Monthly Rewind: January

rewind

January was a weird and busy month! I moved back in with best friends in their new house, I am on the hunt for an additional job to support myself while I finish out this semester as an adjunct English professor, and I’m seriously loving that I can see the library from my front door. I did manage to read six books (and didn’t finish one). Now that I feel more established, I think I’ll be posting these once a month, and next month’s will hopefully be less sparse. So here’s January’s recap!


GENERAL BLOG UPDATES

Even though I technically implemented it in February, the blog has a little bit of a facelift! It was looking a little plain and impersonal, so it was time for a change. There’s a main blog header, and three headers for the three main styles of posts I’ll be writing. I might get fancier later.

BOOKS READ 

I’ve posted a review for one of these, I want to write a proper review for Truthwitch, and I think I’ll post a mini-review recap in a few days for the rest of them.

  • The Crimson Petal and the White – Michel Faber (owned)
  • The Bad Beginning – Lemony Snicket (owned)
  • The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight – Jennifer E. Smith (Netgalley)
  • Moth and Spark – Anne Leonard (owned)
  • The Apple: New Crimson Petal Stories – Michel Faber (library)
  • Truthwitch – Susan Dennard (library)

DNF

I usually try to finish all of the books I read, but this one I had to stop about 60% of the way through. I’ll post more about it in that mini-review recap.

  • The Good Luck of Right Now – Matthew Quick

BOOKS ACQUIRED

I am trying to curb my acquisitions, spend less, use my library more, and read what I own, so I’m pleased with this list. I’m still waiting on the two giveaways I won from Goodreads, so if those don’t arrive by this weekend, I’m going to drop both a line!

  • 2 A.M. at the Cat’s Pajamas – Marie-Helene Bertino (Blogging for Books)
  • The Apple: New Crimson Petal Stories – Michel Faber (library)
  • Truthwitch – Susan Dennard (library)
  • The Nightingale – Kristin Hannah (library)
  • The Dressmaker – Rosalie Ham (library)
  • Eleanor – Jason Gurley (library)
  • We That Are Left – Clare Clark (library)
  • Far From the Madding Crowd – Thomas Hardy (purchased)
  • Star Wars: The Force Awakens – Alan Dean Foster (purchased)

That’s all for this month. I’m planning on making this short, leap-yeared February a full one!

 

2016 Challenges and Goals

I know a lot of people set goals and resolutions for the new year, but it’s such a great time to do it! I’m moving at the end of this month (ick, timing), so being in a new place in the new year will be absolutely a great time to start reinforcing good habits and practices. I won’t list my personal goals as they don’t really fit in with the bookish theme I want to keep with this blog, tf

READING GOALS

  • Read a minimum of 100 books (tracked by Goodreads and my spreadsheet). 100 is a good number for me. I don’t feel too bad if I just read a hundred, but when I read more than that, it feels like a real accomplishment.
  • Read all of (or at least a majority of) the ARCs I’ve been approved for (on Netgalley and Edelweiss). There are fewer than 15. Sometimes about a third of them I don’t finish because I don’t like them, but I want to be better about this and get my percentages to 75% or higher. I get approval happy and have had a few books sitting on my iPad from… over a year now. I’m going to start with the oldest first and move forward. It doesn’t necessarily help that I just got a little download/request happy and filled up my queue with a bit more. I’m just really excited about these titles and need to read them now!
  • Use my library more. I want to save a good amount of money in 2016 to travel and to pay off some lingering bills, so instead of buying a lot of books (not working at a bookstore currently helps with that) I want to use my library!
  • Purchase no more than two books a month. The only times I can purchase more are when I’m taking books to my local used bookstore and have the credit for them, when I finish one of the Penguin Drop Caps and want to read the next letter, or during my birthday month (April).
  • Write about the books as I’m reading them. I started doing this last year when I started Madame Bovary (which I currently haven’t finished but I remember everything that happened). I paused every three or four chapters and wrote something about it: a summary of what happened and/or my thoughts about it, even if it’s just a few sentences. This also ties into my own personal goal of writing in a journal more. I’m going to use a journal as a catch-all for everything rather than have individual journals for different things.

BLOG GOALS

  • Post at least three times a week (hopefully Sundays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, but whenever I feel like it because sometimes scheduling these things doesn’t always line up with my work schedule). If it makes it easier for me, I might have “writing days” in which I write a lot of posts and schedule them to be posted at a later date. Scheduled posts would work well with ARC reviews, too, because I wouldn’t want to post reviews too early.
  • Comment on blogs I like and use social media more! I visit a lot of blogs but I never comment, mostly because I feel like I have nothing to say but most of the time I feel too shy to say anything. Oops.
  • Use more images in my posts! I’ve been teaching myself Canva because it makes it really easy and helps make everything uniform!

READING CHALLENGES

I’ll make specific posts for these soon! Some of them are happening around the book blog world and some of them are my own personal challenges.

  • Flights of Fantasy – read at least 12 new to me fantasy titles.
  • #RockMyTBR – read at least 40 books I already own, cannot combine with other challenges.
  • Classics Challenge – personal challenge; read at least 24 classics, 12 must be new to me.
  • Star Wars/Star Trek – personal challenge; read at least 5 Star Wars novels and 5 Star Trek novels and review them.
  • Strips/physical ARCs – personal challenge; working for a bookstore allowed for stripped titles and ARCs to be taken home. I have quite a few of these so I’d like to read at least 10 of these and review them.

If I finish my above challenges, that puts me really, really close to my 100 title goal for 2016. I’m ready for it!

Reading… or not reading…

I’ve been going through some life stuff and work stuff, and that’s left me drained of a lot of energy I wanted to devote to reading. I’m half disappointed in myself because I feel like I could have made the effort to read more, but at the same time, I felt so exhausted. I came home from my job, did work for my classes, and then puttered around online. But with some changes happening, I’ve been more inclined to read, so out of the fifteen books I have set to finish by 13 October, I’ve read three listed and another I hadn’t listed!!

  1. A Whole New World – Liz Braswell
  2. Uprooted– Naomi Novik
  3. Lair of Dreams – Libba Bray
  4. The Swans of Fifth Avenue – Melanie Benjamin
  5. The Gap of Time – Jeanette Winterson
  6. J – Howard Jacobson (gotta read those Man Booker nominations!)
  7. The Portrait of a Lady – Henry James
  8. Queen of Shadows – Sarah J. Maas
  9. Madame Bovary – Gustave Flaubert (I actually started this last year!)
  10. The Night Manager – John Le Carré (started this in March; need to finish it)
  11. The Buried Life – Carrie Patel
  12. Life After Life – Kate Atkinson
  13. The Glass Sentence – S.E. Grove
  14. The Paris Wife – Paula McLain
  15. So We Read On: How The Great Gatsby Came to Be and Why It Endures – Maureen Corrigan

So, I finished Queen of Shadows, The Gap of Time, and The Buried Life, and I enjoyed each of those very much. I also read David Orr’s The Road Not Taken: Finding America in the Poem Everyone Loves and Almost Everyone Gets Wrong. I ordered this and the book of Frost’s poems (also edited by Orr) because I’m teaching poetry in my class. I thought it would help structure my thoughts on how to talk about writing about poetry, and it ended up being more of a personal experience. Changes are happening, and Frost’s “The Road Not Taken” is one referenced a lot big life changes happen. I think I’m going to write about that for a future post. Here’s to more reading now that I already feel so much less weighed down by things!

September TBR & Reading Goals!

It’s that time again. I’ve let my reading fall to the wayside. I’m going to read 200 pages every day between now (13 September) and 13 October. I don’t have a reward at the end. I just want to be able to say I did it. And maybe instead of doing a personal challenge like this for two weeks, doing it for a full month will get me in the habit of finding time to read. In addition to reading 200 pages a day, I want to get in the habit of writing a little bit about what I’ve read each day.

My sub-goals for this challenge are to finish my Netgalley books, to read my next Blogging for Books choice, and to read at least ten books I’ve had forever and haven’t gotten around to reading yet. So, my tentative TBR is as follows:

  1. A Whole New World – Liz Braswell
  2. Uprooted– Naomi Novik
  3. Lair of Dreams – Libba Bray
  4. The Swans of Fifth Avenue – Melanie Benjamin
  5. The Gap of Time – Jeanette Winterson
  6. J – Howard Jacobson (gotta read those Man Booker nominations!)
  7. The Portrait of a Lady – Henry James
  8. Queen of Shadows – Sarah J. Maas
  9. Madame Bovary – Gustave Flaubert (I actually started this last year!)
  10. The Night Manager – John Le Carré (started this in March; need to finish it)
  11. The Buried Life – Carrie Patel
  12. Life After Life – Kate Atkinson
  13. The Glass Sentence – S.E. Grove
  14. The Paris Wife – Paula McLain
  15. So We Read On: How The Great Gatsby Came to Be and Why It Endures – Maureen Corrigan

It’s a hefty list, but these are books I’ve been meaning to read, meaning to get around to finishing, and have been interested in for quite a while. I think it’s manageable, though, and that’s what really matters. I also tried to mix it up by incorporating different genres and styles of writing so that I don’t feel overwhelmed or bored by once genre or one author. It’s a definite mix, and I’m excited for it! I need something personal to work for, and I think reading through my ever-growing stack of unread books is a good way to start.

On Not Finishing Books, and Other Things

Lately I’ve been really aware of how many books I want to read and the limited amount of time I have in which to read, so I’m getting better about setting aside books if they aren’t grabbing my interest or if something about them annoys me. And to be clear, 95% of these DNFs are ones I’ve borrowed from the library because I was hesitant about purchasing them in the first place so I don’t feel bad about not being able to finish them. There are a few that I’ve bought that I’m like, ugh, I can’t finish this, but thankfully those are few and far in between. I’m already thinking I need to stop using the library and actually read the ARCs, review copies, and unread books I’ve bought that are just sitting here.

The Fold - Peter Clines My most recent DNF is Peter Clines’ The Fold. I remember enjoying Ex-Heroes a few years ago, and when I heard about this recent release, I found the idea intriguing and the cover pretty fabulous. Unfortunately, I’m sort of tired of the adult white male mastermind who can do just about anything, remember just about anything, and have no apparent faults within the first hundred pages sort of trope. So, by the time this perfect Sherlock-esque mastermind, Mike, figures out that the people who made this Door to travel to alternate timelines had no idea what they were doing, I was bored. This wasn’t interesting to me at all. And I was kind of sad, because I love Sherlock-esque characters when done well, and I love time-hopping science fiction. Ultimately, what made me set the book aside was Mike’s ability to rewatch entire movies in his mind before he falls asleep – that movie being Captain America: The Winter Soldier. It’s a dated pop culture reference already. Ugh. Maybe I’ll give it another go in a few months when I’m not all about female representation in sci-fi, because I might’ve been more interested in this one if the characters didn’t come off as trope-y cardboard standees.

Ugh.

In better news, I’m doing really well on my reading challenge. There were a few days I barely made it over a hundred pages of reading, but I’m averaging out to be more than two hundred a day!