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

Grey  

First Reading Wrap Up of 2020: January & February

It’s been two months since I have posted here on my blog. In that time:

I started my last semester of graduate school.

I’m currently on a now extended spring break because my school is taking precautions against the Coronavirus.

I broke at least two of my reading resolutions. (I’m sure you can guess which ones.)

I beat my Goodreads 2020 reading goal.

I READ 30 BOOKS IN ONE MONTH!

That is due to the children’s literature class I am taking this semester. Those books you will see in a separate reading wrap-up. But I have never read so much in a month.

I am glad to say I started off my 2020 reading year strong. Before school started again, I managed to read five books in January. It is also the month I read 30 books, making it more of a whirlwind than it already was. In February, I read only one book not school related.

In January and February 2020, I read:

 

January

 

Through the Woods by Emily Carroll (reread)

4 stars

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In the days leading up to 2020, I was fussing over what my first read of the year would be. Then, I heard a few people say they started the new year with a reread. I bought Through the Woods, which I read from the library in 2016, to reread at Halloween. That didn’t happen, so I decided to pick up this graphic novel anthology as my first book of 2020.

My rating is the same as it was in 2016. I love Emily Carroll’s art style. I liked all the stories, but I still have the same favorites: “A Lady’s Hands are Cold” with “My Friend Janna” as a close second. I really hope Through the Woods someday gets made into a movie.

 

To Drink Coffee with a Ghost by Amanda Lovelace

5 stars

To Drink Coffee with a Ghost (Things that Haunt, #2)

I already know that my favorite book of the year will be To Drink Coffee with a Ghost. The only book I can imagine topping it is A Sky Beyond the Storm by Sabaa Tahir, the final book in the An Ember in the Ashes series coming out in December. And that is if I read it right away when it comes out. But even that is a hard maybe.

I read Amanda Lovelace’s latest poetry collection in a single night before falling asleep. And I cried my eyes out the whole time. To Drink Coffee with a Ghost focuses on Amanda’s tumultuous relationship with her mother. Almost every single poem hit a nerve. It’s been a while since a book affected me so much. Which means extremely high expectations for Break Your Glass Slippers, coming out March 17th.

 

Sabrina by Nick Drnaso

2 stars

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Sabrina took me for a ride I was bored on the whole time.

I think the author was trying to provide a social criticism, but the execution made no sense. Too many times the plot went off course. Soon it became more about the characters’ life drama than learning what really happened to Sabrina. There isn’t any character development either; none of the characters seem to grow, including the main character, and none of their stories feel resolved in any way. Yet the book was so compulsively readable I had to find out if it got better. Some parts were good, and the author knew when to use dialogue, but I was ultimately disappointed.

 

Look Both Ways by Jason Reynolds

4.25 stars

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Look Both Ways called to me from my shelves, despite the fact it was not on my intended reading list. After reading Long Way Down last semester, my expectations going in were high. I did enjoy this book’s “slice of life” stories, though admittedly I was bored for a chunk of it. Some of the characters, all in middle school, felt more fleshed out than others. Regardless, Jason Reynolds’s writing style was almost perfect.

 

Pet by Akwaeke Emezi

3.5 stars

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Besides Look Both Ways, Pet also called to me from my bookshelves. And it was short, which meant getting ahead in my reading challenge. The concept was just too fascinating: a contemporary-feeling dystopian novel set in a city called Lucille, where no more “monsters” exist. Jam is a transgender girl who accidentally summons a creature called Pet from her mother’s painting with a drop of blood. When Pet tells her there is a monster living inside her best friend Redemption’s house, she agrees to help it find the monster, shattering her reality that Lucille, her whole world, is safe.

The concept behind Pet was really interesting. This book was packed with diversity. I liked how Jam being transgender was not a “thing”; her parents and friends just accepted it. Also, Redemption had three parents and there was a librarian in a wheelchair. Pet was a fascinating element, a frightening creature that was the only thing Jam could trust. However, the writing felt juvenile and it took a while to get to the point. That being said, I would consider picking up more books by Akwaeke Emezi if they write more.

 

February

 

The Painted Girls by Cathy Marie Buchanan (library book)

2 stars

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I had checked out The Painted Girls twice from the library. I’ve had this saved on Goodreads for so long, I had forgotten about it until I saw it on someone’s blog recently. By no means it is not a long book, yet it took me far too long to get through.

I thought it wasn’t The Painted Girls fault that it was taking me forever to read. I am a graduate student, after all. However, when I was reading it, I lost interest quickly. When I had chances to read it I didn’t want to.

Despite how bored I was while reading The Painted Girls, I did like the writing style and the atmosphere. Unfortunately, the characters were flat, and the plot took forever to get to the point. Not to mention the time jumps that came without warning; those took me out of the story instead of into it. Despite this, I am willing to believe that the timing was bad. Maybe someday I will check The Painted Girls out of the library again to reread one day.

 

What books have you read recently?

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?   

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….

The Last Reading Wrap Up of 2019

Welcome 2020!

When December began and school let out, I thought I had escaped the annual end-of-the-year reading slump. I borrowed over thirty books from the library. I picked a book I had been anticipating, only suddenly the act of reading felt grueling. That was when I knew I was in a reading slump. I returned all the books I had checked out.

A few days after Christmas, I really wanted to read more books before the end of the year. That was when I came up with a solution: graphic novels.

Last year, I bought a lot of graphic novel adaptions of classical works illustrated by Gareth Hinds. I read his adaption of Edgar Allan Poe stories at the beginning of 2019 and it was super entertaining. In the last week of the year, I picked up the three other graphic novels by him that I owned. And I’m very glad I did.

In the final week of 2019, I read:

 

Beowulf graphic novel adaption by Gareth Hinds

4 stars

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I read the text of Beowulf in high school, though I think at the time I preferred the movie. After reading this graphic novel adaption, I realized Beowulf is one of the best classical stories to have illustrations, with all the action that happens throughout.

Gareth Hinds’s artwork added something extra to the story. He drew Beowulf as the ancient writers would have envisioned him: a massive, handsome golden-haired hero. The narration was still in the original medieval text, except cut back slightly to fit the graphic novel format. Beowulf is the kind of story that fits a graphic novel, in my opinion, with all the fight scenes. There is a lot of gore, though Gareth Hinds doesn’t go crazy with it. With his art, he also showed that, despite all the heroic acts, Beowulf was still a mortal, flawed man, which I appreciated the most.

 

Romeo and Juliet graphic novel adaption by Gareth Hinds

3.5 stars

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In all honesty, I would not consider Romeo and Juliet my favorite Shakespeare play. However, I do agree with what Gareth Hinds says in his forward to this graphic novel: this story ages well. (Except the Leonardo Di Caprio version.)

One thing I realized that Romeo and Juliet relies heavily on dialogue. Only that didn’t fully hit me until several passages (you can tell how many times I’ve read/seen this damn play) were taken out and you had to rely on the illustrations to understand what was happening. Which is why I do not recommend anyone who has not read the original text read this graphic novel. I could not help but feel something missing while I was reading.

On the flip side to that, the entire cast of this graphic novel were people of color. Romeo and the Montagues were drawn of African-American descent while Juliet and the Capulets were Indian/South East Asian. The only white people I can remember in this entire graphic novel were Juliet’s nurse and the Friar. There were also some more modern edges, like Tybalt walking around shirtless showing off his tattooed chest. Normally, those kinds of things annoy me, but in the Romeo and Juliet graphic novel, it did not.

 

The Odyssey graphic novel adaption by Gareth Hinds

4.5 stars

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The final book I read in 2019 and I’m glad it was this one.

Like Beowulf, I read an abridged version of The Odyssey in high school and watched the mini-series with Bernadette Peters as the witch Circe. I would still like to one day tackle the full text of The Odyssey, as well as The Iliad (of which Gareth Hinds also has a graphic novel adaption). But The Odyssey is another classic that suits the graphic novel format.

At first, I was thrown for a loop. Unlike other versions I have read or seen, the original work begins when Odysseus’s son, Telemachus, goes searching for news of Odysseus after the Trojan War, in hopes finding his father will get the obnoxious suitors of Ithaca away from his mother, Odysseus’s wife, Penelope. Then, it goes into Odysseus’s trials after the end of the Trojan War.

While that caught me off guard for a bit, I realized that was more of me reacting to what I had initially been exposed to. The mini-series put the events in chronological order for the sake of making the story easier to follow, which made sense for that format. Despite this, I really liked Gareth Hinds’s artwork in The Odyssey graphic novel. He used the ideal color palette and drew the characters in a way I think even Homer would have imagined them. The story was entertaining and I flew through the middle portion, which are the tales of Odysseus’s adventures. However, towards the end, I felt it drag a little. Regardless, it was a satisfying conclusion. An overall entertaining graphic novel as well.

 

What was the book you wrapped up 2019 reading?

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

 

What Do You Think of People Who Don’t Read? (Discussion Post)

While Christmas shopping for my dad and my brother, I kept thinking about books I want to buy them. My brother reads occasionally and my dad pretty much never. This can be said for most other people in my life as well. Meanwhile, I’m reading books like I breathe air.

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Thinking about this brought me back to a conversation I had with another reader: what do you think about people who don’t read?

Growing up, I was super into reading. I didn’t understand how anybody could not like it. You read text messages, emails, Facebook posts, and gossip on your favorite celebrity, yet how can you say you hate reading? It made no sense.

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I’m an introvert like many of you probably are. I like being social when the opportunity arises. Sadly, that isn’t often, since I live farther out from my friends. More often than not, I spend my weekends at home. My family has a subscription to Netflix and now Disney +. I take full advantage of both. I also watch a lot of BookTube, as well as scary story channels, mostly Mr. Nightmare, Corpse Husband, and Lazy Masquerade.

I also watch TV in my down time. Criminal Minds, one of my favorites, is beginning its final season in January and I watch reruns constantly. A potential new all-time favorite, Evil, aired this year. I watch it live on Thursday nights at 10pm, no matter how tired I was from going to school that day. I also occasionally watch reruns of Law and Order: Special Victims Unit. By no means would I call myself a TV buff, though.

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For the longest time, I thought of reading as a form of entertainment or a hobby. I wrote that in my “autobiography,” my first assignment for my young adult literature class this semester. Then, after my professor graded it, she wrote a comment of how she thought of reading as more of as a part of a person’s infrastructure. That got me thinking.

There have been times when I was in a reading slump where I just did not feel like reading. Or I kind of wanted to read but nothing held my interest at that moment. Usually, it was due to when I was busy with school and/or life. Other times, I simply just read too much too fast and burnt myself out. It passes within a week or so. This time around, however, I forced myself to take a break from reading.

I had checked out a lot of books from the library—as I do when I’m trying to refrain myself from buying too many books in order to save money—that I was really excited to read. I also had assignments piling up, all of them involving focus. After a final project had been screwed up, I knew I had to put reading aside until I turned in my last assignment for the semester.

I had no idea what to do with myself.

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That whole week and a half of not allowing myself to read anything not school related made me think of my professor’s comment on that paper. Reading was such a part of my life, I had no idea how much until I deliberately made it not so. It made me wonder what else I might have done if I never took up reading in the first place, especially since a love of writing stemmed from a love of reading.

Like I said, years ago, I had no idea how people did not like reading. After meeting people that struggled with learning disabilities, I finally made peace with the idea that reading is not for everyone. School doesn’t help much, with required reading and teachers only accepting answers they deem to be the “right” analysis of a work. It was different for me. I liked learning and had generally positive experiences in my high school English classes. Plus, I also had supportive professors in college during my English degree. Not everyone can say that.

If someone is genuinely interested in trying to take up reading, I do my best to give them recommendations. But by no means do I try to force anyone to like reading. My friends never tried to make me like the things they liked, so why would I do it to anyone else?

Regarding possible romantic partners, same thing. The other person liking reading is more of a bonus than a requirement. If I got involved with someone who did not enjoy reading, I would not try to make them like it if they did not want it. And I would not give someone a hard pass just for that one thing, not if they have so many other qualities I find attractive. If they tried to make me stop reading or outright hated the fact that I love reading, then we have a problem.

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In high school, college, and now in graduate school, and just in adulthood in general, I make time for reading because I want to. More than that, I realize now. I need to. I need the escapism and the ability to get out of my head or lost in my feelings. I need the creative energy as an outlet for my stress and the anxiety I feel when I overthink (which is a lot). I need reading to help me figure it all out.

But I know not everyone feels that way. And that’s OK.

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What do you think of people who do not read?

 

Mid-Year Freak Out Book Tag! (2019)

It’s that time of year again! To freak out on how much I’ve read this year and what I have not…mostly the latter….

I entered 2019 with low expectations for reading. I set my Goodreads Reading Challenge to 30 books, under the assumption I would not have a lot of free time to read once I started my second semester. To my shock, I had more than I anticipated. I had two days in the middle of the week entirely devoted to homework, leaving more wiggle room on the weekends. In May, I beat my goal. Currently, I have completed 34 books and working on a 35th. I do not plan on raising the goal any higher.

While I’m glad I beat my goal, admittedly, I am feeling rather meh towards my reading so far this year. That’s my fault. From January to April, I was on a book-buying ban. Instead of diving into the plethora of unread books I already own, I checked out books from the library. Obviously, that’s not a bad thing. I did read some pretty good books, too. The trips to the library were meant to quench the annoying desire for “new” books. Also, I have come to the realization that I have an irrational fear of running out of books to read as well as the masochistic urge to deny myself what I want. There are unread books I own, yet I continuously refuse to read them because I fear I won’t have money to buy more later.

Being a bookworm can be weird.

Now, enough of the therapy session and onto what you all really came here for: the Mid-Year Freak Out Book Tag!

 

The best book you’ve read so far this year

I don’t know if it’s a good thing or a bad thing, but not a lot of books this year have felt like “the best book of the year.” I’ve given a few 5 star ratings, although none of them stand out more than the rest. However, here are seven books I’ve read so far this year I consider favorites, in no particular order:

Two Can Keep a Secret by Karen M. McManus

To Make Monsters Out of Girls by Amanda Lovelace

Voices: The Final Hours of Joan of Arc by David Elliott

A School for Unusual Girls by Kathleen Baldwin

Vicious by V.E. Schwab

Invisible Ghosts by Robyn Schneider

Aurora Rising by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

Your favorite sequel this year

Screenshot_2019-07-06 Saga, Vol 9 (Saga, #9)

 

Not a lot of sequels read this year so far, which is honestly unacceptable. I have way too many series sitting unread and uncompleted on my bookshelves. Even so, my favorite sequel hands-down this year will have to be Saga, Vol. 9 by Brian K. Vaughn and Fiona Staples.

 

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

Where to even begin with this one? One new release that I really want to read is Red, White, and Royal Blue by Casey McQuistan. The others are Teeth in the Mist by Dawn Kurtagich and Sorcery of Thorns by Margaret Rogerson, two books I was anticipating that I recently bought.

 

Most anticipated release for the second half of the year

Capturing the Devil by Kerri Maniscalco, the final novel in the Stalking Jack the Ripper series is likely the most anticipated release of the year for me. Another is To Drink Coffee with a Ghost by Amanda Lovelace, which comes out in September. I almost completely forgot about The Beautiful by Renee Ahdieh, a Gothic vampire romance coming out in October. Also coming out in October is The Fountain of Silence, a young adult historical fiction novel by Ruta Sepetys set during the Spanish Civil War. Lastly is The Testaments by Margaret Atwood, the sequel/companion novel to The Handmaid’s Tale releasing in September.

 

Your biggest disappointment

I thought I only had one…turns out, I have a few. The Near Witch by Victoria Schwab was not the best, although I’m not surprised since it was her debut novel. Though I gave them pretty decent ratings, Vengeful by V.E. Schwab and The Blood of Olympus by Rick Riordan did not live up to their predecessors in their respective series.

 

Biggest surprise of the year

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I had to read True Notebooks by Mark Salzman for one of my classes. On my own, I rarely read nonfiction. I certainly would not have read one set in a prison. True Notebooks centers on a struggling author teaching creative writing to students in a juvenile detention facility. The book covered a lot of different issues within the American prison system, as well as unexpectedly humanized these young criminals society had cast aside.

 

Favorite new to you or debut author

It’s a tie between Karen M. McManus and Robyn Schneider. I liked their writing styles, how they developed plots, and their realistic young adult characters. I’ve only read one book from each of them so far, but I enjoyed Two Can Keep a Secret and Invisible Ghosts so much I plan to get my hands on their other books.

 

Your new fictional crush

Again, I could not narrow it down.

The first is Sebastian Wyatt from A School for Unusual Girls by Kathleen Baldwin. If you love Thomas Cresswell from Stalking Jack the Ripper, Sebastian will turn your knees to jelly. The other is Liam Gerling from Evermore by Sara Holland. In the first book, Everless, he’s portrayed as an arrogant loner with a supposed nasty streak. In Evermore, we see a sweeter side to him that is impossible to resist. Lastly, Tyler and Kal from Aurora Rising by Aimee Kaufman and Jay Kristoff. Both of them were handsome, strong, and serious men that could be utterly adorable (especially Kal, the alien fae, OMG).

 

New favorite character

There are few characters I can say I have truly seen myself in. One of those is Rose Asher from Invisible Ghosts by Robyn Schneider. She was smart and sensitive, and had a lot to offer, but her own insecurities (and the ghost of her whiny dead brother) kept holding her back.  I also really liked Sydney Clarke and Victor Vale from Vicious from V.E. Schwab. Both were complex and flawed, especially Victor. And though I don’t think I would call her my new favorite character, I was fascinated by Tetisheri, the protagonist of Death of an Eye by Dana Stabenow, a book I stumbled upon at the library. She was a private yet caring young woman with a strong will and a sharp mind. Plus, she had a complicated backstory we don’t know much about yet.

 

A book that made you cry

Voices: the Final Hours of Joan of Arc by David Elliott made me feel all the feels. It hurt me knowing a heroic young woman was ultimately killed by the patriarchy she was trying so hard to save. Saga, Vol. 9 slapped me so hard across the face, it took me a minute to fully absorb how hard I’d been hit.

 

A book that made you happy

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A book I found browsing my library, Kiss Me in Paris by Catherine Rider, was an adorable young adult/new adult romance set during a 24-hour exploration of Paris. Serena arrives to Paris on a mission to collect mementos for her family after a tragedy until her strict schedule goes out the window. Broody Parisian photographer Jean-Luc is determined to show this uptight American girl the “real” Paris. As you can imagine, neither gets what they bargained for. If you love The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon, I highly recommend Kiss Me in Paris.

 

Your favorite book to movie adaption that you’ve seen this year

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I have seen two book to movie adaptions so far this year. The first is Good Omens, the Amazon Prime show based off the book by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett. I haven’t read the book yet. I only ended up watching the show because my dad was interested in it. Still, the Good Omens adaption was entertaining and made me want to read the source material.

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The other is about two or three scores away from the original, and I’m not entirely sure if I watched in early 2019 or late 2018, but it’s the Netflix adaption of Castlevania. Castlevania is the name of a video game the show is supposed to be based on. Only there are elements in the storyline taken from Bram Stoker’s Dracula that make me still qualify it as a book adaption. The second season made up for the fail that was the first season with its dark humor and complicated views on humanity.

 

Favorite blog you’ve published this year

I’m not sure if I have one. To be honest, I was lacking in creativity during school (and now, if I’m being honest). I liked my Book Buying Ban Challenge post as well as the Game of Thrones tag. Book Blogger Confessions was fun. The Top 5 Tuesday on Slytherin House recommendations was also a good one.

I can’t pick one. Are you sensing a theme here?

 

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

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Sorcery of Thorns by Margaret Rogerson

 

What are some of the books that you need to read by the end of the year?

Where to begin?

A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J. Maas (PLEASE DON’T AT ME!)

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

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

There are plenty more where those came from. I had these books on the list last year. They WILL be taken off this year.

 

What are some books that have been on your TBR for too long?

2019 Reading Resolutions Check-In

I had this idea in the shower the other day (TMI?) on doing a check-in for my reading resolutions. In a similar vein to the “Mid-Year Freak Out Tag,” (which I will be posting in a few days) I did an update on how far, or not, I’ve come in sticking to my 2019 New Year’s Resolutions. And figure out if I want to bother continuing with them or not.

 

“Unofficially” read 30 books

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At the beginning of the year, I set a Goodreads goal of 30 books and, miraculously, I beat it in May. I did this under the assumption I would have the bare minimum of reading time once I started the second semester of graduate school. I wanted to set the least stressful goal, even though I promised myself I would not make a big deal out of it.

The first few weeks of the year, I was on winter break. I read a few graphic novels as well as a few lighter books in between job hunting. By the time the semester began, I was still unemployed with only two days a week available. Naturally, that did not help my chances in finding part-time work. But it did help my reading.

Since I had two full days totally devoted to homework, I had more time to read on the weekends, as well as on the commute to and from school. Right now, I am well into summer break. I don’t plan on raising the goal higher. I’m just going to keep reading as much as I can without stress.

 

Book buying ban of 2019

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I had to go on a book buying ban for the first three or four months of the year, which I decided after my original resolutions post. By the beginning of February, my optimism at finding a new job had dwindled. After making an impulsive book purchase, I quickly realized that certain things had to take priority. Books were not one of them.

I am proud to say I was successful in this. I lasted until April, when taxes came through for me and I finally allowed myself to buy books again. I probably shouldn’t have, since I was technically still unemployed, but going to the library wasn’t doing it for me anymore.

Now, I have a job for the summer at an academic library surrounded by bookstores. I’ve bought three books in the past few weeks. However, being twenty-six sucks. I have to pay my school to provide health insurance. The bill is due in August. So, instead of taking advantage of my current financial situation and bookstore access, it looks like I’m going to have to go on another ban. Or, at least, cut back on the amount of money I spend.

 

Prioritize and marathon book series

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Fail, fail, and more fail. I have not prioritized series. I have not marathon any this year, either. I have read first books in series or the concluding novels or sequels. The rest are stand-alone. I did check out completed series from the library and pull ones I intended to read off my bookshelves. Then, after a while of sitting around unread, I ended up returning them to where they belonged.

Going forward into the remaining half of the year, I have selected series I want to complete before January 1st, 2020. Some of those series are:

The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer

The Raven Cycle by Maggie Stiefvater

Falling Kingdoms series by Morgan Rhodes

Gemma Doyle trilogy by Libba Bray

The Remnant Chronicles by Mary E. Pearson

 

Make smaller TBRs but be flexible

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Honestly, I’m not sure what my plan was with this one.

I was not doing monthly TBRs because of graduate school. I read what I wanted when I had the time or energy to do so. I read mostly library books for the first few months, a combination of the book buying ban and using library books to make sure I kept up a healthy reading habit. Not that it always worked.

I like making reading lists and sticking to them, but I’m learning to be flexible when a “mood” hits. Lately, though, with all the books I want to read, the “moods” have been kind of annoying.

 

Unhaul books

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Of all the resolutions I set for myself in 2019, this is the one I am happiest I completed. I was running out of room on my bookshelves. There were books I knew I was never going to read again that taking up space. My Amazon wish list was getting longer.

Then, in April, my advisor announced the department was holding a book drive for an elementary school’s library in Rwanda. The books that they didn’t give to the school would be used in a book sale to collect money for the students’ materials.

Every Friday, I came to school with an extra bag full of books to put inside the donation bin. While I was sad to see some go, I knew they were better off going to people who would appreciate them more. And I was better off, too. At the same time, it was also an euphoric relief. I kind of want to do another one later this year, should the opportunity arise again.

 

Practice borrowing before buying

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This has been successful: there have been books I read first from the library and bought later or I plan to. Only upon reflection, the frequent library use of the year has brought on some unexpected problems.

Aside from not reading all the books I checked out (that should be a drinking game), I was not reading books I already owned. Worse still, I often lost interest in the library books, in addition to running out of time even after renewing them. So, in a sense, I was not thinking “practically.”

At the time I am writing this, 21 out of 34 books I read so far this year were library books. The book buying urges as well as free days in the middle of the week influenced the frequent library trips. Various times, I found myself with more than thirty books checked out at once.

In the past, I would have returned the books, then got them from the library again at a later date. Except even then, I still didn’t read them most of the time. I have a habit of borrowing books and not reading them, only to buy them later. In a way, it’s cheating the “borrowing before buying” system.

I think I might have to avoid the library for a few months. Easy enough, since it’s closed on the weekends July through August and I work during the week. While I obviously love the institution of libraries, there are books at home that have been gathering dust.

 

How have you done on your 2019 reading goals so far?