Tag «reading habits»

SERIESous Tips: How I Learned to Read More in a Day

In August 2021 I wrote a blog post about how I fell in love with reading again. The global COVID-19 pandemic truly wrecked havoc on my reading life and it took me well over a year to get my reading groove back.

Since then, I’ve found new ways to incorporate reading back into my everyday life and eliminate some not so great habits I picked up in the last two years. Unlike last year, I am well on my way to completing my Goodreads Challenge and it feels great to rediscover why I love reading!

Here are some of the habits I started:

1 – Creating a Morning Routine

When I was in university, I used to get up early every day before class to read for 20-30 minutes. That was easy for me to do because I had a pretty routine school schedule and would get up and go to bed at the same time every day. That regularity changed when I finished school and started to work rotating shifts for my career in health-care. Sleep became the priority and I’d be lucky to get 3 pages in before my pillow called to me.

In the last few months, I’ve recently started a new position at my work and no longer have to do work shift–I only work day shift now! (YAY!). That has been game-changing for me. I’m someone who likes routine so I’ve really enjoyed the opportunity to create a morning routine. I now get up at the same time every day and have a solid morning routine. Two elements of my morning routine include reading.

The first is reading a book when I eat my breakfast. I used to watch TV when I’d eat, but I struggled to find something to watch (and finish) for my 10 minute meal. It made me feel unproductive. But reading for 10 minutes reading at breakfast helps me feel like I accomplished something. Usually that enough time to squeeze in a chapter or two I wouldn’t read otherwise. It’s nice to have that time to myself and get lost in another world.

>> SERIESous Tips: 5 Ways to Get into Audiobooks

It’s the same idea as me listening to my audiobook when I walk my dog in the morning as well (my second element). It might only be for a few minutes but again, it’s very calming and a great way for me to start my morning. Plus, it serves as a nice way to wet my appetite as I listen to my audiobook on the days I have to commute to a different location for work.

2 – Extended Moring Reading Sessions

In order to keep my sleep pattern as consistent as possible, I do wake up with an alarm on my days off. While I may not get up as early as I would need to do go to work, I find my body really only sleeps-in about an hour later than my work alarm (or whenever the sun is up). That means I’m up early on my days off and I’m lucky that my doggie likes to sleep in a bit longer too so I don’t have anywhere to go right away.

So I often spend my mornings on my days-off by staying in bed for up-to an hour reading my book. It’s a nice way to ease into the day before I do my morning yoga and then start whatever I need to do around the house. I find I feel more productive this way.

3 – Ditching Social Media at Break Time

Do you ever catch yourself scrolling through social media sites for no reason other than passing the time? If you do, you aren’t alone! In fact:

As of 2022, the average daily social media usage of internet users worldwide amounted to 147 minutes per day, up from 145 minutes in the previous year.

Statista.com

I’m one of those people who don’t regularly post on social media platforms (my blog posts automatically tweet when I publish them so very little effort); I’m one of those people who check out what other people say and I like to be in the know about whatever is happening in popular culture.

I knew it was a bad habit but I never really thought about it until a few things happened nationally and globally, and I really started to think about what social media was doing to me and my mental health. Twitter was especially toxic–there’s something about the internet and the anonymity that makes people think it’s okay to say whatever they feel/think, even if it’s rude or cruel.

Instead of deleting the app (Twitter is a main referring source for my blog; plus I enjoy reading tweets about my reality shows from time to time), I simply removed it from my phone’s home page and replaced it with my Hoopla app.

Hoopla is an online service that many public libraries subscribe to for digital content like audiobooks, eBooks, TV shows and more. I LOVE it! In the past, I really only used it for its audiobook library and not for its eBooks. But they have a great collection and I realized they have a lot of titles for series I’ve started but never finished. What a missed opportunity!

So, instead of opening Twitter during my morning and lunch breaks at work (or if I’m waiting for something while running errands), I open up Hoopla instead and get a few chapters in. For now, I’ve been sticking to contemporary romance series because they typically have shorter page counts and I find I don’t need to read them everyday to still know what is going on. This habit contributes to approximately 1.5 books of my monthly reads! I’ve been loving it so far and I hope to continue this going forward.

4 – No TV Tuesdays

Like many people, I think I watched more TV than ever before during the COVID-19 pandemic. I didn’t like how much time I was spending on the couch once things started to get back to the new normal. And so I decided it was time to change that.

I picked Tuesdays truly because it had a nice ring to it when I said “No TV Tuesdays”. It’s not always a Tuesday, it depends on the week. But I aim to not watch more than 1 hour of TV in the evening, once a week. Instead, I pick up a book and read OR, I work on my blog. It’s a nice way to relax and I feel more productive than if I just sat on the couch and watched endless amounts of TV.

5 – Reading Before Bed

Before I started the above habits, I used to only read before bed. But I’d be so exhausted from my shift work that I’d fall asleep after a few pages. So it would take me a longggg time to finish a physical book. (Audiobooks I’d still finish since I walk my dog twice a day, every day)

With the change to my work schedule, I’ve also created a night routine and that includes getting a little more reading time in than before. Approximately 30 minutes before I aim to go to sleep, I complete my nighttime routine and settle into bed with a book. I find that reading relaxes me and helps me fall asleep when I’m ready to turn in for the night.


I hope some of my routines can inspire you to try something new and get more reading into your day. I truly have to say that reducing my social media input in a day has been very positive for me and my mental health.

How do you incorporate reading into your everyday routines?

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SERIESous Tips: How I Track my Book Series in Excel

I’m highlighting some of the ways I use Excel to help my blogging productivity. Today, I’m sharing how I keep track of all the book series I have on the go!


Why I Keep Track of My Book Series Progress

Another spreadsheet I keep in my Books Read Workbook is my Series Tracking Spread. Because the bread and butter of my blog is book series, I needed something to help me keep track of all the series I had on the go and where I was in those series sequel-wise.

My first version of this spreadsheet was pretty basic. I basically just typed in things as I went and formatted along the way. But once I learned more about the drop-down boxes and conditional formatting features of Excel, it has made this spreadsheet super easy to maintain.

Series are sorted by the year I read the first series title. # TBR = number of books that have been published that I still need to read. Series Titles are listed with their position in the series. I also note when the sequels will be published; where I can access the title and if I have a blog post already made. Unknown status is for series that I suspect will have sequels but don’t have official publishing dates.

On this spreadsheet, I keep track of what series I have on the go, how many sequels I have to read, their publishing statuses, and the year that I started the series. I don’t track what year they were published in because I don’t really care for that.

From that information, I can get:

  • how many series I have on the go
  • how many series are waiting for sequels to be published
  • how many series I started in a particular year and have yet to finish
  • the total number of series I had on the go at the end of a calendar year

Why do I love using Excel for this spreadsheet instead of a Word document? It is super easy to add titles as sequels are announced by inserting new rows and letting the worksheet shift equations and entries automatically. A Word Document would still be great to use because you can add headings to quickly find a Series Name. But I like seeing my stats and having Excel automatically run those statistics as I add titles is the key.

This concludes my Excel Tips Series. I hope you found it interesting to read and perhaps I’ve inspired you to try some Excel Spreadsheets yourself! Let me know if there is anything else you’d like to see in the future.

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

Excel Tips: Why I Love Excel  |  Post Calendar  |  Books I Read in a Year  |  Tracking Book Series

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SERIESous Tips: How I Track my Reading in Excel

I’m highlighting some of the ways I use Excel to help my blogging productivity. Today, I’m sharing how I keep track of the books I read in a year!


How I Track My Reads for the Year

While I do keep track of everything I read on Goodreads, I like to keep a separate document for my own records of all the books I read in a year. I did this wayyyy before I started blogging and it’s a habit I’ve never stopped. But when I got into blogging, I started to get more interested in my reading statistics (like how many books I read in a month or how many audiobooks in a year) and I found Excel made things much easier to find out those statistics with very little effort (ie not counting all the books in my Goodreads Read list).

This is what my spreadsheet looks like:

The main data entry portion of my Reads in a Year Excel Spreadsheet.

In this spreadsheet, I keep track of all:

  • the book formats I read (ARC, audiobook, novella, book, rereads),
  • where I got the book from (library, hoopla, subscriptions, own)
  • what # it is in the series or if it is a standalone
  • when did I start that series sequel (last year, current year, completed all books in series)
  • how many books I read in a year, month and season
  • rating for the title

Thanks to the formula features in Excel, any stats I want to run on these values auto-calculate with the formulas I’ve created! Before I used to count up each line in my Word Document table and do the math with a calculator. So now it’s so easy for me to whip up stats anytime I need them for my blog posts because the spreadsheet does it for me!

Some of the stats that auto-calculate based on the main data entry of the spreadsheet

How I’ve Updated It Over the Years

My first Reads in a Year documents simply listed the books read within a seasons. Then it evolved to months and then eventually separating the titles out by their formats within a month.

I used to manually calculate the totals for each month by creating the formula every time but know I’ve learned how to name cells for calculations, allowing the worksheet to do the work for me, even if I add titles to the month after the fact.

When I started doing more analyses of my reading, I added columns for book sources, series tracking and eventually ratings. Only in the last year have I made the Series Tracking a drop-down menu instead of obscure text codes that would calculate in another part of the spreadsheet.

Do you only use Goodreads or another online service to track your annual reads? Or do you use something else? Let me know below!

Excel Tips: Why I Love Excel  |  Post Calendar  |  Books I Read in a Year  |  Tracking Book Series

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SERIESous’ Reading Plan for 2022

2022 Is the All About Staying the Course!

Like many people, the last 2 years have been a little rough personally. Last year, my reading plan was to get my reading (and blogging) groove back. Looking back, I would say I had moderate success with that. While I didn’t obtain my GoodReads’ goal for 2021 (which was 150 books and I read about 110), by the end of the year I was reading (and blogging) on a more regular basis.

>> SERIESous Discussion: Getting my Blogging Mojo Back

>> SERIESous Discussion: How I Fell Back in Love With Reading

Gone are the days of creating elaborate spreadsheets to keep track of my various reading challenges. I still maintain excel spreadsheets for tracking my ongoing book series and the books I read for statistical purposes. But I didn’t participate in any reading challenges last year and I found I really enjoyed that freedom of not being bound to read something specific.

In the past, I used to be someone who needed to list those specific titles in order to find success; but the mood reader in me has really come to the forefront in the last year and a half. And with that, I’ve discovered it’s better to listen to her than to ignore her.

For the latter half of 2021, I shifted my focus to integrate reading into my everyday habits and had great success. So that is something I want to continue to do in 2022 and here are some of the ways I plan to do that:

#1 – Continue Bullet Journaling (BuJo)

I started bullet journaling in January 2021 to help me keep track of my certificate coursework (for my job) as well as foster healthy daily habits. While my pages and tracking guides evolved over the year (the fact that you can change things as you go is the beauty of a BuJo if you ask me), keeping track of my daily and weekly habits hadn’t.

The feeling that comes from successfully crossing off something I have accomplished has been a great morale booster for me. It also helps me to identify my weaker areas or things I need to change (like maybe I do something once a week instead of daily).

When it comes to reading, I’ve added tasks like reading at breakfast and reading before bed to my daily task-tracking list. When it comes to blogging, I make sure I log in at least once a week to update my blog or write posts. I’m also thinking about adding a reading hour to my daily routine (perhaps expand my “reading before bed” habit) to help me get through books faster.

#2 – ARC Commitments Now Limited to Street Teams Only

I’ve really declined my ARC commitments over the last few years and this upcoming year is no different.

I’m the member of a few ARC teams for some of my favourite authors. These are my must read authors; books I would be picking up even if I wasn’t on their ARC team. These are books I tend to enjoy and have been looking forward too so I find they contribute positively to my reading experience.

I also find that their deadlines help keep me focused and encourage me to pick up the sooner than later books so I can fulfil my review commitments.

#3 – Binge Read Backlogged Series

While I’m not signing up for a specific reading challenge, I really want to focus on finishing up some long overdue series. In 2021, I rediscovered binge reading series again. So while I may not have been reading the newest releases, I found that I enjoyed series more when I read the books closer together and could still remember what happened in the last book because I just read a few days prior (instead of a year ago).

I have approximately 50 series that were published before 2018 (that’s the year I started keeping track of series I had in the works) that I need to finish and I really want to see that number get smaller by the time 2023 starts.

Going Forward:

I have a lot of trips that were supposed to happen in 2020 get rescheduled to this year, but who knows if they will even happen. If they do or don’t, my biggest focus is on my everyday routines. Now that I no longer work shift work, I’m hoping I can establish better after work routines, with reading and blogging being a part of those new routines.

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

What are some of your 2022 reading goals?

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SERIESous Discussion: Do I Follow A Reading Pattern?


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!


I consider myself to be a mood reader. But does my reading follow a pattern as a result? Or do I simply answer the whims of my current mood when it comes to my next read?

Approximately 3 years ago, I wrote a discussion post about how I went from reading one book at a time to reading two to three at a time. I’d say that’s still very true to this day: I always have one eBook/physical book on the go AND an audiobook I listen to. And when I was analyzing the sudden switch, one of the reasons I mentioned was my mood reading tendencies:

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.

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

Now that I keep track of the books I read in an Excel Document, I wanted to see if my hypothesis was correct:

Do I follow a pattern when it comes to the genres that I read?

To gather the facts, I looked at the first 50 books that I read in 2020 and classified them by “Age” (Young Adult, New Adult, Adult) and by “Genre” (Non-contemporary, Contemporary, Nonfiction, Historical Fiction). For me, non-contemporary is a broad term to encompass Science Fiction, Supernatural, Paranormal and Fantasy; Contemporary means Romances or Coming of Age stories; Historical Fiction is usually only Regency Romances for me.

I then assigned these classifications a numbered value in order to create graphs to visually see what my reading patterns are. So I created one graph based on the “Age” of the books and another based on the specific “genre” of the book. Here are my results:

Reading Pattern Based on Target Audience Age

Age Breakdown: 38% YA | 18% NA | 44% Adult

I have to say, this graph really surprised me! I honestly thought I would see more back and forth oscillation between the YA and NA/Adult ranges. I don’t read a lot of YA contemporary but that’s usually all I read from the Adult and New Adult genres. I assumed that I alternated between contemporary and non-contemporary reads, and this graph shows that isn’t really the case. I tend to read 2-3 books of an age range before changing it up.

I was also shocked to see that I read more Adult reads than anything else. When I look back at the titles, I think that is from my audiobook listening and the fact that my library has more contemporary audiobooks than non-contemporary. I find I can read romance audiobooks much faster than scifi or fantasy — not only because they tend to be shorter books, but also because I can put them on while I do chores and not have to devote 100% of my brain to keep track of the story.

Reading Pattern Based on Genre Type

Genre Breakdown: 6% DNF’d | 32% Non-Contemporary | 54% Contemporary | 4% NonFiction | 6% Historical Fiction

There’s a lot going on in this graph and I apologize for that. I struggled with a way to format the chart to encompass what I needed it to show.

Again, I was surprised by these results. I really don’t alternate genres after every single book I read. This graph suggests in most cases, I read two books of the same genre before switching to another and then repeat. It’s a really interesting pattern and it helped cement something to me about my reading habits which I will discuss below…

What About DNF’d Titles?

I did include the some of the titles I DNF’d in my first 50 reads of 2020. I wanted to see if I could tell anything from the genres I read before and after I DNF’d a title.

One title was an Adult Contemporary romance. I read a NA Contemporary romance before it but switched to an Adult Historical Romance after I DNF’d it. Another title I DNF’d was a YA Non-Contemporary. I read a YA non-contemporary before it and read a NA contemporary after it.

There really isn’t a specific pattern here, but it’s obvious that when I DNF a title, to avoid a reading slump, I switch genres completely to try something else.

Conclusion:

As is often the case when I do these investigative posts about my reading habits, my assumptions are proven wrong.

I assumed that I alternated back and forth between contemporary and non-contemporary titles when I read but that isn’t correct. I often read multiples of each genre before switching back and repeating the pattern. So yes, I alternate between the genres but it isn’t a book-by-book case.

I also learned that I read more Adult novels than I expected. I’m getting older now and I think that is being reflected in my reading. I’m a firm believer that you don’t have to be a teenager to read and enjoy “YA” novels but I do think there are certain stories that appeal to readers based on their ages. I’ve also struggled with reading in the last year and I find that adult contemporary romances are quicker reads that allow me to focus for a shorter amount of time and so I gravitate towards them, especially for audiobooks.

But my biggest conclusion: I am definitely a mood reader. I listen to my reading whims and pick books that I’m interested in reading right now. So if that means I read 3 contemporary romances in a row, that’s what I do. There really isn’t a pattern to my reading — it’s all just dependent on my mood.

Do you have a pattern to your reading? Are you a mood reader?

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SERIESous Discussion: How I Fell in Love With Reading Again

How I Fell in Love With Reading Again

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!


Since I graduated from my post-graduate studies 4 years ago, my annual reading numbers have been on a gradual decline. Seems a little odd right? Most people I know were so excited to finish our post-secondary educations so that they could read for the joy of it and here I am doing the complete opposite.

Reading in my post-secondary education was always a release for me. It was part of my daily routine and my first method of stress relief when things got hard. (Case in point: A Week for the Wicked by Tessa Dare was devoured in one sitting when I should have been studying for an exam).

But once I entered the real world of working–and shift work at that–reading got pushed by the wayside. Shift work is the biggest factor there. I work 8 hour shifts and we rotate through a day, evening and night cycle. Gone were the days when I would willing get up earlier than I needed to so I could read a book. Once I started working, getting as much sleep as possible to make up for those night shifts and earlier mornings (because I was commuting 2 hours every day for the first year and a half) became priority.

I had found a rhythm though; a balance between having a social life and continuing to read.

I had accepted that my years of 200+ books read were behind me but I was reading more quality books and experiencing less reading slumps than I had in the past.

Until the COVID-19 pandemic hit in March 2020.

Like many, I never thought things would get as bad as they did. I’m an avid traveller and the loss of that freedom crushed me. I had several big, waited-years-for, trips planned that all got delayed and that was incredibly depressing. But I also work in healthcare: a hospital laboratory to be precise. A field that had its own problems and shortages before a global pandemic struck with a critical blow that has forever changed my profession.

We had an outbreak very early in the pandemic at my work and it was hellish. There were a lot of unknowns at that time so it was extremely scary and stressful. I’d go to work, come home and just watch the news to see when it would all be over (a very bad cycle and one I quickly stopped doing by the end of the summer 2020 for the sake of my mental health).

Being forced to stay home when we entered our first province wide lockdown should have been a bookworm’s dream (if you omit the reason why you need to stay home). But I couldn’t concentrate. My mind would wander just a few pages in as I read my books. I’d be exhausted when I came home from work because we were so short staffed, so I’d fall asleep a few pages into my book when I would try to read before bed.

I had a hard time getting into novels in general; though I’d go through little spurts where I could get through a few as if they were an obsession. ARCs started piling up (I’m on the street teams for a few authors), COVID kept hitting in waves and I started to pick up other hobbies (like Netflix and crochet) because they were better at keeping my mind active. (I found that I had to do something with my hands to keep myself pre-occupied)

Fast forward to May 2021 and I discovered I really missed reading.

I had been reading an ARC of Beautiful Enemy by Piper Lawson. I love Piper‘s books and I had been EXTREMELY excited to start this new trilogy. As soon as I started reading, I got sucked into the story and couldn’t put it down. This book reminded me why reading was so rewarding as I went through every emotion as I read it. I laughed, I cried, I swooned and I just adored every page of that book.

And that’s when the little spark reignited my love of reading.

While I credit Beautiful Enemy to be the book that pulled me out of my reading slump, there were other factors that helped. Little things that I had been actively trying to do since the start of the year to get me back into reading on a regular basis. My ah-hah moment during Beautiful Enemy was the moment I knew my efforts had paid off and my reading slump of the last year was officially finished.

1. Starting a Bullet Journal

I talked about starting a bullet journal in my Reading Plan for 2021. Lots of people use bullet journals for a variety of things in their lives but the main goal of mine was to get more of a routine going in my everyday life. The beauty of a bullet journal is that it is completely customizable to you and that you can change it as you go. Nothing is static about it unless you want it to be. And since this is my first foray into the concept, I’ve changed mine a few times until I’ve found a system that works and I love that flexibility.

One aspect that has remained consistent is the habit tracker I keep. I always have a spot to track my daily reading in my journal. As long as I pick up a book at some point in the day, I give myself a mark. I’ve come to accept that given my work schedule I might not read every single day…but when I do find the time, the sense of accomplishment that I get by ticking off that box has had a positive impact on my reading habits as a whole in the last few months. It serves as a great reminder that I do read more than I think, even if it was just a few pages for that day.

2. Audiobooks

I was never a fan of audiobooks until I was a fan. I’ve talked about how much I love audiobooks and how important they have become in my reading habits. Last year, audiobooks were a big reason why I met my Goodreads goal for the year. Because even if I wasn’t picking up a physical book, chances were I was listening to an audiobook while I did something around the house or was out walking my dog. In fact, audiobooks made up 50% of the books I read last year!

>> SERIESous Tips: 5 Ways to Get Into Audiobooks

The best thing I did was to start investing in audiobook series. I found that when I started a series, I didn’t have to think too much about what I was going to read next; the obvious answer was the next book in the series! My library has access to Hoopla which has an amazing audiobook selection and you don’t have to wait for a title to be available to check it out, it’s always available! So I could always get the next installment as soon as I finished the previous. It’s a great way to get backlogged series off my TBR.

3. Reading Authors I Love

As I mentioned above, reading Beautiful Enemy by Piper Lawson sparked something in me. It was my first 5 star read in a long time and it reminded me why I LOVED to read and get lost in a story.

The authors that I am on ARC teams for are authors I love. Authors that I read no matter what and always read the newest releases for. Picking up their books to read gave me the comfort of knowing that I was probably going to enjoy–if not love–the book. It was much safer than picking some random book on my TBR that I may not enjoy. I mean, they’re my favourite authors for a reason so clearly I enjoy their stories!

And it some ways, it helped that there was a deadline for completing the book since it was an ARC. I’ve talked about reducing my ARC commitments before on the blog and how the many deadlines can add a stressful pressure to my reading. But here, that pressure was a positive one because I: (A) wanted to help out these authors with their new releases and (B) remain a member of the team for future releases. It kicked my butt into gear and made me pick up a book and start reading.

Moving Forward

We seem to be on the up when it comes to COVID where I live in Canada and that means things are gradually reopening as we adjust to our new normal. Work is getting better as well and I find myself going back to my everyday routines once again. I’ve always been one to succeed when I have a plan and a routine, but knowing how to pivot when obstacles appear has been one of the biggest lessons I’ve learned in this pandemic.

And as my reading habits improve, so has my blogging. I’m writing a post about how I got my blogging mojo back after a long, unintended, hiatus so look for that in the next few weeks. But the gist is, now that I have material (ie books to review) for my blog, the posts are flowing freely and it feels good to return to the blogosphere.

How has the last year affected your reading habits? Do you read more or less? Found new genres?

Let me know in the comments below!

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Still Here!

It has been a long time since I posted anything. In fact, it has been even longer since I logged into my blog to check up on it! I don’t think I’ve spent this much time away from it except in my first year when I took a brief hiatus for university.

But, I’m still here!

The truth is, this last year has been really rough in a lot of ways for me (and many others I’m sure). I work in the laboratory of a hospital and while I don’t live in a “hotspot” COVID-19 area, we had our fair share of outbreaks and waves in the last 15 months. Medical Laboratory Professionals are in short supply–and have been for a long time, even before the pandemic. So the stresses of work bleed into my reading and blogging habits.

Add to that some professional courses I am taking for work, my laptop crashing and some other life stresses, time has gotten away from me. I also had some issues with my blog hosting in April so the only thing that really got posted this year was reviews I had scheduled months in advance.

Taking a step back from both reading and blogging has allowed me to reflect on what I get out of both.

Even before the pandemic started, blogging was starting to feel like a bit of a chore. I had contemplated moving my blog away from its self-hosted status for the last 2 years but the hassle never seemed to be worth the very little I spend a month to keep it self-hosted. I just find with my shift-work, I’m forever playing catch-up with things around the house or life in general so blogging is that last thing on my mind.

Also, I just don’t seem to be reading as much as I usually do. It seems crazy to me in a world where people are encouraged to stay home that I struggle to read but I find my attention span just wanders when I pick up a book (or I just fall asleep too fast) so it takes me twice as long to finish a book than it used to. Which, in turn, generates less content for my blog — which can make creating content feel like a chore.

But I still love to read. The last two months have been a cycle of reading and reviewing titles for the various ARC teams I am on and I love contributing to that release and getting the titles I love out there.

And now that the weather is nicer in Canada; my backyard is in its prime; and my pool is ready to go, I’m hoping to spend some of my upcoming staycation in my yard, reading copious amounts of books. Mostly to catch-up on titles I’m a little behind on but also because I really miss getting lost in a book for hours.

I started a bullet journal this year–mostly to keep track of my distance ed courses–and while I’m not always the best about checking-in every day, I really do love the daily habit tracker page I created. Every month I set a knew goal and my hope for July is to get back into blogging on a semi-regular basis. Even if it is just for an hour once a week—I think it would go a long way.

So, I just wanted to write this (semi-)short message to say: I’m still here! I’m just super behind but I will be resuming my efforts to get this blog back up to its normal (ok, maybe a little slower) speed this summer.

Thanks for sticking around and let me know what you have been up to the last few months by dropping a comment below!

Cheers!

~Lauren

SERIESous’ Reading Plan for 2021

2021 Is the All About Getting My Groove Back!

Like many people, I went into 2020 with an optimistic frame of mind. I had reduced my Goodread’s Goal for the year to be lower to anticipate a few things like travel and other events, plus my general decline in my reading numbers over the last few years.

But as Canada went into lockdown near the end of March, I couldn’t bring myself to read a book. I mean, if you ignored the global issues, the idea of not leaving your house except for essentials seems like a bookworm’s perfect world. But I really struggled.

I work in healthcare, particularly in the laboratory of the hospital. I’m the person who receives the swabs for the testing of COVID-19 and could run the testing if my hospital provided in-house testing (we are too small to do so). Work was extremely stressful at this time and as a result, I found my mind wandering when I would pick up a book. So reading wasn’t for me and I found myself turning to yarn hobbies like crochet and knitting because it kept my hands occupied and gave me a sense of accomplishment.

I did go through a few spurts where reading was how I passed the time instead of watching TV. I even managed to finish my Goodreads Goal–something I didn’t complete last year–fairly early on given how March-May worked for my reading. But once things got colder here in Canada, my reading became non-existent once again. It got to the point that if it wasn’t an audiobook for when I walked my dog, I probably wasn’t reading it.

As I write this post, I’m unsure about my reading and blogging future. I’ve been contemplating moving away from a self-hosted site to the regular WordPress site because I don’t want my blog to disappear entirely. But the cost to keep it self-hosted isn’t crazy so I’ll probably stick it out one more year and give 2021 a good chance. I feel like 2020 isn’t a good year to gauge my reading/blogging usage on since it was so radical.

In last year’s plan for 2020, I focused on finishing up series and reading more books I owned. But I only had mild success there. I was actually on a great trajectory to finish it when September hit and so did a major reading slump. A slump so long that it was still continuing into December.

That’s why I want to get my Groove back in 2021. Instead of specific reading goals (like finish X number of series), I want to improve my reading habits and reintegrate reading into my everyday life.

And so I want to keep that momentum going forward into 2020! Here’s how:

#1 – Read Before Bed

I used to always read before I would go to bed. Back in University, my roommates thought I was asleep by 10:15pm every night because I would say goodnight around 10pm. But I usually spent the next 45 minutes reading my book before finally sleeping. I even used to wake up early to read a chapter or two before I started my day.

Because I work in healthcare, that means shift work is my every day norm. I find I’m always trying to catch up on sleep from night shifts and so I’m lucky if I even get a single chapter in before my eyes close.

I’ve decided I’m going to start bullet journaling in 2021 as a way to keep me accountable and I’ve added a habit tracker to see my progress with this particular idea. I really want to get back into a regular sleep routine that works with my shift work and that includes reading before bed instead of scrolling through my phone.

#2 – Reduce ARC Commitments

For the last 2 years I’ve really declined my ARC commitments and I want to keep that going forward.

There’s nothing wrong with ARCs, I just find they add a pressure to my reading that dampens my interest in reading. I’ve been in such a rotten mood for 2020 that I felt like it was translating into overly critical reviews of ARCs and I didn’t think that was super fair.

I’m a member of a few street teams for authors and I plan on sticking with those as they aren’t overwhelming. But I will be reducing what I sign up for and what requests I take on.

#3 – No Reading Challenges

Usually I have 2-3 reading challenges for the year. This year, I want to step away from those and really go back to my mood reading whims where I simply pick up a book because I want to.

That means no elaborate Excel spreadsheet to share this year!

I’ve toyed with the idea of going back to the reading challenges of the last few years and reading those titles I had marked but never got to. But I really want the first 3 months of 2021 to be focused on getting back to reading and making it a part of my everyday routine.

Going Forward:

Better things seem to be on the horizon for 2021 and I’m optimistic that I can get things back to where they want to be by forming new habits and returning to my routines that have helped me in the past.

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

What are some of your 2021 reading goals?

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SERIESous Discussions: Book Formats by Month [3]

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!


For the last two years, I’ve been curious about my various reading stats. Like how many books I read in a month throughout the year? Do I start more series than I finish? And the topics for this discussion: What book formats do I read the most? Where do they come from?

You are probably wondering how I gathered all this data. Throughout the year, I keep an Excel file running where I keep track of:

  • What books I read
  • What format it was (ex. audiobook, eBook, physical, ARC, etc)
  • Where I got the book from (ex. library, ARC, owned)
  • What number it is in the series or is it a standalone
    • Is it a new series or a previously started series

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

  • I need to limit the number of ARCs I request
    • I unsubscribed to a majority of Blog Tour mailing lists
    • I focused on street teams for authors I love
    • I limited the request availability on my site
  • Continue to read audiobooks but don’t rely on them for numbers
  • I need to read more books that I own

But did I actually stick to those? Find out…

Comparing 2019 to 2018:

The first time I did this investigation I compared each month by a line graph; last year I did a table for each month. This time around I’m going to a bar graph of the year as a whole so it is easier on the eyes!

The Highlights:

One thing that is glaringly obvious is that I definitely read fewer books in 2019 than in 2018. Last year was the first year where I didn’t finish my Goodreads goal (I was 28 books short) so I’m not surprised to see the large contrast on some formats.

When I did this last year, I really anticipated that my audiobook numbers would take a major nosedive. But audiobooks honestly saved my reading last year. Even though I no longer commute to work, I’ve integrated audiobook listening into doing my chores, walking my dog and long travel times.

The last thing that really shocked me was the number of eBooks I checked out from the library. I had to triple check my numbers were right when I was making the graph. But if you look at my Kindle and Kobo numbers (which are books I own), it makes sense and balances out. My 5 Year 5 Book Challenge for 2019 used books I already owned so I didn’t need to go to the library on a regular basis.

Moving Forward:

I set my Reading Challenges for the year back in January but I like to use these posts as a check-up or mid-year review of sorts to see if I am on track with my goals or what I need to change going forward.

I truly adore audiobooks and they’ve become such a staple to my everyday reading. Because chances are, if I didn’t pick up my eReader I probably listened to an audiobook at some point. The whole idea is crazy to me because 5 years ago I really struggled with the concept of audiobooks.

>> SERIESous Discussion: How I Fell In Love With Audiobooks

For the most part, this year I’ve been going with the flow and following my moods more. During the Covid pandemic in the Spring, I was checking out a lot of books from the library’s eBook selection but I didn’t necessarily read them if I wasn’t in the mood. And I tried not to get myself upset if returned the book unread (which is a hard habit to break!)


When I first did this breakdown, I was shocked to learn that less than half of the books I read came from the library. I had always had the firm belief that 80+% of my books came from there so it was a total surprise. But in the past few years, I’ve worked really hard on reading more of the books I already own and not just buying books willy-nilly and never reading them. Last year in particularly, my main focus was reading books I owned prior to 2019.

Source:20192018
# (%)
2017
# (%)
2016
# (%)
Purchased69 (38%)46 (20%)52 (21%)79 (34%)
Library74 (41%)97 (43%)114 (47%)85 (36%)
ARCs38 (21%)86 (37%)80 (32%)69 (30%)
Grand Total:181 (100%)229 (100%) 240 (100%)233 (100%)

Again, I’m not shocked by these results. To break it down a little further, 81% of the library books I took out were audiobooks. I’m happy that some sources went down (like ARCs and even the library) as planned since I read more books that I already own.

>> SERIESous Discussion: How Many Series Did I Really Read in 2019?

Moving Forward:

Like last year, my main goals for 2020 are to increase the number of owned books I read in a year and to reduce the number of book series I have on the go. And to accomplish these goals, I’m slowly changing my reading habits. Instead of reaching for that library book, I’ll check my Kindle or Kobo first for a book that will suit my mood. I resist ARC temptation but not checking Netgalley regularly and unsubscribed from review mailing lists. I’m making a lot of progress and positive changes since I first started blogging 7 years ago!

What book formats do you read in a month? Where do they come from?

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SERIESous Discussion: My Reading Habits by Month [3]


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!


For the last 2 years I’ve been doing this comparison post to check in with my reading. I always to month-to-month comparison for my Monthly Inventories but it’s interesting to reflect back on the entire year as a whole.

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

I break things down like this:

  • What I learned from last year (2018) and any changes I made for 2019
  • My thoughts before I look at 2019’s numbers
  • The actual numbers & their breakdown
  • What I learned and moving forward

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

I learned a few things from my post last year:

  • February was my most productive reading month
  • I averaged 1 book less per month in 2018 than 2017
    • 2018: 19 books/month; 2017: 20 books/month 
  • My DNF #s have increased exponentially since 2016
  • I read less on my Kobo

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

  • Focused on reading more books I already own by
    • Reducing holds at the library for non-audiobooks
    • Creating specific reading challenges for owned books
    • Requesting less ARCs
  • Dedicated 4 months of the year to only read sequels

 

My Thoughts Before Looking at the Numbers:

Without a doubt, 2019 was a terrible reading year for me. I didn’t complete my Goodreads Challenge for the first time ever because life simply got in the way. Moving closer to work and reducing my commute time did nothing to improve my reading numbers like I thought.

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

I’d go days without picking up a book which would have shocked me 4 years ago. Gone were the days of getting up early just to fit a few chapters in. As a shift worker, I milk every minute of sleep I can get now. And if I’m lucky, I can fit in a chapter or two before sleep takes over for the night. So I know my numbers are not going to be stellar.

The Actual Results:

 

The Breakdown:

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

 2016201720182019
Total # Read260240229173
Monthly Avg22201915
Total # DNF'd717298
# of Kobo Reading Hours40040479144

My Thoughts After Looking at the Numbers:

Moving into a new home meant that most of my free time was spent getting the house (and yard) sorted. So I’m not shocked by these numbers. It was also my first year of being completely full time and one where I didn’t have the nicest rotation to follow. And I’d like to think my social life was more active than previously so that leads to less time reading.

Fun fact: I actually went 6 months into 2019 before I DNF’d my first book! I’ve been going through my TBR monthly and completing the Down The TBR Hole meme and removing books that I’m just not interested in throughout the whole year so maybe that has helped keep me satisfied with the books I do pick up.

The months I completed my Sequel Only months were February, June, September and November. And for the most part, I did see an increase in the number of titles I read for those months but it didn’t cause massive spikes.

Moving Forward:

I was much more realistic with my Goodreads Goal this year based on last year’s numbers. I’m realizing as I get older that there are other things that take precedence over reading. 

I’m really curious to see how my formats read are impacted though. I seem to be reading a lot of audiobooks (which was a foreign concept to me merely a few years ago) and if I wasn’t, my numbers would be near what they are in a year.

>> 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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