Or, where I finally read all the books on my Kindle

From ‘Alice’ to ‘Allegiant’ to ‘All Things Considered’

Finally! I’ve finished “Alice in Zombieland.” For some reason, I feel like that book took me way too long to read. Not that I didn’t enjoy it, but with YA I feel like anything more than two days for a book is far too long.

So my final verdict? Let’s put it this way: This book is geared toward teens. Teen girls, to be exact. So there are some pretty graphic depictions of kissing, which may not sound all that bad but then you actually read them and you’re like, “Yeah, they’re basically having sex with their clothes on.” I especially got a kick out of the lecture on premarital sex given to the main character by her very cool, very in-the-know friend. There, the bestie extolls the virtues of waiting for the right person and getting birth control pills. It’s all very fifth-period health class.

Overall, I greatly enjoyed the book. It was a fun, quick read, as books like this should be.

Prepare for an emotional wallop from Veronica Roth in "Allegiant."

Prepare for an emotional wallop from Veronica Roth in “Allegiant.”

Because I was in a teen fiction mood, I next read a book I’ve been itching to get to, especially because I preordered it (paying the full price of $6.99) and should have read it months ago: “Allegiant” by Veronica Roth.

I bought this book because I loved “Divergent” and “Insurgent.” When I first began reading “Allegiant,” I was sure I would enjoy it just as much. But as the plot moved forward, it did so at the expense of character development, leaving poor Tris and Tobias behind and basically merging their two voices into one.

I talked to a few people about this book as I read it, and the one thing I kept hearing was, “Wait until you get to the end!” I promise no spoilers here, except to say it is quite an ending. (If you’ve already read the books, you know what I’m talking about; if spoilers don’t actually spoil things for you, click here.) I’m not the kind of person who is surprised by much — and I admit to not being especially surprised by what Roth chose to do to wrap up the series. I think I’m more surprised by readers’ “HOW COULD YOU?!” response. It’s like we’ve bred a nation of little Annie Wilkeses from “Misery” by Stephen King, all clamoring for a happy ending and swearing revenge against anyone who comes between them and their beloved literary characters. (I kept expecting to read, in some review or another, “She didn’t get out of the COCK-A-DOODIE WEAPONS LAB!”)

Moving on: Somewhat unintentionally, I’ve continued my streak of “A” titles, choosing to read next “All Things Considered” by G. K. Chesterton. This was a free Kindle book (the best kind!) and I decided to pick it up because I heard some good things about Chesterton and when I asked a friend who seemed to know what he was talking about, he said this was a good place to start.

So far, I agree with him. I’m about 15 percent into the book, and it seems the essays rely heavily on topics that were far more relevant when Chesterton published this book: 1908. Still, the humor isn’t lost on me. There’s been an excellent essay on writing telling people how to be successful that made me smile and at one point even laugh out loud. 

In an effort to switch things up further, wait until you see which book I’m reading next. It’s another free one — and one that I’ve looked forward to diving into for a long time. But first, to finish “All Things Considered.”

Sometimes what you need is a good cliche.

I’m a little over 30 percent into “Alice in Zombieland.” I’m pleasantly surprised. (I think that’s a sentiment you’ll hear often from me throughout this little challenge.)

There’s something I’ve realized while reading this, something I’ve been able to admit more and more to myself — and to others — as I’ve gotten older: Sometimes what you need isn’t the latest literary sensation. Sometimes you don’t want the most recent work of nonfiction by that Pulitzer Prize-winner who was on the Diane Rehm show yesterday.

Sometimes what you need is a novel full of cliches, something you can get lost in without even really thinking about it. That for me, right now, is “Alice in Zombieland.”

Most young adult fiction follows a pretty standard outline: girl faces tragedy, girl stands out from the crowd for some reason, girl meets bad boy, girl falls for bad boy, etc. Some authors do it better than others. Gena Showalter seems to find the sweet spot where it’s just cliche enough to make you feel comfortable, but just creepy and bizarre enough to make you feel shaken when you put the book away for the night.

In other news, I’m going to have a contributor to the blog! As my partner in crime, I’m not only introducing Kerry, I’m also introducing a different type of e-reader — yes, folks, she comes from the Cult of Nook.

A little background about Kerry (but not too much; she asked me not to make her sound like a dork. Which, I mean, come on. It’s a books blog, so kind of inherently dorkish): Books sort of brought us together. I met Kerry almost 10 years ago when she worked with my sister at Barnes & Noble. Kerry was this wonderfully zen presence with whom I could discuss books.

And it just so happens she has a backlog on her Nook and she’s looking to get through it. She’ll drop in every now and then to update us on her progress.

Now that I’ve introduced Kerry and given my update, I’m now going to go through my Kindle and find out exactly how many books I need to read.

An embarrassing admission.

QUICK UPDATE

Here’s an even more embarrassing note than anything you will read below: I posted this blog last night without realizing it. I was writing it on my Kindle Fire before bed, and as I dozed off I obviously hit “Publish” when I meant to hit “Save.” Which should explain some of the typos and the fact that the post just sort of ENDS.

Here’s a new resolution: I will not write blog entries when I am even remotely tired. There. Take that, drooping eyelids!

What follows is the original post … but, of course, I’ve cleaned it up and finished it.

ORIGINAL POST

So this is going to be one of those blog entries where I disclose a couple pieces of embarrassing information. But first, a note on my progress:

I just finished “Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?” by Mindy Kaling. Final verdict? I loved it. Then, I knew I would. I appreciated the quick flow of the essays, Kaling’s quick wit and the way my Kindle’s robot voice read to me as I drove to and from work today and yesterday.

This may be one of the fastest reads I’ve enjoyed in a long time. Sometimes I’m compelled to read a book quickly without being able to savor the humor of it. With Kaling’s book, I almost feel like her intention is to get you in and out, keep you from getting bored, get you to laugh like a maniac and still leave you with enough time at the end to really think about how amazingly funny and talented she is. I would be one lucky sonofagun if I had one stitch of her brilliance.

Now, onto two embarrassing pieces of information. We’ll start with the first because it’s the easiest to admit.

Sometimes, I buy books and I instantly regret buying them. The problem isn’t that the books are trashy or don’t sound good. The problem is that I worry people will judge me for wanting to read certain books. For example: the next book in the dare.

Alice in Zombieland,” by Gena Showalter.

At first, I thought maybe it was a joke, and Gena was the pen name for the hilarious actor Michael Showalter. But with some quick research I discovered this actually is the first book in a series. Because of the strange name, my love of zombies and the book’s price at the time — $1.99 — I gave myself a little pass on embarrassment and bought it.

I have yet to begin this book, so in lieu of a quick review, I give you instead:

The Most Embarrassing Thing to Happen to Kristina All Week

I got to work today, sat at my desk and got situated as I ate a sandwich and drank a Starbucks coffee. I was working away when, after about 50 minutes or so, I moved my hand to fiddle with my left earring, as I do sometimes when

QUICK NOTE: This is originally where the post ended. Yep — I left you hanging with “when.” Now, I complete the sentence … and the post.

I’m working diligently on some task. I have a few little habits like this: fiddling with my left earring, fiddling with my necklace, fiddling with my lanyard. I also have this weird habit of highlighting text as I read it.

So I reach for my left earring and, lo and behold, it isn’t there. Check the right: Yep, that’s still there. I spun around to the two people who were sitting closest to me at the time. With a bewildered look on my face, I asked, “Did you guys think I was just going for some funky Madonna look?”

Both of them gave me kind of blank stares, until I gestured to my earrings and began frantically wiping my left shoulder.

“Is it in my hair? Can you see it?” I asked. Both replied no, gave me those sad smiles that are inevitable when you realize something like an earring has gone missing, and I took out my right earring and placed it sorrowfully in my wallet. “I really liked that pair,” I said to myself, a slideshow of all the good times we had together playing in my head.

When I got home, I did my usual routine: took care of the dogs, said hello to my husband, went to take off my necklace and hang it on my jewelry stand. There, dangling like the cruel, maniacal, filthy liar it is, was my left earring.

At this point, you may be tempted to ask me: Why tell us this? Why share this story? And I have to be honest, I didn’t know the answer to those questions until just now. But the answer is: I was so desperate to get out the door to my car so I could plug my Kindle in and have it read Mindy Kaling to me all the way to work, that I forgot to put in one of my earrings. I’m that big a nerd. I was more concerned with reading than with making sure I had both earrings in.

And it made me wonder: Has anything this epic and embarrassing ever happened to anyone else because of a book that was just consuming your every thought?

Let’s begin with a funny story.

And by that I mean, “Let’s begin this challenge with a hilarious book.” 

I like to start presentations off with a joke, so why not have my first book of this dare be “Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns)” by Mindy Kaling. 

Now for the meat and potatoes of these introductory posts: how much I paid and why I bought this book. 

For $3.99, I figured this was a pretty good deal to read the memoir of someone who makes me laugh on a weekly basis. I love, l-o-v-e love, “The Mindy Project.” And Kaling’s character on “The Office” is in my top 10 for most neurotic portrayals in television history. I made the purchase certain I would like the book.

I’m very glad I stuck with that choice. I just finished “The Book Thief” by Marcus Zusak, which, though incredibly well-written and poignant, was also very sad in an epic kind of way. The sorrow left in the reader at the end of “The Book Thief” is the kind that sticks around for awhile. You become very attached to the characters, and while cheering them on and hoping for a solid landing, Zusak comes from nowhere and punches you in the kidney. It leaves behind an ache that is the mark of really good writers who know how to imprint on their readers.

So when I remembered I had bought Kaling’s book, I was extremely happy. I dove into the book last night, excited — until my dog’s fireworks-induced terror prompted me to put down my Kindle and comfort him.

Image

Kevin, my reading buddy, looking rather stoic and resigned. This is before midnight, obviously, because I hadn’t yet tried wrapping him up like a corgi-mummy to calm him down.

Poor guy. Kevin, a corgi, does not at all care for loud noises. As such, he becomes very tense and scared. As such, he gets gas. Which is funny … until you’ve wrapped him up like a burrito to try to calm him down and he starts to smell like rotten all-you-can-eat buffet food. So the dog took a lot of tending last night.

But that’s OK. Tonight, I have more of an opportunity to relax with this book. I’m 20 percent of the way in and can tell you that if you’re looking for a funny story, this is a great one to start with.

I have too many Kindle books.

There. I said it.

I finally admitted to my husband that I don’t know how many books I actually have on my Kindle Fire HD. Not that I’m ashamed, but it doesn’t sound good when he’s guessing like I’m Bob Barker and I keep saying, “Higher … higher … no, keep going,” until, reaching 150, he throws up his hands and frustratedly says, “I’m never going to win both showcases.”

I’m starting this blog not so much as a promise to him but more as a commitment to myself: I DARE myself to read as many books from my Kindle as I possibly can in the span of a year. I’ll begin Jan. 1, 2014.

Let me start by saying that as part of my compulsion I have been, let’s call it, “stocking up.” Amazon has had some great end-of-year Kindle deals, and I have taken advantage of those. This is primarily because part of my dare is to not buy anymore books, no matter how tempted I am. So what’s $1.99 or $2.99 here or there now?

Another challenge: My husband works at Barnes & Noble. He’s always asking me it I have this or that book. Sometimes he brings home bargain books he thinks I’ll like. So, out of necessity and because sometimes you just need a paper copy of a book in your hands, I’ll throw one in every once in awhile. Think of it as a palette cleanser.

For each book, I’ll list when I bought it, how much it cost and why I bought it. Sometimes that “why?” question is going to be tough to answer. I expect that’s where I’ll get hung up on most of these. But I want to challenge myself: Why did I feel compelled to buy that scifi book? Why did I feel compelled to buy that romance novel — especially when I really don’t care for the romance genre?

So join me, friends, fellow readers, literary newcomers and lookieloos, as we venture forth on this quest to read not one or two, but perhaps hundreds of kindle books within the span of a year.

First though: I need to finish the book I’m reading right now, “The Book Thief” by Markus Zusak (bought Dec. 4, 2013, for $4.99). If you’ve read this book, what were your impressions? I bought “The Book Thief” because I’ve heard great things about it and I’ve seen it listed on several “what to read” lists. You’d be surprised how influenced I am by those stupid lists.