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SERIESous Discussion: Getting my Blogging Mojo Back

Getting my Blogging Mojo Back

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 started this blog in April 2013 and that seems absolutely bonkers to me! I can’t believe it has been that long!

I’ve done and experienced a lot in those 8 years. I moved my blog to a self-hosted site (and contemplated moving back to a free site); changed my review format and posting schedule; I started reviewing ARCs; did some blog tours… In that time, people I started blogging with years ago have either changed their blogs to suit other interests/hobbies or have just stopped posting altogether.

I can understand that last part a lot. It can be hard to come up with fresh content all the time. One of the nice things about being a book reviewer is that your posts come from the content (books) you read on a regular basis. I don’t have to travel somewhere exotic or chronical my daily life (which is not that exciting). I can stay home, read and volia! A post for my blog!

(We all know it is a little more complex than that simple statement.)

But, that can become monotonous after awhile. Sometimes I feel like I say the same things over and over again in reviews. Other times, I’m in a reading funk and my source of content just isn’t there. In the last 3 years, every time my self-hosting comes up for renewal, I contemplate if I’m still interesting in keeping my blog self-hosted. Perhaps going back to a free site is best for the number of times I blog…but I end up paying my dues and pressing on because I still love to blog and promote books I love. (And moving my site back seems like a big chore)

I’ve only ever gone on one other hiatus in my blogging career and that was in the fall of 2013 when I had a tough academic semester in university and stepped away to focus on school. Otherwise, I’ve always had enough content to keep posting months ahead of schedule so I didn’t need to write posts all the time but could still generate content for my blog.

Until the COVID-19 pandemic hit in March 2020.

I explain more about why this was a particularly rough time for my reading with my How I Fell in Love With Reading Again post last month. The gist is: I work in healthcare and my attention span just couldn’t focus on books to finish them. So while I wanted to write posts for my blog (because I found I physically had to do something), I didn’t always have the content for my blog.

For the next few months I’d go through blogging sprees and managed to schedule posts up until mid-April 2021. However, from about November 2020 to June 2021, I didn’t log into my blog at all except to write my Year in Review Summary and my Reading Plan for 2021.

My hiatus wasn’t something I consciously thought about. It’s just something that happened as my area of Canada went into a 3rd, more intense wave of COVID-19 and work once again consumed me. Netflix became my go-to stress relief. (I also had some issues with my site hosting)

Eventually, I got back into reading around May 2021, which I detail in that previous post about How I Fell Back in Love With Reading. I gave myself the rest of that month to really focus on my reading and told myself I would come up with a plan for blogging in June/July 2021 once I was satisfied with my reading progress.

Here’s How I Got my Blogging Mojo Back:

1. Using my Bullet Journal

I first brought up the idea of a bullet journal in my Reading Plan for 2021 as a way to keep myself accountable for my reading habits. And it has really worked for building up a lot of healthy lifestyle habits and routines thanks to its flexibility to be tailor-made to whatever you need it to be.

I created a habit tracker and give myself a point every time I log into the blog. I aim to login to my blog 3 times a week. Sometimes I set specific days, other times I just go with the flow. Now, it doesn’t have to be just writing reviews to get a point; cross posting reviews or updating my series spreadsheet also gets a point. While I don’t reward myself with something physical every time I get a point, just seeing that tick makes me feel like I accomplished something I set out to do.

2. Hone in on the Backlog

At first, I couldn’t remember what reviews I had written for my blog and which ones needed to be drafted. I’m a Type A person so I get excited by creating lists and that’s what I did for the first two weeks of my “get into blogging again” mission. I had a list of tasks that I set out to do:

  • Update my personal Excel “Books Read” tracking sheet with the titles on Goodreads
  • Focus on ARCs that had been read in the last few months
    • Create posts and cross-post if overdue
  • Go through books read and see if review posts have been drafted or not
  • Update Trello (how I keep track of review posts) with reviews that:
    • Needed to be Written
    • Needed Sequels Read to Complete
    • ARC due dates

I would work on these a little bit at a time, often getting really focused on one task a day before moving to the next.

3. Create a New Posting Template & Due Dates Tracker

One of the reasons it took me a while to get back into blogging was that my main blogging laptop suddenly crashed and I lost all my files. I keep my posting templates, blogging schedule, common book themes, books read spreadsheet and more as Word documents on my laptop. So I was really at a loss there for a bit but I was able to recover the files and reinstall Windows so I could use my documents once again.

From my professional job, I’ve really become obsessed with Microsoft Excel. I always appreciated the program but after learning more about what it can do (and taking a certificate course in it), I loved its potential for maximizing my efficiency when it came to formatting an all in one calendar for my blogging life.

Now, I have an Excel Workbook that is super easy to maintain and incredibly easy to read thanks to some customize formatting (lots of colours!) and keeps track of everything I need when it comes to library due dates, ARC due dates and posting schedule. I’ll share what it looks like in a future post!

4. Focusing on Different Aspects Depending on my Mood

I’m a mood reader so it shouldn’t be a surprise that I’m also a bit of a mood writer for my blog. If I’m really inspired to write a post or a review that day, that’s what I do. If I don’t feel like that, I’ll do something else for my blog: like cross post old reviews to Goodreads or Amazon; or create a brand new Series tracking sheet.

Just doing these tasks a little bit at a time helps me feel productive. I find that if I force myself to write a review post, I don’t enjoy it which in turn creates animosity–not what I want to do at all. If I don’t feel like doing anything or don’t have the time, then I don’t. Every little bit helps in the long run, even if it isn’t directly writing the review.

5. Scheduling Posts

One of the biggest lessons I learned for my personal blogging (in the last 8 years) is that I don’t need to post every single day. (Kudos to those that do!). Because of the nature of my blog, I condense the reviews of 2+ books into one single post, whereas some bloggers would post individual reviews of each book. That means I reduce the number of posts I can write in a month. So in order to keep content generating, I schedule posts way in advance.

I created a generic monthly template for how I want my blog posts to be scheduled within a month. Because I have certain features for specific days of the week, I find planning those posts out in advance keeps things fresh and stops me from posting 30 “Fresh Friday” posts in a month and keeps posting content spaced out.

But what scheduling also does is give me breathing room if I can’t log into my blog for some reason. Because I work shift work, I don’t always have the time to login to my blog. But because I usually have posts scheduled 1-2 months in advance, I don’t have to worry that I need to finish a post by tomorrow. Chances are, that post was written a month ago and the post I’m currently working on can be finish sometime in the next 2 weeks stress-free.

Moving Forward

Right now, my returning blog mojo is pretty self-centered. I’ve been focused on my content and I haven’t been exploring the blogosphere like I used to. That one really hit close to home when I was browsing my library’s new additions and realized that I knew nothing about the titles that have been released in the last year or weren’t written by an author I am already familiar with. By the fall, I hope to be blog hopping once again!

Overall, I’m just taking this all day by day and not putting any pressure on myself. It feels good to write again and get those creative juices flowing.

How has the last year affected your blogging habits?

Let me know in the comments below!

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SERIESous Spoilers: Spindle Glass Series

seriesousspoilers
SERIESous Spoilers: A feature where we discuss what happened in our favourite (or maybe not so favourite) books. Did you like the plot changes? The romance? What surprised you? What angered you? And what do you think will happen next?

This SERIESous Spoilers Pick:

Spindle Fire (#1) and Winter Glass (#2) by Lexa Hillyer | Spindle Fire Series

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Please Note: I discuss the series as whole below. While I have included what books are discussed in each point by putting a (#1) and/or (#2) in the heading, if you plan on reading the sequel Winter Glass at some point and don’t want it spoiled, perhaps don’t engage in the discussion below.


Aurora`s Romances (#1, #2)

So in the first book, I thought it was obvious Aurora was trying to force something for Health. And to be fair, maybe she did feel something platonic for him and couldn’t distinguish that from romance but I never really saw that romantic connection. So going into the sequel, I thought maybe she will just choose to go it alone. (Like the idea of “true love” was her love of her sister).

However, she started to develop feelings for Wren and that just felt like it came out of left field to me. Now, I listened to Spindle Fire as an audiobook so I definitely missed a few things and maybe that’s the case here. But I just didn’t see where on earth those romantic feelings came from. And as a result, I kinda felt like the author was just trying to check off a book of inclusivity instead of making it seem organic like it should have been.

Please tell me if I am wrong about that and I truly missed something in the first book?

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Isabelle`s Journey to the North (#2)

I thought a lot of Isabelle’s travels throughout the series felt like filler (like the boating trip in the first book even if the whole narwhal thing links back to her mom) but I was so ANGRY about her journey to the North.

At first, I thought it was great that she had learned the true identity of the Hart Slayer (because at this point, Wren had hypothesized it was Aurora’s mom the Queen) but when Aurora and Wren discover the identity on their own, I had to wonder what was the point of Isabelle’s journey at all? The glass slipper was useless really. All she learned was that it held memories…which she didn’t need to know other than the fact it explains where her mother disappeared to.

And I know at the end she uses the slipper on Malefleur when she kills her but I’m not really sure what the point was other than melodramatics. She was the last of the blood line so she could have killed her without the slipper or knowing what winter glass was.

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Isabelle`s Love Triangle (#1, #2)

Unlike Aurora, I really liked both of Isabelle’s love interests. Gil was super sweet and I was on his team until I saw more of William and Isabelle together. So I’m really torn on who is the better fit is for her.

I’m glad Gil found love later, though maybe companionship is the better way to describe that. I’m not really clear if he found love or simply settled for what he felt he had to do.

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Isabelle`s Need to Find Her Own Story (#2)

After all the obstacles she overcomes, I was super upset that Isabelle felt like she needed to find her “own story”. What else had she been doing all series?

Sure, she ran away with Gilbert so she wasn’t “alone” and for her return journey in Spindle Fire she was with William. But most of what she did in Winter Glass was by herself and she learned all about her heritage. I can appreciate the fact that she maybe hadn’t had the most time to digest all that info since there was a war going on. However, it irked me that she felt like she had to go off an find herself even though both of these novels–from my perspective at least–seem like they have been about cementing her own identity from Aurora.

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The Epilogue (#2)

I hate vague epilogues and this one had the unfortunate added bonus of flowery language as well.

So do Wren and Aurora end up together? Same with Isabelle and William. It sounds like no? Maybe my anger blinded me to truly interpreting was was happening. I just know that I left with more questions than answers and some anger.

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What are your thoughts? Agree or disagree? Did I totally miss the point of this series?

Please leave a comment below!

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: How Many Series Did I *Really* Read in 2019?


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!


In the past, I’ve done some investigative discussion posts on Where my Books Come From and What My Monthly Reading Habits are year to year. And while I still plan on doing those specific posts later this year, I thought it would be fun to find out what I actually read last year when it comes to book series and standalones.

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

Thanks to the super handy formulas of an Excel spreadsheet–which is how I keep track of all the books I read in a year in addition to Goodreads–I was able to answer some burning questions I had about my reading habits when it comes to book series for the year 2019.

How Many Books Were Part of a Series?

Obviously, my blog is about Book Series and in order to generate content, I really have to keep my focus on reading books that are a part of a series. But I also love a good standalone novel from time to time. So, what’s the ratio of series novels read to standalones?

Novels/Novellas in a Series = 86% | Standalones = 14%

That’s right around what I expected. Usually, once I fill up all my Single Sunday posting slots for a year, I stop reading standalones and focus again on series novels.

Here is a specific breakdown of what parts of series I read last year:

Type: 201920182017
Standalone24 [14%]35 [16%]74 [33%]
Series148 [86%]187 [84%]147 [66%]
Book 145 [26%](71) [32%](53) [36%]
Book 241 [24%](59) [26%](44) [30%]
Book 3+45 [26%](46) [20%](37) [25%]
Novellas:17 [10%](13) [6%](11) [5%]
Grand Total172 [100%]224 [100%]221 [100%]

 

Do I Start More Book Series than I Finish?

Before I updated my Excel spreadsheet last year with a few other calculable parameters, I used to just keep track of how many book series I had on the go (and approximately how many books that was in total).

  • At the start start of 2019:
    • I had 124 series on the go, totalling 174 books.
  • At the end of 2019:
    • I had 120 series on the go, totalling 160 books.

In theory, it looks like I finished more series than I started new ones but is that really the case?

According to my data:

  • Brand New-To-Me Series:
    • Started 37 brand new to me series
    • Finished 13 of them
    • Opted not to finish 9 of them
  • Continuing Series:
    • Read 37 sequel novels
    • Finished 29 series
    • Opted not to finish 1

So really, the drop in my numbers came from the fact that there were brand new to me series that I opted not to continue with and not solely because I was more proactive about reading “newer” book sequels.

Slight Disclaimer:

Now, my system isn’t perfect. Some of the numbers might be slightly skewed because I only use one code for each book. For example, Dread Nation was a new to me series that I read completely but have opted not to read the sequel for. It got classified as a “DNF series” and doesn’t get counted in the “brand new series” category.

Also, I didn’t account for book series that are ongoing publications. If there is still a sequel to be published, I don’t count the series as “complete” even if I have read all available books.

Summary:

Much like when I started my blog nearly 7 years ago, the vast majority of what I read in a year is book series! I’m not particularly shocked by that fact; though I felt like I read a lot more standalones than 14% last year. So I am pretty happy with the number breakdown as it stands.

How many book series do you read in a year?

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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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SERIESous Discussion: Reading Formats for Series

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!

Are you a Format Loyalist? If you start the series in one format, do you stick with it until the very last novel?

I was inspired to write this post when I was looking at sequel novels in June 2019. One of my goals for 2019 is to complete some of the many series that I’ve started over the years and to do that, I decided to dedicate 4 months within the year exclusively to sequels.

Audiobooks are a relatively new thing to me. In the last two years, I’ve started listening to them on a (nearly) daily basis. So I always have one print book and one audiobook on the go.

Finding printed sequels to read for the month was easy. Between my physical public library; their eBook selections and my own eBook collection, I was never without a novel to read. But trying to find an audiobook to read during the month: that was the hard part. Why? I don’t have a lot of “unfinished” audiobook series because I binge-listen to all the sequels or they are newer series with sequels still to be published.

>>SERIESous Tips: 5 Ways to Get Into Audiobooks

If I was in this predicament last year, I probably would have looked at half of the books I read this past June and said “nope” to the audio version. I was adamant that if I started a series as an eBook one or as a hardcover, that’s how I was going to finish it.

But then this thought occurred to me: who cares?

Obviously, I do to some degree. I have some “golden rules” when it comes to my reading. I refuse to read any of Cassandra Clare’s novels as anything but the beautiful hardcovers. I have a few series that I’ve started as audiobooks (like The Diabolic and Dividing Eden) that I want to continue as audiobooks. So clearly I have a few holdouts because I feel like the format of the novel contributes to my overall reading experience.

But what about those sequel novels to series I haven’t touched in years? You know the ones where you barely remember anything but the main plotline and the characters mentioned in the synopsis? Why wouldn’t you pick up the audio version instead (or maybe the eBook)? Why not rejuvenate your experience with the series by trying it in a new way?

My thoughts exactly.

This year, I’ve been listening to the audio versions of sequels for quite a few series I originally read in print years ago–and I’m having tremendous success with it!

Obviously, I’m finishing series that have been on the back-burner for years, making room and time for new TBR items. And who doesn’t love cleaning up their TBR?

I also think that I’m enjoying these sequels more because they are audiobooks. If you’ve never read an audiobook before, they bring stories to life in a way that you just don’t get through a print version.

It’s not just audiobooks though that you can change to. Sometimes it just comes down to convenience and what format(s) is(are) available. When eReading was starting to become a thing, I made the switch from printed novels to eBooks because it was easier to get my hands on the copies. I know that for me, reading the novels back to back instead of waiting keeps my momentum and enjoyment going. So if I have to read Book #1 as a paperback, Book #2 as an eBook, so be it!

And sometimes, depending on the format, there are bonus features (like maps or glossaries or deleted scenes) available that can enhance your reading and you might not get those in a different format.

So I guess you can say that I learned that sometimes change is good.

What about you? Do you stick to one type of book format when you read a book series? Or do you jump around depending on the availability of your titles?

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SERIESous Discussion: Author Fatigue

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!

Have you ever found yourself getting tired of your favourite author?

In April 2019, I was starting to reflect on my reading and blogging habits and trying to figure out what I wanted to change to get back to where I wanted to be. One of the things that I quickly decided to do was stop doing Blog Tours. The main reason is that I just don’t want as many deadlines as I did in the past because my reading is becoming more and more sporadic as the year progresses.

>>SERIESous Discussion: Lessons Learned from Blog Tours

But one thing I really noticed when I was thinking back on the blog tours I’ve done in the last 2 years is that I always seem to choose tours for the same set of authors. Now, that isn’t a bad thing! Obviously as bloggers we have the opportunities to help spread the word about our favourite authors and I believe we should embrace that whenever we can.

>>SERIESous Tips: A List of Review Opportunity Groups

However, I noticed when I was reading and reviewing a book for one of my “must read authors”, I wasn’t overly impressed with it. That sounds a little rude and I’m struggling to articulate what I mean so bear with me. See, it was a great book but compared to the last title I read by the same author, it just didn’t measure up to my standards. And when I thought about it, I had read a lot of books by that author in the year and started to notice a downward trend.

Sure, the author’s style might have changed or maybe those last few novels weren’t at the same calibre. But then I started to wonder if I was getting author fatigue.

What the hell is author fatigue?

For me, it’s when I start to get bored with an author that I once loved. I start to notice it when I’m reading and not totally loving their work or I rate a book a little lower than I probably would have had someone else written it.

How does that happen?

I think there are a few ways that author fatigue can happen.

1. You read too many of that author’s books within a short time

Inevitably, you just start comparing the books to each other and because you remember the last one so well you can’t help but nit pick. Sometimes, that might work in your favour (for a more positive experience) but other times…

2. You start to discover the author’s formula

I wrote a discussion post nearly 3 years ago about what your expectations are when an author you love changes genres. And in that post, I touched a little bit on the idea that most authors have a formula or basic foundation that is present in all their books and you know what to expect because of it. For me, there are certain authors that seem to follow the same type of twists in their works and it causes it to loose some of the suspense.

3. Perhaps you’ve outgrown their primary genre

Meg Cabot wrote some of my all time favourite YA novels when I was a teen, but I find her novels have a younger feel to them that doesn’t necessarily relate to my 20-something self and I’m not a huge fan of her adult works either. So, I tend to not reach for her titles anymore.

I suppose you could say author fatigue is just a fancier way of saying you’re in a reading slump with a particular author. And I find the easiest way for me to get over a reading slump is to mix it up and try something new.

That’s the plan for the rest of this year. I hope that by decreasing the amount of ARC requests I do in a month, I’ll be able to relieve the pressure on me and give some of my favourite authors a break before I dive back into their works with a fresh mind.

Have you ever experienced author fatigue? Are there any authors you’ve had to take a break from reading?

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SERIESous Discussion: Book Formats 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 wanted to take an in-depth look at some of my reading stats. I looked at how many books I read in a month (and did a year to year comparison); I investigated where I get my books from (library, own, ARCs, etc); and I wrapped everything up with a look at what type (audio, eBook, etc) of books I read the most in a month. Lots of things change in a year, so I thought it would be interesting compare 2018 to my previous years to see what type of reading year 2018 actually was.

I already wrote my post on the number of books I read in a month — you can find it here.

For this post, I’ve decided to combine my Book Sources and Book Formats posts together since they pretty much go hand-in-hand.

 

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

  • I requested more ARCs than I should have
    • now have stricter limits on the # I can request a month
  • Audibooks have a huge impact on my monthly reading
  • I need to read more books that I own
    • more readathon participation & reading challenges

But did I actually stick to those? Find out…

Comparing 2017 to 2018:

Instead of my crazy line graphs that I used last year, I simply tabulated my results:

 eARCsKindleKoboPhysicalAudioeLibrary
201720182017201820172018201720182017201820172018
Jan4102193010645
Feb395244100658
Mar11120013204408
Apr8100131014541
May771020004682
Jun467162204730
Jul3511550157100
Aug685321015541
Sep340102013541
Oct680012004451
Nov1060210004630
Dec1111353006524
SUM:7686221539265543665231

The Highlights:

The one thing that stands out the most to me is the fact that I read less of the books I already owned in 2018 vs 2017. I truly thought I read more than that. Even if I add in the 9 titles I DNF’d from my personal collection, I still fell really short of my 2017 numbers.

The decrease in library books initially shocked me but then I thought about what happened last year. At the start of 2018, I had three library cards from 3 cities. My “big city” library card (my post-post-secondary school location) expired in March. I did a mad binge-read of a lot titles that were available from there in February and March (which explains the increases there). I also lost my second library card (where I did my placement for school) in September. My hometown library is great, but it shares its eBook collection with the entire province so it can make getting the more popular titles tricky. Having that second card from a town with a smaller pool of eBook users helped a lot. I have since renewed that card (since I moved) for 2019 so I’m excited to utilize it once again.

Things that didn’t shock me? I’m not at all surprised by my Audiobook numbers. Even though I was part-time for most of 2018, I worked a lot of hours so I was constantly driving to work (which is when I did most of my audio listening) in 2018. Nor was I surprised about my ARC numbers. I definitely read a lot of ARCs in 2018; so much so that I was getting a little bit of burn-out from it all near the end of the year.

Moving Forward:

I had set my reading goals and challenges for 2019 wayyy before I ever tabulated this all up but I had a general idea of what those numbers would be when I created them. My goal for 2019 is to read more of the books I already own and I’ve made that the focus of my reading challenges for the year. And although I say it every year, I’m really sticking to my ARC limits for the month. Learning to say “no” to great opportunities is hard but I’m starting to feel a lot lighter when it comes to “reading pressures” like deadlines etc. I’m really enjoying just going with the flow when it comes to my reading.

One thing that I know will change is my audiobook listening. I’ve moved closer to my job and have since reduced my commute time by 91%. I plan on listening to audiobooks on a regular basis, but I won’t be able to power through as many as I have in the past. What I’m hoping will happen is that I will see in increase in the other reading formats because I have more time now to read eBooks and physical novels.


 

When I did this breakdown last year, 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. I also learned that I read more standalone titles in a year than I thought I did; though series still made up the vast majority (obviously).

Source:2018
# (%)
2017
# (%)
2016
# (%)
Purchased46 (20%)52 (21%)79 (34%)
Library97 (43%)114 (47%)85 (36%)
ARCs86 (37%)80 (32%)69 (30%)
Grand Total:229 (100%) 240 (100%)233 (100%)

Again, I’m not shocked by these results. I would have liked to have seen my Purchased percentage to be higher but I knew coming into 2019 that I needed to improve that value.

Another thing I looked at in last year’s post was the number of series, sequels and standalones I read in 2017.

Type: 20182017
Standalone35 [16%]74 [33%]
Series187 [84%]147 [66%]
Book 1(71) [32%](53) [36%]
Book 2(59) [26%](44) [30%]
Book 3+(46) [20%](37) [25%]
Novellas:(13) [6%](11) [5%]
Grand Total224 [100%]221 [100%]

Overall, I was pretty consistent with what I read. I did decrease the number of standalones I read last year and that was something I was actively conscious of doing. Once I had enough Single Sunday Posts for the year, I made sure to rarely read standalones and instead focus on series. While I completed a lot of series, I wasn’t the best at reading sequels.

Moving Forward:

My main goals for 2019 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. My reading challenges focus on reading owned titles unlike previous years where they were the minority of the challenges. To reduce sequels, I’ve dedicated 4 months of the year to read only sequels. Of course, I will read sequels in all months, but I find that having it a set focus really helps motivate me to grab that sequel I’ve been putting off for months.

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 [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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