Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Summer Read-a-thon 2014 Part 1: Day 1

Greetings my wonderful readers! I hope your Tuesday went well and you spent just a few moments reading. I know I did:) It's time for me to update you on the progress of the first day in my Summer Read-a-thon challenge.

In a surprising turn of events I decided not to start my reading challenge with The Quick like I mentioned in my previous post. For the entire day yesterday until about 3 hours before midnight I fully planned on reading that book, but something forced to change my mind. That something happened to be a rather dreadful movie. In the few hours before midnight came around I wanted to make use of the free time I had before this marathon of reading, so I figured what better way than to watch another Jane Eyre adaption on my list. I only had one feature length film left on my watch list, so I wanted to get it out of the way and have the foundation for a future blog post. While I won't divulge what movie I watched until the actual Watch-a-thon post, I can say here and now that it may very well be the worst adaption yet. Within 30 minutes I was ready to give up and turn the movie off. At the hour mark I felt miserable and then 15 minutes later I felt even worse. By the end of the movie I was in a terrible mood and felt repulsed by the mere thought of reading a dark and slightly mysterious book. I desperately wanted to read something light and cheerful that would make me laugh. Luckily, on my recent trip to present one of my academic papers at a conference, I stopped in at a quaint used bookstore and found a copy of a book that I absolutely LOVED as child. The book that started my challenge was none other than Island of the Aunts by Eva Ibbotson.

This particular book has always held a special place in my heart because it started my love for all things written by Eva Ibbotson. Now before I start my praise about Island of the Aunts I do want to give you the details pertinent to the challenge. I completed the entire book in this first 24 hour period, which places my page count total so far up to 281 pages. Not a bad start if I do say so myself. Now on to the book. It's a wildly imaginative and fabulous tale about three older women (the titular aunts) and their very elderly father who live on a remote island caring for diseased and injured mythical beings. The three women realize they won't live forever, so they decide to kidnap some children who they deem worthy enough to take over the island for them. I won't reveal any more about the plot because I desperately want you to pick the book up for yourself.

I do want to point out that the most wonderful aspect about this book is how even though it's designated as a children's book, it's just as hilarious and captivating to an older audience. In fact I noticed and appreciated some details in this book more than I did in elementary school. While a little (or a lot) off topic I do want to make a quick comment in regards to some recent buzz about books and at what age you should read them. As some of you are aware there has been some discussion over whether or not adults should be reading books in the YA genre, a topic I could probably go on for days about. Suffice it to say my experience with this particular book and just my experience with age and reading level limits in general motivates me to say adults should be free to read whatever they want to. I think a lot of the negative opinions surrounding the topic seem to stem from an assumption that YA books aren't thought provoking, captivating, or highly intelligent enough for an older audience...which is totally wrong.

Additionally, I feel like so many of us have been raised in an educational system that emphasizes the growth of reading comprehension skills, which is so important, but for many of us who love to read it sends the message that once your reading comprehension improves you should never read those lower level books. While I have the sneaking suspicion that I've already talked about my reading experiences in elementary and middle school, I would again like to say that I was one of the students who was routinely denied the right to read certain books because they were below my current reading level. Even now I still feel the pressure to stick to books designated to my current age. Recently, I found out that Obert Skye, an author whose Leven Thumps Series I read around the end of middle school/beginning of high school, wrote a spin off series. Naturally, I wanted to check it out, so on my last trip to Barnes and Nobles I made up my mind to look for it. The problem with my decision is of course the fact that in this store all children's and middle grade books are placed in the back in a slightly walled off area specifically decorated to appeal to young children. This area is brightly lit, has tiny shelves, and is usually populated by adults and their young children. Let's just say if you are over the age of 17, you are pretty conspicuous. As I made my way to the "S" section of the shelves I met the eyes of a girl who couldn't have been more than 12 years old. To say I felt awkward would be a bit of an understatement. I unsuccessfully and rather quickly scanned the shelves and walked back to the Young Adult and Adult section of the store with an immense feeling of relief. I shudder to think of the future day when I'll no longer feel welcome in the YA section. While I might be a little over dramatic here, I can't be the only one who has consciously felt the push to leave behind books designated for a younger age group. Anyway, what I'm trying to say is once in a while you should revisit the books from your childhood like I did today.

Now, back to the challenge at hand. After finishing Island of the Aunts, I still had plenty of time left to read and actually started The Quick by Lauren Owen.

By the time that midnight rolled around I managed to read 173 pages. This makes the overall total of Day 1 an astonishing 454 pages!! What a great total to start off the Summer Read-a-thon. Since I still have plenty left to read in this rather large book, I'll be withholding my overall impressions until the time that I finish the entire book (which will hopefully be tomorrow). That's all the news and random tangents I have for today so until tomorrow...Happy Reading and as always, Best Wishes!!