Discussion: Tackling the Series That Have Lingered on my TBR

 

While setting my reading goals for this year, it struck me that the biggest culprit that keeps my TBR so mountainous is that I struggle so much with the series.  I really have a love-hate relationship with them.  I read one book from a series and even if I love it and the next book is available, I still flit off and read something else rather than continuing with the next book.  I’m also famous for saying that I want to wait for at least two books in a series to come out before I even start reading so that I can then binge read them both.  Yeah, that doesn’t happen either.  Instead, I end up with series on my TBR where I was waiting for the second book, promptly forgot about the series altogether, and now the series has 3, 4, and sometimes even 5 books out.  I’ve been a series failure for years but because one of my goals this year is to read more of the books I already own, I’m really going to make an effort to get through a bunch of series. Even if I don’t finish them, I need to see progress, preferably well beyond the first book.  If there’s no progress, I think it’s probably time to take them off of my TBR and move on with my life.

 

THE SERIES I’VE MADE PROGRESS ON

 

I plan to start with the series that I’m closest to being caught up on and that’s The Illuminae Files.  I read and loved the first two books but then just never got around to reading the final book.  Once I get through my February ARCs, finishing this series is my number one priority.

THE ILLUMINAE FILES by Jay Kristoff and Amie Kaufman

 

Once I’ve finished with that series, I plan to continue with the Throne of Glass series.  I’ve had most of the books on my shelf for years but just finally pulled the first one down in December.  I read it and immediately felt like a jackass for having ignored the series for so long, I don’t know that I’ll get the entire series read in 2019, but I plan to get through as many as possible since it’s the biggest series sitting on my shelves.

THRONE OF GLASS by Sarah J. Maas

 

Another series that has been sitting on my shelves for years is The Raven Cycle.  Just like with Throne of Glass, I either ignored the hype or else worried that the books wouldn’t live up to the hype. I couldn’t even tell you which at this point, but regardless, it took me until this month to finally read the first book.  Also, like with Throne of Glass, I felt like a moron for putting it off because it was brilliant.  I started and plan to continue this series on audio and hope that I’ll finish it this year since the first book went so quickly.

THE RAVEN CYCLE by Maggie Stiefvater

 

The next series I really want to get caught up on is the DC ICONS series.  I thought Wonder Woman: Warbringer was great, but then saw a lot of meh reviews for the Batman book so I lost interest in the series for a while.  My sister texted me last week though to tell me how much she loved Catwoman: Soulstealer so my interest is renewed.  Worst case scenario is that I skip Batman and move on to Catwoman but there will be progress, darn it, before the Superman book comes out in March.

DC ICONS by Bardugo, Lu, Maas, and de la Peña

 

A Song of Ice and Fire has the honor of sitting on my bookshelves the longest unread.  I have slowly but surely made progress on the series though and only have to read one more book to be all caught up.  The problem?  That one brick of a book is as long as some of the complete other series I want to read.  The good thing is that Martin takes so long to come out with each book that I’ll probably be caught up for years once I finish A Dance with Dragons, lol.

A SONG OF ICE AND FIRE by George R.R. Martin

 

The Clash of Kingdoms series is one I started but then honestly just completely forgot about until I won the second book in a giveaway this past fall.  The third book is also out now, so I’d like to go ahead and wrap this one up as soon as possible too.

CLASH OF KINGDOMS by Erin Summerill

 

A final series that I’ve made some progress on and would like to wrap up this year is The Nevernight Chronicles.  I really enjoyed the first book but haven’t gotten around to the second book yet.  The third book comes out in September so I’d like to be caught up by then.

THE NEVERNIGHT CHRONICLES by Jay Kristoff

 

 

THE SERIES I HAVE YET TO EVEN START

 

In addition to all of the series that I’ve started but not finished, I also have a pretty ridiculous list of series that I keep saying I’m dying to start but then keep ignoring.  Below is a list of series I still haven’t started yet that have been on my TBR the longest.  If you’ve read any of these, which ones do you think I should prioritize once I make some progress on the series I’ve already begun?  Are there any you think aren’t even worth starting at this point?

 

THREE DARK CROWNS by Kendare Blake

 

 

ARC OF A SCYTHE by Neal Shusterman

 

 

AN EMBER IN THE ASHES by Sabaa Tahir

 

 

FLAME IN THE MIST by Renee Ahdieh

 

 

THE GREAT LIBRARY by Rachel Caine

 

DAUGHTER OF SMOKE & BONE by Laini Taylor

 

 

WAYWARD CHILDREN by Seanan McGuire

 

 

THE WRATH AND THE DAWN by Renee Ahdieh

 

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Question:  Do you struggle to complete series too?  Do you have a plan of attack for this year to try to knock some series off your TBR that have been there for ages?

Discussion: Setting Blogging Goals and Managing Expectations in 2019

 

It’s that time again.  Time to reflect on what I accomplished with my blog last year and where I hope to take it in 2019.  Overall, I’m very happy with where I am with my blog.  After almost three years of blogging, I feel like my blog is a good reflection of what I’m all about, at least in the bookish sense anyway.  Every year I feel like I become a little more comfortable with what I’m doing and worry less about comparing myself to others.  I know what I am and I know what I’m not, so this year I’m gearing my goals towards tweaking a few things here and there about myself as a blogger that will challenge me a little without turning blogging into a chore rather than a love.

  1. CONSISTENCY.  I have long since figured out that I will never be one of those amazing bloggers who is able to post every day of the week.  I’ve only accomplished that a couple of times in my nearly three years of blogging and I just found it to be way too stressful.  So instead of trying to post every day, my goal for this year is continue to improve on my consistency.  Four posts a week is usually easily manageable for me, even if I have a lot going on in my personal life, but I’d like to stretch myself a little more this year and try to consistently get to five posts every week and occasionally even six as time allows.
  1. REALISTIC EXPECTATIONS. I always aspire to be one of those super organized bloggers who has their posts scheduled way ahead and every year I fail miserably.  2019 is the year to finally admit to myself that blogging way ahead is just never going to happen. Although I might be a great planner in my own mind, I’m the absolute worst at actually executing the plans I make.  The majority of the posts I write are done the night before they are scheduled to go live.  I’m just a procrastinator at heart. Always have been, always will be.  So, my goal in this area is basically to take an organizational baby step and try to get three or four posts scheduled ahead.  I’ve done it for the past two weeks and although it will take some getting used to, I do like that it has freed up my time each evening so that I can more easily blog hop and/or read.  We’ll see how long I can keep it up. Wish me luck!

 

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  1. FOCUS.  When it comes to social media, I’ve tried and failed at pretty much every platform.  I’m just a socially awkward person and I’m never going to do more than sporadically post on either twitter or Facebook.  In 2018, however, I did finally start my own Bookstagram account, and while I don’t have many followers yet and don’t post as often as I probably should, this is actually a platform that doesn’t make me feel like the Queen of Awkwardness.  I love taking bookish photos and looking at everyone else’s photos. I find it almost therapeutic.  All of that said, my goal for 2019 is to focus my social media attention on that Bookstagram account (posting more consistently, commenting on other posts, etc.).
  1. SELF CONTROL. Yep, you probably know where I’m going with this one.    I’ve finally gotten to the point where I do get approved for a fair number of ARCs on Netgalley.  The temptation to go hog wild and request everything under the sun is always there, but I’m determined to exercise better self control in 2019.  I love to read and review ARCs but I also have a major goal this year of clearing out more of my backlist so I’m aiming for a better balance between ARC reading and reading books I’ve purchased.
  1. BE MORE SELECTIVE.  Along similar lines with not requesting too many ARCs, I’m also aiming to be more selective in terms of the blog tours I take part in and in the challenges I join. My goal is to only take part in tours for ARCs I already have a copy of, or for books I’m definitely interested in reading that publishers I work with have invited me to take part in.  I’m also trying to be more selective in the challenges I take part in. I want to read more audiobooks this year, read more from my backlist, read more retellings, and write more discussion posts so I  have chosen only those challenges that I think will help me achieve those goals.

 

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So that’s what I’m hoping to see on my blog in 2019.  Wish me luck!

 

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Have you set goals for yourself for the upcoming year?  Do we share any?

 

Getting Rid of Books – How to Decide When It’s Time to Part Ways

This is the time of year when I most often think about parting ways with some of the physical books that fill my bookshelves.  Every year I receive wonderful new books as Christmas gifts and then spend days trying to figure out where to put them because my shelves are already overflowing.

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I have to admit that as a book hoarder collector, I find it very hard to get rid of books. In the back of my mind, there’s always this little voice that tells me I might want to re-read all of my books someday and that it therefore doesn’t make sense to part ways with them.  Spoiler alert:  I rarely EVER re-read books so the little voice in my head is totally full of it.  And now that I’m doing bookstagram, that first little voice has been joined by another that says “Don’t get rid of that book. You might want to use it in a photo layout one day.”  So yeah, fun times, lol.

That’s not to say I never get rid of books though. I do. I have to. I’ve come to accept that my house just isn’t big enough to store an infinite number of books so when I’m maxed out on shelf space, I make the difficult choice to part ways with some books.

How do I decide which ones to get rid of?  Well, the easy ones are the books that I didn’t really enjoy when I read them, especially if I actually DNF’ed them.  Those are always the first to go. I know I’m never going to read them again so I go ahead and donate those, either to Goodwill or to the local library.

The books that are harder to choose from are those that I liked but didn’t necessarily love.  I kind of cheat when it comes to these books.  I’ll pull them off my shelves to make room for newer books, but I won’t part ways right away.  Instead, I box them up and shove them in the back of my closet.  If I haven’t given any of them a second thought after a few months, then I’m good with getting rid of them.  Because I did enjoy these though, I’ll usually show them to my mom and sister, who are also avid readers, and give them first pick if any are of interest, then I donate the rest.

I have an even harder time parting ways with classics. There’s just something about them that makes me feel like I should hold on to them, even if I didn’t particularly like them when I read them.  I have two copies of Moby Dick sitting on my shelves right now, for example, and I absolutely hated that book when I read it.  And as you can see from the photo above, they’re not even pretty copies of the book. Maybe it’s the collector in me or maybe I subconsciously think it makes me look smart to have classics on my shelf. Or maybe I think my son might want to read it someday. I don’t know. Maybe I’m just weird, lol.

So if classics are a struggle even if I didn’t like them, what happens if I actually loved a book?  Well, you can pretty much forget me ever parting ways with it.  It’s just not happening. Those are the books where those little voices in my head always win out.  Thankfully, although my methods are clearly far from perfect, it seems to work out well enough. I’m typically willing to get rid of just enough books each time to make room for the new ones.  If that ever ends up not being the case, I guess I’ll have to re-evaluate what I’m doing, but until that time comes, I’m content with my system.

 

So, what about you?  How do you decide which books to part ways with?

Discussion Post: Sentimental Attachment to Books

 

Every year, as the holidays approach, my sentimental side kicks in and I start thinking about special gifts that I’ve received over the years.  Gifts from my son, gifts from my husband, and gifts from my parents are normally the first ones that come to mind, just because they’ve spent more time with me than anyone else and they just know what I’m going to love and treasure.  This year, however, the special gift that came to mind was actually a book so I thought it would be fun to share the story of this gift on the blog.

As a lifelong avid reader, I’ve of course received tons of books as gifts over the years.  I’ve received new releases, gorgeous hardcover editions for my collection, books that friends and family have loved that they think I should read, gift cards to go shopping for books of my choice, etc.  The bookish gifts are endless and I love them all.

All of that said, however, my all-time favorite bookish gift is actually a ratty old copy of Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird that was given to me by my reading teacher when I was in the eighth grade.  We had just finished reading the book and doing a whole unit on it in class.   It was the first real “grown up” book I had ever read, and to this day, I still remember just how much the story and its themes resonated with me that first time I read it.  Once the unit was over, the teacher told us that it was her all-time favorite book and that she hoped we had loved it as well. Then she told us that the copies we were reading from were ours to keep.  I had never owned a “grown up” book before so I was just tickled to death to take home my very own copy of To Kill a Mockingbird and put it on my shelf.

 

 

I’ve since added much prettier editions of the book to my collection, but I still have that ratty old paperback sitting on my shelf.  I’ve read it and re-read it so many times over the years that I’m amazed it hasn’t disintegrated, but no matter how ratty it gets, it will always be my favorite edition of the book because of that sentimental attachment.

 

Question:  So, how about you?  Have you received any special books as gifts over the years?

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. 

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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.

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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.

 

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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?