Books and More Books: Reaching Your Reading Goals for the Year

Like many of you, in January each year, I turn to Goodreads and list my reading goals. After picking a total count of books to read, you then check off books as they are completed. Sounds simple right?


It is now March April (yikes!) and I’ve found that things get dicey without a plan. I’ve got three bookshelves full of to-be-read delights screaming “me first.” Each day, the Kindle snickers at me and winks when Amazon’s e-mails lure me to buy more. Book lovers know the happily vicious cycle as the TBR list grows and grows.

My goal for the year = 26 books
Books read to date = 1
Books behind schedule = 5

I swear I saw my Kindle doing some Beyoncé “Drunk in Love” gyrations to mock me.

DancingSexy Mama via Mzacha at

Not willing to admit defeat, I’ve decided to put a more concrete plan in place to not only reach the reading goal, but to also tackle books that have been lingering in the wings. I’ve read a bounty of book reading challenges, so I’ve morphed categories from a few and made a list of titles to tackle versus having the full list continue to be a failing free for all.

Book Re-Reads (2)

Salem’s Lot by Stephen King
Carrie by Stephen King

“Literary” Novels (2)

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
We Were the Mulvaneys by Joyce Carol Oates

New Adult (2)

Wait for You by J. Lynn
Slammed by Colleen Hoover

Local Author (1)

You Cannoli Die Once by Shelley Costa

I’ve been lucky to get to know Shelley via our local Sisters in Crime chapter. Hers is a great story in perseverance and commitment to craft. The path to this exciting debut novel covered years with Shelley working in the publishing industry, earning her doctorate in English, building a career publishing short stories and being willing to tweak the location of her series to find a successful niche. The extra joy is that her debut is now nominated for an Agatha Award for Best First Novel by Malice Domestic. Squee! Basil Instinct is book two of Shelley’s Italian Restaurant Cozy Mystery series and it launches in June.

Shout out to Donald Ray Pollock and Lisa and Laura Roecker, later on the list, who are Ohio writers I’ve also met. Get to know and support writers in your community!

Writing Craft (1)

Characters, Emotions & Viewpoint: Techniques and Exercises for Crafting Dynamic Characters and Effective Viewpoints by Nancy Kress

Published in 2014 (1)

To be determined

2013 Hits (2)

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
Wool by Hugh Howey

Wild Cards (4)

Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead
The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black
Divergent by Veronica Roth – This is my one done.
Insurgent by Veronica Roth

Been On the Shelf Over a Year (11)

Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold
The Warmest December by Bernice McFadden
The Devil All the Time by Donald Ray Pollock
The Passage by Justin Cronin – I started this, but admit to being stuck. Interesting, but dense and slow getting into it.
The Lottery and Other Stories by Shirley Jackson
Under the Dome by Stephen King
The Liar Society by Lisa and Laura Roecker
Wendy Williams Experience by Wendy Williams
Pariah by Bob Fingerman
Robopocalypse by Daniel Wilson

How are you doing towards reading goal for the year? Are you participating in any challenges? Any books that have been a slow start for you?


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Beauty in Stages: Reflections on My Younger Self

Closeup decorative grunge vintage woman with beautiful long hair

Birth to the Early Years – The doctor said you were the mirror image of your older sister when you came out.  You had a little less hair and smaller eyes, but were quite similar in black and white ‘70s photo print.  You spent a lot of time chilling in a high-chair while watching people swirl around you.  Observation is a smart move.  Keep in mind actions over any words you ever hear.  There is beauty in your curiosity.

Kindergarten – On picture day, you are going to want to put water from the fountain on your hair.  Yes, the other kids are doing it to slick down wayward cowlicks.  Trust me on this one.  Your hair is a beautiful, thick kinky grade that slicks by oil better than water.  The water will turn Mom’s plaited masterpiece into a dense poof, which equals funky pictures.  Don’t worry.  Though Mom gets mad, she buys the pictures anyway.  I wish you knew that kinky hair is cool.  You’ll forget that around fourth grade.  You’ll be too young to understand beauty doesn’t come from a bottle and be swayed by the pressure to appear to have “good hair.”  There is beauty in your naivety.

First to Third Grade – Having learned from the water bomb incident a few years back, you now take rocking pics.  You’ve thrived through a family move and three schools in as many years.  I love the mischievous dance of light in your eyes and your spirit for laughter and fun.  Tuck that away.  There is beauty in your joy.

Fourth to Six Grade – Dare we call these the awkward years?  In fifth grade, you’ll wish for wider hips to balance out your sprouting height and give you curves.  Nice wish, smarty!  Oh, you get a bounty of hips later.  There is beauty in your wishes.

Seventh to Eighth Grade – You struggle to embrace a style to make an unfortunate haircut work for you.  You look at the other girls who have blossomed, then establish a core of buddies who are gawky like you.  By eighth grade, the bad haircut has grown out and you find your wings.  Make the cheerleading squad, make the women’s choir, made the Junior Theater Ensemble for next year.  You are singing and dancing and fearless.  Remember that feeling.  There is beauty in your life flame.

High School – The makings of a moody poet are afoot.  Your style is a parade of all black topped by an oversized wool coat, a swiped hand-me-down from your father, and tassel boots.  You move in and around these years as parts of your world crash and turn.  There is beauty in your words.

The College Years – Walking to your own life beat, you avoid the freshmen 15 to tack on the junior 30.  Then 40.   Then 50.  I love your knack for tucking the rolls under looser fitting, yet still stylish clothes.  There is truth that it is what’s eating you from the inside that drives what you eat on the outside.  Slow down.  There is beauty in your learning.

Mid-20s – So this is what the work world is like?  You want to go back to college now.  To take more time.  To get more sleep.  Yeah, I know you do.  You fall into your first career then pace your footing in the business world, teach yourself about all things Microsoft and thrive.  There is beauty in your focus.

Rounding 30s – You feel like you’ve gone the path of the clichéd hell in a hand basket.  Where goals put in journals a decade ago are not met and dreams are a distant memory.  You walk away from one career to cast yourself into another.  You learn all the chatter from the outside world is their issue not yours.  You learn to be mindful.  And if something fails, you know you can reinvent yourself.  If I could give any message to my younger self, it is that simple truth.  There is beauty in your change.

This piece was written as part of the Beauty of a Woman Blogfest.  Make sure you swing by August McLaughlin’s fabulous blog to read and share thoughts on the other pieces by Wednesday March 3 for a chance to win one of two $50 gift cards.

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