My 2016 Reading Goal

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I set my Goodreads 2016 Reading Challenge goal at 26 books and I’m using the above chart to choose a few of them. I’ve already got one book picked out, thanks to my wife: Ray Bradbury’s classic Fahrenheit 451.

I met my reading goal in 2015, beating my 26-book goal by 3 books, and I hope to do it again, thus giving me a three-peat for my yearly reading challenge.

One other book-related note: Gene Luen Yang was named the Library of Congress’ national ambassador for young people’s literature. He’s the first graphic novelist to be named to the post and if you haven’t already, I highly recommend reading his brilliant and thought-provoking American Born Chinese.

Day 301: Goal Update

The Galaxy's Dos Santos and Gerrard.

The Galaxy’s Dos Santos and Gerrard.

Unfortunately, there will be no more goals scored by the LA Galaxy this season. The #RaceForSeis is over. Tonight’s knockout playoff game was a sloppy mess against the Seattle Sounders. The Galaxy battled back early twice, but couldn’t generate much offense after the Sounders scored the go-ahead goal in the second half.

We had tickets to the Western Conference Finals, hoping the Galaxy would shake off its late-season funk. They looked shaky and the hoopla surrounding Gerrard and Dos Santos was all for nothing.

One good bit of news today, though: I reached my reading goal!

Here’s my updated list of goals for the year, including my Quest to Blog Every Day in 2015:

  1. Write 100 reviews on Yelp.
  2. Read 26 books and review them on Goodreads.
  3. Break 100 on the golf course.
  4. Watch all of the AFI 100 Greatest American Films of All Time.
  5. Play 10 new board games.

 

Day 277: A Clash of Kings

A Clash of Kings

A Clash of Kings

I’m one book away from reaching my goal of reading 26 books in 2015. This will mark my second consecutive year of doing this, after three years of missing the mark. You can see the books I’ve read on Goodreads, where I also review everything I’ve read for the year.

The book I’m reading to reach my goal is A Clash of Kings, the second of George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series. Most know it as the second season of Game of Thrones.

I checked out the book from my library at the start of the summer and got through 442 pages before returning it. Last week I borrowed it again so I could finish it.

I stopped watching Game of Thrones after the second season so I could get caught up with the written version, but it’s been slow going. As much as I’ve enjoyed the series so far, there’s part of me that wishes the books were shorter. Much shorter.

I know there’s a good Tyrion Lannister joke here, but I can’t think of anything clever.

Day 275: Star Wars Reads Day

Star Wars Reads Day

Star Wars Reads Day

What’s not to love about Star Wars Reads Day? It’s Star Wars, it’s books … it’s two of my favorite things rolled into one ball of awesomeness.

Star Wars Reads Day is set for October 10th this year and libraries, bookstores, and other retailers will be celebrating with author signings and all kinds of festivities.

I’m fortunate to live in a town that still has a Barnes & Noble, something I did not think would still be possible in this day and age. I’ve got a few unread Star Wars books on my nightstand so I was able to resist the temptation of the store’s display shown above.

Then again, there’s still a week left to go … hopefully my wallet will resist any and all of B&N’s Jedi Mind Tricks.

Day 196: Go Set A Watchman

Harper Lee

Harper Lee

Harper Lee’s highly anticipated sequel to To Kill A Mockingbird was released yesterday and there’s a lot of buzz about Atticus Finch. The hero of the first novel, Atticus has not aged gracefully, becoming a bigot and the antithesis of who he was. I’m looking forward to reading the book, but I’m not sure how I’ll react to the older Atticus.

The true hero of the real-life drama behind this book? Lee’s editor, Tay Hohoff, who saw the potential in the flashbacks to Lee’s youth and encouraged her to focus on those aspects, which led to the Pulitzer-Prize winning To Kill A Mockingbird. Imagine if Hohoff isn’t around? We lose one of, if not the, great books of American literature.

While there was no doubt that this sequel could not have lived up to its hype, it’s nice to see a book dominate the news headlines.

Day 135: Asian/Pacific Islander Cultural Arts Night

Josh Chang

Josh Chang

Tonight I’m live-tweeting from the Asian/Pacific Islander Cultural Arts Night in Rancho Cucamonga, California. You can follow me on Twitter from 7-9pm; I’ll use the hashtag #APICANRC for my tweets and photos.

I missed last year’s celebration, but the previous year was awesome, mainly because I met Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston, author of the Asian American literature classic Farewell to Manzanar. She did a brief Q&A before meeting fans and signing (free!) copies of her book.

I’m looking forward to tonight’s event, with headliner Josh Chang and other entertainers. I’ll post photos later on my Google+ page, but for now you can check out my photos of the last event I live-tweeted, the Riverside Tamale Festival, here.

Day 100: Review and Update

Ticket to Ride board game and app

Ticket to Ride board game and app

I hit the century mark! One hundred days ago I started my Quest to Blog Every Day in 2015 and today I am over a quarter of the way there (27% to be exact). Now let’s review how I’m doing with my other goals and add another one, shall we?

My Goals for 2015:

  1. Write 100 reviews on Yelp. (25 written; on pace, but I’m behind my unofficial 10-reviews-per-month pace that I established last year.)
  2. Read 26 books and review them on Goodreads. (12 read; according to Goodreads, I’m 5 books ahead of schedule.)
  3. Break 100 on the golf course. (I’ve only played a few executive and par-3 courses, so haven’t given it a shot yet; this is most likely the one thing I won’t accomplish this year.)
  4. Watch all of the AFI 100 Greatest American Films of All Time. (read below for more)

I thought that watching all of the AFI 100 Greatest American Films of All Time would be a breeze. I love movies and I especially love great movies. Unfortunately, as of today, I’ve watched an unimpressive total of four. Yikes.

I’ve spent my movie-watching time doing other things: reading books, writing Yelp reviews, binge-watching The Walking Dead, posting on this blog, and playing board games. Now I have less than 8 months to watch the final 96 movies on the AFI list. I could count the ones I’ve seen in the past, but my goal was to watch each film this year. It’s all or nothing. Like my attempts to break 100 on the golf course, I may fall short of my goal, but at least I’ll enjoy my cinematic journey.

If I hadn’t rediscovered my love of board games, I might have put a bigger dent in that AFI 100 list. I have no regrets, though; it’s been a wonderful experience reconnecting with my love of games and the best part is that my wife shares my new passion. We’ve played dozens of games of Ticket to Ride and recently bought the Android app to play on our tablets. I still prefer the real-life version, but the digital option is a fine port of the original.

So, it looks like I’ll reach two of my four goals (write 100 Yelp reviews and read and review 26 books on Goodreads). My third goal (break 100 on the golf course) seems unattainable unless I start playing more, and possibly take lessons. The fourth goal (watching all AFI 100 movies) will take a Herculean effort to finish.

I tell myself it’s all about the experience, but I still like to accomplish my goals, no matter how silly they may seem. In that spirit, I’ve decided to add a fifth goal based on my last two months: play 10 new board games. I’m nearly halfway there, after buying Pandemic, Ticket to Ride, Tsuro, and Castle Panic. I’m staying with the most popular and the least time-consuming games as my gaming rebirth continues. Right now, the thought of going deep into hours-long campaigns has no appeal to me. But I’m someone that never likes to say never, so perhaps I’ll get into them. For now, I’ll enjoy playing new games until I reach my goal.

Here’s my updated list of goals for the year, including my Quest to Blog Every Day in 2015:

  1. Write 100 reviews on Yelp.
  2. Read 26 books and review them on Goodreads.
  3. Break 100 on the golf course.
  4. Watch all of the AFI 100 Greatest American Films of All Time.
  5. Play 10 new board games.

 

Day 61: Reading Through My Earbuds

World War Z audiobook

World War Z audiobook

After writing about a few of the podcasts I enjoy while commuting or working out, I added a few audiobooks to my phone for future listening. The first, World War Z, was excellent and you can read my review of it here.  As I noted in my review, it was vastly superior to the Brad Pitt movie that barely registered a “meh” with me. Having a large all-star voice cast definitely made the audiobook experience a pleasant one.

So pleasant, in fact, that after I finished it, I immediately borrowed David Sedaris’ Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls from my local digital library. Having read most of Sedaris’ books, this is my first audio version of his work and it’s been terrific so far. The subject matter is familiar (a collection of essays on various subjects, told through the author’s unique point of view), but the fact that Sedaris reads it himself makes this a must-listen; he’s an outstanding storyteller. I was fortunate to attend his performance in Santa Barbara last year and I’d see him again in a heartbeat.

For now, I’ll settle for reading his latest book through my earbuds.

Day 49: Time Travel

Back to the Future

Back to the Future

The Streak is over. After blogging for the first 48 days of 2015, I spaced out yesterday and forgot to post something. I usually blog around dinner time, but plans changed last night and by the time I was ready for bed I was wiped out, my quest completely forgotten.

Fortunately, thanks to the magic of WordPress I can change the date of this post to yesterday. Like Superman turning back the clock to save Lois Lane from death-by-earthquake*, I can travel back in time to post my 49th blog of the year. The Quest continues!

My earliest recollection of time travel, aside from childhood games, was the Twilight Zone episode “The Rip Van Winkle Caper.” Four criminals steal $1 million and hide in a cave, where their leader has them enter suspended animation chambers. Their plan is to lay low for 100 years and wake up when their crime is forgotten: outrunning the law through the use of science. Of course, this being the Twilight Zone, nothing goes according to plan and the bad guys get their comeuppance. I’ll never forget the criminal mastermind (played by the fantastic Oscar Beregi) at the end of episode, desperate and dying, trying to barter for his life.

Another time-travel favorite of my youth was Back to the Future. I won’t rehash the well-known plot here, but two things I remember from that movie are 1) vest that Marty McFly wears throughout was similar to one I wore throughout middle school, as my wife likes to tease/remind me and 2) the mall parking lot scenes that bookend the film were filmed at the still-standing Puente Hills Mall. Whenever I visit the mall, I’m tempted to tear through the parking lot at 88 MPH.

Finally, during my senior year at UCSB, I read Captain Blackman for my senior thesis. It’s a novel that moves back and forth in time, exploring the role of African-Americans in the U.S. military in different wars, as told by its African-American protagonist. Captain Blackman was one of a handful of books I kept from college and I’ve been meaning to re-read it for years. If only I could travel back in time to read it instead of wasting my time rooting for a bad football team.

*I always get a kick out of Superman geeks that get fired up about that ending, talking about the impossibility of Superman reversing time like that. People, we are talking about an alien that has x-ray vision, superhuman strength, and FLIES. 

Day 42: Ghost Month

Din Tai Fung's famous xiaolongbao

Din Tai Fung’s famous xiaolongbao

I finished my third book of 2015 tonight, the entertaining Ghost Month by Ed Lin. I’ll have my Goodreads review posted later tonight or tomorrow and re-post the link here. It’s a fun read, a murder mystery set in a night market in Taipei. While the book falters a bit, the characters in Ghost Month are likable enough that I’d recommend reading it. Lin certainly knows his food, with fantastic passages on the various foods in the market and I immediately took a liking to Ghost Month when chapter 2 featured a visit to Din Tai Fung, home of my favorite xiaolongbao. 

Pictured above: the xiaolongbao (“XLBs”) from Din Tai Fung in Arcadia, CA. Locations are being added throughout Southern California, so it’ll save you a trip to Taiwan.