2013 South Asian Challenge

I did not complete this challenge last year, so I am determined to do it this year!  The details and my commitment level are below. 

From Swapna's site, here are some basics:

There are two ways for a book to qualify for the South Asian Challenge

(1) A book must be by a South Asian author.  For these purposes, South Asia includes the following countries: India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal, and the Maldives. 

2) A book must be about South Asia.  In this case, it can be set in a South Asian country or be about South Asians living abroad.  It can also be a biography or memoir of a South Asian, or of a non-South Asian traveling or working in South Asia.  In this case, the authordoes not need to be South Asian, as long as the subject matter focuses on the region, peoples, or cultures in some way.

Any type book qualifies, as long as it meets one of the two guidelines above - a cookbook, short story or essay collection, travel guide - I’m not picky!

What dates does the challenge run?

January 1, 2013 - December 31, 2013

What are the levels?

I can choose how many books I want to read. I am hoping to match my number last year, so I will pick three. 

The books I read for the challenge are below: 


Posted on Monday, February 18, 2013 at 3:54PM by Registered Commenter[beastmomma] in | CommentsPost a Comment

2013 Chunkster Reading Challenge


January 1 - December 31, 2013


I failed to complete this challenge last year, but I am excited to try again.  The details of the challenge and my commitment are below. 

Definition of a chunkster:A chunkster is 450 pages or more of ADULT literature, whether non-fiction or fiction. A chunkster should be a challenge.
If you read books in large print, your books will need to be 525 pages or more. The average large type book is 10-15% larger or more so it’s a fair estimate.
The rules:

  • No audio books. (There are exceptions to this rule.)
  • No e-books allowed. This was discussed in much detail in the 2011 challenge. The short version: a chunkster isn’t a challenge if you’re reading it on an e-reader. (There are exceptions to this rule.)
  • Essay, poetry, and short story collections will be allowedCollections have to be read in their entirety to count. If you’ve needed a reason to finally pick up your copy of The Collected Works Of ____ now is the time.
  • Books may crossover with other challenges.
  • Anyone may join. (If you don’t have a blog, just leave a comment on this post with your challenge level and your progress throughout the challenge.) 
  • You don’t need to list your books ahead of time.
  • Once you’ve picked a level, that’s it. You’re committed to it!

You must pick a level of participation:

  1. The Chubby Chunkster – this option is for the readers who want to dabble in large tomes, but really doesn't want to commit to much more than that. FOUR Chunksters is all you need to finish this challenge.
  2. The Plump Primer - this option is for the slightly heavier reader who wants to commit to SIX Chunksters over the next twelve months. 
  3. Do These Books Make my Butt Look Big? - this option is for the reader who can't resist bigger and bigger books and wants to commit to SIX Chunksters from the following categories: 2 books which are between 450 - 550 pages in length2 books which are 551 - 750 pages in length2 books which are GREATER than 750 pages in length (for ideas, please refer to the book suggestions pagefor some books which fit into these categories).
  4. Mor-book-ly Obese - This is for the truly out of control chunkster. For this level of challenge you must commit to EIGHT or more Chunksters of which three tomes MUST be 750 pages or more. You know you want to.....go on and give in to your cravings.

My level of participation is the Chubby Chunkster.   The books I completed for the challenge are listed below: 



Posted on Monday, February 18, 2013 at 3:47PM by Registered Commenter[beastmomma] in | CommentsPost a Comment

The Sunday Salon: 2012 Reading Recap

The Sunday Salon.com

After a whirlwind 2011 in which I acheived ZERO of my reading goals,  I was excited for a humble, but reading filled 2012.  I had two goals related to reading: complete at least 12 books and complete one of the reading challenges of which I am so found.  I surpassed one goal and failed miserably at the other.  Amazingly I completed 15 books.  You can see the full list here. One thing which helped me meet my reading goal is that I tried to find books that were easy to read in short increments; you can read more about that process here. Unfortunately, I did not complete a SINGLE reading challenge

My reading goals for 2013 are simple: 

  • Complete 15 books (one more than I did last year) 
  • Finish at least one reading challenge (one more than I did last year)
  • Write at least one Sunday Salon post a month (I have been incredibly slack in this department)

If you feel comfortable sharing your goals with me, I would love to hear them.  The rest of my goals can be found on my thoughts page which is here.  Happy Reading All! 

Posted on Monday, February 18, 2013 at 3:20PM by Registered Commenter[beastmomma] in | CommentsPost a Comment

Reading Between Diaper Changes

For as long as I can remember, being a reader has been a strong part of my identity.  My love of reading is my standard response to questions about my hobbies and appears on lists about random facts about myself.  One of my favorite things is to get lost in the pages of a good story.  Once my daughter came along, my identity changed and the only thing I had time to get lost in was the web of parenthood.  I wanted to find my way back to the pages of a good book.  I needed to reclaim the reader part of my identity.  I was not sure how I could do it when I constantly felt tired and overwhelmed. 

The answer came as I was trying to read some of The Emperor of All Maladies by Siddhartha Mukerjee while my father-in-law held the baby and Partner was working on his laptop. I kept losing my place because I could not focus.  I felt so discouraged.  Then, I picked up a magazine and read an article.  Even though I do not remember what the article was about, I do remember feeling recharged and hopeful.  I realized then that since almost all my routines and patterns had been changed since having a baby, maybe my reading should too. 

I started to carve out short bits of time to read, by short bits I mean five minutes or even less.  I am part of a book club, so I had the chance to see what books lend themselves more easily to this format and which do not. As I look over the list, two patterns emerge. Books with small chapters and on topics that are of interest to me lend themselves to being read in small increments.  Over the past sixteen months, here are some books that are really great to read in between diaper changes or in the midst of constant chaos:  

  • Operating Instructions by Anne Lammott: Seems cliche to begin with a memoir about the first year of parenthood, but the book was perfect for someone looking to get back on the reading bandwagon.  Her entries are short and insightful, reflecting the chaos of new parenthood.  You can read a little in one setting and dive back into the story easily.  
  • Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins: Actually all three of the series are good for reading in short bits.  However, the premise of the story is pretty disturbing.  This is technically young adult, so many of the chapters are shorter by design.  In spite of (or may be because of) the heightened intensity, the story goes quickly and can be digested in small bursts.   
  • Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn: I did not know anything about this book before it was selected for book club; that turned out to be a good thing.  The story was engaging enough to keep me reading, but also moved at a pace that lent itself to being picked up and put down quite frequently. Each chapter gives both background information and a clue about the mystery unfolding.  You could stop after a few pages to digest or keep going.  
  •  March by Geraldine Brooks: This book did require more "heavy lifting" than the others in that I had a hard time getting into it.  However, I was so glad that I kept going after the first chapter because the story just took hold of me.  Some books I love for the character development or for the ease with which I can enter the world, I liked this one for both those reasons and because of the way it illustrated an important social justice struggle. 

In the coming year, my reading patterns and routine will change again. We are starting to let my daughter put herself to sleep which means that after I put her down, I do not engage with her for 30 minutes.  The pain on my heart strings is intense as she cries, but a HUGE silver lining is the chance to get absorbed in a good story.  I sense that I may have another post soon about books that are good to read when you are trying to tune out a crying child :) 

P.S.-- You can find my full review of the books mentioned above: here, here, here, and here

Posted on Sunday, February 10, 2013 at 4:56PM by Registered Commenter[beastmomma] | CommentsPost a Comment

The Age of Miracles

From goodreads

On a seemingly ordinary Saturday in a California suburb, Julia and her family awake to discover, along with the rest of the world, that the rotation of the earth has suddenly begun to slow. The days and nights grow longer and longer, gravity is affected, the environment is thrown into disarray. Yet as she struggles to navigate an ever-shifting landscape, Julia is also coping with the normal disasters of everyday life—the fissures in her parents’ marriage, the loss of old friends, the hopeful anguish of first love, the bizarre behavior of her grandfather who, convinced of a government conspiracy, spends his days obsessively cataloging his possessions. As Julia adjusts to the new normal, the slowing inexorably continues.

Pages: 273 (Hardcover)

Rating: 6 out of 10

Source: Checked out from the library

Date Completed: December 20, 2012

The Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker was the December selection for the Partners and Professors book club.  I did not know much about the book, but had seen the name on several lists for good reads.  The best description I have came from a fellow book clubber who said that the book is both a coming of age and an end of the world story.  Julia, the narrator, goes through some typical teenage stuff including her first crush and changing relationship with her parents.  The unique part of the book is that her teenage years unfold against the backdrop of the world coming to an end. 

I wanted to like the book more, but found that the story dragged.  There were many allusions to something grand coming at the end of the story.  Unfortunately, I found that it just puttered out. I wanted more of the world coming to an end piece instead of teenage drama.  Several story lines did not end well which added to my frustration.  During book club we were trying to figure out why the book was on so well received and we concluded that it was an interesting premise.  For me, the premise did not live up to the promise. 

Posted on Sunday, February 10, 2013 at 4:31PM by Registered Commenter[beastmomma] in | CommentsPost a Comment