2017 Reading Challenge

I am moving the progress of this challenge over to my Goodreads Feed found here.


I found a great reading challenge at the blog of a coach/writer named Hannah Braime.  It appealed to me because it didn’t list books I had to read, it listed topics, themes.  I could select books to match these themes.  I’ve started and here I will add my books and some reviews and thoughts as I read them.  (I am not doing them in order).


Book Challenge Book #3  – Theme: a Book by someone who isn’t a writer

I selected “Troublemaker: Surviving Hollywood and Scientology” by Leah Remini and Rebecca Paley because I’ve been watching her interview show on television for a few weeks and I was curious about her story. It is a brave person who stands up alone against something like that and now must figure out who she is in the world.  Eye opening, wider than they already were.    (completed 1/22/17)


Book Challenge Book #2  – Theme: a Book that was published last year

I finished Phil Collins’ “Not Dead Yet” this morning.  I got up at 6:30 when the alarm in my cell phone went off.  I pulled on some yoga pants, a juxtaposition from the usual camo cargo pants in the hopes that it might create some wonder among the neighbors, if I ran into any, and took out the trash.  I wasn’t going to miss them again this week.  To be straight, I did not miss them last week, they missed me.  I maintain my trash was out at 7:30 before most of the others and yet my hand-painted floral trash can was shunned for some reason.

Enough about trash.

I got back into bed to finish up the last 60 to 70 pages of “Not Dead Yet”.  First one cat and then the other attempted to distract me but I was determined.  Not because it is the third week of the year and I am only on the second book of the book a week challenge.  I will catch up.  But because I wanted to see how things pulled together, how the book brought us to the present.  Us – Phil and I.  Ha ha.  When you are the reader you are also a part of the story, right?

I love Phil Collins’ music and during the course of the book, I felt compelled to find the pieces he referenced and listen to them again.  It was a great book in that respect: it reminded me of music that I enjoyed, that made me feel things.  And iTunes earned a little extra money because I did not want to go back through dusty stacks of cds.  And the drumming, oh the drumming…what phil-collins-cover-not-dead-yetis it about the drumming?  It was good to hear his side of the story in chapters regarding those times in his life he’d been “given the stick” from the press.  At those times, I never got the real story and had to rely on my faith in his music and lack of trust in the press.

Based on how I’ve been taught to define memoir and the “hero’s journey” aspect of it, to me, this book is more an autobiography.  It’s chronological, but with a sort of two steps forward, one step back kind of pattern.  The story will cover a number of years in his music life, then shift back and cover some personal.  Then forward again.  It was a bit like being in a car with one of my old aunts as a child – she would accelerate and suddenly realizing how fast she was going or something she missed along the road side and brake very sharply.  Hold on or you will get whiplash, kiddies.  Not that this is a bad thing in the layout of the book, I am just saying it felt more like an autobiographical list of events and times with some shuffling to break up the patter.

The book does begin with his deafness in the present, shift back to the life story and then return to the deafness in the recent years.  This tying it up in a neat little bow, bringing us back to the beginning at the end is one of my favorite techniques. I appreciated that structurally.

I found the British slang, much of which I’d never heard before, alternately comforting and distracting.  It was his voice.  It took me to my spiritual home (England).  It gave the book an edge and a real quality that helped to make it seem untouched by those filthy clean fingers of publishing house editors.  But then at the end, the wrap up, they were gone.  When I checked they weren’t in the opening either?  So perhaps my loving the clean wrap up was loving something someone else put in?  Something that was written to be his voice, but wasn’t?  I don’t know.   It doesn’t really detract, it was just something I noticed.

I always enjoy the childhood of the British. It has a freedom and independence that my childhood in the Midwest and most childhoods in America, don’t have.  I long to have roamed free, experienced more, been able to learn from the real world and not that of the books I had my nose stuck in at eight and ten and twelve.   He was out there in it, in his neighborhood.  He knew what he wanted to do from a young age.  I admire that.  Hearing about how each album was created was fascinating. It gives them for me a new way to listen to them.  They all came out of joy or pain of events in his life that I’d have never before known or understood.

I do feel like it was a lot to put into one book.  I could see any segment of it dug deeper, scraping the emotions painfully off the walls of the mind where they hide, and expand upon them.  That would make many memoirs for him.  It is possible each of his albums are a different memoir in that respect.  There we get those emotions in the words and music.  And we’ve had them all along.  I believe I acquire more of a sense of the hero’s journey in his music than in this ‘memoir’ but it was a journey through his life and a decent read.

There was one thing about the book that I found very odd.  I finished the story, read the acknowledgments and glanced over the final pages of photo credits.  Then turning the final page, I see this:


So after 360 plus pages of an autobiographical work, someone felt the need to add an “About the Author” blurb that reduced Mr. Collins’ life down to one sentence.  Am I the only person that this strikes as an unnecessary page?  Or just plain rude to have added after the author did all that work?

On to my next book…..   I have to go out and see if the garbage was picked up first.  I have an odd sense of accomplishment when I put out trash and they take it away.  The empty can is a sign that all is going according to plan. It is a balance that I appreciate in the world.  Something like tying things up in a neat little bow.     1/19/2017

#philcollins #notdeadyet #autobiography #genesis


Book Challenge Book #1 –  Theme: A book from my childhood

“My Side of the Mountain” by Jean George


For the first book of the challenge I selected this book because I thought it would take me back to that time in my life that I loved reading and couldn’t stop.  I wrote about it here: Two Libraries and a Book Nook.   In much the same manner that your home town or you childhood schools might seem a lot smaller when you go back to revisit, the scope of the story felt smaller.  I must have added to the various events in the book in my mind over the many times I had read it.

It still had all the things that I love in a story, a resourceful kid on his own making his way in a world that can, at times, be harsh.  It was over too soon again.