Month: February 2016

BBAW Day 5: Keeping it fresh

One of the unfortunate side effects of reading and blogging like rockstars seems to be a tendency toward burnout. How do you keep things fresh on your blog and in your reading?

Blogging about books and reading is how I saved my blog. When I started blogging I did so as a way to share my experiences as a new mom. It was almost a diary that I shared with friends and family. Eventually I got bored and I started sharing recipes and food photos. Once I started doing that I still felt like I hadn’t found my blogging niche. I wanted to write and share on my blog and so I kept switching things up until I started Book Fridays. That really changed my blogging inspiration. I already loved to read and did a lot of it. Sharing seemed like the next logical step.

Sometimes life gets hectic and I take a break. Or sometimes I just don’t feel like fulfilling this self imposed commitment. When the muse strikes again I schedule as many posts as I can and go from there. For me blogging is about fun. I do it mostly for myself and honestly the biggest motivator has to be internal in order to blog long term. If your sole reason for blogging is to make money or receive external validation you will quickly learn that those are not enough to keep you going. Cultivating an audience takes time. For most bloggers it doesn’t happen overnight and once you do have an audience consistency is key.

I’ve mentioned several times how I often feel that I am blogging into the void. That has a tendency to come across as a sad thing but it really is not. Sure, some days I wish my posts encouraged lively discussion in the comments but like I said above I blog for me. I blog because I love to write and to challenge myself to keep up with something I started for myself. Many times I have been tempted to throw in the towel but then I take stock of all the things I’ve done and learned through blogging and I stay.

Keeping things fresh includes writing about more than just the books I’ve read. I like to throw in some posts about books I’ve picked up for my son as well as posts about bookish topics. When it comes to my blog I have only one rule: there are no rules. I will write about whatever strikes my fancy. Whatever inspires me, enrages me or simply causes me to feel inclined to write. I think it’s important that your blog be a space for YOU. I consider my blog a sort of living room where friends can sit awhile and get to know me.

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BBAW Day 4: Community

 How do you stay connected to the community? 

Blogging can be a very lonely endeavor which is why Twitter is such a great place to keep up to date with what’s going on. I find it easier to interact on Twitter although I do enjoy commenting on blog posts (my goal this year is to do a lot more of it). When I first started writing about books I did not put myself out there beyond sharing the link on Facebook. I did not think to seek out fellow bloggers. That all changed when I heard about Dewey’s Readathon. Firstly, I had never heard of a readathon and I was blown away by the number of readers who took part. I was also taken in by the mini challenges, cheerleaders, and basically the entire production of it all. All these people came together and organized this amazing event that was free and did not require pants! It was instant love.

During my second readathon I cheered and that really exposed me to a lot of blogs. It was so much fun seeing what everybody was reading and how they were getting on that day. For my third readathon I also cheered but I also hosted a mini challenge. Taking part in the readathon really made me feel a part of a wonderful community. The book community has been nothing but welcoming and I will always be grateful for that. Books are not only my closest friends but they have introduced me to some pretty great humans along the way.

Participating in my first readathon has caused me to be more active on Twitter and it propelled me to continue my blog. It also changed the way I Instagram. Socializing and readathoning go hand in hand. I am only sorry I did not hear about it sooner!

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BBAW DAY 3: Because of a Blogger

What have you read and loved because of a fellow blogger?

This question has made me realize I need to keep track of who recommended what because even though I know I am constantly adding “want to read” books to my Goodreads I quickly forget which blogger/booktuber I got the rec from. I need to develop a system. Having said that, my brain has proven to not be completely useless for this endeavor as there is one book I can confidently talk about in answer to this question.

Trading Rosemary by Octavia Cade– I know exactly who to blame for this wonderful read: Books and Pieces. I primarily watch her videos on YouTube. Her greeting of, “Hello lovely humans.” is inviting and just perfect. As soon as I heard her talk about this book I bought it on my Kindle and dove right in. I absolutely loved the story.

The next thing I have loved because of a fellow blogger is the #readmyowndamnbooks challenge by Andi at Estella’s Revenge. This make up your own rules challenge has proven fruitful. I have cleared valuable shelf space by parting with some duds I no longer want to keep and I’ve read about 9 books that I owned but had just been keeping as decorations. I now have 5 books left to read! This means I am free to borrow as many books as I want from the library and even purchase a book here and there when the mood strikes.

I don’t have a list of books I’ve read because of these channels/blogs but here is a list of who I watch/read:

Brock at Let’s Read

Ron Lit – her reviews are very scholarly and as I looked at her channel I recalled that I read Carmilla because of her and was not disappointed.

Danika Leigh Ellis

Climb the Stacks

Rincey Reads – I read Station Eleven because of her rec. Another winner.

librarianfanmail – upon writing this I discovered that she’s taking a break from youtube and her content is no longer available but I can’t not mention her. She turned me on to so many great reads!

Brown Girl Reading – I think most of my TBR is her fault! I love her reviews/discussions and she’s been a huge contributor to my quest to read more diversely.

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BBAW Day 2: Interviews

BBAW is something I started on a whim and therefore I know very little about it. I had no idea there were interview signups, haha. I was not sure what to post for this day until I read WeBeReading’s post. I really liked the questions they answered and so I am answering them below.

How has book blogging been like a job?

Blogging is both like a job and not like a job to me. Last year I sought to write about every book I read but I couldn’t keep up. There came a point where I preferred to dive right into my next book rather than take the time to write a post. If blogging were a job I would not take shortcuts and I’d be a lot more consistent. Surprisingly, another way in which blogging is like a job is that I’ve experienced burnout. Sometimes I just don’t have anything to say and it stresses me out to take a break from my blog. But only at first. I keep this blog largely for myself and I have never had any review commitments. I do this for fun and sometimes I need to remind myself of that.

 

What technologies have you used in blogging?

I use WordPress for this blog and Tumblr for my currently abandoned quote blog. I also use Twitter. I think that blogging develops skills. Planning, posting, scheduling etc. It involves a lot more than just typing. My goal this year is to go deeper. I write about books very superficially even when I have a lot more to say and when I do get on topics that I am passionate about I get stuck. I need to stop blogging by the seat of my pants. Even though it’s fun!

 

What is the best thing about book blogging?

When I first started this blog I focused mainly on parenting my son and food recipes I had tried. It evolved to include a lot of posts about books. I enjoy looking back at how a book made me feel and how my thoughts may change upon a re-read. It had never occurred to me to share my thoughts about books, reading, and bookish things in general. I often feel that I blog into the void but I love it. Every now and then somebody will tell me they read my blog and I feel so honored. Those moments are one of the best things about blogging. Reaching that one person who in turn picks up that book I very vaguely and poorly exalted.

I’m a proficient blogger. I know my way around WordPress and I can even take a half decent picture. Those are skills I have developed through blogging and browsing other blogs/instagram accounts etc.

Meeting other book lovers has definitely been the best part about book blogging. Dewey’s 24 hour readathon has led me to some great people and the excitement and fun of those are something I look forward to all year long. I am so glad I decided to participate in my first readathon two years ago. It’s made all the difference.

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BBAW Day 1: The five books of me

It’s Book Blogger Appreciation Week over on The Estella Society and even though I don’t consider myself a book blogger their intro post caught my eye and I wanted to take a stab at it. How hard can choosing 5 books be? The (obvious) answer: VERY! I am almost incapable of choosing between books and when I do I feel almost unable to explain why I loved them so much. It’s one of the reasons I don’t consider myself a book blogger. Sure, I write about the books I’ve read but usually in general terms. I have thus far been too lazy to write the sort of blog posts I admire other bloggers for. And this is where I am trying to talk myself out of writing this post for fear of coming off as an ignorant wannabe.

Having said that here are 5 books I think are very me right now.

Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami – This was the first Murakami book I read and I instantly fell in love with the prose. Granted, I read it in English and not the original Japanese but the translation really gave me the sense that it was true to the author’s voice. I plan on giving this one a reread soon.

Trading Rosemary by Octavia Cade – I read this book after watching a video by Books and Pieces on YouTube. The premise interested me and the fantasy/ sic-fi aspect of it especially. I was not disappointed. It is a very short read (you can read it in one sitting). The story takes place in a world where memories are currency. They are transferred into coins and traded. While the buyer can relive the experience through the memory the original is destroyed. Which memories are worth selling and losing forever?

The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini – When I was younger I loved to read whatever was on a bestseller list and admittedly my reading horizons were very narrow. The Kite Runner was one of the first books that got me thinking about reading diversely.

Half-Resurrection Blues by Daniel José Older – By now it’s no secret that Older is one of my favorite authors and not just because of his books and his writing (both of which are amazing) but also because of his activism. I have learned a lot from his tweets about the publishing industry and writing in general. He’s an asset to the writing community. He calls out the issues of lack of representation and other nonsense such as the children’s book that depicted happy, smiling slaves. Half-Resurrection blues was the first book I read by him and I plan on reading anything else he writes.

The End of Mr. Y by Scarlett Thomas – A place where you can travel into people’s minds, read their thoughts and even influence them. A special potion that allows you to enter this space. Quantum physics and Derrida. I stayed up late into the night to finish this book and it marked the end of a reading slump.

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Book Fridays: January Wrap-up

I managed to read 10 books in January which is a personal best. It’s a meaningless stat and I don’t place much value on it but I’m still excited to have accomplished that goal. Here is what I read in January along with some thoughts on each book.

  1. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling – I am working on reading the entire series and since my husband got me the set for Christmas I am well on my way to doing just that. With every book I read I realize just how good the film adaptations were. They stayed true to the books and even though changes were made it all still works. I especially love reading the book and getting all the information and nuances left out of the films. I can’t wait to continue my Potter journey soon! My rating: 4 stars
  2. Uprooted by Naomi Novik – I heard about this book via booktube and picked it up from my library. I really loved the premise and found it to be an enjoyable read. It made me feel like I was in a world of fairy tales. The story centers around Agnieszka, a young girl chosen by an immortal wizard to apprentice with him. My rating: 4 stars
  3. Midnight Taxi Tango by Daniel José Older – Ever since I read Resurrection Blues last year I was eager to get back into the world that Older crafted. I was not disappointed with this latest installment in the Bone Street Rumba Series. I will be writing a separate post on this book. Suffice to say it’s filled with badass characters and diverse cast that kicks ass. My rating: 5 stars
  4. The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls – After a friend recommended this book another friend seconded the rec and even sent me a copy as a gift! This book was a difficult read but a good one. It’s difficult because unlike fiction memoir gives us a glimpse into a person’s life. Real life. These awful things happened to real people. Real people made these shitty choices. Overall, it was a powerful read that will stay with me forever. My rating: 4 stars
  5. Low by Mary Elizabeth – My friend wrote and self-published this book and she very kindly shared an ARC with me. I cannot be unbiased about this so I will forgo a star rating on this one, haha. This book is possibly the best she’s written so far. So much growth in the writing style. The story is about Low, a bad boy criminal and Poesy his loving sidekick. They’re a modern day Bonnie and Clyde. If you’re looking for romance and thrills this might be the book for you.
  6. Negro: Este color que me queda bonito by Benito Masso – I picked up this book from El Candil in Ponce during my visit to Puerto Rico last year. One of my goals this year is to read more books in Spanish. I picked up this book because I was excited to hear from a black Puerto Rican about his experiences with racism. Puerto Rico is diverse but the fact remains that black puerto ricans are disadvantaged and oppressed by white puerto ricans. There is no Kumbaya on the island. Racism is rampant and insidious, however, I seldom see it addressed. I more often see people pretend it doesn’t exist. This memoir was poignant in that the author not only recounted his encounters with racism both on the island on on the U.S. mainland but he also detailed his journey of healing and talks openly about internalized racism. My rating: 5 stars
  7. The Martian by Andy Weir – I had been meaning to read this book last year but the wait list at my library was a mile long so I finally caved and bought a copy in December. Naturally, as soon as I bought it I was notified that a copy was on hold for me at the library. Go figure. Anyway, I was excited to read the book especially after watching the movie. I was not disappointed. The book was nothing short of thrilling. The end especially had me on edge even as I knew how it ended! Some changes were made and a lot of detail was left out of the movie. Both incarnations of this story are worth checking out. If you love space travel then I suspect reading about an astronaut stranded on Mars is right up your alley. My rating: 5 stars
  8. Tom’s Midnight Garden by Philippa Pearce – When I visited my parents last year I rummaged through the bookcase in my childhood bedroom and found a few books to take with me. This was one of them. I remember reading it and loving it. The idea of a magic garden that appears out of nowhere and that only Tom is privy to was very appealing to me. It still is. Reading children’s books as an adult is such a joy. I will continue to seek out kid lit. My rating: 4 stars
  9. Ishmael: An Adventure of the Mind and Spirit by Daniel Quinn – I read this book for the first time during my freshman year of college. It was a required reading for my World Civ class. I remember being blown away by this book after my first reading but my second reading left me underwhelmed. I still think it’s an interesting book but something about it just didn’t resonate with me as much as it did the first time around. I was slightly disappointed but glad I read it all the same. The book is about a man who answers a classified ad that states: Teacher seeks pupil. Must have an earnest desire to save the world. Apply in person. From here he embarks on a journey and so too does the reader. My rating: 3.5 stars
  10. Mr. Penumbra’s 24-hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan – A mysterious bookstore filled with strange books and a new clerk who is determined to figure out what’s going on. This book was a fun read. The ending was kind of underwhelming to me but overall I really enjoyed it. My rating: 4 stars

Conclusion:

I had a great reading month and I stuck to my #readmyowndamnbooks challenge! I did not purchase any books. Out of the 10 books I read 2 of them were library books, 1 was an ARC, 1 was a gift and the rest were books I already owned. My pile of books to be read is greatly reduced and after purging my shelves my house is a lot more organized.

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