Friday, July 28, 2017

Book Bingo

INGRID THOFT
Our visit with the librarians from the Seattle Public Library and a comment on Monday’s blog inspired today’s post.  Earlier this week, Ramona talked about the teacher who insisted that she read books that challenge her.  Good advice, no doubt, but how to actually do that with so many books and so little time?

The Seattle Public Library's Book Bingo card


One solution is to play “Book Bingo.”  The Seattle Public Library offers book bingo every summer, as do other libraries.  You can complete the card and be eligible for a prize drawing, but even just reading one selection out of your comfort zone will stretch your mind a bit.  And as Linda and Andrea reminded us on Thursday, you can always “bother the librarian!” for suggestions!


I reviewed the Book Bingo card and was intrigued by square that said, “published the year one of your parents were born.” Hmmm.  I’d never considered seeking out books published in 1936 and 1939 (sorry, Mum!), but Goodreads has lists of the top books published by year.  It turns out those years were treasure troves for great books.


Papa Hemingway

What does 1936 have to offer?  Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell, Agatha Christie’s The A.B.C Murders, or The Snows of Kilimanjaro by Ernest Hemingway.  Should I tackle Finnegan’s Wake by James Joyce?  That’s one of the options for 1939, but that might be too much of a challenge!  How about The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck or Raymond Chandler’s The Big Sleep?

Other squares will be easier to fill.  In the biography and memoir category, Hunger by Roxane Gay is at the top of the list.  I also know what my choice will be in the “author of color” category. I’ve heard amazing things about The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas.  A Separate Peace by John Knowles fits the bill for a book I read in school.

You know what’s going to be tough?  Choosing something for the “genre that is new to you" square.  I don’t generally read science fiction, fantasy, or romance.  I think I’ll have to ask Linda and Andrea for some suggestions!



Our ever-growing TBR piles!


Reds and readers, do you purposely choose books that challenge you?  How would you fill in some of the squares of Book Bingo?

49 comments:

  1. I don’t necessarily choose challenging books . . . and James Joyce is not on my list of authors I enjoy reading
    But here’s how I’d fill some of the bingo squares [what a great idea!]
    Science fiction . . . anything written by Isaac Asimov
    Recommended by a young person . . . any Chris Grabenstein Lemoncello Library book
    Poetry . . . anything by Robert Frost
    Genre I don’t usually read [zombie books] . . . World War Z

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  2. I gave up "challenging" myself with reading after I got out of school. Reading is something I do for fun, and I'm not looking to expand my already overflowing TBR list.

    However, my hat is off to all those who do. Occasionally, I think I should read outside my comfort zones more often, but then I drown that voice by picking up another book.

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  3. Oh, I love this idea! A nice way to read books you might not have picked up on your own. Bev at My Reader's Block (https://myreadersblock.blogspot.com/p/blog-page_24.html) finds and runs challenges as well, including scavenger hunts and (used to at least) vintage mystery bingos; here's one of the latter: https://myreadersblock.blogspot.com/2014/11/vintage-mystery-bingo-2015.html

    My son, who's five now, has done a summer reading challenge through our local library every summer of his life--easy since we still mostly read to him (and his books aren't long). But it's a thrill for all of us when he goes in and signs his list and gets to color his badge. Reading is already fun in its own right, but this adds some extra fun to it.

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    1. Art, that's such a sweet image of your son coloring in his badge! I think the "extra fun" you refer to can plant and then grow a lifetime love of reading.

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  4. The Book Bingo card looks like a great way to stretch your reading muscles.

    Like Mark, I mostly read for fun and relaxation, but I do step out of my comfort zone from time to time. Although I have been burned many times by modern "literary" fiction (Doesn't anybody over there know how to tell a good story anymore? Or create characters I actually want to spend time with? Or understand that you don't kill the dog?) I'll still dip a toe in that pool every now and then. It's far more likely that I'll stretch by reading non-fiction, to learn something new about our world, or history, or someone I find intriguing. The Book Bingo card looks like a great way to prompt that kind of exploration.

    I downloaded the card from Ingrid's link. You need to fill the whole card to be eligible for the grand prize, but reading any five in a row would make you a winner in my eyes. And maybe, if there's a category that stumps you, Reds readers will have some good suggestions.

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    1. Stretching reading muscles - love this phrase!

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    2. Is this a general challenge, Gigi? You're on!

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    3. Gigi, I love your comments on modern "literary" fiction. I have had very similar experiences, with similar personal reaction. I find it affirming to hear someone else say it!

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    4. Oh, thank you, Susan. I thought I was the only one, too! We'll affirm each other!

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  5. Ingrid, romance is going to be a piece of cake for you because our own Jenn McKinlay published ABOUT A DOG in May, and has another coming in September. And when you're finished with those, try Kristan Higgins.

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    1. Or just go with a safe bet and read Nora Roberts' latest. It probably isn't what you expect it to be.

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  6. Put me in the 'fun and relaxation' column. And most of the time I'm grateful to have a chance to read just ONE book for pure pleasure (as opposed to all the work-related reading.) When I was in a book group I read a lot of books that I wouldn't otherwise have read (other people got to pick) and that was good exercise. My TBR pile is ginormous.

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    1. Hallie, my TBR pile has grown to PILES. At last count, I have 170 books waiting to be read. I hope the saying "we buy books because we think we are buying the time to read them" is accurate.

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    2. All my reading is for pleasure, and I'm delighted to spend hours each day doing just that. As for TBR pile? I have a stack always on Kindle, samples. And once a week I make a decision to purge or read. Having only so many shots left to shoot and all that

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    3. I think that's a good policy, Ann. But how do you decide?

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    4. I read the sample. Then i either buy or delete.

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  7. I hated reading when I was in high school. They always made you read stuff that I invariably had no interest in. Just because something is old does not automatically confer "classic" status on it, regardless of what teachers think.

    So I hated reading for the longest time. But when I could read for my own pure personal enjoyment, I loved it. And look where it has now taken me.

    So I feel no particular need or desire to "challenge" myself regarding what I read. Good luck to those who do.

    Ingrid, if you want to read a science fiction novel, there are two ways to go about it. You can slightly cheat and read a Star Trek prose novel, they are usually pretty good. But if you want a pure sci-fi kind of read, may I suggest David Weber's On Basilisk Station. It is the first book in the Honor Harrington series and it is the only pure sci-fi type of book that I read. It's military sci-fi but the stuff is just superb.

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    1. If you want fantasy, rather than science fiction, grab something by Jim Butcher. His Harry Dresden novels are basically action/mystery with the bonus of wizardry, and his Cinder Spires series is sort of steampunk/fantasy SF all rolled into one. With excellent cats.

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    2. I, too, am a huge Harry Dresden fan. I wish Jim Butcher would finish the book in progress!

      Or read Rivers of London by Ben Aaronovitch. One of my favorite books ever.

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    3. Debs, I keep wanting to get to Rivers of London!

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  8. Ingrid, that is a great idea about book bingo.

    If you are interested in trying science fiction, try Isaac Asimov or Ray Bradbury? If you are interested in fantasy, I loved Harry Potter. I tried it twice before I liked it on the third try!

    If you want to try romance, there are many types of romance. Historical romances are my favorite, though I am not a big fan of romances these days. I love the Amanda Scott novels with different Scottish Highlands families. Some people say that the Outlander series is a romance. I think it is a mix of history, mystery, and romance.

    Danielle Steel is a romance novelist and I liked the Duchess, her latest one. The Duchess is one of her best.

    Always loved to read. Even when I was in college and had to read boring books for class, I found interesting books in the same topic to supplement the boring books that I had to read.

    Diana

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  9. When my kids were in middle and high school, I "read along" with them because we would have something noncontroversial to discuss. I haven't ventured into science fiction or fantasy since.

    I recently read Katherine Heiny's Standard Deviation, in which the ex-wife unexpectedly dies. I was all over it: previous medical history, poison, lethal drug injection between the toes...what was it? "It" was glossed over as a plot device. Back to my pile of mysteries/suspense/thrillers.

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  10. I'm another who doesn't feel the need to "challenge" myself. As an English major in college I read a lot of great books and I read a lot of books that were...not, at least in my opinion.

    I've also tried modern "lit fic" occasionally, and had the same "Is there a story here?" reaction.

    I pick up stuff that interests me. I read across genres, but I don't have the time or inclination to read something that doesn't. (BTW, I read "Finnegan's Wake" and "Ulysses" in college - oy.)

    Mary/Liz

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  11. I read everything that lands in front of my face. Like a magnet. But I stop quickly if I find myself thinking of things other than the words I'm mentally verbalizing and not understanding a word.

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  12. Oh Ingrid, for science fiction read The Martian! It's absolutely great. And for choose a book by its cover? I'm thinking The Burning Girl by Claire Messud. Terrific cover! And webknow she's fabulous For a book I read in high school? I did this last year, and read the Age of Innocence. Wow! Astonishingly good. I am a huge Edith Wharton fan anyway…
    Getting out of my comfort zone? I have on my bedside pile Now: the physics of time. I cannot wait to read it! I figure it will unlock all of the secrets.
    Thank you Ingrid and SPL! This is great!
    Let's do a jungle red bingo!

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    1. I read "The Martian," and loved it! My husband had urged me to it when it was self-published many moons ago. Ha!

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    2. Well, I'm in my way to the library right now, and I think I'll look for some science fiction today. As a child I read a lot of it, although I don't remember authors or titles from then. When I was around twelve years old I entered a writing contest in which I had to create a science fiction world. I was one of the winners in my age group.(I won a bracelet, which I still have.) And back when I was in college a few decades ago, and in the first couple of years after graduation, I did a LOT of Sci-Fi reading. Maybe it's time for me to get back to it.

      DebRo

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  13. I'm a member of LibraryThing, which has all sorts of challenges, and once in a while I'll participate in one. I try to read widely, and make extensive use of our wonderful local public library. My last batch included Waking Up White, In Calabria, and Astrophysics for People in a Hurry. Unfortunately I had to give up on them; the drugs I'm taking after getting my knee replaced are making me a little too fuzzy. So I'm doing a bunch of comfort re-reads right now, including spending some quality time with Clare and Russ, which I have been wanting to do, but couldn't quite get to because of all the new stuff.

    I used to read a lot of F&SF, and I hope those of you who want to try some will look further than Isaac Asimov, who IMHO desperately needed an assertive editor. For fantasy, try Guy Kay, maybe The Lions of Al-Rassan, or Ursula LeGuin. UKL wrote some wonderful SF as well, including The Dispossessed and The Left Hand of Darkness. Alfred Bester, Gene Wolfe, Sarah Zettel, Walter Miller, Chip Delaney... the list of excellent SF goes on and on.

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    1. Also, you ladies who like strong, interesting female characters probably ought not count on Asimov. He was a highly intelligent and charming guy, but a man of his time. If you want strong SF women, read Lois McMaster Bujold.

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  14. I wish I had time to read that many books! I find I can't read fiction when I'm writing.
    Ingrid, if you want to try fantasy/SF read Connie Willis. She's brilliant

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    1. Such great suggestions. Lois McMaster Bujold is brilliant. And Connie Willis is in a class by herself and I don't think her books should be classified as genre. Read Blackout.

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    2. I third the suggestion for Connie Willis. Her time traveling historian books are all on my favorite-ever books list. Starting with Dooms Day Book and following in order of publication To Say Nothing of the Dog (which is also hilarious), Blackout, and All Clear. The only two that need to be read in order are Blackout and All Clear, dealing with WWII, with Blackout first. Dooms Day Book deals with the plague of the Fourteenth Century, in 1348. To Say Nothing of the Dog is mostly in the Victorian era. They are all set in England. One of these days I want to read them all again.

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  15. With so much of the literary fiction I've read, including books that received rave reviews, it seems to me that there's no beginning, middle, or end. I'm sure it's well-written by literary fiction standards, but it's not my "cup of tea."

    When I'm not reading mysteries, I read memoirs, or I set up research projects for myself and read everything I can find on a particular topic. Often it's a mystery I read that sparked my interest in the topic of choice.

    DebRo

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  16. I love the Book Bingo concept! I actually determined at the beginning of 2017 that I wanted to challenge myself more in my reading, so I started keeping a log of the books I read, and making notes when I hear an especially interesting review or recommendation. As part of that I have pushed myself into different genres, too. I think I might recommend this to my local library, which has an excellent summer reading program for children but only a cursory effort for adults.

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    1. It sounds like you're just the person to get this going at the library, Susan. Assuming your library would be interested...after the library post on Thursday, it sounds like a handful of readers are less than thrilled with their local libraries.

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  17. I love the book bingo idea, but would I ever do it? Hmmm. I already read widely, in all sorts of genres, even the occasional "lit fic" (I loved our Bel Canto virtual book group. Can we do that again this year, Lucy?) Right now I'm devouring chef memoirs and books about Arts and Crafts English garden design, which, as you might guess, are research, and squeezing in fiction (in print and audio) whenever I can. My TBR piles are precarious, and my office is so overloaded with unread books that I'm having to work somewhere else. A purge is coming!

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    1. Hmmmm . . . cooking and Arts and Crafts gardens . . . research, or pleasure reading that you'll find a way to work into a book somehow? I mean, if you use it in a book, you can write off all those lovely coffee table tomes as a business expense, right? I swear, you have the best gig going.

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  18. How fun! I made a summer reading book bingo for my middle school students. Next year I am adding "Read a book from the year your parents were born." Here's a link to my middle school one: https://goo.gl/zPHWG4 . Each bingo square has a link to a list of 6-10 books that would fit the bill! I can't wait for students to return to school and share what they read!

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  19. It's interesting to hear some of the thoughts about "lit fic" as Debs refers to it. For those of you who find it tedious, do you think the genre has actually changed over the years (no beginning, middle or end) or are your expectations different because of your love of mysteries?

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    1. Ingrid, I think it's changed slowly over the years. Literary fiction is a lot bleaker now. More literary characters are leading desperate, unfulfilling lives, and many are totally incapable of making the right decision about anything, ever. It gets to be too much, especially when not one character has any sort of redeeming quality. I don't care to get to The End feeling depressed. In mysteries, there may be death and suffering but justice nearly always comes.

      DebRo

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    2. I began to check out of the lit fic scene when I ran into one too many books about a bored male college professor having a midlife crisis. Too many first world problems. Most of those (tenured professor) authors wouldn't know an actual crisis if it bit off their left leg, plus their female characters were one-dimensional crap. Well, at least we know why their fictional wives left them. I just didn't find the books relatable except in a sort of exasperated, post-feminist, "well, of course he would think that, poor fragile darling" kind of way.

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  20. This Book Bingo looks like great fun! I don't know that I could attempt it this year, unless I fill in with already finished books, too. One of the things I've promised myself to do next week is tackle some of my TBR stacks and organize them into some sort of schedule. I do keep a running list with what I probably will read next, but my physical books need some tidying. One year I did the alphabet challenge, reading a book title for every letter of the alphabet. X is a killer.

    The category that excited me most on this Book Bingo card was the one for reading books published the years your parents were born. This requires me to go back to 1901 and 1910 (my mother was 43 and my father was 52 when I was born). I followed your lead, Ingrid, and went to Goodreads, but on the list page, I couldn't get anything to come up. However, when I went to Google and typed in the two subjects, the Goodreads lists links came up under the list titles of Popular Published 1901 Books and Popular 1910s Books. I had forgotten that Hounds of the Baskervilles was published in 1901, and so I was delighted to find it on the list. It's time for a reread of it anyway. The Goodreads list for 1910 wasn't helpful, as the books listed were 1911 and after, so I went back to Google. I actually found some more Goodreads lists for 1910, but I'm still trying to come up with one that was actually published in 1910 that I want to read. Of course, the category is for a year one of your parents was born. I'm going to do this part of the Bingo at some point.

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    1. I thought it was such a cool category, Kathy, and one I've never considered. I told my mom about it, which led to a really interesting conversation about whether she was aware of those books growing up, etc.

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    2. Did you see this list, Kathy?
      https://www.goodreads.com/list/show/93.Best_Books_of_the_Decade_1910_s

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    3. I think it's a great category, too. Yes, I did see that particular linked page, Ingrid, but the books I checked weren't 1910. Thanks for posting the link though. There are some other years I'd like to check out on it.

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    4. I loved this idea, too, and am going to look up my parents birth years--1907 and 1921. My mom was a mere twenty when they got married in 1941.

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