Bookish Bits & Bobs

I realize that all of my posts lately have either been book reviews or ongoing features of one sort or another — but no general musings or *deep* thoughts on the life of a reader. And that’s fine, but maybe it’s time for a general catch-up post with the random pieces of bookish ephemera that have been floating through my life:

  • Call it my mid-October resolution. Because who needs to wait for January 1st? I’m trying to put myself on a book stone-figure-10541_640diet. No more reading the random books that catch my eye until I catch up on my review books! I love the nice folks at NetGalley, but now I’m swamped! I made myself a pretty schedule of reviews a couple of months ago, but alas! I strayed. I read other things. And now I’m behind. So, I hereby resolve to declare “hands off” for all books lying around my house until I get through all of the review copies yet to be read on my Kindle! My goal is to catch up on all books with publication dates up through the end of November. And then I can return to my wanton ways, reading whatever the heck catches my eye at any given moment.girl-160172_1280
  • My new bloggy resolution, aka The Rule of 5 (because I like to give things titles…): I’m going to make more of an effort to explore the blogging world, and my goal is to visit five new blogs each and every day. Wish me luck!
  • Why am I not at New York Comic-Con? (Okay, the answer is that I live on the West Coast; that was a rhetorical question). I’m missing the Outlander panel, and I’m simply green with envy. But this piece at least reassures me that the Starz Outlander series is in very good hands!
  • Now that the fall TV season is underway, I’m finding myself with less time to curl up and read each evening. This is not a good thing. Something has got to go… hmmm, must prune the season-pass shows on my DVR pronto!
  • My son wants to read more graphic novels. The problem is, where to start? If he wants to read Batman, Superman, Spiderman, or Iron Man (or any of their known associates), the choices are simply overwhelming. If you have recommendations on good entry points or sequences for any or all, please drop me a note! Bear in mind that this is for an 11-year-old (although, okay, I may read ’em too!). Thank you mucho.
  • I haven’t been to an author event in ages… so I was excited to see a few appearances coming up in my area that I don’t want to miss! David Levithan, Rainbow Rowell, Gail Carriger… Let’s see if I can actually make it out of my house and attend!
  • A coworker came up to me today and said, “I hear you have a blog! I can’t wait to read it!” Well, I’m of two minds about that. Sure, getting more readers is a good thing. And yes, blogs are by their nature open to the public. But. This is a person who isn’t a personal ftux-161406_640riend, just a coworker. Granted, someone I like a lot and who’s an avid reader, but still. Boundaries. It makes me uncomfortable to think that the line between my work life and my creative outlets may become blurred. I’m interested in others’ experiences: Do you share your blog with everyone in your “real life”? Or do you keep it more or less private, sharing with your online circles but not your actual friends and acquaintances?
  • Again with the 11-year-old: His school has a Doctor Who club! It meets during lunch on Fridays, open to anyone who wants to get together to watch episodes and discuss them. Fun! And yet — nerdy! I encouraged him to go… but mustn’t push. Just because I’d choose Doctor Who over pick-up touch football games doesn’t mean my son needs to.
  • I’m joining the world of audiobooks! Or, at least, I’m giving it a shot. I’ve never been able to focus while listening to a book, but decided to download a copy of the Outlander audiobook last week when heading out by myself for a long walk. I think it helps that I know the story so well — but so far, so good! I’ve been listening in brief snatches during solo car rides… although my real intent was to motivate myself to go to the gym and hit the treadmill or elliptical while listening to the book. Yeah, so far, that hasn’t happened. Still, I’m really having fun listening to the book, and the narrator is truly wonderful, especially with her ability to switch back and forth between her British and Scottish accents. I’m still not sure that I’d  have the patience for a book that’s new to me — but for now, Outlander on ITunes is a treat!

Book News & Stuff That I Find Exciting (or at least noteworthy…):

  • There’s a new Firefly/Serenity comic book series on the way! According to this article, it will pick up after the events of the Serenity movie. I’m in!
  • How do y’all feel about books with movie tie-in covers? I came across this image of the new Australian cover for The Book Thief. Thoughts? I suppose if it attracts more readers to an amazing book, I shouldn’t knock it. Right? But for me personally, I never buy books with movie tie-in covers. *Shudder*
  • Who else is a Madeline fan! C’mon, raise your hands for the old house in Paris all covered in vines! Here’s a great tribute to the 75th anniversary of Madeline.
  • Cover reveal! I can’t wait to read Landline, Rainbow Rowell’s new book due out next July!
  • Are female characters stronger in children’s literature than in adult fiction? Read what author Kate Mosse has to say about it, here.
  • Catcher in the Fry? McDonalds plans to start giving out books instead of toys in Happy Meals. For realz.
  • An end to airbrushing? Verily magazine shows women as they are — no photoshopped bodies or faces allowed.

And that’s all for today! Must unplug, unwind, read a book, go for a walk… it’s the weekend! Happy Saturday, happy reading, and happy whatever-makes-you-happy to all!

Resolutions, kept and broken

Perhaps the end of February is too soon to https://bookshelffantasies.files.wordpress.com/2013/02/j0439527.jpg?w=225really take stock, but certain trends are becoming crystal clear to me — namely, that my well-intentioned resolutions for 2013 just aren’t all recipes for success. I can see which way these things are going already… and it’s truly a mixed bag.

Let’s start with where I’m safely on track:

I resolved to organize my bookshelves. Well, I can’t say that I’ve completed the task, but in little chunks and bites, I’m making a dent. My books and their neighbors are starting to make some sort of weird sense. I can more or less find whatever I want within one or two tries. And hey — I’ve got ten more months to get it right!

I resolved to not start any new series, other than a) those written by authors whose works I read no matter what, or b) series that are new to me but have, in fact, already been completed by the author. So far, so good. The only new series I’ve allowed myself thus far is Gail Carriger’s new Finishing School series, starting with the newly published Etiquette & Espionage — and Gail C. is on my “read no matter what” list, so it’s all good.

I resolved to dive in and slowly work my way through the book of fairy tales I’d been coveting all of last fall. I’m happy to report that I’m making steady progress, and have now read about 1/3 of the stories. Seeing as how I usually abandon all short story books I attempt to read, I’d say I’m on the path of righteousness here.

I resolved to break out of my fiction-loving world and read 3 – 5 books from non-fiction genres. And here I am, two months into 2013, and I’ve just finished reading my first one! I read Cheryl Strayed’s memoir Wild this past week, and really enjoyed it. Next up in my non-fiction quest? I’m not 100% sure yet, but I’m leaning toward science or history. Stay tuned…

So far, so good. I seem to be sticking with my resolutions. Until, of course, you consider the #1 resolution on my list:

Maintain a healthy ratio of old to new: I have piles and piles of unread books in my house, at least 20 unread books on my Kindle, and yet I still gravitate toward grabbing the newest releases, checking new titles out from the library, and ignoring what I already have. Well, it has to stop! Stop, I tell you! My resolution for 2013 is to aim for at least a 2:1 ratio. For every new book, whether purchased or borrowed from the library, I will read at least two that are already in my collection. I think this will be my biggest challenge, to be honest, and I thought of settling for even a 1:1 ratio… but hey, let’s aim high.

FAIL! I am utterly and completely failing at sticking to this goal. Yes, I’ve read a few good books from off the shelves… but I can’t help myself! I keep acquiring more… and more… and more. Library or purchase, new or used, the books keep coming. I read book reviews, or I stumble across something interesting in a store window display, or I see what my friend is reading, and I just have to get it. Now. Even if I’m not going to read it for a while. Here are the new-to-me books that have made their way into my home since January 1st:

  • A Small Death in the Great Glen by A. D. Scott
  • Zombie Spaceship Wasteland by Patton Oswalt
  • Hanging By A Thread by Sophie Littlefield
  • The Dressmaker by Kate Alcott
  • Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk by Ben Fountain
  • Midwinterblood by Marcus Sedgwick
  • The Child’s Child by Barbara Vine
  • Me Before You by Jojo Moyes
  • Black Swan Rising by Lee Carroll
  • The Reinvention of Love by HelenHumphreys
  • Blood and Iron by Elizabeth Bear
  • My Cousin Rachel by Daphne du Maurier
  • Graphic novel series Y: The Last Man and Runaways
  • About 15 books picked up at my workplace book swap
  • Library books, including my current read, The Imposter Bride by Nancy Richler

So, yeah. Not doing so great on the no new books front. My healthy ratios are kaput.

But I may be okay with that. I guess I should just pat myself on the back for my small successes, and keep plowing forward. I solemnly swear that I will make a dent in the numbers of books sitting unread on my shelves by the end of 2013 — just maybe not as big a dent as I’d naively assumed I could make.

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Books I Resolve To Read In 2013

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 Books I Resolve To Read in 2013

I’ve done a few blog posts already about my reading intentions for 2013, including my reading resolutions and my participation in a reading challenge focused on reading books languishing on the ubiquitous “TBR” (to-be-read) shelf. Bearing those in mind, but thinking also about what I just really, really want to read in 2012, here goes:

The ten books I absolutely, positively want to read in 2013 are:

1. The Round House by Louise Erdrich

2. Etiquette & Espionage by Gail Carriger

3. Written In My Own Heart’s Blood by Diana Gabaldon (This is the only one either not yet published or without a definite release date, but the author’s website says “fall 2013” — good enough for me!)

4. Tempest Reborn by Nicole Peeler

5. Dreamers of the Day by Mary Doria Russell

6. The Child’s Child by Barbara Vine

7. The Crane’s Dance by Meg Howrey

8. Other Kingdoms by Richard Matheson

9. Mariana by Susanna Kearsley

10. Frost Burned by Patricia Briggs

Granted, some of these aren’t much of a stretch for me. Three are new entries in series that I already read, and one is the beginning of a new series by an author I adore. Others are by authors who have written at least one other book that I’ve read and enjoyed. Still, given that I intend to read LOTS and LOTS of books in 2013, I think I can safely commit to including these ten.

What are you excited to read in 2013?

HAPPY NEW YEAR! May your reading year be filled with joy!