I’ll admit it: I have a tendency to overspend on books. I buy books impulsively after reading a recommendation on Instagram or seeing it on a listicle of new books. This led to me reading some great books in 2018 from a variety of small presses, but it also keeps filling up my shelves with books that I’m not committed to reading anytime soon. I’m not going so far as to drastically KonMari my book collection, but I am rethinking my book buying habits this year—both because shelf space is low and because freelancing full time doesn’t leave a lot of wiggle room in the budget.
My goal is to buy books more intentionally while still allowing myself to read widely, buy new releases, and stay up-to-date on the book market. Here’s how I’m buying books in 2019.
Summer: It’s too hot to exercise outside, and it’s also too busy to curl up with piles of books indoors in the sweet, sweet central air conditioning of our new apartment. I’ll admit: I’ve been in a bit of a reading slump. Or maybe it’s more like a reading slowdown. And admittedly, I haven’t been writing blog posts or book reviews, either. So before you start asking, “What have you even been doing all summer?” (hint: so much work), here’s what I’ve been reading in summer 2018.
I’ve always been a quick reader, but recently, I’ve been thinking about how fast I really do read. You see, I post about books on my Instagram account, and recently, people have asked me how quickly I read or how I have time to read all the books I post about. Continue reading
At the beginning of February, I challenged myself to read selections from one lit mag every day for the entire month. As with most goals, I didn’t end up reading lit mags *every* day, but I did read a sampling. Here’s what I learned from this reading challenge: Continue reading
Such Small Hands by Andrés Barba is a haunting novel about a little girl, Marina, who is sent to an orphanage after her parents die in a car crash that she survived. The other girls at the orphanage, however, aren’t so welcoming. They want to love her, but cannot; Marina wants to be accepted by them, but isn’t. Barba explores the inability to communicate and the heightened reality of childhood as his characters cannot break out of their fated roles and barrel on toward inevitable tragedy. It’s a short book at 97 pages, but the prose, mood, and intense characterization gripped me long after I put it down. Continue reading
I have a confession to make: Since November, I’ve been regularly submitting the few pieces of my writing that are polished enough to send into the world to lit mags. But rarely, so rarely, have I actually…read…lit mags.
It’s terrible. Around 75 percent of lit mag submission guidelines suggest that writers read the magazine to get an idea of what the editors like. This makes sense. But I haven’t done it.
I have no excuses, really. I like reading, I intend to support lit mags, and I want to find the best places for my writing.
So I’ve decided that in February, it’s time to actually read lit mags. Continue reading
Bookstores are my weakness, and quite unfortunately, I was recently subjected to several tempting multi-level, well-stocked London bookstores. Reader, it was terrible. As I threw more and more books into my arms (and eventually into shopping baskets), I tried to think of some constraints to narrow down which books I would allow myself to buy. I decided upon a few rules to guide my British book buying:
- I could buy books that weren’t available in the United States yet.
- I could buy books that had sucky U.S. editions but fabulous U.K. editions.
- I could buy books that were significantly cheaper in the United Kingdom than the American Amazon prices.
- I was required to buy the complete volumes of Roald Dahl’s short stories, because gah.
Almost everyone says the same thing about books you don’t finish: Just move on. Read something better, read something that’s more engaging. But for some reason, I stubbornly want to finish books that I’ve started.
If I start a book, I want to finish it so I can either write a review of what I didn’t like or be pleasantly surprised when the book improves as I read. And if I’ve gone to the trouble of buying a book and spent time reading it, it seems like a waste of time and money to abandon it.
Despite good intentions, I abandoned several books in 2017. Here are 10 books I didn’t finish last year: Continue reading