Musing Mondays: Re-reads

musing_mondaysHere’s this week’s question:

Have you ever finished a book, then turned around and immediately re-read it? Why? What book(s)?

Of all the awesome books I’ve read lately, I can’t say I’ve re-read a book at any point — other than for school. Many times I’ve finished a book and thought about everything that happened in the beginning — all of the signs I might have missed, the clues that were there and I just couldn’t see — and wanted to read it again, but I have so many books that I haven’t been able to justify doing that!

Some books I’ve loved so much — like the Harry Potter series — I’ve wanted to go back to the beginning and start anew, if only just to experience them all over again. But again, I’ve neglected to do so! Once to slim down my TBR stack, I’d like to return to some of those beloved series. If only!

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Musing Mondays: Reading re-cap

musing_mondays Here’s this week’s question:

Coming towards the end of April, we’re a third of the way through the way through the year. What’s the favourite book you’ve read so far in 2009? What about your least favourite?

Wow! So far this year, I’ve read 26 books. In order to successfully complete my personal goal of 105 books read for the 100+ Reading Challenge, I need to have 36 books read by the end of this month to stay on target. Considering that would mean reading 10 books over the next two weeks, I’m going to say . . . I’ll need to play catch-up over the summer!

maladies1Though it’s a hard call, my favorite book read so far in ’09 has to be Jhumpa Lahiri’s Interpreter of Maladies [review here]. I’m absolutely in love with her writing. It’s so magical, lyrical and gorgeous, and I walk away from each of her books feeling changed. The Namesake, her first novel, gets the award for “favorite book ever, ever.” I have Unaccustomed Earth waiting patiently to be read . . . and I’m saving it, maybe for the plane ride to London.

My runner-up for best book read so far? Markus Zusak’s The Book Thief [review here], followed closely by Katherine Center’s Everyone Is Beautiful [review here]. All very different — all very awesome!

My least favorite book read thus far isn’t quite so hard to choose: definitely Laurie Gwen Shapiro’s The Anglophile [review here]. I went into it with such high hopes and was desperately disappointed by the flimsy characterization and pretty much hated the main character. I feel bad — I don’t want to bash the book. Honestly. But it was . . . awful.

Runner-up for book I really just wanted to quit reading but couldn’t? Beverly Jenkins’s Bring On the Blessings [review here]. Moments of okay-ness, but mostly just bor-ing. It was a review copy, so I tried to be as constructive and complimentary as possible . . . while still realizing I couldn’t praise the book without outlining my major problems with it. I guess that’s the making of a good book review right there!

Musing Mondays: Commenting back

musing_mondays Here’s this week’s question:

How do you respond to the comments on your blog? Do you try to email individually or comment on posts yourself answering the comments above? What do you think is the best way to respond to comments and do you respond to all of them? Do you feel slighted if you don’t receive a response back from the blog owner? (question courtesy of Jenn)

I don’t respond to all comments on my blog — nor do I think people want me to! I love getting feedback and enjoy reading the thoughts and responses of others, but I don’t think each comment warrants a response from me. I always respond to questions, though — and I generally do that by replying on the post. If something is private or I would rather not broadcast my answer on a post, I just drop them an e-mail. No fuss, no muss!

There’s no “right” or “wrong” way to respond to comments, I don’t think. Thankfully I’ve never had to deal with any nasty or rude comments (thanks, all you nice folks!) but if I did, I would probably email them privately rather than start some kind of firestorm in the comments section. I guess that’s the “right” way to handle it. But if they’re saying something erroneous or unkind and you feel the need to publicly comment back, I think that’s cool, too. I know that happens often on blogs — “anonymous” commenters pop in and think they can say whatever they want and disappear. Um, not so much. The blog owner definitely has a right to speak on the issue, too.

And no, I don’t feel slighted if I don’t get a response back from the blog owner. I know we’re all very busy people! Like many folks, I have a full-time job and blog in my “free time.” No worries!

Musing Mondays: Oh, that TBR mess

musing_mondays Here’s this week’s question:

As a follow up to last week’s question, Joseph asked how you keep track of your TBR list. Do you have a paper list or on your computer? Do you take it with you when you go shopping? How do you decide what gets added to it?

My TBR stack, circa February '09. It's now... bigger.

My TBR stack, circa February '09. It's now... bigger.

Oh my! I’d love to say there’s an absolute method to my TBR madness, but that may not be true. I mean, I do have some steps in place . . . like, say, reading a ton of blogs, looking for books that appeal to me and then adding them to my BookMooch wishlist. This usually works pretty well! It’s in a list format, which I love, and it’s easy for me to see if something I want will become available that way. BookMooch just tells me.

But many newer books are hard to get your hands on, so I typically put those on a separate list in BookMooch — my “saved for later.” I scout around LibraryThing, too, and check out what might appeal to me based on the recommendations of other users. That’s really how I find my books! I just listen for and read recommendations online, and talk books faithfully with friends and coworkers.

When I go shopping for books in the ol’ brick-and-mortar stores, I usually do take a little snippet of paper with some of those TBR titles on it — though I’m more likely to just go in looking for one book, take a coupon and be on my way! I’m known to grab books on a whim, though, based on cover art and/or the synopsis. I’m pretty bad about that, actually. Before I buy a book, I really try to do some research on it . . . checking it out on blogs, reading reviews on LibraryThing or Amazon. But every now and then, a book just speaks to me from one of the little themed tables at Borders! And I’ve found some great literature that way. Probably things I would have never chosen had I really thoroughly “researched” them, but books I love all the same!

And as you can see above, once something is officially added to my TBR stack — when the book is in my hot little hands — it just goes in the stack. There’s no rhyme or reason to the stack . . . I have too little room to actually organize it. At one point, I was trying to put quality paperbacks on the left and mass markets on the right, but that soon became too much to keep up with. Now, I just throw the next batch on top and pray it doesn’t topple over!

Musing Mondays: Keeping track

musing_mondays Here’s this week’s question:

Do you keep track of what and/or how many books you read? How long have you been doing this? What’s your favorite tracking method, and why? If you don’t keep track, why not?

I never kept track of anything I read until I started blogging! And even up until this year, I was pretty loose about it. I have an account at LibraryThing that I update religiously, but I didn’t really have constructed lists of books until I started completing reading challenges in 2009.

Now, I update my master “reviews” list here at write meg! — and since I review each book I read, that’s a great way to keep up with all of my literary accomplishments! And I’ve gone back and updated my LT account to reflect everything major I’ve read in the past ten years or so — basically the books about which I can remember the actual plots, central themes, characters, etc. from high school and college.

Since I have such list OCD in the rest of my life, it doesn’t really shock me that I can get pretty anal about it all! LibraryThing satisfies that desperate need I have to categorize everything. I can add the date on which I received the book, the dates I started reading and finished it, and then private notes about the subject, too. And I love that can “tag” everything — and see just how obsessed I am with England (24 of 134 books), young adult reading (22 books) or books on first love (19 books) and family dynamics (49 books). An excellent system!

Musing Mondays: Talking to strangers

musing_mondays Here’s this week’s question:

We were all warned as children to ‘never talk to strangers’, but how do you feel about book-talk with random people? When you see people reading, do you ask what it is? Do you talk to people in the bookstore or the library? Why or why not? What do you do if people talk to you?

When answering this week’s excellent question, I’m going to pretend that I haven’t worked at a bookstore off and on for years! Because there, I’m paid to talk to strangers about books (pretty great, most of the time!).

When I’m a “civilian” (ha!) walking around a bookstore, I will often ask strangers what they’re reading — unless they seem totally engrossed in the book and not open to conversation. Most of the time folks are just browsing around, maybe skimming through a novel or checking out the back cover. If it’s something I’ve read and enjoyed, I’ll usually feel compelled to tell them that — which might be annoying! I hope not. But very rarely does anyone seem unwilling to chat. I think most book people love other book people! We love to talk about books, so why not share the joy?

If I pass a friend or coworker reading, I’ll almost always stop and ask them about their book. In fact, I just had a very long conversation with a coworker about thrillers! I’m not into the mystery genre, but I just might be changing that. I’m open-minded! And some of them sound pretty interesting.

Of course, on the flip side, I don’t mind at all if people talk to me at bookstores or at work — I love reading so much, I sit around and blog about it! It’s not a problem. I love getting suggestions and recommendations, and hearing about stories other people have loved. I’m constantly adding to the TBR disaster in my room and can’t hear enough about great new books. So keep on talking to strangers!

Musing Mondays: New authors

musing_mondays Here’s this week’s question:

What is your policy when it comes to new authors? Do you feel comfortable purchasing a book or do you prefer to borrow new authors from the library? How often do you ‘try out’ a new author?

I have absolutely no problem trying out new authors! In fact, sometimes I prefer them. Some established writers, particularly in chick lit and romance, seem to get a bit formulaic (yes, Danielle Steel, I’m talking to you). This is certainly not at all true of many writers, but sometimes I just like to check out a new writing style or get lost in a totally different, unique plot. When I’m browsing for new books and authors to read, I usually look at cover art (I know, I know) and spend a good deal of time reading the book’s synopsis and first few pages. I don’t really pay attention whether or not I’ve heard of them, unless it’s one of my personal favorites: Meg Cabot, Jhumpa Lahiri, Laurie Notaro, Sarah Dessen, etc. And then I’ll probably buy the book regardless!

Since I don’t borrow books from the library, what I’ll usually do with authors about whom I don’t know much is get their work through BookMooch rather than shell out $10 at Borders. I do my usual research online to learn more about the author, but ultimately grab their book used to start. I have tons of books in my TBR stack from “new” authors, or authors with just one or two published works. And of the others waiting to be read, most are new to me! So that counts in a way too, I think.