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2012 Best of the Best Reading Challenge check in #6

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!

The thing is, I didn’t really have any intention of tackling the Best of the Best Reading Challenge. It’s not that I didn’t love the idea–I did do. It’s not that I didn’t want to read the books on the list; before the challenge started in April I’d already read–and mostly loved–Hero, Matched, How They Croaked: The Awful Ends of the Awfully Famous, Are These My Basoomas I See Before Me?, Chime, A Monster Calls, Daughter of Smoke and Bone, and, of course all five Susan Cooper books (which I re-read almost every year). The problem definitely isn’t the books.

It’s me.

While the magnetic appeal of the Best of the Best challenge is undeniable, I’m struggling with the allure–still somewhat unbelievable after serving on two back-to-back book award committees–of being able to read whatever I want, whenever I want, in whatever order I want. You know how it is, right? As soon as I have to read a book, for school or work or book club or because your best friend is making you–as soon as that happens I start to rebel, just a little. The Best of the Best Reading Challenge is a fun and totally worthwhile challenge, and one I could conquer if I set my mind to it, but years of controlled reading (no matter how completely awesome) takes a toll, and each time I pick up a new title I revel in the simple freedom of choosing books that I want to read.

Of course, as soon as I start thinking about the books I read for committees, or in school, or because someone pleaded with me to do so, I instantly remember all the incredible books I’ve read–especially for the Printz Award–that I would never, ever have picked up were it not for the “burden” of assigned reading.  A good number of books I now count amongst my favorites happened that way.

So, I’ll be honest: I don’t know if my good intentions will rise above my current state of reading indulgence, but I’m halfway through The Girl of Fire and Thorns and since April 1st I’ve finished Best of the Best books Ready Player One and The Scorpio Races. I put Anya’s Ghost, Thor, Why We Broke Up, Geektastic: Stories from the Nerd Herd, and The Curse of the Wendigo on hold at my library yesterday. I’ll admit, most of those books were already on my Goodreads to-read list, but I’m moving them to the top.

It’s a start.

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.

— Julie Bartel, currently reading The Girl of Fire and Thorns

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Julie Bartel

Julie is a writer and librarian living in Salt Lake City, UT.


  1. Lily Lily

    I read a ton this week and crossed the finish line. At this rate I won’t get all 80 by the end of June, but now I have to try! :)

    Completed this week:
    Between Shades of Gray – Ruta Sepetys
    The Night Circus – Erin Morgenstern
    Daughter of Smoke and Bone – Laini Taylor
    A Bride’s Story, Vol. 1 – Kaoru Mori
    Okay for Now (audio book) – Gary D. Schmidt, read by Lincoln Hoppe
    Middle School, The Worst Years of My Life – James Patterson and Chris Tebbetts
    Pavement Chalk Artist – Julian Beever

  2. Penny Johnson Penny Johnson

    I understand what you are saying, Julie. I had also read many of the books on the Best lists before April 1. I am getting bogged down now because a lot of the titles I just have no interest in reading. I have made good progress on this challenge up until now, but I am beginning to think I am not going to be able to finish 25 books before the end of June. I’m preparing for ALA Annual, I am taking an online course, getting ready for summer library programs, and awaiting the birth of a granddaughter. Do I want to spend what precious reading time I have on titles I’m not interested in?

    That said, I did at least finish one title this week. The audiobook “How They Croaked” was fun and informative at the same time. Loved it. I am now listening to “Rotters” and still trying to finish “Jasper Jones”. So I am over halfway done with the challenge. Maybe next week I will feel more positive about finishing.

  3. I also find it hard to stay on track. I keep getting distracted by other books. However, even though I’m really behind, I still think I’ll manage to finish. Here’s my blog post with short reviews of all the titles I’ve read so far. One I read recently and absolutely loved is Scarlet by Brian Bendis.

  4. Nicole Dolat Nicole Dolat

    My progress is going rather slow. I keep getting sidetracked (darn you, Hellsing manga series!). I’m currently still working on #7 and #8. My tally thus far is:
    How They Croaked (audio)
    A Monster Calls (book)
    Okay for Now (audio)
    Anya’s Ghost (book)
    A Bride’s Story, v. 1 (book)
    Wandering Son, v. 1 (book)
    IN PROGRESS Marbury Lens (audio)…dark and horrifying and sad and touching and mesmerizing all at the same time
    IN PROGRESS The Notorious Benedict Arnold (book)…just started

  5. Sara Ray Sara Ray

    I’m jealous of Lily’s posting. It’s been a crazy time in my life right now and although I’m reading, I haven’t had a period where I can sit down and read for an hour (hopefully tomorrow!!). I am in the middle of a couple of print books and an audio. Therefore I didn’t finish any this week (again) but hope to finish many for next week’s post! I still think I’ll finish on time but it may be harder than when I started.

  6. Other books keep distracting me, but I finally finished Axe Cop, putting me at 11 finished titles into the challenge. 5-year-old Malachai’s imagination is hilarious to absorb, but it works best in small bursts.

  7. Emily Calkins Emily Calkins

    I don’t know if I’m going to finish! I have a bunch of things on hold, so hopefully when they arrive I’ll feel a little more inspired. I did read Thor this week – so fun! – and I’m almost finished with The Influencing Machine, which I’m also enjoying. Still, I’ve only finished 9 books and I’ve given up on two (Robopocalypse and the audio of Beauty Queens).

    I have The Returning to pick up this afternoon; when I finish it I’ll have read all of the Printz titles, all of the Morris titles, and all of the BFYA, so I won’t feel TOO bad even if I don’t end up finishing the challenge. I still think I can do, though!

  8. Library.Lil Library.Lil

    I don’t mind dedicating myself to set books when it is for a somewhat limited time. But I’ve also never been on a committee, and from what I understand, that brings with it a pretty big change in perspective.

    I finished three this week, brining my total to 12. I’m still not 100% sure I will finish on time, but I think I can probably make it. I will be on vacation next week and so will not check in, but I’ll post two weeks worth when I get back. I am currently behind on posting reviews to goodreads.

    This week I finished:
    Pavement Chalk Artist–one I heard about through the challenge and thought he was incredible
    Okay for Now–one I had planned to listen to; loved it loved it loved it
    Anya’s Ghost–had planned to read; enjoyed it

  9. Jennifer Hitchcock Jennifer Hitchcock

    I can totally sympathize with wanting to read other books than the ones on the challenge. I can’t wait to read Insurgent but I’m making myself stick with the challenge until I’m done. I’m actually doing pretty well so far since I’m mainly listening to audio and reading graphic novels. I finished three this week bringing my total to 16. I’m also in the middle of listening to Rotters. Here’s the books I read:

    Thor the mighty avenger vol. 2- I enjoyed this one as much as the first volume. I really love Thor as a character and this just made me want to see the new avengers movie even more!

    How they croaked- I hardly ever listen to nonfiction but this one was definitely entertaining and interesting. I even got one of my coworkers to listen to it because I was talking about it so much.

    Carter’s big break- This was ok. It had some funny moments but it wasn’t my favorite. I definitely think guy teens would love it though.

  10. I posted on the last update mid-week and since then I’ve completed two more titles putting me up to 20!

    This past week I read Why We Broke Up and How to Save a Life. Actually I read most of How to Save a Life last night, something about it clicked and I did not want to put it down.

    I’ve come across other books I would LOVE to read right now, but I have a ton of books checked out for this challenge. I’ll have to pause to read the title for our next book club, Ender’s Game, but after that I’ll keep hitting up challenge books. Most of the ones I have are ones I planned to read at some point anyway, so this totally gives me the opportunity to do that!

    I’m also participating in a week long read-a-thon called Bout of Books (It starts Monday so there’s still time to sign up!) and included two of the Best of the Best titles on the list of books I plan to read. Since I’m close I’m using the read-a-thon as an opportunity to sneak other books.

  11. Robin Robin

    I’ve been distracted by other books lately, but have a stack of books for the challenge which I recently picked up from the library. I’ve completed 8 so far, and think I’ll make my way through some good short titles this week.

  12. amy amy

    I’m up to 12! And I’m half way through another, so I’m halfway to the goal.

    This week I finally read Shattering Glass. I’ve been recommending it to kids for years, but never got around to reading it myself. Wow. Disturbing. I was so disturbed by the ending that I had to take an issue of Runner’s World to bed with me to try and neutralize my brain.

    I also finished listening to Rotters. I really, really liked Kirby Heyborne’s narration. The story was good, definitely unique.

    I’m halfway through Robopocalypse and have started listening to Okay for Now, which I read last summer, but A) I like Lincoln Hoppe as a narrator and B) I have a total librarian crush on Gary D Schmidt, so I’m happy to listen.

    I just downloaded Between Shades of Grey and am having fun making my friends who are all in the throes of 50 Shades of Grey do a double take when I put this on my list of books for school.

  13. I feel the same way! I didn’t finish any challenge books this week because I decided to read Insurgent (Veronica Roth) as soon as it came out.

  14. Charles J. Charles J.

    While I do tend to mind a prescribed reading list, I do know it will help me with reader’s advisory at work, and opens me up to works I never would have touched (Okay For Now being the best example – fix that cover!). These readings are also helping me pace my way through other books (Bitterblue and Insurgent of late), so I appreciate the assigned reads helping me to savor the books I have chosen for myself.

    Anyway, I got to 3 this week, pushing me up to 23, and close to the first checkpoint of 25 (my goal is to read 40).

    A Bride’s Story vol.1 – A gorgeous volume that hopefully sets up a richer story in ensuing sequels.
    Under the Mesquite – A verse novel of a Mexican-American girl finding her identity in the midst of family crisis. Good, but I felt it could have been emotionally deeper…
    Wheels of Change – Probably the best layout for a nonfiction book I have read for this challenge. Lots of sides to engage interest and involve the reader in the time period. It tickled me when I connected this book and Bootleg via Frances Willard being mentioned in both of them.

    I should be done with Carter’s Big Break after driving to practice tonight, and am in the midst of the feel-good memoir, A Stolen Life.

  15. Kate Carlson Kate Carlson

    I didn’t finish any titles this week. I am in the middle of my first audiobook…not sure how I feel about this medium…it’s been difficult at times to follow and I have found myself needing to frequently rewind. And it’s NOT the same to fall asleep listening to an audiobook as it is falling asleep reading a print book! :)

  16. Tiffany Bronzan Tiffany Bronzan

    I had it in my mind that I needed to have 13 books finished by the 15th (today). I have 10 finished, which isn’t bad but I don’t think I will make the challenge. I just joined another book club and I have to read that book. My friend really wants me to read “Family Fang” which sounds funny so I will take a break to read those two books. Plus, I had read several titles before April 1st on the list and to tell you the truth, there are soooo many good books, why would I go back to re-read books? Just not something I’m interested in doing unless it was a book I absolutely loved.

    I’m up to 10 books. I finished this week:

    The Scorpio Races (audiobook): I loved this title. I read Shiver when it came out and didn’t care for it, so I didn’t really want to listen to this one. However, this one was excellent and I’m so glad I gave it a chance.

    Pavement Chalk Artist: I enjoyed looking at the artwork. He is very talented.

    The Notorious Benedict Arnold: This isn’t really my type of book. I’m glad I read it because I do get asked for biography recommendations, but it’s not something I would pick up on my own.

    The best thing about this challenge is it’s forcing me to read book that I would normally pass on. I guess in the end that’s what it’s really about.

  17. Checking in belatedly this week because I was on vacation. You’d think that I would get more reading done on vacation, but you’d be wrong. My husband managed to keep me quite busy! I did finish Beauty Queens on audio and Bootleg: Murder, Moonshine, and the Lawless Years of Prohibition. I though Beauty Queens was interesting, but I didn’t enjoy it as much as I thought I would. On the other hand, I thought Bootleg was great! I learned a lot and enjoyed reading it. I am now reading The Returning and listening to Ghetto Cowboy on audio.

    Tally so far: 17 complete, 8 to go. Since it is so late in the week, I’ll be combining my Week 6 and Week 7 updates on my blog, probably on Sunday since I have to work on Saturday.

  18. joanie sebastian joanie sebastian

    I seem to be sticking to two books a week (not enough!). This week I finished Why We Broke Up and Under the Mesquite….bringing my total to eight.

  19. I’m still doomed! I’m only on 8. I’ve got 17 more to go, and I’ve already read most of the graphic novels.

    Next week I may have a jump; I’m finishing How They Croaked on audio and I should get Infinite Kung Fu back from my seventh grader and I’m almost done with Chain Reaction AND Where Things Come Back AND Geektastic. I did read Bride’s Story and Sugar Changed the World, but that might have been last week.

  20. Cheryl Gladfelter Cheryl Gladfelter

    Belated checking in this week. I finished A Brides Story v.1 and I really enjoyed it! I can’t wait to find out what happens in the story. I had been listening to Rotters, and though Sara Ray responded to my post last week and commented about how enjoyable it is, I just can’t deal with it right now. So I switched to Are These My Basoomas I see Before Me?, which is more my emotional level right now :) Still working on reading Notorious Benedict Arnold and Geektastic.

    Worried I’m not going to hit the 25 mark. A Girl Walks Into a Bar by Rachel Dratch just came in so I have to read that right away. Plus my reading list for class was just posted and I think my free reading time has been drastically cut. Planning on hanging in there though!

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