With masses of books on my TBR pile (which is growing every day), I’ve never been afraid to abandon a book. I used to do it before I started using Goodreads and was picking books at random off shelves at the library. I would say since I started blogging I’ve abandoned less books, simply because I generally choose books based on the reviews and recommendations of people with similar tastes.
But how soon is too soon? To be totally honest, if I’ve borrowed a book from the library and I’m not into it a few chapters in I’ll happily return it and move on. But with review books, things are a little different. If I’m reading a book I requested, I feel a lot more pressure to finish it, even if I’m struggling to get into it. The times I have done this have resulted in some of my (very few) snarky reviews. If I’m really not getting into a review book though, I will give up on it after I’ve read more than about a quarter of it. Surely it should be getting my attention by then? I feel less worried about abandoning unsolicited review copies though.
There are some readers who refuse to abandon a book, and I get that. Part of me is curious to know what happens in the book I’m reading, even if I’m not enjoying it. But part of me is also excited for my next read, especially considering I have such a massive TBR.
Do you DNF books? When’s the right time to say goodbye to a book you’re not enjoying or have issues with?
Before I started blogging, I had no idea there was such a thing as OzYA (or UKYA for that matter). I just read books I really enjoyed, usually borrowed from both my school and local libraries. As it happened, my first upper-middle grade/YA reads were those by Jacqueline Wilson, a British author whose work often involves quite difficult family or personal issues for a young teenage audience. I loved her books. I would borrow them countless times from the library and read them until I knew the stories off by heart. I think part of the reason I loved them was actually their distinct British feel, something which seemed kind of exotic to my 11-year-old self.
A few months ago, the #LoveOzYA movement was born. Basically it’s about bloggers and authors working together to share their love for homegrown YA, and hopefully spread the word to other readers. I’ll leave some links to much more comprehensive discussions below, along with a great Aussie YA reading guide by Danielle at Alpha Reader.
While I’m sure I picked up the odd OzYA book while I was at high school, I didn’t (and still haven’t) read the classic Melina Marchetta and John Marsden novels so many people love. So, I feel like a little bit of a sham talking about the #LoveOzYA movement when I still have so much catching up to do on the Aussie classics myself. But since I started blogging, I have fallen completely in love with homegrown YA. In fact, between my love for OzYA and UKYA, I don’t actually read much American YA, let alone ones which have as much hype as, say, The Fault in Our Stars. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with reading American YA, but what’s great about the #Love OzYA movement is it’s all about letting people know there are great Australian authors out there, writing some amazing stuff.
Discovering OzYA and a whole bunch of lovely Aussie bloggers has been my favourite part of this blogging journey. I love picking up an Aussie novel and being able to perfectly relate to simple little things like the dialogue and slang, or particular foods and drinks. It also still feels magical when I’m reading a books set somewhere I’ve visited like Sydney or Brisbane. There’s always a strong sense of place in every OzYA novel I’ve read. So while I’ll still be reading plenty of UKYA, because it does still feel a little exotic, reading OzYA will always feel like home.
Over the next few months I hope to share some of my top OzYA recommendations, as well as get around to those books I should have read years ago.
Over at Kill Your Darlings, Danielle Binks offered a comprehensive look at OzYA and the #LoveOzYA movement
On her blog Alpha Reader, Danielle also shared her Aussie reads for fans of popular American YA in three posts. Part one || Part two || Part threeAuthor Ellie Marney wrote about #LoveOzYA after Every Breath was one of only two Aussie YA novels to make it onto the list of Australia’s most-borrowed library booksFor an incredibly comprehensive collection of Aussie YA novels, check out this Readings listIf you’re on instagram, check out this LoveOzYA account, which will add some very awesome recommendations to your feedOver at Loony Literati, Emily suggested some more Aussie ReadalikesDownload your own Aussie Readalikes poster (made by the ever awesome Trinity Doyle) based on Danielle’s recommendations
Readings hosted the first #LoveOzYA event. Read a recap here.
I love sharing my thoughts about books. After all, that’s why I started blogging. But with blogging and reviewing comes a little bit of pressure. For me, there is a noticeable difference between reading a book knowing I’ll review it and reading it purely for enjoyment.
When reviewing, I usually jot down notes on elements like plot, writing style, themes and characters as well as any mentions of songs I like (or songs I think would match the book) and other bits and pieces. Sometimes, I only write down a short list of my immediate thoughts when I finish readings as a way to shape my review. But there are some books which are almost impossible to review because they’re so amazing (here’s looking at you, Code Name Verity) or just so ‘meh’ that I don’t really care.
It sounds silly, but sometimes it’s nice just to take a break and read a book without thinking too much about it. Audiobooks are a little like that for me. Although I enjoy the story while I’m listening to it, I have no opportunity to take notes while I’m driving. I know most bloggers need to take a break sometimes, but being a book nerd I always feel the need to keep reading, even when I’m not reviewing. Books I read without reviewing can be a great pallet-cleanser before I go back to review copies. In some cases I feel my enjoyment is enhanced simply because I’m not wondering how I’ll discuss that level of awesome.
I also hate being restricted to a reading schedule. What I chose to read often depends entirely on my mood, or something (like particular setting/genre) I’ve been craving. Last year, I was writing weekly author/book profiles for a community magazine. Don’t get me wrong, I loved it. I was getting to talk to some of my favourite authors about some of my favourite books. But eventually the pressure of a weekly deadline and reading/interviewing/writing the pieces on top of my normal role and blogging got really tiring. I love having the freedom to read whatever I want…even if it means pausing in the middle of one book because I feel like something new.
I try and make sure I regularly review designated review copies, but I love spicing my reading habits up with something I have had sitting on my shelves for weeksmonths years (yes, I am clearly a book hoarder). Do you find reading to review a book different to reading simply for fun? How has your reading changed since you started blogging?
I’ll be honest, there is something that feels inherently different about reading on my Kobo compared to picking up a great big hardback novel. I’m not a huge e-book reader, but they’re a godsend on holidays and make accessing review copies easier through Netgalley.
If I lived in a city where driving to work in 15 minutes wasn’t possible, I’m sure I would use my e-reader 90% more than I do now. When I was interning in Sydney, I would spend most of the hour-long journey to the office with my head in my reader. Apart from my tendency to want to keep my books perfect, my reader is so much easier to fit into my hardback (along with all the other junk I carry around in there, seriously, it’s like Mary Poppin’s bag). But, I definitely miss the feel of reading a physical book; turning each page, breathing in that delicious book smell and admiring the amazing cover art. Also, the hundreds of physical books on my bookshelves make my room look so much prettier.
There is also something a little weird about reading an electronic copy and not being able to visually gauge your progress through a book. It strangely makes me feel as if I’m reading e-books faster than I would a physical book. Generally I feel like I’m ‘turning’ pages faster and flying through an electronic novel. Perhaps it’s because I’m not able to see my (relatively slow) progress each time I take a break?
E-books are definitely here to stay, although I don’t believe they’ll ever replace physical copies (not with a bunch of book hoarders like us around, anyway). With more and more people reading electronically, most libraries have also shifted into a strange new world of lending electronic copies. My library has a fabulous range of e-books which are easy to download and regularly updated which makes holiday reading even more of a breeze.
There is definitely a place for e-books. While my love of physical copies will never, ever die (just like my love of print newspapers and magazines), I also felt lost the moment my last e-reader died after three years. I love the ease of being able to read review copies electronically, as well as borrowing some of the latest releases through my library before the physical copies arrive on shelf. What are your thoughts on e-books?
Being totally obsessed with reading means I’m always looking for a new book to read, even if I don’t necessarily have the time. I always underestimate how much time a book is going to take to read, and indeed the impact work can have on my energy levels. Some days when I leave work on time, I get home and all I want to do is flop on the couch and catch up on TV shows I’ve been recording all week. Other days, I come home, work out, read, blog and generally feel pretty productive.
I’m usually reading one ‘difficult/slow-go’ book which I want to savour, usually for its gorgeous writing (Iain Banks’ The Crow Road is the perfect example, I’ve been reading it since October last year). Then there’s my ‘go-to’ book (usually a physical copy, but occasionally an e-book), that’s the one I have sitting on the coffee table/bedside table while I devour it as fast as I can. Now I’ve added another to the mix: audiobooks. As if I wasn’t reading enough already!
I’d always dismissed audiobooks as not for me. I’m a very visual person and thought I couldn’t possibly concentrate or take in an audiobook the same way I did a physical or electronic copy. That is until I bought my car (oh, and won a really amazing audiobook from my local library). Now I listen to a book every day on the way to work. Ok, so my commute is only 15 minutes in heavy traffic, but still, it’s reading something. I’m surprised by how much I take in while I’m driving and don’t notice too much of a difference compared to visual reading, although I’ve never reviewed an audiobook before.
The best thing is this year I’ve listened to books that would take me months and months to physically read. I’ve discovered a gem in Kate Morton, the author of the audiobook I won. Her books are, quite frankly, massive. I’m talking family sagas with a slow-burning mystery (and nice big twist at the end) which are generally 600+ pages. At the rate I listened to her books, they did still take me a month to finish. They’re totally worth it though!
Caroline Lee narrates Morton’s books and she does a fabulous job. I’ve only listened to two books narrated by others and to be honest, they’ve been pretty disappointing. Although both grew on me by the end, it was jarring initially. I’m currently listening to Malorie Blackman’s Noughts and Crosses and loving it. The narration feels spot-on and whenever I’m in the car, I have to drag myself away from listening to the book to go to work.
For me, audiobooks are one of my ‘free pass’ books I can just enjoy without the pressure of taking notes for reviews. I love listening to them during my commute and feel less guilty about not picking up my book when I get home in the afternoon. Do you listen to audiobooks? Do you have any recommendations?
So, I’ve been blogging for almost three years now. It’s really hard to believe that, particularly in light of the way I neglected the blog a little last year. Sure I was still posting, rambling and raving about books, but it was mostly only the ones I really loved.
Last year, I was reviewing books for work. While this was a really fantastic opportunity which allowed me to also interview some amazing Aussie authors, by Christmas I was really glad to take a break. Then the publication I was reviewing for was canned. Suddenly, I realised I wasn’t all that sad to stop. So I decided to launch back into blogging, with resolutions to post twice a week (we’ll see how that goes), meet new bloggers and interact more with blog comments and social media.
When I was only sporadically reviewing books I really, really loved I started to feel a little weird about ratings. When I’d go to rate something 4 stars, I’d start to compare it to other books I’d given 4 stars and so on. But really, a rating doesn’t feel as nuanced as I’d like. My ratings have always been personal, but every blogger has their own system and seeing the number 3 or the number 4 has a different meaning to everyone.
And, to finally get to the point, that’s why I’ve decided to stop using ratings on my reviews. Eventually, I’ll also be removing ratings on my old reviews. This year, I want to read for me and share my thoughts, without the pressure of how a number will be perceived. Hopefully I can express more in words than I can with a single number.