Thursday, December 1, 2016

Help a Bookworm Out! (Please?)

Hello fellow book lovers! I've been mulling something over and haven't come up with a solution, so I thought I'd write a quick post to ask for your advice. You see, I've gone a bit overboard with with the book buying (yes, again). On the one hand, I feel pretty good about what I've been adding to our home library -- mainly children's books of all kinds. On the other hand, I feel like I go down the rabbit hole of discovery, research, and deal-finding way too easily (and way too often) these days. Even my library browsing feels a little out of hand at times!

So I'm seriously thinking about some sort of book buying ban (or rules/limits) for 2017. I feel like an outright ban for a whole year is going to backfire. So I'm curious what sort of guidelines you've used in the past? Or suggestions of rules you think would be worth trying? I'm considering something along the lines of not allowing any new purchases unless I've read a certain number of books on my TBR. Or cutting myself off if I haven't read a certain percentage of any new books I buy in the new year. What do you guys think? I'm hoping for a solution that will encourage enjoyment of what we already have, which shouldn't be so hard, right? Thanks! :)

Monday, November 28, 2016

Current Children's Book Favorites

I always thought I would never tire of reading to my son, and for the most part that is still true. I know toddlers and little kids thrive on repetition, so I'm not surprised he gravitates toward the same books over and over. However, I must admit when we get to the fifth reading in a row, I very much do wish we could switch to something different! He does have many favorites though, so I really can't complain. I am so thankful my little boy enjoys stories, being read to, and (most of the time) snuggling up for this part of our day. So I thought I would share the most recent batch we -- sorry, he -- has on rotation.

Hippos Go Beserk! by Sandra Boynton
What's Wrong Little Pookie? by Sandra Boynton
One, Two, Three by Sandra Boynton
Barnyard Dance by Sandra Boynton
Little Blue Truck by Alice Schertle & Jill McElmurry (Illus.)
I Love You Through and Through by Bernadette Rossetti-Shustak & Caroline Jayne Church (Illus.)
Zoom Buggy! by Claire Clark & Jay Jung (Illus.)

Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes by Mem Fox & Helen Oxenbury (Illus.)
Little Blue Truck Leads the Way, by Alice Schertle & Jill McElmurry (Illus.)
We're Going on a Bear Hunt by Michael Rosen & Helen Oxenbury (Illus.)

Not pictured:
Five Little Ducks by Raffi and Jose Aruego & Ariane Dewey (Illus.)

The first photo was actually taken a month ago, so the second photo shows additions since then. A few in the second photo, he honestly didn't care for at first. It's amusing to see him reject a book (translation: shut it mid-sentence) only to warm up to it later. I'm stubborn about expanding his repertoire though. I know he is protesting for no other reason than because the story doesn't sound familiar, so I just keep trying. Sometimes I read new books when he is more sleepy and agreeable to letting me choose our story. Other times, I sit in the rocking chair and read aloud while he plays in the same room. And plenty of times, a "rejected" book has become a new favorite. So I always try to remember that when I excitedly crack open a new book, only to have him pull it away, shut it, or declare "no, no, no!"

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If anyone has any children's book recommendations, I'd love to hear them! And I hope everyone celebrating had a lovely Thanksgiving :)

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Some Halloween Reading

I love reading for the seasons and holidays, but must admit I'm much better at keeping on top of the calendar with children's books than my own "adult" books! With Halloween on Monday, I thought I'd share some books in our rotation lately:

Berenstain Bears and the Spooky Old Tree, by Stan & Jan Berenstain
Little Blue Truck's Halloween, by Alice Schertle & Jill McElmurry (Illus.)
Eek! Halloween!, by Sandra Boynton
Plumply, Dumply Pumpkin, by Mary Serfozo & Valeria Petrone (Illus.)

Not shown/returned to library:
Room on the Broom, by Julia Donaldson & Axel Scheffler
Llama, Llama Trick or Treat, by Anna Dewdney
It's Pumpkin Day, Mouse!, by Laura Numeroff & Felicia Bond (Illus.)
Five Little Monkeys Trick-or-Treat, by Eileen Christelow

The majority of these have been read more than once and quite a few have been read repeatedly. My son's favorites are definitely Little Blue Truck's Halloween and Eek! Halloween! For these (and other favorites), he brings them over to Mommy or Daddy and climbs into one of our laps to be read to. It's pretty much one of the cutest things I have ever seen. Little Blue Truck's Halloween is from the library, but I'm thinking we should get a copy for our Little Blue Truck collection based on his enthusiasm. I just picked up Little Blue Truck's Christmas when I saw it at Marshalls in preparation!

And just last night, I actually did start a spooky book of my own!

So far, I've read the intro and one of the fourteen stories (I skipped to the shortest one!) I love the idea of dipping in and out of this collection and it doesn't matter to me if I don't finish it by Monday (which I probably won't!) I don't read a lot of short stories, so I'm glad to be giving this a try and branching out a bit. Collections of stories, poems, or essays always seem like a good idea to have going alongside other longer works, but I never seem to get one started. Maybe this one will help me get the ball rolling. Thanks Jade for the recommendation!

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Do you have any favorite Halloween or fall books?

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

October #ShelfLove Update

My last ShelfLove update was back in June, so I have a bit of catching up to do! From July through October, I averaged 2 books per month from my own shelves:
1. The Fiery Cross, by Diana Gabaldon (audio, re-read)
2. Illuminae, by Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff (print)
3. The House on Mango Street, by Sandra Cisneros (print, re-read)
4. The Marvels, by Brian Selznick (print)
5. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone Illustrated edition, by JK Rowling (special edition print, re-read)
6. A Breath of Snow and Ashes, by Diana Gabaldon (audio, re-read)
7. The Complete Peter Rabbit, by Beatrix Potter (print/audio)
8. Lord John and the Private Matter, by Diana Gabaldon (audio, re-read)
July-October TOTAL:  8 book read from my shelves
2016 TOTAL: 28 books read from my shelves

That was a bit better than I thought, actually! You'll notice a few on my list are re-reads, which may be bending the rules a bit. I mostly read an alternate format (audio) of a book I already owned for many years or from a print copy I never got around to re-reading since purchasing it for my collection. So I figured in one way or another, it was still in the spirit of ShelfLove!

Next up, I should re-calculate my stats for Read the Books You Buy to see how I'm doing on reading books I added to my shelves during 2016. Between these two challenges, I am attempting to keep myself accountable in terms of reading more of what I have at home. I doubt I'll reach my goal of 80-100% on that one, but the higher I can bump my %, the better!

The October ShelfLove discussion topic is my bookish wishlist for Christmas and what I really wish for is to read more of what I already have! It shouldn't be so difficult, but I learn about so many great new (and new-to-me) books all the time that can be hard to pass up. The wheels are already turning trying to come up with a game plan for the new year. Wish me luck!

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How has your 2016 reading been going?

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Reconsidering This Space

Hello? Anybody still there? It's been a while, I know! Well, if you've stuck around to see this post, know that I really appreciate the fact that you are here still sharing the bookish love. In the past several months, I've really only posted about challenges and reading events, but I've found I really do miss writing about other things. And most of all, I miss the little community in this corner of the internet. I read other blogs much more often than I post here, so I still get to be in on the fun, but they are all very inspiring and thought-provoking! I often find myself with ideas, but no time to get them typed out coherently. We all know that life happens (I have a toddler now! How did that happen so fast?!) and I'm glad for it. But I was thinking that maybe instead of trying to figure out how I can get this blog back to how it used to be, maybe I should reevaluate how I use this space. There is a reason I never closed up shop completely, and it's mainly the small community of readers and fellow bloggers who have somehow managed to connect here. So what's a girl to do going forward? The following are the answers I've come up with (so far!)

  • Reviews will be short and on Goodreads. For months (years actually!), I've actively resisted posting my thoughts on Goodreads when I mark a book as finished and give it a rating. I did this because I kept thinking "No, better not, this should be a review on the blog first." And how many of those actually became reviews? Hardly any! It's time to admit that most of my review-ish thoughts are best recorded when the book is fresh in my mind and that 95% of the time, I only have a few lines (maybe a paragraph) to share anyway. The other day, I just started doing this with picture books and it felt so great to get those thoughts down. And just like that, the (imagined) pressure of needing to have all review-ish thoughts specifically on the blog was gone. So if you want thoughts on specific books I've read, I'd love to be Goodreads friends -- if we aren't already :)
  • If I do have a lot to say about a specific book or my experience reading a book, genre, author, etc., those are the kinds of thoughts I will post here. I'm thinking things like my Reading Winnie-the-Pooh as an Adult which was my last "real" post -- four months ago! 
  • I want to write more about my reading life in general -- whether that is thoughts on audiobooks, the library, book collecting/organizing -- basically, anything reading-related that is not a review.
  • I want to write more about children's books and my experiences reading to my son. I think I shied away from this a bit without even realizing it. But children's books are a big part of my life now and I am finding so much joy in them. They may not be for all adult readers, but I am so very grateful to be able to explore this whole world of books that I never read myself or I don't remember reading, as well as revisiting the childhood favorites I do remember.
  • Come December/January when all the year-long reading challenges start popping up, I am going to be very, very picky about what I join. In 2016, I joined eight which was a major drop from prior years, but it's still too many to keep up with. Whatever I join, I want to realistically be able to keep up with my updates, be an active participant, and really use each challenge as a (fun) tool to focus my reading. Focusing my reading has always been a big reason I join challenges, but I can't focus on 8 (or more!) different goals if I am really honest with myself. 
  • Cutting back on challenges, I've also decided it's time to retire as host of the Banned Books Challenge. I was never the most active host anyway, so if any participants or interested bloggers are reading this and would like to take over for 2017, that would be wonderful!
Alright, I think those are all my thoughts for now! Thank you again to anyone who's stuck around. I look forward to putting these ideas into action and getting back in the blogging groove with a refreshed mindset.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Reading Decathlon

A big thank you to Kay for inspiring me to join the Reading Decathlon hosted by Epic Reads. I recently learned about the 7 in 7 Readathon, but completely missed this year's edition. This decathalon is basically a 10 in 10 readathon, just without any set dates, so you can give it a go whenever you like! I just love the idea of reading a book a day as a challenge and having the freedom to choose a 10 day period that works best for me makes it even better. Yes, I have a toddler (Really! I do! When did that happen, by the way?!?!?) Yes, I'm super busy with work and life and all that jazz. BUT there are different levels including #ReadingForBronze which allows for any combination of short stories, novellas, graphic novels, novels, etc., etc. 

Full details here

Really, this is about giving my reading life a little boost. I've been very happy with my reading this summer, but I still get distracted and fritter away time on the internet or my phone that could be better spent. I have a HUGE stack of library books that fit this challenge perfectly plus plenty from my own shelves. I won't even post a list because I doubt I'd stick to it, but I'll make sure to check back in once I'm done. Right now I'm thinking a mix of graphic novels and children's/middle grade novels, but who knows, 10 days is a long time! 

My main goal here is to make better use of the free time I do have and try to turn that into a habit. And while reading is NOT about numbers, stats, or obligations for me, I know it will feel good to check so many books off my TBR in a such a short time frame. Anyone want to join me?

P.S. I will post something other than a reading challenge one of these days, I promise! I just can say when...

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Make Me Read It Readathon: The Votes Are In!

More info/sign-up here or here.

Thank you everyone who voted! Here's a screenshot of the results for next week's readathon:

I will be packing the top 5 books to enjoy on vacation. Will I have time to read them all? I can't say for sure, but I can try! A 24 in 48 Readathon is also coming up July 23-24, so I just may carry over the rest of my list.

I wanted to start next week with a clean bookish slate, but I am a couple of chapters into The Rose & the Dagger and I know I will not be able to finish it before Saturday. I'm not quite sure what to do about that yet. Oh well, a bookish dilemma isn't really such a bad dilemma to have! Happy reading everyone :)

Monday, July 4, 2016

2016 Reading Challenges: Mid-Year Progress

The other day, I did my mid-year check-in for the #ShelfLove challenge, so I thought I would take a look at my progress (or lack thereof) for all of my 2016 challenges. I thought I joined less this year? Actually, I did join less, but there are still a lot. Oh boy. Next year, I really need to work on my definition of "a few." Here we go...

Goal: 300 books
Progress: 193 books
That's 44 ahead of schedule -- doing well! This does include all types of books -- picture books, novellas, stand-alone short stories, graphic novels, audiobooks, etc., etc., so I've actually upped my goal a couple times since the beginning of year.

Show Your Shelves Some Love Challenge
Goal: 51+ books I owned prior to 2016
Progress: 20 books I owned prior to 2016
Could be better, could be worse! Full update here.

Goal: 80-100% of books I buy in 2016
Progress: 32% of books I bought in 2016
Well, it could be worse. I do think I need to cut myself off and play catch up though. I haven't even read all the picture books I bought this year yet! Is it possible to be in a read-aloud slump? Thoughts for another day, perhaps. For the record, I did NOT include the following in my stats:
1. books bought as gifts
2. cookbooks
3. books I had read previously, but bought a copy for my collection
4. books in an alternate format (i.e. audiobooks, illustrated editions, etc. of books I already own)

Goal: 60-74 points
Progress: 24 points
I was churning through Caldecott Medal books with my son, but then we hit a bit of a slump. We've also read a lot of Caldecott Honor books which don't count!

Goal: 3-6 series
Progress: 0 series
I've read 11 books that are part of a series (including graphic novels), but I have not completely caught up on any one series yet. Technically I am caught up on the Lumberjanes trade editions, but two more volumes come out this year, so I won't call that series done yet.

Goal: 6-9 banned or challenged books
Progress: 4 banned or challenged books
Since this is my own challenge, I'm glad I'm making decent progress on it.

Goal: 10 uniquely formatted books
Progress: 5 uniquely formatted books
Half way there and these books are just so much fun. I don't think I will have a problem reading 5 more this year.
Goal: 12 old ARCs/review copies
Progress: none!
I'm jumping ship on this one! I loved the idea of this challenge that ran in 2015 (and a few years prior), but it never officially came back for 2016 as I hoped it would when I "signed up." Since I'm not getting anywhere with the goal I set for myself anyway, I'm just going to call it quits. I should probably just donate the remaining ARCs I have on my shelf anyway, to be honest.
Goal: Track my reading and donate to a different organization at least once per quarter
Progress: On track!
I've donated every two months and chosen St. Jude's Children's Research HospitalReading Is Fundamental, and FINCA so far.

Friday, July 1, 2016

June #ShelfLove Update

It's time for a Mid-Year Check-In! Oh boy. Well, it seems I am always overambitious at the beginning of the year. I have ALL THE GOOD INTENTIONS in January. I always think it will be incredibly simple to just read from my own shelves and not go overboard with buying new books and borrowing from the library. But then I learn about interesting new books. Or I hear rave reviews from trusted sources. Or I find a new author or genre I want to try. Or a favorite author publishes a new book. Or I walk into a bookstore or visit a book website... You get the idea -- there are so many scenarios where all those good intentions fly right out the window. I conveniently forget just how many unread books I have in my house already. It's a sort of blindspot of mine I suppose. There is good news though! So some updates:

1. So far I have read 20 books that were on my shelves prior to 2016. In 2015, I read a total of 20 from my shelves for the whole year, so I'm well ahead of last year's pace. My goal for 2016 is 51+ though, so I better get back to it!

2. There are 6 months left in 2016, so there is plenty of time left to rearrange my TBR and balance out my reading choices.

3. I also have the Read the Books You Buy challenge going, so if I read some of my more recent acquisitions (i.e. purchased during 2016, rather than prior to 2016), they may not count for ShelfLove, but they are still books from my own shelves. So, progress?

During June, I read one measly book from my own shelves:

The Wrath and the Dawn, by Renée Ahdieh

June TOTAL:  1 book read from my shelves
2016 TOTAL: 20 books read from my shelves

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How has your 2016 reading been going?

Monday, June 20, 2016

Make Me Read It Readathon: Sign-Up & Voting

Thanks to Kay over at It's a Book Life, I found out about this really fun readathon that just so happens to be taking place while I'm on vacation at the beach. There will be a lot of family wanting to take turns playing with the little man, so I'm thinking the timing is perfect. Plus, I am TERRIBLE at picking out books for travelling, so I can use all the help I can get! Here's how it works:

More info/sign-up here or here.
Look at the books you own, either physical, e-book or ones you've borrowed from the library and pick out a few you really want to read, or feel like you should read. It’s up to you how many you pick, personally I'd pick a few more than you expect to be able to read in a week. Example: if you think you’ll only read two, pick out five books or if you think you can read seven, pick out ten.

Make a list of these books on your blog, or make a video, or a Goodreads shelf or post a picture on Instagram—whatever is easiest for you. Then get friends, other bloggers/booktubers etc. to vote on which books you HAVE to read.

When the readathon comes along, you read the books in the order of most votes. For example, if one book gets 10 votes—you read that first, then the one that got 7 and so on. If there's a tie, then it's your preference. The goal is to read as many as possible.
The read-a-thon will take place from the 9th to the 16th of July in your timezone. You can start anytime you want on the 9th, so just fit it around whatever works for you! As for the voting, that’s up to you too!
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I usually over-pack books for vacation because I am, 1. overambitious and 2. so unsure of where to start that I tend to bring an excess of options. I can pretty much guarantee I will not read more than 5 books on vacation, even considering the types I'm choosing for this event -- novels in verse, uniquely formatted books, middle grade -- i.e. quicker reads. So help a girl out and vote for up to 5 books from the choices below (titles link to Goodreads). Voting will end on July 6th and then I will simply pack up the top picks, thus eliminating the second-guessing and last minute agonizing over my shelves. THANK YOU fellow readers!

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Thank you to everyone who voted!

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P.S. I am not factoring audiobooks into this event. I am in the middle of Diana Gabaldon's The Fiery Cross and will soon be taking a break and switching over to Libba Bray's The Diviners for book club. Wherever I am at with these two, I plan to carry on during the readathon for travel hours and other times I am on the move or want to give my eyes a break.

(Updated: 7/7/2016)