Status: Overwhelmed & Fatigued

Lately I have been quieter on the internet than I normally am. True, some of it is because of summer time fun and travel. Some because of aspirations to ~disconnect~  a little more and ~be more present~ in my life. But honestly? I just feel plain overwhelmed and fatigued.

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I mean, when I open my computer and descend on the internet it’s like being a kid in one of those huge candy stores with a billion options. HOW CAN ONE EVEN CHOOSE WHERE TO START OR WHAT MAKES THE CUT TO FIT IN YOUR MOM-APPROVED PORTION OF A BAG??

It’s like: okay, let’s check my email. DEAR GOD NO WHY. Twitter instead. Okay I should do some blogging stuff — write posts, try to respond to comments, clean out that spam, etc. Ah okay I’ll try to read some blogs. OMG WHY DO I SUBSCRIBE TO SO MANY BLOGS? WHICH ONES TO CHOOOOSE? Hehe funny animal video. Omg miltary brother surprising his little brother SOB. Okay back to my email. OOH THIS LOOKS LIKE A GOOD EMAIL. Newsletters, newsletters, newsletters. I AM SO INSPIRED. I AM GOING TO LIVE MY LIFE BETTER. Gets on Twitter. Hour of passive scrolling happens. Okay I’d really like to: find some new music, listen to podcasts, catch up on what is going on in the world, find some new recipes for this week, HAIR TUTORIALS BECAUSE I AM THE WORST, oooh I want to learn things, should I film a video?, ehhh hey Facebook why do I even still have you, OOH LET’S START A NEW BLOG, ugh I really need to respond to these emails like a grown a$$ adult, google “how to not get overwhelmed by the infinite possibilities of the internet” *shuts computer, cries and swears off the internet for forever*

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I’m just overwhelmed. There are so many things to consume…and that I WANT TO CONSUME. So many things out there I don’t even KNOW I want to consume (internet clicking and spirals YO). I want to read all the blogs that interest me and spread the comment love. I want to know what’s up in the world. I want to be entertained. I want to chat with all the people I think are cool on the internet and be present on Twitter. I want to learn. I want to be inspired. And that’s not even like the tip of the iceberg when it comes to things that I want to do outside of the internet — read all the books, watch all the tv/movies, do all the fun life things. A PART OF ME WANTS TO DO IT ALL. A PART OF ME, THE ONE CONSOLING THE PART WHO WANTS TO DO IT ALL AND IS OVERWHELMED, RECOGNIZES I CAN’T DO IT ALL.

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I’m just so overwhelmed by all my options. I mean, hey, I get I’m super lucky to have all this at my disposal and that this is even a problem for me. But right now I just feel so overwhelmed and also a bit fatigued from all the noise & opinions and the constant barrage of things I’m being inundated with.

I’m trying to create better habits for myself for consuming the internet. But it’s so hard to curate. I’m trying to figure out what things are most important and worthy of my time. I’m trying to not feel bad or guilty when I can’t do it all and support all the things or when I’m feeling behind. BUT I WANT TO LOOK AT ALL THE THINGS ON THE INTERNET. But I also want to know my limits and the signs that tell me I need to step back because of fatigue.

Soooo I have no grand conclusions or plans or anything but mostly I’d love to hear from YOU all. Do you ever feel overwhelmed by the internet and its infinite possibilities and avenues you can go down? What do YOU do to combat internet/social media fatigue? How do you curate your internet consumptions? WHAT IS YOUR INTERNET ROUTINE LIKE? Tell me allll the things, people!!

Why I Am The Way I Am

 

Well, I really don’t have the answer for the overarching reason of why I am the way I am in general. That’s another topic for another day. More so, I had an encounter this weekend that reminded me why I blog, why I do it the way I do  (read: probably way too open and emotional and sappy for most people). It was definitely one of those life-affirming things for me.

So Will had off on Friday for the 4th of July and we kept throwing around ideas for things to do. We finally decided just to stay around our area. We took a four mile walk (2 miles to this cute neighborhood we love with lots of shops and food stuff and 2 miles back). One of my missions, besides getting coffee, was to find this Little Free Library (which I think is the COOLEST concept ever) that I knew was in the area so I loaded up a backpack with a couple books and we went. It was an adorable street off the main road and when we walked up there were two ladies outside in front of it actually picking out paint colors for it — one being the owner and the other her neighbor. I’m a chatty/friendly person (clearly you know this) and so we got to talking to them for a little bit. Learned that the owner of the LFL used to work with Laurie Halse Anderson who I love so that was pretty cool but then she talked about WHY she decided to put up a Little Free Library. And here comes the life/blog-affirming part.

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She shared that she had gotten the Little Free Library when she was caring for her husband who was diagnosed with ALS. They felt closed off as it got harder to go places for him and so she got one in hopes that neighbors and the community would come use it. It became such an uplifting thing for him (and for her) to have neighbors and others come visit and exchange books and interact with them in such a hard time. I haven’t really talked about it on the blog as much as I’ve talked about losing my mom to brain cancer but Will’s dad passed away from ALS about 5 years ago. So this story really, really moved me and I was so thankful that she shared it.

Here’s the thing. I’ve always believed that reading and books are a special sort of magic. They are there when you are lonely, when you need to feel connected to other humans, when you need to escape, when you need something to uplift you or energize you or don’t want to feel alone in whatever you are dealing with. They have the power to transform and save and do all sorts of things. Words and stories are so powerful.

It reaffirmed for me about how much reading and blogging about what I read is about connection for me — connecting with other readers, hearing their stories and just connecting with humanity in the pages of the books I read. I think that’s why I’m so willing to share the personal things. Why I hope you will trust me with your stories when I share whether that be in the form of blog posts of your own, in my comments or in my inbox. That’s why I might talk more about my experiences related to a book or how a story moved me personally. It’s just important to me. It’s just how I’m wired. Maybe it was losing my mom when I realized how much CONNECTING with other people who went through something hard/similar and hearing their stories made me not feel so alone. How certain books were there for me at the right time.

It reaffirmed why I run my blog the way I do.

 

And this is not to say that it’s the right way (I’ve said it a zillion times before…no right way/no better way). It’s just the way that makes me feel content and makes it fulfilling and worthwhile FOR ME. It’s why I’m okay that I’m not naturally the blogger who can do a wonderful critical analysis and point out all the technical things that just don’t come so easily for me. It’s why I’m okay with featuring books in different ways even though it might not be flashy and get a whole lot of attention. It’s why I’m okay writing more personal posts in favor of  promo posts. All those things that I don’t do are great and needed and important… but the things that I do are the things that align with ME and what I care about/what interests me and the blog gives me an outlet to do that. I’m so thankful for that. When I DO the things that make me fulfilled it’s what keeps this blog going (and everybody’s sense of fulfillment comes from something else!).

Sometimes I’ll get down on myself that maybe I should do this and that and what not. Maybe my blog should have more of this. Maybe it should look more like this. Maybe I should do less of this. But at the end of the day, I’m really happy with what I do. I’m happy with what I put out here and what I focus my time on when I do this. I’m so thankful for all the ways I’ve connected with people who became shoulders to cry on (metaphorical but whew you don’t have to endure the snot on your shoulder), who gave me advice or inspired me, who I may have helped with my words, who reached out to me and shared their stories, who may have felt inspired by my openness, etc. etc.

Today just really reaffirmed why I blog, why I do it the the way I do and why I am the way I am — no matter how the trends shift or what becomes cool. At the heart of this blog will always be the things that are important and fulfilling to me and I sincerely hope, for my fellow bloggers, that it’s that way for you — no matter how that looks! It also reminded me just how vast this book community is outside of my little corner of the bookternet and how wonderful it is.

Thank you for being vulnerable with me these 5 years. Thank you for sharing your stories on your blog, in the comments of my posts/emails or by the books that you write. It’s what has kept me around for the past 5 years — not the ARCs, not the “cool perks”, not the ad money, not the spotlight or anything else.

I’m Not Too Old For That!

I feel like all my favorite reading related discussions on this blog happen from conversations with non-reading people or non-YA reading people (this, this and this for sure). This discussion is certainly a product of such a conversation.

I was catching up with an old friend and the topic of reading came up and I definitely read different things than I used to. I explained some of the stuff I’m into now and she, totally not trying to be disrespectful, said something along the lines of, “But how do you read about teenagers so often? I feel like I’m so past all that and like it’s not at all relevant to my life anymore. Plus I like more literary things” And I mean, her right to read what she wants and I do understand WHY adults might not be into YA. Totally, I read adult fiction too because I can’t ONLY read YA. Anyways, I explained a little of why I love YA and gave her a couple books to try out because I am very confident in their relevancy to people of all ages. (I’m not even going to tackle that literary comment because HAHAH some of the YA books I love are way more ~literary~ than some adult books I’ve read).

But that encounter got me thinking… I will be 30 in October. My 10 year high school reunion happened last year. I AM SO FAR PAST HIGH SCHOOL. Why does YA speak to me still? I mean, I still read adult fiction and other things but I am so, so into YA and don’t see a switch being turned off anytime soon.

I mean, aside from the fact that YA has some of the most innovative and creative and exciting stuff coming out and AMAZING writing/storytelling/characters…what IS IT about YA that attracts me to it still? I really thought about it and I’ve come to the conclusion it lies in these two areas:

1. There is something really appealing to me when I read YA because of the lens I read it through as an adult and how I can reflect and process my past.

I honestly think there are so many things that I’d experienced as a YA that makes so much more sense to me now as an adult. I am a very reflective person by nature and I’ve found that reading YA has helped me to do that and also has made me more self aware as an adult because of it.

2. THERE ARE SO MANY UNIVERSAL THINGS IN YA THAT DON’T GO AWAY ONCE YOU HIT ADULTHOOD.

I mean, SO many of the things I read about in YA are actually relevant to me. I might not be in high school or be falling in love for the first time as an old married lady but what I find about a lot of my most favorite YA books is that when you strip away that kind of stuff that isn’t applicable to me, I still find things that are so, so relevant to me. That are these universal THINGS that most humans — young and old — deal with to some degree. And I have found that YA has explored these things in such a raw and honest way that really clicks with me.

Here’s just a small sample of things that have been so, so relevant to me in YA novels (in a thought-provoking and meaningful way) despite being past that ripe YA age:

grief and loss and tries to work through that. My mom might have passed away in 2006 when I wasn’t reading YA but there is still so much to work through even years later and reading YA stories about grief has helped me process a lot. It’s given me new eyes to what I experienced as an actual young adult when my mom was sick and then passed away. Read: Why I love reading stories about grief

–  friendship: I’ve read books about losing friends, making new friends, the ups and downs of friendship, etc. etc. As a 30-something my friendship landscape may have changed but friendship at 16 and friendship at 30, while different, relies on a lot of the same core things. And a lot of those friendship issues that you have at 16? YOU STILL HAVE THEM AT 30 BUT JUST IN DIFFERENT WAYS. It’s still so hard to deal with friend breakups or growing apart, the difficulty of making new friends, opening yourself up to new friends (getting over your initial judgments to make room for a friend) and there is still so much JOY in having girlfriends. I think I appreciate those relationships EVEN MORE NOW.

–  finding yourself/growing into your own as you grow up/becoming the most REAL version of yourself/figuring life out: I’m sad to report to 16 year old Jamie that you don’t figure your shit out when you become an adult like I thought would happen. I think, as a approach 30, I’m more myself than I’ve ever been before as I’ve waded through a lot of versions of myself that were only half true to my heart. But I AM STILL FIGURING IT OUT. I don’t think you ever truly figure things out. I still doubt myself. I’m still growing and learning (about myself and the world). I learn SO MUCH about myself and my own journey through YA characters of all genres. Things that inspire me, things that make me want to be braver and better and kinder, things that make me want to live more boldly and take more chances. I STILL don’t know what I want to do with my life despite knowing what I want to BE ABOUT and HOW I want to live. I’m still figuring it all out.

And honestly these are just A FEW of the things that my last couple reads made me think about and were so RELEVANT to my life (I could go on — family issues, identity issues, living more fully, figuring out what you want to do with your life, fighting for what you believe in or what is right, life disappointments, feeling lost, dealing with depression, heartbreak, etc).

And sure, I’m not saying reading YA as an adult is something that everyone has to be into or is their thing. I can understand not WANTING to read about high school/teenagers, being picky about what kind of content you read in YA or even finding SOME stuff in YA eyerolly as an adult (I do sometimes!) but to say that YA can’t be or isn’t relevant to the life of adults is simply not true.

 

I’m curious…if you are an adult reading YA..what draws you to it? If you have a different feeling about this, I’d love to know!

A Sentimental Value

Recently I talked about books that changed your life and are important to you — like the words on the pages, the story, the characters — but the other day I started thinking about books that are just important to you, for what is inside, but also just the actual physical book itself.

I was thinking about it when I was working on  a prompt for a daily Instagram challenge. The prompt was “favorite childhood book.” I have quite a few childhood favorites (ones that I still own) but immediately I thought about my beloved Nancy Drew books.

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I will never forget the day my mom gave these to me. I was pretty young and I remember she climbed through our creepy attic while I waited at the door because I was afraid of mice being in there. I HATED OUR ATTIC. She rummaged through a couple of boxes until she found them. They were hers. And before that they were her mom’s. I don’t remember why exactly she grabbed them for me. Maybe I was looking for more material to read? Maybe I had already been into Nancy Drew? Maybe she wanted to introduce me to them? I can’t really recall the why but I will never forget the memory for some reason. (I have the strangest memory because I remember the most random things but can’t remember things Will told me yesterday).

I remember feeling like I was part of a secret club now that I was grown up enough to read my mom’s Nancy Drew books. My sister didn’t read so I felt like it was truly something JUST my mom and I shared. They felt so old to me. So fragile. And I remember handling them with great care. There’s some sort of magic that just comes with something that has been passed down from grandmother to mother to child.

I devoured that whole series and bought many more of them but the only ones I still have in my possession are actually these ones. Most of you long-time readers know that my mom passed away in 2006 and so these books have a value that I can’t ever put on them. I mean, I seriously would probably grab these in a fire (along with the blanket I have them sitting on which is made of some of my mom’s most iconic t-shirts I remember her wearing) because THEY MEAN SO MUCH TO ME. They were my mom’s. We shared a love for reading and I know that her giving me those helped me to be the reader I am today.

I’ve talked before about how I’m pretty ruthless about getting rid of books after I read them (only favorites or books that I would reread or signed books FROM beloved authors even if I didn’t LOVE the book). I don’t collect books or ARCs or different editions. But sometimes books stay on my shelf for sentimental reasons. I don’t have many books that stay for that reason but the ones that do really mean a lot to me.

When I think about what other books mean a lot to me a couple signed books come to mind. Books personalized to me from favorite authors. (MY GAYLE FORMAN BOOK FROM MY BIRTHDAY) Things like that. And as much as they mean so much to me, they just can’t ever come close to my beloved Nancy Drew books.

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There’s just something about having a piece of my mom that comes with a vivid memory of being given those books and knowing they were hers and she wanted to give them to me. To look at those worn pages and know that once upon a time she flipped through them (because sometimes through the years you get so used to someone as being NOT ALIVE that you have to remind yourself of all the years of living they really did). Of the connection those books brought us because there were very few ways I felt like I truly understood her but her love for reading was one of those things.

 

So what about you guys? Do you have any books that have sentimental value to you? That are important to you in a way that isn’t JUST about what is inside?

On Books That Change Your Life

In my reading life I’ve had an abundance of reading experiences where I’ve felt extremely moved and even like something in me has shifted. Books that have challenged me. Books that made me think a lot. Books that have rocked me to the core.

But I’ve only had a handful of books that I could say ACTUALLY changed my life in a tangible way. Like caused me to take action and change something. Made things truly different.

One of the books in recent times was Just One Day by Gayle Forman (I know, I know…I talk about this book all the time but IT IS IMPORTANT TO ME and really damn good). I read this one in November 2012, as I was fortunate enough to receive a galley, and I remember just devouring it while Will and I were visiting my dad over Thanksgiving. I stayed up late. I sneaked in reading time while others were napping. It was just that book I think I was MEANT to read right then as some of my life was kind of mirroring where the main character was at in ways.

I was feeling stuck. Doing things because that’s the way they were even though I was unhappy. Devoting all my time to a group of friends that wasn’t reflective of who I was anymore (and were a little bit toxic for me) because I had ALWAYS been friends with them since high school & college. I wasn’t doing things *I* internally wanted to do because I was always doing what THEY wanted to do. I just felt like I was straddling this line between the person who I was (though internally and externally they seemed different) and the person who I wanted to be but I just really felt confused as to who I really was.

         “I don’t know who I am. Or maybe I do know who I am and I just don’t want to be her anymore.”  

 

Just One Day just kind of took me by the shoulders and shook me as I watched Allyson find herself. As I watched Allyson open herself up to all these new things and stop just living so passively. So much of my own life problems I was watching unfold in Allyson’s journey that I was like “DID GAYLE KNOW THAT I NEEDED THIS BOOK? MAYBE SHE WROTE IT FOR ME? UNLIKELY BUT THIS IS SCARILY HITTING CLOSE TO HOME HERE.” I kept reading, not only because I loved the story and the characters, but because I felt like I would find the answers to what I needed to do in Allyson’s journey. And I did.

            “And this is the truth. Because I may be only eighteen, but it already seems pretty obvious that the world is divided into two groups: the doers and the watchers. The people things happen to and the rest of us, who just sort of plod on with things. The Lulus and the Allysons.  It never occurred to me that by pretending to be Lulu, I might slip into that other column, even for just a day.”

 

I realized I, like Allyson, was being a watcher these days. I just was kind of existing in the status quo, unhappily, and was just letting life come and go rather than really LIVING and DOING. I kept hoping for better things or the things that I wanted to be true of my life….but I wasn’t doing anything to get them. At all. And I just kept plodding on. I wasn’t putting myself in the path of it — something that Allyson was finding out you needed to do if you wanted things to happen.

When I finished the book I was just weeping. Because it was a damn good book. But also because I knew what I had to do. I knew that I could not read these words and feel these things that mirrored my own life and just not do something about it. It was like I was being sent my own little message for my life and I would be stupid not to listen. It felt overwhelming. But then I remembered this quote from the book that put it into perspective:

            “We are born in one day. We die in one day. We can change in one day. And we can fall in love in one day. Anything can happen in just one day.”

 

So, in the days following my reading of that book, I decided that a break-up was in order for a friend group that was kind of toxic for me/wasn’t working for me anymore (I maybe didn’t go about it the right way but I kind of needed to quit them cold turkey because they were such a HUGE part of my life and the thing that I felt was holding me back from doing the things I wanted). I decided to start a book club and had one up and running by January (my book club story and tips for starting your own). I started saying yes to things. I let myself start saying NO to things I felt like I couldn’t prior to reading this book. And for the first time in a long time I actually felt like I was more ME than I had been in a long time.

Just One Day was the kick in the pants I needed to change things that I knew needed to be changed a while before it. I just didn’t have the courage to change them. Allyson’s story resonated so much, all that forward action, that it made me PHYSICALLY change things after reading them. It was liberating. It was a gift in a lot of ways but I think of my life how it is right now, totally not perfect but I’m ME and I’m living the way I want to, and how my life probably would have continued on had I not read this book and I’m so thankful for it that I don’t have adequate enough words.

          “Or maybe it’s not a miracle. Maybe this is just life. When you open yourself up to it. When you put yourself in the path of it. When you say yes.”

 

And that’s simple what I did. I opened myself up. Put myself in the path of the things I wanted. I said yes (but also realized that sometimes saying NO to one thing is also saying YES to other things).

That book changed my life. I mean, completely flipped it upside down and made it so it was impossible to continue on the way I was. And I am so, so thankful for the words that I needed to hear at exactly the right time in my life.

NOW. I would love to know about any books that changed YOUR LIFE. Please tell me!!!! Books are just magical like that and I need to know!

 

I’ve Been In A Mood Part 3

I’ve been in a mood when it comes to reading in 2015. I’ve been having 3 very distinct and reoccurring feelings about reading thus far. This post was originally kind of a mess when I started it a couple weeks ago — a bunch of random thoughts all pasted haphazardly together with cement glue like 1st grade Jamie would have done (she also really like to let it get stuck to her fingers so she could peel it off). I didn’t think it was ever going to see the light of day. Thought maybe it was just something I needed to get out for myself. However, after I was chatting with some lovely ladies on Twitter about it, I decided to take a look at it again and every thought kind of started to fall under these 3 distinct feelings.   I’m going to talk about one over the course of the next 3 weeks to split it up because it would be massive (it’s already going to be too long because I’m overly verbose).

 

So we’ve come to the last part of my 3 part explanation of the state of my reading life this year. The other two things I shared (here and here) were definitely a reflection of habits created through blogging but this one doesn’t really seem to be related to the two. At least I don’t think it is.

This final persistent mood I’ve been feeling?

 

It’s the feeling of wanting to reread everything I’ve ever loved.

 

I’ve talked about in the past how I like re-reading in theory and how I used to re-read all the time before I started blogging. Time, my never-ending TBR list and the desire to experience new stories seem to be what has held me back from making re-reading a priority for me (plus that fear of things not holding up) but this year all I’ve DONE is crave re-reading.

Normally I crave new experiences, new characters, new words to fall in love with. I mean, there’s so much out there that could be a new favorite. I WANT TO DISCOVER IT.

But lately I just want to cozy up with old friends. I just finished a reread via audio of If I Stay by Gayle Forman (one of my favorite books) and am on the hold list for Where She Went. It’s been years since I’ve read these books in their entirety and it just felt so good to be back with Mia and Adam. You notice things that you never did before. You have a new appreciation for them when you revisit them sometimes.

All I can think about lately is how much I want to binge re-read the Throne of Glass series. I MEAN WHO AM I? I’m the girl who spends the first quarter of the next book in a series confused because I can’t remember crap and I refuse to devote time to reread. I just NEED to experience these books again. I mean, there is intense LONGING to be in them. Like physical LONGING. (The only reason I haven’t started rereading them is because I’m trying to hold off a little longer until we are closer to Queen of Shadows release).

I want to reread old childhood books I loved. I want to reread books I read as a teen. I want to read books I read at the beginning of my blogging journey. Things I read not so long ago but just love so much. I want to reread books that I think perspective and age may change my reading of it. I want to reread books that changed me.  (I did make a list of books I want to re-read not too long ago if you want a glimpse).

I don’t know why I have this intense desire to reread ALL THE THINGS. I haven’t particularly been going through hard time (I always want something familiar when life is crazy and hard). I mean, things feel kind of unsettled for me in some ways. Maybe that could be part of it? Maybe I’m so burnt out on all the NEW NEW NEW and my brain/heart don’t quite have the capacity for all that new right now? Maybe I just am feeling nostalgic? Especially since I’m going to be 30 this year and I’m having a semi-crisis over it even though I know there is no reason to.

Or maybe there isn’t overarching philosophical or BIG REASON as to why. Maybe it’s just the reading experience. Maybe we are meant to experience books we love more than once.

One of my FAVORITE books from this year, Emery Lord’s The Start Of Me & You, has some great quotes and thoughts about rereading:

“The point is that we already know it doesn’t work out, but we reread them anyways, because the good stuff that comes before the ending is worth it…Also, in books sometimes the foreshadowing is so obvious that you know what’s going to happen. But knowing what happens isn’t the same as knowing HOW it happens. Getting there is the best part.”

 

“I used to think rewatching and rereading were embarrassingly boring pastimes. But there is something to be said for how comforting it is to already know what happens. There is no such luxury in real life.”

 

 

Do you ever get in these “OMG I JUST WANT TO REREAD” moods? Are you a re-reader in general — why or why not? What drives you to reread? What sorts of books do you reread?

 

PS. I also love this post that Hannah wrote about her reading year so far wherein she’s had some persistent feelings as well that seem to be driving her reading!

I’ve Been In A Mood Part 2

I’ve been in a mood when it comes to reading in 2015. I’ve been having 3 very distinct and reoccurring feelings about reading thus far. This post was originally kind of a mess when I started it a couple weeks ago — a bunch of random thoughts all pasted haphazardly together with cement glue like 1st grade Jamie would have done (she also really like to let it get stuck to her fingers so she could peel it off). I didn’t think it was ever going to see the light of day. Thought maybe it was just something I needed to get out for myself. However, after I was chatting with some lovely ladies on Twitter about it, I decided to take a look at it again and every thought kind of started to fall under these 3 distinct feelings.   I’m going to talk about one over the course of the next 3 weeks to split it up because it would be massive (it’s already going to be too long because I’m overly verbose).

 

If you missed the first “mood” I’ve been in when it comes to reading, you can check it out here!

 

This second mood? IT HAS BEEN SO STRONG AND PERSISTENT THIS YEAR.

It’s the feeling of wanting to read things that nobody is talking about at all.

 

Here’s the thing. The whole reason I fell in love with this community is because I LOVED having people to talk about books with. And not just like vague “oh I like books too” conversations but ACTUALLY TALKING WITH PEOPLE ABOUT BOOKS WE HAVE BOTH READ. When you were so used to reading in isolation and then suddenly you have this whole community of readers it’s like you just can’t even contain yourself and you want to read ALLLLL the books that everyone else is reading so that you can talk about them. I love reading with people. Talking about the books we’ve read. I still love that.

But lately? I have been scouring my library for reads that nobody is talking about. Things that nobody have really heard of. Older books. Undiscovered gems. Even with the ARCs I get I’ve been gravitating to the ones people aren’t talking about as much. Now, that’s not to say I’m NOT reading popular stuff or semi-popular stuff. I SO AM. I just have been in this mood more and more where I want to read things that are a little more off the radar.

It might be the fact that after 5 years of blogging and being fed the same books as other bloggers, that I’m just wanting to reclaim my reading a little bit. Don’t get me wrong, I’m so enthused and excited about new releases (genuinely some of my fave books are new and well known) and all the opportunities I get. But something in me wants books for myself? Books that barely have any expectations built around them because really nobody is actively talking about them?

I DON’T EVEN KNOW IF I AM EXPLAINING THIS RIGHT??

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It’s just been this feeling where I’d rather be stumbling upon something that I’ve never heard of myself than what is being promoted all around me. Sometimes it’s nice to read something that nobody is shouting about. That I can quietly read myself and then talk about it. It’s so fun to DISCOVER something. Even though I have a good balance of backlist vs. advanced copies in my reading diet and my mood is the real dictator of my reading, I still find that these past years my reading selection has largely guided by what I get sent/the new releases others are talking about and then I choose from that. So YES I am still choosing and discovering….but it’s different? It’s a pre-selected pool to choose from really? UGH, does that make sense?

I feel like I am not articulating myself properly today. COME ON WORDS. COME ON BRAIN. LET’S WORK TOGETHER. This mood is really hard to explain, whatever it is, but all I know is I’ve been drawn more to the stacks of unknown books of the library in search of that gem more than ever. It’s just nice sometimes to have something kind of to yourself that the whole book world isn’t talking about. As much as this is what I love about this community. And as much as I am just as excited about all the new releases/popular books as the next person.

So, I’ve been just letting my mood take my reading where it goes!

 

Has anybody ever felt this way? Or am I just reallllyyy in a weird mood?

I’ve Been In A Mood: Part 1

I’ve been in a mood when it comes to reading in 2015. I’ve been having 3 very distinct and reoccurring feelings about reading thus far. This post was originally kind of a mess when I started it a couple weeks ago — a bunch of random thoughts all pasted haphazardly together with cement glue like 1st grade Jamie would have done (she also really like to let it get stuck to her fingers so she could peel it off). I didn’t think it was ever going to see the light of day. Thought maybe it was just something I needed to get out for myself. However, after I was chatting with some lovely ladies on Twitter about it, I decided to take a look at it again and every thought kind of started to fall under these 3 distinct feelings.   I’m going to talk about one over the course of the next 3 weeks to split it up because it would be massive (it’s already going to be too long because I’m overly verbose).

So this first feeling?

 

It’s the feeling of wanting to rebel against my compulsive need to always have a current read.

 

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I did a series a couple years ago in which I examined my reading habits before I started blogging and after I started blogging. It was really interesting. Some of the habits I didn’t necessarily love, some I did and some just were neither good nor bad at the time..just a change in habits.

One of the first things I talked about was the time I used to take in between books. So, pre-blogging Jamie? She would read a book and maybe she would start a new one immediately and maybe she wouldn’t. She typically didn’t run to her shelves before the back cover could hit the last page and pick out a new read. She might take a few days or a week or more. She also didn’t read books AS fast.

After I started blogging I became COMPULSIVE about always having a current read. I finish a book and I’m already, in my head or physically, picking my next read and marking it as “currently reading” on Goodreads. I never let it settle. Just jump right in.

 

ALWAYS. A. CURRENT. READ.

 

 

This year I’ve started to rebel against that. I just don’t want to move that quickly. I want to savor. I want to let that last book soak in. Really think about it before I jump into something else. I want to give myself time before I move on. LIKE I USED TO. (And sometimes I might WANT to/be ready to jump right in and that’s okay too). Sometimes it’s fine for me…a side effect of just loving reading so much. Sometimes it’s just a self-imposed habit I’ve gotten in the habit of.

As a blogger I’ve gotten this mentality and I think it comes from this place of feeling like I need to keep going and going so I’ll always have content for the blog and keep with ALL THE BOOKS I want to read. I’m so concerned with my TBR list that I just keep going without stopping.

I think it’s led to a lot of burnout over the years. I think it’s led to feeling a lot of unneeded guilt when I’m NOT reading. When I was talking to my friends on Twitter I also mentioned having this guilt for when I watch tv or movies because I feel like I should be reading instead. WHAT EVEN IS THAT?  I mean, I don’t give in to it most of the time and I still watch tv and movies but I feel like if I’m sitting around the house I should read instead of anything else.

When did reading start feeling like something I needed to do so fast? When did it feel like something I NEEDED to do every moment of the day (wanting to is different)? When did it feel like a competition? A race? An obligation? Something to check off? WHEN DID THE SIMPLE PLEASURE AND JOY OF READING BECOME SO COMPLICATED?

It’s over. I’m going to recondition my brain. I already started to do that by not setting a goal of how many books to read this year. And you know what? IT HAS BEEN SO FREEING FOR ME. Seriously. It’s helped to not be concerned with what I’m reading. To let myself go through spurts where I’m reading a bunch in a row because I WANT TO and ones where I’m not at all or am barely picking up a book.

 

Guilt-free, no pressure reading. Savoring. Enjoying. Diving deep. Thinking hard. Reading because I can’t not. That’s where I’m headed.

 

Have you ever felt like this as a blogger? If you aren’t a blogger, have you ever? What do your habits typically look like? Do you always reach for the next book immediately? Go through waves with reading? I’d love to know!

Fear Not!

Back in 2012 I talked about one of my biggest bookish fears (I have lots of them — here, here and here) and I wanted to revisit the topic. I said that one of the things I fear is lending someone a book that is an all time favorite or when someone tells me that they are reading a favorite book of mine because of how much I rave about. BECAUSE ALL THE PRESSURE (what if they hate it? What if they think your taste sucks?). Now, at that point, I had only been into about 2 years of book pushing — erm I mean blogging — and now here we are at ~5 years of doing a whole hell of a lot of recommending and lending and being LOUD about books I love.

I still DO have this fear that they will totally hate the book I love so much and am sharing with them and never ever trust my recs again. But ya know what? The sweet, sweet victory of getting a friend totally into the books you love is FAR more worth the initial jitters/panic that they might not like it. And also I feel like at this point I have so many “wins” under my belt at this point and statistically speaking (I don’t really do maths that well so my statistics have no basis) I’m not going to able to have a winning streak for forever (I mean, that’s what I’ve learned from all the sports Will watches)?

I am also finding that I am FAR more triumphant when I get my IRL friends/family into the books I love. I mean, I always feel happy when I give a good rec to a blog reader or anyone else in this community. BUT there is something about giving those recommendations to the people in my life who don’t read as much as we all do and who don’t have anyone else giving them recommendations. I feel like this glorious matchmaker!!!

Can I share two of my biggest personal victories recently??? I want you to share yours in the comments, too! Let’s rejoice together!

* My little sister Paige: Paige is 20 and she’s pretty good about listening to my recommendations over the years. She’s in college right now so doesn’t have as much time to read but recently she LOVED some of my faves: The Sky Is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson, the Jessica Darling series,  and Since You’ve Been Gone by Morgan Matson. (Sorry, had to edit it out some ~confidential things haha)

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* My friend Kelsey: My friend Kelsey and I have a standing date every Wednesday (mostly) during Survivor season where we hang out and drink wine while we watch. She reads occasionally and is a self-proclaimed slow reader. BUT LET ME TELL YOU SHE HAS BEEN DEVOURING BOOKS THAT I GIVE HER LATELY.

If I Stay/Where She Went by Gayle Forman: We all know how I love Gayle’s books (if you don’t…where have you been??). She read these SO FAST and was obsessed. She passed them on to her mom and then to her sister-in-law and THEY were both in love.

The Shatter Me series by Tahereh Mafi: I was SO happy she loved this one because I wasn’t sure how she’d do with dystopian. She liked The Hunger Games but that was all she read so it was hard to gauge WHAT she liked in the genre.

Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas: THIS IS MY BIGGEST VICTORY. She has never read a fantasy novel in her life and was A LITTLE nervous. I was like, “look if you don’t like it…I will pick you out a new book from my collection when you come over next week.” BUT ALAS…the texts speak for themselves and the fact that she book talked it to another friend of hers!!! (Edited out A LOT of non-book talk in between haha).

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I LOVE GIVING BOOKS TO MY FRIENDS AND FAMILY. AND TO ALL OF YOU. It’s those little things in life, like giving a book to someone who ends up loving it, that put a smile on my face. The little victories, man!!

So, tell me some of your victories!! Also, do you get nervous to rec books you love to people for fear they will hate it/not trust you?? Do you recommend books to a lot of people outside of this community!

 

Monthly YA Book Subscription Box Reviews: Uppercase & OwlCrate

Subscription boxes are all the rage and they have them for pretty much everything you can imagine. I personally have done Julep (did it for a while but had to stop because NAIL POLISH OVERLOAD) and Ipsy (did it in the first year it was created and quit after one time).

I’ve noticed a lot of bookish subscription boxes popping up over the past year — created by bookstores, bookish websites and bloggers alike. I’ve been curious about them and was grateful that two companies reached out to me for a chance to review their subscription box. So full disclosure: I did not pay for these but received one box for review from both companies in exchange for an honest review. I didn’t receive any other compensation other than the free box!

UppercaseLogo5-e1403709110859(click the logo to check out the website)

What I got:

Cute packaging (the mailer, if you care, was a standard priority mailer envelope)! Also, Jamie fail. I got too excited and started taking stuff out so pretend you didn’t see the candle and it’s in the package still.

Uppercase boxThe whole package!

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I opened the package and immediately I pulled out a non-book shaped thing which was  the candle! It’s adorable (I’m definitely keeping that tin after I burn the candle). It smells nice and I’m actually burning it right now. Then I pulled out the letter. I think this was a nice touch — it’s handwritten and I loved hearing why Lisa picked Red Queen.  Then I pulled out the book, Red Queen. I think this was a good selection though I already have it as an ARC. I tried to read it a couple months but since I’m a mood reader I was in a fickle mood and put it down though I definitely plan to try to pick it up again. Then it came with a signed bookplate from the author that I can put in my book (very cool!). Then there was a little slip of paper with a 15% discount to a shop on Etsy which I will be checking out!

Pros:

Nice, clean website. Detailed FAQ section that was pretty darn thorough.
Love the two subscription options. There’s the Expert which is the most general one — it varies in genre and isn’t tailored to your taste or anything. Then there is the Personalized box which is nice if you are a bit more picky, only read certain genres, etc. Since I don’t have a log-in I couldn’t get into see what kinds of questions you get asked but I know it is a more personalized pick based on your answers.
Excellent curating — They are new releases from major publishers! I browsed the past picks too (I love that you can see that as a prospective customer) and I think Lisa has done a good job picking quality books in various genres for the Expert box! I think if you read pretty widely you will be great with the Expert picks!
Exclusive author content for Uppercase members: I thought this was such a nice touch! You’ll get an email about a week after the box ships in which you’ll get some exclusive content JUST for Uppercase members.

Gift option: I love that there is an option to gift it to a friend and you can pick which box and how many months. What a great gift to give someone!

Cons:

A little too pricey for my taste: I think this is my problem with subscription boxes in general? The basic (Expert) box is $29 (that includes shipping).  Most YA hardcovers are let’s say ~$15 plus shipping if you order online. (On Amazon and B&N they are listing it around $11.50 right now). I guess it depends on if you value not having to do the work of finding a new read and also if you think the bookish goodie is worth those extra couple dollers.

Only currently ships to US, Puerto Rico and Canada. (This doesn’t affect ME but thought it’s worth noting).

Return policy: I know it probably has to be this way because it would get MESSY and crazy but if you get a book you already own you are pretty much out of luck. You can’t return it. Best you can probably do is sell it to Amazon or a second hand shop to get yourself a new book. Or host a giveaway. Swap with a friend. It would be a bummer to get a book you already had but I guess that’s the gamble if you are a frequent book buyer. If don’t buy a lot of books, this won’t be much of a problem!

 

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Cute box! Love how even their box calls out to their brand!

Owl Crate box

Ooh pretty stuff! (I love when packages come with this stuff because I always reuse it)

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The whole package!

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The poster in full (it has the OTHER cover on the other side):

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I was SOOO happy because I have been wanting this book and actually didn’t own it! I thought for sure I would get a book I either had as an ARC or owned so this automatically made me happy! I thought the goodies in here were all fab — the CraftedVan bookmarks that I love, the Game of Thrones figure (I don’t watch but Will and I are starting it soon), the swag (pin, bookmark and poster) and the cutest unicorn bandages EVERRR. Like I kind of want to get wounded so I can use one. (Okay not really because I’m the whiniest of whiny babies and pain adverse).

Pros:

Great curating: I mean, it’s only the first pick from Owl Crate but I thought this pick was on point! It is a new release with good buzz!

Themed packages: This is one thing I think is REALLY cool about Owl Crate is that each month has a different theme that the book and the goodies for the month revolve around! This month was fantasy and the sheet I got says that next month the theme is “all the feels”! Very curious what that will entail!

Really lovely packaging: I’m a sucker for good packaging and presentation and Owl Crate had that from the time I saw the package on my doorstep to the time I opened it. Everything looks super professional and is just REALLY cute. Love the logo and how pretty everything is! A+ branding.

The goodies: This subscription box is more expensive than Uppercase Box BUT you get extra goodies in it. So if you are a person who wants to discover cool bookish things, this one is great. It was really fun to get some cute surprises! I thought the selection of things in this box were of quality and worth the money. I personally have some bookmarks from Craftd Van already (dessert themed) and they are the best bookmarks I’ve owned!

Price discount if you select a 3 month or 6 month plan: If you know that you want to get it for more than just a month there is a discount which I appreciate!

Ships internationally: It’s a pretty steep price if you ARE looking to ship outside of US or Canada but I like that it’s an option!

Cons

Expensive: Pretty much everything I said above about Uppercase Box. This one is $29.99 plus shipping but you DO get more goodies with the book that I thought were of quality.

No personalized option: It’s probably not fair to compare the two but I think that this was a great feature of Uppercase that helps pickier readers. I would HIGHLY recommend being open to many genres if you subscribe to this one because there ISN’T the option to maybe get only fantasy-ish picks or contemporary only (at this point in time anyways). If you are open to reading from many genres, I think this isn’t a con at all. Like for me, this wouldn’t bother me at all because I’ll read from any genre.

Return policy: I already explained this above for Uppercase. I get why they maybe wouldn’t but I do wish there was an option (for both of them) to maybe get 1 or 2 “returns” on your account in the event you got the same one. So, I guess, like I said above you can always give away it if you get a duplicate, donate it or sell it.

 

Would I subscribe to Uppercase or Owl Crate?

 

 

I think Uppercase AND Owl Crate are great but I don’t know that it would be worth it for ME right now. Why? Because if you are a blogger (especially one who gets a lot of ARCs) or someone super into this community who buys a lot of books, it’s a bit of a gamble. Looking over the past month’s (plus this month’s) of Uppercase selections, I already owned ALL but one out of 7 (which I was aware of but not interested in) that I got either as ARCs and/or bought. I would consider subscribing to Uppercase/ Owl Crate if I stopped blogging and wasn’t as on top of new releases/not getting ARCs anymore obviously (and also if my financial situation could allow it haha).  I WOULD in my current situation, however, consider gifting it to a friend or family member who reads but isn’t up on the new releases — definitely my niece and maybe my little sister.

People I WOULD recommend them to:

 

People who aren’t up on the latest and greatest books: I’m thinking of some family members and friends who read YA (but not nearly as voraciously as the people in this community) and I think they wouldn’t be aware of or have already heard of these picks. I know I have a lot of readers of this blog who are NOT bloggers and who rely on my blog and others to find recommendations and I think this sort of box would be REALLY good for them to discover new books.

People who don’t buy a lot of books: If you are a person who pre-orders a lot of the big buzz books and talked about books in this community, there is a good chance you might have already gotten it. But if you are a person who really doesn’t buy a lot of new books (especially new releases) this might be ideal.

People who don’t have time to discover new reads: If you aren’t super into the community and don’t really like to spend time finding new reads, this might be your solution because they curate for you! It can be time consuming and hard to find out where to start so this takes all the hard work out of it and gives you well-loved and decently popular books.

People who are new to the YA scene: I think this is a great thing if you are new to YA and don’t know where to get started!

People who are wanting to give a gift to the young or not so young YA reader in your life: You might be someone who doesn’t really read YA but knows a YA reader! This is a great gift option because you don’t have to try to figure out what book they might like and who doesn’t like getting FUN mail!

 IN SUMMARY

 

I think Uppercase and Owl Crate are on to something really great even if I don’t think, right now, it’s a good investment for me because I get a lot of books right now and I’d probably overlap a lot plus financially I’m not able to do any sort of subscription boxes right now. When the time comes that I ever abandon this blog and am not as immersed in this community I think I’d LOVE to subscribe to either one of them. They both of their own pros and cons (some that they share that are just really inherent of subscription boxes, I think) but I would highly recommend both. I think it would depend on what you are looking for — Uppercase has more flexibility that could be more tailored to your tastes and Owl Crate is really fun because you get themed boxes full of really awesome goodies in addition to the book. All depends on what you are looking for and how much you are willing to spend! I also do recommend both because both Lisa (Uppercase) and Korrina (Owl Crate) are great contributors to this community from the interactions I’ve had with them and they have solid recommendations.

 

Do you subscribe to any bookish boxes? What do you think about these/are you interested in subscribing? Let me know if you have any questions about them and hopefully I can answer! Also, for fun, I’d LOVE to hear about any OTHER subscription boxes you are into!

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