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!

Reformed Book Buyer….Apparently

Last year I talked pretty openly about how unemployed has changed me as a reader. One of the big things was the way I bought books. Before this, I would buy books ALL THE TIME — books I’ve never heard of, books I’ve already read but don’t own, books that were recommended, etc. I was just pretty much buying books at an alarming rate and pretty impulsively. Anything that sounded remotely interesting.

I’m not unemployed now (yay NANNYING) but I’ve found that some of this super frugal book buying habits have stuck. And it feels weird? I mean, we aren’t in a particularly GREAT financial situation that would warrant me to buy a lot of books anyways but I would still think some of my former book buying ways would return.

I recently got a gift card for Christmas to Barnes and Noble. I was SOOOO excited to get it. I was like, “omg BOOKS BOOKS BOOKS I can’t wait to buy books.” And then I pulled up the Barnes & Noble website….and I bought nothing. Before? I would have added books to my cart for my gift card amount in 2.5 seconds and bing bang boom…no second thoughts. That order would have been placed. But suddenly I find myself in my mindset of “do I need it?” that I’ve been so programmed to be in when I was unemployed.

My inner monologue goes like this:
Oooh I really want this book. I’ve heard good things. HMMM but I could get it at the library. And (because I am ruthless about culling books after I read them) am I almost CERTAIN that it would be a favorite and I’d want to keep it because MAN I’d hate to buy it if I won’t keep it. I could buy a book that I already loved. AHH BUT I REALLY WANT SOMETHING NEW. But ALL THE BOOKS I ALREADY OWN AND HAVEN’T READ. I don’t knowwww. I CANNOT MAKE THIS DECISION RIGHT NOW.

It is the worst being inside my head. The WORST. It used to be soooo so easy to be a compulsive book buyer.

I’ve just become a more calculated book buyer, I guess. Pickier about what I buy. Discriminate. And sometimes I feel bad about it because I want to support ALL THE AUTHORS but I’ve realized that minimalism and not spending excessively is important to me. And I realize that I support authors and the industry, even if I’m not buying AS much as I used to, in so many other ways — getting books in hands of readers, reviewing here, reviewing on Amazon and other retail sites.

Here’s basically what I find myself buying:

– books from authors I know I like
– books I’ve read as an ARC or library books and consider favorites
– gifts: Sometimes I buy books I really LIKED as ARCs or library books but don’t necessarily want to own (I only own absolute favorites) and I give them to others.
– books for signings — I only do it if it’s a book/author I REALLY love. Previously I would buy pretty much any author that came through. I still GO to the events to support but I might not always buy if I’m unsure.
– books I am REALLY excited about, seem like a guarantee for me to love it and others I trust have said THIS WILL BE A YOU BOOK. (But this isn’t often…all the above things take priority)

Basically gone are the days of just buying books on a whim. I’ve become a little bit of a reformed book buyer as my situation has changed.

The only question is if, once I get a better job and more monies, if I’ll go back to my compulsive book buying habits. Only time will tell, bookworms.

What are your book buying habits like? Are you a compulsive book buyer or are you more calculated?

So I Sat Here Ready To Declare My Goodreads Challenge Number…

And then it hit me.

I’m not sure that’s how I want to challenge myself this year when it comes to my reading life.

There’s nothing WRONG with the Goodreads challenge. I’ve participated and enjoyed it for the past few years and was fully intending to participate in it again. Even when I barely make my challenge and read way less than everyone else. I’ve been okay with it. (This year I was an overachiever and read 1 past my goal…my goal was low so I set myself up for SUCCESS. 91 books YAY).

Even though my Goodreads reading challenge is not the end-all-be-all of my life by any means, it still is this presence breathing down my neck. It’s everywhere. I mean, most years I’m 30 books behind and not caring so it’s not like it really IMPACTS me or that I take it SO seriously. But it’s always there (especially when I think about picking up a chunky book or a book I know will be a slower read aka non-fiction or super literary adult fiction). Even though any pressure with it is mostly self-imposed even for someone who approaches it very low key, there is still a degree of pressure just by even logging into Goodreads and KNOWING that damn widget is going to let me know where I stand. (Mostly, it’s always YOU ARE BEHIND!)

And I’m not just not sure I want to focus on a NUMBER this year. Maybe I will but at this current moment I’m leaning towards no.

I keep thinking about all the other ways I COULD challenge myself this year in my reading life. Reading more diversely, tackling some classics, getting back into adult fiction, reading genres I’m not well read in, reading more non-fiction, etc. etc. (basically the resolutions I set for myself).

And sure…all these things could be done in conjunction WITH a “number of books read” challenge. But I know my focus will be on that reading count number because I like shiny little widgets and straightforward goals. I read therefore I contribute to my total count per year. I’m feeling a little burnt out from keeping keeping such a close eye on my number count every year.

What I need to wrestle with:

Do I WANT a number based challenge this year? Would it be so freeing not to think of a numbers based challenge? Do I want to challenge myself for the year AT ALL in terms of my reading life (haha funny because I already came up with reading resolutions before I wrote this post)? Or do I just want to read? Not focus on fulfilling any sort of quota. Surely, I want to be aware of what I’m reading and be intentional, but not have to check off and keep track of things outside of WHAT I read. JUST READ. Maybe in the simplicity of that kind of reading year I’ll have my best reading year yet. Who knows! Maybe the next year I’ll realize it’s more fun to try to shoot for a goal or challenge myself– whatever that may be.

 

But I really think 2015 may be the year of no number based challenges for me. I’m not even going to keep TRACK of how MANY I’m reading this year until I tally it up at the end of  2015. I’m just going to read. Just as an experiment.

 

LET’S TALK

Are you doing any challenges? Which ones? Are you aiming to read a certain amount of books or pages? Do you feel pressure when you do set those kind of goals or is it a GOOD sort of pressure for you? Is anyone else feeling like they don’t want to keep track of how MANY books they read until the end of the year?

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