On Books That Change Your Life

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

I’ve Been In A Mood Part 3

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

 

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

This final persistent mood I’ve been feeling?

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

 

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

 

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

I’ve Been In A Mood Part 2

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

I’ve Been In A Mood: Part 1

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

So this first feeling?

 

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

 

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

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

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

 

ALWAYS. A. CURRENT. READ.

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

Fear Not!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Is It The Author’s Job?

I’ve had this post sitting half finished in my drafts since 4/14 — yeah, almost a year. OOPS. That is the state of my drafts right now — about a hundred of unpublished posts. I kind of just forgot about it after getting it all down but never went back to it. But I was creeping on an interesting conversation between some smart & thoughtful ladies on Twitter that reminded me about this post — particularly because they were talking about the same book that sparked this post for me.

So back around this time last year I was reading Open Road Summer. I LOVED it and it was interesting to see all the conversation about the main character Reagan and about some of the slut-shaming that goes on in the book. I personally LIKED Reagan. No, I LOVED Reagan. I saw a lot of high school/college Jamie in her. But it was interesting to me how many people DID NOT like Reagan (also valid). One of the other things I saw was how they were disappointed with how slut-shaming was handled in the book. I didn’t see it the way they did necessarily but their opinions were definitely valid and they were super thought-provoking.

For a little context, if you haven’t read Open Road Summer (which you should), Reagan is a bit judgmental and prickly when it comes to some of the other females that aren’t her best friend Lilah (their friendship is AWESOME btw). Some slut-shaming goes on. But personally? I found it to be SUPER realistic of what I was like. I acted a lot like Reagan — saying things about other girls/being judgy/tearing them down was my defense mechanism. It was a HORRIBLE defense mechanism but through the years as I grew up I realized how awful it was. How toxic it was. How tearing other girls down and shaming their choices to make myself feel better did actually NOT make me feel better or make me any less insecure. But it took me years to learn that and see that.

I don’t LIKE seeing slut-shaming in books. It’s hard. I feel ashamed that this was how I acted. It’s sad how much it happens. It makes me want to be like, “LADIES LET’S DO BETTER.” I don’t LIKE  or condone to it but it hasn’t ever really bothered me personally as a reader in the context of the story because I think it FEELS realistic to me.

I think when I encounter things I don’t like in a book — bullying, slut-shaming, racism, misogyny — I try to think about the context and if I think the book IS condoning it. Often times we read things that we don’t LIKE necessarily and that HAPPEN in real life but it doesn’t mean the author is condoning it always. So typically it doesn’t make me react negatively to a book just because I don’t like the THING that happens in it.

But the more interesting question that I’ve been thinking about ever since I read this book and saw conversations about it (that I have no answer to) is this:

Is it the author’s job to address a problematic thing as wrong somewhere in the text?

In Open Road Summer’s case people brought up the fact that nowhere is it really addressed how wrong her slut-shaming was. I think I saw it different when I read it — I think she DID in some ways see how it didn’t help her any/that her defense mechanism was flawed but also I think that not all lessons are learned at the same time. I think it was a START. So while, it didn’t personally bother me when I read it,  other people’s thoughts and criticism on the matter made me think A LOT about it in general.

Is it the author’s job to give some sort of moral? Give clear consequences for something that is wrong?  Basically in some way make it CLEAR that the THING was wrong?  Or can it just merely exist to show authenticity of a time or a social situation and what really happens? (because, in the case of slut-shaming/tearing down other girls, just spend 5 minutes with my 17 year old niece and her friends and you’ll know it’s the way of a lot of teens). Can it exist just to be a character flaw sometimes?

I have no clear answers, honestly. I’d LOVE to talk about this because I think it’s an interesting topic and y’all are smart and thoughtful. I LOVE that about being part of this book community for the past 5 years…how I’m engaging with books and thinking about things I probably wouldn’t have on my own!

I Recognize The Insanity…I Do.

There’s this thing that I do. I’m sure you do it too.

(Please tell me it’s not just me).

I go on and on about how I have SO many books that I’m running out of space. I’ve got review copies. Older books I’ve never ever read. New books I’ve acquired. ALL BOOKS I AM EXCITED ABOUT. Basically, I’ve got A LOT of books. More books than I can read in this life time. (And it’s not like I’m going to ever stop acquiring them).

So what do I do?

WHAT PERFECTLY NORMAL BOOKWORMS DO. (right right right?) I immediately get into my car and GO TO THE LIBRARY instead of picking up one of the books here.

Will doesn’t get it when I come home with library books. He’s all, “BUT YOU HAVE SO MANY BOOKS HERE TO READ. WHY DO YOU NEED TO GO GET SOME MORE?”

And I’m all:

+ I couldn’t find anything I was in the mood for on my shelves. (Him: OUT OF ALL THESE BOOKS…NOT ONE??)
+ There is no such thing as too many books. (Him: Yes. There is. You are Exhibit A).
+ THE LIBRARY IS MY HAPPY PLACE. (Him: ………..)
+ I RECOGNIZE THE INSANITY, OKAY, AND I AM FINE WITH IT. (Him: As long as you recognize it).

I do this with my closet too. I am out of hangers and really have no room for more clothes but I can stand there in my closet for 20 minutes and lament the lack of clothing options. Apparently it’s the same with the bookshelves. I can have a bajillion options (too many it feels like sometimes) but sometimes I still just like coming home with a stack of library books.

As I’m writing this, I just in fact came back from the library (I got Daughter of Smoke & Bone and Finnikin of the Rock in case you were curious). When I arrived home, there were TWO packages of books at my door. On my way to my bookshelves I tripped over a book. I stand in front of my bookshelves and immediately feel the guilt and the judging stares coming from them (and my piles…let’s be real..it’s Hoarders up in here).

It doesn’t really make sense why I went to the library and got more books….but I accept that it doesn’t make sense.

Let’s Talk

AM I THE ONLY ONE?? Can anyone make sense of my need to do this even though I have hundreds and hundreds of perfectly good books I’m excited about here??

Second Chances?

I recently received a book for review from an author whose debut I didn’t really like at all. It’s always interesting when I’m faced with this dilemma of whether or not to give an author a second chance if I didn’t like one or two books I’ve read from them.

There’s a lot to consider! How many books have I read from them that didn’t work? What didn’t I like about it (the writing? the style? the plot? The characters? bored?)?  Is it something that could change in a different book? Does this one sound like it might be a better fit?

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I typically try to read at least 2 books of an author before I “write them off” as not for me or at least put them on the back-burner unless I hear amazing things about a new book that sounds like a better fit. I do that because books can vary so much and I know another book could be a win for me. There’s been authors that I’ve read one book from and then the next one is drastically different. So if it sounds like a book for me, I’ll go for it hoping that the issues I had in the first place aren’t in this book. Then there are others that after two books I can just TELL I don’t like their style or their type of stories. And that’s OKAY! And even then I *MIGHT* consider a book down the line if I caught reviews that made me think the issues I had wouldn’t be present in this one.

 

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On the other hand, my sister REFUSES to read books from an author that she didn’t like initially which I totally GET as well. BUT I keep pleading with her to give one author another chance with a book I think she’d like better TO NO AVAIL.

I think maybe I just give second chances more because I know how DIFFERENT some authors can be from book to book…though obviously, on the same hand, some have very distinct styles/patterns that might just not be a good fit.

So let’s chat:

Do you frequently give author’s second chances if you don’t like the first book or two you read from them? What do you consider in making that decision if you DO give second chances? What kinds of things are dealbreakers that would make you probably not pick up an author’s other books? Let’s talk about this!

 

This Overwhelming Feeling I’ve Been Getting

Back awhile ago I did a whole series on how I’ve changed as a reader before blogging and then after. It was a really eye-opening project to truly look at all the ways I’ve changed as a reader from habits to interests to becoming even more of a voracious reader. But recently I was thinking about one thing that changed a lot — the factors of which I touched on in a few of the posts from this series.

After I become a blogger (almost 5 years ago WHAT), the amount of books I owned SKYROCKETED and also I became so much more aware of new releases and just books in general — something that I never had done before. I got into blogging and my eyes were open to all these books I HAAAAAAD to have. My Goodreads account exploded. It was exhilarating and fun to discover all these new-to-me books. It still is.

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But recently I’ve had some sort of “what is my next read going to be?” anxiety. Sure, the SO MANY BOOKS, SO LITTLE TIME anxiety happens all the time because SO MANY BOOKS SOUND AMAZING AND I KNOW I WILL NEVER BE ABLE TO GET TO THEM ALL. But this is different than that.

I find myself standing in front of my bookshelves (or even at the bookstore or library) and I just feel overwhelmed. It’s so hard for me to decide what to pick next. I’m a mood reader so I can’t do a schedule and, sure, sometimes it’s easy because I have a book club book to make the decision for me…but a lot of the times I just stare and stare at my shelves. There are SO MANY BOOKS I WANT TO READ & so many books I’ve been anticipating and, if I could read them all the same time I would, but staring at my shelves trying to pick just overwhelms me.

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And I was thinking about how I never experienced this pre-blogging. How I had much fewer choices because I didn’t know about a lot of books and I didn’t own that many. When I went to the library or bookstore I didn’t have a million books I KNEW I wanted to pick up. I just picked up something on a whim and that was that.  Sure, there still WERE just as many books to choose from then….but I wasn’t aware of them. I hadn’t heard all these awesome things about them or know the other or have this already burning desire to read them. Does that make sense?

I started thinking a lot about how I’ve heard that too many choices isn’t always good for us — just in general in life. I’ve found it to be true for myself sometimes even though, in my head, I always think I want 100 ice cream flavor options in front of me rather than 15. I think this is why, as I’ve gotten older, minimalism has appealed to me even more. When I have too many choices I spend too much time trying to make the right decision. I agonize over it. It takes me far too long to make the choice. There’s a guy who talks about this, the paradox of choice, and I’m not sure whether or not it’s true for everything (maybe more IS more/better sometimes) but I absolutely see it to be true in some aspects of my life.

I’m extremely THANKFUL that I have freedom in choice. That I have access to and KNOWLEDGE of all these books. That I can hop out of bed and have access to SHELVES upon SHELVES of books. But I will say that sometimes being aware of and owning so many books is OVERWHELMING. I love being aware of all these books out there but it makes my decision of “what to read next??” even harder because I feel like all these books I so desperately want to read are just all vying for my attention. Just yesterday I was lamenting the fact that I have a bunch of unread books just sitting here from authors I SUPER love. All because I have so many competing for my attention.

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It’s a first world problem for sure because I’m lucky to be able to read and have access to books that I’m FREE to choose. I mean, there could be worse problems, right? I guess I could be wondering what to read next and genuinely have NO idea what is out there that I might be into (I know this because I get google searches to my blog about what to read next).

As much as I’m grateful to have a never-ending queue of books to read next, it truly does overwhelm me sometimes to make that choice — to pick that ONE book out of the hundreds that I own or the 1,000 books I have marked as “to read” on my Goodreads list. The book lover’s eternal dilemma, huh?

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What about you all? Do you ever feel this or do I just complicate things too much for myself? Do you believe that having too many options or choices is a bad thing? Tell me your thoughts and feelings!

Spreading Kindness

I’m a pretty genuinely positive person when it comes to this bookish community (because all the bloggers, authors, readers and publishers are MY PEOPLE and these 5 years have been incredibly) but lately, as I talked about here on my Tumblr, it’s felt different. I heard it from others close to me and I heard it very loudly as people reached out to me after I shared my thoughts. I don’t ever talk about the things I see or the various dramas/concerning things that I’ve seen take place publicly. I don’t want to add to the negativity. But it was bumming me out. REAL BAD.

Before I posted what I did, I had talked extensively with my girl Anna about it and we kept trying to build each other up and encourage each other because we LOVED what this community has been — this great interaction of bloggers, readers, authors and publishing. I had thrown around the idea of a challenge to do BEHIND the scenes to extend to others in the community to do along with us to spread some positivity but we never quite nailed it down and, honestly, the negativity was kind of demotivating us. But then, after I posted my feelings and talked to other people, I had this fire again to try. I had been trying on my own (and with Anna) to combat this but after sharing my feelings and hearing that SO many others were feeling the same way? It gave me a spark.

Then enter my pal Estelle. We started having a conversation about all this and what we could do to change it. We started talking about the times that the KINDNESS in this community has uplifted us and how genuine kindness can be so powerful — in blogging and in life. Just taking the time to encourage or let someone know you were thinking of them or that they had done a good job with something.

Estelle had this great idea, during Alexa’s annual blogging event Love-athon which I’ll talk about more below, that it would be fun to have everyone SHARE the random acts of kindness we’ve experienced in this community — but with NO names. Likely we’ve already thanked these people and we don’t want to make this a popularity contest but just a time to tell stories about the random acts of kindness people have shown us.

I’m going to be sharing more of mine during that week and adding my post to the linkup that Estelle is going to put up but I figured I’d give you an idea of what we are looking for with one story.

A year or two ago I got an email from a teacher, who isn’t a blogger or anyone that I knew, who wanted to share with me something that my blog inspired them to do with their classroom. If you read my blog, you know I started putting a “review on a post-it” on the bottom of my reviews — something I started doing in 2011 as a way to give an “at a glance” look and because I’ve always had this habit of doing it when I lend books to friends. This teacher loved the idea of it and started having her class do it after every book they read and they LOVED doing it. She sent me a picture and there along this big wall was SO MANY post-its. It moved me so much. More than anything else in my time of being part of this community. It made me feel really connected in a way I hadn’t and know that my reach wasn’t just to the community of bloggers that I love. It meant a lot that she reached out to me to TELL me. She could have not but the fact she DID made all the difference.

 

Check out Estelle’s great post HERE!

Another thing I decided to do, to combat some of what I was feeling just on a blogging level, was to create a little Random Acts of Kindness checklist to guide me each month. I don’t make myself do each one of them because I want this to be genuine but I try to do at least a couple in the hopes that this will just become a thing that just naturally flows out of me. And when I’m feeling negativity? I’m trying to whip this list out and DO IT to combat what I’m feeling. I’d love to share it with you guys. Feel free to use it, print it out, share it, add to it. WHATEVER. (I’d love to hear if you have any other fun suggestions for me to put on my list!!).

 

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On a community-wide scale, I’d love to let you know about this annual event that Alexa at Alexa Loves Books throws together which is just a super positive week for bloggers, authors and readers alike. It’s called Love-a-thon and it’s a great way to spread kindness and meet other readers! She has challenges and all sorts of fun activities involved on a community wide scale to uplift this wonderful community! So check out her post about the details of when it starts and how to sign up and what it is all about!

 

So, in the spirit of random acts of kindness online and beyond, tell me something really nice someone has done for you lately or something that inspired YOU to “pay it forward.” And, if you are a blogger, keep this story in mind and link up the week of February 16, in the spirit of Love-a-thon, and link up with Rather Be Reading and I!

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