Why I Won’t Make a Bookstagram (Again)

Discussion

First off, it goes without saying that this is not a post to hate on bookstagrammers, in fact, far from it! I love looking at beautiful pictures of books just as much as everyone else does.

But I want to talk about my personal reasons for not being on it anymore, and I wouldn’t do this post if I hadn’t seen that I’m not the only one who’s really frustrated with that specific part of the bookish world.

Probably nobody remembers, but for around two months back in late 2016 I had a bookstagram where I tried to post every day. It was back when I had a more time on my hands than I knew what to do with, and I didn’t really want to be in my own head, and basically I was a little bit all over the place, so I guess I welcomed having something to do, planning a post, taking the same picture from different angles and all that.

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One of my old bookstagram pics

It was fun until I saw that I didn’t like who I was while I was a bookstagrammer. I was feeling a lot of envy, and it wasn’t just about the books but also about the various items, mostly bookish candles, that people either bought or were sent for promotion. Basically, being on bookstagram got me in the mindset that if I didn’t have those extra things I was never going to be anybody in that community, not to mention that I felt like I needed to start buying physical books (which I normally hardly ever buy), and especially hardcovers because “they look better”.

As soon as I realized how toxic it was, I ran the hell out and never looked back.

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Another picture I like from back then

Because it was toxic to me, it doesn’t mean like bookstagram as a whole is toxic. But I keep seeing comments from people who don’t enjoy being on it, and I see that publishers put a lot of focus on whether you have a bookstagram or not when you reach out to them asking for ARCs, which puts a lot of pressure on people in the book community to continue bookstagramming even though they might not enjoy it.

I also know that bookstagram is also not very diverse-friendly. I have seen several people complain that unless they post books that are already super hyped (and usually not very diverse), they don’t really get many views on their pictures featuring diverse and less well-known books. It makes some twisted sort of sense of course, but it just contributes to marginalized authors being ignored by the larger book community and that’s something that makes me dislike bookstagram as a whole beyond my personal experience with it.

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This is the pic I’m most proud of!

What are your thoughts and feelings about bookstagram? Do you have one? Do you enjoy being on it? 

 

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2018 reading and blogging goals

Happy new year everyone!

Ideally I should have written this post in December, but I figure it’s also a good post to start the year with.

My resolutions aren’t anything big or extra challenging, but I do have some things that I wish to change and improve.

  • The biggest change that I wish to make is to start reading audiobooks. I’ve never felt the need to do so but now that I live alone I find myself hating doing chores. Wait, that’s normal? Okay, but I mean… I hate chores also because I feel like I could be doing something in the meantime. And yeah sometimes I listen to music but at some point I started thinking “what if I managed to read (listen to) something on my TBR while I’m cooking/ironing/idk.” I finally got an audible account and I’ve already started listening to my first audiobook (I got Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman). I’m also looking for more audiobook recs so if you have any definitely let me know!
  • The second goal is something I’ve already started doing in 2017 and it’s also about managing my reading time in a better way. I found that by installing the kindle app on my phone I got a lot of more reading time while I was outside (on the bus, train, wherever), and I want to continue doing this and get better at it. So: keep reading while I’m stuck somewhere with only my phone. The only problem is that I don’t want to do this with every book, because reading only a few pages at the time doesn’t work for, say, fantasy (at least for me), so this brings me to my next point:
  • Having more than one current read of different genres (but not too many). Until a few months ago I was an exclusive one-book-at-the-time reader. I still find that that’s the best way for me to enjoy the books that end up being among my favorites, especially if they’re fantasy. But when I started reading more contemporaries and when I started getting more ARCs I realized that sometimes in order to keep reading and not give in to the reading slump I had to start reading something else too, so this past year I’ve managed to read a few books at the time, and that’s what I want to keep doing. But I also don’t want to get overwhelmed with current reads, so my rule is that at any given time I can’t have more than one contemporary, one fantasy, one non-fiction and one graphic novel on my currently reading shelf, plus one audiobook because that’s a different format anyway.
  • This is not only book related, but I really need to manage my time better. I keep trying to do ten things at once and end up finishing none. I switch on my laptop to “write one blog post” and end up scrolling goodreads, tumblr, twitter, starting to write a review, google how to make edits, start reading a webcomic, chat with friends… Eventually it’s 1am and I haven’t accomplished one (1) single thing and I really want to stop doing that. If I want to be constantly active on my blog I also need to block out all distractions while I’m drafting a post.
  • Learn how to read faster. This is not exactly a priority but I get so annoyed at myself when I see that I seem to be reading 3x slower than a lot of people. I tried to blame it on English not being my first language, but honestly a lot of my friends whose first language also isn’t English read so much faster than me. I can’t really explain why but I seem to be reading at talking speed, so that means that it never takes me less than 6 hours to read a 300 something pages book. I know I can go faster, but that for me means skim reading, and it’s not something I want to do (if I’m doing it it means I’m hating the book). If anyone has advice on how to learn to read a bit faster while also savoring the book please let me know! I’m kind of desperate at this point.
  • Be better at blogging. I mean it in every way possible, from posting regularly to creating better content. Specifically though, the main thing I want to do is write one discussion post every month. Even if it’s not an actual discussion, I still want to write something that is completely mine and not just a copy of what everyone else does. My most popular posts are discussions after all, so that makes me hopeful that people actually like the things I have to say. The downside is that to be able to write those I need to have time, not only to write them but also to engage in the book community on wordpress, twitter and goodreads, and I don’t always have the time/energy to do so.
  • Post mini reviews. Seriously, if you know me from goodreads, you know I read a lot more than what I post here on the blog. If 2018 is going to be like 2017, I will read a lot of webcomics, short stories, whatever. Sometimes I will even read full length books that I simply can’t write a full review on because they’re too perfect and I can’t find more than a few words for them. I post all of those on my goodreads, but why not post them here too? I started blogging with the impression that all my reviews here had to be perfectly structured and long-ish and I’d keep my more rambly and generally less pretty reviews on goodreads only, but why limit myself that way? 2018 is going to be very busy for me so I need t make sure that I am able to use the content I am able to create, even if it’s a mini review. With that said, I also want to write better long reviews when I do write them, especially with my ARCs.
  • Speaking of which… I really need to read the eARCs I received in 2017. I have a few books that are the second part of a trilogy and the final book is coming out this year and I’m still here like….but I still have the ARC of book two. Oops.
  • Even with the changes to Netgalley, I was able to request a few more ARCs (and not just “wish” for them). I’m not sure how, but I was also approved for a couple of them, so the goal is to keep trying to request, but only things I’m 100% interested in.
  • I need to read books in German. Please kick my ass if I don’t. Ideally I want to read one a month, but…..we’ll see.

I’m sure I’m forgetting something but that’s all I can think of  right now! Let me know what your goals for 2018 are and tell me if you have audiobook recommendations (I’ll be eternally grateful) or tips on how to read faster!

A look at 2017

I find this kind of post really hard to start writing, so let’s start by looking at numbers because numbers are easy.

I set my reading challenge to 100 books for this year, and I managed to read 120, which is my personal best. However, not all books were full length novels, and some were manga, graphic novels or webcomics. Those still count in my opinion (and in goodreads’ opinion) so I personally don’t really care that some people will be like “oh that’s not really impressive then”.

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I also DNF’d 11 books. I know everyone feels differently about DNF’ing books, but personally I count that as a win. Granted I can say this easily because most of those were ARCs so I didn’t actually waste money on them, but DNF’ing books I’m hating (or even just not enjoying) was one of my reading goals of this year, so I’m really proud of myself for doing that. Of course it still sucks when the book you have to DNF is something you paid for with your own money, but fortunately that has only happened a couple of times this year.

But let’s go back to the books I did read until the end and see what goodreads says.

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Ah, it really is my curse to be reminded of *that*. I talked a lot about all the issues I had with ACOWAR, mostly regarding representation and how I don’t seem to enjoy SJM’s writing so much anymore. I don’t feel like talking about it again but you can read my review here.

I’m not surprised that the average length is so short. As I said, I read a few short stories (mostly ARCs I got) and some comics, so that’s okay. I know I also read a few really long books so *shrug*

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My average rating is something that makes me question the way I rate books. I think I’m happy with my rating system, but I also realize that I give a lot of five stars to books that don’t make it to my “favorite” shelf. I don’t know if this is something I want to change in the future though, because as I said, I think this system works for me. The only thing I would need is an extra star to give to my actual favorites, but we can’t always have what we want.

And while we’re talking about favorites, I think it’s time to finally talk about my reading year in words instead of numbers.

This was a year of reading great books, but it wasn’t a year of life-changing books. Better said: I can point to a lot of books that, because I read them together with many others, contributed to a lot of changes in my life, but I can’t really point at a single one of them and say, “This was it, this changed me.”

And that’s okay, but coming from 2016, which was the year I read truly life-changing books and series, the realization that this year I can’t claim the same made me a little sad.

But even if I can’t point at one book specifically that “changed my life”, I know exactly how each book I read changed me as a reader and as a person, even if just in small ways, and I owe who I am now to the combination of many of the books I read this year rather than to a single one.

In truth, analyzing a single reading year is only a convenient way to split the continuum that is, in this context, our whole reading life, but it’s fun nonetheless.

And, because you can’t end the year without saying which ones are your favorites, here it is:

Favorites read this year (not counting rereads)

 

There are many honorable mentions that I could name but won’t, and there are many (so many) books I wish I had read but I didn’t manage to, in part because I’m a really slow reader and in part because with some kinds of books I really need to be in the right mood in order to fully enjoy them.

This post is a mess and there is so much more that I wanted to say but I’m so scared of getting too cheesy so I’ll just end it by wishing you all a happy 2018, and if you are someone who in the past year has talked to me even with just a little comment, a big shout-out to you 💕🌈

November Wrap-Up

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Well, what a weird month reading-wise this has been for me! I think it’s safe to say that I’ve been a little more relaxed with reading lately (in the past few months), but that was always because I was too busy. This month however, I totally feel like I was in a legit slump because even though I had many books that I was excited for, I rarely felt like reading them. But I did feel like reading something, and maybe it was the anticipation for Fence, but I was so in the mood for comics that I started reading some and ended up reading a lot of them (well, at least a lot more than I usually do). I’ve had these comics-streaks in the past but it was mostly for manga, whereas this time it’s been more for webcomics (they’re awesome and they”re free!), specifically for lgbtq+ ones.

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As you can see, I’ve only finished two novels this month (Evenfall: Volume I by Santino Hassell and Ais, and Gemini Keeps Capricorn by Anyta Sunday), and everything else is webcomics (yes that’s right, except for Fence everything else is available to read online for free!).

You can check out my individual reviews on my goodreads, but because they’re so many and there are really a few gems among them that not many people might know about, I’m going to make a separate LGBT+ webcomic recommendation post soon, so I hope you’ll look forward to that.

CURRENTLY READING

Given what I said before, it’s no surprise that I’m in the middle of reading another LGBT+ webcomic, plus I’m also reading two novels that I’d been looking forward to for a while.

 

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Godsgrave by Jay Kristoff (sequel to Nevernight) came out in September I believe but I still hadn’t finished rereading book one, and because these books aren’t exactly easy to read I kept postponing it. I’m still only around 20% but I love it and I only wish I had time to binge read it within a couple of days but I sadly don’t.

And… can you believe that The Sword of Summer is my first Rick Riordan book?? I’ve been meaning to start reading his books for ages but I still hadn’t gotten around to it. I’m not very far into it because of my slump but what I did read was awesome! It’s definitely written for the younger side of YA but it’s super enjoyable by adults as well! I’m really looking forward to finishing it and continuing the series, but the way it is at the moment I’m keeping it for when I need a light read before bed or something. Maybe I’ll binge it in the holidays but we’ll see!

 

TV SHOWS

I started watching Brooklyn Nine-Nine (I guess that’s also why I had less time for reading…ahem) and I love it! Jake Peralta is a gem of a main character and I love all the other characters too (Rosa Diaz owns my heart).

I also don’t think I’ve ever seen a more diverse TV show and that’s part of the reason why I started watching it (besides all my friends telling me to…and now I know why they did!). I’m pretty sure everyone else is watching it already but if you aren’t I definitely recommend it!

I also started Stranger Things and it’s possible that by the time this post gets published (I had to schedule it because I’m away for the weekend) I might have finished it, but as of now I’m in the middle of the second season and I love it. I’m also too scared to watch it alone so that’s why I haven’t managed to finish it yet.

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I also totally forgot to mention it in my October Wrap Up but I binged Voltron: Legendary Defender and it’s now easily one of my favorite shows. I’m just carefully avoiding the fandom though because it’s a mess and I don’t want anything to do with it.

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GAMES

I installed Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp and it’s just a silly little game but it keeps me entertained for a few minutes a day and I love that you can add your IRL and online friends.

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Add me if you’re also playing!

I wish I were still playing Persona 5 but I haven’t touched it in months and I don’t know when I’ll be able to continue it so I’m a little sad about that, but there’s enough on my plate already.

 

Well this post was long but I really like including other things in my Wrap Ups whenever I can, I hope you all don’t mind!

Let me know how this month was for you and what your plans for December and for the holidays are, I’d love to hear that!

Until next time!

#T5W: Books You’re Thankful For

Top Five Wednesday is a book meme that Lainey started and I discovered through the lovely Samantha‘s videos. If you’re interested you can join the goodreads group to get the topics for each week.

This week’s topic:

November 22nd: Books You’re Thankful For
–For whatever reason, big or small.

In no particular order, and not only books because I couldn’t leave my favorite anime out:

Captive Prince

For its love story and all the collateral effects (all positive) that reading it had on my life.

Throne of Glass

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And more specifically Empire of Storms, for a scene that unblocked years of suppressed emotions at the time I needed it.

Harry Potter

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For being my friend in high school.

All for the Game

For telling me I’m not a monster when I was afraid I was one.

Yuri!!! On Ice

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For Yuuri, Victor, Yuri and Otabek, and for more reasons than I could ever write here.

October Wrap-Up

Another month has gone by and I hardly noticed. Actually, that’s not true, because I went on a road trip to the US (California-Arizona-Utah-Nevada-California) for two weeks and it felt like I stayed there for a month, but then I came back and realized I only got two weeks of regular life this month and idk that’s just weird. ANYWAY, my trip went well and speaking of books I obviously didn’t manage to read as much as I usually do, but I just happened to finish three books that I had already started at home while I was on the road (I don’t have a driver’s license so I did manage to read something while being driven around despite my motion sickness lol) so overall I’m satisfied.

Read

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  • Tower of Dawn by Sarah J. Maas (4 stars) – that went better than expected, considering I was really scared that I would hate it, because despite all its issues the ToG series means a lot to me.
  • The Valet by SJ Foxx (3 stars) – this is an lgbt historical romance/erotica. I had a few issues with it but overall it was really cute and a fun and quick read.
  • There’s Someone Inside Your House by Stephanie Perkins (3 stars) – this had a really good start in my opinion but the second half of the book didn’t live up to the first. It’s still probably worth checking out if you like the genre (kind of a YA slasher).
  • Nevernight by Jay Kristoff (5 stars) – this was a reread that I had started back in August and I finally managed to finish on my 12-hour flight to the US. I never hid my love for this book even though I still can’t write a proper review for it (probably never will). I’m aware that some people found issues of representation within it, which I personally didn’t catch (not even on my second read). However, the series has also very good lgbt rep, as the main character (and I assume another one as well) is bisexual. I know this aspect is explored more in the second book in the series and I can’t wait to read that. The writing style seems to be a hit or miss. You either love it to pieces (my case) or can’t get into it all. Personally I find it so unique (at least in its genre) and that’s what sold it to me from the first pages, when the story wasn’t clear yet.
  • Kobane Calling by Zerocalcare (5 stars) – this is a graphic novel by an Italian artist who traveled to the zones liberated from Dаеsh during 2015 and 2016. The comic is the tale of his travels there and the people he met. Despite the seriousness of the topic, the comic is hilariously told, but it’s not without its tear-inducing moments. Still, the the author’s humor works wonders (mind you, the humor is very Italian. I read an English translation because I found it on Netgalley -and I had wanted to read it since it came out in Italian- and I found that the translation was done well enough. However there are probably some jokes or references one might miss if they didn’t grow up in Italy). I definitely recommend reading it even if it’s outside of your usual genre. Even though the situation in those regions is ever-evolving, it’s still a great report of a very significant point in the history of the people living there, and it puts a lot of things into perspective.

 

Currently reading

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Out of all those, the only one I’m actively reading is Evenfall (which I’m loving so far). Don’t kill me, but I wasn’t enjoying The Little Prince very much (I am also very slow since I’m reading it in German and I think it’s kind of an old translation) so I kind of left it for later and it’s been sitting in my CR list for a few months now. I’ll finish it at some point I guess.

The other book I’m not really reading is Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls, but that’s on me because my book is currently around 1000km away from me (in my hometown, because I didn’t have enough space in my bag to bring it here last time). However, I definitely recommend it and I’ll make sure to bring it over next time!

I never do a monthly TBR because I’m too much of a mood reader, but I know that I’ll read Fence by C.S. Pacat and Johanna the Mad. You can read my preview and also come over on twitter and join the pre-release challenge my friends and I created (yes this is shameless self promo).

Let me know if you’ve read any of the books I read the past month and if you’re just as excited about Fence as I am, and until the next post ♥

September Wrap-Up

Hello! I’m just going to call myself out and proclaim it a miracle that I actually remembered to do a monthly wrap up on the actual last day of the month, yay!

So here’s what I read this month:

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That really isn’t much (don’t mind the two 3x in the short stories, those are just the times I’ve read them this year -but only once this month!) but I’ve had a busy month between moving, travelling, getting sick (twice!!!!!!), starting to play Persona 5, starting to watch Voltron and writing. It’s really hard to balance everything but I’m overall happy with how much I managed to read (I also am almost done with Tower of Dawn but I will finish it tomorrow so it sadly didn’t make this list).

So let’s take a look:

  • Fortitude Smashed was a weird read for me, really cute overall but it was ruined by a few things that were really unnecessary.
  • Kings Rising completed my fourth reread of the Captive Prince series and it was as painful as ever! It emotionally destroyed me and began patching me up again, something that only the two short stories:
  • The Summer Palace and The Adventures of Charls the Veretian Cloth Merchant managed to do. These two short stories are both so different and so cathartic that I can’t believe there was a time when we had to read the trilogy without having those stories ready to be read.
  • Scorpio Loops Virgo was an epilogue of sorts to Cal and Percy’s story from Scorpio Hates Virgo, and it was just the sweetest thing I’ve ever read!
  • As I said, I’m almost done reading Tower of Dawn, so while that will be a topic for next month’s wrap up, I just want to say that I love the Throne of Glass world and even after the disappointment of ACOWAR I find myself mostly enjoying this book. However, there are undeniable representation issues that I don’t think it’s my place to talk about. I still haven’t read any review for it but I’ll make sure to look for reviews of disabled people because I feel like they will rightfully be offended by how certain things are handled in this book.
  • The last thing I read is chapter one of Starfighter, a M/M scifi webcomic I just started today. I only read one chapter out of four (five?) available but, well, it’s certainly a weird read at first sight, but I couldn’t stop reading and the last page made me want to read the rest. You can read Starfighter here, but please be aware that it features very explicit content and you should be 18+ if you want to read it.

I also DNF’d Masks by Amara Lynn because it was, how do you say…bad.

I already talked about the other stuff I did this month, so let me just wrap up this post by reminding you about Fence! You can read my pre-review/discussion if you want to get excited for it, and here you can find out how to pre-order it based on where you live in the world. Sadly I’m not paid by C.S. Pacat or Johanna the Mad to promote their comic before it’s even out, but I’m literally THAT excited that I want everyone to know about it and die of anticipation with me.

I’ve never liked September but I also always found that it’s a month of new beginnings. I count last September as the month I started reviewing books regularly – technically I had started in August but I only thought of myself as a reviewer one year ago exactly, and next month will be my one year anniversary of this blog!

So tell me, what do you think I should do to celebrate? Granted I will be away on holiday for two weeks in October so any celebration will have to wait until November. Please let me know if you have any ideas and tell me something new you’ve done this month!