Self, DO NOT SUCCUMB TO IT!

I’ve never really been a blogger who has been stressed about reading. (Seriously, before blogging, it would have baffled me that a reading or a hobby based on reading could be so stressful). I have the normal waves of “AHHH SO MANY BOOKS TO READ!” or “AHHHH SO MANY NEW RELEASES HOW CAN I KEEP UP?!?” (I never knew about new releases really before blogging) or “OMG I AM DROWNING IN BOOKS.” But they are small waves that travel through my body and momentarily freak me out and then are gone quickly.

I don’t keep a schedule for reading ARCs or any books, I read quite a variety of things old and new and I just generally keep it low stress for myself — because that’s just how I personally have wanted to go about this for the past (almost) four years.

But these past couple days? I had a meltdown. A big melty meltdown of toddler sized proportions. My thoughts are conflicting and confusing and…annoying? Because I hate stressing about things.

Can I just talk it out with you guys, please?

1. I feel so overwhelmed. There are so many books I’m never going to get to in my entire life. Likely even on my shelves I’ll never get to some of them. I don’t read by release dates but I try to be conscious of what I’ve got but, months like this where EVERYTHING good seems to be coming out, I am slowly feeling anxious over all the books I WANT to get to in this month (and the next) but know that at the pace I read and the time I have available to read that I’ll never get to all the ones I want to + the ones I want to buy when they come out. I get envious of other’s ability to read more than I can.

I feel like keeping up is a fruitless endeavor. I completely stress over which book to read next because I realize that I need to be smart about which books I read because of my finite reading ability and every dud of a book is time I could have had for a better book for me. I get all frantic about my choices and the ones left on the shelves. I feel like I’m missing out (is there book FOMO..there has to be? MAJOR BOOK FEAR OF MISSING OUT). I’m staring at all my books for review & the ones I’ve bought and I feel overwhelmed. Too many choices. Too much pressure. Not enough time.  When I feel like this I just want to hole up and read ALL THE HOURS OF THE DAY I HAVE FREE — because I’m genuinely excited about all these books but because of the book FOMO or stress or whatever we want to label it.

2. But then I have these other thoughts where I just don’t WANT to read all day every day, despite the rabbit-esque multiplying my TBR does on the daily, as much as sometimes I feel the pressure to do that because of blogging. I’ve talked about how last year I was feeling really unbalanced in life because of book blogging but I really do like to maintain some sort of balance in my life in all areas. Blogging has always been a struggle because it is so easy to let it take up a lot of time without even realizing it. I’ve been intentional about setting low reading goals even though I know I COULD read more + setting boundaries with blogging.

Sometimes I feel like, as much as reading is one of my favorite things in LIFE, I just don’t want to read THAT much and becoming a devouring machine that constantly and only ever is reading. I also want to savor what I’m reading. To not just move on to the next thing and let that be that – like how I was before I started blogging. I don’t want to treat reading like a race.  And on top of that..I really don’t want reading to be this stressful thing. (I know I control that though blogging DOES add to that).

And really..what’s the end game in me reading that much or trying to frantically read that much? It’d be a combination of the desire to read ALL THE BOOKS because as a bookworm I want to know all the stories & worlds & characters  & also it’s the pressure… but to what end? For what purpose? This is what I have to keep asking myself. I can’t do it all. I need perspective.

Sigh I feel much better getting that out. I’m taking deep breathes and just trying to go back to my zen attitude about reading and blogging. I’m okay with my little bookworm freakouts that happen from time to time because such is the bookworm life but I’m not okay with the rattling meltdown I had (for no reason) in the past couple days wherein I just stressed myself out big time about something I love and that keeps me sane normally.

Does anyone else sometimes feel the weight of all the books they will never get to?? Bloggers, do you feel stressed about reading sometimes?? How do you manage? I’m not used to succumbing to the pressure that’s always there! Please can we talk this out because Will just doesn’t get it at all!

DO NOT READ IN PUBLIC!

It’s that awkward moment when you are reading something that brings a volcanic eruption of FEELINGS in the form of tears that just comes flowing to the surface….and you are in public…away from the comfort of your own space where you can properly ugly cry your little heart out.

It’s the worst. My eyes are burning and my face starts to get flushed and I’m trying with all my might to HOLD BACK THOSE TEARS. I’m sure I look like a hot mess with my teary eyes and the trembling lip that I’m trying SO HARD to stop.

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And I just feel like everyone is STARING AT ME. Like I’m this unhinged crazy person. I mean, book people would probably understand this. The shedding of tears for fictional stories and characters. But other people? NOPE. I feel like they are all probably whispering like “what is wrong with this chick??” or awkwardly trying to look past me so they don’t catch eye contact with the crying girl.

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Sometimes it’s because I was dumb and chose something (Night by Elie Wiesel) when I knew I would be reading in public (an airplane). Seriously, who’s dumb idea was THAT? That book shouldn’t be read in public. I SHOULD HAVE KNOWN BETTER. Just like I know better than to read The Fault In Our Stars or any sort of cancer or grief or death book in public.

Other times I’m taking aback by the fact that the book I chose (Where The Stars Still Shine by Trish Doller) is making me cry while I’m reading in public (the pool at my apartment complex) because it maybe didn’t strike me as a book that might make me cry. And then it’s all panic to figure out how to stop the tears that I didn’t see coming.

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I had a potentially awkward crying episode a few weeks ago when I was reading while the kids I nanny were napping. Their mom works from home and sometimes will come downstairs for food or something to drink so I never know when she’s coming down. I was reading Maybe One Day by Melissa Kantor, a book I knew would probably make me cry but I didn’t anticipate finishing while I was there, and I felt myself start to FEEL THINGS. Not just tearing up. I could tell I was going to full on ugly cry. I was willing my tears to stop because I knew she could potentially come down at any moment or the kids could wake up and I didn’t want to be SOBBING like a crazy person. But it didn’t work…and there I sat sobbing just at least hoping she didn’t come down or the kids didn’t wake up and trying to come up with possible explanations for my eyes (sudden onset allergies? I poked myself in both eyes? A sneezing or coughing fit??). Luckily I was in the clear.

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I stealthily was able to hide my crying while I was at the pool by dunking myself underwater so it looked like I was just wet and then putting sunglasses back on. It was a solid way to conceal my book induced tears. But what happens when I’m on a plane or a train or sitting in a cafe or any other sort of situation where I might be reading in public and access to water is not available?! How to conceal it?? I guess I could carry around a pair of sunglasses everywhere? Or maybe books that will inevitably make you cry should just come with a DO NOT READ IN PUBLIC warning? Or maybe I should only read books that are funny in public? (Ehh but then I become that weirdo girl on the treadmill laughing like a hyena…yep I’ve been her).

It’s a problem to read in public when you are someone whose book feels sometimes turn into very real tears. Until I can figure out how to control it I will be forever the girl you can find sobbing in public because of a book. I guess there could be worse things, right?

(ALSO: Will wants to know, and I quote, “is it normal for people to cry this much in general from reading a book??”

Let’s Talk: Have you ever cried while reading a book in public? Any awkward crying stories to share? I’m curious what books made you cry in public! Or are you a person that’s pretty good at pushing back those tears? Or maybe you don’t cry or express many visible emotions at all while crying?

What It’s Like To Be A Mood Reader

I’ve mentioned this quite a bit on this blog but I am SUCH a mood reader. It’s hard to really define what that means but basically my mood dictates how and what I read…and I just go with it because I don’t really want to force myself to read something I’m not in the mood for because it might make me not enjoy it as much as I would if I was in the mood for that TYPE of book. So I wanted to talk about what it’s like to be a mood reader.

 

1. I could start and put down 19049304 books in one day because I just can’t quite find a book that suits my mood. Seriously. Sometimes it’s soooo frustrating to pick a new book to read when I’m in a really specific mood. I can even pick up things that I think will be suitable for what I’m wanting and give it a few pages and I’m like EHHH NOT IN THE MOOD or maybe I can’t pinpoint quite what I AM in the mood for. My bookshelves get destroyed in the process and I just get so frustrated in the process of trying to pick out a book.

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2. I can’t keep any sort of blogging schedule in terms of review copies. I know A LOT of book bloggers will have their review copies in a nice, neat spreadsheet and they read by release date. OH MY GOD I WISH I COULD DO THAT. If I made a list I would probably abandon it day 1. I know I would. It would make things SOOOO much easier if I could have a process for picking my books (based on release date with older, backlist titles in the mix also) rather than relying on what I FEEEEL like I want. Because sometimes I just plain ol’ don’t know. This is also why I stink when I do my seasonal TBR lists. I try really hard to stick to them but my mood just demands something else so all lists go to shit eventually.

3. My library books often get sent back unread. I get all these amazing sounding books out that I really want to read and I am REALLY JAZZED about them. Flails and all. I’m so ready to read these books when I get them out. But then something happens where suddenly some of them don’t fit what I want to read in the next few weeks. Then I renew and renew but eventually some just get sent back without being read.

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4. I could be really, really excited about a book releasing and be DYING to have it..and then not read it for months. This also has a lot to do with my bookish ADD but it’s also a lot to do with my mood. I get soooo excited for a book. Let’s say it’s a really cute romance and I’ve been DYING for it..but I might be in the mood for something really dark that will make me cry. So I’m still excited about the new release but time passes and my mood just hasn’t quite shifted to something cute or maybe I’ve just had a case of bookish ADD with all the billion other new releases. SIGH.

5. I stink at reading books with people. This is one of the worst feelings. I so often want to buddy read or do a readalong with  people but if I’m not feeling it right then..I just can’t force myself to do it. I’ve learned pretty early on that I stink at this so I tend to avoid them so I don’t let people down when I decide I’m not in the mood for it but I’m pretty envious when I see people reading books together and I’m like WHY BRAIN WHY DO YOU HAVE TO BE SO COMPLICATED SOMETIMES.

6. Sometimes I won’t read for days or even a week or so. I’ve already admitted, in a post of reader-ly confessions,  that I don’t read every day or sometimes longer so that’s no surprise to you but sometimes my mood will make me a) so frustrated that I can’t figure out what I’m in the mood to read so I just WON’T until I figure it out or b) sometimes I really am NOT in the mood to read at all. So I do other things and I’m okay with. I just wait until I feel that pull to read again. I’m not a fan of forcing myself to read when I don’t want to. I read because I enjoy it..so forcing myself to when I’m not feeling it seems like not a good plan for me.

 

7. I rarely do blog tours because I don’t want to stick to deadlines. I don’t do a lot of blog tours for many personal reasons/preferences but my mood reading is a big part. There is no worse feeling for me when I realize I have a blog tour that I agreed to and I realize I need to read the book by a certain date and I am not at ALL in the mood for that book. You know what it starts to feel like then? Homework. And I haven’t had homework since my last year of college in 2008. And I just can’t handle that feeling.

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8. My reading count could totally fluctuate each year. Because I’m a mood reader, and sometimes that means I’m not in the mood to read AT ALL, I never have a goal of books to read really per month or year. I mean, I put a “reading challenge” on Goodreads but I never reach it. Since I just go with my mood, sometimes it means I read 10 books per month or maybe only 3 or 4.

9. I often feel bad about borrowing books from friends because I could take forever to read them. This has happened SO often to me and I feel like a jerk! A friend might lend me a book and I really do WANT to read it but I might not want to read it in that MOMENT. I don’t want them to think I’ve forgotten and I don’t want to look rude or anything. And especially if it’s a fave book they are letting me borrow I feel even worse because I know they are waiting for me to dive in! I promise I’m not rude but just letting my reading mood guide me!

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 But sometimes being a mood reader isn’t all that bad…

10. I venture into all sorts of genres and types of books. Being a mood reader means I flit from genre to genre, old books, new books, etc. I never know what I’m going to read and you never know what you are going to find me talking about here on this blog. It’s really kind of fun to read based on my mood because I get great recommendations from people! I can ask for a book that will break me or challenge me, make me swoon or make me LOL or make me curl up in the fetal position bawling and I find myself reading all sorts of different books.

11. I often have better personal success with books because I don’t force myself to read it. I give in to my moods rather than keep trying to trudge through a book. Sometimes it could be the book or sometimes it’s just that my mood doesn’t match the book. I’ve seen it happen where I start a book and I’m like EHHHH but then I put it down and start it later when I’m in the mood for it and it totally knocks my socks off. Or sometimes this still happens..

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BOTTOM LINE: I really don’t mind being a mood reader though sometimes there are some drawbacks to it. I felt so much less stressed once I realized I was a mood reader when it came to blogging because I was so struggling to keep up with release dates and keeping on top of ALL THE BOOKS. I simply adapted how I did things and my expectations for all this to fit how I read and it’s made all the difference. So that’s things like realizing it’s not a good idea for me to participate in readalongs or blog tours. And it’s helped me to realize it’s OKAY that I’m not a super organized person when it comes to my reading.

So what about you — are you a mood reader or do you try to read based off a list or some other method of your own choosing? If you a blogger, do review copies dictate how you read? I’m curious if anything I’ve talked about is the same/different as your habits!

On Binge Reading Series…And Why It’s Been Since 2008 Since I Last Did It.

So a couple weeks ago (I think) I was scrolling through Twitter and saw a tweet to a post about why someone likes binge reading book series. I didn’t get a chance to click through because I was just scrolling while waiting in line and I cannot for the life of me remember who it was that posted it (so sorry if it was you..let me know!) but it made me think for a bit.

When was the last time I binge read a series??

I binge watch tv all the time (seriously..Breaking Bad in December was the ultimate binge watch..GOD THAT SHOW) and I LOVE doing it. I get super invested and emotional and INTO it when I binge watch. It’s nice not having to wait for new episodes or even new seasons if it’s already out. It’s just plain ol’ FUN.

But I couldn’t remember the last time I binge read a series. I mean, we all know that I suck at finishing series and have a zillion unfinished series lying around. So I went on Goodreads, what a lifesaver that site is, and the last time I binge read a whole series was in November/December of 2008. And that series was TWILIGHT.

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Seriously like 5 years since I last binge read a series?? It has to be a mistake. (It’s not). The closest thing was the Unearthly trilogy which I read one and then a couple weeks later would read the next and then a few more weeks and I finished it.

So, I thought about it for a little bit and thought how sad it was that I haven’t binge read a series in such a long time. In theory, I like the idea because obviously I love BINGE WATCHING. But what has held me back?

It’s blogging. I’ve already realized how blogging has changed my habits toward re-reading and reading chunky books without me even MEANING to do it. And I think that blogging has made me not binge read series.

WHY?

1. I now always have a zillion things to read and I get some sort of bookish ADD and want to keep jumping around to different things. I KNOW about so many more books now and hear about them daily and I just try to frantically read them all and I think my attention span has just decreased because I want to be on to the next story or world or character.

2. THIS I’d say is the biggest thing. I had this weird thing about how I’d review them because a) I am never ahead on my reviews so they kind of just get written and scheduled for pretty soon after I read them. If I binge read, I felt like it would take me longer and I’d have nothing on the blog in terms of book review-y type material. Now that I don’t care too much about that, I guess this is a non-issue. But I’m still in the habit. And b) I always used to feel like I should review every single one individually and I always felt like it would be too much having continuous reviews from the same series.

3. A lot of times the series I started aren’t complete yet. With getting review copies, the series I start often tend to be newer series and I don’t make as much time for the older, completed series like I’d like to.

My “reasons” made sense in my head but I’m just like, “WHY, brain, did you complicate things and make me stop doing something fun?”

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So, in thinking about this, I decided I want to binge read a series soon because it’s soooo fun and I miss it. It’s gotten to be a bad habit to let blogging dictate my reading habits. I have a very laid back approach to this blog but those habits I formed pretty early on (feeling like I would have nothing to review if I took the time to binge read or too many reviews of the same series, etc) have been hard to shake even in my laid back, whatever approach. Some of it’s my own form of bookish ADD wanting to be reading different books but I’m going to make this happen and see how I like it. Plus, I think it might be fun to do a whole series review rather than try to review every single book because that’s tedious for me. I don’t know why my brain didn’t see that as an option way back when but, even if I had thought about it, I still would have been OH SO WORRIED about having zero review-y content for the duration of my binge read.

Getting excited to throw even MORE caution to the wind and not care and YOLO and all that good stuff when it comes to this blog. I don’t take this blog seriously and have been pretty laid back about it for a while but it’s just nice to find even more ways to not care. That sounds bad…but you know what I mean. I’ve formed habits I don’t like. They need to go. ASAP.

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So, here’s where YOU COME IN. I want you to recommend me a great series to binge read!!! Thank you in advance, book nerds! I trust your recommendations!

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Do you binge read series often? Why/why not? Tell me some of your favorite series you’ve binge read! If you are a blogger, do you find that blogging has changed habits like binge reading or rereading or reading long books?

I’ve Cheated. Or Something.

Back in January 2013 I asked you guys if you were book jugglers and I talked about how I was a serial monogamist when it came to how many books I would read at one time and why I was. (I also had a HELLA cute kid Jamie pic in that post). At the time I wrote that I was totally a one book kind of girl!

In this past year, I’ve totally changed somewhere along the way. I’ve cheated. Or maybe I’ve become a book polygamist. I don’t know. But all I know is that I’m juggling a ton of books these days and I feel like quite the playa playa. I don’t know HOW it happened but it just sort of did.

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I always have my primary book that I’m reading but now it no longer has all that love and attention to itself. Then I started having a gym book that I would read on my Kindle whilst on the treadmill but then I started doing other exercise-y things so I’m not there as often. Now that I’ve started nannying while I’m still looking for jobs I have my “nannying book” on my Kindle that I only read while I’m there. My kindle is just easier to hold when I’m reading and the baby is asleep on me. But, it doesn’t end there, I also decided it would be an excellent idea to add my commuting book, which is an audiobook, to really get some extra reading time in. The other week it even got a little crazy because I had a book that I had bought for my Nook, which is now deceased, so I had to read it on my Nook App so I was reading THAT.

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I’ve gotten out of control (and I totally feel like Papa Smurf above) but I sort of like it. Some observations:

1.  Surprisingly it’s been kind of nice because I feel like I’m not in a “I haven’t read in a week because I’m avoiding my book” slump as often because I am picking up something different so if something isn’t speaking to me and I’m avoiding it (before deciding to put it down..which I suck at) then at least I’m still reading SOMETHING at some point in my day.

2. I feel like I’m finishing more books. I don’t know if it’s true but I feel like it.

3: OMG MY BRAIN SOMETIMES. It can’t handle the switching back and forth.

4. When I’m not careful and I’m reading books that are maybe kind of similar..I really do feel like they bleed into each other. Gotta be smarter about that!

5. The one bad thing is that when I finish two book around the same time I’m like OH MAN NOW I HAVE TO WRITE TWO POSTS. Double the procrastination!

6. It’s really nice when I have an e-Arc of a book and then end up with a physical copy because then I make them both my primary and Kindle read while I’m nannying. I feel like I blow through books so fast!

7. One of my main reasons I didn’t like juggling books was because I felt like I would either a) have major indecision between which book to pick up if I was enjoying both or I would gravitate towards one and just abandon the other one altogether and it would never get read. I’ve realized that this point becomes moot now because I’m not just juggling them for the sake of juggling them but I have designated books that I only read in specific places or at specific times. It’s not like I’m just saying “okay I’ll read a little of this and then a little of that one” and keep rotating just because. THAT doesn’t work for me but apparently the fact that each book has their place to be read makes it work for me. PLUS, like with the gym book, it’s so motivating to know that I HAVE to go to the gym to read it!

It’s working for now and I’m not opposed to changing habits so I’m just rolling with it…this new found “book slut” hat I’m putting on.

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So, you may or may not have talked about your habits with me back then when I talked about my book monogamy, but I’d love to talk about whether or not you are a book monogamist or if you juggle those books like a pro! Do you have designated books that you only read at x time/place? Have you always been a one book person or a juggler? Any thoughts on anything I brought up?

In Which I Hang Up My Hat As A Book Reviewer

No, no. I’m not going anywhere. I simply want to formally relinquish my title as a book reviewer. (And this doesn’t mean reviews are gone totally….I’ll explain).

I think along the way somewhere book blogger became synonymous with book reviewer and I definitely found myself willingly putting on that hat. Certainly a good majority of book bloggers identify as book reviewers. But I don’t necessarily think book blog has to mean you need to be a book reviewer. A book blog can be SO many things and honestly they could be completely devoid of book reviews.

So why am I formally taking off the book reviewer hat off?

1. For me, personally, being a “book reviewer” has sucked out some of the joy in reading. If you read this blog you know it’s not like my reviews are super serious and they are more conversational but, still, wearing the book reviewer hat has made me feel like I constantly need to be on the lookout for things that I can be critical about in books rather than simply just reading and then talking about what I thought about a book — good AND bad. I don’t know why but there just became so much more pressure for me while I read and I don’t like that. I’m fine with the natural critical process that happens when I read but I don’t want to be taking this “reviewer” thing so seriously and feel like it’s a job to read. I didn’t create my book blog to be a book reviewer but to just talk about books and such and fangirl and flail and cry over books and commiserate over books that piss us off or make us feeling to many feeeelings. After almost 4 years, I’m realizing I enjoy the review process less (and funny enough with the emphasis the community puts on reviews they are my least viewed & commented and I’ve seen people say they barely read any) and just want to talk about books however I see fit.

2. I feel like being a “book reviewer”, within the community, has come to mean you need to have a certain amount of reviews or people start complaining or questioning your legitimacy. I’ve seen sooo many comments on Twitter and blogs about how many reviews you should have and yada yada. I’ve never cared what people think and I have as many reviews as I want per week (typically 2 works for ME and the way I read/live my life) but I formally want to say I’m not a book reviewer anymore so I can basically say, “NA NA I am not a book reviewer so I don’t care how many book reviews I have/what format they take on and I don’t care about any “reviewer” standards you may try to pin on me.” I want to talk about books in MANY MANY ways that are not just reviews. And I see THAT coverage of the book JUST as legit as a book review. I do many things like Beyond the Pages, Book Inspired Dates, top ten lists, etc that spotlights books and talk about them.

So what can you call me? A book blogger, a book talker, a crazy person who just talks about books and relates a lot of things back to them.

What you will see:

Honestly there isn’t going to be THAT much change here. It’s more of a mindset/distinction.

1. Book reviews still — I mentioned before I want to be more book TALK and less book review because I don’t necessarily enjoy the reviewing process but I looooove talking about books. Book reviews will most certainly BE a fixture on this blog and I may even change up how I do them. But I am not a book reviewer. Does this make sense or is it only making sense in my head?

2. Book TALK: I have already found a zillion ways to incorporate books into posts that aren’t reviews and sometimes you may see those more often.

Basically: I no longer want to have to feel bound to being a book reviewer. This blog is my love letter to books, bookish things, life and the things that books make me think and feel. There will be all the same things that there always have been — book reviews included — I just don’t want to be held to any sort of standards. I do think my reviews, as conversational as they are, will become more of a book talk if I can figure out I way I want to do it or maybe I’ll just mix things up “review” wise. Maybe this distinction doesn’t make sense or seems silly because I’ll still have reviews but it’s just something I’ve been thinking about.

I’m not a natural reviewer  like some of the bloggers in this community (seriously I feel self conscious sometimes) so I’d like to not keep wearing that hat. Book reviews will still be written but sometimes I don’t want to get into the nitty gritty critical stuff with EVERY book. I’ll be honest if it wasn’t perfect but sometimes the reading experience was more positive and I genuinely want to just focus on THAT excellent reading experience I had and not sully it with picking apart things. There will still be critical reviews but I don’t want to be bound to any set of standards or be told I’m not being honest or that I’m catering to the publishers if I decide to do it another way. After almost 4 years, those things just aren’t a factor. The only factor is me putting out the best things I can and being honest about it..and I see that shedding this label will be that for me personally!

I think the most beautiful thing about this bookish community is how different our blogs all are — some are natural at critiquing (I’m jealous of this ability), everyone reviews differently and from a different perspective and we all have different focuses and areas of expertise. I love being a part of this community!

 

Go Ahead & Make Fun Of Me ALLLL You Want, Non-Reader Friends!

I apparently have this “quirk” that all my non-reader friends (most of the people I know outside of this community) think is really “cute”/like to make fun of me for. You see, it’s something probably TOTALLY normal in this community but, outside of it, people just think it’s kind of ridiculous…and a little bit excessive. Maybe strange?

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What is it, you ask?

I ALWAYS have 1-3 books in my purse (as well as my Kindle along with it typically — depending on the situation) and I ALWAYS keep a spare book in my car. That last one is the one that so often gets made fun of but I can’t tell you the comments I get when I go to grab something from my purse, which can surprisingly act like Mary Poppins’ bag, and have to pull out a couple of books before I can find whatever it is I’m looking for. (I seriously buy purses based on their ability to hold books).

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They always ask WHY, because they think it is a bit excessive, and I tell them but I think they don’t GET it because 1) they aren’t a reader and 2) they figure they always have their phone if they have to do any waiting.

BUT let me tell you how many of them laughed a couple of weeks ago…

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THIS, friends, is just one of the reasons I always carry a book with me AND in my car. A few weeks ago, because one of the glorious snowstorms that has tortured our area, my 25 minute drive home turned into almost 4.5 hours. GUESS WHO LOOKS SILLY NOW? Not me. I read THE WHOLE TIME when the traffic was at pretty much a standstill. Will, who doesn’t read and was on a road parallel to me for almost the same amount of time, had NOTHING to do except burn through our data on his phone and eventually he ran out of things to do. PLUS…batteries DIE, friends. So…even if my Kindle would have died, I had another book in my purse PLUS the spare book in my backseat! Now that’s just smart…

genius

This is just one of SO many reasons I ALWAYS carry books with me and happily am part of the big ass bag brigade to make sure that happens. I mean, you just never know in your day when you are going to be able to grab a spare minutes of reading or when an appointment waiting time is extra long, you end up waiting in a long line or when you suddenly are going to be stranded somewhere. Seriously, I could come up with a list of situations that could arise in which you could nab some extra reading time.

I’m sure you, my fellow bookworms, are all:

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But seriously. My habit is smart..not strange or silly! Okay world? You will see…one day you will end up stranded four hours wishing you had something to do. And I will be smugly reading away.

Do you always carry a book with you? How many? Do you have any “SO GLAD I HAD A BOOK” moments? Or, conversely, any “I WISH I HAD A BOOK” moments? What are some other things that the non-reading people in your life think are “quirky?”

What Has Happened To Me?

I guess this was inevitable…

I had an amazing reading year in 2013 –  the kind of reading year where a good chunk of the books you read are just GOLD and all other reading years feel inadequate. I read a great balance of new and old and I loved SO many books.  I seriously couldn’t believe how much I TRULY loved so many books and I was so happy for that ( Even when people make you feel self conscious about that.) . Because, I mean, who doesn’t want to enjoy a good chunk of what they read??

However, here we are a month or so into 2014 and I’ve been a very grumpy reader thus far.

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I don’t even KNOW myself anymore.  Maybe I started off the year wrong considering for the first two weeks of 2014 I was sick? Maybe this is the inevitable coming down from a most excellent book year. I DO NOT KNOW.

It’s not that I’ve HATED every book I’ve read. It’s more like:

1) I’ve been super nit-picky which is SO not me. I definitely don’t like everything I read and obviously articulate this here but I’m not a nit picky reader at all. But this year I’m getting annoyed with SO many things and finding so many faults. Even Will has commented on how loud I’ve been getting about books. Even witnessed me chuck one across the room because I was so fed up.

2) I’ve LIKED plenty of books. Like totally enjoyable, would recommend type books.  But I haven’t gotten that WOW book. That book that I want to run out and tell everyone about RIGHT NOW. I want to find the kind of book I described in my If We Were Having Coffee post, “I’m talking those books that make you remember why you love reading. The ones that just knock you off your feet. I want to curl up and sob like a little baby because of how it wrecked me or because of how beautiful and amazing it was. I want to almost convince myself I never want to read again so this book could be the LAST BOOK I’D EVER READ if I died. End on an amazing note.” I want THAT kind of book in the midst of these “okay” to “good” books (and obviously the BLERGH ones).

Things I’m asking myself/thinking:

-I can’t pinpoint if it’s just me (stressed/discontent/feeling a lack of direction) or if it’s what I’m reading?

-Is this some sort of inevitable burnout that I need to ride out or take a reading break?

-Do I need to reread something I know I love (but oh god what if my current reading curse taints that for me??)

-Is there any correlation to the fact I’ve read mostly ARCs this past month? I mean, typically I have a much better ratio of ARCs to backlist. Maybe I need to go with some highly recommended, long standing books for a bit?

-WILL I BE LIKE THIS FOREVER? Because I can’t handle that.

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So, really, this post was kind of pointless but that’s my “state of the union” reading update for ya.

Have you ever gone through a similar slump? How did you get out of it? How’s 2014 treating you reading-wise — an excellent or a meh year thus far? ALSO..and this is important…recommend me your most WOW book that will give me the feels I want to feel.

Hey Stranger! I Like Books!

I love talking to strangers about books.

I struggle with this. I won’t lie. I want to be cautious and sensitive about people’s personal space and the fact that not everybody wants to talk or is as outgoing is me. But I’m not going to lie...every time I’m in the library or the bookstore and see someone holding a book I have read/heard about my body shakes like an excited dog and out of my mouth wants to escape a “HEY! I LOVE THAT BOOK. BUY IT” or “So you are also an adult who loves YA?? ME TOO!!” I guess that last one is awkward if they are buying it for like their teen daughter or something haha.

I don’t want to be creepy but I want to talk to you about books. You instantly gain points as a human if you are in the library or the bookstore. And I just get too ridiculously excited about books and making people read books and talking about books I loved. Sidenote: You, guessed it, I’m a very social person when it comes to books. Probably that annoying person who you just want to go away so you can continue browsing.

I’ve had good experiences with this personally.  I was at a used book sale  once and a lady started chatting me up and we became very friendly and tossing books to each other as we browsed through all the boxes of book. It was enjoyable and nice to connect with someone over something. I’ve had really nice people in bookstores encourage me to buy a book that was in my hands and tell me what they loved about it.

I don’t even mind when someone sees me reading on a train or something and says, “Oh I loved that book!” I mean, I might not want to have a full on conversation depending on the day and my mood but sometimes I like a nice little chat. Other times I just want to get back to said book. Most bookworms do understand both though I think?  I DOOOO hate when random people comment on what I’m reading. I’ve been hit on two times while reading and it was so painfully obvious they didn’t care about the book. The one time, after BEA, I was on the train and was only like obviously 2 pages into the book and the guy just kept asking me about it even though I was like, “I just started it. I have no opinions.” That makes me explode and not in a good way.

There’s also the other kind of encounters over books that result in a friendship or a bonding experience that I LOVE. Years ago I was at a party for Will’s mom’s engagement and I knew only a handful of people. Will’s mom introduced me to a relative of her fiance’s (hi Jenny!!) and basically was like, “Hey you both love to read.” I got talking to her and found out that she also loved YA and we chattered excitedly pretty much the rest of the party and both went away with a crap ton of recommendations. It was such an awesome way to connect with somebody over something we both loved and honestly it made the party WAY more fun for me.

I just love how books can make us connect to strangers or people we are introduced to. Obviously it’s like any mutual interest but there’s just something so easy about talking books with someone you barely know and I feel like I get to know them so much more by learning their favorite books or what they hated or how a book resonated with them.

I mean, even with the internet and this blogging things, look at how strangers have become some of my closest friends and I’ve been able to bare some of the deepest and most honest parts of myself with ease whether I’m talking about why I read books dealing with grief so much or books  that encourage me to LIVE or insecurities. All because of books. I’ve become a more honest person who sees the world with different eyes all the time.

GOD I LOVE BOOKS.

Let’s Talk:

What about you? Do you talk to strangers about books when you see them in the bookstore/library or reading in public? Have you ever made a connection with a stranger in a social situation and bonded over books? Does it BOTHER you or do you LIKE when strangers talk to YOUUUU about books?

How Unemployment Has Changed My Life As A Reader

I used to be the girl who would go to the bookstore weekly and hide the evidence in bags in my car so my family and Will could not comment on the excessive book buying. I hid those bags like dirty little secrets.

 

I used to be the girl who was constantly buying books online and smuggling the boxes in before anyone could see them.

 

I used to be the girl who bought books like some people bought lattes.

 

I used to be the girl who would impulsively buy books she really didn’t know anything about but decided to anyways because somebody on the internet said it was really good.

 

I used to be the girl who bought books all the damn time. Whenever she wanted. Even when she had shelves of unread books mocking her.

 

But, as many of you know, I got laid off right before my wedding. I went from working full time and living at home rent free (read: lots of disposable income I should have saved) to being unemployed and now paying for all of the Grownup Things in my own apartment with my new husband. I never thought my time of unemployment would be more than a few months. I thought I’d get a job easily (because I’m freaking awesome?) and be frolicking back in the Land of the Gainfully Employed with my paychecks just burning a hole in my pocket all the way to the bookstore and the clothing store and the makeup store.

But alas, the job fairies have not been kind to me as of yet and I’m still unemployed and, after the first couple months, I realized I had to change my buying habits — with books and in every other area of my life.

Here’s a few ways it has affected me:

+ the amount of books I buy (obviously): I had to severely decrease the amount of books I was buying. I’m talking a lot. I buy a book or two every couple of months now. It’s just not in the budget when it comes to books vs. paying rent. Brand new books have become rare treats to myself or made possible because of gift cards from family. It’s so hard to curb that habit of just buying so many books on a whim and not thinking twice about it. It’s taught me to be a more calculated buyer of books and I find myself spending my money these days on books from authors I know I love or a book I loved as an ARC and know I’ll reread. I still love to go to bookstores but it breaks my heart though I’ve gotten better to appreciate the art of browsing and creepily telling people they should buy books I loved.

+ my relationship with the library: I was a card carrying library patron prior to unemployment but I only went to my library sporadically. Now I go to the library A LOT. I could probably, in this time of unemployment, survive solely on the ARCs that I receive and egalleys I have access to but secret time: I don’t like reading ARCs all the time. I don’t always want to read “what’s hot” and new. I want to browse and find something for myself. I want to check out the backlists of authors I’ve just discovered. I don’t want to feel pressured to be part of someone’s marketing plan all the time. I love my library now and love borrowing books. Even when I get a job, my library is now going to remain a huge part of my reading life and I’ll be forever thankful for a place I can go and get free books from (except for when I don’t pay my fines like I confessed in this post.)

+ the way I deal with book tours in my area: I’ve been lucky that Philly gets some darn good tours and authors coming by. If it was a tour, I typically used to buy one of every author’s book (or more if I loved the author) regardless of if I’d read it and either keep it for myself or give it away on the blog but now I can only buy the ones I know I like/REALLY want to buy.

I like giving back and supporting these tours. Being unemployed meant going to a tour that I wanted to SUPPORT, but hadn’t read any of the authors yet and couldn’t justify buying because Will had lost his job temporarily too, and not getting anything signed and feeling like a jerk because I didn’t buy anything. I’ve been lucky that lots of the tours that have come through have been authors I LOVE so I use my very small book buying budget and am ABLE to buy them (and it happens that Gayle Forman came on my birthday so YAY BIRTHDAY MONEY) and enjoy the signing and support the authors.

+ feeling guilty because I felt like I wasn’t supporting authors: This has been one of the hardest things. Cass just posted about where she talked about supporting authors by buying the books we read and loved as ARCs and when I am not unemployed I pretty much do just that either for myself or for a gift or to donate to a classroom. It’s not the ONLY way to support an author but it’s just a practice I personally like. Buying books is a fun thing in it of itself but knowing with my purchase I’m supporting an author I love makes me happy. I’ve felt so much guilt for the number of ARCs I’ve received and read during my unemployment but have not been able to purchase when I’ve loved them. I know I give back to the bookish community in other ways as I talked about some of my donating practices of my own books to libraries and classrooms when I cull them, but I just kept feeling this guilt for not being able to support these authors. I’ve realized that, in fact, I DO support authors still even though I can’t do it in one aspect I wish I could right now. I talk about these books, I recommend them, I get people to read them or buy them and these are things I KNOW for a fact I’m doing based on readers telling me they bought something because I recommended it or seeing, after posting a book review, that people went off through my affiliate links to purchase it. I have solid proof that I’m still supporting books even if I cannot personally buy as many currently. I also don’t discount the fact that when I donate to libraries and schools I am potentially giving a reader the chance to discover a new favorite author.

 

I’ve learned a lot during this time of unemployment — I’m better with my money as a whole, I’m less impulsive (and that comes to buying books now too) and I’m very critical when it comes to deciding to buy something. I’m curious if that will stick when I get a full time job but I’d like to think maybe I’d be better about aimlessly spending my allotment of money for books and choose the authors I love, the books I REALLY want to read and won’t let sit for YEARS like some of my books and gift books to people a lot more. I’m really pleased it’s made me fall in love with my library all over again and to be thankful I have a good library with a great interloan library system. So, while it’s been sucky for now, I think I’ve learned a lot and helped some of my habits for the better.

Let’s Talk:

What is your book buying habit like? Have you ever had to give yourself a budget or maybe cut down because of a layoff like I did? Have you reformed from out-of-control-buyer-of-books to a more calculated or less impulsive buyer like I have? Are you just naturally selective of what books you buy?
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