Monday, August 17, 2015

Bout of Books 14

Bout of BooksI'm really excited about this, I have been seriously slacking on my 20 Books of Summer challenge and have fallen WAY behind (like, I've been reading the same book for the entire month of August behind), so hopefully, this readathon will help me kick my butt into high-gear. Actually, the kids being away at camp will probably be the biggest kick in the pants to get some reading done... You should totally join in.  What is Bout of Books all about, you ask?

From the Bout of Books team:

The Bout of Books read-a-thon is organized by Amanda @ On a Book Bender and Kelly @ Reading the Paranormal. It is a week long read-a-thon that begins 12:01am Monday, August 17th and runs through Sunday, August 23rd in whatever time zone you are in. Bout of Books is low-pressure. There are challenges, giveaways, and a grand prize, but all of these are completely optional. For all Bout of Books 14 information and updates, be sure to visit the Bout of Books blog.

I'll be updating my progress here on this post as well as on twitter and instagram so hopefully you'll come find me and let me know what you're reading.

I'm aiming for to at least get through 100 pages a day, I feel like this is totally doable since the kids are away, but also not overwhelming, because I still have a full-time job and, you know, a life to deal with and stuff. I'm not putting together a formal tbr for this readathon as I like to just read whatever strikes my fancy, but I'd like to finish 2 books this week (but I'd honestly be happy with finishing just one and wrapping up my current read) and hopefully take part in at least 1 challenge.


Pages read today: 57
Pages read this week: 57
Notes: Super tired today after work, and fell asleep when I should have been reading. So far not doing super awesome at my 100-pages-a-day goal. Planning on making up for it tomorrow.

Pages read today: 106
Pages read this week:163
Notes: Not a bad reading day, I hit my goal of 100 pages which is pretty fantastic. Yay me.

Pages read today: 58
Pages read this week: 221
Notes: Today I only read on the train, I'm not feeling super productive this week.

Pages read today: 69
Pages read this week: 290
Notes: Not much read today (I've been binge watching Luther... OMG sooo addictive) but finished American Gods finally, yay!!

Pages read today: 11
Pages read this week: 301
Notes: I read one short story today from Margaret Atwood's Moral Disorder. This one is going to be my next commute book. My boys came home from their week at camp tonight so I didn't read at all this evening. Totally worth it.

Pages read today: 0
Pages read this week: 301
Notes: We had soccer tournament/bbq/festival Saturday and martial arts class and family dinner on Sunday so no reading got done over the weekend, but lots of fun family time <3.

Total Pages Read This Week: 301
Total Books Read This Week: 1


I didn't manage to reach my 100-page-a-day goa;, but I did manage to finish my current reach, which was pretty dense. Bout of Books is such a laid back readathon that I am totally satisfied and don't feel like a failure at all with how I did ;) 

How did your reading week go?

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Handling An Overwhelming TBR List

I used to keep a handwritten list of all the books I wanted to read. If I saw a book in a store that looked interesting but forgot to write it down on the list, it would be forgotten. Probably forever, never to be read. Generally, my written list would have anywhere from 50-100 books on it at any given time. This system wasn't perfect, but it worked usually. Unfortunately, I forgot to write new books down often, and a lot of books I wanted to read or meant to read never actually got read. This both frustrated and saddened me. And then I discovered Goodreads (thank the Book Gods for Goodreads!) 

Now I could browse new books, rate and keep reviews of the books I’d read, AND keep a TBR that wouldn’t get misplaced or forgotten! I’m crazy about Goodreads, I absolutely love it. I never forget to add a book to my list anymore. BUT (yes, there is a but) I also have more books on my TBR list than I ever had before.  My TBR list on Goodreads is over 700 books long. That is a crazy amount of books. Even if I read 100 books a year (my goal for next year is only 50 – double what it was this year) it will take me SEVEN years to get to the end of the list. That’s before considering all the books I will probably add to the list during the 7 years it take me to finish the list in the first place. 700 books, and it’s not getting any longer.  

When my list was around 500 books long, I started to let it stress me out. I started to think, “maybe I should stop adding books to my TBR until I’ve read all of these first”. And then I realized that if I stopped adding new books, I would forget about them – and then I would never have the chance (however unlikely) to get to them. 

The way I look at my TBR list now is as more of a “someday maybe” list. It’s for books I don’t own, or don’t have the desire to get at the library in the immediate future. The books I choose to read are very often chosen by how I feel – do I feel like reading a mystery just because it’s on my TBR? More often than not, the answer will be no. And I’ll choose something else on a whim. Even though I take such a relaxed approach to my TBR list – (which is very different from my TBR pile, which is unread books I actually own) not everyone does. If looking at an overwhelming TBR list gives you hives, I’ve put together a list of tips that might help you. [If you've read anything on project management, some of these may look familiar to you ;)]
Unless it’s for school, your TBR list is supposed to have all the books you want to read on it for fun. Are you going to enjoy your current read if you’re stressed about finishing it so you can move on to the next book on the list? Probably not. Reading for pleasure is usually a relaxing pastime. It’s not homework. It’s not your job (unless it is your job, if so, you probably don’t need a list like this one). Give yourself a break, cut yourself some slack. Stop telling yourself you have to finish all the books. You don’t have to, you want to, and that’s a different beast entirely.
If you can – personally, I don’t like to do this, but if your list is out of control and driving you nuts try it out. How many books did you read last year? Double that number and you have your TBR limit, it'll be challenging, but not insanely overwhelming. Try not to let your list get past 50 titles, or 100 if that number doesn't scare you.
If keeping a running list of 50 or 100 is still too much, try giving your lists a time limit such as books you’d like to read in the next month, or in the next year. Once that time is up, consider if the books left are still interesting to you. If they are, and you intend to read them soon, add them to next month’s/ year’s list. If not, forget about them. (You can always re-add them later if you really want to)
Try to avoid adding too many books to your list at once (my downfall), maybe consider adding a new book to your list every time you cross one off? My mom taught me to employ this method when it comes to clothes shopping and believe me when I say that it has saved my closet. Why not your TBR list?
I am not under the illusion that I will somehow win millions of dollars in the lottery, retire at 25 and devote the rest of my free time (which would be ALL of my time) to reading all of the books that I could ever want to read ever. (I can admit that it is a dream of mine, but I know it’s not a realistic one.)There is no way that I will ever, realistically, get to the end of my ever growing list. And I’m ok with that. Be realistic about your expectations and keep your list to a number that you think you can actually get to the end of, if getting to the end really matters to you.
Your list I mean. Compare the books that you want to read against each other. Are there books on your list that are very similar to one another? Do you really need to read 3 different series about fallen angels? Do you really need to read 4 different epic fantasy sagas – all with more than 10 books in each series? (That one may just be me). Probably not. Compare similar books closely, read reviews of each. Decide which books you may prefer, and say goodbye to the others. Trust me, I spent the better part of a year reading nothing but paranormal/vampire-centric romances, I read everything from Twilight to the Sookie Stackhouse (True Blood) series. And while I loved them, I can readily admit that I am sick of the genre overall. I don’t have to read another vampire romance again. You’ll feel free. And the sight of yet another fallen-angel series on a book store shelf won’t make you nauseous.
Be choosy. Be picky. Be persnickety. Scrutinize every book you consider adding to your list. Are you familiar with the author? Are the reviews good? Generally, unless it’s a book I KNOW I will love, I tend to trust in the popular opinion. If 1000 reviewers on Goodreads gave a book less than 3 stars, I probably won’t love it. It might be an OK book, but when it comes to the books that I actually want to give my limited time to, I prefer great ones over the mediocre. 
I modified this tip from a project management guide. While it may not be feasible to get someone to do your reading for you à la Cath and Levi of Fangirl, you can get your audio reading on while you are doing other things, like driving or walking the dog. Try audio books and you can knock off a book that might take you a couple days to read in a  much shorter amount of time, without even trying.
Try sorting through your TBR list and try separating the books you want to read into different categories. Maybe separate your YA from your adult fiction. Try separating your classics from your contemporaries. Maybe separating them by topic would work for you, all fallen-angel related books on one list, all zombie novels on another (maybe reconsider tip #6). Looking at smaller lists that are sorted into categories will be less overwhelming, and it will make it easier to find the books you feel like reading at the moment. Feel like reading a horror? If you’ve got a list dedicated to the genre, you’ll find something quicker than searching through a list that has every book you could ever dream of reading thrown in together.
There are a lot of books on my TBR that I consider books I “should” read. The autobiographies of Nelson Mandela and Gloria Steinem come to mind, but there are lots of others. Remember tip #1 (it may just be the most important tip of all) this isn’t homework. No one is telling you that you have to read anything you don’t really want to. Not crazy about classics but feel like you should read more Jane Austen? Don’t. You don’t have to make a fun hobby into work. I tried forcing myself to read stuff that wasn’t exciting me and that’s how my last reading slump happened (someone remind me to write a post about how to get out of a slump). If thinking about reading a book on your list doesn’t excite you and make you want to pick it up now, ditch it. You can always re-add it later if you change your mind.
BONUS TIP – for the utterly desperate
Throw it away. Delete it. Get rid of the whole thing. Take a break from Goodreads and move forward on a book-to-book basis. Choose your books based on what you want to read right now. And once that book is done chose your next read. You can go on like this indefinitely or you can return to a TBR style list if you ever get stuck on what to read next. Or you can try a website like
 How do you handle your TBR List? Do you have a separate TBR Pile of physical books like I do? Have you tried any of the above tips? Will you? Got any other tips to share? Let me know!