Discussion: Social Distance Reads

Hey friends!

How are you all holding up? I haven’t been around much since all of this Covid-19 business started here in the western hemisphere. We moved in the middle of it all, and didn’t have internet, and were adjusting to working at home. Plus grad school. The result is that I had literally zero time for blogging. Nearly everything you’ve seen in the past three weeks was written months ago. I hadn’t been checking my comments or reading other people’s blogs. So I have no idea how you all are doing.

On Instagram it seems like book people are generally doing ok. I guess a lot of us rather prefer to stay home with one or two people we love and a good book. I know if you’re a parent you’re probably getting tired of social distancing. I am. This would be a lot more fun with adults, am I right?

So my question for you today is, What are you reading to keep your mind busy?

I’m reading The Mirror & the Light, the final book in Hilary Mantel’s Thomas Cromwell trilogy. It is so so so so sooooooo good! And nice and long, which is perfect for keeping my occupied while the libraries are closed and Amazon isn’t shipping any books. Guess I spent all my gift cards at just the right time, eh? I am just having SUCH a great time reading about the years in Henry VIII’s life that I knew the least about. I mean, y’all, this stuff is even more bananas than fiction! It’s almost impossible to believe all this shenanigans really went down! And I’m not talking about Henry’s wives. Also, though I know a lot about the Tudors, I have no idea what happens to Cromwell. I sort of think he’s beheaded, but goodness I hope not!

Anyone else have any great reads during this difficult time?

Stay healthy y’all, and stay home when you can. Love you.

Thoughts about Classic Sci-Fi via The Martian Chronicles

I’ve always considered myself a fan of classic Sci-Fi. I love Orson Scott Card, Isaac Asimov, Philip K. Dick, Kim Stanley Robinson, Carl Sagan. Though I admit to having never read any Octavia Butler (sorry, her books look weird!), I feel that I’ve read a good chunk of the well-known authors. But I’ve never been a fan of Ray Bradbury’s.

Fahrenheit 451 is just … not for me. But I thought that this year I would give The Martian Chronicles a try to see what I thought. While I liked it better than Fahrenheit, I discovered that a FANTASTIC story was not enough to help me overcome my distaste for the way Bradbury writes. It’s not bad, it’s just not what I enjoy. But as I was reading, I really noticed a lot of the things that make classic sci-fi so entertaining, and I thought I would share my thoughts with you all.

Seeing their predictions of the future is fun.

This is always one of my favorite things about reading classic sci-fi. It’s really entertaining to see what they got right and what they got wrong. One of the main things that is nearly always wrong is the timeline. In The Martian Chronicles Bradbury has people settling Mars by 1999. Haha, Hank and John Green would be tickled. Instead, we’re sitting here on 2020 hoping beyond hope that our next robot makes it safely to Mars.

The technology is always so hit and miss too. Like in this book, they have the capability of getting to Mars, within a few short months no less!, but they haven’t developed any means of communicating with Earth once they get there. I don’t know, that’s just really fun for me, to see how their predictions held up.

Continue reading “Thoughts about Classic Sci-Fi via The Martian Chronicles”

To Literary Fiction, or Not to Literary Fiction?

Ah, it’s that time of year. All the award lists are coming out, and the talk is flowing about books that I … haven’t even heard of. Or, if I have heard of them, I made no effort to read them. The Women’s Prize, the National Book Award, the Booker the Pulitzer … those aren’t books I read. Because I don’t really read literary fiction. Ever.

But, like, I kind of want to?

When I have a good experience with literary fiction, it’s always an amazing experience. Y’all, there’s a reason people love these books so much that they give them awards. High quality literary fiction is so good. I used to read books like that, a long time ago, but lately … I don’t know. I just don’t like them as much.

I talked in a post a few weeks ago comparing literary fiction to genre fiction about how literary fiction tends to be so bleak a pessimistic. It’s not like I expect the book to be hilarious, or as swoony as a YA book. I just don’t want the overall theme of the book to be that life is depressing. So often the literary fiction I’ve read has such a dark outlook on the world. And that’s not how I see the world, nor is it how I want to see the world.

Continue reading “To Literary Fiction, or Not to Literary Fiction?”

Bookstagram Slump

I notice that there are three types of Bookstagrams.

  1. People just taking pictures of their life, which just happens to involve a lot of books.
  2. People trying out a variety of different picture types.
  3. People who have a distinctive theme.

When I bookstagram (which lately is … not often) I fall solidly into the second category. More on why later. But I notice that more and more of the people I follow are theme people.

So even within themes, there are ranges. Some people’s theme is simply a chosen filter and color-palette. For other people, the pictures are literally the same set-up with only the featured book swap out. Most people fall somewhere in between those two things. But more and more as I scroll through my feed, I find myself thinking “Didn’t I see that picture yesterday?” or “Oh, there’s the person with _______ again.” If I visit profiles I tend to see a series of nearly indistinguishable pictures.

There’s a couple of different reasons a person might have such a consisten theme. One of the most important reasons is that many bookstagrammers do a bookish photo shoot once a month or so, and keeping the same props, backgrounds, etc. makes it easier and faster for them to take more pictures. Another BIG one is that a recognizable theme builds a brand, and can actually bring in a lot more followers, likes, views, and other stuff. Which, in turn, leads to being a brand rep, or getting ARCs, or whatever the goal might be. Finally, a lot of people find a great amount of pleasure in their chosen aesthetic.

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Do You Like Music While You Read?

Hi folks! Here I am again this Thursday with another SHORT discussion post. What can I say? Great ideas for longer ones haven’t come yet. And you all seemed to have lots to say last week, so…

When you’re reading, what kind of soundscape do you prefer? Do you like it to be silent, to listen to music, perhaps ambient noise?

Personally, I spend most of my childhood in daycare, and then most of my adult life as a teacher. Too extended of a time of silence tends to be more distracting than not for me. I prefer to have some kind of noise while I’m reading. It could be music, it could be the sound of children playing, it could be just about anything. Just about. It can NOT be the TV or any kind of talk radio, and it isn’t easy to read if it’s music I’m not familiar with. To me the ideal music is instrumental, especially if it reflects the tone or genre or setting of the book in some way. The more familiar the music is, the easier it is to let it float into the background and let the book take over my inner-ear.

A lot of the time, these days, you can catch me reading in silence. With two small children, quiet time is increasingly cherished. But if it’s going to be an extended reading session, I definitely need music or ambient noise on. I listen to the Lord of the Rings and Pirates of the Carribean soundtracks a lot.

Do you like to listen to music while you read? Let me know in the comments!

New Books, Backlist, or Classics?

Okay, so it’s about five minutes til my bedtime, so this is going to be the quickest little discussion post you ever read.

Which do you like reading the best, new books, backlist (books that are 5-20 years old) or classics? Perhaps more interesting, how do your reading habits reflect those preferences?

For me it’s changed over time. I used to like the classics the best, hands down. Every book I picked up was a masterpiece, and so every time I read a book I had such a great experience! Sure, there were some I didn’t connect with (I’m looking at YOU Anna Karenina…), but for the most part it was amazing. But then… I read all the good ones? I don’t know, I just kind of ran out of classics that I was interested in or excited about. So for a bit I got suuuuper into new books. Because, you know, book blogging. Now I’ve settled into a steady stream of reading mostly backlist books.

I like backlist because there’s lots of opportunity to hear what the community thinks, and I don’t waste my time reading something just so-so like I did when I was reading a lot of newer books that weren’t vetted yet. But they’re not old, so they still feel fresh and exciting. I also just tend to read whatever gets brought to my attention, and apparently it takes a couple years for me to hear about things, lol.

Apparently my reading habits do not reflect this AT ALL. According to my spreadsheet, Out of the 72 books I read last year, 57 were published in the 2010s, and 34 (about half) either in 2019 or 2018. And while I still love the classics, I only read one classic last year. So, yeah. Apparently I don’t follow my own advice and do what I know is going to get me a great reading experience! Yay for me!

What about YOU? New, classic, or old? Let me know in the comments!

Why I don’t include graphic novels in my Top 10 of the year

In the last year or so I’ve gotten pretty into comics and graphic novels. And by pretty into, I mean I have like, two comics that I like but I *really* like them! In fact, I haven’t read a graphic novel that I’ve given fewer than four stars. Not a one. But observant readers (because I have such an obsessive fan base) will have noticed that there haven’t been any graphic novels in my Top 10 of the year posts. What gives?

Well, there’s a couple of reasons. It should be known that I’ve made a conscious decision to leave them out. Instead I might prefer to have a top graphic novels of the year post that is separate, but at this time I’m not really reading enough of them to do so.

The first and most blunt reason that I’ve chosen to leave them out is that I don’t even include comics on my Goodreads. Nor have I reviewed any of them. The main reason here is that what comprises of a “book” when comics are involved is really inconsistent. For example, when I read the original Runaways run by Brian K. Vaughan, I read a volume that collected the entire first season, a full eighteen issues. But more often comics are collected into trade paperbacks in groups of four, five or six issues. On the other other hand, I read Nancy Drew one issue at a time. It felt like cheating putting one Nancy Drew comic into Goodreads (a trade paperback wasn’t available), and I felt guilty putting in some comics but not others. So I made the decision to just … leave them out of it.

I don’t review them for a similar reason. What would I review, each issue? Ain’t nobody got time for that! A whole paperback collection? Who cares about that?! They come out a solid year after the issues were originally released! Besides, comics have their own little corner of the internet, and I’m barely scratching the surface there.

So that’s why I chose not to include comics.

But what about graphic novels? None of those concerns really apply.

Continue reading “Why I don’t include graphic novels in my Top 10 of the year”