Tag: It’s A Mystery Blog (Page 2 of 2)

The 26-Book 2017 Reading Challenge

I have such good friends. Carol, Life With Nin, kindly (or sadistically?) suggested another reading challenge for me to join in 2017.

Hannah Braime has two reading challenges, a 26-book challenge and an ultimate 52-book challenge.  I’m going to take on the 26 book challenge, mainly because many of them will dovetail with the 100 Books List challenge I’m co-hosting over at It’s A Mystery Blog, and also with the 2017 European Reading Challenge.



This challenge will be easier than the European Reading Challenge because no reviews need to be written.  That’s a plus!

I think that is probably enough reading challenges for me to keep up with in one year.  What about you?  Are you participating in a reading challenge this year?

2016 Update – Part Three

It’s been quite some time since I posted any sort of update.  I’ll try to give some highlights from the past few months.  (Part One and Part Two were posted earlier in the week)


  • We replaced the downstairs toilet with a low-flow toilet.
  • We had the house appraised, as part of the refinance process. The appraisal came back at quite a nice number, giving us a hefty boost in equity value.
  • I attended the Denton County Master Gardener Fall Festival in Flower Mound and the Master Gardener Round Up in Denton later in the month, at which I submitted my application for the 2017 Master Gardener Class.
  • Bill had to travel to Houston for a client the last week of October, so I went with him. We left early and had two weekends to spend in Galveston.Galveston Beach Galveston BeachIt was a fun trip, with some sightseeing on the weekends (even a Duck Tour!).Duck Tour  Our hotel in Houston was on the very edge of downtown, so I did a lot of walking / exploring of downtown Houston.  The weather was perfect!

    View from our hotel

    View from our hotel

  • My cousin and I began a reading challenge on her It’s a Mystery Blog. If you’d like to know more, visit Bestseller Code 100.


  • We finalized the mortgage refinance.
  • I had my Master Gardener interview early in the month and then received word just a week ago that I was accepted. I’m super excited and know I will learn a lot about gardening in Texas.
  • I sent two crocheted baby blankets to a relative who delivered twin boys.crocheted baby blankets for twins
  • Bill ordered a computer, which will replace three old boxes that run continuously, serving various functions. Hopefully one new unit will use less electricity than three old units.
  • We spent Thanksgiving holiday putting up shelves & rails & hangars in the garage. We’re not quite finished yet.  Bill has new toolboxes arriving this Thursday and then he will be putting up some more shelves & lighting around the tool area.garage organization
  • I’ve tried to keep up with the bounty (leaves, twigs, etc.) that the neighbor’s cottonwood tree continues to bestow upon us.
  • I picked up an art easel along the side of the curb on a trash day. It needed some repair, which Bill did.  So now I have an easel!art easel
  • My raised bed continues to keep me happy with Swiss chard, kale, mustard greens, and Chinese cabbage. Oh, and I even planted a couple of Brussels sprouts, just for fun.  I probably planted them too late, though, as they aren’t growing very fast.  Maybe we’ll have a mild winter and I’ll be able to harvest some sprouts!
  • Bill installed a pull-out cabinet kit for my most-used and most-unorganized cupboard. It works beautifully!kitchen cabinet pull out shelf

And now you are up to date!

The Bestseller Code: Anatomy of the Blockbuster Novel

A couple of weeks ago, Roberta over at It’s A Mystery Blog shared with me a book that she had recently read, The Bestseller Code: Anatomy of the Blockbuster Novel, by Jodie Archer and Matthew L . Jockers.  The authors created a computer model to evaluate whether books would become bestsellers.  Doesn’t that sound intriguing?  Could such a model help publishers decide which manuscript to publish? Would you be able to take the author’s findings and write your own bestseller?

In the final chapter of The Bestseller Code, the authors created a list of the 100 top books the computer chose as bestsellers.  Roberta had received permission from the author to create an online book club to read through the list, and she wondered if I would be interested in participating in some fashion?  A book club?  Another reading list?  Why sure, I said!  Next thing I know, I’m cohosting said book club.  Don’t laugh.  You knew it was coming.

I’m currently about 70% through the book, and I’ll be honest, it’s a slow read.  There’s a lot of grammatical and writing terms that I, as a reader, don’t use or think about every day.  And it has a lot of techno-babble that has gone in one ear and out the other.  But I’m enjoying the book.  I was surprised to learn what Fifty Shades of Grey and The Da Vinci Code had in common, and why they both stayed at the top of the New York Times Bestsellers lists for such a massive length of time.

One passage struck me quite forcefully, as it described what reading a good book, a really good book, can do to me, for me.

Janice Radway, who has spent many years researching why people read popular books, explains her own experience with fiction wonderfully:

There are moments for me now when books become something other than mere objects, when they transport me elsewhere, to a trancelike state I find difficult to describe. … When this occurs, the book, the text, even my reading self dissolve in a peculiar state of transubstantiation whereby “I” become something other than what I have been and inhabit thoughts other than those I have been able to conceive before.

And there you have it.  One of the very best reasons to read.

Join Roberta and me over at It’s A Mystery Blog as we read through the 100 Books List.  We’ll publish the list on Monday, October 24, 2016, and share our thoughts as we read though the books.  It will be fun!

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