Fiddling With With My Reading System

So a few posts ago I mentioned this Book Riot essay about whittling down the TBR pile and said that I would tweak it a bit to fit my TBR problem, which is prioritizing library books over the books I’ve bought.  Working in a library makes it nearly impossible to avoid putting the newest books on hold as soon as they’re in the system. It’s a perk, because I’m almost always near the top of the holds lists.  But as those hold copies come in, if I’m not on top of them all the time, I can quickly be buried in new books that can’t be renewed (because others are waiting.)

Since reading that essay, I have indeed experimented with a new reading system:  two of my own purchased books for every one library book.  And it’s been working beautifully! I’ve read FOUR of my own books in about a month, which is practically unheard of for me.  (In case you were wondering, they’re John Crow’s Devil, How It All Began, A Few Green Leaves by Barbara Pym, and The Zero by Jess Walter.)51u0JxuMEWL._SX328_BO1,204,203,200_

HOWEVER.  (You sensed that was coming, right?) A few new library books sneaked up on me and arrived before I wanted them to.  And they’re much-buzzed about ones that I’m excited to read: No One is Coming to Save Us by Stephanie Powell Watts and Borne by Jeff Vandermeer.  So I am thinking that my little system is going to be coming to an end very soon. 31451186

But I do like this alternating library books with my own books thing, so I’m going to make a conscious effort to do that more, especially when I don’t have a lot of new holds coming in.  I try to make use of my library’s “Vacation Stop” system and push back holds if I’m nearing the top of the waiting list, but sometimes I forget to manage it.  All in all, for a mood reader and heavy library user like me, the “Two For One” system is too restrictive to use long-term.

So what about you?  That Vacation Stop thing is a helpful feature – do you make use of yours to manage your own library holds?  Have you ever tried a new reading system? How do you choose your next book?


Top Ten Tuesday: My Spring TBR

Hey there!  It’s Top Ten Tuesday Time again, hosted by The Broke and Bookish – they’ve been on hiatus and I haven’t participated in one for a while.  But I do so love talking about TBRs – my own and yours as well!  It’s so much fun to anticipate the things we *might* read soon.  I am not a book planner, but I know some of you follow a pretty strict schedule. I’m very moody when it comes to reading, so I may get to these this Spring – or I may not!  I intend to read them sometime, in any case, so this list is partly based on what my library holds look like, and partly random.

All We Shall Know by Donal Ryan.  I WILL read this very soon, as it’s one of my choices for 746 Books’s Reading Ireland Month.  So I plan on taking it with me to the beach next week!

Kissing the Gunner’s Daughter by Ruth Rendell.  It’s been too long since I’ve read an Inspector Wexford mystery and this is the next one on the list (I’m working my way in order, very slowly.)

51Ma6eymR0L._SX330_BO1,204,203,200_Exit West by Mohsin Hamid.  This one just sounds too good, and I’m high on my library’s hold list for it.

The Book of Unknown Americans by Cristina Henriquez.  I’m going to suggest this as one of our book group’s choices when it’s my turn to host next month – I hope they choose it!

Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance.  I have to admit, I’m not super excited to read this, but I want to at least give it a try, since it’s such a big book for our moment in time.  If any of you guys have read it, please let me know what you think.

The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl by Issa Rae.  I bought this on Kindle for $1.99 recently and it looks funny and sharp.

Whatever Happened to Interracial Love by Kathleen Collins.  Another recent super cheap Kindle find.  Short stories written by an African American woman in the 1960’s only just now published.165208

Difficult Women by Roxane Gay.  Love Roxane Gay.  More short stories.

Woman No. 17 by Edan Lepucki.  “A sinister, sexy noir about art, motherhood, and the intensity of female friendships” according to Goodreads.  I liked her first novel, California.

Happy All The Time by Laurie Colwin.  Romance and comedy of manners.

Have you read any of these?  Do you plan to?  Do you plan out your reading by month or season, or do you fly by the seat of your pants?  (And what’s up with that saying anyway?  That’s a weird one.)  What’s on your Spring TBR?



Reading Update

How’s it going, guys?  Today’s my last day at work for a week (woohoo!) since it’s my son’s fall break and I want to spend time with him.  We were supposed to be going to South Carolina on Sunday but had to cancel because of the hurricane.  I feel so badly for all who live in its path.  It’s scary stuff.  My family and I will do some fun things over the next week and we’ll try again for a beach trip in March or May of next year.  Let’s all send out some heavy prayers for the people of Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina.

9780385678414I just finished Thrice the Brinded Cat Hath Mew’d by Alan Bradley, the eighth book in his Flavia De Luce mystery series.  I have enjoyed these books up until now.  Flavia is a precocious twelve year old heroine in a small British village in the post-war period, who just happens to help solve murders.  Sadly, this one may be my last.  Not only did it unfold at a dreadfully slow pace, but the mystery wasn’t that compelling.  And the ending!  Ugh! A terrible thing happened and I think it was completely unnecessary.  Oh well.  It was a good run.

I just started reading Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Purple Hibiscus.  Only 29 pages in and it’s beautifully written so far, as I expected it would be.  It’s for my book group meeting on the 16th, which I may not attend due to a conflict.  But I’ve been meaning to read it for ages, so I’m glad to have the prompt.126381

I recently finished Hope Jahren’s excellent memoir Lab Girl. If you’re the least bit interested in nature or science, and you enjoy memoirs, I highly recommend it.  It’s not the least bit dry or overly scholarly, yet I promise you’ll never look at trees the same way again.  She’s so smart and she has such a passion for the natural world.  She really lays it out there about how challenging it is to be a scientist in America and constantly have to scrounge around for funding.  Here’s my favorite passage, where she is reflecting on her love for her only child, a son, who happens to love beating on a palm tree with whatever implement he can find.

Being a daughter was so difficult for both my mother and me; maybe our line needs to skip a generation in order to extinguish the cycle such that it cannot be repeated.  So I’ve set my heart on a granddaughter – as always, my greed for love is unreasonably premature.  Based on my projections, there’s more than a small chance that I’ll die before she’s born, particularly if our line continues to skip or bifurcate.  And perhaps this is the way it was meant to be, for me anyway.

Nevertheless, here on this sunny day, I can’t resist my temptation to put a message in a bottle: Somebody remember.  Somebody someday find my granddaughter and tell her.  Tell her about the day that one of her grandmothers sat looking out of her kitchen window with a pen in her hand.  tell her that her grandmother didn’t see the dirty dishes or the dust on the windowsill because she was busy deciding.  Tell her that in the end, she decided to go ahead and love her granddaughter several decades too early.  Tell her about the day that her grandmother sat in a sunbeam and dreamed of her to the soundtrack of a tree being flogged.

812c5592-fb87-11e5-8b45-86e4300cc57e-780x1163As a mother of an only child, a five year old boy, who also loves to beat on trees, I can share that I bawled when I read this.

I hope you all have a great weekend and that you’re reading some great books!  Have you read any of these?  Tell me what you’re currently reading or what you just finished in the comments.

Top Ten Fall TBR Books

Y’all should know by now that I can’t resist a TBR list – mine or anybody else’s.  So I had to get in on this week’s Top Ten Tuesday theme, hosted by The Broke and Bookish, which is Top Ten Books on Your Fall TBR.  My Fall TBR is the same as my Winter, Spring, and Summer TBR.  It’s just one massive Goodreads list of 500+ titles that I add to and delete from constantly.  But these are the books that I’m most likely to read before the end of 2016.

  • White is for Witching by Helen Oyeyemi.  For my first ever R.I.P. Challenge!
  • The Sundial by Shirley Jackson.  Also for the R.I.P. Challenge.  I intend to eventually read everything Shirley Jackson has written.  This will be my fourth.
  • The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead.  I am SO READY for this one.
  • The rest of Lab Girl by Hope Jahren.  I started reading this in July, got halfway through, and had to turn in back in to the library because it had holds on it.  It STILL has holds on it, but I’m reading it now and I’m confident I’ll finish it this time.
  • Thrice the Brinded Cat Hath Mew’d by Alan Bradley.  This just came in for me at the library this week.  This is a fun, light mystery series.
  • Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi.  I own it and I have heard NOTHING but good things about it.img_0325
  • Sweetbitter by Stephanie Danler.  This book has a New York City foodie setting, two things I like. Who knows, I may hate this, but I’m going to give it a try.
  • Purple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.  My book group is reading it for this month!
  • Modern Lovers by Emma Straub.  I really enjoyed her last novel, The Vacationers, and I have high hopes for this one.
  • Born to Run by Bruce Springsteen.  I am one of the biggest Boss fans you’ll ever meet. He and his music are everything to me.  I pre-ordered this the day I heard it was coming out.  My copy is heading to me through the mail as I write!

Have you read any of these?  What’s something you’ll be reading in the next couple of months?

Top Ten Tuesday: Gift Card Wishlist

Today’s Top Ten Tuesday topic, brought to you by The Broke and Bookish, is “Ten Books You’d Buy Right This Second If Someone Handed You A Fully Loaded Gift Card.”  Well, I think we can all agree that this one can practically write itself. But I bet it will be fun to see everyone’s picks.  Here are ten I’d put in my cart with no hesitation.

  • Another Brooklyn by Jacqueline Woodson.  I adored Brown Girl Dreaming.  Must read this one.27213163
  • Crossing to Safety by Wallace Stegner.  I read his Angle of Repose years ago and loved it.  I’ve been meaning to read this one for a long long time.  Two bloggers I follow have written about it and rated it lately, and this put it back on my radar.  Plus, Anne Bogel of the What Should I Read Next? podcast loves it too.
  • The Fire This Time edited by Jesmyn Ward.  I have a feeling that this book of essays on race will be one everyone should read.
  • Lady Susan, The Watsons, Sanditon by Jane Austen.  These are the only Austen works I’ve not read and I just need to do it already.
  • Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.  I have NO IDEA why I haven’t read this yet.  Ugh.  There is no excuse.
  • Life Among the Savages by Shirley Jackson.  After reading a few of Jackson’s deliciously creepy novels, I really want to read her memoir of family life, which is supposed to be funny and charming.
  • Giovanni’s Room by James Baldwin.  Trying to rectify the fact that I’ve never read any of the brilliant Baldwin’s novels. 31GD90K5XDL
  • Commonwealth by Ann Patchett.  This doesn’t come out till September but I WANT it.
  • Jazz by Toni Morrison.  Working my way through Morrison is a life goal.  This is next.
  • The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead.  I will be buying this when it comes out in September.  I love Whitehead’s range as a writer.

Well, that was fun – only now I want to get online and spend some money.  Have you read any of these titles?  What’s a book you’d buy immediately if you were given a bookstore gift card?

Top Ten Tuesday: Second Half of 2016 Most Anticipated

This week’s Top Ten Tuesday topic, hosted by The Broke and Bookish, is Top Ten Most Anticipated Releases For The Second Half Of The Year.  This was a fun list to compile!  I’m mostly a backlist, free-range reader.  But since I work at a public library, I do have access to new books as soon as my library can acquire them and put them in the system. Some of my favorite authors are coming out with books this fall, so without further ado, here’s my list!

  1. 22813605Hunger by Roxane Gay.  I’ll read anything by her, and this is about body image/weight/food issues, which is something I’ve dealt with my whole life.  It’s a no-brainer for me.  I’ll probably buy it.
  2.  A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles.  I know almost nothing about this except it’s set in Russia in the 1920s.  All I need to know is that Amor Towles wrote it.  I LOVED his first novel, Rules of Civility.  This man can write.
  3. Today Will Be Different by Maria Semple.  Semple is a funny, quirky writer and I really enjoyed Where’d You Go, Bernadette?  That’s enough for me.
  4. 28250841The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead.  Whitehead is such a fantastic writer,  and many trusted sources have said that this one is amazing.  I can’t wait.
  5. Commonwealth by Ann Patchett.  Family Saga!  Ann Patchett!  SOLD!
  6. Known and Strange Things: Essays by Teju Cole.  Having recently become a Teju Cole fan, I’m delighted to know that he’s coming out with a book of essays.
  7. Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders.  This one is not slated to come out until 2017 but this is my list, so I make the rules.  I can’t wait to see what the master of the short story does with a novel.
  8. The Mothers by Brit Bennett.  From the Goodreads blurb: “Set within a contemporary black community in Southern California, Brit Bennett’s mesmerizing first novel is an emotionally perceptive story about community, love, and ambition.” Looks good!
  9. Hag-Seed by Margaret Atwood.  Atwood’s revisioning of Shakespeare’s The Tempest.   I am so there for this.29245653._UY2250_SS2250_
  10. Talking As Fast As I Can by Lauren Graham.  I love fluffy celebrity autobiographies!  And I love Gilmore Girls!

So what books are you looking forward to in the next six months?  Go ahead, make my TBR even longer!


Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Books Recently Added to My TBR

I’ve decided to join the fun of Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.  toptentuesdayToday’s list is the top ten books most recently added to your TBR.  I personally consider my physical TBR different from my Goodreads TBR.  As I’ve mentioned, I don’t buy a ton of books.  But I DO maintain a monstrous Goodreads To-Read list!  Currently it stands as 536 titles.  I used to fret if it got over 200, but in the last year or so I’ve totally left caution to the wind.  Just because it goes on the To-Read list doesn’t mean I have to read it.  I use it basically as a reminder for myself of all the awesome books I read about and don’t want to forget.

So here are the latest things added to my Goodreads To-Read list:

  1. A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara.  I’ve waited until now to put this on the TBR because I wasn’t sure I could take it, the sadness and the heaviness.  I’m still not sure I can.  But I decided to give it a shot because it’s been (almost) universally well-reviewed.
  2. Food52 Genius Recipes: 100 Recipes That Will Change the Way You Cook.  51flSLtcG7L._SX258_BO1,204,203,200_I’m more of a baker than a cook.  Mercifully, my husband is fearless and inventive in the kitchen.  So I sometimes bring home cookbooks from the library just to look at and let him peruse for inspiration.  This one looks lovely.
  3. The 5-6-7-8 Diet by Kym Johnson.  I’m a crazy super-fan of the show Dancing With the Stars.  I will read any book that any of the show’s professional dancers write.  I saw this one was coming out while I was perusing Goodreads giveaways.  I may skim it more than actually read it, but I like her and hopefully it will have some helpful tips!
  4.  Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body by Roxane Gay.  Coming out later this year.  I loved Gay’s Bad Feminist, and any memoir exploring body image/weight issues appeals to me.
  5. The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead.  Another 2016 book.  Colson Whitehead is awesome.  ‘Nuff said.
  6. Girl Waits With Gun by Amy Stewart.   Elizabeth Gilbert gave it a great blurb, and lots of my fellow readers have marked it “to-read” or have enjoyed it.  I enjoy both historical fiction and mystery, so this one should be good.
  7.  Passenger by Alexandra Bracken.  20983362I always try to read some YA to be able to make smart recommendations to my library patrons.  I don’t always succeed.  This one looked intriguing.
  8. The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern.  I’m the last person on Earth who hasn’t read this, I think.
  9. My Life On the Road by Gloria Steinem.  I read a glowing review of this from Ann Patchett’s blog on the Parnassus Books website.  Good enough for me.
  10. This Too Shall Pass by Milena Busquets.  A Goodreads friend of mine said, “Holy sh*t.  Read this one ASAP.”  The description says, “A fresh, honest, and ruefully funny story about love, sex, marriage, grief, friendship and parenthood, THIS TOO SHALL PASS is an irresistible novel that is fast becoming an international phenomenon.” Sounded promising.


Of course, I won’t be getting to any of these titles in the next three months, not until the conclusion of the TBR Triple Dog Dare Challenge.  But they’ll be waiting for me in April (or May, or next year…)  Or maybe I’ll decide that I don’t actually want to read them after all. That’s the beauty of the virtual TBR! So what have you added or acquired recently?  Have you read any of the books on my list?