Bout of Books came upon me suddenly: fellow writer and friend Audra Atoche told me about it two weeks ago, and then I promptly forgot until she reminded me yesterday that it had officially begun. So I was left scrambling to figure out what books to read over this next week.
I have no shortage of books on my shelves, many of which I haven’t gotten around to actually reading, and I received books for Christmas that I (and the gift-givers) am excited to delve into. However, most of these don’t meet the job-related aspect of reading, and I’ve been feeling a little “stuck” lately in my own writing. So, to Goodreads I went, to find a good middle-grade fantasy book to sink my teeth into.
Goodreads is great for new book discoveries, with different category lists that people have compiled and the “readers also enjoyed” listings provided based on the book you’re currently looking at. The reviews too are more detailed and in-depth than Amazon’s tend to be, since Goodreads is largely made up of a community of writers, readers, and book reviewers. I stumbled upon one in particular that caught my interest, The Keeper of the Lost Cities, by Shannon Messenger.
I read the synopsis and reviews, and then held my breath as I headed over to Amazon to utilize its “look inside” feature. Everything sounded great so far, but it all hinged on writing style and ability, which to me is just as important — if not more so — than the story itself. Middle grade books have such a wide linguistic-development range, and I was looking for something more Harry Potter/Percy Jackson and less Diary of a Wimpy Kid. I also needed to make sure that Messenger could write regardless of reading level, because there are far too many books out there that don’t meet that particular criteria.
Success! I loved the first few pages and was hooked. I wanted to start reading NOW. I scoured the catalog at my local and system library first, because I’ve been trying to be more frugally responsible lately. No such luck. The one system copy that existed was checked out, and my library had nothing. Then I checked Barnes and Noble, willing to purchase if I had to, and — yet again — the first three books of this series were not in stock (the fourth was recently published and available, but that didn’t exactly help). Amazon to the rescue! I was able to get a box set of the first three shipped for arrival the next day.
Well, that “next day” is upon us, and the books arrived just as I finished my novel-writing goals for the day. I was hoping to get some other work done, but I couldn’t ignore the box any longer. I ripped it open, tore off the cellophane packing, pulled book 1 out of the boxed set, and settled in for a lengthy reading session.
So far, it’s everything I hoped it would be.
Now that I’m actually taking part in the reading portion of the Bout-of-Books read-a-thon (the Twitter chat last night was inspiring and tons of fun), I should share my goals:
- I’d like to read four books this week, getting through the available books of this Keeper of the Lost Cities series. I will without a doubt get through the first three, because that’s what I currently have in my possession.
- I will use this week to jumpstart my reading year and bring fiction back into my working life. Four books down of the fifty I intend to read in 2016 will be a great beginning.
- I also intend to put reading back into my daily schedule, with reading each night before bed (turning off all electronics at least an hour beforehand). I haven’t been sleeping well or at a consistent time, so I hope this helps on all fronts.
- Do all of this while maintaining my writing schedule and goals. I succeeded at that today, but I also finished my writing work before books arrived. This one will be difficult.
So, now that Day 2 is done, it’s time to shut down the computer and begin my nightly read!