#MustReadin2015 Check-in

must-read-2015-logo (1)

Carrie at There’s a Book for That hosts a reading challenge I really enjoy: #MustReadin2015. As Carrie explains it:

For anyone out there with a To Be Read list that seems like it will never end, this challenge is for you! This is all about making your own personal list of books 5? 10? 20? 30? more? that you want to commit to reading in 2015. Books can be published in any year, be from any genre, and from any category -adult, YA, MG, Graphics, NF, etc titles.  All that matters is that they are books you want to be sure not to forget as that TBR list continues to grow! These aren’t the only titles you will read over the year, but a list to help guide your reading.

A TBR list that never ends? That sounds like me!

For 2015, I also made a #MustRead list that apparently never ends. 31 books?! What was I thinking? I didn’t even manage to complete the 15 titles on my 2014 list, so what made me think that more than doubling that number was a good idea?

But that’s exactly what I did.

I made this huge list and then promptly forgot about it. So I was delighted to check my list over the weekend and discover that I’ve read three whole books and am halfway through a fourth. This isn’t exactly a record-setting or list-completing pace, but it’s a start.

ava and pip

Ava and Pip by Carol Weston was probably my least favorite of the three books I finished. It should have been ideal for me since it’s about an aspiring writer who loves words. But the love of words was part of the problem for me. Ava is obsessed with palindromes and every single one of them has to be repeated in all caps in the text. It drove me nuts. N-U-T-S.

the red pencil

The Red Pencil by Andrea Davis Pinkney is a terrific verse novel about Amira, a twelve-year-old Sudanese girl whose family becomes a victim of the war in Sudan. Amira’s lot in life is to help her family on their farm, but she has the sensibilities of an artist and desperately wants to attend school and learn to read and write. There is much to interest readers in Amira’s life before the conflict hits her village. Pinkney’s rich descriptions and strong verse create a vivid picture of life in rural Sudan. After the Janjaweed militia sweep through her village and destroy it, Amira and her family travel to a refugee camp where they must learn to cope with their losses and figure out what’s next.

when i was the greatest

I can’t say enough good things about Jason Reynolds’s When I Was the Greatest. Such tender and believable characters. Such humor and warmth. Such a humane and generous perspective on people and life. It’s plenty page-turney, but plot isn’t the reason to read this book. The characters and their interactions with each other will stick with you. And I still say that cover is one of the best of 2014. I barely booktalked it in my Children’s Lit class before it was walking off the shelf.

Now that I’ve consulted my list and remember some of the titles on it, I’m hoping to make real progress and have more than three additional titles to show for myself at the next check-in in July. There’s something about committing to a list that diffuses some of my desire to read the actual books on it. I don’t know what that’s all about. Some sort of deep psychological failing, no doubt.

Happy reading to all!




25 responses to “#MustReadin2015 Check-in”

  1. carriegelson Avatar

    I love your musings about all of this! 🙂 Funny those lists. I go back and forth from being stressed about them to feeling like, phew, so glad I am keeping this title on my radar as something new and raved about always crops up! At least we have no worries about what to read next! I also loved this Jason Reynolds title. Have you read The Boy in the Black Suit? Also loved.

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      That’s a good point about lists–they do keep titles in our minds that might otherwise fall by the wayside. As I was reviewing this year’s #mustreadin2015 list, I kept thinking oh yeah! I DID want to read that book! Still in the middle of Boy in Black Suit–put it aside temporarily for something else due back at library and need to get back to it. Loving what I read so far.

  2. What Katie Read Avatar

    I’m really interested in The Red Pencil. It’s not often that I find books focused on that issue. Thanks, Elisabeth! 🙂

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      Very well worth the read, Katie. I think you will find it a powerful story. Very strong verse as well. I do love a verse novel done well.

  3. crbrunelle Avatar

    Yes! I periodically remember that the list exists and order a few books. After I finish them, I get caught up in other books and forget again. 😉 I too enjoyed The Red Pencil (the second time through even more) and loved When I Was the Greatest. Jason Reynolds is an excellent writer. I’d read anything he wrote – Andrea Pinkney also now I’m thinking about it.

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      I feel the same about Jason Reynolds. Have you read his collaboration with his friend, a painter named Jason Griffin? It’s called My Name Is Jason. Mine Too. It’s a collection of Reynolds’s poetry and Griffin’s art, and I really love it. Super quick read. Got passed around to nearly every student in my Adolescent Lit class last spring and I think everyone liked it.

      1. Crystal Avatar

        Yes! I found that one at our local library. It’s so fun and quirky.

  4. Earl @ The Chronicles Of A Children's Book Writer Avatar

    With my list, I feel like I’ll be adding upcoming titles to it. I also feel like I should replace some of them but then I feel like that’s just a cop out. Despite all the rules I make for it, I still love reading!

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      I know what you mean about wanting to replace titles. There are a couple of books on my list where I now think, how did that get here? Isn’t it funny how often we create these arbitrary reading rules for ourselves?

  5. Kellee Moye (@kelleemoye) Avatar

    When I Was the Greatest was so good! It is an important book IMO. Happy reading 🙂

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      I agree that it’s an important book. I love Jason Reynolds!

  6. Julie Avatar

    Great stuff here, Elisabeth. Thanks for sharing. I’ve just added The Red Pencil and When I Was the Greatest to my TBR list.

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      You can’t go wrong with those two books, Julie!

  7. Michele Avatar

    I just bought When I Was the Greatest based on the reviews I was seeing on the blogs. I like page-turney books 🙂 (the whole time I read this book I’m going to be thinking that!!!)

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      I don’t think you will be disappointed by When I Was the Greatest. I’m still thinking about the characters and their situations.

  8. Cheriee Weichel Avatar

    I waffled about putting When I Was the Greatest on my list last year, but that list was already getting tooooo long! I guess I’ll just have to read it anyway. I’m a chronic list maker all the time, so I like to have this list to refer to. I’m doing a better job this year at keeping on top of them, and then when I remind myself that they are on the list because they are supposed to be quality reading, it’s easier to find myself focusing on reading from that list on a regular basis. Good Luck!

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      I love lists too–though mine tend to be messy ones I make at the end of my writer’s notebook. My favorite list this year has been my “best of 2014” list–think I’ll have to blog about that one next week. I do think When I Was the Greatest is a must-read by an incredibly gifted new writer.

  9. vgpratt Avatar

    You and I are in the same boat — 3 books off the list read, with part of a 4th. I remember reading your post about When I Was the Greatest a couple of weeks back– it seems to be getting a lot of additional support from these responses. I may need to put it on my list, though the cover is one of the things that disturbs me! Thanks for this info, Elisabeth!

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      How I love that cover! It makes good sense in the context of the story too. I love that this is a story about urban teens that manages to be gritty yet sweet. I don’t think it would be an appropriate book for your students, but it’s still worth a look for you.

      1. vgpratt Avatar

        I may have to check it out!

  10. Lorna Avatar

    Hooray for checking some books off your list! I’ve heard such great things about When I Was the Greatest! Your description of Ave & Pip cracked me U-P!

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      I am glad I made some progress after all! I laughed out loud at your line about Ava & Pip. I still might have to read the sequel about Taco Cat, simply because I’m a sucker for a cat story.

  11. salbooks Avatar

    I just read a perfect quote for all of those whose TBR pile only grows. It’s from Maud Casey and this is what it says: I was born with a reading list I will never finish. That’s the way I feel most days, despite the progress that I do make and the incredible books I am reading. I am constantly moving a book up and down one of the piles because another shows up that seems more compelling. After reading When I Was the Greatest, I just ordered Jason’s new book called The Boy in the Black Suit. Can’t wait till it arrives in my mailbox! Thanks for sharing your ideas, Elisabeth.

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      That’s so true! That’s one thing I do love about reading–I will never have enough time for all the books I want to read. I know some people find that frustrating, but I think it’s kind of exhilarating! I’ve started Boy in Black Suit–so good!

  12. […] week’s #MustReadin2015 check-in reminded me that I set other reading goals for 2015, and now might be a good time to check on my […]

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