TBR reorganization

Remember the Great Read My 2016 Hardbacks Before They Go to Paperback Challenge? It worked so well that I decided to overhaul my whole TBR system. I was more specific in my 2016 books on month published, but kept it a little looser in prior years seeing as how those books are probably already in paperback so there isn’t as big of an urgency. I waited until my kids left for their grandparents’s for their summer vacation and then got to it. I have two bookcases in my living room where I keep my TBR books. A few years ago I found separating them from the read books helped me stay focused.

IMG_1779I used to have the nonfiction separated from the fiction, but I realized it made the nonfiction easier to ignore so I added them. This turned less into a hardbacks to paperbacks challenge as it was just a read my TBR shelves. Which lead to a few problems, one namely being not all the books on my TBR are hardback. So do I read them in the order of the book published originally? Or just that edition? For instance, I have some classics on my shelves so do I put that copy of Wuthering Heights in its original 1847 place or do I put it in 2004 which is when my Barnes and Noble Classics was published. I decided to keep to the publishing date of the actual copy I had. Otherwise I know it will be forever before I ever get to 1847.

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This also gave me an opportunity to update my database inventory. I had previously only been keeping track of books read, but recently decided to add books owned. Which makes it a lot easier when buying books. Too bad I didn’t have the app up to date on my recent trip to City Lights in San Francisco and bought a second copy of The Buddha in the Attic. I knew I loved that book, but this is ridiculous.

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The project only took me a day so it gave me hope. False hope as it turned out because I also have an e-library and still have no idea how to balance the two. July turned out to be a busy travel month for me so I stuck to digital except I kept getting hooked on new romance series and not really jumping into the stuff on there. Too bad the Kindle app doesn’t have a great way to organize your shelves.

The only bad thing about making July the month off ebooks is I got A LOT of book mail and traveled to new bookstores (I am newly in love with First Drafts Book Bar in Phoenix, AZ) where I’m obligated to buy a book (or four). So where my shelves started like this: IMG_1782

They now look like this: IMG_2021

This isn’t even talking about the stack of comics I need to catch up on (you see them, top shelf, right bookcase). So now that I don’t have anymore traveling until November (Any guesses? hint: I’ll probably be bringing back way more books.) I have some time to jump into this.

Enough chatter! I have books to read! How do you prioritize your TBR?

April TBR

Since I had so much fun reading nonfiction last month, I decided to keep it going. This time I’m focusing in on history books. I’m also trying to get some books off my shelf that have been loaned to me from friends (don’t judge, they have my books too!). I’m also trying to make sure I read those hardbacks that I bought because I had to have them before they come out on paperback. Then there are some on my iPad that are begging for me to get to as well. Some are left over from last month that I just didn’t have time to get to.

Physical Shelf

Digital Shelf

Of course, that’s not counting all the books that are coming out this month that I’m gonna probably pick up, but this is my rough draft. I’ll let you know how I did!

What books are you hoping to get to this month? Have any been sitting on your shelf for longer than you would have liked?

New Year, New Goals

I didn’t get to do my end of the year stats because the post I had all ready to go…I forgot to publish. I wrote it before the year was up so I didn’t have my actual totals. Then I went on vacation and read a bunch. So when I got home and realized I needed to publish said post…my stats would have to be recalculated because I gorged on a ton of historical romance. I read the Bridgerton series by Julia Quinn which was 9 books (counting the one she wrote with second epilogues for each sibling). Let’s face it. I’m lazy. Especially coming back from vacation and already into the new year so I was trying to look forward instead of back. I debated posting what I had, but I didn’t want to misrepresent my numbers. Obviously my inclusive reading stat went down even if you only count the aforementioned series alone.

I can tell you I still need to do better on reading more inclusively. (*Side note: notice I’ve changed from saying diverse to inclusive. Courtney Milan was on Twitter recently making some amazeballs points.) I’m always going to be working on this. Publishing as we know doesn’t do a great enough job marketing these authors and I need to make sure I seek them out. I’m so angry at publishing because there are so many great books out there that include marginalized people (both characters and authors) of all walks of life, and they’re not getting the recognition they deserve. I definitely need to up my LGBTQIA+ numbers. So I’ll be scouring those lists this year.

I can tell you a stat that didn’t really change was how many lady authors I read. It was about 87% before I left and I’m assuming it rose a bit after all those historical romances. I can say I don’t really go out of my way on this one, it just tends to happen organically. I can’t explain why. It’s always been that way for me. I have lady author radar.

If I have time this year I’d like to try more poetry and short stories. They’ve always been a category that I’ve had a problem getting into and I know the right ones are there just waiting for me. I loved When Women Were Birds by Terry Tempest Williams last year and No Matter the Wreckage by Sarah Kay, respectively.

I did read about 60-70% on ebook rather than print. I think it’s because I read primarily on my phone (even though my husband reminds me I have a perfectly good iPad mini) which is always at hand. I’m not concerned with changing that number too much. I share the philosophy of Douglas Adams who said “Lovers of print confuse the plate for the food.” I do have to make sure I’m reading almost as much as I’m bringing in and then culling what I’m not. We have a relatively small place and as much I wouldn’t mind being surrounded by books, my husband and kids disagree. Well, my oldest probably wouldn’t mind.

I noticed my preference has starting leaning towards front list rather than backlist. Again, rediscovering historical romance skewed it a bit because I’m playing catch up on authors I never got around to reading and those ladies are prolific. This is another stat I’m not looking to adjust one way or another except there is that part when I buy a book at full price in hardcover and then don’t get around to reading it until it comes out in the less expensive paperback. Maybe I’ll work on not buying unless I really really am interested…I know. I laughed too.

Which brings us to today. I decided I’m not setting a goal for how many books I want to read. I think these goals are great, especially when people have a hard time getting books finished because of, well life. But since I already make reading a huge priority (sorry kids, dinner is going to be late), that’s not a good reason for me. I also don’t like the feeling that I’m reading just to fill a number, like reading a bunch of novellas I’m barely interested in just to get to my goal instead of reading something bigger that I actually want to read.

I also want to work on not using Goodreads to track my stats. I was using it and then later filling in my own database which is actually a better database because it keeps tracks of the things I care about. It seems a little counterproductive. So I’m using Goodreads for keeping track of what I want to read, and my Filemaker for what I’ve read and my inventory.

How did your 2015 reading stats go? What are your goals for this year?

August TBR

Wow August already? My oldest starts second grade toward the end of the month. I’m not sure I’m ready to get back to the grind. Anyway, no theme this time, just titles that caught my interest for one reason or another. I’ve done a good job making some room on my shelves. Maybe September’s theme will be all ebooks so I can catch up there. Without further ado…

  • Bobbed Hair and Bathtub Gin by Marion Mead
  • Born With Teeth by Kate Mulgrew
  • My Age of Anxiety by Scott Stossel
  • I Am Malala by Malala Yousafzai
  • The Girl With All the Gifts by M.R. Carey
  • Kindred by Octavia Butler
  • Lexicon by Max Barry
  • The Bees by Laline Paull
  • Henna House by Nomi Eve
  • Who Fears Death by Nnedi Okorafor
  • Two Years Eight Months and Twenty-eight Nights by Salman Rushie
  • The Shadowed Sun by N.K. Jemisin
  • My Real Children by Jo Walton
  • A Bollywood Affair by Sonali Dev
  • Super Mutant Magic Academy by Jillian Tamaki
  • The Husband’s Secret by Liane Moriarty
  • The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery
  • The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd
  • Wuthering Heights by Emily Dickinson
  • The Night Watch by Sarah Waters
  • Paradise by Toni Morrison

I know, I know. There are a few titles that have carried over a few months (Lexion I’m looking at you). I’m going to double down on getting to them. I swear. There are a few on my Kindle/Kobo apps that I know I’ll be delving into as well. Jennifer Estep’s new Elemental Assassin, Spider’s Trap for instance. I’ve also started The Novice by Taran Matharu. I’m barely in the beginning of it, but so far I like where it’s headed.

What books are you hoping to get to this month?

Break

You may have noticed there being very little being done here or on the TinyLetter. I apologize. It’s summer, which means for our family, the kids went to their grandparents’ house for FIVE weeks (I know!) and the hubs and I had glorious free time. Free time I didn’t feel like using for writing. To be honest, I did so much less reading than I thought I would. Instead, I went out with friends, did more yoga, and played video games. Now the kids are back, I’m actually doing more reading (I’ve finished six books since Monday) and we are still doing stuff. So I’ve decided to take the summer off from the blog and the TinyLetter. Not entirely. I’ll probably be doing my August TBR post soon, but mostly I’m going to step away and see if I can come back with fresh ideas and a clear mind. I’ll still be on Instagram and Twitter so be sure to follow me there. A few friends and I have been doing a #booksandleggings thing if you want to participate. The more leggings and books, the merrier. I’m @KarenaFagan on both accounts. Find me!

TBR

Recently I read a piece on Book Riot with the author talking about their TBR (which stands for To Be Read) list as if it was this ironclad thing, a ‘commitment’ in their words. If that’s how you use your TBR, more power to you. This isn’t an argument with them, on what is better. I want to explore what TBR means to me. I’ve just never thought of them that way. I’ve always used my TBR as a list of books one day I’d like to get to. I cull it quarterly. Sometimes a book that caught my eye and I added it on impulse has lost its luster. I have no qualms about removing books that have been sitting on the list forever. I’m obviously not going to read them. I do like to keep it a bit organized, but I’m not at all married to the idea they have to be read in some kind of strict order.

I did go through a phase where I added ALL the entries from all the years from 1001 Books to Read Before You Die. WTF was I thinking? I can tell you actually. I was thinking that I was coming from this very limited range of books and I wanted to be cultured and educated. It took me a bit, but then I realized…I’m really not that cultured. I read a few books from the list that made me what to bash my head against the wall. I kept a few that I really do want to get to, but the rest were cut. I’m not going to force myself through this subjective list (which ends up being way more than 1001 if you start adding all the revisions) to read books that don’t interest me. I could be reading these other really great books. I already came to terms with the fact I’m not going to be able to read all the books. But I want to try. I want to read all the books that interest me. I can’t do that if I’m stuck reading books that other people think I should be reading. I would understand if I was in the same place I was three years ago, just reading urban fantasy and mystery novels, but I read pretty widely now. I am keeping books like Jane Austen on my shelves. I have two kids and they might want them one day. I tend to do my genre fiction on e format because those tastes are pretty much mine and tend to be a little more depending on my age and what’s going on.

I do make a monthly TBR as you probably aware of if you read the blog regularly. I take books of my TBR shelves (I have separate bookshelves for the unread books and the read books) that look the most interesting to me at this time. Sometimes I get to them, oftentimes they stay on the shelf for the next month or they get removed for awhile. This sounds crazy probably, but I found I get through books a lot quicker if I have a (somewhat loose) plan. The only hiccup tends to come in the form of my ebooks. I like both my print books and my ebooks, yet the physically of the print books tends to cause me more panic to read them. Because I can see them literally piling up where my e books are really just ones and zeros on this nifty electronic device. That’s a dilemma for another day though. It doesn’t stop me from picking random books from either medium though. I tend to have an ebook going on each of my apps, Kindle, Kobo, and Scribd as well as an audiobook on the Audible app.

But again, I never feel like my book choices aren’t spontaneous. I still randomly pick a book of any of my shelves. In fact I raved about a book I’d read so well to my friend that I just went and picked it up off my shelf for a reread (note: it’s The Fairy Godmother by Mercedes Lackey). TBRs do help me also with my diversity goals. I’ve already noticed if I get too spontaneous, due to the problems in publishing, I end up with a pretty narrow batch of authors (hello all straight white people). I do tend to lean more to women authors automatically so that part isn’t problem for me, but like I said, my book picks by other marginalized authors suffer.

How do you treat your TBR? Is it something you HAVE to stay committed to? Is it fluid? Is it just a list of books you’d someday like to read? A list of books to keep track of?

July TBR

I updated the TBR shelf a little early since the husband and I are leaving for San Francisco tomorrow for Pride weekend. I generally don’t take a lot of print books on vacation anymore, as it’s a lot easier to slip the iPad mini in my bag. We’re taking the train up so I do need something to read. I’ll have these lovelies waiting for me when I get back.

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You may notice some from last time that I didn’t quite get to.

  • The Grace Keepers by Kristy Logan
  • Henna House by Nomi Eve
  • The Scarlet Sisters by Myra MacPherson
  • The Girls of Atomic City by Denise Kiernan
  • The Hundred Secret Senses by Amy Tan
  • The  Girl With All the Gifts by M.R. Carey
  • Church of Marvels by Leslie Parry
  • Kindred by Octavia Bulter
  • Lexicon by Max Barry
  • The Rook by Daniel O’Malley
  • The Bees by Laline Paull
  • Trickster’s Choice by Tamora Pierce
  • Get in Trouble by Kelly Link
  • Luckiest Girl Alive by Jessica Knoll
  • Uprooted by Naomi Novick
  • Who Fears Death by Nnedi Okorafor
  • I am Malala by Malala Yousafzai

I also have a hell of an ebook TBR going so we shall see. I tend to have more front list on my e reader. Not counting my Scribd books which I use more whimsically, some of those are going to be:

  • The Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George
  • The Book of Speculation by Erika Swyler
  • The Library at Mount Char by Scott Hawkins
  • The Novice by Taran Matharu
  • Tiny Pretty Things by Dhonielle Clayton and Sona Charaipotra
  • The Architect’s Apprentice by Elif Shafak

You can always check my Goodreads shelf on the sidebar to see what I’m reading currently.

 

June TBR

As you can tell the TBR shelf has been rotated out! Some are still there from last month, specifically the feminist/women’s study type books like Birth of the Pill and Flow. In my efforts to read a good chunk of my print books, I did a count of the books that appear to be “fun reads.” Ones that appear to have not a very complex plot or wording. You won’t find any classics here (I’m looking at you James Joyce) or immersive historicals like Bringing Up the Bodies. Sometimes you want to just roll with the plot or the characters and not decipher’s metaphors. I could be wrong on a few of these, but when I do a pull like this, I try to trust my gut. I’m often gleefully surprised.

Some of the titles I’m looking forward:

  • How to Start A Fire
  • Under a Painted Sky (not pictured)
  • Hammer Head
  • The Anchoress
  • Lexicon
  • Henna House
  • Kindred

I really need to make sure I get to my library books this time. I’ve been bad the last few times and just renewing them until I can’t anymore then having to return them unread, but that feels like a whole different topic for later.

Are there any books on your TBR you’re hoping to get to this month? Any suggestions on my shelf that I didn’t mention that you think I’d really enjoy?

May Wrap Up

May was a good month for reading both in quality and quantity.

  • God Help the Child by Toni Morrison (print, library)
  • I am not a Slut by Leora Tanenbaum (ebook, own)
  • A Kiss at Midnight by Eloise James (ebook, Scribd)
  • When Beauty Tamed the Beast by Eloisa James (ebook, Scribd)
  • The Duke is Mine by Eloisa James (ebook, Scribd)
  • Insatiable by Asa Akira (ebook, Oyster)
  • Spinster: Making a Life of One’s Own by Kate Bolick (print, galley)
  • A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab (print, own)
  • Deathless by Catherynne M. Valente (print, own)
  • The Ugly Duchess by Eloise James (ebook, Scribd)
  • The Duchess War by Courtney Milan (ebook, Scribd)
  • Once Upon a Tower by Eloisa James (ebook, Scribd)
  • Blankets by Craig Thompson (print, borrowed)
  • Every Day is for the Thief by Teju Cole (print, library)
  • The Heiress Effect by Courtney Milan (ebook, Scribd)
  • The Countess Conspiracy by Courtney Milan (ebook, Scribd)
  • How to Build a Girl by Caitlin Moran (print, library)
  • The Fangirl’s Guide to the Galaxy by Sam Maggs (print, own)
  • Mademoiselle Chanel by C.W. Gortner (print, own)
  • Before You Suffocate Your Own Fool Self by Danielle Evans (print, library)
  • Redefining Realness by Janet Mock (print, own)
  • Inferno by Dan Brown (print, own)
  • No Matter the Wreckage by Sarah Kay (ebook, own)

My diversity count could have been better this month. I managed only 26%. It was all those romance novels that did me in so that’s to be expected. I did have 86% female count so there’s that. I managed five non fiction which is higher than my usual number and one book of poetry!

Some of my favorites were

  • No Matter the Wreckage: I haven’t been moved by poetry in a long time. After seeing Sarah Kay’s TedTalk I quickly picked up this book. It’s so great. The poems she does in her talk are also in the book!
  • Before You Suffocate Your Own Fool Self: What I said about poetry I also feel about short stories. More often than not, I read them feeling dissatisfied. Not so with this collection. I need to pick this one up for my own library.
  • How to Build a Girl: This one reminds me of my sister. Not that she’s a sixteen year old Lady Sex Adventurer, but she could have been. I had to recommend this book to her as soon as possible.
  • A Darker Shade of Magic: Such a fun book. I look forward to the next one. Actually I really want it now.

There was only one miss on the list and I don’t really want to call it out because I feel like the author’s followers would troll me. It was pretty bad and could have used an editor…or maybe a ghost writer. I finished it because for some reason I kept hoping it would get worse. It didn’t. No, it wasn’t the Toni Morrison.

What books did you read in May? Any favorites? Any letdowns?

 

Oyster’s 100 best books of the decade (so far)

When I saw Oyster did a best books list, I was on it like Donkey Kong. I have a soft spot for “best of” lists and also a soft spot for Oyster. Out of the 100, I’ve read 21 and DNF 1 (My Brilliant Friend).

Read:

  1. Life After Life by Kate Atkinson
  2. The Tiger’s Wife by Téa Obreht
  3. A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan
  4. Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell
  5. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot
  6. Boy Snow Bird by Helen Oyeyemi
  7. Swampandia by Karen Russell
  8. Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng
  9. Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay
  10. Tiny Beautiful Things by Cheryl Strayed
  11. Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Achidie
  12. Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel
  13. Bossy Pants by Tina Fey
  14. The Good Lord Bird by James McBride
  15. Home by Toni Morrison
  16. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
  17. Gulp by Mary Roach
  18. The Flamethrowers by Rachel Kushner
  19. Mr. Penumbra’s 24 Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan
  20. The Buried Giant by Kazuo Ishiguro
  21. This is How You Lose Her by Junot Diaz

I agree with most of these. I think I’ve gushed about Americanah and Bad Feminist to everyone I know. Station Eleven was probably my most surprising like since generally I’m not an apocalypse girl. I like the diversity shown. I like that it seems to be pretty equally split between women and men. There are a lot of books still I need to get to.

To Read.

  1. The Empathy Exams by Leslie Jamison
  2. Billy Lynn’s Halftime Walk by Ben Fountain
  3. Salvage the Bones by Jesmyn Ward
  4. Cleopatra: A Life by Stacy Schiff
  5. A Girl is a Half Formed Thing by Eimear McBride
  6. NW by Zadie Smith
  7. The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer
  8. The Round House by Louise Erdrich
  9. Changing my Mind by Zadie Smith

I’m probably going to add to this list since there are a few books that I’m not familiar with. I’d like to see Oyster make a list on their app with the books they have available to make it easier.

 

Do you agree with this list? How many of your favorites are on here? How many are on your TBR? Any you want to talk me into reading?