Challenge Checkpoint #2: Halfway Through 2017

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It’s halfway through the year already (*insert cliched statement about how time flies and where did the year go here*) and therefore it is time to review where I’m at with my various reading challenges.  Let’s have at it!

Mount TBR Reading Challenge 2017 – COMPLETE!

Hurrah! I signed on at Pike’s Peak level – or twelve books – for this challenge this year and I am happy to say that I have now scaled to those dizzying heights!  You can check out the books I read here.

however…

since some of the books on the list are a little thin and I haven’t yet got through all the books I wanted to finish for this challenge when I signed on, I’m going to extend my goal and try for Mount Blanc level – 24 books by the end of the year.  This *should* be manageable, but I’ll have to really focus on getting those books read.

Epistolary Challenge – Progress Made!

10 Epistolary Books To Add To Your Winter Reading List

I feel like I’ve made some progress on this one in the last few months.  I’ve also acquired some epistolary novels in print copy or as review copies on Netgalley so I think this challenge is looking up. There’s no end goal or number of books to have read for this challenge, so I’m just seeing how I go at the moment.

Colour Coded Challenge – One Category to Go!

colour-coded-reading-challenge

This was never going to be a challenge that I failed, but I’m well ahead of schedule here.  I’ve only got the final category to go – a book with a pattern or rainbow on the cover – to complete the challenge, but I might extend myself and try to find more to fit the “any other colour” category.

Popsugar Challenge – Charging Ahead!

I’ve managed eighteen out of the 52 categories for this one and I’ve tried to really focus on this challenge in the last three months.  There are a few categories that I could really fit most of my books into (eg: a book published in 2017) and some that I can’t imagine I’m going to get done (eg: a book that’s more than 800 pages).  The trickiest part about this challenge is remembering to refer back to the categories each time I read a book.  Perhaps I should print out the categories now I have printer ink…..

Wild Goose Chase Reading Challenge – stalled

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I’ve read one book to contribute to this challenge since the last update.  That means I’ve got three categories to go.  Doable.  Again, I just have to keep the categories in mind as I’m reading.

Have you signed up for any reading challenges this year?  How are you going?

Until next time,

Bruce

 

 

 

Welcome to 2017! Now Join the Hunt…

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Welcome to a new year and a new chance to participate in a completely frivolous reading challenge!  Today’s post is just a quick one to make anyone who doesn’t know about it aware of the Wild Goose Chase Reading Challenge 2017, which is being hosted by your very own Shelf-denizens!

You can find out more about the challenge here and have a gander (see what I did there?!) at all the lovely people who have already jumped on board.

For those who have already signed up, welcome (!), good luck (!) and the link-ups for each category are now available for your linking pleasure here.  These can also be accessed from the page headings at the top of the blog, under Wild Goose Chase Reading Challenge Sign Up Page.

If you are super keen, you can also grab the button for the challenge to display on your own blog.  The code for this is in the sidebar.

Now, let us go forth in search of a cracking year of reading!

Until next time,

Bruce

Mount TBR Challenge 2017: I’m Climbing On Again!

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Even though I only discovered this challenge this year, I have found it so useful that I’m hopping on board again for 2017.  Bev at My Reader’s Block is a challenge queen and hosts this one yearly to get people motivated to start tackling their ever-growing TBR piles.  This year I signed up at the lowest level, Pike’s Peak, or 12 books and I have just recently achieved it, with a few extras added to the tally by the end of the year hopefully.  If you are interested in the challenge, just click on the image above to be taken to the sign up page, where you can find all the information about rules and restrictions and, most importantly, challenge levels.

I have decided in 2017 that I am going to once again attempt the lowest level of Pike’s Peak.  Twelve books was manageable this year, and I think committing to one book a month isn’t so daunting that I’ll feel too much pressure, but will nonetheless make a dint in my TBR stack.  I’m actually so motivated to keep at this challenge that I’ve already chosen the twelve books I’d like to tackle!

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They are, in no particular order…

The Luck Uglies by Paul Durham

A middle grade fantasy romp that I wanted to read for ages, so decided to chuck it in with a laybuy I was putting on at Big W.  I really wanted the edition with the prettier cover, but I saw my chance to own it and took it.

The Mystery of the Clockwork Sparrow by Katherine Woodfine

A middle grade historical mystery that came out slightly after the first book in the Wells & Wong series by Robin Stevens.  I finally scored this one as a birthday gift, but haven’t got to it yet.

Takeshita Demons by Cristy Burne

A middle grade yokai story.  I stumbled across the first three books in this series at the Library cast-off book shop and picked them up because I just couldn’t walk past any book featuring Japanese ghosties.  I’ve been desperately wanting to have at this series, so I’m making the time in 2017. Hopefully I’ll finish the three books I’ve got, not just this first one.

Greenglass House by Kate Milford

A middle grade mystery featuring smugglers!  I first put this on pre-order back in mid 2014, when it was originally released.  I put the pre-order on the paperback, which was releasing in the middle of 2015.  I figured I could wait that long.  Then the release date got pushed out to September of 2015.  I was tetchy, but accepted this.  THEN the release date got pushed out to September 2016!  Needless to say, I was cheesed.  It finally arrived last month, so since I’ve been waiting on it so long, it’s going in the challenge.  It has since won some awards though, so it should be worth the wait.

Home to Mother by Doris Pilkington

This is the children’s edition of the story of Australia’s Stolen Generations, immortalised in the book and film Rabbit-Proof Fence.  I spotted this one in an op-shop last week and snapped it up.

Beastly Bones (Jackaby #2) by William Ritter

This is the second book in the Jackaby fantasy mystery series.  I pre-ordered this one a while back, since I enjoyed the first book.  My anticipation has waned somewhat during the wait (and I think the third book is out now too), but if I don’t add this one to the challenge, it may continue to be overlooked.

Wayside School is Falling Down by Louis Sachar

I’ve heard so many wonderful things about Sideways Stories from Wayside School from so many different bloggers that when I saw this one at the Library cast-off bookshop I snapped it up.  Louis Sachar is always a fun read, so I don’t think I can go too far wrong here.

The League of Beastly Dreadfuls by Holly Grant

I bought this one from the BD when I was in need of some bookish retail therapy.  Just haven’t got around to it yet.

Book Uncle and Me by Uma Krishnaswami

I had seen this little early middle grade title on a couple of “recommended” lists and then it popped up at Booktopia for two bucks or some other ridiculously cheap price so I had to have it.  I initially thought this was set in Japan, but on closer inspection, it’s actually India.  Not sure how I made that error, given the author’s obviously Indian (and super awesome!) surname.

The Bromeliad by Terry Pratchet

This is the omnibus edition made up of Truckers, Diggers and Wings.  I have read Terry Pratchet’s Discworld books before but never loved his work, but when I heard about this trilogy (maybe from SteJ at Book to the Future?) I thought I might investigate.  After reading a preview of the first chapter and finding myself guffawing after the first page, I decided I had to have it.

Henry and the Guardians of the Lost by Jenny Nimmo

We shelf denizens looooove Jenny Nimmo.  It started many years ago with the Snow Spider Trilogy, when we were fascinated by all things Welsh, and we have devoured a good section of her back catalogue since.  This one is a late 2016 release, so we grabbed it from the BD in one of those “retail therapy” moments.

The Fourteenth Summer of Angus Jack by Jen Storer

This is an Aussie middle grade fantasy/mythology tome that I had had my eye on since its release.  It came up in the bargain section of Booktopia ages ago and I grabbed it.  Having re-read the blurb, I noticed it’s by the same author as Tensy Farlow and the Home for Mislaid Children which I found a bit tropey and pedestrian, but hopefully this one will be more up my street.

So there you have it!  My goals for TBR tackling for 2017.  A couple of these books are quite short, so I may be able to sneak in a few extras – I’ve got plenty to choose from! – but we’ll see how we go.

Are you participating in this challenge this year, or are you thinking about it for next year?  Have you read any of the books that I want to attempt?  Let me know!

Until next time,

Bruce

 

 

 

Bruce’s Lucky Dip: New Year, New Hobby?

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It’s been a ridiculously long time since I last posted a Lucky Dip, so what better time to do it than my final post of the year!  For those of you unfamiliar with my Lucky Dip feature, it involves me typing a random search term into the Book Depository’s search engine and bringing you the wacky, unexpected or just plain hilarious results.  Today’s Lucky Dip will feature that evergreen search term, DIY.  I invite you to sit back, relax and allow these offerings to inspire you to try a new (and eyebrow-raising) hobby in 2016.

First up, for those who like a bit of a tipple during the holiday season, it’s time to collect up all those wine corks and get cracking on….

DIY Wine Corks: 35+ Cute and Clever Cork Crafts by Melissa Averinos

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I would suggest springing this book on your guests AFTER they have imbibed said tipples and then see who can make the best crafty item from the book.  If corks are not your thing however, you can always fall back on good old stretchable rubber with…

The DIY Balloon Bible For All Seasons by Sandi Masori & Rachel Porter

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I’m quite impressed that this book markets itself as something for ALL seasons.  Much better value than a DIY balloon book that only features one or two seasons.

If art and craft seems a bit tedious to you, why not spice up your life with the…

Illustrated Guide to Home Chemistry Experiments: All Lab, No Lecture by Robert Bruce Thompson

illustrated guide to home chemistry experiments

But don’t blame me when the police come knocking after they’ve been tipped off by alert (but not alarmed) neighbours who are worried about what you might be cooking up in your home lab.

Chemistry too mundane and pedestrian?  Looking for something totally wacky and unexpected?  Been wanting to refashion your leftover tinfoil into a stylish new hat? Well look no further than…

DIY Satellite Platforms: Building a Space-Ready General Base Picosatellite for Any Mission by Sandy Antunes

diy satellite platforms

I will be the first to admit that I have absolutely no idea what a space-ready general base picosatellite is, but it doesn’t sound like the kind of thing one could whip up at home.  Please someone buy this book, try it out and get back to me.

If satellites are a bit too airy-fairy for you and you’re looking for something more down-to-earth, I have just the thing. Literally.

Compost Toilets: A Practical DIY Guide by Dave Darby

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The less said, the better, on this one, I think.  If, however, you are looking to move into a more environmentally friendly, chemical-free lifestyle in 2016, you may well be interested in taking a slightly less drastic step in the bathroom with…

DIY Toothpaste: Teach Me Everything I Need to Know About Homemade Toothpaste in 30 Minutes by 30 Minute Reads

diy toothpaste

 The perfect starter present for that friend who will spend hours bleating on about the dangers of modern living on every social media site going, but can’t devote more than 30 minutes to creating a solution.

I hope this Lucky Dip has inspired you to widen your horizons for 2016.  You can thank me later for jazzing up your list of New Year’s Resolutions.

And while you’re thinking of challenges to undertake in the new year, why not have a look at the reading challenge hosted by the Shelf-denizens: The Title Fight Reading Challenge 2016!

Title Fight Button 2016

We’d love to have you aboard!

Until next year,

Bruce

Introducing the Title Fight Reading Challenge 2016!

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Title Fight Button 2016

Ding, Ding, Ding! Pull on your gloves and shiny shorts and step into the ring for the Title Fight Reading Challenge 2016!

Think you’ve got what it takes to slam seven books over the course of the year? Easy, right? But what if they had to have something…special…about their titles?

Still game?

Then read on for the basics and to sign up using the linky!

The Basics

* The Challenge will run from January 1st to December 31, 2016.

* Challengees must read at least one book from each category (listed below). Challengees must read a DIFFERENT book for each category – even if your book title might fit a number of categories, it will only count towards a single category. Challengees are free to choose which category best suits.

* Books selected can be from any genre and aimed at any age group. Picture books, anthologies, nonfiction, graphic novels and audiobooks are all okay to include.

* The categories listed are a loose guide and creative interpretation of the categories is not only encouraged, but applauded.

* Challengees should link their reviews/progress under the relevant linky lists on this page. If you don’t have a blog, you could link to your Goodreads shelf/reviews, or simply comment on this page as you go.

*Feel free to display the challenge button (html for which is in the sidebar) and share about the challenge wherever you like!

The Categories

1. A book with something related to fighting in the title (eg: Battle Bunny, The Great Snape Debate, The Tale of the Duelling Neurosurgeons)

2. A book with someone’s title in the title: (eg: Mrs Frisby and the Rats of Nimh, Dr Jekkyl and Mr Hyde, To Sir with Love)

3. A book with onomatopoeia in the title (eg: Kung Pow Chicken, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, Cloud Busting)

4. A book with an object you might find in a boxing gym in the title (eg: The Cat on the Mat is Flat, Bag of Bones, Smoke and Mirrors)

5. A book with an injury (or a word related to or implying an injury) in the title (eg: Heart-Shaped Bruise, These Broken Stars, Scarface Claw)

6. A book with an emotion in the title (eg: Bear Feels Scared, Road Rage, Pride and Prejudice)

7. A book with a word or phrase implying victory in the title (eg: How to Win Friends and Influence People, Danny the Champion of the World, Curious George Gets a Medal)

Can we sign you up for this epic challenge? Yes? Wonderful! Just click the link below:

COMING SOON: Linky lists for each individual category will be posted in January 2016!

 I really hope you join me in the ring for the Title Fight Reading Challenge.  Don’t forget to grab the challenge badge from the sidebar to let everyone know just how seriously you take your reading.

Until next time,
Bruce

Watch out TBR Shelf: I’ve Joined a Challenge!

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Mount TBR 2016

Well, it’s getting to that time of year again when I start looking around for new reading challenges for the coming year.  There are a number of bloggers who have put together some handy lists of many of the 2016 reading challenges that are already open for sign-up, and it was while perusing this list that I came across the Mount TBR Reading Challenge for 2016, hosted by My Reader’s Block.  I’ve been bemoaning the state of my physical and digital TBR shelves for quite some time, so I’ve taken the plunge – consider this my commitment to completing this challenge next year.

Essentially, this challenge is based around getting through books that you already own, so no library books or new purchases.  While I went into this with great excitement, I was quickly daunted by the levels being offered and so chickened out a bit and chose Level 1 (Pike’s Peak), in which I will aim to knock 12 books off my physical TBR shelf.

To help myself along, I have decided to run a new feature next year – TBR Friday – once a month, which should ensure that I reach at least the 12 books that I have set for myself.  To be even MORE organised, I have chosen eleven books that I will focus on, in no particular order, leaving the last spot free for whichever book left on the shelf takes my fancy.

Here’s my list:

TBR challenge list

Missing from the picture is Hester and Harriet by Hilary Spiers, which I have ordered, and will arrive before the January 1st, 2016 deadline for purchased books.

If you’re looking for a 2016 Reading Challenge be sure to stay tuned, because I will be unveiling the challenge for 2016 that will be hosted by The Bookshelf Gargoyle on Monday!

Until next time,

Bruce

Oddly Unmoved: A Review of Unseemly Science…

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Today I have another submission for my personal Oddity Odyssey Reading Challenge. I received this book from the publisher, Angry Robot, via Netgalley after pondering whether or not I should request it. You see, today’s book is the second in a series and I haven’t read the opening book. I speak of Unseemly Science: The Fall of the Gas-Lit Empire #2 by Rod Duncan. I um-ed and ah-ed a bit over whether I should attempt a sequel without having read its predecessor, but decided in the end that the blurb looked intriguing enough to override my worries.

I am submitting this book into the Challenge under the categories of Odd Setting, given that the book features a strange version of the United Kingdom (I think – my mild confusion over this will become apparent) which is split into a monarchy and a republic. I’m also submitting under the Odd Character category because the main character is a lady who is also her own brother.

Let’s crack on into the unknown then, shall we? Here’s the blurb from Goodreads:

In the divided land of England, Elizabeth Barnabus has been living a double life – as both herself and as her brother, the private detective. Witnessing the hanging of Alice Carter, the false duchess, Elizabeth resolves to throw the Bullet Catcher’s Handbook into the fire, and forget her past. If only it were that easy! There is a new charitable organisation in town, run by some highly respectable women. But something doesn’t feel right to Elizabeth. Perhaps it is time for her fictional brother to come out of retirement for one last case…? Her unstoppable curiosity leads her to a dark world of body-snatching, unseemly experimentation, politics and scandal. Never was it harder for a woman in a man’s world…

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Intriguing blurb, no?  I concur.

So what’s the Bullet Catcher’s Handbook? No idea.  Why was Alice Carter hanged? Couldn’t tell you.  What’s haunting about Elizabeth Barnabus’ past? Not an inkling.

It turns out that in this particular series, all the world building happens in the first book and if you haven’t read it, you will be mired in slight confusion for at least the first third of the story.  This is fair enough, I suspect.  If you go into a second book with an obviously obtuse blurb, as I chose to, you probably shouldn’t expect to be coddled by the author with all the information you missed by not bothering to read the first book.  And while it was obvious that the world of this story had been built while I wasn’t paying attention, the actual thrust of the story was perfectly simple to follow, albeit without the nuances that knowing Elizabeth’s past would have added.  Suffice to say, she’s an ex-monarchy-dweller on the run from a powerful Duke to whom she was sold.

It turns out that she also moonlights as some kind of detective, and sometimes impersonates her fictitious brother.  This is where we dip into the part of the story that drew me in – the mystery of the charitable organisation and the body-snatching and unseemly experimentation promised in the blurb.  It takes literally half the book to get to the real meat of any investigatory business, as the first half is devoted to Elizabeth’s attempts to escape from the Republican officials’ new law to repatriate monarchists to their place of birth.  Once we get to the investigation part, the action explodes and the pace of the plot quadruples as we charge toward a twisty, dangerous ending.

Surprisingly (for me, anyway…maybe not for you), the action and autopsies of the second half of the book didn’t make up for the slow start and extended running and hiding of the first half.  I really enjoyed the ladies’ foray into the territory of the ice farmers and Julia’s code-breaking attempts were a bit of fun riddle-solving, but otherwise I felt this to be a reasonably slow burn, with an ending that didn’t quite provide the thrill I was looking for.  Plus, of course, there was the general sense that I was missing something important pretty much the whole way through.

To my surprise, at the end of the book I discovered a glossary of sorts that spelled out all the nuances of the Gas-Lit Empire and much of the stuff I had missed.  As I came upon this after having ploughed through the whole book, I decided that I couldn’t be bothered filling myself in on the vital information that would probably have made the reading experience a bit more enriching.  I feel I have discharged my duty by having told you about it though, so if you wish to attempt this book without having read the first one, you’ll know to start with this elusive glossary first.

Discounting the fact that I didn’t have a full working knowledge of the world in which the story is set (given that this was entirely of my own choosing), I would have to say that overall this was an interesting diversion into an original imagining of England.  While the pace was slower than I expected, there was enough mystery and intrigue to keep me turning the pages.  If you’re a fan of alternative history, steampunk and strong female protagonists with mad evasion skills, then this will probably tickle your fancy, although I would strongly recommend starting with book one and saving yourself some brainache.

Progress toward Oddity Odyssey Reading Challenge Goal: 9/16

Until next time,

Bruce

The Forgiveness Project: A “Five Things I’ve Learned” Review…

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imageNonfiction 2015 Welcome to another Five Things I’ve Learned review.  Today I have a read which was both highly engaging and deeply thought-provoking, and as it consists of a collection of personal stories I am going to submit it for the Non-fiction Reading Challenge hosted by The Introverted Reader, in which I have chosen to participate. Hence the comfortable chair.

I received a copy of The Forgiveness Project: Stories for a Vengeful Age by Marina Cantacuzino (and others) from the publishers via Netgalley, and I am very glad to have done so because it’s been a while since I’ve read a book that lays out its concept so simply, but with such depth of thought behind it.  Allow me to elaborate.

In 2004 in London, Marina Cantacuzino opened a photographic exhibition called “The F Word”.  Featuring pictures of victims of all sorts of crime and trauma alongside their perpetrators, the exhibition drew both congratulations and controversy, so loaded is our diverse sense of the act of forgiving.  In this book, Cantacuzino has collected personal narratives from those who have chosen to forgive, rather than seek vengeance.  Featuring people from all nations, and victims and perpetrators of everything from street crime, to incest to terrorism and genocide, this book is striking in its breadth, as well as in the depth to which the process of forgiveness has changed the lives of those whose stories are collected here.

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So here are Five Things I’ve Learned from

The Forgiveness Project

1. Forgiveness does not have to have a spiritual connotation.

2.  For many people, forgiveness is a process, rather than a final destination.

3.  It appears that its possibly to forgive even the most heinous and unimaginable of crimes, given the right context.

4.  To forgive is to invite judgement.

5.  The power of art and narrative, simply expressed, is undeniable.

I admit that I was a little afraid when I picked this book up that it would be replete with graphic and disturbing recollections of terrible events, with a bit of a focus on why forgiving is a good thing.  Happily, this collection is nothing of the sort and, in my opinion, much the better for it.

The book begins with a comprehensive, yet very readable, introduction from the author, explaining the original photographic exhibition and the response it garnered, both positive and negative.  While many were pleased and moved by the imagery and stories on offer in the exhibition, others were angered about everything from the stories featured to the title of the exhibition connoting forgiveness with a swear word.  This introduction sets the tone beautifully for the real essence of the book.  It is not meant to be a prescriptive, everyone-should-forgive-and-this-is-how-you-do-it sort of guide, but an in-depth exploration of the concept of forgiveness: what it is, how it works and the different ways in which individuals have used the concept to achieve a desired end in their lives.

The great strength of the collection, I think, is the variety of stories and individuals featured and the myriad ways that they have engaged with the concept of forgiveness.  For some, forgiveness arrived as a creative way to take their identity or personal power back from their perpetrator.  Others undertook forgiveness as a conscious choice to release their right to revenge, or as a means to break a cycle of violence.  Some of the narrators have a background featuring a spiritual understanding of forgiveness, while others are more pragmatic about the concept and still others wish not to label their actions as “forgiveness” for reasons personal to their story.

Many of the narrators note how loaded the concept is and mention the backlash they received after seeking to forgive.  This backlash could come from many corners – from fellow survivors, who consider forgiveness as trivialising or excusing the event or behaviour; from family or friends, who could not understand how one could forgive certain heinous crimes; from non-forgivers, who feel judged because of the magnanimity of those who do forgive.

Overall, I found this to be an incredibly important reading experience in what does seem to be a “vengeful age”, as well as a litigious one.  I would recommend this book to anyone with an interest in peaceful responses to violence and injustice, or indeed anyone who is simply looking for some incredibly gripping and inspirational personal narratives from around the world, presented in simple, bite-sized chunks.

I realise it’s only March, but I feel pretty safe in saying that this is one of my “Top Picks of 2015”, were I to engage in such list-making.

Progress toward Non-Fiction Reading Challenge Goal: 3/10

Until next time,

Bruce

A Non-Fiction Read-it-if Review: If You Find This Letter…

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Welcome to another Read-it-if review, this time featuring a memoir of sorts, which I received from the publisher via Netgalley.  I’m also submitting this one for the Nonfiction Reading Challenge hosted by The Introverted Reader.  I can’t remember whether I mentioned that I would be doing this challenge, but I signed up at Explorer level, which is 6-10 books.  If you’d like to find out more about the challenge, you can click on the challenge image at the top of this post.

But back to business.  Today’s book grew out of a blog that the author began in an effort to reconnect with herself and find some purpose in her life.  It’s called If You Find This Letter: One Girl’s Journey to Find Purpose Through Hundreds of Letters to Strangers and it’s by Hannah Brencher.  Here’s the blurb from Goodreads:

Fresh out of college, Hannah Brencher moved to New York, expecting her life to look like a scene from Sex and the City. Instead, she found a city full of people who knew where they were going and what they were doing and didn’t have time for a girl still trying to figure it all out. Lonely and depressed, she noticed a woman who looked like she felt the same way on the subway. Hannah did something strange–she wrote the woman a letter. She folded it, scribbled If you find this letter, it’s for you on the front and left it behind.

When she realized that it made her feel better, she started writing and leaving love notes all over the city–in doctor’s offices, in coat pockets, in library books, in bathroom stalls. Feeling crushed within a culture that only felt like connecting on a screen, she poured her heart out to complete strangers. She found solace in the idea that her words might brighten someone’s day.

Hannah’s project took on a life of its own when she made an offer on her blog: She would handwrite a note and mail it to anyone who wanted one. Overnight, her inbox exploded with requests from people all over the world. Nearly 400 handwritten letters later, she started the website, The World Needs More Love Letters, which quickly grew.

There is something about receiving a handwritten note that is so powerful in today’s digital era. If You Find This Letter chronicles Hannah’s attempts to bring more love into the world,and shows how she rediscovered her faith through the movement she started.

 if you find this letterRead it if:

* you like reading memoirs by people who have just barely cracked the quarter century in years on this planet

* you like wacky blog ideas that morph into meaningful projects in the real world

* you like your memoirs to deeply explore the author’s relationships and personal reflections

* you enjoy the idea of randomly leaving stuff behind for others to find (or as I like to call it, “guerrilla kindness” or “littering mindfully”)

It was for just this last reason that I picked up this book.  Having featured books about yarn-bombing on the blog before, I am clearly one of those creatures that gets a kick out of people secretly leaving some little treasure (be it letter, crocheted door knob cosy or book) for some unsuspecting passer-by to find and enjoy.  I was really hoping that this book would be something akin to a cross between yarn-bombing in letter format and the worldwide art and connection project begun by one man, known as PostSecret.  (If you don’t know what PostSecret is, please check it out. It’s worth a look, for certain).  Unfortunately, it read more like the developmentally typical learnings of a reasonably sheltered young woman in her twenties.  Not what I was hoping for, by any means.

The actual letter project, in which Hannah puts out the invitation for anyone who wants a handwritten love letter from her to apply via her website, really takes a back seat in this memoir to a whole bunch of other happenings in Hannah’s life.  I suspect that the idea was to show that she herself was reaching out to strangers in this way because of her own sense of disconnection, but a lot of the stuff that she talks about seemed to me to be pretty typical of anyone between the ages of about 18 and 30 who is trying to carve out an adult identity and some existential equilibrium.  I really wanted to read more about the letter project, and let that speak for itself, than find out about her involvement in a volunteer service project, and a whole bunch of Faith related personal reflection.

Did you notice that Faith-with-a-capital-F?  Yes, this is another blurb which I fear has mislead me and caused me to pick up a book that I probably would have passed on otherwise.  That last line in the blurb –  “If You Find This Letter chronicles Hannah’s attempts to bring more love into the world,and shows how she rediscovered her faith through the movement she started” – is not referring to her faith in humanity.  It’s her Faith, as in her personal relationship with God.  Now, I’ve mentioned before, that the fleshlings who own my shelf have a Christian leaning – they are even Catholics (of the rare non-lapsed variety), as is Hannah herself – so we have no objection to religious content per se in a book.  What really gets on my horns though, is when blurbs don’t make this clear.  If they said this was going to be a God book I could have made an informed decision.  But they didn’t.  So I got stuck wading through a whole lot of “Hannah returning home” (in the Catholic sense, not in the literal sense – in the literal sense, we get a nice little story about one Thanksgiving where Hannah is literally not allowed to return home. Not sure why it was included really), when I was really in the mood for “interesting social connection project”.

Now, don’t let my negativity bring you down.  Others have read this book and called it “inspiring” and “captivating”.  I would suggest reading it if it sounds interesting and make up your own mind.  But I suspect that not all blog projects need to be made into a book. At least, not a book in a memoir format.  For my (non-existent) money, I would have liked to have seen a lot more focus on the project and the benefits contained therein for not just the author, but some of the recipients of letters, and a bit less on the life-reflections of someone who seems to be a reasonably typical example of this particular age group.

Until next time,

Bruce