Book Buying Ban: A loose interpretation

Back in December I decided I needed to formulate my New Years resolution and I went on a book buying ban. It went great until January 7th when I went to the teacher supply store, which just so happens to be next door to Barnes and Noble. One book I said to myself… just to tide me over till the ban ends. Then I laughed with glee as I skipped out of the store with three books. Now it’s for real I said to myself. A week later as I’m walking down the aisles of Barnes and Noble sipping my venti iced vanilla latte with coconut milk, BELLA NEEDED A REPLACEMENT COPY OF THE VERY HUNGRY CATERPILLAR DONT JUDGE ME, I spotted a paperback version of the audiobook I was listening to. Ok so I didn’t so much spot it as ask if they had a copy but I NEEDED it. It’s a history book. Non fiction doesn’t count right?

The next two weeks went well. Then for Valentine’s Day my husband offered me a trip to the bookstore to buy one book in lieu of a gift and I’m like YESSS PLEASE. I mean it had been almost 3 weeks, AGES since I’d been in the bookstore. I chose a Dungeons and Dragons player’s handbook since my husband and I were starting a campaign.

Is it my fault that on the way out they had a beautiful special edition illustrated copy of Game of Thrones, just in time for the new season to come out?

The rest of February went well and as we approached March 2nd (Read Across America day and Dr. Seuss’ birthday) Bella and I had an event to go to (at the bookstore, don’t judge me cause I’m promoting early literacy in my little one 🙃) I managed to walk out of the bookstore with only children’s books. Yes, I walked out with three middle grade books in addition to the picture books and yes Bella was still only two at the time and can’t read middle grade fiction… but she will one day. So the ban went well from there until the middle of March when both mine and Bella’s birthdays fall and my mom and mother in law sent Barnes and Noble gift cards. I was going to save them but since I was going to be going away for some work duties (where I’m literally away from civilization) I decided to spend them.  Two more for me and two more for Bella.  So I went away for work and read a bunch in my spare time.  When I came home, it was time to buy Bella a new “big girl bed” so we went to Ikea, which just so happens to be on the same street as Barnes and Noble and naturally I was thrilled when my now three year old asked me to take her to the bookstore. So of course we went, and I managed to walk out with no books for myself (two for Bella) so yay me. The next day, after stopping at Chick Fil A for some food, I realized it’s right next to the Indie book store I’ve been wanting to check out since I saw their booth at the Festival of books back in September, so I went in.  They had gorgeous displays and they had book merchandise and they were so friendly and awesome.  I bought myself one book and another for Bella. 

At this point, I’m starting to feel the faint stirrings of guilt. Is it something I ate? Something mean I said to someone? The amount of times I’ve purchased a book or two (Couldn’t be)? Then I asked myself who’s fucking idea was it to go on a book buying ban in the first place? This is stupid. So if I want a book, I’m going to buy it.

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Reading with toddlers: rereading the same book over and over… and over again

Recently, we’ve been obsessing over the original Very Hungry Caterpillar book. Like, I’m not even exaggerating when I say we read it ten times last Sunday. We even got to the point where I was so sick of reading it over and over that day, that I let Bella watch YouTube videos of caterpillars turning into butterflies for an hour. Oh and guess what? Thanks to YouTube showing related videos, my toddler found… that’s right, you guessed it… a video of someone reading the Hungry Hungry Caterpillar! Yay! As if I hadn’t had enough already. And instead of me reading it ten more times I got to hear someone else read it 5 more times. At which point I was caterpillar’d out and it was bedtime for Bella. The resulting toddler meltdown was almost comical with her sobs of “I want paterpiller (caterpillar)”.

Now of course, this is not a new thing. Our trusty standby and all time favorite, The Cat in the Hat, is read so often that we’ve literally memorized it. And we’ve read The Little Red Hen so many times that the last page fell out.

But the funny thing is, I’m not even mad. Yea it may get mind numbing after a while, but toddlers learn a lot through repetition and I couldn’t be happier that story time is one of her favorite daily activities… and that she wants to spend time with ME. Just to see her wide grin when I sit and listen to her “reading” the same book back to me is worth it.

Angry Book Reviewers

We’ve all seen it. We finish a book we love and we eagerly go to to goodreads or another social media platform because we NEED to talk about this book we loved and in the midst of all the other glowing reviews or book discussions there’s 20 comments from people who absolutely HATED it. Not just simple “I didn’t like this book because insert reason here” comments, but scathing, insulting “you must be stupid, your father was a hamster and your mother smelled of elderberries and you are basically the worst if you like this book” or insulting comments towards the author. In a day and age where cyber bullying is widely recognized as a legitimate thing, the book community is the last place I expect to see this kind of thing, but there it is. Over the last few weeks I’ve seen quite a few nasty encounters while scrolling through goodreads and it absolutely boggles my mind. Since when did it become ok to insult others because they like something you don’t? And how dare people insult an author because a book was not for them. What’s worse is that these nasty comments are no longer confined to their own posts, often these types of things get posted in response to someone who writes a positive review. So today I just have a few of things to say. If you are being harassed by one of these losers, paper cut that B. If you are an author who spent countless hours working on a book from your heart, thank you for your hard work and for giving readers one more book to choose from. If you are one of those losers who thinks it’s ok to insult people whether they created something you don’t like or they like something you don’t, cut that shit out. And if you choose to bless me with some insults on social media because I like a book, I will not hesitate to paper cut you.

Messy bookshelves

It’s Shelfie Sunday and I thought I would start off this series with a topic I’ve been thinking about for a few days now.

While scrolling through Bookstagram recently, it hit me that while I may LOVE gazing lovingly at my bookshelves, they look nothing like those beautiful every-book-the-same-size rainbow organized shelves I see.

Sure I own some pop funkos and flowers that I display and I love decorating them for the holidays. And sure, I have some beautiful editions of books. But I display them alongside my well loved paperbacks and mismatched series. But I’ve also run out of room so I double stack my books wherever they fit. My organization makes sense only to me and now that I’ve resorted to double stacking, my books are less “organized” and more… let’s say (air quotes) “haphazardly arranged wherever the f they fit.” I’m in the market for a new shelf so I will be rearranging them back into a more cohesive system soon, but as of right now, we are stuffing books everywhere.

I get a lot of pleasure out of scrolling through bookstagram but I get the same pleasure out of walking around a library or a musty smelling used book store and just looking around. The same pleasure I get from my own shelves. I just love books and anytime there’s a stack of them somewhere, I look and I admire.

So despite my tacky arrangement of pop funkos, anime characters, and random memorabilia I’ve collected while traveling the world, I can honestly say that I believe my shelves have a lot of character. My shelves may not conform to the modern ideal of sleek shelves full of perfectly placed decor and hardback books, but they are beautiful to me and more importantly, they are full of friends both old and new, books I love. ❤️❤️

*As an afterthought I’d like to say that I just discovered the #messybooks posts on bookstagram and I’m in love*

So does anyone else suffer from messy books syndrome?

The dilemma of traveling with books

Have you ever been packing for a trip and heard one of your friends or loved ones utter the words “You don’t need to bring that many books!”?  Well I’m here today to tell you, IGNORE THAT SH*T.

A week ago, three of my coworkers and I went on a week long work trip that required us to fly across the country to D.C. and for the first time EVER I decided to conform and I packed light. Like really light. I listened to those lunatics who always tell me I don’t need to pack so many books and so the night before I piled a bunch of books on the couch and agonized over which book I absolutely needed to bring with me. I ended up settling on two paperbacks plus the one I was reading on my kindle app on iPad. I packed one book in my suitcase and my iPad and the other book in my purse. I figured if I ran out of reading material at the airport that I would just buy one at the airport like I usually do. Unfortunately, while browsing the bookshop at the first airport I didn’t find anything worth spending full airport price for and I didn’t have time to shop at the layover airport. Well friends, let’s just say IT HAPPENED. Yes, THAT. The thing we all dread. With 10 hours of travel time I RAN OUT OF BOOKS TO READ. I was reading this really great series (more on that in another post) on my iPad and I finished the book on the plane. The plane had WiFi so I thought I’d download the next book because I NEEDED to know what happened next and the freaking thing wouldn’t download.

I looked around the plane in a panic trying to figure out wtf people DO on a plane when they’re not reading and I figured it out… they get up repeatedly to use the restroom and stand in the aisles with their butts in your face.  When we finally landed in D.C. I was able to download it during the hour and a half ride to our hotel but can I just point out how nerve wracking it is to actually run out of books to read???

In an effort to put all this behind me, I’ve decided to consider this a learning experience.  I think it’s safe to say I will never go against my book hoarding instincts again.  The next person who tells me not to pack so many books is sure to receive a penetrating stare or a swift kick to the shin from me.

So remember friends, when someone tells you not to bring any more books on a trip, just ignore them because you don’t need that kind of negativity in your life.

 

Where to get book recommendations?

Someone asked me how I figure out what books to read and I felt myself look like this:

I mean, the answer to that question is beyond complex.  So here I am, days later, mulling it over and I realized that I don’t purposely do anything to seek new book recommendations but they come from a variety of places.  With that being said, I will share some of the ways I find new books to read and hopefully some of you will drop a line and tell me where you get your recommendations.

1: Podcasts

My daily commute to work and household chore time are full of podcasts.  The two book related ones that I listen to most are the What Should I read Next podcast and the All the Books Podcast.  Of the two, the What Should I read Next podcast is my favorite.  Anne Bogel, the host of What Should I read next is a joy to listen to.

2: Staff Picks

I love staff picks at the bookstore.  I love how there are always a variety of selections from different staff members so there is usually someone with similar reading tastes to mine.

3: Cover Browsing

It’s time consuming but such a pleasant way to spend an hour… or two (don’t judge me) at the bookstore.  I do tend to pick up books with pretty covers, but I will pick up any book if the title is intriguing.

4: Other Bloggers

It’s one of the reasons we’re all here isn’t it? We share book reviews and rave about books we couldn’t get enough so naturally I pick up book recommendations here and there.

5. Amazon

The “You might like this” feature on amazon sometimes has a nice gem tucked away and I’ll usually make a note of any that sound interesting.

6. Other books

This is one of my favorite ways to get book recommendations.  I love when I’m reading a book and the characters mention another book by different author.  It’s almost like book inception.  A book within a book.  Mind blown. Another way I can get book recs from other books is when I read a retelling or a spinoff of another book.  (ie. when I read the Historian I had to go read Dracula)

 

There are many ways that I get book recommendations.  Divine intervention, being in the right place at the right time, having someone hand me a stack of books they’re getting rid of. You name it. But these were some of the most common ways I figure out what to read.

What are some ways you get new book recommendations?

Annotating books: yay or nay?

If you are of the opinion that nothing should mar the pages of your precious books (and that’s a totally understandable point of view), than I would quit reading right now because some of these photos might upset you.

I re entered college a couple years ago and things are a lot different this time around. I have a very full time job, a husband and two kids. It wasn’t as easy to breeze through as it was when I was 18. Majoring in history, I have to keep track of tons and tons of names, dates, and places. I love to keep concise notes but I wanted to get more out of my text books. Because of my profession, I sometimes get grants for free ebook versions of my textbooks (which is great and many people wish for) but I missed the ease of flipping back and forth through paper pages, so I started buying the paper copies and started writing and marking the hell out of my textbooks. I began to get so much more out of my textbooks this way. My Historiography textbook is a good example of this and I am able to flip back through it for advice when working on a history paper.

 

 

Back in August when I started my Classics Book Club Challenge, I challenged myself to read many books that had frightened me in the past. I wanted to immerse myself in them and get all I could from the texts. So I thought to myself that if marking my textbooks was working so well, why not begin to mark my books as well? So that’s what I did. It has been going wonderfully so far. Over the last few months I have been honing my system so it has changed considerably from just post it notes and marking with asterisks. I now loosely color code things with highlighter and pen and take notes in my reading journal. I also still use plenty of post its to tab the books. Usually I will highlight or underline key characters’ first appearance in blue while highlighting pretty passages in pink. A good example of my more recent refined system can be seen here in my copy of The Silmarillion by J.R.R. Tolkien which I am currently re reading. I thought it would be fitting to include this book as tomorrow March 25 is Tolkien Read Day.

Annotating in this way has helped me remember so many more of the names and places in Tolkien’s universe and it has worked nicely helping me know what to look for in my companion books The Heroes of Tolkien and The Guide to Tolkien’s World: A Bestiary, both by David Day. (It has not escaped me that not only am I a real life history dork, but I am also a fictional history dork 😉)

But while I am all about annotating books, I haven’t yet started marking up my pretty collectible copies of certain books.

I know a lot of people think it an evil sin to mark their books but I also know there’s a lot of you out there who DO mark their books. So I’m curious to see how many of you out there mark your books and how do you go about doing so? I like where I am now compared to a few months ago but I would be glad of any new tips. So let me know if you’re a marker or not! 🙂

See you next time!