there were. Toward the end of the year I felt like I was being really picky and hadn't given out five stars for a LONG time. You can click the titles to see my reviews

The Girl Who Fell from the Sky, Heidi W. Durrow
The Mighty Miss Malone, Christopher Paul Curtis
Ish, Peter H. Reynolds
The Dot, Peter H. Reynolds
A Monster Calls, Patrick Ness
Greensleeves, Eloise Jarvis McGraw
Anastasia on Her Own, Lois Lowry
How Girls Can Help Their Country, Juliette Gordon Low
Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail, Cheryl Strayed
Countdown, Deborah Wiles
The Girl of Fire and Thorns, Rae Carson

Books I rated 3 and 4 Stars
I gave 56 books four stars, and 40 books three stars. You can click the links to see which books.

Books I rated 2 Stars
Twilight, Stephenie Meyer
A Northern Light, Jennifer Donnelly
Little Women and Me, Lauren Baratz-Logsted

One Star and Lower
I didn't give any books one star. In fact, it appears that I've only got two one-star books in my entire Goodreads history. Why? I think I'm at least somewhat picky about what I read. I pick things I know I'll be interested in. But I also tend to put the book down unfinished if I really don't like it. I have only one of those this year - Jennifer Egan's A Visit From the Goon Squad. It just wasn't for me. And I've currently got Les Miserables unfinished and on hold. I plan to see the movie musical, and I'd never read the novel, so I thought I'd read it, but it's been quite a slog. I mean, I can see why it's considered a great story, but it's also a difficult read.

Other stats
Total pages: 32,355
Longest book: 11/22/63, Stephen King, 849 pages
Shortest books: Ish and The Dot at 32 pages each. Okay, I may have read a few more picture books as well. I have a 7-year-old to whom I read aloud. But I don't keep track of all of those books.
Publication dates: 26 of these books were published in 2012. Only 15 of the books I read were originally published in the 20th century. The remainder were published from 2000-2011.

Book formats
I didn't officially track how many paper books vs. e-books I read, but by my count I read 51 of 111 as e-books (most through library loan), and I think the amount of e-book reading I did increased over the course of the year. There are still many books not available through the library's e-book program, but it's gotten better. I don't have a full-size e-reader, but I usually do my bedtime reading on my phone now.

Books I re-read
I don't track the books I re-read, but I can tell you what some of them are. I generally re-read these each year.

The Betsy-Tacy series
The Little House series
The Dark Is Rising Sequence
Louisa May Alcott: Little Women, Little Men, Jo's Boys, Eight Cousins, Rose in Bloom, An Old-Fashioned Girl, Jack and Jill, Under the Lilacs
The Anne of Green Gables series
Tam Lin, Pamela Dean

I usually re-read several Madeleine L'Engle books (but not always the same ones), and there are many others that I will pull off the shelf and re-read, or read with my girls.

Currently Reading

As we prepare to ring in the new year, I'm reading Stephen King's Under the Dome.

Saturday, December 8, 2012


Today I did something I've been wanting to do for years: I went to the Scholastic Books Warehouse Sale!

Now, I know Scholastic has had their problems. And they're not a local, independent bookstore. In fact, I felt a little dirty afterward, like I'd been shopping at Walmart or something. But, books! For kids! My kids, and students I work with. Half price, or even better!

Aside from Christmas presents, I wanted books for kids to read in the computer lab when they're finished taking tests, and also for my before-school reading area. This year, I'm on duty outside the front door for 15 minutes before school. There's one bench near the front door, which a lot of kids would like to sit on, so I made a rule that they could sit there only if they read (and if space allows). I have a bunch of books that were library discards, or that were left behind and never reclaimed, but many of them do not hold the kids' interest, or they have gotten tired of them. So I was specifically looking for high-interest books that could be read in short spurts. I ended up with some easy-to-read sports biographies, a book about President Obama, and another election-themed book (hey, the election's over, but I figure it's still a familiar topic), as well as copies of Holes, A Wrinkle in Time and Clementine's Letter.

But I'm disappointed by what I didn't find: non-fiction books about women athletes, or really, any prominent women or girls who aren't actors or singers. There are plenty of princess-themed books, High School Musical books, and biographies of Disney Channel and Nickelodeon stars. And Taylor Swift. But no Gabby Douglas, Venus Williams, or Missy Franklin? Not Michelle Obama or Hillary Clinton? J.K. Rowling? Or any of thousands of other women doing great things?

The only thing I saw was a nice, gift-type hardcover about Coretta Scott King, which appeared to be on an African-American-themed table. And that's great, but it wasn't what I needed -- I bought inexpensive and easy-to-read paperbacks.

Now, Scholastic does list books about some of these women online. I suppose it's possible they were there and I didn't find them, or that they'd already been bought out (which would be great!), but I did look pretty thoroughly, and I would have at least expected books about female athletes to be shelved near books about male athletes.

Aside from that, the warehouse sale was definitely worth shopping. I got everything for 50% off, including 50% off on books that were stickered with a special, final price of $2.50-5.00. My final total was $30.25 for 13 brand-new books. They also had a section where you could fill a box with books for $24.95, but I didn't like the selection available (mostly Disney and such). I was told that sometimes the selection is better, though.

The Portland warehouse sale is open through December 18 (closed on Sundays), and Scholastic does hold warehouse sales in many cities throughout the United States (check here for listings and info). Despite my concerns, I would recommend it as a low-cost option for gift-buying and to acquire books for classrooms.