Reading Challenge Cheater Pants



Every year I set a reading goal on Goodreads, and for the last 2 years it’s been to read 100 books. A year ago I went way over my goal, but man was this year a struggle. Let’s see if you can figure out how I “cheated” in 2014.

JANUARY (7): Takedown Twenty (Evanovich); Divergent (Roth); Reality Boy (King); Who Asked You? (McMillan); Cross My Heart (Patterson); Blogs, Wikis, Podcasts, and Other Powerful Web Tools for the Classroom (Richardson); The Goldfinch (Tartt)

FEBRUARY (6): Sycamore Row (Grisham); Strategies that Work (Harvey); Paper Covers Rock (Hubbard); Gone (Patterson); Insurgent (Roth); Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist (Cohn & Levithan)

MARCH (8): The Magician’s Assistant (Patchett); Lie (Bock); The Impossible Knife of Memory (Anderson); Beautiful Day (Hilderbrand); Promises to Keep (Green); Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes (Coerr); Tangerine (Bloor); The Silver Star (Walls)

APRIL (7): Morning (Thayer); The Tragedy Paper (LaBan); Private L.A. (Patterson); The Theory of Everything (Johnson); Allegiant (Roth); There’s a Boy in the Girls’ Bathroom (Sachar); Hate List (Brown)

MAY (5): Roomies (Zarr); The Suitors (David-Weill); Life, After (Littman); Fangirl (Rowell); The Rules of Survival (Werlin)

JUNE (15): Flora and Ulysses (DiCamillo); Sign Language (Ackley); OCD Love Story (Haydu); This is the Story of a Happy Marriage (Patchett); Unlucky 13 (Patterson); Learning a New Land (Suarez-Orozco); This Star Won’t Go Out (Earl); Making Content Comprehensible for English Learners (Echevarria); Hidden Girl (Hall); A Wedding in December (Shreve); Living with Jackie Chan (Knowles); Top Secret Twenty-One (Evanovich); Jumping Off Swings (Knowles); The Chosen One (Williams); Go Ask Alice (Sparks)

JULY (7): Virtuosity (Rodriguez); Joey Pigza Loses Control (Gantos); Charm and Strange (Kuehn); Bunheads (Flack); What They Found: Love on 145th Street (Myers); Teen Idol (Cabot); The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks (Lockhart)

AUGUST (11): The Museum of Extraordinary Things (Hoffman); Chestnut Street (Binchy); October Mourning (Newman); Tilt (Hopkins); Uses for Boys (Scheidt); Big Little Lies (Moriarty); When You Reach Me (Stead); The Coldest Girl in Coldtown (Black); Octavian Nothing (Anderson); Cracked Up to Be (Summers); If I Stay (Forman)

SEPTEMBER (4): Jemima J (Green); Wild Roses (Caletti); Savvy (Law); Suicide Notes (Ford)

OCTOBER (5): Four (Roth); Burn (Patterson); Margot (Cantor); Leaving Home (Picoult); Moxie and the Art of Rule Breaking (Frankweiler)

NOVEMBER (5): Leaving Time (Picoult); The Vacationers (Straub); Atlantia (Condie); Yes Please (Poehler); Dark Places (Flynn)

DECEMBER (20): After (Efaw); The One and Only Ivan (Applegate); The Extreme Internet Searcher’s Handbook (Hock); Gray Mountain (Grisham); Private India (Patterson); Hope to Die (Patterson); The Last Exit to Normal (Harmon); Eggs (Spinelli); Still Life with Breadcrumbs (Quindlen); China Dolls (See); Zoe Letting Go (Price); Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour (Matson); Boy (Dahl); Vacation Under the Volcano (Osborne); Amelia’s Family Ties (Moss); Captain Underpants #7 (Pilkey); Heart to Heart with Mallory (Friedman); Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH (O’Brien); Sophie the Daredevil (Bergen); The Young Gymnast (Jackman)

So… notice anything about December? Yes, I read a lot in June, but December’s pattern is interesting. I read *6* of them on December 31st. And do you see how the quality declines? I go from reading books by authors like Lisa See and Anna Quindlen down to… Magic Tree House books and Captain Underpants. Not that there’s anything wrong with those books. And, I always give myself permission to read middle grade books and the occasional upper elementary book if it’s highly recommended.

But I *had* to get to my goal. Even though, as my lovely husband pointed out, it was an artificial goal set by me, that no one would ever know about. Still, it had to be done. It’s shameful not to read at least 100 books, right? Right.

So, I did it. And I already put up my goal for 2015: 100 more books.

What about you? Are you as… anal freakish weird awesome as me?


Reading List, 2013


I’m proud of myself for reading so many books this year. My goal was 100, and I read 132! Some of the extra reading was because I was unemployed for a while – a silver lining, I guess. I’m organizing the books by the ratings I gave them on Goodreads. So, here we go – the five star books I read this year, in no particular order (R= reread):

Stars: *****

Eleanor and Park (Rowell); The Book Thief (Zusak, R); Wonder (Palacio); State of Wonder (Patchett); The Storyteller (Picoult); Because I Am Furniture (Chaltas);  Out of the Easy (Sepetys); Crank (Hopkins); Because of Mr. Terupt (Buyea); Butter (Lange)

Stars: ****

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Meaning of the Universe (Saenz); Mad About the Boy (Fielding); Reconstructing Amelia (McCreight); The Great Gilly Hopkins (Paterson); Spectacle (McCullagh); How to be a Writer in the E-Age (And Not Lose Your E-Sanity) (Hyde); Revenge Wears Prada: The Devil Returns (Weisberger); Sisterland (Sittenfeld); Parallel Visions (Rainfield); Junie B., First Grader: Turkeys We Have Loved and Eaten (and Other Thankful Stuff) (Park);  The Third Wheel: Diary of a Wimpy Kid #7 (Kinney); Tapestry of Fortune (Berg); 12th of Never (Women’s Murder Club) (Patterson); Reference Sources andResources forYoung People (Harper); Summerland (Hilderbrand); Anybody Out There? (Keyes); The Mystery of Mercy Close (Keyes); And the Mountains Echoed (Hosseini); The Engagements (Sullivan); The Devotion of Suspect X (Higashino); Where the Mountain Meets the Moon (Lin); Family Pictures (Green); What Ever Happened to Janie? (Cooney); Code Name Verity (Wein); Prom (Anderson); The Higher Power of Lucky (Patron); Glass (Hopkins); Define Normal (Peters); Notorious Nineteen (Evanovich); Fade to Black (Flinn); Just One Day (Forman); Perfect Escape (Brown); The Casual Vacancy (Rowling); Sahara Special (Codell)

Stars: ***

Confessions: The Private School Murders (Patterson); Starry River of the Sky (Lin); No Talking (Clements); The Cuckoo’s Calling (Galbraith); W is for Wasted (Grafton); Chocolate Fever (R, Smith); Rhymes with Witches (Myracle); The Opposite of Hallelujah (Jarzab); Clementine (Pennypacker); Reflective Teaching, Effective Learning: Instructional Literacy for Library Educators (Booth); Audrey, Wait! (Benway); Traitor in the Shipyard: A Caroline Mystery (Ernst); The Sixty-Eight Rooms (Malone); The Best Little Girl in the World (Levenkron); The Heist (Evanovich); Murder on the Orient Express (Christie); 21 Proms (Levithan); Daddy’s Gone A Hunting (Clark); Scarlet (Meyer); Inferno (Brown); The Interestings (Wolitzer); Swamplandia! (Russell); The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference (Gladwell); The Silver Linings Playbook (Quick); Noah’s Compass (Tyler); Such a Pretty Face (Lamb); Vegan, Virgin, Valentine (Mackler); 17 & Gone (Suma); Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail (Strayed); Collateral (Hopkins); Private Berlin (Pattrson); The Mother-Daughter Book Club (Frederick); Boy Meets Boy (Levithan); The Moon and More (Dessen); Silver Girl (Hildenbrand); The Next Best Thing (Weiner); Merry Christmas, Alex Cross (Patterson);  The Marriage Bargain (Probst); Dear Bully: Seventy Authors Tell Their Stories (Hall); On the Jellicoe Road (Marchetta)

Stars: **

The Lemonade War (Davies); Mistress (Patterson); Fallout (Hopkins); Thee Undertow (Baker); Eyes Wide Open (Dekker); Picture Perfect (R, Picoult)

Stars: *

None – guess I just didn’t keep reading anything I hated!

If you’re on Goodreads, which books got 5 stars from you?

2012 Reading List: Lisa Loves Statistics

2012 pic

So, I am looking back at my reading goals for 2012. I said I’d like to read 100 books (seemed attainable, since I read 104 last year) and that 50 or more would be MG/YA.

Well, I failed big time on the first: 77 books overall, according to Goodreads. I think I got sucked into Twitter a little too often.

I was really close to the second goal: 45 of the titles were MG/YA, which definitely helps me as a writer. Gotta read them to write them, right? Amazingly enough, I read more MG/YA than Adult this year! I think I’m aiming for 100 overall and 50 MG/YA again for next year.

You might want to stop reading right now unless you like lists, but here’s what I read this year, with a * in front of any book I rated five stars on Goodreads:

MG (6):

The Schwa was Here/ Neal Shusterman

*Out of My Mind/ Sharon Draper

Walk Two Moons/ Sharon Creech

Freak the Mighty/ Rodman Philbrick

The Penderwicks/ Jeanne Birdsall

Hoot/ Carl Hiaasen

YA (39):

When She Hollers/ Cynthia Voight

Tiger Eyes/ Judy Blume

Abandon/ Meg Cabot

Skinny/ Donna Cooner

*The Fault in our Stars/ John Green

*Between Shades of Gray/ Ruta Sepetys

*Between the Lines/ Jodi Picoult and Samantha Van Leer

Purity/ Jackson Pearce

The Hunger Pains/ The Harvard Lampoon

Sweethearts/ Sara Zarr

Scars/ Cheryl Rainfield

Shine/ Lauren Myracle

Everybody Sees the Ants/ A.S. King

If I Lie/ Corrine Jackson

Cinder/ Marissa Meyer

Impossible/ Nancy Werlin

The Rules of Survival/ Nancy Werlin

This is Not a Test/ Courtney Summers

Second Helpings/ Megan McCafferty

My Brother’s Keeper/ Patricia McCormick

Tangled/ Carolyn Mackler

Bitter End/ Jennifer Brown

Hate List/ Jennifer Brown

Does My Head Look Big in This?/ Randa Abdel-Fattah

Smack/ Melvin Burgess

Delirium/ Lauren Oliver

The Liar Society/ Lisa and Laura Roecker

Devilish/ Maureen Johnson

Dreamland/ Sarah Dessen

Just Listen/ Sarah Dessen

How to Save a Life/ Sara Zarr

The Last Little Blue Envelope/ Maureen Johnson

Lock and Key/ Sarah Dessen

Why We Broke Up/ Daniel Handler

Will Grayson, Will Grayson/ John Green

Before I Fall/ Lauren Oliver

An Abundance of Katherines/ John Green

Uglies/ Scott Westerfeld

Daughter of Smoke and Bone/ Laini Taylor

ADULT (32):

Oliver Twist/ Charles Dickens

NW/ Zadie Smith

Saturday/ Ian McEwan

Bossypants/ Tina Fey

Zoo/James Patterson

The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest/ Stieg Larsson

I, Michael Bennett/ James Patterson

In One Person/ John Irving

Love/ Toni Morrison

The Photograph/ Penelope Lively

Writing Great Books for Young Adults/ Regina Brooks

Summer Breeze/ Nancy Thayer

11th Hour/ James Patterson

Death Comes to Pemberley/ P.D. James

The Lost Years/ Mary Higgins Clark

Fifty Shades of Gray/ E.L. James

Fifty Shades Darker/ E.L. James

Fifty Shades Free/ E.L. James

Guilty Wives/ James Patterson

Lone Wolf/ Jodi Picoult

I’ve Got Your Number/ Sophie Kinsella

Private Games/ James Patterson

The Art of Fielding/ Chad Harbach

V is for Vengeance/ Janet Evanovich

Private/ James Patterson

Calico Joe/ John Grisham

The Lovers’ Dictionary/ David Levithan

The Litigators/ John Grisham

Cross Fire/ James Patterson

11/22/63/ Stephen King

The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake/ Aimee Bender

Maine/ J. Courtney Sullivan

Whew! Did you set a dorky  awesome goal for how much you would read in 2012? How did you do?

What I’m Reading


Just oh.

I’m (finally! What’s wrong with me?) reading my first John Green YA. I was staring at his books at Barnes and Noble yesterday, and knew that I needed to buy one. I can never find any of his books at the library (probably because they’re always checked out).

I knew The Fault in Our Stars is the book everyone’s talking about. But as I scanned, I kept coming back to An Abundance of Katherines.

First of all, how can you beat the title? Talk about original–you won’t see that title anywhere else. And so lyrical…. An Abundance of Katherines. An Abundance of Katherines. First, the word abundance–so much better than “a lot of” or anything like that. More specific, more elegant. And the Katherines. Immediately poses the question: why Katherines, plural?

So I’m about halfway through (started it last night). The first thing I love (other than the title) is how specific–careful?–John Green’s language is. For example, about Colin, the main character: “‘I want to have a Eureka moment,'” he said, the way another kid might have expressed longing for a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle.” There, in that once sentence, is Colin’s character.

Then there’s the footnotes, semi-scholarly, just the right tone for “child prodigy” Colin. And not only is it interesting that Colin creates diagrams and theorems to try to explain how relationships work and end, but we get to see them, illustrated there in the footnotes. There’s even a footnote on the cover.

And finally, there are the Katherines. I haven’t gotten too much information about them except for Katherine I and Katherine XIX (who most recently broke his heart). But what a hook! You have to keep reading. Why were there 19 Katherines??

Enough gushing.

If you’ve read John Green, which one is your favorite? Which one should I read next?

Hello, my name is Lisa. And I read James Patterson.

Okay, okay, I admit it! I don’t always read YA and classics and Oprah book club-y books. Sometimes (okay, every time a new one comes out, which is, like, every week) I read (eek!) James Patterson. Do you still respect me?

I was thinking about this, and why it seems so embarrassing to admit I read him when I’m talking to other writer types. His prose isn’t great, and I want to take out my teacher’s pen and edit him (in a kind, teacherly way).

But here’s the thing. His books are compulsively readable. I started this one on Friday and finished it Saturday. 448 pages, but I couldn’t stop reading it.

I guess it’s like the literary equivalent of potato chips. You know they aren’t “real food,” but you can’t stop eating them once you start.

The premise of this one was that an evil madman (Cronus) and his three Furies target the Olympic Games in London. It’s a pretty cool premise, since the games are this summer in London, and security is always an issue. But the whole Cronus/ Furies angle – although connected to the Olympics through Greek mythology – was a little much to me, even though I was a Classics major in college. It was almost like he was trying too hard to make it all fit in.

ANYWAY, back to defending myself. His books are fast-paced, have lots of funky ways to die,  and I love the short chapters (easy to put down but also easy to pick up if you only have a minute).



What I Read in 2011, Completely Uncensored

I know it’s not the end of 2011 yet, and I’m sure I’ll read more books by the end of the month, but I feel like doing this now! And I’m going to number my list, ’cause I’m nerdy like that. Weird list: book club books, classics, celebrity humor, lots of middle grade books, fairly mindless best sellers…

1.Freedom/ Jonathan Franzen

2.Getting to Happy/ Terry McMillan

3.The Cookbook Collector/ Allegra Goodman

4.In My Father’s House/ E. Lynn Harris

5.Promises to Keep/ Jane Green

6.The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks/ Rebecca Skloot

7.Stuff White People Like/ Christian Lander

8. Anna Karenina/ Leo Tolstoy

9.Alice in Wonderland/ Lewis Carroll

10.Shit My Dad Says/ Justin Halpern

11.Naked/ David Sedaris

12.Blue Like Jazz/ Donald Miller

13.Model Home/ Eric Puchner

14.Everyone is Beautiful/Katherine Center

15.Invisible Boy/ Cornelia Read

16.Red Hook Road/ Ayelet Waldman

17.The Pint Man/ Steve Rushin

18.Bound/ Antonya Nelson

19.Me Talk Pretty Some Day/ David Sedaris

20.Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim/ David Sedaris

21.The Giver/ Lois Lowry

22.Sing You Home/ Jodi Picoult

23.Crime and Punishment/ Fyodor Dostoyevsky

24.Superfudge/ Judy Blume

25.Don’t Blink/ James Patterson

26.The Ex-Boyfriend’s Handbook/ Matt Dunn

27.A Visit From the Goon Squad/ Jennifer Egan

28.Bright-sided/ Barbara Ehrenreich

29.Room/ Emma Donaghue

30.The Crucible/ Arthur Miller

31.Toys/ James Patterson

32.Minding Frankie/ Maeve Binchy

33.Squirrel Meets Chipmunk/ David Sedaris

34.Fever 1793/ Laurie Halse Anderson

35.If it weren’t bad enough that I’m 12 and ¾, my mother is running for president/ Donna Gephardt

36.The Devil’s Arithmetic/ Jane Yolen

37.The Catcher in the Rye/ J.D. Salinger

38.I’ll Walk Alone/ Mary Higgins Clark

39.The Informationist: A Thriller/ Taylor Stevens

40.Brain Rules/ John J. Medina

41.Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother/ Amy Chua

42.10th Anniversary/ James Patterson

43.My Horizontal Life/ Chelsea Handler

44.If You Ask Me/ Betty White

45.Cleopatra/ Stacy Schiff

46.Who Ran My Underwear Up the Flagpole?/ Jerry Spinelli

47.Ida B./ Katherine Hannigan

48.Mennonite in a Little Black Dress/ Rhoda Janzen

49.Princess on the Brink/ Meg Cabot

50.Dune Road/ Jane Green

51.The Paris Wife/ Paula McLain

52.Bossypants/ Tina Fey

53.The Confession/ John Grisham

54.Little Bee/ Chris Cleave

55.The Tiger’s Wife/ Tea Obrecht

56.State of Wonder/ Ann Patchett

57.California Diaries: Sunny/ Ann Martin

58.Cognitive Behavior Therapy for Dummies/ Rhena Branch & Rob Willson

59.Still Missing/ Chevy Stevens

60.The Hunger Games/ Suzanne Collins

61.Looks/ Madeleine George

62.Great Expectations/ Charles Dickens

63.Hunger Games 2: On Fire/ Suzanne Collins

64.If You Catch an Adjective, Kill It/ Ben Yagoda

65.Commuters/ Emily Gray Tedrowe

66.I am America (And So Can You)/ Stephen Colbert

67.Sizzlin’ Sixteen/ Janet Evanovich

68.See Me After Class/ Roxanna Elden

69.Story of Beautiful Girl/ Rachel Simon

70.Sun and Spoon/ Kevin Henkes

71.Smokin’ Seventeen/ Janet Evanovich

72.Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter/ Seth Grahame-Smith

73.Lies Chelsea Handler Told Me/ Chelsea Handler

74.Mockingjay (Hunger Games 3)/ Suzanne Collins

75.Then Came You/ Jennifer Weiner

76.Atonement/ Ian McEwan

77.Geek High/ Piper Banks

78.Dancing with Mr. Darcy/ Sarah Waters

79.Before I Fall/ Lauren Oliver

80.Dreams of Joy/ Lisa See

81.Sarah’s Key/ Tatiana de Rosnay

82.Body Bags/ Chris Golden

83.Harry Potter 7/ J.K. Rowling

84.The Great Gatsby/ F. Scott Fitzgerald

85.Holes/ Louis Sachar

86.Columbine/ Dave Cullen

87.Is Everybody Hanging Out Without Me?/Mindy Kaling

88.Small Steps/ Louis Sachar

89.Ttyl/ Lauren Myracle

90.The Tale of Desperaux/ Kate DiCamillo

91.Please Ignore Vera Dietz/ A.S. King

92.Interpreter of Maladies/ Jhumpa Lahiri

93.Skyward/ Mary Alice Monroe

94.Maniac Magee/ Jerry Spinelli

95.Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes/ Eleanor Coerr

96.The Christmas Wedding/ James Patterson

97.Cut/ Patricia McCormick

98.Thirteen Reasons Why/ Jay Asher

99. My Life, The Theater, and Other Tragedies/ Allen Zadoff

100. What Happened to Goodbye?/ Sarah Dessen

101. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn/ Betty Smith

102. There if You Need Me/ Kate Braestrup

And, currently reading:

Flow, Get the Words Down Right, 101 Words You’ll Never Misuse Again, Here If You Need Me, The Lightning Thief, and who knows what else…

Okay, done being nerdy.

What I’m Reading


by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

I read about 95% fiction, but my husband thought I might be interested in reading Flow for the psychology involved. (I do like a good why-do-our-brains-act-like-that book, as long as it’s in real people language.)

According to Csikszentmihalyi, flow is “the state in which people are so involved in an activity that nothing else seems to matter; the experience is itself so enjoyable that people will do it even at great cost, for the sheer sake of doing it.”

For me, this is writing. When I’m writing, I’m completely within myself. I’m unaware of time or anything around me. I’ll sacrifice to make time to write, too. I leave work a little bit early, pick up the kids a little bit late. No naps on the weekends anymore… that’s prime writing time. It’s flow.

I got a massage tonight, and I was thinking about flow, curious to see if I would float into that lack of personal thought. Unfortunately, I couldn’t put my thoughts aside; I kept wondering whether I was experiencing flow! Ah, well.

Last thought: how did this guy ever learn how to spell his own last name when he was a kid?