What I’ve Learned Reading My TBR

One of the things I’ve loved about my reading this year is that I’ve been reading a LOT of books from my TBR pile. I know we all have a TBR pile, but for me, when I say my TBR, I mean all the books that I’ve bought previously to this year. I’ve gone through two big book culls and have gotten rid of hundreds of books (mostly donated to libraries and the local jail) but the ones that are still in a pile by my shelves (because no book goes on the shelf unless it’s read) are the ones that I’ve deemed best to keep. These are the books that I tell myself, again and again, that I’m going to read.

So this year I’ve been trying to actually READ those books. It’s so easy to BUY books, but it’s harder to keep up with reading what I’ve bought, and maintaining the excitement about a purchase. Ultimately, my reading goal for the end of the year is to have a reasonable-sized pile of books that doesn’t overwhelm me. Next year, I’d like to be able to buy books that interest me, READ THEM, and then shelve them, but keep my pile of unread books to maybe 30-40. That would be a HUGE thing for me but we’ll see … I also LOVE buying books. 

I’ve learned so much this year when it comes to my TBR that I thought it’d be fun to reflect on everything I’ve learned, from buying books to reading books, and everything in between.

Thoughts On Buying Books

1. I had to remember: the excitement doesn’t last. 

It’s so easy to buy a book. I mean, OBVIOUSLY. But when you’re on social media a lot, checking out book blogs and BookTube, you see a LOT of recommendations, a lot of excitement. When you see someone else who’s super excited about a book, your excitement is piqued. When you see another person or two raving about a book with excitement, chances are, if you’re like me, you’re going to buy that book when you see it on the shelf at the bookstore. I’ve noticed that I’ve done this with a few books this year and now that some of these books have sat in a pile for a few months, the excitement has died down. It’s almost like a high, buying a book that someone else loved, knowing that I’ll love it. But then I actually have to READ IT and when I have over a hundred books to read already, not to mention access to thousands at the library, if I don’t get to it right away, the excitement fades and it might seem like a chore to get to that book.

2. I don’t need to buy that book new. 

As we’re heading into the last quarter of the year, I’m trying to remind myself that I have a reading pile of nearly 150 books and that I want to read them before buying anything new. The problem is there’s that Shiny New Book on the shelf at the bookstore and I want to buy it. I have to remember that that book could also show up at a book sale later in the year or early next year, or that the paperback will come out and be cheaper than the hardback. Do I really need to buy that book right away? If I know I’m going to buy it and not get to it in months, WHY BUY IT RIGHT NOW? This is a hard one for me because I love a Shiny New Book and love adding to my pile. But what I’m trying to teach myself is to maybe make a wishlist online and see in a few months if I still want that book. ESPECIALLY if it’s not an auto-buy author.

3. Don’t rely on reviews! 

I am TERRIBLE for this. But I’ve bought a lot of books in the past and have read raving reviews on Amazon, only to realize the book sucks, or I’ll read reviews on Goodreads and not buy the book because the reviews weren’t great. Prior to this, I’d just BUY THE DAMN BOOK. I think this is one of the reasons I’d like to get my TBR down, so that I can just browse bookstores – used or new – and just buy what interests me. I feel like I’ve relied too much on reading what other people have thought of a book when I should just buy what looks good. It’s what I did before the internet!

Thoughts On Reading Books

4. Don’t read the synopsis – just dive in! 

When I go into reading these books that have been on my shelves (or, floor) for anywhere from one month to 8 years, I’ve learned to just START READING THE BOOK. Don’t read the synopsis and see what it’s about, just dive in. I find that if I read the synopsis I’m more likely to procrastinate and maybe put it down again, whereas if I just start reading, I’m more likely to just get sucked in. In the same sense:

5. Don’t read reviews before reading the book! 

I like to mark on Goodreads when I start reading a book so I know how long it took me to read, but what I’ve learned is to NOT scroll past where I mark a book as ‘currently reading’ and see what my fellow readers thought of the book I’m about to read. If someone loved it, then I might get my hopes up, or if they hated it, I might lean towards hating it as I read when if I had gone in without reading any reviews, I might have loved it. I can’t seem to escape the overall rating of a book on Goodreads, but I just want to steer clear of what others have to say.

6. Take advantage of audiobooks! 

When you have a TBR pile that’s in the hundreds, it’ll take some time to read everything. What can help, though, is audiobooks! I’m not saying you need to actually BUY the audiobook for a physical book you already own, but check and see if your library has the audiobook. Audiobooks are great to listen to when you can’t actually read a book. I particularly love listening to books of short stories on audiobook because it’s easy to just take it in a piece at a time. Doing the dishes? Listen to one story. Watering the garden? Listen to another. If you commute a lot, then download the audiobook of a book you’ve owned for ages and listen over the week as you drive. If you get even just a couple audiobooks in during a month, that’s still 2 books off your TBR.

7. Read multiple books at a time. I learned I can do it! 

The majority of the time, I have at least 2 books on the go. Sometimes I have 6 on the go. I LOVE reading multiple books and I find that it helps keep my interest piqued when reading. I could read one book in a couple days, but I’m not taking advantage of all the time I can be reading. What I usually do it figure out how much time I can read. If I have three hours to read during the day, I’ll read three books, one hour at a time for each. When I’m having a reading month (which is what I’ll be doing for a few months before the end of the year), I’ll get up early in the morning to read, then read when the kids nap and have quiet time, and read again before bed. That’s at least 5 hours of reading time I can get in a day. I read pretty fast and can usually read 100 pages in an hour, so if I’m reading 5 books, and I try really hard I can get those books read in 3-4 days. And when I finish one book, I’ll start another one. If I always have a book on the go, chances are I won’t go through a reading slump because there’s no time to be spent in between books.

How do you read multiple books at a time?

  • Pick different genres. Currently I have three books on the go, one is a historical fiction during wartime, another is a contemporary fiction, and another is a non-fiction.
  • Pick different ways to read. I usually like to have a book on my ereader, a physical book, and an audiobook on the go. These days I’ll have a few physical books, an audiobook or two (one might be short stories and another a novel), and maybe one on my ereader.
  • Schedule your reading. For me, I like to try and read either 33% of a book in a day, or 25% if it’s a longer book. I’ll also try to reach certain marks in a book each day – if a book is broken into parts, maybe I’ll read a part a day, or if I got to 33% of a book one day, I’ll aim for either 50% or 66% the next day. I’m weird like that.
  • Make sure you’re reading each book a little each day. If you put that book off for a few days to read others, your interest will wain. Even if you just read it for a half hour, get that reading in!
  • Always take a book with you! Or two! Even if I’m driving the kids to school or we’re just running to the store, I’ll take a book. You never know what’s going to happen where you might need a book.

For me, also, I like to have my “8:30 book” for days where I’m going up to shower and go to bed early after the kids go to bed. This happens a lot when my husband is watching sports and I just don’t care to watch. The kids are in bed by 7:30 and then I take a shower and read my “8:30 book” – a book I’ll read until 8:30. I’m up really early in the morning so I might reserve a non-fiction book for that time, or somethings a little heavier, then at 8:30 I go to bed and read something I’m really enjoying, or maybe start a new fun book until I fall asleep. That way I’m still getting my reading of a couple books in.

Final Thoughts

8. I’m not going to beat myself up if I can’t get the TBR down.

Like I’ve said, I’ve gone through two big book culls. I’ve bought books like CRAZY in the past. I felt that, as a book blogger, I had to buy lots of books. But now, while I love having lots of books in my library, I’ve realized that if I can’t keep up, maybe I should slow down with buying. I’ve also told myself that I should NOT buy books until Christmas, hopefully when my TBR is around 50, BUT if I buy a book or two (or more) before that, I’m not going to beat myself up. Reading should be fun and not a chore so if you want to buy and read something new, do that! Just try to work in an old book here and there. Really, I don’t think anyone’s TBR will ever be at zero, so don’t kill yourself trying to get there.

9. Don’t be afraid to GET RID OF THE BOOK.

If you start reading a book that you’ve had on your TBR from before you can remember and start reading it but you’re not enjoying it, don’t keep reading it! Like I said, life’s too short to read something that you’re not enjoying and if you honestly think you’re not going to enjoy that book you were so excited to buy 5 years ago, put it in a donate pile. I have a donate box and put books I don’t think I’ll read in it. If I start reading something and it sucks, I put it in the box. I keep the box for a while just in case I change my mind, but I am not afraid to get rid of a book!

10. Have fun reading my TBR! 

One thing I’ve loved about reading my TBR is finding books that were genuinely amazing, books that had me wondering why the heck I hadn’t read them sooner. I’ve also had books I haven’t really enjoyed. But the fun in reading these old books is that I can see why I bought them and why I saved them for so long. And since I don’t put books on my shelves that haven’t been read, it’s so much fun to read something and then put it on the damn shelf! My TBR piles are getting smaller and smaller and I’m loving it. I’m feeling accomplished and having fun reading and that’s what matters.

This year has been a lot of fun, reading-wise, and I honestly don’t think that I’ll keep up my reading pace next year but that’s okay with me. It’s been fun to push myself to read more and to get my TBR down and to read those books that have been on my shelf forever. I feel like I’ve learned my lesson when it comes to buying and overbuying books and I’m eager to see what 2018 brings!

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August Challenges: #ARCAugust & #TomeTopple

With the busyness of my Month of Canada last month, I’m looking forward to challenging myself with my reading! There are some great reading challenges coming up in August and I’m hoping they help me get my pile of 2017 books down that I’m currently hoarding collecting.

#ARCAugust

First up is ARC August. This challenge runs for the entire month of August and it’s where readers work on all the Advanced Reader Copies they may have. This read-a-thon is hosted by Octavia, Shelly, and Angie over at Read. Sleep. Repeat. Here are the rules from the official sign-up page:

  • Any Advanced Reading Copy counts as part of this reading challenge; your backlist books count
  • No blog necessary to participate, but you’ll need to include some form of social media as part of your sign up
  • Use the #ARCAugust on social media to check-in

I don’t have a lot of these, but enough that I want to get them all read, reviews, and done. Here are my physical and e-copies of review books:

 
 

Plus, I’m throwing in this book by Jeff Zentner which I had won from a Chapters Indigo Twitter contest – it’s not a review book, but it was still a book that was given to me so it’s going on the list!

One thing I love is that all of these books are SO different. Plus, I have FOUR Canadian titles on the list!

I’m also expecting these two books in the mail, one from author Rebecca Phillips, her newest book that was just released this month, as a thank you for having her on the blog last month. AND my wonderful friend Ambur, over at Thomas Allen & Sons is sending me a copy of Elizabeth J. Church’s new book, The Atomic Weight of Love.

 

Ten books seems like a lot but hopefully I can make a good dent in what I have!

#TomeTopple

I participated in Tome Topple earlier this year and got caught up with a few big books, which was great. In case you haven’t heard of Tome Topple, it’s a two week-long read-a-thon where participants read books that are 500+ pages. This year it’s running from August 4th (tomorrow!) to August 17th. Typically it has been taking me 2+ weeks to finish a BIG book but I’m hoping the read-a-thon gives me motivation to read a little quicker.

From the official Goodreads page:

The whole point of this readathon is to read big books (over 500 pages). You don’t even need to read a lot of them. You don’t even need to finish one. The point is that we are all reading those big daunting books at the same time and supporting each other.

This time around I have a few books in mind that I’d like to read – all of them owned books that I’d like to knock off my reading list! I’m hoping to get to at LEAST two of these.

A Conjuring of Light – 624 pages
Lord of Shadows – 701 pages
Queen of Shadows – 648 pages

How funny is it that all these books are about light and shadows?

I’m one of those people who can’t read too many big books in succession but if I finish two of these I’m hoping to start the next book I have to read in the Outlander series.

This one clocks in at 1,149 pages since I own the mass market paperback – if I do get to it, I’m NOT reading that copy. Instead I’ll be reading the kindle version since it’s just too big a book to hold.

And that’s my full reading list! I have a feeling that there won’t be much room for anything else in August, reading-wise, but we’ll see. There are a few books coming out in August that I’m dying to read, but I am trying to prioritize the books I’ve bought so far this year and the books I’ve been given as gifts or for review.

Are you participating in either of these read-a-thons? What’s on your reading list? 

Month of Canada for #Canada150 Wrap Up & Giveaway!

Whew! It has been a crazy month of ALL Canada this month! I am so happy to have brought you, my dear reader, so many wonderful book reviews, interviews, recommendations, and so much more all month!

To thank everyone who came to visit my blog during the past month, I thought I’d have a giveaway! I’m not gonna lie, but Simon & Schuster Canada made this easy for me after I won a giveaway for one of my favourite Canadian books this year. They sent it to me without telling me I won and even though I read the book and own the book, I was still so excited to see it when I ripped open the package!

I was super excited after reading K. A. Tucker’s Ten Tiny Lies to read her new book coming out this year that I had to drive out to the bookstore the day it was released and buy it! This was despite the fact that it was 50% online and not in-store, but honestly, her books are worth full price. This story was fantastic and just a feel good Cinderella-type story that I adored.

To enter, leave a MEANINGFUL COMMENT (Generic comments will not be counted!) on this post and let me know what your favourite post of this month was, why you love reading Canada, and what your favourite Canadian book this year has been. Be sure to leave your email address as well, so I can let you know if you win! I will choose a winner on August 15th. Giveaway rules apply. Open internationally!

In case you missed something, here’s the final wrap up of what happened on the blog this month:

My Intro Post To #MonthOfCanada

Canadian Book Lists & Interviews

Canadian Reading Challenge
My Top Canadian Graphic Novels!
Canadian Cover Capture: Books I’ve Added To My Reading List Because of Their Cover
Writing In Canada: Author Interview With Rebecca Phillips
My Top Canadian Children’s Books!
Indigenous Authors Spotlight!
Writing In Canada: Author Interview With Laura Langston
My Top Canadian Non-Fiction Reads!
Writing In Canada: Author Interview With Kelley Armstrong
My Top Canadian YA Reads!
Writing In Canada: Author Interview With Genevieve Graham

Canadian Book Reviews

All The Rage by Courtney Summers
The Art of Getting Stared At by Laura Langston
Until It Fades by K. A. Tucker
Optimists Die First by Susin Nielsen (Audiobook)
Ten Tiny Breaths (Ten Tiny Breaths, #1) by K. A. Tucker
Real Mermaids Don’t Wear Toe Rings (Real Mermaids, #1) by Helene Boudreau (Audiobook)
99: Stories of the Game by Wayne Gretzky (Audiobook)
London Belongs to Me by Jacquelyn Middleton
40 Things I Want To Tell You by Alice Kuipers
Tides of Honour by Genevieve Graham
A House in the Sky by Amanda Lindhout (Audiobook)
Missing by Kelley Armstrong
Just Like Family by Kate Hilton
Undone by Katey Wolf
Any Other Girl by Rebecca Phillips
Everything Beautiful Is Not Ruined by Danielle Younge-Ullman (Audiobook)
Where Sea Meets Sky (Where Sea Meets Sky, #1) by Karina Halle (Audiobook)
In This Moment by Karma Brown
Saints And Misfits by S. K. Ali

2017 Canadian Book Release Spotlight Books

Little Heaven by Nick Cutter
The Lives of Desperate Girls by Mackenzie Common
Until It Fades by K. A. Tucker
Things To Do When It Rains by Marissa Stapley
Girl Last Seen by Nina Laurin
In This Moment by Karma Brown
Promises To Keep by Genevieve Graham
The Accident of Being Lost by Leanne Betasamosake Simpson
Roughneck by Jeff Lemire
Wild Card (North Ridge, #1) by Karina Halle
Rituals (Cainsville, #5) by Kelley Armstrong
Even The Darkest Stars (Even The Darkest Stars, #1) by Heather Fawcett
Be Ready For The Lightning by Grace O’Connell
Beast by Megan Crewe
Seven Days In May by Kim Izzo
Where I Live Now by Sharon Butala
The Wolves of Winter by Tyrell Johnson
The Fashion Committee by Susan Juby
Saints And Misfits by S. K. Ali
Me & Me by Alice Kuipers
The Hanging Girl by Eileen Cook
Just Like Family by Kate Hilton
Mitzi Bytes by Kerry Clare
The Valiant (The Valiant, #1) by Lesley Livingston
Just Jen by Jen Powley
So Much Love by Rebecca Rosenblum
Dragon Springs Road by Janie Chang
These Things I’ve Done by Rebecca Phillips
Goodnight From London by Jennifer Robson
Two Times a Traitor by Karen Bass

Bookish Canadians To Follow (Shared on Twitter – ignore the formatting, WordPress didn’t want to cooperate with me!):

On Twitter, I shared a whopping ONE HUNDRED AND THIRTY FOUR bookish Canadians! From readers to bloggers to writers to publishers, there were SO MANY that I just had to share! If I had planned properly, I probably could’ve made it to 150!

Find all of the wonderful bookish Canadians I want YOU to follow by following this link! 

On top of all of these posts, I loved interacting with so many Canadian readers and authors, sharing other bloggers’, publishers’, and authors’ love for all things Canada, and reading tons of books authored by amazing Canadian authors! 150 is seriously a big deal and I’m so happy to have gotten to share everything I could about this amazing country.

What was your favourite post of the month? Did you pick up any new books by Canadian authors this month? What was your favourite Canadian book you read this month?