not a review

My Massive TBR Bookshelf

Recently, I admitted that my currently reading shelf on Goodreads is an utter sham. I use that designation to remind me which books are borrowed from the library in an attempt to prioritize reading them. Now I have another admission. The scanning capability on the Goodreads app and my total lack of self control has created a real problem on my TBR list and on my Un-Read Shelf at home.

Here is how it happens. I walk into one of my locally owned bookstores or a mega chain and I just started scanning all the books that look good to me. Those all go onto my TBR list. Additionally, I will see books in magazines or on the book blogs I follow and those go onto my TBR list. Then, family and friends give me books (or money for books, thank you people!) and I buy straight off this list.

Which brings me to the physical manifestation of this mess. It is an embarrassment of riches. I have nearly a full bookshelf of books I have purchased, were given to me or I liberated from somewhere all sitting and waiting to be read. But, when I can’t sleep at night do I reach for one of these books? NO. No, I do not. I go onto my Kindle and I buy another book. No self control at all.

I’ve brought this bookshelf up here before. I have told friends and family about it. But, I just keep adding to it! As I look at all of these books – they are so pretty – I vow they need to be read. But, I don’t. What to do?


Publicly shame myself.


Here they are, the nearly 100 books sitting on my shelf waiting to be read.

So, readers, where should I start? I mean, obviously I have to finish the $.99 book I bought last night…but then, how do I chip away at this massive pile? And, more importantly, how to do it quickly enough to reasonably ask for more books for the holidays?!?

 

not a review

Pet Peeve Resolved!

How many of us have been standing in the bookstore or library trying desperately to discern which book is next in a series only to be thwarted by a sale sticker or barcode? And what is up with some of the insane publishers who do not feel like adding a numeral to the cover? Then you look inside the jacket and try to figure it out. It’s no help! Finally, we pull out our trusty phones and head to a reputable bookseller website or Goodreads only to accidentally have a spoiler pop up! Can you tell this is a pet peeve of mine?

frustrated

Recently, one of my followers, Ann, suggested I read the new Bryant and May. I adored the first two in the Peculiar Crimes division so I tried to request it from the library. I was shocked at how many had been written that I had missed. I could not tell at all which was the newest without scrolling through pages of covers and synopses. Finally, I Googled, “Bryant and May books in order,” and there across the top of my computer screen were all the books with their publication date.

But, wait. Why doesn’t this work on my phone? Possibly, it is because my phone is stupid. Or, its me (also quite possible when technology and I cross swords). All I knew is that there must be an easier way.

Ta-da! There are whole websites and people (angels) devoted to letting the general public know which book comes next in a series. I found three great websites that are now my go-to devices when the 20% off at Barnes and Noble tries to keep me out of the loop.

The first, orderofbooks.com, is a fantastic site. I had a little trouble on my first visit finding the search section but it is right there at both the top and bottom of the right sidebar. Technology wins again! I really like that I can search by character or author or book series title.  This is particularly helpful when you love one series an author writes but not another. This was the most complete and searchable site I have found thus far. If you are looking to purchase the book there are links next to the title that will take you to Amazon. Dangerous…

The second website is from the Mid-Continent Public Library in Missouri. It is specific to Juvenile series and sequels and lists all the books alphabetically by series title, subject, book title or author. There is no search option. But since it is extensive, has multiple avenues to find your series and is specific to juvenile books it is an excellent resource. Some of these books I didn’t even realize were a series!

Finally, I found another fellow blogger out there fighting the good fight against reading books out of order – Graeme at BookSeriesinOrder.com. He lists the books in order by character or author. His site isn’t searchable and, interestingly, the authors are in alphabetical order by first name. But, he has those handy dandy links next to the books ready for purchasing from Amazon.

Now I am ready. Never again will I read something like, “After the death of the character you loved in the book you didn’t read yet, the story continues…”

Am I the only person who has this problem? How do you figure out which book comes next in the series?

 

not a review

WWW Wednesday

I have been following many of the blogs that participate in WWW Wednesday and in a heavily caffeine-induced moment of organization I find myself with a nice WWW list.

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WWW Wednesday is hosted every week by Taking On A World of Words and asks bloggers to answer three questions:

What are you currently reading?

What did you recently finish reading?

What do you think you will read next?

 

What am I currently reading?

I have already started The Boys in the Boat and William Wenton and the Impossible Puzzle.  I accidentally (but perhaps subconsciously on purpose) requested the “adapted for young readers” version of Boys on the Boat from the library.  Between that and young William, the puzzle addict, I plan to spend my week pretending I am an 8-11 year old boy.

What did I just finish reading?

RedQueen

 

In the wee hours of this morning I finished Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard. I purchased this book so long ago that the trilogy is finished! This was a great first book and I cannot wait to read the rest of the adventure.

 

 

 

What do I think I will read next?

On my immediate to be read list are: Serafina and the Black Cloak, The Number Devil and The Girl Who Could Fly.  I recently visited The Biltmore Estate in North Carolina and I am completely obsessed with the estate and anything Vanderbilt. So, when I heard that there was a book series set in basement of the magnificent Vanderbilt home I knew I would have to read it.

The Number Devil was recommended to me by a ten year old girl. She told me she loved math. I may have responded with something like, “Math is my childhood nemesis.” She recommended I read The Number Devil. We shall see if this mathematical adventure can overcome my disinterest / distrust of numbers.

The Girl Who Could Fly is billed as a, “…mix of Little House on the Prairie and X-Men…” I simply have to read it!

Do any of this books interest you? Have you read anything on my WWW list? My list is a little heavy on the children’s section selections this time so if you are looking for something different head over to Taking on a World of Words today. The comments are full of great blogs all answering these same questions!

 

not a review

Summer Learning!

June 1st through August 31st is my summer. I don’t care if school has been out for weeks or is still in session and the weather is cold, June 1st is the beginning of my summer state of mind. So, happy summer to everyone!

During the school year there are just so many (too many) have to-dos. So, I like to keep a little list of things I want to do when I have time. I find that when I am busy my mind is overflowing with ideas of things I wish I had time to do. But, when I finally get leisure time I can’t remember any of them. I have a list of about 100 things on my Summer Bucket List and #1 is always, “Learn something.”

Now, I am not studying up on Algebra (barf) or reading medical journals. For summer I like to learn about things that really interest me. This summer I have my big three: palmistry, calligraphy, and chords.

I became interested in palmistry years and years ago. My interest was just a little old flickering flame until a snobby girl told me it was, “a sin to practice witchcraft.” Um, what?!? Hell, yes. Who’s a witch? I’m a witch!

But, I really did not keep up with practicing it and so I have forgotten more than I remember.  To remedy that I have gathered three books and I am already getting ready to practice my craft.

palmistry

This is the book that kicked off my interest. I picked it up in the bargain book section of Barnes and Noble all those years ago and I still love it. Palmistry by Lori Reid is a great basic groundwork on reading the lines of the hand and I will re-read it cover to cover.

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I sprung for The Art of Palmistry by Anna Southgate brand new and just paging through it I became so excited. It has hundreds more pictures of palms and hand types than my introductory book and I cannot wait to study them more in-depth!

masters_destiny

Masters of Destiny by Josef Ranald is one of those gems I found when digging through the used book section. For two dollars I took this book home and I didn’t really care if it was worthwhile or not. I was overjoyed when I got a chance to look through and found that it is a mixture of palmistry and biography! It has a little two page synopsis of famous people and the palm line that matches their most well known characteristic.  For example, Albert Einstein may have had the line of scientific genius. Did he really have the corresponding line? I don’t care – this is summer fun learning!

handwriting

My Mom send me Creative Lettering and Beyond and a gorgeous set of calligraphy pens for Christmas. I have gotten them out….once. I plan to work my way through the book this summer and use those pens UP.

jazz_theory

This book has a similar story. It was a gift and I was so excited to tear right into it. But, it should really be entitled Jazz Theory for the Jazz Historian, Accomplished Musician and Practiced Theorist. It is a difficult book to use without instruction. Thankfully, I have a great music teacher who was able to break down the different sections for me. This summer I want to master all of my chords.

So, there is my #1 Summer Bucket List already lined up. I cannot wait! Do you have any summer learning traditions?

nonfiction · not a review

What Should I Read Next?

It is Friday night. It has been a long week and you just want to relax. So, you turn on Netflix and you flip through the options, maybe start one or two, and find nothing that captures your interest? The frustration begins to build. So, you head over to Amazon Prime or maybe even shows you have saved for just this occasion and again, nothing feels right. Meanwhile, you have spend two hours looking and zero minutes. This is me for the last 10 days with my books.

Sometimes after reading a really great series or a new author I come out of the book’s world in a daze. Nothing seems as good as the book I have just finished. Usually this malaise or withdrawal lasts a day or two and I am back in my book-packed saddle. Occasionally, I sink into a true funk and I cannot find anything to suit my mood. I write you now from this dark place. I need a good book!

So, how do we figure out what to read next? I have a whole bookshelf of books yet to be read. I have an enormous stack of library books (photo below) that I requested and wanted but none feel quite right.  What do I do!?! Well, I actually own two great books designed to help me answer the question, “What should I read next?”

top10Books, Over 100 Top 10 Lists by Fid and Sue Backhouse is a compilation of lists broken into six major categories.  World of Books, Compelling Characters, Out of this World (Sci-Fi), Relativity (humans and their relationships), Imagine That (kids and teens) and Page Turners are the major categories. As a list lover this book is soothing in its organization. As a book lover I appreciate the breadth of choices. There are over 1000 books and the authors acknowledge the subjectivity of their lists. I would love to have a book club meeting about this book just to discuss some of the inclusions and exclusions. I would also like to break one of my cardinal rules and write in this book – just check away at all the ones I have read.

1001BooksHallie Ephron, Ph.D is a prolific writer from a writing family and her book 1001 Books for Every Mood is my go-to when I cannot seem to find something to read. Do you want a book that will make you laugh? She has solid suggestions. What about a book to celebrate friends or one to celebrate the seasons? Covered! This book really does have something for whatever mood you are in and I really appreciate the ranking system that includes twelve different bits of information ranging from the literary merit to whether the book was family friendly or made into a movie. This book is out of print but if you see it, grab it.

After thumbing through these books and finding nothing to sate my literary thirst I turn to the internet for answers. Can the Book Seer help me? This website is hilarious and sometimes I just like to plug in books to see what I will get back. Book Seer will give you recommendations from Amazon and it used to give you recommendations from LibraryThing.

I enjoy Book Seer mostly as a little game to see if I agree with the website’s answers. Book Seer is brought to the world by Apt Studio and their blog post about the Book Seer’s analytics is a fascinating look into the mind of a person in need of a book. It is a fun place to start and I have found books this way.

If not, maybe Whichbook can help me! Whichbook is another wonderful website that allows you to use toggles to limit the searches so that you can get a (1) really happy book that is also (2) unexpected and (3) short.  Or, you can have an (1) easy (2) optimistic (3) scary book.  You can also change the toggles to search by character, plot or setting. Whichbooks has what they call “W” lists as well and you can read through their lists or guests lists and create your own.

I have found that Whichbook gives me a much more varied result to my queries than other websites. You can also read a little excerpt from the book, get parallels or books that are very similar or even use a book as a jumping off point to find more books. The toggles take some getting used to but I enjoy them and this is a website I turn to frequently for ideas.

And, of course, there is Goodreads. Goodreads was my first book-based website crush.  “It’s like Facebook for people that like to read!” I cried. I can see what my friends are reading and give and take suggestions! Authors on Goodreads will talk to me through the magic of the internet! This is amazing!!

But, then my crush talked to me and ruined it. Goodreads is great but it can be overwhelming. I never remember to plug in the books I have read. I am just not great at consistently using it. It is not hard to use, it is just my fault for not following through. The real deathblow for our relationship came when I got a smartphone and found out that I could scan books into my list. Then I was a woman on a mission. That mission seems to be: Make as long a to-be-read list as possible.

And here is my actual problem. I have loads of things to read. I am rich in books. I just need to suck it up and take my Mother’s advice. “Give it three chapters,” she would tell me. If I wasn’t immersed after that I could put the book down.

Like skimming through titles on Netflix I just keep reading the first 10 pages of a book and then tossing it aside. I need to jump into the story with both feet and take my hand off the remote (or, in this case, the next book).  Only then do I stand a chance of really entering into the world the author was trying to create. When I have finished reading this stack of books and the ones on my bookshelves then I can ask, “What Should I Read Next?”

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not a review · Uncategorized

Tsundoku or I swear I’m not a book hoarder

I have been seeing the word Tsundoku bouncing around on the internet a lot lately.  Some book people are in love with this “new” word.  Apparently the word is used to describe the action of buying reading materials followed by letting them pile up and never reading them.  This activity has been talked about for much longer as book hoarding.  Nasty thing.  Hoarding.  This word is better.  Obviously.

Except….never reading them?  Never?  I mean, we have all purchased something a friend has recommended, tried it, subsequently hated it and then sent it back into the literary recycling world.  Or, and I have done this more than one, purchased a “must read” book – be it a hoity toity must read (Tolstoy) or a seasonal must read (beach books) – and had buyers remorse.  But, to collect beautiful books and never read them?  I don’t understand.

What I can completely understand is purchasing more books than you have room to properly store them.  I can further completely accept that sometimes you buy a book on a whim and either (1) do not get around to reading it right away (because the library just let you know a new stack of books was ready for pick up!) or (2) because you just cannot get into the book.  These things happen!

For example.  I have always had books.  I have almost always had more books than I have had proper shelves to put them on.  Recently, I achieved a DIY dream of installing IKEA bookshelves all along one wall in my lovely house.  Ignore the books stacked in the chair waiting to be shelved and the ukulele.  If I waited until I cleaned this post would never happen.  Ever.image3

How nice are these shelves?!?  This is a Pinterest dream come true for me.  Plus, all my best book friends have a nice home (the ones on the chair and coffee table are in time-out.)  Now, I have promised myself that if the books cannot fit onto the shelves then they need a new home.  This is a lie.  IKEA will let me buy more shelves.  But, I’m trying.

Back to the original point.  See those shelves all the way to the left?

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Here.  I took a close up shot for clarity.

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Those five shelves of books are all To-Be-Read.  These are books that I could not resist at a Half Priced Books (someone else might get to them first!!!), out of a little free library, as gifts or even from people who were kind enough to just give them to me for no reason at all when they were finished reading.  I will eventually read all of these books.

So, I’m not a book hoarder.  I do not suffer from Tsunduko.  I’m a book lover and an avid reader.  Sometimes people visit and they say things like, “Wow, that is a LOT of books.”  These people think I’m just a pack rat for books.  Other times, people come over and lovingly open each shelf and admire all of my beautiful books.  These people understand.  It’s just for the love of books.

not a review

Book Logs

Look at my beautiful book log.  Are you impressed?  You shouldn’t be.  This is 1 week of books and then I just forgot to write them down. I didn’t even finish writing down Paper and Fire. I do this all of the time. I think I have a dozen journals, a list on my phone and a Goodreads account and all of them include, at a maximum, 20% of the books I read.

 

img_1482Why? Why am I so BAD at this?  I have a friend who – and I am not exaggerating – has written down every book he has ever read in his entire life.

For me, it is not laziness or disorganization.  Rather, my top 5 reasons I cannot seem to keep a book log:

5) I get too excited about the next book in the stack and forget about the log

4) I read a bummer of a book and I don’t want to write it down.

3) I read a trashy romance and I don’t want to admit it even though I really enjoyed it.

2) I can’t find my log / special pen for logging books (hmmm….maybe it is disorganization)

1) I would rather read another book right.this.minute.

So, if you keep a book log / journal or are in any way successful at listing your reads tell me, please, how on Earth do you do it?!?