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?

The Mid-Year Freak Out Book Tag! The 2020 Edition

Does this tag even need an introduction?

The Mid-Year Freak Out Book Tag is my favorite tag to do every year. I like looking back on the books I read so far in the year. It gets me motivated to keep going. I also use it to plan my reading for the rest of the year. Of all the ones I’ve done previously, I think 2020 is my favorite.

So, let’s get right to it then.

 

The best book you’ve read so far this year

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I’ve read a lot of genuinely good books in 2020. As of writing this, I have given eighteen books 5 stars. One of those books was a reread. Twelve were picture books I read for my children’s literature class. Those were based more on my enjoyment than anything else. But it’s a tie between To Drink Coffee with a Ghost by Amanda Lovelace and Aurora Burning by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff for the best book of the year so far.

 

Your favorite sequel this year

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Easily Aurora Burning by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff, which put me in the biggest book hangover of my life. I found little to no fault with it. I loved all the character arcs and the world building. Another sequel I enjoyed so far this year is The Golden Lily by Richelle Mead, the second book in the Bloodlines series.

 

A new release that you haven’t read yet but really want to

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A lot…a few I already own is My Dark Vanessa by Kate Elizabeth Russell, Of Curses and Kisses by Sandhya Manon, and The Jane Austen Society by Natalie Jenner. Other new releases I want to read but do not own yet are Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo; Mad, Bad, and Dangerous to Know by Samira Ahmed; My Calamity Jane by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, and Jodi Meadows; Agnes at the End of the World by Kelly McWilliams; and The Kingdom of Back by Marie Lu.

 

Most anticipated release for the second half of the year

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The two releases I need in my life as soon as yesterday are Kingdom of the Wicked by Kerri Maniscalco and A Sky Beyond the Storm by Sabaa Tahir. I plan on finishing the remaining books by the respective authors in the coming months, close to the release date for these new ones. Because I don’t know what I would do with myself without the fantasy and the angst.

 

Biggest disappointment

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The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes by Suzanne Collins was a let-down, but you were expecting that weren’t you? In all fairness, I went into that book with low expectations. Other books that truly disappointed me were Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater and Sabrina by Nick Drnaso.

 

Biggest surprise

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I had a few surprises in 2020. The first was The Winter King by C.L. Wilson. For an adult fantasy romance with ten-page sex scenes, the plot had a lot more depth than I expected. The romance was slow-burn and the world building was entertaining. The next was the Bloodlines series, at least books 1 to 3. I had not expected to like the series or the characters as much as I did. Lastly, is A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness, which is technically a reread. It impacted me more this time around, having been through everything I did in the four years since I first read it.

 

Favorite new to you or debut author

Hmmm…I don’t quite have an answer for this one. Most of the new to me authors I’ve only read one book of, so it’s hard to say for sure. Two I want to read more of is Nic Stone and C.L. Wilson. There is also a middle grade author, Erin Entrada Kelly, whose book Hello, Universe I read for my children’s literature class, that I want to look into.

 

Your new fictional crush

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Maybe it’s a sign of me getting older, but I did not have a lot of new fictional crushes this year. The only exception this year is Wynter Atrialan, the male lead of The Winter King by C.L. Wilson. He was not one of those morally gray bad-boy love interests. Wynter was truly a good, honorable man, who wanted to do the right thing for his people. Even if it meant sacrificing his humanity.

 

New favorite character

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As much as everyone else seems to not like her, my new favorite character is Sydney Sage, the protagonist of the Bloodlines series by Richelle Mead. I relate to her; she’s an intellectual that lives too much inside her head but always puts her responsibilities first. She is also not the best at picking up on social cues, which I too identify with. While I understand her reluctance to be with Adrian is frustrating to others, I understood it. She grew up in a society that viewed vampires as evil beings. That doesn’t go away overnight just because of some cute boy, even if it is Adrian Ivashkov. Another new favorite character is Sarah-Jane Friedman in Dear Martin by Nic Stone, and she was a boss.

 

A book that made you cry

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To Drink Coffee with a Ghost by Amanda Lovelace and A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness both left me crying my eyes out at one in the morning. These books hit a nerve. Hard.

 

A book that made you happy

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I don’t want to repeat answers, but Aurora Burning made me laugh out loud as much as it pulled my heartstrings. I Work at a Public Library: A Collection of Crazy Stories from the Stacks by Gina Sheridan also caused me to laugh out loud while reading. The stories in this collection were so funny because they were true.

 

The most beautiful book you’ve bought or received this year

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I have bought so many beautiful books this year:

Catherine House by Elisabeth House—probably my favorite book cover ever.

The Jane Austen Society by Natalie Jenner—this cover gives me a ridiculous amount of life.

Darling Rose Gold by Stephanie Wrobel—is my favorite shade of pink and has a butterfly on it. Cutesy with an ominous feel.

Chain of Gold by Cassandra Clare—I have this facing front on my bookshelves just so I can stare at it whenever I want.

 

What books do you need to read by the end of the year?

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All the books…but I narrowed it down to fifteen. Others I want to read in the next six months are The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas; My Plain Jane by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, and Jodi Meadows; Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi; Girls of Paper and Fire by Natasha Ngan; and Lethal White by Robert Galbraith.

 

What are you going to read for the rest of the year?

15 Books I NEED to Read Before the End of 2020

…and I mean need to read.

Truth be told, there are a lot of books sitting unread on my bookshelves for far too long. That’s a given when you have both a book-buying problem along with a love of the library. Falling behind on my to be read pile these past few years has been due to a combination of graduate school, adult responsibilities, and getting distracted by new, shiny books. But there are parts of series that I kept putting off no matter how much I loved the previous installments. Those are the ones on this list.

Fifteen books I need to read before the of 2020 (because there is no reason to keep putting them off anymore) are:

 

A Reaper at the Gates by Sabaa Tahir

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This is one of the cases where I do have a reason putting off A Reaper at the Gates. After reading An Ember in the Ashes and A Torch Against the Night back to back only to find out the third book, A Reaper at the Gates, would not be coming out for another two years, I was not happy. Now that the final book in the series, A Sky Beyond the Storm, is coming out in December, I don’t have to wait forever for the next book.

 

Escaping from Houdini and Capturing the Devil by Kerri Maniscalco

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Similar to A Reaper at the Gates, I put off Escaping from Houdini until Capturing the Devil was released and I owned it. Initially, I was going to read it right away—then the reviews happened. Reviews that promised me, my heartstrings, and my OTP a lot of unnecessary pain at the hands of Kerri Maniscalco. Yes, I know what happens, but now I am prepared for it. I have Capturing the Devil to cushion my fall.

 

Thunderhead and The Toll by Neal Shusterman

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I read Scythe last fall for my young adult literature class. I had put it off, only to enjoy it way more than I thought I would a young adult dystopian novel. I also don’t want to fall behind on this trilogy in general, like I have so many other series.

 

Fierce Like a Firestorm by Lana Popovic

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Fierce Like a Firestorm is the sequel to Wicked Like a Wildfire, a low fantasy/magical realism novel I read from the library back in 2017. I don’t think I will have to reread my copy in order to remember what happened—it’s a pretty basic storyline. However, I admit I’m a little worried how Fierce Like a Firestorm will compare to Wicked Like a Wildfire, since it’s approximately 100 pages shorter in length.

 

Smoke in the Sun by Renee Ahdieh

Our Dark Duet by Victoria Schwab

Now I Rise and Bright We Burn by Kiersten White

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These next few books are on this list because graduate school got in the way. Smoke in the Sun is the sequel and concluding novel to Flame in the Mist; Our Dark Duet is the sequel to This Savage Song; Now I Rise and Bright We Burn are the second and third novels in a trilogy, with the first book being And I Darken. I read and enjoyed all the first books, so much that I am positive I will enjoy the succeeding novels also. However, I did not want to be so distracted from school.

 

A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J. Maas

Tower of Dawn and Kingdom of Ash by Sarah J. Maas

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In all honesty, I have a love/hate relationship with Sarah J. Maas’s books. I am still bitter about my OTPs. I mean, I like Rhysand and Rowan, but if you were ever Team Tamlin or Team Chaol, you know Sarah J. Maas has a bad habit of ruining one love interest for the sake of another. Also, her plots are kind of flat in some places on top of being romance heavy. Regardless, it does make them a lot of fun. If only they were at least 200 pages shorter.

 

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

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Someone recently described Cassandra Clare’s books like a “CW TV show with all the drama and pretty people falling in love.” I wholeheartedly agree with that statement. I had fun reading Lady Midnight, the first book in The Dark Artifices trilogy. So much so, I distinctly remember buying Lord of Shadows as soon as it came out. Then, all I heard about was those last three sentences in Lord of Shadows and all the character deaths and all I could think was oh crap….not to mention the length of these books….So, I waited for Queen of Air and Darkness.

 

What books have you put off reading for too long?

The Stuck at Home Book Tag

Sadly…this tag is still relevant.

I saw the Stuck at Home Book Tag, created by Ellyn, on Bookishly Rebecca’s blog. I’m slowly going nuts from not being able to go to work. Since I have nothing else to do without homework, I basically had to force myself to get my head together. Hopefully, you guys will be seeing more content from me in the coming weeks.

To the tag!

 

What are you currently reading?

Aurora Burning (The Aurora Cycle #2)

With all the library books I still have checked out, it took me a hot minute to pick my next read. But I finally settled on Aurora Burning by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff. And, after only 36 pages, I’m glad I did.

 

What’s your favorite “can’t-leave-the-house” activity?

Happy The Simpsons GIF

Besides reading, my favorite at-home activity is watching Netflix or YouTube. Since the 4th season of Thirteen Reasons Why is airing in the first week of June, I’m finally getting back into the show after stopping in the middle of the third season because of school. Another at-home activity I enjoy doing is blogging. Getting back into writing has been so nice.

 

A book you’ve been meaning to read for forever.

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Thing is, I don’t have a book for this question. I have a bad habit of putting off books, whether because I like to deny myself things or I’m distracted by new, shiner ones, or a combination of the two. A few books I have been meaning to read for so long are:

A Reaper at the Gates by Sabaa Tahir

A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J. Maas

Tower of Dawn and Kingdom of Ash by Sarah J. Maas

 

A intimidating book on your TBR

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The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes by Suzanne Collins, a recent addition to my owned-books to be read pile. It’s 517 pages, except the size doesn’t intimidate me. It’s the fact that I’m worried how it could compare to The Hunger Games trilogy.

 

Top 3 priority books on your TBR

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I have over 80 books on my priority to be read pile…but to name a few:

Smoke in the Sun by Renee Ahdieh

Our Dark Duet by Victoria Schwab

Fierce Like a Firestorm by Lana Popovic

 

Recommend a short book

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A short book that I enjoyed but rarely mention on my blog is Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn. It’s a great, quick read that feels like a slap in the face.

 

Recommend a long book

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One of my favorite long books is The Swan Thieves by Elizabeth Kostova, which an intense historical art mystery with beautiful writing.

 

Something you’d love to do while stuck at home

Things I want to do more of while stuck at home are go for walks and work out on the rowing machine in the basement. Instead, I sit on the couch and drink coffee in the morning, then proceed to sit on my computer or doing anything else that does not involve physical activity.

 

What do you plan on reading next?

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After I read Aurora Burning, I’m going to move on to The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes. Normally, I would wait for the hype to die down. Only this time, I’m making an exception.

 

What have you been doing during quarantine? 

Small May 2020 Wrap Up

I’m preaching to the choir, but I really want this quarantine to be over.

I was slapped in the face by a reading slump in May. The first week and a half I deliberately took off from reading to focus on my final projects and finish grad school on a high note. Naturally, once I had the time to read, I wanted to do anything but.

At first, I rode out the slump, just like I always do. Except that got boring fast. Right now, I’m in the process of applying for jobs, while asking myself “why bother?” when libraries are still closed and places will be focused on bringing back their original workers over new hires. It was hard to stay focused on any other activity I tried—blogging, watching YouTube, Netflix, etc.

Near the middle of the month, I decided to try rereading old favorites, something I don’t do often when in a reading slump. Though I managed to read only three books this month, I’m slowly getting back into the groove of reading. Which means I’m getting excited about the pile of books on my desk instead of outright ignoring it. I just can’t pick a book to read yet.

It’s a start.

The books I read in May of 2020 were:

 

The Indigo Spell by Richelle Mead (library book)

4 stars

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The Indigo Spell is the third book in the Bloodlines series and, I’m sorry to say, might be the reason I fell into a reading slump. This book was weak compared to the first two. The same thing that happened with the Vampire Academy series; first two books were very good, then everything and nothing seemed to happen in books three and four.

The Indigo Spell seemed to focus more on the romantic drama between Adrian and Sydney than trying to figure out the Alchemist’s secrets or finding out who was killing local witches. While I understand the message of “take a chance,” did certain Moroi really think the Alchemists would not do anything to Sydney if she and Adrian took their relationship out in the open? I haven’t read The Fiery Heart yet, but I can already guess that is what’s going to happen. Regardless, The Indigo Spell was still fun with the little mystery surrounding the soul-sucking witch and what little there was to expose the Alchemists’ secrets.

 

The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly by Stephanie Oakes (reread)

4.5 stars

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The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly was one of my all-time favorite books that I read back in 2015. I thought if there was any book to get me out of a reading slump, it would be this book. It worked, but I got more than what I bargained for.

To be frank, part of my reason for lowering my rating of The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly is related to the Facebook TV adaption from over a year ago. Unlike the book, all the characters besides Minnow, Angel, and Jude were more fleshed out. Dr. Wilson was given more complexity and you could see how Minnow changed him as both a psychiatrist and a person. We got more of the Prophet’s backstory, making him a more humanized villain. The ending of the TV adaption was more hopeful and complete, rather than open-ended like the book.

Back in 2015, I was on a serious reading streak that summer and prior to reading The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly, I had never read a fictional novel about cults. I had high expectations going in, and I let those expectations influence my reading. While going from 5 stars to 4.5 stars seems like a harsh rating, it’s not. This book still provides good insights to society young adult readers should think about. Like deciding what they want to believe for themselves, and not let such decisions be influenced by the respective environments they grew up in. Nothing is quite black and white, including people. The book also did not shy away from the harsh reality of juvenile detention and how the justice system is not always fair to individuals of certain populations.

Lastly is a small nitpick I didn’t notice back in 2015. There was a lot of run-on sentences. Minnow also had a big vocabulary for someone that just started learning how to read. Plus, some characters seemed a little too philosophical, to a point where I thought, “No one talks like that.” Made me wonder if the author was a John Green fan….

But if you want to know: yes, I still recommend The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly by Stephanie Oakes.

 

A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness (reread)

5 stars

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I first read A Monster Calls in January 2016. When I read it before, I gave it 4.5 stars. I don’t think I was as impressed or I read it too fast to get anything out of it. But given everything I went through since the previous read, I decided to see if I felt the same as I did before.

Since I stayed up until 1am to finish A Monster Calls and cried the whole time, you can say I feel differently about this book than I did four years ago. Because I understood the anger, hope, and other conflicting feelings Conor experienced, even though I was much older than him when I went through it. The painful part of finally acknowledging those feelings and accepting it does not make you a bad person. That’s only your brain telling you those feelings are wrong. Not to mention the intentional or unintentional self-isolation, thinking no one could possibly understand what you’re going through. Most people don’t, even if they mean well, but it doesn’t mean they don’t care. Other people might also not want to talk about it, because they do not want to lose hope or scare the person they care for. And these types of situations bring out the dark, vulnerable side of people that they try to keep hidden otherwise.

Needless to say, I loved A Monster Calls this time around.

 

cookie monster GIF

 

I won’t be posting a TBR for the month of June. Right now, I want to reread books, read the rest of the library books I still have, and start reading books I own in equal measure. I’m just going with my “mood” at this point. Maybe not being such a complete control freak with my reading will help get out of this slump I can’t seem to feel like I’m fully out of yet.

So, June 2020 will be a surprise. Who knows what I will be reading?

 

What’s a book you reread that had a different impact on you than it did the first time you read it?

 

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.

Talk Show Radio GIF by WNYC

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.

bob greenberg GIF by The Webby Awards

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.

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!

April 2020 Book Haul

Me, at the start of the quarantine:

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Me, by Easter:

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It’s all the coronavirus’s fault. When the isolation started and I saw commas for the first time in my checking account, I planned on not buying any books in April. The pre-orders I had coming in May are the only books I thought I wanted at the time. I did, however, finally subscribe to Book of the Month, which I’ve been following for ages but never actually bought. One of the April selections was calling to me and, compared to other book subscription services, Book of the Month is pretty cheap.

Then, I fell into a weird funk on Easter. It had been happening on and off over the past month. While my dad and brother were engrossed in our yearly watch of The Bible miniseries on the History Channel, I went on an Amazon shopping spree. Then, last week, I went on Books a Million’s website and bought three more books. After that, I was done…at least for April.

It’s another long book haul. Do you expect anything less from me at this point?

 

The Library of Legends by Janie Chang

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My first ever purchase from Book of the Month, The Library of Legends, was a book I knew I had to have. An early release, it is a historical fiction novel set in China circa 1937, following a group of students travelling to Shanghai to escape the Japanese bomb attacks and protecting a collection of ancient Chinese folklore books. The cover is beautiful, but the “library” part and any plots about literature blurring into reality are my buzzwords.

 

Once Upon a River by Diane Setterfield

Annelies by David Gillham

If We Were Villains by M.L. Rio

Bear No Malice by Clarissa Harwood

The Island of Sea Women by Lisa See

Unmarriageable by Soniah Kamal

The Paragon Hotel by Lyndsay Faye

The Care and Feeding of Ravenously Hungry Girls by Anissa Gray

The Familiars by Stacy Hall

The Gilded Wolves by Roshani Chokshi

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These next few are books I’ve had marked as priority on my Amazon wish list, yet I kept buying other books over them. Roshani Chokshi and Lyndsay Faye are authors I read before, so I have high expectations for The Gilded Wolves and The Paragon Hotel, respectively. Some of these books, If We Were Villains, The Care and Feeding of Ravenously Hungry Girls, and The Familiars were previously library books I checked out. I am positive I will enjoy all these, so I bought them instead of borrowing them again.

Once Upon a River is a magical mystery involving the disappearance of a young girl later found by curious people at a tavern. Unmarriageable is a retelling of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice set in Pakistan. Bear No Malice is a post-World War II romantic drama and mystery. Annelies is a historical retelling where the author imagines who Anne Frank would have been like as an adult had she survived the Holocaust. Lastly, The Island of Sea Women is all about female friendship in a community where women are the fisherman.

 

Amber & Dusk / Diamond & Dawn by Lyra Selene

European Travel for the Monstrous Gentlewoman / The Sinister Mystery of the Mesmerizing Girl by Theodora Goss

The Storm of Life by Amy Rose Capetta

Bid My Soul Farewell by Beth Revis

The Kingdom of Copper by S.A. Chakraborty

Between Burning Worlds by Jessica Brody and Joanne Rendell

Ruthless Gods by Emily A. Duncan

Sword in the Stars by Amy Rose Capetta and Cori McCarthy

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I am so, so bad at keeping up with series that in many cases, they finish before I actually get around to reading them. Amber & Dusk, along with its sequel Diamond & Dawn are two books in either a duology or otherwise series I’ve wanted to pick up for a while. Since I bought it from Amazon through an independent seller, I actually received the Owlcrate exclusive edition of Amber & Dusk. It’s pretty cool and in good condition, plus it’s signed, and it will look good with the red cover of Diamond & Dawn.

European Travel for the Monstrous Gentlewoman and The Sinister Mystery of the Mesmerizing Girl are the second and third books to The Strange Case of the Alchemist’s Daughter. The Storm of Life is the sequel to The Brilliant Death. Bid My Soul Farewell is the sequel to Give the Dark My Love. The Kingdom of Copper is the second book in the series, the first book being The City of Brass. Between Burning Worlds is the most recent installment in a series, the previous book Sky Without Stars. Ruthless Gods is the second book to Wicked Saints and Sword in the Stars is the sequel to Once & Future.  

 

Song of the Crimson Flower by Julie C. Dao

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I have yet to read a book by Julie C. Dao, who also wrote Forest of a Thousand Lanterns, a retelling of the origin story of the Evil Queen from Snow White based in Asian mythology. I also own its sequel, which I got back in January, Kingdom of the Blazing Phoenix. Song of the Crimson Flower is about a spoiled nobleman’s daughter that turns down the marriage proposal of a sweet physician’s assistant. She has a change of heart later, only to realize the boy’s soul is now trapped inside his flute, cursed by a witch that only love can set him free. Even though he now despises her, the heroine sets out on a quest to free him.

 

The Confession by Jessie Burton

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Jessie Burton is an author from the UK whose previous books, The Muse and The Miniaturist, are some of my favorites. By happenstance, I was checking up on authors I hadn’t seen anything from in a while and discovered she had a new book, The Confession. This is another dual timeline historical fiction, in which a daughter tries to track down a woman from her late mother’s past to unravel a shocking family mystery. Of all Jessie Burton’s books so far, The Confession has the best cover and since most of her book covers are gorgeous, that’s saying something.

 

What books have you bought this month?

The Finished Books Tag

What does one do when you are craving to write content for your long-suffering blog but your brain feels like a lump of meat? Reach into your book-tag emergency fund.

I first saw this tag, the Finished Books Tag, on Kristin Kraves Books a while ago. It looks like a lot of fun.

 

Do you keep a list of the books you have read?

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I use Goodreads to keep track of all the books I read in a year, as well as far back as I can remember, since I started my account in 2012. In addition to that, I use a notebook to keep track of all the books I read in a month, and the ratings I gave them. This is how I write my monthly TBRs and wrap-ups.

 

If you record statistics, what statistics do you record?

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Not much, besides what I rated them. Lately, I’ve been thinking more about page count. I didn’t read a lot of big books last year. So, I unofficially aimed for a higher overall page count this year. I only look hard at the statistics writing up the yearly reading survey, but even then it’s the bare minimum.

 

Do you give star ratings for books and if so, what do you score books out of and how do you come about this score?

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I use the Goodreads star ratings. If I consider a half-star rating, I simply write it in the review box. I base these ratings on how I feel about the writing style, the plot, the characters, and my overall enjoyment of the book.

 

Do you review books?

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If I really want to talk about a book, I will write an individual review on my blog or on Goodreads. Otherwise, I write smaller reviews in my monthly reading wrap-ups.

 

Where do you put your finished books?

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Wherever they were in the first place. That is either their spot on my bookshelves or in the pile of finished library books to be returned.

 

Do you have any other rituals for when you have finished a book?

After finishing a book, I write down my rating in the notebook, then mark it as “read” on Goodreads. If I consider the book a new favorite, I draw a purple star next to the title in the notebook and then I add it to my favorites list on Goodreads. At the end of the month, I add my favorites I read from that month to my yearly favorites list on Goodreads.

I’m so grateful for the Internet. No one else in my life would care about this.

 

I tag:

Shanah

Rebecca

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