The 2020 #ReadICT Challenge Is Here!

The #ReadICT Challenge is back!

Every year, the Wichita Eagle sponsors a reading contest. Twelve books, twelve categories, in twelve months. Last year, I finished early (this despite reading two extremely long biographies by one of my favorite authors).

If you’ve never done a reading challenge and are sitting there now wondering why anyone would want to – well, for one thing, it gets you out of your comfort zone. With this particular challenge, we have 12 different types of books to read. For many of us, at least one category will give us trouble – it’s way out of our comfort zone, maybe. Or maybe we just stare at the category with a hopeless, blank stare, with zero clue how to even find a book like that!

Reading challenges push you. Some don’t have categories; instead the challenge is to read X number of books in a year. Usually, that number is 50 or 100. The more you read, the more you keep reading. Call it Newtons’s First Law of Reading. The more you read outside your comfort zone, the more you learn what you like and don’t like. Never read a romance novel because you’re too embarrassed to read the sex scenes? Well, there are all kinds of romance levels. Some only feature a kiss; others are full-blown BDSM. You never know what you might like until you try it! 🙂  Or, do you barely remember anything from your history classes, or were you one of those poor souls with a lousy history teacher? Please, go get a really good one. Joseph Ellis, or Gordon Wood, or Ron Chernow, or David McCullough or Jon Meacham. And read.

Plus, if you’re a writer, reading is necessary. It’s how we hone the craft. Learn voice Learn how to pull off certain sly tricks of the trade. Learn description, pacing, characterization, dialogue. If you don’t see it in practice, how can you learn what to do – or what not to do? Even reading a bad book can teach you something.

It was a lot of fun to complete this challenge last year – I read a lot of great books, and pushed myself to get back into reading. To be honest, I hadn’t done much reading in the previous few years and I’d forgotten how much I loved not only reading, but specifically reading nonfiction. I actually read very little fiction last year, and I’m good with that. Plus, I just bought 30+ books this fall. Hopefully some of those will fulfill some of these categories.

So you should go forth this year and make it a resolution to find a reading challenge and participate in it. Because 2020 is upon us, and the #ReadICT challenge is here, with all new categories!

1. A book with a number in the title
2. A fix-it, how-to or self-help book
3. An epistolary novel (I will probably read The Guernsey Literary and Potato-Peel Pie Society, unless someone has a better one to recommend)
4. A speed read (less than 100 pages) (100 pages? That’s it? That’s not a novel, it’s a short story! Happily, Neil Gaiman has some excellent short stories, and 84 Charing Cross Road has been recommended to me, too.)
5. A book about someone you admire (I have a new biography of Abigail Adams I will probably read for this one. Do you know that while John Adams was serving in the Continental Congress, and then later as ambassador to France and Britain, she ran their farm, raised their children, and earned money to keep everything afloat? That woman was amazing.)
6. A book that has been (or is being) adapted to the screen (Yes, I see that it says screen, not stage. This one, I’ll have to think about because there are so many to choose from!)
7. A selection from a celebrity book club (Who besides Oprah has a book club? Any ideas?)
8. A book by an author who is new to you (I think I have this covered with the 30+ books I’ve acquired over the past few months.)
9. A book that features a strong female lead (I don’t read any other kind! Should be easy. But if you’re looking for one, let me recommend some of my favorites:  The Alice Network, Code Name Verity, Divergent, Outlander, The Charley Davidson series . . .)
10. A book that everyone’s talking about (What I love about this one is that it’s really up for interpretation. Who is ‘everyone?’ Talking about it – in what context?)
11. A “cli-fi” (climate fiction) novel or book about a natural disaster (This may turn out to be the one I have the most trouble with.)
12. A book by an author slated to visit Kansas in 2020  (Erik Larson is coming to Wichita in March – I already have my ticket!)

Happy reading, and Happy New Year!

The #ReadICT Challenge – DONE!

DONE! 

And it only took me six months, not twelve! 

This year, one of my goals was to complete the ReadICT Challenge – 12 books, 12 genres, 12 months. I finished last month. (Before you get all carried away with the accolades, I’d like to say that there are some in the Facebook group who read their twelve in a month.)

So here they are, my Twelve:  

  1. A book with a face on the cover. I went a slightly different route on this one, and snowmanread The Eighty-Dollar Champion by Elizabeth Letts, about the legendary 1950s show jumper, Snowman. I had read her book A Perfect Horse, about the efforts to save the famous Lippizzaners (and what was left of the Polish Arabian Stud) from the Russians during World War II, and thought I’d give this one a go. It was very good. If you like horses, highly recommended. And yes, that’s Snowman’s handsome face on the cover! 
  2. A book from a genre you don’t normally read. This turned out to be a book I got last year, To Sing Hallucinated:  First Thoughts on Last Words by Nathan Brown. Brown is a former Poet Laureate of Oklahoma; I picked this up last year and forgot it was in a bag until last month! It’s really quite a good book of poetry about – you guessed it – famous last words.
  3. A book that makes you LOL. I said I’d read the last entry in the Charley Davidson series, and I did. I laughed. I cried. I am anxiously waiting to find out what happens to Osh and Beep in the new series. Come on, Darynda, hurry up !
  4. A book set in the place you were born. Deadly Design, by my good friend Debra Dockter.
  5. A classic, or a retelling of a classic. I read Juliet Immortal by Stacey Jay – it was quite good. I reviewed it last month:  https://kswriterteacher.wordpress.com/2019/03/02/hate-romeo-and-juliet-try-juliet-immortal-instead/
  6. A book you have avoided or didn’t finish. I intended to read a totally different book for this one, but back in March, I went through a time when I couldn’t sleep, and I picked up Island of Lost Maps by Miles Harvey. This book looks at the infamous ‘career’ of Gilbert Bland, who stole dozens, perhaps hundreds, of antique and irreplaceable maps from libraries across North America. I’d put it down last year for some reason, and just never picked it back up.
  7. A translated book. On the recommendation of just about everyone who’s read it, I chose A Man Called Ove by Frederik Backman. Oh my God. I literally bawled and laughed all the way through this book. Mostly bawled. If you are one of the few people who hasn’t yet read this book, GO GET IT NOW. You will not regret it, I promise, though you will want the tissues handy.
  8. An award-winner. This was Mudbound, by Hillary Jordan. I grabbed it from the discount rack at Barnes & Noble. It won the Bellwether Prize in 2006. It was a lot different than I thought it would be – good, but probably not one I would read again any time soon, mostly because I felt the main female characters were just way too subservient, and I couldn’t feel any sympathy for them. 
  9. A book recommended by a child or teenager. chernowI chose Matched, by Ally Condie, for this one. (I’m pretty sure a teen has recommended it, right?) The premise started our promising (dystopian society, yeah yeah, but with a bit of a twist), but I didn’t like the ending. 
  10. A biography, autobiography, or memoir. FINALLY. I finished it. It feels like climbing Mount Everest. I’m going to write a full review later, but for now, I can honestly say that even though I’ve taken many classes on Early American History, I never knew all the hostility and animosity that existed between the Founding Fathers. The backstabbing, the machinations, the factions, the . . . wow. And even though I’ve always hated Aaron Burr, I’m going to say this:  he was despicable. If his ghost is reading this, he knows what I mean. To him, I say:  sir, bring it. 
  11. A book that features a character different fro you in some way. Done! Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand by Helen Simonson. What a sweet, surprising read – probably the most surprisingly good book I’ve picked up lately. If you haven’t read it  yet, do so right after you read Ove. Seriously. They pair together quite well. 
  12. A book by an author slated to come to Kansas in 2019. Oh, I did this one, too! Hope Never Dies by Andrew Shaffer. It was a fun – and good – read, actually better than I thought it would be.

So . . . now what? 

Now, I’m thinking I may try it again. 🙂 

The #ReadICT Challenge – Six Months!

I haven’t posted much lately – I’ve been a little busy doing other things like avoiding my manuscript at all costs. However, one thing I have been able to do is read! As the old saying goes, if you want to be a good writer, there are two things you have to do:  write a lot, and read a lot.

I had actually not read in a long time, not seriously. I’ve downloaded books onto my Nook, and perused Amazon and local bookstores, but always found myself in a quagmire of doubt. Does this premise sound intriguing enough? Is the writing good enough to sustain the book? Is this going to be another book I throw across the room, like that God-awful The Lovely Bones?! 

But, since I decided to do the #ReadICT Challenge this year – 12 books, 12 categories, 12 months – I have to read. My original post:  https://kswriterteacher.wordpress.com/2019/01/01/new-years-resolutions-and-the-2019-ict-reading-challenge/

And I’m happy to say – I’m almost there!!!!!

 

  1. A book with a face on the cover.
  2. A book from a genre you don’t normally read. This turned out to be a book I got last year, To Sing Hallucinated:  First Thoughts on Last Words by Nathan Brown. Brown is a former Poet Laureate of Oklahoma; I picked this up last year and forgot it was in a bag until last month! It’s really quite a good book of poetry about – you guessed it – famous last words.
  3. A book that makes you LOL. I said I’d read the last entry in the Charley Davidson series, and I did. I laughed. I cried. I am anxiously waiting to find out what happens to Osh and Beep in the new series. Come on, Darynda, hurry up !
  4. A book set in the place you were born. Deadly Design, by my good friend Debra Dockter.
  5. A classic, or a retelling of a classic. I read Juliet Immortal by Stacey Jay – it was quite good. I reviewed it last month:  https://kswriterteacher.wordpress.com/2019/03/02/hate-romeo-and-juliet-try-juliet-immortal-instead/
  6. A book you have avoided or didn’t finish. I intended to read a totally different book for this one, but back in March, I went through a time when I couldn’t sleep, and I picked up Island of Lost Maps by Miles Harvey. This book looks at the infamous ‘career’ of Gilbert Bland, who stole dozens, perhaps hundreds, of antique and irreplaceable maps from libraries across North America. I’d put it down last year for some reason, and just never picked it back up.
  7. A translated book. On the recommendation of just about everyone who’s read it, I chose A Man Called Ove by Frederik Backman. Oh my God. I literally bawled and laughed all the way through this book. Mostly bawled. If you are one of the few people who hasn’t yet read this book, GO GET IT NOW. You will not regret it, I promise, though you will want the tissues handy.
  8. An award-winner. 
  9. A book recommended by a child or teenager.chernow
  10. A biography, autobiography, or memoir. FINALLY. I finished it. It feels like climbing Mount Everest. I’m going to write a full review later, but for now, I can honestly say that even though I’ve taken many classes on Early American History, I never knew all the hostility and animosity that existed between the Founding Fathers. The backstabbing, the machinations, the factions, the . . . wow. And even though I’ve always hated Aaron Burr, I’m going to say this:  he was despicable. If his ghost is reading this, he knows what I mean. To him, I say:  sir, bring it. 
  11. A book that features a character different fro you in some way. Done! Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand by Helen Simonson. What a sweet, surprising read – probably the most surprisingly good book I’ve picked up lately. If you haven’t read it  yet, do so right after you read Ove. Seriously. They pair together quite well. 
  12. A book by an author slated to come to Kansas in 2019. Oh, I did this one, too! Hope Never Dies by Andrew Shaffer. It was a fun – and good – read, actually better than I thought it would be.

So I’m left with three categories! Any suggestions? I’m all ears! 🙂 

And if you’re interested in Nathan Brown’s work, here’s his website:  https://www.brownlines.com/

The #ReadICT Challenge: Four Months In

New Year’s Resolutions. You can’t avoid them, can you?

We all make them. Even if we don’t admit it, even if we don’t write them down, or intend to hold ourselves accountable. We start out with great intentions. This year, I’m going to go to the gym every single day and lose 40 pounds! This year, I’m finally going to write that novel! This year, I’m going to learn French/Italian/Latin/Klingon. Whatever they are, we’re excited to get started. We’re ready!

I didn’t make too many resolutions this year. But one I did make was to complete the #ReadICT Challenge. Twelve books. Twelve categories. Twelve months. Here’s my original post:  https://kswriterteacher.wordpress.com/2019/01/01/new-years-resolutions-and-the-2019-ict-reading-challenge/

I’m making progress! Here’s what I’ve done so far:

  1. A book with a face on the cover.
  2. A book from a genre you don’t normally read. 
  3. A book that makes you LOL. I said I’d read the last entry in the Charley Davidson series, and I did. I laughed. I cried. I am anxiously waiting to find out what happens to Osh and Beep in the new series. Come on, Darynda, hurry up !
  4. A book set in the place you were born. Deadly Design, by my good friend Debra Dockter.
  5. A classic, or a retelling of a classic. I read Juliet Immortal by Stacey Jay – it was quite good. I reviewed it last month:  https://kswriterteacher.wordpress.com/2019/03/02/hate-romeo-and-juliet-try-juliet-immortal-instead/
  6. A book you have avoided or didn’t finish. I intended to read a totally different book for this one, but back in March, I went through a time when I couldn’t sleep, and I picked up Island of Lost Maps by Miles Harvey. This book looks at the infamous ‘career’ of Gilbert Bland, who stole dozens, perhaps hundreds, of antique and irreplaceable maps from libraries across North America. I’d put it down last year for some reason, and just never picked it back up.
  7. 81jKaejWaNLA translated book. On the recommendation of just about everyone who’s read it, I chose A Man Called Ove by Frederik Backman. Oh my God. I literally bawled and laughed all the way through this book. Mostly bawled. If you are one of the few people who hasn’t yet read this book, GO GET IT NOW. You will not regret it, I promise, though you will want the tissues handy.
  8. An award-winner. 
  9. A book recommended by a child or teenager.
  10. A biography, autobiography, or memoir. Does it count if I’m working my way through it? 🙂 I still plan to finish Alexander Hamilton some time this year. It’s hard, though, when it’s so jam-packed with information that I can only read about 3-5 pages at a time before I have to walk away and mull it over. It’s an incredible read, don’t get me wrong, just a very difficult one as well.
  11. A book that features a character different fro you in some way.
  12. A book by an author slated to come to Kansas in 2019. 

I attempted the challenge last year, too, but there were categories that just stumped me. But this year, I feel optimistic that I’ll finish.

If you have any suggestions for any of the categories, feel free to let me know! And, seriously, go get A Man Called Ove. I’m not even remotely joking. Just go get it. Now.