Not signed up for YALSA’s 2013 Morris/Nonfiction Reading Challenge? Read the official rules and sign up on the original post. If you’re finished, fill out the form at the bottom of this post to let us know!
It’s only been about a month since my last check-in post, and I feel pretty good about my progress so far, despite the fact that I haven’t finished all the titles on either list. I started with S.D. Crockett’s After the Snow and Bomb: The Race to Build — and Steal — the World’s Most Dangerous Weapon by Steve Sheinkin and thoroughly enjoyed both of them. Since then I’ve also finished The Miseducation of Cameron Post by emily m. danforth and Seraphina by Rachel Hartman. I loved the Montana setting of Miseducation and all the little details that grounded the story and the characters, especially Cameron herself, but I wasn’t quite in the mood for this book when it showed up at the library so I’m not sure I gave it an entirely fair shake. Seraphina was a better fit for my mood, a unique take on a familiar fantasy stalwart (dragons) featuring — as many have pointed out — a fresh and fully-realized world full of intrigue and complexity. I’ll definitely be looking for the sequel.
Since my progression through this challenge is dictated by what shows up on the hold shelf at my library, I’m a little behind on nonfiction, but I’m currently halfway through Deborah Hopkinson‘s Titanic: Voices From the Disaster which I have surprised myself by really enjoying. I’ve kind of avoided all things Titanic in the past, partly because it’s a sad story with an ending I’m pretty sure isn’t going to get any better and partly because I was severely traumatized by watching the movie The Black Stallion when I was young and any kind of shipwreck/drowning/disaster at sea makes me hyperventilate. (Okay, not really, but I do avoid drowning scenes; the beginning of The Black Stallion is harsh!) And no, I haven’t seen the Titanic movie — sorry Kate and Leo. Anyway, I include this somewhat embarrassing personal information so you’ll know that when I say I’m loving Titanic: Voices From the Disaster, that’s no small thing. I’m impressed, Deborah Hopkinson!
Next up on the nonfiction list, Steve Jobs: The Man Who Thought Different by Karen Blumenthal, which is waiting for me as I type. I’m excited to learn more about the man who sort of rules my life (again, not really, but I do love my iPhone!)
In addition to disasters at sea, I’m also not a huge fan of circuses and freakshow-style carnivals, but Wonder Show by Hannah Barnaby turned up next on the hold shelf, and it’s proving to be another pleasant surprise. I’m not very far along, but I’m already intrigued by Portia and the McGreavey Home for Wayward Girls and her missing father and I can tell it’s going to be a good time, despite my weird hang-ups. Seriously, I’m like the poster child for reading challenges — this is why you should read outside not just your comfort zone, but your immediate interests as well. A great book can apparently overcome even the most deep-seated and long-lasting prejudices. (For example, I saw The Black Stallion in the theater when it first came out, which means I was 8, which was many, many years ago. I’ve been avoiding shipwrecks ever since, but here I am thoroughly enjoying a book about the most famous shipwreck of all!)
So, that’s where I’m at with this challenge. Three of five Morris Award finalists read (and number four moving along nicely) and one and a half Nonfiction Award finalists down. I don’t know if I’ll make it through all of them by the deadline, but given how great the experience has been so far, I’ll certainly finish the challenge one way or another. What about you?
— Julie Bartel, currently reading Wonder Show, Titanic: Voices from the Disaster, and Life on the Border (edited by Terri Windling), because short stories are a great palette cleanser, and besides, she was in the mood
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