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.

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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.

Book Review- The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

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Date Finished: July 25th, 2015
Rating (on a five star scale): 3
**THIS REVIEW MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS**

Let me start of by saying that if you enjoyed Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn you may enjoy this as well.  That said, it is NOT Gone Girl.  The feel is similar, the format of the story is similar but that’s about where the similarities end.

Rachel takes the commuter train every morning and enjoys looking out the window into the neighborhood that she once lived happily in.  She begins somewhat of an obsession with a house near her old one, and it’s inhabitants whom she dubs “Jess” and “Jason”.  One day from the train she witnesses something strange and out of the ordinary and that is only the start of how strange things can get.  She shares her information with police, but she is a less than reliable witness for several reasons.  She is determined to help solve the mystery and becomes entangled in a strange story that feels like a reality worlds away from the one she knows.

I picked up this book because, honestly, it was one I kept seeing all over Goodreads and Facebook.  Everyone was talking about it, mostly good things.  The story starts off shaky, and if it hadn’t been for the good things I had heard from trusted book loving friends I would have likely put it down.  I never became overly attached to any characters.  At most I felt sorry for Rachel, but generally even her attitude even bothered me.  I get it, she is depressed at all she lost and the things she thought she had done… but she was so insufferable through parts of this book that I just wanted to take her and shake her.

I did enjoy reading the story from Rachel, Anna, and Megan’s views.  I enjoyed the timeline set up and how it jumped around a bit, especially in the beginning.  The idea for the story was a good one, especially in the aftermath of Gone Girl, which we all know was a sensation.  However it wasn’t what some touted it to be.  It’s not the “next Gone Girl”, but rather a story with a mystery who-done-it element.  And to be honest… that element wasn’t too hard to figure out.

Again I find myself torn… with all the years of reading I have encountered most every trope, every plot line, and every twist out there.  I often find myself bored to tears with the twists in some of these books because they are so damn predictable to me.  This one pretty much fell into that category for me.  The suspense was enough to keep me reading even though early on I was nearly positive what happened.

The back story with the baby, Libby, was heartbreaking.  I figured something happened with a child in her past, but I wasn’t fully expecting what we got.  Bringing up her ex-boyfriend felt silly because he was a red herring and a not well written one at that.  We had so little information on him I never viewed him as a suspect.  Then he just is suddenly dead for four years and that’s that.  Scott was an obvious choice to blame, but it was too easy to blame him.  Even when he locked Rachel in the upstairs room – I knew he was innocent.  He was pissed off and hurt, but he didn’t kill Megan.  Megan’s doctor… again, too easy.  The comment Rachel made when she saw him the first time that he looked like a killer when he smiled at her – that erased him as a the killer to me in a second BECAUSE of that parallel being drawn.

So that leaves us with Tom and Mac.  Mac had me wondering for a moment… but again when he scared her on their first meeting after the night they were both drunk on the train, he didn’t seem likely and there just wasn’t enough about him.  Then there was Tom… oh, you asshole, Tom.

Early on I had my doubts about him.  Rachel constantly saying that she didn’t remember any of these things that happened when she was drunk.  They didn’t feel right or real to her, despite what her husband said.  Right there was a red flag to me.  I figured early on that the story with the golf club wasn’t what he said it was.  Once it was out that Megan was pregnant at the time of her death, I thought of Tom.  When we found out it wasn’t her husband’s or her doctor’s child -I knew for certain it was Tom.  The conclusion of Tom was pretty easy for me to get to.

The ending was odd and overall lacking.  I get it, Anna knew something was up.  She, in her heart, believed that Tom may well have killed Megan.  But when Rachel shows up at the house the interaction is just so strange.  It didn’t seem to fit.  It could have gone a few ways that would have been more comfortable and fitting – an explosive interaction or even a different play on what happened.  I knew Tom would show up and be pissed…. it all just felt really predictable and dry.

So, Rachel offs Tom with a corkscrew and Anna covers for her.  Lovely.  So many other ways that could have ended that would have been a bit more entertaining and brought a little more closure to the situation.  The ending, honestly, felt rushed to me.  Like, now that the action bits were over the author was just done writing the story and didn’t want to take us even a step further in the journey of the characters that we had spent our time reading about.  We got the bare bones minimum in that department.

I gave this three stars, because the story at least held my attention despite the characters not being very likeable and the twists fairly easy for me to see coming and figure out.  Even though I was certain I knew who had done it I was curious as to how all of Rachel’s fractured memories would come into play, and that was a strong point.

The verdict:  If you like a thriller, read it.  If you enjoyed Gone Girl, read it… but cautiously because it is NOT the same at all.

Cultivating my literary life.

“I was horribly bookish, to the point of coming right out and saying it, which I knew was not socially acceptable. I particularly loved the adjective bookish, which I found other people used about as often as ramrod or chum or teetotaler.”- David Levithan, Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares

Ah, the bookish life.  It’s one I know well.  Ever since my childhood I have been in love with books.  Merely seeing a stack of books has always brought joy to my heart.  Going to the bookstore or library is a fun adventure for me every time.  When I was in grade school we always got the Scholastic/Arrow/etc reading club paper flyers we could order books from.  I would purposely wait to pull it out of my bag until my Uncle Joe was at my house because I knew that while my mom may allow a book, or two if I was *really* good – Uncle Joe would buy me five more.

My tastes have varied over the years.  I was REALLY into Fear Street back in the day (none of that Goosebumps stuff, thanks).  Christopher Pike was a favorite, as well.  Because of my love for those, at a very young age I was reading Stephen King and Dean Koontz.  At that time I also loved series like Lois Lowry’s Anastasia Krupnik books… the occasional Sweet Valley or Babysitters Club were mixed in as well.  For a while, I didn’t read as much, still more than a lot of people I know but not as much as I was used to… and then I began to devour everything with vigor.  Adult series like the Shopaholic series by Sophie Kinsella.  Stand alone titles that were along the same lines.  And then began my several years long love affair with YA books, the last year or so of which was fueled by BookTube videos… however this has recently come to somewhat of an end.  Now I’m falling more into a steady stream of fiction and classics.

My point is, I love books.  I have varied tastes and I never know what type of book I’ll want to pick up next.  Because of this I tend to, *ahem*, collect books (my husband calls it hoarding books).  We went to the last library sale which was a bag sale and left with 97 books for us.  97!  Granted some were DIY and project books for my husband, but I had quite a few novels in there.  I look at my TBR shelves (I have a TBR soon, and a TBR eventually, maybe… both are not very reliable since I buy books like they will be unavailable soon) and feel a sense of pride in my small library (we own over 900 books – I just counted a few weeks ago).  Not to mention the unhaul of books I did a few weeks prior to that bag sale.

But, as much as I love my books… I want my shelves to have meaning to them.  They do now, but I don’t need to obsessively collect books whenever they are presented in front of me.  I am a firm believer that having a book on your shelf for years without reading it is fine as long as the intention is to eventually read it.  To buy a copy of a book I loved that I had gotten from the library is fine – but I don’t need to own every book I’ve ever read.  Same goes for my favorites from childhood.  If I see one at a booksale, grab it.  But no need to grab every single one by the author regardless of if I read it or loved it.  I guess my point is I want to cultivate my bookshelves into a story of my literary life and not just have a small library of things I may never read.  To the same tune, if I don’t enjoy a book then it’s okay to get rid of it.  Hand it on to someone who will love it or get a stack together over time to turn into Half Price books for a trade in.

I need to go through my lesser seen shelves and really decide if some things are worth hanging on to.  Will I ever read it?  If I did read it, did I enjoy it enough to keep it around?  Next step is to find my reading mojo and, despite work, grad school, and other adult type things… start to read voraciously again.

YA Hitting the Highway?

Well as this blog is called “bibliophile lifestyle”, I thought that maybe at some point I could post about, you know, books.

I was looking through BookTube videos on YouTube earlier today and came across a few that expressed something that has been on my mind a lot this year.  Young Adult books, namely my lack of interest in this genre.  For a few years I was all about the YA – nearly everything that I read was YA. I was hooked into so many series and I was reading voraciously.  It was fantastic.  But then.. well.. okay let me backtrack a bit and start at the beginning.

When I was the target age for YA books – there was no YA section. Seriously.  I had the Fear Street and Christopher Pike books that I loved as I was a huge fan of horror novels, but even at that age I was reading Dean Koontz and Stephen King.  Back around 2007 or so when I started cataloging each book that I read it was a lot of adult contemporary.  Slowly YA became a “thing” and then it was a “Big Thing”.  I think Harry Potter really started this off for me.  I will NEVER turn my back on that series or anything that comes from it.  It is a beautifully written series that I adore.

When Potter ended and I closed book seven (for the first time… because let’s be honest it’s been reread a few times since then) I looked for something to fill that void.  I heard about Twilight and figured… “Why not?”  I was hopeful it would cure my Post Potter Depression.  Instead it bothered me – a lot.  I read each book, saw the first movie or two.  But it was just terrible.  Not only was the writing subpar to me, the plot was awful (sparkly vampires…what the fuck?!)… and most of all the abusive relationship between Edward and Bella.  I’ll rant on that another time, but suffice it to say that I do NOT agree with what goes on in that book and shame on the author for glorifying an abusive relationship to young girls, tweens, and teens and passing it off as romantic.

After that I went back and forth between adult contemporary and some YA.  Then a few years ago, three or four years I suppose, it was all about the YA.  I fell in love with Cassandra Clare’s The Mortal Instruments series.  I was in awe of Lauren DeStefano’s Chemical Garden Trilogy.  The Hunger Games and Divergent were a big thing.  These were some of my big time YA loves, and remain some of my favorite series.  That won’t change.

However, the more YA I read the more it felt the same.  A lot of it was dystopian future.  Love triangles.  Insta love.  Over and over..and over.  Sure, there were some unique books thrown in the mix, but I felt like so many were just a retelling of the ones that came before.  I was getting bored.  Then last year I was getting hyped about three books that were coming out (or recently out that I was waiting on getting from the library).  Of those three I didn’t finish one, forced myself to finish the second, and finished the third but figured out the HUGE twist less than halfway in.  It was kind of heart breaking.  It started a major reading slump.  For me, whose first stop at the library or bookstore was the YA section I was losing hope.

I began to read more adult contemporary and some new adult (NONE of that 50 Shades bullshit for me, thanks).  I began to pick up some of the classics I own that I hadn’t gotten around to reading yet.  I looked for other BookTubers to add to my subscriptions that didn’t focus solely on YA.  I was finding more authors and titles I hadn’t thought to pick up before.  Things that made me think and inspired me in a way that YA was no longer doing.

Once I started my graduate school program this March, time has been slim for fun reading. Because of this I was inspired to do a pretty massive unhaul of a lot of YA books and series that I knew I wouldn’t finish.  I still have a TBR miles long – but it’s more of a mix of books and not just one genre.  I am, by no means, saying I will never pick up another YA book again.  Cassandra Clare’s new series will be out soon.  Lauren DeStefano has is still working on the Internment Chronicles.  There are a few on my shelves that I am still really interested in reading as well (Paper Towns, The Daughter of Smoke and Bone).  But, I think that the part of me that enjoyed YA so much as grown.  It’s grown because the YA I read solely  helped me to see things differently and think differently.

All of that said – no one should ever be ashamed for what they are reading.  While I have strong opinions about things like Twilight and 50 Shades, I don’t condemn anyone for reading it, but I will share my thoughts on it if the person is open to hearing them.  So long as a person is reading, I call it a win.

Bout of Books 12.0 Wrap Up!

Bout of Books 12.0 ends tonight, and I doubt I will see much in the way of any progress worth noting tonight.  It was a super long day of moving furniture and cleaning my house… so it was a total loss in the way of reading.  I have to admit, I kinda sucked for this read-a-thon.  I didn’t complete my goal, and until last night I was way behind.

Total pages read: 727

Total books read: 3 – One novel and two graphic novels.

During the week I ended up focusing on The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer.  I didn’t read a lot each night, due to being absolutely knackered after going back to work from a long break, but I tried to get a few pages in each night.  Saturday I finished that book and moved on to Anya’s Ghost… that was a pretty quick read and I was able to also pick up and finish The Gigantic Beard that was Evil.

However I made no progress on Bad Feminist.  I thought I was really going to be more into that one than The Interestings, but that wasn’t the case.  I’m enjoying Bad Feminist, though, and plan to finish it soon.

Not my best read-a-thon but not my worst.

Reviews of all books and graphic novels are forthcoming 🙂

Bout of Books 12.0!

I normally wouldn’t make two posts in a day, let alone within a few hours of each other, but I just noticed that here is a Bout of Books reading challenge starting TOMORROW! I thought about just posting this tomorrow, but I am back at work (after twelve glorious days off) and so I wouldn’t get around to it until the evening and then day one is almost over!

For those who have absolutely no clue what I am talking about here’s the official Bout of Books Website.

I always mean to do these reading challenges, but they always tend to fall to the wayside (Bout of Books, Read Your Bookshelf-a-Thon, Dewey’s 24 Hour Read-a-Thon), but because I am trying to read a bit differently this year (if that makes any sort of sense) I want to try some of these just to keep a momentum going.

Because it is my first week back at work and I know I will have TONS to do because my classroom just got repainted and I have to get ready for new students, etc… I am not going to go too crazy.  These are the reading goals I would like to reach this week, if possible:

I would like to finish the two books I am currently reading:

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The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer
I am currently on page 236 of 538 and would like to finish the book this week.

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Bad Feminist: Essays by Roxane Gay
I am currently on page 71 of 318 and would like to finish this book this week.

The next two are both graphic novels that I have out from the library that I would like to read this week:

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Anya’s Ghost by Vera Brosgol

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The Gigantic Beard that was Evil by Stephen Collins

This may be a bit ambitious of a TBR for the week, but I am more than willing to try and see how far I get!
Are you going to participate in Bout of Books 12.0?  If so comment down below and let me know your goals for this read-a-thon!

(all images via amazon)