On Reading Multiple Books at the Same Time

Once upon a time, I had a very strict rule of reading one fiction book and as many nonfiction books as I wanted at one time. This was back when I only read one genre of fiction. Then as my reading tastes started expanding, I allowed myself 1 book from each genre. Then I added new formats, and allowed 1 book from each genre in different formats. It got to the point I was reading at least 15 different books at a time {I got up to 23 on one occasion}. Needless to say this got a little overwhelming.

So after reading all of the books at the same time, I cut back to just one in each format {physical, digital, audio}, but I have found this isn’t working too well for me either. All of my review books are digital, but I also have several series and other books in digital form that I am anxious to read as well. By only reading one digital book at a time I am getting further behind on my reviews and it’s taking me forever to get to other books that I want to read. It makes me anxious and then I’m not enjoying what I’m reading.

Another issue when I cut way back on the number of books I read at once is that I end up just reading from one genre for a while and I feel like I am missing out everywhere else. If I’m reading a physical romance and a digital review and I’m listening to a young adult audio book, then I’m missing out on memoirs and science fiction, and probably either fantasy or contemporary as well. Again, this makes me anxious about missing out on the other reads and makes it harder to focus on my current reads.

There is a happy medium. And for me that number is 5. I can happily have 5 books going at one time and not feel overwhelmed by all that I’m trying to read or feel anxious about all that is not being read. I listen to one audio book {generally whenever I’m in the car} and read 1-2 physical books and 2-3 digital books. This keeps me from getting bored and allows me to read for both reviews and for fun.

Do you read more than one book at a time?

On My Problem With Buying Books

Hello, my name is Michelle and I am a book buying addict. Seriously, when I have the money {and sometimes even when I don’t}, I can’t seem to stop myself from buying books. Trips to the bookstore, online orders, Kindle deals and free books… any and everything to put more and more books on my shelf and inside my Kindle.

The truth of the matter is that I probably already own more unread books than I can read in this lifetime… and I’m not stopping. There are so many amazing books being written and published each month that my literal TBR bookcases will remain overflowing perpetually. But honestly I’m ok with that. I like that I’ll never really run out of things to read.

Of course this addiction to adding more and more books to my shelves does come at a very literal cost. Books, and places to house them, don’t come cheap. I try to take advantage of sales and discounts when purchasing books. And I try to get creative in using the space I have to fit as many books as possible {my books are generally double stacked on the shelves}.

I decided to share the various sources of book buying I indulge in, and how I try to keep my budget in check at each one…

Traditional Book Stores:
In my area this pretty much means Barnes & Noble. I have 3 very strong strategies for shopping at B&N. First, I pay for the annual membership because I more than earn that expense back throughout the course of the year with the discount. Second, I don’t shop the shelves… I only shop the tables where they feature sales. I especially enjoy the Buy 2 Get 1 Free table. And thirdly, I shop the Bargain area. I can usually find a lot of hard cover books here priced less than a new release paperback of the same title.

Online Stores:
I tend to shop from discounted book sellers like The Book Outlet. While some of their books have minor cover markings or stickers, all of the books I’ve received have been in great condition. The Book Depository also has lower prices and has free shipping, but since most everything ships from the UK and I live in the US, delivery time takes a while.

I use Amazon in a lot of different ways… I hit their sales for both Kindle and physical books on a regular basis {and have Prime so I have access to a free new release every month, as well as free shipping on most physical orders}. I hit their marketplace for hard to find, out of print books, and have been happy with the quality of books that I received through this {both new and used options are generally available}. And then there are all of the free Kindle titles that I fill up my Kindle with. As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve used their Kindle Unlimited lending service as well for audio books, {a smaller selection of these books are available for free through Prime Reading- also a lending service- but the selection is not as big for the audio versions}. Plus I’m an Amazon affiliate, so every few months, if people shop off my links, I might earn enough for a $10 Amazon gift card… which goes right back for more books!

What strategies do you use to keep book buying from breaking the bank?

On My Bookish Confessions

I have some things that I need to confess…

There are some secrets about my reading and blogging habits that I feel I finally need to share and come clean about. Hopefully I won’t shock you when I reveal them… and hopefully you will all still love me when I’m done {assuming you love me now haha}.

~ I don’t care if my series match.
I have several series that switch between paperback and hardback, and a lot of them have mismatched covers or mismatched sizes among the paperbacks. And it really doesn’t bother me at all. I do prefer to have the entire series in either physical form or digital form, but I’ve become flexible on this as well… unless it’s a series I want to keep, then it must all be in physical form.

~ The cover doesn’t matter that much.
To clarify, I love beautiful covers as much as the next person, and there are books that make it to my TBR or into my shopping cart simply because I fall in love with their covers. But if I there is more than one cover design out there, I’m not going to obsess about getting a specific cover, I want what’s between the covers more. An addendum to this however, is if one design has snakes on the cover I will avoid it at all costs… I can’t do snakes.

~ I actually like spoilers.
Yeah, I really don’t care if people spoil books, though I try not to in my reviews because I know most people prefer to be surprised. In fact there are times that I look for spoilers in series. And I generally spoil myself because I am famous for skimming ahead and always know what’s going to happen. I still go back and read everything in between, but I like to know the end. This is why I don’t really read mysteries. The only books I can’t read ahead in are audio books {but I usually look for spoilers if I really want to know}. Maybe I should try a mystery audio?

~ I don’t always use a bookmark.
I absolutely 100% do not dog-ear pages in books {that is an evil habit I cannot support}, but I don’t always use a bookmark. I have been known to grab whatever is handy and have used things such as the tops of treat packets, the subscription card from a magazine, advertisements, index cards, receipts, and other random pieces of trash laying around.

~ I prefer series to stand-alones.
I want to remain with the characters I fall in love with for as long as possible, so I’m always looking for a series over a stand alone. And while I enjoy series that switch up the main characters for each book, it’s those that continue to follow the same characters throughout that I truly adore. I just can’t get enough!!

~ I actually like insta-love!
I like slow burn, friends to more, and other types of romance tropes as well, but I really do enjoy insta-love! Basically I love most romance tropes.

~ I probably haven’t read the book I’m featuring in my quote memes {yet}.
I blog ahead… very far ahead. As of this writing {which is approximately 6 weeks before you will be reading it}, I have all of my available memes scheduled for the remainder of the year. When I was putting together the posts, I made piles of my books and picked the quotes I was going to feature. As you saw above, I have no problem jumping ahead and spoiling myself, this works with picking quotes too. Once the posts are written, the books then get packed in boxes to prepare for my move {As you read this I will be alternating my time between more work travel and apartment hunting… and yes I’ve been preparing to move for a year now, I know}, so the odds are I haven’t unpacked them again to read them before their post goes live. In fact, I am starting to plan out next year’s schedule with the new books I just received before they get packed away.

So have any of my confessions shocked you?? Do you have any secrets you want to share?

On Reading From Multiple Genres

I learned fairly early in my life that I have a pretty short attention span. I tend to get bored if I don’t switch things up regularly. One of the things that has helped me to read a lot more was introducing new and varied genres to my reading list.

While Romance is still my number one genre, and I prefer books from any genre to have a little romance in them, I have come to love multiple genres. I would have never imagined that I would love science fiction, but The Martian is a favorite of mine. Literary fiction was something I figured was reserved for required reading for school, but books like All the Light We Cannot See changed my mind about that. Thrillers used to be a genre I avoided at all costs, but The Girl on the Train was enjoyable. Young Adult, Middle Grade, even Children’s books have made their way back to my reading list… and I’ve read more books over the last two years than I did in the 5+ years previous combined.

Opening myself to new genres, and therefore a multitude of amazing new books, I’ve been able to overcome any boredom I used to run into. Instead of not reading for a while when I lose interest, now I just jump into a different genre. Or I just jump between genres anyway to prevent myself from becoming bored in the first place. My options are pretty much limitless and I’ve found that stepping out of my comfort zone when it comes to books is really easy now… because my comfort zone is basically just good books! There are really only a couple of genres that I still don’t read from (horror and mystery) and some sub-genres that I tend to avoid (vampires), but for the most part I’ll try anything.

Now all of this openness to read new things does come with a few problems… I buy way too many books and my TBR list grows exponentially when new releases are announced. I’ll talk more about these two issues at a later time.

Do you stick to one genre or branch out?

On the Definition of Discussion

What do you think of when you think of a discussion post? I used to think that discussion posts had to be deep and thought provoking, that they had to look at an issue and analyze it or give an opinion. But now I think it’s simpler than that. A discussion can be anything you want it to be.

Sometimes a discussion is deep, about a topic that is important to you or an issue that keeps cropping up in the community. But other times a discussion can be light and fun. And at still other times a discussion can be completely random. And sometimes a discussion is just any post that isn’t a review or a meme.

I think part of the reason I have struggled with discussion posts is that I’ve had it in my head that they have to be super serious and talk about things that could generate a lot of debate and differing opinions. And we’ve already established how I feel about that. But I really don’t know why I thought this way. I mean I don’t expect other bloggers to post serious deep discussion posts. I mean, Cait at Paperfury is one of my favorite bloggers and her discussions are full of humor and fun.

I have been in a serious discussion funk and haven’t been able to write a discussion post in a couple of week {not that you would have noticed since I schedule so far out}. I was considering just marking discussions up as a failed experiment and dropping them for the time being, but then I got to really thinking about it. Ultimately I decided to drop the pressure and keep the discussions, and to stop taking myself so seriously!

What about you? Do you stick to serious discussions or have fun with them?

On Blogging with Anxiety {How it Works for Me}

Everyone is different. Everyone’s experience in life is different. Everyone’s experience with mental illness is different. Today I am talking about my life as a blogger with social anxiety {I also suffer from mild general anxiety and chronic depression, so those factors come into play as well}. My experience may not be the same as anyone else, but it is my experience.

When I first started blogging- many, many years ago- I was both terrified someone would read what I had written, and terrified that no one would. Sending my first post out into the world was incredibly hard. But, sending posts out in the relatively anonymous world of the internet is a million times easier than trying to talk to a stranger in real life. {And I’m a retail manager in charge of hiring, training, and coaching employees and dealing with customers on a regular basis, but that’s a whole other topic for a whole other blog}.

Once I got used to blogging, it got easier to send posts out to the world. But I still feel a little bit anxious every time. Will people like it? Will someone post a mean comment? Will anyone read it at all? As I’ve gotten more followers, I feel both more confident and more scared every time I post something new. Confident, because there are a lot more people reading my work and so far {in my book blogging life} no one has posted anything mean. Scared because the more followers I have, the more likely my posts are to be shared, exposing them to even more people who might be trolls and post mean things. In case you haven’t figured it out, my biggest blogging fear is to have people comment mean things… I’ve seen them on other blogs and have gotten a pretty awful comment on an old blog I wrote many years ago.

The hardest posts for me to write are reviews and discussions, because there are so many varying opinions out there. I have a couple of discussion topics that I really want to share my feelings on, but I am so afraid of any push back from other people. I take everything very personally, so any negative comment feels like an attack on me personally. Putting myself out there with discussion posts and reviews is a really big risk for me. I will work on a post for hours, or days, and still hesitate to hit publish. It has helped now that I schedule most of my posts in advance, because the threat isn’t as immediate if I am scheduling a post versus immediately publishing. But there is still some hesitation. I have written full posts that just sit in my drafts folder because I can’t make myself hit publish. Some of them end up in the trash folder because I know that I just can’t send them out to the world.

Memes are by far the easiest posts for me to write and post. This is probably why I do so many of them! When I am sharing a list of books or sharing quotes from a story, I don’t feel threatened, because while I am still choosing which content to share, it is ultimately not something that comes from deep inside me. I also feel a little more comfortable answering specific questions, but still have a bit of trepidation when posting these.

So if blog is so anxiety inducing for me, why do I do it?

Because I love to write. And because, while actually being around a lot of people makes me super nervous, I crave connection with people. And because I have to face my fears and work through them, even if they may induce a panic attack. This is one way that I can safely push through and reach out into the world. Ultimately, writing this blog helps me to open up to new people and creates a platform for me to test myself {like adding regular discussion posts}. While anxiety has held me back from so many things in my life, I have found that every time I can push through, it’s been worth it. I’m not always successful, I still miss out on so much in life, but at least I feel like I’m making some sort of progress.

On Why My Opinion Doesn’t Matter

This week I want to talk about opinions, specifically about opinions about books and bookish topics, but general opinions as well. Because, in my opinion, opinions don’t matter.

Everyone has an opinion about the books they read. They have an opinion about the author, the genre, the characters, the plot, tropes, book length, format, cover, etc. I know I certainly do. And that is great! Because everyone has the right to their opinion. Not everyone is going to agree with that opinion, and that’s great too, because having different perceptions and opinions is what makes us unique.

But the thing is, no one’s opinion is right or wrong, they are just opinions based on our experiences. And everyone’s opinion is just as valid as everyone else’s. So it really doesn’t matter whether I love or hate a book you have the opposite reaction to. What matters is our responses to each other’s opinions.

So basically that’s it. My opinion is just an opinion. I’m not right or wrong. In the grand scheme of life, my opinion doesn’t matter to anyone except myself. And maybe a selection of readers who have similar taste and read my blog and are interested on whether or not I liked a book. And same goes for everyone else. Your opinion is just an opinion. You’re not right or wrong. As long as we treat each other with respect and honor everyone’s right to an opinion, whether or not it agrees with our own, we’re golden. This applies to more than just books of course.

I feel like people forget this sometimes and believe that their opinion is the only one that matters. And maybe it is the only one that matters to them. But that doesn’t mean it has to matter to anyone else. We have to respect their right to their opinion, but we don’t have to agree with it, or even to acknowledge it. We can let their opinion live in the world right alongside ours without quarreling, arguing, or analyzing. It’s our choice.


On Why I Became a Book Blogger

I’ve talked about the evolution of my reading life here and here, but today I wanted to talk about why I decided to switch gears and close my weight-loss/ healthy living blog and start a new life as a book blogger. And why that was the best decision I ever made.

I’m really not sure what drew me to blogging in the first place. I started to blog as a member of a weight loss community, but the blogs only lived within that community. I had friends within the community that had blogs outside the community and I started checking them out occasionally. Soon I had taken the plunge and started a few different {failed} blogs on a variety of topics. Eventually I found myself settled into a weight-loss and healthy living blog that I maintained for 3 years with a few month-long breaks here and there. I enjoyed blogging, but fell out of love with the topic and started posting a mish-mash of different things.

During the time I was writing a bunch of random stuff, I started reading more. And I was way more interested in book blogs {and cat blogs}, than I was in healthy living blogs. Plus I wasn’t living a really healthy lifestyle, so I felt like a total fraud. I considered just quitting altogether and not blogging any more. But I really loved the act of blogging itself, I just didn’t love my topics any more. Something had to change.

Once I decided I wanted to continue blogging, but change my subject matter, I had to decide what I wanted to write about. Considering my cats were being fostered at the the time, I figured a cat blog wouldn’t be a great idea. Books, on the other hand, were something I had access to through the library.

In the beginning, I was unsure as to how my book blog would be received as I didn’t have access to a lot of new releases. I found that this wasn’t an issue and discovered a {mostly} warm, open, accepting community of book lovers. I joined in memes and challenges and started developing connections with other bloggers. People started following me and commenting on my blog. I started receiving eARCs through Net Galley. I was inspired.

In a little more than a year, I have been exponentially more successful as a book blogger. The funny thing is that while I was obsessed with becoming a success in my previous blogging life, and never did; I’m really not concerned with the numbers now. I’m just having fun sharing books that I’m passionate about, fangirling over favorite series, and talking books with like-minded people. And I think that translates to the computer screen so people are more receptive to it. Maybe.

Do you blog? Why did you start?

On My Experience With Kindle Unlimited

In an effort to find an inexpensive source of multiple audiobooks per month, I signed up for a free trial of Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited program. Many of you have expressed and interest in hearing how this service has worked for me, so I decided to share the pros and cons of this service with you today.

First of all, what is Kindle Unlimited? It’d a service through Amazon that provides you with unlimited access to ebooks through their Kindle devices or the Kindle app for $9.99 a month. It essentially functions as a type of library, allowing you to check out a maximum of 10 books at any one time. When you finish a book, return it and check out a new one. Books stay on your devices until you return them or your membership expires.

The Pros:

  • The books are available on all devices. I can access the book on my Kindle, through the Audible app on my Kindle, through the Kindle app on my Iphone, or through the Audible app on my Iphone. You are able to pick up right where you left off, so I can listen through my phone in the car, then pick it up on my Kindle when I get home and not lose my place.
  • If the ebook has Audible narration available, you get that free with the book.
  • You can keep the books for an unlimited amount of time, as long as your membership is in good standing
  • No late fees or needing to renew books
  • No holds necessary, the book is always available for checkout, regardless of how many other people are also reading it.
  • I can try out new to me authors or series without risk

The Cons:

  • No new releases or best sellers available
  • Most popular authors not available
  • Limited selection with Audible availability

Overall Impressions:

While not ideal, the library is certainly a better option if you have access, Kindle Unlimited is a good alternative for me until I have access to a digital library system again. The expense is minimal and there are enough books available in Audible format to meet my needs. This isn’t something that I will continue with library access however.

Have you ever tried Kindle Unlimited?

On Why I Don’t Read Reviews {and When I Do}

In the world of book blogging, reviews are the king. Everyone writes them and everyone reads them… or do they? I honestly don’t read a lot of reviews. I also don’t write a lot of reviews either, but that’s not what this discussion is about. This week I want to talk about reading reviews, and why I don’t, but sometimes I do.

Many readers voraciously read reviews to determine which books should go on their TBR, taking into consideration the thoughts of those who have read the book before them. I am not one of these readers. I tend to avoid reviews, especially those for books that I really want to read, because I don’t want someone else’s opinion to color my view of the book.

When I choose books to read, I go by author, description, cover, title and word of mouth. If I’m hearing a lot about a book, I’m probably going to pick it up. But I don’t dive deep into reviews because I want to experience the book for myself. I don’t want to know that someone else thinks a book is “problematic” because what they see when the read the book isn’t necessarily the same thing that I’ll see. There have been many times that the general consensus for a book is lots of love, and I don’t enjoy it as much. And, more frequently, there are books that most people tend to not like, but I love. And I want to have my own experience, untainted.

There are some instances where I do read reviews, however. The first is when there’s a book I’m on the fence about. If a blogger whom I respect and share similar tastes with reviews a book that I have mixed feelings about, or that I’m just not sure of, I will read their reviews to get a general idea of their feelings for the book.

Along similar lines, when I finish the first book in a series {or a middle book} and I have mixed feelings about continuing the series, I’ll look for trusted sources who have reviewed the rest of the series to see the direction the series moves in. At this point I’ve already developed personal feelings about the characters, so a divergent opinion will be less likely to color my impressions of the future books.

And the final reason I read reviews if when I love a book so much, I just want to see how much other people love it too. At this point if I see an opposing opinion in a review I just brush it off, because I already know I love the book. I have done this for the opposite reason too… if I just really did not like a book I might check out reviews to see if others agreed with me or to see what they saw that I missed.

Are you the type of reader who likes to read all of the reviews first? Or do you prefer to jump into a book with a fresh perspective?