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2021 Movies Watched #26-50

24 May

Books are my medium for growth and learning. Given the short time investment, movies though remain my preferred means to feel. Each year, I aim to view (hopefully, experience) 100 films I have never seen before.

Here are 2021’s movies #26-50. Among these wonderful films, The Sunlit Night, The Map of Tiny Perfect Things, and Our Friend each earned five coveted stars (in my subjective opinion).

2021 Movies Watched #1-25

24 May

Books are my medium for growth and learning. Given the short time investment, movies still remain my preferred means to feel. Each year, I aim to view (hopefully, experience) 100 films I have never seen before.

Here are 2021’s movies #1-25. Among the lot, quality throughout the two dozen plus films, and the two to earn five coveted stars are S#I%house and Teen Titans Go! vs Teen Titans. Hey we all have our own tastes. 🙂

Picture Books Read in 2021 #151-200

23 May

The picture book parade picked up its pace in order to reach number 200. The majority of the reads came recommended from #PBCHAT’s 2021 mentors, while others were favorited by agents/writers as must read BIPOC, nonfiction, and Asian American books. Favorite new creators discovered in this batch include Elise Parsley, and Julie Fogliano. Of this lot of 50 books, the following were my personal favorite 5-star books:

How to Catch a Clover Thief – by Elise Parsley

If You Ever Want to Bring a Piano to the Beach, Don’t! – by Elise Parsley

A House That Once Was – written by Julie Fogliano, illustrated by Lane Smith

The 13 Nights of Halloween – by Guy Vasilovich

Outside, Inside – by LeUyen Pham

Picture Books Read in 2021 #101-150

1 May

The picture book parade trudges along nicely. While a little behind on the big goal, it’s refreshing see that after four months, I’ve already read more picture books than in 2020. Many of the books were stupendous comp titles for my own projects, and one carries sentimental value (There Goes Patti McGee), since it’s written by a member of the Critical Friends (my critique group). Many of the reads came recommended from #PBCHAT’s 2021 mentors. Favorite new creators discovered in this batch include Vera Brosgol, Fred Blunt, Mark Pett, Mike Boldt, and Sarah Lynne Ruel. Of this lot of 50 books, the following were my personal favorite 5-star books:

Hello Lighthouse by Sophie Blackwell

Hungry Jim written by Laurel Snyder, illustrated by Chuck Groenink

Picture Books Read in 2021: #51-100

28 Feb

The picture book parade continues to stomp through the year. Normally it would have taken me an entire year to read through 100 of these dazzling masterpieces, but now with a clear goal of at least one picture book per day, I’m roaring above expectations. There are so many great books out there, and we’re fortunate that the creators persisted long enough to bring them to us. Many from this collection cemented my love for the medium, rekindled my affection for Beach Lane Books, and helped me discover new favorite creators in Bob Shea, Kelly Dipucchio, Minh Lê, and Jessie Sima. Of the lot, the following were my personal favorite 5-star books:

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StoryStorm Success

4 Feb

From 2020 to 2021: A Writer’s Reading Goals

31 Dec
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As another thankful year of reading comes to a close, I reflect on the imagination, brilliance, and potty humor etched onto each page. This year I triumphantly reached my goal of 100 books!

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While this brings a smile to my face, I’ve been analyzing whether enough fruits (writing craft, knowledge, confidence, joy, and global awareness) were harvested along the way.

There is no benefit to basking in past or present glory when there are improvements to be made!

I’m fortunate to have a trusted writing accountability partner, and she has superbly brought to my attention that I’m damn good at creating “writing-related” distractions. Simply put, writer’s write, and while reading is an essential ingredient in the stew, it by no means should take away precious time from the craft at hand. Therefore, I’ll slow the mad rush to 100 and instead read books that will help me savor the sweetness of my “leisurely labors.”

Mediums by the numbers in 2020…

  • 50 Chapter Books
  • 34 Graphic Novels
  • 9 Non-Fiction
  • 6 Middle Grade (fiction novels intended for ages 8 to 12)
  • 1 Adult Fiction (Novel)
  • 0 Young Adult (fiction novels intended for ages 13-18)
  • 0 Short Story Collections

In 2020, 38% of books read earned 4 stars (33 books) or 5 stars (5 books). We can do better than that! So let’s look at the data (can you tell I’m a principal?):

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  • Graphic Novel – Batman Vol. 13: City of Bane Part 2 {#80-85} – written by Tom King, art by Tony S. Daniel – 2019 [DC]
  • Graphic Novel – DCeased: Unkillables {#1-3} – written by Tom Taylor, art by Trevor Scott and Karl Mostert – 2020 [DC]
  • Nonfiction – Love for Imperfect Things: How to Accept Yourself in a World Striving for Perfection – by Haemin Sunim – 2018 [Penguin Books]
  • Nonfiction – Poking a Dead Frog: Conversations With Today’s Top Comedy Writers – by Mike Sacks – 2014 [Penguin Books]
  • Novel – Buffalo Lockjaw – by Greg Ames – 2009 [Hyerion]
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  • Graphic Novel – DCeased {#1-6, A Good Day to Die #1} – written by Tom Taylor, art by Trevor Hairsine – 2019 [DC]   
  • Graphic Novel – Batman: Last Knight on Earth {#1-3} – written by Scott Snyder, art by Greg Capullo – 2019 [DC Black Label]  
  • Chapter Book – The Bumpy Mummy {The Notebook of Doom #6} – by Troy Cummings – 2014  [Branches, part of Scholastic]  
  • Graphic Novel – Flash Forward {#1-6} – written by Scott Lobdell, art by Brett Booth – 2020 [DC]  
  • Chapter Book – The Flurry of the Snombies {The Notebook of Doom #7} – by Troy Cummings – 2015  [Branches, part of Scholastic]  
  • NonFiction – Stop Reading the News: A Manifesto for a Happier, Calmer and Wiser Life – by Rolf Dobelli – 2020 [Sceptre]  
  • Children’s Graphic Novel – New Kid – by Jerry Craft – 2019 [Quill Tree Books]  
  • Chapter Book – Eva Sees a Ghost {Owl Diaries #2} – by Rebecca Elliot – 2015 [Scholastic]  
  • Chapter Book – Kitty and the Moonlight Rescue {Kitty  #1} – written by Paula Harrison, illustrated by Jenny Løvlie – 2019 [Greenwillow Books]  
  • Graphic Novel – Justice League Vol. 4: The Sixth Dimension {#19-28} – written by Scott Snyder, illustrated by Jorge Jimenez – 2019 [DC]   
  • Early Graphic Novel – Narwhal: Unicorn of the Sea {A Narwhal and Jelly Book #1} – by Ben Clanton – 2016 [Tundra Books] 
  •   Chapter Book – Meet the Bigfeet {The Yeti Files #1} – by Kevin Sherry – 2014 [Scholastic Press]
  • Chapter Book – Perfect Princess Party {The Princess in Black Book #2} – written by Shannon Hale and Dean Hale, illustrated by LeUyen Pham- 2015 [Candlewick] 
  • Chapter Book – Hungry Bunny Horde {The Princess in Black Book #3} – written by Shannon Hale and Dean Hale, illustrated by LeUyen Pham- 2016 [Candlewick] 
  • Chapter Book – The Princess in Black Takes a Vacation {The Princess in Black Book #4} – written by Shannon Hale and Dean Hale, illustrated by LeUyen Pham- 2016 [Candlewick] 
  • Chapter Book – The Mysterious Playdate {The Princess in Black Book #5} – written by Shannon Hale and Dean Hale, illustrated by LeUyen Pham- 2018 [Candlewick] 
  • Graphic Novel – He-Man and the Masters of the Multiverse {#1-6} – written by Tim Seeley, illustrated by Tom Derenick – 2020 [DC] 
  • Middle Grade – Aru Shah and The End of Time {The Pandava Series #1} by Roshani Chokshi- 2018 [Rick Riordian Presents! (Disney)] 
  • Nonfiction – The Tao of Bill Murray: Real-Life Stories of Joy, Enlightenment, and Party Crashing – by Gavin Edwards – 2016 [Random House] 
  • Chapter Book – Charge of the Lightning Bugs {The Notebook of Doom #8} – by Troy Cummings – 2015 [Branches, an imprint of Scholastic] 
  • Chapter Book – Rumble of the Coaster Ghost {The Notebook of Doom #9} – by Troy Cummings – 2016 [Branches, an imprint of Scholastic] 
  • Chapter Book – Snap of the Super-Goop {The Notebook of Doom #10} – by Troy Cummings – 2016 [Branches, an imprint of Scholastic] 
  • Chapter Book – March of the Vanderpants {The Notebook of Doom #12} – by Troy Cummings – 2017 [Branches, an imprint of Scholastic] 
  • Chapter Book – Battle of the Boss-Monster {The Notebook of Doom #13} – by Troy Cummings – 2017 [Branches, an imprint of Scholastic]
  • Chapter Book – Eva and Baby Mo  {Owl Diaries #10} – by Rebecca Elliot – 2019 [Branches, part of Scholastic] 
  • Graphic Novel – Batman Vol. 1: Their Dark Designs {#86 – 94} – written by James Tynion IV, art by Tony Daniel – 2020 [DC]
  • Nonfiction – Where You Go Is Not Who You’ll Be:  An Antidote to the College Admissions Mania – by Frank Bruni – 2015 [Grand Central Publishing] 
  • Graphic Novel – Jim Henson’s Storyteller: Ghosts – by  Márk László, Jennifer Rostowsky, and Michael Walsh – 2020 [Archaia]
  • Middle Grade – Nightmares! The Sleepwalker Tonic – written by Jason Segal and Kirsten Miller, illustrated by Karl Kwasny [Yearling] 
  • Graphic Novel – Batman Vol. 2: The Joker War {#95-#100} – written by James Tynion IV, art by Jorge Jimenez – 2020 [DC] 
  • Nonfiction – The Art of Thinking Clearly – by Rolf Dobelli – 2014 [Harper Paperbacks] 
  • Chapter Book – Splat! Another Messy Sunday {The Fantastic Frame #2} – written by by Lin Oliver, illustrated by Samantha Kallis – 2016 [Grosset & Dunlap] 
  • Chapter Book – Trip to the Pumpkin Farm {Owl Diaries #11} – by Rebecca Elliot – 2019 [Branches, part of Scholastic]

Medium wise, of the 4-5 starred books:

  • 47% chapter books (Notebook of Doom and Owl Diaries being the most frequent)
  • 29% graphic novels (of those, 25% were Batman titles)
  • 16% nonfiction
  • 5% middle grade
  • 3% adult-fiction (novel)

These numbers generally go along with how many of each I read, as chapter books and graphic novels respectively were read far more than the other mediums. So let’s look within the medium itself for a clearer picture to see of each medium how many were 4/5 stars:

  • 100% of Adult Fiction (Novel)
  • 67% of Non-Fiction
  • 36% of Chapter Books
  • 33% of Middle Grade
  • 32% of Graphic Novels

It’s easier for adult fiction and nonfiction to have higher 4/5 star percentages, because I read less and was pickier. Of concern is how middle grade books were only at 33% satisfaction, so I need to be pickier with middle grade so I don’t waste crucial time on books with minimal enjoyment or impact. Consequently, the data supports adjusting the numbers read for 2021 as well as setting minimums by medium. Let’s hope we can get at least 90% 4/5 stars in all mediums!

Chapter books happily invaded the list with 50 reads, and now even though the market is not desperate for the medium I’m anxious to apply my craft and see what I can bring to the field. Having read so many in 2020, I feel I’m in a much better spot to understand the variety of diction, tones, and how to keep longer arcs going across multiple installments.

Graphic novels (trade hard/paperback collections of comic books as well) were still my go-to in a time crunch as they came in second with 34 reads. I enjoy reading graphic novels, but I want them to be for enjoyment and escape and not just to hit a big goal.

As an educational leader, reading has helped expand my circle of competence, and I aim to continue to read even more books that will help lead my school towards heightened learning and joy for all of our students.

I was happy to see me pull off 6 middle grade books. I’m learning to read them faster, and it all comes from dedicating the time to remain somewhat-still on the couch. I’m confident that I can reach 12 middle grade books. There are just too many delicious treats on my shelf waiting to be read.

The saddest number from 2020, was the 0 attached to young adult fiction and short story collections. No wonder I’ve gotten nowhere in 2020 with my writing of young adult and short fiction. I’ve got a few YA novels brewing in the old imagination factory, but I’m not as well-read in that medium. I may have started John Green’s An Abundance of Katherines, but BY THE MUSES, I will finish it along with 3 others (hey maybe more? okay let’s not get too ambitious (distracted)). Given that my lone adult fiction earned 5 stars, I look forward to more similar experiences and with only 4 to read, I can carefully select them based on interest and recommendations.

Since I’m by nature a slow reader who tries to tackle a dozen books simultaneously, I will try to read a book from the designated mediums each month to help my focus on each book. For 2021, the desired mediums and minimum number of books are:

  • Chapter Books: 12 books / months
  • Middle Grade: 12 books / months
  • Graphic Novels: 12 books / months
  • Young Adult Fiction: 4 books / months
  • Adult Fiction Novel: 4 books / months
  • Short Story Collections: 4 books / months
  • Personal-Interest / Writing/ Motivational /Global Awareness Non-Fiction: 6 books/months
  • Education / Leadership Non-Fiction: 6 books/months)
  • Total: 60 books

This equates to me reading 5 books each month; which is reachable and realistic. While this is 40 fewer books from 2020, I feel that I’ll be in a better spot to enjoy what I read and take more from the books I choose. Having to reach one of each medium in a month’s time will help me to focus more on finishing, set more appropriate paces, and avoid cramming shorter books into tight time periods.

So 2021’s focus is on mediums, and perhaps in 2022, I’ll zero in on topics and genres.

In closing, I hope you have an AMAZING year full of enjoyable and enlightening reading!

2021

2020 Books Read #76-100

31 Dec

As 2020 comes to a close, here are #76-100 of books I read for the first time. Tom Taylor’s unique zombified approach to the DC universe in DCeased: Unkillables was the lone tome awarded with 5-stars.

2020 Picture Books #76-100

27 Dec

A writer reads. In my case… picture books. Here are 2020’s picture books #76-100 (those I read for the first time). I’ve recently discovered the publisher Familius which offers heartfelt yet funny books. For this collection, Thunderstorm Dancing was the lone honorary recipient of the coveted 5 star treatment.

2020 Picture Books #51-75

27 Dec

A writer reads. In my case… picture books. Here are 2020’s picture books #51-75 (those I read for the first time). I’ve recently discovered that Australian books truly speak to my heart and sense of humor. The Ghost of Miss Annabel Spoon, Piranhas Don’t Eat Bananas, and A House is a House For Me are the honorarys recipient of the coveted 5 star treatment!