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!

Booking Through Thursday — Excitement

Today’s Booking Through Thursday question is more like several: “What’s the last book you were really EXCITED to read? And, were you excited about it in advance? Or did the excitement bloom while you were reading it? Are there any books you’re excited about right NOW?”

Oooh, good questions! To the first couple, the last book that I was all “omg why is this book not in my hands RIGHT MEOW” about was One of Our Thursdays is Missing, which feeling was only heightened by the fact that I saw it come into the library about a day or two before it made it into my grubby little hands. And it was totally worth it.

The last book that I was excited about while reading it was A Visit from the Goon Squad, which I was vaguely familiar with as “that awesome book that won some schmancy prize or other” but otherwise clueless about. Then I started reading it, and I was just so smitten with the way Egan built the book that I couldn’t put it down. Love.

What am I excited about right now? Well, I have a whole stack of books sitting here at home, but none of them are really crying out to me. And I am terrible at keeping track of when books come out, so I’m not sure what’s out in the near future. I did hear the other day that there will be another Flavia de Luce mystery coming out for the holidays, and while I won’t quite be first in line to get that book, I am definitely planning on reading it!

What are you guys excited about? What should I be excited about, if only I had any idea it was happening?

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!

Booking Through Thursday — To Own or Borrow

Today’s Booking Through Thursday asks, “All things being equal (money, space, etc), would you rather own copies of the books you read? Or borrow them?”

Well, I imagine that if I had more money and more space, I would buy more books. Because I like books, and I like authors, and I like supporting the books and authors I enjoy. And I do quite like owning the books that I love because a) I get to see them on a regular basis and b) I can easily loan them out to friends (read: force them upon unwitting victims).

But of course, I am also a longtime lover of the library, as you would know if you saw the shelf my husband just cleared out for me today just for my library books. I have a problem. But it’s a good problem, I think, in that the books are free and when I go to read one and I don’t like it or I realize that I no longer have an interest in reading it, I can go give it back to the library without hard feelings. And if I like it, I can wait a little longer to get the trade paperback (which is cheaper and lighter, which is good for my wallet and shelves) because I don’t usually have an intense need to re-read things immediately.

So, all things being equal, I’d say that I still like my current method of obtaining books — checking millions out of the library, loving a handful, and showing off that handful on my shelf. If only I could afford bigger hands…

Musing Mondays — Reading Nooks

Today’s Musing Mondays question is… “Where is your favorite place to read?”

Well. Hmm. When it’s nice outside (read: below 90 degrees [read: not now!]), I like to go hang out on my balcony, pictured here. Those chairs are surprisingly comfy.

But when it’s like now, and the only safe place is indoors, I spend most of my time reading on the big leather couch in our living room. And then I have a nap on it. It’s a pretty good deal, that. What’s most fun is when Scott is playing video games on the TV and I can cuddle up with him while we’re each doing our thing. That’s really my favorite!

Strangely enough, the place where I do the most reading is my least favorite, because that’s at work! I listen to all my audiobooks there, which sometimes takes quite a while because someone will make a super loud and prolonged noise and I’ll have to just give up on trying to hear my book over it and instead wait and rewind back to where I think I was. Which is sometimes nowhere near where I actually was. Which is unfortunate, unless the book is really good, in which case it’s just a second helping!

Booking Through Thursday — Age-Inappropriate

Today’s Booking Through Thursday question is… “In contrast to last week’s question–What do you think of censoring books BECAUSE of their intended age? Say, books too “old” for your kids to read?”

There are two components to my answer. The easy one first — I absolutely do not believe in blanket bans on books that are “too old” or “too young” for a certain age group. Kids should have the opportunity to read what they want.

The second one is in regards to my own hypothetical children, or even my kid brother who is twelve these days, which is astounding. As I’ve mentioned before, I take a lot of care in picking out books for William, largely because I want him to like what I get him and thus like reading. Which he seems to, so excellent. He’s not the best reader, and reads a lot of things I would have been well past at his age, so I try to strike a balance between things that are written for kids his age and things that he is capable of reading without giving up on. I won’t buy him the little-kid books he loves because I think he can do better, but I do try to find similar stories in a higher reading level.

On the opposite side, you can take my reading habits as a kid — I started reading The Baby-sitter’s Club books in kindergarten and was reading Sweet Valley University when I was ten or eleven. I bring up this latter because I distinctly recall asking my mother what condoms were after reading about them in an SVU book, because from the context I thought they might be snack food and maybe we could get some. Yeah. Gross. I am certainly glad that my parents never kept me from reading whatever the heck I wanted, because I read a lot of great books that way, but I know that my hypothetical children will not be getting books with sex in them for Christmas when they’re eleven. And if they’re reading them on their own, they will be informed that I expect to be able to a) read that book and b) discuss it with them after they read it. It’s not that I want to keep my kids from reading things that are above their age-appropriateness; I just want to make sure they understand what they’re reading, because that’s really the important part.

My poor, poor, hypothetical children.

Booking Through Thursday — Age-Appropriate

This week’s Booking Through Thursday asks… “Do you read books “meant” for other age groups? Adult books when you were a child; Young-Adult books now that you’re grown; Picture books just for kicks … You know … books not “meant” for you. Or do you pretty much stick to what’s written for people your age?”

Well. Let me do a bit of a longitudinal study here… -examines Goodreads-

Okay, so. I was going to say that I read a lot of YA and children’s books, because they are short and quick and usually delightful, but it turns out that I read way more adult-age-group (as opposed to “adult,” which sounds skeezy) books in general. But I suppose I read more books for young’uns than the average 25-year-old? I don’t know what the average 25-year-old reads. Nothing?

Anyway. Back to the point. In high school, I read a lot of YA, of course, but I also read a lot of adult-age-group books, including some that I still love today. Excellent. Then, in college, I didn’t read, like, at all for the first few years, except to re-read The Phantom Tollbooth, continue A Series of Unfortunate Events, or read through A Wrinkle in Time and its sequels. Those were some fun library trips!

So the first three or so years of college were about kids books. The summer before my senior year, though, I tried really hard to actually read books over summer break instead of working myself to death, and so I managed quite a lot of adult-age-group books, and then I read lots of stuff for classes during my senior year, and then when I got out of college I continued on that path.

The reason that I think I read all of these YA books is that after I got laid off and started reading ALL of the books, reading more book blogs, and going to library school, I found a lot of cool YA books I had never heard of and therefore devoured. Especially last year, when I took a whole class on YA services and had to read 21 books for it… a lot of my reading time after that class was spent reading the rest of series and other books by the same authors.

So far this year my reading is back to where it was a couple years ago, probably because I’ve burned myself out on YA books, and because I don’t have people constantly recommending new awesome ones to me! And on the flip side, I have lots of people recommending excellent adult-age-group novels to me every day, and my list is just so full! Of course, there’s plenty of year left and this could still change — got any books to recommend me? 🙂