Random Reading Thoughts: How do you feel about the classics?

I recently ran across a blog post that ranked the classics based on Goodreads user ratings. The post is titled “The Most Loved and Hated Classic Novels According to Goodreads Users.” Most loved and hated? I was completely intrigued!

Like many people, I was assigned to read many books that carry the label “classic” while I was in high school. Among them were The Scarlet Letter, A Tale of Two Cities, Tom Sawyer, and Pride and Prejudice. I learned quickly that I don’t like anything by Charles Dickens and I love Mark Twain. I never read The Scarlet Letter, and still haven’t to this day. And I’m pretty sure my English teacher was completely aware of that.

So, it was with these and many other reading — and non-reading — experiences with classic novels, that I read the blog post. I was not particularly surprised that To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee made the top of the most-loved list (it’s one of my favorites). But I was surprised to see The Godfather by Mario Puzo on the list at all. But once I looked at the parameters the post author used to define “classic novel” it made sense. Other top-rated titles that I read (or was supposed to read and didn’t) in high school include Pride and Prejudice and The Brothers Karamazov.

Bottom of the list? The aforementioned The Scarlet Letter. In the interest of full disclosure, it still rates an average 3.4 stars from readers, and several of my friends have given it 5-star ratings. So I feel like the term “Most Hated” is a little bit of a misnomer when you look at it that way. Other titles that join Nathaniel Hawthorne’s classic at the bottom of the list include Moby Dick by Herman Melville and Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad. Two more titles I’ve never read, and don’t plan to.

Even with the apparent issues in making a list such as this, it’s compelling to consider what elements a book needs to include to qualify as a piece of “classic literature.” For instance, I surely don’t consider The Great Gatsby the Great American Novel. I thought it was a horrible book. But I do love Jane Austen and John Steinbeck (yes, I love The Grapes of Wrath, but I didn’t have to read it in high school).

So tell us in the comments, do you have classics that you love or love to hate? Were there classics you had to read in school that you ended up loving? Have you approached classics later in your life and had different reactions to them? Share your favorite classic novel, or the worst one you’ve ever read. We want to know!

Random Reading Thoughts: A new year for reading

It’s the first full week of a new year and a new decade (OK, maybe not a new decade depending on who you ask, but that’s beside the point). This fresh start means so many opportunities to revamp, or refresh, or rethink — or not — my reading. It’s a chance to look back at my reading of the past year and see if I’d like to shake things up a bit.

I use Goodreads to track my reading and to keep a loose want-to-read list. I sometimes write reviews, but often I forget those things that pop into my brain while I’m reading that I might like to remember. I don’t stop reading to open the app or get on my computer to jot down notes, but I want to be better so I decided that I am going analog this year and keeping a paper reading journal as well as recording my books on Goodreads.

Do you use Goodreads to track your reading? Do you use it to set reading goals or to keep a to-read list? Tell us in the comments how you use Goodreads and if it helps you read better.

Admittedly, I’ve never been very good at journaling, but maybe if I’m just keeping notes about the books I read it will go better. I’d like to remember better why I love the books I do. I’d also like to be able to look back at books that didn’t work for me and have an idea of why not. I’m also dedicating a small notebook to keeping a list of books I want to read. And taking a page from Modern Mrs. Darcy, I have a goal of doing more than just jotting down the title and author.

I’ve set my Goodreads goal for this year (52), I’ve got my reader’s journal ready to go, and I’ve got a plan for my to-be-read list. I have two reading challenges to participate in — the Modern Mrs. Darcy 2020 challenge and the Wichita Eagle #ReadICT challenge. I think I’m ready to tackle my reading in 2020. Here’s looking at a great year to come in reading!

Random Reading Thoughts: I didn’t meet my 2019 reading goal

How many of you track your annual reading? Do you keep a reading journal or do you track on a digital site like Goodreads? I use Goodreads to track my reading, and I love to set a yearly goal to see if I can reach it. This year my goal was to read 60 books. That’s a little more than a book a week, and a goal I have hit before.

Cover of Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening
Robert Frost’s “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening,” which is a beautiful picture book.

But this year, it just didn’t happen. When I first realized I wasn’t going to hit my goal I was pretty dejected. But the more I think about it, the more I realize it’s OK. I still read 50 books this year — and there are still two weeks for me to finish another book or two. And then I started thinking about why I didn’t hit my goal and realized that it was (mostly) other good things that kept me busy.

I started quilting a few years ago, and I did more sewing this year than I have done in a while. I relish the time I get to spend at my sewing machine creating things. I often listen to an audiobook while I sew, but sometimes I just enjoy the whirring sound of the needle moving along through the fabric. This took away from my regular reading time this year. As did some other things.

Cover of Bel Canto by Ann Patchett
The first book I read in 2019 was “Bel Canto,” by Ann Patchett. It’s one of my favorite books and was a reread for me.

And I’m happy with the books I read. I read some I loved and some that were just pretty good. I added some new titles to my list of favorites and I revisited some old friends. According to Goodreads’ “My Year in Books,” I have read 17,752 pages in those 50 books as of Dec. 18. The shortest was 32 pages, a picture book of Robert Frost’s “Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening.” The longest? “11/22/63” by Stephen King, which was incredible on audio.

So what’s your goal for 2020? A number of books read? Reading one more book than you read last year? Focusing on a certain genre? Reading for a challenge? Tell us in the comments if you set a reading goal and what it is. I’m still trying to decide what my reading in 2020 is going to look like.

Random Reading Thoughts: How do you get out of a reading slump?

Drawing of book wity images coming out of it representing a story narative
Tell us in the comments how you get out of a reading slump.

If you’re a reader, you’ve experienced it: a reading slump. You know, that week, or month, or longer, when no matter what book you pick up, you just can’t seem to get interested in it.

If you’re in a slump now, here are 10 tips to help get your reading back on track. If you’re not in a slump, save this for later, because you know one will hit sooner or later.

1. Reread one of your favorite books. Not a re-reader? Give it a shot. There’s a reason we love our favorite stories and revisiting them can rekindle the feeling we had when we first read them.

2. Read a book completely out of your comfort zone. Normally read romantic comedies? Try a thriller. Love mysteries? Give a fantasy novel a shot. Picking up something completely unusual for you can pique your interest.

3. Judge a book by its cover. Go ahead. Do it! That cover that just grabs your attention? The book inside might just do the same and help break you out of a rut.

4. Pick up a nice short, easy to read book. If you’re in a slump, picking up that giant doorstop of a book might feel like too much. Give yourself permission to read a short, fluffy, brain candy kind of book.

Sometimes a new format can kick your reading back into gear.

5. “Read” in a different format. Do you usually read on an e-reader or mobile device? Try print. Always read print books? Listen to an audiobook. Consuming that story in a new way may prod your brain to respond more actively to the story.

6. Visit the library or a bookstore. Just browsing the shelves and being around books might get your brain back into a reading mode.

7. Participate in a reading challenge. Reading challenges abound on the internet, challenges with a few books or a lot of books. Locally, check out the Wichita Eagle #READICT Challenge group on Facebook. The Eagle’s annual challenge is to read 12 books from 12 categories.

8. Or, participate in a read-a-thon. The library has a month-long read-a-thon coming up Oct. 1-31, where you can journey through the Forbidden Forest as you read.

9. Join a book club. It can be motivating to have a deadline to finish and then meet and discuss what you loved — and didn’t — about the book. The library has three active book clubs, all open to everyone.

10. Take yourself on a reading date. Set aside some time for just you and your book. Find a comfortable place and have a cup of your favorite tea or coffee. Take a couple of hours and surrender yourself to the words on the page. Have a few books to choose from, in case the first “date” doesn’t quite work out.

Big Changes are Coming to the Library!

Derby Public Library to launch partnership, new catalog Aug. 19

Derby Public Library is pleased to announce the creation of a new library consortium, KanShare Libraries. Beginning Aug. 19, Derby Public Library, Andover Public Library and Park City Public Library will share a common catalog and patrons of the three libraries will be able to check out items from any of the three libraries with their current library card.

Catalog change will affect patrons Aug. 17-18

Because of the new catalog and creation of the consortium, the Derby Public Library’s current catalog will be offline Aug. 17 and 18. The library will remain open and community services will be available, including passport application processing, and fax and notary services.

Park City Library is a member of KanShare Libraries.

No items will be due on those days, nor will items be able to be renewed. Items on hold can still be picked up, but no new holds will be able to be placed until the new catalog launches Aug. 19.

Public-use computers and public Wi-Fi will also be available in the library Aug. 17 and 18. However, patrons will not have access to the computer catalog to check their account, search for items, place items on hold, or renew items. This will also affect use of the library app.

These dates are a good time to take advantage of the many digital services the library offers, including Sunflower eLibrary via Libby or your computer, online learning resources through the library website, audiobooks and magazines from RBDigital, and e-books, audiobooks and video content available in the Hoopla app.

Partnership offers many patron benefits

The consortium also brings some changes that directly affect checkouts at the Derby Library. The number of magazines, DVDs, music CDs, and audiobooks that patrons are able to check out at one time has been increased.

The partnership of these three libraries will mean that library patrons will be able to seamlessly request an item from one library and pick it up at the library of their choice. Items will be transferred from one library to another via courier, so patrons will be able to choose where they would like to pick up items they’ve placed on hold.

Andover Public Library is also a member of KanShare Libraries.

For example, an Andover cardholder will be able to put a book on hold from Derby and pick it up in Andover if they desire. Additionally, library patrons will be able to visit any of the libraries in the consortium and check out items using their current library card. Those items can then be returned at any library in the consortium.

Other regional libraries, including Goddard, El Dorado, Rose Hill, Mulvane and Augusta, are scheduled to join the consortium later this year or in the first several months of 2020.

Random Reading Thoughts: The Challenges of Reading a Series

Hi blog readers! I’ll be writing a monthly blog post, which will be posted the first week of the month. As the title suggests, each post will be some random thoughts I have about reading. Hopefully, they’ll be thoughts that our readers will find interesting as well.

Poison Study, Book 1 in the Soulfinder series by
Maria V. Snyder

Today, my thoughts have been swirling about book series. I love reading a good series, but sometimes a wrench gets thrown into the works or something else comes up that makes me long for more standalone books. For instance, an author has several books out in a series, hasn’t completed it, but stops writing to pursue other writing adventures (I’m looking at you Jim Butcher and Chris Grabenstein!). Or, a series gets marketed and advertised and sold as a trilogy (yay! only three books!) and then turns into a series of way more books, but now I have to wait a whole year for each book in the series.

Or, along the same lines, you start a series with the first book, and now you have to wait a whole year for each new book. I find myself wondering why I didn’t just wait until the series was finished before I started reading. I’m so impatient to start the next book!

Magic Study, Book 2 in the Soulfinder series by Maria V. Snyder

And that leads me back to what started me thinking about series in the first place. One of my book clubs read a fantastic book last month, the first in a series. I gobbled down the first three books in the series and immediately grabbed book four. Opened it, and realized that some really important stuff had happened that I had no record of! Lo and behold, the author interrupted the series and wrote a related trilogy based on one of the characters, and those three books have all the good stuff I missed. So, I’ll be reading those three books in anticipation of getting back to the original series.

I can’t decide if I’m annoyed with the author for doing that, or looking forward to getting more of the story from a different character’s perspective and seeing more of this fabulous world she’s built. What about you? How do you manage series? Do you wait until they’re finished or do you devour each book as they come out? Drop us a comment below and share what your favorite series is, as well as how you prefer to read them.

Fire Study, book 3 in the Soulfinder series by
Maria V. Snyder

PS: The series that has every bit of my attention right now is the Soulfinder series by Maria V. Snyder, and the trilogy that tucks in the middle is her Glass series.

A whole new year for books!

Aahhhhh! It’s nearly the start of a brand-new year! For many of us, that means new reading goals — Have you set that goal on Goodreads yet?! — and maybe a new reading challenge or two — or 63?!

I know several of us in the library and many of our library patrons participated in The Wichita Eagle‘s 2018 #READICT challenge. The 2019 challenge is looking pretty great as well, with categories including “A book from a genre you don’t normally read” and “A book recommended by a child or a teenager.”

But what if you are looking for a challenge that’s well, a little more challenging? Have no fear, there is apparently no shortage of reading challenges out in the Webosphere, and we’ve rounded up a few — and included links! — that we find intriguing, as well as one awesome clearinghouse that can hook you up with just about any kind of reading challenge you can imagine!

Reading challengesHere are our picks, in no particular order (except No. 1!):

  1. No. 1, of course, has to be The Wichita Eagle’s #READICT 2019 challenge, hosted by Suzanne Perez Tobias. Pick up a copy of the challenge here at our library or a bookmark with the challenge at any Wichita Public Library, register online on the WPL website, and make sure you join the #READICT Facebook group for lots more great reading suggestions!
  2. The Reading Women challenge from the ladies at the Reading Women podcast. This is a great challenge is you are looking to add female authors to your reading lists this year. Categories include a children’s book and a book about a woman athlete.
  3. The Modern Mrs. Darcy reading challenge is also one of my personal favorites. Not only does Anne Bogel provide you with a challenge sheet to record your books during the year, but she gives you adorable reading planning sheets!
  4. Book Riot has hosted a read harder challenge for a few years, and let me tell you, this challenge can really make you read harder! Categories include a book written in prison and a book published prior to Jan. 1, 2019, with fewer than 100 reviews on Goodreads. There is also a group on Goodreads for this challenge which may be helpful in finding titles in some of the categories.
  5. Another popular reading challenge (I usually find it linked on Pinterest before I see it anywhere else) is the PopSugar reading challenge. This challenge is made up of 40 categories, or 50 if you do the advanced version! There is also a group on Goodreads you can join for this challenge.
  6. And if none of the above recommendations quite floats your boat, over at Girlxoxo.com, they’ve put together a master list of the reading challenges that can be found for 2019. Who knew there were so many?! Surely, there must be something for everyone there.

And tell us in the comments, do you participate in reading challenges? Which one is your favorite and why?

Hmmm, are Christmas novels a . . . novelty?

So as Ashley was preparing for her book displays for December, and she mentioned that she was creating a display for seasonal titles, I started wondering about how many Christmas novels she’d find. Just regular adult fiction titles — not children’s books or other types of books.

Season's Reading holiday book display at the library for December
Ashley found lots of titles to include on her holiday book display this month!

I’ve never been a big reader of fictional stories that happen around Christmas, just as I’ve never been a big watcher of Christmas Hallmark movies. There’s certainly nothing wrong with either of those things, I just have never really had an interest in them.

But there I was, skimming through bargain Kindle titles on Amazon (I’m always up for a good book that costs a dollar or two) and up pops a title from an author I know and love, Kristin Hannah. Christmas novel. $2. Surely, I can give this a try, right? So I hit that little buy now button and onto my Kindle it goes.

Then I started noticing. Christmas novels are everywhere! Anne Perry, author of the wonderful Victorian mystery series featuring Charlotte and Thomas Pitt, and Inspector William Monk, has been writing a Christmas book every year for the past 16 years. Other titles are available from Debbie Macomber, Susan Mallery and Janet Evanovich and many, many more authors. There are comedies, romances, mysteries.

When I look at the books waiting on the carts to be shelved, I see Christmas novels. When I check in books, it feels like there’s bound to be one in the stack. Obviously, people love reading these stories, so maybe I ought to give it a try.

I just finished a book, and I was looking for something to read. I opened my Kindle, started leafing through my library, and here’s that Christmas book I just bought. I figured I’d give it a shot, because after all, it’s nearly Christmas. I started it on my lunch hour and I was hooked! In fact, don’t let the boss know, but I got so caught up in the story, that I was a few minutes late getting back to work!

So, tell me, do you love a good Christmas novel? And do I need to try watching Hallmark Christmas movies?

Best book lists rule this time of year, so here’s our list of lists!

Man, Thanksgiving hit, and all my book-related newsletters and websites have been filled with “Best of 2018” and other types of end-of-year book lists. My first response was “Can you not wait until the end of the year? What if the best book of the year gets released in December?!”

But alas, the lists have not slowed down and there are so many of them I don’t know where to start or how to decide which ones I should choose books from! In other words, all these lists have me a little paralyzed. Kind of. I mean, now that I’ve looked at so many lists of what are supposed to be the best books of the year, I have no idea how to manage my to-read list, because now I want to read everything.Image result for choose a book

So, to help you build a TBR (to be read) pile for 2019, here is a Top 10 of the lists we’ve found, from the traditional, to the not-so-traditional.

    1. Image result for new york times book reviewFrom The New York Times Book Review, here’s a list of the 10 best fiction and nonfiction titles chosen by the paper’s book editors.
  1. Here’s a list from Literary Hub billed as the “Ultimate Best Books of 2018 List.” The titles were culled from 52 best-of lists and the titles that appeared most often on those lists show up here.
  2. Here’s a list from Digg that used a similar tactic to review lots of lists  and come up with the Top 10 for 2018.
  3. This Washington Post Book World Top 10 list includes not just the 10 books that caught the editors’ attention, but lots more lists, including the 10 best graphic novels and the best children’s books.
  4. Is any Top 10 list complete without a list from a publishing publication? We think not, so here’s a list of Publisher Weekly‘s Top 10 from 2018.
  5. GQ chose its list of 9 favorites, then each of those authors also chose a favorite, for a list of 17 recommended books for 2018.Goodreads Choice Awards
  6. Goodreads (you are on Goodreads now, aren’t you?!) has its users vote for their favorite books in an end-of-year poll, for a crowd-sourced list.
  7. Another best-of list from Literary Hub is its list of the best-reviewed books from its companion site Book Marks.
  8. Book Riot has a list that is a little different take, and is guaranteed to have some titles that aren’t included on the lists above. It’s a list of 50 must-read books that you likely missed this past year.
  9. And the final list I want to share with you is one of my favorites, and it’s not technically a traditional list. NPR’s Book Concierge is a fun way to find new books that appeal to you, as you can sort using filters (and can combine filters). In addition, NPR makes its Book Concierges from 2008-2017 available as well!

NPR logo

Get great books cheap at library book sale

It’s that time of year again, when reading can take center stage as you find time to relax and rejuvenate yourself. Whether you’re hanging by the pool, on vacation at the beach, or just lying in a hammock in the backyard, a good book can make that moment even better.

If you are in need of good, inexpensive reading material for times like those, the Friends of the Derby Public Library has got you covered. Come to the Friends book sale at the library July 21 and 22 to find reading treasures, at just 25 cents for a paperback and 50 cents for a hardcover.

There will be hundreds of books to choose from, so you are sure to find something you will enjoy. Music CDs, DVDs and books on CD are also available at the nominal cost of $1 for music CDs and $2 for DVDs and books on CD.

If you are a member of the Friends group, you are lucky enough to have access to a Friends-only preview sale 6:30-8 p.m. Friday, July 20. If you aren’t yet a member, you can join for only $10 at the sale.

The book sale will be 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday, July 21, and 1-4 p.m. Sunday, July 22, in the Community Room at the library.

Volunteers are needed to set the sale up Friday; to work the sale Friday evening, Saturday and Sunday; and to box up what books are left after the sale on Sunday afternoon. If you are interested in volunteering, please email the Friends group at friends@derbylibrary.com.