100 Book Challenge Update

So, Holly, it’s been six months since you declared that you would read 100 books in a year.  How’s that going?

Good, Janice (can I call you Janice?).  I’ve read 44 books so far, which means I’m a little bit behind, but I’m confident that I can catch up by April.

Also, my goodness, that is one fabulous wrap dress you’re wearing.

Why thank you!  I wish I could take credit, but my stylist picked it out [an awkward beat, then audience laughs].  Now, now [audience quickly hushes].  I think what we all really want to know is why you think you can get to 100 books this year when–forgive me–for the past few years you’ve read half as many.  

I think I can make it this year because frankly, I’ve decided to make it to 100 this year.  That tends to make all of the difference to me.  Also because I’ve, in a way, rededicated myself to reading as of late.

How do you mean?

In college, as much as I tried not to let it happen, I do think I got a little bit sick of books, mostly because of the association; when you’re an English major and essentially read books for assignments, you can’t help but begin to think of books as chores after a while.  It’s not that I wasn’t excited about what I was reading, it’s just that books became work instead of a choice personal hobby.

Even in the year following graduation, I often turned to movies, TV, etc. when I once would have read for entertainment.

This 100 book goal has been a much-needed reminder of how important reading is to me. Books, and what I learn from books, is 88% of my chemical makeup, and though it took some conscious effort at first to read instead of watching all of The Office on Netflix, I’m better for it.  The more I read, the more I want to read.

These days, I don’t watch TV on weeknights.  I read or write instead.  I have active accounts at a several local libraries, and often take a book to a National Mall park bench or a coffee shop on weekend afternoons.

Surprisingly, I find myself spending a lot more time reading book reviews than I once did.  I’ve become more interested in reading new fiction, perhaps, again, because of all the time I spent with classic novels in college.

I just love that Ryan!  He’s so cute!

From The Office?  Uh, yeah … but kind of a jerk, you know?


Never mind.

You just slay me!  Isn’t she hilarious, folks? [audience halfheartedly cheers.]  Holly, let’s keep this going!  Give us some literary dirt!  What’s the worst book you’ve read recently, and the best? DIRT DIRT DIRT DIRT [audience picks up on chant, so much so that large bald men must angrily dance with “Quiet” signs before they subside].

The biggest letdowns for me have been Sarah’s Key and Longbourn.

My favorites so far have been The Signature of All Things, Eleanor and Park, and My Antonia.

One more question, and then we’ll get the after-party started [said with jazz hands]: what’s on your autumn [said with pronunciation of the m and the n] to-read list?

All the Light we Cannot See, which is a 2014 National Book Award Finalist.  I’m sure you knew that already, Janice.


The Luminaries, which I’m late getting into–it won the Booker Prize last year–but finally bought in paperback.

Doris Kearns Goodwin’s Team of Rivals.

And Unbroken, because–I kid you not–I’ve had two separate people, three years apart, both sitting next to me on long flights, declare it to be “the best book they’ve ever read.”  Plus, the movie’s coming out soon.  Have to read the book first.

I always do!  Well, that’s all we have time for [sad face].  Thank you for your almost convincing assurance of success, Holly!

Anytime, Janice.

We’ll talk in April.  Some of you [points finger at audience] may owe me money then! 

[Fadeout with maniacal laughter.]


Delightful commentary from Capitol Hill Books.

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