Winter 2015 Book Challenge: November Check-In

My hopes for this reading challenge haven't been high, because I've been taking an unintentional blogging and reading break. Not because I've been watching HGTV all day, e'ry day (#fixerupper!), but because sometimes I just get burnt out with using my brain and decide to take a little mental vacation. All this considered, I didn't do terrible for the first month of the Semi-Charmed Winter 2015 Book Challenge!

Here's where I'm at with my Preliminary List:

5 points: Read a book that has between 100 and 200 pagesThe Giver by Lois Lowry (November 23, 2015)
10 points: Read a debut book by any author | Modern Romance by Aziz Ansari (November 22, 2015)
10 points: Read a book that does not take place in your current country of residence | After You by Jojo Moyes 
10 points: Read a book that someone else has already used for the challenge. | The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows (Chosen by Jenna @ Hello Sweet Sunbeams)
15 points: Read a book published under a pseudonym | Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte 
15 points: Read a book with “boy,” “girl,” “man” or “woman” in the title | A Year of Biblical Womanhood by Rachel Held Evans or Running Like a Girl by Alexandra Heminsley
15 points: Read a book with a one-word title Sold by Patricia McCormick 
20 points: Read a book with a person's first and last name in the title | The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin (November 19, 2015)
20 points: Read a book with a verb in the titleBig Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert (November 3, 2015)
30 points: Read two books with the same title (by different authors) | TBD (My back-up is Revolution by Russell Brand and Revolution by Deborah Wiles, but I want to see what other readers come up with) 
30 points: Read a nonfiction book and a fiction book about the same subject | Let It Snow by John Green and Being Santa Claus: What I Learned about the True Meaning of Christmas by Sal Lizard


The Giver by Lois Lowry (192 pages, ★)
I've been meaning to read this book for some time because I feel like it's one of those books that everyone except me read in high school. Overall, I get why so many people rave about it. I think it's a terrific foray into dystopian YA literature, even for kids who may not be big readers. This was a solid four stars for me.

Modern Romance by Aziz Ansari (277 pages, ★)
I was expecting this to be a more humor-genre book, and although it was funny, it wasn't what I anticipated. I give Ansari credit for the amount of research and thought that was put into this. He manages to intertwine fascinating sociological and anthropological studies with his unique sense of humor really well. I particularly enjoyed his chapter on modern romance across several different cultures. If he continues to write in the future, I will definitely read it!

Loved, loved, loved! When you read as much as I do, it's really hard for a book to stick with me. But I know for a fact that this one will. The fact that Zevin was able to write beautiful funny, light-hearted moments, as well as tragic, melancholy moments all with the same grace and precision was just plain skillful. I loved all the characters, even the warped, unlikeable ones, which I think is yet another testament to her writing. For my fellow book nerds, if you like books about books, this is a great one. I would definitely read more from her!

I totally plan to read this again when I'm in need of some writing inspiration. Gilbert's musings on "creative living beyond fear" are equally parts nurturing and encouraging, with some tough love thrown in for good measure. I felt like she was speaking directly to my fears, insecurities, and failings when it comes to expressing my own creativity and she challenged the way I write and set me on a path to fall more deeply in love with my craft. I dedicated a whole post to this one!

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