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SERIESous Discussion: My Reading Habits by Month [2]


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 year, I was inspired to put this post together by the fabulous Cristina @ Girl in the Pages. She created this amazing post looking at her reading habits by month and I got curious about my own. So, I compared my 2016 and 2017 reading years to each other and I thought it would be fun to add my 2018 reading stats to the mix.

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

What I Learned From Last Year’s Post — and What I Did About It:

I learned a few things from my post last year:

  • August is my most productive reading month
  • I averaged less books per month in 2017 than 2016
    • 2017: 20 books/month ; 2016: 22 books/month

In combination with my Discussion Post about Book Formats I Read in a Month, I started to do the following:

  • Started an Excel sheet to track what books I read in a month (in addition to Goodreads)
    • Break down: Books, ARCs, Audiobooks, DNFs & Novellas
  • Started editing “edition type” on Goodreads
    • Break down: Kindle, eBook, Hardcover, Audio, etc

 

My Thoughts Before Looking at the Numbers:

Last year was the first year in 8 years that I haven’t been in school for any of it. I’ve just been working at my job and trying to have a social life. So I’m really curious to see how my reading habits have changed…because I certainly think that they have!

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

While I only read 11 books less in 2018 than 2017, it felt like I read a whole lot less. I’ve said in many times in my recap posts for the last few months but there were times in 2018 I didn’t pick up a book at all. It’s all thanks to audiobooks that my numbers were as strong as they were — something I will investigate in my follow-up post to “Book Formats per Month”.

The Actual Results:

The Breakdown:

What does that all mean? I’ve summed it up here:

 201620172018
Total # Read260240229
Monthly Avg222019
Total # DNF'd71729
# of Kobo Reading Hours40040479

 

My Thoughts After Looking at the Numbers:

Nothing really shocked me here when I look at the breakdown; with the exception of my Kobo reading hours. But when I think about it, it makes sense. I read a lot of ARCs last year and I read those on my Kindle. I’ve also significantly reduced the number of books I get from my library (which are read on my Kobo) in an effort to read books I already own. And I also DNF’d a lot of titles from my Kobo last year.

Which brings me to the DNF numbers. Again, I’m not shocked by this increase. My reading preferences and tolerances as a reader have changed a lot over the last three years. What I liked (and bought) years ago isn’t necessarily what I enjoy now and I think my DNF numbers for 2018 reflect that.

Moving Forward:

Again, it will be interesting to see how the results for 2019 compare to 2018. I now have a more consistent schedule for work so I do have more free time. But with that comes more social calls and trips as well which doesn’t always equal more reading time. I recently moved closer to work so my commute (and audiobook time) has decreased significantly; however, in theory, I have more time to read physical books. We will see if that all pans out…

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

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SERIESous Discussion: How I DNF Books


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!


The Art of DNFing a Book

DNFing a book is not something I take very lightly. Sure, I’ve made a concerted since July 2016 to “DNF more books” but that is more of a method to stop myself from getting into reading slumps. See I found that by forcing myself to finish a book I would end up in a slump soon after because I was reading books I wasn’t truly enjoying. But the simple fact of the matter is that I do DNF books from time to time. So how do I decide whether or not to continue on with a book? That’s what I’m going to share today.

The Cut-off Point: The 50 Page Rule (aka the 20% Rule)

I’ve had this rule for a very long time because I need to have a line where I can say “that is enough of this” or else I will just push through and (often painfully) finish the book. The idea is that I give the book 50 pages (or 20% if I’m reading an eBook or audiobook) to see if I’m interested in the story. In my experience, if I’m not invested in a book by the end of the first quarter, I likely won’t be going forward. I don’t mind books that take their time to build up, but if I don’t see where the plot is going (or if I do and I don’t like it) by the first quarter, it’s time to call it quits.

But what if I’m on the fence?

The rule isn’t flawless and I’ve definitely DNF’d books before and after those points. Sometimes, I know by the end of the first chapter that a book isn’t going to work for me, but I do give it a few more chapters (usually) to confirm these suspicions. However, I’ve also reached that first quarter mark and am just not sure what I want to do. So I have a few tactics I employ to see whether or not to continue with the book.

Tactic #1: Start a Second Novel

For the most part, I’m a serial monogamist when it comes to reading (I don’t really count the audiobook I listen to in the car while I read a physical book) though that has definitely changed over the years. So most of the time, I really only have one book on the go. But when it comes to DNFing a novel, sometimes I start another book as a way to gauge my interest for the book in question. As I explain in my Discussion Post About Becoming a Two-Timing Reader:

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 would say that I employ this tactic for about 80% of the books I start to read and don’t know if I want to continue with. It helps a lot and I find that by breaking up that slower book (the one I’m thinking about DNFing) I can often finish it. Now whether or not I pick up the sequels is another story…

>>SERIESous Discussion: Becoming a Two-Timing Reader

Tactic #2: Read Reviews

Maybe this is a weird thing to admit as a book blogger but I don’t read book reviews all that much despite that fact that I write them. Most of the time, I like to keep myself in blissful ignorance, so if it’s a book I know I’m already interested in, I don’t read the review because I don’t want to have any preconceived notions but my own before starting. The exception to this rule is if I’m deciding whether or not to keep/buy a book on/for my TBR, because I usually don’t get to the book right away so anything I read in a review, I’ll likely forget when I actually read the book.

But I find reviews are most helpful when deciding whether or not to finish a book. First, I gauge what all my friends on Goodreads have said about the novel. Then, I usually read 1 negative and 1 positive review to figure out the pros and the cons of the story and to get a feel for if the book is for me or not. Most of the time though, my worries about the book are confirmed and I end up DNFing but that isn’t always the case.

>>SERIESous Discussion: DNFing ARCs

Tactic #3: Putting the Book Down for Now and Returning to it Later

As a mood reader, sometimes I just know when I’m reading the right book for me but at the wrong time. I can tell I’d be super invested in the story if it wasn’t for X, Y and Z external factors going on. So I usually put the book down, and will either start over fresh in a couple of weeks or pick up where I left off.

Sometimes I don’t return to the book because I realize I just don’t care after the time has passed but most of the time, I get back into it and enjoy it much more than the first time.

>>SERIESous Discussion: Reading Book Purchases ASAP

Does the Genre of the Book Make a Difference?

Upon reflection, I noticed that I use this Tactics #1 and #3 the most when it comes to non-contemporary reads. I think I do this because non-contemporary genres (like fantasy, science fiction, etc) usually have more complex plots and characters than, say, a contemporary romance. So in that regard, I think I am a little more patient and will let the plot (hopefully) develop a bit before I make my final decision.

Now that isn’t to say that contemporaries can’t have these more complex stories/characters. I should be upfront and say that most of the contemporaries I read are romances. I read a lot of them and that experience has allowed me to know what works and doesn’t work for me pretty early on in the novel to make a decision I can be completely comfortable with.


So those are some of the thought processes I go through when deciding whether or not to keep reading a book. I’d say for the most part, Tactic #2 (reading reviews) is my go-to method for all genres because I trust what my fellow readers have to say about their experience and it gives me a great idea for what my own experience would be.

What do you do when deciding to DNF a book? Do you find your tactics differ by genres?

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SERIESous Discussion: A 3 Year Reflection on Self-Hosting my Blog

I was recently updating the various guides I have on the blog and one of them is my Self-Hosting Guide. And as I was going through it, I realized I’ve been self-hosting my blog since February 2016…

That’s more than 3 years!

It was a big decision for me to go self-hosted back then. It took a lot of time and research; I talked to a lot of fellow bloggers as well. My experience prompted me to compile a guide to help others make the decision (or not to).

For the last 2 years in February, I contemplate whether or not I want to remain self-hosted as my renewal notice comes. I think when money is involved, you always get a little hesitant and take a little extra time to think your decision over. And of course, life changes from year to year so there are many factors at play.

So where do I stand as I enter Year 4?

I seriously considered not renewing my hosting this year for a variety of reasons.

 (1) The Cost to the Usage Ratio

When I started blogging, I was working on my blog everyday but that certainly isn’t the case anymore. I was a student back in university and I had a lot of downtime (and it served as a good stress reliever). Skip ahead a few years to 2018 and there were times where I didn’t touch my blog for days (let alone a book!). It’s a stat that seems unbelievable to me because in theory, I should have more free time since all I do now is work (no school). But it’s my reality so I started to ponder if I was getting enough value from my self-hosted blog ($$) when I have the option to return my free site.

I pay for my domain name annually in November and hosting is paid annually in February. I don’t mind paying for my domain every year because I like the shorter, easy to remember domain. It costs me $13 USD a year but I use my earnings from Branded Surveys (referral link) to pay for it. My hosting costs work out to $10 USD a month which I think isn’t very expensive for a hobby you enjoy and (usually) do multiple times a week. And considering I don’t buy a lot of books (I use my library for the most part or participate in promotional opportunities), I don’t have a lot of other associated costs with my blogging/reading. Even better, I use my earnings from Swagbucks (referral link) for PayPal giftcards and use that to pay for part of my self-hosting invoice so it really doesn’t cost me that much in hindsight.

While I do work more now (and shift work to boot), I no longer have to commute (2 hrs) to work everyday so I have more free time on my hands to spend blogging and reading–and I hope that will be the case shortly.

 (2) Customization

One of the biggest draws to going self-hosted in the first place was the ability to do more with the design of my blog. While the free themes on WordPress.com are great, I wanted more flexibility with colours, feeds and plug-ins and only a self-hosted site could do that for me.

I love my theme and I don’t feel the itching need to change it like I did before on my WordPress.com site. Though I had found a theme for my wordpress.com blog just before I made the switch so I know I could find something that works if need be.

The plugins have been a great addition as well; though I’ll be the first to admit that I probably don’t use them as much as I should. They can be tricky too since they often have limited features until you purchase the premium version; they might not work with your theme; or, I can’t find exactly what I am looking for. While some save me lots of time, others require some troubleshooting that I don’t always have the time to execute.

>> SERIESous Tips: My Favourite WordPress Plugins

(3) Do I Still Enjoy Blogging?

I wrote about this sentiment in my Monthly Inventory: December 2018 edition where adulting seems to have transformed my blogging and reading experience in that last year. But my so-so feelings about the last year and the fact that I have to renew my hosting for another full year made me start to question my blogging experience and if it is something I want to continue going forward.

Perhaps it’s just part of the reflective nature of the new year and new resolutions, but it’s something I often ponder around this time of year. Of course I would still read and I’d probably continue reviewing on Goodreads; but the appeal to have no commitments to regular posting and promotional deadlines is enticing.

My Final Decision?

In April, I’ll be celebrating 6 years of blogging! I can’t believe it myself…but if there is anything I’ve learned about blogging in that time: you can make this experience whatever you want it to be.

I’m having no problem churning out content on a regular basis even if my reading doesn’t always reflect that. Yes, sometimes writing those posts feel like a chore because I get behind, but I still love sharing my thoughts on what I read. I have enough posts scheduled that I have some buffer time before I need to panic about not having enough content; and even then, I can reduce how many times I post in a week. Flexibility is key and I definitely have the ability to execute that.

Another big resolution: I also plan on reducing the number of promotional opportunities I undertake this year. I love promoting all the books I request but I’m at the stage in my blogging career where less is more. And I hope that by reducing those deadlines, I can take a lighter approach to blogging and reading.

So in the end? I’ve decided to renew my self-hosting for another year. While January has been a dicey month, I’m hoping the rest of the year will be smoother in all things.


Check out my mini-guide to self-hosting complete with help links!

Check it out here:

selfhost


What are your thoughts on Self-Hosting?

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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: 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 Discussions: Lessons Learned from Blog Tours


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!


Truth: I didn’t know that blog tours existed until my 2nd year of blogging.

Embarrassing, I know, but I was in such a bubble during my first year of blogging (2013) that I didn’t know what was out there. Anyways, I started slowly with taking review requests in 2015, joining Netgalley and then in 2016, I officially joined the community of being a tour host.

I thought about making this a tips post but I really think this is more a reflection on my experiences being a tour host and how two years of hosting blog tours has changed my blogging and reading habits.

Lesson #1: I LOVE Helping Authors!

There are so many great books out there, from big-name publishers to self-published, and I love the idea that my blog post might help one person discover a book they never knew about. Exposure is everything, especially for those debut authors who are just emerging onto the scene. Just getting the email sign-ups for tours has exposed me to a lot of books I might never have seen otherwise.

More often than not, I often get to connect with these authors after the fact and I love that! I’ve had some great discussions and fantastic opportunities present themselves as a result. Those interactions remind me why I love blogging and reading in the first place: a shared passion for stories.

>>Some Blog Tour Organizers: Audiobookworm Promotions |  Lola’s Blog Tours  | Chapter by Chapter | Social Butterfly PR | Xpresso Book Tours | YA Bound Book Tours

Lesson #2: Keep an Eye on the Number of Requests

I’ve talked in the past about some of the tactics I use to minimize the feeling of reading as a chore but it is so easy to sign-up for blog tours when you are getting emails daily. Like I said, there are a lot of interesting books out there and it can be hard to resist clicking the “request” button for every title that gets your attention. But you don’t want to overwhelm yourself by creating more deadlines and commitments than you can handle.

I personally aim to do no more than 2 requests (blog tour or review request/opportunities) per month. Sometimes I succeed, sometimes I fail but I find that ground rule keeps me from requesting all the books.

Using a calendar to keep track of all my posts allows me to see the bigger picture. Can I fit that tour in on those specific dates? Have I already applied/committed to review something that day? You have to be careful because most blog tours want their post to be the “top” post of the day and that may mean shuffling your schedule around to meet that requirement.

>>Tip Posts: Using Trello to Keep Organized | Organizing Requests | How to Start Scheduling Blog Posts

Lesson #3: Read the Book ASAP!

Most blog tours give you a month or more notice before your scheduled date and you often get the review copy a few weeks before the posting date. When I put in my book deadlines on my calendar, I aim to have the ARC finished at least a week before my tour stop…but that doesn’t always happen.

Reading the review copy at the last minute can have some unfortunate consequences. For one thing, you might not be able to finish the review on time. For another, you might end up DNFing the book or are unable to give it a favourable review (which defeats the purpose of a promotional tour though you are always encouraged to post your review later). Or something comes up and you just can’t post anything for the tour.

All the touring groups I deal with are great with recognizing that you won’t like every book you read and are very accommodating with changing the date or type of tour stop and/or making alternate arrangements. But my point here is that it can be stressful for all involved if you leave your reading to the last minute and arrangements can’t be made. You have to remember that it is a privilege to be awarded a spot on a tour, not your right as a blogger. If you are hard to work with or can’t make your commitments, it might affect your opportunities with that company later on.


Those are just a few of the lessons I’ve learned over the last year. Although blog tours can be a bit of work, I’ve found them to be extremely rewarding! I’ve discovered a ton of amazing books and authors over the last two years and I hope you have to by following my blog.

Do you participate in Blog Tours? Why or why not?

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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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SERIESous Tips: Picking the Perfect Travel Reads

For me, deciding what books to bring on a trip is just as important as figuring out what clothes I’m going to pack.

While packing for my big international trip back in September (and with the holidays right around the corner), I thought it would be a great idea to share some of my strategies for selecting the titles I take with me on vacation.

Use an eReader!

Before I got my eReader, finding space for books in my suitcase was a massive undertaking. For an overpacker like myself, it was a delicate situation that required a lot of foresight and sacrifice.

I remember on one trip, I brought 3 books thinking that would be more than enough to keep me entertained. It wasn’t. We had more travel downtime than I anticipated and I found myself bored that I couldn’t read.

eReading has solved that problem for me in a big way. Not only is my eReader super easy to pack, but it lets me have 100s of books at my disposal. I never run out of books to read when I bring my eReader and that’s just fabulous!

>> Learn more about eReading!

Now my biggest dilemma is deciding whether to bring my Kobo or Kindle.

Ask Yourself: What Will Your Reading Time Look Like?

It’s a good idea to get a feel for when you might find yourself reading on your trip. Do you have a long flight or lengthy travel time? Are you doing more of a relaxing trip where you will be reading most of the day? Or do you have an action packed itinerary where reading time will be minimal? I always look at what my reading time will be in order to determine what type of books I want to read.

When I go on my more “relaxing” vacations, I tend to pick novels that I can get lost in for hours at a time. I’m talking about the books you want to read in one sitting or books that are better if you read in a shorter time frame thanks to their somewhat complicated plots. For me, these are my YA fantasies or science fiction reads. 

On the other hand, when I know that my reading time will be limited, I pick novels that I can easily pick up and carry on with when I get the chance. These are my Romance and Contemporary reads. I pick these stories because they usually have (in general) fewer characters to remember and a simpler plot line to follow. They’re easier to pick up and immerse myself into even if it has been a couple of days since I last picked it up.

Start a Book Before You Go

I actually learned this tip from my local library and it’s something I keep in mind every time I travel. While I usually have no problem starting a new book, I find sometimes on vacation that it can be hard to get myself to start that new novel. By getting myself invested in the story before I leave, I find myself compelled to finish the book while on my trip because I need to see what will happen next. Being familiar with something–especially when you might be in an unfamiliar place–can really help motivate you to pick up that novel.

Don’t Put Pressure on Yourself (If You Can)

When I go on vacation, I try not to read any request or review copies because I can never be sure what my reading time will be like. As I said above, if I know that I will have lots of reading time because of flights or days at the beach, I might pick up a review copy or two on my trip. But in most cases, I avoid anything that will cause me stress since my vacation is supposed to be relaxing and I don’t want that negatively impacting my reviews.

>> Tips: Ideas for organizing review copies and requests

>> Tips: How to Avoid the “Chore” of Reading


A Note on Keeping Up With My Blogging

Vacations are supposed to be relaxing and so I try to limit all distractions, including my blog. That’s why I schedule everything on my blog so that I don’t have to worry about posting things while away. And it’s like I never left (well, besides the fact that I don’t respond to comments right away).

>> Check out my tips to help start you scheduling your blog posts!

But since I review 98% of the books I read, I do keep notes on the books I read while on vacation. Sometimes I do have my laptop and a WiFi connection so I write up a quick draft of a review and format it once I get home. Other times, I simply type out my review in an email or as a digital note on my phone and send it to myself later once I have an internet connection. That way, I don’t have to stress myself over what my initial thoughts were once I finished the book and it’s fresh in my mind.

How do you pick the books you read for vacations? Any tips?

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