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For many, reading is a comforting pastime done on a casual basis. Maybe they read a few pages a night, a few days a week.

Then there are those of us who are... shall we say... maybe slightly, possibly a tiny bit obsessed with reading?! We devour books at superhuman rates, gaining imagination fuel with each conquest. We exist in reality only by necessity, craving the feel of the pages in our hands when we are apart from our books. We fall in love with fictitious people and yearn for lands that no person has ever seen.

If you proudly identify with the second description, then maybe a reading challenge would appeal to you!

While there are many twists on reading challenges, there is one I gravitate towards - The Popsugar Reading Challenge through Goodreads. There is an online discussion group in which you can share your progress with the challenge, get ideas for books that fit a certain prompt, and see creative ways to document your chosen reads. Even though thousands of other people are participating in the same challenge, it is a personal journey and open to your individual interpretation! If 40 or 50 books a year won't fit into your schedule, there are two other options nestled into this group - one prompt per month, or "group reads" where the members vote on a book for everyone to read each month then discuss!

I participate through the downloadable Goodreads smartphone application, which I have found to have immense usefulness in its own right. The app has options including a great way to keep track of all your reading endeavors by categorizing books based on your relationship with them.   For example:  books I have read, want to read, and am currently reading.  You can leave reviews letting others know what impact a book had on you. It also keeps track of the number of books you have read, and you can set up a reading challenge based solely on how many books you want to read for the year by entering your goal amount. Each time you complete a book, you are updated on how many books you'll need to read per week for the remainder of the year in order to hit your target number! 

Back in December, as I researched and made my preparations for tackling 2019 in a big book way, my intention was to participate in all aspects of the challenges - The 40 regular and 10 advanced prompts of the Popsugar Reading Challenge, reading books in certain months that the prompts they fit were designated to, tackling the group read book selection each month, and setting a goal for total number of books I wanted to read in the year.

Come the end of January, however, I admitted that I needed to scale back my intentions to a more realistic level that my hectic lifestyle could accommodate. I decided to forego the Prompt-A-Month and Group Read side challenges so I could focus on the original 50-prompt reading challenge and my overall year-end goal of 75 books read.

As of this writing, I just finished my 7th book  of the year (Through the Grinder by Cleo Coyle). My first four reads fit challenge prompts, but the subsequent books have been continuances in those series. My first book of the year was Sweetheart by Chelsea Cain, for the prompt "A book with a title that contains sweet, salty, bitter, or spicy." Following that was the next book in the series, Evil At Heart, for the prompt "A book by an author whose first and last names start with the same letter." On What Grounds by Cleo Coyle was my read for the prompt "A book with a question in the title." Then there was Night Season by Chelsea Cain, which after reading I did not hesitate to designate it to the "A book you think should be turned into a movie" prompt. My other reads have been: Kill You Twice and Let You Go, the 5th and final 6th installments to Chelsea Cain's captivating Archie Sheridan and Gretchen Lowell series. While I do have some books planned for certain prompts that take me into genres I rarely explore, a lot of my challenge prompts will be achieved through books that I read because they catch my eye."
Submitted by bookstore customer Jairi Rai

Sonoma County
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Have you met Marvin?

Don't be surprised to run ointo this little guy the next time you're in the store.  He's the newest addition the the family.


I have a theory that most readers would love to write a book. My daughter and I have thrown around the idea of writing a mystery together for years. I think we were primarily inspired by the mother-daughter writing team of P.J. Tracy, who wrote the excellent Monkey Wrench series. Unfortunately, talking is as far as Heather and I have gotten on the project. I know we have many customers who are writers, some published and some yet to be. So here is some advice to all you aspiring writers from some successful ones.


JUDY BLUME: "Read your work aloud! This is the best advice I can give ...You hear how the story flows. And nothing teaches you as much about writing dialogue as listening to it."


JEFFREY A.CARVER: "Read, read, read. Read widely and voraciously ... Read the classics ;;; Be determined and be thick skinned."


WALTER MOSLEY: "The first thing you have to know about writing is that it is something you must do every day ..."


ANNE LAMOTT: "Perfection is the voice of the oppressor, the enemy of the people ..

it is the main obstacle between you and a ... first draft." This quote is from my favorite book on writing, Bird By Bird.


OCTAVIA E. BUTLER: "You don't start out writing good stuff. You start out writing crap ... and then gradually you get better at it. That's why I say one of the most valuable traits is persistence."


JODI PICOULT: "You can always edit a bad page but you can't edit a blank page."


RICHARD BACH: A professional writer is an amateur who didn't quit."


RAY BRADBURY: "You only fail if you stop writing."


It was just reported in the Press Democrat that a local writer, Heather Chavez, just signed a lucrative two-book deal with William Morrow. Chavez had been writing books for two decades before she finally hit the big time. As Octavia Butler and Ray Bradbury say - persistence pays!

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