Discussion: What to Read Next?

Thoughts Read Next

With a to-read pile like mine it might seem that choosing a book to read should not be a problem. But much like people with full closets and nothing to wear – I can have bookshelves full of books and seemingly nothing to read!

Choosing your next book to read can sometimes be a bit of a daunting task. Do you continue on with a series? Do you switch genres? Do you not read at all and catch up with some household chores (okay. This one never seems to win out with me)? With so many amazing books being published all the time, how do you choose what to read next?

For the past few months I’ve had no problem choosing my next book. I’ve been trying to finish up some of my 2013 challenges or been hooked on series that I just HAVE (that’s right – not a want but a need) to find out what happens next. I’m currently on track with the books I have for review after toting them with me on my recent trip around Tasmania. But now I’m facing a bit of a problem.

How should I choose what to read next? 

I’ve tried sites like What Should I Read Next? and Which Book? but sites like these don’t seem to work for me. I have either a) already read the suggested books or b) find the titles to be a little too obscure for my taste.

There are times when I binge read on series. But this leads to another problem – sometimes even the best writers start to feel repetitive when you read more than 5 or so of their books in a row. I’ve done this with many authors. I find one of their books and love it so I devour their entire back catalogue within weeks. This is no the best idea. The characters start to feel the same just with slightly different names and the plot gives a distinct feeling of deja vu. When continuing reading the work of an author I adore isn’t an option, I need another way to find  my next book to read.

Another way of selecting is the proximity rule which basically sums up at reading what ever is closest. This often works for me but currently all the books that are piled up on the back of the couch, the coffee table and in various spots around my living room just don’t seem to capture my attention. This doesn’t make them bad books – I will get around to reading them. But right now I’m not in the mood for Amish romances, books about Egyptian culture or paranormal romances about angels.

After reading slumps – when nothing can capture my attention for longer than twenty pages or I just can’t bring myself to read – I do one of either two things.

Goodreads and Twitter.

I use goodreads a lot. I love lurking about and seeing what people have thought about books. And interestingly enough – when I can’t find a book to read its books with negative review that I want to read most. Those pesky one star books where some reviewers have been unnecessarily cruel – those are the books I want to read. I believe in being honest but fair with reviews. When I see a book being slammed in a way that feels hateful and mean… it makes me want to read that book. Possibly not what that particular reviewer was intending but I want to give the book a fair go – this is how I found my way reading Embrace by Jessica Shirvington and I found myself thankful for the hater who got me started on a great series.

And then there’s twitter. I love twitter. I don’t use it as much as I probably should but I enjoy seeing what people are talking about and what they have to say. It’s amazing how conversations on seemingly random topics can result in brilliant book banter. Just last night I was lured in and now feel like I MUST! read The Night of Cake and Puppets by Laini Taylor (okay, I was going to read this novella anyway but now it’s more of a burning desire than just a ‘I’ll get around to it someday” kind of feeling).

How do you choose your next book to read? Recommendations by friends and family? Does the blurb on the back of the book entice you to pick it next? Do you have a certain method of determining what you’re going to read involving complex algorithms or formulas? 

Feel free to leave me a comment. I’d love to know how you choose what you’re going to read next.

Discussion: Bookish Gifts

Thoughts bookish gifts

I love to give bookish gifts. I’m not ashamed to be a self-proclaimed ‘book pusher’ and often find myself buying multiple copies of books I loved to give to friends with the hope that they will love them as much as I did. I think that being told “you’re right! That book was amazing” is such an incredible feeling. But buying books as gifts can be fraught with some complications.

5 Reasons Why Books Might Not Make the Best Gifts

  • You don’t know their taste well enough
    Romantically, politically or religiously – there are some books that just might not be appropriate as gifts. I have been devastated before when I’ve given people books that I’ve adored for whatever reason and find myself disappointed when others don’t like them for the reasons I loved them. I once gave a male friend my copy of Persuasion by Jane Austen and was slightly shattered when he thought the romance was contrived and silly.
  • The person you’re buying for has read everything – twice!
    Book worm or book nerd – call them what you like but some people are so well read and read so much that it makes them impossible to buy. You may find that even after you’ve gone and bought something obscure and wonderful only to find out that your giftee has already read it. I think in this case its wise to keep the receipt and try not to be offended if they’ve already read your gift. Take it as a compliment that your gift is so right for them that they have already read it! (Note: a gift card might be best for this type of person.)
  • They don’t like reading books
    Some people find books to be too big a reading commitment or they like the shiny pages of a magazine more. Books aren’t for everyone and I think that it’s better not to push a gift that won’t be appreciated.
  • They don’t like reading the books you like
    I have a sister who enjoys reading the occasional book – but she can’t stand most of the books I love. If it’s fantasy or paranormal then she takes a wide berth. I should take my own advice and stop giving her books that aren’t her thing… as evident that she never even took the two I gave her last Christmas home with her…
  • Books just don’t fit in their lifestyle
    Too busy, not enough space – there are a number of reasons why someone might not want a bookish gift. If it’s a lack of time then perhaps a compilation of short stories could be an idea and for the space challenges maybe ebooks would be a good compromise.

 

That said – I still love to give books. They’re easy to wrap! They give people the opportunity to unplug from technology (ereaders aside) and relax. It’s cheap to travel to different worlds through a book and even cute fluffy reads can be educational.  I’m giving a lot of books to my family this Christmas – from my 21 month old niece who is getting a ten book set of Grug books to my sister who will be receiving the latest Bridget Jones novel – and I’m excited to see what they think.

I also hope to receive some books as gifts – or some bookish gifts! If you love to spread love of literature but you’re not sure how the written word might be received, you can also give some book themed gifts.

A few of my favourites include:

  • book quote scarves from storiarts on Etsy. They even have my favourite book Persuasion and sells for just under $50 AUD

Persuasion Book Scarf

  • Paper Passion perfume – apparently this smells just like freshly printed books. I love the idea but haven’t smelt it. The packaging is gorgeous – with the bottle resting in what looks like a hollowed out book ($65.70 AUD from Amazon)
  • I love to have a good cup of tea or coffee by my side when devouring a book and love literary mugs. I currently drink from a Little Miss Trouble mug but have been lusting after these Penguin mugs for a while. In fact it’s the entire Penguin collection of merchandise that I love. So many gorgeous things!

 

 

What are your thoughts about giving books as gifts? Do you like non-literary bookish gifts? What things are you gifting to loved ones this year?

 

Discussion: Love Triangles

Thoughts Triangles

Love them or hate them – they are a prominent feature in YA literature. And chances are even if you’ve not read a young adult novel you’ve run into Team Edward or Team Jacob supporters. Love Triangles add a little extra spice and drama to a romantic relationship.

Love triangles are nothing new. Shakespeare often had them in his plays, Eponine, Marius and Cosette are entangled in Les Miserables and Dumas’ The Three Musketeers faced their share too. But it seems lately that I can’t go a week without reading a young adult novel with a triangle in it. True, these aren’t real triangles in the geometry scheme of things (they’re more angles than triangles) nor are they like the Triangular Theory of Love that I learned in my first year of psychology but I still think of them as triangles because whilst there isn’t a romance between all three sides, there’s a relationship between them all – with fierce rivalry between the two suitors.

The most common type I’ve encountered in YA novels is as follows:

LoveTri

The heroine has to choose between the nice guy (often the best friend) and the bad boy (usually mysterious and somewhat dangerous).

So how do I feel about love triangles?

Like with everything – it depends. There are times when I adore the give and take of the romantic leads. But it does rely on a few different factors.

The LOVE IS EVERYTHING! triangle – I’m not a fan of this type of triangle. This is the type when love is the be all and end all. Other plot points are secondary to the intense romance and feels that are going on. I need some more plot with my romance. They often focus on the female and this is a reason I tend to dislike them. They don’t seem to take into account the feelings of the different parties nor does it seem to be an issue if the woman is a little manipulative and using both sides (albeit at times the girl doesn’t realize she’s doing this). Twilight with the Bella/Edward and Bella/Jacob relationships is an example of this. I think I’m often confused by this type because they often feature girls who are apparently plain, dull and uninteresting and all of a sudden they’re fighting off drop dead gorgeous men with a stick. It feels unrealistic and more like fanfiction than anything else (and considering I went though a period where I read and wrote a LOT of Dawson’s Creek fanfiction, I know what I’m talking about).

The IT’S NOT REALLY A TRIANGLE BUT BOY IS IT CONFUSING triangle – Whilst I didn’t like Twilight, I enjoyed Stephenie Meyer’s other novel, The Host. This book involves a fairly confusing type of relationship with the main character Wanda sharing a body with Melanie. Melanie is in love with Jarrod and Jarrod with Melanie but Wanda (who is in Melanie’s body) is starting to fall for Ian and Ian for her. It’s not quite a triangle but I enjoyed how it all played out. I liked how this one played out because the romance did take a lot of page time but there was a lot of other plot going on and ultimately the romance didn’t overshadow everything else that was going on.

The BADASS HEROINE, LOVE COMES SECOND triangle – This is the type of book that I love best. The kind where the heroine is determined to do whatever it is her mission is and she doesn’t let her confusing romantic entanglements get in the way. This is the kind that appears in Throne of Glass, Vampire Academy, The Hunger Games and many other books that I’ve enjoyed. The females don’t try to play her suitors off against each other nor does she become a victim to her relationship. They’re strong on their own and if they do choose one of the guys, it’s because it’s true love and not just because they didn’t want to be alone.

The ONE GUY TO MANY GIRLS triangle – I admit I’m a lover of The Bachelor and I’m a little surprised I haven’t come across all that many books with this type of triangle. I think it’s possibly because when it’s attempted, the male character often comes across as a player and not the sensitive new aged guy he’s supposed to be. Books like The Selection feature this type but it’s a little more complicated with one of the females vying for the male is also in a separate triangle of her own. I don’t mind it in The Selection as it makes so many more possibilities of who is going to end up with who. This series doesn’t try to hide what it is and I don’t mind that it’s focused on romance because that’s what I was expecting going in.

 

I think what it comes down to for me is how well it’s written. If it’s believable and well written with characters I like and are trying to sort things out – I’ll enjoy it. I just don’t like relationships where characters are being unfair to each other or the triangle is the story’s focus and the biggest twist in the plot turns out to be who the apex of the triangle chooses.

 

What are you favourite love triangles? Any that you really didn’t like? Are there any series with amazing love triangles and relationships you would recommend that I read? 

Let me know what you think about love triangles. Comments are always welcome 🙂

Discussion: To Be Read Piles

TBR

As long as I can remember I’ve had a TBR. A list of books that I want to read – a sort of To-Do list for books. And until September 2010 my list was fairly manageable. But then I joined goodreads and my list exploded.

bookshelves

My Goodreads Bookshelves

I love finding new authors and books I’ve not heard of to read – and as a result my Goodreads to-read list has more books on it than books I’ve read. Lately I’ve been seeing people talking about their TBRs and how they need
to ‘prune’ them as they’re getting out of hand. But to be honest I don’t mind my list having close to a thousand books on it. I’d rather be drowning in the abundance of reading possibilities than living in a drought with nothing to read.

For my Goodreads list I do have a few rules.

  • I try to only add one book from a series to my TBR. If I’ve not started a series then I only add the first book even if I intend on reading the whole series.
  • Every few months I go through the books I’ve added and see if I’m still interested. I tend to go through phases and add a lot of a certain kind of book but later on reflection I realize that I’m not as interested as I was when I added them.
  • If I’ve started a book from my TBR but not finished it for whatever reason I move it to another shelf called “Put on Hold” with the intention of some day getting back and finishing it. I also have a “Did Not Finish” shelf that has books I’m never intending on finishing. That shelf is currently only at 2 books (Outlander and Atlas Shrugged – they hold a special place in my heart but not for the best reason).
  • There can never be too many books on the list. I know some people who don’t let their TBRs get over a hundred but that’s clearly not the case with mine.

In addition to my goodreads list I have a lot of physical books that I already own and plan to read. I don’t read to a strict schedule but I do like to plan out what I’m going to read in a loose sense. The books that I’m planning on reading in the next few months are in a cardboard box that sits underneath my coffee table. Easy access but mostly it’s because I currently need to buy some more shelving. I’ll probably have finished reading these books by February – but never fear. Christmas is near giving me opportunity to buy more books and get some as gifts to fill up another box.

My Current To Be Read pile

My Current To Be Read pile – Very excited to read Stormdancer and The Hobbit

Lately I’ve been rather good at reading the books already in my possession but every now and then I can’t help but buy a new book or I come home from the library with half a dozen books that I read first. There are times when emotion dictates what I want to read next (I occasionally get in a mood where I must read a certain genre) or I read a review and then simply have to read a particular book (like a few weeks ago when I decided enough was enough and bought a certain Melina Marchetta book).

Feel free to leave me a comment about TBRs or even just reading in general. I love all comments and will visit back.

How do you maintain control of your TBR and do you have any suggestions? Does your TBR ever intimidate you? What book from your TBR do you plan on reading next? 

Discussion: Spoilers

Spoilers

 

The other day I was in a bookstore and I was very excited about finally purchasing a book I’d been excited about for months but only just gotten around to buying. Clutching my soon-to-be-bought new addition for my personal library I approached the counter and waiting to complete my purchase. The woman at the register and I started some small talk as she rang up my book but then disaster struck.

Is this the book where [insert character name] dies and [insert other IMPORTANT PLOT TWISTS] happen?”

She saw my face fall as soon as she said it and started backtracking but the damage was done.

This isn’t the first time – nor will it be the last time – when I accidentally stumble upon bookish happenings before they occur. My sister decided to tell me every single death in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows before I got to them (she thought she was helping me emotionally prepare for them in advance).

So, how do I really feel about spoilers? 

Most of the time they don’t really bother me. I started The Mortal Instruments series by Cassandra Clare  years after everyone else and knew so many of the twists and turns before I even got a copy. But other times… THEY REALLY UPSET ME! 

I’ve worked out what my rule is:

  • If I’ve invested time, money and a whole lot of emotions into a series – I don’t want to know what’s going to happen before I get to it. You can only read a book for the first time once. And when key happenings are revealed before they happen to you… it’s like you’ve skimmed the book before you’ve read it.
  • Otherwise, if the book/series is one I’m interested in but just haven’t gotten around to reading yet – spoiler away. Sometimes I find spoilers for books I’m thinking about reading actually push me over the edge and make me want to read the book THAT MUCH MORE!

I try not to reveal any big spoilers in my book reviews. If it’s not in the blurb or the first 15% of the novel – I try as hard as I can not to divulge any pertinent details and if I do I point it out in the first line of my review just so that no body stumbles upon anything they would rather not.

What are your thoughts about spoilers? Have you unintentionally revealed twists to people ahead of time? Do you like knowing what is going to happen ahead of time?