Posts Tagged ‘reading challenge’


Happy Summer Solstice! On this longest day of the year and first day of summer, I am kicking off my latest reading project—Support Indie Publishers Summer (or #SIPS in hashtagese). Inspired by my love of indie publishers and my need to tackle some of my TBR in earnest (and also my impending unemployment, which will give me the free time to read and blog about great books—although hot tips on publishing jobs are most welcome), I will be blogging and tweeting about what I read and also including some features on publishers or more in-depth analyses of books or stories that I love. I encourage everyone to seek out books from independent publishers this summer, and if you can’t buy them direct from the publisher, please buy from a local or nearby independent bookshop or borrow from the library.

Here follows the lecture portion of this blogpost: The whole point of a project like this is to support independent business. Corporate chains selling yoga mats and home décor with books on the side or evil online monopolies run by inhumane gazillionaires are not businesses anyone should support. Ordering direct from an indie publisher or an indie bookshop might cost a bit more in shipping or take a little longer to arrive, but the satisfaction of knowing that your dollars are deeply appreciated and are going back in to the local independent arts and culture economy is worth it.

So, today, I’m just going to encourage you to visit the websites of some of my very favourite indie publishers and browse around and perhaps do a little shopping to get ready for #SIPS. I can’t possibly list all the publishers I’ll mention this summer (mostly because I’m bound to forget someone crucial), and I’m not going to recommend any books to you at this point, because I want you to explore and find the books that appeal to you. I’ll evangelize about my faves later. I do want to hear from people about what indie published books they’re reading this summer, and if you are blogging or tweeting about things, let me know and I’ll boost the signal. In any case, here is a starter list, to be amended as the summer wears on, of the publishers whose books I will definitely be chatting about. There’s a mix of Canadian, American, Irish, and UK-based publishers here, as well as English language and translation-focused publishers.

And Other Stories

Archipelago Books


Blue Moose Books



Coach House

Coffee House Press

Dalkey Archive Press

Deep Vellum Press


Feminist Press

Galley Beggar Press

Gaspereau Press


Graywolf Press

Hingston & Olsen

Lilliput Press


Melville House

New Directions

New Island Books

New York Review of Books

Open Letter Press

Pushkin Press


Small Beer Press

Soft Skull Press

The Stinging Fly

Tin House

Tramp Press

Transit Books

Two Dollar Radio

Wakefield Press

I promise at least weekly posts (I am busy job hunting, after all), and will post more frequently when I am able. Here we go. Happy reading!


Read Full Post »

Last year, a friend joined a group that was challenging people to read at least 50 books in a year. While I did not participate in that group’s activities, it did inspire me to keep track of my recreational reading last year. When I tallied my reads at the end of 2011, I made a horrifying discovery. I had only read 19 books for fun. 19. Me. The bookworm extraordinaire. I hung my head in shame.

Now, of course, I certainly read more than 19 books, but all of my other reading was work-related. That’s what happens when you are teaching literature at two universities, working at a public library, and trying to research a doctoral dissertation. So, this year I decided to join a reading challenge on Goodreads in an attempt to make myself more accountable for my reading habits. Working in book-centric jobs means that my downtime is often spent as far from “work” materials as I can get (lots of movies, tv, and old school video games). Goodreads has been a great platform for keeping track of my reading progress, and with a few friends on it as well, it is public enough to shame me into at least trying to meet those reading goals.

I have set myself a goal of reading 50 books for pleasure this year, and as of this moment, I am 3 books ahead of my required pace. I have a few tricks to help me maintain my pace:

1. I only read books that I think will be fun/interesting/compelling books. I won’t choose the books someone else has guilted me into reading (I’m looking at you, “Top 100 books to read before you die” lists). A book I feel obligated to read often sucks the fun out of the entire enterprise causing me to abandon the whole project. There will be a day when I will tackle War and Peace, but it is not this day.

2. When I feel pressure because I’m falling behind, I am not above reading novellas or short story collections to quickly add a couple titles to the “read” pile. A side effect of this tactic is that I have read some incredible short works. They are the literary equivalent of appetizers that can be consumed in a single bite, but the real fancy, filling kind – crabpuffs and stuffed mushroom caps. Avoid the cocktail weenies.

3. Keeping track of what I’ve read inspires me to seek out other recommendations, and my “to read” list is now more than double the size of the list for the books recorded as “read”. This means I always have something to seek out or look forward to reading, so I don’t spend days trying to find something new to read.

Using Goodreads to track my reading has made me more aware of my habits, and more conscious of making time for pleasure reading. And I have continued to read for fun in spite of my reading-heavy jobs. In fact, rather than burning out on books, I find my reading libido ramping up, because I no longer associate the activity with “work”. It has become a joyful, pleasurable pursuit again. And, to be honest, I’m really looking forward to the bragging rights when I meet my 50 book goal.

Read Full Post »