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2017 Reading Resolutions

While 2016 was a rough year for me on a whole, I cant say it was for my reading, as I completed 400 books. That is a lot and I have commuting and working in libraries to really thank for that. In 2017 my goal is less, as I am looking to only read 200 books. If I read more, great, if I don’t, that is okay too.

As a public library worker there’s a part of the job where one is expected to have a decent knowledge of literature, be it fiction or non-fiction. In library school we are often told to have a specialty in mind, but that we should always broaden the way in which we read, which is my larger goal in 2017. Here’s some of long-term reading goals for the year.

  1. Read more nonfiction. I read way more non-fiction in 2016 than I ever had in my lifetime and I want to keep this trend up. I am finally finding the kinds of non-fiction that interest me, more specifically about people, technology, weird industries, lifestyles. I find a lot of this stuff so fascinating, and if it’s women’s focused, the better. Reading more non-fiction has made me feel more well-rounded as a reader, and I am always looking for recommendations in this area as my expertise are still very limited.
  2. Work on completing/catching up on more series. I feel into a habit in 2016 where I mostly only read stand-alones or comics. While reading comic series fit this, I am looking more at the book series I’ve started over the years, the sequels I have sitting on my shelves and the fact that I still need to read them. I have Once Broken Faith by Seanan McGuire (An October Daye mystery), Crooked Kingdoms by Leigh Bardugo, so many books where I just need to sit down and play catch up. My goal is to try and catch up or complete on at least ten series.
  3. Read at east five 500+ page books. I am very guilty of this — big books intimidate me and 28114583often make me feel like they are making me backslide on my reading goal. However, there are so many interesting, big books I’ve avoided just because of the size and because LOL!reading goals. Quality versus quantity is going to be a big theme this year with me and I am going to knock some of these large books I’ve been curious about out this year.
  4. Read more diversely. I’ve always been a diverse reader and I’ve never really been one to shy away from that. This discussion, however, has become so much more important over the last few years and it’s something especially in libraries that we need to work more closely on given that our patrons come from a wide range of race, sexuality, religions, etc. We SHOULD be better at this, and there’s so many wonderful and promising reads that should be checked out more. Currently I am reading Midnight Without a Moon
    by Linda Williams Jackson and it is WONDERFUL.
  5. Don’t feel like you HAVE TO READ. I realize this is a weird one, but I confess: I am always reading. Sometimes when I don’t feel like it. I want to be okay with the fact that if I don’t feel like reading that it is okay. I have television shows, video games, friends,  an unhealthy obsession with Overwatch, that need some attention as well. Reading has always been my greatest comfort, but I am not going to beat myself up if I don’t read as much as I have in previous years.
  6. Give away more books. 2017 is going to be the year of purging for me. I am working towards purging every room in my house, and books are also going to be the same thing. I need to work on decluttering my spaces and focus on the reorganization process. Donating books or giving them to friends is always a plus in my books.
  7. Continue to buy less books. I have actually gotten better about this, although my shelf of shame would argue otherwise if it had a voice. I didn’t purchase a lot of books last year, but I did get a lot from trades, publishers and as gifts. It’s still a lot less than previous years, but yeaaaaaaah…. let’s work on this some more, shall we?
  8. Take out less books from work (aka the library). I work at a public library, do you know how hard this is for me? Do you know how hard it is to not take out the new and shiny books? Or deal with your co-workers giving you all the book recs and then you having a million holds? The pressure is real my friends. I need to work on taking less stuff out from the library because my shelf of shame is taking real issue with it. And honestly, it’s less stuff to lug to and from work, even if I love it so.
  9. Complete the Book Riot Read Harder Challenge. The 2017 challenge has me crazy excited, yo. See the challenge here.

And that really is just the half of it. The larger focus this year is to work on cutting down the amount of books I have being okay with not keeping every book I own, and read for quality not quantity. I am going to try to stay on top of the review books because I want to get back into making sure this blog still has content. I am hoping to share more features, even if this is a primarily review-based blog. I am also hoping to have more reading adventures, since last year I didn’t have as many as I would have liked.

What are your goals for reading in 2017? Do you have anything you for sure want to accomplish? Let me know down below.

Building a Little Free Library

Back in August, my husband decided to surprise me with a unique birthday gift. He bought me a Little Free Library, which is a box that you place on your front lawn where you can share books with your community. Community members can take a book, leave a book, and the cycle repeats itself. There were definitely some challenges to this project of course, such as worrying about vandalism, city by-laws, and if the neighbors would even enjoy it.

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There is variety of styles that exist for Little Free Library’s, and they can be made uniquely your own depending on design and paint. We opted for a pre-built one as neither of us is particularly crafty in terms of woodwork. Then we also needed to select an outdoor paint that could take a beating, but still make the library look appealing and eye-catching. Then if you have an official LFL you also need to register it with the organization (mostly so you can use the name). In the set my husband purchased, we were also given a bunch of children’s books to fill our library with. It was exciting to see what items they sent us — since August, a lot of those books are already gone!

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This has been an amazing community project to work on and I couldn’t have done it without the help and patience of my husband. It’s great to see my neighbors using the LFL! They have left me notes, commented on how much they love it as a fixture in our neighborhood. It feels so rewarding, and I always get excited to see what kinds of new items community members put into it.

Part of why I wanted to get a Little Free Library comes from the fact that I am not a Librarian by trade, but rather a proud Library Technician. Working in libraries has been a huge part of my life and I’ve been a long time advocate for reading, and I am active in my province’s association, wherein I write pieces focusing on how we can handle Reader’s Advisory for Teens. My husband and I are also huge readers, and this project gave us a huge sense of accomplishment. It also taught us a lot about our neighbors’ reading habits and their interest in literacy as well.

Would you make a Little Free Library? Or have you seen any nice looking ones in your neighborhood? I’d love to know in the comments.

Thoughts on reviewing and where I want to go

Guys I have been so absent from this blog that if Sam wasn’t so good about updating it this space would surely be dead. But it’s not and I just can’t let go of it, but I have so many thoughts about blogging and reviewing, and I don’t know what I’m going to do, but i thought that I would at least write some of my thoughts out here and just… get it out.

So I haven’t seen anything official, but it looks like one of my biggest source of ARCs (and thus reviews) is going to stop sending out their monthly blogger packs to bloggers. This has me really upset on two fronts. First I’m just upset because I’ve heard all of this second hand and even when I reached out to the pub I didn’t hear anything back. I was consistently receiving ACRs from this pub for almost two years and I was reviewing almost every title they sent (that i had requested. Any extras or unsolicited I reviewed at my own digression). Second… I’ve spent a lot of time these past two years reviewing books for them! And not to just stop without a word… it hurts. I know that getting ARCs is a perk and that it’s not the reason that I blog or read, but it really helped. I’ve been able to freely read almost anything that I’ve wanted because of this and now I won’t be able to. Yes I can get all the same books digitally and review them there, but my kindle is old and dying and idk if I want to invest in a new one.

I haven’t fully decided yet but maybe this will be the end of my reviewing career. A part of me is a bit relieved… it’s getting tiring reading on a schedule. It’s getting exhausting forcing myself to read books because I feel obligated. It’s getting boring writing what I feel is the same review every time. I think, but I’m not fully sure, that I might quit requesting books and just review whatever is sent to me. If anything is anymore. And then just read what I want. I have friends who can get me ARCs if I ask, there’s trading on twitter, and I have a HUGE backlog of things that I want to read but always feel like I should read later, AFTER my review books.

I do still want to blog. I want to be more active on here and bring more than just reviews. I want to talk about books that I’m reading, to catch up on books that people have been telling me to read for YEARS. I want to support authors that I already love.

But who knows. I might change my mind and buy a new kindle and make a new schedule and read all of the eARCs or I might give up totally and just become a hermit that never posts on the internet again (haha yeah right). But for the end of this year I have decided to not focus on reviews, to not read on a schedule, and to do what I want. And hopefully that will mean ya’ll will hear from me more often on here than just twitter or instagram.

Molly & her Raven Boys

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Make way for the Raven King!

In the summer for 2013 I read The Raven Boys. I’d been told over and over again by a very good friend that I HAD to read it. I… put it off. I was told to read The Scorpio Races (also by Maggie Stiefvater) and I put it off. Then I ended up getting an eARC of The Dream Thieves and a copy of The Raven Boys for .99 on my kindle so… I read it.

And hated myself for not having read it sooner.

trcThree years later and I have read ALL of Maggie’s books. And I love them all, but The Raven Cycle is just something more for me. It’s something special. I religiously re-read The Raven Boys on January first EVERY year. I have never re-read an entire series of books the way I have with these books. I have never COLLECTED books like this before. I mean, I thought I was a pretty big Harry Potter fan… but The Raven Cycle is my lifesblood.

I was thinking about it the other day, trying to figure out WHY I love this series so much, why I love these characters so much. And I think it’s because it feels like home to me. There are bits and pieces of these stories and characters and settings that speak to me because they were parts of my life. And each one of the boys, Gansey, Ronan, Adam and Noah, have parts of people that I have known and loved in them. I’ve had a grand total of ONE friendship like Blue has with these boys. And I can see my mother and my mother’s friends in Blue’s mother and extended family. I grew up around boys who loved fast cars with big engines and boys who swore too much and boys who were assholes and boys who grew up in the dirt and boys who were princes among men. I grew up with a magical forest (okay, not ~magical~ magical) in my back yard and cows across the street. I grew up with mythology and history and free thinking.

I also love these books because Maggie’s way with words is fucking witchcraft and I love it. I will read ANYTHING she writes and I’m 98% guaranteed to love it by default because of her writing alone.

I finished The Raven King last weekend (I was lucky to get an early copy thanks to my bookstore selling it early, shame on them!). I cried, I laughed, I handed the book to my husband at the end of it all and he tried to put it in the trash because I looked so. damn. lost. I sat on my bed and just SAT there and he came in and asked if I was okay and I just looked at him and said “It’s over. It’s really over.”

Guys, I don’t even know if I was THIS far gone when I finished the last Harry Potter book. The feelings I had after finishing The Raven King… I’m not even sure what to compare them to.

I just fucking love these books. And now I can’t believe that it’s over. But I still have work to do. I love to underline my favorite bits in the paperbacks (I don’t mark up my hard covers or ARCs) so now I have to wait until the paperback comes out so I can re-read and underline EVERY SINGLE RONAN LINE ugh he was perfection in this book.

ANNNND I get to see Maggie in May. I am kinda in shock over this. I thought that I’d never get to meet her and forever be vicariously living through my friends as they meet her and I force them to tell her that I’m their friend! She’s gonna meet me and be like “what a weird-o!” but AH! I can’t wait. I’ll blog about that FOR SURE!

***

HI GUYS! If you have made it this far into the post then I will now transition into a less Raven Boys post and into a more personal post. As you all saw, my coblogger, my love, Sammy, recently lost her mother. She just wrote a pot about it (points to post below) and I’d appreciate it if you could all leave her some love and support in the comments!

I do not have much to report on the personal front. I’ve been reading a lot, working at my job, and just hanging out. Husband is busy, as always, being a crazy mad scientist, so that leaves me with a lot of free time to READ. I’ve recently been cooking a lot of Japanese food (you can see it on my instagram @safeaslife) and watching a few anime here and there.

Actually here’s a thing that I’ve been dealing with lately. I’ve really been missing Japan. For those of you that are new, I used to live in Japan, and moved to Boston in 2014 with my husband so he could go to MIT. I lived in Japan for roughly 7 years and I LOVED it. The last year I was there I tried REALLY hard to convince myself that I was ready to leave Japan and part of me was. There WAS a part of me that wasn’t (and probably never will be) ready to leave and I just kinda… shoved that part down really deep. And then I proceeded to ignore that part for the past year and a half. My husband and I were DETERMINED to enjoy our US life and not miss Japan. We were going to eat American food and watch American TV and NEVER touch Japanese anything.

Well, unfortunately for him there’s a thing called culture shock and homesickness. And he did succumb to them. I… did as well. Yes, I am homesick for my second home. And I am FINALLY accepting this. He is too. He used to be so anit-Japanese stuff (minus food) and now we watch a lot of anime and he watched a lot of Japanese TV shows that he misses and we listen to Japanese music and I cook Japanese food and even have started to buy his favorite food (natto) on a weekly basis. I’ve been telling myself that it’s okay to miss Japan and to enjoy the stuff that I loved about Japan. We might move back in the future, we might not. But I need to be okay with this. I mean, I DO love being back in the USA, there’s a ton of stuff that I love/appreciate that I couldn’t get in Japan. But damn, there are times when I am just bowled over with nostalgia and homesickness.

So yeah. There’s that. Oh and I’m thinking about going by my real name on the blog again. I don’t really need to hide behind a pseudonym anymore (and I’ve been using my real name on twitter for awhile now).

Too much?

I wrote this blog post (below) at like 3am on my phone last night because I couldn’t sleep (hello insomnia!). And even thought I’ve already posted it, I want to add some things now that I’m rested and it’s daylight.

Lately I’ve been revisiting things that I used to love… possibly for ~nostalgia’s sake~ but maybe also just because I really fucking miss who I used to be. And I’m not saying that the person I am now isn’t who I want to be, but I do miss some of the things that I used to really love that have kinda fallen to the wayside…

Music, for one, is something that I used to be OBSESSED with. I lost a lot of my music when my MacBook crashed and I have a very small amount on my iPhone. I do listen to Pandora when I’m at work, but I don’t want it to burn my data (and I don’t have wifi at home) so I tend not to listen to it as much as I used to. When I discovered Halsey over the summer last year it was like a part of me that  was missing had returned.

I do feel like I’ve ditched a lot of things that I used to be very in love with to spend more time reading. I LOVE TO READ. I have always loved to read. But lately I’ve been feeling like a slave to my TBR. Whenever I finish one book I IMMEDIATELY start another. It’s like I just can’t slow down because I feel this NEED to KEEP GOING. And I am neglecting things to read. Myself included.

I spent the past year really getting my foot in the door with publishers and I’ve overwhelmed myself with review books. I feel like I’m constantly getting stuff and while I WANT to read it, at the same time I feel like I HAVE to read it and that can take the joy out of actually reading it.

Reading is not my purpose, but I feel like it has become my purpose. I want to write but then I think about how much reading I wont get done. And then I don’t write. And I want to fucking write my book! I want to go to the gym but I’d rather sit on my butt at home and read. I’ve gained weight since moving back to the USA and I don’t like it I don’t like being unhappy with myself. Yes I am all for being happy with whatever body you have, but at the same time, if you aren’t happy with it then find a way to be. And sitting around eating crap food and feeling like shit isn’t the way that I’m going to find a way to be happy with these extra pounds (and the fact that my favorite shorts don’t fit anymore and that I couldn’t wear them AT ALL last summer).

I guess I just feel like I’m out of balance and that reading has become this thing that I do to avoid my adult problems and that really it just makes things worse for me in the end. Where is this coming from? I put off something important and avoided my stress about not doing said important thing by burying myself in a book and not looking up for a whole month. And guess what, the important thing didn’t go away, and now I am the most stressed out I’ve been in a long, long time. And I hate it. And I did it to myself. Because I don’t have balance.

So this doesn’t mean that I’m going to stop reading or blogging. It doesn’t mean that I’m going to stop requesting or reviewing. It does mean that I’m going to slow down. That reading is going to not be the thing that I strive to do day in and day out. That it’s something that I will do when I have time, when I’m done doing other things that I ALSO want to do.

 

How much is too much of anything? I’ve always been told that there are worse things to be addicted to in life than books. But when your (my) reading obsession (habit) becomes something that is more tangible than anything else where do I stop and realize that this might not be the best?

In the past few years, since I started book blogging, I have proudly read over 100 books a year. This year I wanted nothing less. And I have been reading like a crazy person. I am well on my way to being over my goals (some 20 books ahead) and I’ve found myself spending entire days binge reading a single book in one sitting.

Tomight I ran two miles. I haven’t done that in months. Why? Because I’d rather spend my free time after work and before bed reading. I honestly will rush home to sit there and read and then rush through whatever I have to do before staying up way later than I should to read. And then my entire day is spent in sleepy anticipation of doing it all over again.

I think I have a problem. Reading makes me feel productive. But it’s also something that I can get so easily sucked into. I often have to tell myself to do the laundry, chores, etc before I get sucked into a book or else I might not do it. Sometimes I don’t eat when I’m reading because I don’t realize or just cant be bothered.

I think my reading habits have become unbalanced. And I need to slow down. I need to run two miles more often. I need to spend actual time cleaning my house. I need to enjoy other things and spend time out with friends.

This is me saying that I need to find balance. That I am not going anywhere just that I need to slow down and find balance.

FEB TBR

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February is generally my 2nd least favorite month (with August being my LEAST favorite month) and while the 60 degree no-snow weather IS helping me feel less bleh than usual, I still can’t wait for this month to be over.

Why do I hate February so much? It’s cold, it’s dark, it’s usually very very snowy, and it has the dumbest holidy in the world. Yes, I hate Valentine’s day. I’ve always hate it. And I just started to hate it more when after moving back to Japan in 2008 (which was SEVEN years ago yesterday holy crap) my boyfriend broke up with me ON VD. BLEH. BLEH BLEH. Dumbest holiday dumbest month can it just be March?

That said… at least I have a six day long vacation this month! AW yeah. So I plan to read my face off. Husband is going to an Artificial Intelligence conference and while he’s gone I plan to read at least 3-4 books. So this is my stack for the month… I plan to:

Re-read The Dream Thieves
Binge read This Savage Song, The Lost & the Found, and Down with the Shine while on VACA

and then read the rest for review.

In January I read 19 books but… I don’t think I’ll make it through that many. (A lot of these are really thick!)

What are you planning on reading this month? How much do YOU hate Valentine’s Day? Tell me your stories!

Honesty

Let’s be real friends, I hardly ever blog anymore. Sure I write reviews and Sammy (the best coblogger in the world) posts them but my actual presence over here is lacking. And here’s the thing, I want to blog. It’s just such a hassle because I have to think of a topic, get some images, take some photos and then put it all together. And I just don’t always have the energy for that.

So I’m not gonna do it. Ya’ll like to read books, so you can read my blog text and take it or leave it. I figure the only way I’m going to blog is if I do it the way I want to. Maybe I’m old school (more like just old) but when I started blogging it wasn’t about gifs and being as witty as possible. It was about writing down your thoughts and feelings. And that’s what I’m going to do.

Guys, I can’t believe that it’s 2016. I just renewed my lease on the apartment that I feel like I JUST moved into. My one year anniversary for my “new job” is in three months. My husband just finished his masters thesis (and got all A+s in his classes, boom!) I wrote 2000 words of my Japan Novel for the first time in two years. Time, what are you.

January was an odd month. A lot of famous people died and everyone was sad. It snowed once here in Mass and then it was 40 the next day and all the snow melted. I went to ALAMW and it was AH-MAY-ZING. Yesterday I went to the launch party of my friend Emily’s book, THE YEAR WE FELL APART. I’ve hung out with friends and eaten a lot of good food. I went to Chinatown with husband. We ate sushi and watched a shit ton of anime.

And I’ve read 15 books so far. And while reading I started to think about my reading habits and my likes/dislikes when it comes to YA and how I rate stuff. I came to realize that last year I was reading and rating emotionally. Now that I have more writer friends and we talk about books in a different way I’ve noticed that I’ve started to read more critically. And my ratings are reflecting that… so I think this year I’m going to rate more honestly and read more critically. Sure I’ll let myself get swept up in feels (I just finished The Serpent King and the writing was awful but holy shit the story and characters were amazing and I gave it an honest 5-star rating) and read emotionally, but I think that I’ve grown as a reader and I like that.

I also think that it’s important because I would really like to get back into writing my Japan Novel. I put it aside while moving to the USA and then just kept putting it aside and making up excuses. I’m not going to hold myself to any set standards or goals, but I just would like to finish a first draft by the end of the year. I’m having fun thinking about it again, and I’ve even come up with some fun new things that I want to do with it. I’ve also decided that I’m going to re-write it from the very start. I know that my writing has to have matured in the past two years. And I’ve changed as a person. So I think a fresh start will be good for me, my characters and the story I want to tell.

And that’s about it I guess. I just wanted to write something for the blog and I did. I apologize for being such a bad blogger friend too, I know that I suck at responding to comments and visiting other blogs… but I guess that’s what social media is for… hehe.

Love.