Archive for the ‘48-Hour Book Challenge’ Category

48-Hour Book Challenge Finish Line

Wednesday, May 20th, 2020

In the last 48 Hours, between 7 pm Monday and 7 pm Wednesday, I spent 27 hours and 15 minutes reading, reviewing, posting reviews, and blogging.

I was hoping for 30 hours — but today I lost a little bit of urgency when I realized that my week off will continue and there’s nothing to prevent me spending the time the same way! So I took a little longer on my walk by my lake, taking pictures of irises.

Today I focused more on dipping into various nonfiction books I’d started than reading whole novels. In fact, I’m a little stunned that I only finished ONE book from start to finish — Emily’s Quest, by L. M. Montgomery. But I did finish four other books that I’d already started and wrote reviews of them. I also got more than halfway through a children’s novel that I started today.

But most of the time was reading a chapter or two from nonfiction books. Besides the five books I finished, I read parts of eighteen other books. So yeah, maybe I’m overdoing the reading a little bit of books each day thing (and no wonder it takes me a long time to make much headway), but they were all books I really enjoyed reading, and that was in keeping with my theme of taking a personal spiritual retreat this week.

My stats for the 48 hours:
13 hours, 30 minutes were spent reading
2 hours, 50 minutes were spent listening to audiobooks
2 hours, 30 minutes were spent writing four reviews
4 hours, 25 minutes were spent posting five reviews (so I’m not further behind!)
1 hour, 55 minutes were spent with other blogging (starting line & midpoint posts & Sonderquotes)
2 hours, and 5 minutes were spent keeping track in spreadsheets (Oh dear, that seems excessive.)

In those 13 and a half hours, I got 954 pages read.
In the 4 hours, 25 minutes I spent reviewing and blogging, I wrote 2,921 words.

And the important thing? I had a lovely time doing it. And — I think I set some nice habits for the rest of my week off. Having this going on helped me spend a little less time on Twitter in the morning. And it reminded me that I *like* reading and reviewing and blogging.

All in all, it was again a lovely way to refresh my reading batteries.

48-Hour Book Challenge: Midpoint Check-in

Tuesday, May 19th, 2020

It’s past 7:00 on Tuesday night, so I have come halfway through my 48-Hour Book Challenge, and I’m fighting off the realization I always get during these events that I can’t actually get infinitely many books read in an infinite amount of time.

But the report so far is that I’ve finished reading (or listening to) four books, all of which I’d already started: one children’s novel, one audiobook, and two nonfiction books which I’d been reading a little bit at a time.

This has seemed like a good day for dipping into a large number of books, though it’s a little less satisfying to report. But in the last 24 hours, I have ended up spending 15 hours reading, blogging, reviewing, and posting reviews. (That’s good. I like to try to hit 30 hours in my 48-Hour Book Challenges. It all depends on how long I sleep.)

And this time, I’m trying to focus less on getting a large amount read and more on getting what I finish reviewed. But also to enjoy the process. Because what could be better than a day spent reading?

48-Hour Book Challenge Starting Line

Monday, May 18th, 2020

Huzzah! It’s time for my 48-Hour Book Challenge!

The goal: To take a period of 48 Hours and spend as much time as possible Reading and Reviewing. My participation in these started years ago because of Mother Reader, and it’s her logo I’m using. I’m much less organized and don’t have prizes and haven’t gotten hundreds of other bloggers to sign up — but I’m doing it!

I just looked back at my own blog posts in the 48-Hour Book Challenge category, and the first year I did one was 2009. Wow!

This year, I’m planning to spend a bigger proportion of time writing reviews and posting reviews than I usually do, because I currently have 113 reviews waiting to be posted, and if I read and review more books, I’ll just get farther behind.

Also, because I’m starting a Personal Spiritual Retreat at the same time, I’m hoping to read more nonfiction than I usually do. It’s not quite as fun as binge-reading fiction, but I’d like to do some thinking and reflection during this time, too.

Oh, and it’s always fun to include a video of my personal 48-Hour Book Challenge Theme Song!

Seriously, what I love about the 48-Hour Book Challenge is that it makes reading something that I’m not going to interrupt for other activities. (I’ll use audiobooks to get me through the awkward necessity of doing things like preparing food.) It flips a switch in my brain and tells me that I *should* be reading, rather than making “too much reading” be something I feel guilty about.

Anyway, my start time tonight was 7 pm. So for the next 48 hours, until Wednesday night at 7 pm — don’t interrupt me, I will be reading!

Invitation to a 48-Hour Book Challenge

Friday, May 15th, 2020

I’m not sure how long ago it was, but some number of years ago, my friend Pam Coughlan, who recently became my co-worker, would run a 48-Hour Book Challenge from her blog, motherreader.com.

Pam did a fantastic job with the 48-Hour Book Challenge. She had a start line and finish line. She had prizes. She had a place for you to post. The logo for the challenge I put on this post is totally hers.

Well, she stopped blogging, but for the years that she sponsored the 48-Hour Book Challenge, I liked it so much that I kept doing my own personal ones.

And — I’m taking this next week off. But because of Covid-19, I cancelled my reservation in southern Virginia and my plans to hike to waterfalls. So I will be home — and I’ve decided to use Monday and Tuesday for this year’s 48-Hour Book Challenge.

I have already dropped the ball on inviting other people to join me. Who’s going to clear 48 hours so quickly? But in case you like the idea and want to try it in the next week or so — tell me about it in the comments and if you have a blog, put a link.

Here are the rules: For 48 straight hours, you spend as much time as you can reading and blogging. That’s it. But you keep track of your stats and post your results.

I have to admit, it’s more fun when I spend more of the time reading and less time blogging. But I am already way, way behind on getting reviews posted, so I am going to try to write a review of every book I finish reading and also to post multiple reviews — I don’t want to get further behind.

Oh, and it’s allowed to tide yourself over times when it’s hard to read by listening to audiobooks. I have one loaded to Libby on my phone that I need to listen to. That’s probably what I’ll do while fixing lunch and dinner.

So it will be fun if someone can join me. But whether or not — I hereby declare that I can’t do extra activities on Monday and Tuesday. I need to read!

48-Hour Book Challenge: Independence Weekend Finish Line

Saturday, July 6th, 2019

There! I’ve just spent the last 48 hours trying to focus on reading, writing and reviewing, in a 48-hour Book Challenge.

I did not get as much done as I would have liked to. That never happens. But I did have a completely lovely time. And I did get more accomplished than I would have if I had just treated it as an ordinary two days off.

For time, I managed to spend 27 hours and 15 minutes reading, writing, and reviewing.

That was broken down this way:
12 hours, 55 minutes reading
5 hours, 35 minutes writing reviews
4 hours, 35 minutes blogging about ALA Annual conference
2 hours, 15 minutes posting reviews
1 hour, 30 minutes emailing (I decided to count that as writing to keep from feeling isolated.)
And 25 minutes housekeeping (making my spreadsheet) and organizing book piles.

Here’s what I accomplished:
I completely read four books, finished two more that I’d already begun, and read parts of five other books, for a total of 1,313 pages read.

I wrote reviews of eleven books, completely catching up on reviews I wanted to write. (This was a goal that I did accomplish. I didn’t want to get further behind on writing reviews.)

I posted only two reviews and two Sonderquotes posts. (Had hoped to do more.)

I posted two blog posts about the Challenge itself (counting this one) and two blog posts about ALA Annual Conference. (Had hoped to at least finish ALA Annual Conference.)

All that adds up to 8,311 words written.

But best of all, I had a whole lot of fun. And I convinced myself that as I begin a new phase of life — post-Newbery and attending a new church — I do want to put a focus on reading, writing and reviewing.

And that is where my joy lies.

Now I’ve got two days left of my 4-day weekend to try to do my normal weekend things — which hopefully include a little reading, writing, and reviewing!

Independence Day 48-Hour Book Challenge

Thursday, July 4th, 2019

It’s time for a 48-Hour Book Challenge, Independence Day Edition!

But Sondy, you may ask, why are you doing a book challenge when you’re no longer on the Newbery committee and no longer need to spend every spare minute reading books?

Well, when I was talking with friends at ALA Annual Conference about my Newbery experience, I realized that what I miss most is being able to make reading my top priority. I miss having an excuse to set aside everything else and read.

I’m also frustrated because when I don’t make reading a priority — books just aren’t getting read as quickly! There were so many books I wanted to get to after the Newbery was done — and they’re languishing, still unread. (Also, books for adults are just so darn long!)

And then I thought, well, why don’t I make reading a priority, anyway?

Another thing that happened during ALA Annual Conference was that I received the Allie Beth Martin Award from the Public Library Association for “extraordinary range and depth of knowledge about books and distinguished ability to share that knowledge.” That was nice validation for my website, Sonderbooks.com, full of book reviews, which I’ve been writing since 2001. During my last month reading for the Newbery, I actually posted one review almost every day — because I wanted to catch up on posting all my pre-2018 reviews. But since then? So few have gotten posted.

Now something got set aside during the Newbery, and it’s that I’ve always wanted to be a published writer. But of course I wasn’t going to try while I was on the Newbery committee because of conflict of interest. Now it’s time to embrace writing again. Beginning with my blog and writing up my time at ALA Annual Conference. But I have two other blog series going that I want to continue and that have been languishing — A Universalist Looks at the New Testament, about Christian Universalism, and Transcending: They’ll Know Us By Our Love, about the Bible and transgender people. I’d love for either one or both of these series to eventually become a book, but for now I have a lot more to write on the blog.

So there you have it, in my post-Newbery life, I want a fresh focus on Reading, Writing, and Reviewing.

I am therefore adjusting the rules of the 48-Hour Book Challenge. Instead of just counting reading time, I will also count time writing and reviewing. In fact, my plan is to alternate an hour of each one. The challenge comes in to see how much of the next 48 hours I can fill with Reading, Writing, and Reviewing. I’ll also keep track of pages read, books completed, words written, and reviews posted.

Oh, the other factor is I’m almost disappointed I don’t ever go to the Capitol Fourth on the National Mall, because my boycotting it today loses any meaning. But I am boycotting it today. Being given Friday off as well as Independence Day makes this the perfect time to set aside 48 hours for a Book Blitz!

I began at 11:15 on July 4th. I will finish at 11:15 am on Saturday. Here goes!

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!