2018: Reading Year in Review

Happy New Year! As I usually do on the last day of the year, I’m posting a review of my year in reading. I took the trouble to make an image of my Goodreads Year in Books and then decided not to post it here. I guess I’m fickle.

First, some data:

  • I exceeded my reading goal of 50 books by one and read 51 books total.
  • I read 15,291 words, which was 2,956 fewer than last year. But I probably made that up quite easily and then some with grad school reading, which isn’t counted.
  • That’s an average of 300 pages per book; last year’s average was 366 pages, so it looks like in general, more of the books I read were shorter. That makes sense to me, as I actively sought shorter books I could finish since I started graduate school. Longer books just seemed too daunting.
  • That works out to about 42 pages per day.
  • My shortest book was P is for Pterodactyl, which I didn’t review. It’s a children’s book with 32 pages. My longest book, which I actually just finished in 2018 and started in 2017, was The Complete Sherlock Holmes, which I read for a 2017-2018 reading challenge.
  • The most popular book I read this year was The Great Gatsby, which 3,391,871 read. It’s still so widely assigned in schools. I wonder how many students are posting on Goodreads? My least popular book was The Big Golden Book of Dinosaurs, which only 30 people read.

My progress with reading challenges was mixed. I only read 1 book for the Author Love Challenge. I just never did get around to reading the other James Baldwin books I wanted to read, but I am reading If Beale Street Could Talk right now. I came close to reading the 6 books I committed to reading for the Back to the Classics Challenge; I read a total of 5. Only one was not a re-read. I surpassed my commitment of 5 books for the British Books Challenge by reading 11. The Foodies Read Challenge was another close one: I read 5 out of the 6 books I committed to reading; 3 out of the 5 were cookbooks I read cover to cover. I also surpassed my commitment level of 5 books for the Historical Fiction Challenge at 7 books. I knew when I took on the Literary Voyage Around the World Challenge that I’d never complete it because the number of books minimum was too high, but I am proud of the fact that the books I read for the challenge represent 11 different countries. I almost completed the Monthly Motif Challenge. It shouldn’t have done so, but the one motif that tripped me up was Vacation Reads. I just couldn’t think of anything to count for that one. So I counted 11 out of 12 books I committed to reading. I only read 1 book for the R. I. P. Challenge this year. I committed to 4, so I didn’t do well, but that was right when I was starting grad school and looking for balance with school, work, and life, so I can’t feel bad about it. I finished the Chronological Sherlock Homes Challenge. I started it in January of 2017, so it was a matter of finishing the remaining stories. I committed to reading 10 books for the Share-a-Tea Challenge, but I ultimately gave up on that one because I just drink a ton of tea, but I don’t drink a lot of different kinds, so it felt funny to say the same thing every time. I only counted 2 books for that one.

Of the 51 books I read, the stats further break down like so:

  • 28 books of fiction
  • 16 books of nonfiction
  • 7 books of poetry or verse
  • No dramas
  • 9 audio books
  • 8 re-reads
  • No graphic novels/memoirs
  • 2 children’s picture books
  • 2 YA/middle grade books

My favorites from selected categories are below with linked reviews if available or Amazon links if not—I didn’t have as much time to blog when I started grad school.

Fiction

There There 

Nonfiction

Poetry

Audio

 

YA/Middle Grades

My least favorite books of the year were We Have Always Lived in the CastleSo Long and Thanks for All the Fish, and The Big Golden Book of Dinosaurs.

And finally, here is my map, which includes the settings or home base of the authors for each of the books I read:

Here’s to a happy reading year in 2019!

2017: Reading Year in Review

new year photo

Happy New Year!

Each year on the last day of December, I reflect on my year in reading. Here is a link to my Goodreads 2017 Year in Books. I do wish Goodreads would figure out how to make that infographic embeddable, but I suppose from their point of view, it’s as shareable as it needs to be, considering they’d like people to linger on their site.

Some data from this year:

  • I exceeded my reading goal of 46 books and read a total of 51 books.
  • I read 18,305 pages, according to Goodreads. I think that’s an all-time high, but I’m not sure.
  • I read 51 books, though I didn’t put one of the books I read on Goodreads. Since that book is not counted in this total, so my actual page count is about 200 pages more than the figure above.
  • If I count just the Goodreads total, that’s an average of 366 pages per book, which is higher than last year’s average.
  • It works out to about 50 pages per day. What that means is that I was reading a lot on some days because it’s not possible I read 50 pages per day.
  • My shortest book was The Slanted Life of Emily Dickinson at 96 pages, and the longest was an audiobook re-read of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix at 870 pages.
  • The most popular book I read this year was 1984. Gee, I wonder why so many folks are reading that one. Yes, I understand the popularity index means that 2,331,238 people total read it, not that 2,331,238 read it this year. Conversely, my least popular book was The Transformative Power of Teacher Teams, which only nine people have rated. Not surprising, as it’s a nonfiction professional book (education). It’s a good book. More teachers should be reading it.

I didn’t do well with reading challenges this year. You can see on my 2017 Reading Challenge Progress page that I only completed two challenges.The challenges I completed are the R.I.P Challenge and the British Books Challenge. Most of the books I read for the latter were re-reads. I wasn’t supposed to finish the Chronological Sherlock Holmes Challenge in only one year—it’s due in April 2018—but I did fall behind. It’s unusual for me not to complete the Historical Fiction Challenge. I hope I will finish it this coming year. I am also a bit surprised I couldn’t figure out a way to read at least five books set in different European countries for the European Reading Challenge. I probably shouldn’t have signed up for two different backlist challenges, but I was hoping I would read a bunch of books on my TBR pile if I did. It worked a little bit, but if I had just selected one of the two challenges, I might have finished. Reading a total of 40 backlist books was too daunting a challenge for me, and I found it limiting when so many new books caught my eye as well. I also didn’t complete the Wild Goose Chase Reading Challenge. I thought the premise was fun, but I guess I wasn’t able to find books I wanted to read that fit the criteria.

Of the 51 books I read, the stats further break down like so:

  • 30 works of fiction
  • 17 works of nonfiction/memoir
  • no dramas
  • 1 book in verse (poetry)
  • 11 audiobooks
  • 14 re-reads
  • 3 graphic novel/memoir
  • 8 YA/children’s books

My favorites from selected categories with some linked reviews (not counting re-reads):

Fiction

Nonfiction

Graphic Novels/Memoirs

My favorites in the other categories are either already linked above (The Hate U Give, Long Way Down) or are re-reads.

My least favorite reads:

Here is my map, which includes locations for each book I read or author’s hometown (current or applicable to the book):

My reading was much more diverse this year than in previous years, and I can’t help but notice that people of color wrote all of my favorites this year, except for a biography of Emily Dickinson and Thomas Wentworth Higginson.

2017 Reading Goals

stack of books photo
Photo by Au Kirk

I always like to write up my reading goals in my first blog post of the year.

2017 Reading Challenge

Dana has
read 0 books toward
her goal of
46 books.
hide

I have decided to try to read 46 books this year, since I’ll be turning 46 in September. My sister also set the same goal, but she had the idea first. She is NOT turning 46, however.

I have created my 2017 Reading Challenges page. I will not be joining any more challenges until the R. I. P. Challenge this fall. All of the reading challenges I have chosen have some freedom and flexibility, so I’m not too worried about getting bogged down trying to meet challenge goals.

One general reading goal I have is to read more books written by African and Asian authors and/or set in African or Asian countries. In particular, I want to read books by Salman Rushdie and Chimimanda Ngozi Adichie. I also want to read more classics of African-American literature, including Jean Toomer’s Cane, James Baldwin’s The Fire Next Time, and Ralph Ellison’s The Invisible Man. I also want to try to get to some classics I haven’t read, namely Middlemarch by George Eliot. I don’t know if this is my year to try the Russians again or not. I have been told by a wise authority that the best translators are Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky. I know a good translator is very important, and it could be why I have not had luck before.

Another reading goal I have is to try to be more active in the reading challenges in which I participate. Typically, all I do is keep track of the books that meet the challenges, but often challenge hosts have special linkup posts and other activities on their own blogs, and I rarely participate. I want to do better this year. I am terrible in general at keeping up with other blogs. I would like to do better.

Another related goal: I need to cull books I don’t want to keep from my stacks and do something with them. I have a lot of books. I am never going to say too many (no such thing). There are a lot of books I don’t think I will ever re-read and don’t need to consult again, either. I just need to get rid of them. I suppose I could be more active on PaperBackSwap, but I’m disappointed they are charging money for the service now—beyond the price of postage. I suppose they have to sustain themselves, but it soured me on them a bit.

A final goal: stop messing around with books that are not grabbing me. I bought some books this year, and they didn’t grab me, so I felt like I should read them since I bought them. That’s silly. I should just get rid of them if they aren’t grabbing me, and I shouldn’t be giving them more than 50 pages. I need to remember there are a lot of books out there I want to read—good ones—and I need to be better about wasting time on books that are not working for me, even if I spent money on them. I know I should go to the library, but I always think I might need the books longer than they allow, and what if I want to keep them (yes, I know I could always buy them after the fact if that’s the case). I should probably make it a goal to use my library more, actually. They do have Overdrive, and I enjoyed reading books that way in the past.

What are your reading goals for the year?

2016: Reading Year in Review

new year times square photo
Photo by Anthony Quintano

As I do each year, I like to reflect on my reading year in a blog post on December 31. For the second year in a row, Goodreads has compiled a handy infographic with reading statistics, but they haven’t yet created a way to embed the infographic on a blog. It’s not exactly a true image file, so it’s not as simple as saving a picture. It’s a whole webpage. While it is possible to embed HTML on a blog, in order to make it look good, it’s a bit of work. Here is a rundown of some of the interesting facts (if you don’t feel like clicking over to Goodreads):

  • I read 11,997 pages, according to Goodreads.
  • I read 38 books. One book is not counted in this total, so I suppose my actual page count is about 200 pages more than the figure above.
  • If I count just the Goodreads total, that’s an average of 324 pages per book.
  • It works out to about 33 pages per day. Not too bad.
  • My shortest book was The Importance of Being Earnest at 54 pages, and the longest was an audio book re-read of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire at 734 pages.

Of the 38 books I read, the stats further break down like so:

  • 28 works of fiction
  • 10 works of nonfiction
  • 3 dramas
  • 1 collection of poetry
  • 5 audio books
  • 6 re-reads
  • 1 graphic novel/memoir
  • 11 YA/children’s books

My favorites from some of these categories with linked reviews (re-reads not counted):

YA/Children’s

Fiction

Nonfiction

I’m not going to pick audio book favorites this year because all but one of them were re-reads, and the one that wasn’t was not one of my favorite books. I had a better nonfiction year this year than I typically do, and my fiction year was not as good as usual, though I did read some outstanding fiction.

My least favorite reads of the year:

Reading Challenges

I did not meet my Goodreads goal of reading 55 books. I had every reason to think I could do it, having read 62 books last year, but this year was much more trying. My grandmother passed away, and it made it very hard for me to read. I was already behind at that point. I stopped worrying about trying to make the goal really early on, so I’m not upset about it or anything. It is what it is. I didn’t have the worst reading year, but it wasn’t the best either. I stuck with some books I wasn’t liking for too long.

I didn’t complete any of my other reading challenges either, sadly. I enjoy reading challenges tremendously, but I don’t have the best track record in the world when it comes to completing them, let alone participating any more than simply reading certain books.

Here is my reading map for the year. I did manage to read some more far-flung locales than I typically do. I am hoping to do even better next year.

A Return

sunrise massachusetts photo
Photo by ™ Pacheco

It won’t be too much longer before the school year starts again. It will be my 20th year. It’s hard to believe. It will be my fifth year at my current school. That time has flown by. I started four years ago as a technology integration specialist. Now I’m the English department chair. I love it. The people I work with are amazing. I have made some great friends. I love where I live. I feel good. I feel successful. I have an education blog where I tend to write about teaching. This blog originally started as a personal blog. A hodge podge of whatever I was interested in at the moment. Over time, it evolved in a books-only blog. I have been missing the hodge podge lately.

I am thinking a lot about a book I’m reading, The Bitch is Back: Older, Wiser, and (Getting) Happier, edited by Cathi Hanauer. I’m reading it as part of a book tour. So far, I am really getting a lot out of it. One thing that impresses me as I read the essays in the book is that these women have an outlet and audience for things they’re thinking about. There is no reason I have to write just about books here, but some reason, for a long time, that’s what I’ve been doing. I don’t know if I thought people wouldn’t be interested in other things I might write (though it has crossed my mind), or if I thought that people would be confused about what, exactly, this blog is (as though it has to be something or other). I don’t think I would want to use a different blog to write about these topics, so I think I will use this one. I did contemplate starting another blog, even something without my name attached. I don’t need that kind of compartmentalization or confusion, though. I’m getting older, and with it has come a certain amount of, for lack of a better term, bravery. I find I care a little less what people think, though as someone with anxiety, I can’t stop caring completely—I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t care. I have things I want to say. I have worries about getting older. I have health issues. I have a wonderful family. I love music. I live in a beautiful state. There is a lot going on in my head besides books and reading.

What I’m trying to say is that I want to use this blog more like I used to use it. More like a hodge podge. I’ll still review my books here. But I will write about other things, too.

Sunday Salon: Resolutions

A Ride in the SnowJust like everybody else, I am making a few resolutions as the new year begins. However, making resolutions is not typical for me. I usually ignore the passage of a new year, at least in terms of turning over a new leaf. I don’t know if it’s because I’m a teacher or not, but I always felt like the real new year turned when a new school year started. For some reason, I don’t know why, this year feels different. I actually find myself feeling like it is the start of the new year, and for the first time in years, that didn’t feel like a sad thing to me. New Year’s Eve usually makes me quite sad, and this year, while I can’t say I was excited or anything, I felt pretty content. As a result, I started thinking about the things I really want to do better or do more of in the coming year.

No Excuses Art Journaling: Making Time for Creativity I have the usual resolutions regarding tackling organization, etc., but in terms of reading, I want to try to be much more active in reading and talking about my reading here. I have had a hard time making myself blog for the last couple of years, but I do enjoy it, particularly book blogging, and I have missed it.

I also want to do better with journaling, and to that end, I picked up No Excuses Art Journaling: Making Time for Creativity. It looks like a fun way to try a new creative outlet. One of the things I have enjoyed about making soap is the creativity. The soap is like a work of art. No two cut bars are the same, and no two batches of soap are the same. Art journaling seems like a fun way to be creative when I’m stuck. One of the things I’ve learned about making soap over the last year is that it can’t be my only creative outlet, or I wind up making too much of it. By the way, if any takers want to try out my soap, let me know. If you want to check out my soap on Etsy, try here.

So, do you have any resolutions?

The Sunday SalonA Ride in the Snow by DaveLawler

Harry Potter

Potter IIYou may not know this, but I have a Harry Potter blog. I won’t link to it because it is embarrassingly dormant. I sometimes think I take on too many projects. The subject of Harry Potter can find its natural home here, in my book blog, but there was once I time I thought it should be separate. I plan to delete the Harry Potter blog, but I will be moving some of my favorite entries from that blog over to this one. I have never really had the Harry Potter blog open to comments, so I am not concerned about losing those comments.

In the coming weeks or months, I will be pulling those entries into this blog and publishing them here. The rest I will delete.

Speaking of Harry Potter, I have been having a sort of mediocre reading year. I have had a hard time finding time and finding books that grab me. In those times, I often turn to old book friends to cleanse my palate and start again. I was watching the Harry Potter movies last weekend, and of course, it made me want to read the books. So yet again, I find myself in the Wizarding World.

A Young Girl Reading, Jean-Honoré Fragonard

2012 Reading Goals

A Young Girl Reading, Jean-Honoré Fragonard

Happy New Year! Let’s all hope we survive the end of the Mayan calendar this year, mainly so people on the “History” Channel (lately, I’m thinking some sort of federal authority ought to require them to use the quotation marks) will quit talking about it.

I met my reading goal of 50 books in 2011, which was my best ever year. While I do want to read more books this year, I am not sure I could read much more than 50, so I’m setting this year’s goal at 52, only a moderate increase over last year’s goal. It also rounds out to an even book a week.

I am participating in the following reading challenges this year:

All of these challenges allow for books to be counted for more than one challenge, which is great. Otherwise I’d need to pare back.

Last year I made it a goal to improve the tagging on my blog posts, which is still an area I need to work on. I am posting more regularly, and the review posts include the authors’ names now, which I think has contributed to making them more useful. I need to work on titling meme posts so that they are more descriptive of the content rather than just titling them after the meme and using the date. I need to get back in the habit of doing Teaser Tuesdays. I realized in looking back at my posts that I actually liked those posts quite a lot more than I thought I did. Also, I think it’s a good way to introduce readers to favorite quotes in books. Another goal I have for my blogging is to post more often about book and literature-related issues, which I started out doing, but gradually cut back on. In reflecting on my favorite posts of the year 2011, I found those types of posts were more frequently my own favorites, and it stands to reason that if I liked them better, perhaps readers do too.

I have some other reading goals for the year.

  1. Find the time/energy to revive the faculty book club I have led at my school. My colleagues have been asking me about it.
  2. Comment more on reading blogs. I subscribe to many in my feed reader, but I don’t leave comments as often as I think about it.
  3. Clean out my blogroll/RSS feed reader once a month and eliminate bloggers who haven’t posted in a while (unless they announced a hiatus and plan to be back).
  4. Read books set in a larger variety of locales. I don’t want to push it artificially, and I want to read what I want to read, but I did notice the books I read this year were clustered in two locations: the east coast of the U.S. and the U.K. I guess it makes sense, but even with the U.S., I only read two books set in western states (Colorado and Washington) and one set in the midwest (Wisconsin, though that was [amazon_link id=”0060558121″ target=”_blank” ]American Gods[/amazon_link], which is set all over America, and I picked the place the character settled down the longest).

Outside of reading, blogging, and reading about blogging, I have some more goals for the year.

  1. Continue the exercise regimen I started before Christmas. My Christmas present to myself (from the family, I guess) was a Wii Fit, which my sister said was great for beginners. I started a yoga/aerobic/strength training regimen that I have been faithfully doing every day for about a week (barring Christmas, mainly because I didn’t take the Wii down to my parents’ house, where we spent Christmas). It’s actually been a lot of fun to use the Wii Fit program.
  2. Learn to knit. My sister learned from watching videos, and frankly, I hope I can teach myself using videos or tutorials rather than take a class. But I should like to learn so I can make Hogwarts house scarves for everyone in the family according to their house colors (Maggie and Sarah are Hufflepuffs, Steve’s a Slytherin, I’m a Ravenclaw, and Dylan hasn’t been officially sorted in Pottermore, so I’ll either let him pick or sign him up for Pottermore when it’s out of beta). Maggie and Sarah seemed to like the idea of having Hufflepuff scarves, so it sounds like a plan.
  3. Cook more. It’s hard with work and everything else, but it’s more economical. I have done fairly well this year, but there is always room for improvement. I get bored of the same old things over and over. I like trying out new (simple) recipes and saving the more time-consuming/difficult stuff for weekends, holidays, or breaks. Cooking more means planning better and perhaps even a membership at one of those wholesale warehouses. I have a family of five, and we go through the food. I need to be smarter about the food budget. I have quite a few food-related books on my TBR list, too. I love watching TV about food and reading about food.

What about you? Do you have any reading goals or other goals for 2012?

Favorite Posts of 2011

My Work Desk

Over the course of the year, I have written more posts in this blog than I have in my more popular one. For one thing, I think I was more focused on reading, and this blog proved to be a sort of refuge. I think I could branch out and write about other things here now. It feels like a more comfortable place, and I can’t explain why. I have had a really difficult time thinking of things to write about on my other blog, but I have had no such trouble with this blog, at least not this year. Before the year ends, I thought I would share some reflections about my favorite blog posts (and, of course, invite you to read them for the first time, or reread them if you choose).

January

  • Do You Hate Holden Caulfield?: This post grew out of a post and some of its comments I read over at Forever Young Adult, and it’s mainly a reflection about how we are entitled to the reactions we feel to books, and that sometimes those reactions change over time. In it, I examined how my own feelings changed for Holden Caulfield. However, the reason it’s one of my favorites is the comments received, particularly one from a student who was more or less asking me if it was OK to hate Holden Caulfield—he wondered because the reaction from his teacher made him feel like there was something wrong with not liking Holden. For what it’s worth, I gave him my permission.
  • Mary Novik: Author Interview: Mary was so kind, and I loved her responses to my questions. Mary Novik made me look at John Donne in a new way.
  • Byron was a Bad, Bad Boy: I was on a real Byron kick this year. He was undoubtedly one of the most interesting figures of the Romantic era. He’s so endlessly fascinating that you can even read an entire blog devoted to him.

February

  • Dearest Cassandra: This creative writing piece was written as part of a model project for my students. I wrote a letter from Jane Austen to her sister Cassandra detailing the events that happened after Jane inexplicably traveled forward through time to the year 2010. It was a lot of fun, and an edited version of the letter wound up in a book I’m currently writing.
  • Fanny Brawne: This post is all about my girl-crush on Fanny Brawne, John Keats’s fiancée.
  • Passion, by Jude Morgan: My enthusiastic review of the novel. It was a long book, and I felt accomplished after I finished it. I can’t wait to read Jude Morgan’s next one. He’s one of my new favorites.

March

  • Reading Update: Wolfe and Lovelace: I had just finished reading the story of how James Wolfe won a major battle in Quebec during what us Americans call the French and Indian War, and I recounted the story here.
  • Nostalgia: This post is more about where did all the time go? rather than books, but I like it, and I love the song in the video I embedded into the post.

April

May

  • Teaser Tuesdays—May 17, 2011: The most accurate and hysterical definition of criticism (in the sense of analyzing art or literature, not “finding fault with”) I’ve ever read. God love Jasper Fforde. He always makes me laugh. Also, I need to do Teaser Tuesdays again. If I do, I’m changing the post title construction (for Musing Mondays, too). These titles I’m using are not descriptive enough.
  • Historical Crushes: A longish post about all the historical figures I have historical crushes on. I want to write one about literary crushes (fictional characters), but it’s been in the draft stage for a while. I need to return to it.

June

  • Booking Through Thursday: Interactive?: I get tired of the doom and gloom posts about how the Kindle is killing books. We’re in the midst of a reading renaissance!
  • Best Dads in Literature: This post was surprisingly hard to write because there aren’t a huge number of great dads in literature. Sad.
  • Teaser Tuesday and Top Ten Tuesday—June 21, 2011: See what I mean about these titles? Anyway, this post has a great quote from Paula McLain’s [amazon_link id=”0345521307″ target=”_blank” ]The Paris Wife[/amazon_link] and a list of ten reasons I love book blogging.
  • Sunfire Romances: In which I describe my affection for the YA Sunfire Romances published in the 1980’s. Think less successful American Girls books for teenagers.
  • Music and Reading: A discussion of two of my passions.

July

August

September

October

  • Music: A kind of revealing post in which I discuss music. Note: I would change #3 now to “Closer” by Nine Inch Nails.
  • Surprise Endings: A discussion of the top ten endings that shocked me. Caution: here be spoilers!
  • Musing Mondays—October 17, 2011: More book cover porn!
  • Planning My NaNo Novel: In this post, I shared my process for preparing for NaNoWriMo using Scrivener, which is my new favorite piece of software. Scrivener put this post on their Facebook fan page, too.

November

  • On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft, Stephen King: Perhaps the single most influential book I read this year and the best book of writing advice I’ve ever read. Inspirational!
  • I Won NaNoWriMo!: I was so proud of “winning” NaNoWriMo this year. It was my second time, and I think it was even sweeter than the first because I learned that the first time wasn’t a fluke. This was the year I finally felt like a writer. I am currently wearing my Winner’s Circle tee-shirt, which for some reason I felt compelled to order this year when I didn’t the other year I won. Go figure!

December

  • Sunday Salon: The Shelf Awareness Interview: In this post, I share my answers to the standard questions Shelf Awareness asks of authors they interview.
  • Writing Dreams: I had tea with the Romantic poets in April, and here in this post, I describe how Joe Hill and Stephen King gave me writing advice (except, I didn’t actually get the advice).
  • Top Ten Books of 2011: I enjoyed thinking about which books made my list of the year’s best.
  • 2012 Obscure Books Challenge: After I said I wouldn’t, I had an idea for challenge to host and threw up some pages inviting participation. God help me.

photo credit: DeaPeaJay

BBAW

Sarah from Sarah Reads Too Much

BBAWI’m pleased today to share with you my interview with fellow book blogger Sarah from Sarah Reads Too Much. Please check out her wonderful blog! One thing I really like about her blog is that she reviews an eclectic mix of books, and I found myself perusing many of her posts looking for ideas for books to read. She has me sold on [amazon_link id=”0385534639″ target=”_blank” ]The Night Circus[/amazon_link] by Erin Morgenstern.

What has been your favorite book this year and why?

Easily [amazon_link id=”0385534639″ target=”_blank” ]The Night Circus[/amazon_link] by Erin Morgenstern.  I felt completely transported to a different place and time—I felt the magic in the pages.  I was truly sad to have finished it.  I have enjoyed many books this year, but this one completely blew me away in a different way.  I cannot recommend it enough.

I notice you participate in a lot of challenges. Which is your favorite? Why?

My favorite challenge is the one I started—The Back To The Classics Challenge 2011.  It is a thrill to be offered the number of advance copies and new release books to read and review, but I wanted to also remind and push myself to read Classic Literature as well.  I plan to continue the Challenge again next year, with a few updates to keep it fresh!

You read a wide variety of genres. Do you have a favorite? What’s your “desert island” book?

I love reading different genres; in fact I make it a personal point to not read books from the same genre back to back.  I don’t think I have a particular favorite…  I really enjoy the variety.  I’m not even sure what my “desert island” book would be!  Perhaps a heavy classic I haven’t read yet—as I’d have the time and few distractions—or maybe a light YA novel to encourage a good mood?

What is one book you find yourself recommending to everyone? Why that one?

I can’t recommend just any book to any one.  I first need to know what they like, and then go from there (the perk of reading so many genres I guess!)  For mystery lovers, I have lately been suggesting Tana French titles; YA I’d go with Stephanie Perkins or Myra McEntire, Literary Fiction -[amazon_link id=”0385534639″ target=”_blank” ]The Night Circus[/amazon_link] (of course!) or perhaps Matthew Norman’s [amazon_link id=”0062065114″ target=”_blank” ]Domestic Violets[/amazon_link], and I could go on and on.

What’s your favorite book set in Massachusetts (Stephanie’s current home state)?

The first book that comes to mind as a favorite would be Tom Perrotta’s [amazon_link id=”031236282X” target=”_blank” ]Little Children[/amazon_link], even though that book could really take place anywhere in suburban America.  I also just read a fun YA mystery set on Cape Cod titled [amazon_link id=”0545230500″ target=”_blank” ]Clarity[/amazon_link] by Kim Harrington.

Thanks, Sarah! It was a pleasure getting to know you! I am excited to try some of the books you discussed.