Thoughts

Thoughts #60: Book Sources

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Recently I’ve been thinking about where all my books come from. According to my last count (last month, so it has most likely changed since then), I own 520 books (excluding e-books). And I normally get these in a variety of ways:

  • Gifted: of course my friends and family know I’m a bibliophile, so books are – or rather were – frequent birthday and Christmas presents. Now though, it’s a bit of a risk as chances are I might already have the book, so people are more likely to give me book tokens than actual books.
  • Brand new: I don’t tend to buy my books brand new unless I’m really treating myself, they’re part of a special offer that I just can’t resist (3 for £10 on paperbacks!), or I REALLY want the book and don’t think I’ll find it second-hand very easily.
  • Second hand: this is how I get most of my books. My local charity shops are excellent, my favourite selling books for as little as £0.50 each. I’m not bothered about buying second-hand – as long as the book isn’t falling apart. Why spend £8.99 on one book when I could buy 18 for that price second-hand??
  • ARCs and finished review copies: as a book blogger, I get sent books from publishers on a regular basis – some ARCs, some finished copies.

As I was so confident about how my book buying would break down, I wanted to look into my collection to see just how many books come under each of these categories – and here are the results:

What surprised me is that I own nearly the same amount of brand new books as second-hand ones – and I think this is entirely down to book blogging. I’m much more aware of new releases since starting this blog, and in a way I guess I feel more pressure to read them sooner rather than later, because of all the hype.

For such an avid book buyer, I’m also pretty good at getting rid of books, mostly due to available space. I happily send ARCs that I’ve read on to friends for them to enjoy, if I don’t think I will re-read the book, and donate back to the charity shop from which I get many of my books. I’m also more likely to donate second-hand books than new ones, which might be why my new book collection is larger than I thought it would be.

Where does your book collection come from? Do you tend to buy new books over second-hand, or vice versa?

Thoughts

Thoughts #59: Why Bookworms Hoard Unread Books

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Have you ever looked at the bookworm in your life and wondered why they hoard books like a dragon hoards gold? Have you ever suggested that their collection might be getting a *bit* out of hand, only for them to snap at you like a Rottweiler? Are you confused and upset by these events? Well let me explain to you just why bookworms feel the need to hoard unread books, books that may or may never be read…

  • To the bookworm, the idea of having NO books to read is far scarier than the idea of having more books than you could ever read. Like panic attack inducing. So please don’t suggest to the bookworm that they might have a problem, at risk of endangering their health.
  • There’s something really satisfying about having all that choice.
  • Books, BOOKS EVERYWHERE.
  • Bookworms secretly hope that if we stare at our amassed unread book collections for long enough, we’ll learn the entire contents through the power of osmosis.
  • In an apocalypse type situation, book hoarders will be all smug. We’ll have months and months of entertainment in our unread books, although sadly we probably won’t be able to blog about our thoughts and share status updates on Goodreads…
  • Bookworms must be prepared for every situation. Need to escape for a bit? Got a fantasy for that. Need some cheering up? How about a romance. Need something gripping? Here’s a thriller! Sorted!
  • Got a wobbly table or other piece of household furniture? Pop a book under it. Bookworm to the rescue!
  • You never know what sorts of life skills might be in those unread books. The Heimlich Manoeuvre, how to cook the perfect omelette, where dragons are most ticklish… things that could be useful one day, you know.

So remember, hoarding books is GOOD! It might save your life one day 😉

Misc.

My Bookish New Year’s Resolutions 2017

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First of all, a big Happy New Year to my readers! Thank you to everyone for sticking around, whether you’ve been reading my blog since it started, or have just joined us. As has become a bit of a tradition in the New Year, I like to start by sharing my bookish New Year’s Resolutions on the blog – so here they are for 2017.

  • 2017 will be the year that I finally conquer Netgalley! In 2016, I vowed that I’d get my rating to 80%. It’s currently at 81%. I need to read 36 more books – or at least be honest whether or not I am going to read them – to reach 100%. After that, I will feel happy using Netgalley again, but right now I don’t feel I can request anything from there, and haven’t in about a year.
  • Make more use of my local library system. As I started doing towards the end of 2016. Even if my local library doesn’t have much, I can order books in from around the county and pick them up from down the road, which is really handy.
  • But also read from my own shelves. At my last count, I owned 190 unread books, many of which I was desperate to read at time of purchase, yet still haven’t touched. Oops.
  • Write more reviews. I think part of my problem with reviews is that I’ve only been reviewing review copies – so I have this association with deadlines, time pressure etc. I have occasionally reviewed books when I’ve really wanted to express how they’ve made me feel, but not that often. So from now on, I’m trying to review books that make me feel strongly – whether positive or negative – no matter where they’ve come from.
  • Continue to be decisive about which books I accept for review. Maybe a contrast to the above point – but I don’t want to read and review everything. I simply don’t have time, especially when there’s so much out there that appeals to me. Over the past year I’ve become more and more confident about turning down books for review that just don’t appeal to me, or if I’m just not feeling in the mood, or if I’m feeling a little pressured. My blog, my time, my decision.
  • Bring Fantasy Friday back! I miss that feature.
  • Become more active within the blogosphere again. I think I probably say this every year, but I used to be so good at commenting on other people’s blogs. Now, not so much. I’d like to be able to do that again.

Do you have any resolutions for 2017, whether bookish or non-bookish? 🙂

Thoughts

Thoughts #57: How ‘Controlled’ Is Your Reading?

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Lately I’ve been thinking about how I miss the pre-blogging days of reading, where I felt less pressure to read certain books and reach goals, and often re-read a lot of my favourites. Even though I can choose how I read now, I do feel like there are a lot more influences and pressures than before. Here’s how I think my reading is ‘controlled’ by blogging and websites like Goodreads:

  • I always try to read books to fit the DC vs Marvel Challenge villain each month, which means three books on a certain theme/with a certain element or cover feature. Then there’s the books to fit the heroes, which I read throughout the year – three books per hero, twelve heroes total.
  • I’ll try and read at least one of the Books of the Month for Dragons & Jetpacks, my book group, although I haven’t done too well with it this year.
  • Unlike when I first blogged (and requested every book under the sun), I’m trying to get to review copies as they come, or at least sooner.
  • My feature A Novel Experiment can dictate how I read for a month – although of course I choose this myself!
  • My Goodreads and blogger friends might encourage me to pick up a book sooner because of their wonderful reviews.
  • My Goodreads yearly goal is always 100 books a year, which I often end up increasing – because once I set a goal, I HAVE to achieve it. This means that sometimes I’ll pick books because they’re quicker reads, or sometimes I’ll rush through something just to add one more book to my list.
Not how reading should make us feel!
Not how reading should make us feel!

I’m sure I’m not the only one who can feel the pressures to read certain books or a certain amount of books due to blogging, or other factors like Goodreads. As bloggers, we often get sent books to review, and should aim to review these books before or around their release date – although that’s not always possible!

I’m now trying to take more of a ‘read it when I want to’ attitude, which means I’m turning down a lot of review copies, and I haven’t touched Netgalley since the beginning of the year. I went through a few months this year where I had a bit of a reading slump, and feeling like I had to read certain books at certain times didn’t help. So here’s to reading freedom! 😉

Do you feel your reading is ‘controlled’ by other factors in any way? Do you ever feel pressured to read certain books, or a certain number of books?

A Novel Experiment

A Novel Experiment #4: A Bookish Family Results

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A Novel Experiment is a feature of mine where I try some experimental reading over the space of a month or so, and then report back at the end of the month. What is experimental reading, you may ask? My goal is to try different ways of reading, such as reading only ebooks, only one genre, only non-fiction etc, for a month, and then see whether it affects how much and how eagerly I read. Obviously this is not going to be something I repeat every month, but rather every couple of months or so. Previously, I have tried sticking to a monthly TBR list, which went quite well.

For September, I decided to read only books from my parents’ shelves. So how did this go?

  • I read four books from my parents’ shelves, and am currently reading a fifth
  • I read one book from my friend
  • I read one book from my sister
  • And I read two books from my own shelves

So maybe it didn’t go 100% to plan – but I did branch out and read slightly different titles to what I normally read – however, I still stuck to my ‘usual’ genres, in a way. I’ve still got a pile of books I chose for the month from my parents’ bookshelves in my room, and they’re pretty much all historical fiction, travel and a few classics, so things I would read anyway. So maybe I wasn’t branching out as much as I thought?

I also found myself looking longing at my own shelves, bursting with science fiction and fantasy books, almost every day. I just REALLY want to read some epic fantasy right now (in fact, I really really want to re-read the A Song of Ice and Fire series, and have for months), so that will probably be my next read. I don’t know whether it was the timing, as I’d just been reunited with my own entire book collection, but so many of my own books have been calling out for me to read them throughout September.

23347055 Wild Americanah

So how do I think it went?

I was actually very distracted this month. I couldn’t focus on several of the books, and some were truly disappointing. I had to divert from the challenge a little bit in order to still be able to take part in the DC versus Marvel challenge, but still most of the books read in September did not belong to me. In fact, the one book of my own, Stranger of Tempest, was probably the one I struggled with most, and was really very disappointing. My absolute favourite of the month was Wild, borrowed from my mum’s books – but I’d already known I wanted to read it, after watching the film, and I love travel books anyway.

So whilst I perhaps didn’t branch out as much as I meant to – sticking to familiar genres like historical fiction and travel – it was still an interesting experiment. I had a lot of mixed feelings about the books I did read, but I also felt myself pining for my own bookshelves. I don’t think I’ll be depriving myself entirely of my usual SFF diet again!

A Novel Experiment

A Novel Experiment #3: A Bookish Family

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A Novel Experiment is a new feature of mine where I try some experimental reading over the space of a month or so, and then report back at the end of the month. What is experimental reading, you may ask? My goal is to try different ways of reading, such as reading only ebooks, only one genre, only non-fiction etc, for a month, and then see whether it affects how much and how eagerly I read. Obviously this is not going to be something I repeat every month, but rather every couple of months or so. Previously, I have tried sticking to a monthly TBR list, which went quite well.

For September, I’m going to make the most of being back home and read books only from my parents’ bookshelves. This should help me to expand a bit in terms of the genres I read, and try something new. Plus, well… there’s a LOT of choice.

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And that’s not even all of them! I do wonder how I’ll get on with this challenge, seeing as I have just been reunited at last with my own entire book collection. We’ll see!

Do you enjoy setting bookish challenges? Are you the reader in your family, or do others read too?

Thoughts

Thoughts #55: The Life of a Bookworm (in GIFs!)

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Who doesn’t love GIFs? They can be used to demonstrate a wide range of situations, and you can express so much through them. So what about the life of a bookworm, as shown through GIFs? Obviously this post is image heavy!

When you don’t want to be disturbed whilst reading

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When someone says they don’t like reading

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When you think about tackling your TBR pile

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On entering a bookshop/library

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On finishing an amazing book

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On finishing a rubbish book

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Packing for your holiday

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When you REALLY want your friends to read a certain book

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When you both love and hate an author for writing such amazing, heartbreaking stories

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The smell of books, new and old

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Have you got any others to add? 🙂

Thoughts

Thoughts #53: The Problem with Reading Slumps

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This post was written at the beginning of April, and doesn’t apply to me so much now – but I still wanted to share it!

As well as struggling with a blogging slump lately, I’ve been having a bit of a reading slump. I’ve decided that this comes down to my most recent reads being nothing special, and also feeling a little bit pressured to read certain books because of review requests and other commitments.

The Fantasy Book of the Month in March for my Goodreads book group, Dragons & Jetpacks, was The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell. I was really excited to read this one, having never read any Mitchell before. He is an author that a lot of people seem to love or hate, and I was convinced I’d be one of the former. Sadly, I was wrong. What sounded like a fantastic premise (and was accompanied by a lovely cover) turned into a big ol’ mess that, quite frankly, had me bored for at least one third of the book.

This was then followed by attempts to read various Marvel comic books that had been sat on my shelves for a while, all borrowed from the library. Needless to say I couldn’t get into any of them but one, despite having read and loved many before. The one I did manage to finish was the second Guardians of the Galaxy book, Angela, and it just didn’t live up to the first volume. I’m just a bit bored of skimpy female superheroes. And don’t even get me started on female chest armour (or lack thereof…).

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And then, most recently, The Vagrant by Peter Newman. A book that had sat on my Goodreads ‘to read’ shelf since before release, one that immediately drew me in via its cover and blurb. But oh, what a disappointment. I couldn’t concentrate on it at all, meaning I missed important plot points, and was pretty confused when I did actually tune in. I don’t think I deal well with silent protagonists…

My current read is a similar story. Sounded great, is actually boring me quite a bit. I’ve started reading another book alongside it that I’ve been waiting for since it was announced (albeit another review copy), and I’m actually now only reading the first book at work during lunch, if I get a chance.

So okay, maybe only one of these books was a ‘commitment’. But it took so long for me to read because I just wasn’t interested that I feel I could have read so many more interesting books in that time. It’s time to crack down and finally read those books that I’ve been waiting for, instead of feeling pressured into reading ones that I’m not hugely interested in!

Note: After writing this post in April, I decided to read what I WANTED, instead of what I thought I should read. This has worked really well for me so far!

Do you ever feel pressured to put off the books you really want to read just because of other reading ‘commitments’?

Thoughts

Thoughts #50: What Makes You Pick Up A Book?

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One thing I’ve never really discussed on the blog, and that sort of surprises me, is what makes me pick up a particular book before I’ve even looked at the blurb. I thought I’d share that with you too, and I’d love to hear your reasons as well!

  • The cover. Yep, I definitely do judge books by their covers. The images used, the art style, the font used, the colour scheme… I will judge by anything. I am a particular fan of this current trend that appears on a lot of recent science fiction releases, for a painted, ‘blurred’ style:
  • Dark Run

  • Hype from other bloggers/friends. If I’ve seen a book on lots of blogs, or recommended by various friends on Goodreads, I’m more likely to take a look.
  • The genre. Although I do try and read widely, I still often stick to my favourite genres, especially when taking a gamble on buying a book I’ve not heard that much about. So if it’s science fiction or fantasy, chances are I’ll pick it up.
  • The author. If it’s an author I’ve read and loved, I’ll take a look whether I was aware of the new release or not.
  • The publisher. Yeah, this might be a more unusual one. But there are some publishers I’ve worked with and I just feel that they print such high quality books, that often I’ll be more tempted to take a look at something just because it’s published by certain companies.

I do have to say that, overall, if I’ve never heard of or read the author before, the cover is pretty much the ultimate factor in deciding whether or not I’ll pick up the book.

What factors make you pick up a book?

Top Lists

Series I Won’t Be Continuing

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Last week I posted my top ten series to continue reading in 2016. This week I thought I’d do the opposite and discuss series that I’ve given up on, or definitely don’t plan on giving any more chances.

Grave Sight Grave Secret

I’ve read books two and three of the Harper Connolly series by Charlaine Harris, but not book one or book four (yeah, weird order, just the ones I happened to own). After the rather… almost incestuous events of book three, I have no interest in continuing this series, thank you very much.

The 100 The 100

The television series of The 100 by Kass Morgan was great, although it took me two attempts to get into it. I am more than happy to continue with that, and am looking forward to the next season. The books however? Nah. This is a case of the adaptation being VERY different from the book – not so unusual – but also the adaptation being a much better version. Not something that seems to happen very often. The book felt lifeless compared to the show.

Evil Star Night Rise Necropolis

I bought the first three books of The Power of Five (also called The Gatekeepers) by Anthony Horowitz from a charity shop for 50p each, as it was a series I’d always wanted to read. However, I think I got to this one far too late. If I’d read it in my teens, maybe I would have enjoyed it a lot more. As it is, it doesn’t work for me, and I’ll be taking those books back to the charity shop…

Those Below

I was so sad that The Empty Throne series by Daniel Polansky just did not work for me. I saw it before release, admired the cover, and then was sent a copy by Hodder. Unfortunately it was just lacking something to make it really work for me. But just look at the cover of the second book – so gorgeous!

Shadow's Edge Beyond the Shadows

The first book of the Night Angel series by Brent Weeks was a Fantasy Book of the Month for my Goodreads book group, and I’m normally pretty happy with what we choose. I even already had this one on my shelf. Unfortunately, it was not at all what I’d expected. It felt so flat, boring and disappointing. Maybe some of Brent Weeks’ other work is for me, but not this series.

Captive Queen

All I want to say here is that the first book of The Blackcoat Rebellion series by Aimee Carter was hands down the worst book I read in 2015. I think that pretty much sums it up.

18812716 Catacomb

I was hoping that the Asylum series by Madeleine Roux would be a Miss Peregrine style story infused with creepy photos. It turned out to be an absolutely rubbish story with the worst characters, and photos that served no real purpose.

Untamed Hunted Tempted

The very thought of the House of Night series by P.C. Cast and Kristen Cast makes me shudder. I read the first three books a couple of years ago, as my sister owned them and I was home from university for Christmas, reading everything I could in the meanwhile. They’re the sort of books that are so bad you kind of want to keep reading, like when you drive past an accident and don’t want to look but human nature makes you. Absolute trainwrecks.

Earth Star Earth Flight

This makes me a little sad, because I really wanted to love the Earth Girl series by Janet Edwards. I met Janet at Bristolcon and she was lovely, she even took part in the first Sci-Fi Month – but I cannot stand Jarra, the main character of this series. I wanted to bitch slap her so hard.

Day Shift Night Shift

Sorry Charlaine Harris. Midnight, Texas is your second series on here. I love you for writing the Sookie Stackhouse novels, but I don’t seem to have much luck with the rest of your work. The first book was just so… uneventful, I have no interest in reading any further.

Are there any series you’ve given up on? Have you read any of these series, and if so what did you think?