A Reader’s Reality: Let’s give the “Get To” approach a try!

It’s the age-old lament of book lovers everywhere: So many books. So little time. What’s a reader to do?

Sometimes when I contemplate my huge stacks of books waiting to be read, I feel all mopey and lost. I dream of a day when I can do nothing but read.

But since I live in the real world — one filled with bills and taxes and work and responsibilities — my dream of reading 24/7 will have to wait.

And that means that I have to prioritize. And like so many bookworms, I keep telling myself that I need to focus on the books I already own. Stop buying new books! Stop requesting books from the library! Stop picking up even more library books on a whim! And the biggie for book bloggers;

Stop requesting so many ARCs!

Because ARCs are simply dominating my Kindle right now, and with the ARCs comes a sense of obligation, or even worse, the guilt that hangs over our heads when we just don’t get around to reading them.

The direction my house is heading in…

Now excuse me for a second while I take a detour…

While staying at a relative’s house this past week, I happened to be in a room where the TV was on most of the day, and one day, the group there was watching some morning talk show. No idea which. In any case, the host and the guest were talking about either a book or maybe the guest’s motivational speaking topic (?) — I didn’t catch all of it. But what did strike me in that moment was the approach the guest was promoting, using a reframing of language to change the way we think about things.

Two examples stuck in my mind:

Rather than talking about “going through a hard time”, substitute the word “growing”: I’m growing through a hard time right now.

Um. No. Not for me. Way too hokey, although if it works for some people, more power to them.

But this one I kind of liked:

Instead of “have to”, try “get to”. Rather than “I have to go to work today”, try “I get to go to work today”. I like this! Kind of puts a more positive spin on things we think of as obligations or objects of dread.

Which brings me back to ARCs. Ah, the long, long list of ARCs. Look, I totally believe that getting ARCs to read is a privilege, and one that I really and truly appreciate. That said, I do get way, way ahead of myself and end up with so many ARCs that they take over my reading life, which leaves me feeling frustrated when I have to ignore all my other books in order to read the ARCs in a somewhat close proximity to their publications dates.

I realize that I’ll probably never tame my impulse to request ARCs, and that’s okay. Because I’m trying my new positive spin!

So no more saying: I have to read so many ARCs this spring.

Instead, I’m celebrating! Because…

I get to read so many ARCs this spring!

What do you think? Does shifting the language also shift the attitude? I’m ready to give it a try. And here I’ll be, reading away to my heart’s contect, relishing my ARCs as well as my other books… all the wonderful stories I get to read!

Top Ten Tuesday: The next 10 ARCs I plan to read

snowy10

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 a FREEBIE. I love freebie weeks — it’s such fun to see all the unique top 10 lists everyone comes up with.

My top 10 topic? It’s all about the ARCs.

I’m working hard on getting my reading life organized, keeping track of my pending review copies, and making time for all the other books I want to read too. I’d taken a rather big pause in terms of requesting ARCs last year, but somehow I’ve ended up with quite a few for the first half of 2017. So, without further ado, here are 10 upcoming books, to be published between February and July, that I plan to read on or about their respective release dates. The ARCs are just sitting there on my Kindle, calling my name…

Going by release date:

1) Always by Sarah Jio (2/7/2017)

always

2) The Gilded Cage by Vic James (2/14/2017)

gilded-cage

3) The Mother’s Promise by Sally Hepworth (2/21/2017)

mothers-promise

4) Next Year For Sure by Zoey Leigh Peterson (3/7/2017)

next-year-for-sure

5) Mister Memory by Marcus Sedgwick (3/7/2017)

mister-memory

6) The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane by Lisa See (3/21/2017)

tea-girl

7) Waking Gods by Sylvain Neuvel (4/4/2017)

waking-gods

8) The Best of Adam Sharp by Graeme Simsion (5/2/2017)

best-of-adam-sharp

9) Coming Up For Air by Miranda Kenneally (7/1/2017)

coming-up-for-air

10) South Pole Station by Ashley Shelby (7/4/2017)

south-pole-station

Are you planning to read (or have you already read) any of the ARCs on my list?

What’s your freebie topic this week? Please share your link!

♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥

Do you host a book blog meme? Do you participate in a meme that you really, really love? I host 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!

Save

Save

Save

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!

read_free

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!

yay

But…

buffy but

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:

so many

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.

ARCs. Argh.

I think I’m giving up on ARCs.

More specifically, I’ve just had it up to here with badly formatted e-ARCs.

In theory, digital review copies should make my life as a reader, reviewer, and blogger easier, but lately, I’m finding them nothing but frustrating.

tux-161439_1280My most recent DNF was an e-ARC, and while the story itself didn’t particularly grab me, there were substantial formatting issues that certainly didn’t help. This historical novel included a map at the beginning showing key story locations and landmarks. Unfortunately, whether I tried using my Kindle, IPad, or phone app, the map appeared in three separate sections and was impossible to read. Funny, but if there had been no map, I wouldn’t have missed it. But knowing that I should be able to see it, but having it be unreadable, just ticked me off.

Beyond that, it was the usual litany of digital ARC woes:

No paragraph breaks. Dialogue without line breaks. No chapter breaks built into the document — so flipping back to the beginning of a chapter to check a date or a title is impossible.

Problems like these just make the reading experience so unenjoyable. I’ve read digital ARCS where the sections breaks were missing, so from one paragraph to another, a whole week has gone by in the narrative. I’m sure that would be clearer in the printed version, but until I figured this out, I just thought it was a badly written book!

And that’s really the crux of the matter: When the formatting gets in the way of being able to follow the story, or is so clunky that I have to stop and think about whose line of dialogue I just read, then my brain is focused on the wrong thing. How can I concentrate on the narrative and enjoy it if I’m constantly having to figure out the book’s layout issues?

girl-160172_1280If I had one suggestion to make to publishers, it would be to provide Kindle-ready ARCs rather than PDF versions.

I hate to say it, but even knowing that the finished product will not have all the format flaws, they’re really hard to ignore. I know better than to criticize the formatting in my reviews, but at the same time, I do believe I feel less favorably toward books when I have to struggle with bad formatting to get through them. If I don’t enjoy the reading experience, how can I enjoy the book itself?

At this point, I think I’ve reached some sort of moment of truth when it comes to digital ARCs. Right now, I have a backload of eARCs from NetGalley, and I want to honor my commitments and work my way through them… slowly. But going forward, I’ve more or less decided to cut back on (or eliminate altogether) any new NetGalley requests.

Let’s face it. I have plenty of books to read without getting digital review copies. Plenty. Piles. Boatloads. And if I don’t read the newest new releases the second they come out, I’ll survive. Hey, that’s what libraries are for.

Meanwhile, I’m happy to read physical ARCs (hint, hint, in case anyone who cares is reading this!) — but mostly, I’ll stick to the books on my shelf, the books I borrow from the library or my kind bookish friends, and the perfectly formatted books on my Kindle.

After all…

Life’s too short to read badly formatted books.

How about you? Does bad formatting get in the way of your enjoyment of ARCs? Or do you consider it a reasonable trade-off for access to early copies of upcoming releases?

Please share your thoughts!

The Monday Agenda 6/2/2014… and beyond!

MondayAgendaNot a lofty, ambitious to-be-read list consisting of 100+ book titles. Just a simple plan for the upcoming week — what I’m reading now, what I plan to read next, and what I’m hoping to squeeze in among the nooks and crannies.

Life:

By the time you’re reading this, I’ll be on an airplane, heading out for a few weeks of family travel — featuring sun, sand, relatives, lots of food, a Rolling Stones concert, probably a water park or two, and (fingers crossed) oodles of reading time, if I can find a quiet nook to hide out in by myself!

While I’m away, never fear! My weekly features, Thursday Quotables and Flashback Friday, are already all queued up and read to go… so there will be no interruption in our regularly scheduled programming. I hope to pop in with updates and reviews while I’m away — but I’m not sure yet how much faith I have in the promise of wi-fi throughout our trip. So, nice readers, in case I don’t see you sooner, have a great couple of weeks filled with awesome reading, and I’ll catch you when I’m back.

Meanwhile, for this week’s Monday Agenda updates, read on!

How did I do with last week’s agenda?

TroubleJust One Night (Just One Day, #2.5)echo

Trouble by Non Pratt: Done! My review is here.

Just One Night by Gayle Forman: This newly released novella is a follow up to Just One Day and Just One Year — and if you’ve read those, then you have to go download this short-but-sweet tale, pronto! If you’re one of the many, many readers who finished Just One Year and were dying to know what happened NEXT… well, here’s your answer. I thought Just One Night was sweet, romantic, and satisfying… and now I DO know what happened after that kiss…

In Outlander world… I finished (finally) my re-read of An Echo in the Bone! I’ve had a complete blast re-reading this book with the Outlander Book Club (who, by the way, are the best bunch of booklovers and all-around great people!) And now, I wait. What am I waiting for? See below!

But first, a look at what I’m still in the middle of reading:

The Girl with All the Gifts13th child

I’d hoped to finish The Girl With All The Gifts this week, but laundry and packing have overwhelmed me, so I’m only at 50%. Into the carry-on it goes; should make for interesting airplane reading!

The kiddo and I are getting closer to the end of Thirteenth Child by Patricia C. Wrede. It’s a good one. We’ll be finishing this book in the next few days, and I’m packing the sequel!

Fresh Catch:

Self-restraint was the catch-phrase of the week! Mainly because I was busy packing, but still… absolutely no new books this week!

Elsewhere on the blog:

I shared my thoughts about the end of the TV season in May and which shows really ended with a bang. You can read about it here.

What’s on my reading agenda for the coming week?

What to read on vacation? Well, assuming my wi-fi works and my Kindle downloads happen on schedule, the #1 book I’ll be reading as of June 10th is:

March 2014

June 10th!!!

But before then, I still have a week and a very long plane ride to fill, so here’s a selection of what I’m thinking of reading:

BittersweetEmpire GirlsRebeccaThe FeverThe Witch of Blackbird PondThe Traitor's Wife: The Woman Behind Benedict Arnold and the Plan to Betray America

Not to imply that I’ll read this many books! But these are the main ones I’m considering… and the beauty of having a Kindle is not having to decide ahead of time!

Still, if you want to find me from June 10th onward, there’s a good chance I’ll be hiding in a corner somewhere with Written In My Own Heart’s Blood!

shelf2cropped

So many book, so little time…

That’s my agenda. What’s yours? Add your comments to share your bookish agenda for the week.

Happy reading! I’ll see you soon!

boy1

The Monday Agenda 5/26/2014

MondayAgendaNot a lofty, ambitious to-be-read list consisting of 100+ book titles. Just a simple plan for the upcoming week — what I’m reading now, what I plan to read next, and what I’m hoping to squeeze in among the nooks and crannies.

How did I do with last week’s agenda?

The Girls at the Kingfisher ClubThe FarmTrouble

The Girls At The Kingfisher Club by Genevieve Valentine: Done! My review is here.

The Farm by Tom Rob Smith: Done! My review is here.

Trouble by Non Pratt: At about the 50% point, and liking it a lot so far.

13th childThe kiddo and I are continuing on with Thirteenth Child by Patricia C. Wrede. Moving sloooooowly. Not the book’s fault; we just seem to have a hard time lately finding time to sit down and read.

Fresh Catch:

Bunches of new (but mostly used) books this week:

The Witch of Little ItalyWhat Alice ForgotMy Real ChildrenHollow City (Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children, #2)

Elsewhere on the blog:

I shared my thoughts about stats, page views, and whether numbers matter — chime in here to share your input!

What’s on my reading agenda for the coming week?

The Girl with All the GiftsBittersweetEmpire Girls

First up, I need to read the rest of  Trouble by Non Pratt, which I’m really enjoying.

After that, I’m looking forward to reading:

The Girl With All The Gifts by by M. R. Carey

Bittersweet by Miranda Beverly-Whittemore

Empire Girls by Susanne Hayes & Loretta Nyhan

I have no idea if I’ll actually get to more than one or two books this week, but it’s nice to have a goal!

And also in the works:

echoThe Outlander Book Club’s re-read of An Echo in the Bone by Diana Gabaldon continues! Coming up this week: Chapters 94 – 97 (no chapter on Memorial Day). The end is in sight!

Outlander love:

Image

What do you think? Is it possible to have too many Outlander references? (Image via Starz)

And adding to the Outlander mania, here’s my Outlander-themed “shelfie”:

shelf2cropped

So many book, so little time…

That’s my agenda. What’s yours? Add your comments to share your bookish agenda for the week.

boy1

The Monday Agenda 5/19/2014

MondayAgendaNot a lofty, ambitious to-be-read list consisting of 100+ book titles. Just a simple plan for the upcoming week — what I’m reading now, what I plan to read next, and what I’m hoping to squeeze in among the nooks and crannies.

How did I do with last week’s agenda?

Then and Always: A NovelWe Were LiarsThe Girls at the Kingfisher Club

Then and Always by Dani Atkins. Done! My review is here.

We Were Liars by by E. Lockhart: Done! My review is here.

The Girls At The Kingfisher Club by Genevieve Valentine: I’m at about the 50% mark; reserving judgment until I see where the story goes.

13th childThe kiddo and I are continuing on with Thirteenth Child by Patricia C. Wrede, although we didn’t make much progress this week.

Fresh Catch:

Bunches of new (but mostly used) books this week:

Across the Great Barrier (Frontier Magic, #2)Secrets of the Sea HouseThe Highland WitchThe BookstoreThe Cavendish Home for Boys and GirlsThe Curiosity

Elsewhere on the blog:

I started obsessing about what to read on vacation, and whether my Kindle can survive a day at the beach.

What’s on my reading agenda for the coming week?

The FarmThe Girl with All the GiftsBittersweet

This week, I’m looking forward to:

The Farm by Tom Rob Smith

The Girl With All The Gifts by by M. R. Carey

Bittersweet by Miranda Beverly-Whittemore

And also in the works:

echoThe Outlander Book Club’s re-read of An Echo in the Bone by Diana Gabaldon continues! Coming up this week: Chapters 89 – 93. It’s hard to believe we’re so close to the end!

And maybe I’ll just leave this here until August:

Image

What do you think? Is it possible to have too many Outlander references? (Image via Starz)

 

So many book, so little time…

That’s my agenda. What’s yours? Add your comments to share your bookish agenda for the week.

boy1

The Monday Agenda 5/12/2014

MondayAgendaNot a lofty, ambitious to-be-read list consisting of 100+ book titles. Just a simple plan for the upcoming week — what I’m reading now, what I plan to read next, and what I’m hoping to squeeze in among the nooks and crannies.

How did I do with last week’s agenda?

IShallBeNearLast week, I continued with my spotlight focus on  I Shall Be Near To You by Erin Lindsay McCabe.  My friend Mary wrote a guest review (see it here), and then I chimed in with my list of five reasons that everyone should read this book — like, NOW. Stay tuned: An author Q&A will be coming up this week!

 

 

 

The Break-Up Artist
The Break-Up Artist by Philip Siegal: Done! My review is here.

Savage GirlSavage Girl by Jean Zimmerman: After reading 20%, I had to put this one on my DNF shelf. The concept seemed interesting… but nothing was happening, and I just couldn’t take any more. If anyone else has read it and wants to convince me to give it another go, be my guest!

13th childThe kiddo and I are happily reading our way through Thirteenth Child by Patricia C. Wrede, and loving it!

Fresh Catch:

A variety of goodies arrived this week, some bought, some borrowed:

Trouble Covet

MistbornSpike

Plus this, which isn’t a book, but which makes my geeky little heart happy:

Vmars

Elsewhere on the blog:

I whined a bit about trilogies… and apparently, based on comments here and via Twitter, I guess I’m not alone!

What’s on my reading agenda for the coming week?

Then and Always: A NovelWe Were LiarsThe Girls at the Kingfisher Club

This week, I’m looking forward to:

Then and Always by Dani Atkins. I’ve read about half so far, and I’m really liking it!

Next up: We Were Liars by by E. Lockhart.

And if there’s time: The Girls At The Kingfisher Club by Genevieve Valentine. A flapper-era retelling of the Twelve Dancing Princesses fairy tale? Yes, please!

And also in the works:

echoThe Outlander Book Club’s re-read of An Echo in the Bone by Diana Gabaldon continues! Coming up this week: Chapters 84 – 88. Want to join in? Contact me and I’ll provide all the details!

Oh, and this was announced:

Image

Basically, I’ll take any excuse for posting an Outlander picture! Thank you, Starz, for announcing the premiere date. I know where I’ll be August 9th! (Image via Starz)

What a week!

So many book, so little time…

That’s my agenda. What’s yours? Add your comments to share your bookish agenda for the week.

boy1

The Monday Agenda 5/5/2014

MondayAgendaNot a lofty, ambitious to-be-read list consisting of 100+ book titles. Just a simple plan for the upcoming week — what I’m reading now, what I plan to read next, and what I’m hoping to squeeze in among the nooks and crannies.

How did I do with last week’s agenda?

Last week, I declared I Shall Be Near To You to be my spotlight book of the week — one that I wanted to read slowly and give myself time to savor.

IShallBeNear

 

So how did it go?

In short, I adored it.

I Shall Be Near To You by Erin Lindsay McCabe is a beautiful, powerful book about an unforgettable young woman.

I’ll be featuring this book a few times in the coming week, with a review, a guest post, and possibly more. Stay tuned!.

The Break-Up Artist
The Break-Up Artist by Philip Siegal: I didn’t get a chance to start this YA novel until this past weekend. I’m about halfway through, and I’m thoroughly entertained at this point.

13th childThe kiddo and I started Thirteenth Child by Patricia C. Wrede this week, and so far, it rocks! Where has this author been all my life? Clearly, I’ve been missing out.

Fresh Catch:

Books, books, books galore! I treated myself to a few books this week, thanks to strategic use of Amazon credits and a gift card! My catch of the week includes two beautiful hardcover books that I’d previously read as ARCs, plus a couple of others I’d had a hankering for:

serpentThe Storied Life of A. J. FikryladybirdThe Secret Keeper84, Charing Cross Road

What’s on my reading agenda for the coming week?

 

Savage GirlIn the Age of Love and Chocolate (Birthright, #3)Then and Always: A Novel

I have two books that I’ve been wanting to get to for a couple of weeks now:

Savage Girl by Jean Zimmerman

In The Age of Love and Chocolate by Gabrielle Zevin

And if I have time after these two, my next choice will be Then and Always by Dani Atkins.

And also in the works:

echoThe Outlander Book Club’s re-read of An Echo in the Bone by Diana Gabaldon continues! Coming up this week: Chapters 79 – 83. Want to join in? Contact me and I’ll provide all the details!

 

So many book, so little time…

That’s my agenda. What’s yours? Add your comments to share your bookish agenda for the week.

boy1

The Monday Agenda 4/28/2014

MondayAgendaNot a lofty, ambitious to-be-read list consisting of 100+ book titles. Just a simple plan for the upcoming week — what I’m reading now, what I plan to read next, and what I’m hoping to squeeze in among the nooks and crannies.

How did I do with last week’s agenda?

Burial RitesThe Here and NowShe Is Not Invisible

Burial Rites by Hannah Kent: Done! My review is here.

The Here and Now by Ann Brashares: Done! My review is here.

She Is Not Invisible by Marcus Sedgwick: Done! My review is here.

serpentAnd don’t miss my review/blog tour post for The Serpent of Venice by Christopher Moore! If you enjoy Shakespeare with f-bombs, loads of hilarity, pirates, Marco Polo, and venomous sea serpents, then this is the book for you!

D'Aulaires' Book of Norse MythsMy son and I are still having fun with D’Aulaires’ Book of Norse Myths. Thor is kinda hilarious, to be honest. Always off fighting trolls and jotuns, that guy.

Fresh Catch:

Upon the recommendations of several BBFs who usually have impeccable taste in books, I picked this one up at the library this week:

Hawkeye, Vol. 1: My Life as a Weapon (Hawkeye (Marvel NOW!) #1)

 

What’s on my reading agenda for the coming week?

I’m shifting my approach to upcoming reading for this week. There’s one book I especially want to focus on as my top priority, so I hereby declare that this week I have…

a spotlight book!

Drumroll, please! My spotlight book for the week of April 28th will be:

IShallBeNear

I Shall Be Near To You by Erin Lindsay McCabe. I first wrote about this book several months ago in a wishlist post, and I finally have a copy! I’ve heard so many wonderful things about this book (thanks to a lovely BBF, once again!), and I’m so excited to “clear the decks”, so to speak, and just concentrate on enjoying it.

I intend to take my time, so I’m not going to hold myself to a planned reading agenda of another 3 – 4 books that MUST BE READ. But… if I do finish I Shall Be Near To You early enough in the week to move on to other reading, then here’s what I’ll be choosing from:

Savage GirlThe Break-Up ArtistIn the Age of Love and Chocolate (Birthright, #3)

Savage Girl by Jean Zimmerman

The Break-Up Artist by Philip Siegel

In The Age of Love and Chocolate by Gabrielle Zevin

 

And also in the works:

echoThe Outlander Book Club’s re-read of An Echo in the Bone by Diana Gabaldon continues! Coming up this week: Chapters 74 – 78. Want to join in? Contact me and I’ll provide all the details!

So many book, so little time…

That’s my agenda. What’s yours? Add your comments to share your bookish agenda for the week.

boy1