Where I’m At: December 2015

I want to try a new thing for me.  I’ve seen these sorts of “what’s up with me right now” posts around and it just seems that that would be an easier way for me to get some thoughts onto a page than anything more coherently organized.

Books:

I’m reading, but I am going through another one of my low points with books (I get these every few months) where I just don’t know what to read, am prioritizing other things over reading, and just kind of slow down in terms of excitement about what I’m reading.  In September and October, I went on a rash of REALLY great books and reading non-stop and man, it is hard to return to the average after all that.

Currently I’m reading Love Walked In by Marisa de los Santos and I don’t really know how I feel about it.  It’s a slow read for me, has taken a while to get into, but I’m like 80 pages from the end and actually finally starting to care where things go.  My hold of Cinder came in from the library and I need to get to that soon because I fear it will expire before I can get to it.  I’m in between audiobooks, which is not actually something I want to be, but choosing my next book has been hard lately, so I am trying not to force myself into anything.

I did pick up a couple of Cyber Monday Kindle deals– Kristan Higgins’s If You Only Knew and Jesse Andrews’s Me and Earl and the Dying Girl.  I bought them kind of intending to read them on maternity leave, but we’ll see how that pans out.

Blog:

It’s been really quiet here.  I keep starting posts and then never finishing them and letting them sit in drafts until they go stale.  I haven’t been feeling the urge to write reviews and my inability to finish a post has even extended to posts with prompts (e.g. Top Ten Tuesday, surveys, etc.).  Basically, I’ve hit a bit of a blogging slump that I can’t seem to break out of completely.  I can’t get myself to compose a coherent review.  I try to write about the personal stuff bouncing around in my head, but it never feels right.

I have seen some of the end of year surveys that I LOVE to do come out, so I will maybe, hopefully get some of those drafted.  I love going back and reflecting on my year of reading, so I hope to do at least a couple of these.  They are fun to look back on, to see how my reading has changed over the years.  Also, I am hoping this grab bag sort of post gets me somewhat more motivated.

The Small Child:

Lydia is now on the downhill side of 2.5 years old and so far I’m liking 2.5 better than just plain 2, which means I pretty much always add the half to her age when I talk about her.  She talks constantly and if she’s not talking, she’s probably singing.  It’s kind of interesting when your kid is big enough to have a conversation with.  It’s also kind of boring because our conversations go in circles of her asking me the same questions over and over and me getting flummoxed on how to explain that we might not get to make snow angels like the little kid in her book because it doesn’t snow here every year.  (Her response to that was that it would snow at school and she could make snow angels with her friends.)

While she is mostly delightful to be around, she is testing the limits of my (already pretty short) patience in some respects.  It’s impossible to get her dressed in under 10 20 minutes.  I need to readjust my expectations here and try some new things in the mornings and evenings and find a more positive way to deal with stalling other than just saying the same thing over and over again until I go crazy.  Patience.  Time.  I need more of both.

Baby:

Well, I’m now 32 weeks pregnant and things are going pretty much as one would expect.  The chiropractor has been a miracle worker and my back/hips feel tolerable to good most days.  I sleep erratically.  I’m hot.  I get heartburn.  I’m tired.  But everything seems to be within normal ranges.  There still feels like a ton of prep work to do to be ready for the baby’s arrival, but the husband and I both have time off for the holidays coming up and I’m hoping that actually can be used productively.

Unfortunately, I’ve had some anxieties niggling at me the last couple days.  I went in for my usual OB appointment Tuesday and got scheduled for 4 ultrasounds in the next 6 weeks.  Due to complications in my last pregnancy (IUGR/low birthweight baby/low amniotic fluid), they want to keep a close eye on the end of this pregnancy to make sure the same problems don’t repeat themselves.  That, combined with the fact that I measured “a little small” on fundal height (a measurement the midwife reminded me doesn’t actually mean much), has landed me in a sea of anxieties, anxieties I know won’t be quelled until I have a healthy and growing baby in my arms.  My daughter was born at 37 weeks by induction due to the fact she’d pretty much stopped growing in utero.  I knew that was a possibility this go around, too, but mostly I’ve been finding myself imagining going into labor on my own and having that happen closer to 40 weeks.  I hadn’t realized that those hopes would make me feel disappointed at the idea of having a repeat experience of last time.  I have been trying to put it all in perspective and to remind myself that the worry is unfounded at this point, but that is so hard.  I know if I get news in my ultrasound next week that growth is not on track or amniotic fluid is low, it will just prompt a period of wait-and-see as it will be way too soon to induce.  I also know that if everything looks good next week, I’ll feel some relief, but also be left in a holding pattern because we won’t know we’re in the clear until I go into labor on my own.  They’ll just keep checking until I deliver, making sure no problems present themselves.  I’m trying to be optimistic, but I also need to be realistic.  It just basically hit me this week, I could be having a baby in about a month and I need to get stuff done NOW (buy diapers, wash clothes, set up the crib, etc.) and that I might not have time to do all the stuff I’d hoped (make freezer meals, deep clean the house, be able to work the busy first couple weeks of the semester, etc.).  In any case, I just need to keep up the hope that everything will be okay, if not what I’d expected.

Other Stuff:

I’ve been getting out for walks around campus on my lunch breaks as much as I can and that has become a real highlight of the day for me (it has also reduced my reading time, since that is primarily what I did on my lunch breaks in the past).  I’ve been staying up late talking to the husband about nothing in particular (and also baby names, since little dude is still nameless, oops).  I’ve been trying to watch at least the Oklahoma and Dallas Cowboys football games on the weekend and keep falling asleep during the former (evening games are hard for me) and don’t know why I even both with the latter.  I am going to see Mockingjay Part 2 this weekend and that should be fun.  It’s also time to get the Christmas tree up this weekend and I’m hoping that Lydia will be able/excited to help me decorate.

 

Anyways, what are you all up to these days?  Hope your Decembers are feeling a little less stressful than mine has so far!

 

Advertisements

The Pressure to Read

I’ve been thinking a little bit lately about what my life would be like if I stopped keeping track of what I read.  If I stopped having a target number of books to read for a year.  If I let myself just read without any record-keeping or Goodreads goals or spreadsheet to tell me how many pages I’ve read in a year or what percentage of my books were authored by men.

Obviously, keeping track of my reads is something I opted to do.  I started keeping a spreadsheet of what I read and regularly updating my Goodreads account back in 2012, around the same time I started this blog.  It was neat to be able to go back and see what I’ve read and how much and how fast I could read and also to have some more overall statistics, like what are my preferred genres or how many backlist books do I actually read.  It was fun to have a goal and to challenge myself to try new genres or to read more.  And well, in the blogging world, if you don’t keep track of what you read, then how in the heck do you remember what you’re going to review or what to recommend to someone?  Really, the last two and a half years of my reading and blogging life have kind of depended on me filling in my spreadsheet and updating my Goodreads goals.  It it actually something I love to do after finishing a book.

But lately I am feeling the flip side of keeping track of it all and having goals.  It’s fun for me most of the time, but other times I find myself saying utterly ridiculous things like “I should be reading right now” or “this 500 page book is going to put behind my reading goal” or “gosh, I can’t have another lunch date this week, I NEED to be keeping up with my book.”  Yeah, utterly ridiculous in that I am putting some sort of pressure on myself to keep up with a goal that affects only me and that I’m not necessarily allowing myself to read whatever I want, whenever I want (which is one of my main priorities when it comes to books) and I actually want to blow people off and be antisocial because I feel some sort of obligation to read.  It’s hard for me to even call reading an obligation because I enjoy it, but maybe I am at a point where the other things I’ve added to my reading life (Goodreads, blogging, spreadsheets, goals) are taking away from my enjoyment.

I have been feeling an overwhelming sense that something has got to give in my life.  I don’t know what.  I don’t know why.  I just know that my desire to keep up with everything makes me more miserable than letting something go would.

How do you manage the “pressure” to read?  Do you keep Goodreads goals?  Will my world end if I stop keeping track of what I read?

Top Ten Tuesday: Reasons I Love Being a Reader/Blogger

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature/meme brought to you by the folks over at The Broke and the Bookish (the button also belongs to them).  This week’s theme is the Top Ten Reasons I Love Being a Reader and Blogger.

Why I love to read:

1. I am always learning something new when I read.  Recently I’ve learned about diverse topics like Dominican political history, tissue culture, and small-town life on the Plains.

2. Reading makes me think.  Books push me to imagine experiences and events I’ve never conceived of.  They get me thinking about language and art and what makes writing good and effective.  They get me to think about myself and my relationships and my life and what all that means.

3. Reading is entertainment.  So I get to have fun while I learn and think.  And I don’t really feel like I’m rotting my brain and turning into a vegetable when I do it.

4. Reading is my preferred way to fill blank spaces of time.  Stuck waiting in a doctor’s office?  Eating lunch alone?  On a long car ride?  Bring a book/audiobook and you won’t be bored!  And you don’t even have to worry about whether there is Wi-Fi or if your phone is charged!

5. Reading is a relatively low-cost hobby to have.  You don’t have to buy any fancy equipment to read and you can borrow an endless supply of excellent books from your local library.  Even if you don’t go to the library, used books are easily acquired and usually in great shape.

Why I love to blog about books:

6. Blogging about books helps me to think critically about what I read.  I get much more out of my reading when I spend some time reflecting on it.

7. Blogging has given me a source of endless book recommendations and has helped introduce me to excellent books I would not have read or heard of otherwise.

8. Blogging has introduced me to a lot of cool people from all over the country (and world).  It is really fun to develop those friendships and to have people to talk books with!

9. Blogging keeps me on the cutting edge of social media.  I would have never gotten a Twitter without blogging and yeah, I sort of love the Twitter.  I also signed up for an Instagram and Tumblr account recently, though I haven’t really figured out what to do with either.  But without blogging, I’d probably still be a Facebook-only girl.

10. Blogging gives me a hobby, other than reading, to work on.  It is my creative outlet.  It helps give me the drive to try new things and set goals and grow as a person.  And it keeps me accountable for some of those things.

Why do you love reading or blogging?

Where does it belong on your bookshelves?

I wrote most of this post in April of 2012 and I guess forgot about it.  As it is still an issue I struggle with, I thought it would be interesting to post and see what you all have to say.

In one of my graduate seminars, we would always end our book discussions with the question “Where does this book belong on your bookshelves?”  This question was designed to make us think about what sub-field(s) of history we thought the book belonged to.  Thinking about this meant we had to articulate and define sub-fields, in addition to pretending to be those librarians who actually categorize and decide where libraries shelve these books.

I was terrible at answering this question, as I am the sort of person who has a terrible time categorizing or labeling things.  I have such a hard time categorizing things because I feel like nothing really fits into a particular box just perfectly.  But this is a question that keeps coming back to me as I blog and track and talk about what I read.  How do I categorize what I read so that it is useful piece of knowledge for both my readers and myself?  Should I even bother trying?  How do I decide where these various books fit on my imaginary internet bookshelves?

Normally, I either make my best guess based on the opinions of other people or don’t even both trying to pick a genre (general fiction, it is!).  I mull over the genre tags on Goodreads to see what other people have said.  In the end, I don’t usually tag my blog posts with a genre, but will make note of it on my book-tracking spreadsheet.  And then go back and change it.  But usually I feel mired in ambiguity when it comes to the question of genre.

Seeing as how I am terrible at this game, I thought I’d ask for your feedback.  How do you decide where a book belongs on your bookshelves?

Revisiting My 2013 Goals

So… way back in January, I did a Top Ten Tuesday where I listed some bookish goals for the 2013 year.  Something made me think about this list the other day and I realized that I have two and a half months to try to wrap up some of these goals.  I figure revisiting these goals on my blog may actually provide some accountability for me to complete these before the year ends.

Goal #1: Read 50 books.
This is still within the realm of possibility.  I’ve read 39 books so far this year, so I will probably end up in the neighborhood of 50 books, though I may be shy by a book or two.  We’ll see.

Goal #2: Keep up the blog

Err… I’ve been terrible at blogging.  My free time is in short supply these days and I’ve mostly been focusing on other hobbies (read: staring blankly at the TV) when I do get free time.  I have vague notions of posting a few mini-reviews and perhaps keeping this as more of a reading journal than a review site, but I don’t know that you could hold me to that.  I’d consider this a success if I actually post a handful of posts before the year is up.

Goal #3: Read daily to Lydia

Here is one I feel pretty good about.  While we don’t read every day, I do read to her pretty often.  Currently, Lydia is mostly into books for their chewable properties, though, so we don’t get a lot of reading done.

Goal #4: Listen to audiobooks

Another one I have been doing really well with!  I quickly realized when I went back to work that one of the best windows for getting reading done was my commute, so I’ve been doing lots of audiobooks lately.  I also like how I can download them to my phone from the library, so I don’t even have to leave my house to check them out.

Goal #5: Read some of the books I own

Well… I haven’t made the sort of progress I’d hoped here, but I have made some baby steps.  I have bought or been gifted a few books and actually read them (there is one book I bought at the library book sale I haven’t started yet, though).  I also reread the first Harry Potter book, which I own, and have been trying to make it through Bridge to Terabithia, which I bought for my Kindle over a year ago.  Baby steps.

Goal #6: Get rid of books I own that I won’t read or reread

This hasn’t happened.  I also don’t think it will happen, but we did some rearranging and I actually have some free shelf space now, though my shelves are still a mess because I haven’t actually resorted them.  Not a real priority right now.

Goal #7: Read one classic

I began reading Villette by Charlotte Brontë on Kindle yesterday.  I also just started the audiobook of Jane Eyre.  I’m not sure Jane Eyre counts since I have read it innumerable times before, but I am really going to try to get through Villette, too.  I know I can do Brontë’s writing, so I am hopeful.

Goal #8: Read outside of the box

I’ve been better at this than I thought I would be.  I’ve actually read a tiny bit of non-fiction (though, to be honest, this was mostly pregnancy/childbirth books).  And while I don’t completely avoid sci-fi, it isn’t my usual fare and I really enjoyed the Across the Universe series this year.  I also tried The 5th Wave in that genre, but had to DNF it.  I also gave literary fiction a chance and tried listening to Swamplandia!, but that one also was a DNF.  I also did Historical Fantasy (is that what they call it?) with Grave Mercy, which was a pleasant surprise.  I’d like to listen to the sequel at some point.  And like I said, I’m currently doing some classics, so that is also outside the box for me.

Goal #9: Read something not set in the US/Western Europe or with non-white main characters

I haven’t accomplished this yet.  I am hoping to get through Sherman Alexie’s Blasphemy before the end of the year (I’ve just been reading a story here and there) and as this is mostly Native American characters, I will probably count it towards this goal.  I also hope to pick up the new Khaled Hosseini book at some point, so that would also count towards this goal.  I’m just not sure I’ll get to it in this calendar year.

Goal #10: Read a chunkster

I managed to make it through the audio of Grave Mercy which is 14 hours long (which for me, is a super long audiobook) and Villette is also known to be a chunkster, so I am maybe facing my fear of big books.  I also apparently read two 500+ page romance novels.

I am actually doing better than I thought I would be, so yay for me!  How has your 2013 reading year been so far?

August 2012 Roundup/Blogging Slump

So… August.  Worst reading month of 2012 for me.  It’s not a big secret that I’ve been having a hard time keeping up with my blog lately.  I’ve been a bit distracted (lots of big stuff going on in my life right now) and haven’t really read much that I want to talk about. I’ve also been DNFing a lot of books lately, but less because they aren’t good and more because I can’t seem to focus on anything.  It’s been frustrating, but I guess we’re all entitled to our reading slumps.

I can’t seem to kick the blogging slump, though.  I’m not really sure what to do about it.  I want to have a blog, but I don’t think I can be the sort of person who posts regularly.  I just don’t have the energy or enthusiasm to post 3 or 4 times a week consistently.  I also seem to have lost my focus and purpose here.  I have gotten out of this a lot of what I originally intended to get (some buddies to discuss books with, read more, read better) so I’ve sort of hit that point where it’s like… what now?  I am not particularly interested in working with authors or accepting review requests.  I am always hesitant to commit to challenges or read-alongs or that sort of thing because I worry I won’t have the time/interest required to sustain that commitment.  Not sure what direction to take from here, but I will probably continue to sporadically update the blog.  If you have suggestions, please share in the comments.  I could use a little encouragement 🙂

Books Read (with links to my review/Goodreads):

Hard and Fast by Erin McCarthy

Bruiser by Neal Shusterman

Simply Irresistible by Jill Shalvis

Into the Darkest Corner by Elizabeth Haynes

In the Works: I am keeping busy with romances these days.  That seems to be one of the few things that holds my attention right now!

What’s new in your reading/blogging world?

Ch-ch-ch-changes…

In response to the fact that my personal life is busy with non-stop family/travel time (a family wedding, my birthday, and my anniversary are all in the next two weeks) and the fact that my job is going to be non-stop stress and craziness in the month of June, I think I need to make a few adjustments to my blogging life.

  • I plan on reducing my postings to a Monday, Wednesday, Friday schedule.  Expect reviews on Mondays and Wednesdays and the TGIF meme or other discussion post on Fridays (will depend on topic/inspiration).  I am hoping having a more firm posting schedule will allow me more free time for non-book-related pursuits, as well as for reading and writing.
  • I am eliminating the Top Ten Tuesday meme for the most part (though I may do it when a future topic strikes my fancy) because those posts were diminishing in quality and I was having a really hard time checking out and commenting on other people’s posts.  It lost some of its fun and I definitely need a break from that, so I am giving myself one.
  • I have already started varying up the genres I read and review.  I like reading a variety, so I will be reviewing a variety.  I hope that we can all expand what we read this way.

I know that several of these items will affect the number of people who read this blog (some already have) and THAT IS OK.  I firmly believe that I blog for the fun of it, not for the popularity, so I gotta do what makes me happy.  Hopefully, the changes will be for the best– both in terms of my sanity and the quality of this blog!