Friday, January 29, 2016

Signs the Economy is Bad: January 29, 2016 edition

Welcome to another edition of "Signs the Economy is Bad" here at The Itinerant Librarian. This is the semi-regular (as in when I have time and/or feel like doing it) feature where I scour the Internet in search of the oh so subtle hints that the economy is bad. Sure, pundits may say things are getting better, but what do they know? And to show not all is bad, once in a while we look at how good the uber rich have it.  

The holiday season is now over, and many people are doing their best to recuperate from the excessive spending they did over the holidays. The New Year has come, and with it, the bad economy continues. Let's see what's been going on.

  • One of the big news that came with the new year is that Walmart is closing a bunch of stores (story via Bizmology). Apparently, even the megagiant can't keep all those stores open. Although I am willing to bet it may also have to do with the fact in some places the minimum wage went, and well, you've got to keep those profits in place, so time to lay off some people to compensate (not that would really lose much, not to mention it is not like they pay their employees well, but hey, it's a corporation. Caring about people is not a priority for them). Plus you know things have to be bad when even the poor people Walmart built its empire on cannot afford to shop there.
  • Overall, Americans are not feeling well about the economy according to a new survey (story via The Atlantic). So, no matter how well Wall Street does or how much the pundits try to push the narrative of stuff getting better, the reality is that wages for the most part as still stagnant, and the conditions for the average person are just not that good.
  • And Americans have reason to feel the economy is bad. 45 million of them are living in poverty (story via AlterNet). Just don't try to figure that out from watching the news. The media could not care less.
  • Then again, with few exceptions, Americans in general are assholes when it comes to taking care of their own. The prevailing attitude, especially among Republicans and the Right Wing, is everyone for themselves. Between their attitude of "me first, fuck you" and electing officials who go on ahead to cut safety nets, Americans are pretty much rushing to leave the poor behind (Story via TruthDig).  I guess they are taking that line about decreasing the surplus population seriously.
  • Meanwhile, around the world, there are millions of hungry people, and the statistics often underestimate the problem (story via Yes! Magazine).
  • There are also millions of homeless children in the U.S,, including Florida (story via Equal Voices).
  • College students are often poor and food insecure (a.k.a. hungry because they do not get enough to eat. Story via Inside Higher Ed). College students are a special case. Most privileged, usually Right Wing, asshats think college students cannot possibly be poor. I mean, they get scholarships and loans, right? Many have jobs? (maybe). But the reality is not as simple as some rosy eyed view people with privilege (many of whom likely got a college education under much better deals than the current generation) make it out to be. Going to college for many can be a struggle. I know. I see it everyday at the college I work at in our corner of Appalachia. Maybe those asshats ought to shut up and pay us a visit to see how the other half lives. 
  • Now some of you may think that once a kid manages to graduate from college, there will be a job lined up waiting for him. Not quite. You see, in the bad economy, jobs after college are not really there. There are a lot of graduates who for a variety of reasons cannot find employment after college. And a lot of them have to move back in with their parents. So much for that empty nest and the idea of turning junior's room into a sex dungeon or tiki bar. Now, so you do not say I do not offer something positive, here are some tips for parents of college kids coming back to the nest; actually more like a plan to kicking them back out as soon as possible because if there is anything Americans hate is their adult kids living with them (story via The Christian Science Monitor). It is something that always makes me wonder about Americans. In Latin America, including Puerto Rico, adult children living with their parents after college or even as they are employed is not uncommon and in fact it is pretty normal, especially if they are single. The kid has a place to live until he or she can really stretch out their wings (or gets married), and the parents do have someone to keep helping around the house, etc. But that is another story. 
  • Staying a bit more on the topic of poverty and hunger. Some of you clueless out there may say, "hey, those poor people can go to a food bank. They got food there." Yes, food banks have food. However, the quality and quantity varies, not to mention the degree of restrictions. Not all food banks are as free as one would think. Some have very restrictive rules about who can or not use their services. Then, there is the food you may or not get at that food bank. But do not take my word for it. The author of the blog Poor as Folk has taken the time and effort to find out from actual poor people what they actually get from food banks. You ever wondered what people get at food banks? Here is your answer. If you read only one story from my post today, read this one.

Now, we know that not everyone does badly in the bad economy. Certain businesses and companies often do well exploiting the poor, the vulnerable, the stupid, so on in the bad economy. If  scrupples are not a concern, and you lack a conscience or basic human decency, you can probably make money in the bad economy. For example, we have the following:

  • The gun and firearms industry is doing great in the bad economy. Not only are they getting rich while people die left and right from their products (story via AlterNet), but heck, they can even expand because cities and towns are more than willing to give the death merchants tax breaks so they will come to their localities (story via Mother Jones). Now, I am all for your right to bear arms responsibly. I am certainly not for the right of every idiot to be armed in order to go around showing off their penis compensator, bullying others, and more often than not either doing something stupid with the gun or just going on a rampage for perceived slights. There is a difference, and if your devotion to your fetish blinds you from it, you are probably part of the problem while enriching the firearms industry. 
  • By the way, it is not just selling guns. Very often you need accessories to carry and use the gun. You know, things like a kit to clean and maintain your gun. You want to carry your gun it is probably a bit more practical to do so in a holster than just shoving it in your pants. And if you are lady, well, the lady bits often make carrying your concealed gun a bit more difficult. Not to worry, there are whole industries arising to meet all the needs of ladies wanting to pack heat (story via NPR). Someone saw opportunity, and they jumped on it to make a few bucks. By the way, it is not just about having a holster that fits better on your waist or can go under your bra. Women are fashion conscious, so that holster better have some lace, and if it is pink, that would be nice too. 
  • The prison for profit industrial complex also does well in the bad economy. Their latest make money scheme? Trying to make money off electronic messaging from prisoners to their families (story via TruthOut). No, it is not really e-mail as the racket they run would be an insult to actual e-mail.
  • And then, there are people begging for money. In the bad economy, many may turn to begging for money on the streets for a few pennies. Now, you know things are really bad when rich people are the ones doing the begging. Since this is the 21st century, rich people do not beg on the streets. They go online and set up one of those "give me funds (for some cause/issue/actual need)" accounts. For instance: 
    • Porn actress and reality star celebrity Tila Tequila apparently did not quite manage her earnings well. She recently set up GoFundMe campaign to beg for money (story via Radar Online). The thing is it actually worked. Plenty of suckers out there sent her money. 
    • And then there is this rich brat, for lack of a better word, who also used GoFundMe to beg for money to get a new car.
  • Perhaps we can console ourselves with a donut. However, I have to get my donuts at the corner mom and pop for a few bucks a dozen (damn good donuts too; they are a rare treat for us). On the other hand, if you can afford it and your tastes are a bit more extravagant, and you happen to be in Brooklyn, you can always get this fancy $100 donut (story via The Week). By the way, that is the price for one single donut. 
And that's the world we live in the bad economy. 

Booknote: Happiness A-Z

Louise Harmon, Happiness A-Z: the Gleeful Guide to Finding and Following Your Bliss. Berkeley, CA: Viva Editions, 2015. ISBN: 9781632280077.

Genre: Nonfiction
Subgenre: quotations, inspirational
Format: paperback
Source: Online contest win; book provided by publisher

This is a nice heartwarming collection of quotes to bring you some good feelings and happiness. I am one of those readers who enjoy books of quotations, so this book was a welcome addition.

The book features a foreword by June Cotner; she describes the book as a collection of perspectives on happiness from classic writers to contemporary figures. She also states this is an "easy-to-use happiness guide." That is about right. Need a little pick me up? Flip through the book and find a nice quote or two. After the foreword, we get the author's introduction. She suggests that a lot of happiness is internal work. She writes, "the inner work of happiness is that of thinking about you live your life and how your thinking is foundational."

The rest of the book is arranged as A-Z chapters with concepts such as "Bliss," "Kindness," and "Wonder." Each chapter opens with a short inspirational passage from the author to set up the theme. This is followed by the quotations from various writers and thinkers. There is quite a bit of diversity in the selections.

In the end, this is a book I really liked. It's the kind of book that I will keep handy when I need some comfort reading. It makes a good selection for public libraries due to its light inspirational element.

4 out of 5 stars.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Booknote: Me of Little Faith (Audiobook edition)

Lewis Black, Me of Little Faith. New York: Penguin Audio, 2008. ISBN:  9780143143369.

Genre: Audiobooks
Subgenre: humor, comedy, memoir, religion
Format: CD
Source: My local public library.

Let me begin by saying that much of what I wrote when I reviewed the print version of this book applies to my experience reading the audiobook. Here is what I wrote back in 2010 when I read it:

If you like Lewis Black, whether from his stand-up comedy or from his work at The Daily Show, then you will probably like this book. I did not rate it higher because it does slow a bit at the end. However, it is worth reading. Black combines humor with memoir and commentary to reflect on his relationship with religion. More importantly, he reminds us of the importance of humor, especially when it comes to religion. The deity, whatever form it takes, must have a sense of humor, so we should have some sense of humor as well when it comes to religion. The early part of the book is the best part. Along the way, we get a look at politics, G.W. Bush, Muslims, Christians, and even Mormons; Black pretty much covers a lot of territory in this book. I did like it overall, and I think a good number of people should read it. Maybe it would help them be less uptight. 

I picked this to go with my audiobook challenge because I do enjoy the comedy of Lewis Black, and he does read the book. He reads it in his unique voice, though at times he can be a bit less angry than when he performs, which adds a nice warmth to the listening experience. His healthy skepticism is still very much present in the book. A big point of the book is that religion and comedy can be very similar.

The end segment of the book, something I had forgotten about from reading it in print, is the performance piece. It does have some confusing moments, and it reminded me why it seemed to slow down the book overall. It's an addition to the main text, like a radio play with music and all. Listening to it was better than just reading it, as the music and singing they do in this segment does add a bit more entertainment to the book.  

In the end, much of the audiobook is the book as I remember it when I read it in print. However, listening to Mr. Black reading it does enhance the experience. 

3 out of 5 stars. 

On a side note, a couple of good thoughts from the book I want to remember: 

"Anything that takes itself too seriously is open to ridicule." 


For the next one, I also agree with it. I may be a heathen, but it does not mean I should be a dick about it: 

"I may not believe, but I believe if you are in the presence of believers, you should show a little respect for their beliefs."

Now, extremists, those deserve no respect and will get none from me. 

* * * * * 

This book qualifies for the following 2016 Reading Challenges: 

Friday, January 22, 2016

Additional Reading Notes for The Tea Party and the Remaking of Republican Conservatism

For books that engage me and make me think deeply, I often take additional notes on points I wish to remember. I usually include those notes in my reviews. However, this book packed so much that I felt a need to write out a second post on it to put out the additional concepts and thoughts I wanted to remember and reflect upon. You may want to read my review of the book first before you keep reading here in order to get the full picture.

* * * * * 

The Tea Party is not really that "revolutionary":

"When we explore the passions of Tea Partiers in detail, we will see that they are new variants of long-standing conservative claims about government, social programs, and hot-button social issues" (11). 

The media, especially right wing media, basically inflames and helps keep the Tea Party alive, even with misinformation:

"From Fox News to right-wing radio jocks and bloggers, media impresarios have done a lot to create a sense of shared identity that let's otherwise scattered Tea Parties get together and feel part of something big and powerful. Media hosts also put out a steady diet of information and misinformation--including highly emotional claims-- that keep Tea Party people in a constant state of anger and fear about the direction of the country and the doings of government officials" (13). 

This is a book written by social scientists. It is written in accessible language, but it is still grounded in evidence. The evidence includes public records, news reports, national social surveys, and questionnaires to Tea Party members as well as extensive field interviews with tea partiers.

Traits of Tea Party members (the majority of them), according to the book:

  • Middle aged or older, often seniors. 
  • Better, well-off economically, but not "wealthy." 
  • White.
  • Many are regular church goers and more likely to be evangelicals. 
  • At least some college education.
  • Many are or were small business owners or other professional occupations. Many are retired. 
  • Given that they are disproportionately older whites, they tend to have higher incomes than typical Americans. 
 And tea partiers could not really care less about reaching young people. They see themselves (arrogantly so, I might add) as "older and wiser."

"Despite occasional efforts at intergenerational outreach,  Tea Partiers do not seem anguished about their upward-tilted profile" (25). 

The Tea Party does often use violent rhetoric, and as a result has attracted some extremists into its midst, which the rarely if ever repudiate. This can include the presence of Oath Keepers and members of the John Birch Society. However, fiery rhetoric and extremists aside, most tea partiers are fairly ordinary other than using aggressive language and activism (let's label it of the gadfly variety for the sake of being charitable).

While a lot of tea partiers are evangelicals and social conservatives, a good number are libertarians. However, as secular as they claim to be:

"In our fieldwork experience, the many rank-and-file members who hold heartfelt Christian conservative views set the tone for the Tea Party as a whole. Libertarian members tend to accomodate the social conservative view, at least to some degree" (37).

So libertarians in the Tea Party, much like in real life, are pretty much useless and worthless. This accommodation, which if you think about it means sacrificing many of their "principles", does allow the Tea Party to survive a bit longer.

Now tea partiers hold reverence for the U.S. Constitution, but it is clear that for all they flaunt it, they have barely read it. Heck, they barely understand it and more often than not are ignorant of the document's history and context:

"Despite their fondness for the Founding Fathers, Tea Party members we met did not make any reference to the intellectual battles and political compromises out of which the Constitution and its subsequent amendments were forged, let alone to the fact that key Founders were Deists, far from any branch of evangelical fundamentalism. Nor did they realize the extent to which some of the positions Tea Partiers now espouse bear a close resemblance to those of the Anti-Federalists-- the folks the Founders were countering in their effort to establish sufficient federal authority to ensure a truly United States. The Tea Partiers we met did not show any awareness that they are echoing arguments by the Nullifiers and Secessionists before and during  the U.S. Civil War, or that their stress on 'states' rights' is eerily reminiscent of dead-ender white opposition to Civil Rights laws in the 1960s" (50).

This collective ignorance also goes along with their cherished idea that anyone can read and interpret the Constitution. The above evidence clearly points to the contrary. Add to this their anti-intellectualism and disdain of experts, and this makes a recipe for national disaster.

And for all their anti-government whining, there is this piece of irony:

"Ironically, many organizers and leaders of local Tea Parties are supported in part by Social Security or veterans' pensions, and also enjoy health benefits from Medicare or veterans' health care programs. U.S. taxpayers subsidize their incomes and well-being, and hence give them the time and capacity to organize protests and Tea Party groups" (93). 

This also goes along with their selfish mentality where they "earned" those benefits while everyone else is a "moocher." It is flat out selfish hypocrisy.

Bottom line, their tent can be so big at times to include all sorts of extremists and other right wing idea pushers because of hating on enemy:

"If an organization seems to be against Obama and liberals, Tea Partiers are trusting to the point of gullibility" (118). 

Clearly, critical thinking of any kind is not happening among tea partiers.

More bottom line:

"All in all, Tea Party citizen engagement in the democratic process-- a positive thing-- is married to a level of out-group intolerance and refusal to contemplate compromise and give and take that are surely worrisome for U.S. democracy" (201). 

This is where I do not agree with the authors. Tea partier engagement has not been a positive thing. Their bigotry and intolerance of diversity, outright ignorance, and often aggressive violent rhetoric are not positive things, and if anything, have added to the toxicity of the political environment in the United States. People who would readily take away the rights of those who they see as different are not worthy of applause just because they "engage in the democratic process." If anything, they pervert that process to the detriment of the nation as a whole. That is far from "a positive thing."

Booknote: The Illustrated Guide to Tarot

Jane Lyle, The Illustrated Guide to Tarot. San Diego, CA: Thunder Bay Press, 2011. ISBN: 9781607104308.(Amazon record, as WorldCat is just sketchy).

Note: book is included in a package set, "The Tarot Box." 

Genre: nonfiction
Subgenre: game systems, Tarot, self-help, spirituality.
Format: paperback
Source: Holidays gift

I received a deck of Marseilles Tarot cards as a holiday present; I collect playing cards and some other card decks, mainly for the art. In addition, this past year, I attended an event at the public library where a local Tarot card adviser/reader gave a presentation. If you are interested in the rest of that story, you can read more in my commonplace blog. Otherwise, just note that the cards came with a book, and I am reviewing the book in this post.

The book is a basic guide to the card meanings and how to read the cards, including some basic card spreads. The book is arranged into four chapters:

  • Introduction. This gives some of the lore and history of Tarot cards. As someone who enjoys history and trivia, I found this part interesting. The chapter also  goes over some of the influences on the Tarot such as Jungian psychology and archetypes. 
  • The Major Arcana. This chapter provides a description for each of the 22 cards of the Major Arcana. Each card section includes myths and symbols, and interpretation for when the card is laid straight or reversed. Note that not all readers read reversed interpretations according to the book. As I learn to read them, that is a decision I will have to make. Furthermore, each card is also identified with a planet or zodiacal sign, bringing in the symbolism of astrology as well. Each card gets about two pages of material.
  • The Minor Arcana. This chapter covers the remaining cards, divided in four suits: wands, cups, pentacles (or coins), and swords. As the author writes, "while the Major Arcana embodies large, universal concepts, the Minor Arcana weaves amongst them, filling the details" (67). there are 56 cards in the Minor Arcana. This chapter also looks a bit at influences such as the four elements, Jungian archetypes, astrology, and correspondences. After that, it goes over each card by number: aces then each aces, so on. The explanations here are more brief, but you still get straight and reversed interpretations. The chapter ends with a small note on combinations, say if you get four aces in a spread. 
  • A step by step guide to reading the Tarot. The chapter starts with a few words on choosing a deck, how to handle it, and a bit on developing your intuition along with learning the cards. This chapter goes over some basic spreads and how to read them. It then provides six spreads with explanation of how to set them up and read them plus reasons to use a particular spread. The chapter ends with two sample readings explained to illustrate how the process works. 

Though the book came with a Marseilles deck, it also uses Rider Waite card illustrations.  While Rider Waite is a popular deck, often used as inspiration for other more modern decks, it seems the book after a while favors the Rider Waite illustrations a bit more for the latter part of the book, which makes me wonder if that is a reflection of the author's preference or bias. Or it could be due to the fact that the Minor Arcana in a Rider Waite is better illustrated with more symbols and details compared to the basic suit depictions of a Marseilles deck.

In addition, the book features various illustrations in color of other historical Tarot cards and decks as well as other historical symbols and images, such as classical paintings. These add some historical context and show the rich tradition of the cards.

For a small book, it packs a lot. While it is far from definitive, the book provides a good, basic start for people who wish to learn how to read the Tarot for personal  meditation and focus. Depending on where your studies take you, you may wish to explore other books to expand your knowledge such as books on Tarot or other areas like astrology and even numerology.

In the end, it is a utilitarian book. Though I liked it, I know that I will be supplementing it with others down the road. Still, the book is an easy read that is accessible and easy to use, so I will likely keep consulting it as needed.

A brief note on the cards: they are about 5 inches tall by 2 3/4 inches wide on a standard card stock. As mentioned, the Minor Arcana card are suit cards, very much like modern playing cards. In fact, they remind me of Spanish playing cards (naipes). In fact, it is clear this art style crossed various card decks in Europe over time. 

3 out of 5 stars.

This book qualifies for the following 2016 Reading Challenges:

Friday, January 15, 2016

Booknote: The Tea Party and the Remaking of Republican Conservatism

Theda Skocpol and Vanessa Williamson, The Tea Party and the Remaking of Republican Conservatism. Oxford, NY: Oxford University Press, 2012. ISBN: 978-0-19-983263-7.

Genre: nonfiction
Subgenre: politics, history, United State politics, U.S. political parties, media
Format: hardcover
Source: My library has this book. 

A lot of what Skocpol and her coauthor write, reporting on their research, confirms what many of us already know about the Tea Party in terms of it being white, older, and extremely conservative. As I have often said, you've got to give the devil his due; the Tea Party members are very good at organizing politically and mobilizing, a lesson the Left seems to consistently ignore at its own peril. However, no matter how genteel the authors portray many of them, the fact that so many of them espouse extremist views and are outright bigots, due in large part to the strong social conservative presence in the party, simply cannot be ignored. Add to this a fairly strong and selfish libertarian presence, which is often at odds with the social conservatives, and the tea partiers do make a fairly toxic element in American politics. What the book does then is provide a mostly objective view of the Tea Party and its members. A strength of the book is that the authors let tea partiers speak for themselves. More often than not, these folks provide the best evidence of why we need a progressive sense of public good and caring for each other in the United States.

On a side note, the book The Elephant in the Room, which I read back in 2009, discusses the tense blend between libertarians and social conservatives in the GOP; some of the insights from that book are applicable here.  If you have read that book, much of what the authors of The Tea Party say on the topic will be familiar ground.

If nothing else, this is a book that serves to understand the rise of the Tea Party in American politics, the kind of people it attracts, and why it remains such a strong influence in the GOP. For progressives who may not be as well informed on the Tea Party, this book makes good basic reading. Skocpol and Williamson lay out where those people are coming from, why they enjoy varying degrees of appeal, and how they play a long term game for right wing power. Progressives who are clueless or complacent need to read this book, then get to work, or risk losing more of the progress we've fought so hard to gain.

Part of the book can be skimmed as the authors can get a bit repetitive on some points. While it does reveal some aspects of the Tea Party that are not commonly known or seen in the media, we also see their rhetoric is firm right wing conservatism in a newer package.

The chapter on billionaires and larger organizations was interesting in revealing the relationships of convenience between the PACs and lobbying groups, desperate to their right wing often extreme messages out, and local tea parties who do not want to be tainted and want to remain "independent" but are often starved for content and substance, even if that content is often inaccurate just as long as it fits their worldview. There is a serious cynicism going on as groups such as FreedomWorks know tea partiers would not readily accept their most radical ideas. Yet tea partiers accept them just as long as such groups keep concepts just vague enough so as not to be unpalatable. More often than not this is not innocence; it's selective understanding often sustained by a heavy degree of selfishness. They've earned their benefits, so everyone else who comes after them be damned. For instance, as long as they can keep their Social Security, which they "earned," they do not care much if those who come after them, "entitled" moochers in their eyes, get it as well. And this is exposed in their own words. The authors' extensive on the ground interviews and research reveal all this. It does so in a straightforward way. There is no need to spin here. The authors simply present the evidence, and the evidence of the Tea Party's toxicity on American politics becomes clear.

The book is also interesting to read in light of how things have turned out over time. For example, as powerful as Glenn Beck was in helping shape an image of the Tea Party for the media and influencing tea partiers, it has to be noted that he no longer works for Fox News. The authors cover Beck's dismissal from Fox News in the final chapter of the book. Howard Kurtz, previously CNN's media critic who pointed out how Fox News practically co-sponsored Tea Party events, took a rightward turn and went to work for Fox News. Events in these instances moved faster than the book's content, which illustrate how swiftly things can turn in media and politics.

Yet as loud as they can be, the authors also revel that they are not as big as the media make them out to be. However, given juggernauts like Fox News backing them, they do remain a dangerous influence. Yet, as the 2015 elections showed in places like Kentucky, the Tea Party can, along with other Right Wing ideologues, still pack a punch. The GOP is still stuck with the Tea Party. The key still remains whether progressives will turn out to vote in 2016 in contrast to their failure to do so in 2015.

The research in the book is documented by ample notes in the back of the book. The book is divided into six chapters that look at topics including who are the Tea Partiers and their beliefs, their relations with PACs and other political groups, the role of the media, and where they stand on American democracy.

Overall, the authors are pretty charitable at times, probably in the interest of politeness. Still, the book gives a pretty clear picture of what the Tea Party really is and stands for; disjointed as Tea Party groups can be, they do all share some core self-centered values in common. If nothing else, a big lesson is to not underestimate them.

For students of American politics and current U.S. politics, this book is essential. Academic libraries will want to acquire this one, especially for students writing on topics such as Obama's presidency, the contemporary Republican Party, and of course the Tea Party. It is not always riveting reading, but in this day, it is necessary reading.

3 out of 5 stars.

Note: Given this is a pretty lengthy post, and that the book just packs so much, I am putting my additional reading notes on a separate post (coming soon). If you are interested in learning more, read that as well.

Also, Skocpol, one of the authors, visited my college recently. You can read my notes from that event here.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Of course this librarian is doing a library reading challenge in 2016

Last year, I did a library-related reading challenge. I was hoping to do it again this year, but it did not seem available. Lucky for me, I found a new one to try out this year. I do read a lot of books from the library, so this falls right into my reading flow. For this challenge, the host is requesting we write a bit about why we like using the library, so let me tell you a bit more about me and libraries. This is the very brief version of the story. Maybe some day I will write it in full.

To be honest, as a child, I never really used a library. I am not one of those kids whose parents took them to the library. Yet we did have access to books in the house, and reading was encouraged. My mother was an avid reader, and she was a big influence in me becoming a reader. In school, I barely remember libraries as small rooms that in retrospect at times seemed like afterthoughts. My high school library was fairly small. By the way, this was before the Internet.

I really started using libraries when I got to college. In fact, my first work study job as an undergraduate was at one of the libraries on campus. At the time, I did not know I would become a librarian. That came later. In college, I started appreciating libraries. I became a high school teacher, and for the first time I began to see how libraries can help students to learn. In the end, it was in graduate school where I really began to use libraries in full. And it was in one of those libraries I decided to go to library school, and the rest is history (at least for now).

So here we go with the challenge.

Let me highlight some rules.  You can click the link above for further details as well as to sign up if you wish.
  • The challenge runs January 1, 2016 to December 31, 2016.
  • Any reading material that can be checked out of your library counts - print books, audio books, digital books, magazines, etc. (I thought this was interesting. It allows for other types of materials. I will likely concentrate on books, including some audiobooks to go with the audiobook challenge I am doing.) 
  • Books may overlap with other reading challenges. (Excellent. I usually cross books from the library to my other reading challenges.)

I usually do pretty well on this kind of challenge, so I am going to commit initially to the following level:

Young Adult: Read and review 24 books. 

I may be able to do more, in which case, I will upgrade, but for now, let's see how it goes. As I always do, I will add books to my reading list here as I get to them. I will link the reviews as I post them to the blog.

List of books read for this challenge:

  1. Lewis Black, Me of Little Faith (audiobook edition). 
  2. Elizabeth Warren, A Fighting Chance (audiobook edition). 
  3. Paul Barret, Glock: the Rise of America's Gun
  4. Kevin B. Eastman and Peter A. Laird. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: the Ultimate Collection, Volume 3
  5. Brandon Badeaux and Rob Williams, Star Wars: Rebellion Volume 2
  6. Don Brown, Drowned City
  7. Greg Rucka, Star Wars: Shattered Empire
  8. Jen Campbell, The Bookshop Book
  9. Ted Rall, Bernie
  10. John Leguizamo, Ghetto Klown.
  11. Margie Lapanja, Food Men Love.  
  12. Donny Cates, The Ghost Fleet, Volume 1
  13. Julio Patán, Cocteles con historia: guía definitiva para el borracho ilustrado.
  14. Jim Berg and Tim Nyberg, The Jumbo Duct Tape Book
  15. Christopher Hansard, The Tibetan Art of Positive Thinking
  16. Daniel Lipkowitz, LEGO Star Wars in 100 Scenes
  17. Jerry Scott and Jim Borgman, My Bad: a Zits Treasury.
  18. Jerry Scott and Jim Borgman, Zits Unzipped.
  19. Richard Matheson, Hell House
  20. Josh Mack, The Hobo Handbook
  21. Kim Andersson, The Complete Love Hurts
  22. Charles Soule, Star Wars: Lando
  23. Dick Lehr and Gerard O'Neill, Black Mass
  24. Jessa Crispin, The Creative Tarot
  25. Jeff Jensen, Green River Killer
  26. Donny Cates, The Ghost Fleet, Volume 2
  27. Ellen DeGeneres, Seriously...I'm Kidding (audiobook edition).  
  28. Adrian Tomine, Scenes from an Impending Marriage
  29. Jason Aaron,, Vader Down
  30. Daniel Way,, Deadpool: The Complete Collection, Volume 1
  31. Wilfred Santiago, 21: The Story of Roberto Clemente.
  32. Bill Maher, New Rules (audiobook edition). 
  33. Thich Nhat Hanh, Silence
  34. Denis Leary, Why We Suck (audiobook edition). 
  35. Nicolas Pileggi, Casino
  36. David J. Wilkie, Coffee With Jesus.
  37. David J. Wilkie, A Second Shot of Coffee With Jesus.
  38. Benjamin Law, Gaysia
  39. Barbara Moore, Tarot for Beginners
  40. Sarah A. Chrisman and Thomas E. Hill, True Ladies and Proper Gentlemen.
  41. Stephanie McMillan, The Beginning of the American Fall
  42. Gustavo Duarte, Monsters! and Other Stories
  43. Jonah Stern, Cats in Sweaters.
  44. G.B. Trudeau, Yuge! 30 Years of Doonesbury on Trump.
  45. Miguel Ruiz, Jr., The Mastery of Self.

Update note (7/8/16): With 26 books, I complete the initial commitment for this challenge. I am going to go ahead and upgrade to the next level. I have some more reviews that qualify in the queue, and I know I will be reading more library books over the year:

Adult: Read and review 36 books.

Update note (12/30/16): With 45 books, I completed the upgrade commitment of Adult level for this challenge. I have not done my final reading tally for 2016, but I am sure a big number of books on that list were library books. I have more books from the library I have read, but I do not have the reviews up yet, so I will post those reviews in 2017. This is a challenge that I am likely to sign up again in 2017 if offered.

Doing a new LGBTQIA Reading Challenge in 2016

Last year, I did an LGBTIQIA reading challenge. I wanted to diversify my reading a bit as well as just learn more to be a good supportive ally. I did complete the challenge, and I wanted to do it again this year. However, the challenge did not seem to be available, but I was able to find a new one. This new challenge I got the impression initially it was just fiction. Since last year, I read mostly nonfiction, I asked the host, and they said nonfiction is OK. I will try to add one or two fiction selections to my list, but odds are good nonfiction will dominate. This new for me challenge is hosted by the same nice folks who are hosting the Backlist Books challenge I am doing.

Click the link for full details and to sign up if so moved. Here are some rule highlights:

  • This challenge will run from January 1st, 2016 to December 31st, 2016.
  • The book must contain an LGBTQIA main character. (With nonfiction, this may or not get tricky, though from what I have read, there is at least one major character or person involved, so should be OK.)
  • Backlist books also count as part of this challenge. (This will help me with that other reading challenge too.)

Since this a new challenge for this year, I am going to start at the lower level. If I read more, I will upgrade. So, I will commit initially to the following level:

Red = 5 books (levels are rainbow colors)

Again, as always, I will make the list of books as I go along. I will link the reviews as I post them to the blog.

 List of books read for this challenge:

  1. Ellen DeGeneres, Seriously...I'm Kidding (audiobook edition).
  2. Benjamin Law, Gaysia.

Update note (12/30/16): This is the one challenge that fell by the wayside for me. I just did not seek out books for this challenge as much as I got caught up with other books. That, and the crappy end of the year 2016. It is still a worthy challenge as it is a way to diversify my reading. However, I may or not sign up again if offered in 2017 as I may consider doing less reading challenges overall in 2017. We will see.

Maybe I will help myself a little this year: The 2016 Self-Help Junkie Challenge

This is a new challenge for me in 2016. I am doing it strictly for fun, or as some of my friends would say, "for shits and giggles." Self-help is not a genre I read much; however, I am in the middle of a book that would qualify for this challenge, and I have at least one other on my TBR  pile that would qualify as well (and I can cross it to the nonfiction and the TBR Mountain challenges. See how that works?). Thus I am adding it to my list of reading challenges for the year. If nothing else, reading a bit in this area will help me with my readers' advisory skills.

As usual, click on the link above to see all the details. Some highlights from the rules:

  • This Challenge runs from January 1, 2016 to December 31, 2016. You cannot start the book until January 1st, and the last page needs to be read by Dec. 31st. (No worries,  I did start that one book after New Year's Day). 
  • As long as the book has a category of Self-Help or Self-Improvement.  The books can also deal with Nutrition, Diet, Wellness, Health, Exercise, Mind, Body, Change, Spirituality, Learning a New Skill - just to name a few... (It says spirituality, so I may go with that angle a bit). 

I am keeping the commitment level low on this one as it is a new challenge in a genre I do not always read. If I read more, I will upgrade. I am committing to the following level:

Poser 1-2 Books.  You must be close to perfect! No need for deep searching.

As for the list of books, I will add books to it as I get to them. I will link the reviews once I post them to the blog.

List of books read for this challenge:

  1.  Jane Lyle, The Illustrated Guide to Tarot
  2. Christopher Hansard, The Tibetan Art of Positive Thinking
  3. Masahiko Murakami, Nichiren.
  4. Staci Mendoza and David Bourne, Reading and Understanding the Mysteries of Tarot
  5. Josephine Ellershaw, Easy Tarot Handbook.
  6. Jessa Crispin, The Creative Tarot
  7. Anthony Louis, Llewellyn's Complete Book of Tarot: a Comprehensive Resource.
  8. Thich Nhat Hahn, Silence. 
  9. Barbara Moore, Tarot for Beginners.   
  10. Miguel Ruiz, Jr., The Mastery of Self.  

Update note (5/24/16): With the first three books on the list, I complete the initial challenge commitment. With three books, I can upgrade to the next level. Since I have some books that qualify with reviews scheduled to post next month, this should be something I can do. So, moving up to the next level:

Seeker 3-5 Books.  You are looking for something, but not quite sure what yet.

Update note (7/8/16): With books 4-6 above, I complete my first upgrade to the challenge. With 6 books total, I can upgrade to the next level of the challenge. If I recall, I still have some books on the TBR list that can qualify for this challenge. Let's see how far up we can go. Here is the next level:

Hacker 6-9 Books.  You think that you should be changing, and trying to figure out how to hack your life.

Update note (11/29/16): With books 7-10 I complete the second upgrade to the challenge. Given we are almost in December, I am stopping here satisfied I completed this challenge for the year. If offered again, I may or not try it again. The fact that I started studying Tarot and oracle cards this year certainly helped, but I also read a few other self-help/spiritual kind of things. Overall, it was a good opportunity to read some different things.

Reading from the older stuff: Doing the 2016 Backlist Books Reading Challenge

When I saw this reading challenge, I figured this could be one of the easy ones. Aside from what I read via NetGalley and Edelweiss, most of what I read tends to be not as new. I review a combination of new and older stuff. One of the things I like to review is older books I find on the library shelves. I  like looking for books that may be a bit older, still interesting, and needing a little reader love. Those will fit nicely into this challenge, so I am going to give it a try this year.

 As always, you can click on the link provided above to learn more and/or to sign up for it. Highlights from the rules:

  • This is a 2016 challenge, running from January 1st, 2016 to December 31st, 2016.
  • For these purposes, I’m counting backlist books as anything published a year or more before the day you read it. So if it’s January 21st, 2016, the book you’re reading must have been published on January 21st, 2015 or earlier. (Yea, a lot of what I read is more than a year old. As a reader, reading brand new is not a priority for me Time may pass, but the book then will still be new to me.)
This should be a good challenge for me overall. The level is open ended; the host did not set specific levels, so technically, if I read one, I am done. However, I will try to read as many as I can. As I said, making a small list should not be a problem by end of the year. I am not committing to a specific number. I will just see how many I can get. As I usually do, I will add books to my reading list as I get to them, and I will link the reviews as I post them to the blog.

List of books read for this challenge:

  1. Jane Lyle, The Illustrated Guide to Tarot.
  2. Lewis Black, Me of Little Faith (audiobook edition).
  3. Paul Barrett, Glock: The Rise of America's Gun
  4. Elizabeth Warren, A Fighting Chance (audiobook edition).
  5. Kevin B. Eastman and Peter A. Laird, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Ultimate Collection, Volume 3.
  6. Brandon Badeaux and Rob Williams, Star Wars Rebellion, Volume 2: The Akahista Gamble.
  7. Jen Campbell, The Bookshop Book
  8. Margie Lapanja, Food Men Love
  9. Julio Patán, Cocteles con historia: guía definitiva para el borracho ilustrado.
  10. Jim Berg and Tim Nyberg, The Jumbo Duct Tape Book
  11. Christopher Hansard, The Tibetan Art of Positive Thinking
  12. Jerry Scott and Jim Borgman, My Bad: a Zits Treasury.
  13. Jerry Scott and Jim Borgman, Zits Unzipped.   
  14. Richard Matheson, Hell House
  15. Josh Mack, The Hobo Handbook
  16. Scott Adams, When Did Ignorance Become a Point of View? 
  17. Staci Mendoza and David Bourne, Reading and Understanding the Mysteries of Tarot.  
  18. Josephine Ellershaw, Easy Tarot Handbook
  19. James Swallow, The Blood Angels Omnibus.
  20. Isabella Alston and Kathryn Dixon, Tarot Cards
  21. Robert Kirkman, Battle Pope, Volume 3: Pillow Talk
  22. Robert Kirkman, Battle Pope, Volume 4: Wrath of God
  23. Jeff Jensen, Green River Killer
  24. Ellen DeGeneres, Seriously...I'm Kidding (audiobook edition).
  25. Adrian Tomine, Scenes from an Impending Marriage
  26. Daniel Way,, Deadpool: The Complete Collection, Volume 1
  27. Wilfred Santiago, 21: The Story of Roberto Clemente.
  28. Bill Maher, New Rules (audiobook edition). 
  29. Denis Leary, Why We Suck (audiobook edition). 
  30. Nicholas Pileggi, Casino
  31. David J. Wilkie, Coffee With Jesus
  32. David J. Wilkie, A Second Shot of Coffee With  Jesus.
  33. Benjamin  Law, Gaysia.  
  34. Carole Cable, Cable on Academe
  35. Barbara Moore, Tarot for Beginners
  36. Sarah A. Chrisman and Thomas E. Hill, True Ladies and Proper Gentlemen
  37. Stephanie McMillan, The Beginning of the American  Fall
  38. Gustavo Duarte, Monsters! and Other Stories
  39. Carol Peachee, The Birth of Bourbon.  
  40. Gabriel García Márquez, Yo No Vengo a Decir un Discurso
  41. Sean Michael Wilson,, Cold Mountain
  42. Stacey DeMarco (author) and Jimmy Manton (illustrator), The Halloween Oracle.

Update note (12/30/16): This was an open ended challenge, so I am finishing the challenge with 42 books, which is a pretty good showing. I did enjoy doing this challenge as it gave me the chance to find some older books. The public library was a good source of backlist books for this challenge, and I am sure the library appreciated getting a bit of circulation on older titles. I will likely sign up for this challenge again in 2017.

Reading about food (and drinks): The 2016 Foodies Read Challenge

Once in a while I enjoy reading books about the world of food and epicurious things. I am not exactly a gourmet, but I do appreciate some good things in life, and I certainly enjoy reading and learning about such things. Books about cocktails and the drinking culture are something I find very interesting. Thus, I would like to try out this foodies reading challenge to see if I can account for some of those books; I usually read one or two a year at least. I also enjoy books like some of Anthony Bourdain's writings and histories of things related to food. So I hope this reading challenge falls within my reading flow.

You can use the link above to learn more and/or sign up if so moved.

Since I am dabbling, I am going to keep my initial commitment low. They do have an "a la carte" option where you just post any time you read a book that qualifies. I think I can commit to a bit more than that. Also, any genre related to food such as nonfiction, fiction, and cookbooks works. I am committing initially to the following level:

Short-Order Cook: 1 to 3 books.

As always, if I manage to read more, I will upgrade to the next level. Also as usual, I will add books to my reading list as I get to them, and I will link to the reviews as I post them to the blog.

Bon appetit.

List of books read for this challenge:

  1. Margie Lapanja, Food Men Love
  2. Sarah Bowen, Divided Spirits
  3. Julio Patán, Cocteles con historia: guía definitiva para el borracho ilustrado.
  4.  Emelyn Rude, Tastes Like Chicken.
  5. Carol Peachee, The Birth of Bourbon.

Update Note: With the first three books on this list, I have completed my initial challenge commitment. I think I can squeeze at least two or three in before the year ends, so I am upgrading my challenge now to:

Pastry Chef: 4 to 8 books.

Update Note (12/30/16): With the last two books, I complete the challenge at the Pastry Chef level with 5 books total. The Thousand Dollar Dinner, which I am reading now, would have qualified, but I will not have it done in time to add to the list here. That book I will carry over into 2017, and it will be one of the first books I finish in the new year. For me, this was an interesting challenge, and I may consider trying it again in 2017.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Listening to books: Doing the 2016 Audiobook Challenge

In library school, I took coursework on readers' advisory. One of the classes I took required us to read books in various genres and formats so we could learn appeal factors and thus learn how to provide better readers' advisory to our patrons. One of the formats I had to read was an audiobook. Though some readers look down on audiobooks as "not really reading," way I see it audiobooks are just books that someone reads to you. I do enjoy having someone read to me once in a while. Back then, I read on audio Stephen King's On Reading. For a while, I did not pick up an audiobook again, until two years ago when I saw my library had Rachel Maddow's Drift. It was a book I had wanted to read for a while, and since that was the only format they had available, I took it. In addition to the content, I enjoyed that Rachel Maddow herself read the book. I enjoyed the experience. Sadly, I have not checked out too many audiobooks from my local public library because the selection to be honest is a bit meager, especially when it comes to nonfiction; I could comment further on how some of the selections reflect local demographics, but that is really another post for another day perhaps. However, the library does offer a better selection via their Overdrive subscription, so I am hoping to try that out this year. I have read books via Overdrive, but I have not tried out their audiobook options. I am hoping to give them a good test. So, let's get on with it.

You can visit the link above for further details on the challenge and if you wish to sign up. Here are some rule highlights:

  • Runs January 1, 2016 – December 31, 2016. You can join at anytime.
  • The goal is to find a new love for audios or to outdo yourself by listening to more audios in 2016 than you did in 2015. (That is easy for me. I did not listen to a single one in 2015, so if I do just one, I would outdo myself. However, I will try to get more than one in). 
  • Books must be in audio format (CD, MP3, etc.).</li> </ul> <br /> 

Nice thing about this challenge is that any genre counts, and crossovers are good too. So I will try to cross selections here to other challenges. Given my preference for nonfiction in audio, I will probably cross titles from here to the nonfiction challenge I am also doing. Since I am just giving this a try, I am going to commit to the lowest level. Naturally, if I manage to read more, I will upgrade.

Newbie (I’ll give it a try) 1-5 books.

As usual, I will add books to the list of books read as I get to them. I already picked up one from my local  public library today. It is a reread for me; I read it in print a while back, but since I enjoy Mr. Black's comedy, I figured listening to him read it should be fun.

List of books listened to/read for this challenge:

  1. Lewis Black, Me of Little Faith.
  2. Elizabeth Warren, A Fighting Chance
  3. Ellen DeGeneres, Seriously...I'm Kidding
  4. Denis Leary, Why We Suck.
  5. Bill Maher, New Rules.

Hoping to revisit old friends: The 2016 "Read it again, Sam" Reading Challenge

Since I started reviewing books in a more formal way, I have been reading a good amount of new things. That is great, but once in a while I feel a need to reread books I have enjoyed. In addition, some of my readers may know that I revisit Macondo every so often with One Hundred Years of Solitude, which I read in Spanish by the way. It's starting to feel like a Macondo year to me, so I already got one book down for this challenge. Another I can tell you that I will likely read is the graphic novel Batman: The Long Halloween. Reading The Long Halloween sometime in October, usually as close as possible to October 31st, has become an annual tradition for me. If I add two more books, I may be able to complete the lower end of this reading challenge. I do have some ideas of things I would like to read. For instance, I have fallen behind on some of my manga reading, so I may need to reread an early volume or two to catch up to the newer stuff. Revisiting Arrakis in Dune sounds appealing too. We'll see. So why the hell not? Here we go.

You can read the full rules at the link above, plus you can sign up too if interested. Here are some rule highlights:

  • Challenge runs from January 1 to December 31, 2016.
  • Books may be used to count for other challenges as well. (Good. I will be crossing readings as much as I can).

For this challenge, I am committing initially to the following level:

Déjà vu: Reread 4 books

Aside from the two first books I mentioned above, I will add other books to my list for this challenge as I read them. As for reviews, I will handle them a bit different for this challenge. If I have a review already written, I will simply link to that one after I finish the book. If I decide to modify or edit the review in light of rereading, I will do so. If I have not written a review for the book before,  I will write a new review.  This is a new reading challenge for me this year. If it sticks, I may keep doing it.

List of books reread for this challenge:

  1. Me of Little Faith (Audiobook edition).
  2. Bill Maher, New Rules. (Audiobook edition). 
  3. Denis Leary, Why We Suck (Audiobook edition). 
  4. Carole Cable, Cable on Academe

Update note (11/29/16): I completed this challenge with  4 books. Since at this point, we are almost into December, I am not sure I can get many more in for this challenge, so I am stopping here. This challenge was not as easy as I thought it would be. While I had some books I wanted to reread this year, I did not get to them, or I just got caught up in new things. Maybe if the challenge happens in 2017 I will give another try.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

The 2016 Nonfiction Reading Challenge

I love reading nonfiction, so naturally, I am doing this challenge. This is one I have done in previous years, and I have done well on it. I keep doing it because I enjoy reading nonfiction so much. From history to books about food and travels to microhistories and other topics, I like nonfiction because it is one way for me to learn about new things. This is going to be my easy challenge for the year I hope.

Nonfiction Reading Challenge hosted at The Introverted Reader

You can click on the link above to get more details. The main rule is that pretty much anything nonfiction qualifies. The challenge runs from January 1, 2016 to December 31, 2016. Cross overs with other challenges is fine too.

For this challenge, since I have managed to upgrade, I will just go all in for it and commit to the high level.

Master--Read 16-20 books.

As I always do, I will add books to my list as I read them. I will link the reviews here as soon as I post them.

List of books read for this challenge:

  1. Jane Lyle, The Illustrated Guide to Tarot.
  2. Lewis Black, Me of Little Faith (Audiobook edition).
  3. Elizabeth Warren, A Fighting Chance (Audiobook edition).
  4. Paul Barrett, Glock: The Rise of America's Gun.
  5. Don Brown, Drowned City.
  6. Jen Campbell, The Bookshop Book.
  7. Ted Rall, Bernie.  
  8. John Leguizamo, Ghetto Klown.
  9.  Margie Lapanja, Food Men Love
  10. Sarah Bowen, Divided Spirits: Tequila, Mezcal, and the Politics of Production.
  11. Julio Patán, Cocteles con historia: guía definitiva para el borracho ilustrado.
  12. Jim Berg and Tim Nyberg, The Jumbo Duct Tape Book.  
  13. Christopher Hansard, The Tibetan Art of Positive Thinking
  14. Daniel Lipkowitz, LEGO Star Wars in 100 Scenes
  15. Josh Mack, The Hobo Handbook
  16. Bathroom Readers' Institute, Uncle John's Factastic Bathroom Reader.
  17. Staci Mendoza and David Bourne, Reading and Understanding the Mysteries of Tarot
  18. Josephine Ellershaw, Easy Tarot Handbook
  19. Isabella Alston and Kathryn Dixon, Tarot Cards
  20. Dick Lehr and Gerard O'Neill, Black Mass
  21. Jessa Crispin, The Creative Tarot
  22. Jeff Jensen, Green River Killer.

Update Note: I complete this challenge with book # 16 on the list above. Challenge completed May 23, 2016. I will keep adding books to the list to make it to 20 and possibly past that, but the challenge is officially complete at the highest level offered.

I've got to help clear the e-reader, so doing the NetGalley and Edelweiss Reading Challenge in 2016

This is a challenge I did last year and the year before, and I did manage to complete my initial commitment with success. Now, some of my readers know that when I go into NetGalley, I often request a bit more than I probably should. I also use Edelweiss, though not as much. So I do this challenge to help me keep the numbers in check and because it's fun. Reading the books is the easy part. Getting reviews up on time, that takes a bit of work. I will do my best this year. Thus, here we go.

Falling For YA

You can read the full rules and sign up too if you wish at the link above. Here are some highlights of the rules:

  • The challenge will run from Jan 1, 2016 – Dec 31, 2016.
  • Any genre, release date, request date, length, etc. counts so long as it came from Edelweiss or Netgalley.. 
Last year, I committed initially to the Silver level, which meant read and review 25 books. While I did go over that, I did not quite make it 50 books read and reviewed to qualify for the next level. So, based on that, I will go for a repeat. If I make it to 50, I will upgrade.

Silver Level= 25 Books Read and Reviewed.

Depending on the genre, I may be able to cross some of the readings for this challenge with other challenges I am doing this year.  Once again, as I usually do, I will add books to the list as I get to them.

Books read for this challenge:

  1. Natasha Knight, Given to the Savage.
  2. Troy Little, Hunter S. Thompson's Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.
  3. Russel Brettholtz, Side-Kicked
  4. Ben Khan, Shaman.
  5. Jimmy Palmiotti and Amanda Conner, Harley Quinn Volume 3: Kiss Kiss Bang Stab.
  6.  Sarah Bowen, Divided Spirits: Tequila, Mezcal, and the Politics of Production.
  7. Harlan Ellison and Ken Stacey (artist), Night and the Enemy
  8. Tim Seeley, Grayson, Volume 2: We All Die at Dawn
  9. Sean Ryan, New Suicide Squad, Volume 2: Monsters
  10. Rob Williams,, Martian Manhunter, Volume 1: The Epiphany
  11. Masahiko Murakami, Nichiren
  12. Scott Snyder, Batman, Volume 8: Superheavy
  13. Patrick Gleason, Robin Son of Batman, Volume 1: Year of Blood.  
  14. Matteo Casali and Brian Azzarello, Batman Europa.  
  15. Bathroom Readers' Institute, Uncle John's Factastic Bathroom Reader.  
  16. Erik Burhman, Ghostbusters International.  
  17. Tim Seeley,, Grayson, Volume 3.  
  18. Anthony Louis, Llewellyn's Complete Book of Tarot
  19. Corinna Sara Bechko, Aliens/Vampirella
  20. Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti, Harley Quinn, Volume 4: A Call to Arms.
  21. Sarah Cooper, 100 Tricks to Appear Smart in Meetings.  
  22. Winifred Gallagher, How the Post Office Created America.
  23. Tomas Prower, La Santa Muerte.  
  24. Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti, Harley Quinn, Volume 5: The Joker's Last Laugh
  25. Emelyn Rude, Tastes Like Chicken.

Update note (12/30/16): I committed to 25 books, and I made it right at 25 books. I do have more books in the feed reader, but this is as far as I get for 2016. Hope to sign up again in 2017.