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2012 Best of the Best Reading Challenge check-in #9

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 end is near. Just one more month to finish your 25 books for the Best of the Best Reading Challenge. I hope things are going well for you. Or, at least, better than they are for me. I’ve given up hope of earning my badge, but I haven’t given up on reading more of the books. I just finished the Okay for Now audiobook. Amazing. If you haven’t listened to this one yet, make sure you do. It is really fantastic. I also really loved The Influencing Machine. I read it just after reading Neil Postman’s Amusing Ourselves to Death for my book club and thought that it did a much better job of covering much of the same material.

My main issue is not been being distracted by other books like others have talked about in previous posts. My problem is time for reading period. I have a book that I’ve been working on for a month for my adult reading book club, and I’m still just over half finished. Audiobooks are easier, right now, because I can listen while I walk my dog or do other chores.

But hey, it’s summer and summer means more time for reading (I hope). I’m going to attack Anya’s Ghost and Brain Jack this week, and who knows, maybe I’ll come close to the magic 25 after all. A guy can be optimistic.

For those of you that need a bit more encouragement (like me) and for those who are well beyond the 25 books and are going strong, I offer a toast to your summer reading:

May your summer bring you long, hot days filled with cool drinks and good books.
May your stack of nightstand books shrink, and your “read” shelf on Goodreads expand.
May your books enrich your relationships, and your relationships inform your books.
May you find books to share with others who need to read them.
May your reading give you comfort that you are not alone.
Until we meet again: happy reading!

– Joel is currently reading The Tiger’s Wife by Tea Obreht and listening to Thinking Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman.

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.


  1. This week I finished my 40th book. I started out with Salvage the Bones, which was great, but the others were rather disappointingly middling.

    35. Salvage the Bones – Jesmyn Ward [review]
    36. Wheels of Change: How Women Rode the Bicycle to Freedom (With a Few Flat Tires Along the Way) – Sue Macy [review]
    37. Jasper Jones – Craig Silvey [review]
    38. SideScrollers – Matthew Loux [review]
    39. Here Lies Bridget – Paige Harbison [
    40. Why We Broke Up – Daniel Handler (author), Maira Kalman (illustrator) [review]

  2. Sara Ray Sara Ray

    I have finished two books since the last check-in bringing my total up to 17. I read Sidescrollers which was mediocre in plot but I really liked the characters! The Rotters audiobook is longer than any audiobook I’ve ever read but I really wanted to read the winner. It dragged on for me for a while but it was a good story and great narration so I’m glad I read it. I should be able to finish my 25 as long as I can “get through” all of the books in a reasonable amount of time. Some I really, really want to read and some are just there and I’m hoping to discover something I’ll love in a quick manner.

  3. Nicole Dolat Nicole Dolat

    Oops. I mistakenly counted the 2 Thor graphic novels separately instead of together, so I actually had to drop my total down a notch :( That being said, I’m still making good and steady progress. This week, my total climbed to 20! NOW I finally feel pretty comfortable with at least hitting 25 by month’s end. This week I polished off:

    –The Lover’s Dictionary (Levithan) – Interesting read, mostly due to the unique format…which was a perfect fit with how most of us look back on/describe our relationships (in bits and pieces).

    –Leverage (Cohen) – AMAZING book, but SO DEPRESSING AND UPSETTING. A really challenging read because of that. Some serious (and terrifying) high school bullying, steroid use, rape, etc. but handled with such straightforward realism that I had to give myself over to the reading experience.

    –Rotters (Kraus) – I did the audio of this Odyssey Award winner. Another AMAZING book (in particular the vocal performance by Kirby Heyborne). A really DARK and DEPRESSING sort of story, though. Again, lots of bullying and torment – this time coupled with death (lots and lots of death). But I had to stick with Joey to the very end, no matter what…and I’m really glad I did.

    Is it any wonder that this week I started off on Carter’s Big Break? I need me some laughs!…

  4. Penny Johnson Penny Johnson

    Well, my count is up to 19 1/2. I finished Shine this week, which was just okay. I am in the middle of Leverage which is terrifying in its brutality! I hope I can finish 5 1/2 more this month, but the to-do list is daunting. I sure hope I can! I’ve come this far……

  5. Jenny Carroll Jenny Carroll

    So, I finished 9 items previous to this post:
    1. My Boyfriend is a Monster
    2. Zahra’s Paradise
    3. Anya’s Ghost
    4. Daybreak
    5. Wheels of Change
    6. Ghostopolis
    7. Why We Broke Up
    8. Infinite Kung Fu
    9. A Bride’s Story V. I

    I’m adding the following to my list of completed ones:
    10. Middle School: The worst years of my life
    11. Geektastic: Stories from the Nerd Herd
    12. The Influencing Machine
    13. Thor: The Mighty Avenger V. I & II
    14. Wandering Son V. I
    15. Daughter of Smoke and Bone
    16. Fever Crumb (audio)
    17. Sugar Changed the World

    I’m listening to Chime (which has been god awful) and reading Salvage the bones (much better).

  6. Up to 17 now…
    15. A Monster Calls–A reread for me, but I enjoyed it the first time and wanted to take another look at the illustrations.
    16. Daughter of Smoke and Bone–Not nearly as excited about it as some of my colleagues were!
    17. Salvage the Bones–Beautiful. I found the parallel between Esch as a mother and Katrina as a mother thought-provoking, if surprising.

  7. This week, I finished
    A Bride’s Story
    Over Sea, Under Stone
    My Boyfriend Is a Monster
    and Ghostopolis.

    I really liked them all! It was a week without a dud, which is nice. My total is now 18. Hopefully this week I’ll finish Hero and Big Girl Small, both of which I’m smack dab in the middle of.

  8. I just finished Jasper Jones which I found to be pretty good. Currently reading Salvage the Bones and Under the Mesquite. Once I finish those, I will be at 6 total. Have a long way to go to the end.

  9. lauredhel lauredhel

    One to go! This week I read:

    Zahra’s Paradise (GN): Great book; should be read as a text in high schools.
    Paper Covers Rock: I liked it.
    Okay For Now: Marvellous book and my top rec out of this batch. Great sense of place and time, quirky but not too quirky, and a romance that didn’t overwhelm the rest of the book.
    Shine: Not bad. I felt that the mystery aspect somehow competed a bit with the rest, perhaps leaving the book a touch muddled as to what it wanted to be in the end. It lacked a sense of resolution and justice in the final act, and ultimately sort of fizzled out. But definitely better than Myracle’s other work, in my opinion/to my taste.
    Scarlet (GN): Beautiful art. Not sure where the story is ultimately going, but I might follow it.

  10. This week I finished two books to complete the challenge.

    24. Pavement Chalk Artist by Julian Beever – His drawings are amazing and I really enjoyed reading about how he came to create these works of art.

    25. Ghostopolis by Doug TenNapel – an OK read.

    Currently listening to the audio of Rotters. Oh this book is really not my cup of tea. I am looking forward to being finished with it. But much as I am disliking the disgusting side of the book, Kraus has managed to make me care about Joey. Next books to read: The Grey King by Susan Cooper and Sugar Changed the World by Marc Aronson & Marina Gudhos. I’m hoping to hit 35 titles by the end of the month.

  11. Tiffany Bronzan Tiffany Bronzan

    A slow week for me and I’m not quite sure why, I thought I was making headway. I finished “Geektastic” which brings me up to 18. I’m currently listening to “Okay for Now” and reading “How to Save a Life”. I do have confidence that I will finish now, which a little bit of a push.

    “Geektastic” was okay. I didn’t really care for the first two stories. In general I enjoy short stories and this is true for book.

  12. I was feeling pretty pleased with making it up to 15, but I see that I’m still way behind most of you! That’s ok, I’ll keep chugging along :) This week I read two books that I LOVED and think I wouldn’t have gotten around to but for this challenge:
    Everybody Sees Ants
    The Girl of Fire and Thorns.
    Oh, and also Music Was It, which was very very slow to me, even though the book was short. I’m picking up a couple more non-fictions as the library tomorrow and hope to get them done soon. I opted not to read Zahra’s paradise and My Friend Dahmer after I got them.

  13. p.s. I also gave up on Paper Covers Rock, which I couldn’t believe because I love all things boarding school, but I just could not get through it!

  14. Library.Lil Library.Lil

    I finished 4 this week, bringing my total to 18. I”m getting more optimistic that I will finish, but I also have several books I need to read for work this month.

    This week I finished:
    Lover’s Dictionary: would have read anyway, liked it, really enjoyed the format
    Wandering Son: had not heard of, felt like I lost a lot of the nuances
    Fever Crumb: would not have read if not for this challenge, thought I wasn’t the right reader (listener) for the book but understand that it is good
    Where Things Come Back: would have read anyway, liked it okay

  15. Kathy Kathy

    May 26, 2012
    I didn’t do an update Memorial Day Weekend, but not much to update. So here they are now. . .
    5. Shine- Good mystery, I really liked this book. The ending was strangely fulfilling.
    6. Between Shades of Grey- I liked the depth of the characters and their true to life reactions without thorough reflection first to make the “right choice”.

    I also tried Why we Broke Up and The Returning, but couldn’t get past the first few chapters after several tries.

    June 4, 2012
    I got back in the saddle literally (Have been working on Ghetto Cowboy for two weeks as audio book).
    7. Jasper Jones- Borrring. I didn’t get excited about anything happening in the book until after page 248 when the plot started to move along and events started to come together.
    8. A Monster Calls- pleasantly and thoroughly surprised that this book was actually about a kid whose mom has cancer. Wow, I read it in one night and couldn’t put it down.
    9. Everybody Sees the Ants- Another bullying book on the list, but excellently done. The family dysfunction and characters’ strengths and weaknesses added to the depth of the story.
    10. Ghetto Cowboy- I read this as an audio-book. Well done, positive role models. The action kept it moving along.
    11. Rotters- I don’t even know what to say about this book, I’m not even sure if I really liked it. Fascinating. . .like a car wreck you can’t look away from.

    Just started Middle School: The Worst Years of my Life

  16. Robin Robin

    I finished one last week, Axe Cop, which brings my total to 14. It will be a close call, but I think if I push hard I can finish in time.

  17. Charles J. Charles J.

    I finished four this week, bringing my total to 29:
    Whoogles (waster of paper – doesn’t add anything to the website like Axe Cop did)
    Anya’s Ghost (reread – appreciated it better this time)
    A Stolen Life (took forever to read – she admits it was writing therapy and it shows: wiki and watch the Sawyer interview instead)
    The Scrapbook of Frankie Pratt (beautiful for the artifacts, puerile for the writing)

    I am mid-Girl of Fire and Thorns (which so far is everything I wished Bitterblue had been), and started The Marbury Lens last night (unimpressed so far, but haven’t got to the hook yet). My goal of forty is a question of how much time I can devote, but I endeavor onward.

  18. I’m up to 20 books! Just finished Chime by Franny Billingsley and loved it! Just started reading the Influencing Machine and am eager to read more graphic novels.

  19. Cheryl Gladfelter Cheryl Gladfelter

    Did a bit better this week than last. Finished Sidescrollers which I really enjoyed, I think more so because I know several guys like the main characters. I thought it was a funny, fast graphic novel.

    I also finished listening to Fever Crumb. Sad to say it’s my first steampunk book but it won’t be my last! I loved listening to the story and a couple of times I was so shocked by the twists in the story I was gasping out loud as I drove. Can’t wait to move on to the second book in the Fever series.

    Still working on: Geektastic and Beauty Queens. Started Jasper Jones and Wheels of Change.

  20. Books 17 and 18 reporting in:

    “Enclave” by Ann Aguirre and “Middle School The Worst Years of My Life” by James Patterson. “Enclave” felt terribly generic and took some wrong turns near the end. I could see how a young person just branching into YA from “The Hunger Games” would like it, otherwise I would not push it on most people for the sake of following up on HG. That’s what “Battle Royale” is for!

    “Middle School” is my first James Patterson novel. The short chapter style serves the plot well, as do the illustrations. I haven’t read any of the “Diary of a Wimpy Kid” or “Dork Diaries” books, so any unoriginality went over my head and I just enjoyed the story. It’s definitely written at a middle-grade level in a way that reads easily and communicates a lot of emotion.

  21. Jennifer Hitchcock Jennifer Hitchcock

    I didn’t finish any challenge books this week. I’m about halfway through The Talk-funny Girl and it is really good so far. I did listen to the audio for Between Shades of Grey and I really liked it. I had no idea that went on during WWII.

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