TGIF: Choosing My Next Book Adventure

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TGIF at GReads is a fun feature for answering a book-blogging question posed by Ginger.

This week the question is: Choose Your Next Read: How do you go about choosing what you read next? Do you have a schedule you follow, or do you read whatever makes you happy at the moment?

I tend to follow a few patterns when it comes to book selection.

  1. I pretty much always choose what to read based on my mood.
  2. I can usually only predict what I’ll feel like reading for about three books out.  This means I almost never finish reading through stacks of books when I buy/check them out in large quantities.  In fact, I try to only buy one or two books at a time if I go to the store because otherwise it is a waste of money.  At the library I give myself a little more freedom with the numbers because returning something unread is ok with me!
  3. I also have a present bias in my book choices, meaning I tend to read the books I’ve most recently seen reviewed.  Things tend to languish on my TBR or bookshelf for a loooong time once I’ve lost the initial excitement over them.
  4. There are also practical concerns for my book choices because I use the library A LOT.  So, I have to consider whether a book is at my branch of the library.  Also, the planned reading (whatever that may be) gets moved around when holds come in or if I have an item checked out that cannot be renewed.

How do you decide what to read next?

TGIF: Book Olympics

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TGIF at GReads is a fun feature for answering a book-blogging question posed by Ginger.

This week the question is: Book Olympics: In the spirit of the Olympics, which books would you give the gold, silver, and bronze medals to? It can be from any genre, new or old.

Today’s Category: Tearjerkers

The Bronze goes to:

Okay for Now by Gary D. Schmidt– For making me cry, then laugh, all while driving, making me look like a crazy lady.

The Silver goes to:

The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness– One word: Manchee.

The Gold goes to:

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green– Pretty sure I woke up the day after finishing this with a crying hangover.  You know, puffy eyes and a slight headache.  Many tears were shed.

What are your picks for the Book Olympics?  Alternately, what is your favorite Olympic sport to watch?  (I’ll admit that I am crazy-in-love with synchronized diving, beach volleyball, and, of course, gymnastics.)

TGIF: Christmas in July

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TGIF at GReads is a fun feature for answering a book-blogging question posed by Ginger.

This week the question is: Christmas in July: If Santa were to come down your chimney in the middle of summer, which books would you want him to leave for you under the tree?

What a fun question!  I have a very long wishlist of books (like all of you, I assume), but I almost never purchase something I can get from the library.  So I limited my wishlist to books I want to read, but can’t check out from the library!

Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell– This story about first love by one of my new favorite authors is currently only available in the UK and won’t be released until March 2013 here in the US.  I’d like Santa to pony up the extra dollars so I can get this one to me ASAP.

Can’t Buy Me Love by Molly O’Keefe– I read some really good things about this romance novel and we all know I can’t ever replenish my romance novel supply fast enough.  My library doesn’t have it, so maybe Santa can tuck it in my stocking.  Or you know, in my Kindle.

Going Too Far by Jennifer Echols– A young adult romance that I also keep hearing good things about.  I don’t really want to read Such a Rush so this will at least give me a taste of Jennifer Echols and then maybe I’ll get the hype.  And the library doesn’t have a copy of it.

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn– This thriller sounds like a lot of fun and my library actually owns quite a few copies of it.  However the hold list is currently so long it might take until Christmas-in-December before I actually ever see this book!

What’s on your Christmas-in-July wishlist?

TGIF: Throwback/Shout-Out

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TGIF at GReads is a fun feature for answering a book-blogging question posed by Ginger.

This week the question is: Throwback TGIF: Pick a previous question you posted on your blog in the past & revisit your answer. Has it changed since then?

I haven’t participated in TGIF that long, so I figured I’d just choose an old question that I haven’t addressed before.  The question I’ve chosen is from April 20, 2012: Book Blogger Influences: Has there been a particular book blogger who’s influenced what you read? Share with us a review/book blog that convinced you to pick up a certain book.

Discovering book blogs has done wonderful things for my reading– I haven’t been this excited about reading (and I’m ALWAYS excited about reading) ever.  So thanks to all of you who share your enthusiasm for books and reading with me on your blogs and on Twitter.

Here are a couple reviews that got me to a couple of great summer reads:

Sarah @ Clear Eyes, Full Shelves did an advance review of Something Like Normal by Trish Doller.  Her fantastic and detailed review had me requesting this book as soon as it was available from my library!

Asheley @ Into the Hall of Books always writes incredibly detailed reviews that are SO helpful in directing the right person to the right book.  Her review for Wife 22 by Melanie Gideon brought my attention to a great new book that I really enjoyed.

I also want to mention Alison @ The Cheap Reader.  Alison runs the Book Hoarders Anonymous online book club and while it’s been a couple months since I’ve participated, I would never have become kindred spirits with Anne Shirley without the BHA!

Happy Friday, everyone!  Link up to your TGIF Throwback in the comments!

TGIF: Comfort Reads

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TGIF at GReads is a fun feature for answering a book-blogging question posed by Ginger.

This week the question is: Comfort Reads: Which books do you go to for comfort & familiarity?  Is there a type of book you seek out when you’re needing that extra bit of comfort in your life?

Reading in and of itself is a comforting activity for me.  There is really nothing better than curling up with a good book and escaping into another world.  I often end up reading in the bathtub when I need to unwind and it almost doesn’t matter what I am reading.  So to broadly answer this question: fiction!  To more narrowly answer it, I suppose when I am looking specifically for something to perk me up I turn to romance and chick lit.  Usually something like Jennifer Weiner or Nora Roberts or the Jessica Darling series.  I turn to these sorts of books because they make me laugh and cry and because they promise a happily ever after.  Usually they keep me glued to the pages and distract me from whatever it is I need distraction from.  Also, the stories tend to be a little formulaic, but that is sort of reassuring, too.  Most of all they are hopeful sorts of stories and that is a certain mood-improver for me!

Do you like to read for comfort?  What do you like to read when you need a little pick-me-up?

TGIF: Best of 2012 (Part I)

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TGIF at GReads is a fun feature for recapping the week’s posts (I don’t have any because this is the first post back after a little hiatus) and answering a book-blogging question posed by Ginger.

This week the question is: Best I’ve Read So Far: We’re half way through the year (crazy how time flies!), which top 3 books are the best you’ve read so far this year?

Unwind by Neal Schusterman– This is probably my favorite dystopia read and was one of those books that dealt with big issues like organ transplants and abortion in a balanced, smart way.  I loved that everything was shades of gray, there were no good answers, and that we got to see the bad teenagers find the good in themselves.  Also, very good audio!

Attachments by Rainbow Rowell– Such a delightful rom-com of a book!  The characters are spot-on.  You will want to befriend them all.  It’s the sort of book that I kick myself for checking out of the library.  I know I’ll want to revisit it!!

The Chaos Walking trilogy by Patrick Ness– This might be the only set of books that I’ve actually pushed people in my real life to read this year.  They’re just that good!

What are some of your favorite reads of the year?  What book should I not wait another minute to get to?

TGIF: A Very Special Episode

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TGIF at GReads is a fun feature for recapping the week’s posts (which I usually skip) and answering a book-blogging question posed by Ginger.

This week the question is: Issue Books: Which books have you found to be very rewarding when it comes to tackling tougher issues?

My short answer: anything by John Green

My long, meandering answer:
Ok, so when I think about “issue books,” I think of those very special episodes of TV series I’d watch as a kid.  You know, like that Saved by the Bell episode where Jessie gets hooked on uppers.  Or the episode of Captain Planet where that one kid started popping pills and they made his eyes red (Wikipedia informs me that this episode was called “Mind Pollution” which makes me laugh).  And the thing is I HATE very special episodes.  This says volumes about what a wimp I am, but the very special episodes scared me to death as a kid.  Like gave me nightmares.  As an adult, I really hate them because scaring people about issues 1. doesn’t work and 2. isn’t very nice.  Generally speaking, then, I steer clear of “issue books” because I don’t appreciate the singular focus and mishandling of issues like rape, drug abuse, alcoholism, child abuse, bullying, etc.  (That said, however, I do appreciate when those issues are more deftly woven into a story so that it transcends being just a very special episode and is more like a book where characters face realistic circumstances and have realistic experiences.)

Really, when I want to read about big issues, I want to read about more abstract things like life, death, love, and loss and that is why I picked anything by John Green as my answer for this question.  John Green has a really great way of discussing the big abstract issues that we all face without moralizing.  He encourages his readers to come up with their own answers to the big questions.  In Looking for Alaska, for example, the characters were asked to identify an important life question and to answer it and Pudge ends up writing an essay about the labyrinth of suffering.  For me, anyways, this was an open invitation to think about my own views about the meaning of life and the meaning of suffering and if I had been reading this in a group setting, this would have been a great launch-point for discussion.  That is how issue books should be written!

If you are a new John Green reader and interested in big issues I recommend you check out Looking for Alaska or The Fault in Our Stars first!

How do you feel about very special episode books?  What are your favorites?

TGIF: A Book Blogger is Born

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TGIF at GReads is a feature for recapping the week’s posts (which I’m skipping this time because you can see them if you scroll down and I trust that you’re smart enough to handle that on your own) and answering a book-blogging question posed by Ginger.

This week the question is: A Book Blogger is Born: What made you decide to start your very own book blog?

This story is pretty simple.  I’d discovered a nostalgia-snark book blog, Are You There Youth? It’s Me, Nikki (which is sadly now pretty quiet), years ago, I believe through one of those Children of the 90s sites.  At some point in December or January, I actually clicked through from Google Reader to Nikki’s site and began checking out some of the blogs on her blogroll.  That is where I discovered book blogs and I was hooked.  I read the backlog of posts (in one case, THREE YEARS WORTH of posts) on a couple of blogs and at some point I decided I wanted to try it out.

You see, I’ve always been a reader.  I’d tried blogging in a couple other genres (humor/personal and crafts) with very little success or even perseverance (I don’t think I passed a couple of weeks or a handful of posts on either of those blogs) , but book blogging made sense.  I was already reading, why not talk about it?  The added bonuses would be actually keeping track of what I read, which I hoped would improve how and what I read.  Also, I hoped to connect with other readers (as I have never really had reader friends in real life) and perhaps make some new friends.  I also wanted to read more critically and while writing has never been my calling, I like doing it and I missed doing purposeful writing like I did in grad school.  So I decided to give book blogging an honest, concerted effort and to see where it would take me.

So far, I am pretty happy with my blog.  I have some loyal readers and I get many meaningful comments.  It still shocks me sometimes that people actually read what I post and it makes me so happy that I get to share books with others.  I am also reading a lot more widely and reading a lot more.  I spend a lot more time thinking about what I read and am hopefully a more critical thinker/reader/writer as a result.  The last few months have been a lot of fun and I look forward to continuing this blog as long as it continues to be fun!

What about you?  What got you started in blogging?

TGIF: Supporting Characters

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TGIF at GReads is a feature for recapping the week’s posts (which I’m skipping this time because you can see them if you scroll down and I trust that you’re smart enough to handle that on your own) and answering a book-blogging question posed by Ginger.

This week the question is: Supporting Characters: We tend to gush over those main characters the most, but what about those supporting roles? Who are some of your favorites?

Supporting characters are awesome because they are more like real-life people… you know, you only get a little glimpse into their lives and problems, so they are actually interesting and fun and you want to be friends with them…  I just mean that sometimes you get to know the main characters a little too well or they endure too many struggles for a real friendship to be possible.  I like the think of the supporting characters as the sort of people I want to get to know better.

Some of my favorite supporting characters include Hassan from An Abundance of Katherines, Tiny Cooper from Will Grayson, Will Grayson, Helen Burns from Jane Eyre, and Marilla Cuthbert from Anne of Green Gables.

  • Hassan is known for being funny and asthmatic, as well as for loving Judge Judy.  He is also very good at keeping Collin in line socially.
  • Tiny Cooper is large.  He is also larger than life.  He is the one who helps both Will Graysons overcome their insecurities.  He also writes a ridiculous musical.  What’s not to love?
  • Helen Burns… oh, dear sweet Helen Burns.  Helen is the first person to love Jane and the first person whom Jane loves.  Seriously, that is hugely important for Jane’s development as a character and also, how can you NOT love Helen Burns?  She’s an angel.
  • Marilla cracks me up.  She initially comes off as a crotchety old woman, but she is actually quite funny and loving.  There is so much more to her than just being Anne’s guardian and I love that we actually get a glimpse of that in these books.  Montgomery was really a genius with creating memorable characters!

Who are some of your favorite supporting characters?

TGIF: Literary Vacations

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TGIF at GReads is a feature for recapping the week’s posts (which I’m skipping this time since I did that yesterday pretty much) and answering a book-blogging question posed by Ginger.

This week the question is: Literary Vacations: If you could take a trip this summer to any place within a fictional book, where would you go? Tell us about your summer dream vacation!

My answer is HOGWARTS from the Harry Potter series!!!  I have always really wanted to go to Hogwarts.  I mentioned the other day that I would be a professional student if I could, so I think that a vacation to a magic school would be right up my alley.  Also, I might have magic talents I don’t even know about yet.  I am eagerly awaiting my field trips to Hogsmeade, classes with Prof McGonagall (who would be one of my favorite teachers because I always love the strict teachers), and time spent exploring the castle and its grounds.  I look forward to the camaraderie of living with my fellow students and goofing off a bit.  And I won’t lie, I am hoping to spend some quality time in the library with some of those crazy wizard books.  I think I’d go down to Hagrid’s for tea every so often, though, I’m not entirely sure I could handle his taste in pets.  Oh, and I wouldn’t mind taking a bubble bath in the Prefect Washroom.  That thing is enormous, but we’d have to figure out a way to keep Myrtle out.  She’s just too depressing.  And since it is a vacation, I am going to forbid any of the bad stuff that happens at Hogwarts from happening.  I mean, no vacation needs Voldemort in it.  Please book me one ticket on the Hogwarts Express, please.

What about you?  What literary vacation would you take?