2017 Reading Goals

We are 22 days into the new year, and I am finally getting around to writing my reading goals.  This year’s goals are a bit different, but I am hoping they prove to keep me motivated to read and, most importantly, encourage my love of reading to grow further.

As some may know, I am a grad student in an online program.  I will complete my program on March 12th, which means that roughly the first two and a half months of 2017 are dedicated to my Capstone and not personal interests such as reading.  2015 and 2016 were slower reading years for me because of school work and working full time.  In 2016 I didn’t even set a Goodreads goal.  Which brings me to the fist 2017 reading goal.

  1. NOT setting a Goodreads goal.  It may sound crazy and even counter productive in some ways, but not setting a goal has allowed me to choose more books that I’ve been wanting to read but have put off because of length or just simply because I felt they were too much to tackle to get through and process in a quick fashion.  No posted goal where I log in and the website tells me I’m behind x number of books means I don’t feel stressed about something I shouldn’t be stressed about anyway.
  2. Read books I already own.  Between my husband and I we hover somewhere around 1,000 books in our home.  While some of these are technical and DIY books my husband uses for his various interests and projects, many of them are books that should be read and loved.  I spent so much time in the last few years trying to grab all the best and newest releases I learned of from BookTube videos, that my own personal collection – each that has been chosen for some reason by my husband or myself – has been falling to the back burner.  This means shelves of books I haven’t read, or books that I read so long ago but don’t recall much of because I was trying to cram so many books into a year.  While I won’t stop buying books all together – especially at library book sales – I won’t be purchasing like a crazy lady like I was for a while there.
  3.  Purge the bookshelves.  I’ve done several unhauls over the past few years, and I want to continue doing so.  Instead of holding on to books that I won’t read again, I am going to be getting rid of them.  If I loved or really enjoyed a book, then I can keep it.  I want my bookshelves to tell their own story of our literary tastes, and that cannot be done with mediocre books that we won’t be picking up again or recommending to anyone.
  4. Don’t force myself to read anything.  I get this idea in my head that if everyone loves a book I have to at least finish it.  I hate to DNF a book, but sometimes it happens.  Too many wonderful books to read out there in the world, no reason to stick with something that isn’t appealing to me.

And that’s about it… I think.  Basically I want to enjoy reading for fun again and focus on my own shelves.

Hopefully I will be back soon with another update… but that will depend on how fast my brain goes to mush from this Capstone.

Achieve.

If you’ve followed me on any blog I’ve ever had, I tend to buck the idea of the New Year’s Resolution trend.  Instead, I choose a word that becomes *my* word for the year.
A few years running I used “Believe”.  It’s my favorite word and not hard to see why it’s a good word to use to help guide you.  Focusing on faith and a belief that I can do anything and that anything is possible was a good foundation.
Last year was “Authentic”.  I wanted to be more me than I ever had been.  I achieved this by studying my heart out, standing up for myself a bit more, speaking out about more about the causes I am passionate about, a few new tattoos, and some funky hair color choices – just to name a few.

This year I was struggling to choose a word.  My husband suggested “Achieve”.  The more I thought on it, the more sense it made.  In March of this year I will have my Master’s degree – a major achievement for me.  I also want to achieve other goals such as: getting closer to buying a house, adopting a healthier lifestyle, organizing every part of my house, even simple sounding things such as reading more books.

I simply want to achieve things that will, likely, make my life happier/healthier.  These things can allow my husband and I to move forward together and start new adventures.  Some of you know that we have been struggling to get pregnant for over three years, and so far no luck.  By making these changes I am hopeful that either a) God will step in where science is telling us no or b) it will open new doors and other avenues for us.

So, here’s to 2017 and achieving all I can to be better for myself and those around me.

A year in review

I keep seeing these 2016 dumpster fire memes.  I feel lucky to say that that wasn’t completely the case for me.  While school and mental health kept me from blogging often, I experienced quite a bit this year.  So, here’s a quick review of 2016:

January – A fairly quiet month.  My husband’s beloved Ford Ranger finally died for good which left us as a one car household for a bit.  One of my idols – David Bowie- passed away.  It was cold, a lot.

February- After several pushed off coffee dates one of my best friends, the woman who has been in my life for 25 years, called me.  Which terrified me – we hardly ever talk on the phone.  She asked me to be a bridesmaid in her wedding in the summer.  I, of course, accepted.  We also went bridesmaid dress shopping this month.
At the end of the month my car died… leaving us without a car for a few days.  Talk about a humbling experience.  I realized how much I take for granted having my own reliable transportation.
I also got to meet author Rainbow Rowell and her her speak!  I have a post here that explains why this was so huge for me – not only meeting one of my favorite authors of all time, but also overcoming my anxiety to go alone.

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March- March 1st my husband and I went to a car dealership where a friend works to talk about maybe, possibly leasing a used car.  We drove off the lot that night in my first ever brand new car – a 2016 Kia Forte that we named Fiona.

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I got to meet Author Markus Zusak and here him speak!  One of my all time favorite book is The Book Thief.

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April – I got another new tattoo bringing my total to three at that time.  This time it was the stars in the Harry Potter books on my foot.

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My grandmother, my last living grandparent, passed away at the age of 102.

May- The bridal shower for my best friends wedding took place early in the month, it was a surprise shower and went off quite well!

June – Wedding day!  The wedding was perfect and beautiful!

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The Cleveland Cavs won a championship and our city went NUTS.  It was so amazing to watch it happen (granted I watched on TV).  Cleveland also had a huge victory parade!

July – I got another new tattoo, this time a bookish theme.

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I also, for the first time in my life, dyed my hair a non natural color, purple.  Not the whole thing, but enough that it was noticeable and I LOVED it. Also cut it way shorter.  LOVE.

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I turned 34 on the 31st.

August – Went to my first burlesque show, ever.  Even better was that a dear friend was performing and I was able to go with some amazing friends.

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This was a rough month.. major tragedy struck one of my best friends.  However, I am happy I was able to be there for her.

September- I learned my own level of capability when once again, I was left without a co-teacher for a bit (which started back in August).  However, through some great teamwork I made it through Meet the Teacher night in one piece.

October – I met my childhood writing icon… R.L. Stine.

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I participated in the Out of the Darkness Walk with some amazing friends.

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I also went on a great pumpkin and apple picking adventure with my darling husband.

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November- Another new hair style.  A bit shorter and darker with teal. Election day.  Much sadness.  Enough said.

December – Christmas festivities and a fun game night for a friend’s birthday.Christmas break – nine full days off wok.  Always nice.

And there you have it.  My 2016 year in review.  At lest some main points.  I plan to update in the next few days about my goals and word for 2016.  So, until then.

Because it’s been the better part of a year…

It has been a busy year.  A good year, overall.. but a busy year.  I have somewhere around 80 drafts of posts I have started and just never finished because my attention span is that of a goldfish most days.  Ideally, when I have a week off (starting in like ten days) I want to do a year in review.  Maybe get back into blogging like I once did.

Basically this is a place holder.  I’m alive and fairly well.  Not sure why I thought that doing my thesis in the dead of winter when seasonal depression rears it’s ugly head was the best fucking idea ever… but that will be starting in a few weeks.  Christmas in 11 days… my favorite time of year.  Trying to cram three weeks of school work into this week and be done by Sunday night so next week and the week after I can enjoy the holiday (and that break).

Planned posts… maybe? Include my year in review, a (very short) reading year in review, a coping cosmetics/skills/self care type deal, what it’s like to live with a chronic illness for me, and a backstory of my love affair with books.

So here’s hoping I’ll see y’all soon.

How Rainbow Rowell helped me beat anxiety – for one night anyway.

Wow. Okay. So. This post contains two big things for me – the first being hearing Rainbow Rowell speak, and meeting her after. The second, and it ties in with the first, is how I (barely at times) overrode the anxiety that tends to rule my life – for a night anyway.

About… a month and a half to two months ago I got an e-mail from my county library system. Important to note that my city library isn’t a part of the county system, and I’m not exactly sure how I ended up getting this email. Anyway, I found out that Rainbow Rowell (and Markus Zusak!- more on that later) were going to be in my area. I waited a bit too long and wasn’t able to get meet and greet tickets for Rainbow Rowell, but I was signed up for her talk that night. One of my best friends was going to try to join me. I was, obviously, beyond stoked. Rainbow Rowell! I love her books and relate especially to Cath in Fangirl – the whole not going to the dining hall because of anxiety was me in college… both times.

Day of the event, my friend can’t make it and it’s snowing/icing outside. I decide that if I can find a fairly easy way to the library she will be at I will try to go on my own. I am terrified to do this. I DO NOT want to go alone. I don’t do well at all in unknown places with lots of people I don’t know when someone is with me, so imagine how I can be when alone. I realize this chance may not come again for a long time, if ever, and get in my car and make the drive.

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Oh so blurry, but its Rainbow FREAKING Rowell!

 

She spoke for nearly 90 minutes.  I teared up when she came onto the stage.

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Seriously, guys.  It was a life changing moment for me.  For nearly 90 minutes I got to hear an author I adore speak, and I was so captivated by her words that for most of that 90 minutes, the anxiety was pushed back just enough.

When the talked ended we were informed that Rainbow would be singing books.  ALL the books, but only personalizing one.  Being by myself was a slight advantage at this point because while people gathered their things and waited for their friends, I was able to maneuver around them a bit and get in the line, so I wasn’t standing alone in line with my anxieties for too awful long.

I brought the three books I have in hard copy.  Eleanore & Park, Landline, and of course – Fangirl.  I was set to have her personalize Fangirl for me.  I stood in line and just stared at her… she was so attentive to every person who was there.  Reading her interviews and twitter feed only scratch the surface of how amazing she really is.  Then, finally, it was my turn.  Shaking and teary eyed I get up to her and hand her my books.  Where she personalized TWO of the three for me, as I explained to her my kinship to Cath and she shared her own anxiety story with me.  I told her how came alone, but I wasn’t willing to miss her even in the storm of anxiety and she looked me in the eye and told me how happy she was that I made it there.

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In short, it was amazing.  So much so that today at work when I was telling some co-worker friends the story, they said I was glowing.  I was absolutely excited about meeting her and having my books signed.  That still hasn’t worn off. But I was also proud that for one evening, just for a few hours, I managed to beat my mind at it’s own game.

 

 

Book review: Me Before You by Jojo Moyes

This is a NON-SPOILER review of Me Before You by Jojo Moyes

I was very hesitant to pick up this book, but a few trusted reviewers enjoyed it and I found it at a library book sale so I figured I would keep it on my shelf and maybe someday read it.  Then someone told me they read it at the start of last year and it was their favorite book of the whole year, so I figured I’d give it a try.

I cannot express how happy I am that I did so.  I laughed, I (ugly) cried.  I feel in love with the characters and felt their highs and lows along with them.  Jojo Moyes has such a beautiful writing style that the book flew by for me, and I found myself not reading at times because I wasn’t ready to let go of the story.  So many times a book falls flat because I just can’t get into the world, but with Me Before You I felt like I was there, everything – from people to scenery to feelings – was so beautifully described that it felt real.

If you are looking for a typical love story – this isn’t it.  In fact, I hesitate to call this a love story for reasons that once you read it, I think you will plainly see as well.  What this is, however, is a beautiful story of two people thrown into situations they never would have imagined themselves in, and within those situations they learn more about themselves and the world around them than they ever thought possible.  Even the supporting characters were believable (even if not always likable).

This book resonated with me, in a way not many books have as of late and for that I am so very thankful.  This is my third book of 2016 and I have a feeling I have found one of my top five of the year.

This review, as well as star rating and other bookish info about me can be found over at Goodreads.

2016 Reading Goals

Alright, if you read my last post this title may seem counter productive since I mentioned that I was not planning on having a set number of books to read in 2016.  The reasons for this are many.

Namely, grad school has taken up quite a bit of my free time, and when I had a number goal -especially early on last year, I felt like I *had* to read in order to try to achieve my goal.  Sometimes, I just wanna binge watch Netflix a few days on end in my free time and NOT read. I shouldn’t feel guilty about that, but yet I was feeling like every free second should be spent with my nose in a book.  I think that’s why I was feeling so slumpy all year.

So, if I am not setting a number goal what’s the point of this post?  Well, there are other goals reading and book wise that I can achieve, or at least try to.  These are things that have no bearing on how many books or pages I read.  If I don’t hit them, then I don’t… but it’s just an idea of what I would like to do with my reading time this year.

The first thing is my book buying habits.  Two years ago I was buying everything I could get my hands on.  I had lists of popular, mostly YA, books and series I needed.  Most of those have since been passed on or sold off.  I need to stick with what I am feeling at the time.  This past year I did better, with the exception of one library bag sale that led me to buy nearly 100 books (well between my husband and I).  I still love buying books and I still strive to have an amazing personal library.  With that said, it needs to be made up of what I (and my husband) enjoy and not just what’s popular.  I want to continue to buy physical books (duh) – but I want to do so by visiting charity shops, small local stores, and library sales more than purchasing from Amazon and other big book sellers.

With that said, what good is a personal library if you never use it?!  I have so many books on my physical TBR shelves that I have intentions to read but I never do for whatever reason.    I need to start going through those books and reading them.  If I enjoy it, back on the shelf it goes.  If I don’t into the sell pile it goes.

Using my Kindle more – both for buying books and reading them.

Finally, the books I read.  I want to have a good variety and quality this year.  I feel like last year was lacking and that makes me sad.  By tackling some of my physical TBR this will help.  I need to stop being intimidated by size of a book and just read it – even if it takes months and I am breaking it up with other books.  If I am enjoying it that’s all that matters.

One thing I am leaving off this year is my promise to review every book.  I did very very few reviews last year.  I do want to do more, I would love to get into reviewing everything I read.. and maybe I will try to do better but if I don’t… whatever.

I am hoping to get a best of/worst of post up soon for the books I have read in 2015.

Til next time…