First Reading Challenge 2020

I like doing reading challenges, but because I already have so many Writing Goals for this year, I was hesitant to take on a really difficult or time-consuming one. I needed a challenge that isn’t too challenging, if you know what I mean. But also I didn’t want to cheat and choose one that didn’t take me out of my comfort zone at all.

Enter Ramona Mead and her 2020 While I was Reading Challenge. Here’s Ramona’s take on this challenge:

My goal is to create categories that are challenging and personalized, yet not too difficult as to be extremely limiting or frustrating. I stuck with 12 categories to keep it realistic and accessible to people with less reading time than myself!

That sounded perfect. There’s also a Facebook Group and a Goodreads Group if I decide I want to engage with other participants.

CONTINUE READING

Slumping and Pleaping

What’s the opposite of a slump? This blogger needs to know. Because for the past month, I’ve been in a Reading Slump, but a Writing – something else. The opposite. I looked up antonyms for “slump” but it wasn’t helpful: ascent, increase, rise, success, blessing… none of them work.

So, in order to say what I want to say, I’m hereby inventing a new word. If it’s good enough for Shakespeare, it’s good enough for me. From this moment onwards, the opposite of “slump” shall be “pleap” (peak level of enthusiasm and productivity). There. Problem solved.

Now, on with this post. Friends, I have been in a reading slump. In the entire month of September, I read two and a half books. TWO. AND A HALF. If you’re interested, here they are, with my ratings.

CONTINUE READING

Names and Labels

I’ve taken the title of this post from one of the chapters of Madeleine L’Engle’s book Walking on Water: Reflections on Faith and Art.

L’Engle makes a distinction between naming something or someone, and labelling them. Naming, she says, gives us wholeness and freedom to be who we are; labelling reduces us, controls us, limits us. “If we are pigeonholed and labelled we are unnamed.”

CONTINUE READING

Guilty Reader Book Tag

Today I’m doing my first book tag. This one’s been going around for a while and I don’t know who started it, but if you do, tell me in the comments and I’ll acknowledge them. There are ten questions about bookish habits that might cause feelings of guilt. This could be embarrassing!

  • Have you ever re-gifted a book you’ve been given?

Yes, if I know I won’t read it or won’t read it again. I always hang onto them for a while before re-gifting, but if I think someone else will enjoy the book, I’ll pass it on. Whether I’ll tell the gifter or not depends on whether I think it would hurt their feelings, but I don’t feel guilty about it. It would never bother me if someone re-gifted a book I’d given them – pass the books around, I say. Guilt level: zero.

  • Have you ever said you’ve read a book when you haven’t?

Okay, second question, first twinge of guilt. I did this quite a lot in college. I minored in literature, but I really didn’t like many of the books chosen by my lecturers. I always started them, but the ones I truly hated, I gave up on quite quickly and bluffed my way through tutorials and assignments with the help of summaries and Cliff Notes. I never actually lied and said I had read the book, but I certainly implied it. I haven’t done it since, promise. Guilt level: 😞

  • Have you ever borrowed a book and not returned it?

Yes, once, and it still haunts me twenty years later. I was taking a pottery class and I borrowed an expensive coffee table book about Japanese pottery techniques from an acquaintance, who has probably never lent a book to anyone ever again. I didn’t steal it on purpose – I just took a long time to get around to reading it and by then we had lost touch. She had moved to another town and I never found her again. This was before we all had mobile phones, you understand. I couldn’t even remember her last name. I kept that book for years – a silent accusation staring at me from my bookshelves – hoping the rightful owner might get in touch (she had my home phone number, but perhaps she lost it in the move?) Finally, I realised it was never going to happen and I donated it to a charity shop. Guilt level: 😞😞😞

CONTINUE READING THIS POST

How to Make me Pick up Your Book, Part Two

PART 2: GIVE ME THE PERFECT JOB

Once we’re past the cover (See PART 1: I’M A COVER GIRL) we get to meet the protagonist or The Main Character. I’m not fussy about the gender or age or even species of the Main Character, but I do want to know how they occupy their time, professionally or otherwise. If your Main Character performs one of these jobs, I’m much more likely to be interested in reading your book:

DETECTIVE

Yes, give me a good sleuth, professional or amateur, and I’ll give them a chance to dazzle me with their crime-solving abilities. But I’ll be sleuthing too, so don’t make them either too stupid or impossibly smart. Ideally, they should solve the mystery about half a page after I do. And please make your detective an individual rather than a copy of a hundred others. No more hard-bitten, hard-drinking, overweight, divorced middle-aged men, please. Please. Instead, give me an old lady in a care home, a child genius, a sentient spaceship. Here are two very different detectives that made me read every one of their cases:

HERCULE POIROT (from numerous novels and short stories by the inimitable Agatha Christie)

Well, naturally, mon ami. Poirot is quirky, sometimes absurd, but brilliant without cheating. His inspired guesses always have logic behind them.

CONTINUE READING THIS POST

How to Make Me Pick up Your Book

PART 1: I’M A COVER GIRL

What makes you excited to read a book? Is it the title, the author, the synopsis, the reviews? Maybe all of those things. But perhaps I’m just shallow, because the first thing that makes me say to myself, “I want to read that” is the cover. Yep, give me a cover I love and I’ll pick up your book. What do I love to see on that cover? I’m glad you asked.

Dear Author, if you want me to notice your book, put one of these on the cover..

Continue reading “How to Make Me Pick up Your Book”