Monday, October 11, 2010


Well, I'm done. Finished book #100 (Bad Marie by Marcy Dermansky) Friday night.

Glad that's over. (The challenge, not the book!)

This was an interesting challenge (read 100 books across 10 categories by 10/10/10) and one I'm not certain I want to repeat. While I expanded *what* I was reading--Mystery, Short Stories, Biography/Autobiography--I don't like how I was reading. First, the good.

I learned that short stories really are okay. I like a certain type: one that isn't deliberately obtuse but wraps-up somewhat neatly. The character don't have to live Happily Ever After (I'm not a fan of that type of book anyway) but what I mean about that is so many short stories leave me thinking, "What in the world just happened?" I like them a bit more linear than that. It's hard to express to others what the specific quality is (qualities are) but let's just say I like some short story writers more than others. I know 'em when I read 'em.

I've always known that I like bio and autobio but I don't read enough of them. I did cheat with a few "memoirs" but really tried to focus my reading on the more solid, researched works.

As far as mystery/crime go--a genre mostly new to me--I learned that I like crime/thriller better than I do "mysteries." I found most of the genre mysteries to be predictable and somewhat flat. I'll try more, definitely, but found I liked the thriller/crime novel reads more.

Indie Presses: I probably read more indie press books than the average reader but this year I decided to put my money where my mouth is and focus on reading more of them. I read some wonderful books that don't always get the press coverage and buzz others do and I will continue to expand my reading in this area.

On to the bad. Ugh, I don't like how this made me read. I read too quickly a lot of the time and rarely stopped to savor a book. I got anxious trying to finish books. It's also a strange experience to track your reading on an Excel spreadsheet. Walking into a bookstore or library made me twitch. I'd put down books I want to read because I had to fit books into categories. I counted and recounted the books on my spreadsheet and panicked when numbers didn't add up. I did it again this morning.

Yesterday I was in Tattered Cover to pick up a copy of Lonesome Dove (#101) and was browsing the shelves. What a relief when I realized I could pick up ANYTHING. It didn't have to fit into a column on a spreadsheet. And savoring Bad Marie was a delight. I picked Marcy's book on purpose and it was well-worth the wait. (It is a fantastic book--read it.) I'm looking forward to reading like a normal person again, minus the twitching.

So, what were my favorites? (And then we'll look at some numbers.)

These aren't necessarily the books that will make my end-of-the-year list though many probably will. This are my favorites in each of my ten categories. Some books fit into more than one category (most did, as a matter-of-fact) but this list is based on where I slotted them for the challenge.

9, 10, 11 (books published in 2009, 2010, 2011): Just Like Us by Helen Thorpe

Authors New to Me: Twins by Marcy Dermansky (which is why I picked Bad Marie for my last book)

YA: Wanting Mor by Rukhsana Khan

Not Yet Read Classics: Giovanni's Room by James Baldwin

Biography/Autobiography: Tie between Soupy Sez (which is a book my company publishes, for full disclosure) and Adam Schrager's excellent The Principled Politician: The Story of Ralph Carr

Indie Presses: Tie between Elise Blackwell's An Unfinished Score (Unbridled Books) and Sourcebooks' A Seat at the Table by Joshua Halberstam

Mystery/Crime: Collusion by Stuart Neville

One Word Titles: Tie between Middlesex by Jeffery Eugenides and Taqwacores by Michael Mohammed Knight

Guilty Pleasures: Tie between Room by Emma Donaghue and Bad Marie by Marcy Dermansky

Short Stories: Six Kinds of Sky by Luis Alberto Urrea

Now, some numbers.
There's been some chatter lately about women writers getting short-shrift in the book review media and also that we (collectively) take male writers more seriously somehow. 48 of the books I read were written by women.

51 of the books I read were published in 2009, 2010, or 2011 (though I don't think I have read any 2011 galleys for this challenge.)

70 were written by authors I've never read before.

30 were published by independent presses. (Including but not limited to Unbridled Books, Sourcebooks, Greywolf, Algonquin, Soft Skull, Europa, New York Review of Books Press, Candlewick, MacAdam Cage, and Soho. There is some GREAT indie publishing happening out there--read 'em!)

So, that's it in a nutshell. Glad I did it. Glad it's over. Won't do it again. Thanks to all who cheered me on along the way! (And let me know your thoughts about anything I've said--please! Maybe you can help me articulate my short story thing better?)

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Kalen reports her progress!

Written by Melissa

Kalen reports in on her of August 2, she is on book #71, IF I LOVED YOU, I WOULD TELL YOU THIS by Robin Black. She's finished with two categories: Young Adult and One Word Titles. Coming up for the rest of the pack, with the number read:

Pub'd in 09, 10, or 11: 7 read
Authors New to Me: 8 read
NY Times Book Review Classics: 6 read
Bio/Autobio: 9 read
Indie Presses: 6 read
Mystery/Crime: 8 read
Guilty Pleasures: 1 read
Short Stories: 7 read

One thing Kalen and I both agree on--this challenge has left us feeling like we have reading assignments--all of our books have to "fit" in a category, which right now is preventing us from reading certain things we'd rather. I have a lot of books on my TBR pile that I'm itching to read, but since they don't fit into one of my 10-10-10 categories, I have to leave it alone.

Interested in whether the other 10-10-10ers feel the same, or if it's energizing you to have the categories?

82 down...18 to go!

Last night, I finished my 82nd book of the year...LET'S TAKE THE LONG WAY HOME, a gorgeous book by Gail Caldwell. This was a perfect way to fully complete my non-fiction category for 10-10-10! Of my 10 original categories, I've completed two: non-fiction and audiobooks. This is one of the surprises of the challenge--typically I really dislike non-fiction, so it's funny to me that I managed to finish it as a category much earlier than some of my favorites (like mystery or "authors new to me".)

Here is what I have left:
Authors new to me: 1
My choice: 1
On TBR shelf too long: 3
Young Adult: 4
Mystery: 1
Novella: 2
Graphic Novel: 2
Business books: 4

Tell me about your progress! Comment here or email me at

Monday, August 2, 2010

Let's Do a Progress Report!

I am happy to report that I've finished book #78 in the challenge as of yesterday...HOMER AND LANGLEY by E.L. Doctorow. Let us know how you're progressing! Is it getting tedious? Or still challenging and fun?

Saturday, May 8, 2010

155 days to are you doing??

Time to check in on our progress in the 10-10-10 Reading Challenge!! There are 155 reading days left until October 10--so there is still PLENTY of time to achieve your reading goals, no matter what they may be. We have several new readers who have joined our challenge. Many people are choosing to read one book in 10 categories--so 155 days is a great amount of time in which to finish that goal!

Melissa finished book 47 last night (THE UNWRITTEN, a graphic novel recommended by @mkindness). Here is my current list of completed books by category:

The Hunger Games
When You Reach Me
The Westing Game

Food Rules
Fly-Over State
The Comfort of Strangers
The Clothes They Stood Up In
A Touch of Dead

The Complete Persepolis
Superman Red Son
Tales From Outer Suburbia
The Last Man: Unmanned
The Unwritten

The Scarpetta Factor
The Man From Beijing
Shoot to Thrill
Under the Dome

The Singer's Gun
The School of Essential Ingredients
Living Dead in Dallas
Club Dead

This is Where I Leave You
Sacred Hearts
The Swimming Pool

Union Atlantic
The Passage
Shadow Tag
The Unit
Secrets of Eden
Bloodsucking Fiends

Dexter By Design
Dark Places
True Detectives
Waiting For Columbus
The Black Ice

The Lost City of Z
The Lady in the Tower
Chelsea Chelsea Bang Bang
Reality Hunger

The Happiness Project

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Books on the Nightstand episode 73

Recently, I (Melissa) had the pleasure of being a guest on the podcast for one of my favorite book websites, Books on the Nightstand ( Here is the link in case you are interested in listening--I talk a little about paper in books, plus the indie choice awards, and I talk about the lovely book TINKERS which went on to win the Pulitzer a few days later!!

In the podcast, I talk about the 10-10-10 Reading Challenge. I am pleased that I've received several emails from people joining the challenge--I will post the new names this week.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

10-10-10 Reading Challenge in the School Library Journal

We were very pleased to have Lauren Barack (a challenge participant) write an article about the 10-10-10 Reading Challenge in a recent edition of the School Library Journal. Here is a link to the article.