My New Year's resolutions included reading more books than last year and trying to meet my goal of reaching 10,000 steps per day as I am not only a reader, but a pedometer geek. July wasn't a great month for reading although I did manage to read six books bringing my total for the year to forty-nine books, which is twenty books shy of what I read last year. With five months to go, I seem to be on my way to completing my resolution to read more books than last year.
Along with my resolution to read more books, I also participate in several bookcrossing.com challenges. One of the challenges is the SIY (set-it-yourself) challenge, and July was the start of this quarter's challenge. I managed to complete three of the sixteen books that I challenged myself to read this quarter. The other challenge is the number of pages read challenge (again, I set the goal myself). In this case, I have to admit that I don't recall exactly how many pages I challenged myself to read, but I believe I said that I would read at least 20,000 pages this year. In July, the books that I completed totaled 1500 pages which brings my total for the year to 15,618 pages read. With the time remaining, I believe that I can hold to my resolution and complete my challenge.
As such, in the month of July, I read the following books:
Ernest and Ethel by Raymond Briggs
A Concise Chinese-English Dictionary for Lovers by Xiaolu Guo *
Don't Blink by James Patterson/Howard Roughan *
Shadow of the Hegemon by Orson Scott Card *
Pobby and Dingan by Ben Rice
A War of Gifts by Orson Scott Card
All in all, it was a diverse set of reads. The book by Briggs is a memoir of his parents' lives together; however, it is told in the unique style of cartoons. Like many of Briggs' books, his cartoon drawings are complex and his humor shows through, but this one tells the story of his parents--from the time they met until their deaths. While it may seem childish, it was anything but. It had its humorous moments as well as its sad moments, and it was worth the study and reading. I suspect that like other Briggs' books, it could be read again and again and the reader could take something different away from each perusal.
The novel by Xiaolu Guo is the story of a young Chinese woman who comes to London to study English. While there, she meets an older man (by about twenty years) and they end up living together. Her struggle to understand English coincides with her struggle to understand him and all the nuances of love. Written in a broken-English style, the author shows how Zhuong's English improves throughout the novel, but Z (as she is known by those she meets) never really 'gets' the reality of her love for this man. In the end, she returns to China a changed woman, a sadder woman for all her experiences.
Patterson/Roughan's novel was a typical suspense thriller that was chosen as July's read by my library book group. It was intentionally chosen for a lighter, summer read, and it lived up to its potential. It had twists and turns; it had Mafia hits and rogue cops. It had good guys and bad, betrayals and more. All in all, a quick, enjoyable read that can be easily forgotten.
Pobby and Dingan by Ben Rice was a novel about the effects of imaginary friends in a small town in the Outback of Australia. In this town, all the people are entranced with their opal mines and finding opals except for one young girl. She lives in a world in which her two best friends, Dingan and Pobby, are imaginary, but when they go missing, she becomes sick. In order to cure her, the whole town goes looking for them. It is her brother, though, that finally has to believe in them and find them before she can be restored to health. Ultimately, he finds them, but it is too late for them (and for his sister). Although the story has a sad ending, it is also uplifting in that it shows the power of belief and faith...that not everything has to be seen to be believed.
Two of my reads were part of the Ender series by Orson Scott Card. Shadow of the Hegemon is the sequel to Ender's Shadow which follows Bean, who was one of Ender's soldiers in the war against the Buggers. Now Bean and the other members of Ender's toon are back on earth and find themselves being used by their nations for military power and propaganda. Only Bean escapes capture and unites with Peter Wiggin, Ender's brother, in order to help save the other members and the world from collapsing into war and chaos. A War of Gifts, a novella, is a Ender story about the effect of gifts, and features Ender and several other notable members of Ender's toon. Both were good reads, and I am fast becoming hooked on these novels. Although I generally don't read much science fiction, I plan on finishing the rest of the "Shadow" series before going on to finish all of the "Ender" series.
On a much different note, this pedometer geek managed to log over 233,000 steps on my pedometer. Although I haven't quite managed to consistently hit 10K every day, July was my best month so far this year. I am hoping that August will be the month that I log 300,000+ steps, and so far it has been. If I can only keep it up...
*a book from my SIY challenge
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Doctors without Borders
American Diabetes Association