My Reading Life for the Next Few Weeks

My Reading Life for the Next Few Weeks

Hey everyone!

I wanted to pop on here and give you an update on my reading life for the next few weeks. Of course I’ll be doing my mid-month checkins, but I’m reading as much as I can for my first Summer Reading List.

Yes, it’ll be my first time creating a summer reading list for my blog and I’m excited and nervous. It was almost last minute and it actually stems from a bigger project I’ve been working on with my TBR. Here’s how this all came about:

I was looking at my April TBR and just wanting to finally catch up with my growing TBR. Every month, I feel like I receive so many books and as much as I want to read all of them, I can’t. I’m always playing catch up and I always seem to leave a few books behind. I want to fix this problem and really only read new books as they come out (and a few older books mixed in each month).

My first challenge is reading all the new books currently releasing. In order to catch up, I need to ignore my backlist and only focus on the new releases. I figured since I’m reading all these new books then I’m going to put together the summer reading list. So what I decided to do was work on putting this list together and spending my summer reading only backlisted books.

My second challenge is then dedicating my summer to solely reading backlisted novels. This means only the books I’ve accumulated on my bookshelves over the years. No new reads. No library holds. I’ll read a new release every once in a while (especially since my review job is reading ONLY new releases), but I want to finally catch up on my fantasy series, start some new fantasy, and read older books written by some of my new favorite authors.

I always feel like I don’t have enough time to read my backlist while new reads continue to publish every single week. While there’s no stopping the train over the summer, I want to read pretty much only new books for now. When June/July starts, then I’ll be switching over to an 80/20 split; eight backlisted novels and two new reads or something like that. I would love to read at that ratio until the end of September where I’ll switch back to only reading new books until the winter.

I’m not sure if this method will work, but my biggest issue is the backlisted TBR. I want to dedicate an entire season to reading them and catching up with my TBR. Even if I make a small dent, I’ll feel proud that I dedicated time to reading these books and finally feeling the accomplishment of reading them.

I apologize to everyone who don’t want me to read only new releases, but it’ll be for a little while. My review numbers will be going up as well, but I’ve decided I like having reviews on here. It’s a part of my reading life and something I don’t want to ignore anymore.

My Review Process and Why I Write Reviews

My Review Process and Why I Write Reviews

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A friend of mine posed the question earlier this month about reviews. Why do you write reviews of books? What is your process? Why is it important to you?

For me, there’s a few reasons why I review books. Many of them are so I can remember what I’ve read. I even go back to them when I want to recall what I liked and didn’t like. You know that feeling you get after you’ve watched a TV show or a movie and you just have to talk to someone about it? That’s specifically what I feel whenever I finish a book. I want to talk about it and since I’m alone here, I usually talk to myself.

On top of that, I have a really bad memory. I’ve tried different memory games and helping with improving my brain, but I still can’t seem to remember little minute details. For example, I always forget people’s names. I will end up describing characters as “the main guy who killed the other dude.” I hate that about myself and I try to improve it as much as I can. However, some details always fall through the cracks with me and it really bugs me. This is also why I keep a book journal. I might even start ordering my pages to include character names, essential plot points, and other things I tend to forget.

I also started writing reviews because there was a big conversation happening in my head after I’ve finished reading the book. There are unanswered questions or bits of books that I need to possibly remember for the next book. I just want to remember it all, but sometimes I don’t even remember if I read the book this year.

That’s why I started writing reviews. My reviews are part book report and part pros and cons list. It’s a way for me to remember what I read, but also to get out all those feelings I have about the book. If you’d like to know more about my process, read on!

Here’s my rating system

  • Five Stars: It blew me away. I will be talking about this book for years
  • Four Stars: This was a really great book. I will definitely suggest it to others and possibly read other books by the author
  • Three Stars: Decent read. Nothing wowed me, but it wasn’t bad.
  • Two Stars: Meh. There’s a lot of problems in this book and can definitely be better. Lots of potential, but little bit was met
  • One Star: I don’t really rate 1-star books because if it’s that bad then I usually don’t finish reading it.

Here’s what I always look out for in reviews

The Writing Style

Writing style is super important to me. It’s a technical aspect of storytelling and each author has their own style. Some authors like to get into the details of everything like Ian McEwan or Marlon James. Gritty details where you have no room to interpret the space on your own. It’s cool because a lot of people love reading books like this. Other authors are a little bit more efficient and lets you paint a little bit of the world on your own. I prefer to read authors who are faster at getting to the point than waiting around watching the scenery. It’s a personal choice and I try not to fault books for this. However, sometimes the language can be so dry and boring that I can’t help but to note that I nearly fell asleep.

The Characters and Their Development

Characters are obviously important. However, characters are also made up people in an author’s head. What did the author do to make these characters stand out? With all that power to develop a character, you’ll be surprised to read books where the characters are dull or boring or just bleh. I like my characters with gumption; those with a personal style and vibrato you don’t see everyday. I also like my characters to be human. If they’re supposed to be human or emote like a human, then I want to see that in the story. I want elephant tears when the love interest dies. I want gut reactions to things that you’re supposed to react poorly to. I don’t like when characters know everything or deduce too quickly. It takes away from the natural process of finding the answer. Extra props if you’re able to diversify your characters. Why do all characters need to be white? They don’t, which is something we all can take some cues from. I don’t fault a book for not having a diverse cast, but it wins extra points.

The Story

It’s tough to come up with a story nowadays that’s true and original. However, I’m the type of person who enjoys the journey than the destination so if your story is one told many times before I don’t really care. What I care about is that this story that’s been told before keeps me engaged. Is there cohesion? Do all the themes and topics the author brings up move together in an elegant ballet? Is it too obvious that a love story is being forced? Is it painful to read the gruesome battles in fantasy stories? When stories have a natural flow to them, then it’s heaven. I absolutely love it when an author is able to surprise me with a story that moves in one direction and comes out different in the end. And that it makes sense. It has to make sense to me otherwise it’s a nonstarter.

I also try to remember that one flaw in a book doesn’t strike the entire thing as bad. Sometimes authors use social issues like racism, classism, sexual identity, etc as a way to convey a certain theme. It’s hurtful to read, but as long as it makes sense with the story or brings up topics of conversation, then I’m fine with reading about them. However, I know this can be a deal breaker for many and that’s another post for another day.