How I Annotate My Books

How I Annotate My Books

Yes, a process that took me forever to come to terms with and then figure out for myself, I’m finally ready to share with you how I annotate my books.

I do want to preface by saying that I don’t annotate every book. Aside from a funny or prolific line in general fiction, I find that annotating books works best for my sci-fi and fantasy reads. There’s a lot to digest in these stories and annotating helps me not only remember my thoughts, but also dive deeply into the themes and ideas behind the book. It’s actually made me a much better reader.

There’s many ways you can annotate your books. Lots of folks use colorful tabs to separate out their reactions and thoughts. Others strictly use post-it notes and pen. It’s entirely up to you how you want to annotate and starting with someone else’s way of doing it and then creating your own method after trying it out really helped me nail down the process. After much trial and error, I’ve finally found the winning combination that works for me:

I use tabs to note parts of the book I want to look back on. I try not to go overboard with the number of tabs because I found it difficult to remember which tab represented what and whether or not it was important for me to note. So, I keep it to three specific parts:

  1. Well-written prose and quotes: this is pretty self-explanatory. If I come across something beautiful or a quote that ruined me, I want to remember it, so I go ahead and mark it
  2. Important info: This is a catch-all for a lot of different things: character introductions/development, plot points, world building, themes
  3. Moments to remember: This is different than noting quotes because this is to remember big scenes. If something surprises me, made me laugh, made my cry, ripped out my heart, I want to remember it so I use this to note that

I use post-it notes to write down bigger thoughts or themes I want to explore more. The post-it notes are mostly there to help me write down stray thoughts and ideas that float through my head while I’m reading. If I don’t write it down it will flutter out of my head or I’ll become too distracted trying to remember what I was thinking that I will lose focus on the book. This allows me to get those thoughts out of my head, but it also helps to look back on when I’m ready to write the review.

I underline and write reactions to sentences and passages throughout the book. This is probably the most crucial part and the part that keeps me engaged in the story because I need to pay attention to what I’m underlining. Interacting with the book by underlining passages and writing my reaction (either with a quick abbreviation or even draw an emoji) actually helps me retain the story better. I guess being a part of the book by writing down my reactions actually helps me be more active in the reading process. When I want to note things, I find myself paying much more attention to the story than letting my brain drift off.

I love the way my books look after I’m reading. This was an expected effect because I was sure I would be annoyed by the way my books looked after I finished reading. It was quite the opposite. Similarly to the characters in the book, I feel like I went on this journey with them. I also have been rereading books I’ve dabbled in annotating with and it’s so interesting to look back and see what I thought during a different point in my life.

I have no clue if this is a habit I’ll continue to do, but for now it seems to be working wonderfully for me. Do you annotate your books? What do you like to do?

3 Reasons for Rereading Books

3 Reasons for Rereading Books

Over the years, I’ve reread maybe three books? I’m not a huge rereader and not because I don’t want to be. I definitely want to get into the stories I’ve loved and cherished, but for some reason, I never make time for them.

This year, I made it one of my goals to actually reread books. While most of my rereading this year will be series I’ve started and didn’t finish and plan on finishing this year finally. However, I also wanted to revisit some books I’ve loved and find the comfort so many other readers find when they reread their favorite books.

And surprisingly, I love it. I’m only in my first reread of the year, Middlegame by Seanan McGuire, and it is everything I’ve wanted it to be. I was kind of scared because based on the poll I conducted on my Instagram account, many folks have reread books only to enjoy it less. LESS! I didn’t think I would be risking my love of a book by revisiting it and seeing if it’s just as I remember.

Luckily, it’s just as I remember and I’ve learned a lot from my rereading process. Here’s what I’ve taken away:

It’s faster to reread the book

I somehow found that my reread of Middlegame has been much faster than the first time around. Perhaps it’s because the book is a bit more complicated and confusing that after realizing what happens at the end, then the process becomes a bit easier. But for some reason, I’m breezing through this book. Maybe it’s because I know what’s happening or the words are so comfortingly familiar that it’s like watching an old movie I loved or a TV show I put on in the background for entertainment.

Either way, I find myself reading much faster through the book.

I’m finding things I didn’t see before

This is my favorite part of the rereading process now. I’m finding things I somehow missed in the first read through and just loving the discoveries I didn’t see before. It’s almost like the small details are brighter and more easy to find. For example, I find that Middlegame is way more feminist and inclusive than I remember it being. I resonate with the story a bit more because of that and it also opens my eyes to other possible things I might have missed. I honestly want to take a pen to my book, underline the quotes that I didn’t see before, and make notes in the margins just so that I can remember these discoveries.

It’s so comforting

I think the biggest lesson I learned from my reread is that this book is so comforting. The words feel like I’m speaking with an old friend, and I just want to sit around all day reading its pages and making me laugh. I didn’t realize the comfort aspect would be so big for me. I’m not usually the type of person to find comfort in a book, but I’m realizing now that it’s the comfort of the words and hearing them again that make it so sensational.

What are some other ways you love rereading?

My 2022 Reading Goals

My 2022 Reading Goals

Every year, I put together this list of reading goals with the fullest intention to keep up with them throughout the year. But then something happens (who knows) and I’m left with reading goals I never actually get done.

This year, I want to be more intentional. I want to say that I’m going to do something and actually do it because what’s the point of making a list of things you want to do if it only remains just that; a list.

I’ll be sharing my reading goals for 2022 below, but what I’ll also be doing is keeping myself accountable. While there’s a bunch of different ways to stay accountable, I’ll be keeping track in my trusty reading journal (which I’ll share in another post coming soon!). For now, here’s what I plan to accomplish in a small or big way in 2022:

Read more from my backlist

Like every other reader in the known universe, I have a huge backlog. Many books come across my desk and while I make a lot of room to read most of them, there are always ones I put off for…practically forever. This year, I want to use my backlog not only as a way to read what I already have, but also keep myself from buying more books. I’ll be shopping my shelves this year, which I’m quite excited about because sometimes I surprise myself with the books I’ve kept and haven’t read.

Finish the series I’ve been meaning to finish

I noticed last year that I have a ton of trilogies and series that I’ve only half read. For most, it’s just me having to read the final book of the series. It’s kind of funny that that’s the only thing I need to read to complete the series. It’s not like I hold off on them because I’m particularly woeful about the ending or so excited that I need to put it off. I’ve just…put it off. And now I’m going to make room for those series that I can complete just by reading the last book.

However, this one comes with the caveat that I need to reread a few books and that’s where my third goal comes in.

Reread books!

I’ve been wanting to reread books for forever, but I never make room for them. This year, I actively plan to reread a few series in order to complete them, so I’ll slowly start incorporating more rereads into my monthly TBRs. I’m excited because some of the stories I’ve picked out to reread are my favorites and isn’t that the whole point of rereading?

Hugo Award nominees

Last year, I didn’t plan well and ended up having to skip reading the Hugo Award nominated books of that year. However, I loved reading the nominees before the ceremony and having my own award announcements based on what I liked. Sadly, they never match what actually gets picked, but I still love doing it.

This year, I want to do the same and make the room to read these nominees when they’re announced. I can’t wait to see what’s on the ballot this year.

Enjoy my reads

This is probably on my list every single year because it’s a reminder that I read and do this all for fun. I love sharing what I’m reading, what I’m thinking about, and giving you new books to check out. It’s not a race and it’s not about reading all the cool, new books when they get released, but having fun!

That’s it from me! What’s on your reading goals list this year?

Your Book Reviews are Valid

Your Book Reviews are Valid

Recently, I finished reading a book that I absolutely loved. I loved it so much I already knew it would be one of my favorites of the year. And I went and did what I usually do, go to Goodreads, mark it as Read, rate it, and check what other people thought about it.

Turns out, this book isn’t wildly loved as I thought it would. The reviews weren’t terrible, but I was expecting a much higher rating percentage. I thought this book would be universal. Alas, it isn’t and I was a little disappointed by that.

But one thing I did notice when I was looking at ratings and reading reviews is that I paid less attention to what people thought and how that reflected on me. In the past, I would gripe over negative reviews for a book I liked because I thought maybe I missed something. I’ve doubted myself and my ability to read comprehensively for so long that every time I read a book that I really loved and people didn’t, I thought there was something wrong with me. Yeah, welcome to my insecurity.

This time, things were different. I looked at the reviews, reviewed the ratings, and none of it changed the way I felt about the book. I still love it. I don’t think what the reviewers said was wrong, but I also took what they said with a grain of salt and let me tell you, this was a first.

Reading books is an extremely unique experience. While you may find people in your book club or online who feel the same way you do about the book, there’s also that group of people who didn’t feel the same way. The varying degrees on how people feel changes depending on the person, their experiences, their life up to that point. And all of it is valid.

Because there’s no one way to read a book, you’re going to read based on how you (as an individual) experience life. If you’ve suffered through some traumatic event, you’ll approach a book that features a similar event differently than someone who hasn’t. If you’re the falling in love type, you may feel differently than someone who’s never been in love. And when you go to write your review and share your opinions on the book, it’s going to be different in a few ways than the ways other people have read it and that’s just such an interesting perspective! Collectively, our opinions together give other readers an idea of the book. While some may drag a book for its negative aspects, others will look past them and see the truer story behind that. And that’s also where we find our common ground. By sharing our opinions regardless how vastly different it is, we’re able to connect with others in an interesting manner. Isn’t conversation and debate one of the reasons why we like to read in the first place?

No opinion is wrong because it’s exactly that, your opinion. Of course, I don’t mean to discount critical opinions when an author doesn’t do justice to a certain group of people, includes racist/sexist rhetoric, or bullies people, but I mean the ways you fell in love with the book and the ways you hated it. It will be your opinion and yours alone and the beauty of holding that opinion out there is reflected in the number of people you find who think the same thing.

So don’t feel embarrassed if you liked the book everyone hated. Don’t feel bad if the book everyone recommended you didn’t work for you. All you can do is read the opinions of others, see their perspectives, compare it to your own, and then move on. There’s no dark judgments on you because of what you thought. It’s just you out there, with your thoughts on a book, telling others how you felt too.

Why Do I Struggle With DNFing Books?

Why Do I Struggle With DNFing Books?

This month has been a bit of a struggle when it comes to reading books. I’ve picked up about six books and put down three. I wasn’t feeling them! I tried to read them, but they didn’t capture me or set my mood. I wanted to spend more time doing something else than reading the book, which is huge indicator that things are not okay with me.

But the one thing I hate the most about reading is putting down a book. There’s a piece of advice I give everyone all the time: if you’re not loving the book, you can let it go. The wild part about this bit of advice? I never actually follow it myself.

DNF or “did not finish” is a term used by the bookish world to describe a book we, well, did not finish. These are the books that didn’t capture us or we hated and couldn’t read another word of even if we tried. It’s common practice because not every book you pick up will give you the wow factor you want from a book.

And as easy as it sounds to just drop a book when you’re not enjoying it, it’s actually much harder than you think! Many people struggle with this. Some folks have been taught that you MUST finish every book you start under penalty of death. Others just don’t have the heart to put down a book they started. I’m in the latter camp and it’s starting to get frustrating for me.

There’s plenty of reasons why you should put down a book that you’re not enjoying. First is the most obvious: you’re not enjoying a book. There’s no point in continuing to read something that’s not giving you anything in return. Even if the book you’re reading is actually a textbook where you’re studying for a class, you’re getting something out of that read. If you’re reading for enjoyment and you’re not happy, that’s going to lead to some disasterous results.

My Pollyanna brain is always looking for the silver lining in everything. Maybe it’s because I’ve already spent so much of my reading time into reading them that I want that return on investment. Maybe it’s because I always think that if I give it another 100 pages that it will get better. I already know how toxic it can be when I’m trying to find the silver lining and I’m not happy and that’s something I’m working on, but I’m always hopeful there will be something that will pull me into it. I’m always hoping a book will surprise me and that surprise is hidden on the pages I haven’t read. But maybe it’s just me not liking the book.

But that also results in me reading a bunch of books that were fine, mediocre, or just meh for me. I try to be fair with all my reviews, so you don’t see me telling you “it’s just okay,” because I know someone else out there will probably enjoy it more than me. However, it’s a habit that I want to break for a few reasons:

If you try to extrapolate the number of books that are published each year (and I’m not just talking fiction, I’m talking about everything), there are thousands and thousands of books coming out. As humans, we only live a finite number of years and depending on the type of reader you are, that only means a specific number of books. Even if you read 100 books every year from the time you were 15 to 100 years old, that’s only 8500 books which only covers maybe a couple of years of published books.

On top of that, there’s time. I work full time, I have other hobbies, I make time to hang out with my husband, I workout regularly. I like going for walks and getting out in nature and all of that is done without a book in hand. If I have a finite amount of time to read on a daily basis, then why do I want to waste that time reading books I’m not enjoying?

So we have time against us, the number of books coming out is way more than anyone can possibly read even if you are the type that can read A LOT. So shouldn’t you be picky about the books you read?

I recently read this article at Book Riot about how you don’t have to read everything. And there’s some really great practical advice you can take away from this post if you’re considering being a book blogger, but the most valuable lesson I took away is that I don’t have to read everything. I don’t have to be Wonder Woman and read every book I put in front of me. I’m allowed to put down a book. I’m allowed to be in the middle of eight books at one time! The whole point is that reading should be just as enjoyable as any other thing you do.

It’s definitely something I encourage anyone to do because it isn’t worth the time and energy to read a book you’re meh about. And it’s actually something I’m coming to terms with myself. I’ll continue to DNF books and hopefully it’ll become second nature.

How to Support Indie Bookstores Without Breaking Your Book Buying Ban

How to Support Indie Bookstores Without Breaking Your Book Buying Ban

Every time I visit a bookstore, I make a point to buy something. The reason? Well, it’s an indie bookstore and all small businesses benefit from sales, continue to stay open, and keep local business…in business.

But what if you’re on a book buying ban? It’s definitely hard to resist temptation especially when you walk into a store you want to support. Over the years, I’ve cultivated a few different ways that you can still support an indie bookstore without breaking your book buying ban. It’s a little bit about being creative with your purchases and giving yourself grace to gift yourself with a book.

So if you’re like me and want to continue to support a local indie bookstore without breaking your book buying ban, here’s some ways you can do that:

Buy the bookstore’s merchandise

Most bookstores that I go to nowadays have merch. It’s a mug or a t-shirt or tote bag with the name of the bookstore on it. I love merchandise like this because it’s not a book and it’s a great way to support the bookstore. I also visit a lot of bookstores while on vacation, so if I can take home a little souvenir of the bookstore visit, then it makes me happy.

Buy a book you’ve already read, but don’t have a copy of

I do this all the time and never count purchasing a book I already read as part of my book buying ban. The point of most of my bans is to not accumulate more unread books and adding them to my TBR. However, if there’s a book you borrowed from the library or bought through your e-reader, you can easily pick up the actual book at a local indie bookstore and immediately add it to your shelf. You don’t have to worry about crippling your mountain of a TBR and you can remember all the good times of reading the book. This goes double if the book is beautifully printed.

Buy a gift for a friend or family member

This is a super easy way to share the gift of books, support a local indie bookstore, and not break your book buying ban. Because it doesn’t count if it’s for a friend, right?

Attend a bookish event

Many indie bookstores host author events. If you’re excited about a new book being published and you see the author is speaking at your local bookstore, this is a great way to attend the event, grab a copy of the book, and support the bookstore all at the same time. And if the event is being hosted IRL, you can even meet the author and get your book signed!

Plan your trip and purchase one book

This one is a tough one because if you’re like me, you want to buy the entire store. But if you plan out your buys before you go or if you plan to buy just one book, then you can buy a book without the guilty feeling that you’ve bought too many. Whenever I plan a bookstore visit, I make a point to plan out the book I want to buy. Then, it’s the only book I pick up. Of course, this could be a dangerous trip because one book can easily lead to four books, but at that point it’s sheer will keeping me from buying too many.

Buy something other than a book

Many of the bookstores I go to always have more than just books. It could be anything from hosting local artists and their work to bookish t-shirts to artwork and posters. There’s a variety of things outside of books that you can pick up to support the business and not break your book buying ban. Perhaps it’s a pretty mug or a silly greeting card to send to your friend, the point is that there’s many ways to support an indie bookstore without buying a book.

The last thing I want to say is that I never feel guilty for buying a book at full price at a bookstore. Sometimes I look at my receipt and take in a huge breath because of how much I spent, but then I think again about how I’m supporting this business and keeping the doors open. I’m a huge fan of cheap books whenever I can get them, but the magic of a bookstore and the hard work these small businesses put into creating an open and inviting store is well worth the price.

Letting Go of Bookish Things That No Longer Serve You

Letting Go of Bookish Things That No Longer Serve You

Do you ever look over the stuff you’re working on and think to yourself that maybe you’ve taken on too much? I always worry that my plate is super full, but I can shuffle things around and get some more on there. I feel like I’m at the Thanksgiving table and there’s just too many good items to eat and very little space left, so I try to make some time to evaluate my plate and see what I can take off or push over for something else.

Over the weekend, I was doing a bit of soul searching trying to figure out what about reading is bringing me joy. Yes, I not only Konmari my things, but my life. If you’re like me and put your hands in a bunch of pies, it’s always a good idea to take a look at what you’re enjoying and what you want to let go of. It’s easy to take on a bunch of projects and ideas, but it’s another to actually get them done. When I go through this process, I always consider what makes me happy. Because if you’re not happy or interested in what you’re doing, then you’re going to make your life a bit more of a chore. It always feels so overwhelming when I have too many pies and not enough hands, so I dug through all the things I want to accomplish and what I want to let go of.

Ultimately, what I realized is that my reading life is changing. I can’t read as much as I wanted and I need to come to terms with that sad truth. And one of the things I’ll be letting go of is reading challenges. It’s a bit too much for me to challenge myself with reading when I already challenge myself to read a certain number of books a year, run a book club, and do everything else. I’d much prefer if my required reading was limited to one or two books a month rather than half my TBR.

So I’m letting go of my Hugo Awards challenge. I know this was a challenge I made for myself and I have plenty of time to read, but it’s become more daunting to try and read all the books I need to read before the award show. I also have a huge backlist of books that I want to read as well and juggling all of that plus new releases and book club books, it makes reading such a chore. I was really excited to take on reading all the books for the Hugo Awards, but at the same time it feels more like work than enjoyment. I don’t want to feel that way especially with a hobby I love to do because there’s so much room to do different things.

I’m also letting go of keeping up with my Netgalley score. I do still receive books through Netgalley and plan on submitting my reviews, but this also became such a chore for me. Read and review, read and review, and it doesn’t help that Netgalley suggests an 80% feedback rate. I’ll just read the books that I want to read and if it just so happens to coincide with a Netgalley book, then I’ll take the time to submit those as well.

I won’t be completely abandoning the books, though. The list had some great options to read, but I don’t think I’ll be reading them with the timelines I set for myself. This brings up a bigger conversation about what really matters when it comes to reading. I know many of us struggle with a crippling TBR, a small amount of time to read or you’re dealing with some real world stuff that’s keeping you from your books. I struggle with the same kinds of issues and I try my best to read as much as I can, but I also have to remember that this isn’t a sprint, it’s a marathon.

I don’t plan on ending my love affair with books and reading any time soon and I want it to be a lasting relationship that takes me into my golden years and beyond. But if I’m forcing myself to read, pushing myself when I’m tired from work or unmotivated, I know that that relationship will end sooner than later.

It’s time for me to take my own advice, my time to read what I want. Perhaps I won’t read all the books, but at this point in my life, it’s more about quality vs. quantity. It’s about being able to read the books I’ve been eyeing and not be tempted to take on too much. So here’s to the new chapter of my life. I’m very excited to read for a very long time.

I’m Turning Into a Poly Reader

I’m Turning Into a Poly Reader

I’ve always been a one book at a time gal. Spend my time reading one book at a time and immersing myself in that book so fully that other books can just wait. However, it seems more and more I want to read from my mood. I want to have some fun stuff while I’m still in the middle of a book. So I decided to try and read multiple books at once or be a poly reader.

A poly reader is someone who has several books going at once. Depending on your mood, you can jump from a romance to a science fiction to a non-fiction on audio. When you read from multiple books, then you have multiple choices and depending on the situation or mood, you can make a choice to read one over another.

Then I realized something, we have been poly reading our entire lives. If you were like me and majored/minored in something that required a lot of reading, you were probably reading multiple texts at once and we’ve been trained to do this with the level of school and classwork we’re assigned to do. But it didn’t occur to me that I could do this with my leisure reading.

Keeping track is what I’m most concerned about. I’m worried I’ll write a review for one book and somehow mix it up with my other book and then confuse everyone and myself on what I wrote. But we shall cross that bridge when we get to it. Here’s some tips on how to make yourself a poly reader:

Reading different genres

This is the biggest piece of advice I received; read from different genres. It’s a good thing I do like books from a bunch of different genres, so I can easily pair a romance novel with a fantasy book or a sci-fi with a literary fiction. What people mentioned is that reading from different genres allows you to compartmentalize the information. The space story is in one part of your head while the historical romance with the rake is in another part. It could get dicey if I ever find a historical romance that takes place in space (free idea for a book if anyone wants it). But if you keep your genres separate, then you should be able to better keep track of what you’re reading. I already started with a romance and a fantasy that are entirely different from each other and have no problems keeping those stories separate.

Reading on different media

Now that our worlds are filled with enough technology that it keeps us awake at night, we can use different media to read our books. I was thinking about how I was younger and we didn’t have computers in our pockets and had to get all of our books from the library. The option to poly read on different devices didn’t exist, so I wonder how those folks did back in the day? Perhaps they did a trade paperback and a hardcover. Or a mass market with a hardcover.

But I’m glad we live in a world with more technology because changing up the medium is a great way to read multiple books. I also like using my ereader to be in-between a bunch of stories because then I can just switch between one book or another without having to get up and find the book.

Assigning books to certain times of the day

Some folks read one book in the morning and one book at night. But I think this is a valid way of reading multiple books at once. I think the time spent away from one story and then picking up another is good too. Sometimes I get confused if I start tooo early on a new book after finishing the last one. I also like trying to finish a book and then give myself a few hours to write my review and work on some other things before picking up another. It’s enough time to clear what you’ve just read and start a new book.

The most important; reading for your mood

If you’re not feeling up for anything too challenging, pick up something light. If you want to get deep into a fantasy world, pick up a heavy hitter. The point being is the ability to poly read means that you can pick up a book when you feel like it. Also, if one book is catching your attention more than another, allow yourself to read that book for a bit longer. The whole idea of poly reading is a choice; you choose what feels good at that point and you can read it or read something else.

I think the only thing I’m worried about is that I’ll start a book, put it off to read something else, and never pick it back up. I guess if that does happen, I can just chalk it up to me not liking the story and officially DNFing the story. I need to keep an eye out for that because I can already tell there will be books I put down and never pick back up.

I hope this post helps you! What are some other ways you use to keep on top of your poly reads?

The Difference Between Reading a Book and Promoting a Book

The Difference Between Reading a Book and Promoting a Book

I’ve been wanting to talk about book promotions for a really long time. As a bookstagrammer and blogger, I get a lot of books for free. I request some advanced readers copies, but sometimes books just show up on my front door. In the past, I’ve made an effort to try and incorporate these books into my reading life. I would add them to my TBR which is great because I get to read the latest before anyone else does and share my thoughts on whether or not you should read the book too.

But as time went on, I started getting more books than I can manage. I was putting together these massive TBRs with 25 books in them just so that I can make sure to read the books before they all publish. Add a little Netgalley and some other random books that show up and we’ve got more books to read in a month than there are days in the month.

The stress of reading started to take over. I would put in as many tiny hours as I possibly could to read as much as I can. I would turn on productivity apps and limit my social media to ensure I wasn’t spending it all on the “wrong” things. And even when I sacrificed my TV time at night and sleep, I still couldn’t finish this mountain of books. There are also books that I have no interest at all reading and I was adding them to my TBR because I felt like I had to read and review it.

However, something dawned on me a while back that I didn’t realize; I don’t have to promote every single book I receive. I was reading one of the press releases publishers send with your book. It covers what the book is about, their marketing plans, how we can contribute to promoting the book, and one of the lines at the very end of the note said “we hope you consider covering this book next month on your blog.”

I was thinking about this phrase because in my mind, that means something. It means that publishers are sending you books hoping with absolutely no guarantee that you’ll share this book. They hope that you’ll dedicate a place on your page. Despite it being a hope, it’s not an obligation. You don’t sign a contract to promote this book. They’re not even expecting a review.

What that says to me is that I’m the owner of my page. Whatever content I put on my bookstagram account, my blog, it’s all up to me because I’m the owner and creator. If I don’t want to cover a book, I don’t have to. If I find something too controversial, I don’t post it. I am the commander of my bookstagram feed and so what I cover on my page is a reflection of what matters to me. So what marketing teams and publicists are hoping is that the book they’re sending your way is something worth your space. They know they can’t dictate to you or force you to promote something, which means there’s a small chance to not promote the book.

That was when I realized that promoting books and reading books are two different things. Reading books should be the books you want to read. These are the stories you’ll be exploring throughout the month and they can encompass everything. The sky’s the limit with what you want to read.

Promoting a book is a different story. It doesn’t have to be a book you will read, but a book you’ll be showcasing at some point during the month. It can be a book stack. It can be a spotlight with a synopsis on what the book is about. You can just talk about your excitement for the book, you don’t have to actually read it. Also, most books I post on my page are done for free. I’ve only been paid to promote 2-3 books in my life and they were books I happily read and utterly enjoyed and would recommend to folks. But most of the time, you’re doing this for free. And if it’s for free the only thing you’re giving publishers is a little bit of space on your page.

And there’s nothing wrong with promotion. As the old saying goes, any press is good press, so even if you don’t get the chance to read the book, giving it a little shout out on your page is more than what these publicists and marketing teams were hoping for. For me, I like to really discern what I put on my page. Obviously everyone knows I’m into science fiction and fantasy books, but I always ensure that what I’m reading is always quality. I like big books, books written by marginalized voices, and books written by women. I think that reflects pretty well on my page and I do a lot of work to ensure my TBRs and reading life reflects that as well.

So this month, I put together two lists of books; the books I’ll be reading and the books I’ll be promoting. This way, it doesn’t feel like I have 30 books to read in 28 days, but a reading list that’s manageable and a promotion list to give these authors a little space on my page. I can’t believe I wasn’t doing this before. Granted, I hope to eventually read the books I promote.

Six Comforting Non-Holiday Movies to Watch this Holiday Season

Six Comforting Non-Holiday Movies to Watch this Holiday Season

While we’re approaching one of the biggest holidays in the United States, reports of COVID are also on the rise. For most of us, that means we’re staying home, staying six feet apart, and celebrating a family holiday without the family. Perhaps this is a good thing since your family voted for the other guy or you don’t want to get into it with your uncle. But for others, that means losing good quality time with the people you love. It’s a tough time of year when the pandemic has made it difficult for us to get together. But it doesn’t mean that we can’t still meet virtually and watch a good movie or two.

Of course this time of year, I’m always hunting for a holiday movie or two. There’s a few new holiday movies coming out on the streaming services that I will definitely be getting into, but there are also the movies I watch that technically aren’t holiday movies, but always watch during this time of the year. As we approach our big holiday season and traveling to see family is becoming less and less of an option, I just want to spend my days keeping my hopes up and celebrating in the small ways that I can. It’s heartbreaking that I won’t get to see my family this year, but at least I can remember the good times by revisiting some of my favorite films to watch during the holiday season. Here’s what I’m watching for comfort this year:

Pride and Prejudice (2005)

I think this is every reader’s comfort movie. The scenes of them at the ball and having dinners surrounded by candles and chalices filled to the brim with dark red wine. Ah, this movie always brings a comfort. Based off the book written by Jane Austen, what I like about this particular adaptation is that it gets more into the emotions both Mr Darcy and Elizabeth felt for each other. Granted, the 8-part BBC version has those emotions as well, I feel like Mr Darcy in this film had a little bit more soul than Colin Firth’s very stern ‘I love you, most ardently.” It’s the hand flex scene that really sets this movie apart from the original.

Little Women (1995)

I’ve watched the Greta Gerwig version of the film and I thought it was great with some great summer vibes. But the 1995 version with the 90s mega stars including Christian Bale, Winona Ryder, and Susan Sarandon will always hold a sacred place in my heart. It’s not completely true to the novel (neither is 2005 Pride and Prejudice), it’s got the gist of it. But the homliness of family and spending time together during one of the biggest wars in American history, it sounds like something we’re all dealing with nowadays. I also love young Eric Stoltz as John Brook. I just have a mini crush on him is all.

A Little Princess

Something about the directorial style of Alfonso Cuaron and an old story about a young girl who moves from India to America (she’s white, but during the time period, India was occupied by the British) and at the same time losing her father to a massive war being fought in Europe. This is one of the movies and stories from my childhood that dared me to daydream even when everyone is watching. It’s the movie that made me think that there’s tiny bits of magic in the entire world and regardless of race, class, and gender, you can also be a princess in someone’s life. The girl literally lived in an attic space with no warmth or friends. Her reality was way worse than her dreams and yet she’s able to continue to dream despite it. It always made me hopeful especially during my more cynical years.


Paris has a very big soft spot in my heart. I love Paris so much that I’ve been twice! But this movie came out at a time when I was losing the battle with adulthood. I was gaining more responsibilities. I was trying to figure out what I wanted to do with my life. I feel like I’m still trying to figure that out, but when I saw young Amelie take on those responsibilities and even find magic in her little life (magic in the real world is very important to me, if you haven’t figured that out yet), I was transported to a place where I can be a responsible adult and go to the day job and work the 9-5, but also believe that I can make change in this world. The change may be small; it may benefit only one person, but the power of changing one person’s life for the better is far more mystical than changing the lives of thousands at once. It filled my little heart with joy and I continue to try and find little things I can do to make someone else happy.

You’ve Got Mail

Of course I’m going to add some Nora Ephron movies to this list! One of my all-time favorites (that actually has a holiday scene) is You’ve Got Mail. Give me any movie that has books as its main topic and you have me sold. You’ve Got Mail is a timeless one, though and so many of us love watching this movie not only because of its book references, but the people in it. You can’t help but love Kathleen Kelly and be on her side to save her little shop against the Big Bad Fox Books. You also love Joe Fox because despite being a billionaire, he’s kind of cool and relaxed. He’s still the modern-day Jeff Bezos, but I think real Jeff Bezos has a bottom line for a heart.

When Harry Met Sally

Oddly enough, I love watching When Harry Met Sally after the holidays and right before the new year. It’s because the last scene takes place on New Year’s Eve and quite possibly one of my all-time favorite declarations of love. I would have never believed Billy Crystal as a romantic lead, but it works in this film and he’s the kind of romantic lead you want. He’s a bit cynical, not very romantic, but the covnersations he and Meg Ryan’s character have throughout the movie really make him such an interesting character by the end. I even love Meg Ryan with her quirky eating style and constant need to have things done in a certain way. Let’s not even discuss the fake orgasm scene at the deli. lol.

What were some of the comforting movies that supported you through the holidays?