Category Archives: Book Worm Rant

This is where I sound off about books in general… not a review exactly although it might mention specific works

Now searching for..

Those willing to write for free 😉

So I have been the sole writer on the Obsessive Bookworm for 3 years now and while I have had infrequent guest contributors, at this point I am looking for a couple of people who might be wanting to write for a book blog on a more regular basis. I am not going anywhere but I am looking for some fresh voices and fresh ideas.

Some things I am interested in possibly doing:

1. Weekly themed posts – like Top Ten Tuesdays or something completely different

2. Suggested reading lists – if you liked ___ you need to check out..

3. Reading challenges

4. Group reads (with more than one contributor).

5. Reviews done in a different style than me

6. Reviews in genres I don’t prefer to read myself (mysteries, true crime, biographies, non-fiction)

7. Comic strips

8. Anything else you can come up with that  works well for this blog

In order to apply to be an Obsessive Bookworm, please send me an email at Obsessivebookworm@gmail.com and we will talk!

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I fell off the face of the planet and I’m sorry…

Is there anyone still out there???

I know it’s been over a month since I posted on here. My life has been a bit insane lately. The hubby got a second job and I’m working like crazy at mine. I’ve spent the last month and a half getting ready to move which we did a week ago today! I think we are at the point where there is less in boxes than there is out of boxes which is exciting! To make it up to my poor readers (if there are any of you left anyway), I’m posting a review every day for the next seven days. I’m so sorry for being gone and hope to be back to a regular schedule again!

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Dear ebook retailers (an open letter type rant)

EBooks. One of the most wonderful things to come out since sliced bread. No longer must I lug an extra bag for my books on vacation. I have instant access to a large library of books that I own. If nothing in my library suits me at the moment, I can always buy something new. It’s wonderful! I love eBooks. Really.

I personally own the B&N nook because of the one simple idea that I can go into a physical store and read for an hour a day for free. Sometimes this means I can get a shorter book done in one sitting (no, I’m not kidding). This feature alone made me pick up the nook over the kindle. It helps that there is store about a mile from my house.

I said that this was going to be a rant and it is. I just wanted to be fair before I ripped them a new one. I have one very big issue with eBooks and eBook retailers. I’m sure if you use eBooks at all you’ve discovered this one as well. When the cost of an eBook is more than the price of a real book without all the cost of production behind it! I’m tired of seeing eBooks for 12.99, 14.99 or even 24.99 each! I wouldn’t pay that for a book period, let alone one that I don’t physically own. What is going to happen when these companies go out of business or change hands or the technology becomes obsolete? Are we all going to get physical copies of these digital books? Of course not! Is there going to be some kind a refund for the fact that we no longer have access to them? Nope. Ebooks have become the long-term library where we don’t know the due date and we have to pay for the books.

Personally, I have no problem paying 4.99 or less for an eBook. However, if I really want to read something there is this amazing free resource called the library where you can borrow eBooks for free or get physical books for an extended period of time for free. Then if you must have a book in your library you can buy a physical copy of it from the same place that is selling those eBooks, often for much much less.

My current policy has become that I will buy the book or eBook depending on whichever is cheaper if I must own a book. There are a few essentials in my library that I own both a physical and electronic copy of simply for the convenience factor.

I love how convenient eBooks make a reader’s life but I hate the cost connected with them. While I feel like authors should get paid for their hard work and the retailers should make money, I don’t think that the cost of an eBook should be similar to the cost of a physical copy. You know what I would love to see? I would love to see what the movies have done with ultraviolet. You get a digital copy along with your purchase of a physical copy.  Maybe eBooks should work the same way. Only new books are entitled to the download, used books would lose that privilege.

Something needs to change but until the industry realizes there is a problem, I have a feeling we are going to deal with the ‘it’s not broke so don’t fix it’ issue.

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Before you open another new book…

Every book lover should know…

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The last Twilight film….

Anyone else who thought this scene was hilarious?

Okay, so anyone who had read this blog for any length of time knows that I have a very large soft spot for the Twilight series. I know that many people out there can’t stand this series for one reason or another. For me, I think what caught my attention was the fact that it was such a refreshing change at the time from everything I was reading. I had never read much teen or young adult fiction when I was a kid. I went straight from kid books to heavy hitters like War and Peace (which I read for the first time at the age of twelve). While I love serious literature, sometimes you just need something light and fluffy. A good read that you can just enjoy without having to work your brain to death over it. (Don’t get me wrong, I love that stuff too, I just need a balanced diet). I found that most adult material written that way was either so filled with ‘adult material’ or so boring and formula that it wasn’t really worth my time.

Jake and Nessie

When I discovered YA fiction through Twilight, it was like I was reading something tailor-made for me at the time. No sex, fun stories and simple reads. As a teacher by the time I got home, I wasn’t really up to reading something difficult. I really found myself gravitating towards this genre simply because it allowed me an escape that I had time for. Nothing since the Harry Potter series had really captured my imagination without being overly serious.

The end of the Twilight series movies meant that I would no longer get anything new from this first trip into YA fiction. I was so excited to go see the movie. So much so that we bought tickets for the marathon. My best friend and my husband spent the whole day with me watching all of the movies in order. It was nice to get a refresher on the series and it was a great build up to that final movie.

For me, the love of these movies is seeing everything I’ve read play out in front of me. I’m not a big fan of the actors for the most part and I have a great imagination. I also love comparing the original books to the movie. Everything was going great for the most part until the big confrontation with the Volturi. (If you haven’t seen it yet, stop reading here… spoilers ahead). I was bummed that they didn’t do more with Bella and Jenks. I found the whole encounter one that really highlighted how much Bella had changed from that timid girl in the first book. I was all ready from this big conversation that turned into basically nothing except A very frustrated Aro. I was shocked when I saw Carlisle’s head in Aro’s hand. Then I couldn’t believe when more people were picked off one by one. I was literally halfway out of my seat ready to walk in anger from the theater. Then the big reveal happened and I was clapping with the rest of the audience. Yep, the film maker got everyone in the audience in one of the most well done ‘got ya!’ moments I’ve ever seen. By the end credits, besides the major flaw in Alice seeing Nessie and Jacob’s future I was completely satisfied and felt like it was complete.

Now I’m looking for a new book or series to capture me in a similar way and am eagerly awaiting the arrival of The Host in theaters.

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A year in review and what is ahead…

Well, last night I stayed up to watch the ball drop and pushed out my last review for 2012. I was relieved because I have been pushing myself to read like crazy for a year long book reading challenge and had been pumping out reviews like a crazy person in order to win. Now that it’s over I can breathe a deep sigh of relief and look back at what I accomplished this year with a serious sense of satisfaction.

In 2012 I read a total of 151 new books for a total of 56,998 pages. I started the year with the goal to read 50 books and tripled that by the end of the year. This count only includes new books and does not include the reread of the Twilight series that I couldn’t help doing after seeing the last movie in the series and the crazy twist that came with it. I also reread The Sword of Truth series.

Of the year, the 10 best books I read were:

1. The Handmaid’s TaleMargaret Atwood

2. Rebecca – Daphne Du Maurier

3. The Reading Promise- Alice Ozma

4. The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry – Rachel Joyce

5. The Book ThiefMarkus Zusak

6. Legend – Marie Lu

7. Eve – Anna Carey

8. The Night Circus – Erin Morgenstern

9. Quiet – Susan Cain

10. Divergent – Veronica Roth

The worst reads of the year:

1. Advent – James Treadwell

2. Caught in CrystalPatricia C. Wrede

3. Sweet Valley Confidential – Francine Pascal

4. Talisman of El – Alecia Stone

5. Zombie – J.R. Angelella

In 2013, I have set an initial goal of 100 books. I will be finishing my master’s degree and I think that I’m not going to have the time to spend on it. This year I plan to spend more time writing as well whenever I have a chance. As far as my blog goes, I plan to do more posts that are not book reviews. With the reading page challenge that I was a part of I did more reviewing than I had planned on and this year I would like to get back to writing more posts that aren’t traditional reviews.  The reviews aren’t going anywhere but I plan on doing more series and reviving some that I haven’t had time to spend time on.

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I was going to write something with a patriotic theme today but…

Happy Fourth of July!

Okay, I had been planning to write this list of patriotic books to read but just never got around to it. I was determined when I woke up this morning that I would spend some time getting to done so that my post would go out around noon, which is when my posts usually hit. However, when I woke up this morning, I found a post on my personal Facebook wall from a friend sharing this blog that she was sure I would love. She was right. In fact, at this point I’ve spent two hours looking through this one and decided that I simply couldn’t keep something this good to myself.

reading The Rum Diary

Reading Rabbit Run

Reading The Iliad

The blog is called Underground New York Public Library and it is a photo blog dedicated to picture of people reading while riding the subway or waiting for it in New York City. I think what draws me in the most about this blog is the expressions on the reader’s faces. You can tell just by looking in many cases whether they are enjoying their read or not. I also love seeing the unexpected readers and books. Some of them are funny, some are surprising but they are all intriguing. Like the older gentleman reading teen fiction (Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins). The homeless man reading a kid’s book and was so excited about it that he just had to share. I also found myself trying to figure out where readers were in books I knew well or had recently read, imagining what the expression on their face meant in relation to where they were in the book. It’s the most subtle form of book review I have ever seen but is extremely powerful as well.

You can find the blog at http://undergroundnewyorkpubliclibrary.com/. Definitely worth checking out 🙂

Maybe next year I’ll get to that list of patriotic books, but for this year, hope you enjoy seeing people reading in one of the most iconic places in the country.

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Rant about ‘adult’ content in books…

Warning: This might not be an appropriate post for younger readers.

Lately it seems that almost every book I pick up feels the need to hit their readers over the head with graphic sexual content. These days, I’m finding that I pick up a new book with a bit of uneasiness wondering exactly how much of the book’s content I’ll be forced to skip/skim so I don’t fill my brain with inappropriate material. Whatever happened to the good old fade to black or the good taste to just not include it at all?

It used to be that you had to seek this kind of material out, with rare exception. Starting in the 20th century, this kind of material became much more prevalent. Then it seemed to become part of the formula to keep the reader’s interest through the development of the plot where less talented authors tend to bog down. An easy way to speed up the development of the book seems to be, in many author’s minds, to throw sexual content in. The reader gets a chemical rush from reading it, helping to push them forward through the rest of the book. In the 21st century, authors have now started to include a growing amount of homosexual material because the traditional doesn’t thrill and shock enough anymore. It seems that many authors have expanded to including it to any moment where the story slows for a bit must mean that erotic material is necessary.

There was a time when I read this kind of content, not realizing the damage that it was doing to me. I woke up eventually and was horrified at what I had done to myself. That kind of content is not easily forgotten, especially for those who, like me, have very active imaginations. There is a very good reason this kind of content is referred to as pornography for women or, with the advent of 50 Shades, mommy porn.

Sometimes I have to skip pages at a time!

The only way to get away from it in modern literature seems to be by skipping over the content. My method is a sort of skip/skimming where I read the first few words in each paragraph until I find that I am past that kind of material. I find myself having to skip more and more material in books simply because of the content. Being the type of person who must fill in every blank on a form and can hardly leave a book partially read, even if it is awful, this is frustrating to me. The fact that I have had to figure out a system to skip this material because of the overwhelming volume, is frustrating and disheartening. However, it is the only way for me to even attempt adult fiction anymore. I am relieved when I find the rare book that doesn’t feel the need to lean on this crutch. I also find myself gravitating more towards YA fiction because it doesn’t include this kind of graphic sexuality.

We do this for music, video games and movies. Why not books?

I really wish books would come with the kind of warning that movies do. Some kind of rating system that lets the reader know, in general if they are going to be confronted with violence, difficult subjects or sexual content, giving their readers a chance to put their guard up, instead of being blindsided by it.

I have great respect for authors who do not feel the need to fill their reader’s mind with this kind of cheap thrill. I challenge any would-be writers reading this blog to bravely skip writing this kind of content. You’ll be doing your readers a favor.

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Help! I’m in a reading slump!!

Reading away..

I just finished a huge, difficult read. I picked up another book and out of sheer relief was able to breeze through it. Then, I went to pick up another book and couldn’t get motivated, even though I’ve been wanting to read it for quite some time. I finally plopped myself down on the couch and got going. While the book was good, I just couldn’t seem to get into it. The next day, I tried again and kept getting distracted, people talking to me, my mom locking her keys in the car and needing me to rescue her, the allure of shopping and then a stop at the library. While at the library, I couldn’t seem to get motivated to pick out books! Unheard of! Then I knew, I had hit a serious reading slump.

How I felt with my latest reads..

I am lucky. These very rarely happen to me and when they do, they are usually easy to solve. I was curious if others had the same problem I did and did a bit of research. While most of these things weren’t new ideas, or are things that I typically do when I hit a slump, I figured that it would be a good idea to put together a list of things to try when you’ve hit a reading slump for others out there!

  1. New Book – If you don’t like the book you are reading, unless it is required reading, put that sucker down and pick up something else. Don’t push yourself through something you aren’t enjoying. The whole point of reading recreationally is to have fun after all. If you have to read it, reward yourself with a book you love at the same time.
  2. Reread a favorite book – Pick up something from your shelves that is guaranteed to get you lost between its pages and start reading. Getting into a familiar world where you know you are going to have fun gets your mind in the right place to enjoy reading again.
  3. Doctor Who books are on my list for my next reading slump.. or this one if it keeps up.

    Read some fan-fiction – The whole point of fan-fiction is to entertain readers who didn’t quite like how something went in their favorite stories. These are usually shorter and all plot based. It is also a lot easier to abandon a story you don’t like. A good place to start is fanfiction.net where you can find stuff based on almost anything.

  4. Watch TV – Yes you read that right. Watch some TV. Let your brain veg and get your stories another way. Typically when I’m in a reading slump my go to shows are Doctor Who or The X-Files. Pick one of your favorite shows and just relax. Another idea is to pick a show that there are books for and then pick up the books from that show to get you back in the habit.
  5. Write something – This one may not be for everyone, but typically when I can’t stand reading, spending some serious time writing will solve the problem.  I upload my brain with tons of stories when I read and then my head needs to download the ideas it absorbs. I can’t tell you how many times I have to put down the book I’m reading because I just had a fabulous idea come to mind (typically that has NOTHING to do with what I’m reading).
  6. Set a time/page limit – If you need to keep reading because let’s say, you write a book blog and need to have something for your readers to read about or you have to get it done for school, set yourself a limit of how much you have to get done that day. Don’t feel like you have to push through until you finish. Give yourself a good manageable goal. If you go beyond it – great!
  7. Reading buddies

    Find a Reading Buddy (who reads at the same pace as you) – Find someone who likes to read the same things you do and read the same book together. They will help keep you motivated. I would NOT suggest doing this with someone who reads much faster or much slower than you do or you will feel frustrated.

  8. Audiobooks – Listen to a book you have been dying to read. For those of you who typically enjoy audiobooks, this a great way to make reading fresh. If you don’t enjoy audiobooks, it can be motivating in a different way. This one can work for me. I get listening to a book and then get frustrated with how slow the reader is or their voice and simply have to pick it up and actually read it.
  9. Organize your books– This one may sound a bit odd, but if you can’t seem to read your books, putting them in order is a great way to end up with a book in your hands that you simply have to get to. Just don’t leave the job half done and let your significant other find you with your books all over the chairs and you sitting on the floor reading away. It will not be a good experience. Trust me on this one.

    My stacks look even bigger… scary I know

  10. Read a new genre – Sometimes picking  up a book in an area you don’t typically read is a great idea. Reading slumps are usually when I read non-fiction or mystery novels. They are a nice break from my normal choices and make me want to get back into what I enjoy reading more. My thought process tends to be, that was good but something sci-fi or fantasy would be even better!
  11. Read something short – When you are in a reading slump is not the time to pick up something over 400 pages. You’ll get frustrated and bored quickly. Books chosen during a slump should be short to create a sense of accomplishment.
  12. Read something you know you’ll love – Make your next book be something you know you’ll enjoy. When I don’t want to read, one trick is to put off anything else on my list and pick up some science fiction or fantasy by an author I love.
  13. Read Short Stories – Short stories can be extremely satisfying during a reading slump. They are typically extremely well written and are over quickly, giving that same sense of satisfaction as finishing a book brings without having to finish the book. Charles de Lint or Orson Scott Card are great for this.

This picture has no purpose except it was cute and I had to share it. Yep. I’m a cat person 😉

Hopefully this gives you some ideas of what you can do to get out of a reading slump and get back to doing something you love.

Anything you do that I didn’t come  up with? Please share it below!

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The worst kind of books to read

I don’t get it. Why would people read this??

This list idea came from being in the middle of one of the few kinds of books I really just don’t enjoy reading. There are just some times you end up with a book in your hands that fits a formula that you know, as a reader, is just something you are not going to enjoy but reading it necessary or you feel like you are too far in to give up now. Some of these for me are:

  1. Rambling prose – You know what I’m talking about here. The author’s editor did not do enough to reign in the writer. The story could have been told in 300 pages but for some odd and strange reason, the book had to be over 1,000 pages long. The author feels the need to give the reader every bit of unimportant minutiae that doesn’t help advance the story or help the reader relate to the character better. It just goes on for length’s sake. While I don’t mind a long book that is well written, these are just not the case. Example: Reamde by Neal Stephenson.
  2. Dry and Technical – While I like to learn about how something works or how someone justifies their approach, please, please, please make it at least somewhat entertaining to read! Give an antidote, a joke or something to keep the reader’s attention. This applies to text books as well. There should be some level of enjoyment in what you are reading. Example: too many to pick just one.
  3. Ending on a climax – I don’t care if this is book 376 in your series of insanely popular fantasy novels. Never. Ever. End. At. The. Climax! It is simply a cheap ploy to drag the reader along. It is extremely obvious and is just poor taste. Create a conclusion – please. Ted Dekker‘s Circle series is a very good example of what not to do.
  4. Dull word choice – If your book has an interesting plot line but your word choice is so bad that it sucks the life out of the book,two things might happen. One, it might keep people from reading your book, or two, turning it into an outstandingly successful musical with a much better ending that disappoints people when they actually dust off their copy that they never really got around to reading. Oh yes I have a book in mind – Gregory Maguire this one is all you. Wicked the musical beats the book – hands down.
  5. The I’m-smarter-than-my-readers booksJames Joyce. Ulysses. Yes, he did something very cool and creative. So cool and creative that most people have no clue what he was trying to do. Hurray for confusing everyone and making sure that your book will always be on the books everyone should read list. I think it ends up on the list because someone is hoping that someday, someone will actually figure it out.

Any kinds of books you think I missed? Any that you thought were unfair?

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Dragging my hubby out for books

What my hubby would like to use my books for…

I don’t know who did it. Someone must have done it. For some reason my otherwise logical and fun-loving husband hates to read books. He’ll play video games. He’ll watch TV for hours. However, if you try to get him to pick up a book, good luck to you. In the five years we have been married, I know that he has read fewer than ten books. Only a couple of those were for fun. When I ask him what books he actually enjoyed reading, he could only come up with one answer. ONE!

As a reader, anytime I need new books, this becomes a problem for us. I am a social shopper. I don’t like to go out by myself. However, when it comes to the bookstore/used bookstore/library, I am on my own. The only ways I have found to get him to come with me is to use the two best gifts women have: guilt trips (with a side of logic) and bribery.

Yep. That’s all the time. But even worse when it’s books.

The first tactic is rather simple. Honey, I’ve been so good. I haven’t bought a book in weeks! Won’t you please come with me so I don’t have to go alone? You know that I am not to be trusted in a bookstore by myself. You know that I will spend way too long and far too much money. If that plan doesn’t work, it’s on to phase two: bribery.

The bribery approach usually involves Starbucks. Mind you, my husband doesn’t like to drink coffee but if I’m going near a Starbucks, it’s a whole new story. The bribe changes depending on where I am headed but it generally involves a stop there – after. I have learned my lesson. Going before means that I get about 20 minutes for my 5 buck bribe. If we go after, I can sometimes stretch it to over an hour.

I keep hoping someday he will figure out what he is missing. Until then, we will continue our game of coercion in exchange for trips out for books.

Update: He laughed when he read this.

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Goodreads

I wasn’t going to post today. I was going to go to bed. I was going to get a full eight hours so I was ready to face my last week of work before summer vacation. I tried to just look at a couple things without looking at my blog. It didn’t work. I felt bad that I hadn’t posted anything today. So I decided to take a quick break from the reviews and share the website that has been eating up a good chunk of my free time.

I have to share goodreads with anyone who is unfortunate enough to have not discovered this site yet! If you like to read, goodreads is a must.

I don’t know about you, but I read – a ton. I have trouble remembering sometimes what books I have read, what books I started and never want to pick up again and the books that was dying to the last time I went to the book store. I have done everything from electronic lists, paper lists, taking pictures with my camera phone and a couple similar sites.

I have picked goodreads as my favorite book site simply because it is so easy to navigate, add to and keep a wish list on. You can simply submit reviews, rate books and search for new things by your favorite author all without having to leave the page. I like the pictures of the covers with the titles as well because it helps jar my overloaded memory.

If you are looking for a good way to keep track of the books you have read, what you are currently reading and what you want to read, this site is a great place to check out!

Okay, I’m done sounding like an infomercial. (I think). This week may have fewer posts than normal due to the fact that it is the last week of school before summer vacation and I am envisioning some very late nights at work. Starting Friday or Saturday my crazy frequent posts should be back to normal.

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The adventure of used bookstores

I have decided that there are basically two kinds of regular used book stores in the world. I have been to both kinds this week and they were very different adventures. Every once in a while, I get adventurous and stray from the big box bookstore right down the street from my house in search of a better deal with more interesting finds. I have been driving by the first used bookstore I visited this week for quite a while. I had always been curious but usually on a hurry to get somewhere else and so I never stopped in. I finally decided that I simply had to go check it out.

I was afraid I would get a splinter!

I walked into this bookstore (which will remain nameless to protect their owners) and it was exactly what you think of when you think of a negative used book store experience. Crowded shelves that were made by hand and are complete unfinished. boring white walls and obviously home crafted sales counter. The man who could have only been the owner came out and awkwardly greeted me, asking if I had any questions. You could tell that sales was not this man’s forte but that he preferred to be lost between the covers of a book. That was the last interaction I had until I came back to the counter with my purchases. You could tell that this man liked fantasy and sci-fi because it was one of the largest sections available. I think his wife must have been into romance novels, because it was the largest section. The store was silent, only broken by the yelping and barking from dog groomer next door. There were a couple of positives to this bookstore though. First off, it was nice to shop without being bothered. While I appreciate a sales person doing their job (being a former retail worker myself) I am the kind of customer who prefers to be left alone and probably won’t buy anything if sales people are in my face. This bookstore also had a $1.00 section in the back! That was amazing! I picked up a couple books. The dollar section alone will get me back in, but I don’t know that I will visit often.

Bookman's!

I had to have a better used bookstore experience and so, I decided to make the drive to my favorite used bookstore, Bookman’s. This store is the biggest bookstore I’ve ever been in. It has bright orange shelves everywhere and they are packed to the brim with every kind of book. You can find almost anything you are looking for in it’s shelves. I always end up grabbing one of the rolling carts and filling it up. I usually leave with two bags full of books. I don’t go to Bookman’s unless I plan to buy because there is just so much available. There is a large staff of friendly people willing to help you trade in your old stuff or help you find something interesting to read. The staff is a bit umm… interesting but always friendly. There is always good music playing and places to sit down and pare down what you’ve selected. It is seriously the best used book store experience I’ve ever had. I traded in six books and was able to get five new ones 🙂 It was great!

What kind of used bookstore experiences have you had? Do you like going or not?

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The first book I ever read…

Where did my obsession for book start? Well there are many events that people mention as my start to book obsession but the two most notable events are as follows:

Event 1: I was young at the time, very young and I asked my mother how she got so smart in my little girl wonder at the vast amount of knowledge she seemed to have at the time. My mother replied back, that she had gained her knowledge from reading books. I don’t remember this conversation but it must have thoroughly warped my subconscious because to this day, I look to books as the main source for knowledge and wisdom.

My first book

Event 2: I was in a car. That much I recall with clarity. The seats were blue with a herringbone pattern in the fabric. Someone had given me a copy of Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White for Christmas. The book was far too much for me but I took it with me anyway. I had recently figured out how to read and didn’t know that I should be reading little kid picture books. Instead I was determined to conquer the chapter book I had sitting in my lap. I began sounding my way through the first two pages, getting quicker with every word. Eventually my mind was going faster than my mouth could keep up and I stopped reading out loud after the second page. By the end of the road trip, I had finished the book. I never looked at another book with pictures seriously again. I was off. Reading everything I could get my hands on.

Do you remember what the first book you read was?

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Why do I read teen books?

I have fielded this one quite a bit lately. Usually it’s someone who has never picked up a piece of teen fiction in their life and in their arrogant superiority says something like this, “You’re thirty now. When are you going to start reading more mature books?” Usually I blow this off and think that they have no idea what they are talking about but recently I met a fellow reader who was concerned for my current taste in literature. She commented on how I used to focus on serious books and she was appalled that I had moved backwards, to teen fluff. I was forced to sit down and seriously contemplate what I was doing and why.

I came up with a couple of different things. I was raised to believe that books should have redeeming value. There should be a good reason to read them. So as a child I devoured huge amounts of classical literature, reading things well beyond my years. It shaped who I was as a person. I never fit in with my peers and didn’t really understand them. I was thankful for this. I have a solid background and foundation to build from. However, I found myself drawn more often to science fiction and fantasy as I grew older. Some of this was because I have an extremely active imagination. The rest because I loved the chance to escape from reality.

As i started to move in this direction with some of my reading, I was disturbed to find that most of these books were way too adult for me – and I was an adult! It was the last thing I wanted to fill my mind with all the time. I felt like I was running out of things to read. I was given recommendations for lots of books, most of which I had to stop reading because I found them disgusting or they were shallow and not worth my time. While there were some exceptions to the rule, for the most part, I was really frustrated. Then Harry Potter happened.

Immediately I was drawn to it due to all the controversy surrounding it. I picked up the first three books and read through them quickly and then read them again. I went out the next day and got number four. I was in the line at midnight for the release of book five. I thought they were the exception.

The Twilight happened and the teen book scene erupted. I quickly began reading these books because they were an escape, relatively clean and had compelling story lines! Then I began to see that many of the authors were telling important stories through these books in a way that adult fiction seemed to have mostly forgotten. While the writing tended to be a bit more simplistic it was an actual story! Not some mundane bit of drivel about some housewife’s inner struggles but a REAL story with heroes, villains, monsters and real people all put into the mix together.

As a teacher, the last thing I want to do when I get home is read something heavy, depressing or dull. I want an escape and teen books seem to be where it’s at lately. If you’ve written this section off, I’d recommend taking another look. You’ll never know what you’re going to find.

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The importance of L.M. Montgomery

I wouldn’t call this a traditional book review but more a glimpse into how one author’s writing shaped my childhood.

I received my first set of the Anne of Green Gables series from my grandmother for Christmas when I was eight. I read the first one with some reluctance. I had been reading a lot of  fantasy and much of it was rather dark for an eight year old.  Since I was reading years above what was normal for my age though, the choices were sometimes limited in my school library and my teachers would allow me to select books that were sometimes not appropriate in my parent’s eyes.

So after some prodding from my mother, I picked one up. I got about five pages in and I was completely engrossed. I rapidly sped through the books in the series and then read them over and over again. Eventually I moved on and devoured the rest of her books as I grew up, eventually needing a second set of the books simply because the original set had worn out completely with age. Before my grandmother died, she was working on completing my set in hardbacks simply because I kept killing my paperback versions over and over again.

For me, Montgomery was my first introduction to novels driven by the characters and not the plot. Her books opened up a whole new world of literature for me. From Anne I quickly moved on to more classic literature, falling in love with the greats. While I would never compare Montgomery to Tolstoy, Dumas, or Hugo, she had to same kind of impact on my life that those writers did. Anne allowed me to see that being a strange kid (and I was a very strange kid) was okay and that somehow in the end I would come out okay. Even though Anne was far from normal, eventually she grew up and became the amazing wife and mother portrayed in her later books. Montgomery showed me the magic of childhood and the power of being a kid through Jane of Lantern Hill. She explained how it was okay to do things your own way through The Blue Castle. She showed me that having physical limitations were not the end of the world or the end of the chance for love when I was older through Kilmeny of the Orchard.

I don’t know where I would be or who I would be if my grandmother hadn’t sent that first set of books to me when I was eight. Thanks grandma. I miss you.

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Rereading

I know that lately I haven’t put out any new book reviews. I have been in the middle of a major move and a major reread. I just worked my way back through the Terry Goodkind Sword of Truth Series. After m7y last few disappointing reads, I wanted something that I was guaranteed to enjoy thoroughly.

I began to wonder why it is that so many people don’t find rereading appealing. For me, it’s like meeting with an old friend that you haven’t seen in a while. You know that you are going to enjoy the familiar old jokes and rehash all the incidents that bonded you in friendship in the beginning. Those events are significant to your friendship and make you feel safe and secure. Rereading a book is much like this. As you begin, the familiar words hit you and you know that you are headed back into a world that you love. You know where it is going and in a way can enjoy it even more, knowing that the character will grow and eventually everything will turn out alright in the end.

While many things I read are not worth the time past the first journey, there are others that make you want to go back and pour over their pages over and over, an escape from the real world and a way to learn something new about your favorite characters.

I hope to start reading something new soon but for now I’ll enjoy living in familiar worlds just a little longer.

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Summer Goal

Okay, so I have set quite a crazy goal for myself this summer. I am going to attempt to read everything fiction on my bookshelves that I have not yet gotten to before I go back to work in the fall. Wish me luck! Books that are on the summer book challenge will be noted as such in the categories.

Have you read everything on your bookshelves???

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Migrating

Fish in a new pond

I started this blog on another site and I was never happy with their features- so I decided to move it over to wordpress after starting a blog for school on here.  All the posts added today are ones from the first site. Starting tomorrow I will be adding new content!

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