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Dear 2013, Let’s Do This Thing

3 Jan

Resolutions for the New Year

There are so many things that I want to improve upon and accomplish this year in my reading and blogging, not to mention the things I would like to do in real life. (Mostly those involve eating healthier, losing weight, getting eyeglasses, and not spending so much money.) If you know me just a little bit, or have seen me mention it on Twitter, I’m generally bad at keeping to my to-do lists. I find that I write things down so that I can focus myself and plan and be all organized, but then the list CHAFES ME, friends, and I find myself taking sharp left and right turns off the list towards other things JUST BECAUSE. Primarily this applies to my reading schedule: I just can’t tell myself that I’m going to read these 10 books in the month of January and then expect myself to read more than 2 or 3. It’s like I have bookish ADD. But that doesn’t mean I can’t make the lists! It doesn’t mean I can’t try! So here are a few things that I want very much to do for my blog and my reading in 2013. My fingers are crossed!

1. Schedule posts

I need to work a little bit more on my time management, friends. I need to organize myself better, and I need to take away some of the feeling I often get of needing to read books faster and write my reviews immediately so that I have something to post. It’s a stressful way of doing something I enjoy, and I want to be able to forgo the former and keep the latter, if you feel me. Scheduling reviews ahead of time is a way to help because I do have books I can review. I have a handful right now this instant. They are all books that I’ve finished, in most cases, some time ago. None of them have reviews written. I’ve even slacked off on taking notes! I need to be better.

2. Read 100 books

I’m going to be posting about my specific reading goals and challenges tomorrow, but this is my main biggie challenge: 100 books. I was a little bummed that I didn’t meet my goal for this year, which started at 150, got lowered to 130, and ended at 123 books read. If I hadn’t started listening to audiobooks this year, the number would have been even smaller. But I can do 100 this year, guys. I WILL. I love reading too much to read much less. (Says the girl who does not believe in jinxing oneself.)

2a. Read at least 30 books that I already own

A corollary to number 2. Buying books is one of my biggest pleasure expenses that I allow myself. Other people spend their fun money on going out, or  the movies, or other things. I save my extra money for buying books. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to curb my itch to purchase books, but I certainly need to make more of an effort to actually READ the ones I do buy. I bought a TON of books this year; way too many of them remain unread. I need to make my money work for me, friends.

3. Reply to all of the comments on at least three posts a week

So I know that I’m kind of giving myself an out a little bit by not saying that I’m going to reply to ALL the comments, but the truth is that I just don’t know if I’ll be able to manage the time. Because commenting doesn’t take me 5 minutes. Or 10 even. I need at least a half an hour to do it right, and when I get home from work and finish dinner, it’s already 7:30, and it’s a contest between reading, writing posts, and doing other real life chores until 10 when I go to bed. So I don’t want to make a promise that I know will be asking too much, but I need to be better at doing this. So many awesome people comment on my blog and I need to find more time to reply to them and return the visit in kind. This one is really important to me, and I’m going to do my very best to stick to it.

4. Comment more!

See number 3. I need to focus more effort on sharing my thoughts and taking part in the community of bloggers I follow and the bloggers who visit me and new bloggers that I meet. I need to interact more and have conversations with you guys.

5. Start self-hosting my blog

Wanna know something a little pathetic? I actually have been paying for hosting services for about two months (it’s super cheap, but still), I just need to find some time and get my act together to move everything over and set everything up. It’s CRAZY daunting to me, and confusing, and I’m more than a little out of my element. But I need to do it. Sooner rather than later.

6. Limit myself to requesting no more than 2-3 books from NetGalley/Edelweiss per month

Ahh, NetGalley (and Edelweiss to a much lesser extent). You are crack to me. I need to take my foot off the pedal with this a little bit, and request ONLY books that I REALLY want to read. I sometimes feel like, because I don’t really get physical ARCs at all, in order to be reading the buzziest books–in order to keep up with the blogging Joneses, as it were–I need to use NetGalley hard core. But I’m overloaded and behind, and it makes me feel like a greedy tool. The only thing I can say is that I always intend to read the books! I just don’t always get to them. I need to get a better handle on my time.

7. Read and review at least 3 NetGalley/Edelweiss books per month

Friends, I need to uphold my end of the NetGalley/Edelweiss bargain a little bit better. Even saying that I’ll read and review 3 a month feels like I’m doing very little in the scheme of things. But this is part of the reason why I need to cool it when requesting books. I need to make the time to read the books I do get because that’s part of this blogging thing, too. It’s an obligation that I feel for myself, even if there really is no way the pubs can force bloggers to read and review their books from NetGalley. But I understand the give and take, and I agree to it every time I request an ARC. I feel like this answer straddles the issue of blogger obligations and what pubs can and should expect from us and what we as bloggers should be responsible for. To me, the answer to this is more of a personal manifesto kind of thing than a “written in stone” kind of thing. I appreciate that I’ve asked to read a book, and the pubs have agreed to let me read it early, as is their prerogative, with the understanding that I’ll do my level best to read and review it honestly, and so I feel like I need to stop dropping the ball as much. In Amyworld, it’s like an electronic gentleman’s agreement that I’m not honoring as well as I can. But seriously, I’m just doing me.

8. Take a breather when I feel like taking a breather

Honestly. I know it’s basically blogger cliche to say that my blog is supposed to be FUN and I should feel no worries nor have any qualms about shutting it down for a few days or a week or two if I’m feeling burned out or too busy or uninspired. But it’s really the truth. I don’t feel so worried about not posting every day as it is, mostly because I never really have, but that doesn’t mean I still don’t relish the little breaks I give myself. We all need to recharge the batteries, friends. It makes me feel fresher and better, and keeps me excited and eager.

BRING IT, 2013.

You Picking Up What I’m Putting Down?

8 Dec

Really. It’s me. Or one of us. Or both of us.

In Which I Am Not a Finisher…Yet. Maybe.

Sometimes I pick up a book and KNOW immediately that we will be BFFs and I plow right through it (ANNA AND THE FRENCH KISS, LEGEND, THE SKY IS EVERYWHERE). Sometimes I pick up a book and I’m excited to start it, but our relationship needs some work, and it takes me a while to realize that this book is MORE than I ever thought it would be (THE RAVEN BOYS, THE RED PYRAMID). Sometimes I pick up and book, immediately get a bad vibe, and wind up putting it down because I can just tell that we are NOT meant to be. (IMPOSSIBLE by Nancy Werlin comes to mind right away. Also, OCTAVIAN NOTHING by M.T. Anderson.)

SOMETIMES, though, I know that I pick up a book and I feel like our timing is just off. Maybe something else came in that I’ve been DYING to read. Maybe I’m not in the mood to read something serious/big/light-hearted, etc. Maybe, and this is increasingly becoming the case, I just don’t have the time to devote to a book that NEEDS time to grow on me. These books I pick up, put down, and mentally note that we have a date in the future. THANK GOD. Otherwise I never would have read any of the Cassandra Clare‘s Mortal Instruments series, Cinda William’s Chima‘s Seven Realms series, or anything by Jane Austen, just to name a few.

But here’s a thing that I always struggle with: sometimes a book straddles a line between a forever-DNF and a “let’s take a break for a little while.” And, further, what’s the difference between the two in my own reading? Sure, there have been some books that I’ve taken a breather from and gone back to later and enjoyed, but there are way more that I’ve been intending to pick up again and give another shot that remain unfinished and un-revisited. At some point should I just consider those books DNFs for real and move on?

Meh. Probably not. Because I know what I like. Just like every reader does. I can tell when it’s me and not the book that’s creating problems. Like, I can feel it sometimes before I even finish a chapter or less: this isn’t going to grab me RIGHT NOW. But LATER, maybe. And I’m willing to give myself some time to get in the right mood to give what appears to be an otherwise good book another go.

I don’t have any problems with officially DNFing books. I don’t like doing it because it makes me feel like I’m deserting things, but I also don’t have the luxury of giving lots of chances to books that increasingly irritate me/bore me/drag on/don’t make sense/disappoint me, etc. Not when I have so many other things to read, both for pleasure and for this blog. But maybe this “come back to me later” business is just my wussy way of DNFing. To be honest, I can totally see myself acting that way, and I’d believe that a little bit more if I’d put CITY OF BONES on my “later, gator” shelf and left it there. But I didn’t. I’ve got my fingers crossed that this means there’s still hope for me and THE MISTS OF AVALON, JELLICOE ROAD, LITTLE WOMEN, THE VICIOUS DEEP, and more.

What is the point of this RAMBLE? Basically this: Sometimes it’s me. Sometimes it’s the book. I know the difference, most of the time. Mostly, though, I’m glad that I know myself and my reading well enough to say, “don’t force it” if it’s not working. And if I feel like going back to it later, I will. If I don’t, that’s fine too. I make the rules here!

How about you guys? Do you do this a lot, putting books down to come back to them later? Or do you just give them one shot and DNF right away? What are some books that you picked up at the wrong time?

Thankful

22 Nov

Continue reading

Seasonal Reading

12 Nov

© 2012 by onutzaC

Four Seasons of Books, or Amy’s Weird Reading Habit

I know what you might think of when you hear “seasonal reading,” but no, I’m not talking about holiday-themed books, although I LOVE me a good Christmas story. Or, well, books about any holiday at all–Fourth of July, Valentine’s Day, New Year’s Eve, Thanksgiving. No, when I think of “seasonal reading” I think of one of my own weird reading quirks: reading certain types/genres of books during certain times of the year. Not exclusively, mind you, but more generally speaking. I can’t explain it any other way except that I just don’t seem to be in the mood for certain kinds of books until the weather starts to turn one way or another. Is this too weird, friends? I hope not. I mean, I understand that I am an odd bird sometimes and I’m cool with it, but still. No judgement, right?

Anyway, because I’m feeling a little self-indulgent, and because we just happen to be a time of year when my reading hankerings are changing with the seasons, I figured I’d give a low-down of what might be my biggest book weirdness. Guys, it seriously affects my reading for the whole year. I’ve tried to break out of it and, with only a few exceptions, I just can’t seem to make it happen. (If you’re being curious, books aren’t the only seasonal thing I deal with either. I do it with music, too.) I will tell you that sometimes my seasonal reading is TOTALLY obvious, and also that if a book takes place in a certain season, I read it during that season. I can’t read books set at the beach in the dead of winter. Unless I am at a beach myself on vacation someplace warm. One exception to this whole pot of crazy? Historical romances. I’ll read a historical romance at any time.

Aaaaannnyyyway…enough intro.

Winter

Winter is basically fantasy time. Something about the cold and the longer nights make me want to hunker down, get under the covers and get really absorbed in a deep, well-constructed story in another world. I like to devote time to my fantasies because one aspect of this genre that is so important to me is world-building. I want to understand the intricacies and the relationships and the complexities, and in the nicer weather when I’m busier running around doing things outside, I don’t have the same time to get into the nitty gritty. (I am never put off by lots of details in my fantasies.) In the winter-time, when I’m not as likely to be leaving my house every waking minute because it’s SO FREAKING COLD OUT, I cozy up to a (hopefully) good fantasy, and I like my fantasies like Jersey girls like their hair: the higher the better.

I also read lots of sad books in the winter. If someone dies horribly or in a really sad way, I’ll pick it up and get my sob on. Sometimes I’m a glutton for punishment that way.

Spring

If I’m reading any dystopians–admittedly not always the books I grab, although I do love them–I seem to read lots of them in the spring. I have literally no explanation for this whatsoever. Alas. But of all the seasons, I find the spring to be the most ambidextrous. I’m more apt to read anything in this season than any other time. Darker/more serious contemps or issue books, urban fantasies, dystopians. I don’t really read too many paranormals in the springtime, but basically anything else is fair game. Have I totally alienated you yet with my utter strangeness?

Summer

Likely to no one’s surprise at all, I read TONS of contemporaries in the summer. TONS. Lots of beach books, summer vacation books, romances–LOTS of romances. I like to swoon in the summertime. Also, any kind of adventure book. If it’s fast-paced, maybe a little dangerous, I’m feeling it in the summer. I think it’s because I can read these books quickly, and I feel like the story passes quickly, and that’s just what I’m looking for in the summertime. Breezy.

Also, even though I read middle grade all year because I love it so, I read LOTS of MGs in the summer, too. Or, at least, I always have the impulse to read lots of MGs. Unfortunately, I am not made of spare time.

Fall

Ah, Fall. Possibly my favorite season of all. Fall is my time for all things supernatural. Something about the encroaching cold and darkness give me creepy feels, so if it’s a book about vampires, werewolves, witches, or a mystery of any kind, I’ll be more likely to pick it up now. And I’m gearing up to get into my fantasies as well. I can feel them calling to me already.

So, friends, I have shared with you a weirdness about myself. I’m not the only one with these kinds of quirks, right? Do you have any? Share! This is a safe place, friends. You are not alone. 🙂

Hear Me Out

24 Sep

Some Early Thoughts From an Audiobook Newbie

I have just recently hopped on the audiobook bandwagon, friends, and I’m pretty excited about it. So far I’ve listened to four books–THE NAME OF THE WIND, THE WISE MAN’S FEAR, and AMY & ROGER’S EPIC DETOUR, which was a reread, and THE GOLDEN COMPASS–and they were all mostly stellar. I’m in the middle of listening to THE SHADOW OF NIGHT, the sequel to A DISCOVERY OF WITCHES, and it’s really good, but in my early days as a book listener, I’ve noticed a few things and I thought I’d share them with you.

1. I think I like single narrators better than full casts

So this one actually goes back to an assignment I had in library school to compare listening to a book and reading it. I picked the audiobook for GRACELING, and didn’t even finish listening to the first chapter. It was a full-cast recording, which I thought sounded kind of scattered or inconsistent. Fast-forward to THE NAME OF THE WIND, which was just one OUTSTANDING narrator, Nick Podehl. BIG difference. Big, awesome difference. It’s way easier for me to follow the thread of the story if I only have to listen to one voice. It helps me with continuity. Plus it seems less schizo.

2. The right voice can TOTALLY make an audiobook

Nick. Podehl. But also Suzy Jackson, the narrator for Amy & Roger. She was very listenable. I haven’t yet come across a book whose narrator(s) was annoying to listen to, but I’m sure they’re out there, and I can imagine that ruining an otherwise enjoyable book for me.

3. I hate not knowing how to spell things, like names of people or places. It keeps me from understanding what/who/where, etc.

This happens lots with the fantasies. THE GOLDEN COMPASS has tons of names of people and places that were strange or invented and I had trouble keeping track of some things because I couldn’t understand the words, because they were made up, and I couldn’t look at them to puzzle them out. Same with the Patrick Rothfuss books. Also, this is just plain annoying to me.

3a. On the flip side, I LOVE having a better idea of how to pronounce names/places/things.

Obviously. I NEVER would have known how to pronounce Pantalaimon (seriously had to look up the spelling) or Amyr or a ton of other things, although I could have guessed. Still, nice to hear.

4. Not being able to see a map, if there is one, sucks.

Not being able to see a map ALWAYS sucks. I don’t like not having a picture of the world I’m reading, especially when people are moving around a lot in the book. I always wind up feeling lost. This is obviously heightened when listening to a book. Checking a map isn’t even an option.

5. HEAVY BREATHERS ARE THE WORST.

So, ok. THE GOLDEN COMPASS–which I will be reviewing very soon–was a full-cast recording, but one of the guys did the voices for two characters, and you could hear him inhale before every word. WORST. It was icky sounding. Like, step away from the mike for a second.

6. Awkward pauses are awkward. And annoying.

This is a weird thing that has more to do with the production of an audiobook than the reading, I’d imagine. The book I’m listening to right now, THE SHADOW OF NIGHT, has this all over the place. Weird pauses in between words sometimes; weird pauses between the end of a chapter and the beginning of the next ALWAYS. It’s crazy inconsistent. Sometimes there’s a pause of a few beats, sometimes it’s a few whole seconds. I’m always checking to make sure that something didn’t go wrong with my iPod. ANNOYING.

Guys, I’m LOVING audiobooks right now. They’re the perfect way for me to pass the time on my commute. I’m not so good at listening to books when I’m at home, though. Too many other things to distract me, and I wind up not really listening. But in my car, I can pay more attention, and it makes the drive to and from work something I can look forward to. I’m officially in the fanclub, friends! So tell me: do you listen to audiobooks? What’s your favorite one to listen to?