Blogging

Book Fridays: Change is coming

This isn’t a post about books but books are in my heart as I write it. That counts, right?

I accepted a job! After 4 years of staying home I am going back into an office. I am excited and nervous. How will I cope with so much change? I feel fortunate to have been able to spend as much time as I have with Diego but I feel that the time is right to move things along to the next step. We enrolled him in a wonderful preschool part-time at the beginning of the year. I was extremely anxious about it but a few months later I am now ready to hand him over full time. It is always a beneficial reminder that I am able to adapt and carry on. Routines change, as they must, and we find ways of making things work.

Child care is expensive. When we initially set out to find a preschool for Diego we were shocked at the cost. As I was searching for a job another horrifying question kept cropping up: how do people afford it? There are a lot of jobs down here that want to pay $10 or less. That is not enough to live off. After child care expenses it doesn’t leave much at all. And if you have more than one child you could see that entire paycheck go. My husband and I have no family nearby who could care for our son so we absolutely have to place him somewhere. When I started job hunting I was dismayed at the listings and how little they offered even as they required more than just a high school diploma. Don’t they know that we have student loans? It’s tough out there.

I was lucky to interview at several places and receive several offers. Some were not matches for me but yesterday I interviewed at a lovely company which I am very excited to work for. After a few weeks of endless scrolling, cover letter writing, and applying I am finally on the other side. I have a lot to do this weekend, plans to make, menus to plan, outfits to pick out. I have never worked and been a mom at the same time. I know this will challenge me and cause me to grow. Organization will be key in keeping me grounded and balanced but planning for all of that stresses me out. I’ve spent more time stating off into space pondering my list than actually getting things done. Tomorrow I hope to get my butt in gear.

As I wrote previously, my job search threw a wrench in my reading this month and I am not sure when I will get back into the groove again. I am going to return my two unread library books (as much as it pains me) and pick them up again at a later date when my mind is settled and I can enjoy them. I’m not sure when I will blog regularly again but I hope to not be away for too long (or at all!).

I wanted to take a moment to thank my neighbor who very kindly watched my son on two separate occasions so that I could go on interviews. I am indebted to her and so very grateful for her kindness and graciousness. Often it is when we feel most alone and overwhelmed that we discover people right next to us who make a difference and offer a helping hand. All we need to do is ask.

My friend Angela and fellow job hunter read over my resume and encouraged me to list all the things I do for my parents’ business on my resume. I had not thought to do this for some reason. Maybe because I do it from home and only for a couple of hours a week. Whatever the reason I was selling myself short. I believe that adding that to my resume is what got me the job. So thank you for being my cheerleader and partner in crime. Many a night we stayed up late sharing our job search woes and lifting each other up when one of us was down in the dumps.

My C-Queens and personal fan club, thank you for always being willing to listen and cheer me on. Thank you for celebrating every little thing with me. I love you guys so much.

And to my husband for being such a wonderful provider all these years.

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Book Fridays: Falling behind

After taking part in BBAW I found myself inspired. I had a lot of good ideas for my blog  and I was excited to dive into writing. As it often happens life got hectic and in an unprecedented turn of events I am now looking at the very real possibility of going back to work full time. I have spent the past two weeks looking at job listings, applying for jobs and even going to a couple of interviews. I am distracted, excited and anxious about these changes I am about to make to my life. My reading has suffered and even though I have plenty of books to talk about I find myself unable to find the words.

Blogging is something that I love and so I try to keep it stress free. Sometimes it’s just not happening and this is one such time. My mind is running constantly, obsessing over jobs I’ve applied to and hope to hear back from. I cannot quiet it down enough so that reading is a possibility. In turn, this lack of reading stresses me out as well. I miss my books. I am in the middle of Six of Crows which I am loving so far. I hope to pick it up again this weekend and get the ball rolling.

The prospect of going back to work got me thinking about how I will balance work, home, and books once I find myself employed. Of course I know that having a job doesn’t mean you can’t read but it’s been so long since I didn’t have all the time in the world that it scares me a little to think that going back to work means I will no longer be spending Wednesday afternoons at the library. The established routines around my reading habits will change.

My prediction is that it will take me a couple of months to find my groove. Perhaps it will take longer. I did not know when I would go back to work. I knew that I wanted to, eventually, but the timeline was fluid. The time feels right and so I am going with that. There is a lot to figure out and extra expenses to consider (enrolling Diego full-time at his preschool and getting an additional car for me) but things are happening. I’ve actually been taking steps which means that this isn’t theoretical. This is happening. Change is coming!

 

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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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The Book Blogger Confession Tag

Blu Chicken Ninja published a blog post answering this tag and I thought that doing one of these every once in a while looked like fun. I wouldn’t call myself a book blogger per se, but I do write about books once a week so even though nobody would ever tag me I decided to tag myself.

1. Which book, most recently, did you not finish?

The Monsters of Templeton by Lauren Groff. I didn’t get very far into the book but I found myself putt off by the writing. The writing wasn’t bad but the voice behind it rubbed me wrong. I can’t explain it. When the narrator described a girl as too plump to be wearing a dress I put it down and didn’t pick it up again.

2. Which book is your guilty pleasure?

I have mixed feelings about this question because when we talk about guilty pleasures we often refer to things that we consider to be intellectually lacking and they are usually in the YA or Romance genre. We shouldn’t feel guilty about what we read and nobody should be judging people’s preferences. On the other hand I totally understand the tongue in cheek jabs we take on ourselves about arguably shitty books that we love. I would reread Twilight so I guess that would be my guilty pleasure, although I would read it publicly just to dare somebody to question me.

3. Which book do you love to hate?

If I Stay was really meh for me and even annoying. I don’t really bash the book but I didn’t connect with that story and as a result I never understood the hype. I also genuinely hate the book I mention below.

4. Which book would you throw into the sea?

La Ultima Noche Que Pase Contigo by Mayra Montero. It was disgustingly racist and the book was more rape-y than erotica. Absolute waste of paper.

5. Which book have you read the most?

I don’t reread books very often, in fact not since The Enchanted Wood by Enid Blyton have I read a book over and over again. I remember starting that book over as soon as I had finished it because I loved it so much.

6. Which book would you hate to receive as a present?

Anything by a celebrity. I am not interested in reading ghostwritten drivel.

7. Which book could you not live without?

I would rather not choose one book. I love books, even the books I don’t care for/wouldn’t read are important to me. Freedom from Fear by Dr. Howard Liebgold has changed my life. I struggle with anxiety and panic attacks and I refer to this book often when I need a refresher. I would hate to ever be without it.

8. Which book made you the angriest?

See number 4.

9. Which book made you cry the most?

Burial Rites by Hannah Kent and Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel recently got to me.

10. Which book cover do you hate the most?

I don’t like book covers that are a still image from a movie adaptation. I don’t know why. I just don’t like them! Whenever I see a book released with a new cover because the movie is coming out I cringe.

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Two Years of Blogging!

It’s been two years since I started this blog (originally on Tumblr then I migrated over to WordPress). It feels a bit unreal that I have been blogging for this long as blogging still feels new to me in many ways. I have always maintained that I write this blog for fun, and that is still true. I love to write and this is my little spot on the internet to share my thoughts, photos of my cooking, etc. I don’t often think about my stats but today I took a peek and I was shocked to see that 92 people follow my blog! For some, that’s a small number, but I think it’s amazing that this many of you have found me and followed. Thank you!

I’ve also received over TWO THOUSAND spam messages, ha ha.

Writing a blog has been an exercise in commitment (this post will be #172). I strive to put up two posts weekly. I often schedule these in advance but I fall behind on this a lot. There is a unique pressure that comes from doing something for yourself. I don’t want to let myself down. However, whenever I miss a week I don’t beat myself up over it. Sometimes life happens. We all need a break from the things we love. I think it’s healthy.

Blogging has been a rewarding experience for me. I have met people and reconnected with old friends who read a post that resonated with them. Having your words be special or important to others is amazing. Thank you to everyone who has ever reached out to me about a blog post either by commenting, sending me an e-mail or contacting me through other social media. Sometimes people offer words that are unwanted but for the most part I have had only positive interactions with readers.

I wanted to share some of my favorite blogs in the hopes that you will find something new to read about. I can’t think of a better way to celebrate two years of blogging than by spreading a little blogger love!

Bluchickenninja – Emma writes a lot about books but she also shares various random things. I love her concise summaries and reviews of what she’s been reading. I don’t think I’ve ever been bored by her posts. They’re all a pleasure to read.

jakerobertknight – Jake is a writer and he shares his writing on his blog. He’s a wonderful, charming human and I’ve had the pleasure to correspond with him via email about everything from writing to the weather in Australia. He’s working towards publishing his first book and his blog lets you join him on this adventure.

Aisha’s Oasis–  Aisha’s blog documents her life in Egypt. She moved there from South Carolina in order to be with the man she loves. Her writing has a lot of elements that I would equate with magical realism. The way in which she relates her story walks the line between reality and fiction taking steps in either direction at times. I have greatly enjoyed her writing and the story of how she ended up in Egypt is heartwarming and fascinating.

Makeup Muzings – E has been loving makeup probably for as long as she can remember. She hasn’t posted in a while but her reviews are always honest and to the point. I used to love YouTube for product recs but now that it’s all about the money I find that I would much rather hear product endorsements from somebody who doesn’t have a financial stake. She’s also a lovely friend to me.

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