Dewey!!!

It’s that time again, friends! The Spring 24 Hour Dewey Readathon. Saturday, April 23rd is your day to make a book pile, pour some Bailey’s into your coffee or hot chocolate, and huddle down into your blanket fort for as long as you can. I say that because you know I can’t do the full 24. Kids and all make sleep a necessity. They know when you’re weak from lack of it and that’s how you find yourself tied to a chair while they run around making war cries, covered in chocolate, while drawing on your furniture. I digress. I plan to do as much as possible. Also Bout of Books is also coming up on the second week of May so make sure you block out that week!

I just made my preliminary print TBR and have dabbled with one on my Kindle app. This feels like it’s going to be pretty fantasy heavy.

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As usual, I’m not going to get to all of these, but I like having some to choose from. A few picks I think will definitely make the cut:

Jane Steele by Lyndsay Faye. I have heard nothing but rave reviews from my best book recommenders. I have never read Jane Eyre (stop, you don’t have to yell at me. I’ll get there eventually. Maybe. When people stop putting out new books.), but I’m told I don’t need to for the story to make sense. Which is a relief.

All the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders. Magic and the apocalypse? Let’s do this. Also Anders is a Bay Area author and I like to support our local talent.

The Regional Office is Under Attack by Manuel Gonzales. This one rings so many of my bells. Lady assassins? Sold.

Girl in Translation by Jean Kwok. I’m usually not into lit fic during a readathon, but I’m making an exception here because I tore through Mambo in Chinatown like a demon.

Winterwood by Jacey Bedford. I’ve actually already started this one and the fact the main character is a cross dressing lady magician pirate is basically my wheelhouse.

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Wrath and the Dawn by Renée Ahdieh. I’m actually a bit ashamed I haven’t gotten to it yet. I got lost in historical romance, that’s all I have to say for myself. Also the sequel The Rose and the Dagger is out on April 26th, so I need to get cooking here.

Bitter Bite by Jennifer Estep. This series is usually a quick read, mostly because I skip a bit because she does a lot of repetition on who the characters all are which is frustrating when it’s the fourteenth book in the series. However, I’ve come this far, I want to see the thing through.

Borderline by Mishell Baker. Another that I’ve been meaning to read for about a month now. I just got another goose from a friend of mine who just finished it and needs to express her feels.

Lady Bridget’s Diary by Maya Rodale. I’ve been in historical romance heaven lately so there is a slight possibility this one will be read before Saturday. I’ve really liked Rodale’s books in the past. I hope this one will be no different.

 

If you’re participating, what books are you reading for the readathon? If you’re not, what books are you thinking of reading for funsies?

 

 

April TBR

Since I had so much fun reading nonfiction last month, I decided to keep it going. This time I’m focusing in on history books. I’m also trying to get some books off my shelf that have been loaned to me from friends (don’t judge, they have my books too!). I’m also trying to make sure I read those hardbacks that I bought because I had to have them before they come out on paperback. Then there are some on my iPad that are begging for me to get to as well. Some are left over from last month that I just didn’t have time to get to.

Physical Shelf

Digital Shelf

Of course, that’s not counting all the books that are coming out this month that I’m gonna probably pick up, but this is my rough draft. I’ll let you know how I did!

What books are you hoping to get to this month? Have any been sitting on your shelf for longer than you would have liked?

My Month of (Mostly) Reading Nonfiction and Urban Fantasy

While it seems like a huge difference in genre, I found rotating my nonfiction titles with my urban fantasy worked out really well. I did get a few other genres in there (including bingeing most of Johanna Lindsey’s Malory-Anderson series for the first time in 10 years), but I tried to clear both my physical and my digital shelves of their titles of truthiness and pages of paranormal snark and violence. I think I did pretty well.

Nonfiction

United: Thoughts on Finding Common Ground and Advancing the Common Good – Cory Booker. This man is such an optimist. I love it though and can’t help be hopefully for everything he hopes to see in our country happen. I’m hoping Washington doesn’t break him. I was super inspired by all that he’s accomplished for Newark as mayor and now New Jersey as a senator. He has so many good ideas.

 

 


The Taliban Shuffle: Strange Days in Afghanistan and Pakistan – Kim Barker. I’m seriously bummed that Tina Fey seemed to screw the pooch with her movie adaptation of this woman’s story. It didn’t need to be embellished or have a love story added. I really enjoyed Barker’s narrative about her experiences.

 

 

 


All the Single Ladies: Unmarried Women and the Rise of an Independent Nation – Rebecca Traitor. I’m a happily married woman, but I have a lot of lady friends who have to deal with the “When are you getting marrieds?” and the like. This book points out so many good facts. I think it’s good to read by all women, no matter their marital status. I wanted to highlight and write on every page. My favorite was the chapter on female friendships.

 

 


Blackout: Remembering the Things I Drank to Forget – Sarah Hepola. Both uplifting and heartbreaking, I really enjoyed this memoir of a woman who has struggled with alcoholism in an age where we don’t talk about it in young women, at least not young professional women. The stereotype that I’ve seen for women is lower income, middle aged, troubled. No one wants to point out even women who seem to have their shit together, could be struggling with it and not necessarily because they’re unhappy and had a bad childhood as we see portrayed in media.


How to be a Tudor: A Dusk-to-Dawn Guide to Tudor Life – Ruth Goodman. I am a big fan of the Tudor era. I started with the historical fictions by Philippa Gregory and Alison Weir, I’ve touched on a few nonfictions, but Goodman’s How to be A Tudor is fantastic. It follows both men and women of all classes from waking to bedtime in their daily routines. There is a lot of detail on how to get the perfect ruff. Yeah, that thing you saw around people’s necks in the time of Elizabeth I.

 

 


Love, Loss, and What We Ate – Padma Lakshmi. I adored this book. I heard a lot of buzz and had to pick it up. If you’ve followed long enough, you know I love a good food memoir (<3 Julia). I didn’t even know who Lakshmi was, but now I need to go back and binge Top Chef. I loved reading about her stories about growing up in India, her relationship and then marriage with Salman Rushdie, her experiences in modeling, and her love of her daughter. I really enjoyed how she talks about coming to accept her body after years of modeling and then the struggle of it changing due to filming Top Chef.


All About Love: New Visions – bell hooks. Wow. My first bell hooks book and I’m not disappointed. hooks talks all about the different ways we can bring love into our lives. There’s even an essay on friendships that resonated with me. I’ll admit I mostly skipped the last essay regarding love and angels, but otherwise I feel like I’m going to come back to this one. Now to get my own copy since this one was the library’s.

 

 

 

Urban Fantasy

The Others series – Anne Bishop. Yes, the whole thing, starting with a reread of the first three books and ending with the newest Marked in Flesh. I love this series so much. I wish I could explain exactly why, but I can’t. Not helpful for you guys so I’ll try. A lot of the time (and in the following books I’ll mention) the female protagonist is snarky and physical. Meg isn’t these things. She’s soft, vulnerable, and not the most physical character in the book, however, she’s not weak by any means. She is able to answer the call in the face of danger. She’s not perfect, she makes mistakes, but she’s kind and apologizes when she’s wrong. This series is also a play on the whole shapeshifter mythos as well. Instead of humans becoming animals, we have a swap here and even that is not exactly what they are or what they are doing.


Chaos Choreography (Incryptid, #5) – Seanan McGuire. The fifth book in McGuire’s Incryptid series, we come back to the protagonist from the first book, Verity Price and her smoking hot ex-Covenant hubby Dominic, as Verity re-enters the world of televised dance competition where there is something creepy going on. I was thrilled to see Verity again, but totally didn’t get enough of banter between her and Dominic. I also was hoping to see the whole Price family get to interact. Also Grandma Alice needs to go play cards with the Luidaeg from McGuire’s other series.

 


Midnight Marked (Chicagoland Vampires, #12) – Chloe Neill. I am a shipper of Ethan and Merit. They have highs and lows and work their business out, much like a healthy couple does, albeit they do it more with katanas and fangs, but to each their own. I’m a bit bummed this is the second to the last book in the series, but I’m also a proponent of end it while it’s still good.
 


Midnight Taxi Tango (Bone Street Rumba, #2) – Daniel José Older. I might forgive him for giving me the creepy crawlies because this book was that good. I love his ability to voice a teenage girl with authenticity. Kia is my Patronus. Also that cover? Fucking gorgeous.

 

 

 

 

 

What did you read last month? Any nonfiction or urban fantasy?

The Not so Long and Very Short of It

February. The month where I declared I would read a bunch of essay and short story collections. I did! I almost cleared my physical shelves. I never actually got to any on my Kindle. C’est la vie. How many did I actually get to, you’re probably asking. Seven. Four essay and three short story collections. And knowing me as you do, that six books is not all I accomplished, you’re now asking, what else did you read? Five nonfiction books…and a lot of romance novels. Also there were a couple lit fics in there as well and a graphic novel. I can’t help it. I wouldn’t go as far as to say I am giving up on short stories and essays as I enjoyed the ones I did read, but they definitely aren’t my one true love.

Unaccustomed Earth by Jhumpa Lahiri. I love Lahiri. So much. This collection of short stories was no different. I actually forget how much I love her, then read something of hers and am blown away. My favorite were the three linked stories at the end. Heartbreaking, but poignant.

 


 

Ghost Summer: Stories by Tananarive Due. It’s been forever since I’ve been scared by a book. While not at the level of nightmare inducing, I was definitely creeped by Due’s stories. From ghosts to zombies, the stories were excellent. Ghost Summer, the title story, was one I’ll think about for awhile.

 


 

 

Naked by David Sedaris. My first Sedaris. I’ve been wanting to get started. I wouldn’t say I was disappointed, but maybe Sedaris isn’t for me. There were some funny things, but then some that missed entirely for me.

 

 


 

Let’s Explore Diabetes With Owls by David Sedaris. Try, try again. This one felt a bit better, however none of the stories stood out for me.

 

 


When You Are Engulfed in Flames by David Sedaris. I decided to get them all done at once (I still have Me Talk Pretty One Day, but I’ll save it for now). Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls was better than this one. I found myself drifting off pretty easily.

 


 

Nocturnes: Five Stories of Music and Nightfall by Kazoo Ishiguro. I have read a few Ishiguro. I’ve liked them. This is the first I’ve really loved. I loved the theme of music. Pardon the pun, but the writing was lyrical.

 


 

How to be a Heroine: Or, What I’ve Learned from Reading Too Much: by Samantha Ellis. This was recommended to me from a bookseller. I wanted to love it. A lot of the fault is going to land on me here, since I haven’t read most of the classics she mentioned. I was hoping to get some extra insight so that maybe I would want to? This only happened in a couple situations. I’ll be honest, I skimmed the second to the last two essays, I just got kind of bored. However, she ended strong with the last one.

Did you read any essays or short stories?

Upcoming March Books

March looks like a nice chunk of Urban Fantasy. I can’t wait. There are a lot of great books coming out in series that I adore.

  • Midnight Marked (Chicagoland Vampires #12) by Chloe Neill (Mar 1) – I’m so here for Merit and Ethan.
  • Chaos Choreography (Incryptid #5) by Seanan McGuire (Mar 1) – A family of cryptozoologists. Need I say more?
  • Borderline by Mishell Baker (Mar 1) – Seanan McGuire put this one on my radar. I’m really looking forward to reading this one about a paraplegic woman who has mental illness and fights fairy tale and mythological creatures. Sounds pretty intense.
  • The Passenger by Lisa Lutz (Mar 1) – I really enjoyed Lutz’ How to Start a Fire (and no, not just because a lot of it takes place in Santa Cruz) so I’m interested to see how this book goes.
  • The Paper Menagerie and Other Stories by Kin Liu (Mar 8) – I’m still trying to up my short story game and this looked interesting.
  • What’s Not Yours Is Not Yours by Helen Oyeyemi (Mar 8) – I loved Mr. Fox and Boy Snow Bird and did I mention I need more short stories in my life?
  • A Tyranny of Petticoats: 15 Stories of Belles, Bank Robbers & Other Bad Ass Girls by Jessica Spotswood (Mar 8) – That title is amazing and the concept is right in my wheelhouse.
  • Fire Touched (Mercy Thompson #9) by Patricia Briggs (Mar 8) – Didn’t I say this month was chockfull of Urban Fantasy? I’m pretty fond of this series about a mechanic/coyote shapeshifter and her shenanigans.
  • Marked in Flesh (The Others #4) by Anne Bishop (Mar 8) – So many books on this release day and I wouldn’t miss any of them. The Others is a great version of shapeshifter mythos. I highly recommend.
  • The Winged Histories by Sofia Samatar (Mar 15) – This sounds like an amazing adventure with ladies leading the way. Did someone say book kryptonite?
  • Behold the Dreamers by Imbolo Mbue (Mar 15) – I’ve seen the buzz around this book and want to be part of it.
  • Because of Miss Bridgeton (Rokesbys and Bridgertons #1) by Julia Quinn (Mar 29) – I binged the Bridgerton series around the new year so I can’t wait to see what the Bridgerton progeny will be up to.

What books are you looking forward to this month?

In the Beginning…Start there.

I can’t start a series in the middle. I don’t care that the characters might be slightly different in different books (romance does this) or that they’re kind of sort of standalones (urban fantasy has been known to try this tactic). I want book one EVERY TIME. Nothing frustrates me more than getting halfway through a book and finding out there was even one before it. It’s not as often as it was the pre internet days. Remember picking up a paperback and checking out the bibliography and the publisher just put every book the author wrote on it, without separating the series ones? These were the days where I was only scouring used bookstores to fill my collection because full price was not an option. It also was pretty difficult to get all the romances that I wanted at new bookstores. A lot were older and bookstores (depending on the store) don’t usually carry a lot of romances. Which is dumb because it’s only one of the most selling genres, but I digress. Then when I got into urban fantasy it was a very small genre and super hard to find at the time. Especially where I grew up. They didn’t really play around with that supernatural “nonsense.” The used bookstores didn’t have booksellers that could help you either. They could probably tell you where the certain section you were looking for, but anything really detailed about those books? Not a chance. At least this is what I experienced in my local used bookstores.

Don’t get me started on those standalone series. One that immediately comes to mind as a series that the author claims is a standalone is the Elemental Assassin series. Jennifer Estep is lovely (I’ve talked to her a lot on Twitter), but she insists the books are standalone when people ask. The reason she says this is is because she spends an enormous chunk of each book recounting what happened in the last book, who all the people are. As a series reader, this is seriously (see what I did there?) frustrating. Just tell people, “Nope, they don’t standalone, start at book one like everyone else.” That way you don’t have to waste a good word count on summaries. You can give a few sentences, “Hey, remember that bad guy that we chased last summer who wore his victim’s lungs around his neck like a scarf? Yeah, while I was learning to use my psychic powers and being broody. Anyway, he’s back.”

And then there’s Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series where I’m told there is no real beginning. I really want to bust in to that one, but the whole thing scares me to death. I’m told Color of Magic is the first, but then I’m told to read Mort or The Wyrd Sisters to start. I think every different Discworld fan has their favorites to beginning. Is there a wrong answer? Kind of. What if the first one I pick I don’t like so I don’t want to try the next? I have quite the TBR, I don’t have time for books or series I don’t like.

As I said, it’s harder these days to catch me, but it does happen. I’ll pick something up and forget to check Goodreads or be in a place where I can’t check like at a library book sale where speed is important. There will be a online sale on the last book in a trilogy so I’ll have to go back and hopefully not pay full price for the first one just to see if I like it.

I don’t have the rule of some people that the series must be finished for me to start it, however. That’s probably from the days of not having a wide reading range. I read what I could get my hands on and a lot of the time the books I liked were in ongoing series.

Now I actually have only a few series that I’m following. Most have already wrapped up or I abandoned them. I have a few UF’s that are floating around and some others that I’m not sure are going to be series or just trilogies. We’ll see.

Do you have any rules about reading at the beginning of a series? Or do you just drop in?

Upcoming February Books

Thanks to the #24in48 readathon last weekend I made a gap on my bookshelves. You know what that means, right? Time to fill that bad boy up. Looking ahead to February, let’s see what I have on my “looking-forward-to shelves.”

  • Grave Visions (Alex Craft #4) by Kalayna Price (Feb 2) – This one will be a digital buy so let’s keep looking.
  • The Queen of the Night by Alexander Chee (Feb 2) – I can’t tell you how excited I am for this one. I was super jealous of everyone who got their hands on an ARC.
  • The Arrangement by Ashley Warlick (Feb 9) – This one seems like it’s going to be an interesting read.
  • In Other Words by Jhumpa Lahiri (Feb 9) – Lahiri’s first nonfiction book about her love of language. There is the possibility of beautiful prose here something not seen very often in nonfiction.
  • How to be a Tudor: A Dawn-to-Dusk Guide to Tudor Life by Ruth Goodman (Feb 15) – I need this in my life. Not that I’m going to go back in time to live like this because this was not a great time for being a lady (really there isn’t a great time for being a lady, is there?), but I adore the the Tudor stuff.
  • A Gathering of Shadows (A Darker Shade of Magic #2) by V.E. Schwab  (Feb 23) YES YES YES. I will probably be settling down for a reread of #1 because this was a lot of fun.
  • Bitter Bite (Elemental Assassin #14) by Jennifer Estep (Feb 23) Another digital buy since Urban Fantasy series can become…well prolific and take over all my bookshelves.

Are there any other books in February that I should be keeping my eye out for?

January #24in48 Wrap Up

Wow, what a wild ride. The first #24in48 of 2016 is over. I had a great time. I didn’t get to read as much as I wanted to due to the oldest spawn being sick, but I still met my goal and I had fun which is the most important thing. I got a good stack of books off my TBR shelves (which I’m sure will be filled rather quickly).

Here’s the wrap up.

I read nine books, but only finished seven. Those books are

Day 1

  • Silver by Rhiannon Held (finished)
  • The Cinderella Deal by Jennifer Crusie (finished)
  • Dryland by Sara Jaffe (finished)
  • Bright Lines by  Tanwi Nandini Islam

Day 2

  • Bright Lines (finished)
  • Santa Olivia by Jacqueline Carey (finished)
  • American Housewife by Helen Ellis (finished
  • The Murstone Trilogy by Mal Peet (in progress)
  • Passenger by Alexandra Bracken (in progress)

Total time read: 15.75 hours (Goal was 12)

Pages read: 1,751

I was surprised that 3 out of the 9 books had LGBT characters. I didn’t plan it that way, but being that I’m taking my recommendations from places like Book Riot, my selections are becoming more organically inclusive. The three books are Dryland, Bright Lines, and Santa Olivia. I’m tentatively saying three because I haven’t finished The Murdstone Trilogy or Passenger.

I only had one AoC, but that one is on me because I swapped to only my print stack instead of my digital stack where I had more AoC picked out.

I’m deciding right now if I’m going to go ahead and work through this stack I worked out (both digital and print) or start fresh. I think I got through the ones I was super excited to read, at least in print since I never touched the digital shelves.

If you participated how do your stats look? did you have fun? Would you change anything about your strategy for next time? By the way that’s going to be July 23-24 so start planning your book stack now.

#24in48 Readathon Book Stack Commitment

Another readathon you say? Yes, I did. I didn’t post about the #boutofbooks one because I started it while we were on our way back from vacation and then setting up for my youngest spawn’s birthday so shit got complicated. However, this weekend is different. This weekend I don’t have any plans except sit while my husband yells at the tv for football (I’m not gonna lie, I’ll yell a bit too since both our Packers and Panthers are in the playoffs) so I can participate in the #24in48 readathon.

Since I had all that pre mentioned craziness, my reading has been sporadic so I wanted to see where I was in my TBR before plotting my book stack for the readathon. I’ve already kind of talked about little things I do for readathons. No doorstoppers usually. Nothing too complicated.

What did I decide on? Here it is.

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I know! There’s glare. I’m horrible.

My digital shelf is

  • My Life on the Road – Gloria Steinham
  • Saint Mazie – Jami Attenberg
  • A Thousand Naked Strangers – Kevin Hazzard
  • The Dirt on the Ninth Grave – Darynda Jones
  • The Piano Teacher – Janet Y.K. Lee
  • The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet – Becky Chambers
  • Midnight Taxi Tango – Daniel José Older
  • The Last Hellion – Joanna Shupe
  • White Trash Zombie Gone Wild – Diana Rowland

As usual, these are pretty much just guidelines. There’s no way I’m going to be able to read all of them, but this gives me something to work with, without being overwhelmed by my shelves of unread books (Did I mention I have TBR bookcases? Two of them. That’s not counting the digital shelves).

I don’t think I’ll be getting up ridiculously early though to start. I tend to take my time. I have two kids so sleep is valuable. But once I’m up I plan to hit those book stacks hardI have a casserole I made last night and there are catfish tacos tonight so I think dinner should be okay this weekend with leftovers. Other meals they can fend for themselves. I have a bunch of Diet Dr. Pepper in the fridge for daytime reading and a couple bottles of pinot noir for night time. I even have a warm blanket my mom got me for Christmas. Add in cashmere socks and fleece lined leggings and I’m in business. Anyone have a chaise lounge for me to borrow? No? I see how you are.

If you’re participating, I’ll be on Twitter for my updates I’m sure. Also make sure you’re following #24in48 and @24in48readathon. Tell Rachel (she’s running it) Hi and let her know if you’re enjoying yourself. She’s good people and spends a lot of time and energy putting this together for us.

Also, if you’re participating, what are you planning on reading? What’s your strategy?

New Year, New Goals

I didn’t get to do my end of the year stats because the post I had all ready to go…I forgot to publish. I wrote it before the year was up so I didn’t have my actual totals. Then I went on vacation and read a bunch. So when I got home and realized I needed to publish said post…my stats would have to be recalculated because I gorged on a ton of historical romance. I read the Bridgerton series by Julia Quinn which was 9 books (counting the one she wrote with second epilogues for each sibling). Let’s face it. I’m lazy. Especially coming back from vacation and already into the new year so I was trying to look forward instead of back. I debated posting what I had, but I didn’t want to misrepresent my numbers. Obviously my inclusive reading stat went down even if you only count the aforementioned series alone.

I can tell you I still need to do better on reading more inclusively. (*Side note: notice I’ve changed from saying diverse to inclusive. Courtney Milan was on Twitter recently making some amazeballs points.) I’m always going to be working on this. Publishing as we know doesn’t do a great enough job marketing these authors and I need to make sure I seek them out. I’m so angry at publishing because there are so many great books out there that include marginalized people (both characters and authors) of all walks of life, and they’re not getting the recognition they deserve. I definitely need to up my LGBTQIA+ numbers. So I’ll be scouring those lists this year.

I can tell you a stat that didn’t really change was how many lady authors I read. It was about 87% before I left and I’m assuming it rose a bit after all those historical romances. I can say I don’t really go out of my way on this one, it just tends to happen organically. I can’t explain why. It’s always been that way for me. I have lady author radar.

If I have time this year I’d like to try more poetry and short stories. They’ve always been a category that I’ve had a problem getting into and I know the right ones are there just waiting for me. I loved When Women Were Birds by Terry Tempest Williams last year and No Matter the Wreckage by Sarah Kay, respectively.

I did read about 60-70% on ebook rather than print. I think it’s because I read primarily on my phone (even though my husband reminds me I have a perfectly good iPad mini) which is always at hand. I’m not concerned with changing that number too much. I share the philosophy of Douglas Adams who said “Lovers of print confuse the plate for the food.” I do have to make sure I’m reading almost as much as I’m bringing in and then culling what I’m not. We have a relatively small place and as much I wouldn’t mind being surrounded by books, my husband and kids disagree. Well, my oldest probably wouldn’t mind.

I noticed my preference has starting leaning towards front list rather than backlist. Again, rediscovering historical romance skewed it a bit because I’m playing catch up on authors I never got around to reading and those ladies are prolific. This is another stat I’m not looking to adjust one way or another except there is that part when I buy a book at full price in hardcover and then don’t get around to reading it until it comes out in the less expensive paperback. Maybe I’ll work on not buying unless I really really am interested…I know. I laughed too.

Which brings us to today. I decided I’m not setting a goal for how many books I want to read. I think these goals are great, especially when people have a hard time getting books finished because of, well life. But since I already make reading a huge priority (sorry kids, dinner is going to be late), that’s not a good reason for me. I also don’t like the feeling that I’m reading just to fill a number, like reading a bunch of novellas I’m barely interested in just to get to my goal instead of reading something bigger that I actually want to read.

I also want to work on not using Goodreads to track my stats. I was using it and then later filling in my own database which is actually a better database because it keeps tracks of the things I care about. It seems a little counterproductive. So I’m using Goodreads for keeping track of what I want to read, and my Filemaker for what I’ve read and my inventory.

How did your 2015 reading stats go? What are your goals for this year?