New Year, New Bookish Resolutions

It’s been about 6 months since I last posted. Half a year. That was… unplanned. 

LIFE UPDATE
At the time, I talked about struggling with disordered eating due to my anxiety. I am very proud to say that I’m doing so much better now. I am at a healthier weight. Still not where I’m supposed to be, but fairly close. I’m still in therapy, seeing a nutritionist, taking meds, working, and reading to my hearts content.

READING CHALLENGES

Goodreads

According to Goodreads, in 2019 I read 142 books. That’s a lie. I read 145. Audiobooks make all the difference haha. I don’t set a number goal because I already read a lot of books as is. Don’t need the pressure. 

Popsugar

Last year, I worked on the POPSUGAR reading challenge for the second time. In 2018 I completed it. Last year? Nope! I had 6 prompts left. I’m planning to roll them over to this year’s challenge. Which I’m doing differently. Going to use one book for multiple prompts. Let’s see how that works out. 

Back to the Classics

Failed this one too! Had one prompt left, which I will roll over to this year’s

Reading Women

Another fail! Even though more than half of my 2019 reads were written by women, I still had 3 prompts left. And yes, these are getting rolled over as well. 

Bookish

Fail! I had 3 prompts left over. Yeah, you know the drill. Getting rolled over. 

2020 RESOLUTIONS
Besides working on all the reading challenges listed above, I will also be working on my own personal challenge. This year, I am only reading books by POC. I realized that even though I am Latina, I don’t read diversely. In 2017, 5% of the books I read were written by POC. In 2018, that number slightly increased to 14%. And 2019 was 22%. Yeah, I need to change that. It’s for my own personal growth. 

IN CONCLUSION

So that’s where I’m at right now. Continually working on myself. Healthy, happy, and reading. 

Thank you for all of your kind words. I’ve missed all of you and will see you around the blogosphere again soon! 

HAPPY BLOGGING EVERYONE! 😀

Reading Challenges + 2019 Reading Goals

A general wrap-up of the challenges I participated in this year followed by my reading goals in 2019.

READING CHALLENGES




POPSUGAR Reading Challenge

This year was the first year I ever did a reading challenge. And boy did I hate it. I started off fine. But then there would be a book I really wanted to read but couldn’t because it wasn’t on my designated TBR. Ugh. Frustrated the heck out of me. I did read books that I had been meaning to read for a while. But still. Sticking to my challenge TBR proved to be a pain. I did manage to complete all the prompts though. Whoo!

Now, with all that being said and done, I am planning to participate in the 2019 Challenge. I know, I know. What am I thinking? But this year I plan to go about it differently. Instead of compiling a list of books to fill each prompt, I am going to read whatever I want and if it happens to fill a prompt… well, yay. Let’s see how well I do in the challenge this year by doing it this way. 

2019 prompts can be found HERE

Nostalgia Read

So, I spent the past year reading the original Nancy Drew books. Books that I hadn’t read since I was a kid. This was a personal reading challenge. And I’ve been debating whether or not to embark on another beloved childhood series read in 2019. I have one particular series in mind… And with only 19 books in the original series, it seems manageable. I’m still going back and forth on this one so we’ll see what happens once the new year arrives.

Back to the Classics Challenge

I unofficially participated in this challenge hosted by Karen’s Books and Chocolates. And I say unofficially because I did not put my name into her drawing nor mention this challenge anywhere on my blog. But I ticked off every prompt. And once again read books that I had been hesitant to pick up before. 

This year, I am once again unofficially participating. I use the prompts more as a push to read more classics. I love reading them, but over the past few years I noticed I’ve been reading less and less of them. 12 books in 12 months seems feasible though. As long as I read 12 I’ll be happy. 

2019 prompts can be found HERE

2019 Bookish Challenge

I discovered Bookish this year. And it’s been amazing. They have their own reading challenge for next year. I’ve been looking over these prompts and I kind of like them better than the POPSUGAR ones. I think I will participate. Doing it the same way as POPSUGAR. Choosing whatever book I’m in the mood to read and then attaching a prompt to it. We’ll see how it goes. 

2019 prompts can be found HERE

2019 READING GOALS

So goals. Reading goals. I think of these more as personal challenges and guidelines for the upcoming year.

1) Read more diverse books. Specifically books by or about POC. Because looking at my 2018 stats… um… let’s just say I spent the year reading books by authors that are overly represented in society. I read 197 books this year. Of all those books only about 20-25 of them were written by a POC. I’m Latina. I am a woman of color. I need to support authors whose stories are relevant to my experience. I think our stories have been silenced long enough. We exist in this world too. So, I need more books written by POC in my life. I’ve been white-washed long enough. Sorry, absolutely not sorry. 

Anyway, this will prove to be a challenge as most of my physical TBR is *ahem* not diverse. Sigh. That’s on me.

2) Read more books in my native tongue. This year I read more books in spanish than I ever have in my life. 5. I read 5 books in spanish. Up until this year I had only read 1 novel in my mother tongue. In 2019 I hope to increase that number. No specific number in mind. Just more than 5. It’s the language of my people and I’ve been letting it slip through my fingers. 

So… my country’s political climate is getting to me. I was born and raised in this country. I’m as American as they come. Yet, my country doesn’t see me that way. Honestly, it really makes you question your identity. Which is what my 2019 reading goals are all about. Me trying to figure out where I stand and embracing my culture. That’s pretty much where my mind is going into 2019 *shrugs shoulders*

HAPPY NEW YEAR EVERYONE! 😀

The Martian by Andy Weir

This book was fabulous!!! Just like everyone around the blogosphere said! Ya’ll are amazing! ❤

I was really hesitant to pick up this book. A lot of hype around it and I’d actually watched the movie plenty of times. Not really my type of book either. But I needed a book for my final reading challenge prompt. Super happy I picked this one!

Mark Watney is one hilarious dude. Absolutely love him. He’s basically stranded on Mars all by his lonesome for about a year. But his humor and ingenuity get him through the ordeal. Talk about knowing how to handle a dreadful situation. Teach me your ways, Watney!

I cracked up so many times while reading this book. Not something that happens very often. (I’m way too serious). But again, Mark Watney. A remarkable character. And all the science jargon! Whoa! All of my college science classes finally paid off haha. 

So, if you’re like me and have put off reading this book for whatever reason… stop it. Read this now! It’s truly a wonderful book! Also, this was a self-published book at some point. I think that’s pretty dope. 

2018 POPSUGAR Reading Challenge.

Prompt: a book set on a different planet

Challenge Update: 50/50

Whoo!!!! I’m done!! Thank goodness!! Some kind of reading challenge roundup will appear around here at some point… stay tuned! 😉

HAPPY HOLIDAYS EVERYONE! 😀

A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole

I fucked up. I read the foreword beforegetting to the actual story. Completely messed up my reading experience. 

I knew almost nothing about this book going into it. I knew it was supposed to be funny though. That’s it. I knew nothing about the story or about the author. Nothing. That is until I read the foreword. Something I never do. I usually go back and read it after I finish the story. But for some reason, I didn’t do that this time. 

Now, to the story. It’s about this 30-year old guy named Ignatius J. Reilly who has a completely unique worldview. His mother forces him to go out and find a job to help pay for a debt. What follows is a fantastic series of events that all interconnect and directly involve Ignatius and his antics.

I found this book to be depressing. I didn’t laugh or find any part of it funny. If you couldn’t tell I blame the foreword. I read waaay too much into this story. Way too much. I did like how it was equal parts offensive. See, it wasn’t all bad. Honestly though, I want to wipe this book from my memory. So that’s all I have to say about it…

2018 POPSUGAR Reading Challenge.

Prompt: a book recommended by someone else taking the POPSUGAR Reading Challenge

[Someone in the POPSUGAR Reading Challenge Goodreads group recommended this book :/

Challenge Update: 48/50

The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver

The Price family have embarked upon a Christian mission in the Congo region of Africa in 1959. The events that occur will shape the course of each family member’s life. 

Phew! What a book. It starts off slow. Really slow. But once it picked up about two-thirds of the way through, it really picked up. 

Nathan Price moves his family to Africa. He hopes to save as many people as he can. But he underestimates the people and the political situation which will lead to his downfall and tragedy. The book is narrated by Nathan’s wife, Orleanna, and their 4 daughters: 16 year old Rachel, 14 year old twins Adah and Leah, and 5 year old Ruth May.

The women were so against staying in Africa, especially when the political situation became unstable and it became dangerous for them to remain there. But Father Price was trying to prove something to himself and refused to leave. It’s one of those “hindsight is 20/20” situations. 

So, from the beginning it’s hinted at that something tragic happens. And once that tragedy occurs, the book picks up pace. The thing is, it took so long to get there. For at least two-thirds of the book you slog through the brewing tensions within the Price family. The family begins to splinter and fall apart. And on top of that, they begin to run out of food. It’s a terrible situation all around. A situation they put up with for about a year or so.

After the tragedy, there are frequent time jumps. We’re rushed through the decades. Before you know it, Rachel is 50 years old. Yeah. It really picked up pace. We see how each of our narrators are doing. What they’ve experienced since then. It’s fascinating to see how their lives have been shaped by their original mission in Africa. They’re living lives that neither one of them would have expected to have. 

Did I like the book? Sure. It didn’t blow me away but it was good. It got me thinking about intentions. And it made me aware of the socio-political issues in Africa at the time. That was pretty educational. Not surprising, but educational. Hm. I’m still trying to work my feelings out. At least I can finally check this off my TBR. 

2018 POPSUGAR Reading Challenge.

Prompt: a book you meant to read in 2017 but didn’t get to

[This is the 3rd time I check this book out. The first was sometime last year. I was intimidated by it so I quickly returned it. Then, earlier this year I checked it out again. But all my library holds came through at the same time so I prioritized those over this one. And I ended up returning it without reading. Now, finally, I’ve read it! Third time was the charm haha]

Challenge Update: 47/50

Sleeping Beauties by Stephen King and Owen King

This book. This mothereffing book. It’s a monster of a book. A little over 700 pages. I decided to go the audiobook way. #noregrets. 

The basic premise of the story is that women all over the world are falling asleep and being enveloped by a cocoon-like material that radiates from their bodies. Waking the woman, results in disastrous results for the sucker that attempts it. So while the women are all asleep in their cocoons, the men are left to fend for themselves and are eager to get their women back. Meanwhile, the women are living in some kind of utopia in an alternate timeframe and eventually have to decide whether to go back to the regular world, or stay in their new, idyllic life. 

This book confused me from the very beginning. The cast of characters is tremendous!! I couldn’t keep track of all these people. Let me put it this way. Imagine every person that lives on your block. Got it? Okay, now imagine every single one of their viewpoints regarding one event all in one book. It’s too much right?? Oh, and then there are the views from the mice and fox. Yeah. I wish I were kidding. All those point of views were highly unnecessary because they overlap and make the story drag on. This book could have been pared down and still gotten its message across. 

And the message! My goodness. It’s super political. A lot of socio-political drivel wrapped up in a “supernatural” story. Whether or not I agree with it or not is beside the point. This story was waaay too much. Because while it sits on some kind of moral high horse, there are aspects that, in my opinion, are actually kind of offensive.

A Conversation With the Authors
At the end of the audiobook, there is a small conversation between Stephen King and Owen King. It was enlightening. Turns out that they initially started writing this book as a television script. So, this 700 page book was written with the idea of making it into a television show in mind! Makes so much sense. Was I annoyed? YES!!! Ugh! I spent 25 hours listening to this overly tedious book. 

Final Thoughts

This is my third Stephen King book. And I am yet to be impressed by his books. Have I given up on him? Nope! He has a plethora of work. I’m sure one of them will eventually stick. 

2018 POPSUGAR Reading Challenge.

Prompt: a book that was being read by a stranger in a public place

[Saw a woman reading this book in a hospital waiting room last December when I was compiling my TBR for this challenge.

Challenge Update: 46/50

Game of Shadows: Barry Bonds, BALCO, and the Steroids Scandal That Rocked Professional Sports by Mark Fainaru-Wada and Lance Williams

Back in the 90’s, my step-dad used to take us to baseball games. At the time, I used to get bored out of my mind watching the game. But now I’m older and wiser haha and I absolutely love the sport. Now, listening to this audiobook has made me realize that the players I watched were probably hopped up on steroids. Which angers me. And the thing is, steroid use was prevalent in so many sports. Not just baseball.

The audiobook I listened to was narrated by Arnie Mazer who has an incredibly engaging voice. I was worried that because the book is informative it would be a bit dull. Thankfully this was not the case. I made an effort to listen to this read whenever I had any downtime. That’s how much this book fascinated me.

Baseball is a business. This is clearly seen in how the San Francisco Giants put up with all of Barry Bonds’ shit. The man was way too much. But because he was cheating, and putting up high stats, the franchise let him do whatever he wanted. And MLB never punished him. In fact, MLB was the only sport to not have any steroids testing done until pretty late. 

But the BALCO scandal wasn’t just centered on baseball. Many olympians and athletes from various sports like track and shot-putting were also caught up in the steroid debacle. The lengths these people went to to boost their game is astounding. And then listening to how they tried to distance themselves from the fallout boils my blood. Own up to what you did!

This was an incredibly shocking read. I had a hazy knowledge of what had occurred. But the details! And BALCO itself. The company that provided the drugs. Wow! This is journalism at its best. Well-researched and well-presented. My mind is still reeling from all of it. 

To think that athletes to this day still continue to cheat and get away with it with nothing but a slap on the wrist. Ugh!! You’re ruining sports!! Stop it!! 

Okay, so if you’re in any way interested in sports I would highly recommend this book! 

Anyway, tonight I’ll quite possibly be one of the few Angelenos rooting against the home team. Who cares. I love the Red Sox! Come on, Boston!!!



2018 POPSUGAR Reading Challenge.

Prompt: a microhistory

Challenge Update: 45/50

A Book About a Problem Facing Society Today

I tried to narrow this down to one problem. But I couldn’t. I simply couldn’t. Our society has one too many issues. And these books do a good job of sparking a discussion.

RACE RELATIONS
The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

What can I say about this book that hasn’t been said before? This is an incredibly powerful book. My top read this year. No doubt about it. The hype is legit with this one.

Starr is an African-American teen from “the ghetto” attending a predominantly white private school. One night, her best friend is murdered by a cop right before her eyes. What ensues, is heartbreakingly real and poignant.

This book is real. Cannot stress that enough. I cried, I laughed, I was angered, I reminisced and I cried again. Look, I grew up in the hood. And I felt this novel perfectly encapsulated that part of my life.

All I know, is that if I were to fall victim to a crime today, my name and reputation would probably be dragged through the mud because I lived in the projects and may therefore have “possible gang affiliations”. Despite the fact that I live in the suburbs, graduated from a decent university and have a steady job. But in today’s America, those details get lost as soon as someone’s skin color is seen.  

My review of The Autobiography of Malcolm X


SEXUAL ASSAULT

Missoula: Rape and the Justice System in a College Town by Jon Krakauer


A look at the prevalent number of alleged campus rapes/sexual assaults in Missoula, Montana by college athletes. The book presents interviews with the victims and the accused and their parents, friends, etc. It is an in-depth look at certain cases, some that made headlines. 

Wow wow wow. A myriad of emotions. I listened to the audiobook which was narrated by Mozhan Marno and every morning I was upset. I’ve always been on the “believe the victim” side (I’ve known people who were roofied, sexually assaulted and raped). So to listen to these young women in the book go through what they did in detail. It was a lot. My blood boiled. And it scared the shit out of me. At the end of the day though, it didn’t really surprise me. That’s the heartbreaking part. That I knew justice wouldn’t be served in these cases. In one instance, it actually is. It shocked me and I cheered and cried. Why? This shouldn’t be something out of the norm. But, it is. 

The way the prosecutors and detectives went out of their way to help the accused football players makes me see red. Seriously Kirsten Pabst?! She was in charge of one of the cases but refused to file charges. She then resigned, her boss decided to file charges, so she joined the guy’s defense team! I mean, what kind of bullshit is that?! 

And the trials themselves! Good Lord! You confess to rape and still deserve a lenient sentence because you’re a good person? The fuck?! NO! Raping “your little sister” proves otherwise! “I have suffered enough and have a bright future”. Excuse me?! You’re the one that raped someone and have caused years of emotional damage. Do not play victim when YOU have committed a crime. 

Reason #37293629 why I don’t trust the justice system. I am a woman and if I were the victim of sexual assault I wouldn’t get Oliva Benson or Eliot Stabler. I’d get some asshole that would blame me for falling asleep in a friend’s house in the first place. How dare I expect people to act like decent human beings? Haha, silly me. 



SCHOOL VIOLENCE

Columbine by Dave Cullen

An in-depth look at the school shooting that rocked the United States. This book is written by one of the many journalists that initially covered the massacre. My one pet peeve: the writing format. Bounced back between something that happened pre-massacre to one of the survivors. It seemed a bit unstructured to me.

I remember life before Columbine. After? Big changes. My sister was in high school and my mom worried about her constantly. I went from having regular earthquake/fire drills in school to active shooter/lockdown drills. Although to be completely transparent, my elementary school was in a rough neighborhood and we had drive-by drills. Um, yeah. 

Look, I don’t know what the root of these incidents is. Gun control? Mental health? Bullying? I honestly, have no clue. One of the Columbine killers was a psychopath, the other was severely depressed. So again, I don’t know. I do know that whatever is driving this phenomenon has gone on too long. 

I thought after Sandy Hook some kind of change would occur. Those babies were slaughtered. Yet, nothing happened. Sending your kids to school shouldn’t be a daunting task. 

Here’s a loose list of mass shootings that have happened in the last 20 years. Full disclosure: my alma mater is on the list. (Sort of). IV ❤ 

2018 POPSUGAR Reading Challenge

Prompt: a book about a problem facing society today

Challenge Update: 44/50

Me Llamo Rigoberta Menchú y así me Nació la Conciencia (I, Rigoberta Menchú) as told to Elizabeth Burgos

In honor of Columbus Day I present you with this book. It is an autobiographical account of Rigoberta Menchú, a Guatemalan Quiché Mayan and Nobel Peace Prize winner. 

Rigoberta and my mom actually grew up around the same time period. I’ve heard my mom’s horror stories of life in Guatemala at the time many times before. I always thought they were exaggerated because my mom has a flair for embellishing stories. But um, no, turns out she wasn’t being dramatic. The government really did do all of those awful things. And to think my mom was a child and witnessed all those atrocities. That brings tears to my eyes. No one should live in a state of fear.

Menchú narrated her story when she was about 24 years old to anthropologist Elizabeth Burgos. I actually didn’t know much about Rigoberta Menchú going into this book. I knew there was some kind of controversy surrounding her but to what it extended to I had no clue. Honestly, I still don’t. It’s her story. Every memoir has to be taken with a grain of salt. 

Menchú talks about her childhood. How she was brought up in a traditional Quiché way, tinged with Christianity. She discusses how the Church made its way into her village and how the elders in the community dealt with it. She also documents how she was made to feel worthless by the treatment of non-American Indians. Her revolutionary ideals are also discussed as she recounts how the military robbed, raped, and pillaged the Mayan communities. It’s brutally heartbreaking. 

There is also a lot of information on Quiché traditions and customs. I was surprised by how detailed she was in certain aspects. Because she makes it known early on, that everyone in her community is brought up to keep those traditions/customs secret. But, she explains that non-American Indians have been taking advantage of American Indians by spreading lies about them. So to prove that they actually have a rich way of life, she is divulging secrets that provide insight into how the communities function. It’s also why Rigoberta chose to learn spanish. How else would she be able to fight her oppressor and attempt to right the wrongs committed against her and her people? 

Some of her stories sounded like ones I’ve heard my mom tell me before. My mom once told me that sometimes when there was no food to eat, my grandma would make tortillas with chile. That was her meal for the day. And lo and behold, Rigoberta recounts a similar story. Reminded me of my privilege and made me incredibly appreciative of my mother. 

Now, there is a lot of repetition in the book. A lot. Also, Rigoberta had only been speaking spanish for 3 years at the time she narrated her story, which actually made it easier for me to read. All in all, it’s given me a new perspective on my identity. There’s a sense of responsibility now weighing on my shoulders…
 

2018 POPSUGAR Reading Challenge.

Prompt: a book tied to your ancestry [I’m Guatemalan 🙂 ]

Challenge Update: 43/50

The Pearl by John Steinbeck

​A Mexican parable that follows Kino and his discovery of a pearl.

When Kino’s young son, Coyotito, is attacked by a scorpion, Juana, the baby’s mother, calls for the doctor. But the doctor does not visit the home of the poor. So Kino and Juana set out with Coyotito to visit the doctor at his home. When the doctor discovers that they have no money to pay him, he refuses to see them. 

Kino sets out in his canoe and joins the ranks of other men in the water, searching for pearls. As luck should have it, Kino finds a big, beautiful pearl. And that’s when things go from bad to worse.
 
One of the morals I got from this incredibly short story is, be careful what you wish for. Kino looked to the pearl as some kind of savior. He hoped that from the money he got from it he would be able to give Coyotito a better life. But the pearl corrupted him, and drove him a bit mad. 

Throughout the story, Kino struggles between right and wrong. He has this idea of what the pearl will be able to provide and does whatever necessary to hold on to it. His wife and brother are the voices of reason he refuses to listen to. Because the idea has taken root deep within him. When tragedy strikes, Kino is finally able to see the error of his ways.
 
The ending is melancholy when you think about it. I won’t spoil it, but I will say I found it depressing. Because the way I interpreted it, the ending suggests there is no hope. Not the most comforting thought. 

2018 POPSUGAR Reading Challenge.

Prompt: an allegory

Challenge update: 42/50