How I Choose What To Read Next

I’m a moody reader, so I never know what I’m going to be in the mood for next, and I like most genres. Sometimes my book choices are deliberate, and sometimes they’re more whimsical. Here’s how I pick:

  1. A group I belong to picked it. In general, I try to prioritize these. I belong to a FaceBook YA Book Club for writers. August’s book is Caravel, by Stephanie Garber. This was recommended awhile ago by a friend, and I just never moved it to the top of my list. Now it is. I also belong to a small book club with two friends of mine. We choose a book and all pass it around. It’s supposed to be a three month cycle per book, but I think we’re a bit behind this time around (or maybe it’s just me). For that, I read LaRose, by Louise Erdrich. It was slow reading, but it’s always interesting to step out of my comfort zone and read something I wouldn’t have picked.
  2. Someone recommended it. People know I read a lot, so they’re always recommending books to me. I *try* to get to them before I forget who recommended them. By 1999, approximately half a million people had recommended the Harry Potter series to me, and I stubbornly ignored them because “it couldn’t be that good.” I don’t do that anymore.
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    Part of my wish list.

  3. I just felt like it, okay? Sometimes, I wander around my house, see a book, and I’m like, “That’s the one.” No rhyme or reason.
  4. I’m in a sad mood or feeling meh, and I need comfort. I have a bunch of go to books for when I need a pick me up. If I need to cry, I read Where The Red Fern Grows, by Wilson Rawls. I have no idea how many times I’ve read it, but I cry. Every. Single. Time. If I’m feeling stuck in a rut, and need adventure, I might read Watership Down, by Richard Adams, or Lightning, by Dean Koontz. If I just need something familiar, I might read Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen, or Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Bronte (though I usually skip the whole first section at Lowood school).
  5. I was at the library, and it screamed at me to get my attention. I try not to look at the “new fiction” shelf, but sometimes I hear the books calling my name. I know that means that other books will be neglected… but… new books.
  6. I was thinking about a passage from it, and just had to reread it. This happens to me once in awhile. I’ll be thinking about something else, or I’ll watch a movie or read another book, and a particular passage I like comes to mind. Then I’ll either flip through the book to reread just that part, or I’ll reread the whole thing. This happened recently with The Face, by Dean Koontz. No spoilers here, but there’s a part where a cop does something illegal with good intentions, and for some reason, that popped into my head, and I had to find and read that section.

As you can see, I don’t really “choose” what books to read. It’s all kind of random. But the orderly people in my life would say that I’m more governed by chaos than not, so it makes sense. I’m working my way through the 20 Books of Summer, and keeping to a pre-set list is difficult!

How do you choose what books to read next? How do you keep track of books people recommend?

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Audiobooks: Using Every Moment of Time Productively

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From my Overdrive account. These are all books I’ve borrowed from the library.

I came across an interesting article the other day: America’s unhealthy obsession with productivity is driving its biggest new reading trend.

In the article, the author asserts that audiobook sales have increased in a way that can’t be accounted for just by their ease of use. The author states that Americans hate downtime, and that’s why we rush to fill those silences with something.

The author concludes that creativity comes out of those silences, and that we don’t know what we’re missing when we rush to fill them. But “there are far worse addictions.”

*sigh*

I’m not going to pretend that I’m not addicted to books. I can (and have) gone days without reading. Well… books. In the days I haven’t read books, I’ve read articles online, cruise ship news (on a cruise ship, obviously), the back of cereal boxes, etc.

But if you told me I had to go a week without reading a book, I honestly don’t think I could do it. I don’t want to. That’s like telling me I should go without breathing for awhile to see how I like it.

I didn’t jump on the audiobook bandwagon until about 6 months ago. Mostly because I’ve tried reading audiobooks in the past, and I just couldn’t understand them. About two years ago, I got my first set of hearing aids. My audiologist told me that my audio center (probably the wrong term, but this is how I remember it) was probably somewhat atrophied because I’m used to relying on other ways to understand conversations. She also said that the more I used them, the more I’d be able to better understand spoken language.

So, it’s possible that my liking audiobooks now is because I’ve exercised my brain enough that the words make sense. The more I listen and hear, the better I can understand. In my case, listening to audiobooks is actually a form of exercise!

Though honestly, I’ve heard other people say that they had to get used to listening to audiobooks, so it’s probably a skill like any other. It requires practice to improve.

Anyway… I love quiet time. When I walk my dog on our local greenbelt, I never listen to books or music. The sounds of the creek rushing by, the birds singing, and the little animals scampering around the underbrush help soothe me, like a form of meditation. Often it’s when I have my best ideas.

But sitting in traffic, painting my garage trim, or cleaning up around the house (for example) are not made better by quiet time (for me). When I’m engaged in a frustrating activity, or one I just don’t like, why wouldn’t I make it a little better by listening to a book?

I love to read; it makes me happy. It’s a form of escape, like a mini-vacation. I don’t do it because I want to increase the number of books I’ve read. I do it because I want to read more books. I want to read all the books! (But unfortunately… adulting… ugh.)

And audiobooks are so easy to get now. When I was attempting to read them, like 10- 15 years ago, it was either use Audible or get CDs from the library. Both ways took time, and I’m pretty sure that downloading books from Audible was kind of a pain.

Nowadays, I log onto my library’s webpage, select the audiobook I want, and tell it to download to an app on my phone. It takes longer to pick the book than to download it. The ease of access has to be a major factor driving up audiobook consumption.

I get it. I’m sure there are people out there who are using audiobooks to increase productivity. But to call it an obsession is an oversimplification. We do live in a faster world. There’s so much available to do and see and listen to! Why wouldn’t we want to enjoy as much as possible?

Related posts: Can I Really Say I Read An Audiobook?

I Promise These 4 Tips Will Get You Hooked On Audiobooks, over at While I Was Reading

My Relationship With the Library

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A partial stack of my most recent library books. There are others… somewhere.

Dear Library,

We’ve had an on again-off again thing for years. When I’m into you, I’m all in. When I’m not into you… well, let’s just say, it’s not you; it’s me.

When I was much younger, I had a thing going on with a huge, gorgeous old library. I remember it as having like 5 stories (though that may be the memory of youth) and checking out stacks and stacks of books.

As I got older, it became easier to just buy books when I wanted them. I stopped visiting that library, and eventually, I moved away.

My next library was small and unimpressive. It was one big room in a repurposed building. It had none of the character or history of my first library. I borrowed books sometimes, but I just wasn’t that into it.

You don’t need every detail of my history, do you? The next serious relationship I had with a library happened in Arizona, where I joined my first library with a network. Even if my library didn’t have what I wanted, I could log on and “reserve” any book in the system, and they’d bring it to my library. This worked for books, CDs, and DVDs. Suddenly, I was in love again. I was borrowing like crazy, stopping by the shelf of librarian picks and grabbing books based on their covers. (This is how I discovered John Dies at the End).

When I moved, we had to end that relationship. It was tough; I’d grown accustomed to how… well… easy it was. I was afraid that the next one wouldn’t be as accessible.

Lucky for me, my current library is super easy. It has the same “reserve” feature. It also has digital borrowing, so I can get library books right on my Kindle! This is great for me, since sometimes, I have to read something RIGHT NOW, and if I don’t own it, this can be a problem. Often, I’m able to get it from the library when I want it.

I still buy a lot of books, especially ones I want to mark up or reread. But the library is a great source for me to feed my book habit without having to buy every book I ever want to read.

So, Library, I guess what I’m saying is that, for now, I’m committed to you. I can’t be exclusive because you don’t meet all my needs, but I want to see you regularly. And I don’t see that changing anytime soon.

Love,

Doree

To Buy or Not to Buy… That is the Question…

img_6614Actually, even though the title of the post is to buy or not, that’s not really the question.  The question is whether to keep them once bought.

I’m a little bit of a hoarder.  I know people who change out their wardrobes seasonally, and have no trouble getting rid of old clothes, but I figure that if I buy it, I should keep it.

That’s why I have thousands of books.  Literally, thousands.

I try not to buy books.  I really try.  I use my local library for both ebooks and paper books.  But when I buy a book, I prefer to have the physical copy.

When I was attempting to shelve my huge collection, I started giving a lot of thought to clutter, and how much I hate it.  I started to really think about why I own so many books.  I haven’t read all of them.  Some of them were given to me by people who know I like books.  Some of them are well-loved books I’ve read a million times or might read again.  So, how do I decide which stay and which ones go?  I’ve made up a few rules.

If it has sentimental value.  My grandfather didn’t read many books, but he read and loved Marley and Me.  I enjoyed that book too, but even if I didn’t, I’d still own a copy.  It always makes me think of him.  And fairy tales make me think of my grandma.

If I’m going to re-read it.  I’ve read Watership Down more times than I can count.  So much so that I recently had to buy a new copy, as my old one was falling apart.  I love books that bear those kinds of marks of how well-loved they are.  My copy of Pride and Prejudice has post-it flags stuck in my favorite parts, so if I’m having a bad day, I can visit my favorite parts of the story and get a quick mood boost.

If it’s a classic.  I’m working my way through many of the classics, and even the ones I didn’t like, I’m keeping on my shelf.  I figure that it it’s stood up that much over the years, I may want to revisit it at a different point in my life.  I tried reading 1984 for the first time a few years ago, and though I recognized that it was a good book and I should like it, I just couldn’t stay interested.  Two years later, I picked it up and sped through it.  What’s going on in my life absolutely affects what I read and how I perceive it.

If it’s a “reference” book.  This is kind of a tricky one.  I write speculative fiction, so having books full of ghost stories, myths and legends, on my shelves is good practice.  I never know where I might find inspiration.

I haven’t read it yet, but I plan to.  I’m a sucker for used bookstores.  Sometimes I just have to pick something up because it looks good, but then I don’t get to it for awhile.  I’m okay with that.  But there are some books that I’ll probably never get to, and I need to learn to let them go.

These rules are flexible and subject to change.  But I’ve already taken two boxes of books to my local Half-Price books, and it feels good to know I’m reducing some of the clutter.

Do you buy books or get them from the library?  How do you decide which to keep and which to get rid of?

L is for Libraries

“Doree, you like libraries?  What a surprise!” -said no one.  Ever.

I don’t remember the first time my mom took me to the Reading Public Library, but I do remember my sense of wonder at the huge old building.  The kids’ section was in the basement, and it was a big room filled with books.  I loved browsing shelves and reading the backs, trying to find interesting books.  I think the limit was 50 books at a time, so I could pretty much check out as many books as I wanted.  I had a few favorites, that I would check out over and over, but I also liked finding new friends on the shelves.

Reading Public Library

Reading Public Library

Graduating from the kids’ section to the grown-up library was a bittersweet day for me, as it meant I could no longer check out kids’ books.  Because the adult area was completely separate from the kids’ section and my parents weren’t really readers, I got to experience the adult section for the first time when I got my adult library card.

The Reading Library was a real library, three or four floors high, with more books than even I could conceive of reading in my lifetime.  They had computer stations, back when that was something new.  The library was well-lit, not like the dusty old, dimly lit libraries that feature in good horror and fantasy stories.  But the lighting didn’t dispel the magic.  It still lurked in the stacks, borne out by the mythical numbering system that no one but librarians understood.  I remember looking up books in the card catalog, and while I appreciate the efficiency of the digital system, there was something undeniably cool about having the card in the back stamped with a date.

When I moved the first time, I was disappointed by the small library in a modern building, and each time I’ve moved, it’s been the same.  I love my current library, and appreciate that I can go online and order books from any of their partner libraries, place “holds” on books, or even borrow something digitally.  I can appreciate technology, and still feel nostalgic for that big library in the old stone building.

Day 3- 30 Days of Gratitude

IMG_14791.  I’m soooooo grateful for the librarian who decided not to reshelve my book that was on hold yesterday.  I called and asked if they’d leave it, even though I forgot to pick it up, and they will!  Otherwise, I’d have to go back on the hold list, and there would be 295 people ahead of me.

2.  I’m grateful for the wonderful weather.  I adore this time of year.

3.  I’m happy that we have orange roses today.

Mysterious Sculptures

Apparently, someone in Scotland is leaving beautiful paper sculptures in libraries with notes thanking libraries.  No one has come forward yet to claim these sculptures as their own.

It’s always nice to hear about random acts of kindness, from the person who leaves a PostSecret or little note laying around where others can find, all the way to these intriguing paper sculptures.

Here are a few links to articles and pictures about this.  It’s all very interesting.

http://talesfromanopenbook.wordpress.com/2011/09/16/mysterious-paper-sculptures/

http://www.neatorama.com/2011/09/12/paper-sculpture-gifts-to-scottish-libraries/

http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2011/jun/30/real-life-ian-rankin-mystery-sculptures