I Got The Message Loud & Clear: Reading Isn’t Cool.

Mostly my family and friends are very supportive of my love for reading even if they don’t altogether get it. As a child I was just as much of a voracious reader but honestly there’s always been this underlying “poking fun” with some of my extended family and it just makes me cringe when I think of it.

Even today as an adult I get these comments from them “reminiscing” about my childhood reading tendencies and while, I’m not super upset by them, they just get under my skin. As a kid, they made me feel bad too. And that makes me sad because why should a kid feel bad about reading??

There was, even now, these comments about how I was the lazy one out of my sister and I because I would rather sit and read.

And I just think there is something wrong with making a kid feel like they are lazy because their hobby of choice happens to be one that includes sitting (I mean, yes sure my butt hurts from all sitting I do while reading). I played outside and was VERY active as a kid but I always had a book with me no matter where I went as I do now (especially when I had to visit their homes) and would prefer reading to anything. But just because I was reading was not because I am lazy. There were many times where I felt like I should be “more active” like my sister because of their comments and I felt this shame that, because I liked reading, I must be lazy. I was at my baby sister’s graduation two years ago and one of them was telling Will ALL about how they could never get me up to bake cookies with them like my sister would because I was soooo lazy and would just sit there with my book. Insert questions if I’m still just as lazy. (Spoiler alert: I AM AND I LOVE IT. IF YOU CALL IT LAZY, I DON’T CARE).

There were so many comments about how I was “quiet as a mouse” with my nose in a book all the time and the way they said it it never sounded like a good thing in comparison to how my sister was.

This would happen when they were talking to their Bingo friends or introducing me to someone. “Oh this one you’d never know she’s there because she’s always reading.” “She’s so shy and quiet” or if I was reading after a long visit at my grandma’s house I would hear comments about how I should be more social LIKE MY SISTER. It always made me feel like I was this strange mutant. Also, it’s a big pet peeve of mine to assume because I like to read that I am automatically socially awkward or quiet. I AM QUIET BECAUSE I AM READING. Even as an adult I think they still assume I’m this quiet little mouse which couldn’t be further from the truth. I’ve never been that. It always made me feel like I was not as fun as my sister.

“If you are that bored I can find you something to do”

I AM NOT READING BECAUSE I AM BORED, PEOPLE. I do not need a hobby as they always would try to suggest.

“She’s in her own world.”

Nah. I can hear you talking about me. But really this world I’m in right now is better than the one where I have to listen to you talk about your Bingo drama or talk about what a bump on a log I am because I like reading more than I like watching your soap operas.

These are just a few of the comments I would get frequently. I’m sure my extended family wasn’t TRYING to be cruel or anything but even now they speak about me in a way that I don’t like and as a kid it made me feel really bad about myself. Like I should be ashamed to be a reader because it was lazy or because I wasn’t as FUN and SOCIAL as my sister (which was not at ALL true). It stuck with me when I became a pre-teen (which is what I think was part of this HUGE gap of my reading history) because I thought boys wouldn’t like me if I was bookish and that people would think I was a “loser” for liking books. Being a bookworm wasn’t something that sounded very cool to my extended family so it probably wouldn’t be very cool to all the boys I was trying to chase and the new friends I wanted to make.

Being a bookworm held such negative connotations and even more so in middle school and high school where so many kids would proclaim how boring and uncool they thought reading was. So I stuffed that part of myself down very far for a long time and it took until the end of high school for me to start being open about it again. But even then I was all “Oh I read Jack Kerouac and Sylvia Plath (which I truly loved) but it made me feel like I was COOL and INSIGHTFUL in a way that admitting I read the latest Nicholas Sparks wouldn’t.

I got the message loud and clear: READING WASN’T COOL. And that makes me sad that so many kids end up thinking that. Hiding their love for reading like it’s a dirty little secret. Like being a bookworm means something it doesn’t. That’s the beauty about being part of the online reading community…you see we bookworms come in MANY MANY varieties. We don’t all share the same characteristics. Being a reader does not mean you are ONE CERTAIN WAY. Being a reader isn’t something to be ashamed of it and I’m not quite sure how it ever got to be looked upon in that way.

I love being a reader and I am proud of it being a part of who I am!

Let’s talk: Has anybody in your life ever made you feel bad about being a reader? When you were younger did you get the message that reading wasn’t “cool”? Did it impact you?

The Best Medicine When I’m Feeling Down…

I’ll be honest, friends. I’ve been feeling rather down. Things have been good in some ways but also there’s just a lot of things that have been stressful and discouraging and I feel like I’m just treading water here. I feel such a lack of control over a lot of things and some days even existing is hard and exhausting. It’s just one of those kinds of tough patches and I just try to ride it out as much as I can — being intentional to change the things I can and know that things will get better.

Some of these days are harder than other and I have to get out of my own head. Somewhere along the line I was having a bad day and I found a way to lift me up a little bit and it’s become my sort of foolproof plan on the days where I feel like I’m going to break.

I’ve found the best medicine for these days is wandering the library or the bookstore.

I spend a good hour or two just wandering and browsing with no real intention or end goal. I just wander. I pick up books I’ve never heard of. I browse in sections of the bookstore I wouldn’t typically go to. I creep on what people are looking at (you all know I’m a book creeper). I move books I loved so that they can be seen (SORRY BOOKSTORE PEOPLE). I read from books that look interesting and jot down the titles for later (okay I type them into my phone but jot sounded better). I find new interests. Discover new things. I TOUCH ALL THE BOOKS. There’s so much freedom in just wandering and picking things up on a whim. Potentially holding your next new favorite book or that book that will change your life.

ALL THOSE WORDS. ALL THOSE STORIES. They calm me. They do. It’s incredibly freeing to not rush into a store with a goal of something to pick up…some sort of intention. I’m allowed to go where my whims take me and there are no expectations. As the time passes I find the stress and that negative energy have lessened.

But mostly it helps me to remember that the world is so much bigger than this day. All those stories neatly lined up on those shelves contain hope, struggle, magic, perseverance and so many more things that are part of the human experience — some better or worse than my own. It helps me to remember in these moments I’m not alone. People have been there before me and people will be in the future. This is one day. ONE DAY of my story. One little slice of this great big world and what it has to offer me and what I have to offer it. Maybe it should make me feel small and overwhelmed (okay I DO feel overwhelmed because SO MANY BOOKS, SO LITTLE TIME) but for some reason it doesn’t.

There’s all sorts of perspective to be found in wandering in the bookstore and even though it doesn’t fix everything…it sure does help my heart and calm me down a bit. And I just enjoy being surrounded by all those books.

I think this is one of the many reasons I love reading so much — sometimes it’s so calming and  helps me get out of my own head or sometimes it gives me perspective I need/offers up something that helps me think about what I’m going through. It always reminds me that I’m not alone. That this is fleeting. That there is reason to hope and persevere.

Books = the best medicine. I don’t care what anyone says or if it’s not scientifically proven.

Operation Make Myself Suck Less At Series

I’ve talked a lot about how I suck at series and how I really feel like I have all these loose ends hanging about because of all the series I’ve never finished. At the time I wrote my Loose Ends post I had 49 series that I started and that number has ONLY grown and my ratio of FINISHED books is abysmal still. There’s a lot of reasons WHY I suck at series/am in the middle of so many but we aren’t going to talk about that today.

No, today what I want to do is get my crap together and list out ALL the series that I’m currently in the middle of and prioritize and make it a point to finish them. I’d also like to drop at least 5 series. I’d love to do this with YOUR help. I’m hoping this will help motivate me having them all listed out here and I can start tackling them in a methodical way!

 

All The Books Are Out & I Still Haven’t Finished But PLAN TO

 

Divergent series by Veronica Roth (read Divergent, own the other two)
Something Strange & Deadly by Susan Dennard (read & LOVED Something Strange & Deadly, own the other two)
Legend series by Marie Lu (read & loved Legend and Prodigy)
Harry Potter by JK Rowling (read book 1…shhhh I know)
Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead (read book 1)
The Grisha trilogy by Leigh Bardugo (read Shadow & Bone)
Jessica Darling series by Megan McCafferty (Read the first 3 books, own the last two)
The Summer I Turned Pretty series by Jenny Han (Read The Summer I Turned Pretty, just got book #2 from library)
The Girl Of Fire & Thorn series by Rae Carson (Read Girl of Fire Of Thorn, own the last 2)
The Fury trilogy by Elizabeth Miles (Read Fury and Envy, need to read last)
The Body Finder series by Kimberly Derting (Read all but the last book)
Shade series by Jeri Smith-Ready (read Shade, own Shift)
The Chemical Garden series by Lauren DeStefano (read Wither and Fever, need to read Sever)
Flappers series by Jillian Larkin (read Vixen and Ingenue, need to read last one)
The Millenium series by Stieg Larsson (read The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo)
Crank trilogy by Ellen Hopkins (read Crank, own Glass)
The Night Trilogy by Ellie Wiesel (read Night, didn’t know it was a trilogy so must read next two)

Not All Books Are Out Yet But I Plan To Finish

 

 

Throne of Glass series by Sarah J. Maas (all caught up)
The Winner’s Curse series by Marie Rutkoski (read The Winner’s Curse which is all that is out right now)
The Blackcoat Rebellion series by Aimee Carter (read Pawn which is all that is out right now)
Starbound series by Amie Kaufman & Megan Spooner (read These Broken Stars, coveting book 2)
The 5th Wave series by Rick Yancey (read The 5th Wave, drooled over book 2 ARCs on Rick’s Twitter)
The Colors of Madeleine series by Jaclyn Moriarty (Read A Corner of White, own second book)
The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer (only read Cinder, need to catch up on Scarlet and Cress)
Also Known As by Robin Benway (read Also Known As, have second)
The Madman’s Daughter by Megan Shephard (read The Madman’s Daughter, have second)
The Raven Cycle by Maggie Stiefvater (read The Raven Boys, have second)
The Mara Dyer series by Michelle Hodkin (read The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer, need to pick up second)
Seeds of America series by Laure Halse Anderson (read Chains, own second)

 

Series I Don’t Know If I Want To Finish Or Not

 

Gone series by Michael Grant
(if you read my review I explain my indecision after reading book 1)

The Mortal Instruments series by Cassie Clare
(I didn’t love the first book but I didn’t hate it…I kind of WANT to know but that’s a big investment into a long series that seems to never end)

So Close To You series by Rachel Carter
(I enjoyed book 1..and then I found out it was part of James Frey’s packaging company and I feel so conflicted now because I liked it and the author is lovely)

Eve trilogy by Anna Carey
(this was a page-turner of a first book but I didn’t LOVE it)

Darkness Rising series by Kelley Armstrong
( I liked the first book but just never got around to book 2..don’t remember what happened really)

Uglies series by Scott Westerfeld
(I read book 1 so long ago..well before I read YA..and I don’t know if it was my attitude toward YA or what. It was an interesting world!)

Find Me series by Romily Bernard
( I liked book 1 enough but I’m not like OH YEAH OMG NEED TO KNOW WHAT HAPPENS)

Series I’m Pretty Sure I Don’t Want To Finish…Seriously I Think We Are Done

 

 

Nightshade series by Andrea Cremer
(read it so long ago honestly…wasn’t ever compelled to move forward)

The Ward series by Jordanna Frankel
(So much potential but DID NOT LIKE)

Eve & Adam by Michael Grant and Katherine Applegate
( I don’t even know if there is more books but Goodreads makes it look like yes. Regardless I will NOT be reading them because I did not like this book at all).

The Innocents series by Lili Peloquin
(didn’t love book 1)

Starcrossed series by Josephine Angelini
( I read it so long ago and wasn’t IN LOVE.)

Percy Jackson series by Rick Riordan
(I KNOW YOU GUYS WILL HATE ME but I just didn’t care after two books?)

Sookie Stackhouse series by Charlaine Harris
( I read the first two books and they were fun but it’s been SO LONG)

Angel Star series by Jennifer Murgia
(Enjoyed book one but SO LONG AGO I have no idea and I don’t feel compelled to reread)

A Need So Beautiful series by Suzanne Young
(Super enjoyed book 1 but I heard the rest of series wasn’t worth it from a superfan friend and also it’s been YEARS since I read it.)

Duologies I Want To Finish

 

The Program by Suzanne Young
The Darlings Are Forever by Melissa Kantor
The Memory Chronicles by Lenore Applehans (sad this isn’t going to be a trilogy anymore!)
Kingdom of Xia by Cindy Pon (I totally don’t remember what happened though)
Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli (I never knew it was a duology until I started blogging!)
The Rosie Project by Graeme Simison (can’t wait for The Rosie Effect)
To All The Boys by Jenny Han (DYING FOR THE COMPANION)
Pivot Point by Kasie West (obsessed with this book, can’t wait to read Split Second)
Ashes by Melissa Walker
In The After by Demetria Lunetta (dying to know what happens!!)
Nantucket Blue by Leila Howland
Not A Drop To Drink by Mindy McGinnis
(this book was a GREAT standalone but I won’t deny myself more time with this world!)
The Rules For Disappearing by Ashley Elston

Duologies I’m Not Sure I Want To Finish

Little Blue Envelopes by Maureen Johnson (I just didn’t love it at all.)

Romance series

 

I put them in their own category since most of them don’t need to be read in order.

Bridgerton’s series by Julia Quinn (read The Duke and I)
Serendipity series by Carly Phillips (I didn’t LOVE Serendipity but I might try out another one)
Lucky Harbor series by Jill Shalvis (Really enjoyed Simply Irresistible and I plan to move forward!)
Rusk University series by Cora Carmack (All Lined Up was really enjoyable, can’t wait for more!)
Pushing The Limits series  by Katie McGarry (I LIKED Pushing The Limits but didn’t LOVE it the way others did..but I think I’d like to read on!)

<< Okay so what I need from YOU>>

*Out of the series I plan to finish, let me know which one you think I need to prioritize FIRST — whether it’s a series that’s complete now or one that I need to catch up even if they aren’t all out.
*Help me decide which ones I should drop out of my “not sure” and “pretty sure I can part with” list!

Also, let’s talk: do you struggle with keeping up with series? How many are you in the middle of?

How Do YOU Define A Spoiler?

You all know that spoiling a book is one of the ways you can piss me off as a reader but I don’t want to talk about that today. I want to talk about WHAT CONSTITUTES A SPOILER.

There are obvious spoilers. We all know them. We all have experienced them (probably). Hopefully we’ve all tried really hard not to drop them on unsuspecting people. Accidents happen though….says the girl who accidentally spoiled something for a friend. Careless spoilers or intentional ones to be a jerk though…just stop.

But let’s talk about some areas where I feel like people are divided…mmmkay?

Is it a spoiler if the book has been out for YEARS AND YEARS AND YEARS or is so super popular and a part of pop culture?

Harry Potter. Twilight. Pride & Prejudice. Game of Thrones. I know, as someone who has never read Harry Potter (okay I read the first one), that spoilers abound like CRAZY and I have to be really careful to avoid them. On one hand I’m like WELL self…it’s been so long and it’s like only the most popular piece of literature EVER so kind of my fault? But on the other hand I’m still a little sad that I have to shield my eyes always. I haven’t been spoiled TOO much but I’ve been REALLY careful. And really, there are always new readers for every book so it kind of stinks if you discover it late or if you are younger and are discovering it for the first time.

Is it a spoiler if it alludes to a plot twist or some sort of mind-blowing reveal that might happen?

Okay, this one is a sensitive topic for me because it happens so often but I really do kind of count it as a spoiler. So, I read a book like way before it came out. There was a HUGE twist. I did not know this because LITERALLY nobody had read it except like authors and publicists. My mind was blown. When it came to talking about the book, I was really careful not to say OMG THERE WAS A HUGE TWIST but, as the book got in the hands of more people, others DID point this out. And then a lot of people went into it looking for that — knowing that something that completely changes the game happens. I don’t know if it’s a “spoiler” per se but I kind of see it as spoiling the reading experience in a way. I know many people were looking for something huge and explosive and that tainted their reading experience as opposed to mine which was one where I was completely blind to anything.

Can shelving the genre on Goodreads/talking about genre be a spoiler in some cases?

Okay I have two example of what I mean.

1. Once, before I started a book, I accidentally glanced at the shelving when I was on its page and saw it labelled as LGBT. That wasn’t something that was in the summary and as I read I realized that it was kind of supposed to be something that was gradually revealed about two characters relationships and it didn’t SPOIL it but it kind of did? I knew their friendship had another element as things were revealed.

2. I was reading a book that I thought was contemporary and I saw that it was marked “paranormal” on Goodreads and at first I thought, “Dummies!” but then I was like, “Oh…maybe it changes and there is a twist.” And sure enough the big twist was a paranormal one that I wouldn’t have even have HAD in my mind if I hadn’t seen the shelving for it.

 

 

lets-talkI’m all over the place. On one hand, I do see these things as spoiler-y in nature but I don’t know. Things like shelving the books are things maybe I can just not look at?  I’d love to know what you think about each “grey area” that I brought up! Do you see any of them as spoilers or no? What are some other “grey areas” when it comes to spoilers? Do you have any “spoiler” rules (ie. what constitutes a spoiler for you when you talk about books)? How do YOU avoid spoilers? Have you ever been spoiled but the person didn’t think it was a spoiler?

What Is A Bookworm To Do?

So I’ve admitted that I don’t care if my book covers in a series don’t match. I just don’t care. I have so many mismatching series and it doesn’t bother me one bit.

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The only thing that bothers me about it is the frequency of cover redesigns!! I don’t care personally but, MAN, do we get new covers a lot. And it’s rare that I like the cover redesign better. But it recently happened and I am IN A PICKLE, man!

So we had Anna and the French Kiss followed by Lola and the Boy Next Door (two of my favorite contemporary YA books. SWOON on both accounts). I really thought these covers were kiiiinda cheesy if I’m being completely honest…so much so that when Anna first came out I refused to read it until a friend basically forced me to. AND I FELL IN LOVE. I even began to not mind the cover so much.  I kind of found it to be cute and fit the book really well! I grew to love them.

Stephanie Perkins books

BUT THEN. The new covers came out.

 

stephanie-perkins-covers-new

AND I LOVED THEM. I WANT THEM THEM. I NEED THEM.

I have my pre-order of Isla and the Happily Ever After* and  I know they aren’t going to match my hardcovers and, again, this does not bother me. It’s just that I am majorly coveting these new paperbacks.

SO WHAT IS THE PROBLEM?

I try to be a minimalist when it comes to what stays on my shelves. You’ve learned the ebb and flow of my shelves and how/why I decide what to keep. The books on my shelf need to serve some sort of purpose to me after they’ve been read (ie it’s a favorite or I KNOW I will reread it or lend it out to everyone, etc.) or off the shelves it goes.  Bookworm confession: I don’t own multiple copies of books with the exception of one of my favorites, Just One Day by Gayle Forman, because I had already gotten the hardcover signed and then the paperback was personalized ON MY BIRTHDAY and like not generic personalization. I’m just not a collector. As a general personal rule, I just really dislike books just SITTING THERE never to be opened because I can only read ONE of the copies if I go to reread! Even special editions. I won’t buy them unless I get rid of my other copy. (Do you guys own multiple copies of books?? Am I just lame-o about this?)

 

So you might be thinking…well just give away/donate the copies you have now and buy the new ones then?

 

1. They are signed TO ME and she’s a favorite so that’s special!
2. The biggest reason — SENTIMENTAL REASONS. I’m not normally super sentimental but I have a lot of memories re: Anna (I bought it while shopping with my friend Steph who I met through all this, etc) and, the biggest reason, WILL bought me Lola and the Boy Next Door. He has only ever bought me two books in my life (this and the beautiful B&N edition of Alice in Wonderland). I didn’t even ASK for Lola but he knew I had read an ARC and loved it. So he bought it for me on my birthday! THAT is special to me. I’d feel all bad replacing the copy he went in the YA section and bought me on his own with a new shiny copy without me ever mentioning it.

BUT OH DO I WANT THOSE NEW SHINY COPIES SO THEY CAN LOOK PRETTY ON MY SHELF.

 

So what to do??? Get over my minimalist rules for what stays on my shelves and just buy them?? Or just pet them every time I go to the bookstore and adore the pretty Isla cover I’ll have? HELLLLP.

So I’m curious: Do you guys hate when your series don’t match? Do you own multiple copies of one book?? Also, which covers do you like better for the Stephanie Perkins??

 

 

*And now I’m interrupting this VERY SERIOUS PROBLEM with some fabulous Stephanie Perkins news and such!!

1. I mentioned that I pre-ordered Isla (from my FAVORITE indie book store. Seriously they are the ones that helped make THIS happen). If you pre-order Isla at one of these 55 independent bookstores you will get AWESOME STUFF — decals, the pins below and 25 lucky people might win the gorgeous tote bag below! AND ISLA WILL BE SIGNED. If you don’t have an indie bookstore, you can call one on the list and they will hook you up. If you feel so obliged, pick my favorite indie — Children’s Book World in Haverford, PA!

2. If you are itching to get your hands on Isla (it’s really good, guys!!) here is the chapter sampler!!

3. OH MY STARS. Have you read this Anna deleted scene??? DO IT. Have you NOT read Anna yet?? Read this chapter sampler to find out what you are missing!!

 

True Life: I Think I’m A Creep

I have a confession. Not a blogging confession like I did yesterday. But a shameful personal confession.

My love for books has made me a big ol’ creep. Creep status to the max. And it got even worse this past weekend.

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Let me set the scene for you:

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I was at the pool this past Sunday. Sunning my pasty self and reading after a really stressful week. I always have this THING where I HAVE TO see what other people are reading if they are reading in public. If there is a book, I will crane my neck or James Bond it to see what it is. I don’t even try to be discrete about it. It’s embarrassing for whoever is with me I’m sure.

 

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Sometimes I can easily tell based on the cover and sometimes I’m seeing a book I’ve never heard of and typing it into Goodreads that very moment. Well, I had already taken a gander at all the books around me (new David Sedaris, a romance novel, some book I never heard of) but there were two that alluded me! I even tried to take a picture to zoom in (WOAH MEGA CREEP YEAH) to see what it was but it was too blurry.

So what did I do?

What any crazy book person hopefully would do? (I say hopefully so I’m not alone in this).

I sent Will on a secret mission to walk past and secure the names of these books! And he did. I was trying so hard not to giggle as Will got out of the pool all nonchalantly and walked around (awkwardly with no destination) to check out their books. This couple was packin’ a Game of Thrones book and the new Khaled Hosseini, in case you were as curious as I was.

creep

WHAT A CREEP AM I???

I can’t help it though. Any time I am at the beach or on public transportation or a coffee shop or my pool…I cannot walk away without knowing what people are reading. It’s a compulsion really. I don’t even know WHY I need to know…I just DO. I’m sure it’s made people uncomfortable if they catch me staring but, hey, maybe just angle your book better? Help a sista out!

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And don’t even GET me started on the e-reader business. I NO SEE YOUR BOOK! Be more courteous, bookworm friend. Unless of course you are reading dino erotica (I wish that was not a thing that I could type and it be true) than carry on. I don’t need to know! Otherwise, I’m going to to resort to creepier methods.

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I don’t know if this is borderline creepy or if it’s just a bookworm quirk? I’ve told Will NOT to answer that. I mean, we all knew I’m kind of creepy when it comes to books because I REALLY like trying to chat up strangers in the bookstore and other places (not annoyingly or interrupting most of the time) so maybe I just AM a creep?

So give it to me straight….is this normal bookworm behavior or am I just a creep? YOU CAN TELL ME. Do you have any other bookworm tendencies that could label you a creep? Any of you talk to strangers in bookstores like I do??

Blurred Lines

Sometimes I feel like there are very blurred lines between my life and blogging. Meaning, it’s really hard to separate all things blogging as they seem to bleed into every hour of my life very easily. I have to consciously UNPLUG from blogging because I don’t think the book blogger hat comes off unless I physically make it. There seems to not be a designated “blogging time” for me and then I’m done. There’s always something I could be working on with the blog. Comments I could be replying to. Emails to respond to. Blogs I could be reading. Conversations I could be having. Posts I could be writing to get ahead. Always something I could be doing. In addition to the books I could be reading. And I’ve REALLY noticed it lately as I’ve stepped back and taken inventory of my life.

I don’t know if it’s just a me thing? My own inability to make some boundaries? But I feel like I’m always “on the clock”, which isn’t awful because I love doing it, but as I’ve talked about I feel really unbalanced sometimes. I’m good about unplugging on the weekend and going to do other things not related to blogging (and I won’t say NO to other things because of blogging stuff) but I find most of my free time IS spent doing this. It’s the automatic thing when I come home and have free time. Fire up the laptop and work on something. Or when I am “unplugged” I’m never NOT checking Twitter or Instagram or reading a comment if an email comes through. Dear god I check it the moment I wake up and before I go to bed. It’s become an addiction.

There’s no separation between “life” and “thing I like to do” and I cannot honestly tell if that’s a good or a bad thing because 1) I love doing this and it does bring me a sense of fulfillment in aspects of my life and 2) I am a person who, when passionate about something, puts my whole self into it. Maybe it’s just part of having a thing that you love so much? I don’t know.

What got me thinking about all this? I was contemplating doing “Summer Hours” on the blog. In the past 4 years I’ve noticed that traffic and comments and general activity tends to go down in the summer. I, also with the rest of the world, seem to get busier in the summer. Why not post a bit less for myself and others? Why not actively spend less time on the blog as a PLAN? It seems to happen ANYWAYS because I look outside and can’t bear to be inside but why not be proactive about it?

I’m not the sort of person who feels compelled to post all the time. I have my general plan I shoot for and works for me (5x a week) but if I don’t feel like it or don’t have time…I don’t do it. I mean, I barely posted for the months leading up to my wedding. When I don’t feel like doing things blog related I DON’T and I honestly feel no stress in that decision. So it’s not a matter of feeling like I have to.

It’s just like blogging has become this extra appendage so to speak and it’s so embedded in my daily routine it’s second nature. It makes me realize, when I think about doing something like Summer Hours,  just how MUCH time I spend on all this without even realizing it. It scares me if I were to even try to calculate it out. I still haven’t decided if I’m going to do the whole Summer Hours thing or not but I’m still thinking on it because there’s a lot to consider!

I don’t think I have a point to all my rambling except for the fact I just really was curious how it is for you guys. Do you feel this way? How do you separate it? Is it hard for you to turn blogger mode off (aside from the obvious when you go do other things?) And if you aren’t a blogger, do you have anything in your life that you feel similarly about?

3 Things About Me As A Reader

Before I entered the wonderful internet world of readers (oh what a sad bookworm I was before I had PEOPLE to talk to about books) I had no idea HOW other people read. I knew how my brain processed books and what made me like them and not like them and feel certain ways. I knew what bothered me and what would distract me from the book. But, until I started getting into Goodreads and the book blogging world, I never got to see how other readers processed what they read.

It’s been really a good experience because I feel like I’ve learned a lot from other readers and how they see things. I’ve become a more observant reader and just more open-minded. It’s been a good experience but I’ve also noticed how completely opposite I can be from other readers which was (and still is) always eye-opening to me. It’s always been amazing to me how many people can read the same book and have vastly different reactions and perspectives on it. It’s great because there’s always something to talk about and think about.

Today I wanted to talk about 3 of the BIGGEST things about me as a reader that I’ve discovered are different than a lot of readers.

(I shouldn’t have to make this disclaimer but I am: I’m not saying I am right or they are wrong or reading one way is better than the other. There is no wrong or right way to read. You just read and I just read and we come to our own glorious conclusions and that’s what makes reading so fun. I’m just pointing out things about me as a reader. And I would love to hear about you as a reader — especially if you differ from me!)

 

1. I do not have to like the characters to like the book:

Sure, it’s always nice when I LOVE the characters of the book I’m reading. But I could totally HATE a character and still give the book a high rating. The character could be the most difficult character ever and I could still think the book is good. I think, for me, what I need is some connection or understanding of why the character is like that. Feel like there are real and believable motivations behind them. I need it to feel real. I read Tease by Amanda Maciel recently and it’s from the POV of a bully who doesn’t think she’s to blame at all when a girl she bullied commits suicide. Yeah, that is HARD to read because I want to punch her but I thought it was a really interesting and compelling book — mostly because the character had a lot to her that I could UNDERSTAND.

I think another thing is that sometimes I realize characters, like people, aren’t perfect and they do dumb things and they aren’t always nice or are at a time of their life where they aren’t their best. (I think it’s also I see it as a very human thing to be flawed so sometimes they feel more real to me). I think a lot about Side Effects May Vary by Julie Murphy. The character is downright awful but, oh god, did I feel her…what it must have been like to think you were dying, to act a certain way because you thought you were, and then you suddenly have your whole life ahead of you. There’s anger and confusion and it manifested. I just GOT her though I know a lot of people didn’t like the book because they couldn’t stomach her (which I understood but felt differently!).

I like watching my characters grow and sort through messy things and NOT be perfect. As hard and frustrating as it might be sometimes and as much as maybe I’ll find myself NOT loving them. Doesn’t mean I like EVERY flawed and difficult character but it doesn’t equal insta-dislike because they are hard to like or do something I don’t agree with or are very difficult.

2. When something happens in a book that is HORRIBLE, to me, it doesn’t mean that the book/author is condoning it, so I don’t rate based on how much I dislike a THING that happened:

For example, just because there is racism or slut-shaming or horrible behavior in a book, to me it doesn’t mean the book is condoning it. (However, there are cases where there are things that are inherently racist or sexist in a book. That’s not what I’m talking about and I believe we should always think about what IS implied). I’m just talking about when something bad happens in a book that, just because I don’t like that THING, it doesn’t mean I will hate the book because I think the action in the book is wrong.

So when the word “slut” (like in Tease by Amanda Maciel) is thrown around a lot it might hurt my heart to hear it and see the slut-shaming but I don’t believe (though I don’t KNOW I suppose) that the author condones this…I more so see it as they are showing these awful things that unfortunately DO happen in real life. I can’t tell you the kind of slut-shaming I saw and maybe silently contributed to (or just haphazardly used words like slut) back in the day. I learned. I grew. I was not an evil person. It can be hard for me to read some of these things but I don’t see that that the book is saying THIS IS OKAY but more like a) just being realistic because not everything is perfect in life or b) using it as a vehicle to tell a story that people need to hear and could hold up a mirror and make someone think about their life.

I mean, I read a book about slavery, something I obviously hate and think is awful, but I personally don’t DISLIKE a book just because I don’t agree with slavery or I’m not going to see an author saying YES THIS WAS A GOOD THING. Things like racism and slut-shaming SHOULD make me mad, but for me, my rating is not based on how much I hate what the characters are DOING..it’s more about the overall story, how these factors play in and how it’s executed for me even though things might be hard for me to read about. Just because there is something I don’t like (bullying/slut-shaming/racism/sexism) as part of a story doesn’t mean I’m going to rate THE BOOK based on my dislike/not agreeing with those things because I don’t think it’s in there to say THIS IS OKAY.

 

3. Similarly, getting angry at a book doesn’t mean I hate it.

Sometimes the best things I’ve read are the things that light a burning fire under me and make me so, so angry. Now, sure, there are books that make me mad because they just don’t make sense or I don’t like but sometimes getting angry at a book is a GOOD thing for me. I like a book that challenges me and that has the ability to get me all riled up. I can always tell if someone skims a review if I’ve said “this book made me so MAD!!” and they say “sorry you didn’t like it” but, in reality, I DID like it. Anger does not always equal bad experience for me.

 

So what about you? How do you feel about these 3 things about me as a reader? Do you have ot like the characters in your books? How do you approach books when you don’t like issues that are happening in them? Like I said, there’s no right or wrong way, I’m just pointing out how I interact with books as reader and I’d LOVE to hear about your experience ESPECIALLY if you read differently because I learn so much from how other people see things as they read. Outside of what I’ve talked about, are there are any things you can think of that you’ve noticed about how you read compared to the rest of the reading community?

When The Well Rounded Reader Suddenly Finds Herself Not So Well Rounded

So I’ve always been a very eclectic reader. Sure, contemporary YA has been my main jam for the past couple years but I’ve always read a variety of things with it — all sorts of genres in YA and adult fiction. I’d say it was 50% contemporary YA and then 50% other things. But as I was making my top ten books I’ve read in 2014 so far I realized this year I’ve read A LOT of contemporary YA and barely anything else. And that was kind of true for much of last year.

As you know, I’m a mood reader so I just go where my reading whims take me and that seems to be overwhelmingly contemporary YA for this year and last. I’ve had a GREAT reading year so far so I’m okay with that but in some ways I’m kind of feeling like I’m putting myself in a reading box (this is not saying this is a BAD thing to read only one genre but it is strange for ME personally knowing how I normally read).

There’s half of me that’s really content to  just keep reading whatever is jumping out to me because I’m enjoying a good chunk of what I’m reading. But then the other half of me is wanting to force myself to stop reading contemporary for a little bit and branch out to some other things like I used to.

I don’t really know why I’ve been gravitating to just contemporary — maybe the stories just have been catching my eye more with how I’ve been feeling and what I’m looking for right now. Maybe it’s that, review copy wise, more contemporary is coming to me AND I’ve always BOUGHT more contemporary YA than any other genre so all my older reads are contemporary YA as well. Out of like every 25 reads, there has been like 1 thing that isn’t contemporary. Okay, that’s not real math because I didn’t actually look that up but that’s what it seems like. I’ve enjoyed the non-contemporary YA I’ve read in the past year or so but I don’t know why I’m not seeking it out as much as I used to. I even have many non-contemporary YA books I’m like really excited about. But somehow I just keep gravitating towards contemporary YA.

But this also makes me feel like I’m having a teeny tiny borderline existential crisis as a reader. I’ve always been able to say, “HI I’M JAMIE AND I AM A VERY ECLECTIC READER.” And it’s always been true. But right now I feel like that’s not accurate. And now I’m all, “Am I not an eclectic reader anymore? Will I ever be again??” And then on to bigger, more philosophical questions like WHY DO WE PICK THE THINGS WE PICK? Is there a science behind what we pick up?? (Okay, I’m not REALLY thinking about that too much but, for real, I want to know why I’m only gravitating to one genre right now).

I think I’m going to try and mindfully add some other genres from my shelf in the mix but just keep going with where my whims take me.

So let’s talk:

* Are you an eclectic reader or are you pretty much solely a reader of a certain genre?
* Do you ever go through phases where you gravitate towards a certain genre for a while?
* Recommend me a non-contemporary YA book you’ve loved recently or think screams THIS IS A JAMIE BOOK. (seriously, I read/will try mostly anything except erotica).
* ALSO, if you have any insight on The Science of Why We Pick The Books We Do….let me know! I want to understand my brain
haha.

5 Things You Could Do To Piss Me Off As A Reader

I’m generally a happy-go-lucky person and you all know that, as a reader, I’m not particular about my books so there really AREN’T a lot of things that I will get my panties in a bunch over as a reader. But the other day, after a stupid article about why adults should be ashamed to read YA popped up, I found myself really PISSED OFF. I mean, I didn’t let it ruin my day but I thought, “YEAH that pisses me off as a YA reader.” RAGE FACE.

So then I started thinking about what other kinds of things piss me off as a reader. I don’t rant often but this was kiiiind of therapeutic.

So here’s my list of some not-so-serious and serious things that piss THIS reader off.

 

1. Losing my page in a book:

If it’s left open to a certain page it’s because I was too lazy to get a bookmark or even a makeshift bookmark or for whatever reason dogear the book (which YEP I dogear my own books) but I WANT TO REMEMBER WHAT PAGE I WAS ON. Don’t close my book like it doesn’t matter. Then I have to go and try and FIND the page I was on without accidentally reading things on a page that might spoil me. DON’T TOUCH MAH BOOK, K?

2. Be condescending about what I’m reading.

Yeah, I’m reading YA or a romance with a glistening piece of MAN CANDY on the cover or pink fluffy piece of chick lit. You MAAAAD? Gotta problem? It’s like this — I read what I want to read because I’m a grown ass adult and I do the things I like because I’ve learned life is too short to walk around pretending I like things I don’t or denying myself things I do. So yep. I read those things right along side the literary fiction and the classics I own. You walking around with your nose up in the air squawking about how my reading choice is not good enough is certainly NOT going to make me feel bad about it so SAVE YOUR BREATH and GO LIVE YOUR OWN LIFE. If these people spent the amount of time caring about their own life than they do MY reading choice then MAYBE THEY WOULD LOVE LIFE MORE. Must be miserable to be them!

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3. Spoil a book for me.

I’ve talked about how careless book spoilers are like the bane of my existence but seriously…I will ninja kick you in the face if you spoil a book for me. I mean, I get if people talk openly about something like Harry Potter because most people (not me) have read it and it’s been out for forever. But sometimes I get so irritated by the careless book spoilers that happen on Twitter in conversation or in book reviews. LABEL THAT SHIT, YO. Talk about it in private because my eyes can’t un-see that!! Be more aware! I haven’t been spoiled TOO often but the couple times have just KILLED me because I know it could have been prevented. And this pretty much how I wanted to react:

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4. Say, “it’s JUST a book.”

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 THIS IS JUST MY FIST IN YOUR FACE. It is NOT “just a book.” Books have changed my life, dear uniformed person. Don’t EVER tell me it’s “just a book” because I’m emotionally distraught because a beloved character died or that I’m SO SO SO mad about something in a book. Books do things you just don’t even UNDERSTAND.

5. Interrupt me or try to talk to me when I’m reading.

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I told you that story about the guy on the train and how this irritates me to NO END. But seriously, don’t interrupt me when I’m reading. I don’t mind a “hey, I know you are reading but real quick…” if it’s important (Will is good about this) but when I’m trying to read…just shhhh until I finish my chapter or page at least if you want to have a full on conversation. And just because I’m reading a book on a train does NOT mean I am bored and wishing I had something else to do. Your conversation IS NOT SAVING ME FROM BOREDOM.

So, let’s talk friends! What are things that piss you off as a reader? Are any of these things that will make you insta-rage?

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