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My Summer Reading Program: Project Revive the Bookworm

August 2, 2015


Earlier this summer, I realised that I simply wasn’t reading enough. This made me a bit panicky: why was I spending all of my time on things other than books, when I’ve been a bookworm for as long as I can remember? Ultimately, I think there are a lot of reasons, but I’ve decided to come up with a little summer reading program, just to run during August, that will hopefully revive my bookworm status!

Like many of you, I love making lists, and then getting to check things off as I finish them. So, that’s exactly what I’m going to do. I also keep wanting to revive my blogging, but weeks go past without me even realising it, so at the very least I’ll be checking in once a week to report on my progress/gush about my new favourites that I think you should read too. ;)

Because I want to re-associate reading with light-heartedness, I picked the categories off the top of my head. Feel free to suggest other categories you think I’d enjoy, or any books you’ve really loved that would fit in here.

Without further ado, here’s my list:

  • Read 35 books in August
  • Read a book that’s been translated
  • Read a’genre’ book by a GLBT author
  • Read a mystery book by a new-to-me author
  • Reread a novel
  • Read a book by an Indian author
  • Read a science fiction book recommended by Jo Walton
  • Read a book about the Ottoman empire
  • Read a book of bookish essays
  • Read a book written before 1500
  • Read a book set in Scandinavia
  • Read a book by an author the same age as me
  • Read a book with a bookish heroine
  • Read a book of natural history essays
  • Read a book by a new-to-me 19th century author
  • Reread a nonfiction book
  • Read the next book in a series I’ve begun but not finished
  • Read a book found by using the random number generator and the Dewey Decimal system
  • Read a book set in or about upstate New York
  • Read a fantasy book by an author from somewhere other than the US or UK
  • Read a book from the Orange Prize shortlists

There! That’s 20 categories, which accounts for a bit more than half of my monthly reading aim. We’ll see if that’s enough to inspire without boxing me in. Also, I’m totally fine with counting books for as many categories as they’ll fit in, since this is all about fun anyway. I only mention one book for each category, but that’s a minimum, and I might end up exploring some of these more thoroughly.

whatthedeadknowAnd now, I really should get back to reading. ;) I’m in the middle of The Tiger’s Wife by Téa Obrehtt at the moment, and I cannot wait to watch the story continue to develop! For those keeping score at home, it will fall into the Orange Prize category, as well as the one by an author the same age as me (technically she’s seven months older, but I think a year margin on either side is reasonable!). And this morning I finished my first August book: What the Dead Know by Laura Lippman. It doesn’t fall into any of the categories above, but it was a damn good book. I read it as an audiobook, and I was utterly addicted to it, to the point of just lying on the couch listening to it instead of turning on Netflix or anything like that. I’m quite fussy about what mystery/crime/etc. books I like, so I didn’t expect to fall so hard for Lippman (I tried her for the first time last month with The Girl in the Green Raincoat), but I have. What I really love is the way she takes typical plots that make girls/women into decorative (so to speak), or at least one-dimensional, victims and instead uses them to explore patriarchy’s lens towards women, keeping everyone involved a subject instead of an object; so far, the crime stories read as neither exploitative or ‘excepto-girl,’ but as genuine engagements with how it is to be a (middle/working-class, straight, white…not much intersectionality that I’ve seen yet) woman in the contemporary US. That, and I love how wonderful she is at keeping me reading at a breakneck pace, because I just have to find out what happens next! ;) Thank goodness she has quite a backlist for me to explore! (While I clearly recommend her books, I will add that the way she writes about weight and the physical appearance of characters is deeply problematic at times. She’s one of those authors who’s really good at writing in different characters’ voices, and sometimes the voices she’s writing in are obnoxious, so it makes sense they’d dismiss characters as ‘fat,’ but I have yet to see her provide any real counter-examples/counter-dialogues to the ‘fat=bad/skinny=good’ paradigm. Which sucks.)

45 Comments leave one →
  1. August 2, 2015 5:33 pm

    I wish I could read a book a day. Even being retired and having all my time free, the best I can do is read 3 books in two weeks. I’d have no trouble finding a book a day to read, but I just can’t read that much anymore. I really admire your ability to read so widely and so much.

    • August 3, 2015 3:48 pm

      Interesting! Any ideas on why? I”m curious, because my own reading pace has slacked over the past year, and I’m not sure about the causes.

      • August 3, 2015 5:48 pm

        For one thing I prefer to listen rather than read, and listening is slow. I like it that way because it forces me to savor the words. But I still like to read with my eyes, but my back, neck and eyes protest if I try to read for too long. I can usually read 400-500 page book in 5-6 days if it’s very compelling. Also, if I read a good book I’ll be diverted into research and reading about the book. So each book takes me longer to digest. And I’m more than twice your age, so I think I’ve just slowed down.

        By the way, my current book is Spinster by Kate Bolick, and I read it first with my eyes, and now I’m listening to it. She writes about five women that inspired her, and I got The Long-Winded Lady by Maeve Brennan because of Bolick’s book. I might not read all of it. I often read parts of books, and that’s another reason why I don’t get as much read as I did when I was young.

      • August 4, 2015 11:31 am

        I’m really replying to James’ mention of Maeve Brennan. I read The Springs of Affection, and just loved it. In my book, she is one of the great writers.

      • August 5, 2015 4:24 pm

        Your reasons all make sense James! I have a very particular set up for reading regular books, and ebooks are million times easier on my body. :) Someone else recommend Spinsters to me; I’ll have to track down a copy. And Nan, I’ll add Maeve Brennan to my list!

        I’m too much of a completist to read only parts of books, unless I decide to formally abandon them. hehe

      • August 5, 2015 4:55 pm

        Eva, you read so many books have you considered For $8.99/month they have a tremendous selection of ebooks and audiobooks. They have the audio edition of Spinster – I got the visual version at my library’s new book shelf. Scribd is a much better deal than Kindle Unlimited.

      • August 13, 2015 2:58 pm

        My library supplies me with plenty of ebooks for free, and the ones they don’t have don’t seem to be on Scribd either. Plus the latter doesn’t work with my Nook. So for now I’ll just be extra grateful for my library system!

  2. olduvai permalink
    August 2, 2015 6:00 pm

    Those are some wonderful goals Eva! I’ve been hearing quite a bit about Zen Cho, a Malaysian fantasy writer (London-based). She has her debut novel Sorcerer to the Crown coming out in Sept which obviously won’t work for an August goal. But she does have Spirits Abroad, a short story collection available on Scribd.

    For me, one goal I always have in August is to read books from Southeast Asia. August sees Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia celebrating their independence days so I figure it’s as good a month as any to highlight Southeast Asian authors.

    • August 3, 2015 3:49 pm

      She’s on the top of my list for September reading! :) I’m not on Scribd, and my library doesn’t have her short story collection, but if I enjoy her novel I could always just buy the short stories for my Nook. I didn’t realise August had so many independence days in that region! What an excellent goal. I’m already on the waiting list for a mystery book by a Singapore author, but I’ll see if I can grab another book or two on my next library visit. :)

  3. August 2, 2015 7:21 pm

    What a fun, fun list! Sheesh–I think the closet I’ve ever come to your target number is 34 in a month–but that was comics/graphic novels month! :P I just started a mystery by a new-to-me author. Annie finished it and immediately shoved it into my hands to read because she wanted someone to talk to about it. It’s called The Devotion of Suspect X by Keigo Higashino; have you read it? Anyway, I’m super curious to see what you’re going to end up reading for each of the categories! Have fun!!!

    • August 3, 2015 3:51 pm

      35 is a total stretch for me; I want to kind of shock my system back into automatically reaching for a book at all times! ;) As I already told you, I’ve read that book & would love it discuss it with you & Annie!!!

  4. August 2, 2015 8:32 pm

    Oh, I loved The Tiger’s Wife! Have you read Gathering Moss by Robin Wall Kimmerer? It’s a beautiful book by a moss biologist both about mosses and her life studying them. It’s set in upstate New York and I think would qualify as natural history essays.

    • August 3, 2015 3:52 pm

      I haven’t even heard of Gathering Moss, but now I’m hoping to get it at my next library visit. I love mosses, and so it sounds irresistible! Also, I’ve now finished The Tiger’s Wife, and I loved it too. :D

  5. August 2, 2015 9:00 pm

    Eva, I love your goals! I’m especially interested to see how the Dewey Decimal one turns out. Another idea for when you finish the current list: Read a book written when the author was under 30. And then maybe read another book written when the author was over 60, for balance. ;) Enjoy all that reading!

    • August 3, 2015 3:53 pm

      Thanks Kazan! I actually will be reading the first category you suggest by default, since I’m 29, so any book I read by an author my age has to have been published before they turned 30. ;) But I like the idea of balancing it out with reading an author over 60!

  6. milesandmilesinTexas permalink
    August 2, 2015 9:36 pm

    I loved What the Dead Know too. Her lastest standalone After I’m Gone was really good as well.

    • August 3, 2015 3:53 pm

      Good to know that I have another one to look forward to! :)

  7. August 2, 2015 11:50 pm

    I like your categories, they are creative and will lead you to new to you authors and books.

    • August 3, 2015 3:53 pm

      Thanks Terra! I’ve fallen into a bit of a reading rut, so I’m hoping to pop myself out of it.

  8. August 3, 2015 5:14 am

    Ambitious goals – hope you are not making it too hard on yourself! Wish you the very best.

    • August 3, 2015 3:54 pm

      I don’t think it’s *too* hard, just challenging enough. Plus, if I don’t quite make it to 35, I won’t be that bothered. ;)

  9. queenofthepark permalink
    August 3, 2015 5:26 am

    You are setting the bar quite high and that’s a good thing! I like that your categories are so appealing and allow for some overlap if that bar proves a bit of a challenge too far. Will be a win win. And I feel inspired to ” try this at home”in a scaled back version You will have the best month!

    • August 3, 2015 3:54 pm

      Thanks! I agree that whether I actually hit 35 books or not, it will make for a very fun month (and August is not usually my favourite…I’m not a summer person). I hope you enjoy your version too!

  10. August 3, 2015 6:29 am

    Another weekend that I planned to write some blog posts has come and gone with no blog posts written! I spent most of yesterday reading A Little Life, which is a very big book, so I still have a long way to go. My August goal is to cut back looking at my phone (Facebook, Twitter, etc.) and spend more time reading outside or on the porch, while the weather is nice. You’re probably still a bookworm even without the help of this intensive reading program, but hope you have fun with it! I listened to The Tiger’s Wife as an audiobook, but haven’t read any Laura Lippman.

    • August 3, 2015 3:56 pm

      Isn’t it insane how quickly time seems to fly?! I love your August goal; I’ve been trying to get outside more too. I suppose I should have phrased it as ‘I want to be a super bookworm again,’ hehe. Lately I’ve felt more like a knitter who reads than a reader who knits, and that’s the wrong set of priorities for me! ;)

  11. August 3, 2015 2:52 pm

    Excellent goals! Does horror count as “genre” fiction? I am never sure where the lines are — anyway, if they do, maybe Jennifer McMahon for your GLBT genre fiction? I just read her book The Night Sister and enjoyed it enormously. A haunted house will nearly always do it for me. :D

    • August 3, 2015 3:56 pm

      I’m counting horror as a genre book, and I cannot resist a haunted house book! Yay! Will add this to my library list. :D

  12. Amanda permalink
    August 3, 2015 7:59 pm

    I can’t wait to hear more!

  13. Steve permalink
    August 4, 2015 3:01 am

    Eva, may I recommend, for your book set in Scandinavia, ‘Burial Rites’ by Hannah Kent? It’s terrific. It has won many awards:

    • August 5, 2015 4:26 pm

      That sounds so neat Steve! I’ll definitely grab it at my next library visit. And Kent was only born a year before me, so she’d double-count. ;)

  14. August 4, 2015 11:35 am

    ‘in or about upstate ny’ – one of my very favorite books is Kaaterskill Falls by Allegra Goodman.

    • August 5, 2015 4:26 pm

      Oh thank you! I haven’t read that one, so I’ll see if my library has it.

  15. buriedinprint permalink
    August 4, 2015 12:54 pm

    I appreciate your method and it works for me too, with just enough nudges to enjoy the planning and imagining, not too many so that it becomes overly-prescriptive and takes out the fun that one was aiming for: enjoy! (Also, that was the first Lippman I read, and I quite admired it too. And, yes, what a pageturner for sure!)

    • August 5, 2015 4:27 pm

      Yes; I used to get that method from joining challenges, but somehow I fell out of that habit. In future months, I might do more of a challenge approach, with specific themes. We’ll see!

  16. August 5, 2015 4:53 am

    The Dewey Decimal one sounds like such a fun idea – and very brave, considering you could end up with a medical textbook or something in Urdu, or whatever! Can’t wait to find out what it ends up being :)

    • August 5, 2015 4:28 pm

      Lol Simon! I think the Dewey decimals are broad enough that random number generator isn’t going to give me one specific book. I’ll have to use it twice I suppose, for either side of the decimal point. It should be interesting to see what happens; I’m waiting until I’m at the library to run it. :)

  17. August 7, 2015 10:31 am

    I started the year off with a bang, but my reading has fizzled. It’s sad. I really want to get back into it and I have the time to do it right now, but still hardly reading.

    • August 9, 2015 7:31 pm

      Maybe a personal challenge is what you need?

  18. August 8, 2015 11:20 am

    What a great idea! Might I recommend Malinda Lo for your queer genre book?

    • August 9, 2015 7:31 pm

      I just read Ash a couple of weeks ago & loved it! So maybe I’ll grab the sequel; thanks for the reminder. :)

  19. August 9, 2015 11:13 am

    Great list of goals. I like the mix of tough and easy to achieve. (I, at least, would find translation easy as I have dozens in my TBR but a book of natural history essays? I wouldn’t know where to begin!) Happy reading!

    • August 9, 2015 7:32 pm

      I’m happy to help if you ever decide to dive into some natural history essays. ;D

  20. August 21, 2015 7:13 pm

    I have had the same thought lately!!!! WHO AM I if I’m not a reader? And lately, I haven’t felt like much of a reader. I used to read a lot when I had nothing else to do, which was mostly commuting. Since I work from home, I have NO commute, though I do often get to listen to audiobooks on my drives to meetings. So I have to really learn to make time for reading. I’m trying! But it is a little bit harder when you don’t have specific READING time when you literally can’t do anything else. That’s what my subway commute was for me! I love your list and I think I might have to make one of my own! (Going now to read up on your update!)


  1. Project Bookworm Update: Books One through Eight | A Striped Armchair

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