Stacking Shelves

Book lovers have multiple ways of filling their shelves; by author, size, colour, Dewey Decimal etc.

I’m not really that complicated

I have two groups of books: the one i keep and the ones I will give to others.

The latter is broken down into two: those that I want to read, then let go, and the ones that will be let go, no matter what.

Normally in all situations I have previously packed by size. To some it makes sense – if you have 6 books the same size, you can pack another few horizontally, that you cant do with mixed sizes. Some order differently. I try my best to breath deep!

A few years ago I reordered by shelves into “Themes”, e.g. all the ‘Asian’, ‘Romance’ or ‘Crime’ Books together. As I am very much a ‘I’ll read what ever I’m in the mood for’ kind of reader’, I was quickly bored of this kind of sorting.

With new books coming into the realm on a regular basis, and in a greater number than I’m letting go, I also became a situation of the “will I read before letting go, or straight releasing?”.

Sometimes I will store by authour (not so common nowadays, due to various issues), but usually by publisher or some other supplier. e.g. all my Persephone greys will end up on a certain non release shelf, all my box of stories books will go asap, and my comic book/graphic novel stories will go where they need to. It’s now a case of “where will this one fit?!” (Books are on shelves, coffee table, bedside table and now in boxes on the floor).

I dont plan on reordering my shelves, at least any time soon. I want to get rid of the over flows I already have at which point I hope I will have the space, will etc to reorder – probably in book size. It will also give me the chance to sort out the books i no longer want to read.

What about you? What do your shelves look like? How are they ordered?

Book Talk and Update

Yes, I’m still here, just not publishing (review) posts as frequently. However, I thought I’d make an update post of general things going on

Book Talk

In scheduling my May (i.e. Comic book) tweets, I’ve realised that whilst I’ve read lots of *Comics* over the last year (My LCBS and I now have a reasonable monthly deal going on), I’ve not read and reviewed any *Graphic Novels* over the last year.

Previously I’ve done Comic Books into June, but I’ve become aware that June really should be #PRIDE month. I will admit that I dont track my books at that level, so currently, it’s difficult to identify the books that could be classed as predominate “LGBT+” books (why cant people read everything?).  I’ve realised I do have a few books or authors that *could* be classed as LGBT, but in a way I do think it’s hooking my name to an unnecessary flag. i’m curious what people think. Constructive comments only please!

I’m halfway through reading “the 19th Wife”, which at 500+ pages is long for me at this time.

My 2 year Persephone Book Subscription has finished (I brought 1 year, I got another year as a pressie). I now have a HUGE stack of books that need to be read.

Because that’s not enough, I decided on a number of other subscriptions:

One for A Box of Stories, where every few months I get a box of books that would have other wise ended up in Landfill (or elsewhere) because they didnt sell through the usual routes (e.g. a bookshop). Due to the number of books I have, I have yet to attempt any of the boxes I’ve received so far.

Periene Press – 1 book every 3 months (i.e. 3 a year), of translated books based on an overall theme

I’ve brought virtually no individual books (I have WAY too many to read) but I have pre-ordered “Riccardino” by Andrea Camilleri. It’s rare for me to order books (esp hard books) but this is the last Montalbano book, that Camilleri told his publisher not to publish until he died.   Along with my Pratchett Hardback (I’ve got most of them, but especially his last Discworld that I still have to read), this will be added to the “Permanent Collection” pile.

New SM

WordPress and Hootsuite have changed their User Interface (UI) which has made it a tad difficult to work out some stuff, including numbers and being able to shedule tweets.

Bookcrossing general

I normally have several shelves that I can “release” books to, but of course, these shelves have not been available for the last 14 months or so. Therefore books have been backing up in my flat, which has meant my flat has looked even more cluttered than I’m happy with.  As an interim, I left books in my apartment block foyer. Initially, the books I had chosen didnt move, so I changed my selection – choose from the books that I *had* planned to read at some point, but if I was going to be brutal, I realised that I would not read in the next 12+ Months. So those got put on the pile. It’s been interesting in how many of them have gone (I’d say over 50%). I really should do a refresh in the next few weeks – if they haven’t gone now, its unlikely they’re going to go in the next few days)

At time of posting, the 2021 #Bookcrossing UK Uncon is scheduled for October 2021, to be held in Newcastle. The twitter account is @BCUKUNcon2021 and I would love for more people to follow and/or tweet and/or recommend Newcastle related accounts or things to do (or even suggestions as to possible additions to the raffle pressies would be lovely)

2020 Blogger Resolutions – An End Of Year Update

It’s now traditional for me to set goals at the beginning of the year, then reflect how I’ve done by the end. Following my failure to achieve these the last few years, I’ve significantly dropped my numbers, in the chance of actually meeting a couple!  Here is how I performed against the 2020 resolutions

Book pages text
Patrick Tomasso via Upsplash

    • Increase subscribers to this blog to 1000, excluding twitter followers

running very hot at 950+

    • Increase annual page hits to this blog (to 7000)

Despite the lower number of posts, I’ve still managed to get more views this year than what I achieved over the last 5 years, with a reasonable 7217. I’m not entirely sure what I did right! WordPress have changed the way things are done, including the editor. I cant say that I’m impressed with it overall, but much of that could be down to not liking change.

    • Increase twitter followers to @brumnordie (to 950)

Still not there – still hovering around the 778 mark, give or take. A loss in functionality has meant that I dont know exactly who I have lost or gained, but it is usually smaller authors, who dont engage with me, then unfollow when I have failed to engage them at the level they hoped. Until recently I got Google Alerts in order to seek out what I hoped would provide me with some more content, but I found myself drowning in emails, and not getting any contentI found useful.

    • increase twitter followers to @bxbrum (to 280)

I’ve relinquished posting rights to BXBRUM, so have not been tracking numbers for much of 2020. Therefore this is redundant.

    • Read and review 50 books. 50% to be paperbooks or audiobooks.

50? Who said 50? Whatever the number, I’m not even close. I’ve not even hit 50% of the 20 books challenge I have on goodreads

    • Get my Netgalley ratio into the 72% range (from 66%).

I’ve tried to increase my ratio, but with the overall lack of reading, this is not as high as I’d hoped

    • To aid in reading the books that I already have there will be a moratorium on requesting books from Netgalley or LibraryThing, and reviewing books I already have

Done.

    • Make better use of twitter, including the analytics, scheduling content.

It’s been a mixed bag this year. Overall, i have interacted less on twitter, but the numbers on the blog make me wonder. I have tried more targeted tweets, so romance novels in Feb, Christmas in Nov/Dec. Something seems to be working.

    • Take part in twitter chats such as #ContentHour, #BrumHour

See above. To be honest, I’ve not been as active in chats as I should have been. The things I wanted to talk about simply weren’t happening

    • Make use of scheduling and planning software

See above

    • Release more books via Bookcrossing, either in OBCZs or via RABCKs.

LOL. Not happening. I’m using my apartment foyer as a pseudo-shelf, leaving the occasional set of books out. They *are* going, but I’m struggling to workout what people like (as opposed to “i’m bored, I’ll read anything” syndrome.) Odd choices e.g. Mort by Terry Pratchett has gone, Joan Collins went and came back, a Debbie MaComber Christmas Romance apparently never left!

Deciding on whether to DNF a book

I think I’ve written about this before, but the following post popped into my feed recently and I thought I’d write about it again.

I never DNF books: Here’s why

For anyone that doesnt know: DNF means Did Not Finish. DNC is Did Not Complete. Both are essentially the same thing….the reader started a book, and had to make a decision over whether or not to finish it.

Some readers will NEVER DNF a book (see above post).  Some will DNF with various caveats. I’m in the latter camp. I havent taken a picture of my recent TBR (To Be Read) pile, but it has spread from the shelves to below and above the coffee table, several piles on the sofa and a huge pile on the bedside table. At the rate I’m reading at the moment, I dont have time to finish the books I actually enjoy, never mind the books I dont.

When I come across a book that I’m not enjoying and I’m thinking of abandoning it, I have to make a decision as to why.

  • Do I have a problem with the book itself (e.g. they way it’s written, the characters, etc)? If that’s the case, I will put in the “go somewhere else” pile and never look at it again.
  • Is the book potentially ok, and I’m currently not in the right mood for this right now?  This is always possible, and generally why I don’t prescribe a set order in which to read a book. I find this is too close to “homework” and I will instantly dislike a book that I could have loved under different circumstances and times.  Therefore the book gets put back on the shelf, to be attempted again later. Often I’ve forgotten I’ve tried that book before so I often go in “fresh” to a book!

So, dear reader, what is your stance? How do you approach a book that you are struggling with?

 

 

Historical Fiction Reading Challenge – The Results!

histfic.jpg

I found this Reading Challenge from Passages to the Past a while back, and decided that I should and could sign up. I read a lot of historical fiction, right?

I went in low with my numbers, based on my reading over the last few years and went with a Medieval level of 15 books.

Some people may argue/be surprised with my definition of “Historical” fiction, but to me “Historical Fiction” is “A book set in a period significantly earlier than the time the author was writing in”.  So if the author is writing in 2015, and sets a tale in the 1970s, then I class that as “historical”. It’s a loose definition, but I’m sticking with it.

 

A list of the books I read, with links to reviews, is as follows:

As you can see, I didn’t *quite* meet my objective of 15 Historical fiction books in the year. I will admit that I can’t actually remember when I picked up a book to read, never mind write a review. As ever I will attempt to do better in 2020!

 

 

 

 

Print Only Reading Challenge – The Results!

Print-Only-Reading-Challenge

 

2018 found me wildly missing my reading targets, whilst bringing yet more books into the house.

I needed to shift them, so I chose 2 reading challenges this year. This one covers Print Only books and is hosted by As Told By Tina. The image above is from her challenge page.

Only books that I have read that are in paper form counted for this challenge, and should tie in nicely with my other reading challenge, which is for Historical Fiction.

I went for the “2nd printing” level, which means I set myself the aim to read between 21 and 30 books in paper over the year.

The results, with links to reviews,  are as follows

 

Murder in the Museum by John Rowland

The Restaurant of Love Regained by Ito Ogawa

Master and God by Lindsey Davies

The Overman Culture by Edmund Cooper

The Ghost by Robert Harris

As you can see, I didn’t read paper books to the level I wanted, with the Bookcrossing events (going to the uncon, and looking after the shelves), and the fact I’ve signed up to the Persephone books 12 months thing, I’ve actually had more books coming in rather than going out….boo!

 

 

What I Learned from Keeping a List of Every Book I Read

This post was written as a reaction to this post over on LitHub:

 

What I Learned from Keeping a List of Every Book I Read

 

I started logging the books I read a number of years ago. For some time, I had suspected I read *a lot* but didn’t know what “a lot” meant or anything. In starting to gather some reviews together in order to start publishing my book reviews on my blog, I realised that

a) some of my posts were *appalling*

b) there was a good percentage of the books I had no memory of reading, what the plot was about or whether I liked the book beyond knowing that it was a “good read”.

So, in 2011, I started to use Goodreads and their “Reading Challenge” function (as well as optional year-read shelves), to keep a track of the books I read during a year. The first few years I challenged myself to read around the 100 book mark, but after a few years I became aware that in at least 6 weeks of the year (generally from mid-November through to New Year), I was reading short or unchallenging books in order to get my numbers up.

In trying to think back to the books I had read when I was younger (pre teen essentially) I was surprised at the books I could remember having read (and sad about the books I must have read, but don’t remember). I do remember going to the library and being “upped” to the adult lending rates early, as the librarian realised that not only was I reading the maximum child rates each week but I was understanding them (I wasn’t exactly given an exam, but I’m sure I was certainly questioned each week about what I brought back).

When it came to setting my Reading Challenge numbers in 2016, I decided that I would read what I wanted. If it meant that I only read 20 books a year (down from the 100+) then so be it.

This year (2019) I’ve not set a specific number of books, but I’ve decided to use two Reading Challenges, in part to get rid of the books in my house that have spilled out onto sofas and coffee tables. The challenges (Paper Only and Historical Fiction) are designed to get rid of a good percentage of the books that fulfill these criteria.

In realising the number of short and/or easy books I’ve been reading over several years, I’ve come to realise that I’ve lost a certain amount of critical thinking. Books I would have considered easy when I was younger I now consider “hard”….I have to do things, like remember character names, relationships etc. Gasp! This is certainly one of the reasons I’m reading a lot slower than I was before. That’s not to say the books I’ve read in previous years were *bad* (although I’ve discarded my fair share of those that were BAAAAADDDD), they were just like Krispy Kreme doughnuts  – lovely in the moment, tasty, yummy, but minutes or days later, you have to ask yourself if it was truly worth it in the long terms (yes? hahahahha).

There is the facility in Goodreads, as well as Librarything, to export your books into a huge spreadsheet, that will allow for much greater data mining. I know some people do this – I’m not there (yet).

I know that my reading over the last few years consists mainly of

  • White Western women authors
  • Writing usually about Women, presumably also white (few state otherwise)
  • With the historical books, the stories are usually about members of the *ton*, which therefore implies a certain level of education an money, even if the overarching story s about women overturning the patriarchy.

I know that my paper books are much more diverse, so by switching away from e-books, I am already expanding my reading material.  I’ve read male authors writing about male characters (ok, still white, but please bear with me); male scifi writers producing the most appalling misogynistic/sexist material (wow, I forgot that was still a trope in the 1970s); non white writers of either sex, writing about whatever.

I do expect my book reading to become more diverse n the next few years, however, I am restricted by budget and the fact that my current TBR is HUGE – I’d rather read the books that I already have (even if the selection is still relatively narrow) than pick up the current trends, only for them to be lost in all the other books I have. I will read a book because I want to read it, not because it’s fashionable or someone tells me I should.

 

So, Constant Reader, what about you – do you know what you’re reading/have been reading?

Challenge 2019: working in my Twitter

Last year I changed the way I tweeted about stuff, including my own content. Despite reading only 30 something books, and therefore posting less review posts, I actually saw an increase in traffic to my blog.

A change in how how my twitter scheduling software handled future tweets also meant that i had to actually put more thought into what I tweeted.

I have also tried to create some kind of content calendar for 2019, that might go some way to helping.

So, my general themes for 2019 are as follows (this Will change!). This does not take into account any reading challenges, Readathons or general background chatter I pick up on.

Jan – #Blogging. Last year retrospective; this year predictions; 2019 plans;

Feb – #Romance (For Valentine’s day, right? #Romance);

March/April (#SpringReads); #Blogging

May – Comics and Graphic Novels (Free Comic Book Day is 1st Saturday in May, Star Wars Day is May 4th. #Comic #GraphicNovel) ;

June/July – Summer Reads (Cos it’s #Summer!); Italy; France

August – Quilting (The FestivalOfQuilts is held in Birmingham each August. #Quilt #Sewing); #Sewing; #Needlework;

September – Golden Age Crime (Not only Agatha Christie, but Ngaio Marsh, Tey, Wilkie Collins etc. #GoldenAge, then #Poirot #Marple, #Alleyn etc); Crime related articles

October – Spooky (in time for Halloween etc) #halloween #horror #Spooky;

November/December – Christmas themed stories and articles (You know why!) #Christmas; next year predictions; last year retrospectives; summarise reading challenges etc

Anyone else want to join me? Any suggestions for topics, especially around January?

Challenge: A Change in my Twitter

For the last few years I have been setting myself yearly challenges for my blog, which I nearly achieve, but not always. One big area I want to improve on is to increase my blog and Twitter followers, increased blog page views, and better use of scheduling, hashtags etc.

Over the Christmas period I decided to mainly tweet about my Christmas themed book reviews from the last few years. I’ve not been blogging much over the last few months, but the stats have been chugging along nicely..no zero view Days!

Anyway I sat down on a Thursday in early January to auto schedule the next batch of 30 tweets and….blanked. I had several pages of draft tweets to choose from, but really couldn’t decide what to choose. I’ve been tweeting my Christmas stuff for the last two months, it’s no longer Christmas, so what should I do?

I chose to schedule nothing that day, though technically my engagement numbers would drop. Thursday afternoon I started looking at my overall stats, especially the pages that had low numbers over the last year or so. I noticed there were some themes, some of which tie into themes in the wider world. Therefore I’ve decided that I’m going to breakdown the year, and tweet reviews that seem to tie in. It’s not going to be prescriptive or anything – if I read a romance novel in September I’m not going to wait to next Feb to review it for instance, but this will help me have a soft guide as to what I should be tweeting about. I’m still struggling for January though.

Jan ; #Blogging

Feb – Romance (For Valentine’s day, right? #Romance);

March/April (#SpringReads); #Blogging

May – Comics and Graphic Novels (Free Comic Book Day is 1st Saturday in May, Star Wars Day is May 4th. #Comic #GraphicNovel) ;

June/July – Summer Reads (Cos it’s #Summer!); #Historical

August – Quilting (The FestivalOfQuilts is held in Birmingham each August. #Quilt #Sewing); #Sewing; #Needlework;

September – Gold Age Crime (Not only Agatha Christie, but Ngaio Marsh, Birmingham Library etc. #GoldenAge, then #Poirot #Marple, #Alleyn etc); Crime related articles

October – Spooky (in time for Halloween etc #Spooky);

November/December – Christmas (You know why! #Christmas)

 

Anyone else want to join me? Any suggestions for topics, especially around January?

2018 resolutions – How did I do?

At the beginning of each year, it’s traditional for me to set some resolutions around the blog, and then see how I did at the end of the year.

2018 is no different and the results are below, following each original resolution repeated in black bold.

 

Increase subscribers to this blog to 950, excluding twitter followers

Subscribers are over 900, but not to 950, so I’m getting there

Increase annual page hits to this blog (to 6500)

I’ve not done too badly in this area, considering I’ve not been posting as frequently as before. The change in tweeting does seem to have helped as my numbers are close to last year.  By the end of the year I got 5279 page views, certainly up from what  I got for 2017 (4661), but not quite to the 6500 mark.

Increase twitter followers to @brumnordie (to 950)

Not quite there, but I have increased followers to over 770 (it’s still wobbling a little). Also, in October, I decided to revive the @BXBrum twitter account.  After the Bookcrossing unconvention in Ipswich and the general unspoken belief by many that we’re losing members at both meetings and uncons, I decided to try and do my piece, and at least let people know about things and maybe have some new members come along. Between October and December I increased followers to BXBrum from 120 to over 180.

Read and review 60 books. 50% to be paperbooks or audiobooks. I wont do a specific challenge this year – I did pretty badly last time I did one, so I wont set myself up to fail this time!

Not there again this year at 32, but I have certainly had a better ratio of paper books

Get my Netgalley ratio into the 70% range (from 63%).

Not quite there, but up to 65% – few books requested, more books reviewed!

To aid in reading the books that I already have there will be a moratorium on requesting books from Netgalley or LibraryThing, and reviewing books I already have!

I’ve certainly cut down on my requests from Netgalley, and stopped requesting all together from Librarything. I did continue to request a couple of books from Netgalley, usually from authors I had read before. The majority of books were read within 3 months of requesting and my review rate has moved up slightly to 65%.

A change in iPad allowed me to go down my list of books and send down only Netgalley books. Therefore every time I read an ebook, it should be a Netgalley book.

Post at least once a week

Nope, didn’t happen.  Sometimes it would be several weeks without a post.

Make use of sharing with Facebook groups as appropriate.

I found several groups, such as “Undervalued English Women” and “First edition” and took part – even shared!

Make better use of twitter, including the analytics, scheduling content.

Ok, partway through the year, I decided to change tack slightly and be more targeted in my content. So: December was Christmas, Feb was Romance, May was comics etc.  It did show that I am lacking in content for some of the subjects, which was interesting.  I might try this again next year.

Also, Hootsuite has changed the way it does its drafts several times this year, and the second time made me bite the bullet and create tweets in a spreadsheet, with options for subjects. So I can narrow down content based on whether it’s a Romance, Crime or Comic Book etc.

Take part in twitter chats such as #Blogtacular #bookbloggers etc

Blogtacular seemed to have died in terms of regular twitter chats, and the move to Facebook hasn’t been the success Kat wanted.

I’ve also started building up a content and twitter schedule, with details of various conversations through the week or the month.

Ensure about and contact details are maintained and up to date.

After an unsolicited generic review request, I tidied up my About and review policy pages. I even wrote a post about it!

Make use of scheduling and planning software as appropriate.

See above regards to the scheduling software.

Take part in blogging challenges, such as Bloggiesta, as and when I remember!

ArmchairBEA didn’t happen this year, and Bloggiesta have had issues as well, so this didn’t really happen.

Look to do more non book related posts – get out into Birmingham more and write about stuff! This includes stuff at the museums etc.

I did go out more, but didn’t blog about it – when I started writing about it, I found it difficult to write a blog post about it. Reviews went on TripAdvisor instead!

Do more posts about sewing, my cross stitch and quilting in particular. I’m not putting numbers on this.

I didn’t do the quilt show this year, but did take photos of Wips, shared them, and did tweet a lot about sewing

Comment more on other people’s blogs – I’m not going to put a number on this as it’ll be a nightmare to track. Just “do more”.

No numbers, but I have tried to do at least as much as I did last year

Release more books via Bookcrossing, either in OBCZs or via RABCKs

This is something I definitely did. I went to the Uncon, took possession of the bookshelf in the office, moved books around at meets, and took charge of the BXBrum twitter account. The Bookcrossing site has also had a facelift, making things easier to use on mobile devices, and it has given me the excuse to check out and promote some forums.

Start making my own media (photos etc) and make use of them in posts

Not only did I take more photos, but I also used more in my posts!