Category: General

#ReaderProblems Tag

Posted February 24, 2020 by Nikki in General / 1 Comment

Imyril did it, and I’m a dirty thief.

You have 20,000 books in your TBR, how in the world do you decide what to read next?

Currently, complete and utter whim. I’ve borrowed the Wimsey family motto — “as my whimsy takes me” — and applied it to my reading. When I start feeling like I “should” read something, I distrust it. Making reading into an obligation sounds less than fun.

If there’s nothing that immediately strikes my fancy, I’ll go with book club choices, stuff I’m due to review, random number generators, or holding the bunnies up to the shelves to pick for me. They mostly take this philosophically.

You’re halfway through a book and you’re just not loving it. Do you put it down or are you committed?

I’m trying to put them down a little more often. I’ve trained myself into accepting a book won’t be for me, lately, but it takes work to remind myself there’s no obligation here.

However, there is a sort of grey area where for whatever reason a book isn’t living rent-free in my brain, even though I’m mildly enjoying it, and I’ll accidentally start something else instead, get distracted, and come back six months later having forgotten half the story. These books live on the shelf above my desk, and I’ve never really got the hang of how to deal with them.

The end of the year is coming and you’re behind on your reading challenge, do you try to catch up? And if so, how?

I’m trying not to be too attached to reading challenges, lately. It helps that I’ve more or less quit Goodreads, since they have a bug causing my books to sort wrongly and have admitted they’re never going to bother fixing it or even applying the temporary fix for me. (They’ve told me I can do it myself, but with 4k book records, I’ll pass, thanks.)

The covers of a series you love do not match, how do you cope?

Actually, this is another thing I’ve tried to let go of. If I’m collecting a series because I already know and love it, I’ll go to some lengths to get matching covers, but mostly I have books to enjoy and not to obsess over how they look. Uniformity pleases me, but I’m not unduly worried.

(I have literal, as opposed to convenient “oh I’m so OCD!” obsessive-compulsive tendencies, so it’s never wise for me to let myself get caught up in something too much. Hence I’ve also broken my habits of only stopping reading after even-numbered chapters, for instance.)

Everyone and their mother loves a book that you do not. Who do you bond with over your shared feelings?

I mostly don’t care. If it’s abjectly stupid about Arthuriana or Wales in general, I might DM Lynn O’Connacht, or rant about it to my twitter following. My mother comes in for some texts of outrage, as well, especially if the book is pop-science. Otherwise, my wife is the usual suspect; I have referred to her as my “auxiliary processing unit”, and that holds for literature as much as anything else.

You’re reading a book in public and you’re about to start crying. How do you deal?

I’m not sure this has ever happened to me. I’ve only just learned to cry again after medication for anxiety and depression evened me out so much I couldn’t, though. I’d probably just power through it and ignore my eyes stinging.

The sequel to a book you loved just came out but you’ve forgotten a lot of what happens. Are you going to reread it?

Yep! I love rereading, and will sometimes reread the first book of a series many many times if the series goes on a long time. This doesn’t bother me; if I’m sticking with the series, I probably really like it.

If it’s the sequel to a book I just liked, then I may actually never read it because I don’t want to spare the time to reread the first. I’m not a “plunge in and hope I remember” type.

You do not want anyone to borrow your books, how do you politely say no when someone asks?

I don’t. I am very bad at saying no. Hence my mother still has my original copy of Kerry Greenwood’s Blood and Circuses after two or three years, and I’ve simply ended up replacing it! My mother and I have a serious disagreement about the creasing of book spines, so I try to get her the ebook instead when I can.

You have picked up and put down 5 books in the last month. How do you get over this reading slump?

I probably read The Goblin Emperor or Strange Practice, or pick up a non-fiction read to clear my palate. Or sometimes I just ride out the slump and wait for my mojo to come back. Nobody’s paying me to read, it’s not my job.

There are so many books coming out that you are dying to read, how many do you end up buying?

However many my budget allows. That can be a lot; I know myself well and allocate a good chunk of each month’s budget to books.

After you purchase all of these books that you’re dying to read how long do they sit on your shelves before you get to them?

It can be years. There are some books that have been on the TBR since 2011. I actually just did a massive clear-out, and am trying to adhere a bit more to one of Marie Kondo’s statements about books: “For books, timing is everything. The moment you first encounter a particular book is the right time to read it.”

Obviously I don’t follow through to the end of the quote, which recommends curating a very small book collection — mine is 300+ books now, even after a massive cull. But lately I’m trying to engage that when it comes to new books, and prioritise them so I can capture the spark of interest that made me buy it in the first place.

Alrighty. Who’s surprised by any of this? Interested to know if I defy any expectations! Or maybe I’m an open book…

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Weekly Roundup

Posted February 22, 2020 by Nikki in General / 4 Comments

Welllll, that was an anxiety-inducing game and a very disappointing outcome. If any of you visiting here are French and follow rugby… let’s not talk about it.

Anyway, it’s been a quiet week around here, but I got some new books!

Books acquired:

Cover of When the Dogs Don't Bark by Angela Gallop Cover of The Great Pretender by Susannah Cahalan Cover of The Five by Hallie Rubenhold

Reviewed this week:

Small Robots, by Thomas Heasman-Hunt. Just delightful. 5/5 stars
Heartstopper vol. 3, by Alice Oseman. Adorable as ever, though not pure fluff; the boys have a lot to deal with. 5/5 stars
One Corpse Too Many, by Ellis Peters. Love the historical setting and the way it shapes the mystery; loved a character I did not expect to love. 4/5 stars
When the Dogs Don’t Bark, by Angela Gallop. Interesting, though a bit unfocused. 3/5 stars

Other posts:

WWW Wednesday. This week I talked about E.C.R. Lorac’s Fell Murder, Angela Gallop’s When the Dogs Don’t Bark, Brother Cadfael, and Susannah Cahalan’s new book.

What’s everyone been reading?

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WWW Wednesday

Posted February 19, 2020 by Nikki in General / 0 Comments

The three ‘W’s are what are you reading now, what have you recently finished reading, and what are you going to read next, and you can find this week’s post at the host’s blog here if you want to check out other posts.

Cover of Fell Murder by E.C.R. LoracWhat are you currently reading?

Fiction: Fell Murder, by E.C.R. Lorac. Normally I quite like Lorac’s books, as far as I’ve experienced them from the British Library Crime Classics reissues, and this one is appealing in several ways. My brain just isn’t doing fiction right now.

Non-fiction: When The Dogs Don’t Bark, by Professor Angela Gallop. It’s kind of bitty and disorganised, though roughly chronological through her career. I’m finding it interesting, but wouldn’t say I recommend it, because it’s pretty shallow and in some ways repetitive.

Cover of One Corpse Too Many by Ellis PetersWhat have you recently finished?

The second Brother Cadfael book, which was a reread. I don’t think I’ve read the third book, so it’s all-new territory from here. I think. I do enjoy the historical setting of it, the fact that it could only be set exactly when it is. I don’t know how accurate the portrayal of anybody real might be, but it worked for my level of knowledge.

Cover of The Great Pretender by Susannah CahalanWhat will you be reading next?

I don’t know, but I picked up Susannah Cahalan’s new book this week, so that’s a possibility. The Great Pretender is about a famous study of psychiatric wards by a guy called Rosenhan, which portrayed the wards as a place where perfectly sane people sounded mad. Cahalan was curious about how the study participants felt about it, but found that she couldn’t find them… and eventually concluded they may not have existed. A lot of people on Litsy seem to hate it, which gives me pause; I guess it depends on how she presents the relevance of this study now, for me.

What are you currently reading?

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Weekly Roundup

Posted February 15, 2020 by Nikki in General / 2 Comments

G’day, folks! This has been a much quieter reading week, but that’s also fine. I’ve been busy with work and with playing video games, and that’s fine. I’m still working on not criticising myself when I feel less like reading — it’s not like yelling at myself makes me read more, it just makes me unhappy.

Books acquired:

Cover of Heartstopper volume 3 by Alice Oseman Cover of Small Robots by Thomas Heasman-Hunt

Books read this week:

Cover of Sword of Destiny by Andrzej Sapkowski Cover of Gilded Cage by KJ Charles Cover of That Could Be Enough by Alyssa Cole Cover of Heartstopper volume 3 by Alice Oseman

Reviews posted this week:

Sword of Destiny, by Andrzej Sapkowski. I didn’t think this was as good as The Last Wish; it’s more a collection of stories in the world, though it does sort of move towards setting up the novels. 3/5 stars
Gilded Cage, by K.J. Charles. I wasn’t convinced I was going to enjoy this because I didn’t love Templeton Lane, but I trust Charles and she didn’t steer me wrong. 4/5 stars
That Could Be Enough, by Alyssa Cole. I didn’t really believe in the relationship here. It was okay because it’s so short, but more and I might’ve given up. 3/5 stars

Other posts:

WWW Wednesday. The usual weekly check-in, mostly about a book about Byzantium, one of E.C.R. Lorac’s British Library Crime Classics, and K.J. Charles.

Out and about:

NEAT science: ‘All about that base. A friend asked me to explain why humans have butts. I had a go.

And that’s it! How’s everyone doing?

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WWW Wednesday

Posted February 12, 2020 by Nikki in General / 4 Comments

The three ‘W’s are what are you reading now, what have you recently finished reading, and what are you going to read next, and you can find this week’s post at the host’s blog here if you want to check out other posts. This week’s check-in is here!

Cover of Fell Murder by E.C.R. LoracWhat are you currently reading?

Non-fiction: Michael Angold’s Byzantium: The Bridge from Antiquity to the Middle Ages, which is kind of slow and not really capturing my imagination. Ever since I read Guy Gavriel Kay’s Sailing to Sarantium, I’ve wanted a really good book on Byzantium, but I’ve never really found one that hits the right note for me. I guess I need one that’s heavily about the reign of Justinian I…?

Fiction: E.C.R. Lorac’s Fell Murder. I’m not very far into it, but it has a really strong sense of place already, and a rather likeable arrangement of characters — even the crotchety old guy is actually rather honourable and decent, in his own way.

Cover of Gilded Cage by KJ CharlesWhat have you recently finished reading?

The last thing I finished was K.J. Charles’ Gilded Cage; I wasn’t sold on Templeton as a hero, but she made it work. Which is not surprising — even when it takes me a while to warm up (as with Jackdaws), Charles always delivers a solid story and twists me round her little finger as far as characters go.

Cover of The Voodoo Killings by Kristi CharishWhat will you be reading next?

Insert shrug emoji here! I don’t really have a queue right this second. I have a list of books I “should” read soon that’s as long as my arm, which makes the list kind of pointless. I just asked the oracle (aka held up one of the bunnies) and maybe it will be The Voodoo Killings (Kristi Charish) or Exhalation (Ted Chiang)…

Or maybe not. Who knows.

What are you currently reading?

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Weekly Roundup

Posted February 8, 2020 by Nikki in General / 12 Comments

Happy Saturday! I’m less happy this Saturday because of Wales’ loss to Ireland (there go our Triple Crown/Grand Slam hopes!), but I’ll live. At least it’s been a good reading week!

Books acquired:

Cover of The Edge of the Abyss by Emily Skrutskie Cover of Moontangled by Stephanie Burgis Cover of Deal with the Devil by Kit Rocha

Books read:

Cover of Murder on the Ballarat Train by Kerry Greenwood Cover of Surfeit of Suspects by George Bellairs Cover of The Abyss Surrounds Us by Emily Skrutskie Cover of West Nile Story by Dickson Despommier

Cover of The Edge of the Abyss by Emily Skrutskie Cover of Moontangled by Stephanie Burgis Cover of Death at Victoria Dock by Kerry Greenwood Cover of A Morbid Taste for Bones by Ellis Peters

Reviews posted:

Flying too High, by Kerry Greenwood. The second book of the series, with the usual acts of derring-do by our all but flawless heroine. 4/5 stars
Murder on the Ballarat Train, by Kerry Greenwood. The third book! More of the usual fare, with a delightful found-family building itself up. 4/5 stars
Surfeit of Suspects, by George Bellairs. Typical of the Golden Age crime stories, but I found it satisfying all the same. 4/5 stars
The Abyss Surrounds Us, by Emily Skrutskie. Interesting relationships and yay, kaiju! But a bit thin in terms of the development; I didn’t always believe how quickly characters got to certain mindsets. 3/5 stars
West Nile Story, by Dickson Despommier. A nice companion to having listened to This Week in Virology’s episode on West Nile virus. 3/5 stars
The Edge of the Abyss, by Emily Skrutskie. Wraps up the story well, and keeps the pleasing ambiguities in the relationships/characters. 3/5 stars
Moontangled, by Stephanie Burgis. The kind of misunderstanding in relationships that happens in this book drives me nuts, but it’s a sweet story all the same. 3/5 stars
Death at Victoria Dock, by Kerry Greenwood. Again, solid and entertaining, and a quick read. 4/5 stars
A Morbid Taste for Bones, by Ellis Peters. I forgot quite how this resolved, so it was good to reread it. Still very enjoyable! 4/5 stars

Other posts:

WWW Wednesday. Discussing the latest I’m reading, as usual; this week featuring Kerry Greenwood, Stephanie Burgis and Andrzej Sapkowski.

Out and about:

NEAT science: Spillover: Avenues for Zoonotic Disease.‘ Why is a Chinese food market the perfect spillover point for all kinds of animal diseases? I’ve tried to explain!
NEAT science: ‘Featured in New Scientist! (Sort of.)I answered another reader’s question in New Scientist and it got printed!

How’re you doing? What’s been stacking your shelves?

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WWW Wednesday

Posted February 5, 2020 by Nikki in General / 2 Comments

The three ‘W’s are what are you reading now, what have you recently finished reading, and what are you going to read next, and you can find this week’s post at the host’s blog here if you want to check out other posts. This week’s check-in is here!

Cover of Death at Victoria Dock by Kerry GreenwoodWhat are you currently reading?

I’m trying to only have one or two books on the go at the moment, so I’m only actively reading Death at Victoria Dock, the fourth Miss Fisher mystery by Kerry Greenwood. It’s pure comfort-reading for me — they read so fast, and Phryne’s so fun. I’ll probably take a break after this, but we’ll see: I’m trying not to be too prescriptive in my reading, so if I read them all in one fell swoop, well, that’s what I wanted to read and that’s good.

Cover of Moontangled by Stephanie BurgisWhat have you recently finished reading?

I got the new Harwood Spellbook novella by Stephanie Burgis from Netgalley this morning, and proceeded to read it in one fell swoop. It’s cute; I need to write my review properly, and that’ll probably be up soon, so… keep an eye open if you’re interested!

Cover of Sword of Destiny by Andrzej SapkowskiWhat will you be reading next?

I just picked up Sword of Destiny, by Andrzej Sapkowski, so the chances are high that I’ll jump into that soon. Looks a little longer than the previous book, so maybe I won’t read it all in one fell swoop… but maybe I will, who knows. I didn’t pick up the next book, which I think is the first proper novel in the chronology, as I’m trying to be conservative and only buy books I’d like to read right away. But I can easily pick it up once I feel like reading it!

What are you currently reading?

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Weekly Roundup

Posted February 1, 2020 by Nikki in General / 4 Comments

Aahh, it’s the weekend again!

Of course, this week was not wonderful: against my will, I have been stripped of my European citizenship. It is really difficult seeing other bloggers rejoicing about it, and really hard to keep those feelings from affecting my interactions with those bloggers. In case you’re wondering, my wife is currently allowed to stay, but she does not have settled status (and no, us being married doesn’t make the tiniest bit of difference at any stage in this process).

Still, the week has had its upsides: this week was the start of the Six Nations! I hope you’re all cheering for Wales with me… You must’ve been, since we pasted Italy! And my wife bought me a present: a triceratops footstool! Now I never thought about it that much, but my preferred reading posture is actually sitting up, with my feet on something to bring my knees closer to my chest. I can credit Matilda (after Robot Wars’ house robot) with some very comfy reading sessions this week.

Photo of a triceratops-shaped footstool

Isn’t she great?

Books read this week:

Cover of Because Internet by Gretchen McCulloch Cover of The Last Wish by Andrzej Sapkowski Cover of The Luck of the Vails by E.F. Benson Cover of Miss Phryne Fisher Investigates by Kerry Greenwood Cover of Flying Too High by Kerry Greenwood

Reviews posted this week:

Bloodlust & Bonnets, by Emily McGovern. It had its moments, but I wasn’t a big fan of the quirkiness-by-way-of-randomness. 2/5 stars
Because Internet, by Gretchen McCulloch. I really enjoyed this, but it might not be for you if you find language change horrifying. McCulloch is just fascinating by  the changes, not prescriptivist in outlook. 4/5 stars
The Last Wish, by Andrzej Sapkowski. I read this all in one fell swoop! In retrospect I have more hesitations, but I’m intrigued enough to pick up the next book. 3/5 stars
The Luck of the Vails, by E.F. Benson. Atmospheric and a little surprising in the way it deals with the characters, though ultimately I can’t say it’ll particularly stick in my mind. 3/5 stars
Miss Phryne Fisher Investigates, by Kerry Greenwood. Phryne’s too good to be true, but that’s half the fun, watching her swan around in the most beautiful fashions waving a gun around. It was a lovely reread. 4/5 stars

Other posts:

WWW Wednesday. In which I mostly discussed The Luck of the Vails and The Last Wish.

Out and about:

NEAT science: What is R0? A hopefully reassuring explanation of the supposedly terrifying R0 of the novel coronavirus first found in Wuhan, China. This was written at the start of the week, so there have been more scientific papers since that might have changed the landscape, but it’s mostly still relevant.

That’s it for this week. How’s everyone been doing?

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WWW Wednesday

Posted January 29, 2020 by Nikki in General / 9 Comments

The three ‘W’s are what are you reading now, what have you recently finished reading, and what are you going to read next, and you can find this week’s post at the host’s blog here if you want to check out other posts. This week’s check-in is here!

Cover of The Luck of the Vails by E.F. BensonWhat are you currently reading?

I’m partway through The Luck of the Vails, by E.F. Benson, which is fairly typical for the era, and rather full of over-described scenery. I am interested in what’s going to actually happen, though from about the halfway point it’s fairly obvious where things are going to go. It’s kind of a shame, because I rather enjoyed the generalised sense of menace… but it’s a mystery story, after all, not SF, so of course it’s trundling slowly toward the reveal.

Cover of The Last Wish by Andrzej SapkowskiWhat have you recently finished reading?

The last thing I finished was The Last Wish, by Andrzej Sapkowski. I’ve reviewed it already, so I won’t say too much; suffice it to say that I enjoyed it and would quite like to pick up the rest of the series. I read it surprisingly fast, and… I don’t know, something about the covers had led me to expect something more tropey and less subtle.

Cover of A Conspiracy of Truths by Alexandra RowlandWhat will you be reading next?

Possibly I’ll reread Band Sinister, by K.J. Charles, because I do love it so and I just persuaded my wife to read it. Otherwise I might pick up one of the books I’ve had backburnered for a while and figure out if I want to finish it; A Conspiracy of Truths by Alexandra Rowland, probably, or Heartstone, by Elle Katharine White. I didn’t drop either because I wasn’t interested, I just had a lot going on. I might start Heartstone over, though; it really has been ages.

What about you? What’re you reading?

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Weekly Roundup

Posted January 26, 2020 by Nikki in General / 0 Comments

I didn’t manage this last week, did I? Whoops. Still, there have been no books entering the Bibliophibian compound — and a lot exiting it; stand by for a post nattering about how I chose what to cull and why I think Marie Kondo has some really good ideas.

Here’s what I’ve been reading since my last roundup:

Cover of Biased by Jennifer Eberhardt Cover of Captain Ingram's Inheritance by Carola Dunn Cover of Jackdaw by K.J. Charles Cover of Come Tumbling Down by Seanan McGuire Cover of Bloodlust & Bonnets by Emily McGovern

Reviews posted since the last roundup:

Flight of Magpies, by K.J. Charles. The end of Stephen and Lucien’s story, and it doesn’t skimp on the drama or the HEA. 4/5 stars
Biased: The New Science of Race and Inequality, by Jennifer Eberhardt. It’s very interesting, though relies a lot on anecdote rather than science. 4/5 stars
Captain Ingram’s Inheritance, by Carola Dunn. I worried about the plot, but it did actually turn out okay, and they are very sweet. 4/5 stars
Upright Women Wanted, by Sarah Gailey. It was fun, but I was more interested in other characters than the main ones. 3/5 stars
Jackdaw, by K.J. Charles. I warmed to the characters in the end, but it took me a while to really like either of them. It’s grimmer than the main series in being more realistic about the morals of the time. 3/5 stars
Come Tumbling Down, by Seanan McGuire. As a quick read, I enjoyed it, but the more I think about the portrayal of OCD and the particular outlook on OCD of the characters, the less happy I am. (Yes, I know Seanan McGuire is #ownvoices when it comes to OCD; so am I.) 2/5 stars

Other posts:

The Finished Books Tag. What do I do when I’ve finished a book? Well…
WWW Wednesday. This week I talked about Because Internet by Gretchen McCulloch, and Seanan McGuire’s Come Tumbling Down.

That’s it for now! Maybe next week I’ll get this post out on time. I can dream, eh?

So what’ve you been stacking and unstacking? Any new favourites this past week or so? Let me know in the comments!

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