Discussion Post: Are You a Scrooge When It Comes to Lending Your Books to Others?

In most aspects of my life, I like to think of myself as a pretty generous person.  I frequently donate to good causes. I try to be as helpful as possible to my friends and family.  And if anyone I cared about needed it, I’d lend them the shirt off my back.

What I wouldn’t lend them, however, is any of my books.  That’s right. None of them, lol.  When it comes to my books, I become downright Scrooge-like. 

via GIPHY

In my defense, I don’t do it to be mean.  It’s just that my books are one of my most cherished possessions and I’ve been burned in the past by lending them out to people I thought I could trust to take care of them.  What I got in return was either books that were never returned or books that were so severely damaged that they needed to be replaced.  That said, my trust in others has become pretty much nonexistent when it comes to my books.  In many cases, it was because I thought I could convert a non-reader into a reader and I have long since learned my lesson.

There are, of course, exceptions to my no-lending rule.  My mother and sister are probably at the top of the list. They’re both avid readers who treasure books the same way I do so I will happily lend them any books from my collection and feel secure that they will come back to me in the same condition I lent them. 

I also have a couple of close friends that I would be comfortable lending books to.  Those friends have earned my utmost trust and I know they’ll take care of and return my babies intact, lol.

And then there are my blogger friends.  Thus far, I’ve never actually loaned a book to a fellow book blogger but I could see myself being comfortable doing that if the opportunity ever arose because I know full well that book bloggers feel the same way about their books that I feel about mine. 

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So, what about you?  Are you comfortable lending your books out to others or are you a Book Scrooge like me?

Discussion: “Wow! Every Time I See You, You Have a New Book.” – Conversations with Non-Readers

 

I always have the most interesting conversations with people about my reading habits.  Usually the conversations come about because most of the people I’m talking to aren’t big readers and even those who do read a bit can’t get over the fact that pretty much every time they see me, I’m not only reading, but I’m also rarely ever reading the same book.  Sometimes it’s fun to just let them think I’m some kind of super speed reader, but if they were to take a peek into my tote bag, they would discover the real secret, which is that I usually have two or three books that I’m working my way through all at the same time.

via GIPHY

Reading more than one book at a time has pretty much been a life-long habit for me.  I majored in English Lit in college and continued my studies in grad school, so juggling multiple books at a time was a necessity.  I did drop back to one book at a time after I started working full time, but as soon as I started blogging, I went right back to my multi-book habits.  I use the same basic survival skills that I used in college too – just taking a few basic notes along the way so that I don’t get characters, settings, and the basic plot confused while I’m juggling multiple books.

Aside from baffling my friends and family with my “speed reading” talents, reading multiple books at a time serves actually two purposes for me these days:  1) It keeps my inner mood reader pretty happy because I usually choose the books from different genres, that way if I’m not feeling it for one of the books I have going, I can swap out and read a few chapters of something else, and 2) I use it as a multi-pronged approach to attacking my TBR.  How?  Because I always have a physical book (either a recent release or a backlist title), an e-book (either ARC or backlist), and an audiobook that is usually also a backlisted title.

 

via GIPHY

 

Right now, for example, I’m reading a physical copy of The Lady’s Guide to Petticoats and Piracy, an ebook of Salt to the Sea, and I just finished listening to the audiobook for Everything I Never Told You.  The attacking my TBR part still needs a bit of fine tuning because I tend to fail a little more with the ebooks.  My physical books are sitting there staring me in the face and Netgalley sends me those nice, regular reminders of what I need to read soon.  Those pesky ebooks though…they’re all nicely hidden away on my kindle so it’s out of sight, out of mind if I don’t make a conscious effort to keep track of them.  I’m trying to be better about that but, man, the struggle is real.  Darn Amazon and their awesome ebook deals! LOL!

So, where do you fall on the reading spectrum?  Are you a one-book-at-a-time reader or are you an all-the-books-at-the-same-time reader?

Discussion: Why You Should Give Audiobooks Another Chance Even If You Think You Dislike Them

 

I used to think that audiobooks were just not for me.  I had tried them several times over the years but each time came away disappointed.  My number one complaint was that I constantly found myself losing track of what I was listening to and having to backtrack to figure out the last thing I remembered listening to.

This year, however, I made it my mission to give audiobooks another try, especially since as a blogger, I’m reading so many more books than I used to and would love to be able to enjoy the potential for multitasking that audiobooks provide.

 

Guess what I learned?  I LOVE THEM!

 

So, why the change of heart?  What did I do differently this time that I had never tried before?

Well, what I realized was that it wasn’t an audiobook problem, it was a ME problem.  See, I had been trying to listen to them while I was at work, to help pass the time.  The problem?  Every time I was trying to concentrate on a job-related task, I would almost unconsciously stop listening to the book.  And since my job primarily involves proofreading, I was ALWAYS concentrating on job related tasks.  It was just dumb of me to even think that listening to audiobooks in that environment was a good idea.

So, how did I discover that audiobooks are actually fabulous if you’re audiobooking (Is that a word? It is now!) the correct way?

  1. I realized that while they may not work all that well while doing job-related tasks, audiobooks make mindless household chores like folding and putting away laundry so much more tolerable. They are actually a Godsend in this particular area.  I still hate doing chores, mind you, but getting lost in fiction while doing them helps so much.
  1. I learned that audiobooks are a fabulous way to pass the time while exercising. Maybe not with strenuous exercise, I’m not sure, but I’m a walker and for me, the worst part about walking is that it can be lonely and boring, especially since I have to walk for so long to burn a significant number of calories.  Listening to an audiobook while I’m racking up the miles really helps to make that time so much more enjoyable.
  1. I also discovered audiobooks can make a long commute to work or school go by so much quicker. I had never tried this before because my usual commute is less than 15 minutes.  This year, however, I have had to make several trips to some of my company’s other offices and those commutes have been well over an hour in each direction.  I ran the audiobook through the Bluetooth in the car and it made the long drive so much more enjoyable.
  1. I always tend to have trouble falling asleep at night. That’s the time when my brain seems to decide to run through any and all things I’m currently stressing about and then I end up too keyed up to sleep.  I’ve been finding it very helpful to have an audiobook handy for bedtime as well.  I start listening while I’m getting ready for bed, putting my PJs on, etc. and then I just get into bed and keep listening.  It soothes and relaxes me to the point where I usually fall asleep while listening.  So yes, there is some backtracking involved in the morning to find my place again, but that’s so much more preferable to tossing and turning and stressing out half the night.
  1. This is probably also another dumb ME thing, but I learned you can now change the speed of your audiobook narration. When I first started listening to audiobooks back in the day, another initial audiobook complaint of mine was that the narration was always so slow.  I found myself sitting there like ‘OMG, read it faster, please!”

 

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Most of the audiobooks I was initially listening to back then were CDs from the library, but now with the mp3 audio files you can download from the library, there are options to speed up the narration.  Best thing ever!  I use 1.25x and it’s the perfect speed for me.  Fast enough to move things along but not so fast that I can’t keep up.  Love it!

  1. Lastly, I realized that not all genres work well for me on audiobook so I just needed to find out which ones worked the best. What I discovered was that fantasy doesn’t work all that well on audio for me.  There’s something about the worldbuilding and sometimes the unique character names, etc. that I feel like I need the actual print book in hand to keep track of everything.  Again, another ME thing.  Man, there are lots of those, aren’t there?  LOL!  Anyway, while fantasies didn’t work well at all for me, contemporaries work beautifully!  I can breeze right through those on audio and don’t feel like I need the print book to refer back to.  I guess maybe it’s the familiarity that goes along with contemporaries since they’re set in our time, etc., but they are just such a great fit for me on audio.

So, there you have it.  Several reasons to consider giving audiobooks a second look even if you’ve rejected them in the past.

 

Question:  Have you tried audiobooks?  If so, what has been your experience with them?

Discussion Post: Romance Tropes That Work for Me

 

ROMANCE TROPES THAT WORK FOR ME

 

If you’ve followed my blog for a while, you’ve probably seen me mention on more than one occasion that I don’t typically read or enjoy romance books.  I’ve tried them in the past and they’re just not my thing.  I have no idea why, but if I had to hazard a guess, I’d say it probably springs from my childhood.  My parents got divorced when I was ten and their relationship for years before that was absolutely horrible.  I can only recall actually seeing them kiss one time and it was such a shock to see them actually being affectionate with one another, I remember that I actually stood there gaping at them for the longest time.  Screaming and yelling was the norm, so much so that when they finally told my sister and I that they were divorcing, I remember being ecstatic about it and couldn’t pack my suitcase fast enough. I love both of my parents dearly but they were clearly just not a good fit.

So yeah, that’s way too much information about me, but as you can see, my relationship views were negatively shaped at a pretty early age.  And I don’t know if that experience has made me the way I am, but when I read most romances, I just find them so unrealistic that I can’t even enjoy the story.  Insta-love is the number one offender and will almost always get an eye roll out of me, lol.

I also want to add that I mean no disrespect to everyone out there who loves romance novels.  This is definitely one of those ‘It’s me, not you and not the books themselves either” situations.

With all of that said, however, that doesn’t mean that I hate all romance.  I’m not sitting here like Grumpy Cat or the Grinch wishing for all of the fictional characters I read about to be miserable and alone.  In fact, there are several romance tropes that I very much enjoy.  And the key to all of them is simple…I find each of these kinds of relationship to be incredibly realistic.  Today I’m sharing not just the tropes I love, but also some of my favorite reads from each.

 

ENEMIES TO LOVERS

The Enemies to Lovers trope is probably my favorite just because, as I said, I find it so realistic.  I also love that the chemistry is always so intense, whether they’re on the hate end of the spectrum or the love end.  Sparks are always going to fly, and there’s usually some guaranteed barbed banter that it super entertaining.

 

    

 

BEST FRIENDS TO LOVERS

A close second favorite is Best Friends to Lovers.  I just think this trope is so sweet.  I love it because the couple obviously has a long history together if they’re best friends. That friendship bond guarantees that there will be chemistry even if things get a bit awkward when they start to realize their feelings for each other have moved past the friendship stage.  And that awkwardness makes it all the more realistic for me because it’s a situation that I can easily envision playing out.

 

    

 

FAKE RELATIONSHIP TO LOVERS

When it’s well written, I think the Fake Relationship to Lovers can be one of the most fun tropes out there.  The idea that you start off trying to fool someone else only to realize that the joke is on you always amuses me.

 

     

 

 

SECOND CHANCE AT LOVE

This is another favorite for me because, even though I’m telling you I don’t like romance, I’m actually a romantic at heart, especially if it involves someone getting a second chance at love.  We all make mistakes and/or sometimes circumstances that we can’t control get in the way of what could have been a great relationship, so I find second chance stories very reassuring.  It’s nice to know people can find their way back to each other.

 

    

 

STAR CROSSED/FORBIDDEN/ENEMY LOVE

When this trope is well written, it’s also a favorite of mine.  I guess it goes back to my days in high school reading Romeo and Juliet, but there’s just something that really appeals to me about two people trying to be together even when they know they shouldn’t because they’re supposed to be sworn enemies.

 

    

 

 

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So, what are some of your favorite romance tropes? 

 

Discussion: How My Reading Tastes Have Changed Over the Years

 

If you follow my blog, you’ve probably noticed that I have pretty eclectic tastes when it comes to the books I read.  A quick scan of my review archives will show that I’m a big fan of fantasies, science fiction, mysteries and thrillers, historical fiction, and retellings, just to name a few.  I haven’t always had such varied tastes in books, however, which got me thinking about just how much my taste in books has changed over the years.

I think my taste in books really started to evolve and grow once I started buying my own books.  When I was a kid, my parents bought my books so they decided what I read and when I was in high school and college, my reading choices were mostly determined by what was on the course syllabus.  Needless to say, I was fully immersed in classics during most of those years.  Don’t get me wrong though. I adored most of the classics I read and when it was time for me to take control of my book buying and actually read for pleasure rather than required reading, I still stuck with the classics for a number of years.  I fell in love with Pride and Prejudice when I studied it in college, so I felt compelled to then go on to read all of the rest of Austen’s novels on my own.  I did the same with countless other classic authors – Dickens, Hawthorne, the Bronte sisters, Hardy, Shakespeare…you get the idea.

 

    

 

After a while though, I started to get a little bored with the classics.  They started to feel so dated and I really wanted something more modern.  That was when I entered my Chick Lit phase.  For a few months, I couldn’t get enough of books like The Devil Wears Prada, The Nanny Diaries, and Bridget Jones’s Diary.  I think that phase directly coincided with me moving out of my mom’s house and getting an apartment of my own.  I identified with the characters in those books so much at first, but I got burned out on that kind of Chick Lit pretty quickly.  Maybe they started to remind me too much of my real life, I don’t know lol, but I bailed and moved on to Fantasy novels.

 

     
 

Fantasy and science fiction novels were the ultimate escape from reality for me and unlike the Chick Lit, which I maintain was just a phase, fantasy and sci fi remain some of my favorite types of reads today.  I actually started my fantasy reading by re-reading a favorite childhood series of mine, the Chronicles of Narnia, and then I moved on to The Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings trilogy, and eventually to Harry Potter.  The Martian was probably the first book that really made me interested in sci fi.

 

         

 

I have to admit that I mainly picked up Harry Potter to see what all of the fuss was about.  I was teaching high school English at the time and many of my students were walking around with Harry Potter books in their backpacks.  Getting students excited about reading is always so challenging so I just had to know what it was about those books that had them all so captivated.  Like my students, I immediately became hooked on the series and then began to explore more YA books because I realized that I was missing out on some pretty amazing reads.  Before becoming hooked on Harry Potter, I had lived with this notion that I was too old to read books like that.   Once I entered the “Screw it, I’m a grown ass woman and I’m going to read whatever the hell I want to read” phase, however, it felt like a whole new world was opened up to me.  Again, a quick glance through my review archives will show that not only do I read a lot of YA books now, but they are often some of my highest rated reviews.

Novels like The Nightingale and The Light Between Oceans introduced me to historical fiction, which quickly became another love of mine.  I was initially drawn to novels set around WWII, but now I find myself looking for novels that focus on periods in history that I’m less familiar with.  In some ways the historical fiction calls to me because I find it similar in style and theme to some of my favorite classics but yet most of what I read focuses on 20th century historical events so they don’t feel quite as dated as the classics do.

 

     

 

I then felt the need for a little excitement and mystery in my life, so I delved into the world of mysteries and psychological thrillers.  Oh yeah, as much as I complain about them now, I was totally on board with the Gone Girl/The Girl on the Train trend.  Even though I grew tired of the unreliable/unlikeable narrator trend that those books ushered in, I remain a huge fan of psychological thrillers in general.  Ruth Ware is a new favorite of mine, and I also love Meg Gardiner’s UNSUB series.

 

       

 

Spring boarding off those thrillers, I have also most recently started to get into what I would call domestic dramas.  Books like Big Little Lies have been grabbing my attention, the ones that focus on neighborhoods and the idea that everyone is hiding something and no one’s lives are as perfect as they would have you believe.  This type of story seems to be the latest trend in fiction, and I’m hoping it sticks around for a while because I truly can’t get enough of books like this.

 

     
 

Another trend that I fell in love with and can’t get enough of are retellings.  My love for retellings started with Marissa Meyer.  I adored The Lunar Chronicles and her Queen of Hearts retelling, Heartless.

 

     

 

I try to imagine what it would have been like to run into me at a bookstore 20 years ago versus today.  In both scenarios, my arms would have been loaded down with books.  The main difference is that while back then, my book haul would have been classics, classics, and more classics.  Today, anything is fair game to end up in that book haul.

 

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How have your reading tastes changed over the years?

DISCUSSION: Challenge Fatigue – Can One Have Too Many Reading Challenges?

I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately, mainly because I’ve signed up for more reading and blogging challenges this year than I ever have before, and although I only chose challenges that I felt aligned with goals I already hoped to achieve on my blog this year, I now find myself struggling to keep up with a few of them.  In my mind, I’ve labeled this Challenge Fatigue.

What’s funny though (or at least it’s funny to me anyway) is that it’s not the actual reading part of the challenges that has me feeling a little burnt out.  No, instead it’s the “housekeeping” aspect of the challenges that are bogging me down.   You know, the part where you have to remember to go and do the linkups to show that you’re actually keeping up with the challenges, etc.  Yeah, I totally suck at that.  I try to be organized about it and have a tabbed spreadsheet to keep track of my challenges and make sure I remember to submit everything, but sometimes I just forget and then I have to backtrack and see what I’ve submitted and what I haven’t.  It gets a little tedious at times.  (Did I also mention that becoming more organized was also a goal of mine for 2018? Ha!)

 

 

So anyway, all of my struggles have me wondering at least for myself, how many challenges is too many?  Right now I’m doing these five.

  • Goodreads Challenge (Goal – 90 books, I’ve read 58 books so far)
  • Debut Authors Challenge (Goal – 12 authors, I’ve read and reviewed 8 debuts so far)
  • New Release Challenge (Goal – 30 books, Read and Reviewed 31 books)
  • Beat the Backlist Challenge (Goal – 30 books, Read and Reviewed 16 books so far)
  • Discussion Challenge (Goal – 12 posts, As of this post, I’ve done 5 discussions)

When I chose to do this many challenges, my first thought was to set the goals low so that they wouldn’t stress me out.  I was torn though because there’s the other part of me that asks “Then what’s the point of even doing it if you’ve set the goal so low that you’ll easily achieve it?  What’s challenging about that?  It’s called a challenge for a reason!”  Yeah, I hate that part of me too.

Out of the five challenges, I’ve already achieved my goal of 30 new releases and am over the halfway point on all of the other challenges, except the Discussion Challenge, where I’m only at 5 including the post that you’re currently reading.  Discussion posts are not easy for me so this challenge has been the toughest, but in many ways, also the most valuable for me because it does truly challenge me to step out of my comfort zone.  The others, rather than truly challenge me, have really just functioned more as just reminders of the goals I hoped to achieve on the blog:  read and promote more debut authors, read more new releases but also keep moving through my endless backlist of books, etc.  Did I really need challenges for those?  Looking back, I honestly think I probably would have read the same numbers of books in each of those areas whether I had the challenge or not.

 

 

And now comes the quandary of what to do now that I am starting to meet my goals on them.  Do I bump up the goals and continue or do I stop and call the challenge completed?  I’m leaning toward just marking them complete and moving on to something else, but I guess we’ll see how I feel as I get closer to the finish line on each one.  I have to admit I did feel a bit of relief when the host of the Beat the Backlist Challenge announced some changes to that challenge which translated to less “housekeeping” on my end.

Even though I’m okay overall with the 5 challenges, moving forward, I think I’ll probably do less of them, especially the ones that are meant to run all year round.  I’ll probably stick to one or two of those, especially since I’m actually finding that I prefer the challenges that only last a month or two and also the shorter readathons.  They feel like more a challenge because the timeframe is shorter, which also means less of the “housekeeping,” but the goals are usually still flexible so I can make them as challenging as I want to.  Some favorites from the past two years for me are the Summer TBR Wipeout Challenge, the March Take Control of Your TBR Challenge, and the HoHoHo Readathon.

 

How about you?  Have you ever found yourself suffering from Challenge Fatigue?  How many challenges is too many for you?

Discussion: Girls, Girls, Girls – Why Are There So Many “Girls” in Mysteries & Thrillers?

Designed at canva.com

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together.  Top Ten Tuesday has been one of my favorite memes ever since I started blogging, so huge thanks to Jana for taking over the hosting duties!

 

This week’s TTT topic is Frequently Used Words In [Insert Genre/Age Group] Titles.

 

Okay, so I have no clue if I’ve really properly addressed this topic or not, but what immediately popped into my head when I read it is how many times I’ve seen the word GIRL or GIRLS in the titles of mystery/thriller novels.  And maybe it’s something I read too much into, but I can’t help but wonder why so many authors choose to use that word.  I’m sure there are plenty of other words that are used equally often, but I just seem to see this one so frequently that I’m literally like “Oh look, it’s another ‘GIRL’ book” whenever I come across a new title that has it.

Every time I see it, the same series of questions pops into my head.  Is it just a coincidence or are these authors making a conscious choice by selecting that word?  If it’s a conscious choice, are they trying to make some kind of statement?  If so, is it a statement about how often girls are victimized?  Although in the case of a few of the titles I’ve highlighted below, said ‘girl’ is not necessarily a victim at all so I’m not convinced I’m on the right track in my line of thinking.  (Did I mean that I might be overthinking this topic?)

Another question I often have when I see the word GIRL in the title of these kinds of books is why GIRL instead of WOMAN.  Again, in the case of most of the titles I’ve listed below, the majority of the female characters are grown women, not girls at all.  So why refer to them as girls? Are they coming at it from the perspective of the criminal? Do they think of their victims as girls?  (Seriously, am I giving this too much thought?)

I don’t really know if there are truly any concrete answers to my questions but I know I would find it hard to believe that any author would painstakingly pore over every word in his or her novel only to then just willy nilly slap a random title on it.  There’s a reason for GIRL; I just don’t know what it is.

Anyway, those are my ramblings about GIRLS in mysteries.   I’d love to hear your take on it. Why do you think there are so many GIRLS in Mysteries/Thrillers?

 

Why Are There So Many “Girls” in Mysteries & Thrillers?

 

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  all the missing girls 

 

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Discussion Post: Who are You?  Finding Your Voice as a Blogger

Who are You?  Finding Your Voice as a Blogger

I’m celebrating my 2nd Blogoversary this week (I’ll be hosting a giveaway soon to celebrate that, by the way, so stay tuned!) and as I start my third year, it really has me thinking about how far I’ve come and what some of my biggest challenges were starting out as a newbie.

I think where I struggled most, aside from the actual mechanics of setting up a blog and getting started, was figuring out who I am as a blogger – finding my voice, so to speak.  When I first joined the community, I was easily intimidated because there are just so many bloggers out there with these confident, energetic personalities who have amassed tons of followers.  All I could think was “Who is going to pay attention to shy, awkward little me when there are all of these amazing and vibrant personalities out there?”

 

Now, that said, while I know it may be tempting to try to model your blogging voice after bloggers like that, if I could offer one piece of advice to new bloggers, it would be this…don’t do it.

Why?  Here are my thoughts on the subject as they have evolved over the past two years, every time I have doubted myself and felt like maybe I should do something differently:

  • Even the biggest blogger started out small and had to find his or her way as well. Maybe they now have thousands of followers but chances are, it has taken them years to build that kind of following. It doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with personality. It’s all about putting in the work to make your blog and online following grow.
  • If you model yourself too closely after a “big” blogger, eventually someone is going to notice and probably say something and, ugh, who needs that kind of stress and awkwardness in their life? Not to mention if what you’re trying to do doesn’t really reflect who you are as a blogger, are you really going to be able to keep it up long-term?  Or want to, for that matter?
  • Why would you want your blog to reflect someone else’s personality and style when you have a personality and style of your own?
  • Wouldn’t the blogging community be boring if we all sounded exactly alike?

When I think about the bloggers I enjoy interacting with the most, it’s not necessarily the bloggers with the most effervescent personalities that I’m most drawn to.  Yes, of course I enjoy those vibrant and energetic bloggers too, but the ones that reel me in and keep me coming back are those blogs, big or small, where I feel like I’m getting to know the blogger a bit each time I visit and read their posts.  Whatever their personality happens to be, it comes shining through and I feel like I’m making a real connection with someone.  And I honestly don’t think I’m alone in this.  Aren’t many of us in the blogging community trying to make connections with people we think we’ll like and share interests with?

So, that said, the point of my post is that even when we’re having doubts about whether we’re good enough, we should still strive to be ourselves, no matter what.  If you’re a bubbly, energetic person, then by all means, make your posts reflect that, but if you’re quieter and more subtle, that’s cool too.  And if you’re a ranter, rant away! In short, you be you and your confidence as a blogger will grow, and, best of all, your tribe will find you. ♥

 

 

Discussion Post: Books Guaranteed to Pull Me Out of a Reading Slump

It has happened to us all at some point.  One minute you’re on a roll, reading one incredible book after another, and then boom, it hits…the dreaded reading slump.  As soon as the slump hits, you try book after book from your TBR pile, but nothing seems to satisfy and instead of being the wonderful hobby that you love so much, reading suddenly becomes a chore.

I’ve been fairly lucky on this front and (knock on wood!) have only fallen into a reading slump a few times in my life so far and most of those were in college when I was required to read a lot of books for my English major that didn’t necessarily appeal to me.  But man, when those slumps do hit, they just make me so depressed.  Seriously, is there anything worse for a book lover than to suddenly not enjoy reading anymore?

Usually switching to a different genre for a while is enough to help me bust through my slumps, which is how I’ve developed such eclectic tastes in books over the years, but every once in a while, changing genres is not enough.  Sometimes I just have to set aside my entire TBR pile and go back and revisit some cherished old favorites that always remind me why I fell in love with reading in the first place and give me the kick in the pants I need to get back on track with my reading.  

 

So what are my go-to slump busting reads?

 

CHILDHOOD FAVORITES

 

There’s nothing like taking a moment to go back and rediscover those favorite characters and settings from my childhood.  I’m a huge fan of doing this, especially now that my son is old enough to read my childhood favorites.  I’ve been trying to instill a love of reading in him so it has been wonderful for us to read and enjoy my childhood favorites together. He gets to discover these wonderful characters for the first time and I get to take a stroll down memory lane.

 

BOOKS THAT RESONATE

 

 

These are books that no matter how many years have passed since I first read them, I still think about them.  They taught me lessons that have stuck with me to this day and they are books that are guaranteed to make me think.  These are books that I remain passionate about no matter how many times I re-read them.

 

BOOKS THAT MAKE ME CRY

 

I don’t know about other readers, but sometimes I think my reading slumps are caused by other things that are going on in my life at the time.  It’s not necessarily the books I’m reading, it’s just me.  Whether it’s work stress, family drama, or whatever, just something gets all bottled up inside and when that happens, I feel like I need an emotional release and so I will reach for a book that I know will give me that good cry.

 

BOOKS THAT MAKE ME LAUGH

 

 

On a similar note, maybe a good cry isn’t what I need. Maybe it’s a good laugh.  I don’t read a lot of funny books so this can sometimes be a challenge, but there are a few silly books out there that I love to pull out when I need some laughs.  I know Pride and Prejudice is technically more of a romance than anything else, but the banter between Elizabeth Bennett and Mr. Darcy, not to mention the silly antics of Mrs. Bennett, is always good for a laugh.  And I’ve all but abandoned the Stephanie Plum series for now, as I mentioned in this week’s Top Ten Tuesday post, but let me tell you, if I hit another major reading slump, I wouldn’t hesitate to grab a book or two from that series.  If the misadventures of Grandma Mazur and Lula don’t bust a reading slump, nothing will, lol.

 

HARRY POTTER

 

   

Yes, this series is in a category all by itself.  I didn’t read it until I was an adult so I can’t consider it a childhood favorite. But in a lot of ways, it covers all of the other topics above and then some.  There’s just something about picking up one of these books that feels like coming home. Whenever I read them, I not only fall in love with the characters and the story all over again, but I also think about how many other readers this series has captivated over the years.  This is the series that made so many people fall in love with reading, and I get caught up in that spell and all is right with the world again (at least as far as my love of reading anyway, lol).

 

 

So, what about you?  What kind of books do you turn to when you’re trying to pull yourself out of a reading slump?

Lessons Learned: Blogging While Traveling (Discussion Post)

 

For me, and I imagine for most of my fellow bloggers, the key to enjoying your blogging experience is to figure out what works and what doesn’t work for you.  I’ll be celebrating my second blogoversary in a couple of months and I know so much of these first two years has been about finding my way – trying new things and discarding them if they aren’t working for me, sometimes tweaking them slightly along the way just to make sure I can’t figure out a way to make things work.

One of the areas where I think I’ve learned the most about myself as a blogger is when it comes to blogging while traveling.  When I first started blogging, there was no way I was going to go off and leave my blog sitting silently for days or weeks while I was traveling, so I would pack up my laptop, my planners, and anything I thought I might possibly need in order to blog while away from home.  I hadn’t mastered the art of scheduling posts ahead of time at that point (and I still haven’t, but let’s not go there right now, lol), so in my overly ambitious mind, I was going to vacation all day and then fit in a little blogging at night.

Source: Pinterest

I’m not even sure why I thought this would work because those who know me know that when I plan trips for myself, I pack them full of activities (tours, shows, shopping, museums, whatever) and rarely have much down time. I like to go, go, go and then crash and burn once I get back to the hotel at night, lol.  So there’s little chance I’m going to get any reading done while I’m traveling, much less write any blog posts.  So yeah, I lugged around my laptop and books that whole trip for no reason.

The second trip I took, I was determined to learn from my mistakes so I didn’t even pack my laptop.  I still had that fear of leaving my blog sitting quietly while I was gone though, so this time I did get my act together and scheduled some content to post while I was away.  So instead of packing a laptop, I just packed an iPad and decided I would confine my blogging time to the train ride and would just use that time to basically blog hop and keep up with comments on my posts as they went up.  Unfortunately that was a fail for me as well.  I fell asleep for most of the train ride in both directions and just never got around to even opening the iPad once I reached my destination.

While this was, in theory, much more practical for me than lugging my laptop all over the place, it ultimately still wasn’t the best course of action, especially since once I got home, I had days and days’ worth of comments to catch up on from the posts that had gone up.  Plus, because I’m still working on my procrastination and scheduling skills, and even though I had content ready for while I was gone, I had no content ready to go once I returned so I still managed to create stress for myself, lol.  My trip was in late October and I felt like it took me until nearly December to really get myself back on track.

Source: Pinterest

I’m not sure when I’ll be taking my next trip, but after these two experiences, I’ve finally come around to the idea that, for me anyway, it’s perfectly okay to let my blog sit for a few days.  It has taken me two years to get to this point, but I’m thinking the best course of action for me is going to be to just make a short blog post letting people know I’ll be traveling for a few days and that I’ll resume blogging once I return.  At the same time, I will be doing my best to schedule content ahead – not to post while I’m gone — but instead, to actually begin posting once I return home.  That way I have a few days to get re-settled and recover from my travels and have the flexibility to blog hop and return comments without feeling like I’m falling behind.

We’ll see how that plan plays out, but I feel like it’s the least stressful and most practical option for me based on my travel and blogging habits.

Source: kadampalife.org

 

And you’ll notice that all of this is self-inflicted.  I know the blogging community is totally cool with me taking a hiatus whenever I need to.  It has just been me putting unnecessary pressure on myself, which is apparently what I do, lol.

So what about you?  Is blogging while traveling a “do” or a “don’t” for you?  Have you learned any tips along the way that have made it possible for you to blog while traveling?  Or are you okay with taking a mini hiatus while vacationing?