Musing Mondays — Distractions

Today’s Musing Mondays question is… “Other than working at a job, what is your biggest interruption to reading? What takes you away from your book(s)?”

Those jobs, always getting in the way! But it’s true, I do sometimes find myself not reading even when I’m not getting paid to do other things… Usually the distraction is in the form of television shows, like when I spent most of December getting caught up with 30 Rock (only to fall behind again in January) or like last month when I discovered Community, or probably like next month when I’ll be recovering from jetlag with something completely mindless on Netflix. Suggestions?

The other thing that takes me away from reading, though less often, is video games. I’m not like the hubby who spends inordinate amounts of time shooting people and then shooting them again when they come back to life (seriously, if you think about Call of Duty too hard it breaks your brain) or building civilizations and making treaties and stuff, but if you give me a good tower defense game like GemCraft or a game I actually have to play with other people like Draw Something I can forget about books for hours or days at a time.

Thank goodness books don’t hold grudges…

Musing Mondays — Book Club

Today’s Musing Mondays question is… “Do you belong to any book clubs — face-to-face, or online? If so, how long have you been with the group(s)? If not, why?”

Book club! I love book club. I love book clubs, actually, as I am part of two lovely and wonderful groups.

The first group is one of my own devising, that I convinced a couple of college friends and my mother to start with me way back in the fall of aught-nine. We had a grand time reading and Skype-ing about and alternately loving and hating the chosen books for about a year, at which point all the grad-school kids got swamped with, like, real work and stuff and we had to take a year-long hiatus. But now we’re back (from outer space?) with more members and good books and I am very happy, because I heart my friends.

The second group is one here in Jacksonville, which I joined after eight months of being more or less a recluse in my new town. They were reading Middlesex, I love Middlesex, it was book club love at first meeting. We’ve read some stinkers, but the people who really hate a book are the ones who make the meetings hilarious, and because we meet in person we can always ignore the books in favor of food and tasty beverages. And just recently a bunch of us went to see The Hunger Games, a book club favorite, at the theater and it was a fantastic time.

In sum, books are wonderful and book clubs are a good way to read a book and make some friends at the same time.

Musing Mondays — Bookstore Beeline

Today’s Musing Mondays question asks, “When you walk into a bookstore — any bookstore — what’s the first section you head toward (what draws you)?”

Well, I have to admit that I don’t go into bookstores much these days, what with the working at two libraries and already having lots of their books on my shelves. But let me give you the lowdown on all of my book-finding habits.

At the public library, the first place I go is the holds shelf, because that’s where all of my books are, with my name on them and everything! Since I work in cataloging, I see all the new books come in and I tend to grab them up before anyone else even has a chance. If I’m somehow not retrieving holds, I’ll look over the various displays that the librarians have set up and see if one of those books on yoga or superheroes or whatever is of interest to me. At the branch by my house (not the one I work at), there’s a display of YA audiobooks that I like to look over because those tend to be easy and fun to listen to at work.

At my academic library, I again keep track of the new books that come in and grab the ones I want, though since they’re mostly fancy non-fiction things I don’t tend to kidnap as many. Well, I say this now; give me a few weeks and I’m sure I’ll be at my ten-book limit (or higher if I wield my override power!).

At my favorite used bookstore (Mac’s Backs in Cleveland), I’ll head straight to the mystery section to see if any Dorothy Sayers or Agatha Christie novels have managed to show up in used form — either no one ever trades these in or someone else like me is ready when they do, because I’ve only managed to get a couple this way. After that inevitable disappointment I’ll head over to the classics shelf and then make my way around to the general fiction.

At any other bookstore, I usually end up just starting at the front and/or the display tables and meandering my way around the store. You will also find me at the humor book section, reading weird things out loud to my husband while he tries to find something funnier with which to outdo me. He generally wins.

Et vous?

Musing Mondays — Series

Today’s Musing Mondays question is actually something I’ve been thinking about lately: “Do you read books that are part of a series? Do you collect all the books in the series before starting? What if the series is brand new, and the only book that’s been published so far is Book one? As subsequent books in the series are published, do you go back and re-read the preceding books?”

To the first question: Oh, heck yes, do I read series. Most recently I reported in on Flavia de Luce, but I’m also a sucker for a good Thursday Next, and I’ve mainlined series like the Codex Alera or the Bartimaeus trilogy or the Hitchhiker’s Guide “trilogy” after they were done or almost done and had a great time with them. And I often get tricked into reading series, like with the aforementioned Flavia, because I think they’ll stand alone but then they are totally series and I’m like, okay, sweet.

So, to the second: Yes. I’m generally not seeking out series to read, because I’m generally not planning my reading farther out than “Ooh shiny book,” so most of my series reading starts with the first book, or going back to the first book because the second one is shiny — but I do like to start at number one if I realize that that’s an option. If the series is finished and it’s reasonably short and I’ve heard good things, I’ll probably be interested in checking it out, but if it’s, say, fifteen or so 800-page books, it’s going to take some doing (see: my husband’s unending mission to get me to read the rest of the Wheel of Time series). Similarly, I re-read the then-entirety of Harry Potter before the fourth and fifth books came out, but for the last two I decided that there was just too much to go back for. So don’t ask me what happened in the last three books, because I’ve only read them once each!

The reason I’ve been thinking about series lately is that with the new job and all, I’m just not finding as much time to read as I did back in the days of grad school and unemployment, so I’m trying not to read things I’m not going to like. The problem with series, like, again, Flavia, is that sometimes one books is awesome and the next isn’t but then the next is awesome again and so I just don’t know what to do! I wasn’t thrilled with Tana French‘s third book, but I adored the first two… when the fourth comes out this summer, I know I’m going to read it but I don’t know if I’m going to like it. But I can’t not read it, because what if it’s amazing again? (See also: the third season of Coupling, which is absolutely terrible but I watched the whole dang thing.)

What about you guys? Do you get as anxious about series as I do? Are there any that I should give a chance?

Musing Mondays — Super Bowl Reading

Today’s Musing Mondays question is quite timely… “Did you do any reading in lieu of watching the football game, yesterday, or were you foregoing reading to watch the game? If you read a book (or books) what did you choose?”

I didn’t do anything in lieu of the football game… I actually had a bunch of friends over to watch the game, only one of whom had any care for who won. It was a good game, if you liked to bite your nails, but unfortunately my friend was a Pats fan, so… alas.

But, having people over meant I had to, like, vacuum and fold all the laundry and make the bed and stuff, and I thought it would take forever but it didn’t. This left me with some time to kill, so I picked up that Flavia de Luce mystery I mentioned last week and actually managed to finish it! I feel so accomplished now.

Musing Mondays — What’s Next?

Today’s Musing Mondays question asks, “How far along are you in your current read before you start thinking about what you’ll read next?”

Well. I suppose that depends on how good my current read is! For instance, right now I’m about halfway through I Am Half-Sick of Shadows, the new Flavia de Luce novel, which follows its predecessors in being droll, ridiculous, and also not terribly engaging. So I’m reading it in little chunks and pondering what to read next — am I ready for the weep-fest that The Fault in Our Stars promises to be? Is it time to finally get around to finishing The Revisionists? Should I start on the stories in A Study in Sherlock? I probably won’t actually make a decision until Flavia has solved the case, but I’m looking forward to a good read no matter what I pick!

The only time I might start thinking about my next book well before finishing my current one is when it’s book club time — that always seems to sneak up on me and then it’s a mad dash to find the book in the library and get it done, so I generally try to think to myself, “Okay, if I’m reading Flavia right now, and it’s taking me a while, I’m going to need to at least look at getting A Reliable Wife so I’ll have it in time for my in-person book club, but I can put off worrying about Zeitoun until my online book club friends figure out a date for us to meet.” My online book club friends know this last part to be true.

And of course sometimes there are those books that just prevent me from thinking about what I might read next, or in fact thinking about anything at all, like any of the Harry Potter books when they first came out, or The Likeness, or The Night Circus, to name a few. Then when I get done I’m like, “Oh, crap. What am I going to read next? Anything I read is going to suck compared to that! Stupid excellent book.”

How about you guys?

Musing Mondays — YA

Today’s Musing Mondays comes to you fashionably late! This week’s question: “Why do you think that the Young Adult genre is so popular with even the adult readers? Do you read YA books, yourself?”

I’ve taken a turn with the ol’ young adults here and there and while I don’t like every YA book out there, there are quite a few that I absolutely love. Really, it’s hard to answer a question like “Why do you like YA books?” because that’s like asking “Why do you like books?” They come in all shapes and sizes just like books for kids or books for adults.

I think part of why I still read a good bit of YA even though I’m practically an old woman (this is not true) is that even though I was in the young adult age range just ten years or so ago, I wasn’t reading YA then. I pretty much skipped from The Babysitter’s Club and Sweet Valley books straight into the adult section, because there weren’t a lot of options in my library that were at both my reading and age levels. So I started going back to see what I’d missed, and found a lot of great new stuff while I was at it.

Probably the other thing that makes me like YA is that it tends to reflect my own life better. So much adult fiction centers around relationships or marriages that are dysfunctional or falling apart or whatever, and (knock on wood) I simply don’t relate. I haven’t had, and hope never to have, these experiences, and so I just spend most of my time complaining at the characters for being so stupid. It gets tiresome. But high school? I can totally relate to dysfunctional and stupid high schoolers, that is easy.

Speaking of YA, I got my copy of John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars the other day, but I haven’t cracked it open yet because I’ve been told it will make me cry my poor sad eyes out, and I do not have the will or the tissues to get through it just yet. But I’m excited for the day that I do have those.

Musing Mondays — E-Readers

Today’s Musing Mondays question asks, “What devices –if any– do you read books on? Do you find it enjoyable, or still somewhat bothersome? Or: If you only read the print books, why haven’t you chosen to read on any devices?”

Hwell. I may have mentioned here before that I’m not a big e-book person right now, largely because I do not own an e-reader. And I do not own an e-reader because I’m not really excited about any of the ones that exist. I want something without too many DRM restrictions, so the Kindle is out, and I want something with an e-ink screen, so all those new tablets and such are out, and the few options that I’m left with are just not enticing me to part with a hundred dollars or so. Certainly if one fell into my hands I would embrace it and use it all the time, like I did with the iPod my parents bought for me five years ago and which I still use, but I’m still largely content with my paper reading experience. When they start making books better formatted to e-readers and perhaps give me some reason other than storage density to make the switch, I’ll look into it more seriously.

Of course, I still have read e-books, just on my computer and on my phone, neither of which experience was terribly exciting because it is just difficult for me to read things on a backlit screen for any length of time. I did appreciate the ability to read 13 Little Blue Envelopes while I was standing in lines or sitting in waiting rooms, since it was just right there on my phone, but I tried to read another book on my phone during a practically errand-free spell and I just couldn’t be bothered when I could be playing Cut the Rope instead. Ah, well.

Musing Mondays — Meme-tastic

I’ve been a Musing Mondays slacker of late, as I just haven’t connected with a good question. But this week’s offering is a little meme-thing, and you know how I love those little buggers. So!

What was the last book you…

• borrowed from the library?

I just today grabbed The Red Tent, my book club’s next pick.

• bought?

A Visit From the Goon Squad, which I found at The Bookmark, my local-ish indie bookstore.

• cried over?

The Book Thief, because I am not made of stone, people.

• disliked and couldn’t finish?

I tried listening to a free version of Emma, but the narrator took her commas and full stops way too seriously for me. Not the book’s problem, though, and I might try a different version later.

• read & loved?

Anya’s Ghost, which I did not intend to like at all!

• got for review? (or: got in the mail?)

Well, I don’t do that first part, and I like to buy my books in person… hmm… I think the last time I mail-ordered books I ended up with John Green’s first three novels, and also The Secret History

• gave to someone else?

Uh-oh. I lent a friend some books recently and I don’t remember what they were! I’m pretty sure I lent her The Sparrow and The Manual of Detection, and probably In the Woods? I should really keep better track of these things.

• stayed up too late reading?

The Hunger Games, which is just too engaging for its own good!

Musing Mondays — Cull or Surrender?

Today’s Musing Mondays is a long one:

“Below is a link to an NPR discussion about the simple fact that there’s no way you can read, see and experience all the things that are available to be experienced. The two methods for dealing with it are culling (i.e., cutting out certain genres that don’t interest you, etc.) or surrender (i.e., just making peace with the facts and enjoying what you can in the time that you have).

So, do you cull, or do you surrender? Or do you do both?”

I’m guessing that most people do a combination of the two, and I am no exception. I have surrendered to the fact that I will not read many many many wonderful things in my life, but I’m certainly going to try my hardest! And I think there should be some sort of third option up there of “seeking” — as in, I know I can’t read everything wonderful but I am going to seek out the things that I feel I absolutely must read or that I think are important to read or fun to read or whatever. The opposite of culling, really. Right now I’m seeking out more literary fiction and experimental fiction because I feel a lack of it, and I’m looking in the future to seek out more early mystery novels from authors I haven’t read because I want to have a better breadth of knowledge there, and I’m sure in a year or two I’ll have another subset of literature that I am eager to get my hands on.

In the culling department, I know that I will not read any of the 700 or so Harlequin/Silhouette romance paperbacks that are filling my cataloging department right now (I really did not know there could be so many variations on sheikhs and millionaires and mistresses, etc.). I’m not going to pick up any long epic fantasy series. I’m not likely to read political books or Christian/inspirational fiction or urban novels or westerns or cat detective novels or self-help books. I don’t mean never to any of these — if something that fits one of these categories came highly recommended I’m sure I’d give it a try — but I do mean most likely not. I mean, I have plenty of other stuff to read!