Light Bulb Moments (Bookish Edition)

Two things I’ve recently realized:

  1. I can’t put down The Count of Monte Cristo for any length of time and expect to pick it back up again with a good memory of what I’d read before. And…
  2. I’ve got to quit getting new books on hold at the library if I want to read all the books on my TBR list that I say I want to read.

So I’ve delved back into my gigantic Dumas classic, after letting it sit on my shelf for most of March. I’ve already made some good progress – I’m now at 70% complete! That Count is quite the master of disguises. I feel like Villefort is juuuusssttt about to figure it all out but he’s not quite there yet. It’s still a wonderful, entertaining read. I just have to maintain my momentum and not let it sit for too long. Then it becomes too easy to not pick it back up again.

Also, I’ve used the “vacation stop” function on my library holds and pushed them all back until next month so that I can focus on what I’ve got checked out now and what I’m reading from my own shelf. I was getting inundated with holds and could feel the others looming.

I was going through my Goodreads TBR list, which I do from time to time to assess whether or not I really want to still read these things. And I kept thinking, Oh I really want to read that! Why haven’t I read that yet? You know why? NEW BOOKS. Shiny new books that keep coming out every week and sound so amazing and I have to get on the holds list right now! Perhaps as my holds stop date gets closer I’ll extend it further. I really want to make a dent in my TBR list, which at the moment is 363 books.

What am I reading now?

 

My Sister the Serial Killer is SOOOO compelling. I just started Notes of a Native Son and so far it’s wonderful. It’s my choice for April’s Instagram #Unreadshelfproject2019. The prompt this month is to read the latest book you’ve acquired. I’ve only read three stories in the Gallant collection but I will finish it by the end of the month.

Have you had any bookish light bulb moments lately?

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Sunshine Blogger Award Tag

img_0334Back in January Shell at Books By The Cup nominated me (and others) for the Sunshine Blogger Award, and now I finally have a chance to answer her excellent questions. The award is given from one blogger “to those who are creative, positive, and inspiring, while spreading sunshine to the blogging community.” Thanks for thinking of me, Shell!

What’s the best book you’ve read in the last 6 months and why?

The Sun Does Shine by Anthony Ray Hinton, because he blew me away with his strength, forgiveness, and positivity in the face of unimaginable oppression.

What’s the worst book you’ve read and why?

I suppose this is in the last 6 months, not all time (which would be Billy Budd by Herman Melville because it pissed me off so badly when I had to read it in the 10th grade.) Hmmm… this is hard to answer because I don’t finish books I don’t really like. I did not care for Cork Dork by Bianca Bosker. That was my most recent DNF. It wasn’t the book for me, but I can see how some people would love it. It was just way too much information for me and I realized I didn’t actually care about wine to that level of detail.

What book have you read recently that’s outside your comfort zone?

51flpz8fm5lProbably A Princess in Theory by Alyssa Cole. It’s a straight-up contemporary romance with steamy sexy parts in it. I haven’t read very many of those at all. But I really enjoyed it and found it to be smart and feminist with a page-turning plot.

What has blogging taught you about yourself and others?

It continually teaches me to stop comparing myself to others! (A very valuable life lesson for me.) It’s taught me to follow my OWN path and believe in who I am right now, just as I am. It has also taught me that book people are the smartest, most encouraging and compassionate people on the internet!

What format do you read the most in?

Paper books. I do not prefer to read on screens because I am in front of a computer at work all day, and I concentrate better reading than listening.

Why is reading an important part of your life?

Why is breathing an important part of my life? 😉 Reading provides me so much: knowledge, vicarious experience, empathy, escape, joy, fun, satisfaction, excitement… it truly is the thing I geek out the most about and the pursuit I can’t imagine my life without.

How many unread books do you have?

Ha! Well, I just did a recount for the #unreadshelfproject2019, and I have 63 unread books in paper or e-book form at my house.

What book would you reread every year (if you like to reread?)

Anything by Jane Austen or Barbara Pym.

What is the most memorable bookstore or library you’ve been to?

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Toronto Public Reference Library

The Toronto Public Reference Library is so unique and HUGE!

What’s your favorite genre?

Mysteries and thrillers. I like mysteries on the more realistic side but not totally gruesome or disgusting.

What advice would you give a new blogger to improve conversation and engagement?

Find the blogs you enjoy reading the most and comment consistently on those. Don’t try to follow or comment on a million blogs. If a blogger doesn’t comment back regularly on your blog, then maybe you don’t need to expend a lot of energy on theirs in return. You will find your core group of bloggers over time, and they will bring you so much joy and good energy – and introduce you to so many interesting books!

I enjoyed answering these questions! I’m not going to tag anyone but here’s a question you can answer in the comments if you like:

What’s the book that’s been sitting on your bookshelf unread for the longest time and why haven’t you read it yet?

 

 

 

 

 

Totally Achievable Reading Goals for 2019

I was really excited to formulate my reading goals for the year. You all may know that I am a reader and blogger who dislikes sticking to lists and needs a lot of freedom in my book choices and in my blogging life. So I don’t make formal monthly TBRs because I know that just doesn’t work for me. But the goals I am aiming to achieve this year are so viable and doable – I am already getting started on them!

Goal #1: Read more books from the New Books shelf at work. I work in a small public library branch (actually, I just got a promotion, more about that later!) My regular patrons are always asking me, as they stand in front of the New Books shelf, “What have you read lately that’s good?” And of course, I immediately blank out and have to scrounge for titles. This is partly because I read so many backlist titles and also because my reading tastes don’t exactly line up with the tastes of many of my patrons. To that end, I am committing to reading at least 6 books from that range of shelving – and to trying some genres that I normally don’t read, like Inspirational (Christian) fiction, Romance, and gentle “Women’s” Fiction. (I don’t really like that genre title, and I don’t know if it’s a valid designation, but it seems to fit a certain kind of book for a certain kind of audience that makes up a large portion of my regular patrons who need recommendations. Maybe I should call it “fiction centered on women characters.” That’s kind of wordy. Anyway, you get my gist.)

41tj7urm1sl._sx323_bo1,204,203,200_Goal #2: Read The Count of Monte Cristo – finally! So I’ve already started on this one! I’m at page 100 of this 1400+ page behemoth. And guys, I’m really enjoying it! It’s so readable. My way of reading this while also reading other things is to read 100 pages a week. I’ll knock it out in a few months, and I’ll write some reader’s journal-like impressions of each section I complete.

Goal #3: Read more poetry. Last year I started off dabbling in some poetry, but I didn’t finish a whole collection the entire year. Sad face. If I can read 4 books of poetry this year, I’ll be happy.

Goal #4: Read more from my own bookshelves. Last year I did a good job of reading my own books, but I kept buying more, so my total number of unread books actually INCREASED over the course of the year. This year I am following along with The Unread Shelf Project on Instagram, where Whitney gives us prompts to get us reading our own books. This month’s is to pick a book off your shelf that you HAVE to read by the end of January or else you have to get rid of it. Motivation! My January book is Cork Dork by Bianca Bosker. I’ve started reading it and so far I like it, yay!a1ndiwiiwql

That’s it. I don’t want to make my 2019 reading feel like homework, so I’m happy with 4 goals. I am confident I can achieve them, and even if I don’t, I’ll at least have fun trying. Hey, if you have any poetry recommendations, lay them on me. I’ve checked out Cape Verdean Blues by Shauna Barbosa. I know nothing about her but Kendrick Lamar blurbed her book, which intrigued me, and it’s one of the newer poetry books added to our library system.

Do you make a list of reading goals for the year? Or do goals just seem like too much pressure? Let me know in the comments.

It’s My Blogiversary!

Four years ago tonight I decided to start Big Reading Life. I didn’t know what I wanted to do here other than write about books and hopefully connect with other passionate readers. I didn’t know if anyone would ever read my blog, let alone comment. It’s been a wonderful experience these past four years! I can’t express how much joy you all have given me simply by reading my posts and reaching out to me. It’s so fun to know I have blog friends all over the globe.

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Photo by Brooke Lark on Unsplash

At times this year I’ve wondered if I had anything left worth saying here. But I think I’ve turned the corner on that and have found my spark again! I’m excited about my reading plans and goals for the new year and can’t wait to go on bookish adventures with you all.

To everyone who has read anything I’ve written here, and especially to those that comment, thank you. Let’s keep having fun and reading good books in 2019! Happy New Year!

Some Reading Stats and Numbers for 2018

Hey friends! I hope that everyone has been having a wonderful holiday season. It’s that awesome time of the year when voracious readers like us are taking stock of what and how much we’ve read over the year. I’ll post a Top Ten Favorites soon, so this post is purely about the numbers and whether or not I completed any pre-set reading goals. (Note: I’m counting the three books I’m currently reading in my tally, as I plan to finish them before Jan 1.) My numbers come from my 2018 Goodreads Reading Challenge (which I more than doubled – I deliberately chose a low number.)

img_3346Total Books Read: 118 (This includes chapter books I’ve read with my son, otherwise the total would be lower!)

Fiction: 94

Nonfiction: 24

Chapter Books/Middle Grade/Picture Books: 42 (although I’ve not listed picture books on Goodreads, except for one, and I’ve read a GAZILLION over the course of the year with my son.)

Poetry: 0 (Really dropped the ball this year.)

Mysteries/Thrillers: 13

Romance: 2

Short Story Collections: 2

Graphic Novels/Comics: 3

Audiobooks: 7

YA: 2

Authors of Color: 24 (20% – not good! Although if I only count MY books, not my son’s, the percentage goes to 31%, a bit better. I have to say that I find kid’s books are even more white than grown-up books.)

Rereads: 8

Classics: 12

Goals Completed: You may recall I only made two small reading goals, since I don’t like to read from lists and lots of goals make reading feel like homework to me.

I completed one out of two goals: to read at least 12 of my own books from my own bookshelf! I read 22 books from my own shelf! (The rest came from the public library – either the one where I work or the one in the county in which I reside.)

I did NOT, however, complete the other goal, which was to read Alexandre Dumas’ The Count of Monte Cristo. You may be asking yourself if I really WANT to read this book after all, now that it’s been a goal of mine for two years and I haven’t read it? Well, I’m asking myself the same thing. So my solution is, since I already own a copy, I’m going to start reading it on Jan. 1. It’s so big and intimidating, I’m going to try to read just 3 or 4 chapters a week. We’ll see how I like it. I’ll keep you posted!

Other Blog Happenings This Year:

It’s been a terrific reading year. I’ve got some ideas about how I’d like to shake up my reading a little bit next year. Nothing too crazy, because I am a Mood Reader Supreme. But I’ll post about that early in the new year.

How about y’all? Did you accomplish any reading goals? Anything  in particular you want to do differently next year?

Classics Club Spin #19 Result!

I’m very late with my CC Spin result post, but better late than never. I’m excited to say that the number selected was #1, which made my book James Baldwin’s Go Tell it on the Mountain. Here’s what Goodreads tells us about this classic novel:510dFZyJmyL._SX303_BO1,204,203,200_

Go Tell It On The Mountain, first published in 1953, is Baldwin’s first major work, a semi-autobiographical novel that has established itself as an American classic. With lyrical precision, psychological directness, resonating symbolic power, and a rage that is at once unrelenting and compassionate, Baldwin chronicles a fourteen-year-old boy’s discovery of the terms of his identity as the stepson of the minister of a storefront Pentecostal church in Harlem one Saturday in March of 1935. Baldwin’s rendering of his protagonist’s spiritual, sexual, and moral struggle of self-invention opened new possibilities in the American language and in the way Americans understand themselves.

I’ve been eager to read more of Baldwin since I have read and LOVED The Fire Next Time and Giovanni’s Room. The library copy I ordered from another branch is only 291 pages, so it’s not a “chunkster” (as we were prodded to try from the Classics Club moderators) –  I feel like I got away with something, tee hee! I’m going to have to get to 9781101907610those really big books sometime, though, in the next four years.

Have you read this? Have you read any other of Baldwin’s novels or nonfiction? Have you seen the phenomenal film about him I Am Not Your Negro? (If you haven’t, you really should!)

Library Checkout, November 2018

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Library Checkout is a monthly library-use meme hosted by Rebecca at Bookish Beck. Please do visit her blog, she always reads so diversely (and in massive quantities, too!) Here is a snapshot of my library usage in November:

LIBRARY BOOKS READ:

There There – Tommy Orange ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐

The Death of Mrs. Westaway – Ruth Ware ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐

The House at Sea’s End – Elly Griffiths (Ruth Galloway mystery #3)                 ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ I am LOVING this series!

Dark Sacred Night – Michael Connelly (Harry Bosch mystery #31/Renée Ballard #2) ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ I don’t know how Connelly does it. He’s a MASTER of compelling, propulsive writing. I still care about Bosch 31 books later. I’m excited to see the new direction he’s taking now that he’s partnering with Ballard.9780062368607_p0_v3_s550x406

I Contain Multitudes: The Microbes Within Us and a Grander View of Life – Ed Yong ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐

Unsheltered – Barbara Kingsolver ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ (Review to come)

When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice For Difficult Times – Pema Chödrön ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐

CURRENTLY READING:

51LSDwIJIUL._SX327_BO1,204,203,200_The Sun Does Shine: How I Found Life and Freedom on Death Row – Anthony Ray Hinton

A Room Full of Bones (Ruth Galloway #4) – Elly Griffiths

CHECKED OUT, TO BE READ:

Dare to Lead – Brené Brown

Spy School – Stuart Gibbs (middle-grade fiction – I’ve been meaning to get back into reading MG fiction for a while now)

IN THE HOLDS QUEUE:

The Library Book – Susan Orlean

Becoming – Michelle Obama

Fox 8  – George Saunders

Gmorning, Gnight!:Little Pep Talks For Me and You – Lin-Manuel Miranda40854717

Go Tell it On the Mountain – James Baldwin (My Classics Club spin book!)

Plus, 6 more books on hold that I’ve had on hold for a while now and keep pushing back using my library system’s “suspend” function. I’m starting to wonder if I really want to read these after all! It might be time to let some of these go.

Anything from my selections look interesting to you? What have you checked out from your local library lately?