The Sick Book Tag

It’s been a hectic couple of weeks, but I thought that since we are now getting into flu season it would be the perfect time for the Sick Book Tag (originally created by Dark_Chickie on Wattpad). Here it is:

Diabetes – A book that is too sweet, like really sweet

When I think of a sweet book, I naturally tend to think of romance — a genre that I don’t necessarily read very often. I would have to say one of the sweetest books I’ve read is Goodnight Tweetheart, a very sappy book but one that I surprisingly really enjoyed. It’s a nice quick read at only about 220 pages, much of which is through IM conversations. I wasn’t expecting much from it, but it ended up being one of my favourites of the year.

Chicken Pox – A book you picked up once but will never pick up again

I generally really enjoy re-reading books. Sometimes it’s fun to revisit a book after the first try and getting a fresh perspective on it. I’m not even opposed to trying a book that I wasn’t so keen on a second time to see if my opinion changed. However, one book that I have no intention of re-reading is Two Little Girls in Blue by Mary Higgins Clark. I read this many years ago after I’d really enjoyed a few of her other mysteries, but this one was a huge disappointment.

Influenza – A contagious book that spreads like a virus

I would assume that this means a book that became very popular and in a very short time. I haven’t read it, but I would have to choose Fifty Shades of Grey, a book that has been absolutely everywhere since it was first released. I’d consider it contagious because a lot of people picked it up just to see what all the hype is about.

The Cycle – A book you read every month, year, or often

There aren’t any books that I read every month, and very few that I read every year. However, as I mentioned above, I enjoy re-reading. The books that I’ve re-read most often are the Harry Potter series and the Series of Unfortunate Events. These are two of my favourite series of all time, and I always enjoy re-reading them.

Insomnia – A book that kept you up all night

I wouldn’t say it kept me up all night, but I literally could not put it down until I’d finished the whole thing. It definitely kept me up late! I’m choosing And Then There Were None, a creepy mystery that I devoured in one sitting. It also had it’s creepy moments so it could easily have kept me up all night in that sense too.

Amnesia – A book that’s forgotten and didn’t leave a powerful impression in your memory

I have no idea why, but I seem to have some sort of bizarre mental block for Go Ask Alice. I know I’ve read it at least twice, but I have no memory of the book at all. I couldn’t even begin to tell you what it was about or whether I enjoyed it. I re-read it in the first place because I couldn’t remember it at all, and even still it seems to have left no impression.

Asthma – A book that took your breath away

I’m interpreting “took your breath away” in terms of some kind of shock factor. I would have to go with The Storyteller by Jodi Picoult, my all-time favourite author. For me, think book easily ranks among her best. Anyone who is familiar with Jodi Picoult’s style will know that she often includes some kind of twist, but I’d have to say that for me this one was unexpected and had a very strong impact!

Malnutrition – A book that lacked food for thought

I can’t think of any examples at the moment, but I’ll edit the post if I come up with something later!

Travel Sickness – A book that took you on a trip through space and time

I’m still not 100% sure what “a trip through space and time” is supposed to mean, but I’m choosing to interpret it in a literal sense and go for a historical fiction book. I’m going to pick The Help, a fantastic book that definitely brought me to the space and time in which it was set. This quickly became one of my favourite books!

Top 5 Books Discovered Through My 2015 Reading Challenge

*I was intending to add pictures of the book cover to each option, however WordPress is giving me a hard time for no apparent reason. For now, I’ve linked to the GoodReads page for each book instead.

For me, part of the fun of doing a reading challenge is pushing myself to try new books. Some are books that have been on my TBR list literally for years, while others were discovered through a combination of Youtube videos and browsing through GoodReads. On that note, I’ve been having a lot of trouble finding recent recommendation videos on Youtube so if anyone knows of any, please feel free to let me know!

In 2015, I was surprised to find that some of the prompts I was least looking forward to ended up giving me some of my favourite books of the year! Out of the 52 books I read, there were quite a few that I would highly recommend. For the purpose of this list, I am excluding any books that were re-reads, and for the sake of avoiding too much repetition, I’m doing my best to avoid books already recommended in previous posts. Here are the top 5 books I would recommend that I read in 2015 (in no particular order):

1) The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan 

I read this book as “a book that came out the year you were born,” which was a category that I had a lot of difficulty finding options for. There were only a handful of books that interested me, and this one was by far the most intriguing. It focuses on four mother-daughter pairs and their lives, both in the past and present. I really enjoyed this book and how well-developed all of the characters were. It was a book that captivated me from the start.

2) Defending Jacob by William Landay 

This was probably the single most memorable book that I read in 2015, and it was another that came from a category that I was not looking forward to. The prompt was “a book your mom loves.” My mom is an avid reader, but our tastes are not always so similar. She’s read many books but had trouble choosing one that she really loved, that she thought I would also enjoy. The book is about a teenage boy who is accused of killing a classmate, and his parents’ conflicting views of whether their son is guilty. Although it became a little slow at times, I thought it was an excellent story and it had some truly haunting moments.

3) Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty

I read this book for a tough prompt – “a book with antonyms in the title.” This was one of the rare occasions where I read two books by the same author for the same challenge, and this was by far the one I liked better.  It’s about the interactions between three families who all have children attending the same school. Early on in the book, we learn that something big happened at a Triva Night event at the school, and we are left to try and figure out what happened and who was responsible. I thought it was a very compelling book and I was very surprised by the ending! I’ve read a few of Liane Moriarty’s books by now and this is still my favourite.

4) Still Alice by Lisa Genova

I read this as “a popular author’s first book” because I had heard so much about it, and was very interested in seeing the movie. The book is about a woman who has early-onset Alzheimer’s and the impact is has on her life and her family. I thought it was a very well-written book, and quite a realistic look at Alzheimer’s. Having a family member with the disease myself, it was quite difficult to read in places. I devoured this book while on a train ride, and could not put it down!

5) Odd Duck by Cecil Casttellucci (author) and Sara Varon (illustrator)

I read this book as “a book with nonhuman characters,” and I was very impressed. In general, I try not to read picture books for my challenges (as opposed to graphic novels, which I have no problem including) because they seem like a bit of a cheat. However, this was another book that my mom highly recommended after discovering it at our local library. It is about two ducks who become friends, one of whom seems normal and the other seems very strange. The book is about how normal is relative, and the importance of individuality. I thought it was a very well-done book with an excellent message.

Honourable Mentions:

2016 Reading Challenges Update

This year was a big one for me in terms of the sheer number of books that I decided to take on. My first ever reading challenge was PopSugar 2015, which I took on specifically as a way to motivate myself to get reading again. I found the scavenger hunt aspect of finding books to fit each category really interesting, and I finished close to two months early! Around that time, I started seeing new lists coming out for 2016 challenges and several of them piqued my interest.

My first challenge of this year was deciding which challenge (or challenges) to take on in the first place. In all honesty, I was initially very hesitant to take on the new PopSugar list for several reasons. The first thing that struck me was how short the list was compared to the previous year. In 2015 the list had 52 books, and in 2016 it was down to only 40. I’m not sure if the drop in the number of categories is because people were overwhelmed by the pace of the original challenge, but I was a bit disappointed. I figured that since I’d finished 52 books with nearly two months to spare, 40 would be very quick.

The second drawback was how many categories I noticed that immediately put me off. The PopSugar list called for a political memoir, books by celebrities and comedians, a book over 600 pages, and a category that quickly became the bane of my challenge: a book with a protagonist who has your occupation. Aside from that last category, these were all prompts that were firmly outside my comfort zone, and the protagonist with my occupation was very difficult to find! I’m not opposed to pushing my boundaries and trying new books, but with so many categories that seemed off-putting from the start, I was a bit reluctant to take on the challenge.

Instead, I started looking around the internet for other options and I stumbled upon a GoodReads group that quickly became one of my favourite pages to visit: The Around the Year in 52 Books group (challenge details can be found on the discussion board). Not only was this group a very welcoming and dynamic community, but they also were unique because the challenge was created directly by the users through a voting process. Their list for 2016 immediately caught my attention and I decided pretty quickly that this would be the challenge I would do this year.

The more I started looking at books, the more tempting the PopSugar 2016 challenge started to become again. Even with all the categories that I wasn’t such a fan of, I started noticing places where books I really wanted to read would fit, and it wasn’t long before I decided to take that challenge on too. I gave myself from January 1 until the end of March 2017, because I wasn’t sure how well I’d be able to manage 92 categories in one year.

Fast-forward to mid-June this year, when I started to realize that I had made excellent progress on both challenges, and was on track to finish both well before the end of the year. With half of PopSugar completed, and about 70% of the GoodReads challenge completed by the end of June, I decided to add something extra. At the time, I had been looking at the Book Riot Read Harder challenges for 2015 and 2016. My first impression of both of these challenges was that they were much more difficult than any of the others, and had a much stronger emphasis on pushing people to try diverse books. On a (possibly insane) whim, I decided to take on both of these challenges, beginning July 1 and I gave myself until June 30, 2017 to complete them. I say that they have an extended timeline, but in reality, I would love to be able to complete all 4 challenges by the end of this year.

Which brings me to where I stand currently. In total, I have 19 books remaining to be read for the rest of the year. My biggest barrier currently is my final book for the Around the Year challenge: Inkheart, which has become one of my biggest doorstops because of it’s slow pace! I have 4 books remaining for PopSugar, 8 for BookRiot 2015, and 7 for BookRiot 2016. Of the books remaining, the vast majority of them are YA, and there are several graphic novels in the mix as well. I’m still hoping to be able to complete everything by the end of the year, but now I’m not so sure!

Just when I really beginning to lose motivation, my morale received a huge boost: the new PopSugar list for next year has just been released! This year, I took part in the process for the Around the Year challenge, but I promised myself I wouldn’t start planning until I saw the PopSugar list as well. Now that they are both out, I can start really looking ahead and making my (very flexible) plan for next year! It may seem a bit odd after being so overwhelmed right now, but I find that new challenges are really a great motivator. I can’t wait to start planning!

Celebrating The Little Things Tag

I’ve been tagged by Laura @bibliofagista. I love book tags, but this may be a bit of a tougher one for me since I’m still so new to the blogging world!

Who was your very first follower (if you can find out)? Tag them and give them a shout out!

According to my notifications, my first follower was myself. I don’t even understand how that happened. Other than that, first was Laura, linked above. Thanks for your support!

What was the last milestone you reached?

Making 5 posts. I would love to see the full list of possible milestones, but haven’t been able to find that yet.

What was the very first post you posted on your blog? Share it with us, if you can find out!

I did my “About Me” page before anything else, with a few books/reading-related stories about myself. It can be found here.

My first real post was called “Welcome To My Library”, and can be found here

Who was your most recent follower? Tag them and give them a shout!

This one confuses me a bit. WordPress tells me my most recent follower was listfulbookingblog but when I tried to visit their page, I was immediately told it didn’t exist. So if this is you (@listfulbookingblog), thanks for your support and I would love to see your page!

What was the last post you posted and who was the first person who took their time to click the like button? Give them a shout out !

My most recent post was “Reading Rut Remedies,” which can be found here. No likes on it yet, but it’s only been up for a couple of days.

How many months have you been blogging for?

Just one.

Do you have any bloggers you’re friends with? Give them a shout out!

Not yet, I think it’s still too early to consider any of them friends. But I have a few that I follow. Unfortunately I haven’t figured out how to find their names on WordPress yet. I can only find who follows me, but now who I follow.

Who originally created the last meme or tag you participated in? Give them a shout out!

The last tag I did was the Disney Book Tag, created by Katytastic. Her channel can be found on Youtube here. Thanks Katy for combining two of my favourite things!

Have you any social media related to your blog?

Just GoodReads. You can find me here.

Last but now least… Just give thanks to all your followers!

Thanks everyone!  I tag anyone who wants to try this tag out to do it.

 

 

Reading Rut Remedies

For avid readers like me, there is nothing more frustrating than falling into a rut. Lately, I’ve been starting to feel the beginnings of a reading rut coming. As we get closer to the end of the year, the unofficial deadline for the reading challenges I’ve taken on looms. I’m currently standing at about 20 or so books away from my goal, with just seven weeks left to complete them. It’s not an unreasonable pace (I normally read 2-3 books per week anyway), but sometimes it feels that the pressure is on. It got me thinking about what makes people fall into a rut, and more importantly, how to get out of them!

Rut Type #1: The Vortex

Description: When you don’t know what to read, but you know you want to read *something,* so you default to constantly re-reading old favourites.

What’s the Problem?: There’s nothing wrong per se with re-reading the books you love, but sometimes we fall into the trap of reading the same books repeatedly at the expense of time for trying something new.

How To Get Through It: If your goal is just to keep reading throughout the year, just read and enjoy! If you’re interested in branching out more, try using favourites to reward yourself for reading something new. Look for books recommended for fans of your favourites, and try one of those, then reward yourself with a book you already know and love!

Rut Type #2: The Spider Web

Description: You want to pick up something new to read, but you have such an overwhelming number of options that you feel “stuck” in the middle of them all. Different genres, authors, etc. are branching off in all directions, but you’re not moving toward any of them because it’s so difficult to choose where to start.

What’s the Problem?: Having a massive TBR list can be a lot of fun, but it can also be extremely overwhelming. When you don’t know what to read next and you’re faced with 1000+ options (like I currently have on my Goodreads TBR), it’s hard to know where to start. The easiest choice to make is not to choose at all, so you end up reading nothing.

How To Get Through It: Try a reading challenge! Challenges that give you a specific list of of prompts can help to put some limits on your list of options. You still have a lot of freedom to choose what you want to read, but it offers a little more direction. If you’re not into challenges, try ordering a specific number of random books from your TBR from the library or choosing them off your shelves, and commit to reading those. Once you get started, it’s a bit easier to figure out what you’re really in the mood for.

Rut Type #3: The Doorstop

Description: Although a “doorstop” is usually a book that is very long, I would broaden the definition to include anything that really takes you a long time to get through. The book might  be very slow-paced, have a lot of pages, have old-fashioned or difficult language, or is a style that you’re not such a fan of. It takes you much longer than you would have liked to read it.

What’s the Problem?: If you’re the type, like me, who only reads one book at a time and rarely if ever gives up before finishing, a “doorstop” book can be very frustrating. Feeling stuck on the same book for a long time can kill your motivation to continue reading.

How To Get Through it: Decide how badly you really want to finish the book. There’s no shame in giving up on a book that you’re really not enjoying. If you’re committed to finishing, set yourself small goals for each day or double up the book with something more fun. Read a little of the doorstop, and then mix it up with a book you’re enjoying. Or try a  different format, like an audiobook!

Rut Type #4: The Full Plate

Description: You want to read or you have a book that you’re really into, but unfortunately things are too busy right now for you to have much time to devote to it. You’re very busy with work, school, and any other responsibilities you have. When you get home, you’re too tired to read much or have too much to catch up on to spend time on your book.

What’s the Problem?: There’s nothing really wrong with being busy, but you might feel like you’re falling behind if you’re used to reading more or at a much faster pace. You may get annoyed with yourself for not having enough time to do everything, or feel frustrated that even quick and easy books take so long.

How To Get Through It: Accept the fact that you have a lot going on with your life, and don’t stress too much about reading. If you are part of a challenge and are worried about completing it in time, try subbing in some shorter books to keep the momentum going. If you really want to prioritize reading, set yourself a schedule to fit in even a small amount of reading each day. Be realistic about how much time you have, and don’t worry if you can’t read much — even a little reading is better than none!

Rut Type #5: The Losing Streak

Description: You’ve been reading at a good pace (whatever that means for you), but you’ve hit a streak of mediocre or just plain bad books. Nothing you’ve read recently has impressed you much, and it’s putting you off reading.

What’s the Problem?: You’re never going to love every single book that you try, but it might not be fun to read several books that you don’t enjoy in a row. After a few boring books, it’s harder to get motivated to try the next one.

How To Get Through It: Switch things up, and try something completely different. Read something that is outside of your comfort zone, or ask for some new recommendations. Look at your TBR list and see if any of the books jump out at you. There’s still no guarantee that you’ll love it, but it should get you motivated again. Or, read a new book by one of your favourite “go-to” authors.

 

 

The Disney Book Tag

This tag combines two of my favourite things — reading, and Disney movies! The tag was created by Katytastic, and the original video can be found here. I did this tag once before in one of my GoodReads groups (found here, although I did not know who the original creator was at the time). Some of my answers may be the same as the post in that thread, but I will try to incorporate some of the books I read more recently.

The Little Mermaid – A book about a character who is out of their element, a “fish out of water.”

Bobby Pendragon, from the Pendragon series. The first book in the series of 10 is called The Merchant of Death. This was one of my favourite series around the time I was getting really into Harry Potter and A Series of Unfortunate Events. It is about a young boy named Bobby who travels to different worlds where he has to figure out a “turning point” that the world is coming to, and help ensure that the turning point goes the “right” way. He is definitely out of his element in each of these worlds since they are all so different, and he has to figure out how each of them works and what the “right” choice might be.

Cinderella – A character who goes through a major transformation

When I originally did this tag, I chose Neville Longbottom. While I still think he’s a great choice, I would also choose Morgan from The Whole Golden World by Kristina Riggle, an amazing book that I discovered this year as part of my reading challenge. Morgan is a teenage girl having an affair with her married teacher. The amount of character development in this book is outstanding, and it is by far the strongest book on this theme that I’ve read.

Snow White – A book with an eclectic cast of characters

I’m choosing a book I read quite recently – And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie. The book starts out with a group of 10 individuals who are all invited to an isolated island. Each of the guests has a secret in their past, and while they are trapped on the island, the guests are dying one by one. It was a very compelling story that I literally could not put down, and I would definitely say that the characters were eclectic!

Sleeping Beauty – A book that put you to sleep

I’m sticking to the same answer for this book, and choosing A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court. I just couldn’t get into this book at all, and it took me almost a full week to finish it. I finally had to finish it using an audio version instead because I just couldn’t take reading it anymore. I liked the plot and the social commentary element, but I found the book extraordinarily dry (although the audio version was better!). I also couldn’t stand the main character because he was so arrogant.

The Lion King – A character who had something traumatic happen to them in childhood

There are quite a few books that I could pick for this, but  I will go with Jack from Room. Jack is the son of a woman who has been kidnapped and imprisoned for several years, and “Room” is the only place he knows. This is an incredible book, and it even calls into question what would be more traumatic for the child — the fact that he had been imprisoned so long, or a drastic change to the life he knows if he manages to escape. I would say both would be very traumatic.

Beauty and the Beast – A beast of a book (a big book) that you were intimidated by, but found the story to be beautiful

Sticking to the same answer as I originally put again for this once, since I have not yet been brave enough to try other huge book that I’d love to read (ie. Anna Karenina, Three Musketeers). I’m choosing The Once and Future King, a book that was nearly 700 pages and took me 10 days to finish. I really enjoyed the book, and thought the story was interesting although a bit confusing at times.

Aladdin – A character who gets their wish granted, for better or worse

Another one where I am sticking to my original answer, and choosing My Sister’s Keeper. I would say both Sara (the mother) and Anna (one of the sisters) get their wish granted, but not in the way that they expected.

Mulan –  A character who pretends to be something they are not

It may be a tiny bit of a stretch, but I would say the main character in Enter Title Here. Reshma is a high school student who is trying to write a YA novel to improve her chances of getting into Stanford. In order to make her character more interesting, she decides to pretend to be a “normal” high school girl who is interested in making friends, dating and other “normal” high school experiences, even though that isn’t her. This was easily the most surprising book I read this year, because it was so much deeper than the synopsis let on.

Toy Story – A book with characters you wish could come to life

I would still go for all the March sisters from Little Women, one of my all-time favourite books.

Disney Descendents – Your favourite villain or morally ambiguous character

I originally picked Count Olaf from A Series of Unfortunate Events because he’s so funny and very cartoonish, while at the same time still having moments where he is genuinely scary. But I’ve also always had a bit of a fascination with the Phantom of the Opera, especially in the movie/theatre versions. I read the book earlier this year and still found him quite an interesting character, although not quite as intriguing as in the movie or play.

 

Why Take On a Reading Challenge?

For several years, I was stuck in a rut when it came to reading books for pleasure rather than for school. I spent 7 years straight in post-secondary education, so when I wasn’t in class or working on assignments, I spent most of my time reading textbooks or studying my notes. By the end of the day, the last thing I wanted to do for fun was to read some more!

I still got my fill on reading by taking a couple of classes about children’s literature, and making sure to squeeze in some of the titles I was most excited for. It wasn’t until the very end of 2014, after I graduated from college and was starting my full-time job that I realized how much I wanted to start reading more again.

Around the same time, I started seeing posts on Facebook about PopSugar’s first ever reading challenge, a list of 52 categories. The intent was for challenge participants to read one book per week, each fitting one of the prompts on the list. For close to two months, the idea of the challenge stayed in the back of my mind. I thought it might be fun to try, but I was worried about being able to follow through. As I touched on in my original “Welcome” post (found here), I soon came to love reading challenges, for several reasons:

 1. They can push you to stretch your comfort zone – Although I would like to think that I’m not too picky when it comes to books, the challenges have made me really recognize where my comfort zone lies. There are several books that I’ve read that I probably wouldn’t have touched if it weren’t for the challenge, but I ended up loving! It can really help to refresh your interest in reading when you discover a brand new kind of book you may never have tried before.

2. They give you an excuse to try new books/authors – Even though most challenges don’t prohibit you from re-reading books, it sometimes feels like cheating to count books that you’ve read before. In the course of my challenges, I’ve often found myself exploring GoodReads message boards and recommendations to find new books, and try new authors that I may never have heard of otherwise. I often had books that I’d heard about but wasn’t so motivated to  pick up immediately. A challenge gave me the push I needed to actually take the first steps to start reading it.

3. Challenge categories help narrow things down to make choosing books easier – As a result of all this exploring, my GoodReads list has blown up to over 1100 books that I’d like to read, and I’m sure there will be many more. With a list of that size, choosing what to read next can become daunting. When there were too many choices, it could be easiest to just avoid choosing which led to reading ruts. With a challenge imposing some limits, it was easier to choose books.

4. Challenges encourage you to keep reading – This may especially be the case for people like me, who are a little compulsive about checking things off a list. Once I committed to starting my challenge, I didn’t want to leave it before I’d finished all of the prompts. Having a defined list and number of books to read helped to keep track of progress and keep up the motivation to continue. It was strangely satisfying to check things off the list, and seeing the remaining number of books needed shrinking each time you read something can be very motivating.

5. The planning process can be part of the fun! – Sometimes it’s not just about checking items off the list. Part of the fun for me has been the “scavenger hunt”-like style of finding books that fit each prompt. When I started to take on multiple challenges within the same year, it became even more strategic to shuffle things around to help fulfill some of the more difficult prompts.