2020 Reading Resolutions Check-In

I was ambitious in my reading resolutions for 2020. 2019 had not been the best year in terms of reading—despite a lot of other great things—so I wanted 2020 to make up for it. But I was also in my final semester of graduate school. As you can imagine, there is a lot of reading involved in the field of library and information science. The work was just demanding in general, on top of maneuvering it around a part-time job. I knew I had to practice the best self-care, even if it was watching scary story videos on YouTube instead of reading.

Regardless, I’m checking in on my reading resolutions to figure out which ones I want to carry on with for the rest of 2020. Those reading resolutions were:

 

Set a Goodreads goal of 50 books

COMPLETED

Thanks to my children’s literature class, I read 50 books by March. Initially, I planned on leaving it alone, to just read books without the pressure of reaching a new goal. Then, the quarantine happened and reading suddenly became a struggle with all this new amount of time on my hands. In April, I raised my Goodreads goal to 80 books in hopes competitiveness will spur my reading. As of right now, it has helped. At least somewhat.

 

Read more of the books I own than library books

NOT QUITE…

At this moment in time, 54 out of the 69 books I’ve read this year were library books. About 43 of those library books I read for the children’s literature course. I should have just stuck to those. However, I suddenly became obsessed with obtaining more library books. I needed an excuse to get out of the house when my previous job went into lockdown and school went online. Then, of course, the public library also went into lockdown for the quarantine.

 

Buy books for every 10-20 amount of books I own that I read

FAIL (OBVIOUSLY)

I am not quite sure what I was thinking when I made this resolution. In fact, I had forgotten about it. The majority of the books I read in the first three months of the year were from the library. Even after my enormous birthday splurge in January, I still could not stop shopping for books. I would try not to buy books at all, then buy so many in one go. Can anyone blame me though? I worked near two bookstores.

Fortunately, my bank account will rest easy for the time being. I don’t have the funds for books now, honestly. I joined Book of the Month in April as a graduation present to myself, then cancelled it this month (July). I would have stayed subscribed if I was not unemployed. I do like the service, regardless of the current controversy.

 

Complete the series on my priority TBR pile

NOT YET COMPLETED

I plan on finishing this before the end of the year. I put off the series I started and books I was excited for to focus on school. Now, I no longer have the distraction. In fact, I’m in need of a distraction. Until I get a job, I have all the time in the world to take a hammer to my TBR pile.

 

Get back into writing book reviews, monthly wrap-ups and TBRs

Book reviews: nope

Wrap-ups: yes

TBRs: yes

Between the COVID-19 lockdown and my school/work schedule, I did manage to squeeze in writing monthly TBRs and wrap-ups. On the book review front, I wrote one individual book review in the past six months. The rest? I guess I did not have a lot to say about them. Hopefully, that changes in the coming months.

 

Stick to reading lists, but be flexible

YES…AND NO

Regarding this one, I would manage to select books, but change my mind constantly throughout the month. This is nothing new. Like in previous years, I would go to the library and borrow too many library books because I was trying to stop myself from buying more. With my owned TBR books, I thought I settled on what I wanted to read next, then I would change my mind later. It goes on.

After the recent Black Lives Matter movements, I grabbed unread books I own by Black authors. It was the first time I felt truly grounded in a TBR pile. This then spurred me to make a reading list I hope to complete by the end of 2020. I am finally happy with what I want to read next. I am positive it will stay that way for the rest of the year.

 

Reread books

YES

So far, I’ve reread seven books in 2020. I started my reading year with a reread. I had heard people saying starting the new year picking up an old favorite spurs their reading on. They were right.

There were also a few picture books my dad read to me as a little girl, like Madeline, that I read again in my children’s literature class. I reread The Boxcar Children, my favorite book in elementary school, for that class as well. In May, I reread two books, A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness and The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly by Stephanie Oakes, when I fell into a reading slump. Those books helped me out of it.

Will I continue this for the rest of the year? The only book I want to reread now is The Afterlife of Holly Chase by Cynthia Hand. Only in December, close to Christmas.

 

Read before bed

SOMETIMES…

I thought reading before bed might help me sleep. Without having to get up super early in the morning to go to work or school, I was having trouble falling asleep at night. Turns out, I have to be careful what I read before bed. If I read something particularly sad or exciting, I cannot fall asleep. I still read before bed, on and off. I want to be more consistent, though.

 

Read all library books borrowed and not take out so many at a time

DO YOU HAVE TO ASK? FAIL

After my school and work went into quarantine, I checked out over 40 library books. These were all books I wanted to read. Being home more, I thought I would have time to read. Technically, I did have time to read—I just wasn’t making it. Eventually, it became hard to concentrate on anything not schoolwork. As usual, I made my way through some of the library books, but could not bring myself to read them all. Then, I proceeded to get more. This time around, though, I have an amount I know I can reasonably get through.

 

Unhaul books

NOT COMPLETED (BUT IT’S NOT MY FAULT)

I had every intention of doing another unhaul this year. My school was already hosting a book drive when they suddenly closed for quarantine. The local library isn’t accepting donations right now, either. But I have a list of books I want to donate once I’m able to.

 

Do a blog series

FAIL

For the past few months, I was absorbed in school. It sucked up my creativity; a lot of ideas died during brainstorming. I might do one later this year…maybe?

How did you do on your reading goals so far for 2020?

My Favorite Fictional Fathers

I am a little late to the game on this one….

I had trouble coming up with names for this list. Like the mothers, the fathers are not always present in books, particularly young adult literature. And if they are, they are usually not nice people. Admittedly, it’s a smaller list than my fictional mothers list last month. Or maybe my own standards for dads are too high. Still, all the fathers and father figures on this list are worth it.

 

Arthur Weasley from the Harry Potter series

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All the controversy of JK Rowling aside, you can’t deny that Arthur Weasley was a good dad as much as Molly Weasley was a good mom. He found happiness in the little things and accepted people as they were. If he met you, he was just happy to know you. And he was as protective of Harry as he was to his own children.

 

Hans from The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

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Hans is Liesel’s foster father. Unlike his wife, Rosa, he’s warm, caring, and attentive towards Liesel from the beginning. He helps her learn to read, even as he struggles with it himself. He quietly protested against the Nazi party, teaching Liesel how to think for herself by reading different books, and hiding a Jewish boy without hesitation. Hans is genuinely a good person, and a good dad.

 

Marko from the Saga graphic novels by Brian K. Vaughn and Fiona Staples

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Marko is the softie to his wife Alana’s hard-ass. He stayed home and looked after Hazel while Alana went to work. He taught his daughter kindness. He loved his family and would kill to protect them. And he was not afraid of his emotions, something men and boys need to be taught more.

 

Wynter Atrialan from The Winter King by C.L. Wilson

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For the majority of The Winter King, Wynter is technically not a dad; he’s trying to conceive an heir with his wife, Kham. When he was sixteen and his little brother was three, their parents were killed. From there, Wynter had to basically raise his brother. Wynter also had that kind of “dad” personality with just about everyone. The kind of person that you both adore when he’s not driving you crazy for getting way too protective.

 

Who is your favorite fictional dad?

Books by Black Authors I am Reading Right Now

I like to believe people are generally good. I like to believe that the world is improving day by day. However, these last few weeks have reminded me that for every good person there are ten more bad apples.

Recently, I watched the 1987 movie Overboard with Goldie Hawn and a character said a great quote: “Most people live life with their own blinders on.” Or something along those lines. But you get the idea, right? Unless they are exposed to it, most people don’t know much beyond themselves.

I want to believe that racism is no longer a thing and Martin Luther King Jr. and many other great people stomped it out of existence. Sadly, racism is the acne scar that won’t go away. Worse still, most people don’t even notice when they or others around them are acting racist, because it’s so normalized. Even after four years at a liberal arts college and two more at a large university in a very Democrat blue city, I realized I was not as up to date as I should be. There is more that I can do, and that I actively want to do going forward.

While I do not approve of the looting, I do support the peaceful Black Lives Matter protests. After overly indulging in a book haul days before George Floyd’s death (I will go into further publicly shaming myself later), I do not have funds right now to donate. However, I looked at my shelves and realized I own books by Black authors that I have not read yet. If I want to do better, the first step would be to read books by Black authors as much as I add them to my TBR.

These are some of the books by Black authors that I own that I plan on reading over the next several weeks. Those books are:

 

The Crossover by Kwame Alexander

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The Crossover was one of the books recommended in my young adult literature class last fall. Written in verse, it’s about thirteen-year-old twin brothers, both with a love for basketball, gradually drifting apart upon entering seventh grade. At the time I am writing this, I have already read The Crossover. More on my thoughts in my monthly wrap up.

 

Dear Martin by Nic Stone

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I read Dear Martin right after finishing The Crossover. I read this one specifically for the subject of police brutality and racial profiling, topics I have not thought much of since my Women and Gender studies classes in undergrad. While reading Dear Martin, all I could do was think about these things and it made my head spin. More on my thoughts in my June reading wrap-up.

 

With the Fire on High by Elizabeth Acevedo

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The book I am currently reading. I read The Poet X, Elizabeth Acevedo’s debut novel, for my young adult literature class last fall. I loved it and I bought With the Fire on High around the same time. It has one of the most beautiful book covers and I’m a little over 30 pages in, but as soon as I pick it up again, I’ll probably fall right back in.

 

Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi

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Alongside With the Fire on High, I am currently reading Homegoing. Homegoing got some buzz a few years ago when it came out. It is an intergenerational family saga following two half-sisters and their descendants in both Ghana and the United States. One sister lives a life of luxury married to a British solider in Ghana, but her children and grandchildren grow up in political unrest. The other sister is sold into slavery and sent to America, following her descendants from the Civil War to the Jazz Age.

 

Red at the Bone by Jacqueline Woodson

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I found Red at the Bone at one of the used bookstores near the last place I worked. Another intergenerational family story, this one following two families from different social circles connected by an unexpected pregnancy and the daughter it produced. For all I’ve heard about Jacqueline Woodson, my expectations are high for Red at the Bone.

 

Kindred by Octavia E. Butler

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Besides Jacqueline Woodson, Octavia E. Butler is another iconic Black author I forgot I owned a book by. I received Kindred as a gift from my Women and Gender Studies professors when I graduated from undergraduate (I was a WGS minor, in case you didn’t know). I had heard good things about Octavia E. Butler’s books, yet Kindred fell to the back end of my TBR pile. I don’t know why—it’s a time-travel novel about a young Black woman sent back to the antebellum South and is forced to save the boy who would eventually go on to become the slaveowner that abused her ancestor.

 

Pride by Ibi Zoboi

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A retelling of Pride and Prejudice in modern-day Brooklyn, New York? I don’t need to know anything else. I intended to read Pride this year anyway, it was just a matter of fitting it in with the other books I needed to read.

 

Little & Lion by Brandy Colbert

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Coincidently, I had planned to read Little & Lion for Pride Month (though I’m not sure I will get around to it in June at this point). The main character is a bisexual Jewish Black girl who leaves her New England boarding school to go home to California to help out her stepbrother, who is struggling with mental illness. In doing so, she meets the girl that is detrimental to her brother’s bipolar disorder and also falls for her, putting herself at odds with the person she loves most.

 

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

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Yes, I know—I have not read The Hate U Give. After everything that has happened, it was time to forget the hype and educate myself more on police brutality. Like Pride, I had planned to read The Hate U Give this year, it was just reading it around the series I needed to finish. Now, I have no excuse not to read The Hate U Give.

 

Children of Blood and Bone / Children of Virtue and Vengeance by Tomi Adeyemi

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In case you can’t already tell, I have a tendency to fall way behind on the hype train. It’s either I like to deny myself things or I get distracted by newer ones. Since the publication of the third book has not been announced yet, or even given a title according to Goodreads, it’s time to get on this series before too many books are out. Plus, it is a young adult fantasy novel based in West African mythology. It is impossible to explain why I would put off Children of Blood and Bones and Children of Virtue and Vengeance any more than I have.

 

Catherine House by Elisabeth Thomas

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The most recent purchase on this list, Catherine House was one of my most anticipated releases of 2020. Not only is the cover gorgeous, it has an intriguing premise: a young woman with a checkered past goes to a prestigious school for young women to better herself, only to find out dark secrets. It wasn’t until I looked at the book’s dust jacket did I find out the author was Black, and a debut author no less.

 

 

These are not the only books by Black authors that I own, just the ones I feel most compelled to read right now. What is your favorite book by a Black author?

Which of these books have you read?

 

My Five First Book Boyfriends

Thanks to the announcement of Midnight Sun by Stephanie Meyer, the long-awaited retelling of Twilight as told through Edward Cullen’s perspective, there was a renewed talk of the Twilight saga and its problematic content. Those who read Twilight back during its prime know now that it was not as great as we remember it. But, for many of us, it got us into reading and introduced a whole new young adult genre, plus opened the door for new authors.

After some recent rereads, I looked over my shelves, both in person and on Goodreads, at books I haven’t read in years. It got me thinking about other books I loved at the same time I read the Twilight books. And all the book boyfriends I had back in the day.

Here are my five most notable first book boyfriends I had:

 

Jacob Black from the Twilight saga by Stephenie Meyer

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Yes…I was Team Jacob. After New Moon, Edward Cullen was on my shit-list. I don’t think I liked him much to begin with; why did Bella want to be with a guy that wanted to kill her? Plus, moody, broody boys don’t do much for me, even back then. While Jacob’s friendship helped Bella through heartbreak, I admit he probably wasn’t much better than Edward. Jacob was sweet, but he had a temper and could be as possessive as Edward. Still, you can’t deny the eye candy that was Taylor Lautner….

 

Jesse da Silva from The Mediator series by Meg Cabot

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Jesse was the one that started it all. While anyone else who read Meg Cabot probably swooned over Michael from The Princess Diaries, I could not stand him. Even at fifteen, I knew it was weird for him to like a fourteen-year-old…but I digress. Jesse, on the other hand, was patient, mature, polite, caring, and protective but not possessive. He was smart and genuinely wanted to help people, despite being a ghost.

 

Derek Souza from The Darkest Powers trilogy by Kelley Armstrong

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Another werewolf, Derek was a grump when he was first introduced in The Summoning. Gradually, he opens up and becomes less of a grump. He can be a little too overprotective of Chloe and his brother Simon, but his intentions are always good. He knows his size can intimidate people, so he tries to downplay it by wearing big clothes. He pretends the discrimination doesn’t bother him, yet he goes out of his way to try to be good all the time. And I’m pretty sure Derek is the reason I like green eyes so much.

 

Will Wagner from Avalon High by Meg Cabot

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Meg Cabot wrote a lot of my book boyfriends back in the day. Aside from Jesse, Will Wagner was one of my favorites. Since he was the reincarnation of King Arthur, he was honorable and good-natured. His dad was a hard-ass, his stepbrother a pain in the ass, and his girlfriend was cheating on him with his best friend, yet Will rolled with it all in the most mature way. He’s the reason I wonder why there are so many jerk love interests in young adult literature.

 

Theseus Cassius Lowood from the Anna Dressed in Blood duology by Kendare Blake

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I don’t always love the sarcastic, snarky boys in YA. Theseus Cassius Lowood, aka Cas, is one of the exceptions. His sarcasm is more no-nonsense. He is smart and thinks on his feet. He doesn’t glamourize killing ghosts and is motivated, if obsessed, with his mission. Those who do have his loyalty, though, Cas is devoted to.

 

Is anyone else NOT going to read Midnight Sun, like me?

Ten Cute Romances

Thanks to grad school, I missed the original Top 5 Tuesday post on this topic. Romance is a genre I don’t often reach for, but I’ve slowly gotten into it within the past year or so. I thought I hadn’t read enough romance-centric books for a list of five books, never mind ten. But somehow I managed it, so here is the list of my ten favorite cute romances.

 

This Heart of Mine by C.C. Hunter

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What drew me to This Heart of Mine was that the main character has a heart transplant and that the plot revolved around her dreaming of the last memories of the boy whose heart she received. While the book did have that, the story primarily focused on her relationship with her long-time crush, who happens to be the twin brother of her organ donor. This Heart of Mine was a depiction of a healthy romance between two teenagers trying to find a reason to get back to life after both have experienced their respective tragedies.

 

Kiss Me in Paris by Catherine Rider

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If there was ever a book that made me giddy, it was Kiss Me in Paris. It was a fun, sweet, insta-love story between an American girl and a French boy spending a day together in Paris. I read this book in under 48 hours. I could not stop reading.

 

The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon

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When I first read The Sun is Also a Star back in 2016, I had not expected anything beyond a cute insta-love story. I got way more than I expected from a romance novel. Though the book covers topics like immigration, the main focus of the story is the romance between Daniel, an idealist, and Natasha, a cynic. They meet by chance and then spend the next 24 hours together in an experiment to prove that Daniel can make Natasha fall in love with him in a day.

 

Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli

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God, this book is adorable! Simon’s growing relationship with Blue through emails was too cute, the kind that makes you want to kick your feet and squeal. And their first kiss scene is goals. Plus, I loved the friendships and the side romances also added substance to the fluffiness.

 

The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli

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The Upside of Unrequited is the book that introduced me to Becky Albertalli, as well as the one that convinced me to consider giving more lighthearted young adult contemporary novels a chance. The hype surrounding it was well deserved. I related so much to Molly, who was overweight and had a lot of crushes but was too nervous to make a move on any of the guys she liked. Her romance with Reid is adorable and healthy, which I deeply appreciated the most.

 

P.S. I Like You by Kasie West

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I probably never would have read P.S. I Like You if I had not gotten it in an Owlcrate box. It’s like You’ve Got Mail, in which the main character communicates with a boy that sits at the same desk in their science class. As you would expect, there’s another boy in her life that gets on her nerves, yet they seemed to be constantly pulled together. If you’ve seen You’ve Got Mail, you can probably guess what happens. Still, it’s cute.

 

Love and First Sight by Josh Sundquist

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I found Love and First Sight randomly browsing my local library. It’s a severely underrated young adult contemporary romance novel. The main character, a boy, is born blind and recently transferred to a public school. There, he makes new friends quickly, one a girl the rest of the group is eager to set him up with. The two begin dating right as he finds out about an experimental surgery that could give him sight. But when he undergoes the surgery and sees his new girlfriend for the first time, he gets a hard lesson in beauty ideals.

 

Georgia Peaches and Other Forbidden Fruit by Jaye Robin Brown

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Jo is an openly gay preacher’s daughter that has go back in the closet for her senior year when she and her dad move to her new stepmother’s conservative hometown. At first, pretending to be straight is fun, until—naturally—she meets a girl that makes her question if she is willing to keep her promise to her dad to “fit in.” While the romance between the two girls is the focal point, there is also discussion of religion’s viewpoints on sexuality and how not everyone in this “modern” society is as accepting of the LGBTQ+ community as we would expect.

 

My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick

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The ideal summer romance book, My Life Next Door was a cute and fun young adult romance with a strong family element. The main character lives with her older sister and politically ambitious mother, but despite being it just the three of them, they are not close. Their neighbors, on the other hand, are a large, close-knit family. At first, she listened to her mother and didn’t associate with them. But when one of the sons suddenly sits next to her on her roof, her world opens up, blowing up her mother’s expectations of her along with it.

 

The Rosie Project by Graeme Simison

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Look up “adorable” in the dictionary, you will see The Rosie Project. The only adult novel on the list, it follows Don, a socially awkward but well-meaning genetics scientist enlisted by a young woman named Rosie to help her find her biological father. At first, Rosie does not fit Don’s criteria for his ideal life partner, only their chemistry is undeniable. Except Rosie has a little too much emotional baggage. Even with all that going on, it’s hard not to have fun while reading The Rosie Project.

 

What’s the cutest romance you’ve ever read?

What Do You Do When You’re in a Reading Slump? A Discussion Post

We all know that feeling—you want to read, but you can’t decide what you want to read next or nothing you pick up is holding your attention for long. Or—GASP!—you just don’t feel like reading.

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I am currently in a reading slump. It has been going on for the entire month of May. The first week was entirely focused on finishing graduate school. I didn’t want to read, mostly to stay focused on my deadlines. Also, frankly, I just did not feel like reading. It required more brain power than I had to give. Plus, there was a book I felt like caused the slump and none of my library books were holding my interest anymore.

When I am in a reading slump, I usually ride it out until I feel the urge to read again. Going a few days without reading is normal, to prevent myself from burning out. If I go for longer than a week, then I consider myself in a reading slump.

In my experience over the past couple of years, I usually get them twice a year. The first one is at the beginning of the summer, either in May or June. It is mostly because I have no idea what to do with all the sudden free time on my hands. The next reading slump happens in December. This is because I basically lose interest in every single book on my TBR as I become irrationally overwhelmed with all the books I want to read before the end of the year.

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Like I said, when I get stuck in a reading slump, I don’t force it. There’s a greater chance of me not liking a book I otherwise might have enjoyed. So, instead of reading, I do other things.

First, I watch TV shows on Netflix or movies on Disney +. Right now, I’m watching old episodes of Criminal Minds. I’ve watched Hotel Transylvania 3 at least four times already. I want to get back into Season 3 of Thirteen Reasons Why, which I was in the middle of when the new school year started. Now that I know Season 4 is coming out in June, I’ll wait to finish the season so I can binge. I also have a watchlist on Disney + of old Disney movies I want to watch, like The Black Cauldron, The Sword in the Stone, and Pinocchio. Not to mention the three re-watches of The Nightmare Before Christmas.

And, before anyone asks, we just finished The Tiger King Netflix miniseries. It was…fine.

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Another thing I do when I’m in a reading slump is I organize my TBR pile. Trying to get myself excited for reading again, I make lists of books still on my TBR. I arrange them by priority and my excitement level. This method is working right now, actually. Organizing all the books I want to read next in 2020 gives me something else to think about. Besides the quarantine and that libraries are still closed, so I can’t put my Master’s to use.

Next, when I’m in a reading slump, I attempt to work more on my blog. Right now, I have a backlog of ideas I meant to work on. Of course, since I am not reading as much, I can’t do the book reviews or recommendations I want. This is when I really have to get creative. I usually turn to BookTube, which both sparks my desire to read again as well as gives me a burst of ideas for creative content.

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When I finally feel like I want to get out of the reading slump, nine times out of ten, I will go to the library first. Most of the time I’m in a reading slump, I lose interest in the books I have at home. Instead, I go to the library and borrow a bunch of books. I read whatever I can get around to in between check out and renewal. Or, such as my current situation, I flat out lose interest in them, wanting to read my own books again.

From there, I pick a book off my TBR that I know I can get through quickly, like a graphic novel. Another type of book I might reach for is one low on my TBR pile, one I have minimal expectations going into, so there is no risk of me being disappointed by anything. I kill two birds with one stone: get out of my reading slump and take a book off my TBR that has gone unread for too long.

While this is my usual method, I’m trying something I don’t do very often. I’ve heard people rereading old favorites to get back into reading. I tried this at the start of 2020, rereading a book after a deep reading slump at the end of the previous year. It helped other times I felt a funk in my reading. Rereading books is something I want to do more of in general. I grabbed a whole bunch of my favorite books from over the past few years to reread until I feel like getting back to my regularly scheduled TBR pile.

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I don’t miss school. But in case you could not already tell, this quarantine is slowly driving me to insanity.

Thank God for books.

 

What do you do when you’re in a reading slump?

The Grad Student Tag (Original!)

I made a book tag!

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This randomly came to me the other night while watching 101 Dalmatians on Disney+. I am officially done with my Master’s in Library and Information Science. They’re having a the commencement ceremony over Zoom this Friday.

Since turning in my final assignment on Wednesday, I’ve had no idea of what to do with myself. I’m getting back into reading, but the urge to be creative is stronger than sitting down to read The Indigo Spell. Only I was running out of ideas. Until now.

After this book tag, I promise I will, at least, cut back on talking about graduate school so much. I’m sure you all are getting sick of hearing about it at this point.

Now to the tag!

 

Picking an area of study: What’s your favorite books and/or series from each of your favorite genres?

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My top three favorite genres are fantasy, historical fiction, and mystery. One of my favorite fantasy novels is Heartless by Marissa Meyer and one of my favorite fantasy series is The Infernal Devices trilogy by Cassandra Clare. Three of my favorite historical fiction novels are Jane Steele by Lyndsay Faye, Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly, and Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys. Two of my favorite mystery novels are The Last Time I Lied by Riley Sager and Two Can Keep a Secret by Karen M. McManus.

 

GRE: What book or books did you feel like you really had to focus on while you were reading and/or you had a hard time concentrating on?

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The Poppy War and The Dragon Republic by R.F. Kuang, as well as The Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen. These are all dense epic historical fantasy with lots of military and political maneuvering. During parts where characters were planning coops and what not, I found my eyes glazing over. This would bite me on the butt later in following chapters.

 

Juggling work and school: What book took you too long to read and why?

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It took me too long to read Mansfield Park by Jane Austen. I read it during my first semester of grad school. I chose the wrong time to read a classic while I worked part-time and was bogged down by homework and projects.

 

Too much homework: Name a book you did not hate, but did not love.

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A book I read this year that I did not love but did not hate was The Painted Girls by Cathy Marie Buchanan. The author’s writing was beautiful. I loved how she described the setting of 18th century France. The main characters, two sisters, could have grown on me. But this book was just so boring. Nearly 100 pages and nothing had happened. I had no idea what the author was trying to do or say with The Painted Girls.

 

Research projects: How do you decide what book you want to read next off your TBR?

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A combination of mood, like a book I am most excited for or a genre I am currently drawn to, and which books I want to finally get off my to be read pile. I try to prioritize books that have been on my TBR for longer than they should have been. It also depends on what I have going on at the time, such as if I had a lot of homework or I was busy with assignments from work. How excited I am when I buy a new book, as well as how long I’m willing to wait before I read it, depends on its placement in my TBR pile. And, of course, I take into account if I currently have any library books checked out. I want to keep up my good track record returning borrowed books on time.

 

Writing papers: What book, in your opinion, has the best writing?

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It’s a tie between The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo and The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon. Both of these books have a lyrical, beautiful flow of writing that sucked me right in as soon as I started reading.

 

Studying: What’s a book you stayed up way too late reading?

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I have stayed up late reading one too many times. I remember reading The Swan Thieves by Elizabeth Kostova and I Was Here by Gayle Forman under the glow of my desk lamp, squinting in the dark of my college dorm room because my roommate was fast asleep. Recently, I stayed up past midnight reading To Drink Coffee with a Ghost by Amanda Lovelace until I finished it.

 

No social life: Which fictional character do you think would make the best study buddy?

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A character that I think would make the best study buddy is Sydney Sage from Bloodlines by Richelle Mead. The girl is focused on her academics and always has her priorities straight. Plus, she loves learning new things, so she would be more than happen to listen to you talk about what you’re studying.

 

Final projects: In your opinion, what book(s) was the best series finale?

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Finales don’t always get it perfectly, but I do have a few favorites (like I could pick just one). Some of my favorite finales are Daughter of the Siren Queen by Tricia Levenseller; Half Lost by Sally Green; Boundless by Cynthia Hand; The Last Olympian by Rick Riordan; The Rose & the Dagger by Renee Ahdieh; Clockwork Princess by Cassandra Clare; Wayfarer by Alexandra Bracken; and, of course, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows by J.K. Rowling.

 

Getting that Master’s degree: What’s the most books you have bought at once?

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At the bookstore, I have bought around 10 books in one trip. If I am shopping online, like I did recently, I have bought 20 books in one go.

Bringing in those bags and boxes are good arm workouts, let me tell you.

 

I tag:

Shanah

Grey

Rebecca

Never Not Reading

Sophie

Joe

Sahi

Kristin

ReadyouLeyre

My Favorite Fictional Mothers

The day this goes up is the day before I do my annual Mother’s Day social media blackout. I read and watch movies all day and try to talk myself down from buying more books because I haven’t needed to do Mother’s Day shopping for the past two years….

It’s taken me a while to do a post like this. Not because of my own mommy issues….But because moms are usually awful or killed off in books, especially young adult. Surprisingly, I was able to come up with eight names for this list.

My favorite fictional mothers and mother figures are:

 

Molly Weasley from the Harry Potter series

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I mean…this one is a given. Molly Weasley is the kind of mother all moms should strive to be. She loves her children, even kids that are not her own, and is a hard-ass boss lady.

 

Sally Jackson from the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series by J.K. Rowling

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I love, love, love Sally Jackson. Raising a demigod boy—a son of Poseidon, no less—could not have been easy. Plus, we all know what a troublemaker Percy could be. Yet Sally did it all on her own. Everything she did was to protect her boy. She just rolled with all the craziness. But my favorite thing about Sally was that Poseidon wanted to give her a life of luxury, only she refused because she did not want to be dependent on a man. When Poseidon told Percy that Sally is “a queen among women,” he was not wrong.

 

Patty and Nadine from The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli

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Patty and Nadine are the two moms of twins Molly and Cassie, and baby boy Xavier. Both are the “cool” moms, the ones the kids are comfortable talking to and fully love and accept their kids for who they are. Patty shot down her mother for making inappropriate comments about Molly’s weight, something my parents never did for me when my grandmother was at me about my weight. That scene always sticks out in my memory.

 

Ella from The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert

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Another “cool mom,” Ella acts more like a best friend than a mother to Alice. While that might present some problems, their dynamic somehow makes it work. Alice is the definition of an unlikeable main character, except Ella simply loves her and accepts her for who she is. At the end of the day, they are the center of each other’s world.

 

Charlotte Branwell from The Infernal Devices trilogy by Cassandra Clare

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Charlotte had it together at twenty-three more than I did. She somehow managed to run the London Institute, keep up with her loving but scatterbrained husband, take care of three different teenagers that don’t always fully appreciate what she does, and be a boss among a bunch of sexist Shadowhunters. Charlotte is the kind of woman that makes you wonder, “how does she do it?”

 

Leda Strike from the Cormoran Strike series by Robert Galbraith

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Though we do not physically see Leda in the novels, her presence is known. Her death was her son Cormoran Strike’s motivation for going into the army in the first place. The reason she is on this list is because of what we learn about her during the flashbacks in Career of Evil. This woman went out of her way to do something extraordinarily kind for a street kid, simply because he was the same age her son was at the time. Leda even tried to help him get back on the straight and narrow before she died. Plus, Leda made Cormoran Strike, so there had to be something good in her.

 

Julian’s abuela from Julian is a Mermaid by Jessica Love

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Most older adults would freak out if they found their little boy pretending to be a mermaid. Abuela is more mad that Julian used a curtain as his mermaid tail than the fact he was calling himself something “girly.” Instead, she gave him a necklace of beads and brought him to hang out with other mermaids. Only a special kind of parent or grandparent can do that.

 

Alys’s foster mom in The Beast is an Animal by Peternelle van Arsdale

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Most foster parents in young adult novels are not always good to the main characters. Alys’s foster mom is a midwife she lives with after her parents and the other adults in her former village are killed by demons from the woods. Alys knows she has magical abilities her Puritan society would never accept. However, her foster mom embraces her gifts, and teaches her the beauty of her nature magic. The two have a good relationship, developing into the closest thing to a mother-daughter bond two emotionally guarded women allow themselves to have.

 

Alana from the Saga graphic novels by Brian K. Vaughn and Fiona Staples

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Alana is an all-around badass, as a warrior and as a mother. Besides Molly and Sally, Alana is what I want to be like when I become a mother one day. She keeps it together, knows when to make hard choices, and always puts her family ahead of everything else. This is a mama you do not want to mess with.

 

Happy Mother’s Day!

 

My Reading Plans for the Rest of 2020

I’m posting this here, so I can hold myself accountable. I want to stick to this plan.

At the end of May, I will officially be unemployed. When this COVID-19 quarantine began, my place of work (which happened to be a university) made it clear that people in my position may or may not have a job after May 28th. I will still be getting paid until then, but after that, it will be a while before I see another paycheck. Especially if businesses are not up and running again.

Even though I will officially have my Master’s in Library and Information Science, that doesn’t mean I will find a job immediately. Plus, my exuberant book haul from April showed me a cold reality: I do not have a lot of room left on my bookshelves.

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Does that mean I’m going on another book buying ban? No, not necessarily. If anything, I am cutting back on book-buying and focusing on reading books I already own.

I typed up and printed out my reading list of priority TBR books. These are books I’ve owned far too long unread—series I started but never finished, completed series I have not started, and other books I was very excited for when I bought them. Once I’m done with all my library books, I’ll move right on to those books.

I want to get started on my priority books right now. Only I also still want to read all the library books I checked out prior to the quarantine. This is the first time where I have the opportunity to read the insane amount of books I borrowed in the first place.

Speaking of library books, I plan on cutting back on those as well for the rest of 2020. The longer I am unemployed, the chances are I will feel the need to get out of my house and the only place I would want to go is the local library. Except I want to not visit the library so much with all those unread books at home, but I know myself too much at this point to say that won’t happen.

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As for buying books, the only ones I am bringing in are what I get through Book of the Month. Under the rules of their subscription, I can pick up to three a month (the monthly selection plus two add-ons). Reasonable enough—I’m getting my fix while maintaining a budget for new books.

After my May pre-orders come in, the goal is to not buy any other books besides my selections for Book of the Month. Ideally, I’d like to keep it up until December and then blow all my Christmas and birthday money on books I want. But if I make it to at least September (and I have a full-time job), I will be happy.

At this point in time, I’m going back and forth between doing a post on my monthly selections from Book of the Month, or including them in the monthly wrap-up. I don’t want to prioritize new books over old ones, but I’d hate to leave my Book of the Month selections unread and unrated. Since they are the only books I am buying at the moment, it seems only right that I should just read them now rather than put them aside. It doesn’t help that Book of the Month app tempts you with a yearly challenge of their own.

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Apparently I have developed this new competitive streak with my reading. A few weeks ago, I increased my Goodreads reading goal to 80 books. By March, I had already beat my original goal of 50 books in 2020. Three weeks into the quarantine, I was not reading as much as I wanted to. The library books piled on my desk were a constant reminder that I was ignoring my primary method of self-care. I thought raising my goal on Goodreads would motivate me to pick up a book instead of watching YouTube videos or binging old Criminal Minds episodes on Netflix. It has, but still not as much as I wanted.

That’s why I plan to take full advantage of the free time I will have until the world turns itself right side up again. Reading and writing will be much more fun now that it’s not for school anymore. I want to take a hammer to my priority TBR. Possibly part of that priority TBR will be my Book of the Month selections; if they are the only books I buy, it seems I read them before they gather dust. We will see if that changes in a few months, particularly if I think I need to unsubscribe for the sake of money. (Even though Book of the Month is cheaper than most book subscription services.)

If you’re curious, here are some of the books I marked “priority” on my to be read pile:

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The Last Time We Say Goodbye by Cynthia Hand

My Plain Jane by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, and Jodi Meadows

The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue, The Lady’s Guide to Petticoats and Piracy, and The Gentleman’s Guide to Getting Lucky by Mackenzi Lee

Escaping from Houdini and Capturing the Devil by Kerri Maniscalco

Lord of Shadows and Queen of Air and Darkness by Cassandra Clare

What If It’s Us by Becky Albertalli and Adam Silvera

Out of the Easy by Ruta Sepetys

Now I Rise and Bright We Burn by Kiersten White

 

Unemployed and stuck at home, I am so, so tempted to see if I can make it to 100 books read. But I’m not going to test my luck.

At least, not yet.

Stay at Home Book Tag

Is this basically the same concept as the book tag I did a few days ago?

Yes, yes it is.

Do I like it as much as the other tag?

Yes, yes I do.

Is this tag still as relevant as the previous one?

Yes, yes it is.

Do I need a distraction?

Absolutely.

I saw this book tag on Bookables YouTube channel. She always apologizes for doing tags, but I don’t know why. Book tags are fun to read, watch, and write.

In other words, you’re in the wrong place if this isn’t your thing.

 

Laying in bed: a book you could have read in a day

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The Princess Saves Herself in This One by Amanda Lovelace is a poetry book I started reading at bedtime then had to force myself to stop reading because I was feeling sleepy. I finished it as soon as I woke up a few hours later.

 

Snacking: a guilty pleasure book

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Romance heavy books with lots and lots of smut and/or angst are my guilty pleasure reads. A recent example would be The Winter King by C.L. Wilson and the Bloodlines series by Richelle Mead.

 

Netflix: series you want to start

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You got a coffee? That list could take a while. But, to name a few:

The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer

The Remnant Chronicles by Mary E. Pearson

The Diviners series by Libba Bray

The Raven Boys quartet by Maggie Stiefvater

Poison Study trilogy by Maria V. Snyder

The Grisha trilogy by Leigh Bardugo

 

Deep clean (aka what I need to start doing): been on your TBR for ages

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Don’t come for me …A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J. Maas. I have a serious love/hate relationship with the A Court of Thorns and Roses trilogy. That’s why it’s taken me a while to read ACOWAR, among other things.

 

Animal crossing: a book you recently bought because of hype

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The most recent book I bought based on hype was Red, White, and Royal Blue by Casey McQuistan. Although, from what I know, I sincerely doubt I will regret it.

 

Productivity: a book you learnt or had an impact on you

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Just about everything by Amanda Lovelace, mainly The Princess Saves Herself in This One and, most recently, To Drink Coffee with a Ghost. The latter I read at the beginning of this year. It really hit a nerve on my “mommy issues” and it’s one of the few books that made me cry.

 

Facetime: a book you were gifted

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The Poppy War and The Dragon Republic are books I received this past Christmas.

 

Self-care: what is one thing you have done recently to look after yourself?

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Giving myself mental breaks from homework and not forcing myself to read. That’s why it took me a few days to pick up The Indigo Spell, the next book in the Bloodlines series. After reading the first two back to back, my brain, nor my emotions, couldn’t take it. Normally, reading books are my self-care, but after weeks of homework, I needed Netflix and YouTube instead.

 

Bonus: name a book coming out soon

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Three books coming out soon that I pre-ordered months ago are: Aurora Burning by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff; The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes by Suzanne Collins; and The Burning God by R.F. Kuang, which I think is still coming out in May.

 

What book coming out soon are you looking forward to?

 

If you want to do this tag, you can say I tagged you!