GeekeryDo

Reading Challenge

February 2016 Reading Wrap-Up

Kristina PinoComment

Wow, it's March already! Alrighty, so here's a look at how I read in February (that extra day actually came in handy, too). For those of you just now following along, I'm tracking my reading for diversity and participating in Book Riot's 2016 Read Harder Challenge. If you're wondering why I'm categorizing things so much and keeping such meticulous track of what I read, it's partially because I like stats, but also because being deliberate and seeing the information in front of ya is the first step in affecting change. I want my reading life to be naturally diverse, but that isn't enough by itself. Time to face the music!

Books read in February: 8

Creators of color: 4/10 (40%)
LGBT+ rep. in creators: 0/10 (0%)
LGBT+ rep. in books: 1/8 (13%)
Lady creators: 8/10 (80%)
Translated works: 2
Works in Spanish: 0

Alright, so February differs from January in that I did a bit worse on LGBT+ and better on ladies in general. I've got to keep working on that. On the bright side, I read a couple of translated works (manhwa title Bride of the Water God) which is two more than last month's zero.

As for the Read Harder Challenge, I fulfilled three more tasks. I covered "read a middle grade novel" with Drama by Raina Telgemeier (my review here). For "read the first book in a series by a person of color" I read the aforementioned Bride of the Water God. I'm going to keep reading it throughout March - it's so pretty! And for "read a non-superhero comic that debuted in the last three years" I went with Roller Girl by Victoria Jamieson (my review here). I'm up to 6 tasks (out of 24), which is great pacing in case I slow down around summertime.

My Book Riot pick for February is How to be Black by Baratunde Thurston. My PANELS pick for February is Drama by Raina Telgemeier. Check out those links to see what my colleagues' best reads were for the month, too!

And now, for a little something extra.

Books read to date: 17

Creators of color: 9/24 (38%)
LGBT+ rep. in creators: 1/24 (4%)
LGBT+ rep. in books: 2/17 (12%)
Lady creators: 15/24 (63%)
Translated works: 2
Works in Spanish: 0

Keep up with what I'm reading on Twitter or Instagram as well as on this blog, and feel free to drop in with suggestions or chat with me any time about books and comics. Did you set any reading goals this year? How are you doing?

January 2016 Reading Wrap-up

BooksKristina PinoComment

I'm tracking my reading for diversity (gender, orientation, language, ethnic, etc) as well as taking on Book Riot's 2016 Read Harder challenge, so in the spirit of that I thought I'd do a monthly little check-in here of what my progress looks like. If you're into that sort of thing, anyway.

Books read in January: 9

Creators of color: 5/14 (36%)
LGBT+ rep. in creators: 1/14 (7%)
LGBT+ rep. in books: 1/9 (11%)
Lady creators: 7/14 (50%)
Translated works: 0
Works in Spanish: 0

At a glance, it looks like I'm on target for gender and ethnic diversity, but not with LGBT+ (yet) or my translated works/Spanish language goals. The good news is, I'm not woefully behind, so I hope there'll be better numbers to show soon.

As for the Read Harder Challenge, I've completed 3 tasks so far. For "read out loud," I've put down An Orange in January by Dianna Hutts Aston and Julie Maren, which I read in a classroom to young kids. I've read other books to kids, and it's always loads of fun, and I totally recommend it. For the "over 500 pages" read, I've selected The Marvels by Brian Selznick, which is delightful. I wrote about that for PANELS recently. And the third is "historical fiction before 1900" for which I selected The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace & Babbage by Sydney Padua. I wrote about this already on this blog, but suffice it to say it's super informative while also being made up.

As always, you can keep up with what I'm reading (or most of it, anyhow, as I don't necessarily talk about every single book I read) on social media or in my bite-sized reviews/thoughts on this blog. Of course, I'm still looking for suggestions for reads I should pick up for the Read Harder Challenge and also for my LGBT+ diversity goal. Let me have 'em anywhere I can see 'em.

Also, I've got more pics of that sweet ThreeZero Tyrion you can browse, if you like.

2015 Reading Wrap-Up and 2016 Reading Goals

BooksKristina PinoComment
recycle-love

My Half-Year Check-in was rather good in 2015, I was pleased with the status of my reading, even if the numbers were a little lower than I'd like. But that'll happen when you move across the Pacific and set up a new place, look for a job, and all of that. In the second half of 2015, I read much more.

In 2015 I read a grand total of 71 books. (cue fanfare)

I'm super pleased with this number, and I'm hoping to beat it in 2016, now that I'm settled and I don't plan on moving again in the next 12 months. Now, just to get things straight: I include comics trades and graphic novels (not issues) in my count. Some people might not like that, considering sometimes you can read those in an hour or three, but then again, so can you some novels. I also read a fair amount of middle grade and young adult, but I don't think I should count them separately. I love books of all shapes and sizes, and they all count.

Some vital book stats:

Women authors/creators: 54/71 (76%)
Authors/creators of color: 35/71 (49%)
Translated works: 25/71 (35%)
Works in Spanish: 0/5 (0%)

I'm not surprised by, but super happy about my lady author stat. I never felt like I had an issue reading too many male authors, but tracking it confirms that, so I'm glad there's proof that I didn't need this to be a stated goal. As for the creators of color stat, I'm also pleased to note it's much higher than I thought. My original goal, though I didn't spell it out, was to get a solid 35%, or roughly a third of my reading. But I got about half of my reading in by diverse authors, and that makes me incredibly happy. Finally, we've got translated works, which was a stated goal in my original post around this time last year, and I managed a third. This was helped along by reading a fair amount of manga, but I did also read works translated from French (by Marjane Satrapi), and a novel translated from Japanese (Paprika by Yasutaka Tsutsui).

Sadly, I didn't meet my goal of reading books in Spanish - not even a little bit. Maybe I should be a little less ambitious in 2016 and go for just one.

As for the Read Harder Challenge, I managed 18 of the tasks (out of 24). That's not too bad, either. The ones I missed were tasks I'll aim to work on in 2016: A book by an author from Africa, a book by or about someone from an indigenous culture, a microhistory, an NBA, Book Prize, or Pulitzer Prize winner from the last decade, a book written by someone when they were over the age of 65 (I ALMOST got this one with An Object of Beauty by Steve Martin, but he would have actually written it just before he turned 65), and a collection of poetry. I know I stated my pick for that challenge early on in the year, but I actually never got around to it. I'm not sure what it is about poetry I find so challenging, but I'd like to get to the bottom of it soon.

In 2016, I'll be doing Book Riot's Read Harder Challenge again, but of course, there's a whole new set of tasks to work with. I'm excited to start tackling those. As I mentioned before, I'll keep the goal of reading in Spanish, but I'm scaling back to 1 book. I'm going to aim for the same number in diversity as last year (35% or higher), keep an eye on my works in translation stat, and I want to aim for 20% or higher in LGBT+ representation (either the author or main character). So you have an idea, in 2015, I think I only read two books by or about someone who identifies LGBT+ (I didn't research every creator, so the number might be higher, but it probably isn't). Those books were An Untamed State by Roxane Gay, and (edited - the book I originally listed here was incorrect. Here's the right one:) Simon Vs The Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli. I do believe it's being adapted to film, which is very exciting as long as the adaptation stays true to the actual plot of the book, yanno.

It seems ambitious, but looking at last year's numbers, I think I'll be able to make it. The area I'm going to focus on more this year is LGBT+, where last year my main focus was ethnic/geographic diversity. It's changed my reading life for the better, and it can only keep going up from here. And if I have to drop a number for total books I want to read in 2016, I'll just say 75 or more, but that's not super important.

Feel free to recommend books for me to read, especially ones that fulfill tasks for the reading challenge, or my own goals. I'll be on Twitter, Instagram, and other places, ready to share this exciting year of reading with everyone.

2015 Book Riot Read Harder Challenge: Task 6 - THIS IS HOW YOU LOSE HER by Junot Diaz

BooksKristina PinoComment

On a beach in the Dominican Republic, a doomed relationship flounders. In the heat of a hospital laundry room in New Jersey, a woman does her lover’s washing and thinks about his wife. In Boston, a man buys his love child, his only son, a first baseball bat and glove. At the heart of these stories is the irrepressible, irresistible Yunior, a young hardhead whose longing for love is equaled only by his recklessness--and by the extraordinary women he loves and loses: artistic Alma; the aging Miss Lora; Magdalena, who thinks all Dominican men are cheaters; and the love of his life, whose heartbreak ultimately becomes his own.

In prose that is endlessly energetic, inventive, tender, and funny, the stories in This Is How You Lose Her lay bare the infinite longing and inevitable weakness of the human heart. They remind us that passion always triumphs over experience, and that “the half-life of love is forever.”

I'm trying to catch up with my reading challenge progress here, so I'm posting this after I've already finished reading the book. I don't tend to read a lot of short story collections - I've only ever managed to finish a few in my adult life. I picked this one up because it felt like a no-pressure way to dip into Diaz's writing/storytelling style before maybe picking up a novel.

I enjoyed this collection overall. It appeals to me because I'm familiar with much of the cultural and social background the characters came from, I understand the language, and I've (mostly) gotten over my aversion to "unlikeable" (and/or unreliable) characters/narrators. Yunior is awful (though I did feel sad for him in the end), but the stories are wonderful. In the end, I love that the stories were connected in more ways than one. I think that's what sealed it for me, because I'm the type of person who prefers spinoffs over sequels. The story with this guy is clear from the beginning, but I love getting all the filler and background.

Mid-Year Check-in: My Reading Stats

Books, Comics and MangaKristina PinoComment

I talked about diversifying my reading and reading challenges and all of that, but now it's time to see how it's going with the walking. It's officially July, so I've tallied up the books I've read so far and checked out the vital stats. I've included: prose books, trade volumes (comics), graphic novels (also comics), and audiobooks in my count. I haven't been reading a lot-a lot, but that's what happens when work gets hectic and then you move (twice). Without further ado:

Total number of books: 22
Lady authors/creators: 16/22 (73%)
Authors/creators of color: 12/22 (55%)
Translated works: 10/22 (45%)
Works in Spanish: 0/5 (0% of my goal of 5)

I was getting a little worried, if I could be honest here, because I felt like my #fridayreads videos lately were looking pretty heavy on the white author dudes. But as it turns out, I've been well on track. Now, here are a few superlatives for you:

Most surprising: Four Nights With the Duke by Eloisa James. I didn't really know what to expect when I took a chance on romance, but I loved it.

Best find: Hellboy. Thanks to the local library, I just grabbed a bunch of random books and, surprise, surprise, I found something super rad.

Most Unputdownable: Waistcoats & Weaponry by Gail Carriger. I delayed and delayed listening to this book, because there's only one left after this one, but alas - I couldn't stop listening once I hit play. (my review)

The Quiet Read: When Marnie Was There by Joan Robinson

Voices That Stuck With Me Most: White Teeth by Zadie Smith (I read this in print, btw)

Right! These are my mid-year stats. I'm pretty happy with them, and I'm looking forward to keeping track of the rest of this year's reads. Let me know how you're doing if you're also tracking your reading goals.

2015 Book Riot Read Harder Challenge: Task 5 - FOUR NIGHTS WITH THE DUKE by Eloisa James

BooksKristina PinoComment

As a young girl, Emilia Gwendolyn Carrington told the annoying future Duke of Pindar that she would marry any man in the world before him—so years later she is horrified to realize that she has nowhere else to turn.

Evander Septimus Brody has his own reasons for agreeing to Mia's audacious proposal, but there's one thing he won't give his inconvenient wife: himself.

Instead, he offers Mia a devil's bargain...he will spend four nights a year with her. Four nights, and nothing more. And those only when she begs for them.

Which Mia will never do.

Now Vander faces the most crucial challenge of his life: he must seduce his own wife in order to win her heart—and no matter what it takes, this is the one battle he can't afford to lose.

Romance is one of those genres I have never really read into or tried for myself, so picking a book for this task was as simple as grabbing the first title I'd heard of (because of author/book buzz) when I was at a book store. At the time of writing this post, I'm actually three chapters in, and I'm already rather liking it! If this is the book that gets me "into" romance as a reading genre, then I'll have opened up a whole huge world of book options for myself. And really, that's the point of the challenge.

Of course, in case it wasn't clear, this book fulfills the romance task of the Read Harder Challenge.

2015 Read Harder Challenge: Task 4 - BROWN GIRL DREAMING by Jacqueline Woodson

BooksKristina PinoComment

"Raised in South Carolina and New York, Woodson always felt halfway home in each place. In vivid poems, she shares what it was like to grow up as an African American in the 1960s and 1970s, living with the remnants of Jim Crow and her growing awareness of the Civil Rights movement. Touching and powerful, each poem is both accessible and emotionally charged, each line a glimpse into a child’s soul as she searches for her place in the world. Woodson’s eloquent poetry also reflects the joy of finding her voice through writing stories, despite the fact that she struggled with reading as a child. Her love of stories inspired her and stayed with her, creating the first sparks of the gifted writer she was to become."

Though I could easily use this book as my entry for poetry in the Read Harder Challenge, this title actually fulfills the task "A National Book Award, Man Booker Prize or Pulitzer Prize winner from the last decade" by virtue of having won the National Book Award for young people's literature last year (2014).  Reading more poetry is another sort of secondary goal for myself this year and I want to make sure I really give it a fair shake.

I'm slightly "behind" on the challenge (if we're looking at a reading speed of two books per month) because this is a hectic time for me with an international move less than a month away, but don't you worry - I'll be back on track by summer!

2015 Read Harder Challenge: Task 3 - WHITE TEETH by Zadie Smith

BooksKristina PinoComment

"On New Year's morning, 1975, Archie Jones sits in his car on a London road and waits for the exhaust fumes to fill his Cavalier Musketeer station wagon. Archie—working-class, ordinary, a failed marriage under his belt—is calling it quits, the deciding factor being the flip of a 20-pence coin. When the owner of a nearby halal butcher shop (annoyed that Archie's car is blocking his delivery area) comes out and bangs on the window, he gives Archie another chance at life and sets in motion this richly imagined, uproariously funny novel.

Epic and intimate, hilarious and poignant,
White Teeth is the story of two North London families—one headed by Archie, the other by Archie's best friend, a Muslim Bengali named Samad Iqbal. Pals since they served together in World War II, Archie and Samad are a decidedly unlikely pair. Plodding Archie is typical in every way until he marries Clara, a beautiful, toothless Jamaican woman half his age, and the couple have a daughter named Irie (the Jamaican word for "no problem"). Samad —devoutly Muslim, hopelessly "foreign"— weds the feisty and always suspicious Alsana in a prearranged union. They have twin sons named Millat and Magid, one a pot-smoking punk-cum-militant Muslim and the other an insufferable science nerd. The riotous and tortured histories of the Joneses and the Iqbals are fundamentally intertwined, capturing an empire's worth of cultural identity, history, and hope.

Zadie Smith's dazzling first novel plays out its bounding, vibrant course in a Jamaican hair salon in North London, an Indian restaurant in Leicester Square, an Irish poolroom turned immigrant café, a liberal public school, a sleek science institute. A winning debut in every respect,
White Teeth marks the arrival of a wondrously talented writer who takes on the big themes —faith, race, gender, history, and culture— and triumphs."

This book has been on my radar for a while because I've been wanting to read something by Zadie Smith, and I was glad to be able to work it into my Read Harder challenge list. This will fulfill the task of reading "a book that was written by someone while they were under the age of 25."

I like all the main themes the book summary is giving me here, and it'll diversify my challenge-related reading in more ways than author age. You can look forward to my thoughts on this read soon. For now, feel free to share what you're reading in the comments below or via Twitter, and let me know if you have any suggestions for me to read for other tasks in the Read Harder Challenge.

2015 Read Harder Challenge: Task 1 - HORNS by Joe Hill

BooksKristina PinoComment

Happy New Year! Now that it's officially 2015, I'm ready to get cracking on my 2015 reading goals. I mentioned it to a pal the other night, and she was quick to offer suggestions for various challenges. By the end of the night she'd settled on lending me her copy of Horns by Joe Hill, which has been adapted to film starring Daniel Radcliffe. I was so pleased when she showed me it, especially since I had been interested in watching the film but never had, so I'll be going into this one fresh.

This book is going to fulfill the task: A book that someone else has recommended to you. I could cheat here, and tack on other challenges like a book written by someone whose gender is different from your own, but in the spirit of fairness, I will read 24 books for the Read Harder Challenge.

Here's the back cover copy:

"Once, Ig lived the life of the blessed: born into privilege, he had security and wealth and a place in his community. Ig had it all, and more - he had the love of Merrin Williams, a love founded on shared daydreams, mutual daring, and unlikely midsummer magic.

Then beautiful, vivacious Merrin was gone - raped and murdered, under inexplicable circumstances - and Ig was the only suspect. He was never tried for the crime, but in the court of public opinion, he was and always would be guilty.

But now Ig can hear people's deepest, darkest secrets and means to use this ability to find whoever killed Merrin.

It's time for a little revenge.

It's time the devil had his due."

This book sounds super interesting and I'm looking forward to diving in. I'll be back with my thoughts once I'm through, of course, and with my pick for the next task I take on for the Challenge.

Do you have any suggestions for me regarding any of the other tasks, or even my personal reading goal of reading books in Spanish? Let me know in the comments, or via social media!

2015 Reading Goals!

BooksKristina PinoComment

I've had a good long think about what reading goals I want to try and achieve next year, and have finally decided on how I want to challenge myself. And it will be a challenge, partially because I have not one, but two moves planned for Spring. It's going to be really busy, so here's hoping I'll make it through:

1. Read more books by authors of color/diverse nationalities.

I already read many books by both male and female authors - reading more lady authors would be a goal, otherwise. But now that I've got that leg of diversity figured out, I want to move on to the next logical step, which is ethnic diversity. It's important to me to read diversely and to be exposed to varying viewpoints of people from all over the world, so 2015 will be a big year in broadening my horizons.

2. Read more translated works.

This one kind of works together with point 1, but it isn't exactly the same thing. I want to read more books which weren't originally published in the English language. I'm not really sure how many books I've read in translation outside of high school curriculum. I've definitely read Murakami, and loads of manga, but I can't think of much else. I want to change that.

3. Read more books in Spanish.

Spanish is my native language, though these days I primarily communicate in English since it's my job to teach it. But I actually haven't read many books in actual Spanish since I was a kid. Why? This needs to change, too. I asked my mom about it, and she told me it's a great idea, but that books are difficult to read in Spanish, even for her. The reason for this is, as Cubans, we have our own dialect (I like to call it an "island dialect"), and often, being from Miami, Spanish and English spill over into each other and new words form that are totally not the "proper" terms for things. Double dialect confusion. Books in Spanish are written in a different way than I'm used to receiving it, in other words. In 2015, I want to read at least 5 books in Spanish. Not books translated to Spanish from English, but ones that were originally written in Spanish. It seems like a small number, that 5, but I neither want to be overly-ambitious or turn this one goal into a chore. Also, I'm going to have to buy a Spanish-English dictionary and scribble on the margins like whoa.

These are my three main goals, but I'm not done. In order to really stretch my reading habits and get out of my comfort zone, I've decided to join the Book Riot 2015 Read Harder challenge. There are 24 tasks set, which works out to roughly two books a month, with the aim of getting you, the challenger, to read more diversely. Some of these tasks are going to be easy because I do it already (read an audiobook, read a graphic novel, read a retelling of a classic, read a book written by someone whose gender is different from your own), but others are going to be more of a challenge in the sense that I have to deliberately look for books that fit the bill, like reading a book from an African author, reading a book by or about someone from an indigenous culture, or reading a book by or about someone who identifies as LGBTQ. I've got some ideas already for what books I plan to read for what task, but I don't want to "assign" books just yet because it often backfires on me when I set up a to-be-read list.

These are my reading goals for 2015, and I'm going to be updating this blog often with my progress, so I hope you'll check back on me from time to time. If you'd like to join me in the reading challenge or share your own goals, let me know! We can connect here, or on Twitter, or even G+ and Instagram. If I know you and you're connected to me via Facebook, we can bond over our reading goals there, too.

Have a great new year!