November Wrap Up

A stack of books on a wooden shelf. The stack includes Skyward, the Well of Ascension, The Hero of Ages, and Arcanum Unbounded, all by Brandon Sanderson, as well as Dear Girls by Ali Wong.

November marked the official end of my book slump! I’m still not reading at as high a volume as I would like, but I’m really enjoying everything I’m picking up. In December I’ll finish my Master’s degree, and then I plan on catching up on everything.

Star ratings:

The Well of Ascension ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

The Hero of Ages: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

The Eleventh Metal (in Arcanum Unbounded): ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Secret History (in Arcanum Unbounded): ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Dear Girls: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Skyward: ⭐⭐⭐⭐ 1/2

Four of the books I read this month were on my tbr, and one of the books I checked out from the library. Back in September, I tried to dedicate a month to just reading off my tbr and not checking out library books, and this month I almost succeeded in doing that unintentionally. I’ve been buying a lot more books recently, so hopefully I can stick with my trend of reading books I have at home. We’ll see!

Speaking of tbr, here’s my November update for the Unread Shelf Project (started by @TheUnreadShelf on Instagram).

Starting unread: 54

Books read: 2 (I’m not counting The Well of Ascension and The Hero of Ages because those were on my partner’s shelf, which isn’t really part of my tbr).

Books unhauled: 1 (I think?)

Books acquired: 13 (I have made a huge mistake).

Total unread books: 64 – According to math! However, Goodreads says 67, so I don’t really know what’s going on.

Here’s to another month of reading! Here I come, December.

Books I DNFed in 2019

The ability to put down a book I wasn’t enjoying is only something I’ve been able to accomplish in the past couple of years. I would often slog through stories I didn’t care about because I was a completionist, and I guess didn’t care that reading sometimes didn’t bring me joy. I’ve recently started recording my DNFs, and I think I might have missed a few from the beginning of the year. I’m also not counting books I bought/checked out from the library and only read a few pages of before quitting. Prepare yourselves for some spicy takes! Also, it feels weird including affiliate links for books I didn’t enjoy, so I’m not gonna do that.

Actor Ewan MacGregor throws down a piece of paper and howls in frustration.

The Bookwoman of Troublesome Creek – I discovered this audiobook when I was browsing Hoopla and thought it would be good to listen to in the car. The subject matter is definitely within my wheelhouse, but I just wasn’t into this book. Part of it might have been the accent that the narrator was using (I’m extremely picky about narrators and Southern accents). I might have kept reading this if I had picked up the print copy, but I think I just tried to read this at the wrong time. 

The Ruin of Kings – I picked this book up because of the hype I had heard from booktubers. I have a few people whose judgment I trust, but this choice let me down. I’m always looking for fantasy by women authors, which is why I was excited about this series. That’s why it was extra upsetting to me when I saw how underdeveloped the female characters were in this book. I actually have the ARC for the second book in this series, The Name of All Things, on my shelf, and I’ve heard that it’s almost a completely different story with different characters. I might give it a try and see what happens. Also, I was really intrigued by the plot of the first one – a “chosen one” story in which the character brings about destruction rather than salvation – but as I was reading it, I didn’t find a reason to care.

The Furies – I really, really wanted to like this one. I was super excited when the publisher sent it to me, and I saved it to read in October. My main issue with this book was the tone. I could not for the life of me figure out what the author was going for. Based on the book’s description, I was expecting a Pretty Little Liars type mystery but with witchcraft and feminism. The author is clearly knowledgeable about feminist theory and art history, but I only know this as a reader because the main character (who is in high school) was constantly referencing all these things that the author (a doctoral student) has apparently studied. It felt like the book was taking itself too seriously, and I couldn’t tell who the intended audience was. Also, there were so many cliches.  Admittedly, I only read the first few chapters, so the author could have done something new and interesting with all of her established tropes, but I guess I’ll never find out. 

Where the Crawdads Sing – Remember how I said I was really picky about narrators using Southern accents? Well, I’m also picky about authors writing about the South, especially if they don’t live there. Yes, I’m aware that Delia Owens spent her childhood in Georgia and frequently visited the mountains of North Carolina. Y’all know where this book is set? The coastal marshes. And she lives in Idaho now. Her depictions of the Southern landscape read like someone who is remembering it through the lens of nostalgia and did a little research about the beach to fill in the gaps. She can probably get away with it because she’s a nature writer and very good at what she does. I know a lot of people love her writing style, but it just didn’t connect with me. Also, that poetry is not good. Don’t @ me. (Actually, please do @ me, because I love talking about books.) If you’re also one of the few people who didn’t enjoy this book, you should check out the BookRiot podcast bonus episode where they discuss their feelings about this book.

If you have any similar – or very different- opinions, let me know! 

Happy reading. 

November TBR

I recently posted on my Instagram a photo of the books I’m excited to read this month. Since choosing a TBR in advance didn’t really work for me (and may have instigated my two month reading slump), I’m going back to a more relaxed method. Also, I’ve been getting discouraged lately about my perceived lack of reading progress this year. It’s been a slower year for me, so instead of looking just at numbers, I want to focus on more holistic reading goals. Plus, November is my favorite month, so I want to maximize my enjoyment of it as much as possible. 

November reading goals:

1. Finish the Mistborn trilogy. It’s so good, y’all. I also have ideas for a Mistborn inspired playlist, but I feel like I can’t really put it together until I know how the story ends. 

2. Read a new release. I don’t like feeling behind on what’s new and exciting in the world of books. I want to be part of the conversation while something is popular. It’s also not feasible for me to read every new book that I want to right away. Since I just bought Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo, this is probably going to be my new book for the month. 

4. Read at least one TBR from my shelves. This year, I’ve whittled my TBR pile down substantially, though it’s mostly been from weeding books I’m no longer interested in. I have the omnibus edition of the His Dark Materials series, and I would love to at least read The Golden Compass before I start watching the HBO adaptation (If I can make myself wait that long. It looks so good!)

3. Set aside more dedicated reading time – every day if possible. Right now, I do the majority of my reading right before bed. It’s not an issue except that I try to make up for all the reading I wanted to do earlier in the day, which means I end up staying awake later. So maybe my reading problem and my sleeping problem are interconnected.

Hopefully providing myself some flexibility will help me have a better reading month, even if I don’t finish as many books as I want to. I would love to hear from any readers who have struggled with reading slumps recently or who have trouble choosing monthly TBRs. 

Happy reading!

October wrap up

It’s been another slow reading month for me. I’ve managed to read two books, and almost finish a third (I’ll probably be done by the time the month is officially over.) For someone who set a reading goal of 100 books for the year, or roughly 8 books per month, this is flat out embarrassing. Is it possible to burn out on hobbies you love? The answer is yes.

The Final Empire, the first book in the Mistborn trilogy by Brandon Sanderson, has managed to pull me out of my book slump, but I’m still not reading at the rate I would like to be. I could blame this on a lot of things – busyness being the primary excuse – but I think I’m just tired. I set a lot of lofty goals for myself without planning out time or energy to dedicate to those goals. I wanted to make headway on my tbr, write more reviews, post more often, read and promote more ARCs, and grow my platforms on Instagram and this blog enough to feel like it’s all worth it. I don’t really have a solution for my problem yet, so if anyone has experienced this, I would be happy to hear about it. I keep telling myself that after this last semester of grad school, I’ll be able to dedicate more time to the things I love doing, and maybe that will actually be true.

For now, I’ll continue to check out library books and not read them, and I will gaze longingly at the books on my shelf I “don’t have time to read.”

October check-in

A gif of Hermione from Harry Potter looking bored. Her head is propped on her hand and people are clapping behind her.

So reading-wise, this month is not going well so far. I’ve only finished one book so far, and we’re almost halfway through this month. This whole year has been a slow reading year for me, and I’ve been getting increasingly frustrated by it. On average, I read about 100 books a year. Right now, I’m sitting at 64 completed books, which puts me 14 books behind schedule. I know a lot of people hate tracking the number of books they read and they refuse to participate in the Goodreads yearly challenges. However, I actually really like tracking my statistics. I’ve never been discouraged by progress or lack-of, but I’ve also never been this behind before. I want to find something to blame it on.

Disclaimer: Obviously I’m not saying that if you should read a certain number of books in a year. Everyone reads at their own pace, has their own goals, etc. You do you. This is a selfish post and only applies to me.

The one book I’ve finished this month is Evvie Drake Starts Over, which was surprisingly disappointing. It was marketed to me as a novel about a plus sized woman navigating life, which is not at all the case. Maybe if I had been more informed about the book’s premise, I would have enjoyed it more. It also had a lot of sportsing in it, and I’m not big on the sportsball.

I’m currently reading Uprooted by Naomi Novik, which I’m enjoying, but also somehow unmotivated to read it. I like it while I’m reading it, but it doesn’t call to me from my bedside stand. I’m also listening to Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver, which I’ve enjoyed immensely. I’ve gotten about 3/4 of the way through, and I haven’t really touched it in a few days. These are both books I really wanted to read (and still want to), but they just aren’t doing it for me right now.

If you have any tips for getting through reading slumps, please let me know! I would love to be re-inspired and finish out the month strong.

Happy reading!

September wrap up

Me telling myself to read the books on my tbr.

September was a slow reading month for me. I got stuck in a bit of a rut at the beginning of the month, and I’m blaming that on the fact that I chose my TBR for the month ahead for the first time. I started out with The Bride Test, which I’m finding to be pretty underwhelming. I still haven’t finished it, because I started reading Warbreaker by Brandon Sanderson simultaneously. Of course the book I was less interested in got pushed aside. I did pretty well with my goal of not checking out library books (the only library book I read in September was The Testaments), but I did do a book haul, and I started receiving e-galleys. Because of all this, I didn’t really get through many of the books I had set aside for myself. Oh, and that pesky grad school thing. Whatever. Here’s what I did end up reading: 

1. Manfried the Man by Caitlyn Major
This one did actually come from my TBR, but it wasn’t one of the books I had set aside for the month of September. This was a jolabokaflod book…which reminds me I still have several more of those to read before our next exchange. 

2. The Testaments by Margaret Atwood
This is my one library check out for the month, and it was totally justified because I put this on hold weeks in advance so that I could have a copy on release day. Plus, we will be discussing this in my book club in November, so I *had* to get it ASAP, right? Right. You can read my full review here

3. Imaginary Friend by Stephen Chbosky
I saw this on Netgalley and requested it because I enjoyed The Perks of Being a Wallflower, and I’ve been interested in trying the horror genre. I enjoyed this book immensely, and it has definitely convinced me to try more books like this. This was a 720-page tome, and since I had invested so much time in it, I had high hopes for the ending. Sadly, the conclusion didn’t live up to the rest of the book. I posted some more thoughts on Goodreads, so feel free to check that out. Fun fact – this comes out tomorrow (Oct. 1)!

4. Warbreaker by Brandon Sanderson

Full disclosure – at the time I’m writing this, I haven’t finished this book yet. However, I’m almost finished with it and I’m counting it for September so that I feel better about myself

I’ve been behind on my Goodreads challenge almost since the beginning of the year, but at this point it is looking pretty hopeless. Here’s hoping October is a better reading month!

September TBR

For September, I’ve decided to self-impose a ban on checking out library books. It may seem a little weird, because normally I hear from other readers about book-buying bans. I’ve actually been able to cut down drastically on my own book buying over the past couple of years, mostly because I started working at a public library. However, I realized I had a different problem on my hands when I started maxing out my hold list and returning multiple library books at a time that I hadn’t read. I like to read (mostly) new books, so instead of buying them, I was checking them out at the library. It definitely has saved me money, but I still haven’t gotten through my TBR, which also contains quite a few new/newish books that I really do want to read. So now I’m going to, at least temporarily, freeze all of my holds at the library, return any unread books, and spend the month focusing on my shelves at home. Part of my argument for prioritizing library books was that the books on my TBR shelves would “always be there.” No shit. They’ll be there because I haven’t read the things. Also, guess what, self? The library books will always be there, too. (But, oh god, what if all public libraries lose funding and get shut down and what then? As an employee I’m pretty sure I would have dibs on the books before the public, so I’m still safe.)

I also do unhauls pretty frequently and take the books I can’t bear to look at anymore to a local used bookstore where I trade them in for store credit. The thing is, I still don’t read the books I have leftover. I guess I could just trade in every single book I haven’t read and truly conquer my TBR, but that feels like a cop-out and also there are books on this shelf right in front of me that I would very much like to read please.

So here we are. I set aside six books for the month of September that I would like to get through. I probably won’t be able to do all of them because I’m starting my last semester of grad school (woohoo), and I won’t have as much free time. I did want to go ahead and pick these books because if I don’t set goals for myself, I don’t accomplish anything. I chose two ARCs, two books I have purchased within the last year, one book from a jolabokaflod exchange (look it up), and then one re-read. 

The Bride Test is a book I bought at a used bookstore just a few weekends ago. I heard good things about the first book from this author, and I try to read books that represent diversity so that I don’t accidentally become a bigot. I live in the South, y’all. Most of us were raised to be trash babies. 

The other recent purchase is Good and Mad by Rebecca Traister. I love following Traister on Twitter, and I’m big on feminist nonfiction. I bought this on a trip to Asheville back in January and never even opened it. 

I have two ARCs on my list for this month, and I don’t know much about either of them. One is Renia’s Diary, which I received from St. Martin’s Press (MacMillan).  It contains the diary of a young Jewish woman living in Poland during the Holocaust with some notes from her sister who survived. The other is Therese Anne Fowler’s newest book, The Good Neighborhood. I know even less about this one other than that my friend who recommended it to me knows me well enough to decide whether or not I would enjoy the book. I’ve read Fowler’s historical fiction before and really loved it, so I have high hopes for her new book. 

My re-read this month is Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. I was participating in a Harry Potter re-reading book club and somehow I forgot to read the last book. I don’t even remember why, but I’m almost certain it involved me trying to finish a library book so I could turn it in without getting any fines. Also, I’ve only read the series once before, so reading them again now is great because I remember almost nothing from the first time around. Everything is a surprise!

Anyway, here’s hoping I make some progress. Follow me on Instagram and Goodreads to see how it goes, and let me know what you’ll be reading this month!

Happy reading.