I turned 43 last Saturday. Instead of a big birthday bash (which never happens, anyway. Lol.), I opted to drag my family to my city’s contribution to the Resistance. Winnipeg Walk for Human Rights’ main purpose was to let the world know that our city, our province, our country is open to everyone. It was also our way of walking hand in hand with our Muslim brethren especially in light of what happened in Quebec. I can’t say enough about how much I appreciate the country where I live in right now. We are progressive and our sitting provincial administration, though, Conservatives still care about the very foundation this country on which it was built.
I was sure that I would get grief from my family for marching in below 10-degree weather, but actually, they expressed their gratitude for having “forced” them to go. It’s great to be out and be a part of the community for once and ever since then, my husband and I have been talking about politics more and more. I greatly appreciate this newfound point of interest because the last year and a half or so had been frustrating for me. Literally no one in my family wanted to talk about politics so I have been involved in way too many social media debates which weren’t fun at first because I was letting it get to me. Nowadays, I’ve developed a much thicker skin so trolls don’t bother me anymore.
This is me. I didn’t have a pink toque (beanie, for you Americans) so this is my version of it. I did wear a bright pink scarf, though. The walk wasn’t very far but it was certainly a cold day. And then afterwards, my husband took me to the bookstore for my birthday treat. I picked up quite a few books which I will share on my Hoarders post sometime next week.
The walk was great. I was mostly in a reflective mood. I was able to think about how different this birthday has been for me in comparison to the previous ones I’ve had. I’ve matured in some ways and regressed in some and I’m okay with that because it’s me, all me and I don’t have to be sorry for anything. I’m looking forward to what life has in store for me.
I think it’s safe to say that 2016 was when I hoarded all the books. I’ve gotten a steady supply from publishers, bought all the books I wanted to buy, re-discovered Book Outlet with great fervour, and in the hopes of reading some pretty stale-dated books in my TBR, picked up duplicate copies of said books in audio form. I must say that I’ve considerably curbed my requests from Net Galley – so that’s progress. But the buying of physical copies still is an incurable addiction.
I don’t think I can remember a time when I bought so much books than I have in 2016. And that’s not good news if you consider the number of books I read this year. So I’m making a concerted effort to read more in the coming year. I will not be inundated by a certain number, though. I will keep my goal of 150 (which I’ve done for the last 4 years) but I will try my best not to fall into a rut.
Goals, Reminders, and Things To Do
If I’m not hooked by the 3rd chapter, I’ll move on.
I will try to keep a better handle on the books I receive for review (i.e. be aware of the publishing dates)
Be more honest with the publishers, publicists, and authors. If the book doesn’t interest me, I MUST graciously decline.
Stay the fuck away from bookstores. SERIOUSLY.
Un-haul some books by selling them. I would donate them, but I could use the cash.
I’m going to armed myself. If I have to go to the bookstore, I’ll read the reviews on Goodreads before I buy. This is like going to shop for clothes and never trying on any of the stuff before I buy it: a disastrous and a nasty habit of mine.
Read more prized literature. I know, I know. This is not that is something most people with whom they aspire, but I really think I’ve grown as a reader this year. And that’s not only because I’ve gotten tired of the usual books but 2016 is the year that I’ve become more engaged in/aware of socially relevant issues. I think it’s time.
BookTube is an evil vice I must quit. Ugh.
Read more non-fiction books.
I need to cross-post reviews more regularly. I’ve been pretty good with posting reviews on Goodreads, but I’m severely lacking in posting on Amazon and Chapters.
These are just some of the things I want to work on for 2017. I’ve done my share of imparting my New Year goals and aspirations, but considering how 2016 made a basket case out of me, I’m using that as the flint to set my 2017 on fire.
I’ve used quite a few platforms for following blogs over the years. It’s only recently that I found the best one to use. I am a big fan of Bloglovin’ because it’s so easy to go through my feed. Today, I’d like to talk about MY BLOGLOVIN’ ETIQUETTES. And just to be clear, this is not the general rules. These are MY RULES. So before anyone gets affronted, let’s just establish that first and foremost.
I don’t discriminate.
If you’re not a book blogger and you follow me, I follow you back. I feel like if you’re nice enough to seek me out and follow me, the least thing I could do is to see what you’ve been up to as well. In the last few months, I’ve been getting followers that are from the beauty and fashion blogosphere. I enjoy reading or watching their how-tos. Outfits of the day posts are fun because I get ideas on how to dress on my own in the morning. Haha. Putting makeup on, though, is a different story. There are not enough tutorials in the world to teach me – I’d always end up looking like Ronald McDonald’s sister. It’s a big world out there with lots to see, learn and experience. So I try not to limit the things that I read from day to day. Though I must say that if you are a fashion and makeup blogger, you’re probably wondering why I don’t contribute much to your post by commenting. Well, let’s just say that I’m an idiot when it comes to those two points of interest. And any comments I may add would be assinine. But hey, keep doing you and ignore me.
I don’t follow blogs.
That is to say, I don’t follow blogs unless I know the blogger or they follow me first. I know that’s kind of contradictory to my first statement, but let me clarify that. It’s not snobbery, per se. But it’s a matter of laziness. I don’t sift through Bloglovin’ members and decide to mass-follow every single book blogs around. But if you follow me, you can guarantee I’ll follow you. How to keep me as a follower, however, depends entirely up to you, really. Some bloggers are under the misconception that creating a readership base begins and ends when you gain followers. It doesn’t. You actually have to work for it. In the same way that you want to know people are reading your blog posts, you need to let them know you appreciate their well-thought out opinions on things. Which brings me to the next guideline:
I believe in reciprocity.
I am the kind of blogger who generally reciprocate on comments left on my posts. Even if I’m not following your blog or vice versa. Blog relationships are formed through a series of back and forths. I don’t wait for new followers to comment on my posts. In fact, on the same day you follow me, I check your blog and comment on your newest post just to establish a communication between us. It’s my way of saying, thanks for following.
I comment once and disappear.
But if you don’t send me a hey back, you probably won’t be seeing me ever again. That’s just the way my ball rolls. This is what happens to new followers who don’t reciprocate my initial contact. I only have time for bloggers who read my posts. I feel like there are a lot more people out there who appreciate what I write, so if you can’t give me the time of day to comment back, chances are, I’m not coming back to read your posts. There are exceptions to this rule, of course. I’ll always be loyal to bloggers that I personally know and with whom I’ve developed a rapport over the years. I also appreciate those people who take the time to say hello on any social media platforms. I’m not that active on Twitter or Facebook, but when I do pop on there once in a while, say hi to me. I’m the loser-looking girl in the corner nursing a rootbeer. I can name a few bloggers that I interacted with on Twitter that I’ve become a loyal reader of their blogs.
I believe you.
We’ve all been there. When we only have time to draft posts, but not enough to visit blogs. And this is where establishing blogger relationship is so important.Because when you say real life is kicking your ass at the moment, I will believe you. When you say you need a break and I say that I’ll be here, you can bet your last chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream, that I’ll be here waiting for you.
What about you? What’s your Bloglovin’ Personal Rules and Etiquettes?
It’s always been a problem of mine; a sickness that I can’t seem to find a cure for. I’ve read this meme somewhere about all the things you shouldn’t waste your life on and one of those is forcing yourself to finish a book you don’t enjoy.
But I’ve always had a hard time giving up on a book. I’m scared that once I start, my finicky standards would win out and I’ll be stuck with an entire bookshelf of unfinished books. I’m not ashamed to admit that I have over 25 books with bookmarks hanging out of them. And the pressure is building.
ETERNAL OPTIMIST OF THE LITERARY KIND.
I have a whole slew of reasons why I started then stopped. Not in the least of which is out of boredom. I have no qualms giving up on a book that doesn’t hold my interest. But therein lies the crux of the problem. I am an eternal optimist when it comes to books. I like to give them a chance even if the writing is subpar or the story isn’t quite as exciting or interesting as I first thought it to be. I believe in my ability to pick a good book (some days). I believe that once upon a time, there was a reason why I bought that book. I am a firm believer of reading the full book then giving it the review it deserves – good or bad. But I end up with a shelf-full of unfinished, bookmarked books.
HOUSE OF BOOKS
One of the things that add to this conundrum is that I live in a house full of books. As in, I have books everywhere: bedroom, living room, hallways, kitchen. Most of the time, I pick up a book whenever I find myself in any random room in my house. I start them, put them down, and voila! Another unfinished book in the pile. And since the TBR is reproducing like rabbits, there are always new books arriving at the scene. Who could resist picking up the new, shiny thing? Sometimes, I think I have an undiagnosed attention disorder. Because I can’t focus on one thing before I move on the next.
SO WHAT DO I DO?
In the words of a certain ice princess, I need to learn to let it go. I will give these books one more try. Every night, I’m going to pick up one book from my pile. If it holds my interest, I’ll read as much of it as I can. And if not, I’m going to have to learn to let shit go. I can’t hold on to these books like they’re my lifeline, or that I owe it to the universe to finish them simply because I started them. I need to learn to stop feeling guilty over missed review deadline or hating the book that was sent to me for review. Because if it’s not there, it’s not there, you know?
AUDIBLE IS OFFICIALLY MY BFF
My new employers don’t mind it if I’m listening to a book while I’m working. So in the event that a book in my pile actually grabbed my attention, I’ll download a copy of it if my budget allows it. I’ve never been one to shy from owning duplicate copies (and editions, for that matter) of a book, so if it’ll help me curb this growing problem, hell yes, I’m downloading that sucker!
These little tips are not only for my own gain. I’ve shared it with you if you are having the same problem. Let’s hope I’ll practice what I preach and finally finish these books in my pile! Wish me luck. 😀
In a world full of books, a reader can feel incredibly guilty about a lot of things:
Guilt for reading books that are more “brain-candy” than “brain-food”.
Guilt for falling in love with a character that you would, in normal circumstances, abhor ten-folds.
Guilt for completely missing the deeper message about the book because you were more focused on the smoldering eyes of a man who looked fantastic in an Armani suit.
Guilt for comparing your sex life with those of the characters’ on any given Erotica book (Oh don’t judge. I’m sure we’ve all been there, too).
Guilt for not being sympathetic to a character’s plight because of your inability to empathize with their situation (just what kind of monster are you?!).
Guilt for not fully appreciating an author’s world-building skills because you simply don’t get the Fantasy genre or the sterile environment of a Sci-Fi space odyssey.
Guilt for feeling jealous because someone had written the story you wished you had written.
Guilt for whenever you share the popular opinion over a book is another step towards obsolescence (to quote Murakami, “If you only read the book that everyone else is reading, you can only think what everyone is thinking.”).
Guilt for writing a bad review on a book that was sent to you by the author/publisher/publicist (this one is a doozy).
Guilt for not reading fast enough (fuck the TBR shelf!).
And these are just some of the many guilt that burdens us, readers. Let’s not even talk about the guilt we all feel as bloggers. Lordy. That will probably require a two-part post. I’m a Catholic. The very foundation of our religion is based on guilt. We’re taught that if we don’t follow the Holy Rules, we’re doomed to eternal hell. We’re taught that if we don’t love our brethren as God love us all, we’ll never see the Gates of Heaven. So you see? I know a thing or two about guilt.
But how do you deal with all these feelings?
Not a damn thing.
Unless you want to hate blogging and the very reason why you started blogging altogether (BOOKS, man. Books), you’re gonna want to check that guilt by the door. Because life is too damn short to care about what others will think about you. Honesty and credibility are important traits to have before you go on and decide to be a keyboard warrior. We are our own persons. Who cares if you like popular fiction? Who cares if pirates and ladies with heaving bosoms are the kind of kink you adore? Trust me when I say, guilt is what will suck the life out of the very thing you love. So go on, child.
Don’t sell yourself out.
Don’t sell yourself short.
Be the best version of yourself without lying through your teeth.
Because the most important thing is that you don’t change the way you are just to please everybody else.
Tantric reading: a state of stupefaction, hypnosis, and immersion in the printed word. When the real world just fades away and the novel transports a reader to a time suspended, and they become witnesses to an event unfolding before their eyes. Some books have this wondrous ability, and some books can pull time in a taffy-like motion that all a reader want to do is to go back to that moment before they picked up that book in the first place. Admittedly, it’s been a while since I’ve had the time and dedication to just sit in one spot and read for hours.
According to Guiness World Records, the longest time a person has spent reading is 113 hours and 15 minutes. He read 17 books from 13 different authors in one sitting. That’s reading aloud. I wonder if he had any voice left after his attempt? This had me thinking about how nice it would be if we had no distractions in life. If our kids aren’t coming to us constantly with demands that we feed them, or help them find a missing shirt or socks? Or that we all have the capabilities to ignore all the basic body necessities such as eating, drinking and going to the bathroom?
Indeed, it would be easy, isn’t it? If we don’t have responsibilities or if life is one big vacation? This week, I’ve been trying to do just that. Unfortunately, none of the books I brought with me is holding my attention. It is now fourth day of my vacation. I have not finished a book. But I’ve not lost all hope. Today, we’re driving back to the city where I’m more comfortable reading in my bedroom.
I suppose there are so many factors for achieving that reading zen. But real life is one big distraction. It’s almost impossible to say, ” I read this book in one sitting”. Like, literally ONE SITTING. Where you don’t move from your spot to go have a drink of water or use the bathroom facilities. Unless you’re hooked up to an IV and sporting a comfortable caterer, I suppose all you can say is, “practically in one sitting”.
When was the last time you were in a “reading nirvana”?
Have you ever heard of a blog called, No Book Unread Project? It’s the brainchild of an aspiring writer who, in an effort to improve his writing decided that the best way to do that so was to read more. In his post, he figured he has 175 unread books. And for someone who has read 188 books in 2014, this is hardly an impossible task.
However, you need to consider the quality of the books in his shelves vs. what’s in mine. It’s not even close. He reads high fantasy books in the likes of R.A. Salvatore. More than likely door stoppers. The kind that has complicated, intricate world building. My TBR bookshelf houses a schizophrenic selection picked mostly on a whim, or because I gave in to the pressures of a particular book’s noisy buzz.
Now, I know what you’re thinking. One should never pit their reading choices against another’s. My point is, while my family and friends may think I have Robotic Reader Eyes, I tend to pick books that doesn’t strain my brain too much: contemporary, realistic, and sometimes, if I ate enough peanuts, literary fictions. So in reality, though it might look possible in paper, I don’t think it would be if we switch TBRs.
The TBR Dungeon.
In the beginning of the year, I must admit that I thought this is doable; that I can simply saunter down in the basement and pick a book to add to my reading rotation until all the dragons in the dungeon have been slain. As soon as I cleared the cobwebs and fluffed some of the dust bunnies away, however, the problems soon start taking turns bitch-slapping me in the face. Like, 453 of them.
Ain’t nobody got time for that!
These are books that have gone stale. They’re two to three years old. Unread. Old releases. Does anyone even care to read reviews of these old books? I think that’s the problem I’m having with at the moment. As a book reviewer, I want to post reviews that are relevant and new; not books that were published three years ago. But as a reader, I know that time is immaterial. Whether I read them tomorrow or a year from now, it doesn’t really matter. Because books are timeless. READING should not be constricted to an allotted time period, otherwise, it becomes a pesky homework and not…fun.
So now, I’m conflicted. The hermit philanthropist in me is thinking: I can always donate them to my library, or the charity shop where I buy my books. The hoarder in me is thinking: Are you crazy?! What if you’re missing something good? Something life-changing amongst the rubble of this neglected pile? The reader in me is thinking: shut up and start reading!
Such is the flow of my consciousness every time I’m confronted by my gigantic TBR.
Do you think that your readership care about the publishing dates of the books you review on your blog?
If you’ve been a regular reader of the blog, then you’d know that my husband has been the best (and the worst) enabler any book addict could ever ask for. You should also know by now, that he makes a periodical appearance on my reviews (without his knowledge, of course). So today, I thought I should finally put a face on this wonderful man.
A little background.
My husband and I have been married for 13 years (been together for 20). He does not share my passion for reading, so more often, he does his thing (NFL, sports) and I do mine. This man has the patience of a saint. He is a very understanding person who gives in to my whiles with just a simple, “please”. But I can never get him to read my reviews. The last time I ask him to proofread my blog post, his answer was – in a whiney, 7-year-old voice – “but it’s too long!” Needless to say, I don’t ask him anymore.
I do know for a fact that he is an email subscriber of my blog, because, A: I made him, and B: he asked me one day if I ever sleep at all (the concept of scheduled blog posts escapes him). He is a man of a few words, so I couldn’t get him to eruditate any further than he did. 🙂
How do you really feel about my trips to the bookstore?
It’s your passion. I’m not going to be the schmuck that gets in the way of that.
2. Do you ever worry that our house is now more prone to fire because of the books scattered everywhere?
No. Not fire, per se. Just our floor collapsing…You buried in the rubble of concrete and books. How do we explain that to the insurance company?
3. What is your greatest worry about my addiction?
Mostly that you’ll kick us out of the house because you’re in need of space. I think we’re getting closer to that, honey.
4. Do you ever think that I need therapy or an intervention?
No. But if you ask me to build you some bookshelves again, I just might.
5. What annoys you the most about my vice?
Those earphones. You’re turning into our teen daughter whom we have to scream at to get her attention. I rue the day you discovered audiobooks.
6. When was the last time you’ve ever come close to losing your sh*t over my addiction?
Maybe that one weekend when the bookstore didn’t have a copy of the book you’re looking for, so I had to drive you everywhere in the city in search of this magical book. We went to two!
…Or that time when you flew to Vancouver and back because you wanted to get your books signed. Thank God for air miles.
…Or maybe all those weekends when you’d fake sickness so you don’t have to socialize even though I knew you just wanted the house for yourself so you can read. I was sick!
Or those times you have to forgo trips to the cabin because of blog tours (whatever that means). Yeah. About that…
Or those days when you’d call in sick because you didn’t sleep much the night before because you spent the night reading. I was tired, okay?! Sue me.
Come to think of it, these things happen almost on a regular basis. Whatever.
7. Do you have an advice for your spouses out there living with an addict like me?
Yes. Do what she says and no one gets hurt.
8. *Glares* No. Seriously. Give them a helpful advice!
The lovely Eileen of Book Cat Pin tagged me last week to do 20 random things that people should know about me. I started writing them down, but I soon realize I’m a really uninteresting person. I bore myself to tears.
So then, I thought, I’ll just go with the first things that come to me, and these are what I came up with.
These facts may just revoke my membership to the book blogosphere. So, forgive me. I meant no offence. These are just my quirks. Don’t mind me. 🙂
1. Reviews with images of what the characters look like annoy me to high heavens.
You know the type. Usually found on New Adult reviews. Goodreads is crawling with them. It does nothing for me. It does not make me want to read a book. It actually repels me. Needless to say, if your review has some random pictures of hot people in different states of Blue Steel, chances are, I won’t be reading your review.
2. Norman Reedus is gross.
*ducks from flying rotten tomatoes*
I’m sorry! I just. He’s gross, okay?! I know TWD fanatics are aiming their arrows at me right now, but I don’t see why ladies (and some gents) are ready to lose their unmentionables for him. He looks scruffy and not in a good way. Even in a tux, he looks like he’s going to pull out his bow and arrow and start shooting zombies! Look at it this way, at least I won’t be competing for his affections, yeah?
3. If Christina Aguilera is at my door singing Christmas carols, I’ll douse her with freezing water, then slam the door on her face.
She renders the most annoying Christmas carols ever. Think…fingernails on chalkboard. She plies a two-minute Jingle Bells song into a five-minute taffy. She annoys me so much that every time her renditions come on the radio, I do my own version of Lloyd and Harry’s Most Annoying Sound in the World.
4. It’s 2:47 p.m. and I’m eating lunch while I’m drafting this post. It’s Wednesday, by the way.
Lunch is a piece of bread and an almost empty jar of peanut butter. Slim pickings, I know. But I was running late this morning.I just had time to grab a bread. Not even two pieces of bread. And look how sad that bread is! Lord. If the school doesn’t have lunch programs, my children would starve!
5. My favourite movie is Sweet Home Alabama. I wouldn’t mind seeing Josh Lucas’ cowboy boots under my bed in the mornings.
So his hair is thinning. Those blue eyes, that smile. Pass me the smelling salts, please. Saaaaawwwwwwwooooon.
6. I printed and framed Melina Marchetta’s Goodreads email to me.
She sent me an email thanking me for my review of Froi of the Exiles, and I just about died. We’re not talking a quick “Hey, girl, hey! Thanks for the review, you’re totes awesome!” . Nope. We’re talking beautiful words from a beautiful writer.
7. I don’t like GIFs on reviews.
You know the type: 25 words, 50 GIFs. My tolerance is limited to ONE GIF per review. Any more than that and my patience is tested. It doesn’t mean, however that I won’t read your review. In fact, they can be entertaining. You just need to find a balance. I do know that some books leave you utterly speechless, but I’d really rather read than look at GIFs that give me the twitches.
8. I use “blog tours” as an excuse not to go to the cabin for the weekend.
Never mind that I rarely ever join any blog tours, and that my dear husband doesn’t even know what blog tours are. *whispers* And between the two us, we know that I don’t need to be strapped to my desk the whole freaking day for it.
I love our cabin, but I hate being unplugged. There is no Wi-Fi, no dial-up, or any type of internet connectivity out there. I know, I know. I’m addicted to technology. I don’t use this excuse often, but when I do, it’s usually when I need to catch up on blogging. Shame.
9. I can’t sleep by myself.
If I have to go away on a trip without my kids and husband, I can guarantee you that I won’t be doing any sleeping. Even with the lights and the television on. I need the comfort of their presence even though the kids are not in the same room with me. Or that my husband sounds like he swallowed a chainsaw when he sleeps sometimes.
10. I want a cat or a puppy. But I killed a cactus before so…no.
I always said if I can’t even take care of a house plant that needs no taking care of, how in the world am I suppose to take care of a pet?
Once upon a time, I was one of those sanctimonious people who’d been notoriously judgemental of readers who loved every single thing they read. Because how is every book that’s ever crossed their shelves of a 5 or a 4 star rating variety? C’est impossible! But then I got to thinking, if a person is meticulous about their reading preferences, this may not be as impossible as I orginally thought. If they’re very specific about the books they buy, isn’t it possible that there’s an 80% chance they’ll love everything? Or perhaps if they’re not an impulsive book buyer like me, they might just be better at knowing what to read than I?
So here I am firing back another question. How can you trust someone who hates everything that she reads? Unfortunately, that’s where I’m at right now. My choices have been nothing but lacklustre than I’m left feeling disillusioned about the books on my shelves. Sometimes, it almost feels like I seek ways to find faults in them, which, of course is not true at all.
It has been a bleak reading stretch. And frankly, I’m getting pretty sick of my self. These 1 and 2 star-ratings do nothing to promote the love of reading. All it does is scare away potential lovers of books that I’ve lambasted on the blog. Okay, maybe lambasted is too strong of a word.
The thing is, I’ve been trying to diversify my reading choices. I figure if I switch between YA and Adult Fiction intermittently, I’m bound to find that fantastic read that has eluded me as of late. So far, it’s been a bust.
I go by instincts when I’m at the bookstore. I’m always looking to test and expand my reading taste. I can’t be stuck at a certain aisle and peruse the same type of books because I know it will get boring in no time. So the dictates of how I pick books have been sporadic.
But things had been so dire lately that I’m considering reading some raunchy Erotica just to spice things up a little. Those that I tend to take pleasure in reading (don’t judge me!), but will never admit to enjoying.
And I do. I really, really do. But it’s been a struggle. It’s been depressing, actually. I’m sitting here thinking that all this hatred has to be counterproductive with the very reason I started blogging in the first place. I’m here to promote the love of reading. I’m not here to crush a person’s dream by writing a 500-600 word essay on how much their book sucked. But if I consider credibility and how translating those ire into a blog post have helped keep my sanity, I feel a lessening of guilt.
All I can infer is that I have to do what I have to do to remain honest, and that I can’t help it if I suck at picking good books to read. It’s a trial and error, you see? The risk of what I have to go through in order to broaden my reading horizon.
Though every time I’m near my bookshelf, I can’t help but throw a prayer or a plea.
For the love of God, give me something good to read!