Dare You Tag

I’ve decided to do the I Dare You tag (not sure why it’s called this…) though I don’t know where it originated, I found it over on Cait’s blog, Paper Fury, and the last two questions have been added by her.

1. What book has been on your shelves the longest?

This is nearly impossible to answer accurately. What first comes to mind is definitely not a series that’s been on my shelf the longest, but it’s one I’ve owned for years and years and have been trying to read over the past few years, which is Katherine Kerr’s Deverry series. I like it, but 15 books is a lot…

When I look through my LibraryThing ‘To Read’ shelf, I have several books that were added in February of 2010 because that’s when I signed up and started logging all my books. So we’ll go with the first on that list, which is Treasure Island.

Likely there’s something older, but I have no earthly idea how to find that out. 😀

2. What’s your current read, last read, and next read?

I’m currently reading The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet, I just finished Wizard and Glass and I have no fucking idea what my next read will be. I’ll decide once I finish Angry Planet.

3. What book did everyone like, but you hated?

Uprooted, Throne of (Gl)ass, The Gilded Cage, The Wangs Vs The World….most YA books xD

4. What book do you keep telling yourself you’ll read, but probably won’t?

Moby Dick comes to mind first.

5. Which book are you saving for retirement?

Moby Dick? lol. Maybe the Lord of the Rings trilogy because I love the Hobbit too much to give them a chance and also I tried to read the first book once and it was super boring. I want to give it a chance someday….but it’s low on the list.

6. Last page: Read it or wait till the end?

Ok, who the fuck reads the last page first!?!??!?!?!? If you do this, please tell me why (and also cower because I might smack you) – seriously though, why would you do that? Even if it’s not spoilerfull, I can’t imagine it would make much sense or enhance the reading of the rest of the book. Ugh.

7. Acknowledgments: Are they a waste of paper or interesting?

They can sometimes be interesting, but even if they’re boring I don’t think they’re a waste.

8. Which book character would you switch places with?

Uhhhhhhhhhhh. UHHHHHH. The pressure! I don’t know! Some of the characters I like best have horrible things happen to them. I mean, I know life’s not easy for everyone, but I wouldn’t want my whole family dying or to lose my hand or something. Maybe Alice? Because while trippy and semi-horrifying, her adventures are all in her head (or drug induced?) and she remains relatively safe…though….there is that scene with all the water. Shit, so not Alice. Maybe that guy with the coat from A Darker Shade of Magic? His coat was really fucking cool….

9. Do you have a book that reminds you of something specific in your life?

Well, some of the books I’ve read since middle school remind me of being young, but I can’t think of anything specific.

10. Name a book that you acquired in an interesting way.

Well, if you missed my Goodreads confession, back in high school Mum gave me King’s On Writing. I read it and enjoyed it. A year (or maybe two) ago my friend Mel gave me the same book. She was so excited and didn’t know I owned it, so I said I didn’t own it and hadn’t ever read it (sorry Mel, I meant well!) but at least it was the 10th-anniversary edition so it was technically a different copy. I (think) I swapped my first copy (but it might be packed away). Then this past Christmas my friend Jon gave me the anniversary edition again! He also didn’t know I owned it and had read it so I lied and said I didn’t and hadn’t. 😀 It wasn’t worth returning because Amazon makes you ship books back, so I read that copy and now have it on my writing desk with lots of page flags marking important passages.

11. Have you ever given away a book for a special reason to a special person?

Uhm, no. I keep my books and if there’s a book I’d like someone to have, I buy it for them.

12. Which book has been with you the most places?

Probably the beat up copy of The Hobbit that I got from the free shelf at the library. It’s been in my car for over a year (maybe longer, I suck at remembering things) and thus, it goes where my car goes. I don’t exactly drive all over hell and creation, but it has more mileage than my other books.

13. Any required reading you hated in high school that wasn’t so bad later?

I haven’t re-read anything from high school. There was some required reading I liked, but I don’t plan on re-reading the ones I didn’t enjoy except maybe Great Gatsby? I do own it…

14. Used or brand new?

I love both!

15. Have you ever read a Dan Brown book?

Haha yes, two actually. Why is this a question?

16. Have you ever seen a movie that you liked more than the book?

Beautiful Darkness? Is that what it’s called? It’s that YA southern witch book by Kami Garcia and someone else….I’m too lazy to look it up (because I’m also currently watching Mean Girls and it’s distracting). Anyway, the movie isn’t great but the book, WOOF (I saw the movie first and I totally thought the book was going to be better and I was totally wrong). Also, The Last Kingdom Netflix series is turning out great (though I’m not even done with S2 so that could change) and while I won’t say it’s better than the series, I like some of the changes the show has made better than what happens in the book, despite some of them being very significant. Also Uhtred is totally hot and Finnic is sassy and awesome and Beocca is charming as hell.

17. A book that’s made you hungry?

George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series – the man can really write about a feast! Also, the Alchemaster’s Apprentice by Walter Moers – the villain in that book is a foodie as well.

18. Who is the person whose book advice you’ll always take?

Well, there are probably some recs I still wouldn’t read, but my friend Mel has very similar tastes. Chels can be relied upon for some genres too.

19. Most read authors?

Tanith Lee, Charles de Lint, Walter Moers, Philippa Gregory, George R.R. Martin, Christopher Moore.

20. Ship from two different books?

Uhm. I don’t sail a lot of ships when it comes to books, tbh. I do better with tv. But maybe…ugh. I’m not good at this question either. I FORGET EVERY BOOK I’VE EVER READ.

“I Wish I Had Time To Read”

If you’re an avid (or voracious, even) reader like myself, you might have heard the phrase, “I wish I had time to read,” or “I wish I could read as much as you do.”

Perhaps, like myself, you want to slap people with a book when they say this to you, and shake them, and yell, “You can!” No? Well, er…

I know people mean well, truly. I think that most people who say this to me mean it in a complimentary manner. They admire how often I read and how many books I’m able to read in a year. They might also be curious, as to how someone could spend so much time reading when there are other “important” and “adult” things to be done.

These people likely mean well too, but the sometimes condescending tone I get when people declare they wish they had the time to read like I do irks me. As though they don’t really wish they had the time to read and maybe think I’m silly for spending so much time doing so.

But those types are few and far between and this post isn’t for them anyway!

Who is this article for then? Well, anyone who reads my blog, really. More importantly, it’s for readers who like to read about other readers reading habits (say that five times fast!) and those who truly wish they read more but can’t seem to find the time.

Life gets busy, I know. Hell, there are even days (few and far between, thankfully) where I don’t read a single page! -gasp!- So here are two simple rules (The Two Habits of Highly Effective Readers, if you want) to help you out:

  1. Don’t find time to read; make time to read!
  2. Never leave home without a book – ever!

There, now you can stop reading this. I mean, I would rather you read this whole post since I spent time writing it. But if you suddenly find yourself inspired by my advice (advice that I’m sure countless other bloggers have written about) and want to go read right now, by all means, do so!

If you’re still here, I’ll expand a little on my advice.

First, making time to read: I don’t often stumble upon free time where I can just sit down and read (despite being a hermit), so I create time to read. Basically every day. Sometimes I sacrifice doing other things, like, adult responsibilities. I don’t watch much tv, nor do I often find myself bingeing shows on Netflix, so that gives me more time to read.

If you do like to watch tv, that’s fine too. But that three hour marathon of Stranger Things (is this still popular? I don’t know…) you were planning, could be cut down to two in order to give you an hour of reading time. Those thirty minutes you spend on social media on your phone before bed? Try reading instead!  Do you like to work out or jog? Listen to audiobooks!

Sadly, books don’t have the ability to throw themselves in our faces and beg to be read, so we have to carve out the time for them. I know they appreicate it. What…your TBR isn’t sentient? Oh, just mine? Cool, well…hopefully he’ll make friends someday…

Second, never leaving home without a book: I realize this might be easier for those of us who carry bags and purses, but it’s still possible without much hassle. Depending on the size of your bag, you should pretty much be able to fit a book or even an e-reader in there. Have the kindle app? Your phone counts too! Audiobooks are even easier to take with you.

Long commute on public transit? Read a book! Long commute in your car? Listen to a book! Are you going to the doctors, getting an oil change, waiting in line at the DMV or to check out at a store during Christmastime, flying on a plane, sailing on your yacht (I wouldn’t know what this is like, but I assume it’s fabulous and I’d make time to read), sitting at the mall outside Forever21 while your girlfriend tries on endless variants of $8.00 crop tops? READ A BOOK.

Leave a book in your car – I have three in mine! Leave a book at your desk, or bring one to work, so you can read on your lunch break. Buy small ones and carry them in your back pocket! Ok, that one is mostly for guys (or ladies who wear guypants) because ladypants come with pockets that are actually just jokes and not meant to hold anything more than a folded up dollar bill.

You’re getting my point, right? There are lots of little opportunities to read throughout the day if you keep your eyes open and have a book handy. I know it’s not always fun to read in little starts and snatches, but it can be a good start to get yourself into (or back into) the habit of reading.

If you enjoy reading, I think that it doesn’t matter when or where you do it, just that you’re doing it. If you really want to read, I encourage you to do so! Especially if you’re one of those people whose always remarking that you wish you had time to read like I did – now you can be like me and stop friggen saying that!

~

Let’s chat! How do you make time to read when life gets busy? Do you wish you read more often? I know you don’t wish you read less because that’s simply not possible. Are you the type (like me) to bring a book everywhere, even if most times you don’t get the time to pick it up?

Chaos! Or, How I Organize My Books

If you came over my house to take a bookshelf tour, your first thought would probably be, “Wow, there’s a lot of books here.” Then it would probably be, “Wow, everything is pretty dusty…”

After you greeted our cats, I’d take you around to look at my nine shelves and you might begin to look for some semblance of order among our collection of roughly 1,800 tomes. You’d likely find none, and you’d be mostly correct.

Even after years of having our libraries merged, Sweetbeeps still can’t find books he’s looking for. But I, Queen Hoarder Supreme, do actually have some idea of where most books are despite some rather large reorganization sessions. I don’t always find it right away, but I generally know what shelf of what shelf a specific book is on, even if I haven’t read it (which is good because I haven’t read like, 700 of them. Oops.)

We do have one shelf downstairs that is solely for vintage books and I even did my best to organize it by color (because as much as I like to see those beautiful rainbow bookshelves, there’s no way in hell I’m separating authors and series for the sake of aesthetic!), but really that does us little good because we don’t actually READ these books. They’re just for show…and smell.

There are a few shelves that are themed, if you will. Some contain only historical fiction or middle-grade, but these aren’t all of our historical fiction or middle-grade – they’re still spread about the house. I also tried to keep all my comics/graphic novels together, but they don’t all fit on one shelf so even though they’re in the same room, they’re not all together. Anything I have multiple editions of (Jane Austen, Alice, The Hobbit) are all kept together and I always keep authors and series together. I even half of a shelf on a shelf that’s dedicated to short story collections.

But really, there are books of every genre everywhere and I have no hope of grouping them all together, nor any real desire to do so. What I’d really love is to alphabetize my collection – I think I’ve mentioned this before and it would require like, a literal library, because I would always need room for more books.

Instead what I have are books on top of books, in front of books, stacked horizontally and vertically and balanced precariously, crammed in with a bunch of decorations like pop figures, photos, boxes and artwork.

I’m not a library, and I will tell you that if you ever come over and ask to borrow a book, but I think I do a decent job of understanding the chaos that is my collection and I do think of myself as pretty good home librarian.

~

Tell me about your collection! How do you organize it? Do you like to group by genre, author, color, paperback/hardcover?

Cover Art Matters…At Least To Me

 

This post might come off as (incredibly) whiny to some of you, but if you can’t tell from my weekly Judging posts, I appreciate the cover art and overall design of my books. That’s not to say every book in my library must be pretty. In fact, I love used books and oftentimes when casually browsing, I’m not looking for specifics when it comes to cover art. However, there are several books that I collect multiple copies of, solely for their art and design and other times I see a pretty series or cover design and I want that one!

Recently, I saw the below edition of The Hobbit on someone’s Instagram (naturally I forget whose) and I wanted it.

I had the ISBN, so I went on Amazon and was happy to find it used from a third-party seller for a few bucks. I ordered it and alas, received a completely different cover variant, though the ISBN was the same. I’ve had it up to here (-jumps up in the air in an attempt to hold my hand waaaay higher than my head-) with trying to return stuff to Amazon (that’s a rant for another day) so I just left poor feedback for the seller saying that while the book was in the condition described, it wasn’t the edition I believed I was purchasing. Is that fair? I don’t know, but it seemed like the only place I could complain without requesting a refund because I didn’t want to bother with that.

The sellers kindly reached out to me the next day to explain that they don’t list the pictures, Amazon does. They did offer a refund and I declined and took down my negative feedback. But this is the problem – when buying a book online, the only way I can know what it looks like is by the pictures listed. If there are multiple cover variants and editions linked to the same ISBN that is another problem, but I also think that sellers have some responsibility to accurately display their products! I don’t know how many pages or what the measurements are of a book I’ve never seen physically before, so I have to trust that what the site is telling me is correct. The best way to do that is by the pictures they display. If those are wrong, how else can I verify that I’m getting the edition I want? It’s like, if you bought a blue sweater because that’s what the picture showed and you were sent green instead and the company said, “well all colors of this sweater have the same item number!”

Like an ass, I decided to try again, with a different seller. The book on the left is what I received from Amazon. The book on the right is from a seller on Abe Books! They both have the same ISBN! They’re not even the same size! Before I shelled out another handful of dollars on this edition from Abe Books, I did contact the seller and asked them to check the book and I described the cover art I was looking for. I received the following response:

“Thank you for your email! In order to help you make the best buying decision possible, we provide all the information you need right on the listing page of the book, on whatever market you prefer to shop. Usually, you can just click the title or the picture of the book to get to the details you need. Unfortunately, we do not have the ability to check condition or format specifics on every book. Please keep in mind that we list all items by ISBN when possible. If you are looking for a specific cover or edition, we would recommend locating the exact ISBN for that item.”

I didn’t bother to contact them further and just bought the book, pretty much knowing it would be wrong – and it was! Their response was less than helpful, as I already had the exact ISBN. I don’t know jack about how big this seller is or where their stock is in relation to the people who answer their emails, but it’s frustrating all the same. Amazon and other large booksellers can be frustrating and now I’m finding that dealing with different sellers and trying to support what I assume are smaller businesses, is making me just as angry as dealing with the big guys! Needless to say, I’ve given up on trying for that Hobbit unless I happen upon it at a used bookstore, which I feel is unlikely. (Side note: I don’t even see how to leave feedback for the seller and probably won’t bother using Abe Books again.)

In the midst of all this, I placed an Amazon order because my friends and family are awesome and gave me money to buy books. One of these books was Shiverton Hall – a book that sounds good and also looked lovely (HAHAHA stupid Milliebot).

Joke’s on me because guess what came in the mail?

Not only is this cover vastly different from what I ordered, it’s HIDEOUS! Look, if I’d never seen the other cover and came across this book in the store, I’d  buy it because it sounds interesting, but I’d grimace at the cover. But instead, I was shown a picture of a cover that I found to be very aesthetically pleasing and instead received…this….

Having the same situation happen to me over the course of like, two weeks, is just too much for my bratty brain to handle. What is going on!?

I realized afterward that this particular book was from a third party seller, but that seller was Book Depository! I’ve shopped on BD many times to purchase specific UK editions of books and have never received a cover other than what I ordered. The frustrating part is that when I put the ISBN for this book (which of course, is the same in the physical copy I received) on Book Depository, it brings me to the same cover art that’s listed on Amazon! HOW AM I SUPPOSED TO KNOW WHAT ISBN THE COVER ART I WANT BELONGS TO.

Here’s where I get extra crazy:

Amazon and Book Depository details:
Paperback: 256 pages
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Childrens (January 22, 2013)
ISBN-13: 978-1408827789
Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.6 x 8 inches

My book:
Paperback: 248 printed pages
Publisher: Bloomsbury
ISBN-13: 978-1408827789
Product Dimensions: 5 x 0.5 x 7.75 inches

The difference is small, between page count and dimensions, but it’s there. As a buyer, were I to purchase from either site, I have no way of proving that what they’ll send will match their cover art. I can’t be expected to do a vigorous internet search on an ISBN every time I want a specific edition. But even searching Google brings up the blue cover on Bloomsbury’s own site.

But even searching Shiverton Hall on Book Depository doesn’t show me the cover art I sell. I couldn’t buy this edition from their site if I tried. SO WHERE DID IT COME FROM!?

~

Ugh. I don’t want to rant about this anymore. What I want to know is, has this happened to any of you? Would you be as mad as I am if this happened? Please tell me I’m not alone! Alternately, tell me I’m being a whiny brat! Also alternately, tell me if you know the secret to ensuring you get the cover art you want and/or why ISBNs have different edition details linked to them.

A Booktastic Anniversary

April 29th was my one year wedding anniversary and my husband booked us two nights in this fabulous B&B in Camden, Maine (which was actually a suggestion from my maid of honor, so without her, we never would have found the place!) called the Norumbega Inn.

We stayed in their library suite, which is so appropriate. The room is where the original library is located and has a balcony that spans the top half of the room with a ton of vintage books! We also had a little room with a gas fireplace (where Sweetbeeps would read in the mornings because he gets up earlier than me.) When we arrived we got a little history lesson about the place, but of course, I don’t remember much. But I know this mansion (castle?!) was built in 1886 by some guy who invented something (haha yep) and it was a private home until the mid-80s. I also know it’s the coolest B&B I’ve ever been to (she says, having only been to one other) and I had the best food there I’ve had in my life and we definitely plan to return.

Camden is a cute little town by the water with quite a few shops to check out….though some get pricey because of tourists and vacationers. There’s hiking in the area, but we didn’t end up doing that because it was still fairly cold. Anyway, on to the pictures….be prepared, there are a TON:

                                                       That fog so atmospheric!

                                           That cage needs a peacock, doesn’t it?

                                       A doggo!

                              Get ready for all your woodworking dreams to come true

                                                                  Soooo delicious!

                               I totally made Sweetbeeps touch that statue’s boob

                                       Even our doorknob was well designed!

                                     Our little side room…and a small view of the main room.

                                                               The view from bed!

                                                                I really love this shelf.

                                          Booooooks!

                                            This book maybe came home with me…….. 

                                                         Just casually browsing….

                                                          Me: Look like you’re browsing. Him…

                                                                       He thinks he’s funny.

                                                                   Found us in book form.

There were four bookstores downtown and naturally, we went to all of them!

                                                  Basically all vintage, but pretty pricey!

                             Super cute, but more of a cafe with small book selection.

                                  Too crowded to focus.

                          Half a toy store, but decent selection!

On Feels

After recently completing two books that gave me (very different) feels – Gone With The Wind and Armstrong & Charlie – I realized it’d been a while since a book truly moved me.

Some of you might be asking, what the fuck are feels?

-Puts on glasses and a tweed jacket- Well, class, “feels” is modern slang short for feelings. For example, if a book “gives you feels” or even “gives you all the feels”, it was a very emotional experience that is otherwise hard to describe. Now, I don’t classify anger at terrible writing as a feel, but some others may do so. Feels are open to interpretation, but for me, they encompass sadness and love and excitement and nostalgia and emotions along those veins. A book that gives me feels moves me in the best way (unlike books that move me to chuck them out my front door -cough-EdgeOfReason-cough-).

-Takes off glasses and tweed jacket- So, feels!

After finishing  Armstrong and Charlie and putting a cork in my waterworks, and finishing Gone With The Wind and wanting to hurl it off a cliff in the best way (yes, you can also want to throw around a book in a positive way, I’ve decided), I was reveling in all the feels I was feeling. I’ve read some excellent books this year (and I still want to scream in your face about how fantastic Warbreaker is) but nothing really hurt my heart or made me want to cry until the aforementioned books came into my life.

I missed having feels and it was great to be experiencing them once more. But I also realized, if most of the books I read treated me this way, I’d be fucking exhausted. I’d probably be an emotional wreck and a terror (or more of a terror, if you ask Sweetbeeps) to deal with and everyone around me would be like, Millie, get a friggen grip!

So like most things in life, there needs to be a balance. I’m glad that some books I read are mediocre, or some are awesome but not deeply emotional so that when I come across a book that gives me all the feels I can wallow in them without destroying my psyche.

I’ll wrap this up with an utterly random of some other books I’ve read that gave me feels: The Mists of Avalon, The Love Song of Queenie Hennessy (still can’t think about the ending without tearing up), Liesl and Po, Beastkeeper, Alias Hook, Pax, True Grit, The Road, Island of the Blue Dolphins, A Monster Calls.

Do you tend to get the feels often? Do you agree with any of my recommendations? I’d love to hear what books give you feels so I can read them and feel more feels.

Managing Your Hoard – Er – Library

For those of you who have a rather expansive hoard library like myself with a (possibly unreadably) large TBR pile, it can sometimes be tough to not only store your books but keep track of which ones you own and what book to read next.  Just wanted to share my thoughts on what it’s like to have a big personal library.

I’m pretty sure I’ve mentioned that I log all of my books on LibraryThing and that mostly keeps me from accidentally buying multiple copies of the same book (excepting, of course, when I purposely buy multiple copies). However, the site only works when I actually remember to check it. Sometimes I pick up a book and it sounds familiar, so I check my library. Other times, nothing about the book sounds at all familiar, so I buy it, then when I get home and log it on the site I get the notification that I already own a copy! This is rare and so far has only happened with books that I’ve yet to read, but still.

As for storing my books, well, I’ve mostly given up trying for any semblance of order. We have bookshelves all over the house and they’re all double stacked and vertically and horizontally stacked and generally cluttered. I’m actually pretty good at remembering where certain books are (or at least what shelf they’re on) but I know to the outside eye my collection is a hot mess – or maybe it has a quaint, homey, used bookstore kind of vibe.

I’d love to roughly categorize them and alphabetize them, but I would need a literal library for that, with room to grow. I do have a shelf that is strictly vintage books. And a couple cubbies on other shelves that are dedicated to comics, middle grade and historical fiction, but those types of books can also be found on other shelves.

Recently I culled about 80 books from the hoard, followed by another 20 about a month or two later. I rearranged several shelves and managed to spread out some books from overcrowded shelves. After sinking some time into this, I stood back proudly, hands on hips, feeling accomplished and said to Sweetbeeps: “See, doesn’t that look much better?”

To which his reply was a blank stare and a muttered: “Well, to you I’m sure it does. Honestly, I can’t tell.”

Womp!

I still feel good about my purge (which went a long way in telling myself it was okay to purchase sixteen books during Book Outlet’s recent sale) and lately, I have been trying to be more selective about which books I buy. I try to take a moment to consider the plot and if I’ll really make an effort to read it – though it could still sit on my shelf for a million years even if I’m making an effort – and I have managed slow down my buying by a teeeeeeny bit. Progress, right?

My TBR will forever be a mess and even my attempts at making a “priority TBR” (some of which is featured at the top of this post) and a log of books I received specifically for review don’t do much to keep me on track. I’ll always read what I want when I want and buy too many books. I’m ok with this.

So tell me, if you have a massive collection of books, read or unread, how do you manage to store them, organize them, and pick what you’re going to read next? Do you live with people that understand your hoarding, or at least put up with it? Pleeeeaaaase tell me I’m not alone!

Get To Know Me

I have quite a few new followers since I started this blog almost three years ago. I figured I’d give a little info about myself and fill out this random survey I found in the depths of Tumblr.

First off, my name is Camille (or Millie or Milliebot), I work in finance, I’m getting close to 30, and when I’m not reading or adding to my book hoard, I can usually be found on the couch with one of my two cats (Lilu and Artemis) and my husband (commonly referred to as Sweetbeeps.) I have a hard time focusing on movies and TV (though I was very recently sucked in by both John Wick movies) but I have a weakness for cooking competitions, especially Cutthroat Kitchen, Chopped, The Great British Baking Show and more recently, Cooks Vs. Cons.

I also enjoy arts and crafts, have been known to doodle (especially during meetings) and I write creatively (and if you couldn’t already tell, an addiction to asides via parentheses.) I have a slight purse addiction and a slightly larger necklace/pendant addiction. I’m a mild neat-freak and a firm believer that you look with your eyes, not with your hands. 😀

I like video games (Skyrim has been my obsession for a while now) though I’m terrible at them and don’t play often and if I could afford to eat sushi, or at least avocado maki, every day, I would. I’d like to travel outside the U.S. more (oh yeah, I live in New England) but I have been to France and Aruba.

I started this blog as a way to share my thoughts on the books I was reading and connect with other readers and I still think I’m finding my voice. I’d like to develop a review style that feels less formal, as well as add more unique features to my blog, like my Judging A Book By Its Cover posts.

That’s sort of me, in a nutshell. On to the survey:

What/who got you into reading?

I’m not really sure – I know it started when I was young. I assume much of my passion for reading comes from being read bedtime stories by my Mum and Nana. I do recall trying to steal library books from the school library in earlier grades – don’t worry, my Nana made me return the books. I’ve been book hoarding for so long now that I’m not even sure when that started. When I try to think back, it seems like I’ve always been drowning in books, though I know that’s not the case and I assume my hoarding truly picked up in late high school once I had a job.

Your first favorite book?

Harold and the Purple Crayon? Ollie Forgot? Or maybe, judging by how beat up my copy is, Goodnight Moon – though I don’t have concrete memories of being read this, apparently Mum read it to me often. One of the earliest books I remember wanting to re-read was Blood and Chocolate and it’s a book I still love to revisit.

Your current favorite book?

I could never pick just one book! But I often reread Pride and Prejudice and The Hobbit. Warbreaker, The Lies of Locke Lamora, and The City of Dreaming Books as well as almost anything by Tanith Lee are up there too. But I could go on for ages about my favorites.

Least favorite book of all time?

That’s an awfully big title to award a book – I will say I failed to finish Little Women in high school and at the time, truly detested all the characters. Since then I’ve read quite a few terrible YA books and I’m really not sure who would take the crown, though Lumiere comes to mind.

What book/s can you not live without?

All my books! Seriously, don’t friggen take away any of my books! I would certainly not be the same person without books.

Any authors that you hate?

I kind of hate Helen Fielding for what she did to the characters of Bridget Jones’s Diary with her sequel (though I still love the original). I also heartily dislike Sarah J. Maas even though I’ve only read one of her books – it’s unlikely I’ll give her a second chance. But I don’t think I truly “hate” any author.

What popular book do you just hate?

See prior comment about Sarah J. Maas. 😀 I also disliked Uprooted and I seem to be very much in the minority on that one. A lot of YA books just don’t grab me the way they do for others, and generally leave me downright frustrated. I haven’t completely given up on the genre but it’s just not for me. Again, hate is too strong a word.

How many books to you read in a month?

Anywhere between about 6-12 depending on what’s going on in my life. It’s a vain attempt at keeping up with the amount of books I buy a year and my insurmountable TBR pile.

How many books to you read in a year?

In the past couple years, upwards of 110. But my TBR list literally consists of several hundred books (and those are just the ones I own!)

What do you do to get through a reading slump?

Buy a new book! Honestly, I don’t get slumpy too often, but if I do, I tend to just take a day off from reading and binge some crap on Netflix. That or I re-read a favorite.

Favorite genre?

Again, I can’t pick just one! My tops are sci-fi, fantasy and middle-grade (is that really a genre though? I feel like it’s more of a recommended reading age or something…I don’t know. Anyone else have thoughts on middle-grade and YA and NA being genres or some other type of cateogry?)

Least favorite genre?

Romance

How many bookshelves do you own?

Nine! And they’re not nearly enough.

How many books do you own?

Around 1,800.

Biggest book haul?

I was on vacation a few years ago and my friend took me to five bookstores (or maybe more, I can’t even remember.) I bought somewhere around 45 books (mostly used) and ended up mailing most of them home because even though I could actually fit most in my bags, they would have been too heavy for me to carry through the airport.

How many books do you get/buy in a year?

Not sure – I’m currently trying to track that this year and differentiate between what books I buy versus receive as gifts or trades. I have a feeling the number is higher than the number of books I read in a year though. –insert heavy sigh here–

Favorite series?

Like with many questions on this list, I don’t think I can pick just one answer. But I especially love the Claidi Journals, The Abhorsen Trilogy, Artemis Fowl, Enola Holmes, The Deverry Series (despite still only being about halfway through with that) and Lady Trent’s Memoirs. I’m sure I’ve left out a zillion other favorites, but I can’t sit here all day!

Least favorite series?

Nothing immediately comes to mind – at least not a completed series. If I don’t enjoy the first book or two of a series, I don’t waste my time reading the rest. I read half of the Twilight books…does that count?

Longest series you own?

Probably my Deverry series by Katharine Kerr, weighing in at 15 books. I think Sweetbeeps has a series that’s longer, but at the time I read it there were only 13 books.

Pick the 23rd book on your bookshelf, open it to page 86 and find the 13th line. Type it out.

I happen to be nearest to my largest bookshelf and I just went along the top row and landed on The Absence of Nectar (which I’ve read multiple times, though not in quite some time) by Kathy Hepinstall.

“Boone,” I shouted, “get the tweezers!”

Do you read:

Classics? I do, though I haven’t read many. Sadly, many don’t interest me and my focus has mainly been on Jane Austen. But I do have some Dickens I’d like to get to, as well as a handful of classics on my Nook that I might give a shot someday. I am currently reading (and enjoying!) Gone With The Wind. Is that a classic yet?

Fanfiction? Not nearly as often as I did back in high school, but I’ve been known to browse for Skryim, Doctor Who, Sherlock and Once Upon A Time fics in recent years.

Smut? Typically only when I’m reading fanfiction! Every now and then I’ll pick up a “steamy” romance but usually the cheesiness leaves me groaning and I find them hard to get through.

Poetry? Not usually, no. I do own a book of haikus by Wang Wei that I enjoy, but that’s about it.

Any other readers in your family or circle of friends?

In more recent years, yes! My mum is often too busy to ready though she enjoys it. Sweetbeeps is a fairly frequent reader (though better at starting books than finishing them) and I’ve managed to get a couple of my close friends into hoarding recently. I’ve got a good handful of people I know that read and sometimes we even read the same stuff.

Does your family support your reading habits?

Yes, though they don’t fully support my buying habits – at this point I hope they’ve realized there’s no stopping my hoarding.

Favorite book turned movie?

Sadly, I’m too much of a critic to enjoy most movies based on books. But I do think Howl’s Moving Castle, Memoirs of a Geisha and Austenland are great movies, even where they differ from their sources.

Least favorite book turned movie?

One of the recent ones that comes to mind is The Martian. I think the movie really sucked all the tension and drama out of the story. I also despise The Hobbit movies and actually dozed off a little during the first one. Ok, so I didn’t watch the other two and you can rag on me for hating them without having seen them, but why would I support movies that are (unnecessary) sequels to one I didn’t enjoy?!

Do you like e-books?

Not particularly. I mainly read them when I receive them for review or, more rarely, if there’s a book I really want that’s on crazy sale for $1.99 or something. I appreciate their convenience, but the reading experience is lost for me when a book goes digital and I often have a hard time focusing on the story, even with authors that I love.

Paperback or Hardback?

I love them both! When I’m looking to own a nice edition, I make sure to buy the hardback. In fact, if I had more money to spend on books, I’d buy more hardbacks as they’re also sturdier. It’s really budget that has me buying paperbacks more often than not. Paperbacks are typically more portable too.

Do you use a library?

I do! The real reason I don’t visit my library as often as I’d like is because I borrow too many books and I need to focus on the books I already own. But I’ve been visiting mine more regularly in the past year and I hope to go there more just to read or write – it’s a lovely little place.

Do you want to be an author or are you content to just be a reader?

I would love to be published someday! I write here and there, but I don’t work at it as often as I should yet.

Book/s that made you cry?

There have been many over the years, including the work of the great George R.R. Martin. But memorable a pair of books that got my waterworks going are The Pilgrimage of Harold Fry and its companion, The Love Song of Queenie Hennessy. Both made me cry, but I was basically ugly sobbing at the end of Queenie. If you haven’t read them, I highly recommend – and please, read Harold first, to maximize the pain and heartbreak of Queenie’s story. 😀

Book/s that made you scared?

I don’t read many books from the horror or thriller categories, but one book that shot my anxiety through the roof and had me almost jumping out of my skin was Into the Darkest Corner. I think my reaction was a mix of the excellent writing and the fact that it was one of the first thrillers I’d actually read.

Won any writing competitions?

I have actually, in high school. I think it was my sophomore year (or maybe freshman…) and I submitted a short story and won first place and a bit of a cash prize too! I hope that wasn’t my peak. XD

A book/writing related job that you would love to do?

I bet there are many I would like, if given the chance to try them out! I might make a fair agent or editor. If I’d kept up with graphic design, book design would be fun as well.

Do you have book buying bans for yourself?

I tried once and after a month of not buying books, I went nutso the second the ban was up and bought way too many. I’ve been doing better at budgeting and setting spending goals instead (eg: spending less than a certain amount each month). Especially this year I’ve been working on being more discerning in regards to the books I’m buying and how badly I want to read them. But I’ll always buy books and it’s not something I ever want to stop doing!

What do you use for a bookmark, if any?

I typically use bookjigs for hardcover books (they’re metal clips that you can slide on the cover of the book and have a lovely picture and a ribbon to use as your actual page marker) and magnetic bookmarks for my softcover ones. I have several of each style and find they work best because there’s really no risk of them falling out and losing my place.

Congrats if you’ve made it to the end! Thanks for sticking around!

Movie Reviews: Austen Month

To round out my celebration of Jane Austen’s work, I watched a few movie adaptations she inspired. I started with my favorite:

Austenland
2013, PG-13, 1h 37 m
Director: Jerusha Hess, Screenplay: Shannon Hale, Jerusha Hess

If you haven’t heard (read) me say this before, this film is based off the book by Shannon Hale. Back in 2015 my Mum and sister recommended this movie to me and I’ve been in love with it ever since. Last year I got my hands on the novel and loved that too. This movie is a solid adaptation with only minor changes to the original story and it has become one of my favorite films and certainly my most watched over the last year or so.

Keri Russell as Jane Hayes is a charming Austenite trying to get over her Darcy obsession. She takes a trip to Austenland, an estate in England offering an immersive stay in Jane Austen’s world. She finds because she’s paid for the Copper Package that her experience will differ from those of the more wealthy residents, but she’s determined to make the best of it and put her Darcy fantasies in the past where they belong.

my current desktop background

                                my current desktop background

This movie is all sorts of cute and even if you’ve never read Austen’s work, if you like romantic comedies and the Regency era, I highly recommend this. Also, JJ Field 😀

Clueless
1995, PG-13, 1h 40 m
Director & Screenplay: Amy Heckerling

I’m not sure when I first saw this movie, but it was long before I started reading Austen’s work, so I was unaware it was a modern adaptation of Emma.

Cher, typical popular, rich valley girl, sees herself as a matchmaker and when she meets scruffy, but kind-hearted Tai, she decides to give her a makeover and set her up with one of the local hotties. Tai rises to the occasion and soon becomes more popular than Cher, throwing her life into perspective. Cher suddenly begins to see how selfish she can be and works to remedy that, while also taking a shot at love.

I enjoyed this movie more than I thought. Though I recalled the main plot, the little details of the movie made me smile and I now enjoy the parallels to Emma. The entire cast is great and young Paul Rudd is a super cutie. I assume everyone has seen this, but if for some reason you haven’t, give it a chance.

Becoming Jane
2007, PG-13, 2 hours
Director: Julian Jarrold, Writing Credit: Kevin Hood & Sarah Williams

There is actually a book with the same title and though I haven’t read it yet, I’m not sure the movie follows it very closely. I’d seen parts of this movie before, but never sat through the whole thing.

The film depicts young Jane, around age 20, as a young writer who dreams of marrying for love. Her parents would rather she marry for money (the mother feeling a lot like Mrs. Bennet) and are eyeing up rich, young, rather boring Mr. Wisley. Jane instead falls for Tom Lefroy, but if the two marry he would lose his chance at any inheritance and both would fall from polite society.

This movie threw me for a loop by opening with a scene hinting at oral sex between Jane’s parents and frankly I thought it unnecessary. Overall the movie gave off very Pride and Prejudice vibes, but without likable characters. Anne Hathaway is lovely (and McAvoy is a cutie) but she didn’t win me over. There’s three men courting Jane and while I know Lefroy was real and not much is known about what might have been the start of a relationship with him, I think the movie felt the need to jazz up Jane’s life and add a heavy amount of drama. Halfway through I stopped paying attention and it didn’t really matter. Can’t say I’d recommend.

Death Comes to Pemberley
2013, 3 episodes, about 1h each
Director: Daniel Percival, Writing Credit: Juliette Towhidi

I’ve just reviewed the book this mini-series is based on, so this follows the same story of a murder mystery unfolding at Pemberley several years after the marriage of Darcy and Elizabeth.

Overall, I think the series did a fairly faithful job in adapting the novel by P.D. James. Mr. and Mrs. Bennet take the place of Jane and Bingley as guests at Pemberley and this added some unnecessary extra drama thanks to Mrs. Bennet’s personality. Mr. Bennet does slap Lydia at one point though, which is super gratifying. The series also amps up how much of a prick Wickham is (which really isn’t needed) and created drama between Colonel Fitzwilliam and Georgiana, as well as Elizabeth and Darcy. The added drama felt cheesy to me, but if you watch the series before reading the book it likely won’t bother you.

They did include a paraphrasing of the de Bourgh line about death that I liked, so that made me laugh again. There’s also some Regency sex, which wasn’t necessary and of course didn’t fit with the story being told because heaven forbid anyone even kiss in those novels! I don’t think I’d ever watch it again, but it’s worth a viewing if you have a spare three hours.

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There were a few more movies I would have liked to watch (though I can’t recall most of them because they were saved on my Netflix list but now they’ve all been dumped from the site) and I did try to find The Jane Austen Book Club, but I didn’t want to pay to rent it so I gave up.

Have you watched any of these or any other Jane Austen-related films you’d recommend?

5 Reasons Why I love Jane Austen’s Work

I’ve been reading Austen for years now and she’s on my list any time I’m asked who my favorite authors are. I’m even planning a tribute to her in one of my future tattoos. It struck me recently that I’ve never bothered to share what it is about her work that makes me love it so much.

-Her Wit

Despite Austen’s work being over 200 years old, I still find it funny. There’s a subtle humor to many of the conversations she writes between her characters and I find myself picking up on new details with every re-read. I’ve mentioned before I’m not terribly well-read when it comes to the classics – sometimes I connect with older work, sometimes I don’t. So I still find it pleasantly surprising when Austen’s work makes me chuckle.

The first example that comes to mind is from Pride and Prejudice, when Mr. Collins makes a clumsy (and eventually insulting) proposal to Elizabeth. Before even hearing whether she’ll accept him, he’s going on about how he doesn’t expect a dowry from her father considering how little money the family has.

Elizabeth thanks him for his offer, but politely declines and Mr. Collins, thinking he’s on the up-and-up comments on how he knows ladies often reject a proposal when they truly mean to accept it:

“I am not now to learn,” replied Mr. Collins, with a formal wave of the hand, “that it is usual with young ladies to reject the addresses of the man whom they secretly mean to accept, when he first applies for their favour; and that sometimes the refusal is repeated a second or even a third time. I am therefore by no means discouraged by what you have just said, and shall hope to lead you to the altar ere long.”

Every time I read the book, this scene makes me laugh. Mr. Collins is so ridiculously out of touch with the woman he aims to marry that he can’t detect her sincere rejection of him. Despite her telling him no several times, he goes on to state why he feels there’s no reason she wouldn’t accept him:

“You must give me leave to flatter myself, my dear cousin, that your refusal of my addresses is merely words of course. My reasons for believing it are briefly these: — It does not appear to me that my hand is unworthy your acceptance, or that the establishment I can offer would be any other than highly desirable. My situation in life, my connections with the family of De Bourgh, and my relationship to your own, are circumstances highly in its favor; and you should take it into farther consideration that in spite of your manifold attractions, it is by no means certain that another offer of marriage may ever be made you. Your portion is unhappily so small that it will in all likelihood undo the effects of your loveliness and amiable qualifications. As I must therefore conclude that you are not serious in your rejection of me, I shall chuse to attribute it to your wish of increasing my love by suspense, according to the usual practice of elegant females.”

He is so dense that he can’t understand how insulting his proposal is and that if he had any hopes of actually winning over Lizzy, they’d be dashed after that monologue.

-She’s Inspirational

Jane’s works have inspired countless literary and film adaptations, as well as fanart, clothing and household décor items!

Books and films based on her work run the gamut from faithful adaptations to modern remakes to paranormal parodies, sequels and murder mysteries. I think I speak for many of us when I saw that Colin Firth is the best Darcy-I especially love that they threw in that wet shirt and bathtub scene! There’s even a statue to commemorate the scene!

Wet shirts aside, I’ve found some fabulous films and books inspired by Austen:  Lost in Austen, Austenland, Pride, Prejudice and Zombies, Bride and Prejudice, Clueless, Longbourn, Bridget Jones’s Diary. There are also adaptations that make me groan: Mr. Darcy, Vampyre, Jane and the Damned, the 1999 Mansfield Park film.

Whether I find these adaptations good or bad, it makes me happy to see when creators are still inspired by Jane’s content and I hope she’d be happy too!

-Her Female Characters

To someone who isn’t really a fan of Austen’s work, her books may appear to have the same theme – a somewhat poor girl who is down on her luck ends up finding love and marrying up the social ladder. But her stories are more complex than they appear and her main characters are flawed and exhibit depth and growth beyond simply finding a rich husband (though many of them actually do that.) She has a varied cast of heroines, many of whom are striving to find their place in the world where their options are so limited.

My favorite is of course Lizzy Bennet, as I’ve read Pride and Prejudice most often. She’s smart, quick-witted and not afraid to say what she thinks. But she’s also arrogant and rude at times, unable to see her own harsh judgements because she’s so caught up in those of others (ahem, Darcy.)

Marianne Dashwood is a total diva that acts solely based on her feelings at any given moment and thinks later (or not at all). But her passion for life and emotions is heartwarming, even if she needs a good slap.

Elinor Dashwood bottles up her feelings in order to put her family first, to the point where many assume she’s actually cold and incapable of romantic love. Yet it’s the fact that she’s so willing to strive to make her loved ones happy that draws me to her (though sometimes she’s such a pushover that I want to shake her and tell her to stand up for her damn self.)

I love Catherine Morland’s wild imagination and love of novels, though it gets her into a lot of trouble and almost ruins her shot at love. I actually misunderstood her when I first read the novel because she’s felt so unlike any other character I’d read that I couldn’t take her seriously.

Emma Woodhouse is the spoiled know-it-all who does her best to control those around her with the belief that she’s improving their lives. She is possibly the harshest of the heroines because of her privilege and her complete inability to walk in anyone else’s shoes. But I still find her charming and I do think she comes a long way in her efforts to improve herself (once she’s thoroughly scolded by Knightley anyway.)

Despite their flaws, I root for them all – well except Fanny Price because she was insipid and I couldn’t stand her (but maybe a re-read of Mansfield Park will fix that someday) – and I don’t really have much in common with these characters and their situations.

-Her Perseverance

While four of her six finished novels were published before her death, Jane Austen received little fame from her writing career. Having read up on Austen’s life (though not extensively) I’ve learned that while she did experience a modicum of success considering the time in which she lived and the fact that she was female. However, she died without knowing the true effect she would have on readers for generations beyond her own. Not knowing what her work would become, Jane worked hard on her novels and even after a lapse of many years where she did not write, and dealing with the struggles of publication (like how Northanger Abbey was sold to a publisher, but then never actually published), she never gave up and I’m thankful for that.

-The Atmosphere

Jane’s work truly transports me to another time, both in landscape and culture. Her stories depict a time in England that is so far away from my modern American life, yet I don’t feel isolated as a reader. I’ve always been immediately sucked into the settings of her novels, and like the heroine of Austenland, I can understand wanting to experience a little taste of that society (though I don’t envy the lack of women’s rights and general hygiene).

If you’re an Austen fan, what is it about her work that you love?