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2012 Best of the Best Reading Challenge check in #5

Not signed up for YALSA’s 2012 Best of the Best Reading Challenge? Read the official rules and sign up on the original post. Anything you’ve read since April 1 counts, so sign up now!

I always have the best of intentions with challenges like this. I mean, I read all the time, so this should be a breeze, right? And sure, I’m doing plenty of reading … but I am very easily distracted by books that cross my path. Thus, I recently found myself finally diving into the classic manga series InuYasha (not, of course, on our list of approved challenge books). I couldn’t resist the middle grade book The One and Only Ivan. And I felt compelled to listen to the audio book for Carter Finally Gets It before listening to Carter’s Big Break (2012 Top Ten Amazing Audiobooks).

All that being said, I have made some challenge progress. Like Joel, I couldn’t resist re-reading A Monster Calls. I’ve found that people either love it or hate it … and I loved it. I am not ashamed to say I got quite emotional in the end (both times I’ve read it). And for those who claim that it was far surpassed by The Fault in Our Stars, I say that they are both amazing books. And while they may share a similar theme, they are entirely different reading experiences and stand on their own unique merits. I was BLOWN AWAY with the audio book for Okay for Now–so much so that I have purchased it and added it to my home library so I can listen again and again at my leisure. I didn’t love reading the book Chime, but I’m actually looking forward to the audio book experience since I’ve heard so many people rave about it. The Scorpio Races is also high on my “must read and listen to” list due to all of the terrific feedback I’ve heard from others (and the fact that I loved Maggie Stiefvater’s Wolves of Mercy Falls series).

It should also be no surprise to any of you that have seen some of my previous posts that I eagerly read and/or re-read some manga as part of this challenge. Anya’s Ghost (a new read for me) was terrific; I really enjoyed both the story and the art. And I’ve already posted previously about how much I love both A Bride’s Story and Wandering Son … both of which I recently re-read for the challenge (both are also in my home library for happy re-reading at any time).

My personal goal is really to dive into some of the non-fiction titles. I often overlook non-fiction, but then love the non-fiction books that I stumble into. In fact, as soon as I finish this post I’m going to borrow a copy of The Notorious Benedict Arnold (or it least put in a hold request at my library).

What other books have been blowing you away? What would you recommend I absolutely read?

If you’ve finished the challenge by reading 25 books, fill out the following form to let us know. (The information you provide is what we’ll use to send you your Challenge Finisher badge, contact you about your reader’s response, and notify you if you win our grand prize drawing, so pick an email address you actually use!) Do not fill out this form until you have completed the challenge by reading 25 titles.

— Nicole Dolat, currently reading InuYasha volumes 4 and 5


  1. Penny Johnson Penny Johnson

    I didn’t accomplish quite so much this week. Read “Pavement Chalk Artist”, which was fascinating. I am halfway through the audiobook “How they Croaked”, which I am thoroughly enjoying. Still haven’t finished “Jasper Jones”. I just wasn’t in the mood for it this week. Doing the math, I am exactly halfway to the 25 book goal!

    • Nicole Dolat Nicole Dolat

      I really enjoyed How They Croaked (audio). Fascinating!

  2. Emily Calkins Emily Calkins

    Nicole, I sympathize with your getting distracted by other books! I haven’t given in yet, but I know there’s a copy of Bitterblue and one of Insurgent headed by way soon, and I’m not sure I’ll be able to resist the allure….plus I’m re-reading The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks (one my all time favorites) for a book club.

    Another slow week – I’m really going to have to pick up the pace if I want to finish! I finally gave up on Robopocalypse. I’m having a hard time getting through the audio of Beauty Queens. I like it, but it’s hard to find good times to listen to it! I did read Why We Broke Up this week, which I enjoyed but didn’t love. I DO think it’s a great book for certain kinds of teens, and I can’t wait to recommend it to some who likes Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist or John Green.

    I’ve now read all of ten of the BFYA titles, all the Printz titles except one (The Returning, which I just put on hold), and all of the Morris titles. Time to branch out, I guess!

  3. I’d say I’m doing better this week, but it’s only because I’ve read some quick read type books-Pavement Chalk Artist, I Love Him to Pieces, How They Croaked, and I’m almost done with Jane. I really loved How They Croaked-fascinating and I loved the author’s conversational style of writing. Pavement Chalk Artist is also great-everyone in my family has been looking at it. And I was also thrilled by I Love Him to Pieces. In fact, I read it in probably a half hour or less, but it was probably my favorite thing this week. Once I finish Jane (and another book not on the lists, but for another book group) I’m going to delve into some more of the longer fiction. And use this challenge to get myself actually reading some non-fiction.
    Not only is this challenge providing me with a good list of books, it’s also helping me tremendously with my resolution to log and review books (on Goodreads and my blog) as I read them, instead of waiting weeks or months.

  4. Lily Lily

    I had a crazy 80-hour work week so I did not read as much compared to previous weeks. Before everything got really insane, I finished two amazing books early this week: Everybody Sees the Ants by A.S. King and Ready Player One by Ernest Cline.

    I am almost done listening to Okay For Now and it is definitely blowing me away, too.

    So far I haven’t been too distracted by other books; the last 18 books I finished were all toward this challenge. However, I am concurrently reading Nine Lives: In Search of the Sacred in Modern India by William Dalrymple. I guess it’s technically a travel book, but it’s less about scenery and more about people. Dalrymple explores in depth the lives of nine individuals, each devoted to a particular religious/spiritual sect. I’m about a quarter of the way through and it’s a fascinating read.

  5. Robin Robin

    This week I finished listening to Fever Crumb, which had its moments, but had too many repetitive chase scenes to hold my interest. I also finished The Influencing Machine and Pavement Chalk Artist, both of which could be good classroom resources. I’ve finished 8 books so far, and am enjoying the nonfiction titles I’ve been reading.

    For now, a break to keep devouring something not on this year’s list: The Letter Q: Queer Writers’ Notes to Their Younger Selves. Phenomenal! This book is a must for everyone regardless of orientation or age, and is the most moving work I’ve read in years.

  6. Let’s see…since my last check-in, I’ve finished _Bootleg_, _The Night Circus_ (brilliant!), _The Scorpio Races_, and _Shine_. My reviews are on my Goodreads page!

  7. Cheryl Gladfelter Cheryl Gladfelter

    Nicole, I was also distracted by a book outside the challenge this week–The Fault in Our Stars, which I loved beyond words.

    This week though I finished listening to Chime. Chime went back and forth for me. It was the first book I read from that author and it took a coworker convincing me to keep sticking with it. I ended up really enjoying it in the end. The audio is really great although physically reading the book might have been helpful. It took a while before I realized that a brownie that she sees is not a family pet like I thought when she first mentions it.

    I also finished Music Was It. That was a truly great book and I was compelled to check out his music from the library. That’s tying with Jane so far as my favorite in the challenge.

    I started Axe Cop which is very silly and I started the first CD of Rotters yesterday which had me not wanting to get out of my car.

    • Sara Ray Sara Ray

      I am four discs into Rotters and enjoying it more than I ever thought I would!! Have fun. ~Sara

    • My husband’s reaction to Axe Cop was to compare it to Captain Underpants. It really is silly and made me remember the silly games I used to play as a child with my cousins way too many years ago.

  8. Sara Ray Sara Ray

    Once again, I haven’t finished anything this week but am in the middle of four books right now. I am still at a total of 12. I’m enjoying everyone’s reviews of what they read!!

  9. I finished one this week, Why We Broke Up.

  10. I finished the audiobook of Chime which I absolutely loved, and then I started the audiobook of Beauty Queens which has me laughing out loud quite frequently. Also, right now I’m reading The Girl of Fire and Thorns which is so hard to put down. I highly recommend it. I just checked out a handful of the graphic novels, and I’m excited to delve into those soon!

  11. amy amy

    Only two more challenge books finished this week while I also balance some summer reading selections: Jane, which I enjoyed, since Jane Eyre is perhaps my favorite all time book. I also read A Bride’s Story, which was a real stretch for me, but I thought the art was just beautiful. I’m also on disc 8 of Rotters and loving it.

    I started Shattering Glass last night and I have Infinite KugFu sitting here on the couch. The girl who works early evenings at my local library knows me well: I’m on the Friends, I work with the board, and I have at least one hold to pick up each week. So, when I went in to pick up A Bride’s Story and Infinite KungFu she did a double take and asked, “Are these the right books? Because they don’t look like your books.”

    I have a 3.5 hour test to proctor this week,

  12. Ah, yes, distractions. I’ve had plenty of those this week, too. Between the hold requests I placed months ago for new titles on order that arrived this week and the reviews I needed to write for our library website (including The One and Only Ivan – a wonderful book!), my time for reading challenge books was a bit limited. The only reason I was able to finish 3 books was because they were quick reads. This week I finished The Lover’s Dictionary, Zahra’s Paradise, and Under the Mesquite. My favorite by far was Zahra’s Paradise. If you weren’t planning to read this one, you really should! It’s powerful and moving and the graphic novel format really helps you visualize a world that most of us will never be able to see. I enjoyed The Lover’s Dictionary and even laughed out loud a couple of times. I’m afraid I wasn’t all that impressed by Under the Mesquite.

    So, I have finished 15 books. If I finish The Returning this week I will have also achieved my mini-goal of reading something from each category (not counting books I read before April). My full progress report is available on my blog at:

  13. Jacqueline C. Jacqueline C.

    I recently finished the audiobook of The Scorpio Races. I’m still very much behind, but that puts me at 3 1/2 completed.

  14. Brenda Schwarz Brenda Schwarz

    I am almost done listening to fever crumb and it is good but I really need to concentrate because is switches scenes too fast for this ADD librarian. I did finish bootleg and really liked it. It was very informative and had some really interesting facts about prohibition. I am also struggling through brain jack and I think if I was more into science fiction of that kind I would probably really like it. It is well written.

  15. Jenny Carroll Jenny Carroll

    Bride’s Story by Kaoru Mori (Planning to read #2 & 3)
    Infinite Kung Fu by Kagan McLeod (What’s up with all the zombie graphic novels on the list?)
    Why we broke up – Daniel Handler

  16. Charles J. Charles J.

    This week I finished four – unexpectedly. I had more dead time at the service desk than I thought I would this week, so I was able to sneak a couple of nonfics out there. To model appropriate reading habits, of course….

    Anyway, this week there was:

    Brain Jack – I enjoyed this book in the same way that I enjoyed Oppel’s Airborn: both are light but solid gateway books to subgenres (cyberpunk and steampunk respectively). Airborn is a slightly gentler read (and therefore more recommendable to middle schoolers), but I think cyberpunk as a genre tends to be more harsh anyway. Brain Jack‘s ending was a leap of faith I stumbled over, but it wasn’t too horrible. A good step to those who will later branch to Neal Stephenson and William Gibson.

    Bootleg: Murder, Moonshine, and the Lawless Years of Prohibition – An easily consumable history of the rise and decline of the dry years. I found this more consumable than How Sugar Changed the World. Bootleg would be a better choice for a recreational read recommend, or even a quick book report choice. Of course, if they have a 200 page requirement (like many of my middle schoolers do), this one is out of consideration.

    Music Was IT: Young Leonard Bernstein – I enjoyed this one as well. The anecdotes from people who knew Bernstein and the photos, sheet music, and other materials in the book make the story real and personal. As with Bootleg a good recommend but potentially too short for academic applications.

    Young Fredle – I wanted to like this, but didn’t. The narration really detracted from my enjoyment of the story (the raccoon’s accents and shouts were particularly grating). I realize that this book is for a younger audience, but still feel the character acting was over the top. Beyond that, the story was a mediocre fish out of water (or mouse out of house) tale, with an ending that leaves some questionable messages on how you deal with parental conflict. I wasn’t expecting another The Runner (although perhaps secretly hoping), but felt I received a poor shadow of Edward Tulane, Silverwing, or Varjak Paw.

    That puts me at twenty so far. Feelin’ good, but back to Bitterblue….

  17. Library.Lil Library.Lil

    I finished 2 this week bringing my total up to 9. I knew when I started this challenge that I was going to have to ignore other reading until I finished, save for a few acceptations I knew ahead of time for online book groups and the in-library book group. So far, I’ve been good about ignoring other distractions. It has meant I didn’t go back and read (listen to) the first book about Carter, though.

    This week I finished:
    How to Save a Life–had planned to read and I enjoyed it a lot
    Carter’s Big Break–picked for the challenge and I ended up liking it a lot, despite early frustrations at some of the language geared toward girls/women

  18. Since the last update, I have only finished “The Dark Is Rising” by Susan Cooper, but I enjoyed it so much that reading the rest of the series should be a snap.

  19. This week I finished Between by Jessica Warman; Name of the Star by Johnson; Where Things Come Back by Whaley. My favorite this week is Name of the Star. So far I’ve read nine out of twenty-five.

  20. Kate Carlson Kate Carlson

    I finally finished a book from this challenge!!! I finished “Tripping” by Heather Waldorf. It really held my interest…I wanted to know how the book ended. The ending, while nice and “feel good”, did feel a bit “after school special” to me. However, I left with an overall positive impression of the book!

  21. I’m now at 7, so I read four books this week. I’m counting that as about 1/3 done, since I’m also well into several more.

    I’m crusing through the graphic novels — I really liked _Wandering Son_, want the next books of _Bride’s Story_, found _Zahra’s Paradise_ fascinating, and enjoyed reliving _Ghetto Cowboy_ through the audio, and my fifth grader really liked listening along with me as well.

    I’m currently listening to _Beauty Queen_ when I’m by myself (my 7th grader read the book and doesn’t think it appropriate for the younger kids), _How They Croaked_ with the fifth grader, and _The Ring of Solomon_ with the 7th grader. _Sugar Changed the World_ and _Infinite Kung Fu_ have bookmarks next to the downstairs recliner, and _Where Things Come Back_ is in my book bag for on the road reading, although I also have back-ups loaded onto my NOOK.

    I still don’t think I’ll make 25 by next month, though.

  22. joanie sebastian joanie sebastian

    I finished the Scorpio Races. It took me a few days to pick up another book after that…I just wanted to savor it sooooo much. I also read the poetic and eloquent debut novel, Paper Covers Rock a novel that reads like a classic coming of age story and explores friendship, sexuality and morality at a boarding school in the 80s.

    Yeah, that brings me to a total of four. :(

  23. Tiffany Bronzan Tiffany Bronzan

    I was able to plow through 4 books this week! I’m so proud of myself. This brings my total to 7. I figure that I should be half-way by May 15th, but I’m not sure if I will be able to do it. At the beginning of the contest I started to dip into other books, but this week I found it easy to read the challenge books. I was a little afraid that I would be without a book when I finish the one I’m currently reading but then I walked into work this morning with my in-box overflowing with books. So happy. :) This week I read:

    The Talk-Funny Girl- Loved, loved, loved this book. I finished it in 2 days which is unheard for me. It reminded me a lot of The Language of Flowers but I’m not sure why.

    Music Was It- I thought this was good. I’m glad I read it because I never read biographies and it was nice to learn something new.

    Anya’s Ghost- I liked this book a lot. Again, I don’t read a lot of graphic novels, so it was nice to move out of my comfort zone.

    Shine-I really enjoyed Shine. It’s kind of a shame, because it was a good book, however, The Talk-Funny Girl just did for it. If I had read Shine a different week it would have been my favorite.

    Happy Reading!

  24. I missed posting last week (graduation is a long event), so I’ve read quite a bit since my last post.

    My total is now up to 18. Here are the 10 I have read since I last posted:
    Axe Cop (awesome!)
    Wandering Son (Still trying to figure out why this is in our adult collection)
    Okay for Now-audio (Loved it!)
    The Talk-Funny Girl (The ending was a little too tidy for me)
    Paper Covers Rock (Fantastic)
    Super Human (Started off great, but fizzled)
    Anya’s Ghost (loved it!)
    Wheels of Change
    Shattering Glass (Surprising, considering the cover)

    I’m currently reading: Why We Broke Up and The Girl of Fire and Thorns.
    And I really wish I had access to the audio of How They Croaked. It sounds pretty great!

    • Library.Lil Library.Lil

      I wish I had access to How They Croaked on Audio, too! It may be the one I can’t get that I’m most disappointed about.

  25. Jennifer Hitchcock Jennifer Hitchcock

    Sorry this post is a little late. I’ve been so busy this week. I finished 5 this week which brings my total to 13. They are:

    Graphic Novels:

    Thor the Mighty Avenger Vol. 1- I loved this! I loved the Thor movie so it was cool actually reading the book it was based on. I love Thor as a super hero. He’s so cool!

    Axe Cop: Vol. One- This was ok. It had some funny moments I can see why a lot of people, especially guys, would like it. It was just a little too random for me.


    Young Fredle- This was a really cute story. I liked the narrator but I agree with a previous poster about how some of the voices, especially the raccoons, were really annoying.

    Ghetto Cowboy- I really liked this book. The narrator was great and the story was really interesting and inspiring. This is a book I probably wouldn’t have picked up if not for the challenge and I’m glad I listened to it. I had no idea there were cowboys in the middle of urban cities like this.


    Girl of fire and thorns- I loved this book! It was such an interesting story and I like the growth of the main character. I can’t wait to read the sequel.

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