Whoa, we're halfway there: Squad Goals progress post

If you’ve stopped by the Lawrence Public Library in the past few months, you may have noticed that the Book Squad has set up monthly rotating displays featuring potential reads for the Squad Goals Reading Challenge, our inaugural reading challenge featuring a baker’s dozen of prompts designed to help you find great new books.

We announced the Squad Goals Challenge on the Spotlight Blog last December, and I wrote about what I planned to read then. Since 2017 is almost halfway gone and summer reading is upon us, I wanted to check in and update you all on how my personal Squad Goals Challenge is going.

Spoiler alert: It’s been a mixed bag so far.

Let’s start with the good.

I’ve finished books for five of the 13 Squad Goals prompts, and I absolutely loved four of the five: Jeff Passan’s "The Arm" (a book about sports); Alice LaPlante’s "Turn of Mind" (a book with an unreliable narrator); Naomi Novik’s "His Majesty’s Dragon" (a steampunk or gaslamp fantasy novel); and Cat Sebastian’s "The Lawrence Browne Affair" (a diverse romance).

Three of those titles made it onto my “top reads of 2017” Bibliocommons list (posting soon!); the fourth book was on there originally but got knocked out by a last-minute contender (the stunningly good "Peter Darling," which would, now that I think of it, actually work for the “retelling of a classic story” prompt. Make that six of 13).

Also good: I’m roughly on-track in terms of scheduling. Actually, that’s very good, because for some reason I thought I was way behind.

Oh, wait, I know why: it’s because I’ve started and abandoned four other books that I intended to count as Squad Goals reads. Ugh.

Honestly, I’ve gotten way better about quitting books when I no longer want to read them, but if a book I’m not particularly enjoying would count toward a challenge prompt, I definitely feel a twinge when I set it aside.

I DNF’d (or did not finish) Simran Sethi’s "Bread, Wine, Chocolate" (book by a Lawrence, Kansas author); Annemarie Selinko’s "Désirée" (a book you haven’t read in more than 5 years); Y.S. Lee’s "A Spy in the House" (historical novel by an author of color); and Sonali Dev’s "The Bollywood Bride" (my original choice for the diverse romance prompt).

Of those DNFs, none were bad; they just weren’t right for me right now. Sethi’s book turned out to be more of a food memoir than the straight-up science read I was hoping for; "Désirée" was enjoyable, but there were other things I wanted to read more; I somehow forgot how uninterested I am in anything to do with spies. I am surprised I didn’t connect with "The Bollywood Bride," though, since I absolutely adored the author’s previous book, "A Bollywood Affair."

But where to go now? I’m in the mood for books with some thematic heft, so I think I’ll finally pick up the copy of "My Brilliant Friend" I bought ages ago and get to work on the “book in translation” prompt. Or maybe I’ll try out the nearly 18-hour audiobook of "Debt: The First 5,000 Years" for the “microhistory” prompt. Those seem hefty enough, right?

For those of you taking the Squad Goals Challenge, how is it going so far? What have you found that you love? What didn’t quite get the job done? And as always, if you want some suggestions about what to try next, head on over to the Book Squad Personalized Recommendations Request Form and we’ll match you with some reads we hope you’ll love.

— Meredith Wiggins is a reader’s services assistant at the Lawrence Public Library.


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