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?

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?

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.

Reading Habits I Think I Want to Take Up

When you’re stuck inside the house all day, practically every day, there is only so much homework you can do and books you can read before your mind starts to wander….Thankfully, there’s this blog!

I did a post on my reading habits a couple of weeks ago. It got me thinking of all the bookish things I do, but reading other people’s posts reminded me of reading habits I don’t do.

Surprisingly, there are not a lot of bookish habits I think I want to take up. To be honest, I’m someone who is pretty set in my ways, to a point where it’s extremely hard for me to break a habit. There is one I seriously want to do, though, but circumstances are currently a problem.

 

The TBR cart

If ONLY I had the space! I love the idea of the TBR carts (Google it if you are unfamiliar with it), which became a thing early in 2019, I think. My nightstand is small and I never fail to pile on more books than I should. It then spills over to my desk, especially once I check out library books. A TBR cart could no way fit all the unread books I own. But for the books I want to make priority at the moment, it could definitely be useful. I seriously want to buy one for myself, as a graduation present, but money and space are a problem right now. Once I get my own place, a TBR cart is one of the things I want to buy.

 

Buying a Kindle, Nook, or other digital reading device and reading e-books

My dad tried to convince me to get a Kindle years ago, back when they first came out. I flat-out told him that if he bought me one, it would sit in my closet unused. Fortunately, my mom backed me up, arguing that it would be a waste of money. And, in all honesty, it would have been. Bratty as it was, I was adamant against the digitalization of books in high school. I was annoyed that phones were already taking away from books enough as it was. I have since calmed down my once overly passionate sentiment. I know now some people prefer to read e-books because it is more convenient and/or comfortable for them.

I go back and forth for this one. There are books that I want to read but are only available in digital format. Reading e-books in general is something I struggle with. Sitting in front of computer screens and phone screens for too long bothers my eyes. I’m so nearsighted and I’m trying not to ruin my eyesight any more than I already have. Lastly, I know they save space, especially if I end up in an apartment with roommates when I move out.

All these are valid points…but nothing can beat the smell of a book.

 

Listening to audiobooks

This is a reading habit I have been thinking about more and more lately. In the past year, I fell down the rabbit hole of scary story narrator videos on YouTube, namely Corpse Husband, Lazy Masquerade, and Mr. Nightmare. Thing is, those are the only channels I watch, because they have voices I like—deep, low male voices.

In grade school, teachers used to play audiobooks during reading class. I didn’t like any of those, save the one for The Tell-Tale Heart by Edgar Allen Poe. Audiobooks lost their appeal to me due to weak narrators, a common criticism I’ve heard of more avid audiobook readers. I don’t want to have an experience with a book ruined for me because of a narrator. But I can’t deny how much more books that can be read with audiobooks.

 

Do you do have any of these reading habits? What do you think of them? 

50 Bookish Questions

I love talking about books (obviously). I love book tags. I love answering questions about books. That is why, when I saw this tag on Sahi’s blog a few weeks ago, I knew I was going to do it even if she hadn’t tagged me.

This one is going to be a long one, so let’s get right to it!

 

What was the last book you read?

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At the time I am writing this post, the last book I read was The Little House by Virginia Lee Burton. I had to read it for my children’s literature class.

 

Was it a good one?

I liked it.

 

What made it good?

Cute drawings and a beautiful color palette, with an important social message, I think.

Would you recommend it to other people?

Yes, but only to those who enjoy children’s picture books.

 

How often do you read?

I try to read at least 20 to 30 pages a day. There were times (like right now) I went several days without reading. Usually, though, I don’t last longer than a day.

 

Do you like to read?

Is water wet?

What was the last bad book you read?

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Sabrina by Nick Drnaso

 

What made you dislike it?

There was no character development and a one-dimensional plot.

Do you wish to be a writer?

Yes. I want to get back into creative writing in 2020. I even have a notebook set aside to write story ideas.

 

Has any book ever influenced you greatly?

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Most of the books I read influence me, to a certain extent. Two examples include The Princess Saves Herself in This One by Amanda Lovelace, a book that empowered me when I did not feel powerful, and Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing by Judy Blume, inspired me to start writing.

 

Do you read fan fiction?

Not as much as I used to. I was more into it during high school until college, eventually only going back to read really smutty ones when I was bored.

 

Do you write fan fiction?

I did in middle school, I think.

 

What is your favorite book?

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I do not have a specific favorite book. For the sake of the question, though, I will say my favorite book that I have read so far in 2020 is To Drink Coffee with a Ghost by Amanda Lovelace.

 

What is your least favorite book?

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A surprisingly easy answer: Woman of God by James Patterson.

 

Do you prefer physical books or reading on a device (like Kindle)?

I exclusively read physical books. Too much screen time makes me feel nauseous.

 

When did you learn to read?

According to my dad, when I asked him for an assignment last semester, when I was one year old I was pretending to read. But when I actually learned to read, it was probably around five years old.

 

What is your favorite book you had to read in school?

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I enjoyed most of the required reading I did in school. The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton….The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald….The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde….The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo….Those are the first ones I thought of, but there are a lot.

 

What is your favorite book series?

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Ummm…I don’t have a single favorite series. Who does? My current top three favorite series are Stalking Jack the Ripper series by Kerri Maniscalco, The Infernal Devices trilogy by Cassandra Clare, and An Ember in the Ashes series by Sabaa Tahir.

 

Who is your favorite author?

Again, how do you pick just one? Off the top of my head, a few of my favorite authors are Kerri Maniscalco, Sabaa Tahir, Renee Ahdieh, Cassandra Clare, Cynthia Hand, Laurie Halse Anderson, Robert Galbraith, Markus Zusak….

 

What is your favorite genre?

My favorite genre is fantasy, both adult and young adult.

 

Who is your favorite character from a series?

A recent new favorite character is Xiomara from The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo. She is a strong-willed girl that tries to hide her vulnerable side because the people around her just won’t get it, or at least she thinks most of them won’t. I felt so much for her and I identified with her.

 

Has a book ever transported you somewhere else?

It’s easy for me to get lost in a book, unless I am distracted.

 

Which book do you wish had a sequel?

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The Last Time I Lied by Riley Sager, though I’m not sure how the plot would work out. The twist revealed at the end of this book has potential of being another good psychological thriller, depending on how the author chooses to go about it.

 

Which book do you wish DIDN’T have a sequel?

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Hidden Bodies by Caroline Kepnes, the companion to You, should not exist.

 

How long does it take you to read a book?

It depends on a bunch of different factors. If I have a lot going on, I sometimes don’t have the energy to read. In those cases, it would take me longer than a week to finish a book. It also depends on page count; longer books, 500 and up, tend to take a while for me to get through, even if I do not have much going on.

 

Do you like when books become movies?

If it is done right.

Which book was ruined by its movie adaption?

Divergent (Divergent, #1)

Divergent by Veronica Roth, no question.

Which movie has done the book justice?

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The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky, a movie I dare say I liked more than its source material.

 

Do you read newspapers?

Not as much as I should.

Do you read magazines?

Nope, I find them boring.

Do you prefer newspapers or magazines?

Neither.

 

Do you read while in bed?

Yes, I have gotten back into reading before bed, although I lapsed after starting the new semester.

 

Do you read on the toilet?

Ummm…no.

 

Do you read while in the car?

Does reading on a bus count? If not, no, I don’t read while in the car. I don’t know how to drive, so I am always the passenger looking out the window. On the bus, I will read if I am awake and the lighting allows it.

 

Do you read while in the bath?

If I had a bathtub or owned any kind of fancy bath products, I might. I don’t read in the shower, either. I don’t wear my glasses and I would hate to get my book wet.

 

Are you a fast reader?

I consider myself a fast reader, for the most part. Although sometimes maintaining my focus is hard.

 

Are you a slow reader?

Sometimes, if I’m struggling to focus or I’m not that invested in a book.

 

Where is your favorite place to read?

My living room couch.

 

Is it hard for you to concentrate when you read?

If there are too many distractions or I am just not in a good headspace at the moment, then I do have a hard time concentrating on reading. But if a book is really good, I can usually mentally block out noise around me.

 

Do you need a room to be silent when you read?

Not necessarily. If I am reading in my bedroom, I prefer to have my white noise machine on. I have managed to focus on reading in other noisier situations as well. Although, now I’m thinking about it, I might prefer silence.

 

Who gave you your love for reading?

My dad, who read bedtime stories every night when I was a child, and my aunt, who is a librarian and continued to encourage me to read while my parents wanted me to do more “normal” kid things.

 

What book is next on your list to read?

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Right now, I am currently reading The Painted Girls by Cathy Marie Buchanan. While I am working my way through that, I will pick up the next books I need to read for my children’s literature class from the library.

 

When did you start to read chapter books?

Third grade.

Who is your favorite children’s author?

J.K. Rowling or Rick Riordan.

Which author would you most want to interview?

Carlos Ruiz Zafon seems like he would be interesting to talk to.

Which author do you think you would be friends with?

Christine Ricco of Polandbananasbooks on YouTube and the author of Again, But Better. She’s out loud quirky and I love those kinds of people. I think our respective energy would feed off each other.

 

What book have you reread the most?

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The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie, a book I have read at least three times.

 

Which books do you consider “classics?”

Books that have already been labeled “classics” are the books I think of as classics. Though Harry Potter is a good contender for this title.

 

Which books do you think should be taught in every school?

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Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds, Two Boys Kissing by David Levithan, and Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson.

 

Which books should be banned from all schools?

NO BANNING BOOKS! PERIOD!

I tag…EVERYONE!

Would you ever ban a book from a school? If so, which one?

(POST AT YOUR OWN RISK!)

Top 5 Tuesday: Top 5 Reasons I Rate a Book 5 Stars

What makes me rate a book five stars? I never thought about that before….

When Shanah released the list of topics for January 2020, this is the topic I was most excited to write. I like it when I actually have to think of an answer.

For me to rate a book 5 stars, the book must have:

 

Great writing

If I don’t love an author’s writing style, chances are I’m not going to give it 5 stars. Sometimes, I do not mind juvenile or simplistic writing, as long as it goes with the narrative, such as the novel is told from the perspective of a younger protagonist. But if I find the writing too simplistic or cringey or repetitive, then forget it. If I think the writing style is beautiful, then I will give it a high rating.

 

A well thought-out plot and character development

Plot and character development go hand in hand in my book. Sometimes, I can overlook one for the sake of the other, but it has to be for a good reason. If a book is more of a character study and the protagonist goes through a major development, but there isn’t much a consistent plot, I’m fine with it. If a novel is more plot-driven without so much of a focus on characters, but the plot is entertaining, it’s no big deal. But to get 5 stars, the book has to have both in equal measures.

 

The ability to hold my attention, even when I’m not reading it

A common indicator that I will give a book 5 stars is if I’m thinking about reading it when I’m not reading it. If I am at work or school and I look for any excuse I can to take a break so I can read more, that is when I know a book is on the 5-star track. If I am in the process of reading the book and it’s the only thing holding my attention, that is also usually a sign of a 5-star read.

In short: if a book makes me ignore my responsibilities or my friends or my family, it’s a good book.

 

The ability to make me really think and feel something

I read for the enjoyment of reading. But I also don’t read just for the act of reading. I will read fluffy books to pass the time and relax. On the flip side to that, I tend to gravitate towards books with heavy plots or themes more often. If a book challenges my way of thinking, makes me consider something I hadn’t before, or makes me feel like I’m a real character in the book, then it is a candidate for a 5-star rating.

 

The ability to make me cry

I am genuinely not a book crier. I cry in movies, because the act of seeing it on the screen versus reading it on the page bothers me more. However, there are the exceptions that have made me cry in real sadness from what I read. And I’m talking real crying, not getting misty-eyed. If a book makes me shed tears, it’s a 5-star, hands down.

 

What makes you rate a book 5 stars?   

My Most Notable Books of the Decade

My memory is terrible. Most times, I don’t remember what I did the day before, never mind what happened ten years ago. Then, people on YouTube and WordPress started sharing their “favorite books of the decade.” I didn’t open a Goodreads account until 2012, but I did keep record of books I read prior to that. It also helps that I reread books a lot in high school.

I tried to keep this list as short as possible. Only I realized that picking one book for every year was easier said than done. So let’s get right to it.

 

2009

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Rapunzel: The One with All the Hair by Wendy Mass

The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie

Bliss by Lauren Myracle

Jinx by Meg Cabot

The Darkest Powers trilogy by Kelley Armstrong (2009-2011)

Twilight by Stephanie Meyer (2009-2011?)

 

2010-2011

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Avalon High by Meg Cabot

My Sweet Audrina by V.C. Andrews

Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson

Flowers in the Attic by V.C. Andrews

Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake

Women of the Otherworld series by Kelley Armstrong (2011-2015)

Heather Wells books 1-3 by Meg Cabot

 

2012-2013

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The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins (2012-2014)

The Space Between by Brenna Yovanoff

The Millennium trilogy by Stieg Larsson

Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn

2014-2015

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The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

The Infernal Devices trilogy by Cassandra Clare (2014-2015)

Throne of Glass series by Sarah J. Maas (2014-2017)

Confessions series by James Patterson (2013-2015)

A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas

Saga graphic novels

 

2016-2017

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We Believe You by Annie E. Clark and Andrea L. Pino

The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon

Cormoran Strike series by Robert Galbraith

Stalking Jack the Ripper by Kerri Maniscalco

An Ember in the Ashes and A Torch Against the Night by Sabaa Tahir (2016-2017)

The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh

Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys

2018-2019

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Eliza and Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia

The Princess Saves Herself in This One by Amanda Lovelace

To Make Monsters Out of Girls by Amanda Lovelace

The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo

 

The Secret Life of Bees and The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian were books I read for book club, one of the few things I loved about high school. I would read the latter for about three more times over the next five years. Meg Cabot took up most of my junior high and high school years. I loved the Heather Wells series, despite never having finished it to this day, as well as Jinx and Avalon High. I read The Mediator series, my absolute favorite work ever by Meg Cabot, before the decade began, probably 2007 or 2008. Avalon High, as well as Rapunzel: The One with All the Hair by Wendy Mass, were I think the ones that inspired my love for fairy tale retellings.

If I had to pick the most notable books on this entire list, it is The Darkest Powers trilogy by Kelley Armstrong. Besides introducing me to my favorite genre—fantasy—it helped me find my niche in terms of writing. While I might enjoy reading contemporary or historical fiction, fantasy was the most fun and where I thought I produced my best work. Anna Dressed in Blood and The Space Between were other big influences on writing, as well as the dark, creepy novels of V.C. Andrews. I was also reading a lot of adult mystery thrillers at the time, hence the James Patterson books.

I started college in 2012 and graduated in 2016. 2012 is when I found Goodreads, which I found through the early days of BookTube, though I wasn’t so hardcore into it at that point. By 2015, however, I was reading a lot of the popular titles like Throne of Glass, The Mortal Instruments, and An Ember in the Ashes because of the steadily growing BookTube community. I was also adding books to my TBR left and right, and buying books now that I was making my own income. Something I’m sure many of you can relate to.

Though BookTube might have encouraged me to stretch my wallet a little too far, it also introduced me to a variety of books I never would have picked up on my own. 2015 or 2016 was the year I picked up graphic novels, which led to me finding the Saga series.

Honestly, it is truly hard for me to explain why so many of these books are notable. They just are. There are books, like The Princess Saves Herself in This One by Amanda Lovelace, that came to me right when I needed them. There are books like The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo and Eliza and Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia where I saw myself genuinely portrayed in a fictional character. Even books I only read once and didn’t necessarily love I still think about from time to time. All the books I read impact me in some way or teach me something I needed to know. I would like to think this is the same for all readers.

 

What were your most notable books of the decade?

 

 

2019 Bookish Survey

I’ll be honest guys…I felt a little lazy with this post.

When I first drafted my 2019 bookish survey, I followed the survey created by Perpetual Pages. However, beyond the basics stats and a few other details, there is not a lot I wanted to talk about in terms of my reading for 2019.

Graduate school has taken up most of my life. My TBR was constantly put aside due to stress as well as other outside forces. Thus, 2019 was a mediocre reading year. Not that I didn’t read any good books or completely lose an interest in reading. I just was not reading what I wanted to.

I realize now it was a combination of stress of school, the book buying ban I went on at the beginning of the year, as I found myself using the library almost too much, and the fact that I apparently like to deny myself things I want.

Now that we got that therapy session out of the way, here is my 2019 bookish survey.

 

Basic Statistics

Number of books read: 59

Number of rereads: 3

Average length of books I read: 284 pages

Pages read: 16, 775 pages read across 59 books

Average rating for 2019: 3.7

 

2019 Reading Resolutions Recap

“Unofficially” read 30 books

Prioritize and marathon series

Make smaller TBRs but be flexible

Unhaul books

Practice borrowing before buying

 

What do I think of this?

Given that I set a goal of 30 books and read 59 while being a graduate student and working part-time, this is pretty impressive. The 3 books I reread were for school.

The average length of books I read—284 pages—bothers me probably more than it should. The same goes for the page count, 16, 775 pages across 59 books. These particular stats brought to my attention that I was not reading a lot of bigger books, like I had done in previous years. The longest book I read in 2019 was 560 pages.

I know a lower page count isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Considering the circumstances, it makes sense. I was gravitating towards shorter books, not having the focus for long books, due to all my energy being thrown into school. However, it also means I wasn’t challenging myself as a reader and that the larger books on my TBR, such as the Cassandra Clare and Sarah J. Maas books, were ignored. Not to mention all the adult high fantasy I’ve had on my Amazon wish list and Goodreads for who knows how long.

The average rating of 2019 does not surprise me at all even as it disappoints me. Like I said, I had a rather mediocre reading year. Nine books were 5 star reads, and three were 1 star reads. Another three were 2 stars. The rest were between 3 and 4 stars. Even most of the 5 stars I read this year are not ones I am filled with joy thinking about, compared to some others.

Again, this is my own fault. I disregarded the series I wanted to prioritize and marathon—the books that were genuinely making me excited about reading—out of stress. I was also using the library more in order to sedate my urges to buy books during my self-imposed book-buying ban. If I had stuck to the resolution of prioritizing and marathoning series, I might have had a better reading year in terms of the average rating.

 

Blogging & Bookish Life

For the thousandth time already…grad school took over my life. My blog, and my creativity, suffered as much as reading did.

I did not have any favorite posts that I wrote this year. I wrote stuff I liked, but nothing comes to mind at the moment. If I wasn’t in school, I was focused on work. If I wasn’t focused on work, school had my attention. There was a point where I felt slumpy, when even rereading old favorites for a class was a struggle. A few books, like The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo, pulled me out of it, only for me to be shoved back under with books like Landscape with Invisible Hand by M.T. Anderson.

Eventually, though, I reached a point where I realized I needed a creative outlet in order to function. Towards the end of the previous semester, I made it a point to work blogging around schoolwork. This proved beneficial and I’m hoping I can continue to do so once I am in the throes of my final semester.

I sound like such a negative Nelly. My bookish life was not all bad in 2019. I used my local library a lot, as you probably already guessed. I’m putting myself through this torture to become a librarian, so naturally I should support the institution. I love the library I currently work in. There are three bookstores near where I work. I did an unhaul of books a few months ago when my school did a book drive for a program in Rwanda. I’m sure there were a lot of other good bookish things that happened in 2019…if only my memory wasn’t so terrible.

 

Looking Ahead

The amount of TBR books still sitting unread on my bookshelves is embarrassing. I know I own them and I can read them whenever I want. But these books have sat unread for longer than they should have. Not to mention all the series I’ve fallen behind on.

What is my number one priority book of 2020? All the books. A Reaper at the Gates by Sabaa Tahir…A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J. Maas…Our Dark Duet by Victoria Schwab…Lord of Shadows and Queen of Air and Darkness by Cassandra Clare….I could go on….

I’m anticipating a lot of books in 2020, as well. That doesn’t help my TBR, or my wallet in some cases. The Burning God by R.F. Kuang…Aurora Burning by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff…Chain of Gold by Cassandra Clare…The Night Country by Melissa Albert. Those are just the tip of the iceberg. Not to mention all the new-to-me authors coming out with their debuts or the next installments of series in 2020. That is a whole other post in and of itself.

In 2020, I would like to get back to blogging consistently, as well as provide more creative content for my platform. I’m hoping I can work that around school, particularly since I want to get back into doing monthly TBRs and wrap-ups. Getting back into doing regular book reviews would also be ideal.

The main blogging goal for 2020 would be to start a blog series. Like continuing with the “recommending books I didn’t like” posts. As well as doing recommendation posts for hidden gems. I would also like to work on other ideas I’ve had, like a “random reads” series, where I go to the library and pick up a bunch of books on a whim, then review them in a single post. I might get back into reacting to rereads, like I did with Harry Potter before I gave up. With The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes coming out in May, I might do one for the original The Hunger Games trilogy. Lastly, writing more discussion posts, too, is something I want to work on content for.

My main reading goal of 2020 is read all my priority books. To give myself motivation, I am only allowing myself to buy books once I complete between 10 to 20 books off my priority TBR (after January, my birthday month). Sticking to reading lists yet making sure I’m flexible is another. I know now I’m not a mood reader, but allowing myself to change my mind is important, so I don’t become a stickler in all aspects of my life. Reading is not that serious.

Reflecting on 2019 actually makes me excited for 2020, if you can believe that. I have a feeling it will be a good year for reading. 2020 feels like it might be a good year overall.

Hopefully I didn’t just jinx it….

2020 Reading Resolutions

Happy New Year everyone!

We are entering a new decade. How is that possible? I didn’t realize a decade had gone by until people went crazy on the Internet. A lot has happened over the years. But one thing has remained consistent: New Year’s Resolutions.

Let’s get right to it! My reading resolutions for 2020 are:

 

Set a Goodreads goal of 50 books

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In my 10 year challenge, I mentioned that one of my reading goals for the decade was to read between 50 to 80 books a year. This upcoming semester is the last one of graduate school. Still, from mid-January to mid-May, all the reading I will be doing will be for school. However, I will also be taking a children’s literature course this semester, so I will be getting reading done regardless.

 

Read more of the books I own than library books

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This sounds strange, coming from me. In the beginning of 2019, I found myself forced to go on a book buying ban. This, unfortunately, only spurred on any book-buying urges I had. To quench the thirst, I utilized my library.

30 out of the 59 books I read in 2019 were initially library books. In theory, this is not a bad thing. Except I was ignoring the unread books I already owned. That’s why you won’t be seeing a “books I want to get to in 2020” post. They are basically the same ones from 2019.

 

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

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This is a system I used in the past, during times where I had steady income and was buying books at a fast rate. At the beginning of the year, it usually worked, like most resolutions do. Then, by March or April, it’s forgotten.

At the moment, I still have a job, but part-time. 10-20 books seems like a reasonable amount to me—and this will not include library books or schoolbooks or potential rereads. I consider that cheating. Books for school I have to read. Library books, even if I do have them on my Goodreads TBR, only count for reading books off there. To make it even harder, I will only buy books after I read 10-20 books off my priority TBR; the books that I have been sitting on my shelves unread for far, far too long.

I own too many unread books. Getting a good chunk read before getting more seems like a good incentive to not only buy more books but to also complete my unfinished series or ones I have not even begun.

 

Complete the series on my priority TBR pile

How many years has this been on my reading resolutions? In the past, I never specified which series I wanted to complete, just the amount. Yet I was still not reading the series I should have. Now, to make it more manageable, I have selected series I own in full that have been sitting on my TBR for too long. And, as you can probably guess, there are a lot of them. If I can read at least most of them this year, I will be happy.

 

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

Recently, I discovered that I actually like doing the monthly TBRs and wrap-ups instead of wrapping up the books I’ve read recently when I get around to it. That method has worked with school and I was not reading a lot. The same goes for book reviews. If I’m barely reading, I don’t have anything to review. But I like the structure of monthly goals and updates. It helps keep track of my reading, to see the progress, or not, that I have made throughout the month.

However, I won’t be able to get back into monthly wrap-ups and TBRs until the summer, when I am officially done with graduate school. Hopefully, getting back into writing book reviews consistently also follows suit.

 

Stick to reading lists, but be flexible

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I’m such a control freak when it comes to all aspects of my life, including reading. Making reading lists keeps my TBR organized. While I have my lists arranged by books that are aesthetically pleasing, books I want to read the most, etc., I leave a little wiggle room in the lists. Because while I am not a “mood reader,” I know that I might want to read books from another list, or pick up books from the library or, in the rare instance, reread a book. In other words, I’m trying to practice flexibility in between the structure.

 

Reread books

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Of all the reading resolutions for 2020, this one is up in the air. Rereading books for my young adult literature course had been an unexpected struggle and I still don’t know why. I summed it up to a lot going on in my life at the time with school and work. However, I have several series where I read the first book years ago, then never got around to picking up the rest. There is also the matter of The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes by Suzanne Collins, a prequel set 64 years before The Hunger Games trilogy. Though I technically do not have to reread the trilogy, I kind of want to, just to get back into the world fully again.

 

Read before bed

I have already begun to work my way into this resolution, which I’m happy about. I’m not a doctor, but I’m pretty sure falling asleep next to my laptop almost every night is not healthy. Besides, I’m overheating my battery.

 

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

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This is another repeat of previous years. I say that I want to read more of the books I own instead of library books, but the fact remains: I will still use the library. Because I will eventually get bored with my set reading list. And if I am not working full-time after I graduate, will find myself in my local library this summer looking for something to do.

My problem is, I check out too many books that I don’t read by their due date or lose interest in, and then I add them to my Amazon wish list. This started happening about two years ago. Initially, if I didn’t read books the first time I checked them out, I would borrow them out again at a later date. But more often than not, I still would not manage to read them in time, even after renewing them. While at first they were books I would have bought myself if I had had the funds, in the past year I’ve been adding to Amazon random books I found while browsing the library stacks. Books that I knew nothing about, only mildly peaked my interest.

This is why I want to go back to checking out a moderate number of library books and, if for some reason I don’t get to them all, check them out later if I don’t want to spend the money. And remind myself that librarians do not care how many times you check out a book.

 

Unhaul books

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I want to do another purge of my book collection in 2020. If I want to move out by the end of the year, the wise thing to do would be to clean out books I have lost interest in reading since I bought them or ones that I will never reread. If all works in my favor, another book drive will be done for the school in Rwanda, or my local library will be searching for donations. I’ll have to keep an eye out. My shelves looked so much better when I unhauled books last year. Plus, it is unfair to let them gather dust when someone else could be reading them.

 

Do a blog series

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So many of you other bloggers have created series on your platforms. Over the past year or so, I have written posts that I want to expand upon, like recommending books I didn’t like or reading more hidden gems. Another idea I have is checking out a bunch of random books from the library, reading them all, and then reviewing them in a “random reads” type of post. These are a few of the ideas I have. But school, naturally, has become a priority. My creativity had been stunted and my hope is to get it back once I graduate in May 2020, and finally start these blog series.

 

What is your most exciting or important resolution you set for 2020?

Let’s ring in the new year!

 

10 Year Challenge Book Tag

How is it not only the end of the year, but the end of a decade?

2009 seems so long ago. I was a sixteen-year-old freshman in high school struggling with math. In 2019, I am a graduate student getting my Master’s in Library and Information Science. The only thing that has not changed much is that I’m sleeping in the same bedroom.

I was going to do a post on how I have changed as a reader over the decade, except my memory is terrible. I saw this tag on Thoughts on Tomes YouTube channel, but she’s not the creator of the tag. All I know is that she made it look like fun.

To the tag!

 

What was your favorite book in 2009?

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Without a doubt, it had to be The Summoning by Kelley Armstrong. I probably reread it that year, too, since the sequel, The Awakening, came out in either 2009 or 2010. 2009 was the year I broke away from the trashy Sweet Valley books to the broader young adult genre, particularly urban fantasy.

 

What is your favorite book of 2019?

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I don’t know if I have a specific favorite book this year. Like last year, I did not give out much 5-star ratings and not a lot stuck with me. For the sake of this question, I will say it is a tie between The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo and A School for Unusual Girls by Kathleen Baldwin.

 

What was your least favorite book in 2009?

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Anything I read by L.J. Smith, mainly The Awakening, which was the first book of the Vampire Diaries series. I only read the first one, and I never made it beyond 50 pages. And this was at the height of the vampire craze, post-Twilight.

 

What was your least favorite book in 2019?

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It is slightly unfair, since I went into this book knowing nothing about it beyond the synopsis, but the graphic novel Kill My Mother by Jules Feiffer. I found this one while browsing my local library. This had no plot to speak of and it had too many POVs than was necessary.

 

What is a book published in 2009 that you still want to read?

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Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson, which follows two best friends, one deceased, struggling with eating disorders.

 

What is a book published in 2019 you want to get to before 2020?

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I had originally checked out Marley by Jon Clinch from the library, which I think was a 2019 release, only I returned it last week. As in previous years, I got hit with a reading slump a few days before Christmas. I lost interest in all the books I checked out from the library. I grabbed a bunch of graphic novels I owned that I want to read by New Year’s, only none of them were published in 2019.

 

What is a genre you used to read a lot of that you don’t read as much anymore?

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In early high school until maybe my freshman year of college, I was really into adult mysteries and thrillers, as well as women’s fiction, primarily Meg Cabot. Urban fantasy and paranormal romance was my obsession until sophomore year of undergraduate. I was obsessed with Meg Cabot, who wrote predominantly in the latter genre. At that time, I was heavy into crime TV shows, too, so this played into my love for reading books in that genre.

 

What is a new genre you’ve discovered since 2009?

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In high school and college, I only read nonfiction for school. I still mostly read nonfiction for school. But now I am looking into picking up nonfiction for my own recreational reading. The same goes for science fiction. Most of the subjects in science fiction go right over my head, which was why I rarely felt drawn to it. Now, after picking up a few gems like Aurora Rising by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff, I am more apt to reading science fiction.

 

What is a reading or book habit you are hoping to leave behind in this decade?

There are a few small, annoying habits I want to leave behind. The first book habit is to not check out more books from the library than I can read. It’s not a major problem, but it is a minor annoyance I would like to remedy, since I do currently live in a rather small space.

A reading habit I would like to leave behind is not always prioritizing reading. During down times throughout the day, I take out my phone even though I bring a book with me. At night, I’ve been watching YouTube when I could be reading. Recently I realized that I sometimes do not always have the energy or focus to read books. I’m hoping this is adulting getting the better of me, and not anything else. Like losing an interest in reading.

Lastly, I would like to leave behind the habit not having a set budget for buying books. Book buying bans sometimes work, but only when I legitimately do not have the extra funds. At this point in my life, I have the privilege of not having to pay rent. But I hope to move out of my dad’s house by the end of 2020, so better late than never to practice before I am basically forced to. Although, I wonder if that might be a better option for me….

 

What is a new reading goal or habit you want to create in the upcoming decade?

One reading habit I would like to create, or rather focus on, is sticking to reading lists yet remembering to be flexible. I would not call myself a “mood reader” by any means. For the longest time, I thought I was. It was not until last summer, when I tried to challenge myself to randomly pick books, did I realize I like having structure in my reading. On the flip side to that, when I tried to be a stickler with the reading lists, I sometimes had lost interest in the books I had selected to read next. So, I want to leave a little wiggle room in my reading lists for change if I want to read something else than what I previously selected off my TBR.

A habit I want to create, or rather get back into, is reading before bed instead of going on my laptop. I used to read before bed. Then, I read a few books that made me anxious or scared or angry and I had a hard time falling asleep after. While listening to YouTube videos does help me feel drowsy, I fall asleep next to my laptop in bed. I wake up a few hours later with all my bedroom lights on and voices coming from my computer, disturbing my family members trying to sleep.

Another reading goal I want to maintain the next decade is read between 50 to 80 books a year. Like I have said in another post, reading is a big part of my life and plays into writing. Also, it one of my main forms of entertainment, something I genuinely enjoy doing. Since 2016, I read between 50 to 80 books to a year, so it seems like a reasonable goal to set. Plus, technology 24/7 is no good for me.

 

What is a reading habit you want to create in the upcoming decade?

 

I tag:

Grey

Kristin

Rebecca

Sophie