20 Books of Summer Reading Challenge Check-in

The 20 Books of Summer Reading Challenge started on June 1st and ends September 3, so we’re about halfway through.

Here were my original stacks:

Of the 18 books I read in the last month and a half, only 7 were from the list, and I started and abandoned 1. So with only a month and a half left, I’m less than halfway through.

I knew this was going to be a problem for me, actually reading books from a pre-chosen list. But I’m determined to get through the ones I’ve picked.

I’ve reviewed some of these books in more depth on Goodreads. You can follow me by clicking the button to the right, if you’re interested.

What I’ve read:

  1. Roseblood (meh!- 2 stars)
  2. Bel Canto (great!- 4 stars)
  3. The Couple Next Door (overrated- 2 stars)
  4. The Mouse and the Motorcycle (fun-3 stars)
  5. The Golden Compass (pretty good- 3 stars)
  6. The Subtle Knife (second book in the series, so not as good- 3 stars)
  7. The Amber Spyglass (fantastic, makes the series worth reading- 5 stars)

Abandoned:

  1. Wicked (That one was supposed to be on my “alternate” pile. I guess I got them mixed up… oops)

Those of you who are participating in the reading challenge… how’s it going?

The Top 10 Worst Things About Reading

I love to read, and will read anything, anywhere, anytime. But there’s a dark side to it too, that no one talks about…

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My overflow “bookshelf”

  1. So many books, so little time. If I read all day every day, (In my dream world), I still wouldn’t be able to read every book I want to.
  2. Every second away from a book I love is TORTURE. Okay, so you know how sometimes you read a book, and it’s good, but you’re okay when you have to put it down? But then sometimes you read a book, and you resent every single second doing everything else, because adulting? Yeah, that.
  3. Not being able to meet the characters in real life. I mean, I guess it’s okay when we’re talking about Hannibal Lecter, but I really wish I could meet Wavy from All the Ugly and Wonderful things, or Anita Blake from the Laurell K. Hamilton books.
  4. Not knowing how I’ll feel about a book prior to reading it. Sometimes, I read a book and I don’t connect, but it’s not terrible enough to put down. And then I’m done, and it never got better, and I’ve just wasted all those hours. Or worse, having stuff to do, but picking up a book knowing I only have a half hour to read, and then falling in love with it and not accomplishing anything because I HAVE TO READ THIS BOOK. It would be nice if I knew ahead of time so I could plan my life accordingly.
  5. Book hangover. I was in this wonderful world, and I was living there and hanging out with my new best friends, and life was amazing. And then… real life. Ugh.
  6. Not having the book in multiple formats. I now love audiobooks. But I “read” audiobooks much slower than physical books. And when I really love an audiobook, I wish I had a physical copy too, so I could just race through and finish. Conversely, I’m reading a wonderful physical book, and I have to run errands or something or clean up or whatever. Why can’t I just plug my headphones in?
  7. Eyestrain. Seriously. There are some nights when I go to bed that my eyes feel like they’re on fire. On the recommendation of my eye doctor, I now use drops every night before bed. It’s helping. You’re welcome.
  8. When authors get information wrong. There is nothing that drives me crazier than bad information in the middle of an otherwise good novel. I get that sometimes authors take artistic license, and that’s fine. Dandy. A-ok. But when I can tell that the author just didn’t do his or her homework, it makes me want to call them up and say, “Have you heard of this thing called Google? No, avoid Wikipedia. Avoid news outlets too. Yeah, that website’s good. Excellent. Now please check all your references with me before you write anything else. Glad we understand one another.”
  9. People don’t talk about books the way they do about TV. I got my haircut recently, and the lovely stylist wanted to talk about TV shows, asking for my recommendations. And while I said I love The Walking Dead and Big Bang Theory, I would much rather have discussed The Female of the Species, by Mindy McGinnis (so good!) or The Couple Next Door, by Shari Lapena (Meh… overrated). I want to talk and gossip about characters like they’re real people.
  10. The TBR is never-ending. I’m finally reading Holding Up the Universe, by Jennifer Niven (so good!) and in it, she mentions Shirley Jackson’s We Have Always Lived In The Castle. It’s been on my TBR forever. Now I’m going to have to bump it up in the queue. And other books will now be neglected for a little while longer. (sad trombone noise)

What are your “worst” things about reading?

Related posts:

Can I really say I “read” an audiobook?

My Reading Habits

 

 

My Reading Habits

IMG_8801This was a fun little quiz I found online.

READING HABITS

1. Do you have a certain place at home for reading?  Not really. I’ll read anywhere I can see the page. That includes while sitting, standing, walking, playing with the dogs, cooking, eating, etc.

2. Bookmark or random piece of paper?  Anything that’s at hand. Receipts, fortunes from fortune cookies, post-its, random papers. I do have bookmarks though. I just mostly misplace them. Or leave them in the book when I’m done.

3. Can you just stop reading or do you have to stop after a chapter?  If I love the book, stopping anywhere is hard, but I can make myself do it at the end of a chapter. If I’m not as into it, I can stop anywhere.

4. Do you eat or drink while reading?  Um, yes. Reading is life.

5. Multitasking: Music or TV while reading?  Sort of. If I’m really into the book, I hear nothing that’s going on around me. I’m not usually watching the TV though; that’s my husband.

6. One book at a time or several at once?  It depends. If I’m not that into the book, I might start another one at the same time. But if I’m really into it, I have trouble even putting it down.

7. Reading at home or everywhere? One time, a coworker told everyone she saw me reading while I was crossing the street. In fairness, it wasn’t like a busy street or anything.

8. Reading out loud or silently in your head?  Silently. Shhh!

9. Do you read ahead or skip pages?  No! Who even does that? (I might look ahead to see where the chapter ends, but I’m not reading it.)

10. Breaking the spine or keeping it like new?  Break it! Wear marks = love.

11. Do you write in your books?  Yes! I write, highlight. I don’t worry about smudges or marks. Again, imperfections are signs of affection in my book. (See what I did there?)

BONUS QUESTIONS

1. When do you find yourself reading? Morning, afternoon, evening, when you get a chance or all the time?  Reading is life.

2. What is your best setting to read in?  A setting where no one is attempting to talk to me. Getting arrested because I murdered the person who wouldn’t stop talking to me would really slow down my reading.

3. What do you do first – Read or Watch?  In general, I prefer to read first. But I’ve been introduced to some really great books by watching a show or movie and seeing that there’s a book.

4. What form do you prefer? Audiobook, eBook, or phsyical book?  I prefer a physical book, but I’ll go for an eBook if I need a quick fix. Or if I’m on vacation and don’t want to carry 8,000 pounds of books with me. I just started reading audiobooks, and they’re pretty cool. I can read while doing chores or driving.

5. Do you have a unique habit when you read?  Is getting covered in cats unique?

6. Do book series have to match?  I really prefer it, but I’m not going to stress if they don’t.

 

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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

Can I Really Say I “Read” An Audiobook?

img_7913Up until the last few years, I never listened to audiobooks. There are a lot of reasons that don’t have anything to do with snobbery: I retain more when I read vs. listen, my mind wanders more when I listen, it’s harder to go back and re-read passages, I can’t highlight, etc.

But the bigger reason, for me, is that listening to audiobooks seemed kind of passive to me. I don’t love TV, primarily because I know that my brain isn’t doing much if I’m just consuming a show. I worried that audiobooks had that same passivity.

It’s silly, because if I think about it, listening to audiobooks is actually harder work for me than reading a book the traditional way. It requires me to direct my concentration in a way that’s much more automatic for me in traditional reading.

I decided to look it up, to see how audiobooks are consumed by the brain. Rather than wondering and worrying about it, I looked to the science. Here’s a good article on it, but the bottom line is that your brain sees them essentially the same way.

I’m not the only one asking this question. When I did an internet search about audiobooks vs. traditional reading, apparently many people struggle with this issue.

I keep a list of how many books I read each year, and two or three of them for the past two years have been audiobooks. I’ve actually struggled with whether or not to “count” them.

What’s the point of reading a book? For me, it’s about enjoyment. In some cases, it’s about learning. It’s also to synthesize information and be able to discuss it meaningfully with others. I can do all that with audiobooks.

I recently reread On Writing, by Stephen King. (Great book, incidentally, even if you’re not a writer.) He reads tons of books, and casually mentioned that he also reads audiobooks. If it’s good enough for Stephen King, it’s good enough for me. Once I gave myself permission to look at audiobooks as reading, I started seeing chunks in my day where I could be reading: doing yard work, in the car, cleaning up the kitchen… the list goes on.

Do you listen to audiobooks? Where do you stand on audiobooks vs. traditional books?

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

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.