Summer Reading Bingo: results and reflection

If you’ve been following Grab the Lapels for at least a year, you know that I quit my eleven-year career as an adjunct professor, volunteered at a community theater, got a job at that community theater, quit the theater job, and now work at a public library. I love the work that I do, and helping the public get important tasks done brings me joy.

A bonus is our library hosted a summer reading program for patrons and a parallel challenge for staff. Although the goal of bingo is to, well, get a bingo, I got it into my head that I wanted to fill every box on the card. Don’t know why, didn’t care about winning. I just set a challenge for myself and went at it whole hog.

In case you aren’t a bingo type, cards typically have TWENTY-FIVE boxes. The summer reading challenge was TWO MONTHS long. I mean, this is more arduous than Cathy’s 20 Books of Summer challenge, which lasts the entire summer season! I’ve attempted her challenge twice and only finished once, so what was going on in my head? I have yet to analyze deeply enough to come up with a satisfactory answer.

To even think of finishing, I read trade editions of a a few comic books for a few boxes, but with little thought put into it, the novels I chose were chunkier than I typically read, not with the ambition of reading more, but simply trying to fill the requirements of each box!

I fell short of filling in all twenty-five boxes by a mere 170 pages (I was on the last book but didn’t finish). Here’s what I read:

  • Freebie: Faith: Hollywood and Vine by Jody Houser
  • Freebie: Faith: California Scheming by Jody Houser
  • Freebie: Faith: Superstar by Jody Houser
  • Freebie: Faith: The Faithless by Jody Houser
  • Book that is 400+ pages: Winds of Fury by Mercedes Lackey
  • Short Story Collection: Wilderness Tips by Margaret Atwood
  • Book Set in Another Country: Porno by Irvine Welsh
  • Audiobook or ebook: Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata, translated by Ginny Taplay Takemori, read by Nancy Wu
  • Book published in 2019: No Visible Bruises by Rachel Louise Snyder
  • Book set in space: The Snow Queen by Joan D. Vinge
  • Book by a person of color: What Are You Doing Here? by Laina Dawes
  • Freebie: Storm Warning by Mercedes Lackey
  • Book Made into a Movie: Interview with the Vampire by Anne Rice, read by Simon Vance
  • Book Published the Year I was Born (1985): The Vampire Lestat by Anne Rice
  • Book I Once Started but Never Finished: Queen of the Damned by Anne Rice
  • Book Made into a TV Show: Orange is the New Black by Piper Kerman, read by the author
  • A Biography: Zora Neale Hurston: A Literary Biography by Robert E. Hemenway
  • Freebie: We Killed: The Rise of Women in American Comedy, edited by Yael Kohen
  • Young Adult Novel: Dust Bath Revival by Marianne Kirby
  • Poetry Collection: Nothing is Okay by Rachel Wiley
  • Book Recommended by a Co-worker: The Poison Squad by Deborah Blum
  • Book Made Into a Movie: Jamaica Inn by Daphne du Maurier
  • Book Published the Year I Started Working @ the Library (2019): Man-eaters by Chelsea Cain
  • Book About Space: Venus on Mars by Jan Millisapps

The one book I did not finish was Venus on Mars. The deadline came and went, and I was bummed — because I was so close! I had ten bingos overall, meaning I got ten raffle tickets, which I promptly stuck in the “coffee lovers” prize basket. I did not win the drawing, but that wasn’t even foremost on my mind. I had challenge myself to finish twenty-five works and got pretty darn close.

A problem I encountered is that I was reading instead of watching movies or hanging out with my husband or doing outdoor activities (unless I could sit and read, which we did, along the shore of Lake Michigan). Next year, I’m going to set a goal of getting a certain number of bingos instead. Setting a ridiculous goal burned me out and made me read less carefully than usual, and I haven’t read much since the August 1st deadline. I mean, I completed 6,218 pages and 27.5 hours of audiobooks in 62 days, so can you blame me? Slowing down as I start Storm Rising for #ReadingValdemar feels delicious, so that’s the pace I’ll keep in the future.


  1. That’s a pretty impressive number of boxes to have checked off! Still, we can all burn ourselves out, so I’m sure it’ll be lovely to enjoy the freedom to read what you want at your own pace.


    • In the last few days, when I meet my own little reading goal that I set (I do this so I don’t think I’ve been reading FOREVER in one day to realize I’ve only been reading for about ten minutes, or something silly like that), I’m like, “Whoa, I’m finished??” It’s weird and nice.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Congrats on being ambitious, going all in so to speak and accomplishing a lot (minus the burnout). Its a good idea to reflect on what worked and what didn’t. Last year I set a goal of resting a certain number of books in one month because I saw someone do 30 or 31 in a month. I knew I couldn’t do that so opted to read 15 books in 31 days. I learned to make a seasonal goal instead of just one month 🤣


    • I’m not sure how people read one book per day, but when I was in grad school a writer came to talk to our class. He was a creative writing professor, his book had strong reviews, and he was raised a Mormon. He said it was normal for everyone in his family to finish a book per day. He can’t have been doing light reading; he also translates works and writes with through philosophical frames — dude is REALLY smart, is what I’m saying.


  3. Congrats on surviving the challenge! The self-imposed ones can really be the worst, lol. You read an IMPRESSIVE amount, and certainly deserve a chance to slow down. It’s too bad you didn’t get a raffle win out of the deal, but you did read some very interesting books! I really want to find time to pick up No Visible Bruises… I see it’s at my library now. 🙂


    • It’s one of those books that I just keep talking about and referencing both online and in person when I’m talking to people. It brings together many facets of society in a way that I hadn’t considered. When I saw that one of the murderers from the most recent mass shootings had been reported as dangerous and worrisome to different agencies, but none of those agencies talked to each other to actually stop him from buying a gun, I wasn’t surprised. This something Snyder discusses in No Visible Bruises.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I’ve never been brave enough for the 20 Books of Summer challenge, so I’m doubly impressed that you took this one on with 25 books to tackle in so little time. Burn out is totally understandable. If I take on too many books on at once, I get super stressed and it affects my enjoyment. It’s one of the reasons I avoid readathons. I just can’t get myself to enjoy having to pick up so many books as a challenge. I need the option of putting a book down if I’m just not feeling it.


    • I’ve been very quick to DNF books lately. With the spreadsheets I use to organize my reading, I almost constantly feel excited about what’s in the pipeline. Thus, if I’m not feeling it, that book gets chucked.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Glad you’ve slowed down. No point reading if you’re not enjoying it. But goals are worthwhile. I know I waste a lot of time outside of work because I won’t set or follow budgets or goals or anything like that.


    • Wasting time is why I started created spreadsheets with daily reading goals. There have been times when I felt like I had spent AGES reading only to realize a whole 15 minutes had gone by. My concept of time while reading gets wonky.


  6. That is impressive! I think I am still going to finish 20 Books of Summer – just about, because I have two weeks of annual leave coming up at the end of August. I certainly wouldn’t have managed this challenge!


    • I added in 5 trade paperbacks of comic books to help me out a bit, but most of the books I read were SO LONG. 400+ pages. It was a bit ridiculous!

      Why do you get an annual leave? Is this for work/school? Or is it a U.K. thing? We don’t really do vacations in the U.S., even when we get vacation time. It’s weird.


  7. Wow! That is quite impressive! I don’t think I’d ever try for the whole card simply because I prefer to read whatever I want! Reading according to the card would annoy me!


    • It made me reach out for books I wouldn’t normally, such as science fiction (I tend toward fantasy more often). The requirements could be fairly open, such as a book from the year you were born, but still gave me a reason to hunt around!

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Short by only 170 pages! You’re better than I am — I would have picked up a picture book the morning things were due and crushed it to get that final bingo. Well done!

    I don’t find bingo cards for reading to be all that compelling, but I haven’t played reading bingo with people IRL — only online friends. I dunno, there’s something about it that sounds like… work? I have enough on my TBR! I don’t need yet another one! XD

    Did you have the same bingo card as the patrons or a different card?

    Liked by 1 person

    • LOL, maybe I should have re-read that Johnny Sun book with the little alien and said that one was about space. I think because I was focused on filling every box, I didn’t really have FUN with trying to get a specific bingo. I probably should have been more conscientious. The staff had the same bingo card as the patrons, I think, though our drawing was separate.


  9. Wowza! 24 books in 2 months is nothing to sneeze at. Don’t be so hard on yourself… says the competitive person who would have attempted the same thing and would have been devastated at not finishing by 170 pages lol

    You sound so happy in your new job! I am currently trying to get a job in one of our local library systems. Apparently it is fairly competitive. I am currently going for a part time patron services assistant position in a brand new facility that was just torn down and completely re-done! Keep your fingers crossed for me.


    • *fingers crossed* Does that position require you to have a librarian degree? Or are you helping people find things, etc. and not working on weeding, collection services, and acquisition (all of which require a librarian).


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