Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Review: Slow Reading in a Hurried Age

Slow Reading in a Hurried Age, by David Mikics
Date: October 2013
Format: Hardcover
How did I get this book? Borrowed from the Library
Goodreads | Publisher

I don't write many book review posts these days, so it's a bit ironic that I'm reviewing a title I didn't even finish! I didn't finish it on purpose though and when I started writing this up on Goodreads, I got a lot more long-winded than I expected. So here we are.

The idea of slow reading appeals to me -- partially because I am a slow reader by default and always have been. The idea of speeding up the "movie in my head" has really not ever appealed to me, despite the fact that I would be able to read more books in the same amount of time if I did. So I guess when I spotted this title, I was really just curious about the benefits of slow reading since I felt like it was something I was already doing. In truth, Mikics' "slow reading" means much more than just a literal slow pace and it was interesting to see what "rules" he has come up with. He very clearly states these are really only guidelines and that he has no intention of ruining the reading experience with mandates -- he feels the "rules" should help readers enjoy books more, not less, and that each reader should only take what he or she can use -- which I feel is important to point out because I have seen other reviews criticize the very idea of reading "rules."

All that said, I really enjoyed and got a lot out of the Introduction, The Problem, and The Answer chapters. After that I skimmed and skipped (which is rather the opposite of what the author is advocating!) because the examples were mostly classics I have not read. I was honestly not interested in another person's analysis of books based on the advice given, just the advice itself. I think a lot of the ideas here can apply to any kind of book, it was just way beyond me to have so many points of reference I was unfamiliar with. At some point, I'd like to discover some of the books discussed for myself rather than read Mikics' analysis of various snippets.

I think the strongest part of this book was the discussion in those first few chapters of reading in the digital age. I don't want to be alarmist, over-dramatic, or demonize technology, but I could completely relate to many of the descriptions of distraction and discontent related to too much screen time. It is making me rethink my relationship with screens and validating the feeling that I really need a break from it all sometimes -- and that break is well spent if I take the time to read instead.

I'm glad I borrowed this from the library instead of purchasing it because the book as a whole didn't work for me. But I'm very glad for the parts that did resonate with me and I copied a TON of quotes into my reading journal. Those first chapters are definitely worth a read if slow reading appeals to you in any way -- or if the distractions of technology are leaving you feeling a little frazzled or sapping your concentration. But if you'd like to take a peek at the "Rules," check out this Huffington Post article which abbreviates those 130 pages very nicely.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Reading Journal #1 Complete!

It's been almost two years since I first mentioned starting a journal of quotations from books I read and I've finally filled it up!

Scribble courtesy of a certain small someone :)

Last pages -- it's full!

To the best of my memory, I had only started using this first book journal a few months (at most) prior to that blog post in January 2016. In the beginning, I only used it sparingly. I wasn't very consistent about marking passages as I read or copying them over after finishing a book. Even though I wanted to record memorable quotes, I wasn't in the habit of doing it, so it didn't always happen. I would be reading as usual and then something would really stand out and I would remember: "Oh yea, that's the kind of thing I want to record in my journal!" And then I would immediately get this feeling that I had surely missed other lines I should have recorded from my recent reading. I didn't want to turn my reading into homework, but I just knew this was a record I would love to have and look back on in years to come, if only I could figure out a good way to do it.

So this is pretty much how it went -- in fits and starts -- until quite recently. I had tried various things including marking down page numbers on a note pad (digital and paper) and snapping a photo of a page on my phone to return to later. Theoretically these methods should have worked just fine, but I still had a hard time following through. I also went through a big audiobook phase and while I love that format, it's not well suited to noting and marking quotes. Sure, it can be done, but it's certainly more complicated without a printed text in front of me and audio bookmarking proved to be a real pain for this purpose.

Book darts!

But over the last few months I finally started using my journal more consistently and the vast majority of this first one is filled with quotes from 2017 (which isn't even over yet!) And during the past two months I really hit my stride thanks to book darts -- which I have Modern Mrs. Darcy and the Read Aloud Revival to thank for. Book darts are exactly what I didn't know I needed to make this whole reading journal thing a success. They are easy to use, don't interfere with or interrupt my reading experience, and make it super simple to return to marked passages later on. Book darts are sort of like fancy paperclips that don't damage my pages and allow me to bookmark a specific line so I don't have to go scanning and searching for what exactly I wanted to remember on a particular page. They're great! If you have any desire to keep a reading journal, I can't recommend book darts highly enough.

The secret to successful book dart use -- thank you RAR!

Since I have a toddler, I was a little worried about having tins of small metal bits around the house. But one final tip from Sarah Mackenzie in her recent masterclass solved that problem too -- putting a bunch of book darts on my book's title page before I start reading. Eureka! Now I don't have to tote the tin from room to room, it's not just sitting around waiting for my toddler to crack open, AND it's easier than ever to grab a dart when I come across a line I want to mark. Now, I don't delude myself into thinking my son couldn't figure out how to pull them off the pages if he really wanted to, but they are a lot less enticing while attached to the pages of a closed book than sitting in a tin that makes a really cool noise when you shake it.

I used so many book darts in this one!

I don't want to overthink this whole process as I am reading, so I often mark more passages than I actually end up using. But that is the beauty of it -- when I am done reading, I can simply go through dart by dart and decide what I really want to remember from that particular book. If I decide not to copy a particular quote, I just remove the book dart and move on. And what I like best now that I have a "system" in place is that I have built in some time to reflect on and think about what I have read as I decide what I most want to remember and what has really resonated with me. Of course, I always want to dive into a new book, but this new little ritual has helped me slow down just a bit which is definitely a good thing for me.

New journal!

So, now I'm onto a brand spanking new book journal which is so exciting to me! It's kind of like that new-school-supplies-in September feeling when I was a kid (or was that just me?) Now that I've been doing this a while, I've figured out what works best and am making some minimal changes for this second journal. This time around I'm including page numbers and creating a heading for each book instead of noting title and author after every single quote -- which can get really tedious if I have a lot of quotes from a single book.

Slightly new format!

I never imagined I would need more than the 50 darts that come in the cute What Should I Read Next? tin, but I often have a couple different books going at the same time and I used nearly all 50 when I read The Pleasures of Reading in an Age of Distraction! So I figured it would be nice to have an extra and ordered a tin of 125 on Amazon. The Modern Mrs Darcy ones are adorable, but the Amazon tin was definitely more economical. And truthfully, if I had bought a tin with 125 the first time, I probably wouldn't have bothered with a second!

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Have you ever kept a book/reading/quote journal of any kind? Have you tried book darts? Do you have any other tips or tricks? I'd love to know!

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

The Stories We Shared: A Family Book Journal (Review + How I'm Using It)

I got a peek at this family reading journal while watching a free master class by Sarah Mackenzie of the Read-Aloud Revival. It was only mentioned briefly because endorsing a specific product was not the point of the class at all -- a commenter brought it up, so Sarah held hers up to show viewers what it looked like. Boy, am I glad I caught that brief glimpse! This is basically the family reading journal for my son I never knew I needed. So I bought four. (Yes, really!) One is for us, two were gifts for the kids of friends from book club, and the last one is still TBD. It's definitely going to become a future go-to gift for anyone I know who likes to read aloud. There is also a distinct possibility I'm going to fill ours in sooner rather than later -- even with room for nearly 400 entries! -- and move onto a second one.

So what's in this thing and why is it so great?

109 pages for Journal Entries
Most pages have 4 entries, with some drawings and quotes interspersed to reduce some pages to 3 entries. Each entry has a line for title, author, illustrator, # of pages, date finished, who shared the story, star rating, and an empty spot for notes, doodles, etc.

A Feature Lists section to record...
New Words We Like! (86 entries)
Our Favorite Quotes (71 entries)
Most Memorable Characters (51 entries)
Most Surprising Story Twists (38 entries)
Books That Made Us Laugh (41 entries)
Books That Made Us Cry (41 entries)
Books That Changed Us (37 entries)
Our Very Favorite Books! (38 entries)

10 Adventure Quests to complete
Each of these include a Quest, a Sub-Quest, and an Arch-Adventurer Quest depending on how challenging or in-depth you would like to go with each topic. A few of them also have an additional Bonus Quest.

World Explorers
Time Travelers
Genre Hoppers
The Serial Bookworm
The Literary Zookeeper
High Adventure
Myths & Legends
Newbery Quest
Caldecott Quest

You guys, this thing is gorgeous and if you have any desire to keep a reading record for your family, I can't think of anything more perfect. 

Even though it has a very specific set up, there were still quite a few decisions for me to make regarding how exactly I want to use this journal. First of all, since I discovered it when my son was nearly two and a half (and it's only been published since November 2016 anyway), the biggest question has been how to handle all those books from the last 2.5 years. Thanks to Goodreads, I do have a record of them all (barring any accidental omissions), but there were just way too many. So I decided I would only record books I loosely call "favorites" -- basically anything that's been on repeat that my son, myself, my husband, or any combination of us has really loved. So basically that eliminated: 1. books we read but didn't keep because none of us loved them, 2. books we read only once or twice and returned to the library, and 3. books still in our collection that have not yet stood the test of time or that the jury is still out on because they're still too advanced, out of season, etc.

I also made the decision to print out book covers to paste onto the entry squares. I know this is going to add bulk to the journal and the more we use it, the more it will start bulging with the extra thickness they add, but at least for the picture books, I really wanted to include that visual element. The artwork is such a vital part of picture books, I wanted some representation of it in our journal. Also, at this point, I don't have a whole lot of notes for most of these books. I've placed the covers in such a way that I still have a little room to write and have only just started adding in a few notations. I've been working in stages and this has been a really fun project, even if I'm a little impatient to have it all caught up to our current reading!

For the time being, I decided to leave the "story shared by" line blank. I know my son and I have shared every single one of these books. My husband has also read the vast majority of them aloud or has been in the room with us when I read them aloud at bedtime. A lot of them have also been read with his grandparents and various other relatives. I don't want to box us in by trying to figure out who did or didn't share a particular picture book one of the many, many times it has been read aloud. Someday when we move on to novels that won't get re-read a zillion times, I will definitely use this line. I feel much the same about the "date finished" line -- I also decided to leave that blank because picture books are never really finished if we keep reading them over and over again!

I'm still not 100% sure what I'm going to do about the Quests and Feature Lists. On the one hand, if I start them now, they would really be more for me than for my son. I think these sections will really shine once he is old enough to listen to chapter books and novels, have more input and opinions about the books we read, and can help find the various books needed to complete the quests. On the other hand, since I'm fairly certain I'm going to be filling in more than one of these journals, I still may go ahead and start working on them with books from these early years anyway.

So, have I convinced you yet? This journal is awesome, really. If you need a Christmas, holiday, birthday, or baby shower gift (any kind of gift really!) for a bookish friend or family, I can't recommend it highly enough!

The Rabbit Room
(I got our first on Amazon, then ordered the others through my local indie)

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Podcast Love: Read-Aloud Revival

Hi everyone! If you have kids in your life, I am recommending a favorite podcast today I hope you will check out, the Read-Aloud Revival. The show is all about "building a family culture around books" and "making meaningful and lasting connections with kids through books." The show focuses on stories, reading, and literacy with a special focus on the value of reading aloud with older kids who have already learned to read to themselves. The host Sarah Mackenzie talks a lot about how it's second nature to a lot of parents to read to little kids, but that practice tends to fall off once those little kids can read on their own. My toddler clearly still falls into the "little kid" category, but I still find this podcast very inspiring and it is downright dangerous for my own TBR with all the awesome middle grade titles that get recommended.

For the current season (#11), it has become a more frequent weekly show rather than biweekly as it was in the past. And let me tell you, those "extra" mini-episodes that have been airing in between longer interview episodes are some of my absolute favorites and I've listened to all of them more than once. I also think they give a really good idea of what the show is all about without a huge time commitment which is what inspired this post! If you like any of these, I think you'll find the Read-Aloud Revival a worthwhile addition to your podcast listening.

RAR #66: Do Audio Books Count as Read-Alouds?
RAR #70: How to Find Time to Read as a Busy Mom
RAR # 74: One thing you won’t regret ← my #1, if I had to choose!

And here are 7 of my favorite full-length episodes if you'd like to check out the archives and don't know where to start!

RAR Bonus Episode: The Most Important Part of Teaching Kids to Read

One thing worth noting, especially if you do a deep dive into the podcast archives, is that Sarah and many of her guests are homeschoolers. There is a ton of great information and inspiration even if you don't homeschool, I just think it's good to be aware that some of the advice and discussion comes from that perspective. Also, I really hate to admit this, but I personally am not a huge fan of the short final segment of each episode where kids call in to recommend a favorite book -- I feel like a horrible parent for admitting this, but I usually skip those!

Thursday, October 19, 2017

I Quit!

On the off chance you might be worried by that title, no, I'm not quitting blogging. Not that I blog very much, but I'm rather fond of this little corner of the internet when I manage to gather some thoughts into semi-coherent posts and join in on all the bookishness. You can't get rid of me quite that easily :)

I know it's only October, but I'm already thinking about reading challenges for next year. And you know what guys? I never thought I would say this, but I'm just not so into them anymore. I no longer host a challenge and I cut back on how many I participate in by quite a lot. But 3/4 of the way through the year and I'm just plain tired of all the keeping track. I love the idea of so many of the challenges, but I struggle with the follow-through. And I'm starting to wonder if participating is actually helping improve my reading life -- which was the whole point to begin with!

So I've decided that needs to be my litmus test of whether or not to re-join a challenge for 2018: has this particular challenge helped my reading life in the past? No matter how worthwhile the goal is, or how interesting the set-up, a reading challenge that hinders my reading life is not serving a worthwhile purpose for me. I suppose I could be open to trying a completely new-to-me challenge, but I've tried an awful lot of them over the years to know what will work for me and what won't -- I just need to be honest with myself!

So let's take a look at my 2017 challenges and see if any of them make the cut for 2018:

Goodreads Challenge
This one is pretty hands off. I set a goal, I read, and Goodreads pretty much keeps track for me. I count everything including picture books and my goal reflects that choice. I don't really think about or worry about this challenge except when I realize I am close to finishing my goal way earlier than expected (because, picture books) and decide if I'm going to increase my goal. I don't see any reason to stop doing this challenge. It's nice to see steady progress throughout the year and this challenge does not stress me out in any way. I'll keep it!

This challenge involved a reading calendar and a schedule. I wanted it to work, but it just didn't and I unofficially quit this one long ago. I'd still like to read more Sherlock, but I'm going to go at my own pace. I think I actually could read at this pace or even faster, but the imagined pressure of having a "deadline" and working it around other books did not help me tackle these stories. So that's a definite no.

I've done this one for several years now and I love the concept. I want to show my shelves more love and read more books I already had at the start of the year, of course I do. And I love the approach of celebrating our books rather than inducing TBR guilt very, very much. But as the year wears on, distinguishing between a book I bought at the end of last year and a book I bought at the beginning of this year seems really silly. Am I not showing my shelves love if I read a book I bought 7 months ago rather than the one I bought 11 months ago? As much as I love this challenge, it always seems to work for me for the first few months of the year and then I get bogged down with what counts and what doesn't. So I'm going to have to pass on this one.

This is a challenge I want to work for me so very much to keep me more accountable, but it just doesn't. I use a notebook to keep track of what I bought and check off titles as I read them. But this year especially, I shopped at several community garage sales and other various used book sales and got super bogged down with the logging and tracking of everything. Sure, a simple solution is to not buy so many books, but I don't want to be worrying about whether or not I come home with a $5 bag of used paperbacks from a community fundraiser and how that will affect my stats. I do need to be more thoughtful and intentional about the books I buy, I just don't think the actual challenge is helping me do this as intended. I've been building a family library of picture books and middle grade books -- which I had hardly any of prior to my son's birth. I've found some amazing books at great prices on Book Outlet and I always dread logging them for this challenge. I don't know my exact plan going forward, but I need to quit this challenge!

I adore the concept of this challenge, especially the amazing Hogwarts House Cup component the hosts came up with. But man, I spend way too much time submitting my books read for credit and figuring out which titles fit which prompts for the scavenger hunts. I don't know for sure, but I get the sense the hosts of the challenge found this a bit more overwhelming than they expected and that's a bit how I feel about participating. SO FUN, but ultimately, this is not helping me make good use of my time. I will probably continue the rest of the year, but I was feeling very annoyed with myself after realizing I spent almost an hour the other night fiddling around with this challenge. This one is a sad no, but it still has to be a no.

I first joined this challenge in 2014 and I totally tanked it. Then I tried again in 2016 and got into a much better groove -- all the Caldecotts I picked up with a baby/toddler around really helped! Then this year, I really hit my stride because I'm now reading both Caldecotts and Newberys for my own enjoyment in addition to what I might pick up to read with my son. I signed up for the highest level with a goal of 75+ points and I'm already up to 81 points and I want to keep reading. I take that as a good sign -- if I can hit my goal and I just want to keep going, this is definitely one that is working. I added a lot of Newberys to my collection this year from those used book sales and from Book Outlet, so I will have no shortage of titles to choose from for 2018. So I'm hoping Julie will run this one again!

I chose the checklist option for this challenge and I loved it. I borrow tons of picture books from the library and the categories helped me branch out and explore some new titles. I completed the majority of the checklist without hardly trying. But as fewer and fewer categories remained, it was fun to find some books I wouldn't have picked up otherwise in order to try something new and check it off the list. This one was easy to keep up with and keep track of and I enjoyed the vast majority of what I read, so it definitely worked for me. If the categories remain the same next year, I wouldn't join again, but if they are significantly different, I would give it another go. 

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It occurs to me that most people probably don't really care why I do or don't re-join a challenge, but with all these thoughts mulling around in my brain, I needed to get them out! And I needed to work through the pros and cons and make some decisions before all the sign-up posts start rolling in for 2018 to tempt me :)

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Is Anyone Else on Litsy?

Hi everyone! I've been using the Litsy app more often lately and I was curious if any blog readers out there are on it too? If you're not familiar, it's a lot like Instagram, but solely dedicated to books. You can review, share quotes, curate book stacks, etc. I really didn't want to have one more thing to distract me on my phone, but I've found I really like it for participating in bookish events such as readathons. I used to participate here on the blog, but have found I no longer have the time or inclination to write up dedicated update posts. My Instagram is a personal account and I've pretty much quit Twitter -- so Litsy has been perfect! Dewey's 24 Hour Readathon is about to celebrate it's 10th anniversary so they started a really fun 30 day countdown challenge and I've been playing along on Litsy. So if you're on there too -- connect with me or share your handle in the comments!


Sunday, October 1, 2017

Diverse Books Club: September Wrap-Up

The first month of the Diverse Books Club is in the books! The theme was centered around race, the history of racial oppression in America, and current civil rights events. I read all of the selections except for one board book my library didn't have, one picture book I had read previously and didn't re-read, and I ran out of time for the adult selection.

Given time restrictions, my realistic plan for participating going forward is to read all of the picture books and at least one from the Adult, YA, and Middle Grade selections. My very favorite thing about this group so far is the high quality of the books selected, so even if I can't read the whole list in a month, I know any books I miss can go on my TBR for the future. This month set the bar pretty high, so I am confident future selections will be just as engaging, thought-provoking, well-written, and overall worthwhile reads.

It's hard to put into words what I have learned this month from the books I read. I don't think I could do them justice by trying to spell it all out, but I can wholeheartedly say all of these books taught me something, made me think, and helped me see and understand different points of view. The books deal with very difficult, but very important issues. There is a lot I've taken to heart and there have been so many nuggets of wisdom in these books. If you haven't read The Hate U Give or Stella By Starlight yet, I highly recommend them!

Young Adult Selection:

The Hate U Give, by Angie Thomas
I read this over Labor Day weekend and could not put it down! It is extremely relevant to current events. Even though Starr is fictional, stories like hers have been happening all over the US. By seeing the problems of police violence, racism, and the justice system through Starr's eyes, I think it makes it personal in a way a news article or sound bite can't.

Middle Grade Selection:

Stella by Starlight, by Sharon Draper
An incredible story of racism, hardship, and unfairness as well as community, love, and hope. I absolutely loved it -- and as soon as I finished this one, I lent it to my mom!

Picture Book Selections:

written by Alan Schroeder & illustrated by Jerry Pinkney
The is a fictionalized account of Harriet Tubman as a child. It was so interesting to see how this famous historical figure's early experiences could have shaped and influenced the incredible work she would go on to do.

written by Laban Carrick Hill & illustrated by Bryan Collier
I had read this one previously, but checked it back out from the library to re-read for the DBC. I feel like the book may have oversimplified Dave's life and what he must have faced on a daily basis, but I also think it's important and valuable to share his story and his accomplishments as an artist and poet despite his enslavement.

written by Doreen Rappaport & illustrated by Bryan Collier
Informative, educational, inspiring, and beautiful. I love how this picture book told the story of Dr King's life by drawing from various writings/speeches, not just his most famous. A really powerful book. This was another re-read for me and one I'd definitely like to add to our picture book collection at home. 

written & illustrated by Duncan Tonatiuh
Hopefully everyone knows about Brown v. Board of Education, but like so many others, I did not know anything about the fight for desegregation in California's schools that occurred a decade earlier. An informative read and important book that I had not even heard of before, so I'm very glad I was introduced to it.

written by Sarvinder Naberhaus & Illustrated by Kadir Nelson
This was another re-read for me. A beautiful and artistic tribute to America's diversity and the highest ideals we want our country to stand for.

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October selections are up next! Join us in reading about Immigrant and Refugee Experiences
Middle Grade, Young Adult, & Adult selections
Picture Book selections

Friday, September 29, 2017

Places I Never Meant to Be: Original Stories by Censored Writers

I've had this book for several years and I finally remembered to read it for Banned Books Week. It's a solid short story collection and, as I expected, I liked some stories much better than others. It's a young adult collection and to be perfectly honest, there were two stories that made me uncomfortable as an adult reader. I don't say this because I felt they were bad influences on young readers or anything like that, but because they dealt with some really tough subjects. The stories I was uncomfortable with involved animal cruelty, lack of consent, and that feeling of paralyzing powerlessness when characters were in certain peer situations. Aren't these things that should make me uncomfortable? And aren't they worth discussing or contemplating anyway? I'm not saying anyone has to read this -- or any other book. No one is required to pick up a story they find triggering or anxiety-inducing. Trust me, there are plenty of books I avoid because I know I just can't handle them. And no one is required to allow their children to read whatever they feel like. But banning or censoring is not the answer.

Beyond the short stories in this collection, each contributing author wrote an essay about their experiences with and thoughts about censorship and I wanted to share a few of those gems to illustrate the wisdom found in these pages. Even if you don't read the stories, this book is worth checking out for these essays (and Judy Blume's introduction) alone! There are so many great quotes, it was extremely hard to choose, but here are five of my favorites:

What I worry about most is the loss to young people. If no one speaks out for them, if they don't speak out for themselves, all they'll get for required reading will be the most bland books available. And instead of finding the information they need at the library, instead of finding the novels that illuminate life, they will find only those materials to which nobody could possibly object. 
-- Judy Blume

That's all we writers have, anyway; our minds and imaginations. To allow censors even the tiniest space in there with us can only lead to dullness, imitation, and mediocrity. 
-- Norma Fox Mazer

Self-censorship can be very damaging to a story. When our chief goal is not to offend someone, we are not likely to write a book that will deeply affect someone. 
-- Katherine Paterson

Books are our windows on the world. They permit us to safely experience other lives and ways of thinking and feeling. Books give us a glimmer of the complexity and wonder of life. All this, the censor would deny us. 
-- Harry Mazer

A child's parents should be able to forbid their son or daughter from reading a book of mine or anyone else's. However, those same parents should have zero control over what everyone else's kids can read.
-- Paul Zindel

Artwork courtesy of the American Library Association

Sunday, September 24, 2017

It's Banned Books Week!

It's only been two days since I posted my "vacation bag" reading list for the next couple of months, but I'm already rearranging it! After skimming through their beginning pages, I've returned two of the library books -- I still may read them someday, but decided not to for the time being. I've also added the October picks for the Diverse Books Club that were just announced this morning. And I somehow forgot I had this collection set aside to read during Banned Books Week:

I've had an interest in banned and challenged books for a long time now and even ran a reading challenge dedicated to them for four years before passing it on to another blogger. Some of the books that have been frequently challenged are a bit mind-boggling to me. I have no problem with an individual or a parent deciding a book is not appropriate for themselves or their children, but I do not think it is OK for individuals or groups (or the government) to decide what is appropriate for everyone else. Formally requesting that a book be removed from a collection denies others the opportunity to make their own decisions. The American Library Association has some really great free graphics on the subject I thought I would share:

What's the big deal?

Facts & Figures:


Artwork courtesy of the American Library Association

Friday, September 22, 2017

Vacation Bag #1: Sept/Oct/Nov Reading Options

No, I'm not actually going on vacation. This is my metaphorical vacation bag of books inspired by my recent(-ish) summer vacation. The whole idea is that it was SO much easier to read books from my own shelves when I had a curated bag of limited options to choose from. I decided I wanted to continue doing that even when I wasn't on vacation and wrote a post about it.

So far, I've been pretty haphazard about sticking to my limited options plan. I haven't shared any "official" reading lists here, but I've had a small stack on my nightstand I've only sort-of been choosing from. This is partly because I went on a pretty good run where I had a very clear view of what I would be reading next, so the whole choosing-a-new-book-dilemma was pretty well taken care of. All of the Sarah, Plain and Tall sequels, a book club book, a summer-themed Newbery book and its sequel, and a Diverse Books Club pick (as well as a few others) have all been on my recent lineup -- and they were all books I had copies of! Admittedly, some were purchased quite recently, but they were still read from my own collection.

I have read some library books, but in about two and a half months, I read quite a lot more from my own shelves than I had been previously. So I wasn't feeling an urgent need to curate a "vacation bag" or TBR list to help me stick to my plan. But now we are headed into fall, I thought it was time to pull some titles off the shelf and get better organized. Fall is a time of year I always say I want to read "autumnal" books, but I never seem to get around to it. For me "autumnal" books are cozy, mysterious, gothic, spooky, and/or full of family secrets. But what typically happens is that September still feels like summer (which it technically is until the 22nd) and then when it really starts to feel like fall, the season is underway and flying by. If I don't get to some fall reads before Halloween, I tend to move onto something else even though it's still fall for quite some time afterwards -- officially, fall goes almost to Christmas!

All of this rambling is really just to say I think I will greatly benefit from having an "official" curated list of limited options to work from at this time of year. My hope is to (mostly) read from my own shelves and finally get to some of those fall books. I'm currently using a nightstand in our guest room for this little project:

So I'm going ahead and considering this my end of September and October/November list. I do not intend to read every single one of these books. It's just a starting point so I am not overwhelmed by an overabundance of options. I tried to have a nice mix -- classics, short stories, novels-in-verse, Newberys, poetry, a book-about-books, favorite authors, new-to-me authors, an ARC I won on Goodreads, and book club picks for both virtual and real-life groups. There are a few library books in there and I know a few more will get added over the season --  I'm just trying to strike a better balance, not abandon the library!

If I pluck anything additional off my shelves during the coming months not on this lineup, I will still call that a win for my TBR. In particular, I'm not sure what I will be in the mood for reading when I have round-trip (kid-less!) plane flights for my best friend's wedding in November. They don't happen often, but plane and train trips are some of my absolute favorite times to read. I'll be making sure to bring some books I'm excited to read in large chunks -- or possibly straight through! -- which is a luxury I don't often get these days.

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Do you have any fall reading plans? What's your favorite book or type of book to read at this time of year? I'd love to know!

P.S. Check out Hannah's Three Ways I Tackled My TBR This Summer post! She's on a similar mission to read more from her own shelves and my summer vacation post gets a shout-out :)