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?

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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!

Warning labels on books: A controversial discussion

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I’d been intending to discuss this topic in a future post and had been holding off due to the fact that some may consider it a bit controversial, but I came across a great post at Pages Unbound and it addressed a lot of the same topic.  So while it is fresh in my mind, I’d like to throw in my humble two cents.

If you are a reader of middle grade or young adult fiction, it will come as no surprise to you that these books, YA in particular, are featuring more and more mature content. And that’s great. Readers can find all kinds of stories to suit all tastes.

But here is my dilemma.

While I would never want to be Nazi book mom, and call for removing books from libraries or angrily snatch books from my kids’ hands, I struggle with how I should handle these kinds of books in regards to my oldest who is soon to be 11 years old. When I was his age I was reading Judy Blume books and the Boxcar children. He on the other hand has a lot more to choose from. I encourage reading in our household and I know he is capable of reading at a level beyond middle grade books… but I don’t necessarily feel comfortable with him reading about things like rape just yet. After all, though he’s almost 11, he is quite naive in regards to a lot of things. His reading level may be advancing quickly but he is still a little boy who thinks the word “butt” is funny. Not quite ready to fully understand things like sex trafficking and torture. Now I know the simple answer would be to just monitor what he reads, but that becomes a little difficult when I don’t know the content of every single book that’s out there and he is fast approaching the “target age” for most YA.

I recently read an article where college students at several different colleges had called for “trigger warning” labels to be placed on books that dealt with distressing content. And while I admit I was sort of dismissive of the idea, it has gotten me thinking. Would it be feasible for publishers to publish future books with a small label? Something along the lines of “contains graphic violence” or “contains sexual content”. I’m curious to know what other readers think of this.

Now my dilemma may resolve itself. I may just be worried about nothing. He may decide “ewww this book is weird” and decide not to read it of his own accord until he is ready (or ever). In which case I will have another few years before I deal with the same issue again with my daughter. I know that for myself, I was around 12 when I started looking for more mature things to read. And I found them. I turned out okay, but I also think I was a little more mature and more prepared to handle difficult content than my son is now.

So I am curious to know what other readers and other parents think?  How do you handle mature content in books with your kids, siblings, students etc?

TBR or No TBR: in which we discover that Nicky sucks at TBRs and uses the word loose more than is necessary

Ahhh, the big debate- to follow a TBR list or not.

There are so many pros to reading through a TBR list.

Personally I consider a TBR list more of a loose set of “guidelines”

I’ll be honest, sticking to a strict TBR makes me feel very anxious.  I am a confessed mood reader all the way.  I like to have a general idea of what I’ll be reading soon-ish, but I tip my hat to all you strict TBRers.  I am the kind of reader who feels pulled towards certain books based on my mood. Sometimes this means I might have a stack of shiny new books that I can’t wait to get to and then I have a bad day and I pick up one of my old trusty standbys and re-read that instead.  LUCKILY, I have figured out a way to trick myself into sticking to a sort of TBR.  Challenges.  And of course my Goodreads goal.

The good thing about challenges is that many of them are loose rules or include loose suggestions or a loose theme of what to read. (I promise not to use the word “loose” any more in this post) But anyway, you get the idea. They don’t say, “you must read these specific titles”, it’s more of a “read a book in this category” sort of thing. For example, in my classics club challenge, I compiled a list of 60 titles and yes it is a sort of TBR, but I can read them based on my mood since I have so long to complete this challenge.  I can pick up one of the books on my list and decide I’m not in the mood for it and not come back to it for a couple months or more.  This gives me more flexibility and the ability to read based on how I’m feeling, while still sticking to a list.

Goodreads is an awesome tool for me.  I’ve had an account for years and just recently started figuring out how to change shelves around and updating settings to better suit my needs.  One of the things that I love about Goodreads is the ability to set up a yearly goal for myself.  I love to work towards a goal and I must seriously be the biggest dork in the world with how excited I get every time a book is completed towards my goal. I just tell myself I’d like to read atleast X amount of books in X genre this year and then I’m free to read whatever specific titles I want in each genre.

When I had my old blog, I was posting a TBR every month (when before I had never really stuck to one) and I found myself stressing over it.  There were times when I just wasn’t in the mood to read something and I forced myself to because it was on my TBR.  Reading is my happy place and it should never be stressful for me.  So my intention for this blog is to have a monthly TBR but not a concrete one.  I will give myself some choices for each month and let myself be the free little bird that I am inside.

If you prefer to stick to a TBR, first off I admire you, and secondly, I am genuinely curious as to how and why you prefer to do so. So please comment below!