Archive for the ‘48-Hour Book Challenge’ Category

Newbery Notes – 24-Hour Book Blitz Finish Line

Monday, September 3rd, 2018

I finished my 24-Hour Book Blitz! And yes, some of that reading was done out on my balcony, even though it was a hot day for it.

My time stats are that I did manage to use more than half the time for book-related activities, a total of 13 hours and 50 minutes.

I spent 8 hours, 50 minutes reading,
1 hour, 15 minutes blogging (counting my Starting Line post and posting Sonderquotes last night),
2 hours, 15 minutes writing reviews,
and 1 hour, 30 minutes “housekeeping” — entering data into spreadsheets. This last included recording all the books I received from publishers in the last week — my grand total of books received is now 438 books.

As for what I got done, I finished reading 10 books and read 2 partial books. Most of the books I read were quite short, but the total was 1,305 pages read. (And remember that all pages are not created equal.)

I wrote 3,256 words.

I discovered that some books were missing from my spreadsheet when I wrote the Starting Line post, and my Picture Book worksheet wasn’t totaling all the pages. But these new totals should be correct for all the Newbery-eligible reading I’ve done so far:

196 Middle Grade Books (20 of those not finished) — 42,008 pages
53 Young Adult Books (7 not finished) — 14,924 pages
400 Picture Books (400 even!) — 14,935 pages.

Grand total: 622 finished books, and 71,867 pages.

It’s always fun to spend a day reading, though I didn’t really hit on treasures this time. I read a lot of short books, thinking I’d have time to write reviews — but didn’t get many reviews written. I now have a stack of 9 books to review (up from the 5 or 6 I started with), which I hope I can get to tonight before I do more reading.

Still, it feels good to mostly use my time off well — and I love that reading is using my time well! How lucky am I?

My next Book Blitz I hope will be Columbus Day, and the weekend after, I’m taking a 4-day weekend away for a reading retreat. Meanwhile, happy reading!

Newbery Notes – September 24-Hour Book Blitz

Sunday, September 2nd, 2018

I’m beginning a 24-Hour Book Blitz. My first reading marathon since May.

At the time, I hoped to do a 24-Hour Book Blitz every month, and a 48-Hour Book Challenge every quarter. Well, summer got away from me. Last week, I got my first reading day off since the summer began (too busy with Summer Reading Program!) — and I only got in 4 hours of reading. Yikes!

But Labor Day was coming up! So I spent Saturday cleaning my house — to get rid of distractions. And tonight at 6:50 pm, I began a 24-Hour Book Blitz. The idea is to focus on nothing in that time except reading — and writing reviews.

Okay, but I also have about 30 books received from publishers that I need to enter in my spreadsheet. Before I began reading, I had a stack of 5 books to review — and in those two hours, I was reading short books and need to write more reviews. I didn’t do my daily posting of a review and Sonderquotes yet today, so I’m going to allow that — so we’ll see.

But it’s all good. I will certainly get more reading done than on a normal day off. And, believe me, I need to write those reviews as soon as possible after I finish a book. With all the reading I’m doing, I am *definitely* forgetting what individual books are about.

I had other things to think about in the summer, and now things will begin heating up. The schedule is that the committee is still suggesting books to each other on the 15 of every month. We all read all of those books. So far, 90 books have been suggested. I’ve read all but 3 of those.

But in October, the nominations start! Each committee member nominates 3 books in October, 2 books in November, and 2 in December.

There’s a strategy to nominations. Those are the only books we will consider for the award (except possibly books published in December that someone suggests at the last minute). My plan is pretty simple: I’ll nominate my top three books in October. But in November and December, I will probably not necessarily nominate my next favorites. I will probably choose books that have not already been nominated, to get them on the table. But we’ll see. It’s possible I will read a nominated book for the first time and decide that’s the one I want to win, and want to put my name behind it, too.

At this point, I think I know what my top three (for October) will be. But it’s an interesting place now. Imagine this: You read a book that you wholeheartedly love. Now you have to ask yourself: Why do I love it? Do I love it because it’s a distinguished book? Or just because I have a special connection to it? Or maybe because it’s my favorite genre?

Mind you, if I do have a special connection to it — for example, suppose it’s set in the neighborhood where I grew up (and no eligible book fits that, by the way — but there are other connections) — well, maybe that means I’m better equipped to notice how well the author portrayed that. Or am I just biased?

Again, if it’s a book in my favorite genre, just exactly the sort of story I like best — does that mean I’m better equipped to tell if this particular example is distinguished, or am I just biased?

On top of that, I need to not only determine whether a book is distinguished, but also be prepared to convince 14 other people that it is distinguished. What pages, what chapters, what plot points can I point to in order to show this book is distinguished?

The good part of that is that I’m going to be rereading my favorites many times. The down side of that is that I’m going to be rereading the nominees that are not my favorites many times, too. Though I may notice new riches.

Another thing I’ve noticed is that certain ideas seem to come in waves. I won’t give any examples, because I don’t want people to know what I’m talking about — except that sometimes it’s simply odd when two books have a similar detail. But there are several that have a very similar scenario as the basic idea. I’m afraid that the second or third time I read about a set-up — even if it’s done more skillfully than the previous books — some of the impact is lost. This is a downside of reading every new children’s book you can get your hands on!

However, that’s part of the good part of working with a committee. The process of choosing a Newbery winner — with 15 people you have to convince — actually works well. The cream rises to the top. Already there have been wonderful suggestions. And somebody’s going to notice if the third instance of one particular scenario is the most distinguished one.

I also want to talk about my book reviews. When the Newbery reading year started, I was way, way behind on posting reviews I’d written. Now, I’m not allowed to say one word online about any eligible book. So I was afraid I’d have to give up my website for a year.

But — it turns out that I was so very far behind in posting reviews, pretty much ever since I was on the 2016 Cybils panel for YA Speculative Fiction — that I still have 100 reviews yet to post. I am trying to post an old review every day — and I very much hope I will catch up before the Newbery is announced.

Now, I’m also writing reviews of Newbery-eligible books as I read them — the only way I can possibly remember what I’ve read. I will post my favorites after we make the announcement. After that, I’ll probably keep the reviews in reserve in case I ever don’t have a review ready to go and I want to post. We’ll see.

Anyway, I’ve been rambling on long enough. Let me give my stats before my 24-Hour Book Blitz. Then we’ll see how much they change by tomorrow night. Here are the Newbery-eligible books I’ve read (beginning last October or so):

Middle-Grade Books (Newbery winners usually come from this category, but they don’t have to. Books for ages 0 to 14 are eligible): I’ve read 190 books, 18 of which I did not finish, for a total of 41,230 pages.
Young Adult Books: 49 books, 7 not finished, for a total of 14,165 pages.
Picture Books: 396 books, for a total of 13,607 pages.

The grand total is 610 books finished, at 69,002 pages!

I’ll let you know the new totals after my 24-Hour Book Blitz!

Newbery Notes – 48-Hour Book Challenge Finish Line

Friday, May 11th, 2018

I did it! I focused on reading and reviewing for a solid 48 hours, and now I’m ready to report.

I’m a little disappointed in my totals, since I’ve broken 30 hours in previous years, but since I still have the weekend, it’s still good.

Here are my totals for the 48 hours from 1:30 on May 9 to 1:30 on May 11:

Grand Total of time spent: 26 hours, 5 minutes

15 hours and 45 minutes of that time was reading.
4 hours and 20 minutes was writing reviews.
2 hours and 10 minutes was other blogging.
2 hours and 15 minutes was messing with my spreadsheets and gathering books. (!)
15 minutes was listening to an audiobook while I drove to and from Silent Book Club.
1 hour and 20 minutes was posting two reviews.

In that time, I read 15 complete books and 4 partial books, but 9 of those complete books were picture books. I read a total of 2,090 pages.

I wrote 12 reviews, posted 2 reviews, the Starting Line post, and 2 Sonderquotes posts, for a total of 5,537 words written.

This brings my totals for Newbery-eligible books to:
229 books received from publishers (including now 2 duplicates).
107 middle grade books read, including 14 not finished, for a total of 22,504 pages.
32 young adult books read, including 2 not finished, for a total of 10,253 pages.
188 picture books read, for a total of 7,090 pages.

Grand total: 327 books read, 39,847 pages.

Best of all, this year’s 48-Hour Book Challenge was fun! The weather has been glorious, just perfect for sitting out on my balcony and reading. I also got caught up on writing reviews – though I still need to write reviews of the last two books I read. So far, I’ve been able to mostly vary the styles of books enough that I’m not getting bored. (I began each hour of reading by reading a picture book, for example.)

And here are parts of my view while reading:

There are still an awful lot of books left that I need and want to read. But at least I’m having fun doing it!

Newbery Notes – 48-Hour Book Challenge May 2018

Wednesday, May 9th, 2018

Yes! I took almost a week off this week (all but Monday) for my “annual personal spiritual retreat” (Hey, I made it up, but I love it – I began last year.) – which this year is including a 48-Hour Book Challenge.

I can’t imagine a better beginning than I had yesterday. The weather has turned lovely – highs in the 70s, with gentle breezes and sunny skies. In the morning, I spent some extra time praying and thinking about goals. (Right now my goals are pretty simple: Read! A lot!) I began a walking program that I’ve done in previous years but usually give up on when the sun stops getting up early. After lunch, I visited Burnside Farms and took pictures of tulips.

I even brought some home.

After that, my plan was to get my house clean (vacuuming, cleaning the bathroom and kitchen, dusting… that sort of thing) before I began the serious work of reading. But it’s hard to face housework – so during the rest of the afternoon, I alternated spending a half-hour on my balcony reading and then spending fifteen minutes cleaning my house. And I had such a lovely time on the balcony, with the breezes practically caressing me they were so gentle, and the sun shining brightly and the birds singing… it spilled over into enjoying doing the housework.

By the time it got dark, I could envision finishing – and then being able to read the rest of the week and not having to do any housework! And I did it!

What does all that have to do with reading for the Newbery? Well, see how you have to arrange your life to find more time to read? I’m trying to do a 48-Hour Book Challenge once per quarter and a 24-Hour Book Challenge once a month. (I didn’t bother to blog about last month’s.) But I’m excited to have this time smack in the middle of the year. Because, yes, I’m feeling behind.

Here are my current stats, before I started the 48-Hour Book Challenge at 1:30 pm today. Yes! I’ve made progress since I last posted on April 17. Of course, I am fated to always fall further behind. No matter how many books I get read, it will not be as many as I’d like to get read.

But so far, this is how many Newbery-eligible books I’ve read:

Middle grade books: 99 books (11 not finished) and 21,197 pages.
Young adult books: 31 books (2 not finished) and 9,864 pages.
Picture books: 180 books and 6,802 pages.

This comes to a grand total of 310 books (more than half picture books) and 37,863 pages.

It sounds like a lot – but I don’t think I’ve even read half of the eligible books published so far.

And I have received 225 books from publishers so far. I haven’t read half of those.

However, I’ve got fourteen other committee members out there looking for good books. Also, I’ve asked the kids in the Newbery Book Club to alert me when they read a good book.

And that reminds me of one of the highlights of the time since I blogged about Newbery reading – I got to talk to a middle school group and an entire fifth grade at a local elementary school. The day after my talk to the fifth grade, two of the kids sent suggestions, via their school librarian, of titles I should be sure to read. This makes me happy that they were so engaged.

The day after that, I had a meeting of the Newbery Book Club at the library. I had some regulars return, and I had a new boy come. He brought in a copy of a book that had just been published the day before – was a little bothered that I had it in an advance reader copy when he’d just bought it. But then he got excited about the advance reader copies I was offering to the kids and asked if he could bring some extra for his friends. I said sure as long as he gets them to give me their opinions. (I’m asking the kids to rate the books with one to five stars and put their opinion on an index card. I’m collecting these during the year. We’ll have a vote among the kids at the end of the year among books they rated with 5 stars.)

It makes me happy that I do have quite a few kids now who are interested in letting me know which of the new books being published are the really good ones that I shouldn’t miss. Hooray for getting kids excited about reading!

Of course, I’m hoping to have higher totals at the end of 48 hours. The one catch is that, besides needing to get more books read, before I even started the challenge, I’ve got a stack of 7 books that I’ve read already and need to write reviews for. That’s not counting new books I get read during the Challenge. (I’m writing reviews to post after we select our winner. That’s the only way I can remember what the different books were about.)

So – a lot of the 48 hours will be spent writing reviews and not just reading. And I’m also allowing blogging time (like this) and posting old reviews. I still have a backlog of 164 reviews I wrote before 2018 began. I’d like to get all those posted before we announce our winner and I can do 2018 reviews – but I need to try to post a review every day. (Of course, then I’ll have a new backlog of 2018 books. At some point, I’ll probably give up and decide I don’t have to post all the reviews. We’ll see.)

And now I’ve had enough of a break – I’m going back out on my balcony to do some more reading!

Newbery Notes – Finishing March 48-Hour Book Challenge

Tuesday, March 13th, 2018

Okay, it’s the end of my 48-Hour Book Challenge for March 2018. Alas! My stats are nothing like I hoped they’d be.

But to be fair – I had a vestibular migraine the whole time, and I had some household tasks I wanted to get done. The migraine meant I took long naps each day. But bottom line is that I got more reading done than I would have if I’d spent the day at work, so it’s all good. I’m taking 4 days off in May, so my next 48-Hour Book Challenge, I should be able to devote it more fully to reading. (And do other things on the other 2 days off.)

I did spend 13 and a half hours on book-related activities.
7 hours and 40 minutes was reading.
1 hour and 35 minutes was writing reviews.
1 hour and 50 minutes was my regular posting reviews on Sonderbooks. (I like to do one per day – these are old reviews I wrote in the past. I really hope that while I’m reading for the Newbery and can’t post reviews of 2018 books, I’ll catch up and get all my old reviews posted!)
1 hour was other blogging (like this post).
And 1 hour and 25 minutes was messing with spreadsheets! You’d better believe I’m keeping track with spreadsheets all my Newbery reading. Now I’m starting to get books from publishers, so I made a new spreadsheet to track that.

I did finish 4 books that are eligible for the Newbery, though I’d started 2 of those before the challenge. But in the 7 hours and 40 minutes, I read a total of 957 pages.

Speaking of spreadsheets, let me give some totals for all my Newbery reading.

So far I’ve read 129 eligible books, but 64 of those are picture books and 65 are novels, for a total of 23,305 pages.

It’s interesting to me – I’ve read far more middle grade books – 49, than young adult books – 16, but I’ve actually read slightly more pages of young adult novels – 10,648 as opposed to 10,205 pages of middle grade books. I’ll probably be focusing more and more on middle grade books to change that. (But reading a young adult book now and then does break that up, and technically they are eligible if they have a 14-year-old audience.)

So – I’m going to treat my days off as a success. I’m plugging away, getting lots of reading done.

But I also want to announce a blog series I hope to start posting weekly – Newbery Notes.

I’ve had a lot of people ask about how I got on the committee and how the committee works and what it’s like to be on it. So – I thought it would be fun to blog about it.

Now, I’m way behind – I want to talk about how I got on the committee in the first place. But there’s plenty of time to talk about that. To keep from trying to catch up all at once, I’m setting my timer and plan to spend only 30 minutes per post. Plus, I don’t want to take time away from reading!

I will *not not not* talk about anything I’m reading or even if I read a book I enjoyed. People might try to guess based on when I read the book which book it was. I will talk about stats and fun things like so far, I have received 15 books from publishers – and they only started arriving last week! This is going to be more about how I’m arranging my life during my Newbery committee year.

I mentioned on the last post that my initial goal is to read 7 hours per week – but that’s a minimum. Then I’m doing one 24-hour Book Challenge per month and one 48-hour Book Challenge per quarter. I’m trying to take at least one day off to read each month. Toward the end of the year, I’m going to use 16 hours of Volunteer Leave to read. (I do have to check how my leave balances are doing. But so far, so good.)

Fortunately, I love to read. So far, I’m having fun doing this.

I’ve also gotten to talk about being on the Newbery committee in local schools. I’ve talked to a 4th grade class a 5th grade class, groups of 5th and 6th graders, an entire 6th grade at a school, and a Newbery Book Club I’m running at the library. So far, I’m just having that club try to read eligible books and give me their opinion, but by the end of the year, I hope we’ll be able to have the attendees vote on which book they think deserves the medal. Oh, and the “County Conversations” podcast interviewed me about being on the Newbery committee.

One of the most fun things I’ve added to my life is a Silent Book Club, every Thursday night from 7 pm to 9 pm. I read about Silent Book Clubs at silentbookclub.com just after I’d gotten my first advance reader copies of 2018 books last fall. I realized with delight that this was something social I could add into my life during my Newbery year! The timing was perfect – my church had just finished our new building, a community resource center, and was looking for activities that would appeal to our community. So they were happy to host the Silent Book Club as an “Activity Group.” You can sign up for it by joining our Facebook Group, “Dulles South Silent Book Club.”

We talk for the first and last 15 minutes and spend the hour and a half in the middle reading. You bring your own book. Several people use this to get books finished for another, talking, book club. We started out slow, but now regularly have 5 to 7 people there. There are now 11 people who have come at least once.

And my half-hour to post about life on the Newbery committee is done. Next week, I will try to tackle how I got on the committee.

Happy Reading!

March 2018 48-Hour Book Challenge: Newbery Edition

Sunday, March 11th, 2018

In case you haven’t heard: I am on the 2019 Newbery Committee!

I need to read lots and lots and lots of books!

So my initial goal for 2018 is to read for the Newbery at least 7 hours per week. But that’s not going to be enough. At all.

So my next goal is to throw myself a 24-Hour Book Blitz at least every month – but also a 48-Hour Book Challenge every quarter (acknowledging that the original idea came from Mother Reader).

So – I took Monday and Tuesday off this week. And I’m going to try to read as much as possible.

Now, this month I also happened to put off some other little things – like filing taxes – for these days off, so there are definitely going to be some interruptions to my reading time. And I’m also going to spend some time writing reviews of the books (to post after the Newbery) and I’m also going to count time spent posting old reviews (I’m super far behind, and like to try to post one per day). And I want to start blogging about the Newbery process. But I’m going to shoot for 8 hours per day of reading time. Let’s see how I do!

And – first I did some other stuff tonight, so there’s really not much reading time left. (The truth is that I’m not *really* going to have to make the Daylight Savings Time change until Thursday – because when I go back to work on Wednesday I’ve got the late shift.) But I officially began my 48-Hour Book Challenge at 11 pm tonight! Let’s go!

February 2018, 24-Hour Book Challenge Finish Line

Monday, February 19th, 2018

For my first 24-Hour Book Blitz of 2018 – And I hope to have several more – I have my results:

I read for 7 hours and 30 minutes.
I wrote reviews and blogged for 3 hours and 40 minutes.
Coming to a grand total of 11 hours and 10 minutes.
I finished 4 books and read a total of 647 pages.

This isn’t a great total – but I did have a dental appointment this morning. And, yes, I’m afraid I napped in the afternoon.

So I’m hoping I will be able to beat these for future Book Blitzes! It’s a start!

24-Hour Book Blitz: Newbery Edition, February 2018

Monday, February 19th, 2018

For several years, I’ve done 48-Hour Book Challenges, inspired by Mother Reader.

Knowing that this year I need to read more books than ever before in a year, I first thought I’d try to do one 48-Hour Book Challenge each quarter of 2018.

Well, I still may do that. But last weekend, at ALA Midwinter Meeting and the first meeting of the 2019 Newbery Committee, I decided I need to do more. I’ve got President’s Day holiday coming up – so why don’t I try to do a 24-Hour Book Blitz each month? Starting tonight!

Here are my rules: The object is to spend as much time as I can in the next 24 hours reading and blogging.

I began at 10:15 pm Sunday night, and I will finish at 10:15 pm on Monday night.

It might be smart to just do reading, but I have finished several books that I still need to review, so I’m going to count writing reviews as well. I’m going to make a stipulation, though, that I can’t count more than half as much time writing/blogging as I have spent reading. So blogging won’t get more than one-third of the time.

Now, some years I’ve done better than others, sometimes even skipping trivialities like a shower. However, tomorrow morning I’ve got a dentist appointment to get a permanent crown, so I will have to take time for that and for showering! But I figure this means my first 24-Hour Book Blitz will have a result that I will be able to beat the next time I try it.

Time to get reading!

48 Hour Book Challenge Finish Line

Friday, October 7th, 2016

Yay! In a half-hour I’m going to finish my 48-Hour Book Challenge!

And when that’s done, I’m going to bed!

So — I’m going to jump the gun a little and write my Finish Line post now.

When I finish writing this, I will read until 10:50 pm. But that’s not enough time to finish another book.

Given that information, here are my stats:

Yes! I set a new record for time spent reading and reviewing during the 48-Hour Book Challenge. (I knew that living alone was good for something — I confess I even skipped taking a shower this morning. The more time to spend reading.)

My total was 31 hours and 40 minutes spent reading, reviewing and networking in the last 48 hours. (Okay, since no one else was doing the challenge, “networking” was hanging out on Facebook every now and then as a break. Take that off my totals if you don’t like it! But I think it counts.)
That was broken down as:
23 hours reading
45 minutes listening to audiobooks
1 hour 45 minutes “networking”
6 hours 10 minutes blogging/reviewing

I read 2095 pages, and finished 8 books, only 4 of which I began during the challenge. I read parts of 18 different books. (I read bits of lots of books as part of my quiet times in the morning.) I wrote reviews of all 8 books that I finished.

The books I finished were:
Spontaneous, by Aaron Starmer
The Name of God Is Mercy, by Pope Francis
Everyone Brave Is Forgiven, by Chris Cleave (audiobook)
Three Dark Crowns, by Kendare Blake
Let Your Voice Be Heard, by Anita Silvey
Illuminae, by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
Ghost, by Jason Reynolds
The Rose and the Dagger, by Renée Ahdieh

And I started the time with a vestibular migraine — and am finishing it without one!

And I just had a lovely two days off. I’m going to have to find more ways to put more reading into my life the next three months. Not only is it important for judging the Cybils — It’s a lovely way to spend my time.

I am not sure when I’ll get the reviews posted. I’m afraid that’s a lower priority than getting the books read, but I will try!

48-Hour Book Challenge Starting Line

Wednesday, October 5th, 2016

cybils-logo-2016-web-smAnd I’m off!

Tonight I’m starting my own personal 48-Hour Book Challenge at 10:50 pm!

I’m modeling it after the Challenges that Mother Reader did every year for 10 years, borrowing her rules and format.

The idea: In a period of 48 hours, spend as much time as I can reading and reviewing.

Networking is also allowed, and I will allow spending time posting reviews. But I want to maximize reading time.

The occasion: I’m a first-round judge for the 2016 Cybils Awards, in the category of Young Adult Speculative Fiction, so I want to get off to a good start! I have Thursday and Friday off this week because I worked six days last week — and I’m going to spend them reading!

And I’m so excited!

But first, it’s traditional for me to post my 48-Hour Book Challenge Theme Song:

And now, to READ!!!