Newbery Notes – Finishing March 48-Hour Book Challenge

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 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

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

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

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

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

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!!!

It’s Cybils Time!


I’m a first round Cybils judge!

The Cybils are the Children’s and Young Adult Bloggers’ Literary Awards. This year I’m serving as a first-round panelist in the category of Young Adult Speculative Fiction.

What this means is that I’m going to need to do a LOT of reading in the next three months.

More than 100 books will likely get nominated in my category, and we hope to have at least two panelists read each book. All panelists will read books that are serious contenders for the shortlist.

So I need to read!

(And I do love it when I get to say that! Instead of feeling guilty for taking time to read, I should feel guilty when I don’t!)

The bad side is that I’m going to get even further behind on posting reviews. I currently have 66 reviews written that I haven’t posted yet. So I’m going to try to get about one per day posted most days — but that will not catch me up.

And Sonderling Sunday is going to be a much more rare feature.

So — if my posts get a little less frequent — It’s because I’m reading!

And — this coming Thursday and Friday, I’m going to hold my own personal 48-Hour Book Challenge!

By something of a fluke, I have those days off. So I’m going to brush off the spreadsheets I used for Mother Reader‘s past years’ 48-Hour Book Challenges and use her rules.

The point is to see how many hours out of a chosen consecutive 48 hours I can spend reading. I’m allowed one audiobook, and can count hours spent reviewing or posting my reviews. And I’m allowed to spend time networking — posting about my challenge. I’m going to see if I can hit a personal best. Can I top 30 hours and 30 minutes? (Do I even want to?) For that matter, can I pass 18 hours spent reading? (I might want to go easier on the non-reading activities.)

So — I’m going to get behind on posting reviews, but it will be worth it!

And you can participate! Anyone who has read a good children’s or young adult book published between October 16, 2015 and October 15, 2016 — nominate it for a Cybils Award!

Give me more great books to read!

48-Hour Book Challenge Finish Line 2015

48hbcYay! This morning at 7:45 am, I finished this year’s 48-Hour Book Challenge just as I finished reading another book.

My grand total was 28 hours and 15 minutes reading and reviewing, my second most for the challenge.

I finished the most books ever during the challenge — 8, and reviewed the most books ever — 5.

Here’s how the time was broken up:

18 hours and 30 minutes spent reading. That includes 1827 books read.

The books I finished and reviewed were:
Gone Crazy in Alabama, by Rita Williams-Garcia
Read Bottom Up, by Neel Shah and Skye Chatham
The Boys Who Challenged Hitler, by Phillip Hoose
Jinx’s Fire, by Sage Blackwood
Maeve’s Times: In Her Own Words, by Maeve Binchy

The book I finished just as I reached the Finish Line and so haven’t had time to review:
Wearing God, by Lauren F. Winner

Books I finished but decided not to review:
The Art of Stillness, by Pico Iyer
Mirror, Mirror On the Wall, edited by Kate Bernheimer
Peanuts Every Sunday, 1956-1960, by Charles M. Schulz

Books I read parts of:
The Bible
Horn Book Magazine
Rilke’s Book of Hours
The Spirit of Saint Francis, by Pope Francis
The Real Thing, by Ellen McCarthy
The New York Times Book of Mathematics
Surfaces and Essences, by Douglas Hofstadter
The Annotated Anne of Green Gables, by L. M. Montgomery
The Slow Regard of Silent Things, by Patrick Rothfuss

2 hours, 30 minutes spent listening to The Scandalous Sisterhood of Prickwillow Place, by Julie Berry. 2 CDs completed.

3 hours, 45 minutes spent writing the reviews and blogging. 2465 words written.

1 hour spent networking.

2 hours, 30 minutes spent posting the reviews.

And I come away wishing I could make all this a priority for the rest of the week! How delightful to spoil myself! Now I’m going to have to take care of some weekend errands I put off and deal with mundane things like getting some sleep. But it was so much fun while it lasted!

48-Hour Book Challenge Starting Line 2015

48hbcWoo-hoo! The 48-Hour Book Challenge is here again!

The basic idea: Choose a 48-hour period of the weekend, and see how many hours of that time you can spend reading, reviewing, and bookish connecting.

I don’t know why on earth I didn’t participate last year, but I found my records from participation 2009 through 2013:

2009: 23 hours, 30 minutes; 5 books finished; 1120 pages; 5 books reviewed
2010: 26 hours, 40 minutes; 3 books finished; 995 pages; 4 books reviewed
2011: 30 hours, 30 minutes; 3 books finished; 1606 pages; 4 books reviewed
2012: 27 hours, 30 minutes; 3 books finished; 758 pages; 3 books reviewed; 5778 words written
2013: 20 hours; 3 books finished; 518 pages; 2 books reviewed; 3472 words written; 4 reviews posted

This weekend, alas, I have to work on Saturday. However, today is beautifully clear. (I don’t feel as guilty about cancelling with my Friday night gaming group as I used to feel cancelling my Friday night Home Fellowship group. I used to work around it.) So my goal will be 24 hours — of course if I have extra energy and find it possible to do without sleep (probably not possible; probably not a good idea), it would be fun to try to set a new record and go for 31 hours.

If the totals seem small, I should add that I always read many parts of books. I always have a few dozen nonfiction books going at once! This morning in my first hour of reading, I had an extended devotional time, reading parts of five different books, with a page count of 54 pages. (Page count tends to be lower when reading in pieces.)

I also get less read if I use the time writing reviews and posting reviews, which is why I started keeping track of words written and reviews posted as well. Today I have some reviews written and waiting to be posted, so I may break up my reading by posting them.

The totals are much, much less, of course, than I’d like them to be. Oh the ambitious stacks of books I’ve set aside in the past! But regardless of the totals, it’s so much fun putting everything else aside and taking time to READ!

And I always like to post my theme song for the challenge!

And, oh yes, I officially began at 7:45 am on Friday morning. I will finish at 7:45 am on Sunday morning. How many books will I be able to read and review in that time? How many hours will I spend? Stay tuned….

48-Hour Book Challenge Finish Line

Look at that! While I was finishing Wednesdays in the Tower, the 48 hours ended. I’m going to write up my finish line post and then take a NAP!

And I did it! I actually spent a full 24 hours and 35 minutes out of the last 48 reading and blogging!

Okay, 20 minutes were unpacking boxes of books, but that’s still more than 24 hours on officially sanctioned activities.

I finished 3 novels — Heart’s Blood, by Juliet Marillier, reread Tuesdays at the Castle, by Jessica Day George, and just this minute Wednesdays in the Tower.

I’m a little disappointed in Wednesdays in the Tower. I rather wish I hadn’t reread the first book, or I think I would have liked it more. But the magic of the castle didn’t seem to work the same way — but most of all, the story isn’t finished. It didn’t tie up nicely like in the first book. Anyway, I’ll save it for a review.

Here’s how my time was spent:

13 hours and 55 minutes reading. I read 933 pages, 267 of which were various nonfiction books, the rest of which were the three novels.

2 hours and 25 minutes were spent listening to The Plantagenets by Dan Jones.

2 hours and 15 minutes were spent posting previously-written reviews.

5 hours and 40 minutes were spent writing reviews or blog posts or recording times.

20 minutes were spent unpacking 3 boxes of books. (Not an official activity, but I thought it should count if I only unpacked boxes of books.)

And now it’s time to sleep!