Kernels of Nonsense: Why I’m Reading Less in 2018

Kernels of Nonsense is a discussion feature here on the blog where I talk various book and blogging related topics. As my first discussion post in 2018, I’m talking about my decision to lower my Goodreads reading goal compared to last year.

At the beginning of 2017, I contemplated reading less than I had the year before, but folding under the pressure of setting a goal right away, I ended up aiming for the same amount of reads compared to the previous year. As 2018 approached, I once again began contemplating lowering my goal. The amount of books I picked up in a month took a bit of a hit during November and December of last year. I ended up reading only four books for each of those two months when I usually average around seven books. This didn’t exactly sit well with me, but I also learned something about how I approach reading and reviewing.

The decline of my reading efficiency during the latter part of the year had to do in part to the holidays. In theory, holidays should mean more time to read, but in reality it just means you have more time to do all the extra stuff you need to do because of said holidays. When I did have time to read, it was usually at night, but by that time, I would rather conk out than pick up a book. But I discovered something interesting. I kind of liked spending the extra time on a book.

If I’m on my game so to speak, I can finish a book in three or four days. Add an extra day that I spend writing a review and that pretty much means that I don’t have a whole lot of time to slack off in order to meet my goal for the year. In 2017, I ended up meeting my goal fairly early and so those two months I spent not reading a whole lot functioned as a bit of a reprieve from all that reading pressure.

When I only picked up four books in a month, I never had to force myself to try and catch up, reading 200 pages in a day because I neglected to read enough during the first few days. And it was nice. I went a couple of days not reading at all because I was so busy. I had more freedom when it came to reviews as well. I wasn’t scrambling to write one, so I could quickly move on to the next book.

You know what happens when you have more time to read and review a book? At least for me, I had more time to appreciate them. I had more time to think about these stories and characters. I had more concise and polished thoughts. I got more out of these books than I normally did when I spent less time with them.

My Goodreads goal for 2018 isn’t dramatically lower than 2017, but because I ended up reading more than my goal last year, I feel safe with a 65 book goal. If I only get to 65, I will be reading about ten books less which will give me more time to enjoy the books I do pick up.

Are you planning to read more or less this year? Do you feel like you get more out of a book when you spend more time with it? How do you handle the pressure to read so many books in a year? Let’s discuss in the comments.


Kernels of Nonsense: My Month of Mini-Reviews

Kernels of Nonsense is a discussion feature here on my blog where I like to discuss both book and blogging related topics. I wanted to take a moment this month and write about my experience with review writing in July.

If you’re been around my blog for the past month, you may have noticed that I’ve been posting mini-reviews instead of full ones. In July, wanting to get to as many books as possible, I decided that I’d write mini-reviews for all my reads. If you’re like me, you sometimes struggle to get through full reviews. Mini-reviews have been a saving grace for me. There’s always a book or two a month that I struggle with finding all the right words for and settling on a mini-review for them has taken loads of stress off my shoulders.

I ended up surpassing my usual number of reads in July and I credit the mini-review with this. I have a very strict routine when it comes to my reads and reviews. I know a lot of bloggers can wait some time after finishing a book to write the review and can even read more books in between finishing one and reviewing it. I can’t do this. I have to write a review for my last read before moving on. This isn’t always ideal when the words just don’t seem to come and I’m eager to move on.

In July, I felt like an incredibly efficient reader and blogger. After I finished one book, I was writing a mini-review almost right afterward and picking up my next novel a lot quicker. Not all of my reviews came out super easy, but because they were condensed versions of my full ones, I was able to get through them a lot easier.

If you were to ask me what’s the hardest post to write as a book blogger, I’d probably say the review. We all approach the review differently and I don’t have a set formula for how I write out my thoughts on a book. I take notes while I read and while this does help me when I’m looking for direction, sometimes all those thoughts and feelings aren’t easily expressed. I even struggle with taking notes when I’m just not feeling much of anything for a novel and knowing I have a full review ahead of me does not keep the pressure off. I’m always in the mind set that I need to come up with a good three or four paragraphs discussing the book in front of me. This isn’t always easy and sometimes I just don’t have the time or the motivation to do so.

Writing only mini-reviews in July felt like a kind of vacation. While reading, I wasn’t thinking about the fact that I may not have enough thoughts to write a full review, I didn’t get antsy in between reads, and I ended up picking up more books than usual. I had a couple of personal things come up during July, so in retrospect, I probably could have read a couple of more books that month.

Will this change the way I approach review writing? Will you be seeing more mini-reviews from me? Not likely. I like the balance I’ve achieved, writing only one pair of mini-reviews a month. While I’ve said writing full reviews can be a struggle, it can also push me as a reader to dig deeper into the book I’m reading. I read for pleasure, yes, but I also want to get something from the experience and writing full reviews helps me to do so.

Do you write mini-review on your blog? Do you struggle with full reviews? How to you handle writer’s block when it comes time to write a review? Let’s discuss in the comments!

Kernels of Nonsense: Where Does Rereading Fit into a Blogger’s Life?

Kernels of Nonsense is a discussion feature here on the blog where I like to discuss book and blogging related topics. I know I’ve been terrible at discussion posts this year, but I am attempting to do better. This week I’m discussing rereading and its place in a busy bookworm’s life.

Way back when I first started this discussion post feature, I wrote about how much I loved rereading. I love the idea of visiting old favorites and reliving that magic. If the characters had a strong impact on me, it sometimes feels like I’m visiting old friends and catching up. And there is the added benefit of hindsight when it comes to rereading. Sometimes you find little breadcrumbs the author left behind that you never noticed before or you discover new things about these books that you didn’t see the first time around.

In 2015, I joined the Re-Read Challenge because I really wanted to find time to reread some of my favorite books, and sometimes I find it necessary to reread a novel if I’m picking up the sequel because I literally will forget everything if enough time passes. That year I managed to reread ten books, but since then, I’ve seen a dramatic decrease in the number of rereads I do each year. This year for example, I’ve only reread two books and have no immediate plans to pick up any others.

One of the reasons I’ve picked up very little rereads is the sheer amount of books on my TBR. There is literally always a new book in the wings waiting to be picked up. I sometimes feel so overwhelmed by the number of books I need to get to that I can accidentally send myself into a reading slump. Although I managed to delete 100 books from my TBR as part of my Spring Cleaning goals this year, I still have over 300 books it. And every week I’m adding something because although I’d like to keep this number low, who can really resist a good recommendation from the blogging community?

Rereading feels like a luxury that I don’t always have. There are tons of books on my shelf that I have yet to get to and whose number seems to be increasing every month. My TBR, though not an outrages number, still demands my attention if I have any hope of getting to all these books that have caught my attention. Blogging itself zaps a lot of time and energy out of you, and although I enjoy it immensely, I sometimes feel like I spend more time blogging than I do reading. Then there’s life itself outside of blogging that you need to contend with and at the end of the day, you sometimes need to reach for your laptop for a little Netfix binging instead of the book on your nightstand in order to unwind.

So where does rereading fit in? I’ve considered holding myself accountable with a reread every month, but as a mood reader, I’m not always comfortable making myself pick up a certain kind of book every month. I’m afraid that added pressure will make me enjoy the rereading experience less. And if I’m honest, there is that little voice in the back of my mind telling me that readers are less interested in a review of a book from years ago than a review of a nice, shiny new release.

Where does that leave this blogger? I’m not sure. I still have a special place in my heart for rereads and in some cases, I do find it necessary to pick up a previous book before diving into a sequel. I want to find more time to reread, but I’m just not sure that’s possible as of right now.

Do you reread old favorites? How do you make time to do so? How do you feel about rereading in general? If you had more time to read, would you reread more than you do? When is the last time you reread a book? Let’s discuss in the comments!

Kernels of Nonsense: Preordering Debut Books

Kernels of Nonsense (2)Kernels of Nonsense is a discussion feature here on the blog where I like to tackle various book and blogging related issues.

With 2017 just getting started and with it an endless lists of new authors making their debuts, it’s time to start contemplating which debut books are worth a preorder.

Confession time: most of the books I order throughout the year are preorders. I like planning out my purchases and usually I end up buying a bunch of books all at once (usually after Christmas and my birthday because taking advantage of all those gift cards is how I roll). Last year I tried to be more picky about what books I bought because I know that even though I would love to own all the books, they may not all be worth my money.

Last year I bought six debut novels without knowing too much about them aside from their synopsis. And while all of these received positive ratings from me, I think it would have been wiser to wait on half of them as they would have been better library reads than purchases. In hindsight, I should have waited for my fellow bloggers to review them, because then I would have known this.

So I ask this question: how do you decide which debut novels are worth purchasing when you haven’t read anything by these authors?

I’d like to think that a synopsis alone isn’t enough to persuade me; after all, I (and I’m sure everyone else) have experience being letdown after being completely pulled in by a synopsis. But in many cases, this is all we have when it comes to impending debuts.

I know for many bloggers, early reviews can help decide whether these books are worth preordering. I tend not to trust early reviews, not because I think bloggers are being dishonest, but because the pool of bloggers is so small. If I really want to know how the book community feels about a certain novel, waiting a couple of weeks (or more) after its release is the better way to go. There are exceptions to this, however, because the more you’re a part of this community, the more you start to create a rapport with certain people and if your tastes in books really click, then you’re bound to trust their judgment more than others.

There is another way to get a glimpse of what’s to come with these debuts and that’s excerpts. Sometimes publishers make the first few chapters of a novel public to entice readers. For me, this is the least enticing thing imaginable. I hate spoilers, I’d rather go into a book not knowing anything than knowing a little too much. Whenever I see teasers from series I’ve been reading (Marie Rutkoski’s The Winner’s Kiss comes to mind), I panic and stay as far away as I possibly can from these excerpts. I don’t want to know anything until the book is in front of me. This of course means that these sneak peaks for debut novels are no help to me.

I want to be even pickier this year with debut novel purchases. There are tons I’m really interested in (see my TTT post: Top Ten 2017 Debuts I’m Excited For), but I want to be more patient. There’s also the library option and while it sometimes requires more patience than I can sometimes handle, I really must keep in mind that I don’t have to buy everything I get excited about. So far I’ve only preordered Lilliam Rivera’s The Education of Margot Sanchez and Rhoda Belleza’s Empress of a Thousand Skies. Both sound incredible and I want to support more diverse authors this year, so this works well in that favor. I’ll likely add Angie Thomas’s The Hate U Give to this list. Honestly, I’m just waiting for the price to drop and as soon as it does, I’m buying it. But what other debuts should I consider purchasing? It’s only the first month of the year and I might not have as much self-control when fall comes around and another slew of debuts get published.

How many debut novels do you buy in a year? What persuades you to take a chance on these novels? Excerpts? Earlier reviews? Perhaps an author interview? Have you preordered any 2017 debuts yet? Let’s discuss in the comments!