Discussion: What affects your reading?

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I’ve been thinking a lot lately about what it even means to enjoy a book or not, and how there are a lot of factors that may influence your experience with a particular story in a positive or negative way.

There are so many books I think about and wonder: would I have liked this less/more if […]? So I wanted to talk about some of the things I’ve noticed have an effect on my reading. I also want to say beforehand that not all books will be affected the same way, and if a book is meant to be for you then not much else will matter.

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Mood & time

Mood is a given: if I’m sad or angry and the book doesn’t manage to make me forget the cause of my mood, of course I won’t enjoy it. The opposite is also true: if I’m relaxed and happy, then I will be more lenient of things I would maybe find annoying under other circumstances.

I am a slow reader. Reading a book takes a lot of time and sometimes I become so hyper aware of time passing that I just can’t enjoy reading anymore. This happens randomly sometimes and I don’t know if it’s an ADHD thing, but most of the time it’s because I know there’s something else I could (or should) be doing, be it homework or chores around the house.

The genre that’s most affected by my sense of time passing is contemporary, especially if it’s YA. It’s one of the reasons I’m not enjoying this genre so much anymore, unless I’m truly relaxed and give myself permission to read it.

Don’t get me wrong, I never think that reading is a waste of time, but sometimes the book just isn’t good enough for me not to feel bad about not doing something else, and it’s mostly just my ADHD/anxiety-riddled brain that’s telling me I should feel like this while reading.

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Format

I think since discovering audiobooks, format has been THE biggest factor that influences my enjoyment of a book.

I’ve listened to so many books that ended up being some of my favorites and that I know I wouldn’t have had the patience to even start in the conventional way, and if I had started them I would’ve felt like it was taking me too long, taking me on a spiral of why am I sitting here reading this (see section above). With audiobooks not only is the reading speed (I usually listen on 1.5x or 1.6x) higher than my own, I also can’t really get distracted and go on twitter like I do when I normally read, because I listen to them while doing something with my hands (usually chores or cooking, sometimes phone games if I’m done with everything but still want to keep listening).

I also don’t feel like I’m wasting my time because I’m usually reading them while I’m doing something I would’ve needed to do anyway, in fact I feel like the books are increasing the quality of my time because it’s literally just me multitasking and getting things done, while getting me closer to that goodreads reading goal.

It sounds silly maybe but audiobooks made me rediscover liking books even when they don’t end up becoming my favorites. I used to feel sad if a book was “only” four stars for me, and thinking back I know some of the five stars I’ve given were actually four stars that I just didn’t know how to rate, because hey, I liked the book, so why shouldn’t it be five stars?, but then I realized if I really enjoyed my experience it didn’t matter that it’s not a five stars. I started rediscovering that with audiobooks and now it’s happening with books I read the “normal” way too, and it makes me so happy. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with giving a lot of five stars and I’ve done that a lot in the past but I’m seeing my ratings now are getting more fair and I’m a bit truer to what I really think about the books I’m reviewing.

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Spoilers (and what does that mean?)

Spoilers are… a funny thing. Everyone sees them differently and there’s always some recurring twitter discourse around them.

I am personally really picky sometimes: with some books, for whatever reason, I want to know nothing before reading. I even avoid reading the blurb. Not because I think having a general idea of what the book is about is a spoiler, but some books just give me this vibe that I will enjoy them more if I don’t know a single thing about them.

Sometimes though I actively look for some spoilers (especially things like………who ends up with who if it’s not clear from the start lmao) and knowing makes reading more enjoyable in these cases.

Something that actually affects how emotionally involved I am in a book is people telling me how much something is going to make me cry, to prepare paper tissues and so on. I am definitely guilty of doing this myself, but when people do it to me I am much more emotionally detached by the time I reach the part they were talking about. I still process what’s going on and feel for the characters and maybe even cry about it later or when/if i reread, but while reading I feel like I’ve already built myself a mental wall and I can’t even cry. (Again, I’m so guilty of doing this to my friends and if it’s as annoying to you as it is to me please let me know and I will refrain from it in the future!)

Similarly to this, when people say there’s a big plot twist coming, it kind of defies the whole purpose of the twist. Especially if this is a goodreads update where you can see the page or percentage of the book, so by the time you get there you’ll know it’s coming and it’s just no fun.

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Narrator

An audiobook narrator can make or break a book. I’ve had mostly positive experiences, but there are some narrators that just don’t work for me or give off a different vibe than what the book is trying to achieve.

If we’re talking about the internal narrator or POV character, that can also be a factor that makes me enjoy the book less or more. It’s tricky because I almost never go “hey, this book would work best if it was in another character’s perspective,” but sometimes even though the book is interesting I just don’t like the POV character and how their train of though works (especially in 1st person YA contemporaries).

There are other times when a narrator is absolutely delightful and even if they only get a few chapters it makes me want to read a whole book in their POV. And speaking of which, I adore when books have multiple POVs (another reason why I’m getting Really back into adult fantasy).

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Expectations

Generally speaking, having expectations about a book is not always a great thing. It might be that the book is really good and you love it but it’s simply not what you were in the mood for because the blurb/reviews made you think it was something different.

Although having low expectations and ending up loving the book can be one of the best feelings when reading.

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Fandom (fanart, memes…)

This is something we don’t always get in western book fandoms unless the book is really popular and/or slightly older. But being in fandoms where there’s a lot of fanart and memes can be such a fun experience and it makes you relive the book over and over and the more you see it on your timeline the more you can’t get it out of your head, sometimes even ending up in your favorites when maybe it wasn’t at first.

On the other hand, a book you loved that has no fandom will stay in your memory but it’s not the same as seeing it every day on twitter, and eventually you’ll forget a lot of it to the point where you’re not even sure if it still classifies as one of your favorites.

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What do you think? Do any of the things I mentioned affect how you will feel about a book? What is an external factor that will always ruin a book for you? Or make the book better? Let me know!

Announcement: what does being bi means to me? // read my guest post on Ben’s blog!

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This is not an actual blog post but since a lot of you don’t follow my twitter I thought I’d share this here. I had the pleasure of being featured on Ben’s guest post series called “On A Case Bi Case Basis” that’s all about people identifying as bi telling their stories and putting into words what being bi means to them.

So if you’re curious about what I had to say, read my post here!And make sure to follow the series throughout the next days to not miss everyone’s posts!

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? 

 

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.