Wednesday, January 31, 2018

My Little Bookworm

My son won't turn 3 until April, so he is still pretty little. Logically my brain knows this, but man, looking at pictures of when he was really little are getting me all nostalgic already. I've hardly shared any photos of him here on the blog, but realized looking through my phone recently that I have some bookish ones I really love. So I'm indulging myself in a little walk down memory lane (and a bunch of recent shots) mini-bookworm style :) 

Quite pleased with himself for pulling out my bookmark!

The beginnings of actual interest in looking at the pictures.

This shelf should be empty, right? I'm working on it, Ma.


2nd Christmas card photo.

And now I must investigate Daddy's shelves.

I'm chillin' with some of your books Ma, OK?

Wheels on the Bus + Pete the Cat are a winning combination.

That book's bigger than you kid!

Right before he got REALLY mad he couldn't sit on that book stack and read the bottom one at the same time.

Books and buddies on summer vacation.

He was absorbed in that book for an unheard of amount of time at the used bookstore. Needless to say, we bought it.

A rare shot of me reading to him!

Daddy's turn!

At the library.

Book break before the Halloween parade at the library.

A book to fall asleep by, just like Mom.

Yup, this has been a pretty regular occurrence lately.

And again.

Or sometimes he's just NOT napping and tearing the shelves apart instead. I know we have a lot of books, but it never seems like THAT many books until they are all on the floor.

Reading Pooh to Pooh.

I love this expression!

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Award & Book Lists for my Reading Log

Last week, I shared my new reading log and the printable pages I'm using to track my reading in 2018. I really enjoy sitting down with paper and pen to do this, so I'm quite happy with how it's working out so far. I still log some basics on my Goodreads account, but there's a lot more I can keep track of this way without spending extra time on my phone or computer -- so that's a win for me.

I already covered my book budget, book clubs, reading challenges, and tracking categories (book type, source, format, recommendations, etc.) in that last post, so today I just want to focus on my final two sections. I've made one section for awards lists and another for recommendation and "best of" lists that have caught my eye. I had a ton of links cluttering up my browser's bookmark folders -- and let's be honest, I hardly ever looked at them! So I did a big clean out, deleted a whole bunch, and just printed the ones I'm most interested in. 

Each person will have their own taste in book lists and awards, but below are a few of the ones I put in my binder if you want to check any of them out. Whatever type of list you like, I highly recommend printing them out if you are able. I think it's much more likely we will read more from these lists if we can actually see them, refer to them, and mark them up than to have them hidden away in a digital folder -- or maybe that's just me :)

Recommendation Lists:

Read-Aloud Revival's Booklists
(free registration to access PDF lists of lots of great categories!)

NPR's Top 100 Teen Books 

Award Lists:
Note: Most award links are to Wikipedia since they're the most streamlined for printing purposes

E.B. White Read Aloud Award + 2017 winners

National Book Award for Young People's Literature

Baileys Women's Prize for Fiction
(full-length novels by female authors, written in English, & published in the UK)

Jane Addams Children's Book Award
(children's books advance the causes of peace and social equality)

The 2018 winners for the following ALA awards will be announced soon, so I'm holding off on printing them for now!

Michael L. Printz Award
(YA book of literary merit)

Odyssey Award
(children's & YA audiobooks)

Alex Award
(adult books with appeal to YA audience)

Coretta Scott King Award
(outstanding African American authors & illustrators; books about the African-American experience)

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Do you have any favorite awards or recommendations lists? Please share in the comments! I just might need to add a few more pages :)

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

My New Reading Log (+ Free Printable Reading Logs!)

After joining the Modern Mrs. Darcy Reading Challenge and printing out all the lovely trackers that go along with it, I thought it would be nice to have printable sheets for my other 2018 challenges too. I tried looking online for a simple, blank printable reading list, but I couldn't find what I was looking for. So I went ahead and made my own for Julie's Newbery Challenge (that she's sharing over on her blog Smiling Shelves!) by fiddling around with a To-Do List template in Word:

Then I made even simpler ones for the 2018 Picture Book and Middle Grade Challenges, by basically just adding check boxes and numbered title lines to Becky's original lists:

At this point, I thought I was done. I already have a reading journal for favorite quotes and passages, so I didn't have any grand plans for making this into a big thing. But then Kate aka The Loud Library Lady shared her book journal on Instagram over New Year's weekend as she was making it and I was inspired! I didn't want to make one exactly like hers, but I figured if I already had some sheets ready, I could make some additional ones, 3-hole-punch them all, and create my own reading log journal in a pretty binder. Once I got this idea in my head, the project took on a life of its own!

I love all of the gorgeous (recycled!) binders by greenroom!

First, I thought it would be nice to add a log for my monthly Diverse Books Club reads, so I fiddled around with another Word template (this time a festive birthday list one). I left some room under each month's header to fill in the themes, made a wider column in the middle for titles, and a narrower column on the right to note the type of book (Adult, YA, MG, or picture book.)

Then I figured if I had a page for my online book club, I should have one for my in-person book clubs too. So I made a simple page for my main (YA) book club. As well as a page for my public library's book discussions. The boxes here are pretty big which I figure leaves space for additional notations other than title if I want (format I read, who chose the book, etc.)

Yup, I already covered up an error!

Then I started thinking about how I struggled to come up with a list of 2017 year-end book favorites (and ultimately decided not to bother!) because my Goodreads account is so unwieldy with all the picture books I read. I absolutely still want to record them there, but it was just too annoying to sift through everything at year's end. I thought about how burnt out I was on all of the digital logging I did for the 2017 Beat the Backlist Challenge, but how, on the other hand, I really enjoyed recording the old-school way in a notebook for the Newbery Challenge. So I decided to create a sheet for each of the things I would like to track in 2018. It may not work for everyone, but there is just something about sitting down with a pen and paper to log my reading that sounds so appealing to me right now.

I settled on a basic table color-coded for various things I'd like to track. So I started with book type. I have more blue pages just like the one below for Young Adult Fiction, Adult Fiction, Chapter Books/Early Readers, Graphic Novels/Comics, Non-Fiction, and Poetry/Novels-in-Verse. Poetry and graphic novels could cross over with other categories, but I decided to keep those separate. Each book will get recorded only once on the blue sheet it fits best.

Then I have purple sheets for format. These are where I will log each book read as print, ebook, or audiobook format.

Next I have pink sheets for source. I am only differentiating between books borrowed from the library and books I own. If you are a blogger who reviews a lot, another source could be NetGalley or publishers, but I'm not in the reviewing game right now. If a book I own is one I won in a giveaway or is an old ARC leftover from when I was reviewing more, I will make a note of it, but I'm not giving them their own sheet. I've also printed separate "from library" and "from our collection" picture book sheets because I don't want those mixed in with my other reading.

Next up, I have a few orange sheets to log recommendations. For now, I only have specific sheets for Read-Aloud Revival and Orange Marmalade since they are go-to resources for me. And then I have a more generic sheet for recommendations from bloggers with a column to note which blog (or podcast) the recommendation was from -- as best as I can remember!

And finally, I have some Misc. green sheets to record specific kinds of books I'm interested in reading more of this year. I may make additional categories, but for now these include, Classics, Books About Books, Short Works, and Re-Reads.

In addition to all these book logging sheets, I also have simple sheets to keep track of my monthly book budget.

And since I spent so much time on this little project, I decided to share the files in case anyone else might find them useful. Now I have the design and formatting down, it's quick and easy to make additional pages, so if there is a category you would like to use I don't have listed, leave me a comment and I will make up some extra pages to share :)

Click the links below to download and/or print the PDFs!
This is my first time doing this, so let me know if there are any glitches and I will try my best to fix them :) And please be aware when printing that some files ended up with an extra page at the end with just a header  -- I was going cross-eyed trying to fix that particular glitch and just decided to leave them as is :)



BOOK TYPE (blue)

FORMAT (purple)

SOURCE (pink)


MISC. (green)
Books About Books {2018} PDF

I'm also going to use this binder to stash printouts of booklists from around the web including awards and other "best of" lists I'm interested in, but this is long enough already, so I'll share more about those in another post!

Sunday, January 7, 2018

A Poem for Every Night of the Year

I can hardly believe it, but I actually finished this doorstop of a poetry collection I started last January!

I was really terrible about keeping up with it daily and often would play catch-up a few weeks at a time. At least once, I had more than a month of poems backlogged! And while I'm glad I did finish the whole thing and I enjoyed a majority of the poems, it definitely was not the ideal reading experience the way I did it. By not sticking to one poem each day, I often found myself reading too hurriedly, impatient to catch-up to the current date. I'm sure I would have understood some of the poems much better if I took the time for multiple readings -- and while I did sometimes re-read, other times I just moved on. I was more likely to re-read poems that really resonated with me, but others that didn't strike me right away or that I had trouble following I didn't always give a second chance to sink in.

The Pleasures of Reading in an Age of Distraction and (parts of) Slow Reading in a Hurried Age have inspired me to slow down and savor my reading more. For someone who is a fairly slow reader of novels, it's ironic that I have a tendency to speed through poetry and other shorter works -- the very pieces that generally benefit from more time, attention, and contemplation. But lucky for me, I can try again in 2018 with this lovely new companion collection :)

I know life happens and the likelihood of never falling behind is slim, but I'm going to make sure this volume stays on my nightstand this year. I had gotten into the unfortunate habit of catching up, getting a few days ahead, and then sticking the volume back on the shelf -- where I promptly forgot about it until I was behind again! So in 2018, I'm going to make a sincere effort at a establishing a daily(-ish) poetry habit. I'm not going to beat myself up if I miss a few days, but hopefully I won't get a month behind this time around!

P.S. I wasn't planning on reading through the "Every Night" collection again in 2018, but picked it back up around January 3rd -- I shall have to see if I stick with both or revert to just the new collection -- either way is OK by me :)

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Have you ever tried to keep up with any kind of specified daily reading? Do you have any tips or tricks? I'd love to know!

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Why am I making a book budget for 2018?

In my first post of the new year I shared my bookish plans for 2018. I condensed the list from previous years, but many of my plans are similar, if not identical, to ones I've made in the past. For the most part, I like to use the new year as an opportunity to evaluate what's been working well for me and what hasn't. My bookish plans aren't goals exactly, but more like a guide for the direction I'd like my reading go in the coming months. Several things on my list are already fairly well-established parts of my routine, but reminders never hurt. And I think maintaining a habit or practice is just as important (if not moreso!) than starting a new one.

But there is one brand-spanking new plan for 2018 on my list: a $25 monthly book-buying budget. I've never done one before and I'll admit I'm a little nervous about my follow-through skills. But when it comes down to it, I really and truly need one for this year. I can make every excuse in the book, but I've been spending too much money on books, especially considering how overflowing my shelves currently are. I want this to be the year I finally read more of the books I am already fortunate enough to have in our home library and I think establishing a budget is the best way to achieve that.

I considered a complete book-buying ban, but I decided that's a likely recipe for an eventual binge down the line. I also considered a book-buying ban with some pretty broad exceptions -- book club selections, library book sale, garage sale, used book store, etc., etc. -- but I'm positive I could still overdo it if I leave myself that much wiggle room. Having a set budget will force me to spend my book dollars more wisely and opt for the library in some cases or defer a purchase to a later time. I'm making very few exceptions that fall outside the monthly budget (gifts & donations; purchases made with gift cards & reward points), so any new books I have my eye on will need to be carefully considered.

This always seems easier in January than it really is. I can look ahead and see which titles by my favorite authors are coming out or which series have a new installment being published, but this never shows me the whole picture. Sure, it's easy now, to say I'm only going to buy a short list of specific titles I already know about, but I know darn well that lots of great books will come out this year that I don't even know exist yet. Debuts by writers I have never heard of will come out and pique my interest. Book bloggers will review awesome stuff. But I have TONS of books in my house already that I want to read, and I need to remember that.

I even have a huge backlog in my Audible library largely due to two incredible children's/middle grade sales this past summer and fall, as well as titles I bought with credits. At first, I didn't think I would count my Audible subscription toward my monthly budget, but ultimately decided I would. I'm just not flying through audiobooks like I was a year or so ago. I've shifted back toward primarily reading in print, so I bit the bullet the other day, redeemed my last 2 credits, and cancelled my subscription. If I want to start up again, I can, but it will count toward my $25/month.

I'm not joining any read-what-you-own challenges this year because they seem to have backfired in the past. I really think going the budget route will give me both the limits and the freedom I need to really make this work. The gift card/reward point exception gives me a bit of extra cushion and I'm feeling pretty confident I can pull this whole thing off. I quite literally have a library in my house, so I have a LOT to choose from. I also live in a fantastic public library system. I should have done this long ago, but I'm glad I'm doing it now. Wish me luck!

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Do you have a book budget? Any tips or tricks for me? I'd love to hear what has worked for you :)

Monday, January 1, 2018

8 Bookish Plans for 2018

Happy New Year readers! I always love the feeling of starting a fresh, new year. I've tried not to go overboard with goals or resolutions, but I still love mulling over my bookish plans for 2018. I've kept things pretty simple, but added the bullet points as reminders to myself of all the various things that can be included within each broader goal. Of all of these, the bullets under #8 are the only one I am considering as real concrete rules for myself because I really need to limit myself in the book buying department this year. I'll share more thoughts on why I'm doing a book budget this year in an upcoming post. Wish me luck!

1. Read more short works
  • short stories
  • novellas
  • essays
  • poetry

2. Read more nonfiction
  • inspirational, reflective, and/or spiritual books
  • parenting books (but only practical, HELPFUL ones)
  • books that teach me something

3. Read from my own shelves
  • my physical books: already owned + new books
  • my Audible library
  • my eBook/eMagazine collection (this is minimal, but I always forget I have them!)

4. Complete my 2018 reading challenges

5. Use my reading journals

6. Book club stuff
  • Attend 4 of my library's book discussion groups
  • Read 1 book/month for the Diverse Books Club + the picture book selections
  • Read my IRL book club books not at the last minute

7. Better Bookish Time Management
  • Spend less time researching, browsing, and shopping for books
  • Better curate my email subscriptions, newsletters, & blogroll
  • Reduce screen-time to free up more reading time

8. Stick to a monthly book budget of $25
  • Can be spent all at once or divided
  • Any unused budget can roll over to the following month
  • Includes:
    • tax and/or shipping on book purchases
    • all books purchased in any format and any genre (cookbooks, picture books, audiobooks -- all of it!)
    • books for my son (exceptions for birthday and Christmas gifts)
    • pre-orders
  • Does not include:
    • books purchased with gift cards, credit card reward points, or ibotta** cash
    • gifts for others
    • books to be donated
Really, my overarching goal is to ENJOY reading, both on my own and with my son. I want to continue to grow and to learn. To become more understanding, compassionate, and empathetic. Books won't make me a better person all on their own, but I hope to read books that inspire and enlighten me and help me on my way. Here's to a great reading year!

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** Ibotta is a nifty rebate app I use a lot for everyday purchases (grocery stores, drugstores, Target, and many more participate!) Use my referral link or enter referral code waeobvm to earn a $10 welcome bonus after joining and completing a rebate.