To my fellow Americans, Happy Labor Day!
To my fellow book bloggers who know Cathy at 746, Happy End of #20BooksofSummer!
It’s been a wild summer, that’s for sure. For me, 2016 was the first year participating in the 20 Books of Summer Challenge, and I wasn’t sure what to expect. I know I’ve read a lot in summer’s past, as my job in the sweaty months provides a lot of down time — in fact, it’s almost all down time.
But in these last several weeks, I’ve been preparing, designing, and teaching four college courses! One is brand new; the course was so popular that we had to open a new section in the middle of the first week, which was unprecedented and absolutely hectic.
But what are a professor’s office hours for if not reading? And that’s how I managed to finish Fluke by Christopher Moore and Rilla of Ingleside by L.M. Montgomery. Whew! Seat of my pants and all.
Here are some things I learned about Cathy’s summer challenge that perhaps you can use to get you through next summer!
The Page Count Matters
When I chose my original pile of books way back in late May, I looked through my shelves for two things: the reviewer copies sent by authors/publishers that I wanted done and out of the way, and time-consuming books. This is not a good way to go (and should have been obvious).
By time-consuming stories, I really meant The Brothers Karamzov. I wanted this chunker in my hands, and isn’t summer a long, leisurely time to do that? Well, no, not if you’re doing the 20 Books of Summer Challenge! There’s no time for leisure, nor is there time for a 720 page Russian classic. Big books are out, unless you take the 10 Books of Summer Challenge and maybe do all fat books. I might do that next summer!
Math Matters for Pacing Yourself
Had I not gotten the idea from Cathy to count up all the pages I wanted to read over summer and divide them by the number of days in the challenge, I would have horribly failed. ( This summer, I read over 5,500 pages). I found that on average (I had to adjust a few times over the summer) I needed to read 50 pages per day. Not so bad, right?
But that meant that on days I wrote a review or went away for a weekend, those 50 pages were piled on to the next day. At times, I had a goal of 150 pages per day just to catch up, which can be intimidating! It might be better to not divide the total page count by all the days in the challenge; subtract some days for vacation and blog writing.
Your Readers Still Need to Care About What You’re Reading
I felt like this challenge was for me and figured my audience would be on board no matter what. Before I started the 20 Books of Summer, I was under the impression that everyone had read and loved both the Green Gables series and Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier. My Rebecca review was full of spoilers, which is not normal for me, causing some readers to comment that they would not read my review. I definitely lost some readers who hadn’t read Anne and either didn’t care about her story or didn’t want 8 books worth of spoilers. I don’t typically read series on Grab the Lapels, and in the future I don’t think I will again. Choosing the Green Gables series was a selfish choice. I’m glad I read them, but it was weeks of Anne, Anne, Anne!
Blog Posts Still Need to Be Up to Standard
If you’re reading so many books that you can’t keep up with your reviewing, the point is a bit lost on the audience, who man not care about or appreciate your challenge. Or, perhaps you could alter the challenge: read 20 books, but do 10 thorough reviews. I’m proud that I spent a lot of time writing substantial reviews and didn’t change the quality of my posts. Don’t sacrifice quality for quantity, or your reviews will be more like the 20 count chicken McNugget meal.
Reading Challenges Can Cure the “I don’t wannas”
Even though my summer reading job has a lot of down time, that didn’t mean that in past summers I was sitting there soaking up the books. I would often get depressed that my job didn’t require me to use my brain. (Going to a job is better than sitting at home. For one, it requires a shower and dressing). Actually, I wouldn’t read nearly as much as you would think — instead, I wasted my time on social media, which can get very, very depressing. The challenge really helped my self-esteem all summer. I felt like I had a purpose, though I am purpose-driven while others are not. To fail the 20 Books of Summer challenge felt awful in my heart, even though no one probably cares. I cared.
Well, that’s it! I hope you had a great summer!
Here’s the roster:
Harley and Me by Bernadette Murphy On Air by Robin Stratton Single Stroke Seven by Lavinia Ludlow Girls of Usually by Lori Horvitz Retelling by Tsipi Keller The Man in the High Castle by Philip K. Dick Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier Nickel and Dimed by Barbara Ehrenreich Twenty-Five Years Among the Poorest Children in America by Jonathan Kozol Terror in Taffeta by Marla Cooper Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery Anne of Avonlea by Lucy Maud Montgomery Anne of the Island by Lucy Maud Montgomery Anne of Windy Poplars by Lucy Maud Montgomery Anne’s House of Dreams by Lucy Maud Montgomery Anne of Ingleside by Lucy Maud Montgomery Rainbow Valley by Lucy Maud Montgomery Rilla of Ingleside by Lucy Maud Montgomery Bobby Blanchard, Lesbian Gym Teacher by Monica Nolan Fluke, or, I Know Why the Winged Whale Sings by Christopher Moore