So as I was emerging from my reading slump, I discovered reading challenges and readathons. As I discovered by following book bloggers and bookworms on twitter, there’s quite a few of these floating around. I participated in my first one January which was the 24in48 Readathon hosted by Rachel Manwill (incidentally, she’s also the curator of the 2016 Book Riot Read Harder Challenge and the 2016 Panels Read Harder Challenge). It was a beautiful weekend filled with books, reading, interacting with other participants, and a general sense of belonging with the bookish community which was a potent reinforcer of my reading behavior. I also attended my first Read Harder Book Group in Chicago (Yes, I was pleasantly surprised to have been ‘featured’ in their recap). Clearly, interacting with the bookish community in person or online is functional in maintaining high rates of reading.
Then in February, Lotte hosted the #5books7days readathon, which unsurprisingly was a lot of fun. I did attempt to curate a stack, but obviously didn’t stick with it. It was the challenge that lead me to reading my first Daniel José Older book, for which I’m grateful.
The challenge was pretty straightforward: “Read as many weird books as you can during March.” It has been real fancy- with tasks, giveaways, weekly weird-offs between book bloggers, and tons of awesome recommendations. I participated, and although I didn’t cross of all the tasks, I thought I’d do a short *snort* recap of the weird books I did read:
1. Shadowshaper by Daniel José Older:
First of all, Daniel José Older is amazing at writing POC characters. Second, I wish this book had existed for me to read back in high school or even college, because I would’ve eaten it right up back then as I did now. The main character Sierra is such a kickass protagonist. Weeping murals, supernatural order that connects with spirits via music, paintings, and stories, once-friendly-now-turned-evil-and-greedy-Shadowshaper, it’s everything I wanted to kick-off this ‘thon. I listened to the audiobook, narrated by Anika Noni Rose, who did a brilliant job with the narration and gave life to the characters. I definitely recommend you get your hands on this book.
2. The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making (Fairyland #1) by Catherynne M. Valente
Twelve-year old September’s ordinary life in Omaha takes a turn when she is invited on an adventure one day by the Green Wind, who alludes to her services being required in Fairyland. Once there, she meets a very fickle Marquess who requires her to retrieve a talisman from the enchanted woods…or else. Through her journey, she meets and befriends several creatures, including a book-loving Wyvern (my personal fave).
Looking for an Alice In Wonderland sort of reading experience? Look no further.
3. The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
H.O.L.Y. S.H.I.T. HOW HAD I NEVER READ THIS BOOK BEFORE.
“The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it, no paper notices plastered on lampposts and billboards. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not.”
(Hmm, I sort of don’t want to summarize this one.)
Basic plot: Two young illusionists are in competition with each other, and the circus is their playing field. They’ve been trained all their lives for this by their respective masters. The “game” can only end with the last man standing.
I refuse to say anything more. Just go to your nearest book source and read this ASAP if you haven’t already. SO GOOD. This made my all-time favorites list.
4. The Wicked + The Divine Volume 1: The Faust Act by Kieron Gillen, Jamie McKelvie , Matt Wilson ,Clayton Cowles
“Just because you’re immortal, doesn’t mean you’re going to live forever.”
Once again, I am reluctant to give too much away. So here’s the premise: Every ninety years, twelve gods incarnate as humans. They are loved. They are hated. In two years, they are dead. A friend had lent me their copy and it had been sitting on my shelf for months, so I decided that weirdathon was as good a time as any. Boy, this absolutely fits the bill. Gorgeous illustrations. Needless to say, I’ve got the rest of them waiting to be read. Kieron Gillen is a fucking genius.
5. All The Birds In The Sky by Charlie Jane Anders
Ah science fiction. Gotta love it. Brings worlds together.
The shelf-talker at the bookstore said that this book brought Hermione Granger, Artemis Fowl, and Marvin (from Hitchhiker’s) into the same universe. That’s pretty much the best description I could offer to you.
Go read it, sci-fi nerds. You’ll love it. If you’re not a sci-fi nerd, I recommend you take a peek.
6. Jane Steele by Lyndsay Faye
I don’t know if it’s just me, but it seems like retellings have been in-style recently. There’s several reasons why I was looking forward to this book. Feminist protagonist? Check. Brontë sister? Check. Reimagining Jane Eyre? DOUBLE check.
“Reader, I murdered him.”
Jane Steele, our protagonist, is a Jane Eyre fangirl, and her life eerily mirrors our Brontë heroine. Dark humor, gothic fiction, pertinent POC characters, a murdering protagonist, and a dash of romance- this book had me at the edge of my seat and gasping audibly, especially those last 100 pages. Plot lines, character development, structure, and writing were A++++. GO READ THE BOOK.*
That’s about it, I think. Thanks to Julianne for hosting such a great readathon! I enjoyed reading ALL of the books, and my favorite part of the whole thing were the weekly weird-offs (good old-fashioned book bloggers duel, what’s not to love?)
*Disclaimer: There will be a lot of times in this space where I shall urge you to GO READ THE BOOK because I absolutely loved it. I make no apologies.
Until next time, folks!