2013: A Year in Reading

As 2014 draws closer and all of those “end-of-the-year” lists start making their appearance, I also have begun to review the events of my life from the past year. From both a personal and professional standpoint it was certainly a year of change and growth, but overall was a vast improvement over 2012. Despite all of the changes life has brought, I still have not lost my passion for reading. My reading tastes have changed over the years and the format in which I read has also changed, but my excitement at cracking the cover on a new book (or pressing play for the first time on an audiobook) has never waned.

Last year, I did a 2012 reading stats post and I thought it would be fun to repeat again this year. Compared to 2012, I read two more books this year but listened to 11 more audiobooks (than 2012). Clearly the active and busy schedule of graduate school has affected my reading habits!  It will be interesting to see if this trend (of listening to more books) continues in 2014.

Reading Stats for 2013:

Number of books read: 47

Number of paperback/hardcover: 17 (4,983 pages)

Number of e-books: 3 (2,556 e-book pages)

Number of audiobooks: 27 (479 hours and 20 minutes)

Number of fiction: 37

Number of non-fiction: 10

Average Rating (out of 5 points): 3.79

Most books read in one month: 6 books in January

Longest book read: A Storm of Swords by George R. R. Martin at 992 e-book pages (1216 paperback)

Longest audio book listened to: The Bonfire of the Vanities by Tom Wolfe at 31 parts

Number of books from BBC Challenge list: 3

Overall I’m pretty pleased with my 2013 stats. I wish I would have found more time to physically read a book (as opposed to listening) and to read more classic literature, but think I did pretty good overall considering my crazy grad school schedule.

Finally, as I did in 2012, I thought I’d list my favorite books of the year. As usual, I had a hard time picking an absolute favorite so I listed runner(s) up as well.

Best Fiction Book: Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier

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I loved this book from start to finish, and plan to try to read another Daphene Du Maurier in 2014!

Runners up: Persuasion by Jane Austen and The House of Mirth by Edith Wharton

Best Non-Fiction Book: The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot

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What to say about this awesome book that hasn’t already been said? It was sad, thought-provoking, and finally gives well-deserved recognition to the woman whose cells helped shape modern science.

Runner up: The Smartest Guys in the Room: The Amazing Rise and Scandalous Fall of Enron by Bethany McLean and Peter Elkind

Best Audio Book: The Orphan Master’s Son by Adam Johnson

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This book won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 2013 and it was well deserved in my opinion. Before listening to this fantastic audio book, I knew little about North Korea other than bits I’d read in the news headlines. This book opened up a window into this infamously secretive country, and I walked away with a much better understanding than I anticipated. In addition to gaining some understanding of the country, I really enjoyed the story of Jun Do. It was sad, sometimes funny, but most of all deeply interesting.  I also highly recommend the audio version of this book–it certainly enhanced my reading experience!

Runners up: Orange is the New Black by Piper Kerman, and Heads in Beds by Jacob Tomsky

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What were your favorite reads from 2013?

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Thursday Thoughts 30.0: December Recap

It seems like every time I turn around another month has gone by…December in particular was CRAZY. The first two-ish weeks were overtaken by work, work, and more work. Also, (as you’ll see) I went to a few holiday parties :P. Overall it’s been a great December (even though it went by too fast) and generally a fantastic year. 2013 TOTALLY made up for the rough patch I had in 2012. I can’t wait to see what 2014 has in store for me…but before I get too ahead of myself I’ll take a look back at December ’13.

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[1]

Books read:

1. Beloved by Toni Morrison

2. Animal Farm by George Orwell

3. Enemies: A History of the FBI  by Tim Weiner

4. Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe (almost finished)

I’m going to fall short of the 52 book goal I set for myself this year, but at 47 I’d still say I came awful close!

[2]

Well I’m going to fall short of the 1000 mile goal this year:

December

Obviously it’s a little disappointing to not meet this goal, but honestly I’m not that upset about it. This was the first year I’ve really stuck with any fitness goals I set for myself, and know that I was MUCH more active than I’ve been in previous years. So even though I didn’t meet the goal, I still feel like I accomplished what I set out to do (which was to be more active). I plan to set the same goal for myself next year…we’ll see how I do!

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Fun things I did in December (and oh boy there were a lot of them!):

1) Attended The Graduate School Holiday Party

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Appetizers, live music, and socializing with good friends

2) Attended a holiday wine tasting

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Lovely ladies with Alex photobombing in the background

3) Played one last game of Battlestar Galactica in 2013

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4) Enjoyed a holiday party with my labmates

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I’m lucky to work with a good group of people!

4) Traveled to my college town for a visit and got to enjoy tea OUTSIDE in December

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Beautiful Day in the ‘Ville

5) Enjoyed catching up with some lovely ladies I went to high school with

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6) Had Christmas with my family at home

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7) Went cross country skiing for the first time ever (and I didn’t die!)

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8) Enjoyed some quality time with this guy

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Oh hiiiiiiiiii

9) Saw lots and lots (and lots) of snow in the UP

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Hope you had a very happy holiday season and a great new year!

My 2013 Reading Challenges: How Did I Do?

Well it’s that time of year again–the time to tally up the results and see if I completed all my reading challenges or not!

This was my first year participating in any kind of reading challenge, so I wasn’t sure how I would do or if I would like it. On the whole, I really enjoyed trying to complete the variety of challenges I signed myself up for. Five challenges was definitely a reasonable number of challenges to start with, and also provided good diversity in my reading. Most of the challenges I choose were pretty open-ended (like the New Authors Challenge or the Audiobook challenge), and I think this really helped keep me going when I was feeling discouraged about my progress in other challenges (i.e. Back To The Classics). For 2014 I will sign up for a few more challenges than I did in 2013, but I will still participate in the majority of these because I enjoyed them so much.

So without further ado…

My 2013 Reading Challenges: How did I do?

Challenge #1 (Incomplete)Back to the Classics Challenge, hosted by Sarah Reads Too Much

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Requirements to complete the challenge:

1. A 19th Century Classic: Persuasion by Jane Austen

2. A 20th Century Classic: Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier

3. A Pre-18th or 18th Century Classic: Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe

4. A Classic that relates to the African-American Experience: Beloved by Toni Morrison

5. A Classic Adventure

6. A Classic that prominently features an Animal: Animal Farm by George Orwell

I got really close to finishing this challenge and know that if I had a few more weeks I would have finished it. Regardless, participating in this challenge exposed me to some great classic literature I might not have read otherwise…well this year at least. Honestly I loved every book I read for this challenge and don’t think I could pick a favorite!

Challenge #2 (Complete!)What’s in a Name, hosted by Beth Fish Reads

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Requirements to complete this challenge:

1. A book with up or down (or equivalent) in the title–Bring Up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel

2. A book with something you’d find in your kitchen in the title–Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen

3. A book with a party or celebration in the title–Size 12 and Ready to Rock by Meg Cabot

4. A book with fire (or equivalent) in the title–The Bonfire of the Vanities by Tom Wolfe

5. A book with an emotion in the title–The House of Mirth by Edith Wharton

6. A book with lost or found (or equivalent) in the title–Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed

This was so unique and was actually a bit of a challenge to complete. I enjoyed all of the books I read in pursuit of this challenge, but would probably pick either Bring up the Bodies or The House of Mirth as my favorites.

Challenge #3 (Complete!)Audio Book Challenge, hosted by Teresa’s Reading Corner

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To complete this challenge, you must choose your “level” and read/listen to the specified number of Audio Books. I am signing up for Lover, or I hope to listen to 25 Audio Books.

1. Wife 22 by Melanie Gideon

2. A Visit from the Good Squad by Jennifer Egan

3. Heading Out to Wonderful by Robert Goolrick

4. Wild by Cheryl Strayed

5. Matched by Ally Condie

6. Crossed by Ally Condie

7. The Twelve by Justin Cronin

8. The Sisters by Nancy Jensen

9. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

10. The Bungalow by Sarah Jio

11. Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel

12. The Expats by Chris Pavone

13. Sarah’s Key by Tatiana de Rosnay

14. Heads in Beds by Jacob Tomsky

15. The Bonfire of the Vanities by Tom Wolfe

16. Dad is Fat by Jim Gaffigan

17. The Enchanted Life of Adam Hope by Rhonda Riley

18. The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer

19. The 500 by Matthew Quirk

20. Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion

21. Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan

22. I am Forbidden by Anouk Markovits

23. The Rook by Daniel O’Malley

24. Bring Up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel

25. Frozen in Time by Mitchell Zuckoff

26. Orange is the New Black by Piper Kerman

27. Enemies: A History of the FBI by Tim Weiner

I completed this challenge and then some! Audiobooks have quickly become one of my favorite things to listen to, and they certainly help to up my reading numbers!

Challenge #4 (Complete!)New Authors Challenge, hosted by Literary Escapism

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I am signing up to read books from 25 new authors.

1. Wife 22 by Melanie Gideon

2. A Visit from the Good Squad by Jennifer Egan

3. Heading Out to Wonderful by Robert Goolrick

4. Wild by Cheryl Strayed

5. Matched by Ally Condie

6. A Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin

7. Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier

8. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot

9. The Sisters by Nancy Jensen

10. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

11. The Bungalow by Sarah Jio

12. Chaos: Making a New Science by James Gleick

13. Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel

14. The Expats by Chris Pavone

15. Sarah’s Key by Tatiana de Rosnay

16. Heads in Beds by Jacob Tomsky

17. Dad is Fat by Jim Gaffigan

18. The Enchanted Life of Adam Hope by Rhonda Riley

19. Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen

20. The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer

21. The 500 by Matthew Quirk

22. Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion

23. Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan

24. The Astronaut Wives Club by Lily Koppel

25. I am Forbidden by Anouk Markovits

26. The Rook by Daniel O’Malley

27. The Smartest Guys in the Room: The Amazing Rise and Scandalous Fall of Enron by Bethany McLean and Peter Elkind

28. Frozen in Time by Mitchell Zuckoff

29. Orange is the New Black by Piper Kerman

30. Beloved by Toni Morrison

31. Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe

32. Enemies: A History of the FBI by Tim Weiner

I like this challenge because it allowed me to track the diversity in my reading. Clearly, the majority of the books I read this year were from authors I was reading for the first time!

Challenge #5 (Complete!)This Isn’t Fiction, hosted by The Book Garden

This isn't Fiction Reading Challenge Button

Qualifying books for this challenge include any non-fiction book that is over 100 pages. I am signing up for the elementary school level, or I hope to read 10 books.

1. Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed

2. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot

3. Chaos: Making a New Science by James Gleick

4. Heads in Beds by Jacob Tomsky

5. Dad is Fat by Jim Gaffigan

6. The Astronaut Wives Club by Lily Koppel

7. The Smartest Guys in the Room: The Amazing Rise and Scandalous Fall of Enron by Bethany McLean and Peter Elkind

8. Frozen in Time by Mitchell Zuckoff

9. Orange is the New Black by Piper Kerman

10. Enemies: A History of the FBI by Tim Weiner

I really enjoyed this challenge! This is by far the largest number of non-fiction books I’ve ever read in one year. I was nervous initially that I wouldn’t be able to complete this challenge, but I actually found it surprisingly easy.

Personal Reading Goals:

My goal for 2013 was to read 52 books, and I will fall just short of that with a total of 47 books. Although I didn’t meet my goal, I still read two more books than I read in 2012! Additionally, I wanted to read 8 more books off of the  The Big Read List. Again I fell a bit short of this goal by only reading 3, but the books that I did read (Rebecca, Animal Farm, and Persuasion) were great books!

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Overall I had a lot of fun tracking my reading habits and trying to complete these challenges (and in most cases I did pretty good). I’m already excited to begin tackling the challenges that I’ve selected for 2014 (more on that soon)!

Thursday Thoughts 29.0: November Recap

Oh my goodness it’s December already!!!!! Where has this year gone?!?!?!

Please excuse the short blogging break–I had the flu and went home for Thanksgiving. Luckily, my fever broke THE day I had to fly home…so hopefully I didn’t give it to anyone there (fingers crossed). Since it’s Thursday and the beginning of a new month, I thought I’d recap my November. Have a great weekend everyone!

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[1]

After a poor showing in October, I read four books in November. It’s doubtful at this point that I’ll make my goal of reading 52 books this year since I’m currently at 44, but I’ve had fun trying reach this goal!

1. Bring Up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel

2. The Smartest Guys in the Room: The Amazing Rise and Scandalous Fall of Enron by Bethany McLean and Peter Elkind

3. Frozen in Time by Mitchell Zuckoff

4. Orange is the New Black: My Year in a Women’s Prison by Piper Kerman

[2]

Well folks, it looks like I’m not going to make the 1000 mile goal this year either. Am I disappointed? Sure. Am I just going to throw in the towel and quit working out? No way! I realize it probably seems too early to declare defeat, but thus far I have only accumulated 862 miles. With a crazy work schedule and holiday travel, it is highly unlikely I will find the time required to get in the 100+ miles of cardio needed to reach this goal. Regardless, I did pretty good in November, especially considering the bout of flu and holiday travel. You have to take the small victories where they come.

November

[3]

As per October, I did a fair amount of cooking in November but was terrible at posting recipes. I’ll try to do better this month, but no promises! 🙂

Recipes Posted:

Slow Cooker Chicken Dinner

[4]

I did a few fun manicures in November, including an especially time consuming argyle manicure:

1) Chiefs Manicure (I love them even if they keep breaking my heart)

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2) Argyle Manicure

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[5]

Fun things I did in November:

1) Went to a Halloween Party (on November 1):

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2) Celebrated last season’s trivia winnings:

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3) Celebrated my sister’s birthday at home on Thanksgiving

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4) Took a failed trip to the Kansas History Museum, which turned into a nice afternoon walk instead

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November you were pretty good to me (minus the whole having the flu for a week thing) and I’m excited to see what December brings!