Tag «reading habits»

SERIESous Discussion: How I Became a Two-Timing Book Reader


SERIESous Discussions: Every once and awhile I will post my random ramblings about a bookish or blogging topic. Feel free to join in by making a comment below or linking back!


Five years ago, if you asked me how many books I was currently reading, I would have said one.
If you asked me today, I’d say at least two, if not three.

Over time, many of our habits evolve and my reading habits are no exception.

I was a pretty serial monogamist when it came to reading a few years ago. Meaning: I’d only read one book at a time. Why? Well, I liked the idea of getting through books quickly and efficiently. It seemed more productive for me to keep my attention on one book at a time so that’s what I did.

There were really only 2 reasons why I would start a second book while reading another.

One: I needed to read it for school.

Two: my current read was very long (or not completely holding my attention) and I needed to split up my reading time. I found that by reading only bits at a time, as I read something else, helped to keep me interested and subsequently finish the long/not-fully-invested-in book. DNFing a book was something I rarely did then; I toughed out nearly all the books I read (with some disastrous consequences).

Fast forward to now and you will see my reading habits have changed quite a bit.

Now, I have at least 2 books on the go at all times. Sometimes, I even have a third! Gah! The old me wouldn’t recognize the reader I’ve now become! It’s amazing how something you do everyday can change over the years without you really noticing the shift immediately.

Why the change?

I think there are a number of reasons why I’ve become a bit of a two-timer when it comes to reading.

ONE: I listen to audiobooks on a regular basis.

Now that I commute to work multiple times a week by driving, I need something to keep me entertained in my car. I went with audiobooks instead of the radio or my iPod and I am so glad that I did! Listening to audiobooks as I drive allows me to feel productive while simultaneously making the trip feel faster.

>> Learn how audiobooks have changed my monthly reading habits!

>> SERIESous Tips: 5 Ways to Get into Audiobooks

So now, I always have a physical book on the go as well as an audiobook that I usually reserve for car rides (or dog walks) only.

TWO: I’m a Mood Reader

I’ve always had a bit of a pattern when it comes to reading. Say I just finished a YA fantasy novel, I usually pick up a New Adult romance right after. And after that, I pick up another non-contemporary novel and alternate back and forth. Other times, I read multiple books in that genre because I’m just in a genre-binge phase.

But sometimes, it depends on the type of novel I’ve just finished. For example, if I just finished a dark romance, I usually read 2 “lighter” romances right after to bring me back to a more happier place. Sometimes I’ll even start that lighter book while I read the darker one just to balance out my mood and give me something else to think about. That’s how I often find myself with multiple physical books on the go.

THREE: ARC / Request Responsibilities

For the most part, I usually only stick to one physical book at a time plus my audiobook. I find now that I take on more ARCs and participate in more blog tours, I’ve integrated my various deadlines into the order of books to read.

When I read an ARC, I usually try to only read the ARC and not pick up something else. I want to give the ARC my full attention because I’m being asked to write a fair review of it. But sometimes, I get last minute requests or the street teams I’m on have a sudden, surprise release and I try my best to get my review done in a timely manner to help the author out. So that might mean I start that ARC while finishing another novel in order to meet my deadlines.

FOUR: I Have More Time to Read in a Day

Because I my job involves shift work, I often have couple days off in a row after completing a stretch. While I love nothing more than to stay in bed all day and read, I sometimes find I don’t have the attention span to read only one book in a day. I liken it to watching TV. I love a good binge-watch as much as the next person, but sometimes, you’ve got to mix it up a bit and watch something else or do something else in between episodes.

>> SERIESous Discussion: My Reading Habits by Month

This idea goes hand in hand with the mood reader in me. I enjoy reading a couple chapters of one book and then switching to another within the hour and repeating the process throughout the day. Sure, it’s probably more productive to only read one book at a time but I find the changes keep my mind and attention fresh for each book.

FIVE: It’s Part of my “To DNF or Not to DNF” Strategy

I mentioned before that in the past, I used to break up “Book A” into smaller chunks at a time while reading “Book B” so that I could eventually finish “Book A”. Three years ago I rarely DNF’d books and pushed myself to finish them regardless of my enjoyment. As a result, I went through a lot of reading slumps and that wasn’t cool with me.

I worked really hard on becoming comfortable with DNFing books in 2017; on putting down books that just weren’t capturing my attention or weren’t enjoyable to me. And in turn, I had a great reading year in 2017 with only a few minor slumps every couple of months that I quickly got over.

>> SERIESous Discussion: DNFing ARCs

One strategy I employed for books I was on the fence about DNFing was starting another novel I wanted to read. I found that by stepping away from the book in question, I was able to determine if I was truly invested in finding out how it all ends and if I wanted to keep reading. If I wasn’t, I stopped and marked it as DNF’d. And because I had already started another book that I was enjoying, I didn’t go into that slump of “what do I read now?” and dwelling too long in the disappointment that can surface when DNFing a book you were excited to read.


I know that reading multiple books at a time isn’t a ground-breaking thing. Lots of people have been doing it for years. But for me, it’s a method I’ve really only embraced in the last year or so as a regular habit of my everyday reading and I wanted to investigate why. I can’t wait to see what my habits are in 5 years from now!

How many books do you read at one time and what is your reasoning?

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SERIESous Discussion: Book Formats by Month


SERIESous Discussions: Every once and awhile I will post my random ramblings about a bookish or blogging topic. Feel free to join in by making a comment below or linking back!


Last month, I wrote a discussion post looking at how many books I read in a month and compared my 2016 and 2017 reading years. Doing that post and my “Where Do My Books Come From” post in December 2017 had me curious about the book formats I read on a monthly basis.

As you can conclude from my Where Do My Books Come From? post, I get my books from a variety of places. Nearly 60% of the books I read in a year come from the library & review copies whereas only 30% are from my personal owned collection. Of course, that’s something I’ve worked on changing this year as per my 2018 Reading Plan and we will see if I succeeded in December (but so far so good!).

But are those books I’m getting from library physical books or eCopies? How do the audiobooks I listen to impact my monthly stats? Do I read owned books for my Kobo or Kindle? How many review copies am I actually reading in a month? Those were the questions I asked myself while composing my Monthly Reading Habits post and now I am going to answer them.

In General:

eARCs (Authors/Tours/Netgalley) | Kindle (Owned) | Kobo (Owned) | Physical (Library) | Audio (Library) | eLibrary (Library)

I’ll be the first to admit that that graph is a lot to look at. I break things down further on and give a little more context but I wanted to provide the overview. Broadly speaking, in 2017 I averaged 20 books a month and I read those 20 books in a variety of different formats.

Digitally Owned & Digital Review Copies:

eARCs (Authors/Tours/Netgalley) | Kindle (Owned) | Kobo (Owned)

I had very mixed feelings when I saw this particular graph breakdown. On the positive side, I was happy to see that I read at least one book from my personal collection a month for 2017; but considering I averaged 20 books a month, it would be nice if that number was higher.

The other thing that really shook me up was the number of ARCs/review copies (from here out I will refer to all as ARCs) I read in a month. In 2017, according to my Reading Plan for 2017, I had a guideline of 3 ARCs per month. As you can see, I really only stuck to that plan for 3 months of the year. March and December were particularly bad–I nearly tripled the expected number.

Why so many ARCs despite the self-imposed rule? I’m one of those people who doesn’t like to miss an opportunity. A lot of the ARCs I read are sequels for already started series or are by authors who I like to support in any way I can. So while I may have already planned on the 3 books I’d read for X month, a last minute release or tour/opportunity can cause me to read more than I anticipated. It was something I noticed near the end of 2017 and one thing I really tried to keep in mind when creating my 2018 Reading Plan so that I wasn’t dedicating all my time to ARCs this year. The year started rough but I did my best to right the course and have gotten a lot better at saying “no”.

Borrowed From the Library:

Physical (Library) | Audio (Library) | eLibrary (Library)

I always thought that 80% of my books came from the library but my post investigating my books sources busted that myth. I actually get about 36% of the books I read in a year from the library.

It would be interesting to see what this graph would look like 3 years ago when I tended to have 30 books on hold at the library at one time. (Yeah, you see why I needed a change!) Back then I was reading a lot of eBooks from my local library. Now that I read more ARCs and try to read more of the books I already own, the number of books I get from my library’s eCatalogue stays pretty consistent month to month.

Why the sudden stop in physical novels? It’s mostly a convenience thing. My local library is pretty small but shares its collection with other ones in the area. Normally that means we have one copy and it usually is at another location so it’ll have to be brought in. If it’s a very popular book, I’ll be waiting a while. I find my eBook selection is much bigger, has more copies of the more popular books and has a shorter loan period so books turnaround much faster. Of course, there are no late fees with eBooks and I can get them any time without leaving my house which is handy for someone who works shift work.

My consistency with audiobooks is AMAZING! I’ll be honest, the main reason I did this post was to see if reading audio books impacts my monthly reading stats and clearly the answer is YES! As per my previous discussion post, I know that I read less books in 2017 compared to 2016 (21 books less specifically), averaging 20 books to the previous 22 books a month. But what if I eliminated audiobooks from my monthly totals?

2017JanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDecTotal
Difference:00444455344643
w/ Audiobooks231719192226242110161824239
w/o Audiobooks23171515182219167121418196

So clearly, listening to audiobooks was a great habit to pick up in 2017 if the numbers are anything to go by. Most of my listening is done during my drive to work (which is 2 hours roundtrip) but I do listen to audiobooks when walking my dog as well. Nevertheless, if I’m working a lot, I (obviously) get through more. It also depends on the length of the book as well and if I’ve adjusted the speed or not. Regardless, they have a positive impact on my reading stats each month and my drive wouldn’t be the same without them!

>>SERIESous Tips: 5 Ways to Get Into Audiobooks!

Moving Forward:

I learned a lot from doing this post. Mainly that audiobooks have become a key format for my monthly reading habits. It also reaffirmed the fact that I have to get better at saying no to ARCs and sticking to my reading plan (something I’ve been working on exclusively for the last 3 months). I also want to make reading books I have purchased a higher priority. While I’ve been good about not buying as many books as I used to, I still have quite a collection to tackle.

What book formats do you read in a month?

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SERIESous Discussion: My Reading Habits by Month


SERIESous Discussions: Every once and awhile I will post my random ramblings about a bookish or blogging topic. Feel free to join in by making a comment below or linking back!


This post is completely inspired by Cristina @ Girl in the Pages who created an awesome post looking at her reading habits back in January of this year. In it, she looked at the number of books she read on a month to month basis in 2016 and compared it to her 2017 stats.

While I keep track of the number of books I read in a month in my Monthly Inventory recaps (even comparing the results to the previous year), I never do anything with those numbers. I’ve never taken them into the context of a year to actually confirm what I always believe to be my most productive reading months. So, after reading Cristina’s post, I decided to investigate!

>> SERIESous Discussion: Where do my Books Come From?

My Thoughts Before Looking at the Numbers:

I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect when looking at my 2016 vs 2017 numbers since I went through some big life changes. In 2016, I was finishing up my last school term (ending in April), had a three months of simulated clinical practice (May to July), and then went to my actual clinical placement in September 2016 until January 2017. February 2017 was dedicated to my licensing exam and then a much needed vacation before starting my new (and current) job in March. Long story short: I was no longer a student and was entering the world of work! (And true “adulting“).

And as such, I expected my reading habits to really change once I left school. Truthfully, I anticipated that I would be reading less than before. I’m not sure why I thought that though. I mean, if anything, they should increase because I wouldn’t have to spend my free time studying. But I was entering the working world of shift work and as someone who did most of her reading in the morning before starting her day, I didn’t know what to expect when I had to work midnights or evening shifts on a regular basis.

>>SERIESous Discussion: How “Adulting” Changed my Reading Habits

In general, I expected that January and July would be my biggest reading months. I say January because I’m usually pretty gung-ho about sticking with my new reading plans and resolutions. And I say July because I think I read more in the summer since I love nothing more than to sit out on my patio with a book when I have a day off or after work. (And I live in Canada, so usually July is pretty solid for weather).

The Actual Results:

The Breakdown:

I’ll admit, this graph is a little all over the place so let me give it some context!

In 2016 I read 265 books according to Goodreads, averaging 22 books a month, DNF’d 7 and logged about 400 hours of reading time on my Kobo. In 2017 I read 244 books, averaging 20 books a month, DNF’d 17 books and logged 404 hours of Kobo reading time. Not a huge difference in the grand scheme of things but a noticeable shift for sure in the stats.

Why the spike in August 2016? That was the month I tried out Kindle Unlimited (read about my experience here!) and wanted to fit in as many books as possible before my trial was completed. I choose to do the trial then because I didn’t have any other obligations (like school or work) so I had a lot of free time. I also read a novella series (Calendar Girl) that had 12 parts in total which Goodreads counts as a full, completed novel even if they were half the length.

Why the dip in September 2017? I spent half the month away on a vacation that didn’t leave me a lot of free time to read.

My Thoughts After Looking at the Numbers:

For the most part, I was right about my busiest months. I seem to always read at least 20 books in the month of January; though December seems to be the same in that respect. Probably because I’m scrambling to get in some last minute points for my various reading challenges before the year’s end.

I guess August is actually more productive than July as I had hypothesized. I do know that the Make Me Read It Readathon took place in August 2017 as opposed to July like it did in 2016 so perhaps that shifted my results a bit? I am curious to know though what August 2016 would have looked like without my Kindle Unlimited Trial altering the results. However, in the same breath, I think it goes to show that August does allow me more flexible reading time because I was able to read so many books in both years.

Moving Forward:

It will be interesting to see what the comparison for 2018 to 2017 will be! My life has gotten into more of a routine now that I only work and I seem to have gotten the hang of this shift-work thing. Audiobooks are becoming more of an everyday staple in my life as well so I’m interested to see if that changes things up even more because I do think it played a role in maintaining some of my monthly numbers in 2017 once I started working.

>> Be on the lookout for a post next month were I look at what formats of books I read in a month!

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SERIESous Discussion: DNFing ARCs


SERIESous Discussions: Every once and awhile I will post my random ramblings about a bookish or blogging topic. Feel free to join in by making a comment below or linking back!


To DNF or not to DNF ARCs

Back in 2016, I wrote a post about how I wanted to DNF more books. Not that I wanted to go out of my way to stop reading books; more like I wanted to be comfortable saying “this book isn’t for me” and putting it down without feeling guilty for doing so.

And I have to say, since I’ve created that post, I’ve come a long way. I DNF’d a lot of books in 2017 and I went through fewer reading slumps because I wasn’t pushing myself to finish a novel I wasn’t all that interested in. I’ve come to live by the philosophy “you aren’t going to enjoy every book you pick up” and I don’t get so down on myself for not finishing something. But not every reader feels that way.

Views About DNFing vary from blogger to blogger…

This is something I’ve noticed a lot when I read various discussion posts around the blogosphere.

…especially when it comes to ARCs/review copies.

ARCs and review copies (but simplicity sake, I’m going to refer to anything you get for review purposes as ARCs) are always a delicate subject to bring up but it gets even dicey-er when DNFing is brought up.

I get why lots of people don’t DNF ARCs. You are given the copy with the expectation you will provide an unbiased review upon completion. Giving out copies costs authors and publishers money, and not finishing it seems like a waste of their investment.

I want to argue that that isn’t the case.

See, you received that ARC in exchange for providing an honest review–a review that should not be influenced by your source or your means of obtaining it.

So isn’t DNFing a book your honest review?

Like I said above, you aren’t going to like every book you pick up. It’s unfortunate that you didn’t like this book despite the promising synopsis or cover or author, but that’s OK. You were asked to write an honest review and your honest opinion is that you didn’t enjoy it.

I’m one of those people who has DNF’d ARCs in the past. I don’t enjoy doing it by any stretch of the imagination. It sucks because all the books I pick up for reviewing purposes are books I’m genuinely excited to read. I go in wanting to love the book and sometimes that just doesn’t happen. And I never want to force it.

Remember: you aren’t obligated to give a positive review.

You are obligated to give an honest review for the novel you’ve been provided a copy of. Honest can mean positive or negative feedback. And it’s important for titles to have both available so potential readers can make a decision on whether or not to read it.

I still write full reviews for ARCs I DNF, though I rarely give them a star rating. I look at the book from a critical angle and try to articulate what worked and what didn’t work for me. That’s why all my DNF reviews on my blog have a different format than my usual reviews so I can highlight certain aspects. I also try to recommend who I think would enjoy the book given the features I saw/

Just because I didn’t like it doesn’t mean someone else won’t and I want my review to showcase that.

Do you DNF ARCs? Why or why not?

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SERIESous Tips: Using Trello to Keep Track of Reviews

*I want to be clear that this post isn’t affiliated with Trello in any way, this is just my personal experience!*

I first talked about how I use Trello in 2016 during a Keeping Organized Tips Series I ran. At the time, I mostly highlighted how I use Trello to keep track of ARC Requests and only briefly mentioned my Review Board. That’s about to change here!

Back in university, a co-coordinator for an event I was running showed me Trello as a tool for keeping organized. The list-maker in me loved it and I used it a lot while organizing various things. But I never thought about using it for book blogging until I read a post by Brittany @ Book Bumblings about Trello. After that, everything just clicked and I created my own boards to keep track of things!

>> Check out Brittany’s guide here!

Trello is great for a number of reasons. First off, it’s free (there is a premium version you can buy with more features) and the options are endless for the free version. It is a very fluid web-based program. It’s super easy to move things around and has a ton of customizing features (which I’m going to highlight a little more below). It also has an app for your phone so you can use it on the go if you are so inclined.

Let me introduce my Review Board:

Every post that is created for my blog has a card on this board. I have 7 main lists I use to keep my reviews/posts organized depending on what stage they are at.

What are you looking at?

These are my lists I used to keep track of reviews and blog posts. I’ll break it down for you:

  1. To Do
    • This is my brainstorm list where I keep track of ideas for blog posts I might want to do in the future
  2. ARCs
    • This is where I create review cards for Request copies I have received
      • I’ll detail what’s on those cards below
  3. In Development
    • These are reviews/posts I am currently writing
  4. Started
    • These are reviews that are finished, they just need something else before they can be published
  5. Cross Post
    • This is where review cards go after I’ve finished writing my blog post
    • This is where I keep track of what other review sites I need to post my review to
  6. Pending Sequels
    • These are drafted series reviews that I’m holding off on posting until I’ve read all the available sequels
  7. Done
    • This is where all review and post cards go after I have completed all their requirements

As I’m sure you can predict, when I’m writing a post from my To Do list or from my ARCs list, they get put in the In Development column. After they are complete, they either get put in the Cross Post, Pending Sequels or Done columns depending on their posting requirements.

What’s On a Review Card?

An example of a review card for an ARC request

There are 4 features I use the most when it comes to creating my review cards.

  1. Labels (colour codes)
    • This is great for seeing things at a glance. I colour code all my reviews based on their source (ARC or Blog Tour), if they require a Recap, if I need to Cross Post or if I need to Update a previous review and/or stats. I also have a special colour for Promo posts like blitzes.
    • If a card gets a certain label, it usually has an accompanying checklist (see #3).
  2. Due Date
    • This is the date I plan to post on my blog, not necessarily the book’s publishing date.
    • This is super handy because you can sort lists by their due dates chronologically. I do this for posts that I have to cross post to external sites.
  3. Checklist — My FAVOURITE Feature!
    • We do a lot of repetitive things when it comes to blogging and sometimes it’s hard to remember them all.
      • See the section below for more details!
  4. Comment (not pictured)
    • I use this mostly for post cards for Tags or posts inspired by other blogs and I want to remember the source or ideas for the post

Why the Checklist Feature is the BEST!

Certain reviews require certain things. For example, when I write a series review, I need to make sure I’ve added a recap section (if applicable) to my Recap Page and put the series on my Series Sequel Spreadsheet. If it’s a review for Netgalley, I need to make sure I’ve added my review to the site as well as the links to my cross posted reviews. I even have a list for those cross posts! And the lists go on and on…

What I love about Trello is that you can create unique checklists for every card and you can see at a glance how many items you’ve completed from that list.

But the greatest thing is that you can copy checklists from other cards to your current card!

I have a card I’ve titled Master Checklist. On it, I’ve created all the checklists I use on a regular basis and when I create a new card, I import the lists from this card. If I need to make a change, I do it on this list so that a new cards going forward have this newly changed list.

Other Notable Features:

  • Assign Tasks by Team Member
    • This would be great if you have multiple blog contributors!
    • You can leave notes too for each other on the card and see what others have done.
  • Calendar
    • You can enable a calendar that will put your cards on those respective dates
      • I don’t use this feature as I use a Word Doc do keep track of my dates for everything (posts, library due dates, etc). Learn more here.
  • Tracks Activity
    • Any changes you make to a card (and when) are noted at the bottom

This way, I always know where I am when it comes to my reviews!

While I try to do a little bit of blogging each day, I don’t always get the chance to with my job. But Trello makes it easy for me to pick up where I left off and to see what I need to get done and when. It truly has become an essential tool to my blogging experience.

>> See how Carrie @ Reading is My Super Power was inspired by my other Trello post!

How to you keep track of the reviews/posts you have in the works?

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SERIESous Tips: Keeping Track of Series Sequels

Maybe you haven’t noticed, but book series are kind-of my thing.

When you dedicate your entire blog to book series reviews, you need to be a little organized when it comes to sequels. With this post, I’m going to share some of the ways I keep track of what sequels I have read, what sequels I need to read and what sequels have yet to be published.

>> Tips Post: Learn how I keep track of all my various book sources here!

Method #1 – Goodreads

Like most readers, Goodreads is my go-to for keeping track of my TBR. There are a lot of things to like about the various features of the site. For one, it’s great at listing book series or telling you if a book is a part of a series. That’s actually how I first found the site: I was looking into the sequels for a book series. Another is that it usually has the publishing dates or estimates. And you can’t forget about the shelving feature.

The shelving feature is my main way of keeping track of everything I read…and what I have yet to read. When it comes to book series, I have 3 primary shelves:

  1. “Want To Read”
    • This is the default Goodreads shelf but I’ve always used it more as a “To Read” shelf
    • These are the books that are sequels to series I’ve already started
  2. “Waiting-For”
    • These are books (standalone or series) that have yet to be published
    • While any yet to be published book is here, I use it specifically to keep track of what sequels will be published and when
  3. “Want-to-Read”
    • This is the shelf I use for any book I am interested in reading
    • For the inaugural novels in a series that I haven’t read, they get put on this shelf

I also have some shelves I use for labeling. While most highlight certain book characteristics or how excited I am to read a book, I do have a “best-of-the-series” shelf to distinguish the standout novels of a series.

Method #2 – An Excel Spreadsheet

Until last year, I had an excel spreadsheet that kept track of blog posting types for various series reviews. But that didn’t help me keep track of what sequels I actually needed to read. So I created this lovely spreadsheet to keep track of all the series I have on the go!

I created this file in Excel. Each series gets its own heading and lists all the novels in the series as well as other information. I also use formulas to give me numerical stats.

Let me break it down a bit.

This spreadsheet is divided up into headings for each “Series“. Underneath that heading, I list all the books I have read or have yet to be published (“Novels“) in the series. Once they are read, they get a strikeout or are simply deleted from the heading. I then use the “# TBR” to keep track of the unread novels in that series (more on this later). The “Post” heading is to note whether or not I have a blog review already created for that series. I don’t use the “Source” column that much unless I don’t have a way to access that particular book and I need to remember.

You might have noticed that little table titled “Total Series“. I use that to provide me with a few stats on my reading progress (the scientist in me craves it!). I use the numbers in my “# TBR” column to keep track of how many series have just one book left to go versus how many have 2+ to go.

Is it Hard to Maintain?

This spreadsheet did take me awhile to create but once I had all the information typed into it, it’s been super easy to maintain. Now when I start a new series or finish a sequel for a previously started one, I immediately update this spreadsheet (it’s even a checklist item on my Trello account so I never forget!). For titles I’ve listed as “waiting for”, I go through once a month or so and change the “w” to a “1” or whatever number it is now.

> > Tips Post: Learn how I use Trello to keep track of all my reviews on the go!

So you might be thinking: That’s a Little Extreme, Lauren!

Perhaps. But I have a lot of series on the go thanks to this blog and my need to have fresh content whenever possible. I also love making lists!

This spreadsheet has come in hand for my 2018 Reading Plan to finish more sequels. In case you don’t know, I’ve created a goal for myself to read 1 sequel novel each week for 2018. I use this spreadsheet to help me decide what series I should tackle next.

>> Check Out My 52 Sequels Challenge Progress!

Wait: I Thought this was a Tips Post?

You’re right! It is. We all have such extensive TBRs that it can be hard to keep track of everything all the time. My hope is that by sharing my methods, it’ll inspire my fellow bloggers to think about how they keep track of sequels and perhaps make some positive changes.

Plus, I’m always open to helping people out. If you have any questions about using Goodreads or Excel, let me know! I’m happy to teach you some tricks or come up with a method that works well for you!

How do you keep track of book series you have on the go?

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SERIESous Tips: 5 Ways to Get Into Audiobooks

Last July, I published a post declaring my love for audiobooks.

But it took me a long time to reach that conclusion. As I mentioned in that post, it took me 7 years to get comfortable listening to audiobooks. That’s a long time!

Audiobooks are a growing tend in the publishing industry. In 2017, audiobook sales increased by nearly 30%! That’s crazy! And I can only imagine that they are doing the same (if not better this year). I’ve noticed that a lot of my favourite authors have been releasing audio versions of their new books months before they published versions hit the shelves.

Which is why I wanted to created this post today. I know that for some, audiobooks are a daunting format to even consider reading. But I’m hoping that with some of the tips below, you are encouraged to at least try and see why audiobooks can make a great addition to your reading habits.

Below you’ll find some of the tips that I have tried and tested over the last 8 years. My previous post focuses more on my journey to find that all important first book but the tips below focus more on the actual reading experience.

1 – Start With Nonfiction

This is a tried and true method for me. Nonfiction novels are a great starting point for a number of reasons. Some of those reasons are listed in more detail for Tip #2 and Tip #3, but this biggest reason is their subject matter.

I found nonfiction audiobooks didn’t require me to listen all the time. Seems counter-intuitive I know, but what I mean is that I was able to teach myself to listen to the book but not berate myself when I missed something important. You can easily discourage yourself when you get angry for missing certain parts and in turn, it can make for a horrible listening environment and experience.

For example, celebrity memoirs are great to listen to because you don’t need to listen to every detail. You can zone in and out if you have to and not miss too much. (And you can always use the rewind button if you need to!) I found by listening to these stories, I got used to focusing on the words and putting things together as well as remembering past topics without having the ability to flip back and check the previous pages.

Consider it audiobook training if you will.

2 – Find a Narrator You’re Familiar With

I read of a lot of celebrity memoirs when I first got into audiobooks because I enjoyed the familiarity of a voice I already knew. It’s especially true with actors because you are used to hearing their voices and deliveries on TV or at the movies. With audiobooks, all you’re doing is removing the visual but your brain can do the rest and you can easily visualize it in your head.

>> Tip: Listen to an audiobook sample before taking the plunge. You can usually tell pretty quickly if you will get annoyed by the narration or not simply by listening to a couple of minutes of the production.

But a lot of actors narrate fiction novels as well. When I made the jump to fiction I first picked up Veronica Mars: The Thousand Dollar Tan Line because it is narrated by Veronica herself, Kristen Bell. Best decision EVER! Again, I felt like I was watching an episode of Veronica Mars without the visuals and it just really allowed me to immerse myself in the narrative and world.

>> List: Here’s a list of some classic novels as audiobooks narrated by celebrities!

3 – Start With Shorter Novels

If you’re like me, you might have a shorter attention span. I don’t do so well with books that have more than 300 pages because I often find myself getting bored (I’m looking at you Throne of Glass Series). That isn’t always the case but I do get distracted easily.

After listening to a few audiobooks, I soon learned that I didn’t enjoy books that had a length greater than 11 hours. So when I’m contemplating whether or not to choose the audio verison or the print, I take into account the length of the narration.

But, if you really want to listen to the audiobook you can always…

4 – Bump Up the Delivery Speed

I rarely used this feature before I started listening to fiction novels. But once I started using it, I couldn’t stop!

Bumping up the speed can help in a variety of ways. One is that it shortens the amount of time you have to listen to the novel. This is great for novels that are just that little bit too long for my attention span. For example, when I wasn’t totally enjoying Kingdom of Ashes, I bumped of the speed to get through it a little more quickly because I did want to see the ending.

But I also use the increased speed when the dialogue seems a to be a little stifled. Again, I used the speed initially in Kingdom of Ashes to help smooth out the awkward dialogue of the narrator. I did the same thing in West as well. Both times, it increased my enjoyment of the novel as I wasn’t as annoyed or distracted by the slower delivery.

Now, by default (unless it is for review copy purposes) I listen to all audiobooks on 1.25X to help smooth out the dialogue and help me finish that little bit faster.

>> Tip: If you find that audiobooks are too fast, most audiobook applications have a 0.5X speed to slow things down!

5 –  Listen to a Previously Read Series

Finding that first audiobook to dive into can be daunting. I detail how I came to pick my first fiction novel in my post last year–it took me (at least) an hour to whittle it down to one.

Which is why I think returning to an old favourite is a great start. I’ve never done this per say but it was in my mind when I picked up the Veronica Mars series as audiobooks since I was already familiar with all the characters thanks to the show.

In a similar idea, I ended up picking up the audiobook version of Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? after not being fully invested in the print version. Again, this goes back to Tips #1 & #2 but I just knew the stories Mindy tells would be much more entertaining if I heard her tell them to me in her voice. And they were!

Returning to a world or story you are already familiar with can help you get accustomed to the audio version. You can teach yourself to listen without having to worry that you will unintentionally miss something (and if you do, you already know what it is!). Familiarity in something that is new to you can be a great asset and that’s what a reread provides when it comes to audiobooks.

>> Tip: If you don’t want to pay to try out an audiobook, try you’re local library or an audiobook subscription service. Read my Service Review of Audible here!

Bonus – Listen to an Audiobook Instead of Music

When I first started listening to audiobooks 3 years ago, I started listening to them while running errands and doing chores because I was tired of listening to the music I had on my iPod. Sure, I could listen to the radio but I hate listening to commercials and music streaming services weren’t my thing. Listening to audiobooks was the equivalent of listening to the TV while it played in the other room and I quickly became engrossed in the story.

Which is why I started listening to audiobooks on my drive to work instead of the radio (which I listen to for my entire shift at work). When you drive by yourself, you can’t really spend that time reading or doing other things because you have to concentrate on your surroundings. And given the fact I was losing 2 hours commuting back and forth, I wanted to do something productive and make up for my lost reading time. Audiobooks were the answer.

Of course, there are times when audiobooks instead of music might not be the best idea. For example, I can’t listen to an audiobook and write a post for my blog at the same time (I can’t even listen to music with lyrics when I write). I don’t mind listening to books while doing cardio exercises but for some people they might need the beat of music to keep up their motivation. But the next time you reach for the playlist, why not try out an audiobook instead?


I hope you found some of those tips helpful!

Be patient as you try audiobooks. They are a very different reading experience and it’s something that takes time to get used to–especially if you are hesitant to try or go in thinking you won’t enjoy them. I had to teach myself to listen (it helps when you are driving by yourself and have nothing else to do but listen) while others can dive right in. Don’t be discouraged if that first book doesn’t work. Keep an open mind and try different things (i.e. genres) to see what works for you. 

Here are some recommendations of audiobooks I loved in the last year:

Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda When Dimple Met Rishi The Hate U Give Fragile Chaos Rebel Belle (Rebel Belle, #1)

Do you listen to audiobooks? Why or why not?

Any Tips?

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SERIESous Discussion: 5 Reasons Why Novellas Stop Reading Slumps


SERIESous Discussions: Every once and awhile I will post my random ramblings about a bookish or blogging topic. Feel free to join in by making a comment below or linking back!


Reading slumps happen to everyone.

From preventing them in the first place to getting yourself out of one, everyone has their own tactic for beating reading slumps. In the past, I’ve shared a lot of my strategies to thwart off reading slumps because they were a frequent occurrence in my reading life two years ago (i.e. reading year 2016).

>> SERIESous Tips: How to Prevent the Chore of Reading

Now, they don’t happen as much thanks to the changes I’ve made to my reading habits. But they still do happen, just not as long. In fact, as I write this (in November 2017), I consider myself to be in a slump and one that I would classify as my first major one in 2017. Which is pretty good to only have the first major reading slump in the 11th month of the year!

But as I am in this slump, I became inspired to write this post. I’ve shared how I avoid reading slumps in the past but I wanted to talk about how I get out of them when they do happen and why they don’t last for too long.

Answer: Novellas.

I’ve tried lots of things in the past and have had varying success (like reading a book from a favourite author or reading a book I normally wouldn’t). And these do often work but my tried and true method is reading novellas. Novellas are great anytime of the year, but I find them particularly helpful when I’m in a bit of a reading slump.

Reason 1: Quick Reads

I classify novellas as anything that has 20 to 150 pages. These are the books I can read easily in one sitting or in less 3 hours. Meaning, you aren’t giving up a huge time commitment but you get the satisfaction of completing something. More importantly, are getting yourself back in the habit of reading once again. And hey, if you don’t enjoy the book, you didn’t waste too much of your time!

Reason 2: Faster Plot Lines

The quick plotlines of novellas can be both a blessing and a curse. A blessing because it cuts out the unnecessary drama and descriptions but a curse because sometimes things can feel rushed or incomplete. But what I want to highlight here is that you get to the main plot a lot quicker than some full length novels and that gets you invested early to see how it will all resolve.

Reason 3:  Often Leave You Wanting More

This idea works in two ways. One is that if you are reading a serialized story told in parts, they are notorious for ending on cliffhangers because they want you to read the next installment. And because of Reason 1, you can find yourself burning through a lot if you get yourself addicted.

The other reason–which is slightly negative I’ll admit–is that reading a novella may make you crave a full sized novel. Full size novels have the benefit of working out those slightly more complicated plotlines which can be missing in a novella depending on the style. Novels can also feature a larger cast of characters, and if you are like me, you often get drawn to these side characters. So reading a novella where these may be lacking may inspire you to pick up that novel you’ve been putting off for awhile.

Reason 4: Lots of Book Series Have Them

Novellas are often a part of your larger series. They can be short stories about side characters or alternative POVs or prequel stories to help build the world. The point is, sometimes returning to a world you are already familiar with–and likely enjoy–can remind you why you love reading the in the first place.

>> Fun Fact: This reason is how I got out of my November reading slump. I returned to the worlds of A Season for Scandal, Wolf by Wolf and Sins & Scandals by reading their novella installments.

Reason 5: Often Free!

Yes, FREE! Lots of author’s write novellas for their series as bonuses for readers. If your library has the series as an eBook series, they may have the novellas already. And you can often find the first one or two installments of a serialized series for free as a hook to get you into the series. Having an eReader can help but you can also use your tablet or computer or phone as most eBook retailers have apps.

>> Guide: Tips for Buying an eReader //  Guide: Using a Tablet for eReading

My point is, you don’t have to break the bank to get out of a slump. You can grab something that catches your eye and dive right in without worrying about spending your money!


Do you read novellas? How do you stop a reading slump?

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SERIESous’ Reading Plan for 2018

2017 Was the Year I Had Been Working Towards

2018 Is the Year I Keep the Momentum Going

You can read all about my journey to read smarter, not harder in last year’s reading plan post. But the gist is that I was overwhelming myself in a lot of ways which, in turn, was creating a lot of reading slumps and not so much fun.

Since 2016, I’ve worked very hard on changing some of my reading habits. I’ve cut down significantly on my library holds, I’ve limited the number of requests I read in a month and I’ve become more comfortable with DNFing books when I’m not interested. Overall, it’s led to a more positive reading experience that has resulted in less reading slumps and more flexibility.

So I want to keep that momentum going and I’ve come up with 3 goals I want 2018 to be all about.

#1 – Read More Owned Novels

While I may have achieved my goal to read books I own with my #ShelfLove Challenge in 2017, I still want to clean up my eReaders and bookshelves when it comes to unread novels. If you compare 2017 (51 books) to 2016 (79 books), I actually read less books from my personal collection and that is a little disappointing. (Mind you, I did DNF at least 8 titles from my personal collection last year as well).

>> 2018 Reading Challenge: Tackling the TBR Personal Reading Challenge 2018

I did a good job of not buying too many books in 2017 so hopefully I can continue that trend and give myself a shot at upping my “% of library complete” on my Kobo.

>> Fun Fact: It takes me approximately 11 read books to complete 1% of my Kobo library!

#2 – Read More Sequels

As I write this, I currently have 131 book series on the go which totals nearly 179 books when all is said and done. Mind you, a third of that are series that will be releasing their Book 2 in 2018 so it’s not totally daunting. (It totally is!).

>> 2018 Reading Challenge: 52 Sequels Personal Reading Challenge

But that being said, I still have a lot of series that do have all their books released and I’d love to update and publish some of those series reviews I’ve had sitting in my draft folder for awhile…

>> Sneak Peek: Look for a post in the next few months detailing how I keep track of all my series sequels!

#3 – Stick to my ARC Limits

I allow myself 3 ARC copies a month (this includes author requests, personal requests, review opportunities and blog tour commitments) but I often increase that limit…with mixed results. I’ve already been tested when it comes to January 2018 commitments but I’m hoping I will stick with my reading plan and not get too request happy this year.

Introducing my 2018 Reading Plan

It’s very similar to my Reading Plan for 2017 only it’s tweaked for more sequel opportunities. The idea is that each month I have a total of 11 books that are the foundation for my reading. Since I usually average 12-15 books a month, I’m using the other books as a “what I want to read when I want to read” option. At the end of each month, I determine what books I want to select and make the appropriate arrangements (like going to the library or purchasing the book) to make sure I can complete the selection.

The Highlights:

  1. TBR Picks – purchased novels on my Kobo/Kindle/bookshelf
    • I’m keeping this at 2 as a minimum
    • Hopefully once I fill my monthly checklist, I can read more books from here
  2. 5 Year 5 Book Challenge — a Personal Challenge to read 25 books from the last 5 years
    • While I might not have gotten to all the books I wanted to on my 2017 challenge list, I’m bringing it back once again to get some titles off my TBR
  3. Sequels — 52 Sequel Challenge
    • I’d like to read (at least) 1 sequel novel a week for the entire year
  4. Netgalley
    • In an attempt to curb my requesting habits, only one book per month!
    • This includes review opportunities and/or personally requested novels
    • It does not include provided copies for tours
  5. ARCs/Tours/Requests
    • I’m setting a hard limit of 2 books per month
    • I’m going to take my time considering what tours I want and not be so quick to sign myself up all the time
  6. Library Holds
    • I’ve done a great job of not putting every book I see at my library on hold. Instead, I use the various wishlist features to keep track of titles I’m interested in and saving them for a later time.

Going Forward:

I’ve done a spreadsheet like this for the last 2 years and I’ve found it’s a great foundation. I don’t always stick to it (especially following the summer) but I’ve promised myself I will re-evaluate it once I stop using it or need to make some changes.

Overall, I’m very excited to see what 2018 has in store and I truly hope I can accomplish some of my reading goals for the year!

Do you create a yearly plan or do you just go with the flow?

What are some of your 2018 reading goals?

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SERIESous Discussion: Where Do my Books Come From?


SERIESous Discussions: Every once and awhile I will post my random ramblings about a bookish or blogging topic. Feel free to join in by making a comment below or linking back!


Do 80% of my books come from the library like I think? I investigate for the truth!

I was inspired to do this investigation after I read Lauren @ Bookmark Lit‘s post “Whose Books Am I Reading?”In it, she looks at where she gets her books that she reads on a daily basis. Are they purchased? Are they from the library? Review copies? Friends? And it got me curious about my own book acquiring habits.

See, I always say that 80-90% of my books come from the library. But I’m not sure that is entirely true; especially now that I read ARCs on a more regular basis and have a greater focus on reading books I already own.

So let’s break it down!

Book Sources for 2017

(Between January 1 to November 29, 2017)

Source:#%2016
Grand Total:221100233 (100%)
Purchased4520.379 (34%)
Library10647.985 (36%)
ARCs7031.669 (30%)

When I broke this all down, I was a little shocked. I really thought I got more of my books from the library. I was curious and looked at my breakdown for 2016. And again, I couldn’t believe it!

Lauren @ Bookmark Lit goes into further detail about release dates, borrowing sources, cost and more in her post but I’m going to leave it at this for me. However, I’m going to look at whether I’m reading sequels, standalone or inaugural series novels as it pertains more to my blog and its posts.

Types of Novels

(Between January 1 to November 29, 2017)

Type: #%
Grand Total221100
Standalone7433
Series14766.5
Book 1(53)(36)
Book 2(44)(30)
Book 3+(37)(25)
Novellas:(11)(7)

I was surprised when I got the totals back in two ways. One is that I really didn’t think I read that many standalone novels this year but in hindsight, when I first started listening to audiobooks I was mostly picking standalones so it makes sense.  (I mean, I did know that I had read more than I had post slots for and that’s why I stopped reading them after August but the number actually shocked me!)

The other surprise was the number of sequels I read. I really felt like I was lacking when it came to getting to the sequels this year. There were so many sequels releasing this year but I never got to them. In fact, when I was creating my 2018 reading plan, I focused almost entirely on sequels because I felt like I was failing at this…and I’m a blog that focuses on book series so it’s important!

Conclusion?

I think I sometimes fail to see the bigger picture. Doing my Monthly Inventory Recaps gives me an overview of the month but not necessarily the grand scheme. Perhaps in 2018 I’ll look more at the previous month as opposed to the previous year like I currently do. Because I’m really not doing as bad as I think I am when it comes to reading and I think it is a nice thing to remind myself of from time to time.

Ultimately, reading is a hobby that feeds my other hobby of blogging and I never want this to feel like a chore or like I have to meet a certain quota to be “successful” because “success” is very relative and personal when it comes to being a book blogger when it is all said and done.

Where do most of your books come from?

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