Reading Since Blogging

I know there have been a lot of posts from others about how blogging has affected their reading habits, and I wanted to talk about how it’s looked for myself. This all started when I was thinking about how I rate books. I have wondered before it I was too picky with my ratings. Last year I only gave out three 5-star ratings, but I also only read like 20ish books. I know this is shocking to most book bloggers, but I’ll get more into that later. I’ve only given two 5-star ratings so far this year, but I’ve already read about the same number of books as last year. And I’ve also have given out quite a few 4.5’s, which to me is for for books that don’t have quite all the punch of an exemplary 5-star book, but are still pretty dang awesome.

I think I’ve become both more critical and forgiving as a reader over the last year or so, if that makes any sense at all. I can spot the tired tropes and phrases and recognize weak plot points or weak character traits, but I also find myself looking for the good in every book if I can. As an aspiring author myself, I know that behind every book is a story that was once a burning idea in the author’s heart, so even if maybe they did not execute as well as we might have liked, there is something in the story that called to them, and maybe we can spot just a glimpse of that. That’s why I haven’t given out any 1 stars since I started blogging, I believe. That and I’m pretty careful about avoiding or dumping duds.

One of the other big changes has been the speed at which I read, and this has really crept up on me. Before I started this blog, I didn’t always have a “current read.” I didn’t know what Goodreads was. I read just a handful of books a year when the mood struck me. I never felt like I was a slow reader, that is until I started the blog and compared my reading speed to other bloggers. I figured other bloggers were spending a lot more time reading than I was, which was (and still is) probably true. I usually don’t spend more than an hour a day reading, and more often or not I actually skip reading completely on weekends. Basically, most of my reading happens during my lunch hour at work. I do sometimes read outside of that, and I think maybe I have done more of that this year than last, but not enough to explain the significant strides I’ve made in my reading speed. I think, simply put, I am just flat out reading faster. Which is a definite bonus, because I can enjoy more books that way.

belle-libraryAnd lastly, I do believe that reading has helped me when I write… though I admit, the more I read the less I tend to write. I’m still struggling to find that balance. But when I do write, I think the words just come out better. And that is definitely awesome! Now just to find the balance of writing/reading/blogging that I have been struggling with…

What about you? How have your reading habits changed since you started blogging, or in general? 

Advertisements

A Time to Speak Up and a Time to Just Ignore It

I think something that has become increasingly harder in this age of Internet and social media is knowing when to express our opinion (and just how much of it to express) and when to keep our mouths shut. I’ll admit, when I was younger, I would share my opinion with a fence post; I thought I had a handle on everything going on in the world. With age thankfully came a little wisdom and humility, and I’ve realized I don’t know everything. And even if I think I might really be more educated in a certain arena than someone spouting off their mouths, there are times when just arguing about it results in everyone losing and no one being converted. So over the years, I’ve tempered myself. It doesn’t change the fact that I have opinions, and I am willing to voice them, but I try to discern when and how the best ways to do so are.

twilightsoapbox

BTW, I’m not a My Little Pony fan, I just found the picture relevant.

I see things blow up on Twitter a lot. And almost always, I try to block it out, because 140 characters does little to change people’s minds, honestly. I’m not saying you shouldn’t post about causes you believe in ever, but I get a little weary when I see rant after rant about what one person said.

The latest example is that apparently, someone with a keyboard somewhere decided you should be ashamed to read YA. At least that’s what I’ve gathered from what I’ve seen on Twitter. I never looked to find the article so I don’t know for sure. I didn’t want to read it because I didn’t want it to frustrate me. It wasn’t going to better my day or anyone else’s if I did. So everyone has been ranting about how wrong this person is. I agree that it sounds like what this person said is probably out of line. It’s their opinion, but I disagree with it.

But the thing is, I’ve seen it perpetuated so much that I fear that this person’s opinion is getting way more Internet fame and credit than it deserves. I’m not saying no one should speak out against it at all, but when everyone talks about it on Twitter, more and more people become aware of it and perpetuate more about it. If no one had posted on Twitter about this article, I never would have heard about it. And this person would have been met by mostly silence. The only thing more frustrating for somebody with an agenda than being told they’re wrong is for no one to care at all about what they just said.

Or to be proven wrong.

You know how the old saying goes, “ACTIONS speaks louder than words.”

First off, The Fault in Our Stars is going to do well this weekend in the box office, and not even every YA reader is going to see it (I’m not), and not everyone going to see it is going to be a teen. Say what you will about whatever you think of teenage literature, but money talks and the story speaks to people. Some people assume every book in the teen section is like Twilight, and while I have to admit I do not understand that franchise’s appeal, I wouldn’t be so rude to say every fan of the series should be ashamed of themselves, like it’s equivalent to doing something truly shameful, like harming other people. But the point I’m trying to make is, you can let your voice be heard in other ways, by showing what’s great about YA. Share your favorite books with your friends. Keep blogging. Go see your favorite adaptations on opening weekend. Write your own awesome YA bestseller (easier said than done, but you know, some of us are hoping to achieve this one day)!

YA isn’t for everyone, I get that. But some people just want to be inflammatory, and honestly, they don’t deserve the attention. So before you tweet just ask… are you helping promote something positive, or are you just giving the disgruntled a louder mouthpiece? Don’t let them get to you, friends. They’re not worth your time.

keep calm and read on*EDIT* I wanted to add the link to another blog post on the matter, Why People Write Anti-YA Linkbait, that is worth checking out.

 

My Top Ten Goals for 2014

Short intro for this list: Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. Today’s topic is my Top Ten Goals/Resolutions for 2014 (bookish, not bookish, or a blend).

Long intro: When 2013 came to an end, I wasn’t super reflective. I do think I grew in some ways in 2013: as a writer, as a wife, and hopefully as a person, but I also struggled with things I’ve always struggled with, frustrated that I just could not move past them. 2013 wasn’t  a great year or a terrible year, but just like every other year of my life it was important, because just like every other year of my life it shaped me. But New Year’s has gotten to where it feels so blase to me, which is the biggest reason why I didn’t feel the need to reflect on New Year’s Eve and makes all kinds of resolutions for the new year.

But that being said, making goals for myself, regardless of the time of year is important to me. Last February I decided to start this blog and set some writing goals for myself. Well, I failed at the writing goals, or… maybe not. I did fail at meeting the specific goals, but as I look back on them now I realize they weren’t really the right goals for me. I did write more, increasingly more thanks to NaNoWriMo, a goal I had not set for myself in February of last year but I achieved and am so proud of myself for having accomplished it. This year, I have more writing goals (in addition to reading and blogging goals) for myself that may or may not get met, because they may or may not be the right goals for me. But the bottom line of these goals is to pursue them, the heart behind them, and take the steps I need to at this point in time for my life. I don’t want  to bite off more than I can chew, but I don’t want to hold myself back either. This year, I want to continue to strive for balance.

All that being said, here are my goals for 2014, related largely to writing, blogging, and reading.

Reading Goals

1. Read Les Miserables

I know this is a crazy goal. This book is over 1000 pages long. But my sweet husband got this book for me after I mentioned it on the blog, and the good thing about him doing that is that it was the push I needed to actually motivate myself to read this chunkster. So here’s the goal: to take as much time reading this book as I need, chapter by chapter, this year. Instead of sitting down with this book and reading it straight through, I will read a few chapters here and there, at my leisure, and my only goal for finishing is to have it done by the end of the year. And if I have to carry it over to next year, as long as I’m still reading it, I don’t think that should be marked as a failure. The resolution is to just keep moving forward. The goal is completion by December 31, 2014.

les-miserables-book2. Only Read What I Want to Read

This may sound a little silly, but this year I found it easy to get so caught up in what other people hyped that I would start reading books I didn’t have much interest in. This did pay off sometimes (The Book Thief, Cinder), but sometimes it backfired (Under the Never Sky). I read about a fifth of what most of my fellow book bloggers read last year, so I have to be selective. So that means I am going to try this year to more carefully choose what exactly I read, based on multiple reviews and dissecting what people are saying in those reviews. I may still end up disappointed (for instance, I wanted to read and love The Testing desperately and it had nothing to do with hype), but that’s OK, but you can still learn from reading something you don’t love.

3. Continue to Expand My Reading Horizons by Reading the Following…

Here are a few more reading goals rolled into one…

1 more Jane Austen book: I read Pride and Prejudice in college, then in 2012 and 2013 I made the effort to read another one of her works in each of those years (Northanger Abbey in 2012 and Persuasion in 2013). I love her stories but not her writing style, so it is a little bit of a challenge for me. This year I am thinking I’ll probably read Emma.

1 classic science fiction book: This will probably either be Ender’s Shadow or Do Androids Sleep of Electric Sheep?. I really want to read more in the science fiction genre as my appreciation for science fiction in TV and movies has grown.

1 writing book: In 2012 I read a writing book as well as in 2013, and I think both helped me some. I believe that as a writer, it’s important I continue the practice of reading books about writing. There are some books about plotting I might like into, or Stephen King’s writing memoir On Writing.

1 non-fiction book: In addition to the writing book, I want to read another non-fiction book. The one I feel is the most likely candidate right now is 1776, but it’s possible I may choose to read an autobiography, a psychology book, or even a science book (if I can find one my unscientific brain can comprehend). Of course, I think reading more than one would be ideal, but I’m aiming for at least one. (I read two last year.)

2014-reading-goalsBlogging Goals

4. Blog When I Want to Blog

I have been pretty much doing this for the past few months, but I want to try even harder to not feel too much pressure from inconsistent blogging this year. I do think consistent blogging is great, but I have other things in my life I need to manage, and more passions to pursue. But I certainly have no intention of leaving you all hanging completely. I have met some wonderful people in the blogsphere and I’m not leaving you now! 🙂 If it wasn’t for you, I know I wouldn’t have kept the blog going this long.

5. Blog Only Meaningful Content

I think this goes hand-in-hand with my previous goal. I want to blog not only when I want to, but also what I want to.

Writing Goals

6. Focus on One Writing Project at a Time

This is going to be crazy hard, because I have bad writing ADD. I have literally started over a dozen novels, but how many have been completed? Four. Two of those four belong to a much larger story arc of a series that I still have not completely worked out yet, and one I just wrote this last year for NaNo. (The other is my long labor of love that I have been working on since high school, but I am giving it more room to breathe right now) This year, I want to focus on my story from NaNo. Start revising and rewriting, get beta readers, rewrite and edit again, get more beta readers, rewrite and write again, and then hopefully, if all goes well…

7. Start Querying Agents

Last year, I set a goal to start this process in March 2014. That was unrealistic because up until November, I was still suffering from Writing ADD. If I am fortunate enough to feel that my project is ready for querying this year, it will be later in the year. Right now, I am thinking I would love to start this process in September, but if I start at any point this year I would love that.  And if I don’t, hopefully 2015 will become that year for me. Again, as long as I am actually working on writing and not getting distracted and doing the very best I can, I will be satisfied with that progress.

writing-snoopy8. Make Writing a Top Priority

I let writing fall by the wayside most of the year for blogging and reading. I don’t really regret it because blogging helped me write, helped me read, and helped me better understand the publishing process and industry. And of course I can’t regret reading because it helped me write, and of course it’s just rewarding in of itself. Really, writing and reading will probably be more a joint top priority, as I will probably read during lunch at work and write when I get home. But blogging will definitely suffer a little because of this schedule, and I hate that, but…

Life Goals

9. Pursue my Passions More Seriously

This is vague, but I have specific things in mind when I say this, some of which I mentioned here. Writing, creativity, stories are all my passion, and I want to more seriously pursue ways to incorporate these things in my life. Blogging helped me with that some this year, but I do feel I want to pursue other routes with these passions this year.

10. Prepare for 30

As much as I have a hard time acknowledging this, I’m in my late twenties now, and I’m not getting any younger. With 30 not too far down the road for me, I want to try harder over the next few years to make a more conscientious effort to prepare for the third decade of life physically especially, by eating better, becoming more active, buying better skincare products, etc. I am sure there are other ways I need to prepare for 30, so I will be trying to recognize those and do them as I go.

What are your goals for 2014?