I went to a silent reading party… and had a (quiet) blast

File this under “things only a book lover would understand”:

I went to a silent reading party this week, and it was the most fun I’ve had in ages!

What’s not to love? A room full of bookworms (book enthusiasts… book nerds… book freaks… ), drinks all around, silent (but companionable) reading, and raising money for a good cause. I ask you — can you think of a more fun way to spend a Tuesday evening?

(The fact that I can’t says a lot about me, I know.)

So here’s what it’s all about:

Drink, eat, and read. Silently.

Drink, eat, and read. Silently.

Silent Reading Parties started several months ago here in San Francisco, hosted by Lemony Snicket (Daniel Handler) and Radio Silence. They’re held on the first Tuesday of each month at a downtown hotel — a hotel with a very stylish “library bar”, which feels cozy and bookish as soon as you step inside. Starting at 6 pm, talking stops and reading begins. And the room remains silent. For an hour and a half, there’s light jazz music playing in the background while 40 or so bookish folks sit and read.

Awesome.

 

Seeing how it’s a bar, there are drinks, of course. There are menu cards on the tables, so you can order drinks and munchies without breaking silence.

And that’s what we did.

I finished the last few chapters of Dark Matter by Blake Crouch, while my friend read volume six of Saga, then started on the “Weird Junior Edition” of the Worst-Case Scenario Survival Handbook.

We read. Drank some wine. Ate some fries. Grooved to the jazzy tunes. And then at 7:30, the silent time was done, and the readers shook themselves out of their trances. Some stayed and schmoozed, some went on their merry ways. And I’d bet that most will be back next month for more.

All this wild and crazy fun, and a good cause too! A portion of the drinks proceeds plus the contents of a fishbowl full of cash (which Lemony Snicket personally handed round for contributions) all go to support the library of one of our local public elementary schools.

reading-4As if I needed any further inducement to sit and read!

My son thinks I’m weird, and wonders why I couldn’t have just sat at home by myself with a book instead of going out to read. But he doesn’t get it… and I bet anyone reading this post absolutely does.

Booklovers are solitary creatures in their pursuit of great reading — but who says we can’t read alone, together?

 

Consider me hooked… and absolutely looking forward to next month’s (sssssh… no talking!) party.

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DisembARCing

That’s it. I’ve reached my limit. No more!

I hereby declare my freedom to read like a leaf on the wind… (excuse my mélange de metaphors). Watch how I soar!

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Way back when — on January 1st, to be precise — I made all sorts of promises and resolutions. And, well… I suck at resolutions.

I swore that I’d cut back on ARCs and concentrate more on reading the books I already own, and to tell you the truth, I didn’t do an awful job. I did cut back. I paid attention to release dates. I made myself a handy-dandy Excel worksheet so I could track my ARCs. I tried to make sure I didn’t have more than 2 or 3 per month for the first half of 2016, and I did my best to read them all as their publication dates rolled around. And for the most part, I actually did pretty great! Yay me!

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But…

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I’m still frustrated. I’m down to my last 10 ARCs (ignoring the unread ARCs from previous years), and I feel duty-bound to read them — but damn it all, I have so much else I want to be reading.

My books are piling up, and I’m feeling weighted down. And my overall feeling is:

I DON’T WANNA!

I don’t want to read according to a schedule. I don’t want to read what’s next on my calendar. I don’t want to read because I said I would.

I want to read what I want, when I want.

This isn’t anything earth-shattering, and I know I’m not alone. We all get frustrated. It’s the same old, same old story:

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I’ll repeat myself:

I’ve had it. I’m done. I need my space.

So yes, I’m going to finish the 10 ARCs still sitting here waiting to be read. After all, they’re all books that I wanted to read — I made sure to only request ARCs for books I’d read anyway, whether in ARC format, fresh from the library, or even requiring actual money to change hands.

But once I’m done, I’m done. I’m not requesting any more ARCs this year. Which feels like a huge step to take, but I mean it. If I want to read a new release that badly, I can get it from the library or bookstore. And once it’s in my hands, I’ll know if I really want to read it at that very minute.

I’m just sick of delaying the books that strike my fancy because there’s an obligation book staring me in the face. So no more!

I’m getting off the ARC train.

DisembARCing.

Starting now.

Thumbs Down: Generic Book Titles

Someone recently asked me what I was reading, and I was completely stuck for an answer. Not because I wasn’t reading anything at all, or because I wasn’t enjoying the book… I just couldn’t get the name right.

Title... title... I know I know it... argh...

Title… title… I know I know it… argh…

There seems to be a plague of generic, repetitive-sounding book titles right now. Just looking back at my own books from my Goodreads shelves, I see:

  • What You Left Behind
  • The Girl You Left Behind
  • Those Left Behind
  • The Secrets We Left Behind
  • The Secrets We Keep

Plus a bunch about meeting, leaving, separating, missing…

  • When You Were Here
  • After I’m Gone
  • Before I Met You
  • Far From You
  • Until We Meet Again
  • Since You’ve Been Gone
  • The Last Time They Met
  • The Day We Met
  • The Next Time You See Me

To tell the truth, there’s:

  • The Truth About Us
  • All the Truth That’s In Me
  • The Truth About You and Me

More repetitions, patterns, and just general general-ness:

  • The Moment of Everything
  • The Theory of Everything
  • Maybe in Another Life
  • The Opposite of Maybe
  • Then and Always
  • The Here and Now

It’s not that these aren’t good books. Most are! But so many books have these bland, could-mean-anything titles — so when I look back at a list of book that I’ve read, I have a really hard time connecting these generic titles to a particular plot. Which is a shame, because in a real-life conversation without Google or Goodreads right in front of me, I’m stuck saying things like “that book I read about the boy with the dead parent” or “the one about the twin sisters” or some other unhelpful nonsense.

Do you have any book titles that you constantly mix up? Have you come across books with switchable, forgettable titles? Please tell me I’m not the only one who gets tripped up by interchangeable titles!

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So. Much. Confusion.

 

You know things are bad…

… when you can’t even enjoy a good book.

Sigh.

Dealing with some unexpected stuff in my “real” (aka, non-book-related) life that’s turned kind of icky. And the worst part is, when I try to escape into the pages of a book, I’m completely unable to concentrate.

Not fair!

When life sucks, the book cure should always work!

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Tried to listen to an audiobook while driving home, as I usually do, but it was completely pointless. I kept having to hit the “back” button when I’d realize that my mind had drifted away.

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I shall persevere! I refuse to let the yuck keep me from my #1 cure for everything.

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If only I could get my brain to turn off the distractions…

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But I’ll be brave, march forward, and go stick my nose inside my book one more time! If I try hard enough, I’m pretty sure I can make the rest of the world go away.

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After all:

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Bookish Confessions: I buy books AFTER I’ve read them.

It’s not as bad as it sounds, really.

It’s not like buying a fancy dress, wearing it to prom, and then returning it after the weekend.

Nope. It’s actually much more innocuous than that.

Especially since I started blogging, I’ve become much more careful about spending my precious book dollars. The more I read, the more I’m tempted to buy… but because I read so damn much, my piggy bank could end up empty if I’m not careful!

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I’ve always been a library fan, and now I get totally excited when I get approved for an ARC that I really, really want to read. BUT — the problem arises when I read a book and end up loving it, and then I start feeling all mournful about the fact that I don’t have a nice copy of my new love sitting on my shelf, where I can pull it out and admire it, or just say hi when I walk by.

(Do I have an unhealthy relationship with my books? That’s a topic for another day.)

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So lately, I’ve mostly been reading borrowed books or ARCs… but then I end up falling in love, or else realize that the finished book is so gosh-darn pretty, or just can’t handle the fact that the book I just cried or laughed over lives on my Kindle, so it’s hard to pick up and hug.

Case(s) in point:

I fell in love with The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin — and couldn’t rest until I’d spent my Amazon gift card on a hardcover of my own.

I read an ARC of The Serpent of Venice by Christopher Moore, and really was feeling pretty satisfied about the whole thing… until my friend showed me her hardcover, with its maps and red letters and blue edges… and well, I was a goner. Bought. Done. On my shelf.

Is it a bit silly to buy a book I’ve already read? Well, maybe. Will I ever read it again? Why exactly do I need it on my shelf?

Well, it makes me happy. And yes, some I will read again. But mostly, it just warms my heart to know that the books I love are living in my house where I can see them whenever I want to.

*Humming with happiness* Why, hello there, Outlander. How’s your day going, Gone With The Wind? Wassup, The Sparrow? (Yes, my family does think I’m weird, to put it mildly.)

What about you? Do you have any odd habits when it comes to buying books? Do you ever buy books you’ve already read?

Share your bookish confessions in the comments!

Bookish Confessions: What would you give up for a bit more time to read?

When it comes to priorities, reading is right up there at the top of my list (along with food, shelter, and hugs).

I can and often do give up sleep (desperately needed, I might add) for the sake of another half-hour… or hour… or two of reading time.

Several years ago on a family camping trip, my son informed me that I didn’t know how to have fun — because while he and my husband were going out on the lake in a motorboat for an hour, I decided to stay on the lakeshore with a book and a blanket, and had a wonderful time reading in the sun instead.

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Last week, I’d planned to go to a group exercise class on my lunch break… then skipped it when I realized I could put that time to better use finishing the book I was reading.

And over the weekend, my husband and daughter invited me to join them for a movie on cable… and I declined, because I’d been planning to read my book for an hour or so.

So, yes, I’m guilty of ducking out of exercise AND family time for the sake of reading.

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How about you?

What have you skipped for the sake of more time to read? Share your bookish confessions in the comments!

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Popular Authors I’ve Never Read

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Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish, featuring a different top 10 theme each week.

Here is my list of authors whose works I’d really like to read… but for whatever reason, it hasn’t happened yet:

Patrick Rothfuss: I’m really looking forward to reading his Kingkiller Chronicles series — but in keeping with my reading resolutions, I’m not going to start these books until I know that book #3 has a release date scheduled.

Kristin Cashore: I have all of the Graceling Realm books on my shelf… but just haven’t gotten around to them yet.

Agatha Christie: I always thought I should give her books a try.

Alexander McCall Smith: I’d like to try his books — either the #1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series or his 44 Scotland Street books.

Ned Vizzini: I’ve been wanting to read It’s Kind of A Funny Story, although I think I’ve hesitated lately just because it’s so sad to read a book by a talented writer, knowing his life was cut short.

John Corey Whaley: Still haven’t read Where Things Come Back, winner of the 2012 Printz Award.

Paolo Bacigalupi: I’m under the impression that I’ll love this writer, based on all the great things I’ve heard about Ship Breaker and The Windup Girl.

China Mieville: I have a friend who keeps insisting that I’ll love China Mieville if I give him a try… but frankly, I feel intimidated every time I think about starting one of his books. Sigh.

And here’s where I’m interrupting my top 10 list… because in my first draft, the rest of this post ended up sounding super negative and cranky, all about authors whose books I didn’ want to read… and frankly, it sounded kind of obnoxious. And who needs that?

So instead, I’ll use the rest of my TTT energy for going to a happy place… oh, like this, for example:

(And if that video doesn’t work, you can also see it here: http://popwatch.ew.com/2014/03/02/pharrell-happy-oscars-performance/)

Which popular authors have you not read yet… but really, really want to? Let’s keep it upbeat, folks — I’m in my happy place right now!

Share your links, and I’ll come check out your top 10!

If you enjoyed this post, please consider following Bookshelf Fantasies! And don’t forget to check out our regular weekly features, Thursday Quotables and Flashback Friday. Happy reading!

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Do you host a book blog meme? Do you participate in a meme that you really, really love? I’m building a Book Blog Meme Directory, and need your help! If you know of a great meme to include — or if you host one yourself — please drop me a note on my Contact page and I’ll be sure to add your info!

 

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Reasons I Love Being A Reader

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Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish, featuring a different top 10 theme each week. This week’s topic is Top Ten Reasons I Love Being A Reader. Just 10? Okay…

1) I never mind waiting at the doctor’s office, movie theater, or a restaurant where I’m meeting friends — so long as I have a book with me.

2) I’m never lonely. No one to talk to? No problem. Give me a book, any time.

3) Long plane rides are extra fun, no matter where I’m headed. More time to read!

4) When I wake up in the middle of the night and can’t fall back asleep, I can just grab the book on my nightstand and read until my mind settles down enough to sleep some  more.

5) Excellent vocabulary builder! I’m constantly learning new words and phrases through the pages of a book.

6) I get to explore new worlds, new cultures, and new ideas — every time I open a book.

7) Look how many fabulous people I’ve met through reading! Whether in bookstores, on a beach, or online, books are the best conversation-starters!

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8) It’s healthy to have a mind-blowing experience every now and then… and a good book is the surest way of making that happen.

9) Reading a book creates memories beyond just the pages and the plots. I love thinking back to where I was in my life when I read a particular book, what it meant to me then, and what it might mean to me now.

10) Excitement! Laughter! Tears! New ideas! Imagination! Brain power! Being a reader constantly challenges me, delights me, entertains me, and sometimes even puts me through the emotional wringer. And I love it all!

Why do you love being a reader! Or — if you went with the other option for this week — why do you love being a book blogger?

Share your links, and I’ll come check out your top 10!

If you enjoyed this post, please consider following Bookshelf Fantasies! And don’t forget to check out our regular weekly features, Thursday Quotables and Flashback Friday. Happy reading!

♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥

Do you host a book blog meme? Do you participate in a meme that you really, really love? I’m building a Book Blog Meme Directory, and need your help! If you know of a great meme to include — or if you host one yourself — please drop me a note on my Contact page and I’ll be sure to add your info!

 

In praise of the BBF! (Hint: it’s book-related… )

Sure, we may have BFFs. Some of us may have BFs. But do you have a BBF?

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BBF: Best Book Friend.

Snazzy, huh? I thought I was being clever when I came up with it, although I’m sure lots of others have thought of it too…

What’s a BBF?

lincoln quoteCall ’em book soulmates, book buddies, book mates… a BBF is the person who totally *gets* you when it comes to books. The person who recommends a book to you that ends up being your can’t-live-without, favorite book ever. Someone who loves your favorite genres… and gets snobby about the same stuff too! The person who knows better than to ever suggest certain books — you know, the books you’d rather stick hot pokers in your eyes than read. The person who, when you hand them a book and say “read this!”, just takes it and reads it because if you loved it, he/she will love it too.

That special someone who loves books every bit as much as you do, loves to talk about books, and gets all fluttery and fan-girly about just the same stuff that you do!

For me, I’d say I have real-life BBFs and online BBFs… and I love ’em all!

First, there’s my real-life friend who loves most of the same books as I do, rolls her eyes — affectionately — at me when I go off on a random tangent yet again about Outlander, and doesn’t mind too much when I roll my eyes at her book-obsession-ravings. I’m crazier about certain time-travel books *ahem* than she is, and she almost never reads YA. She loves horror, the weirder the better, and is a big fan of short stories — all of which I tolerate, but don’t really go for. Still, our tastes are about 90% in sync, plus we fangirl out over the same TV shows and other geeky loves, and I can always count on her for company at a book signing or the library’s big book sale (especially if I’m providing the ride home).

Then there are my online friends. There are at least two people I know only via an online book group, who have yet to steer me wrong. One recommends simply awesome historical fiction, and always has smart, on-target comments and insights about whatever we’re reading. The other is a well-read librarian who loves all sorts of wonderful genres, and in particular has introduced me to some of my very favorite graphic novels. Basically, whenever either of these two super-smart women praises a book on Goodreads, I automatically click “want to read”… and then hurry to get my hands on a copy.

elephant readFinally, last but not least, are the book bloggers who feel like totally sympatico BBFs. (I love all of y’all, by the way! xoxo) There are plenty of book blogs that I enjoy, and I’m finding more every day. There are some blogs I love to read because the writing is sharp, funny, snarky, or just totally out-there in a way that appeals to my own quirkiness — even if we don’t tend to have them same taste in books. But in the BBF column, there are a handful of bloggers who just pick out the most amazing assortment of books consistently, either loving the books I already love to pieces, or recommending books that sound right up my alley, even if I’ve never heard of the title or the author before — and those are my go-to people whose posts I always read (and who I blame for the sorry state of my TBR piles).

As one of my favorite sayings sums it up:

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Who are your BBFs? And have you told them recently how much you appreciate them?

To all my BBFs out there: Wishing you stacks of good books and plenty of hours in which to read them! With hugs and chocolate, a good reading lamp and a cozy chair, and a super-cute bookmark or two…

Bookish Bits & Bobs

A quick round-up of random things on my mind related to reading, books, and book blogging:

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  • Despite all of my careful planning and tracking — including my nifty Excel worksheet that tracks all of my ARCs — I now find myself almost hopelessly buried in commitments to new and upcoming books. How did I let this happen???
  • After sticking to my schedule so, so diligently for the last couple of months, I made the radical decision to DO WHAT I WANT this week… and am now re-reading a 1400 page book. Because I feel like it.
  • Rereading does make me feel a wee bit anxious. But I’m going to try to get over it. So what if I fall a week behind? Live for now! (Or so I tell myself…)
  • Of course, rereading a massive book means there probably won’t be any new reviews on my blog for a bit. But I think the reading world will survive without my input for a few days. (Insert maniacal laughter here…)
  • Are discussion posts the new must-have thing on book blogs? Seems like every book blogger these days has made it a goal to feature more discussion posts. But about what? How many different ways are there to write about whether people leave comments? IDK, maybe I’m just being a sourpuss today (entirely possible), but I tend to find these repetitive after a while.
  • I guess I’m just not all that interested in reading blog posts about blogging. Unless I’m specifically seeking out a blogging expert for guidance or inspiration. But for the most part, when I visit a blog, I want to read about the topic the blog covers, not the ins and out of being a blogger.
  • Continuing on my cranky roll, I’m starting to get annoyed by people on Goodreads… the ones who need to update their status with QUOTES from the page they’re on or comments like “OMG, nooooo! I can’t believe she picked (insert spoilery name here) over (some other dude)!” People, please CUT IT OUT! I do not want to be hit in the face with these updates every time I log into Goodreads. Save your spoilers for your reviews — and put a spoiler warning on them!
  • Let’s see, something positive… I work someplace where there are constantly kids in the hallways and underfoot, and every time I see a kid totally absorbed in a book while waiting for a class or for a younger sibling, I feel a little shiver of joy run up my spine. Kids still read! They’re not all plugged into pads, pods, and gizmos. Well, not all the time, anyway.
  • Stephen Colbert’s take on the J. K. Rowling interview that broke so many shippers’ hearts made me so happy. Watch it here, if you haven’t already.
  • Are you waiting for Gail Carriger’s next series, about Prudence from The Parasol Protectorate? How does The Custard Protocol grab you? Check out the announcement here about the new title for the series.
  • I was very excited to read this week that Redshirts by John Scalzi is being developed for TV! More info here — such an awesome book, can’t wait to see how this turns out!
  • And my favorite discovery of the weekend is probably Wiry Limbs, Paper Backs, an awesome gallery of paperback books acting out their own plots. Check it out!

Sorry for the extra heaping doses of crankiness today! Must remedy that immediately… by diving back into my big, fat book. Quilts, couch, coffee, slippers, and paperback… perfect for this rainy Saturday.