Happy New Year & Happy Birthday (to me)!

happy new years

2013 has been quite the roller coaster, with both ecstatic highs and frustrating lows. While I’m thankful to have accomplished quite a lot, I must admit that this past year definitely paved the way for room for improvement. So sayonara, 2013, and HELLOOOOOO 2014! I’m excited for the next 365 days and am determined to make this year better than the last.

I’m still working on my list of resolutions, but of course I’ve got a few bookish ones sprinkled in there. Like I said, last year was quite the roller coaster, resulting in a neglected blog and a reading slump that lasted WAY too long. I refuse to let that happen again. Books are my life (she says dramatically) and I need to get back to what makes me happy. As for this blog, I need to write for myself and stop worrying what others think and whether or not they do(n’t) like it. As much as I LOVE the book blogging community (another resolution is to become more involved with commenting, social media, etc.), it’s easy to get caught up in comparing my blog/reading speed/ARC piles to other bloggers. My plan is to look to others for inspiration, NOT envy. Besides, the only person who can do RtR justice is moi!

Along with today being the start of a new year, today is also my birthday! Talk about a starting-fresh double whammy! While today was pretty low-key, I made sure to do two of my most favorite things: browse the bookstore and eat cupcakes. I also indulged in a personal birthday prezzie to myself, but I’m keeping it hush-hush until it arrives a few days from now. Needless to say I’ll be obsessively stalking the “track my package” until then…

…Starting now! Kidding (maybe). But I do hear a red velvet cupcake calling my name. Happy New Year, lovlies, and here’s to a healthy, prosperous, and BOOKISH 2014!

happy new year

My Thoughts on “Emo” Books & Why I Avoid Them

“There can be no knowledge without emotion.” — Arnold Bennett 

Yesterday while chatting about scary movies (and why I avoid them them) with the beau, I confessed my extreme aversion to not just scary movies but to tear-jerkers too. He didn’t seem to understand why I prefer movies/TV shows that are cheery, comical, and over-all lighthearted. Not surprisingly, the same goes for books as well.

I got to thinking about my indifference toward books that are more emotional and “heavier” than the typical lighthearted, fun books that fill the majority of my shelves. I’ll admit, I tend to gravitate toward books that are typically more upbeat, but I look at it this way: reading is — and always has been — my escape. If I’m going to live on my own Fantasy Island, I want it to be happy-go-lucky, cheerful, and filled with sexy times (just being honest!). I don’t want to get over-emotional and become a blubbering mess because something tragic happened to a character who I’ve fallen in love with. (Reason #1 why I don’t read Nicholas Sparks books.) I don’t want crying on Fantasy Island, I want laughter!

All the feels!That said, whenever I hear buzz about certain books that actually seem interesting, I feel as though I’m depriving myself and not giving them a chance simply because I KNOW they’re probably tear-jerkers. Sure, I’ve read books that have made me cry, but in those instances, they’ve all taken me by complete surprise! The books I tend to avoid are the ones whose plots scream “Bring tissue!”

In an effort to experience all spectrums of the emotional rainbow, I’m making a personal decision to pick up at least one book that I’m sure is likely to “give me the feels.”

A few titles that have caught my interest while floating around the book world are:

Feel free to suggest any others that you think I should check out! I will definitely make sure I’m fully stocked with Kleenex before venturing into Emo City (the opposite of Fantasy Land, obviously).

ROAMING QUESTION: Do you tend to avoid certain books for emotional reason? Or am I just crazy for depriving myself from a whole world of great literature simply because it’s “too emo”?

Listen While You Eat

Happy Thanksgiving, guys ‘n gals! Hope your day is filled with healthy portions of food, family and good fortune. I’ll keep this post brief, since today is about family, but I wanted to share a quick tidbit of advice before diving fork-first into my mom’s famous sweet potatoes.

Picture this: First round of dinner is over and it’s time to break before dessert. The football fans in your family have all gathered around the TV to watch the game and there’s a content, lazy smile on your face. You’re waiting to digest (hence the unbuttoned top button of your jeans) and decided to pass the time by cracking open the book you stashed in your bag, but you know that as soon as you turn the page, you’ll be out quicker than a cracked light bulb.

One word: audiobook. Today is the perfect time to fulfill your bookish needs audibly. It’s the perfect solution if you think about it. You can kick back on the couch, let your eyes drift close, and still continue to read along! Plus, it tunes out the sounds of  family members’ whooping and hollering at the TV (football fans, I tell ya!) and there’s no need to worry about inadvertently reading the same sentence over and over because you keep looking up to make sure no one’s snuck a taste of the pumpkin pie.

If you’re on board with this idea (And why wouldn’t you be? It’s genius!) but don’t have any audiobooks on hand, don’t fret! Despite the holiday, it’s not too late to pick out your choice of audiobooks. Here are a few sites that offer instant audiobook downloads:

I’ve already scoured the sites and am down to six choices (I know, I know — I’m terrible at choosing), so I’m all set! Now, my bookish friends, it’s your turn. So while last-minute preparations are being made and there’s a lull in family obligations, hop on the net and search for your perfect Thanksgiving read (listen?). Enjoy!

ROAMING QUESTION: Which Thanksgiving dish will you be going back to for seconds?

Update: 2012 Reading Goals

It’s me again! Remember when I discussed my reading goals for this year? Since we’re about a quarter of the way through the year, I figured it was time for an update on how I’m holding up so far with the challenges I set for myself.

Goal 1: Read books outside my comfort zone — While the majority of the books I’ve read thus far have been romances, I did give in to peer pressure and read the Hunger Games trilogy, a YA series about a girl who is sent to fight to the death against other teenagers in the annual Hunger Games competition. With the movie coming out and all the hype surrounding the books, I just had to see what all the hoopla was about. While the first book was just okay (reminded me too much of Battle Royale), I was completely entranced with books two and three, consuming them both in less than a week. I dabble in YA every now and then, but these books were a bit outside my normal realm of reading because of the dystopian theme and violent nature.

Goal 2: Read more — Well, as of now I’ve read 13 books since the beginning of the year. According to my (okay, Goodreads’) calculations, I’m four books ahead of schedule, which I’m taking as a sign that I’ve been reading plenty. Plus, there’ve been many a night when I’ve curled up on the couch with my Kindle and read while the beau watched T.V. After about ten minutes, I’m in the zone and so caught up in my book that don’t even hear what’s playing in the background.

Goal 3: Visit my local public library — I’m very proud of this one, as I just happened to have taken a trip to the library this past weekend! I admit, I was a bit jaded when I walked in (bad past experiences), but all my doubts were quickly squelched when I came across book after book that I just had to read. In the end, I only checked out five books, but believe me, I had my eye on many more than that.

Goal 4: Blog more — Sigh. Okay, so I haven’t been doing so well with this one. I really need to start carving out time to blog and sit down and force myself to write. It’s not that I don’t have anything to write about — in fact, I have a whole list of post ideas — but I just need to develop a blogging routine so that I can be somewhat regular with posting. I’ll try harder, I promise!

And finally, I’ve decided on a reading challenge number for this year. Drum roll, please… My goal is to read *50* books this year! It’s the perfect number between reasonable and slightly pushing myself. So far I’m ahead of schedule, which I hope to maintain, but if not, it’ll be good to have a buffer if something ever comes up and causes me to take a reading break for a bit. Oh, and If you’re ever interested in keeping tabs on how far along I am with my reading challenge, my progress meter is conveniently located on the sidebar. For more detail about which books I’ve read or the reading challenge in general, just clickety-click on the appropriate links.

I know it’s only March, but I’m doing pretty darn good on keeping my goals so far! *Pats self on back* Hopefully I’ll stick to it as the months tick by, but only time will tell. I plan on doing another update in another couple of months, so be sure to keep a look out for part II.

Roaming Question: Did you make any goals for the new year? Have you kept up with them?

Bookish Books for Bookworms

For a bookworm like myself, the only thing better than reading and books is reading books about books. Did I confuse you there? What I mean is that I’m a sucker for plots centered around books, settings that include libraries and/or bookstores, and characters that are librarians/writers/readers.

After a trip to my charming local library this weekend, I fell even more in love with libraries and bookish establishments. Then I thought, what better way to feed my need for all things book-related than to, well, read about all things book-related? So I sifted through my TBR list and searched for titles that feature libraries, bookstores and/or bookish characters. Unsurprisingly, I had more than a few that fit the bill. Instead of listing them all, I’ve compiled a short list that covers a variety of genres — after all, bookish books span beyond the romance genre!

  • The Major and the Librarian by Nikki Benjamin: A category romance featuring — you guessed it — a major and a librarian. No need to even read the blurb — you had me at “librarian”!
  • How to Buy a Love of Reading by Tanya Egan Gibson: a fictional tale about a girl whose parents try to get her to read by having a book written especially for her.
  • Ex Libris: Confessions of a Common Reader by Anne Fadiman: a collection of essays in which the writer recounts her love of books.
  • Provoke Me by Cari Quinn: Both the hero and heroine manage a bookstore and love books… but can they admit their love for each other?
  • Murder is Binding by Lorna Barrett: the first in a cozy mystery series about an entire town known for its abundance of bookstores.
  • Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan: A contemporary YA featuring two bookish teens, the infamous Strand bookstore, and a crazy fun scavenger hunt around New York City.

Roaming Question: Do you read books about books? If not, what topic or hobby are you a sucker for & can’t help reading about?

Diving Head-First into 2012

Wow, it’s been a while since my last post. I didn’t intend for my hiatus to be so long, but then again, I’m all about the “absence makes the heart grow fonder” philosophy. That said, instead of harping about the past, let’s dive right in — Happy New Year! Despite what the Mayans thought, I believe 2012 will be *my* year. My reading drought has finally passed (hooray!) and I’m adding books to my TBR list at lightning speed! Speaking of TBRs, am I the only one who gets just as much pleasure from looking for books as I do from actually reading them? I can literally spend hours surfing Amazon, Goodreads and the bookstore just skimming through books and deciding whether or not to add them to my constantly expanding list of books to read. What can I say, I just love books — paperback, e-book, hardcover… If it has words, count me in!

Which brings me to my next point: my 2012 reading goals. Goodreads has a section where you can set your own personal reading goal, in which I plan on participating. The thing is, though, I haven’t quite decided what I want my numerical goal to be. Fifty books? Twenty-five? Sixty? I’m still mulling it over, but in the meantime, I have made up my mind about other reading goals for the year. This is only a quick ‘n dirty list of what I’ve come up with so far, so I’m sure this will change and expand as the days weeks go on:

1. Read books outside my comfort zone. As if it wasn’t obvious from the title of this blog, romance is my favorite genre. However, I know there are other amazing books out there and I don’t want to limit myself simply because it falls outside my “happily ever after” expectations. I plan to test the waters with YA, thriller, comic books — anything that I normally wouldn’t jump to read, I plan to.

2. Read more. This sounds absurd since I already read a lot, but believe it or not, there are times when I choose to watch TV or surf the ‘net instead of picking up a book. Don’t get me wrong, I cherish my TV/internet/etc. downtime, but there are times when I’m mindlessly flipping through the channel when I could instead be getting lost in a good book.

3. Visit my local public library. I go back and forth with this one. Not because I don’t like libraries — I love them! In fact, I used to check out a dozen books a time when I was younger — but because of the state of them nowadays. Don’t get me wrong, I completely empathize with the whole lack of public-funding, catering-to-everyone ordeal, but the last few times I went to the library my experiences were less than stellar. For instance, a librarian asking “Who?” when I asked where the Jane Austin books were (don’t even get me started on that day). And of course there’s the likelihood of them not carrying a book I want to read or the “checked out indefinitely” status. Plus, it also comes down to the lack of instant gratification. Why would I put myself on a months-long waiting list to read a book when I could just go out and buy it? Nothing against those who do, and I’m definitely no Mr. Ms. Moneybags, but buying books is something I will always allow myself to do. And also why I bought a Kindle.

Well, that’s about it for now. Three things may not seem like a lot on the surface, but it’s definitely enough to keep me busy in the next upcoming months. Oh! There is one more:

4. Blog more! Or should I say, blog more regularly. I did a decent job last year of updating RtR, but I don’t want to fall into another three-month dry spell. Plus, perhaps blogging more could help me through my reading droughts (which is inevitable in every reader’s life). I won’t set myself up for unrealistic expectations and vow to blog every day, or even every other day (if I do, though, great!), but a minimum of once a week seems manageable.

Okay, so there you have it. My reading/bookish goals for the year. When I decide on a numerical reading goal or if I think of more general goals, I’ll be sure to fill you all in. In the meantime, I’m off to add more to my TBR list. It’s times like this I’m proud to be a bookworm!