Saturday, December 31, 2016

2 Hours to go!! And a little about book formats!

It's nearly 10 PM on New Year's Eve! The Read My Shelves Challenge is about to start! I've made a chart in my bullet journal. I've made a shelf on Goodreads. I've got boxes of books waiting for me to choose one. What will the first book be?

Well, it's one I started before Christmas and haven't had time to finish. And I may have held off reading it because it's one I've owned for several years and haven't read before and I felt like I should save it for the RMSC. Gardens of the Moon by Steven Erikson. I've always heard amazing about the Malazan series and I'm excited to start it but I really want it to count for the challenge. I've actually got the first three books in the series so those three at the least will count although I will probably end up getting the rest of the series sometime this year. Which brings me to the next formats.

There's a lot of back and forth about print books versus ebooks. Well I like both. I have tons of books waiting to be read on my kindle, almost as many as I have sitting on my bookshelves (or in boxes, whatever) waiting to be read. I also have a bunch of audiobooks I bought when I had an Audible subscription and haven't listened too yet. So I'll be reading all kinds of formats for the RMSC.
I have two kindle fires, the kindle app on my phone and on my laptop, so ebooks will be happening for sure. I love that my kindles automatically sync so I can switch from one to the other without losing my place, which is nice when your battery is about to die on one because you stayed up way too late reading. Audiobooks are perfect to listen too while cleaning and cooking, I also listen to a few podcasts so I'll be switching it up there. But nothing compares to a book. I love nothing more than warm socks, a cozy blanket, a cup of tea, and a book. So all in all, I have lots of ways to read books, I'll make use of all of them, but nothing beats a printed book.

Friday, December 30, 2016

T-minus 2 days...

I'm so ready for this challenge to start! Well, not really. I'm actually pretty unprepared for life in general but I am excited to get started with the Read My Shelves Challenge. I was hoping to have my reading nook all set up, I was hoping to have all my books up on shelves and beautifully displayed so I could choose what to read easily, but it looks like all of that is on hold for a while. Christmas was crazy, and my house is a disaster. Not a total disaster, but just enough of a disaster for my anxiety about it to be completely paralyzing. I'm trying to get things back under control so I can focus and whats helping me the most right now is setting a timer for 20 minutes and then cleaning till the timer goes off, then I get to be lazy for a while before I do the timer thing again. So my goal for now is to have the house in decent shape by new years day. 

So for now, most of my books are in boxes, the only couch in the house is the one in front of the T.V. (which is totally distracting, even when the T.V. is off), and the house is a bit of a mess. I have some sort of vague-ish plans to fix all of that though! I already discussed the timer thing for the house, the couch and the bookshelves are going to take some time though. My mom is getting a new couch and said I could have her old one, which is in really good shape, not a horrible color, and free, I just have to wait till she gets her new couch out of layaway, so no real timeline on that one.

 But bookshelves, I am trying to convince my husband to buy some NEW bookshelves. We have the money right now, and the old ones are falling apart, which is why they no longer hold any books. Plus we are trying to have another baby and once that happens we are going to need the room where the books are currently housed for the baby's room. So, the upstairs living room, which is currently a playroom which contains no real furniture, will have a couch and my book shelves, and all of my mini-me's toys. I want that room to look nice, and cohesive, not thrown together and just a mish-mash of furniture. It's the room our front door opens into, it's people first impression of our home, I want it to be a good one. So matching bookshelves are a must for that room as far as I'm concerned. Luckily, most of the toys are on a Expedit shelf from Ikea, which means it should be pretty easy to get a couple more of them, even in different sizes. 

Honestly, I have a lot of ideas for that room and most of them probably aren't going to happen. But as long as it looks nice when people walk though the door, I can hide all the toys, or at least make them look nice, and I can actually relax in that room I'll be happy with it. 

Monday, December 26, 2016

What am I going to read for the Read My Shelves Challenge?

I love making lists! To-do lists, grocery lists, lists of projects I want to do in my house, all kinds of lists. But I'm the type of person who writes out a grocery list a mile long and leaves it on the kitchen counter, then comes home with a car load of Oreo's and fruit snacks. I'm really bad at following through on lists, or plans in general, really. For this exact reason I'm not going to make a list of books to read in the next year. I don't want to feel like I have to read a book if I don't feel like it, and I don't want to be disappointed if I don't read all the books I had on the list. So there's no list.

I read a little bit of everything. From Historical Biographies to Romance, Young adult to Epic Fantasies, Mystery to Contemporary Fiction, there is very little you won't find represented on my bookshelves. I suppose the best way to get to know a reader is to look at their favorite books so here are a few of mine, in no particular order;

1. The Other Boleyn Girl, Philippa Gregory; I have loved this book for a very long time. I've been through several copies since I first picked it up in 2004 and every time I read it I seem to find some new way to relate to one or more of the characters. I've been intrigued by Anne, by her ambition and her intelligence, for years, but her sister Mary speaks to my soul, at least through Ms. Gregory's writing she does. When I had to choose a book for my book club this month (my first book club pick! YAY!) this was the first book that popped into my head and I can't see loving it any less for a very long time, if ever.

2. Talking to Dragons, Patricia C. Wrede; I first read this book in high school. I picked it up from the public library without realizing it was the fourth book in a series (The Enchanted Forest Chronicles). But you know what, reading this one first was the best thing! Because the main character of this book is different from the other three books and he has no idea what he's doing, so I got to learn about this world and all these people right along with him and I loved it. Once you read the other books you know all the backstory, you know what he's walking into the middle of, but by reading this one first I got to experience it all right along with him and I'd recommend reading them out of order, at least the first time, because it's just too much fun this way.

3. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, J.K. Rowling; All the HP books are good, but this one I read over and over and over and over. It's a turning point for the whole story, this is where it gets dark, shit gets real, there's no going back after GoF. Harry grows up, his childhood is over, it's taken from him the night Cedric dies. I won't go on about it too much because there's not a whole lot left to be said about Harry Potter but I will love these books ALWAYS.

4. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, Betty Smith; I read this book in sixth grade, the school librarian and the guy that sat behind me in English class both tried to talk me out of it. The librarian said it was 'beyond my reading level' and Phil said it was too long for anybody to read. They were both wrong. I loved it. I loved Francie and her mother, and her bother, and her crazy aunt, and even her drunk father, because I was like Francie. Her father died and so did mine. The circumstances were different but just reading that someone else was going through what I was, even if it was set along time ago and fictional, it made me feel like I wasn't alone.

5. Ready Player One, Ernest Cline; The first time I read this book I was not impressed. It had me right up until the ending, which I found to be too happy for my tastes, a bit corny even. But I found myself still thinking about it for weeks. So I reread it, and reread it again. And basically I can forgive Cline for the ending because the rest of it is awesome. I love all the 80's pop culture references, I love that it's set, for the most part, in an online game where anything can happen, I love the melding of the characters online personalities vs how they really are, and the way they change as the egg hunt goes on and their relationships evolve. I also love that Cline's idea of our future is entirely plausible, although I sincerely hope the world doesn't get that bad.

Those are not my only favorites, just a few. I could make this list go on for quite a while but I'll stop here for now. I keep thinking of books I should add but if I keep doing that I'll be writing this post for another week (yes, it took me a week to write this,).

Five days till the Read My Shelves Challenge begins! I'm ready to do this!

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Intentional Reading...What the fork is that?

This post has to start with something sad. Because I made a mistake. A huge one.

I sold and/or donated over three quarters my book collection a year and a half ago.

I've been collecting books for years. When I worked at Borders I shopped as I shelved and nearly always bought a book at the end of my shift. When I was in college I always stopped by book sales on campus (the history department was my favorite), and for a long time I was a weekly patron of my library's secondhand bookstore (it's called Secondhand Prose and its wonderful). I had thousands of books, and honestly the majority of them were unread.

But I loved them. 

Through all the changes of address, and all the life events we went through I always had time, and room, for my books. It didn't matter to me that some of them were books I'd never read, I mean you can only read so many books about the English Reformation. Things changed when I had my daughter.

When we first moved into our house I had set up my library in the second biggest bedroom. When I found out I was pregnant the books got moved to the smallest bedroom, and with all the baby prep I never found time to reorganize them. The books stayed in haphazard stacks, shoved onto the shelves, some still in boxes, for nearly a year, The only reason I actually decided to organize my books when my daughter was a few months old was because I'd decided to pare down my collection. Pare it down a lot. It wasn't that I didn't still love my books, or that I didn't have room. I just knew that my anxiety was at catastrophic levels and I needed to simplify my life if I was going to enjoy my home and my family and have a clean house. We had too much stuff and at the time I thought the books were part of the problem.

I was ruthless. I got rid of nearly the entire history section, most of my contemporary fiction, all of the of the romance section (it was small to begin with but after The Purge it was non-existent), a huge chunk of sci-fi/fantasy (so many full series that I hadn't even gotten to read yet), none of the genres went untouched. When I started purging books I had four over stuffed, six foot tall, books shelves and a three foot mini shelf. Afterwards I was down to two six foot shelves and they weren't even full.

For a while I was proud of myself. For a while I thought I'd done the right thing. My library was a usable space again and I thought  'See, you don't need all those books taking up space' but after a few months I realized that I was avoiding that room. The door stayed shut and the reading slump, that started when I got pregnant, didn't end. I took huge steps to get my anxiety under control but I still couldn't seem to pick up a book and read the whole thing. It wasn't till a year after the Great Book Purge that I realized what was wrong; my library made me sad. I missed my books.

The more I thought about my books, and the more I came out of my reading slump, I realized also that I could use this as an opportunity. An opportunity to rebuild my book collection, and to be more conscious of what books I surrounded myself with. Some of the books I had been holding onto before were books I hadn't even liked, books that went on the Did Not Finish list, books that I never even intended to read but I hung on too for some reason (book hoarding?), I had an opportunity to buy books I loved and fill my shelves and my house with books that made me happy, not just made my library full, books I'd want my daughter to read, books I'd want to read over and over again, so I could not only have my books, but I could actually enjoy them for their content, not just the way they looked on the shelves (although I am totally a sucker for a pretty cover). I had an opportunity to intentionally build a library out of love, to be intentional with my books, not to just have books to have books, but to have books to read, to learn from, to be entertained by, to step out of my comfort zone and into something new, and I have done just that. Being intentional is about having a purpose, even if that purpose is only to escape for a while into a world you love but can't actually visit, and my book collection has intention now, the intention to be read.

Since deciding to be more intentional with my reading habits I've enjoyed reading so much more, and I'm reading things I never would have thought I'd enjoy before. I've also read some books I've not liked so much, and those books are not hanging out in my house still. My library is growing quickly again, and I'm not so sad to go into my library anymore. So now I've decided to do the Read My Shelves Challenge, with the intention of reading what I've already got, with the intention of finding what books I have that love enough to keep and which ones are not worthy of a space on my shelves. Loving books is a wonderful thing, loving to read is a wonderful thing, but surrounding yourself with books you don't love, ain't nobody got time for that. 

Friday, December 9, 2016

Keeping on Track

You know in World of Warcraft, how there's a little bar under your hotkeys that shows your experience points and if you hover over it, it'll show your percentage of how close you are to the next level?
I love that bar. I love seeing it go fill up. Honestly, I haven't played WoW since I had my daughter but I still think about that bar sometimes. I love knowing exactly how much I've accomplished and how much I still have to go. I need that instant result to keep me motivated.
I'm the same way about most things in my life. Like washing dishes. Every few dishes I have to step back and see how full the dish drainer is and how many dishes are still waiting to be washed, just so I can see the progress. I need to see progress or I get annoyed and usually give up.
I don't want to give up on this Challenge so tracking progress is pretty important to me. I've got a few methods I'm going to try out and see which ones work the best.

The most obvious one is this blog. I'll be posting what I'm reading and keeping count of how many books I've read. However, I also want this blog to help me be more intentional with what I read and how I read it (but that's another post) so it's main function isn't tracking progress.

I'll also have my Goodreads page. I'll be creating a bookshelf just for the RMSC and using their Reading Challenge function to track my total progress for the year. But again that tracks total progress, not just for the RMSC, I still need something more specific.

My Bibliofile. It's a reader's journal I bought from I've been using it for the last year and I find that I tend to think more about writing style, and plot lines when I write a review in my reading journal. Not just did I like it or hate it, but really think about what was good and what was bad. I've also started actually reviewing books on Goodreads instead of just marking them as read, which has been fun since one of the authors actually responded to a review once.
I've also been reading a lot about bullet journals and I'm thinking it's something I might try for this challenge. The fact that you can make it into just about anything you want intrigues me. I can have a page to track progress (and I'm ridiculously excited at the prospect of making a graph), and can keep a list of books I've read or plan to read, I can keep a list of books to buy in the future, basically I can list ALL THE BOOKS, and I can keep track of the rest of my life too. And it's all right in front of me at all times which I love. I might also have some type of chart to keep on my fridge. I'm better at keeping up with things if they're right in my face at all times and I won't be able to miss it if it's on the fridge.

Recap of the blog so far;
Read My Shelves Challenge goal: 20 books
Total reading goal for 2017: 35 books
Top 3 challenges: My kid, my house, and my inability to follow through
How I'm keeping track of everything: The Blog, Goodreads, Bullet Journal
Readers so far: 0 (cross my fingers it stays that way)

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Challenging Challenges during the Challenge

I mentioned in my first post that I have some challenges coming into the Read My Shelves Challenge, and I most certainly do. Some of them I can control and some I can't, but I think it's important to recognize them so I can plan for them and how to work around them if possible. So here are my top 3 challenges.

Challenge #1: The Toddler
I'm a mom. I have a two and a half year old little girl who takes up most of my time. There's not really any planning around this one. Children need you when they need you and you just kind of have to go with it. She is on a pretty regular schedule as far as nap times and meal times and such go, but everything is changeable depending on what she needs at the time. I'll have to make the most of nap time and any quiet moments I get after shes in bed at night.

Challenge #2: My Family is Messy
That's right, I said it. We're messy. We live in our house, and as such it requires frequent cleaning. I've been working on upping my house keeping game (That sounds a lot more lame than I thought it would), so I have a cleaning routine that keeps the house clean and the time I have to spend on it to a minimum. However its does take up a good chunk of my day, which cuts into my reading time, but again theres no getting around this one. Could I let my husband and daughter wallow in filth so I can read? Sure. Am I actually going to do that? No. I could never concentrate knowing there was a huge mess waiting for me when I put my book down.

Challenge #3: I'm really bad at reading challenges.
I am. I've done the Goodreads Reading Challenge for a few years in a row and I've never met my goal. I start out with a really high goal (high for me, anyway), like 50 books. And then I lower it through out the year as I get farther and farther behind. And then I stop caring. This year I started with a lower goal (30 books) and only lowered it once (to 25) and I'm only 2 books behind right now. This is one of the challenges I have some measure of control over. I have to stop spending so much time on Pinterest for a start. Being intentional with my reading and my time will help, I think, as will sticking with my routines mentioned in #2.

There they are. The top three problems I foresee during the RMSC. I think with some good planning and sticking to established routines (which I am notoriously bad at) I should be able to work with them.

Next post; Ways of Keeping on track (or something along those lines...) I'll go over some methods I'm thinking of using to keep up with the challenge, besides blogging.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Hey, look! I made a blog!

A reading blog! Because I want to read more. In 2016 (and 2015, and most of 2014) I found myself in a reading slump. I finally got out of it in the fall of 2016! I was so happy, I felt like myself again! But I realized exactly how many unread books I have on my book shelves. It's a lot. A lot, a lot.
So in 2017 my goal is to read only (mostly) books I already own. I can't honestly say I won't buy any new books, or receive them as gifts, and I'm in the middle of a few series that have new books coming out in the coming year and I'm sure I'll be buying them, and some of those new books will get read. But, I want to make an intentional effort to read books I already own, some of which have been sitting on my shelves for years. I'm calling this the Read My Shelves Challenge. I've done the Goodreads reading challenge, but this will be a bit different because only books that I own on or before midnight on December 31, 2016 will count. My goal is to read 20 books for the RMSC. I'm counting e-books I already own because even though they don't necessarily take up room on my book shelves, I own them, and I have hundreds of unread books just sitting on my kindle waiting for me. I think 20 is a good number, since I know I'll be picking up a few new books and I'm part of a book club that meets once a month, so a good total goal for the year is 35 books.
Over the next year I'll be posting what I'm reading, any challenges or road blocks that come up, and probably other stuff about my reading habits, as I try to make better use of my down time and prioritize reading. I know I have some challenges going in to this and over then next few weeks I'll be posting as I formulate my game plan for the coming year. Not having any readers of this blog is probably a good thing for me right now so I won't be sharing this anywhere just yet. Knowing no one is reading will allow me to not feel guilty if I run into problems but the anxiety that someone might read it will keep me accountable. Yay for social anxiety!

So as a recap;
Read My Shelves Challenge! 2017
Total goal; 35 books read
Books I own goal; 20
People reading this blog; 0 (I hope)