Wherein My Reading Goes into Overdrive

Last year, I didn’t so much have a resolution as I had a reading challenge. I decided I would try to read a novel every two weeks, alternating between:

  1. Classics I hadn’t read yet.
  2. New commercial releases.
  3. Quality indie authors.

I intended to choose mostly speculative fiction, since that’s what I prefer writing. Now that 2015 is over, it occurs to me that I didn’t follow the challenges exactly as I set it out. But I did end up reading a lot more last year than I usually do. I bought some books – through Amazon, and from local bookstores. But mainly I checked a lot of books out of the library – both print editions and eBooks through Overdrive.

overdrive_homepageIf I haven’t mentioned Overdrive before, this is probably a good time. It’s an app that lets you check out eBooks from your local library. Basically, turns your smart phone, computer or Kindle into an eBook library that never closes. Overdrive also lends audiobooks, but that’s my least-preferred format. To each their own.

Through Overdrive – and my local public library – I was able to read:

A Wizard of Earthsea – I didn’t love it, but there was plenty to admire about this mythic tale of a boy who becomes a wizard, particularly the unorthodox ending.

The Girl on the Train – A tense, engaging mystery featuring an unreliable (and at times, really unlikable) narrator who gets entangled in a missing persons case.

The Martian – Funny, fast-paced and smart, this “Robinson Crusoe in Space” tale was powered by an incredibly likable hero up against impossible odds.

The Golem & The Jinni – A sweet and gripping turn-of-the-century fairy tale set in old New York’s immigrant neighborhoods.

The first two books of the Stoker and Holmes series – I predictably enjoyed this young adult mystery series, featuring Sherlock’s niece and Bram’s younger sister solving crimes in a steampunk alternate London.

Star Wars: Heir to the Jedi – Ever watch the ice cave scene in Empire Strikes Back and wonder how Luke managed to learn telekinesis after Ben died, but before he met Yoda? This novel has the answer, showing us a version of the character who has lost all his connection to the past and isn’t quite sure how to move into the future.

The Magician’s Lie – A fascinating piece of magical realism, set at the turn-of-the-century with a traveling female magician whose act is more than mere misdirection. Hmmm… sounds familiar.

Mr. Penumbra’s 24 Hour Bookstore – A directionless young man takes a part-time job at a very peculiar bookstore, and gradually gets pulled into the mystery of its past and strange clientele.

The Hot Rock (Dortmunder #1) – The most unlucky heist team in history tries – repeatedly – to steal a valuable gem for a shady government official. Hilarity ensues.

Rogues (an anthology edited by G.R.R. Martin) – Some of the best writers working today serve up stories of scoundrels and rogues.

Armada – The (IMO) disappointing follow-up to Ernest Cline’s Ready Player One follows the plot of The Last Starfighter a little too closely, and doesn’t offer the same exuberant fun as his first novel.

The Murder of Roger Ackroyd – A classic English cozy mystery by Agatha Christie, featuring one of the earliest “twist” endings.

Constable & Toop – A fun and delightfully odd Victorian “ghost story” which harkens back to Dickens with a perplexing mystery.

Robin McKinley’s Sunshine – Will make you crave cinnamon rolls, convince you to keep the lights on, and completely ruin you for any silly, sparkly vampire stories. Plus! Magical crochet.

“If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have time (or the tools) to write.” – Stephen King

This is not a complete list of books I checked out via Overdrive, just some of them I actually finished. It also doesn’t take into account the books I purchased, or the print books I checked out of the library. During September and October, when I took a hiatus from Facebook, I read even more. So I probably hit my total of 26 novels for the year; I just didn’t do it in a neat and orderly fashion.

And then my trusty Kindle died, and life got crazy, and I didn’t read nearly as much in November and December.

Thankfully, Chris got me a new Kindle Paperwhite for Christmas, which I have happily fired up and started loading with books over the holiday.

I tend to agree with Stephen King. “If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have time (or the tools) to write.” Just the convenience of being able to browse library books from my phone all by itself probably lead to me reading a ton more in 2015 than I have in years. It let me try out some series I was curious about risk-free, and I eventually ended up buying some of the subsequent books.

If one of your goals for 2016 is to read more for enjoyment, you should look into Overdrive to see if your library participates. Or ask your librarian if they have a similar eBook and audiobook lending program.


  1. ·

    As you can see, I’m a bit behind in most things, including following blogs. Thanks for sharing this. I hadn’t heard of Overdrive and I’ll be sharing the news.

  2. Kat

    …Aaaaand I’ve been behind in checking for comments! Thanks for stopping by. 🙂 Overdrive is pretty much the best thing ever, IMO, mainly because I am cheap.


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