Reading as an Escape

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One of the most common reasons I hear for why people love to read is that it allows them to escape the stress of our real world and escape into a fantasy. Escapism is a powerful tool for releasing the stress that builds up over time, and it also serves to let us view worlds, ideas, and people that we may never experience otherwise.

Escapism is the primary reason that I’m drawn to books. It’s no secret that I have a great deal of stress and anxiety in my life; I’ve shared it with you guys often. I also work a high-stress job dealing with scared, angry, and frightened people over the phone, and there are times when it’s hard for me not to dwell on those situations once I’ve clocked out from work. Mental illness, financial hardships, health crises, a global pandemic… these are only a few reasons that we might pick up a book in order to escape for a few hours.

I started reading at an early age, but I think it was in middle school and high school where I really picked up reading as a serious hobby. I was not a happy teenager. I was severely depressed and untreated; I missed too many days of school, I failed assignments because I was too anxious or embarrassed to present a project in front of the class, and I didn’t feel as though I really fit in with my friend group.

Reading was what I turned to in order to release the stress. I’ve always loved fantasy and science fiction, and I would get lost in the stories. While I was reading, I wasn’t focused on my speech impediment, being overweight, or overwhelming loneliness; I was going on an adventure with a group of exciting characters! The library quickly became my favorite place to be, and I skipped lunch in high school more than a few times in order to pursue the shelves in search of my next story.

As I’ve gotten older and am nearing my mid-thirties, I still find myself turning to fiction when the real world becomes too much to handle. Sometimes it can be detrimental, and I’m aware of that; for example, there are times when I really should be working, doing chores, or running errands, but I cannot bring myself to close the book. I have to know what happens next. Overall, though, reading has allowed me the space I need to breathe and come back to myself.

Several years ago, I moved away from Asheville, NC, where most of my friends live, to a city where I didn’t know anyone aside from family. I still don’t have a large group of friends here, and when I’m feeling lonely, reaching for a book or talking to other members of our book community makes me feel happier and less alone.

I don’t know what my future looks like, but I do know that no matter what happens, I will always turn to books when I want to feel better, or get lost, or explore a new world. Books have given me so much throughout my life, and I hope I can continue to share my love of the written word with all of you for years to come.


What does reading mean to you? Let me know in the comments!




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15 Books I’d Like to Re-read

15 Books I'd Love to Reread

I love rereading books that I previously enjoyed. It’s not something that I do often because there are so many new books coming out every week, and it’s hard to prioritize rereading a book when I’ve got ten brand new ones that I want to get to.

There are certain books that I make sure to reread frequently: I read J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit, F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby, and Cormac McCarthy’s The Road every single year; I’ll reread my favorite self-help books (Jen Sincero’s You Are a Badass and Mark Manson’s The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck) whenever I need a pick-me-up; anytime a new book is released in a series that I love, I’ll reread the entire thing prior to the release date of the newest book.

There are several books, however, that I’d love to reread, but that I haven’t made time for yet. I’d like to try to reread these all in 2020. It wasn’t until I put the list together that I noticed that there are definitely a few themes! Here are the fifteen books that I’d love to reread!

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15. The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis

the lion the witch and the wardrobe chronicles of narnia cs lewis

Goodreads | Amazon

My mother had a complete set of these books and I read them a few times while I was growing up. It’s been nearly fifteen years since I last read them, however, so I’m curious to see if I’d love them as much as I used to now that I’m in my thirties. As a child, I saw the books only as fun fantasy adventure novels with interesting characters; now that I’m older, I’m worried that the Christian undertones that I’ve learned about over the years will either distract me from the story or even ruin the story for me. I’d still like to give it a shot one day if only to feel some nostalgia.


14. Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed

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Goodreads | Amazon

You’re about to see a lot of nature-oriented books on this list. I thoroughly enjoyed Cheryl Strayed’s account of hiking the Pacific Crest Trail, a 2,650-mile trail from Mexico to Canada. I love the idea of long-distance backpacking trips, but this is a bit much for me in real life. However, I love reading about other people having these types of hardcore adventures, so this easily became a favorite of mine. I’ll probably reread this next time I’m in the mountains.

13. Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life by Barbara Kingsolver

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Goodreads | Amazon

An ex-boyfriend recommended this book to me years and years ago, and it’s really stuck with me (one of two books on this list recommended by him, by the way). I’ve always dreamed of having my own homestead, where I could grow and raise my own food, live off of sustainable energy, and create a self-sufficient life. The older that I get, the stronger that desire becomes, to the point where I’m trying to plan out buying a house on a decent amount of land in the North Carolina mountains within the next several years. I’ve been wanting to reread this for years, but I’ve been putting it off because I know it’ll make me crave that sort of life even more, and I’m not financially able to jump right into it. Once I get closer to my goals, however, you better believe that I’ll be rereading this!


12. Blindness by José Saramago

Blindness Jose Saramago

Goodreads | Amazon

I had never heard of this book before grabbing it second-hand at a thrift store. I briefly read through the synopsis and liked the cover, so I took it home. This dystopian, science fiction novel blindsided (hehe) me; I loved it so much, and it was absolutely horrifying. The story is about an epidemic of blindness that affects everyone. Can you imagine how hard the world would become if everyone lost sight? José Saramago will walk you through how rough it will become while enchanting you with his writing style. I desperately want to relive this book, so hopefully, I’ll be able to get to it very soon.


11. A Little Princess and The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett

A Little Princess: Goodreads | Amazon
The Secret Garden: Goodreads | Amazon

Obviously, this is technically two books, but I’m combining them since they’re both written by Frances Hodgson Burnett and because I read them at the same point in my life – early childhood. These two books have been my favorites since I was very young, and they’re actually the earliest books I can remember reading (aside from some Shel Silverstein and Dr. Seuss perhaps). I’ve watched the film adaptations of both, I own fancy copies of both, and I will read both to my future children. I’ve been planning on rereading these for a while, but there’s a tiny part of me who is afraid I won’t feel the same way about them. We’ll see soon enough.


10. Breakfast of Champions by Kurt Vonnegut

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Goodreads | Amazon

While Slaughterhouse Five might be Vonnegut’s most famous book, Breakfast of Champions has always been my personal favorite. It’s a novel that’s hard to explain, but the story follows author Kilgore Trout as he discovers that a midwestern car dealer believes his stories to be true. If you’ve never read Vonnegut, I’d recommend it – it’s a truly unique experience.


9. The Dharma Bums and On the Road by Jack Kerouac

The Dharma Bums: Goodreads | Amazon
On the Road: Goodreads | Amazon

As of now, these are the only two Jack Kerouac novels I’ve read (despite owning many more), and when I first read them back in the early 2010s, they left a huge impression on me. I’d love to reread both of them, but particularly On the Road. One of the editions that I have of this novel is the original scroll, which is formatted in the way that Kerouac originally wrote the novel. It’s one long, continuous narrative with no paragraphs or chapters. It definitely won’t be easy to read, but I want to experience the story as Kerouac wrote it originally.


8. Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

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Goodreads | Amazon

Many of you who have been reading this blog for a while already know that I’m obsessed with post-apocalyptic fiction, and this is one of the best that I’ve ever read (third only to The Road and The Stand). I feel like it’s a little on-the-nose to read right now due to the book being about a deadly worldwide plague, so I’m going to wait until this plague dies out a bit. It’s a unique post-apocalyptic book in that it’s told from the point of view of a group of Shakespearian actors in Canada.


7. The Stand by Stephen King

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Goodreads | Amazon

Speaking of The Stand, this is another novel that I would love to reread. I’ve almost done so multiple times, but the novel’s 1,153 pages have held me back a bit. I don’t hate reading big books, and in fact, a lot of my favorite books are long, but I haven’t been ready for the time commitment anytime recently. It’s also another book that deals with a deadly plague, so I’d like to do my hypochondriac self a favor and wait until COVID-19 calms down a bit before sitting down with it again.


6. The Outlaws of the Marsh by Shi Nai’an & Luo Guanzhong

outlaws of the marsh shi nai'an luo guanzhong

Goodreads | Amazon

I read volume one of this classic Chinese novel in 2019 and really enjoyed it. I held back on reading volumes two and three however because each volume is massive, written in a non-Western style that I wasn’t familiar with, and was extremely confusing when it came to the 100+ characters. Having enjoyed the story, however, I am determined to reread volume one and give two and three a shot.


5. A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry

A Fine Balance - Rohinton Mistry

Goodreads | Amazon

I was that kid in high school who spent a lot of their lunch breaks browsing the library. I remember in tenth grade randomly checking out this book. I don’t remember what prompted me to, but I’ve always been thankful that something pushed me to read it. It’s been one of my favorite books since 2003, and it’s about time that I reread it. A Fine Balance is a historical fiction novel set in India which follows several people with extremely tragic stories. It’s not the happiest novel to read, but a powerful and moving one. It’s realness and honesty are the elements of the story that have always drawn me in.


4. A Sand County Almanac by Aldo Leopold

A Sand County Almanac Aldo Leopold

Goodreads | Amazon

A Sand County Almanac was recommended to me by the same ex-boyfriend who introduced both Animal, Vegetable, Mineral, and The Road to me. Aldo Leopold writes in such a way that you really feel as though you’re sitting next to him observing the landscape and wildlife. It’s a beautiful, non-fiction book that I’d recommend to everyone who gets homesick for the great outdoors. I’m planning a vacation to the North Carolina mountains once this plague is over, and this is one of the books that I’ll be packing with me to finally reread.


3. Haroun and the Sea of Stories and The Ground Beneath Her Feet by Salman Rushdie

 Haroun and the Sea of Stories: Goodreads | Amazon
The Ground Beneath Her Feet: Goodreads | Amazon

The first Salman Rushdie book that I ever read was The Ground Beneath Her Feet at the request of my brother, and I was instantly (and pleasantly) surprised by Rushdie’s poetic and moving writing style. There are plenty of authors who have unique styles, but I’ve never read any as beautiful as Rushdie’s. Haroun and the Sea of Stories isn’t one of his most-famous novels, but it’s always been my favorite. I would love to reread both, and read his other novels that I haven’t had the pleasure to pick up yet.


2. Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia

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Goodreads | Amazon

I buddy-read this book with my friend Tawni, and I fell in love with it quickly. I grew up on North Carolina’s coast, where the story takes place, and the familiarity with the setting drew me in just as much as the heartbreaking story did.  I haven’t written a review of this novel yet because I wanted time to process it a bit more, but it’s been so long that I want to reread it before finally writing about it.


1. Reincarnation Blues by Michael Poore

Reincarnation Blues Michael Poore

Goodreads | Amazon

I read this book for the first time last year, and I have a feeling it’s going to join The Hobbit and The Road in being books that I reread annually. It’s one of the most amazing stories that I’ve ever read. It’s not a novel that I can sum up quickly, so read my full review to learn why this book left such an impression on me.



What books would you love to reread? Let me know in the comments!




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The Bone Witch by Rin Chupeco – A Review

The Bone Witch Rin Chupeco.jpg

The Bone Witch by Rin Chupeco
The Bone Witch #1
Dark Fantasy | Witchcraft | Young Adult
Published by Sourcebooks Fire
Released March 7th, 2017
Goodreads | Amazon
Rating: 5_Star_Rating_System_2_and_a_half_stars

The young adult fantasy genre is oversaturated, but there’s always room for dark fantasy. The Bone Witch is just such a novel, following a young teenage girl named Tea after she accidentally raises her brother from the grave.

This series has been on my radar since it’s release in 2017, and I purchased a copy last year, but I just now got around to reading it. It’s an easy book to fly through and is engaging enough, but I finished it feeling far from satisfied.

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Rin Chupeco

Let’s not jump ahead. As I mentioned before, Tea raises her brother from the dead, which means she is a Bone Witch, aka a Dark Asha, a type of magic welder that is rare and feared by many people. Tea and her brother, who has become her “familiar,” leave their small village with the only other Dark Asha, Lady Mykaela.

Lady Mykaela takes Tea to a community full of other Ashas in order to receive magic training. She struggles through chores and strenuous challenges while fraternizing with the kingdom’s Prince Kance. By the end of the novel, Tea is faced with a difficult choice.

The book is told in dual timelines, one following Tea as she learns to become a Dark Asha, and the other told from a few years into the future when Tea has been banished and is alone on a dim beach.

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I felt like this book has so much potential, but among the reasons that I could only give it 2.5 stars is that it was definitely written with the intention of ending it on a cliffhanger so that you would have to read the next book to learn anything. There was so much left unresolved, something that has always annoyed me. I understand that many books are planned out to be a series, but I still prefer that each book in a series should also be a whole story by itself.

The magic system was fascinating, and I’m looking forward to learning more about it in book two. Magic is done by drawing runes based on the elements. I also really enjoyed the aesthetics of the world itself. Another interesting aspect is that people wear their hearts around their necks, displaying their health and emotions. I’ve never encountered that in a book before and it was refreshing to read something new.

My main issues with the book are that it felt incredibly rushed in many areas and the characters were either cliche or boring. There was this slight romance that appeared to be taking place between Tea and Prince Kance, but at the same time, they’re rarely in the story together. There’s no actual relationship between them, it’s just hinted at. Due to this, their “relationship” feels forced and I found myself annoyed at it much of the time. I also saw hints of what will probably become a love triangle in future books, a trope that heavily turns me off.

There were large swaths of time missing from the novel. For example, at one point Tea and some of the other Asha leave town to fight a monster that’s been terrorizing people, but there’s nothing about their journey. At the end of one chapter, they’re deciding to go fight this battle, and then at the beginning of the next, they’re there. I wish there had been more extended scenes so that the timeline of the novel would have flowed better.

I also would have appreciated more necromancy. There were only a few scenes in the book displaying Tea performing her Dark Asha skills, although I imagine there will be more of her magic in the rest of the series.

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One of the things that kept me reading this book was Rin Chupeco’s writing. This is the first book I’ve read of hers, and she definitely has a way with words. I enjoyed her descriptions and tone, and even if I end up not carrying on with this series after the second book, I would eagerly read other books written by her.

Despite the problems I encountered with the novel, I’ll still be reading book two. I’m interested enough in the story, magic system, and Tea to want to see where everything ends up next. I’d recommend only reading this book if you’re willing to commit to reading the series since this book can definitely not be read as a standalone. It’s an imperfect but enjoyable ride with a lot of potential.


Have you read The Bone Witch? What’s your favorite dark fantasy novel? Let me know in the comments!




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Star Ratings: Are They Fair or Necessary – Let’s Talk Bookish

Let's Talk Bookish

While I was snacking on some hard-boiled eggs this afternoon (which are 100% the best snack), I was reading some of the WordPress blogs that I follow and came across Books on the Brain and specifically the Let’s Talk Bookish post about star ratings.

I followed her link back to the creator of the Let’s Talk Bookish tag, Rukky at Eternity Books. I love Rukky’s idea of posing a bookish question to the community, so I decided to participate!

Today’s question is:

Star ratings: are they fair or necessary?

Star ratings are definitely necessary for readers. While people rate books based on a variety of factors, the star rating, such as those on Goodreads or Amazon, is a quick way for people to get an idea of books that are highly regarded versus those that are not.

Are they fair? Absolutely not. There’s not much in the world that is fair.

It’s unlikely that there will ever be a rating system for anything that is truly fair because people will always have different ideas of what features of a product should be rated.

The book community is a perfect example of this. For this blog, I rate books from 1-5 stars, with half ratings. I base my rating on factors such as my enjoyment of the book, plot and pacing, character development, and writing style. However, other people might base their star rating purely on how much fun they had while reading it. There are people who rate books based purely on plot, regardless of how it’s written. None of these methods are right or wrong; it’s up to each person to choose why they want to rate a book the way they do. There’s never going to be a consensus on how books should be rated, and, as such, the star rating is the imperfectly perfect way to rate books.

One thing that this question made me want to talk about is when you should or shouldn’t rate a book. It’s a little bit off-topic from the main question, but it’s so important on websites like Goodreads.

Something I’ve noticed only since joining the book community as a reviewer and blogger is that there is a group of people who will rate books before they read it. This isn’t fair to the book or to the book community. Rating a book 1 star because you don’t like the author or giving it 5 stars because you enjoyed the last book this author wrote doesn’t do anyone any good and it skews the real ratings. Please, stop doing this.

How do you feel about star ratings? Let me know in the comments and head over to Eternity Books to do the same and see their opinions!




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Children’s Books I Grew Up On – Reviews & Reflections

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Me as a toddler

I’ve mentioned many times on this blog that I grew up in a house of readers, always surrounded by books. I’m so thankful for that upbringing because I’ve loved books as far back as I can remember.

Recently, I decided to re-read a few of my favorite children’s books and wanted to provide some brief reviews and talk about why these books are so important to me.


The Hobbit - J.R.R. Tolkien

The first book that always comes to mind when I reminisce on the books that I loved growing up is J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit.

The Hobbit is a sort of prelude to Tolkien’s adult fantasy trilogy, The Lord of the Ringsand far more suitable to children who might not be interested in the intricacies of the deep folklore and language that Tolkien created for his other novels.

I was introduced to this book early on because my mother had a gorgeous green leather edition of it in a slipcase that I would frequently take down from our living room’s bookshelf and read through over and over again. I’d spend afternoons poring over the pages and maps contained within the story. Hell, at one point I even managed to learn to read the runes on the maps. I was obsessed with this story early on, and am so thankful that my mother loved this book too. She died back in 2010, and every time I re-read this book it makes me feel closer to her.


Where the Sidewalk Ends Shel Silverstein.jpg

An author that I frequently think about (and whose work I still love) is Shel Silverstein. Not too long ago I shared a review of Silverstein’s adult book, Different Dancesbut I grew up reading his collections of children-appropriate poems, such as Where the Sidewalk Ends and Falling Up

When I re-read both of these books a few weeks ago, I was surprised to discover that I still enjoyed them, despite now being in my early thirties.

As with The Hobbit, Silverstein’s children’s books are definitely some that I’ll be sharing with any future children I have. The poems are perfect for kids that like to have fun with words and memorize witty little poems that they can recite back to friends and parents at (in)appropriate times.

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Silverstein’s drawings, on every page of his books, are fun and simple and drew me in when I was a child.

While Where the Sidewalk Ends is definitely one of his most well-known classics, my favorite has always been The Giving Tree.

If you’re not familiar with that story, it’s about the relationship and friendship between a little boy and his tree. The tree loves the boy dearly, and willingly gives up anything it has in order to protect him. Whether this is in the form of shade, limbs to play on, apples to eat, and so on, there’s no sacrifice too big for the tree. By the end of the story, you’re left with a message of sacrificing everything for love and learning how to appreciate others. 


The Lorax Dr Seuss.jpg

It would be absolutely impossible to have a list of children’s books without having several Dr. Seuss titles on it.

Almost everyone I know, including people much younger than me, had at least one Dr. Seuss story that stuck with them. His books are so perfect and timeless that they’re going to be around for many decades to come, helping children learn to read while, at times, teaching them important lessons.

When I was young, my favorite Dr. Seuss story was One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish. I had the entire book memorized by first grade and could recite it back perfectly.

Some of my other favorites are well-known, such as Green Eggs and Ham, Fox in Socksand The Butter Battle Book

As an adult, the book that I’ve come to appreciate the most is The Lorax. It’s not a surprise that this book has stuck in my mind for so long. I grew up reading books like The Lorax and watching movies such as FerngullyIt’s obvious that becoming an environmentalist started very young for me.

The Lorax is the kind of book that teaches both children and adults important lessons about conservationism and consumerism.


Where the Wild Things Are Maurice Sendak.jpg The most aesthetically beautiful book I remember from my childhood is Maurice Sendak’s Where the Wild Things Are

This book is truly iconic and will be for many years to come. The story is a very simple one, about a boy’s imagination, but it’s the artwork done by author Maurice Sendak that really makes this book special.

Each spread in the book is colorful and perfect enough to hang on your wall as an art print. The images, as an adult, evoke memories of playing as a young child and the fun that could be had with the power of your own imagination.


A little princess and a secret garden.PNGTwo of the first chapter books I remember reading were both by Frances Hodgson Burnett. A Little Princess and The Secret Garden are both wonderful stories for children, and I loved them so much when I was a little girl.

I recently purchased these stunning Barnes & Noble editions so that I could re-read them as an adult, which I plan to do around the holidays.

Out of the two books, The Secret Garden was always my favorite, primarily because I’m attracted to flowers and gardens.

I remember also watching movie adaptations of these stories when I was little, but I don’t actually remember much about them at this point.



So there you have it – a few of my favorite children’s books. Sometime in the near future, I’ll do another post about my favorite books as a pre-teen and teenager because I have so many more books that I could talk about. All of these books I’ll be sharing with my future children and grandchildren to hopefully show them the same wonderful stories that I had growing up.



What were your favorite children’s books growing up? Have you read any of my favorites? Let me know in the comments!

Looking for some more children’s stories?

Fantastic Mr. Fox | The Witches | Bunnicula | Furthermore | The Tea Dragon Society




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Interview with Vicky from What Vicky Read – Friday Favorites

Friday Favorites! (1)

I know it’s been a few weeks since I’ve done an interview for Read Yourself Happy’s weekly Friday Favorites feature, but now we’re back with a great interview from one of my favorite fellow book bloggers, Vicky from What Vicky Read.

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Before starting this blog, I wasn’t even aware that book blogging was popular. I was familiar with the big names out there, like Book Riot or Literary Hub, but it wasn’t until last year that I really dove into personal book blogs. Vicky’s was one of the very first that I discovered, and I’ve been reading her blog ever since.

With that, let’s get straight into the interview. If you’re not already subscribed to Vicky’s blog, you probably will be soon!



Tell us a bit about yourself

Hey, I’m Vicky and I blog about books over at What Vicky Read. I was born and raised in England and am a HUGE Harry Potter fan. I love to read, my favourite genres being Mystery and Fantasy within the Young Adult section. I do also enjoy contemporaries and historical fiction.


Which types of books are you drawn to?

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Over the last year, I’d probably say I’m mostly drawn to YA murder mystery books. I definitely think we need more books from this genre so I’m thrilled whenever I find a new one that I love! It’s quite nice to watch this genre grow too though. I think it’s definitely growing at the moment which is just great to see. If you want a book recommendation from that genre, I’d recommend A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder by Holly Jackson, which came out earlier this year!


What inspired you to start a book blog?

I actually started a book blog back in 2014 after I started working full time. All of my friends had just gone to University so I didn’t have a lot of people left. I found book blogs and that resulted in me starting up a (failed) book blog as well as a bookstagram. I gave up blogging for a few years until the beginning of 2017 when I decided that I wanted to start again and it’s just really gone from there!


From your time being a member of the book community, what’s the most important thing you’ve learned?

I think to be nice to everybody because there’s no reason to be mean, and with this, respect other’s opinions. Over the years that I’ve been a part of this community, I’ve noticed that many people will have differing opinions on books and sometimes those opinions can clash but the thing is a book isn’t for everybody. For example, some people love Harry Potter but other people just don’t! Even if you don’t agree with someone’s opinion, there’s no reason why you can’t respectfully disagree with it. Saying that though, the book community is a really welcoming place and I do really enjoy being a part of it!


What tips or advice do you have for people looking to start their own book blog?

So many people say ‘just be yourself’ and that is true, but also write about what YOU want to write about. It’s your blog and so you should write whatever you want. If you didn’t like a book, don’t be afraid to say that, even if it’s a hyped book! I think the other thing is to be prepared to put the work in. Over the last two years, I’ve been a little on and off with my blog due to studying uni, then working full time, and now I’m working both full time, studying and also trying to maintain a social life. It is hard but I keep going because I enjoy doing it. So if you want to blog, just be prepared to put in the time and effort.


If you could spend a night hanging out with three authors, living or dead, who would you choose and why?

 

This is just from a (long) list of authors I’ve never met before. Definitely J.K. Rowling, Kerri Maniscalco and then it’s between Leigh Bardugo, Stephanie Garber and Suzanne Collins. I mention Suzanne because I feel like we haven’t heard or seen anything of her since The Hunger Games until this year when the prequel was announced.


If you could meet any fictional character, who would it be?

This is so difficult because I actually have so many favourite characters but I’m probably going to have to say Hermione Granger because that means magic and Hogwarts is real!


Which classic or popular book do you hate?

The Great Gatsby - F. Scott FItzgerald

Haha, oh man. There aren’t any books I actually hate but the book that comes closest to that is probably The Great GatsbyI thought I was going to love it because of the whole glitz and whatever of New York but I just could not get into it. I found it so boring but forced myself to push through it because I wanted to have read it at least once. To be honest, I barely remember what even happened in it because I was so bored!


How do you keep track of the books you’ve finished and books you want to read?

I use Goodreads. I’ve tried to keep track of the books on my shelves and what I’ve read on them via excel spreadsheets, the reminders list feature on my phone but I’ve just got way too many to keep track of. I actually wrote a post on my blog about how I organise my Goodreads as I track what I’m reading, what’s on my TBR, what’s on my wishlist, etc. on there and it’s just so helpful. The app and site could do with some updating but it does the job for me!


What are your five favorite books, and why?

First of all, thank you for giving me the option to pick five books because I always find this so hard to answer!
In no particular order, Harry Potter by J.K. RowlingStrange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor, Stalking Jack the Ripper by Kerri Maniscalco, Caraval by Stephanie Garber and Vicious by V. E. Schwab.

Finally, leave us with your favorite bookish quote

‘The ones who love us never really leave us, you can always find them in here.’ (points to heart)



I hope you enjoyed Vicky’s interview. Again, if you’re not already subscribed, head over to What Vicky Read!


Looking for more interviews:

Robert McCaw | Laurence Westwood | Kathy Kimbray | Hanna Jameson




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Today is National Read a Book Day!

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In case you didn’t know, September 6 is National Read a Book Day!

I’m definitely planning on spending pretty much the entire day reading, especially since I live in an area impacted by Hurricane Dorian and as of this writing the winds are blowing at around 50 mph and I imagine our power won’t be on much longer.

I’ve been a bookworm since I was a child and grew up in a house full of books. Books have been my escape through bouts of depression and my main form of entertainment.

What is perfection to me? A cup of hot tea or coffee, a cozy blanket, a sweet cat, a lit candle… and a book. You can’t beat that kind of afternoon.

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I hope that, whatever you’re doing, you’re able to enjoy some relaxing reading time today.

If you need some inspiration for what to read, here is a list of some of the best novels I’ve read over the past year.

What are some books that you would recommend? Let me know in the comments!




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August 2019 Wrap-Up

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August has been a strange month. I’ve had a lot of ups and downs with my anxiety and bipolar disorder. I ended up missing a lot of work because I mentally couldn’t do it. I didn’t read or blog quite as much because I had trouble concentrating.

Things are looking much better, though. My boyfriend and I did an intense cleaning and decluttering of our apartment, and it lifted my spirits right away. Having a clean space that makes you feel good and relaxed can do absolute wonders for your mental health.

A few things I’m currently loving about our space: lots of candles, a beautiful and reorganized bookshelf, a decluttered kitchen counter, freshly cleaned windows, and a new plant in our bedroom. They’re all small things, but they’ve made me so happy.

At the beginning of the month, I had a very ambitious TBR. Out of the twenty-seven books I had planned to read, I only read five. So, yeah, definitely didn’t stick to my TBR this month. I think I’m going to skip posting a TBR for September because I want to choose my books this month based on my moods.

For a while, I’ve only been posting articles and reviews Monday through Friday, which worked really well. However, due to my work-related stress and bipolar disorder-related mood swings, I’m going to start posting whenever I feel like it. Until I can transition into my dream job (which is freelance writing and blogging, while working from home), I’m going to have a looser posting schedule here on the blog. My job has been sapping my energy and good vibes and has just been mentally exhausting.

Also, one last thing – I posted a reader survey last week and it’s still open. If you haven’t already filled it out, please consider doing so. There are only 10 questions and people have spent less than 2 minutes filling it out. I want to see what you guys want more or less of on Read Yourself Happy!

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Reviews


Articles


America in Books

As I mentioned in this project’s introductory post, my goal is to share a list of books set in every U.S. state and territory. This has gotten a lot of positive feedback so far, and I’m so glad you guys are enjoying it! Here are the states we’ve looked at so far:



Are you a blogger or Youtuber? Let me know what exciting things you posted in August! Leave your links in the comments below!




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May 2019 Plans & TBR

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I can’t believe it’s May already. 2019 is moving by at an extraordinary pace.

This month, I want to focus on reading books I already own. I have a tendency to max out my library card constantly, which means I’m practically always reading a borrowed book while I have hundreds of books that sat unread on my shelves.

Here are ten books I hope to read in May. Synopses are courtesy of the publishers and Goodreads.


The Last by Hanna Jameson

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For fans of high-concept thrillers such as Annihilation and The Girl with All the Gifts, this breathtaking dystopian psychological thriller follows an American academic stranded at a Swiss hotel as the world descends into nuclear war—along with twenty other survivors—who becomes obsessed with identifying a murderer in their midst after the body of a young girl is discovered in one of the hotel’s water tanks.

Jon thought he had all the time in the world to respond to his wife’s text message: I miss you so much. I feel bad about how we left it. Love you. But as he’s waiting in the lobby of the L’Hotel Sixieme in Switzerland after an academic conference, still mulling over how to respond to his wife, he receives a string of horrifying push notifications. Washington, DC has been hit with a nuclear bomb, then New York, then London, and finally Berlin. That’s all he knows before news outlets and social media goes black—and before the clouds on the horizon turn orange.

Now, two months later, there are twenty survivors holed up at the hotel, a place already tainted by its strange history of suicides and murders. Those who can’t bear to stay commit suicide or wander off into the woods. Jon and the others try to maintain some semblance of civilization. But when the water pressure disappears, and Jon and a crew of survivors investigate the hotel’s water tanks, they are shocked to discover the body of a young girl.

As supplies dwindle and tensions rise, Jon becomes obsessed with investigating the death of the little girl as a way to cling to his own humanity. Yet the real question remains: can he afford to lose his mind in this hotel, or should he take his chances in the outside world?


Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

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Since its immediate success in 1813, Pride and Prejudice has remained one of the most popular novels in the English language. Jane Austen called this brilliant work “her own darling child” and its vivacious heroine, Elizabeth Bennet, “as delightful a creature as ever appeared in print.” The romantic clash between the opinionated Elizabeth and her proud beau, Mr. Darcy, is a splendid performance of civilized sparring. And Jane Austen’s radiant wit sparkles as her characters dance a delicate quadrille of flirtation and intrigue, making this book the most superb comedy of manners of Regency England.


Pride by Ibi Zoboi

35068632.jpgPride and Prejudice gets remixed in this smart, funny, gorgeous retelling of the classic, starring all characters of color, from Ibi Zoboi, National Book Award finalist and author of American Street.

Zuri Benitez has pride. Brooklyn pride, family pride, and pride in her Afro-Latino roots. But pride might not be enough to save her rapidly gentrifying neighborhood from becoming unrecognizable.

When the wealthy Darcy family moves in across the street, Zuri wants nothing to do with their two teenage sons, even as her older sister, Janae, starts to fall for the charming Ainsley. She especially can’t stand the judgmental and arrogant Darius. Yet as Zuri and Darius are forced to find common ground, their initial dislike shifts into an unexpected understanding.

But with four wild sisters pulling her in different directions, cute boy Warren vying for her attention, and college applications hovering on the horizon, Zuri fights to find her place in Bushwick’s changing landscape, or lose it all.

In a timely update of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, critically acclaimed author Ibi Zoboi skillfully balances cultural identity, class, and gentrification against the heady magic of first love in her vibrant reimagining of this beloved classic.


Miracle Creek by Angie Kim

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A literary courtroom drama about a Korean immigrant family and a young, single mother accused of murdering her eight-year-old autistic son

My husband asked me to lie. Not a big lie. He probably didn’t even consider it a lie, and neither did I, at first . . .
In the small town of Miracle Creek, Virginia, Young and Pak Yoo run an experimental medical treatment device known as the Miracle Submarine—a pressurized oxygen chamber that patients enter for therapeutic “dives” with the hopes of curing issues like autism or infertility. But when the Miracle Submarine mysteriously explodes, killing two people, a dramatic murder trial upends the Yoos’ small community.

Who or what caused the explosion? Was it the mother of one of the patients, who claimed to be sick that day but was smoking down by the creek? Or was it Young and Pak themselves, hoping to cash in on a big insurance payment and send their daughter to college? The ensuing trial uncovers unimaginable secrets from that night—trysts in the woods, mysterious notes, child-abuse charges—as well as tense rivalries and alliances among a group of people driven to extraordinary degrees of desperation and sacrifice.

Angie Kim’s Miracle Creek is a thoroughly contemporary take on the courtroom drama, drawing on the author’s own life as a Korean immigrant, former trial lawyer, and mother of a real-life “submarine” patient. An addictive debut novel for fans of Liane Moriarty and Celeste Ng, Miracle Creek is both a twisty page-turner and a deeply moving story about the way inconsequential lies and secrets can add up—with tragic consequences.


Girls of Paper and Fire by Natasha Ngan

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Each year, eight beautiful girls are chosen as Paper Girls to serve the king. It’s the highest honor they could hope for…and the most cruel.

But this year, there’s a ninth girl. And instead of paper, she’s made of fire.

In this lush fantasy, Lei is a member of the Paper caste, the lowest and most oppressed class in Ikhara. She lives in a remote village with her father, where the decade-old trauma of watching her mother snatched by royal guards still haunts her. Now, the guards are back, and this time it’s Lei they’re after–the girl whose golden eyes have piqued the king’s interest.

Over weeks of training in the opulent but stifling palace, Lei and eight other girls learn the skills and charm that befit being a king’s consort. But Lei isn’t content to watch her fate consume her. Instead, she does the unthinkable–she falls in love. Her forbidden romance becomes enmeshed with an explosive plot that threatens the very foundation of Ikhara, and Lei, still the wide-eyed country girl at heart, must decide just how far she’s willing to go for justice and revenge.


Full Tilt by Neal Shusterman

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Sixteen-year-old Blake and his younger brother, Quinn, are exact opposites. Blake is the responsible member of the family. He constantly has to keep an eye on the fearless Quinn, whose thrill-seeking sometimes goes too far. But the stakes get higher when Blake has to chase Quinn into a bizarre phantom carnival that traps its customers forever.

In order to escape, Blake must survive seven deadly rides by dawn, each of which represents a deep, personal fear — from a carousel of stampeding animals to a hall of mirrors that changes people into their deformed reflections. Blake ultimately has to face up to a horrible secret from his own past to save himself and his brother — that is, if the carnival doesn’t claim their souls first!


Q-in-Law (Star Trek: The Next Generation #18) by Peter David

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When two powerful rival families of the spacefaring merchant race called the Tizarin are to be joined through marriage, the U.S.S. Enterprise is chosen as the site for the wedding. Though Captain Picard is pleased by the happy duty, his pleasure is cut short by the arrival of the Federation delegate from Betazed: Lwaxan Troi – the mother of ship’s counsellor, Deanna Troi.

Despite Lwaxana Troi’s romantic overtures toward the captain, the celebration seems to go smoothly until the situation is further complicated by the arrival of the notorious and all powerful being called Q – who has come to examine and challenge the human concept of love. Suddenly, the festivities are in turmoil, the powerful Tizarin families are on the verge of war, and Lwaxana Troi is determined to teach Q a lesson in love that he will never forget…


Saga, Vol. 1 by Brian K. Vaughan

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When two soldiers from opposite sides of a never-ending galactic war fall in love, they risk everything to bring a fragile new life into a dangerous old universe.

From bestselling writer Brian K. Vaughan, Saga is the sweeping tale of one young family fighting to find their place in the worlds. Fantasy and science fiction are wed like never before in this sexy, subversive drama for adults.

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Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo

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Surrounded by enemies, the once-great nation of Ravka has been torn in two by the Shadow Fold, a swath of near impenetrable darkness crawling with monsters who feast on human flesh. Now its fate may rest on the shoulders of one lonely refugee.

Alina Starkov has never been good at anything. But when her regiment is attacked on the Fold and her best friend is brutally injured, Alina reveals a dormant power that saves his life—a power that could be the key to setting her war-ravaged country free. Wrenched from everything she knows, Alina is whisked away to the royal court to be trained as a member of the Grisha, the magical elite led by the mysterious Darkling.

Yet nothing in this lavish world is what it seems. With darkness looming and an entire kingdom depending on her untamed power, Alina will have to confront the secrets of the Grisha . . . and the secrets of her heart.


Oathbringer (The Stormlight Archive, #3) by Brandon Sanderson

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In Oathbringer, the third volume of the New York Times bestselling Stormlight Archive, humanity faces a new Desolation with the return of the Voidbringers, a foe with numbers as great as their thirst for vengeance.

Dalinar Kholin’s Alethi armies won a fleeting victory at a terrible cost: The enemy Parshendi summoned the violent Everstorm, which now sweeps the world with destruction, and in its passing awakens the once peaceful and subservient parshmen to the horror of their millennia-long enslavement by humans. While on a desperate flight to warn his family of the threat, Kaladin Stormblessed must come to grips with the fact that the newly kindled anger of the parshmen may be wholly justified.

Nestled in the mountains high above the storms, in the tower city of Urithiru, Shallan Davar investigates the wonders of the ancient stronghold of the Knights Radiant and unearths dark secrets lurking in its depths. And Dalinar realizes that his holy mission to unite his homeland of Alethkar was too narrow in scope. Unless all the nations of Roshar can put aside Dalinar’s blood-soaked past and stand together–and unless Dalinar himself can confront that past–even the restoration of the Knights Radiant will not prevent the end of civilization.



My larger focus this month is maintaining my mental health and trying to get out of the house more. It’s strawberry season here, so I’m looking forward to heading down into the countryside to pick some fresh. My boyfriend and I are also planning on doing some hiking now that the weather is nice.

On top of all that, I’ve created a content calendar for the blog and all of the features I want to write for it. I’m also in the process of setting up a freelance writing business.

It’s going to be a busy month, but I’m looking forward to it so much.


What books are you planning on reading in May? Let me know in the comments!




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April 2019 Wrap-Up

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Although autumn will always be my favorite season, spring is beautiful as well. I love the thunderstorms we’ve begun having in the mid-Atlantic, and the blooming flowers are beautiful, even if I’m having trouble breathing as a result of the pollen.

April has felt nuts to me, and like it flew by in a flash. I was diagnosed as bipolar this month, a diagnosis that was both surprising and relieving. When you go nearly two decades thinking there’s something wrong with your brain and you don’t understand why you can’t control your moods or emotions, a diagnosis is something to be celebrated.

Even though being diagnosed as bipolar is a bit scary, at least now I can begin to find ways to control and manage the disorder. Also, just putting a name to it has made it easier.

Books I Reviewed


Articles & Editorials

 




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Why You Should Embrace DNF-ing Books

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I understand the desire to finish every book you start. I was one of those people for so long. I felt a sense of failure when I put down a book without finishing it, even when I disliked every moment of reading it. Sometimes, too, I would start reading a book that everybody else seemed to love, and I would push myself through it, trying to give it the benefit of the doubt, even when it was absolutely clear that it wasn’t a book for me.

My reading life became so much better and stress-free when I started DNF-ing books. I stopped holding myself to the unrealistic standard of finishing every book I started -because it is unrealistic. There are so many reasons a book might not be right for you, from writing style, to disliking the main character, or just simply not being in the mood for it.

When you add a book to your did-not-finish pile, it doesn’t always mean it’s a bad book. A lot of the time when I DNF a book, it’s for two reasons: first, I’m not meshing with the style or story; second, I’m not in the mood for it right now, although I might come back to it later.

There are millions of books to read. Here’s a hard truth: you will never finish all the books you want to read. It pains me to say such a thing, but we all know it’s true. Due to that fact, though, you should embrace the option to stop reading a book that isn’t bringing you some sort of pleasure.

Signs That You Should DNF Your Book

  • Anytime you sit down to read it, you’re already daydreaming or planning your next book to read.
  • You love to read, but every time you think about reading this particular book, you find you’d rather watch TV or play video games. You’re basically avoiding the story.
  • You can’t focus on the book. You’ve read the same page five times and still forget what you’re reading about.
  • You chose a mystery novel, but you’re really in the mood for fantasy.

There are many reasons you might DNF a book, but don’t feel shame over it! Embrace it! Life is short, so why not make time for the books that actually matter to you?


What is your opinion on DNF-ing books? What was the last book you stopped reading?

Trigger Warnings: What are they, and do we need them?

Trigger Warnings

Requesting trigger warnings for content is nothing new, but I’ve seen it discussed more often lately than I had before. It’s not something I’ve discussed on Read Yourself Happy before, so I wanted to give my thoughts some space here.

A trigger warning is intended to let readers or consumers know ahead of time if a piece of media contains content that could cause anxiety or distress in people who have experienced past trauma. This doesn’t just affect literature; students have been requesting that university professors warn them of triggers for years. According to the National Coalition Against Censorship (NCAC),

Although fewer than 1% of survey participants reported that their institution had adopted a policy on trigger warnings, 7.5% reported that students had initiated efforts to require trigger warnings on campus, twice as many (15%) reported that students had requested warnings in their courses, and 12% reported that students had complained about the absence of trigger warnings. Despite a media narrative of “political correctness,” student requests concerned a diverse range of subjects from across the ideological spectrum.

This is a phenomenon that is very prevalent in the book community. It’s normal to watch a Booktube video or read a blog post that contains trigger warnings before going into a review.

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My own opinion is that alerting consumers to potentially upsetting topics can be beneficial in some regards, but that requiring trigger warnings is damn near impossible and not the responsibility of the author or content creator. It’s impossible to know what things will trigger readers, as there are an endless amount of triggers out there. From the same NCAC report I mentioned earlier,

…many noted that “it is impossible to know what will trigger students.” There are reported complaints about spiders,   “images of childbirth,” suicide in a ballet, indigenous artifacts, images of dead bodies, “fatphobia,” bloody scenes in a horror film class, and more. One respondent observed, “I’m not sure you can teach American literature without issuing a blanket trigger warning for the entire semester.”

I feel as though in some (some, not all) cases people might be requesting trigger warnings in order to not have to deal with a difficult topic, like suicide, rape, or an eating disorder. These are real topics, however, that are important to examine in literature and other mediums. As many opponents to trigger warnings have said, the real world doesn’t contain trigger warnings, and sometimes people need to learn how to deal with these topics in a healthy way.

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Trauma and post-traumatic stress are very, very real things. I’m not trying to be insensitive to people who have anxiety – I have anxiety and issues with depression myself, and there are definitely topics I come across while reading that can elevate my level of stress, and yes, in a few cases some of these topics have caused me to have a panic attack. However, I’m actually quite thankful for these situations, as they force me to confront and deal with these topics, rather choose to avoid them.

There’s a 2014 article from The New Yorker by Jay Caspian Kang that brings about another interesting point about the effect trigger warnings might have on literature:

…what harm could a swarm of trigger warnings—each one reducing a work of literature to its ugliest plot points—inflict on the literary canon? What would “Trigger Warning: This novel contains racism” do to a reading of Ralph Ellison’s “Invisible Man”? What would “Trigger Warning: Rape, racism, and sexual assault” do to a reading of Toni Morrison’s “Beloved”?

There have also been some studies done to gauge the effectiveness of trigger warnings. One that particularly intrigued me was written in Psychology Today:

A recently published Harvard study tackled these questions. Researchers Benjamin Bullet, Peyton Jones, and Richard McNally had participants read passages from literary texts like Moby-Dick or Crime and Punishment. But before reading these passages, half of the participants received a warning that read: “TRIGGER WARNING: The passage you are about to read contains disturbing content and may trigger an anxiety response, especially in those who have a history of trauma.”

The researchers found that being exposed to trigger warnings caused participants to rate both themselves and others as more vulnerable to developing PTSD. Trigger warnings led to no self-reported differences in anxiety between the two groups overall, but for participants who already held the belief that “words cause harm,” trigger warnings led to an increase in anxiety.

There is evidence that trigger warnings can be harmful rather than helpful, and as I said before, it’s impossible to have a trigger warning in place for every potential trigger out there. I feel that it’s partially the responsibility of the reader to know what types of books he or she may need to avoid. If you’re an author or content creator and you support trigger warnings, then go for it. However, I am of the opinion that these warnings might make people less willing to deal with issues that they should confront for the benefit of their own mental health.

This article was not written with the intent of creating controversy or attacking anyone; I simply wanted to share my own thoughts on this topic. If this discussion has upset you, feel free to reply in the comments section so that we can discuss it further.



What are your own opinions on trigger warnings? Should they be included on the covers of books or before movies or television shows? Let’s have a discussion in the comments.

My Love/Hate Relationship with Audiobooks

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Until recently, I only read physical books or ebooks. The few times I’d attempted to listen to audiobooks were disastrous, and within a few chapters I’d give up on it entirely.

It baffled me a bit – after all, I love podcasts and audiobooks aren’t that different. For whatever reason, however, I found that I was unable to focus on the story I was listening to and I would quickly get bored and go pick up a physical book.

In 2018, I made a goal of getting through at least one full audiobook. It’s definitely a very modest goal, but one that was difficult for me. To give myself a higher chance of success, I chose to listen to one of my favorite middle-grade books, Neil Gaiman’s The Graveyard Book, narrated by Gaiman himself.

Not only did I finish listening to it, but I found that I had enjoyed it! I was proud of myself for actually finishing an audiobook, and decided that I wanted to give it another go.

Obtaining audiobooks was a bit tricky at first. I signed up for a free trial of Audible, which is how I listened to The Graveyard Book, but I didn’t want to pay $15 a month for one book. While watching booktube videos about great audiobooks, I kept hearing about Scribd, which is significantly cheaper and allows you to listen to however many audiobooks you want to each month.

Through Scribd, I ended up listening to quite a few audiobooks: The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey, The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas,  The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee, among a few others.

What I started to realize is that the reason I had never enjoyed audiobooks is that I just hadn’t found the right ones yet. The narrator plays a huge role for me in my enjoyment and understanding of an audiobook. When I find a narrator I love, I end up having fun with the experience.

I’m looking forward to listening to a ton of audiobooks in the future. Next up will be Sadie by Courtney Summers.


If you have any recommendations for great audiobooks that I should listen to, please let me know in the comments! I would love some suggestions!




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GUEST POST: 7 Chinese Books in the Last 70 Years from Meonicorn

For the #readtheworldchina challenge, the amazing Meonicorn of The Bookish Land has written a guest post about 7 Chinese Books of the past 70 years. I love Meonicorn’s blog and Youtube channel, so definitely go check her out for some amazing content and book recommendations. 

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7 Chinese Books in Recent 70 Years

By Meonicorn ( The Bookish Land)

Hi, I am Meonicorn from the BookTube channel: The Bookish Land. Thanks a lot to Penny for inviting me to talk about books from China (since I was born and raised in China, I love talking about them). China has a long history of literature but I feel it’s very difficult to find Chinese books that have been translated into English, especially the recent publishes. So I’ve selected 7 Chinese books from the recent 70 years, maybe you’ll find them interesting, and hope we will have more good Chinese books translated into English in the future!


2010 – NOW: FOLDING BEIJING by Hao Jingfang, 2012, Genre: Science Fiction

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This Hugo Award-winning novelette was set in an unspecified future when people have been divided into three classes and lived in Beijing accordingly. Beijing cycles every 48 hours, where the first 24 hours belong to the highest class, the next 16 hours belong to the second class and the last 8 hours belong to the rest of the population. The living space for each class was folded when they were not using it and the people were put to asleep, and the space would be unfolded when people could use it. People were forbidden to travel across different space. However, a worker called Lao Dao decided to do so because of his daughter and started his space traveling journey.

This novelette was translated by Ken Liu, who also translated the Hugo Award-winning novel The Three-Body Problem.


2000 – 2009: THE LAST QUARTER OF THE MOON by Chi Zijian, 2005, Genre: Historical Fiction

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This was a beautiful family saga about an ethnic group called Evenki, it is told from the perspective of the wife of the last chief in their tribe, following her story for almost 100 years. Their tribe experienced changes from traditional hunting lifestyle to modern culture lifestyle, accepted opportunities and losses, as well as glories and declines. The narrator was also changed by time and generations. The book was beautifully written, the language was poetic, the story was atmospheric and the culture was mysterious.

This novel won the Maodun Literary Prize in 2008. (One of the most important literary prizes in China)

 


1990 – 1999: TO LIVE by Yu Hua, 1993. Genre: Literary Fiction

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To Live discussed the meaning of life with the story of Fugui. Fugui was born in a wealthy family but lost all his fortune by gambling. After that, his life seemed to be a tragedy, his family suffered from the consequences of poverty, he himself had a difficult time living. Whenever there was a warm moment in life, it would be destroyed in the next second.

This book was written when the author was facing some life difficulties, it was a reflection of the author’s life and his attitude towards life.

 

 

 


1980 – 1989 RED SORGHUM by Mo Yan, 1986, Genre: Historical Fiction

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Red Sorghum was a multi-generation novel. The story happened in 1930 when World War II happened and China was fighting with Japan. The protagonists were heroes who fought with Japan but knew little about why they fight, who loved deeply but didn’t know what’s love, who contributed to the country but also did illegal business. This book shows the complexities of human nature and the unclearness of moral truth.

This book was one of the most famous books by the Nobel Prize in Literature winner Mo Yan.

 

 

 


1970 – 1979 THE ANSWER by Bei Dao, 1976. Genre: Poetry

The Answer was a poetry collection by Chinese poet Bei Dao, it was also the title of one of his most famous poems. The poem was written after The Cultural Revolution in China ended and people were struggling between confusion and development. It shouted out the question the poet had “The Ice Age is over now/ Why is there ice everywhere? The Cape of Good Hope has been discovered/ Why do a thousand sails contest the Dead Sea?”


1960 – 1969 HALF A LIFELONG ROMANCE by Eileen Chang (Zhang Ailing), 1966. Genre: Literary Fiction

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Half a Lifelong Romance is set in Shanghai in the 1930s. It was a love story between engineer Shijun and his colleague Manzhen, where they fall in love but had to separate because of their families. While they are facing their fate, Chinese society was also changing because of World War II. The hope that they may meet again was getting smaller and smaller, but yet they didn’t give up. This was a book about the suffering and sorrows of love, but also about the life in 1930s Shanghai, and how people were played by societal expectations.

This book was originally written in 1948 with the name of The Eighteen Spring, but was edited by the author and re-published as Half a Lifelong Romance in 1966.


1950 – 1959 LEGENDS OF THE CONDOR HEROES by Jin Yong, 1957 – 1959. Genre: Wuxia (Chinese Fantasy).

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Legends of the Condor Heroes was a classic Wuxia novel, and it was also a historical fiction. Set between 1199 – 1227, this book followed Guojing’s journey from being a boy who knew nothing about himself and his country to a hero who protected his country and his lover. It has a well-rounded character development and is complex but does not have excess historical background. It was one of the most classic Wuxia fictions, and has been translated into English for the first time in 2018.

Should You Read Multiple Books At Once?

Here is a list of books that I’m currently reading:

That's a lot of books!
Photo by Paul Hanaoka on Unsplash

When I was still in school, it was even worse, because I was slogging through incredibly dry political science and history textbooks and required reading, while still reading for pleasure in what little bit of spare time I had.

I’ve always enjoyed reading multiple books at the same time, and there are several reasons why:

I like to read based on my mood

Sometimes I’m in the mood for something short and quick, and other times I have several hours and want to immerse myself in very detailed fantasy or sci-fi novels. Every day I try to read a few poems in whatever current poetry book or anthology I’ve got on my nightstand. When I want something more colorful I’ll reach for one of the comic books or graphic novels that my boyfriend and I have in our vast collection (we’re both serious collectors, so I think it’s safe to say we have well over a thousand issues between the two of us, not including what’s still in storage at his grandmother’s house and the weekly haul we pick up every Wednesday).

Especially when I’m reading a massive novel, such as those over 500 pages, sometimes it’s nice to take a little break occasionally and read something quick and easy. That’s why, right now, I’m reading both Children of Blood and Bone and City of Ghosts; the former is an incredible high fantasy novel, but at over 525 pages, it’s not exactly a quick read, while the latter is a short middle-grade ghost story that I could probably finish in a day.

It allows me to get through my TBR list a little faster

I have almost 900 books on my TBR list, and if I can knock out a few of those at a time, I’m alright with that. Back when I used to read just one book at a time, I’d have days where I just wasn’t in the mood for it (see above). When I’m reading multiple books, however, I’m usually reading something.

I never feel rushed to finish a book

When I’m reading just one book at a time, I have a tendency to try to rush through it, because there are stacks and stacks of other books I’m trying to read too. That’s just something I don’t worry about when I’m reading multiple books at the same time, though, since I can read all (or most) of them simultaneously.

Girl putting books on a shelf
Photo by Christin Hume on Unsplash

Tips and Hints for Reading Multiple Books

I’m aware that reading multiple books at once is not for everyone. If you’re the kind of person who prefers sticking to one book, then by all means, go for it! Your reading choices are your own!

However, for those of you who maybe want to try, here are a few tips that might help:

  1. Read books that are from different genres. This is the most important piece of advice I can give you. If you try reading two books that are very similar, you’re going to have a better chance of confusing them. This is especially true for science fiction and fantasy books, where you have to keep track of magical and technological systems, as well as many different characters with unusual names.
  2. Don’t get carried away – pick just a few at first. Even when I was much younger, I still read a few different books at a time. As long as I follow rule #1 (see above), my brain does a good job of keeping all the different stories and characters separate. Until you work up to that though, start with just two or three different books.
  3. Take notes. I always take notes and annotate when I read. I don’t want to know how many sticky notes and small notebooks I go through in a year. If I pick up a book after not having read it for several days and need some brief reminders to get me back into the story, I just flip through my notes.
  4. Read using different formats. This is a particularly great tip for people who enjoy audiobooks. I usually have one audiobook that I’m working through, for those moments when my eyes are too tired from reading, or I’m doing chores around the house and still want to hear a good story. Right now, I’m reading three physical books, listening to one audiobook, reading one book on my Kindle, and reading another on my laptop.
  5. Read different books in different places. For example, read your fun novel at home, your non-fiction book at work, an audiobook on public transit, etc. It’s easier to keep track of different stories if you’re used to hearing or reading them in a particular setting.

The most important thing to remember is to take your time, and it’s okay if you get confused. Trust me, even though I’ve been reading multiple books as long as I can remember, I have moments where I pick up a book after a few days of ignoring it and feel completely lost. I just take a deep breath and spend a few minutes remembering where I was at.

Do you read multiple books at one time? Why or why not?


Photo in header image is by Lacie Slezak on Unsplash

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