Tag: reading meme

#ReaderProblems Tag

Posted February 24, 2020 by Nicky in General / 2 Comments

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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The Finished Books Tag

Posted January 22, 2020 by Nicky in General / 10 Comments

Stolen shamelessly from imyril, who won’t mind.

Do you keep a list of the books you have read?

At least two lists, heh. I track all my reads both in a spreadsheet adapted from Reader Voracious, and also in my Game of Books spreadsheet. I used to have a post on LJ (like imyril! I wonder if we ever crossed paths back on there!), but I’ve stopped having a list like that because — like many of my listing and recording habits — it was actually counterproductive. I’d be finishing books just to add to the list. Blech.

If you record statistics, what statistics do you record?

I track the points in Game of Books, and then track title, author, date started/date finished, genre, source (i.e. either year bought or whether it’s an ARC, library book, etc) and page count, in my big stats spreadsheet. I currently have ‘audience’ as well (adult, new adult, young adult, etc), but it’s just not a useful/interesting thing to track for me, so I’m nixing that. Not sure if I’ll replace it with anything… if I did, I could add a nice new table in its place on the spreadsheet.

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?

Yep! I use basically the Goodreads scale:

* – Didn’t like it
** – It was okay
*** – Liked it
**** – Really liked it
***** – It was amazing

I don’t see the point in having gradations of ratings for disliked books, so it skews to the positive end. I try to be really selective about my five-star books, so people can be sure I really, really mean it when I rate a book five stars. Even a three-star review isn’t bad from me, and even a two-star will have had good points, though I admit that if I were an author I wouldn’t enjoy it either.

I do rate on enjoyment rather than on technical merit, though technical merit is of course part of what will help me to enjoy a book. Still, if I found a reading experience really grating, even if the book was technically amazing or the plot was super innovative, nah, that’s still a one/two-star book. I have been told people expect “better” of me given that I have an MA in literature, but I refuse to budge. You want to know if I liked books, not if I thought they were objectively good. Objectivity isn’t really that helpful in deciding what to read.

Do you review books?

Yep! Everything I read. I’ve got into a habit of writing longer-form reviews here than I used to on Goodreads, because they look so pointless if they’re short! I always tend to brevity, though: I can’t believe the length of other people’s reviews, when mine already feel padded sometimes!

Where do you put your finished books?

If I’m keeping it, then back on the shelf. If I didn’t love it enough that I’ll want to reread it one day, it goes in a bag to be taken to a charity shop, donation bin, or our knit and natter group (depending on whether it’ll be interesting to them).

How do you pick your next book?

I go through phases. Sometimes I have really strict lists of what to read in a given month, what to read in time to review it, etc. I’ve significantly softened on that of late, and in fact this year I am trying to go completely on a whim. Someone quoted Marie Kondo to me when I was talking about how I struggle with my enormous TBR. I know some people really hate her rules, and I’ve been fairly lax with them myself in my great big cull, but there’s a lot of wisdom there too. I should probably do a whole post about what I did and didn’t adhere to when I’m completely done with re-organising, but here’s the one I’m really trying to keep in mind:

“For books, timing is everything. The moment you first encounter a particular book is the right time to read it. To avoid missing that moment, I recommend that you keep your collection small.”

So when folks talk about a book they really love, and it sounds like something I want to read right now… fuck it, I’m buying a copy (assuming it’s in-budget) and going for it. I did that with Sisters of the Vast Black due to imyril’s Litsy comments about it, and it was very worth it.

My book collection isn’t small, but it’s smaller than it was two weeks ago, and I’m trying to let my whims speak here with what I read of what’s left. I think having “obligations” about reading was really artificial, and also really stifling.

Do you have any other rituals for when you have finished a book?

I update my stat posts and write my Litsy review as soon as possible (and usually my blog review too) so it’s still fresh in my mind when I rate it and talk about it, but otherwise, no. I really try not to be precious about this kind of thing. I think it’s fair to say that I literally have OCD (though my anxiety in general is under pretty good control at the moment, it is always under control and not gone), so any kind of ritual behaviour that doesn’t serve a purpose is worth avoiding, for me.

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Behind the Screen Tag

Posted March 1, 2018 by Nicky in General / 2 Comments

This book tag was originally from here, and when I saw it on Chuckles’ blog, I had to nab it. If you want to do it too, consider yourself tagged.

1) When did you start blogging and what was your first review?

Soon after I visited Angry Robot for the day, so back in 2013! My first review posted here was Captain Marvel: In Pursuit of Flight, though I’d been writing reviews on Goodreads for a long time before that.

2) Who/What inspired you to start blogging?

Leah at Uncorked Thoughts! She was interning with Angry Robot at the time I visited, and she urged me to get a blog. She also urged me to read Laura Lam’s Pantomime, which I was a lot slower about… Sorry!

3) What is a blog related goal that you have?

I just want to enjoy it. I don’t really care how many people visit (though it can be nice to know people appreciate my reviews). Maybe I should make a goal of finishing all the books on my TBR and getting the reviews up on here…

4) What is the one thing that you wish someone told you about blogging?

You’ll get dozens of comments on the most throwaway posts, and absolutely nothing on posts you spend hours on.

5) What is your biggest blog-related accomplishment?

I’m still updating it after four and change years?

6) What types of posts do you enjoy writing?

Sometimes, all my posts feel like a slog. But when I’m in the right mood, I like doing all of them.

7) Where do you usually blog? What does your set up look like?

Wherever I can set up my laptop, really. Generally I have it on a fold-up desk and sit in my armchair, since I don’t have a proper desk here.

8) What was your last 5 star read?

My reread of Kushiel’s Dart, I expect.

9) What was your last 1 star read?

None yet in 2018! May it remain that way.

10) What are three words that make you pick up a book?

Queer, mythology, magic. Combine all three and I am there.

11) What is your Hogwarts House?

I… uh, I don’t like Harry Potter much, actually. But Ravenclaw/Gryffindor, depending on the test/my mood/time of day/phase of the moon.

12) What is your favourite reading environment?

Anywhere! I like reading in bed with a hot water bottle under my back, though. You know it’s a good book when I find I’ve burnt myself the next day… Other than that, I also like reading on trains; it just feels like a nice insulated environment set apart from all the stuff I have to do.

13) What advice would you give to new bloggers?

Don’t do it for fame and fortune. You won’t get either, and in fact you’ll barely make anything even if you have affiliate links (and ads just tend to annoy people). Do it because you love books and want to connect with others who also love books… or don’t bother, because it’ll only be disappointing.



What are you reading Wednesday

Posted April 26, 2017 by Nicky in General / 0 Comments

What have you recently finished reading?

I think the last book I finished was Sleeping Giants by Sylvain Neuvel. I had a couple of reservations about the format, but I found the whole thing just so compulsively readable. I made my wife start reading it too, and she raced on and finished the second book too. (And is now cursing me because there’s no more.)

What are you currently reading?

Actively, The Bone Palace by Amanda Downum and Waking Gods by Sylvain Neuvel. The latter is fascinating for the same reasons as the first book; the former is awesome because Savedra completely rocks and so, on a second reading, does Ashlin. And the whole complex sexuality and gender stuff going on. I do find myself wondering a little bit about how appropriative the use of the term hijra is, but I do enjoy the book.

What will you read next?

I’m thinking of rereading American Gods (because of the tv show) or Ancillary Justice (just because), but I don’t know for sure yet. I might read Strange the Dreamer, since I finally have my hands on it. Or I should be reading Assassin’s Apprentice again, for a book club.

So many choices! Luckily, the 24-hour readathon this weekend should help me get some reading done. (Even if I hardly ever actually do the whole 24 hours.)

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What are you reading Wednesday

Posted April 20, 2017 by Nicky in General / 0 Comments

It’s funny how Wednesday keeps falling on a Thursday, isn’t it?

Cover of The Dispatcher by John ScalziWhat have you recently finished reading?

Most recently was John Scalzi’s novella, The Dispatcher. A good quick read — it takes an interesting ‘what if’ and then generates a mystery story around it. It’s kind of fantasy, in that the reason behind the what if isn’t explored, but kind of speculative fiction/sci-fi in the way it extrapolates the effects on society. This is why I just prefer to call everything SF/F and cover all my bases.

What are you currently reading? 

Judith Herrin’s Byzantium: The Surprising Life of a Medieval Empire. It is not remotely surprising to me, all things considered, but I am finding it interesting. Mostly it is making me want to reread Gillian Bradshaw’s The Bearkeeper’s Daughter and Guy Gavriel Kay’s Sailing to Sarantium. Mostly the latter, since I recentlyCover of Sailing to Sarantium by Guy Gavriel Kay reread The Lions of Al-Rassan.

What will you read next?

I’m partway through a reread of Amanda Downum’s The Bone Palace, and after that I want to finally read the next book, Kingdoms of Dust. After that, I’m not sure; I should tackle something on my started-but-not-finished pile, so possibly Christopher Moore’s Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff. Or I could just follow my whim and reread Sailing to Sarantium. I also have some books out of the library, and I should particularly try and make progress with G.R.R. Martin and Gardner Dozois’ Dangerous Women anthology.

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What are you reading Wednesday

Posted April 13, 2017 by Nicky in General / 0 Comments

Ssh. It’s not Thursday yet. I’m in a magical bubble of time dilation, or something.

Cover of The Lions of Al-Rassan by Guy Gavriel KayWhat have you recently finished reading?

Juuuust finished my reread of Guy Gavriel Kay’s The Lions of Al-Rassan. My heart is broken, of course; he writes brilliantly, and the ending is so tragic and bittersweet. And ugh, I wish Rodrigo and Ammar could just… walk away, and not fight each other. It’s inevitable that they do, and that’s part of the heartbreak, but. Gah.

Cover of New Scientist: Where the Universe Came FromWhat are you currently reading?

With the usual caveat that I’m technically currently reading a lot of things, the top of my pile right now is The Collapsing Empire, by John Scalzi. I had an ARC, but I saw a published copy in the local bookshop and grabbed it. Couldn’t resist. And now I’ve finally started it!

What will you read next?

I’m fairly confident, for some reason, that on Thursday morning I will start reading New Scientist’s Instant Expert: Where the Universe Came From. Because I haven’t been bending my brain with relativity enough already. Possibly this has something to do with how I can time travel so I’m still in Wednesday as I write this…

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What are you reading Wednesday

Posted March 29, 2017 by Nicky in General / 4 Comments

Cover of Other Minds by Peter Godfrey-SmithWhat have you recently finished reading?

I read Other Minds: The Octopus, the Sea, and the Deep Origins of Consciousness by Peter Godfrey-Smith on the Eurostar yesterday, and thoroughly enjoyed it. It makes me really tempted to get some diving experience so I can meet octopi and cuttlefish, though I’m very surprised to learn that they actually tend to live only two years. When he was talking about meeting friendly individuals, I was imagining being able to revisit the same cuttlefish throughout something closer to the same lifespan…Cover of After Atlas by Emma Newman

What are you currently reading?

A lot of things. The next book I’m going to focus on finishing is After Atlas, by Emma Newman; I also recently picked up Samuel Delany’s Nova, Christopher Moore’s Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff and Ben Peek’s The Godless — all of which are fascinating, but I should really try and focus on one at a time.

What will you read next?

Probably I’ll get on with finishing The Godless and then turn to Britain After Rome to finish that, but maybe dual-wield it with Lamb for a lighter touch!

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What are you reading Wednesday

Posted March 16, 2017 by Nicky in General / 0 Comments

What have you recently finished reading?

The last two were a New Scientist collection about the human brain, which was good, and Catching Fire by Richard Wrangham. Lots of science at the moment. Catching Fire is pretty good; there’s one chapter about gender roles I want to go over again, because I was getting kind of sleepy when I read it. But overall, it was evidence-based and convincing, I think.

What are you currently reading?

I just started reading James Lovelock’s Gaia. It’s a classic, and the Gaia theory is something I’ve been vaguely aware of for a long time, so I thought I’d plunge in. Plus it’s part of OUP’s Landmark Science series, which I really want to dig into. I have a few others.

What are you planning to read next?

I’m not sure. I just got a big pile of books which ideally I need to kind of… dissipate before I go back to Belgium, so I don’t have to drag them all in my suitcase. I think I’ll finally focus on finishing Emma Newman’s Planetfall, and then I might read S. Jae Jones’ Wintersong.

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What are you reading Wednesday

Posted March 8, 2017 by Nicky in General / 9 Comments

What have you recently finished reading?

The last thing I finished reading waaaaas… Neil Oliver’s Vikings, which was interesting and kind of contradicted what I was reading in Francis Pryor’s books! More research necessary to see if the two views can be reconciled? Anyway, a pretty easy read for non-fiction, with a bit of a tendency to veer off into fictional imaginings of individual Vikings.

What are you currently reading?

Most of the books I was reading last week, because I suck. But also Britain After Rome, by Robin Fleming (also contradicts Pryor) and a reread of Every Heart A Doorway.

What are you planning to read next?

Down Among the Sticks and Bones, obviously!

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What are you reading Wednesday

Posted February 23, 2017 by Nicky in General / 4 Comments

It’s only a little late! And hey, now I’m out of assignment hell… for now.

What have you recently finished reading?

Nothing, this week! The last thing I finished was a reread of Mary Stewart’s This Rough Magic, on… Thursday? Yes, I’m suffering withdrawal symptoms. I could probably do with another Mary Stewart reread, for something familiar — This Rough Magic is a total comfort read, like all Stewart’s books for me.

What are you currently reading?

On the Origin of Species is the book I’m reading most actively. So close to finishing it! It amazes me how right Darwin managed to be, given his limited understanding of genetics. I’ve also still got my reread of The Dragonbone Chair and the ARC of The Stars Are Legion on the go.

Oh, and I also newly started After Atlas, by Emma Newman, which I was devouring before my assignment took over everything. And I was also reading Brother’s Ruin, her new novella, which I got as an ARC. I’m enjoying that, too.

What are you planning to read next?

Once I’ve finished with Darwin, I’m going to focus on finishing The Stars Are Legion, After Atlas and Brother’s Ruin. Probably in the reverse of that order. I might also fit in a comfort read like a Mary Stewart book; I’m thinking maybe My Brother Michael, or Nine Coaches Waiting. After that, I’m not sure: the possibilities are endless.

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