2016 Hub Challenge Check-In #7

Not signed up yet for YALSA’s 2016 Hub Reading Challenge? Read the official rules and sign up on the original post. Anything you’ve read since the awards were announced counts, and the challenge runs until 11:59pm EST on June 23, so sign up now!

Here we are at week seven of the 2016 Hub Reading Challenge, which means we are somehow a third of the way through already.  There’s still plenty of time to dive in, however, even if you’re in my boat, with only a handful of titles read so far.

the hub 2016 reading challenge


Like many of you who are bouncing between eligible challenge books and keeping up with current titles for work, I’m zipping back and forth between books I need to read for interviews and Hub Reading Challenge titles.  Fortunately, I’ve just finished the amazing Award for Excellence in Nonfiction finalist Symphony for the City of the Dead: Dmitri Shostakovich and the Siege of Leningrad by M.T. Anderson, a double duty pick and a fantastic reading experience.

Symphony for the City of the Dead is narrative nonfiction at its best.  The story of composer Dmitri Shostakovich and how he came to produce his Leningrad Symphony, written during the three year siege of Leningrad during WWII, is riveting, horrifying, and ultimately life-affirming.  Anderson provides historical context and a whole lot of excruciating detail, as well as musical insight and appreciation.  He also invites readers into the research process itself, identifying questions and unknowns along the way.

I’m not sure if it’s possible to finish this book without listening to the Leningrad Symphony, and I’m not sure why you’d want to, frankly.  (You can listen to it here if you’re curious.)  As usual, Anderson challenges me, forcing me to stretch not only my attention and critical thinking, but my imagination and empathy as well, and, as usual, I come away from the experience feeling exhilarated, smarter, kinder, and curious.


Nonfiction is often my Achilles heel during these challenges, but this year I’m determined to broaden my reading experience (which should be crazy enjoyable given the caliber of work on the list) and what better way to start?  What about you?  Are you tackling a particular list or do you have a micro-goal in mind such as reading from every list or reading only new-to-you authors?  Let us know what approach you’re taking and what you’ve been reading or listening to in the comments below, and look for the #hubchallenge hashtag on Instagram, Twitter, and the 2016 Hub Challenge Goodreads group.

And if you’ve completed or conquered the challenge, be sure to fill out the form.

-Julie Bartel, currently reading An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir

18 thoughts on “2016 Hub Challenge Check-In #7”

  1. A bit bogged down and starting to fall behind on reading. Catching up with Futuristic Violence and Fancy Suits. Next up some quick reads, maybe and audiobook or graphic novel.

  2. I haven’t finished any since last week. I just started Challenger Deep and have heard mixed reviews – has only read and loved it?

  3. I read and enjoyed Vol 1 of The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl; brings me up to 17 books read. Got A Silent Voice & Roller Girl from the library from the library for this week’s reading enjoyment.

  4. Forgot to add, I LOVED & could not put down Book of a Thousand Days by Shannon Hale. The main character, Dashti’s voice and thoughts and actions just wowed me and I highly recommend this book if you have not read it yet!

  5. This week I read Silent Voice 1 – 3. This was a challenge for me and I needed student help to be able to successfully read from right to left. The story is about a boy that is a bully and forces a girl out of school. Afterward he is ostracized by his peers and is basically left alone. He then tries to make amends, along the way realizing he is not a nice person and begins to see the error of his ways. Again, it is a stretch for me to read Manga but I stuck with it. I asked students and found guides on line to be able to read the books but I am glad I did.

    Echo, what a great book. I wasn’t sure what to expect – it begins like a fairy tale and grabs the reader. You follow 4 different stories that are connected through a harmonica. The book starts shortly after WWI in Germany and ends in 1951 in the USA. Don’t let the size of the book scare you away – it reads quickly, the characters draw you in and you are sure to shed a tear or two. Reminded me a little of Holes on how the stories are all interconnected.

    Out of the Darkness, I am still plowing through it. Not because it is not a great book but because of the content. It starts with a school explosion in Texas (that really happened) and the goes back to the events before the story started. Naomi Vargas is living in Texas with her half siblings and her step father, her mom has died. Her step dad and her siblings are white, she is Mexican. She is not accepted in the new town. She befriends Wash Fuller, an African American. They fall in love and have to hide it from everyone. To make matters worse, her step father wants her as more than a daughter – you know the book is not going to end well. I am not going to lie – I want Naomi and Wash to be able to fall in love and live a happy life – but it is not going to happen…I am going to finish…

  6. This week I finished 2 books: Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda (#15) and A Silent Voice vol. 1 (#16). Simon vs THSA is a fun, fast read appropriate for middle school and high school readers. It is mostly upbeat with romance, school drama and a bit of a mystery thrown in to keep readers interested.

    A Silent Voice, part of a manga series, is also suitable for MS and HS readers. I’m not a manga or comic book reader but found this book good. It deals with bullying, disabilities and the impact of bullying on others.

  7. This week I finished two books, All Involved and Red Queen. All Involved shows you strikingly different points views of 1992 Los Angeles. The views go from different gang members to a firefighter and nurse. It forces you to think. Very good.

    Red Queen is a good fantasy book with love, betrayal and, of course, special abilities. Even though the plot wasn’t entirely new, it was a fun read to a new fantasy world.

  8. This week:
    * The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl, Vol. 1 and Vol. 2 by Ryan North (absolutely loved it, funny and cute)
    * Drowned City: Hurricane Katrina and New Orleans by Don Brown (simple and lovely way to get across the story of New Orleans and Katrina)
    * Rot & Ruin by Jonathan Maberry (reread, loved it just as much)
    * Trollhunters by Daniel Kraus (didn’t enjoy very much, not a fan of the narrator’s narrative voice or the story itself)
    * Charm & Strange by Stephanie Kuehn (reread, enjoyed better the second time)

  9. Almost zero progress this week, but I’m excited about the pile of books I’ve collected to keep working on the challenge. Besides needing to finish Lumberjanes and Lair of Dreams, I’ve now got The Born Frees, Nimona, Sally Ride. Happy reading/listening this week.

  10. I finished Cleopatra in Space and Nimona yesterday! Great books to read after an active weekend of running and hiking! Nimona was an interesting take on villains and I enjoyed it. Cleopatra in Space is a neat idea for a story!

    P.S. to have the math equation to prove I am an human below the Post Comment is kinda annoying. Could it be between the website and post comment? Thanks!

  11. Two finished over the last two weeks, bringing me up to 15. Six of Crows I got stuck on for a little while really but it picked up steam at the end. Dumplin’ was everything I’m looking for in a book and I had to try really hard not to stay up into the wee hours to finish in one sitting.

    Still listening to Echo and chipping away at RBG (I have trouble following through with non-fic no matter how much I like it). I also just started Challenger Deep which I’m reading for a book club. So far very weird.

    My personal goal for this year’s challenge is to read at least one book from each list.

  12. Slight delay, due to fact I went and got married last month :), so had some time off.
    Two books on the go now – Simon vs. the homo sapiens agenda & Because you’ll never meet me. Ashfall also in the “waiting to be read” pile.

  13. I’ve completed 15 books so far. Only 10 more to go. Very excited to be so far so fast. My favorite books so far are Trashed by Derf. I’ve never learned so much about garbage or the seriously sad state our planet is in because of how we dispose of garbage. Not to mention plastic, man, after reading this book, I hate plastic! This Strange Wilderness is my other favorite about Mr. Audubon. I had never realized how many species of birds have done extinct in such a short time from over hunting. I also never realized what a fascinating and dysfunctional life Mr. Audubon led. His wife must have had an endless amount of patience; she didn’t see him for most of their marriage. Can’t wait to hit Waistcoats and Weaponry. Currently reading Echo and Gabi, a Girl in Pieces.

  14. I’ve missed a few weeks of check-ins, so here we go…

    Bones and All (cannibalism!) – https://bookcurious.wordpress.com/2016/03/01/bones-and-all/

    Undocumented – https://bookcurious.wordpress.com/2016/03/13/undocumented/

    Roller Girl – https://bookcurious.wordpress.com/2016/03/16/roller-girl/

    We Should All Be Feminists – https://bookcurious.wordpress.com/2016/03/18/we-should-all-be-feminists/

    I have a grand total of 9 books now. 25 feels really far away!

  15. OK. I am up to 13 books so far! I have been so busy reading that I haven’t had a chance to check in!

    I’ve read so far:
    March: Book One (March, #1)
    Book of a Thousand Days
    SuperMutant Magic Academy
    The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl, Vol. 2: Squirrel You Know It’s True
    The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl, Vol. 1: Squirrel Power
    The Fangirl’s Guide to the Galaxy: A Handbook for Girl Geeks
    Symphony for the City of the Dead: Dmitri Shostakovich and the Siege of Leningrad
    Library of Souls (Miss Peregrine’s Peculiar Children, #3)
    We Should All Be Feminists
    Gabi, a Girl in Pieces
    What If?: Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions
    Between the World and Me

    Next up: Cinder and Humans of New York!

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