Let’s Talk To-Be-Read Lists via The TBR Tag

I got tagged by my friend Ginger for The Tbr Tag that has been making its way around the blogosphere. I don’t really do many tag kind of posts but this one looked super fun and was created by the lovely ladies over here. I’ll tag the ladies over at Rather Be Reading, Sash & Em, Tiff at Mostly YA Lit and Elena at Novel Sounds and whoever else reading and wanting to join in!

If you enjoy other tag kind of things check out ones I created last year: A to Z book survey, My YA Life in Book Titles, Bookish Superlatives

 

Before we get into the actual question portion this tag made me think about how people define TBR (to-be-read list). I have seen people say their TBR is the actual physical books they own and it’s a smaller collection than books they WANT to read. Others say their TBR is anything they want to read even if they don’t own it. I’m curious how YOU define it! (I think I tend to be the latter).

 

How do you keep track of your TBR pile?

 

Hmm this is a hard question because honestly I don’t really? I kind of just add everything I am remotely interested in or own on to my TBR section on Goodreads. I’m a mood reader so I definitely don’t have any sort of system to track them so I just kind of pick my book based on what I’m in the mood for and have (either I already own it/was sent it for review, I feel like going to get it from the library or decided to buy it). So there honestly isn’t any keeping track for me. I mean, I do have shelves on Goodreads for what I own and what ARCs I have that helps me GUIDE what is in front of me and I add books to my library wishlist to remember which ones I want to borrow at some point. That’s about it though.

 

Is your TBR mostly print or ebook?

 

Definitely print. Most of my ebooks that ARE on my Kindle are egalleys. I rarely buy Kindle books unless it is a good deal.

 

How do you determine what to read next?

 

Ughhh. By how I feel? What I’m in the mood for? What I’m really excited about? I do try to alternate between review copy and whatever I want to read but I just kind of go with what I feel like reading. Also sometimes it might be a book club book or something I agreed to read with someone or for something and that might dictate. I just kind of go to what I’m gravitating towards when I think of what I want to read next or if I’ve really been hearing good things. Like if I want to read something really profound I will go looking for books I think might fight that. Something light and fluffy? I consult the TBR to see what I have. It’s not very methodically or interesting honestly. I might as well just spin around and then point to a book and read what my finger lands on. Although new books from favorite authors ALWAYS soar to my list when I get them!

 

A book that has been on your TBR the longest:

 

That I’ve Owned the Longest & Haven’t Read: If it’s my YA, that’s probably Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver which was one of the first YA books I ever bought (I only read adult fiction before I started blogging in 2010 and the only YA I read before that was Twilight, The Book Thief and Perks of Being A Wallflower). If it’s adult, hmm probably some of the classics I own.
That I Don’t Own But Has Been on My Goodreads TBR For Longest: There are a bunch I added the first day I joined Goodreads so I’ll pick one — A Tree Grows In Brooklyn by Betty Smith

 

 

A book you recently added to your TBR pile:

 

Added to my Goodreads TBR pile: Inked by Eric Smith — I adore Eric from Quirk Books and I’m SOO excited to read his YA novel!!

Added to my physical TBR pile: I just got The Boy in the Black Suit by Jason Reynolds for review in the mail yesterday and definitely plan to read it!

 

A book on your TBR solely for its beautiful cover:

 

Solely for its beautiful cover? HMM. I don’t know if I have any of those to be honest. At least none that I can think of enough to put down. SORRY I know you wanted to see some pretties. I have lots of pretties on my list but none that are on it SOLELY for the cover. Although The Selection might be the closest to that!

 

A book on your TBR you never plan on reading:

 

Well, at one point I PLANNED or at least WANTED to read each book on my TBR (even knowing it was impossible). I kind of think I’m never going to finish the Mortal Instruments series. Actually there are probably a bunch of books in a series that I need to break up with and take off my TBR. It’s so hard to let goooooo.

 

An unpublished book on your TBR you’re most excited:

 

UM where do I start?? Things We Know By Heart by Jessi Kirby, the next book in the Throne of Glass series PLUS the first book in her new series, the last book in the Winner’s Curse trilogy, The Devil You Know by Trish Doller. I could keep goingggg. Oh also ANY BOOK that Gayle Forman will ever publish. Is that an acceptable answer? No matter what it is about?

 

A book on your TBR that basically everyone has read but you:

 

The whole Harry Potter series. No literally everyone. I’ve read book 1 though so…progress.

 

A book on your TBR that everyone recommends to you:

A lot of books but one that popped into my mind immediately is My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick! Everyone is always saying I should read it because it’s a “me book” and I agreee…and I own it. I need to just read it now.

 

How many books are on your Goodreads TBR shelf?

 

HAHAHAH 1213. 1213 books. I’m telling you…since I joined Goodreads in 2008 I used it to add anything that I was remotely interested in or wanted to remember to check out plus all the books I really WAS interested in. It has grown out of control and I need an intervention mostly. Or someone to clean it out for me. (Also, this IS after I did do a major cleaning of it).

 

LET’S TALK

So friends, I want to know if anybody’s Goodreads TBR is worse than mine?? Make me feel better okay! Do you count your TBR as what you own or anything you WANT to read?  Tell me the answers to these questions (or at least the one that interests you the most). How do YOU pick what to read next??

The Sacrificial Lamb Book

You might call it something different but you KNOW the feeling.

You just read one of the BEST BOOKS OF YOUR LIFE. You are high on those feelings. You are tweeting incessantly and telling anyone who will listen…just BASKING in those OMG HOW HAVE I LIVED MY LIFE WITHOUT THIS BOOK feelings.

And then you realize you have to pick your next book…at some point.

You know you have a book hangover. And you know whatever you read MORE THAN LIKELY is not going to live up to what you just read (if it does, you might implode I think). In a lot of cases that next book might be really awesome but it’s not THAT book that you just read. It ends up paling in comparison even when we aren’t TRYING to be like this.

THE SACRIFICIAL LAMB BOOK. That is what I have dubbed it for the past couple years.

I don’t have a definition for it but essentially in my mind it is the book in which you pretty much are sacrificing to be the next book after A BEST BOOK EVER kind of book. There HAS to be a next book. You can’t ride on the book hangover forever. So you have to choose one book to be offered to the book gods for the greater good of your reading life. A book that unfortunately might not end well because of your crazy high expectations from your last book.

IT IS THE WORST. I can’t even look in the eyes of my books when I go about selecting the sacrificial lamb book KNOWING how it might end. I try to be strategic about it.

Basically my strategy is:

1. Pick something SOOOO different than what I just read. So if it was a contemporary I might pick a crazy fast paced thriller or fantasy or something.

2. Pick a book that wasn’t necessarily one I was SUPER looking forward to: If I already HAVE high expectations of it? I don’t want anything else to affect the reading experience. So I’ll try to pick up a review book that wasn’t SUPER high on my priority list or pick out a random book from the library I’ve never heard of.

3. Try not to cry: No but really. No matter how HARD I try not to let my book hangover from THE BEST BOOK EVER affect my next read…it’s SO hard for it not to. Sometimes I get lucky and my sacrificial lamb book turns out giving me pretty strong feelings and it isn’t affected by it but so often it really DOES affect my next read or two.

So what about you guys? Do you ever experience this “sacrificial lamb book”? Also, do you have a different name you use for it? What’s your strategy when picking out your next book after a reading experience like that??

Not A Slump But A SOMETHING.

I haven’t been in a slump lately but I’ve been in a SOMETHING that has me reflecting a little bit.

I tweeted this recently:

 

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It’s not that I’m not excited about books (I am!) and I haven’t been reading bad books but it’s just more so that I’m indifferent to whether or not I read each day in the past couple of weeks. I’m not racing to read the books around me and I don’t really care if I’m picking up a book to be honest — I don’t give it much of a second thought.

I’ve confessed that I don’t always read EVERY day though most of the time I at least get a little reading in. I might go a couple days without reading and I’m FINE with that. I like to go where my whims take me. But after a couple of days I’m normally CRAVING it — though I will say that it wasn’t always that way before blogging.  I went a lot longer in between books (I also read a lot less books per year). Of course it’s much easier to not feel bad about not reading when you physically don’t have TIME to read…as opposed to the fact I’m just choosing not to. And it feels weird that it’s lasted this long.

And it’s funny, even though I don’t need to read every day and am okay with that, I start to feel weirdly panicky after this many days. I sat here recently kind of laughing at myself — WHY AM I STRESSING ABOUT SOMETHING FUN? Who cares how many books I read per year? Who cares if I haven’t read in 2 weeks as long as I’m enjoying what I am doing in the meantime? And even though I have a lot of “OTHER” posts that aren’t book talks…it still is hard to run a book blog when you aren’t really feeling SUPER DUPER EXCITED ABOUT READING.

And I came to the realization that I think a lot of times it is easy to let the blog run you. To forget WHY I created this blog. I started this blog to chronicle my reading journey. I don’t read so that I can blog or FOR my blog. But it’s easy to get wrapped up in that and let the two be so intertwined. So intertwined that it feels like, “OH I have to read so that I have things to post/I’m a book blogger..this is what I do” or a similar sentiment. It’s easy to let the blog schedule (yeah, I don’t have one bc I’m a mood reader) or the ARCs or new releases or the blog tour you said you’d do start to dictate what you read and how you read. To let the fact of being a book blogger make you feel like you need to read faster and more often and almost superhumanly. (End of year counts stress me out so I think about this instead).

 

It kind of has the beginnings of an existential crisis of sorts. What happens if I feel like this for an extended amount of time? WHAT HAPPENS? Will this all be over? WHO AM IF I DO NOT HAVE A BOOK IN MY HAND? And that’s when I have to stop myself from spiraling out of control and worrying about something so silly. I am a person with many interests and passions that change and fluctuate and grow.

So, while I’m sitting here in the midst of WHATEVER this is, I’m just trying to remind myself that this IS my reading journey. This is part of it. And I’m just going to let it take me wherever it does. I will not let the act of blogging dictate my reading. I will not try to force myself out of whatever THIS is.  I mean, maybe that’s part of my problem right now. Maybe I’m burnt out on the way blogging does affect my reading life even when it’s not necessarily in a BAD way?

 

I’d like to know:

1. Do you read every day? Does it bother you when you don’t read?
2. If you are a blogger, do you sometimes feel like your blog runs you a little bit?

In Theory I Like Re-Reading

I talked before about how my re-reading habits have changed before I was a blogger and then when I became a blogger but I have been thinking a lot about re-reading lately and why/why not I don’t do it.

In theory I would say I am pro re-reading but in practice? NOT SO MUCH.

 

Why I Don’t Re-Read:

1. TIME, my TBR-list & also the desire to experience new stories — This is the biggest factor & honestly I need to get over this. As a blogger I have these shiny new review copies that always seem to take up my time and I don’t make TIME for re-reads which is a shame. I’m always so stuck in the whirlwind of new releases that I don’t think about it. And it’s not even that I think “oh, well I won’t have anything to blog about” because I have NO problem blogging about a re-reading experience…it’s just I’m so stuck in the world of new books. And not even just NEW releases but just any story I’ve never read before. It’s always so EXCITING to read something you’ve never read before and I always love meeting new characters and going on new adventures.

2. I’m sometimes afraid they will not hold up to what I first thought: It’s a scary thought to me. That I could read a book love it and then years later HATE it. That the words that once really resonated or a romance I fell for could just fall so flat. I mean, I get that I change and grow and so do my tastes but also sometimes I just want to have those good memories of the book. It would be a sad day to read a book I considered a favorite (especially a childhood favorite) and just dislike it so much.

Why In Theory I Like Re-Reading:

1. Cozying up with old friends is fun: Seriously, sometimes it’s just a comfort to settle in with characters you love or a story that left you breathless. I tend to always reread portions of favorites when I’m in a reading slump because they just remind me why I love reading.

2. As much as I’m afraid the book holding up, I get excited about the new lens I might view it: We are always growing and changing and the lens in which we view the world changes through experiences and such. I think it’s exciting to pick up on things I might not have before or see a character/the story in a different way because of the time that has passed and the ways I’ve changed since my first reading. Wouldn’t it be amazing to re-read a favorite book and then just have all these other elements and words change you all over again in a different way. I remember when I read Eat, Pray, Love at the age of 21-ish I immediately thought, “I want to re-read this book again when I’m 30.”

3. It solidifies the favorites: Yes, it sucks to not feel the sparks on a re-read but how amazing is it to be like YEAH THERE IS A REASON THIS IS A FAVORITE!! I want to read it over and over again!

 

What I Want To Do To Change My Re-Reading Habits:

In 2015 I want to re-read more. It’s that simple. I want to choose a book a month that was important to me or I considered a favorite (some will be childhood books so I know they will be quick reads) and re-read it.

I want to reflect on where I was at in my life when I read it vs. where I am now. How I remember thinking about it vs. how I do now. I want to not be afraid about the fact that sometimes we grown in and out of books. I want to not be afraid that sometimes a book is really important and shapes you at a certain point in your life when you need it but it’s okay for it to not be as meaningful upon a re-read. I don’t want to be afraid of not loving it this time around but rejoice in the fact it really meant something to me at one point but now I have books that do that for me now. I can acknowledge the impact. Remember it fondly. Be a little sad. But really I want to explore these books that shaped me and look at how myself and the world has changed since my first read.

I know I started to wax poetic there for a moment about something like re-reading but honestly it fascinates me that I will probably NEVER have the same experience reading the same book twice.

 

Some Books I Want To Explore In My Re-Reading Adventures:

I haven’t decided on ALL the re-reads I want to do but these I know for sure.

+ On The Road by Jack Kerouac — a favorite in college and I’m super curious if 29 year old Jamie will see it in the same way that pretentious 19 year old Jamie did. The Jamie who had all these fantasies for what life would be like and how it would unfold.

+ The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath I talked pretty personally about this and where I was at in my life when I read this book and I’m just really curious how I’ll see it vs. how 18 year old Jamie did in the middle of one of the single worst times in my life.

+ The Giver by Lois Lowry — This was my all time FAVORITE book growing up. I re-read it about 10 times as a kid.

+ Just One Day by Gayle Forman — This is a more recent one (Nov 2012 I think) so I don’t have a ton of distance from it but it really CHANGED my life. It’s a Gayle book so I know it will hold up! IT WILL.

 

So let’s talk about re-reading! Do you re-read often? Why/why not? Have you ever re-read a book and then it didn’t live up? Tell me anything about your re-reading habits!

8 Reasons I Struggle To Put Down A Book

I HATE when I’m reading a book and I’m not really feeling it. Because then…one of the hardest bookworm decisions has to be made. To put down the book or keep reading? I mean, it’s a tough decision. If I don’t put it down I am at risk for subjecting myself to something awful and possibly putting myself in a dreaded reading slump. I recently had a REALLY tough time putting down a book —  I put it down and was so close to talking myself out of it. But my book people on Twitter stepped in and off to the library I went to return the book.

I realized there’s many reasons why I struggle to put it down. Let’s explore them.

1. I think “IT COULD GET BETTER” and history has made this be true for me.

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Some of my favorite books started out rough or slow (Code Name Verity and Jellicoe Road). I can’t imagine not having those stories in my life!! But there are more books that DIDN’T get better…that weren’t that one that was worth pushing through. But I get so caught up in the fact that books I may have wanted to put down have been SO WORTH IT. Even though mathematically that’s a small percentage. But I’ve never like math anyways.

 

2. I’ve invested so much time into it.

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SERIOUSLY THOUGH. Let’s say I spent an hour or so reading a book. I CANNOT GET THAT TIME BACK. I could have been reading something else so I might as well just finish so it wasn’t wasted time. Plus, LET’S BE REAL….an unfinished book can’t count towards my Goodreads challenge and I can’t figure out a way for the pages I DID read to count in my pages read count on Goodreads. I NEED TO GET SOME SORT OF CREDIT FOR READING WHAT I DID. I might as well just finish the damn book to do that.

3. I like finishing what I start.

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It’s true. I hate starting something and then leaving it unfinished. (Although look at all my unfinished series…IT REALLY DOES BOTHER ME. I swear). It just nags at me.

 

4. I’m NOSY.

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I like to know what happens in most cases. Even if I’m not really digging it I mostly ALWAYS have the desire to know what happens. Even if it’s excruciating for me to keep reading or putting me in a slump. Sidenote: Book friends are so useful in this way. I always get them to tell me what happens if I don’t want to finish a series or a book.

 

5. It’s just kind of my personality.

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A problematic part of my personality. I suck at letting things go. This is why my closet has tons of things I haven’t worn in 5 years in it. I’m always like BUT MAYBE I WILL WANT TO WEAR IT. Toxic friendships? Took me years to let some go. I always try to tell myself things could turn around. It could change. People will be less sucky. Miserable situations? YEP I JUST TRY TO FIGHT THROUGH IT HOPING IT GETS BETTER. I’m just the worst at letting go….even when I know I should.

6. I spent money on it.

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I wish money grew on trees but ALAS IT DOES NOT. So if I spent money on a book? I feel the most guilt in the world to not finish it. I know I could pass it along or donate it but I still feel guilt like WOAH. This is also why I’ve gotten better about being more selective with what books I buy.

7. I have an obligation & I feel guilty.

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If it’s for book club, it was a gift, a bff’s favorite book or I said I’d read with a friend or anything like that? I AM DOOMED. I’ve only ever not finished one book for book club but I did have to put my foot down with that one because I was in a major slump because of it.

8. I’m unsure whether it’s the book or ME:

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I wrote this post “It’s Not You, It’s Me…Or Is It?” a long time ago but this is still a huge issue for me. Sometimes I can’t tell if it’s just a mood thing or it’s not the right time…or if it just really IS the book. If it’s a ME/outside factor than I’ll try to pick it up again sometime later (in an ideal world).

 

It’s a hard moment when I’m faced with dilemma of quitting a book. ALL THESE FACTORS MAKE IT SO HARD TO MAKE A DECISION.

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LET’S TALK:

Are you good at putting down books you aren’t into? What factors make it hard or easy for you?

I Think I’ve Made A Terrible Mistake

I’ve always loved lending out books. As a kid, I practically begged my sister to borrow books from me. I love being excited about a book and getting others excited. I’ve converted some of my friends into readers and it’s delightful. Even when I’ve had to mourn some lost books, I’ve still joyously lent them out to friends in need of a new book for their vacation or just life in general. I don’t even get too worried about wear and tear to my books because you know how I am. In fact, I’m more scared to borrow books from other people than I am to lend them out. (I think I’m a weirdo in that regard maybe?).

But in my book zeal, I’ve realized I may have been a little too hasty with my lending.

 

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I’ve lost track of what I lent out and I’ve lent out things that perhaps I shouldn’t because it kind of gives me heart palpitations to think of ever losing.

 

3 situations I’ve found myself in lately:

1. Forgetting what I lent out: My little sister came to visit and said she wanted some new books to read. I was practically bouncing up and down that she wanted some books. So I loaded her up with 10 or so books and I can’t even remember which ones. The only one I do remember that I lent her FOR SURE is Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour which you know I super love. She said my cousin (who is also her age) wanted to borrow some too and I was just so excited to connect with them over books that I was out of control. I’m honestly terrified I’m never going to see these books again and I can’t even REMEMBER which books they are. I need to make people sign them out like I did when I was little APPARENTLY. Also, my sister is not ummm very responsible in keeping track of THINGS? About a week after I lent them out I had a moment of sheer panic for my books after my “OMG PEOPLE I LOVE WANT TO READ” high wore off.

2. Lending out favorites. SIGNED FAVORITES: My friend borrowed a bunch of books from me (and recently returned them…AH THE RELIEF)  and I was SO excited because I have gotten her into YA. She would read a little bit here and there but never YA. And now she’s hooked. SO OBVIOUSLY I hooked her up with my favorites from Gayle Forman (among others). BUT THESE WERE MY SIGNED BOOKS. And I trusted her no doubt. But I realized I maybe need some “borrowing copies” for my favorite books so I don’t have to part with my signed. WHAT IF SHE LOST THEM? Especially my Gayle’s. Can’t replace these personalized copies.

3. Lending out books to people who then lend them out to someone else: So my friend who borrowed my Gayle books? Well, she lent them to her sister-in-law and then her mom. NOW, she asked. She did. But I felt so awkward saying no and plus I WANT EVERYONE TO READ THE GAYLE BOOKS….so I said yes. I HAD NEVER HAD THIS HAPPEN BEFORE. I was ill-prepared and it scared me for my books to get even further away.

 

And now I’ve found myself with a bout of book lending anxiety. THE STRUGGLE IS REAL, friends. I’ve never really ever felt TOO nervous about lending and I’ve done it freely and joyously but now I kind of just want to be like THEY ARE MIIIIIINE. NO.

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But I really just like getting friends hooked on books I’ve loved. I’ve had a lot of personal success with lending my books and letting friends discover new favorites (my one friend who lives in my complex has been a READING MACHINE and has discovered all sorts of new authors to love from borrowing my books).  I know a lot of other people don’t like feeling like their friend’s personal library…but I’ve never minded it.

So now I’m all like: to lend or not to lend? Do I need to maybe have boundaries with certain books? Actually write down what people borrow? Stop lending so freeeely? I DO NOT KNOW.

 

What about you guys? Do you lend books out to people? Have any lending horror stories? How do you choose what books you are fine with lending?

Life Is Too Short For That!

I was having a conversation with the wife of one of Will’s friends about what I read and she said something along the lines of “Ah yeah..I read some YA…gotta have those guilty pleasures.”  I know she meant it harmlessly, knowing her, but it still made me rage-y under the surface FOR SO MANY REASONS. I made a little comment about how my reading life has gotten BETTER since I started reading young adult and then changed the subject because I REALLY didn’t want to get into it.

Here’s the thing. I’ve been totally guilty of using the term “guilty pleasures”  back in the day. I used it when I read Twilight and when I first started reading YA in general. I used it when I liked watching certain reality tv shows. I think when I used the word I was trying to play it off like, “I don’t REALLY like this but it entertains me/is so addictive.” I think that when I used to say it, it implied that I should be embarrassed about it. That my tastes are beyond it. BUT I AM ADMITTING THAT SO IT’S LESS EMBARRASSING.

Sidenote: The thing is, in my head, I still THINK of certain things in that same box that I deemed “guilty pleasures” but I don’t feel GUILTY about them anymore…but don’t have a better phrase for it? There’s an array of tv shows/movies/books that fall in that category for ME. (I mean, really, some of the reality shows I’ve been known to watch??). What I mean, in some cases, I know it’s like JUNK FOOD but I still ENJOY IT. And that’s OKAY. (Also, I keep those things to myself so that I don’t make people feel bad if it is THEIR favorite and it’s my fun thing that I’m not being critical about though I could).

Back then I think I personally wasn’t confident enough to own what I was reading or watching so I felt like I HAD to offer up that “guilty pleasure” to justify it. Because I couldn’t just like it because I DID. I had some sort of image I wanted to put out there, I guess, and those “guilty pleasures” would somehow tarnish that.

But here’s the thing I realized after college….life is too short for me to pretend to like things I don’t like or denying myself things that I DO like. It’s too short not to let myself be 100% passionate about things I feel so deeply just because someone else might scoff at it or deem it not as worthy as something else.

I spent a lot of years in college doing just that. I pretended to like things I didn’t like just to fit in with the group of people I hung out with. I pushed aside a lot of the things I truly LOVED because I felt ashamed about them. I tucked away the true passions of my heart and snuffed out some of those fundamental things that made me ME. Because I didn’t feel confident to own them like YEAH I LIKE THIS SO WHAT? I cared too much what people thought and I let it dictate what I did/liked. And honestly? I kind of felt a little lost. I was happy but below the surface sometimes I felt like I wasn’t being the truest ME. Eventually I got to a really miserable point a year or two after graduating college where I was SO sick of living like that. Denying myself things I liked. Forcing myself to be interested in things I wasn’t.

So I just stopped one day.

I embraced all that I loved no matter what anyone thought about it. I stopped pretending to be into those things I wasn’t which was the biggest relief in the world — seriously NO MORE PRETENDING TO LIKE FOOTBALL. And I can honestly say I’ve felt more like myself than I ever have before and I LOVE IT. I can’t make up for the missed time when I wasn’t doing that but I will never ever let anyone, or my bouts of feeling self conscious, EVER let me feel guilty for the things I like.

So own your reading choices and all the other things you love. OWN THEM. Wear your love for it like a badge. Drop any guilt anyone makes you feel because I guarantee, when you are on your death bed, you won’t be regretting the fact you were confident with your choices and the things that made you YOU. You won’t wish that you hid them more and were less your self.

I could think of a million words that describe my reading choices — smart, fun, pleasurable, life-changing, evocative, etc- and let me tell you…no form of the word guilt is in there anywhere.

I’m A Distracted Reader…Like The Worst.

I can get lost in a book all day with the rest of them — completely and utterly absorbed in the world or the character’s journey and not even realize that it’s turned dark and Will went back to bed an hour ago. But when it comes down to it, at my core, I’m a very distracted reader — something that even Will has pointed out lately.

There’s the distractions of other people wanting to talk to you or requiring your attention….or cute nieces who want to play with you while you are reading on vacation.

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But my biggest distractions?

 

My brain, the Internet and Netflix.

 

My brain:

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 My brain never stops. It’s always jumping around. This is why I have a hard time sleeping. I will be reading and something  on the page will spark something in my brain and I will start thinking about that or go research it or what not. Or I will get up from reading to put my laundry in (that I forgot to do) and then I will find myself embarked on an intense cleaning session for 3 hours all because I couldn’t find a lipstick I randomly thought about because I was washing the shirt I wore out the last time I wore that lipstick. I might get up to use the restroom and will see my nail polish and start painting my nails. Or maybe I’m really stressed about something and the whole time I’m reading I realize my brain is just thinking about it OVER AND OVER AGAIN and I’ve been reading the same sentence for an hour.

My brain just doesn’t cooperate sometimes for reading. It takes A LOT for it to finally settle in.

The Internet:

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This might be the WORST of them all. It’s so awful!! I’ll read like 10 pages maybe and then be like OH I need to pop on Twitter or check my email and the next next thing I know an hour has passed and I’ve just been scrolling or getting lost in link after link. Or it’s a continuous read 10 pages, refresh ALL THE THINGS, read 10 pages, refresh ALL THE THINGS (still nothing, Jaim), read 10 pages, refresh ALL THE THINGS and then get sucked into a Twitter conversation. Or maybe I’ll go to the park to specifically read and leave with 4 pages read because in my quest to get the most PERF outside reading picture to put on Instagram I got sucked into the internet.

Lately I’ve realized HOW BAD my addiction/the distraction has gotten and I decided that I would put my phone and laptop in a place that I could NOT reach from my reading spot. (That was pretty much my only solution that wasn’t getting rid of my phone/laptop or putting a shock collar on myself and letting Will zap me every time I went to reach for one of them). And you know what happened??? I’ve gotten SO MUCH MORE reading done because of it. I’m way too lazy to get up and retrieve my phone/laptop every time I get the urge to refresh ALL THE THINGS. So I sit there and reading and then maybe after an hour I do a little checksie on the interwebs and put it back down & read. It’s funny how when it’s right next to me it just CALLS to me to refresh and check in.

NETFLIX:

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Sometimes I go through random obsessions with new shows on NETFLIX and they just CALL TO ME while I try to read.  Once I get into a show that’s ALL I want to be doing. Pretty much why barely any reading got done when I marathon-ed Breaking Bad last year. I’ll be on the couch reading and it’s like THE OBSESSION just calls out to me and, in the case of tv shows, I just find myself wanting to be ONLY in that world…doesn’t even matter what book I have in front of me. I think this is why I can go a week or two without reading much…because every time I try to….that jealous & needy bitch Netflix is like I AM YOUR ONE AND ONLY SOURCE OF ENTERTAINMENT UNTIL THIS SERIES IS OVER.

 

I definitely think technology, especially my phone and my laptop, end up being the BIGGEST and most detrimental distraction for me + my reading time…and really with any other sort of productivity actually. Changing my habits has definitely helped a little bit! Honestly sometimes it’s a wonder that I get any reading done between these 3 things!

 

Let’s TALK:

Are you a distracted reader or once you are in the zone you are IN and not coming out? If you are a distracted reader, what are your biggest distractions?

But There’s Always Something Else At The End

Belzhar by Meg Wolitzer

I just finished Belzhar by Meg Wolitzer and I’m feeling unsure how I want to talk about it, other than just generally knowing I want to talk about my connection to this book. Whether or not I’ll “book talk” it later, I don’t know, but that’s the freedom I’ve given myself by hanging up my book reviewer hat.

What Belzhar Is About:

Belzhar is about a girl who gets sent to a school for kids with “issues” and they are supposed to heal. The main character has lost her boyfriend and gets sent there because she is unable to cope with it. She gets put in a special English class and there are only like 4 other kids in the class and it’s SUCH a hard class to get into and nobody knows how anyone gets picked…but every year kids in this class proclaim it as life-changing. When she gets in the class, she realizes they are going to be studying the works of Sylvia Plath the whole semester and they are given a journal writing assignment that leads her and her classmates to Belzhar…a place they all almost can’t believe is real.

I don’t want to give anymore away than that, but I immediately knew this was going to be an interesting book for me. The Bell Jar changed my life, so I was interested to see how the works of Sylvia Plath would change these kids.

My first Bell Jar reading experience:

I was a senior in high school. My mom had just been diagnosed with brain cancer and was told she had maybe 6 months to live (she ended up living for 2 years though, FIGHTER she was). The chaos that was unleashed on the day of that diagnosis forever altered my life. It wasn’t an after-school special where we rallied around each other and lived out her last days frolicking in the sun and such. There was anger that none of us knew what to do with. And that anger became as volatile as an active volcano. One night, everything was too much and I left. I packed a bag and called a friend and I left. I ended up living at a friend’s house for a month or so (a friend who, I might add, had the perfect Full House kind of family which made it harder for me). I only saw my family in counseling sessions until I returned home.

I was feeling very alone and, while thankful for the family housing me,  just felt like nobody understood. I was in this violent sea of anger and confusion and grief, just being thrashed by waves and feeling like I couldn’t keep afloat. I went to the library and decided to give The Bell Jar a try. No idea why. I just had heard of it and decided I wanted to read it. I will never forget reading this book in a room that was not mine, surrounded by people who couldn’t understand what I was going through. I stayed in that bed until it was over and I wept and I wept and I wept.

Someone finally put words to what I was feeling. I no longer felt alone. Or crazy. I understood Esther and that feeling of all-consuming isolation, like you are absolutely alone, trapped inside a bell jar nobody can even penetrate. I wrote like crazy after that experience — I knew I had to get it all out. I felt the tiniest light of hope in one of the darkest and confusing times of my life. That book helped me out of it in a way.

My experience reading Belzhar:

The characters in Belzhar know that bell jar feeling so well. As they each reveal their stories, you see the aching loneliness they have because of situations in their life. Soul-crushing pain and grief and guilt and confusion. There was one quote in particular that just really encapsulated both of our experiences:

Belzhar quote

But then they start reading Plath & writing in their journals. And these words – they save in a way. They let us know we aren’t alone. They allow us to feel outside of ourselves, which is exactly what helped the numbness dissipate for me. They give voice to things you couldn’t even assemble into words. Let you slip into somebody else’s life for a bit or get an outside look in to your own life.

Belzhar Meg Wolitzer

If I read The Bell Jar prior to that year, I probably wouldn’t have felt the way I did about it on a personal level. But words find you and take you where you need to go. Just like they did the characters in Belzhar — though definitely in a more physical way.

Reading Belzhar reminded me of the power of words and how healing they can be — whether they are the ones we breathe into ourselves or the ones we put out into the world for others to breathe in. It reminded me of how sometimes you read a book that your soul really needed you to read. It reminds you of your humanness and that we don’t have to share the burden alone. That’s what I loved about the English class in Belzhar. They didn’t have to share their burdens alone anymore — they had each other to share their pains and their guilt and the weight of the world they were each carrying.

And it reminded me of the hope…

There is more to that ribbon passage I shared above. It continues:

Belzhar quotes

It’s the kind of hope I had at the end of The Bell Jar that is mirrored in this book. When I read the end I saw that Esther knew that things weren’t going to be automatically easy, but she had reached the end of the ribbon where there was something other than infinite pain. She knew she could still descend into that madness and it would be hard, but there was hope. And 18-year-old Jamie, who felt so lost and knew that harder things were going to come because a cancer was currently wreaking havoc on her mom’s brain? She needed to know there was going to be something at the end of that ribbon. Something different. That it wouldn’t be endless pain.

As I read Belzhar I found myself instantly transported back to that time in my life and reminded of how powerful words can be. Things have been rough here in the present — not hopeless, but hard enough that it’s tough remember to have hope — and I think reading this book took me to a Belzhar of my own…a Belzhar I needed to go to right now.

SEEKING THE PERFECT BOOK

I KNOW…it’s Tuesday and I don’t have a top ten list up. My list is actually up at The Broke and the Bookish today so go check that out! I figured since I did the list over THERE perhaps I would talk about something that has been weighing on my mind recently.

Most of the time I’m pretty good at knowing what books might be the right ones to suit my mood (because you know I’m a crazy mood reader so that’s important). But lately I’ve just had a hard time because what I want is so, so specific. It’s not even a particular genre or theme or what not that I’m looking for. Nothing I can really anticipate.

And I try to ask for recommendations and I’m so unhelpful because I can’t even begin to describe what I REALLY want when people ask what I’m looking for or in the mood for. I tend to say something like, “I want a mindblowingly good book” and then I get some good recommendations but I realize how subjective it is and how maybe that’s not even what I mean.  I mean, I’ve read some mindblowingly good books recently. Some GREAT, AMAZING books that I would reread and recommend over and over again until I’m blue in the face.

And the mood I’m in right now? Those books, that I’ve given 4 or maybe even 5 stars, don’t even fit the bill of what I’m looking for right now. No matter how much they moved me or made me cry or REALLY GOT INTO MY SOUL. It’s weird.

Sometimes I want something and I don’t even know what it is that I want. I just know what feeling I want.

 

If I took out a Wanted ad for this book I’m looking for it would look something like this:

 

The book I’m looking for would be so profound and so earth shattering I’m pretty sure the axis of the earth might shift.

The take action kind of book.

The  I-will-never-be-the-same kind of book. A book that changes the landscape of my heart and my brain and my soul.

I want a book that makes me feel ALL THE THINGS and I mean ALL THE THINGS.

I want a perfect book and not even a technically perfect book but the book that feels so perfect you don’t even know if it’s real.

I want the best book and not the kind of best book that has to be recognized as the best book by the world.

I want a book that will make me consider not reading any more books because nothing will ever compare to it but it also makes me want to read ALL the books to find THAT kind of book again…because I NEED the fix of experiencing it.

I want the kind of book that I know was meant to find me. That I don’t know how I’ve ever lived without.

The book that lingers and lingers and is impossible to push from my mind no matter how many books I read in between.

I want a book that doesn’t even know it’s that kind of book.

I want a book that feels like it was written for me. Like an author scooped out the pumpkin-y insides of my brain and my heart and my soul and all the icky and beautiful and confusing things about me and made magic with it.

I want a book that is hard to explain why it makes me feels all those ways because words seem flimsy and dull when describing it and all you wish is that you could start a new language wherein you just FEEL things that people mean.

A book I almost don’t want to talk about. Because once I try to put it into words the magic is almost lost in some way by doing so.

 

I sound nutty probably. I don’t even know if what I want exists. Or if I’m just building it up too much. Romanticizing it. I know I’ve felt it before.  I know I have. But, hey book, if you are out there….make your way to me! I don’t want every book I read to be like this for me because that would be a whole lot of hearts bursting and souls changing and a whole lot of feelings I can’t deal with on a daily basis. But I just know that I need THAT kind of book right now. I really do.

 

Let’s TALK:

Am I completely batshit crazy or do you have moods like this where you need a very specific book like that or that you don’t even know what you want but you know what you want to feel? Do YOU have a book that has made you feel this way? Am I building up that SEEKING PERFECT BOOK notion so it’s almost unattainable?!
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