Saturday, February 25, 2017

Read My Shelves Challenge - The Whole Deal (Updated 5/23/17)

I've decided that the Read My Shelves Challenge needs a post dedicated to posting updates; including rules as they are added, the official Did Not Finish list, the official list of books I've read for the challenge, and any other information I think needs to go on here. I might even Pin it on Pinterest.
I'm also going to include a list of abbreviations since I seem to be using an awful lot of them recently. 

Goal of the Read My Shelves Challenge; To read the books sitting on your bookshelves, on your GoodReads Want-To-Read list, on your e-reader, or in your Audible library (or whatever other format you have), that you've been meaning to read but haven't gotten to yet. To cultivate the habit of reading and love the books you have. 

Abbreviations; (updated 4/22/17)
RMSC - Read My Shelves Challenge
TBR - To Be Read
DNF - Did Not Finish
GR - GoodReads
LT - Library Thing
ARC - Advance Reader Copy (Authors or publishers sometimes give these to reviewers to get reviews and spread the word on a book before it's release)
YA - Young Adult
MG- Middle Grade 

Official List of Books Read for RMSC; (updated 4/22/17)
1. The Walking Dead Vol. 10 (Kirkman)
2. Friends With Partial Benefits (Young)
3. Gardens of the Moon (Erikson)
4. The Relic Master (Buckley)
5. Bookish (Long)
6. The Perks of Being a Wallflower (Chbosky)
7. Bury the Hatchet (Gayle)
8. Last Play (Hart)
9. A Court of Mist and Fury (Maas)
10. The Wall of Winnipeg and Me by Mariana Zapata

Official DNF List for 2017; (Updated 5/23/17)
1. Happily Ever All-Star (Sosie Frost)
2, Friends With Full Benefits (Young)
3. Billionaire Impossible (Anna Collins)
4. Deadhouse Gates (Erikson)
5. The Wall of Winnipeg and Me (Zapata)
6. Carnivalesque by Neil Jordan
7. Beauty and the Baller by Abbi Hemp
8. Outlander by Diana Gabaldon
9. Carnivalesque (Jordon)
10. Beauty and the Baller (Hemp)

The Rules;
1. Only books I owed as of midnight on January 1st, 2017 count toward the total for the challenge.
2. Books I own and have previously read do not count.
3. Books I started but did not finish do count.
4. You don't have to finish every book you start. If you don't like it, donate it and move on to the next book.  

This page will be updated as the year goes on. I will try to link to it if it's mentioned in a post, and will try to put a date next to any updates, just for my own records. 

Friday, February 24, 2017

The Morning Routine That Wasn't Meant To Be and What I'm Reading Right Now

My 'morning reading routine' idea is pretty much out the window. The Husband's start time for work has changed so he doesn't leave the house until 8 AM and The Toddler has started waking up at 7 AM. So my hour, my one glorious hour, is gone. But on the bright side I've made a real effort to read in the small minutes I get though out the day. Nap time, when my mom comes over and is playing with The Toddler, when The Toddler accidentally closes the bathroom door and can't get in to watch me pee... And instead of watching tv in the evenings I've been reading. No more binge watching Gilmore Girls till 1 AM.

With all of that being said, here's what I've made progress on this week.

Gardens of the Moon by Steven Erikson - I made this book my priority this week. I've been reading snippets of the other books here and there, but this one, especially in the last few days, has been the book I pick up first. I've finally made it past the half way point and things are starting to come together and get really good. As Marguerite from Everafter said "I do love a good intrigue!" and this book is full of intrigue.

The Relic Master by Christopher Buckley - Slow progress on this one, mostly because I'm trying to finish Gardens of the Moon, but once I can give it my full attention it will be a fast read.

Mary Boleyn; Mistress of Kings by Alison Weir - This one is a library book so I'm trying to make steady progress with it so I can return it on time and also because I love it. I have an obsession with Tudor England and have for many years. Mary is such a misrepresented figure and I love that Weir is laying exactly what we know and don't know about her so clearly. The Other Boleyn Girl, one of my favorite books of all time, created a lot of misinformation about her in the name of plot and although it works in the novel it's good to see the truth about Mary's life and career at court.

I'm also adding another book to the DNF list this week.

Essentialism by Greg McKeown- This book was recommended on a podcast that I love, The Simple Show from The Art of Simple blog, However the more I read of it the more I felt it just didn't apply to my life. The book is about saying no to stuff that distracts you from your main purpose, from the things that make your life happy and your job worth doing, which is probably great for most people. But for me, a super introverted, stay-at-home mom, with no career besides raising my daughter to not be an asshole, it just wasn't for me. So, I put it on the DNF list and returned it to the library.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

What I'm Reading Right Now and Updates on the Reading Routine

This last week or so has been a bit busy and I'm making slow progress but progress is progress. Right? So without further ado, here's what I'm reading right now.

Detroit; An American Autopsy by Charlie LeDuff- Finished! I actually read this in less than 24 hours. It was an interesting read but since I live within 20 minutes of most of the places he referenced it was a little unnerving. The writing style was not great in my opinion, some of it read like a 1940's crime novel. Full review is up on GoodReads!

The Relic Master by Christopher Buckley- Still at the beginning of this one but I love a good historical novel. I found this one in an issue of Bookmarks Magazine and its been on my TBR list for a while so I'm pretty excited to be reading it.

Gardens of the Moon by Steven Erikson-Still reading this one. It's good and I'm finally making some progress. I've been carrying it around the house with me since I usually just pick up the nearest book when I get a few minutes to read and I've finally hit 200 pages!

As far as the reading routine I posted about last week...That's not going so great. The plan was to use the hour between The Husband leaving for work and The Toddler waking up to read. I was going to start Monday. Well, Monday I forgot and watched Gilmore Girls instead. Tuesday The Husband had taken the day off for Valentines Day so there was no hour. I didn't even remember I was supposed to be starting a new routine this week until I put The Toddler down for her nap on Tuesday. This morning I forgot again and watched Gilmore Girls. So the new goal is to start tomorrow. I'm going to write myself a reminder on the fridge. I have a handy dandy dry erase board for stuff like that.

That's all I've got for right now. Hopefully I'll be reading some new books next week!

Friday, February 10, 2017

This Month's Book Club Pick

I wrote a bit about the book club I'm a part of earlier this week and I think I'm going to make each month's book club pick a bit of a feature on the blog. Since we only meet once a month it should be pretty simple. After each meeting I'll do a post with a bit of a review of the previous pick and a first impression on the new pick. Each month a different member picks the book, there are eight of us so there's a good mix of styles and genres.

Last month was my pick and I chose The Other Boleyn Girl, which I've already written about several times so I won't go into that again. This month our book was chosen by E (I'm not going to use names, just to protect the other members privacy, since they don't know anything about the blog), and she chose....

Detroit; An American Autopsy by Charlie LeDuff.

I'm pretty excited to read this one. The last non-fiction we did was A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson, and I did not like it, at all. But the city of Detroit is an interesting place. I could say a whole lot about Detroit, both good and bad, but I'm going to try and keep an open mind about it and not let my biases get in the way of the authors views and experiences of the city.

Everyone is pretty excited to read this one, and one of us already read it a few years ago and she says it's excellent. Overall first impression; good, not too long, cover makes it look all gritty and dark, but I hope there's some good things in it too.

I've already picked it up from the library so it will be on the next 'What I'm reading' post and hopefully I'll have good things to say!

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

My Book Club and Why Book Clubs are Important

It's not really my book club. It's a book club that I happen to belong too, and I'm actually the newest member. I got invited to attend my first book club meeting in September 2016, but the group has been meeting for a few years. They are truly an excellent group of ladies. There's all age from early 20's to mid 60's, we are in all different stages of motherhood, different religious and political beliefs, and we all love to read, so you can imagine how lively the conversations can get.

I decided to share a bit about my book club because January was my pick! I chose one of my all-time favorite books, The Other Boleyn Girl. It seemed like a bit of a safe pick but I was quite nervous about it. I've loved this book so much for so long that it was a bit like giving them a piece of my soul to read.

Joining a book club has changed my reading habits quite a bit. I've found some new authors and books that I never would have picked up on my own, and it helped me get out of my year-long reading slump. I'd tried online book clubs on Goodreads and LibraryThing but neither really worked for me. I don't know why but I find posting in an online group full of strangers really intimidating, I also have a hard time feeling motivated to read a book I'd never pick up on my own when I know no one in the group will know, or care, if I read the book. Plus, as an introvert, I vastly prefer a small. intimate group to one with twenty thousand members I don't know. A book club that meets in person just works for me.

And here are the reasons I think book clubs are important;

1. You'll read books that weren't even on your radar, let alone your TBR list. This is true of just about any book club, whether it's online, at your local library, or a small group of friends in your basement. Reading tastes and preferences can vary so much, even in the same genre, that I can almost guarantee you'll end up reading something that you would have never picked up off a shelf, or one clicked on Amazon.

2. You won't like all the books you read. That's right. There will be books you despise, and that's a good thing, Because you'll be learning about yourself, as a reader, and as a person. Example: Bill Bryson. I thought I had a pretty sarcastic and mean sense of humor until I read a Walk In the Woods. Bryson is down right awful. I finished the book, but the first thing I thought when I put it down was, 'I hope I never meet this guy, I hate to think what he'd write about me,'.  Not only did I not like the book, by the end of it I didn't like Bill Bryson, and I'd learned that I don't like that much negativity from an author. Once upon a time I might have found his writing funny, but I'm not that person anymore. Personal growth can be a bitch, and my opinions were not popular at book club that month.

3. Book clubs can be 'Reading Slump Repellent'. When you just can't settle on anything to read, and nothing sounds good, a book club picks takes the decision out of your hands. Someone picked this for your book club, you have to read it, the meetings in a week and a half. And before you know it your back in your reading groove. I mean, I'm sure it doesn't always work that way, some reading slumps happen no matter what you do, but not having to decide what to read can help bring you out of it.

4. The discussions are amazing. When you have a great group of people who are passionate about reading, your group can have some wonderful discussions. One of our best book discussions that I've been a part of was about The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt. We went over an hour late discussing that one. We have such a varied group, that there were so many different view points and so much going on in that book, it was an amazing night to be a part of. I can see how this would be tricky to find because not all book clubs are created with the goal of reading and discussing books. Some are about drinking wine, or getting out of the house to socialize with someone who doesn't want to wipe their boogers on your jeans, or gossiping about celebrities, or something else entirely, so finding the right group is important. But when you find it, it's worth all the cheap wine and Kardashian gossip in the world, unless of course you like those things, in which case bring on the wine!

If you're reading this I hope you have a great book club that is everything you need and/or want it to be. Whether it's a group that's strictly about the books, like mine, or one that talks about everything under the sun and has a good supply of spirits while they do it, remember the main goal of any book club should be to enjoy yourself!

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

What I'm Reading Right Now

I can never seem to do these on time. It's supposed to be every Friday but it never happens that way. Maybe I should just say I'll post one every week and a half-ish. That seems much better.

On the bright side, I've got a new book to write about this week! The Relic Master by Christopher Buckley. I'm taking my time reading it, I've been looking forward too it for a long time and so far it's living up too the hype. I first read about it in Bookmarks Magazine (if you haven't read it go to Barnes & Noble and pick one up, totally worth the $5.95 every other month), and I got it for christmas when it came out in paperback. So far the details are historically accurate, which it SO SO SO important in a historical fiction, the characters are interesting (a mercenary who got tired of killing and started dealing relics to Archbishops? Yes, please!), and the religious commentary is completely realistic (selling of indulgences funding a corrupt Pope, and nobility buying their way into high religious offices). All signs point to an excellent read!

I'm also still working on The Gardens of the Moon. I've been looking forward to it too much, and heard too many good things about it to give up on it before two hundred pages. I'm holding off on starting any Kindle books, as I'm feeling a bit burnt out on romances.

I'm sure I'll have something new to add in the next What I'm Reading post as I have book club tonight. I'll probably do a post on my book club sometime this week, since this month was my pick and I'm super excited about it! So more posts later this week! Happy Reading!

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Morning Reading Routines and Genres I Used to Know

I don't currently have much of a morning routine. I get up with The Husband, make his breakfast, pack his lunch, and see him off too work, then I usually have in between thirty minutes and an hour to myself before The Toddler wakes up. The half-ish hour is usually spent scrolling through Pinterest. I feel like I waste that time, but the temptation of Pinterest is too much most mornings, when I'm still tired but don't have enough time to go back to sleep and don't really feel like doing anything else either.
Next week, I'm going to try something a bit different. I tried Fly Lady for a while last year and while the system as a whole didn't really work for me she has some good habits to get into, like getting dressed for the day. Fly Lady says to get dressed TO YOUR SHOES. LACE UP shoes. They have to be lace up shoes so you can't plop your butt on the couch and slip off your shoes at any point in the day, you have to go through the trouble of untying them. But that's crap. I don't like wearing shoes in my house. I like thick, warm, wool socks. So, when I get up I'm going to try and get dressed, even if its just leggings and a tee shirt, and brushing my hair and teeth and all that crap, so maybe I'll feel like doing something other than scrolling through Pinterest.

The goal is to schedule some morning reading time. With The Toddler being a toddler, and the house being shown all the time, and having to cook three meals a day, I've been having trouble finding the time to read during the day. In fact I can feel a very long reading slump coming on, so I figure if reading time is built in to my morning it will make things a bit easier and I can get back on track with my reading goals. And be dressed before 3 pm.

Along with finding time to read I've also been evaluating what I'm reading, and why it's not working for me.

Two of the books I stuck on the DNF list this week were romance novels. Until recently, like the last six months or so, I did NOT read romance. I'm not really an emotional person. It might seem like I am, with my anxiety issues and things, but I really can't deal with other peoples emotions. I mean, seriously, I barely understand my own emotions. If it's not a logical thing chances are I'm probably not going to get it, and romance novels are a LOT of emotions, and illogical decisions. I don't know why I've been drawn to them lately, and I have no problem admitting that I like them, however I think I overloaded on them. And if it doesn't have an actual plot or isn't well written, yea...I'm not reading crap.
The other book I'm having trouble getting through is Gardens of the Moon. I've heard great things about this book and what I've read so far I really like. I have no idea why I can't seem to really get into it. There was a time when all I read was Fantasy books, and now for some reason, I can't seem to get into them at all. I don't know if it's just not having time, or if my tastes in books are changing but I'm going to stick with this one a while longer.

I think knowing when to quit is really the key to things here. In the past, when I've not finished a book it usually lead to some sort of reading slump, which I'm actively trying to avoid. I'm hoping by stopping sooner, and not reading until I hate the idea of picking up another book, I can avoid the slump.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

What I'm Reading Right Now (Sort of) and Thoughts About What Counts

This post was supposed to be written on Friday. It's Wednesday. And I really don't have anything new to add to my currently reading list. I've decided to DNF list a couple of books, but I haven't started any new ones.

Remember how I said The Toddler had a cold last week and we were snuggling on the couch. Well, now I've got the cold. And holy crap does it suck. I've been sleeping A LOT (and thankfully, so has The Toddler) and not doing much of anything else. The house is a mess, I've had to turn down a showing because it's such a mess. I've got a lot of catching up to do on just about everything. Today is the first day in almost a week that I haven't felt like death but I'm going to continue to take it easy so that I don't get sick again, at least for a couple more days.

I wrote last week about running into a bit of a rough patch with the RMSC. This week the rough spot continues. Everyone in my house is sick, it's a vicious cycle. The Toddler got it from her grandma, and gave it to me, and I gave it to The Husband, and now we've all got The Plague. I haven't read anything in days and I can feel a reading slump coming on. I can sit and scroll through the hundreds of books on my Kindle and not find a single thing I want to read. I can stand and stare at my (beautifully organized) bookshelves and not find a single thing there either.

On the other hand, I can scroll through Pinterest and find book after book that looks/sounds amazing, but of course I don't own any of those books so it doesn't really help. I keep thinking that I need to read something short and quick to get me back into the reading groove, and one book keeps coming to mind. The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman. I read it in high school and it really stuck with me though the years. I remember going 'Jackpot!' in my head when I found a copy of it at Secondhand Prose, and though I've kept it for years I've yet to read it. But I have read it in the past, so I can't decide if it should count for the challenge or not. I'm reading it anyway, of course, but I can't decide if I should count it. This had got me thinking about other things that may or may not count.

First, books that are part of a series. Like the Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn series by Tad Williams. I've got all the books in the series but I have only read the first book and maybe half of the second book, and that was years ago now. So, I need to reread the series from the beginning, but does the first book count towards the challenge since I've already read it? The point of the challenge is to read books I already own, but do only unread books count?

When I originally came up with this challenge the goal was to read books I own but have not read yet. Counting books I've read already is not what the challenge is supposed to be about, it's about reading new things. So, I think if it's something I've already read, even if it's part of a series, it doesn't count.

But that brings up the next thing. Books that are half read? Going back to the Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn series. I read half of the second book but didn't finish it. It was a good book, I just got into a reading slump and never picked it back up. Since it was never finished does it count? I think so. One of the reasons I decided to do the challenge was to actually read the books on my shelves, including the half read ones that I never got around to finishing.

But what about books like The Yellow Wallpaper, that I read and then bought a copy, but never read the copy I own? I'm thinking no, that it shouldn't count. I've read the book, even if it wasn't the copy that's sitting on a shelf upstairs, I've read it.

Quick summary of newly established rules;
Books I read and then bought - don't count.
Books I bought and then read - don't count.
Books I bought, started, but didn't finish - do count.

So this is where I am this week. Hopefully by Friday I'll be feeling better and be able to post a better update.