31DaysofBlogmas, Reading, StephReads2018

How I read over 200 books this year

I read a lot.

Like, over 200 books per year a lot.

Whenever I tell people that I read this much they usually ask me how I do it, or what kind of magic did I do to make that number possible.

And honestly, I never thought that this was some high sort of number, until I began looking at stats of average readers, where most people don’t even finish a book per month, let alone in the high 20’s per year.

So, I thought that it would be fun to tell you a bit about how I read so many books, and maybe some of them will help you out. (If not, no worries, I’m just over here reading like always)

One of the things I make sure to do is make reading a priority. Many people I work with at my second job don’t get why I don’t have cable (the main 2 reasons are it’s freaking expensive and I don’t need to have the distraction) but in reality, I’ve chosen to make my reading a main thing I do when I come home.

I do still watch netflix or amazon prime, and I watch some booktube videos, but on the whole after watching one or two episodes, I realize how much time I’m wasting and I turn it off and go to a book.

When I say I make reading a priority, I don’t mean that I neglect my writing or my job or whatever, I just mean that I am try to read every day for at least 20 minutes. I use the app Bookly which tracks how long you read each day and while I’m not super competitive with others, I love seeing how long that streak can go.

And this is difficult, especially when I work an 8 hour day at my first job, get home to brew a cup of coffee and then immediately set out for my second job and don’t get home till after 11 pm. But I find that if I don’t read anything during the day or even right before I got to bed, my mood is just not there.

Reading helps me relax, refocus and also make sure that my mental health is up.

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I also try and read multiple books at the same time. For some reason, I don’t like to read only one book at a time, it actually causes me to read slower when I don’t have the option of picking up a different book. Right now, for instance, I have 6 different books going on at once. I try to not do the same sort of genre for each book just so I don’t get confused, but sometimes I can’t help it.

I have always done this. I read books and sometimes the plot is lost or the character is dull or I just need a break from the 500 page tome that I’ve started and I go after a different book. (There are times that this backfires on me as there are some books that I just don’t feel like completing and are bugging me but that’s a different story)

Also it makes me feel really accomplished when I manage to complete 3 or so books in one day, because look at that Goodreads challenge jump up!

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Another thing I do for my reading is to acknowledge that there are some authors I just don’t like and won’t read. Most people will say you need to read widely, and I whole-heartedly agree with that, but I don’t want to spend time and money on an author when I know I don’t like how they write or what they write. There are too many books in the world that are waiting for me to find them and I don’t have time to waste on mediocre books/authors.

And just because I don’t like a book or feel like a book is for me, doesn’t mean that it might not be for you. One of the best things about reading is that it’s subjective to the reader, and what I like you might actually hate. We can all have our own opinions.

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This year I got super into graphic novels and to be real, I’m so glad I did. They basically go fast, pretty artwork and make me feel so happy because “Look how many books I finished because of them”. I wish I could say the same for audiobooks, but unfortunately I’m very picky on audiobooks. I have to have a narrator I like, I have to have read the book previously and I have to like the way they talk. (Kid you not, very unpopular opinion here but everyone in the book community seems to love Jim Dale’s narration of the Harry Potter books and I absolutely HATED how he voiced the characters)

I really wish I could read more audiobooks because then I would have so many books read, but I have 3 that I love, and that’s enough for me at the moment.

Another thing I do to challenge myself to read more books is something that’s really random but it’s to take a picture of each book and do a twitter thread with it. For some reason knowing that the thread pops up and shows not only how many books I’ve read but also how many pages and ratings I’ve given it, makes me want to read more just to fill it up.

And the last thing I do to read so much is just literally carry a book with me wherever I go. Anytime there’s a line (hello crazy holiday shopping) I pull out the book and read. Maybe it will only be a few pages, maybe it will be almost finishing the book, but I never really have a problem with waiting.

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So, yeah that’s pretty much how I read and such…which really wasn’t very full of tips as far as I can see, but maybe one of these will help you out!

Hope your day is going great, and remember life is too short for mediocre books!

~Stephanie

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31DaysofBlogmas, Books, StephReads2018

31 books in 31 days

In January of this year I managed to surprise myself and somehow complete 31 books in 31 days. It honestly shocked me because I wasn’t even paying attention, and then about January 28th, I noticed that I had read 27 books, and decided to challenge myself to see if I could read 31 books. And I did.

And this past month I’ve been thinking about doing it again. Maybe it was a fluke, and maybe I wouldn’t actually read 31 books in 31 days. But I’m going to try.

I also thought that the busiest month of the year would be perfect for me to try and challenge myself to do this. Because when you do a ridiculous challenge, you might as well go big or go home right?

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So these are some of the books I want to read, or reread, depending on the book. Between you and me, I don’t think I’ll end up reading all these, only because I’m such a mood reader and I don’t like people telling me what to read, even if it’s myself.  (As is evidenced by so many abandoned TBR’s)

I also think I’m in that last minute panic before the year ends, thinking about what books I should be reading and what books I need to be reading. It also doesn’t help the fact that even though I passed my book reading goal, my page count is slightly below where it should be. So I’m panicing and trying to get all of the books read, before the end of the year.

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I mean, it’s only 31 books, it’s not like there are only 31 days left in the year. What’s the worst that could happen? And it’s not like I decided yesterday to do Blogmas as well, I mean, no one could want to possibly inflict that much torture on themselves right? (Spoiler: I actually am doing Blogmas again, so hopefully better than last year!)

What are some of your bookish goals for the rest of the year? Are you ahead of your reading challenge or are you a bit behind too? Please let me know!

Hope y’all have a great night!

Remember, life is too short for mediocre books!

~Stephanie

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BookHaul, monthly wrap up, StephReads2018

October Wrap Up! (yes, I’m alive!)

Hello friends!

So first and foremost, I’m sorry for the unintentional sabbatical that somehow happened during September and October. Honestly, I’m not even sure what happened, but let’s just call it life and roll with it, ok?

The past two months have been hard on my reading schedule, not so much as I haven’t wanted to read, but rather, I haven’t had the time, with working full time and working about 20 hours in my part-time job, plus family and sleep, well that just meant that a lot of things fell to the wayside. Unfortunately that also meant this blog…and reading. (Sad face)

But right now I’m back, and even though I’m participating in NaNoWriMo again this year, I have a feeling that this month is going to be a better reading month then last month. (Mainly because at the time of this posting I’ve already read 3 books for this month!)

So let’s get to what we are all excited for, the books I read!

I managed to read 15 books in October. This breaks down to:

-6 Nonfiction (1 reread)

-6 Adult fiction (2 reread)

-1 Graphic Novel

-1 YA

-1 middlegrade

 

It seemed like my reading was all over the place and the end result was I had boarded the struggle bus of “I have no clue what I want to read but let’s pick up 15 different books because they all sound fantastic but I don’t want to finish any of them” which sounds like a slump, but I really wasn’t slumpy, just…not wanting to finish anything.

Of the 12 new books that I read, only one of them got a 5 star rating. And I accurately predicted the rating of a book I was super on the fence about, I thought it would get a low 3 star, and it actually did.

 

Book Buying:

This month I also ended up getting/acquiring 25 books.

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3 of them were for my 2019 goals of reading all the C.S. Lewis books

10 of them were rebuys (with different covers) of either my Jane Austen or my Agatha Christie

2 were preorders

6 fell into my cart from Bookoutlet

2 were from Owlcrate

1 was from a friend.

(The majority of those were from Bookoutlet so I’m actually quite chuffed about how many I got in good condition.)

A nice thing that actually happened yesterday was that I hit my goodreads reading goal for the year, so now I’m just trying to read as much as possible to get that number up higher.

How has your reading been this year? Have you read any of the books that I read? What books are you most excited for? Come chat with me in the comments!

Have a great day and remember, life is too short for mediocre books!

~Stephanie

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BookHaul, Reading, StephReads2018

#BNBookHaul

There’s nothing like the feeling of walking into a bookstore on a rainy day, or a sunny day, or even a random Tuesday where you decide that “Yes you do need a new book” even though you might have a few…hundred…unread books at home.

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But the best feeling, besides walking into a bookstore is walking into a bookstore and finding out that the books you were coming for, are all on sale! Which of course means that all decorum and budget planning is going straight out the window, because now you are buying BOOKS!! And lots of books! Not just one or two, nope, you get to splurge and get all the ones that have caught your eye!

Today Barnes and Noble is starting a weeklong sale, called #BNBookHaul where over 100 titles of their YA and children’s books are 50% off. (Yeah, I was shocked too! Trust me, this is amazing!)

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Some of the YA books on sale are popular titles like Strange the Dreamer (considering the sequel comes out in less than a month, you should catch up on this one immediately!); Three Dark Crowns (again the sequel to this series is coming out soon, you don’t want to play catch up later!); Dread Nation; FuryBorn; Heartless; Sky in the Deep (stabby vikings and cinnamon roll boys!) and other amazing books.

While the sale is going on for one week, a lot of the books are limited quality, as in, they don’t have any more in the back! So if any of these titles sound like something you want, make sure that you get down to your local B/N and get all the books, for way less then what they are stickered for! And if you end up buying at least 3 books, you get a free tote!

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Personally, my wallet is already whimpering about the cost for the words “Book Sale” and my TBR might be growling at the thought that I am going to be adding more books to it, but hey, book sales like this only come around once in a while!

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got some book shopping to do!

Happy reading booknerds, and remember, life is too short for mediocre books!

~Stephanie

 

 

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Book Reviews, Reading, StephReads2018

The Astonishing Colour of After Review

It’s a truth that if you want to get me to read and love your book you need to have

1-an amazing cover

2- some sort of magical realism or fantasy (hopefully with dragons)

cat- really really good characters.

The Astonishing Colour of After has almost all of those things that I need. (Well, minus the dragons, but there’s definitely some magic involved!)

 

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First let’s just adore the cover of this book. It’s so pretty! (And the spine!!) I ordered the U.K. edition because I fell in love with the cover and because it was a floppy paperback, which if any of you know, is my all time favorite type of book.

Now…here’s the thing, this is going to be a non-spoilery review, though that being said while this seems like a wonderful and beautiful story, this deals with a lot of heavy topics such as depression and suicide. (This is not a spoiler, this is literally on the back of the book in the synopsis)

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So, first impression: This book is huge. I don’t know what the page count is for the US edition but my edition clocks in at 460 pages, which is slightly daunting.

This story starts with the suicide of Leigh’s mother and starts in the present tense, and then flashes back to when her mother was alive and back again. It’s slightly confusing though I noticed about half-way through the book that the chapters actually say which part it is. (Which was super helpful) But coming on the heels of this tragedy, Leigh’s dad decides they both need to go to Taiwan to meet up with the grandparents that Leigh never knew about. Leigh not only is having a hard time with the death of her mom, but also feeling some guilt about liking and kissing her best friend Axel, and she decides not to tell him that she’s going to Taiwan at all.

Instead of me just raving and going in circles, I’m going to point out some things that I just didn’t care for or that should have been caught during editing, and also some things that I loved.

Things that needed a bit of work:

-The cast of characters. Look I understand that we get the main character’s pov, and I understand that we need her pov, but the problem was that most of the other characters that interacted with her; her grandparents, her dad and even Axel, were sometimes flat and uninteresting. They didn’t really seem to have a purpose. I do have to say that they started to get more fleshed out towards the end of the book, but for the majority of this book I didn’t feel like we should care about them.

-the length. Did I mention that this was over 400 pages? This is not usually a bad thing but I felt like there was a section in the center that could have been scraped or tighter edited and wouldn’t have changed anything about this story.

Now to things that I loved:

-I loved the idea of Leigh and Axel having a colour moment. When things got weird or different, their first question to each other was “What Colour?” and they would explain the colours. Leigh also did this while describing things and emotions in Taiwan and it made me really happy because that’s kind of how I like to explain things, certain colours make me so happy.

-The setting! Oh my word, I’ve never been to Taiwan but reading this book was like I’ve been there. She describes the food and the way she felt and I just felt like I was seeing it all brilliantly displayed.

-The magical realism part. Ok, so this is where it gets a bit weird. Leigh is convinced beyond everything that her mom has turned into a bird. A big red bird. And she keeps seeing this bird everywhere. There’s also some interesting moments with incense and charcoal and memories but I’m not going to get into those. Also there was a slight twist at the end, which I kinda guessed but not fully, which is great!

Overall: even though there were a few difficulties and it was a pretty dense book- I liked it. I gave it 4.25 stars rating, and am pretty sure that I will pick this one up again because there was so much involved in it.

I do want to say, Emily X.R. Pan does not sugar coat what it’s like living with someone with deep depression/suicidal tendencies. This is not a happy book, but it’s a very real very honest book about these dark topics (and I did laugh quite a few times through out this because there were lighter moments) but warning you, if you think it might be too much, don’t read it.

I think for a debut it was wonderful and perfectly delightful. The lyrical writing reminded me of Laini Taylor and I read it in one night, so it’s pretty addictive.

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Synopsis

-When Leigh’s mother dies by suicide she leaves only a scribbled note–I want you to remember. Leigh doesn’t understand its meaning and wishes she could turn to her best friend, Axel, if only she hadn’t kissed him and changed everything between them. Guided by a mysterious red bird, Leigh travels to Taiwan to meet her grandparents for the first time. There, Leigh retreats into art and memories, where colours collide, the rules of reality are broken and the ghosts of the past refuse to rest…but Leigh is determined to unlock her family’s secrets, to remember.

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Happy reading you wonderful book dragons! And remember, life is too short to read mediocre books!!

~Always reading~

Stephanie

(originally published as a guest post on thatbookgal.wordpress.com )

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StephReads2018, Weekly Wrap Up

April 8-14 wrap up!

Hello booknerds!

So after I did the first weekly wrap-up, I unintentionally went on a slight hiatus. If you didn’t know, I ended up moving on the last week of April and basically the whole month of April was spent either stress eating or packing everything that didn’t move. To say I don’t deal well with change would be a very big understatement.

Anyways, I finally am in my new place, mostly unpacked (alright all of my books are unpacked but I still do have quite a few of my breakables packed away…but hey my books are out so that’s all that matters!) And now I’m going to try and catch up with everything, including posting on here and my bookstagram which was totally ignored for the last month because it’s kinda hard to post pictures of your books when you’ve packed everything :).

Books Read: 4

Pages Read: 1,443

 

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Book 1: All Creatures Great and Small by James Herriot (mine)

Plot Summery: This follows James who is fresh out of veterinarian school and in his new apprenticeship in the early ’50’s-’60’s, and follows his many escapades and hilarious moments.

I actually am counting this as a new read not a reread as it probably should be, but considering I read this when I was like 12, and I couldn’t remember anything about it, except for the fact that he was a vet, I’m saying it’s new, besides my blog, my rules (lol)

I enjoyed this book, and felt that even though it was a pretty hefty book, it read rather fast.

Rating: 4 Stars.

 

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Book 2: The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafron (library)

Plot Summery: This follows a young boy who learns about the secret society of the “dead books” and one book that seemingly everyone wants, but that he’s been charged with protecting.

Ok….for the first 150 pages I absolutely LOVED this book. There was so much intrigue and promise and mystery that I found myself devouring this book and thinking that it would be one of my new favorites…however…after that first 150 pages, it’s almost like the author forgot what he was writing about. All character development, all intrigue, everything suddenly went by the wayside and we followed the bland main character who fell in love and then couldn’t be interesting if he tried. (I can’t even remember the MC’s name because that’s how little impact he made on me) All the women were merely used as a plot point for the MC to get information and when they were done, well they were done…literally. I trudged through this because it marked off one of my goals of reading 10 books that were translated but it wasn’t worth it at all.

Rating: 2 Stars

 

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Book 3: Emily the Strange: The Lost Days (MG/Library)

Plot Summery: ….let’s just say….amnesia, cats, earwig, doppelgangers, black, night owl, traveling, vw bus, bland town, mesmerism, coffee shop, Raven, weird….

I rather enjoyed this MG book, it had a sufficient Addams’ Family vibe and I was here for that! I did enjoy Emily though there was sometimes when she was a bit high and mighty, but I felt it was well done. It was also a great palate cleanser from the mess that the shadow of the wind was so this worked well.

Rating: 4 Stars

 

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Book 4: Curious Faith (mine/reread)

Plot Summery: Non-fiction Christian book about not putting God in a box, and how when we approach with wonder, instead of rules and restrictions and limits, we can actually give God room to work in our lives (even if it comes out not how we expect)

This was a reread for me. I love to reread books, especially non-fiction books because I feel like it really solidifies what the book is talking about and helps me remember it more. I enjoyed reading this again because the last time I read it was about January 2017.

Rating: 4.5 Stars.

 

So that’s all that I read that week. Hopefully I can get all these scheduled and cranked out so that I can catch up reasonably soon. (I doubt that but hey, I’m hopeful!)

Happy reading book nerds, and remember, life is too short to read mediocre books!!

~Always Reading!

~Stephanie

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Books, Reading, StephReads2018

2017 wrap up (oh my guys)

Y’all….this year seemed to fly by. And while a lot of people seem to be ready for 2017 to disappear, I can’t say I share that sentiment. Yes, this past year was hard, it was difficult at times. But because of the hardness and the difficulties I learned so much more than I would have if it had been an easier smoother year.

But I’m here to talk nerdy to y’all. Such as book stats! Yay!

                             ~Stats~

Books Read: 258

New to me books: 204

Books I reread: 49

Now this might look pretty impressive, but when I looked further down my stats, I realized 2 things, the first being that I had only read 64 new to me books that I owned. So how did I come up with 204? Easy, I read 143 books from the library. Which is still pretty impressive, but not exactly helpful when it comes to my TBR that I own.

Of the books that I checked out of the library, 13 were so good that I bought them for myself. Which again, nothing against my library, it helped save me tons of money because if I had bought those books and not liked all of them, I would have been out of luck.

The other thing that I noticed is that I have a tendency to not read my own physical books because I have library books that actually have a due date on them and so I should read them first.

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This was my best year reading for a while. Over the past 5 years, I have logged what books I have read, what books I have reread and this is the highest number of books that I have logged since 2013. (For those of you who are curious- 2013= 98 books read; 2014= 131 books read; 2015= 149 books read; 2016= 165 books read)

However, my average rating for these books has dropped a bit. According to Goodreads, my average rating of a book was 2.9 stars, whereas last year it was 3.8, and the year before that was 4.1. So even though I’m reading more books, the quality of the books is decreasing.

Now I know some of you will be like “Well just set your goal to 1 book then and that way you can read more of what you like” but the problem is with that, when I beat my goal for Goodreads, I lose all interest in trying to keep up with it more. For example this year, I beat my first original goal of 125 in May. So I changed it. And beat it again. And changed it to 200. And I beat that in November, and then decided I just didn’t really care if I read or not because I had already beaten my goal.

So I am one of those people that the goals actually work really well for me. And speaking of Goals, let’s talk about my 2018 goals.

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                                    ~2018 Bookish Goals~

1-Read 200 books.  This actually figures out to be about 16 books per month, which is actually pretty doable. (Most of my months average between 15-20 books anyway)

-> This breaks down to me reading 100 new/owned books; 50 rereads and 50 from the library. That way I’m not overwhelming my physical TBR status.

2- Take a photo of each book I read this year and post it on my twitter thread.  This was something I started last October, and I really enjoyed seeing all those photos of books that I had read. So I figured I might as well do that for the whole year, which is crazy but also sounds fun.

3-Post on here at least 2xs per week. I have gotten better at posting but I do want to become consistent with the posting. I can’t tell you what day I’ll be posting but my goal is to do it at least twice a week, which should be doable.

4-Read one non-fiction book per month. This is just to remind me that there is more to the world then YA fantasy. So this could be something about someone, about a place or about a time in history. I’m not putting a limit on this, but I want to read more intently.

5- Read at least 6 books where the author is not from the US in this year. Again, I want to read with more intention. This is a personal challenge for me, where I feel like just because I’m in the US, I read mostly US authors. And while that’s good, it’s also something that I need to learn to not gravitate towards.

6- complete the SOS and Beat The Backlist challenges. 

7-try to post to Bookstagram at least 4 times per week. There are some things that cannot be avoided and one of them is I can’t do a photo challenge every single day of the week, mainly because I tend to get burned out but also because I don’t like doing that much pressure on myself. So 4 times is doable. Hopefully.

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So yeah, those are my bookish goals at least for 2018. What about y’all? What challenges have you set up for yourself? What goals are you going to implement? Let me know in the comments!

Have a great day Dragons, and remember, life is too short for mediocre books!

~Stephanie

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