bout of books 14 wrap-up

Here are my results from the Bout of Books 14 readathon:


Day 1: Monday, August 17
An Untamed State by Roxane Gay: read 22 pages (pgs. 56–78)

Day 2: Tuesday, August 18
Set up trip audiobook review blog post draft
An Untamed State: read 41 pages (pgs. 78–119)
Book Scavenger Hunt (Challenge 2):

Day 3: Wednesday, August 19
Published blog post: my KCM top ten
An Untamed State: read 28 pages (pgs. 119–147)

Day 4: Thursday, August 20
Published blog post: madison audiobooks

Day 5: Friday, August 21
An Untamed State: read 46 pages (pgs. 147–193)

Day 6: Saturday, August 22
An Untamed State: read 137 pages (pgs. 193–330)
Participated in half of the Twitter chat
Book Road Trip (Challenge 6):

Day 7: Sunday, August 23
An Untamed State: read 37 pages (pgs. 330–367), finished!
What to read next? (Challenge 7):

311 pages read
1 book finished
2 blog posts published
3 challenges completed

bout of books 14

It’s time for the summer Bout of Books!

The Bout of Books read-a-thon is organized by Amanda @ On a Book Bender and Kelly @ Reading the Paranormal. It is a week-long read-a-thon that begins 12:01am Monday, August 17 and runs through Sunday, August 23 in whatever time zone you are in. Bout of Books is low pressure. There are challenges, giveaways, and a grand prize, but all of these are completely optional. For all Bout of Books 14 information and updates, be sure to visit the Bout of Books  blog.
++++++++++++++++++++++++++—The Bout of Books team

I can’t believe I almost forgot to sign up for this one! I’m on the road to Wisconsin right now but looking forward to diving back into books next week during Bout of Books, the last week of summer break here! I love how this readathon is low key and low pressure. The only goal I have is to either finish or at least get a significant amount read of the two books I’m working on. I’ll do my best to participate in a few challenges and at least one Twitter chat, too.

i never had it made

I had all these plans to write and publish blog posts over the holiday weekend (and after work this week) but couldn’t bear to be on the computer. Instead, I read, hung out with my husband and friends, and visited the Liberty Memorial at the National World War I Museum on Memorial Day. I also finished reading I Never Had It Made by Jackie Robinson on my e-reader. Edited from Goodreads:

Before Barry Bonds, before Reggie Jackson, before Hank Aaron, baseball’s stars had one undeniable trait in common: they were all white. In 1947, Jackie Robinson broke that barrier, striking a crucial blow for racial equality and changing the world of sports forever. I Never Had It Made is Robinson’s own candid, hard-hitting account of what it took to become the first black man in history to play in the major leagues. Originally published the year Robinson died, I Never Had It Made endures as an inspiring story of a man whose heroism extended well beyond the playing field.

I was reminded I had this in my e-reader when I was watching the Royals game on April 15—all the players (on all teams) wear #42 in honor of Jackie Robinson Day. (April 15 was opening day in 1947, Jackie’s first season in the majors.)

Jackie’s autobiography was surprising to me in a few ways, namely that it was less about baseball and more about other aspects of his professional life in business and politics. I also found it rather relevant to our current racial tensions and issues—I wonder what Jackie would have to say today.

The first freedom for all people is freedom of choice. I want to live in a neighborhood of my choice where I can afford to pay the rent. I want to send my children to school where I believe they will develop best. I want the freedom to rise as high in my career as my ability indicates. I want to be free to follow the dictates of my own mind and conscience without being subject to the pressures of any man, black or white. I think that is what most people of all races want. (96)

While I’m glad I read Never Had It Made and enjoyed getting a better idea of who Jackie was beyond his time on the field as a Brooklyn Dodger. He didn’t deeply analyze events or his feelings much, except for the very moving chapter about the death of his oldest son and throughout you can tell his love for his wife and family was palpable. But he recounting several hardships he faced growing up and “breaking the color barrier” in sports and business (being the first black corporate VP), and spats he had along the way with sports journalists and politicians alike.

I do wish he had covered his baseball career more extensively. I can’t be alone in that being the main interest for readers of this book, although his remembrance of his days in Montreal Royals was great—clearly he loved his time there! I admit to glazing over during the business sections a bit, and I also would have loved to learn even more about his role in the Civil Rights Movement. The prose is straightforward but rather blunt and dry, and can sometimes not feel so natural. But, Jackie was not a writer and from an era of strong-but-silent types, and I think the co-author here did a good job of conveying Jackie as a person and what concerned him during his lifetime.

On a personal note, this reminds me that I should stop by the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum here in Kansas City soon! It’s been quite a while since my last trip. Jackie played for the Kansas City Monarchs in 1945. (Just a fun fact from the biography project I did on Jackie Robinson in elementary school! 🙂 ) I’ll have to check out 42 soon, the movie that came out a couple years ago based on parts of I Never Had It Made.

I Never Had it Made is my third of twelve books read for my Ebook Challenge.

Read from May 9 to 23, 2015.

bout of books 13 wrap-up

What a great week of reading and bookish fun! I always seem to start strong and fizzle by the end of these week-long events, though. Here are my progress and results from the Bout of Books 13 readathon:


Day 1: Monday, May 11
I Never Had it Made (ebook) by Jackie Robinson: read 20 pages (pgs. 58–78)
Find Me by Laura van den Berg: started, read 54 pages
Attempting Normal (audio) by Marc Maron: started, listened to 293 minutes (88.5%)
Set up three book review blog post drafts
Bookish Survey (Challenge 1):

Day 2: Tuesday, May 12
Published book review blog post: The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
I Never Had it Made: read 20 pages (pgs. 78–98)
Find Me: read 37 pages (pgs. 54–91)
Attempting Normal: listened to 38 minutes (11.5%), finished!

Day 3: Wednesday, May 13
Published book review blog post: The Tusk That Did the Damage by Tania James
I Never Had it Made: read 9 pages (pgs. 98–107)
Find Me: read 12 pages (pgs. 91–103)
Book Haiku (Challenge 3):

Day 4: Thursday, May 14
Published book review blog post: Attempting Normal (audio) by Marc Maron
Find Me: read 56 pages (pgs. 103–159)
Modern to Classic (Challenge 4):

Day 5: Friday, May 15
Find Me: read 22 pages (pgs. 159–181)
Cover Color (Challenge 5):

Day 6: Saturday, May 16
Find Me: read 32 pages (pgs. 181–213)

Day 7: Sunday, May 17
Find Me: read 65 pages (pgs. 213–278), finished!

331 minutes of audiobook listening
327 pages read
2 books finished
3 blog posts published
4 challenges completed

bout of books 13

It’s time for the spring Bout of Books!

The Bout of Books read-a-thon is organized by Amanda @ On a Book Bender and Kelly @ Reading the Paranormal. It is a week-long read-a-thon that begins 12:01am Monday, May 11 and runs through Sunday, May17 in whatever time zone you are in. Bout of Books is low pressure. There are challenges, giveaways, and a grand prize, but all of these are completely optional. For all Bout of Books 13 information and updates, be sure to visit the Bout of Books  blog.
++++++++++++++++++++++++++—The Bout of Books team

I so enjoy this readathon, especially how low key it is and the challenges (when I have time for them) are fun. I love the Twitter chats, too! While I have my regular work hours this week, we’re on final exams, and I’m on hiatus from my orchestras until our summer concerts, so things are calming down considerably. I’ll be reading during my lunch breaks and as much as possible in the evenings and next weekend! I don’t want to set strict goals for myself, but I’m thinking if I can finish the ebook I’m currently reading and one other book, that would be awesome. I’ll try to squeeze in a couple challenges, chats, and stop by as many other readathoners’ blogs as possible, too!

I hope you have a great week of reading!

dept. of speculation

Onward with my reading challenges! My latest pick for the KC Library’s Love on the Rocks program was Dept. of Speculation by Jenny Offill. From Goodreads:

Dept. of Speculation is a portrait of a marriage. It is also a beguiling rumination on the mysteries of intimacy, trust, faith, knowledge, and the condition of universal shipwreck that unites us all.

Jenny Offill’s heroine, referred to in these pages as simply “the wife,” once exchanged love letters with her husband, postmarked Dept. of Speculation, their code name for all the uncertainty that inheres in life and in the strangely fluid confines of a long relationship. As they confront an array of common catastrophesa colicky baby, bedbugs, a faltering marriage, stalled ambitions—the wife analyzes her predicament, invoking everything from Keats and Kafka to the thought experiments of the Stoics to the lessons of doomed Russian cosmonauts. She muses on the consuming, capacious experience of maternal love, and the near total destruction of the self that ensues from it, as she confronts the friction between domestic life and the seductions and demands of art..

Well, hmm. Perhaps I’m in a slump. I’ve heard almost nothing but awesome things about Dept. of Speculation and it just didn’t grab me the way I expected. I enjoyed it overall, but I think the subject matter is deep and complicated, but being such a short novel (only about 170 pages) I feel like some of the situations and feelings “the wife” had were glossed over. The free-flowing thought prose jumped around and I had trouble staying focused on the when/where/what. She obsessed over microscopic details in her life and marriage—can’t see the forest for the trees? I just never felt invested in the characters, or had any empathy for them. However, I did find the writing style fresh and interesting, with some very lovely, compelling phrasing, almost on a poetic level. I have had a trying few weeks here, so maybe it’s me and I’m in a slump. I think if I had been able to really concentrate and focus on this novella in one or two sittings, Dept. would have had more of an impact for me. I would definitely give it a re-read at some point.

Dept. of Speculation is my third book of five for the KC Library’s Love on the Rocks Adult Winter Reading Program.

Read from February 18 to 28, 2015.