July 20, 2020

2020 Reading Rush: TBR Pile

The Reading Rush is an annual event that encourages readers everywhere to join in as they set reading goals and have the option to participate in challenges and rewards. If you've not heard of the Reading Rush before, it's quite popular on BookTube (YouTubers who post book reviews and reading updates). It's sort of a jam-packed readathon where the organizers post some prompts to help you choose your TBR (to-be-read) books and then you see how many you can get through. It's great for those who already read a lot or if you don't it can help increase your motivation. To me, the best part is that it's about encouraging you to read without any guilt if you can't get through everything on your list. The event occurs ever July and this week happens from July 20-26. It's never too late to join in, even if you're only finding out about it today. You can read more about it at https://www.thereadingrush.com/.

While I've never formally participated in the Reading Rush, I thought I would join in this year and post my TBR pile online to help make myself a little bit more accountable. Here are the seven challenges this year:

1. Read a book with a cover that matches the color of your birth stone.

2. Read a book that starts with the word “The.”

3. Read a book that inspired a movie you’ve already seen.

4. Read the first book you touch.

5. Read a book completely outside of your house.

6. Read a book in a genre that you’ve always wanted to read more of.

7. Read a book that takes place on a different continent than where you live.

Here's how I'm going to try to fulfill some of these challenges this week. I highly anticipate not getting through everything on my TBR list, but I figure if I aim high, I'll be happy with whatever I'm able to accomplish.

The great thing about this book is that it fulfills multiple challenges. It checks the box for challenge #1 for just about anyone for having a cover that matches the color of your birth stone because the artwork includes shades of red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple, pink, brown, black, gold, gray, and white--score. It also starts with the word "the" (challenge #2) and as a fantasy novel could be considered to take place on a different continent (challenge #7). I recently received a copy of this Newbery Award winning novel and as a fan of middle grade fiction, I'm really curious to check it out. Here's the official summary:

"Every year, the people of the Protectorate leave a baby as an offering to the witch who lives in the forest. They hope this sacrifice will keep her from terrorizing their town. But the witch in the forest, Xan, is kind and gentle. She shares her home with a wise Swamp Monster named Glerk and a Perfectly Tiny Dragon, Fyrian. Xan rescues the abandoned children and deliver them to welcoming families on the other side of the forest, nourishing the babies with starlight on the journey.

One year, Xan accidentally feeds a baby moonlight instead of starlight, filling the ordinary child with extraordinary magic. Xan decides she must raise this enmagicked girl, whom she calls Luna, as her own. To keep young Luna safe from her own unwieldy power, Xan locks her magic deep inside her. When Luna approaches her thirteenth birthday, her magic begins to emerge on schedule--but Xan is far away. Meanwhile, a young man from the Protectorate is determined to free his people by killing the witch. Soon, it is up to Luna to protect those who have protected her--even if it means the end of the loving, safe world she’s always known."

I pre-ordered this prequel to The Hunger Games and was really excited to receive it in the mail. I'm about half-way through, but since there aren't any real rules to the Reading Rush, I'm going to count my goal of finishing the last three hundred or so pages of the book this week. This book could fulfill challenge #2 (a book that starts with the word "the") or even challenge #3 (a book that inspired a movie you've already seen). Since it's a prequel to The Hunger Games and I've seen all of those movies, I'm going to say that it could have partially inspired those stories since it's backstory. For what it's worth, I'm really enjoying it so far and it's definitely holding up to the original series. Here's the official summary:

"Ambition will fuel him.
Competition will drive him.
But power has its price.

It is the morning of the reaping that will kick off the tenth annual Hunger Games. In the Capitol, eighteen-year-old Coriolanus Snow is preparing for his one shot at glory as a mentor in the Games. The once-mighty house of Snow has fallen on hard times, its fate hanging on the slender chance that Coriolanus will be able to outcharm, outwit, and outmaneuver his fellow students to mentor the winning tribute.

The odds are against him. He’s been given the humiliating assignment of mentoring the female tribute from District 12, the lowest of the low. Their fates are now completely intertwined—every choice Coriolanus makes could lead to favor or failure, triumph or ruin. Inside the arena, it will be a fight to the death. Outside the arena, Coriolanus starts to feel for his doomed tribute . . . and must weigh his need to follow the rules against his desire to survive no matter what it takes."

I've just started the audiobook and I'm hooked, so for me this book fulfills challenge #4 (the first book you touch) and challenge #7 (a book in a genre that you've always wanted to read more of). I've only read a little bit here and there in the true crime genre and normally this book would scare me off, but after it was recommended to me I decided to give it a try--so far, I'm really glad. Here's the official summary:

"A masterful true crime account of the Golden State Killer—the elusive serial rapist turned murderer who terrorized California for over a decade—from Michelle McNamara, the gifted journalist who died tragically while investigating the case.

You’ll be silent forever, and I’ll be gone in the dark.'

For more than ten years, a mysterious and violent predator committed fifty sexual assaults in Northern California before moving south, where he perpetrated ten sadistic murders. Then he disappeared, eluding capture by multiple police forces and some of the best detectives in the area.

Three decades later, Michelle McNamara, a true crime journalist who created the popular website TrueCrimeDiary.com, was determined to find the violent psychopath she called "the Golden State Killer." Michelle pored over police reports, interviewed victims, and embedded herself in the online communities that were as obsessed with the case as she was.

At the time of the crimes, the Golden State Killer was between the ages of eighteen and thirty, Caucasian, and athletic—capable of vaulting tall fences. He always wore a mask. After choosing a victim—he favored suburban couples—he often entered their home when no one was there, studying family pictures, mastering the layout. He attacked while they slept, using a flashlight to awaken and blind them. Though they could not recognize him, his victims recalled his voice: a guttural whisper through clenched teeth, abrupt and threatening.

I’ll Be Gone in the Dark—the masterpiece McNamara was writing at the time of her sudden death—offers an atmospheric snapshot of a moment in American history and a chilling account of a criminal mastermind and the wreckage he left behind. It is also a portrait of a woman’s obsession and her unflagging pursuit of the truth. Framed by an introduction by Gillian Flynn and an afterword by her husband, Patton Oswalt, the book was completed by Michelle’s lead researcher and a close colleague. Utterly original and compelling, it is destined to become a true crime classic—and may at last unmask the Golden State Killer."

by Madeline Miller

I've both taught and read The Odyssey by Homer several times, so I've been interested in reading Miller's retelling of Circe's story since it first came out. I received a hardback copy for Christmas and I'm excited to dive in. I do worry that this is the one book I won't get to this week, but I'm keeping it on the list because even starting the first few pages while juggling all of these other books this week would be a success. I don't believe you have to have read The Illiad or The Odyssey to appreciate what Miller is doing in this book, though you might get more out it if you are familiar with the backstory. For me, this book fulfills challenge #6 (a book that takes place on a different continent than where you live). Here's the official summary:

"In the house of Helios, god of the sun and mightiest of the Titans, a daughter is born. But Circe is a strange child—not powerful, like her father, nor viciously alluring like her mother. Turning to the world of mortals for companionship, she discovers that she does possess power—the power of witchcraft, which can transform rivals into monsters and menace the gods themselves.

Threatened, Zeus banishes her to a deserted island, where she hones her occult craft, tames wild beasts and crosses paths with many of the most famous figures in all of mythology, including the Minotaur, Daedalus and his doomed son Icarus, the murderous Medea, and, of course, wily Odysseus.

But there is danger, too, for a woman who stands alone, and Circe unwittingly draws the wrath of both men and gods, ultimately finding herself pitted against one of the most terrifying and vengeful of the Olympians. To protect what she loves most, Circe must summon all her strength and choose, once and for all, whether she belongs with the gods she is born from, or the mortals she has come to love."

by Agatha Christie

Anyone who reads my book blog knows I'm a fan of Agatha Christie and that I'm steadily working my way through all of her novels, focusing right now on the Hercule Poirot series. Black Coffee is one of Christie's plays and I think it's #7 in the Poirot series. At this point, I've read maybe 30-35 of the Poirot novels, including a few of the short story collections, but this one has been sitting on my shelf waiting to be read since last year. As it's shorter, it would fit nicely into a Reading Rush and would also help with challenge #5 (read a book completely outside of your house). Since we're in the middle of a pandemic and it's also really hot outside, I can't promise that will actually happen but if not I could at least play nature soundtracks on my phone. During quarantine do whatever works, right? Here's the brief official summary:

"The story concerns a physicist named Sir Claude Amory who has come up with a formula for an atom bomb (Black Coffee was written in 1934!). In the first act, Sir Claude is poisoned (in his coffee, naturally) and Hercule Poirot is called in to solve the case. He does so after many wonderful twists and turns in true Christie tradition."

This is my TBR pile for the 2020 Reading Rush. Five books. One week. I don't know how much I'll get through, but as an avid reader I know I'll manage at least a couple of these books. One of the most difficult aspects of this challenge for me (aside from balancing reading outside of a full-time job) is that while I always have books on my to-read shelf, I like to pick new books up at random so I don't know if I'll be able to stick to a predetermined list. I guess we'll see how it goes.

Are you participating in the 2020 Reading Rush? What are you planning on reading this week?

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