reading habits

The Books and Life Tag

As it’s blogmas and I need to think of things to fill each day I of course turn to tags. The Books and Life tag was created by Steve Donoghue on YouTube and I was inspired to do it after seeing RinceyReads’ video. It’s all about reading habits and where and how books fit into your life.

On a scale of 1 to 10, 1 being a normal person and 10 being the late Harold Bloom, how much are books and reading a part of your life?
This honestly fluctuates. I’ll always say I’m a reader and have been since I was a kid but the amount of time I dedicate to reading can change each month or year. Like this year will be the least amount of books I’ve read in years as I just haven’t felt the need to read like I have before. So, I’d say for now I’m about a 4. I still read more than the average person but I’m never up to date about new releases or what books coming out I’m super excited about.

Where does your personal library stand right now in relation to the rest of your life? Do you have more books now than you ever have? Fewer? How has your library changed?
I definitely have fewer books compared a few years ago. I unhauled boxes of books earlier this year, partly due to space and partly due to admitting that some of the books I had I was no longer interested in and would never read. My personal library is probably a 70/30 split on books I’ve yet to read and favourites that I’ll probably never get rid of. I think nowadays it takes me a lot to keep a book after I’ve read it if I didn’t love it. If I have no desire to read it again and just thought it was fine, I’d rather it go to a new home where someone else can maybe enjoy it.

Take a mental step back and ask yourself: what is the most likely first bookish impression a newcomer would have in your home?
I rent a room in a flat so the many living space is pretty sparse in terms of either of our personalities. In my bedroom I have a little TBR organiser that fits about 4-6 books in depending on how big they are. They’re the only books on show, the rest of my books (which is the majority of my TBR) is on shelves in my wardrobe as I don’t have a bookcase here. My favourite books are at my mum’s where they are on display on bookcases in the living room.

How often (if ever, gulp) do you clean or re-organize your books?
I sometimes dust the tops of the books in my TBR organiser but I very rarely clean or reorganise the books in my wardrobe. They’re all stacked on top of one another so unless I want to read a book that’s in the middle or near the bottom of a stack, they don’t move.

On average, how many books do you acquire in a given week?
This ebbs and flows to be honest. Some weeks or months I can buy like six books at once, especially if I go into a bookshop to buy a book for someone else. I can then very rarely resist buying some for myself at the same time. But equally I can also go weeks or months without acquiring a single book. So on average it’d probably work out to be one a week.

What song is your current ear-worm?
I’m so bad at keeping up with music but That’s What I Want by Lil Nas X is super catchy and I very much enjoy it every time it comes on the radio when I’m driving.

What percentage of your self-control do you retain in a well-stocked bookshop?
Accidentally kind of answered this in question before but I really lack self-control in bookshops. I can probably keep about 30% of my self-control when I’m in one. Especially if I see a buy on get one half price deal on a book I wanted, it’d be rude not to get another book and take advantage of that deal!

Do you ever feel the need to take a break from books? If so, what form does it take?
This year it’s definitely been TV shows that have taken up my reading time. Before that, films were definitely what I watched the most. If anything, recently it’s been reading that’s been the break from other things. I would like to change that in 2022 and have a more even split across my hobbies.

When you meet a new person, how long does it take you to bring up books?
A while if I’m honest. I’m more likely to try and bond over favourite films than favourite books. Part of that is because my reading is so varied it’s hard to think of a book that’s a good chance to be able to bond over. Also, I seem to instantly forget every book I’ve ever read when people ask me about them.

Have you given any thought/made any provisions for your personal library after you croak?
Not really. I suppose I’d like it if friends/family went through my books and took soe they thought they might like but really as long as they weren’t dumped anywhere and were instead donated to a charity shop or a library, I’d be happy.

Are you known among your friends & loved ones for your weird and probably unhealthy relationship with books?
Well, they definitely know I like books and it’s probably one of those things that is used to describe me. My friends and family definitely know that they can always give me a book as a birthday/Christmas present and I’d love it. I love seeing what books people might think I’d like.

Thoughts on… Reading Slumps

I like routines especially when it comes to my blog. On Monday’s I post a film review and on Thursday’s I post a book review and if there’s something else I want to write about it’ll go live on any other day – that’s how I’ve done it for years now. I’m pretty consistent when it comes to that “schedule” but it’s tough to keep up with it when you’re in a reading slump.

I’ve read two books this month and I’m currently in the middle of two more; The Dry by Jane Harper on audio and I’m reading a physical copy of Frankenstein in Baghdad by Ahmed Saadawi. It’s not unusual for me to be reading one book on audio and another in physical format at the same time, but what is unusual is that it’s two and a half weeks since I started the physical book and it’s less than 300 pages long.

It’s been a long time since I’ve been in a reading slump.

I think this one has been brought about by life being a bit more busy than usual. I’ve started a new job, I did a movie marathon for charity, and I have family-related things I’m perhaps I’m subconsciously worrying about. I say subconsciously as I’m very much a person who doesn’t think they get stressed, until my body gives up in some shape or form and I realise I wasn’t feeling that great. Time to read and being in the right headspace to read is definitely the main factor. And while I do find the premise of Frankenstein in Baghdad interesting and I like how it has a large cast of characters, I never feel compelled to pick it up even though when I am reading it, I enjoy it. It’s a weird situation to be in.

This long weekend I plan to either finish Frankenstein in Baghdad or consciously put it aside and pick up something else. I can always go back to Frankenstein in Baghdad when I’m more in the mood for it. Because that’s something I’ve learnt about myself over the many years I’ve been reading – I am a mood reader.

That’s why my TBR’s are often pointless as I might read one or two books from them but the rest of that week/month/whatever I’ll read completely different things. With my Read the World Project I do think I put pressure on myself to read certain books and quickly. The plan with that project was to read a book from every country in the world before I turn 30 which is in less than two and a half years now and I have about 100 countries still left to read. While I enjoy reading books from different people in different places, and I’ve certainly found some favourites that I would never have heard of if it wasn’t for this challenge, there’s sometimes an underlying sense of guilt if I’m reading books that don’t fit for the challenge.

I think really for me, reading slumps are something that happens when I’m drained, can’t focus on the physical act of reading, and can’t find a book that suits my mood. To get myself out of reading slumps I tend to go to graphic novels as they are so much shorter and quicker to read than a novel. If I read a couple of graphic novels, I feel like I’ve achieved something and can then attempt to read a novel next.

I’m still learning to tell myself that putting aside a book to try it again at a later date, or just admitting that it’s not for me and DNF-ing it, is absolutely fine. I haven’t “wasted time” on that book and it’s totally OK to just have a break from reading if my mind is not up to it – blogging schedule be damned!

I hope this all makes sense. I was trying to write through how my feelings on reading and how that relates to blogging. I also have a clearer idea of how I’m going to think about my current read, my reading slump, and what kind of book(s) I want to read next. Have you ever had a reading slump? And if you have, how have you gotten yourself out of it? It’s always good to hear other people’s tips and tricks.

Thoughts on… Audiobooks

Before this year I had never listen to an audiobook for before. Well, that’s kind of a lie. I remember listening to cassette tapes of the Animal Ark books by Lucy Daniels when I was a child. I word listen to them on a walkman and I had a cassette player by my bed and I would sometimes listen to them at night before falling asleep instead of reading a book.

Back from the age of say 7 years old to nearly 20 years later I haven’t really listened to audiobook but that was until this year. At the end of 2017 I started a new job where I could walk to work every day, instead of getting the train as I had previously. When I was commuting to work by train I would read on the train, but now I didn’t have that time I wasn’t reading as much. So that’s when I started looking into audiobooks, so I could listen to something as I walked to and from work and also maybe when I was walking around town on my lunch break. Obviously, I’d heard of Audible but when I looked into that it’s kind of expensive and I rarely read physical books more than once so I doubt I’ll ever listen to an audiobook more than once so when I joined local library I discovered they have audiobooks you can borrow from the library.

I downloaded a couple of apps one is called Borrow Box and another is called RBdigital and these are the two I use the most. Obviously different libraries have different catalogues, so some have more choice than others but since January I’ve listened to two audiobooks a month on average depending how long the audiobook is.

I’m finding that audiobooks are a great way for me to read more books during a month or a year. And it’s a way for me to read books that have been on my shelves for a long time that I was perhaps intimidated by. For instance, I listen to the audiobook of The Three Musketeers over the summer, a book that I’ve had on my shelf for at least 15 years and I had yet to read it and I doubt I would have read the physical copy. Last month I listened to the audiobook of Dune by Frank Herbert and that was definitely a book that was so big and such a classic that I really don’t think I would’ve read it if it wasn’t for the audiobook. I listened to Bleak House on audio this year and I think that made it an easier book to understand because listening to the characters talk and the description made it less dense than the few times I’ve tried to read my paperback copy of Bleak House.

I find audiobooks are not only good way of reading intimidating books that I’ve had my possession but also to find new books I hadn’t heard of before. It has been audiobooks that I’ve listen to a lot for my Read the World Project and because I’ve borrowed them through the library, they haven’t cost me any money.

I think once upon a time I believed that audiobooks weren’t “real books” and if you listen to audiobooks you weren’t reading but I stand corrected. Whether you read a book that’s a physical copy or an e-book or you listen to an audiobook, you are still consuming the story and I think that’s the most important thing.

I am now an audiobook convert I think they’re brilliant and so handy and such a great way to get stories to people that might not have the time to sit down and dedicate time to reading a physical copy. I can listen to a least an hour each day of an audiobook on my walk to and from work. If I’m doing the cleaning or cooking, I’m usually listen to my audiobook then as well so I’m still paying attention and I’m still consuming the story, but I don’t have to dedicate all my time to the action of reading when I’m listening to an audiobook.

Do you listen to audiobooks? If so, where do you get your audiobooks from? I’m always looking for cheap and new ways to listen to audiobooks.

BOOK BLOGGER HOP: Candy Corn, chocolate or popcorn – which is your favourite to eat while reading?

Book Blogger Hop: Halloween Edition!

The Book Blogger Hop is a weekly feature hosted by Coffee Addicted Writer, to find bookish blogs and to learn more about the bloggers themselves. You can find more info on the feature here.

This week’s question is: Candy Corn, a chocolate bar, or Popcorn. Which of these snacks are your favourite to eat while reading?

I’ve never had Candy Corn so I can disregard that right now. It’s one of those American foods that I’ve not tried and while in some UK supermarkets there’s a small “American food” section that has stuff like Hershey bars and pop tarts in it, I haven’t ever seen Candy Corn there. I find popcorn can leave you with greasy fingers and obviously I don’t want to get food marks on my books, and to be honest I only really eat popcorn at the cinema, I very rarely have it at home. So, my favourite is a chocolate bar. Chocolate is my favourite snack to eat while reading because you don’t get your fingers dirty because you hold the wrapper, it’s the best.

How I Read Tag

I saw that Joy from JoyIsabella had done this tag and I loved the questions and her answers so I had to give it a go.

How do you find out about new books to read?
While I’m always a bit slow to read new releases (I’ve got too many books that have been sitting on my shelves for years) I usually hear about new books from the people I follow on Twitter. If I keep seeing people I know and whose opinions I often agree with talking about a book I’m more likely to remember it. Plus when I have a wander around a bookstore that’s where I find what’s new on the shelves.

How did you get into reading?
I’ve always been a reader from a very young age. My mum used to read to me every night (my favourite book was a big collection of Meg and Mog stories) and then I’d always read when there was a spare moment in school and I’d read before I went to bed at night.

How has your taste in books changed as you’ve got older?
When I was really young all I would read was the Animal Ark books by Lucy Daniels, slowly I started reading other books starting with the Puppy Patrol series by Jenny Dale (can you see the animal theme yet?!) but by the time I turned about 10 I was reading a lot of different stuff. The Princess Diaries and Eragon both helped me discover and love new genres and now I’m a very much an eclectic reader. Fantasy, chick-lit, sci-fi, contemporary, adventure – I’ll give it all a go.

How often do you buy books?
I go through stages of not buying any books for months and then buying like seven in the space of a week. If I don’t go in a bookshop for ages then I’m OK, it’s as soon as I walk into a bookshop and see all the 2 for 1 offers and stuff like that, I become weak and my purse becomes empty.

How do you react when you don’t like the ending of a book?
If struggled with the whole book I’ll probably be a bit annoyed if the endings not worth the struggle. If I’ve liked the book and then the ending is completely out of left field (think The Death Cure) or I didn’t like the ending for whatever reason I’ll be a bit peeved. Depending on how much I liked the book/series I might be annoyed for a bit and then just forget about it or otherwise I’ll be annoyed and bitter for a long time.

How often do you take a sneaky peak at the last page to see if there’s a happy ending?
I very rarely do that. Sometimes I like reading the last sentence which is a bit weird but otherwise I don’t skip ahead.

So that was the How I Read Tag. Like Joy, I tag anyone who wants to do this tag!