Sunday, March 4, 2012

The Epic Reading List Basic Overview

My first reading list has been successfully completed. It took far longer than I had ever anticipated but it gave me a lot to think about in terms of my reading habits and what else impacted my view of books. Learning these things about my habits was interesting. It's given me time to consider balancing out how I spend my time. I'm still not very good at it but I'm working on it.

So, a recap of the list

1. 'The Hunger Games' -Suzanne Collins
2. 'Alanna the First Adventure' -Tamora Pierce
3. 'Anna Dressed in Blood' -Kendare Blake
4. 'In the Hand of the Goddess' -Tamora Pierce
5. 'Graceling' -Kristin Cashore
6. 'The Woman Who Rides Like a Man' -Tamora Pierce
7. 'The Name of the Star' -Maureen Johnson
8. 'Lioness Rampant' -Tamora Pierce
9. 'Tale of Two Cities' -Charles Dickens
10. 'Wild Magic' -Tamora Pierce
11. 'Catching Fire' -Suzanne Collins
12. 'Wolf Speaker' -Tamora Pierce
13. 'Matched' -Ally Condie
14. 'Emperor Mage' -Tamora Pierce
15. 'Divergent' -Veronica Roth
16. 'The Realms of the Gods' -Tamora Pierce

In some ways my list worked exactly as I wanted it to. I had to finish books I might have been tempted to put down otherwise. I got a good idea of how reading one book influences how I read the next one or one of a similar genre.

This really came to my attention because of The Hunger Games. I haven't read much Dystopian before and this list had quite a bit of it. Since I read The Hunger Games first and then Catching Fire half way through I had it pretty fresh in my head through the entire list. I assumed that I would like it, enough people I share opinions on books did, but I didn't anticipate how much I would like it. It is definitely a book that lingers with you. This had me comparing the other books I read to it. Sometimes it didn't matter: Divergent. Others the comparison wore off after a few chapters when I got into the story enough to ignore it: Matched. In one particularly startling comparison (it wasn't even a Dystopian) it was detrimental: Graceling. (I felt like Katsa was supposed to be similar to Katniss and Katniss just comes over as a stronger, more natural, easier to relate to character and I am such a character reader).

The list also forced me to soldier on in a book I might have given up on. I loved A Tale of Two Cities but with my sulking fit I might have otherwise stopped reading that in favor of something easier and lighter to read. That would have been a mistake. It's a beautiful book that I am very glad to have read. It just takes a little force to get through in places. If I hadn't had the list to keep up on, I'm not sure I would have finished.

In mixing the Tamora Pierce books into the rest of them I got a better view of them in relation to the newer YA books and how my love for them has impacted how I read other books. In some cases reading them in between was like a palate cleanser. Part of me thinks reading all of them together would be easier and faster but then the whole point of the list is to both reread and read the new ones. I created it for the balance.

Additionally, I'm getting a fresh look at these old favorites and seeing how my perception of them has changed. Some of my least favorites became favorites and some of my old favorites weren't as loved. But the reread experience was enjoyable over all.

The reading list didn't work in one way. I didn't allow myself enough flexibility. There were books I'd been waiting for that I didn't read because of my forced self-control. For example, I'd been trying to get my hands on Where Things Come Back by John Corey Whaley for ages. None of the bookstores had it and then Amazon was out of stock. I finally got it but couldn't read it. I did a bit of sulking about it. So, I think I'll allow myself more flexibility the next go. There isn't really a point in not letting myself read things in between.

In between the list I did a little outside reading. I chose not to put manga or graphic novels in the list. I still plan to read them just outside of what I've laid out. Those are usually more on-a-whim reads so I didn't pin myself to a predesignated series. I have been considering reading one manga series per list but I'll have to think on it. During this list I reread the manga series MARS. It's a beautiful series. Very poetic.

So, I started the rating system part way through but I went back and rated the first couple that I had missed. (I also have a page made of definitions of each ratings. I'll link it...eventually)
Here is a breakdown of what books I read based on where they fit in my rating system:

Beyond Epic:
The Hunger Games
Catching Fire
Name of The Star
Wild Magic

Massively Epic:
Alanna the First Adventure
In the Hand of the Goddess
The Woman Who Rides Like A Man
Lioness Rampant
Emperor Mage
A Tale of Two Cities

Totally Epic:
Anna Dressed in Blood
The Realms of the Gods

Mildly Epic:
Wolf Speaker

Divergent that I realized how much higher than some of the others I wanted to rate it but couldn't because I had already rated some so high. I'm hoping to be a little better about it in the next list. A big part of this, I think, was that each of these books came with such high recommendations. It was a list of epic books. Or maybe I'm just an easy grader. We'll see.

I think that's all I have in terms of general comments. I will do a post of my favorite, least favorite, etc. I'll include a list what each book was rated. That will be next.

Also, my apologies for not putting this up last night. I'll get the next post up as soon as I can. (Maybe tonight?)


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