2016 Reading Challenge: Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

Oh boy.

I’ve had my eye on this book ever since I launched my reading challenge late last year. I knew this would be the book I reread after not enjoying it the first time around.

I mention this book so much on the blog and off of it that I’m used to jaws dropping to the ground when I tell people what I think of it. It’s the best.

But YOU don’t know if the second time around changed my opinion! And I’m not going to tell you. Either watch or don’t Blah.

Fun fact: This was the first book I ever reread that wasn’t written by me.

2016 Reading Challenge Book #4: Friday Night Lights

I know we’re in August now and I’m only four books into my 2016 reading challenge, BUT I’ve actually read two more I haven’t talked about just yet. Hehe. I’ll finish. Because it’s so easy.

Anyway, the requirement I fulfilled by reading Friday Night Lights was a book I’d already seen the movie for. Which you definitely should have seen the movie by now since it was released in 2004. I can’t tell you how great this book really is. This might sound stupid to you, but I believe it should be assigned reading in any sports-related class in Texas high schools and universities. Because if you’re studying to go into the Texas sports market you should understand how important sports can be. This book gives the reader incredible insight into the world of Texas high school football, but more importantly it gives the reader incredible insight into small-town Texas life. It is simply a remarkable work.

Now take just a few minutes for my complete thoughts!

What’s the best sports book you’ve read? The best one for me (just narrowly) is still Moneyball, but boy this book couldn’t be any closer.

John Green Does it Again

I’ve now read three of the popular author’s books. I’ve noticed a pattern with the stories and characters I can’t ignore. John Green is an immensely popular author, but are his characters and stories actually any good? My thoughts:

Have you read any of his books? Did you notice anything similar about them?

A Book in the Snow

Wait, what?

I know not all of you are in the US, but most of you are. Which means most of you are aware of the massive snow storm currently ravaging the east coast. The storm is said to affect some 75 million people in several states. If you’re in its path, stay warm and safe. Second, is there any better time to pick up a new book than when you’re snowed in by two feet of snow? I think not.

I can’t say for sure because living in Texas means snow once every ten years, but I think it’d be a good time to get reading. And the book I’d pick up would be one of my writing books I haven’t yet read. I figure I’d be able to focus more when I’m not thinking of doing anything else away from home.

Oh, I’d also be sure to knock off one of the books from my 2016 reading challenge!

Which book are you planning on picking up? If you’re somewhere away from the storm (like me), which book would you start while snowed in?

2016 Reading Challenge Book #2: The Thomas Berryman Number

The second book I crossed off my 2016 Reading Challenge was a book written by James Patterson. And I chose a book I hadn’t read before and one that isn’t a part of any of his many series. I also chose it because it was written all the way back in 1976 and won the Edgar Award from the Mystery Writers of America for the best first novel by an American writer. This is an award that some literary giants have won in the past, and Patterson is forever among them.

I think that’s all I have for you before the video. I do think you’ll want to watch the whole thing because it almost morphs into a rant. And who doesn’t like rants, right? You also find out which book I’m reading next for my challenge. Now watch!

PS: I finished my edits on the video a couple of hours before this post went up, but I’m not sure exactly how long they’ll take to complete. So don’t yell at me if they aren’t finished when you watch.

2016 Reading Challenge Book #1: The Perks of Being a Wallflower

I told ya’ll that I’d gotten my first book of the year out of the way, and now here’s my proof! My first video of 2016 on Johnny Reads. Now watch before reading further.

Did you watch? Okay. Now I want to mention two things I didn’t mention in the video. One of the reasons I enjoyed the book as much as I did is because it got me thinking about my own life and experiences I’ve had. I particularly liked the relationship between Bill and Charlie. I had someone similar, though it wasn’t quite as personal as their relationship. But the professor I’m referring to told me during my first semester of college that I should think about pursuing writing further. I took four classes he taught during my three years of undergrad, and he was always so encouraging.

And during Charlie’s sister’s graduation it got me thinking about how I’ll feel when my brother earns his degree. He’s currently studying petroleum engineering. It really won’t matter which company he ultimately comes out working for or how much money he’s paid, but I’ll be so proud once he’s finished. So I enjoyed the reaction of Charlie and his family during and after his sister delivered her speech during her graduation ceremony.

This book is easily one of the best I’ve read, and a great start to my 2016 Reading Challenge.

Have you read it? What did you think?

The next book I’ll be reading for the challenge is The Thomas Berryman Number by James Patterson.


PS: I mistakenly uploaded my graphic with only 19 books listed on the challenge. The picture is now updated on my 2016 Reading Challenge page and post. I don’t expect y’all to go back and start sharing the new graphic, but I just wanted to bring it to your attention. The bullet that was left off the old list was “A book set in your hometown/favorite city”.

 

My Year: 2015

I’d initially wanted to write a series of posts this week discussing my favorite things from different categories, but now I’m just going to write one review for everything. Even though I know everyone else already has. But eh. Let’s get started.

Blogging

At the start of 2015 I set some pretty ridiculous goals for the blog that I thought were attainable. They were, but I missed the mark. Here are some side-by-side stats comparing 2014 to 2015.

Posts

282 (2014) – 363 (2015)

Views

30,102 (2014) – 33,469 (2015)

Visitors

12,195 (2014) – 17,097 (2015)

Likes

5,302 (2014) – 8,386 (2015)

Comments

10,159 (2014) – 9,685 (2015)

I’m sure some might look at the numbers and think of how great the year was. It wasn’t. It was okay. About a thousand new followers and it didn’t translate into anything meaningful. No surge in views, comments, or much of anything. But it’s fine. Maybe my content was to blame. I don’t know.

But my original goals for the year were to reach 40,000 site views, to reach 5,000 followers, and to post 25 poems. I didn’t achieve any of those goals. So I won’t set any goals for the blog in 2016. Because it can only be as good as I can make it. And that’s it.

The top three posts published in 2015 were:

Ursula Le Guin is Clueless

Little Free Libraries Have Come Under Fire

On False Claims From Bloggers

Social Media

I’ve all but stopped using other social media. My Facebook app has been deleted but there’s something wrong with my phone and it randomly restarts and re-downloads the app. Not even kidding. I rarely use Twitter. My blog posts go there automatically, but I just don’t tweet hardly at all. I’ve only recently really started using my Instagram account a bit more. But I see people posting multiple terrible photos a day and I’m just baffled. Eh.

Reading

Y’all already know I only read 10 books in 2015. There’s nothing satisfying about that number. I did manage to read some good books, including the best book I’ve ever read. But this has got to stop. From 2010-2012 I read a total of 106 books. Which is nothing compared to some people on WordPress, but at least it’s something. From 2013-2015 I read a total of 32 books. It’s just stupid. What the hell am I even doing? *slaps myself*

BookTube

I know my channel has something like 16 subscribers, but this is probably what I’m most excited about in 2016. Because I’ll be making videos for two different things going on. I’ll still be reading from Amazon’s 100 Books Everyone Should Read list, which means videos for each one of those. And I’ll also be making videos for every book I read from my challenge. The first will be coming tomorrow for The Perks of Being a Wallflower, which I finished last night. So if you’re still working on your first book of the year and you’re doing my challenge, you’re officially in the rear view mirror! I WILL set a goal for my channel in 2016. 25 videos. Easy enough. I released seven videos on my channel in 2015. My most viewed was my first video, An Intro to Johnny Reads!. It was also my shortest in length. Welp.

Hometown Teams

What a year for Houston sports. The Rockets had one of the most improbable playoff series wins in history by overcoming a 3-1 deficit to the LA Clippers and reaching the conference finals for the first time in almost 20 years. The Astros continued their improvement by snagging a playoff spot and having the eventual World Series champions within six outs of elimination. And the Texans just won their third division title in team history. Playoff game this Saturday! Everyone jokes at work that I don’t know anything except sports and books. Not that far from the truth.

Half Price Books

In August I started working at Half Price Books. It”s been great from day one. The people are great to work with and be around (even if they poke fun sometimes) and I’m literally paid to work in a bookstore. Heaven does exist! It’s already been five months and I’m still loving every single day there.

Trip of a Lifetime

My first. I’ve been saving as much of my little bit of money as I can. And I’m rewarding myself by taking the first trip of my life. I’ve been to Disney World. I’ve been to Michigan. But Disney World happened in the 90s and Michigan wasn’t a vacation type trip. But I’ll finally get to experience what it’s like to really travel. And I’ll be able to see the capital city of my country. I think during those four days I’ll be able to learn even more about what it means to be an American. Heck, I might even cry when I see some things. I can’t tell you how excited I am, and how glad I am to have made the decision to go. I’m hoping this becomes my first trip of many trips of a lifetime. Fingers crossed!

Reading Challenge

I said I’m most excited about my BookTube channel, but I’m also very excited about my reading challenge. Mostly because I’ve gotten tons of feedback and support since I first mentioned it a week ago. I have a feeling the post is going to be one of the top two or three posts of THIS year. It’s getting that much traffic. But I’m also excited to see what other people read and say about something I came up with fully on my own. I overhear my co-workers talking about it just about everyday. It’s great because I know others are also talking about it in various places on the Internet.

In a nutshell, I became more and less active on social media. I started working at a bookstore, My loyalty to my hometown teams finally paid off. And I saved up enough money to start my traveling. Sounds like an alright year to me.

Thanks for always coming back, guys. I know I write things you won’t always agree with and I’ll probably push your buttons without even knowing it, but it’s never too serious. And no one is aiming to be disrespectful. This is my little piece of cyberspace, and you’re always welcome.


On this day in 2015 I published Mark Zuckerberg’s “A Year of Books”.

Saturday Selects #23: The blogging community

Saturday Selects is a series of posts I write on the first Saturday of each month to discuss something outside the general bookish theme of the blog. Today’s topic is the blogging community.

I first thought of hosting my own reading challenge way back in January of LAST year. I saw how popular the PopSugar challenge had become and wanted to see what I could do with my own readers and followers. Maybe some would even want to participate, right? Well I completely forgot about the whole thing throughout most of 2015. I was more focused on building the blog up to its highest potential. I was quite a bit more successful in the first half of the year than in the second half. But eh, that’s how things go sometimes. But then just a few weeks ago I wrote down a list of 20 things and called it my 2016 challenge. But I didn’t tell a soul until I told my girlfriend about it less than a week ago. Then I wrote about it here. And THEN I told all of my coworkers about it. I mean, I do work in a bookstore.

And I’ve been overwhelmed with the response in just a few days. I honestly thought I could get anywhere from 5-50 people to participate. Sure I have over 3,000 followers, but a small number of them actually read my posts. Maybe it’s because I don’t follow their blogs or comment or I don’t even know. But it’s fine. This week I’ve seen a different side of the blogging community. I’ve had dozens of people tweet, post, or tell someone in some way about my 2016 challenge. Mostly bloggers. I’ve completely lost track of the number of people who’ve vowed to take part in my challenge. But I can tell you the number is in the hundreds.

Think about that. I’m just some guy who blogs about books. I don’t read as much as I should. I don’t write at all. But I’ve stayed true to my promise of posting everyday on here. Always something new. I’ll hit on topics multiple times, but I try my best to offer something new each and every day. But that’s everyone on here. Who isn’t trying to offer something new and different each time they post? But in the last week I’ve had people who have been reading my blog for many months do their part to get people to do my challenge, and I’ve had people I’ve never heard of do the same.

And you know what, I think that’s pretty awesome. So if you’re reading this and you’ve just recently started your blog or you’ve been blogging steadily for months now and haven’t seen much traffic, don’t worry. I’m certain there’s someone out there searching for the kind of posts YOU do. Just keep on posting. Because the blogging community will always find blogs with high quality content. And that’s all I’ve tried to produce in my nearly three years on WordPress.

All I can say is thank you. For reading. For reposting my challenge. For making blogging a nice part of my day-to-day routine. What’s your favorite aspect of the blogging community?

PS: You can find information about my 2016 reading challenge here.


On this day in 2015 I published 2014: What do I think of you?.

 

May the Odds be Ever in Your Favor

Today is January 1st. Which means my 2016 Reading Challenge is officially underway! I have way more people participating than I thought would, which means one heck of a competition.

But wait, are you sitting there reading this with no idea what I’m talking about? Then let me refer you to this post. You’ll find all the information you need to participate.

Good luck to the rest of you participating! There could be gift cards in your future!

The first book I’ll be reading for the challenge will be The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky, but I won’t tell y’all which bullet it’ll be fulfilling. Ha!

Don’t forget to tag me on here or on Instagram whenever you finish a book from the challenge! I’ll be able to Like and comment easier that way.

So without further delay, may the odds be ever in your favor. What’s going to be your first book for the challenge?

A new Name!

I’ve had this blog since June of 2013. Many of you know I originally started it to chronicle my journey writing my first book. My first six months was a whole lot of nothing. 1200 views. Like 80 followers. No interaction. Now I’m a little more stable in the world of blogging. And it’s time for a change.

The name of my blog was thought up in seconds. I didn’t ponder it for hours or days. I just thought of something and went with it. I think it’s a nice name. But this hasn’t been a writing blog for some time. And I fully intend to expand my other social media accounts directly related to the blog in the coming year. So it’s time for those accounts to all fall under the same name. Johnny Reads. I think it’s also a nice and simple name that’ll serve me well into the future. I won’t change the name until later tonight so y’all can get a little heads up.

Nothing else is changing on the blog. I want every person doing my challenge to be able to find me. Like everyone at work.

So that’s all I have for you. I don’t think this is a shock to most of you because my Twitter background is the name of my YouTube and Instagram accounts. This is something I feel is really necessary.

Feel free to tell me your thoughts!