Musing Mondays: Borrowing books

musing_mondaysAfter an entire weekend stranded on my couch with the flu, I’m still sticking around the house today . . . trying to make sure I have my strength back before I head to work. But what a bummer of a free weekend! I guess I should just be glad I’m somewhat vertical and keeping down food.

But down to business! Here’s this week’s question:

Do you have a system for borrowing out books from the library? Do you know what you’re going to borrow before you get there? How often do you borrow out books?

I hate to admit it, but I actually haven’t borrowed anything from the public library in a solid . . . ten years? When I was in college, I took out texts and novels from the university library but since those weren’t for fun, they probably don’t count for this question.

So since I really don’t borrow books, my answer to this question is incredibly dull! I do procure books through BookMooch, which feels a bit like “borrowing” since I’m getting my novels from someone else. But obviously I keep them — or send them back on their journey with another Moocher. Maybe I could resolve to borrow more this year? It would certainly save me money!

Musing Mondays: Recommendations

musing_mondays Back to work and everyday life now! Here’s this week’s question:

How often do you recommend books to others, and who do you recommend them to? Do you only recommend books to your “reading friends” or to anyone you think might find the book interesting? What does it take for a book to make it to your “recommendation” list?

I would say I recommend books pretty frequently — to others online and through my blog; at LibraryThing; on BookMooch . . . and then to all the folks I see every day, like my friends, family and coworkers. My sister and I have pretty similar tastes in fiction, so I usually put all of the books I’ve read and loved into a stack for her. My coworkers are also book lovers, so I usually recommend good fiction I’ve come across or grab a book or two for my friends’ children when I can.

I don’t recommend books exclusively to my bookish friends — anytime I chat with someone and can think of a book I know they’ll like, I usually tell them about it. It’s a blessing and a curse. Just this past weekend I told a cousin about Scared of Santa — a photo collection of children screaming and crying on Santa’s lap. My little cousins DJ and Lane weren’t so big on Santa this year! Maybe next year!

For a book to make my “recommendation” list, especially when I used to work at a bookstore, I had to have really felt something about it. If it’s fiction, it has to be one of those books you think about a long time after the cover has been closed and the book slapped up on a shelf. The sorts of characters that seem to peer over your shoulder while you’re typing, whispering advice in your ear or sharing a good story, are the novels I tell others about. In terms of nonfiction, I usually base my opinions on what friends and family have told me — and I would listen closely to the recommendations of customers, actually. If I didn’t have a lot of experience in a particular subject matter, I would recommend books based on what other folks were telling me about them — they’re tear-jerkers, too serious, really funny, etc. The system worked pretty well!

Musing Mondays: Books under the tree

musing_mondays The week of Christmas! I’m so excited. Here’s this week’s question:

In these last few days before Christmas, I’m sure there are plenty of us scrambling to get our last minute shopping done. Are you buying any books for friends or family (or even yourself)? Do you expect to receive any bookish gifts from others — books, or book-related?

I’ve definitely purchased quite a few books for family and friends this year, partly because I always buy books as gifts and partly because I was trying to do my part to help the publishing industry. I can’t divulge any gift secrets, unfortunately, but suffice it to say I think everyone will be pretty happy with their book presents this year! And I absolutely hope to get books myself. I dropped quite a few hints with my sister and hope she came through getting a certain hardcover I’ve been pining over . . . all will be revealed on Thursday!

Musing Mondays: Reading on the go

musing_mondays Another fresh Monday! Here’s this week’s question:

I always like to have a book with me at all times –- call it a nerdy grown-up security blanket –- and rarely do I leave the house without slipping one into my bag (even if I KNOW I’m not going to have a chance to read it). Do you take a book with you? Do you take whatever book you’re currently reading, or do you have a special on-the-go book? And do you have a preference for a these types of book (paperback, hardback; short stories; poetry, etc.)?

I now work about ten minutes from home (yes, it is glorious!) so I don’t typically have to worry about being stuck in traffic, downtime while I’m commuting, etc., and I usually don’t get a chance to read on my lunch break. That being said, I do typically have some sort of book with me — even if it’s just a recipe book! I often slip in my current read, almost always a paperback, in case I run out and get lunch by myself. Just knowing the book is there makes me feel a lot better! And when I’m working at the bookstore, I always have a book with me. When I was spending most evenings there, I usually left an ARC in my car just to be read on my breaks at work. It was amazing how quickly I could actually get through them that way!

Musing Mondays: Planning ahead

musing_mondays A chilly Monday here in Maryland! Here’s this week’s question:

How long do you wait after finishing a book before you pick/start another one? How many books do you have planned ahead or do you pick up random books from your tbr pile (if you have one)? Do you review right away or keep reading and come back to it later?

I’m pretty obsessive-compulsive about this — I always have another book lined up to be read. Typically I set down the book I’ve most recently finished and immediately pick up the next one, usually a novel I’ve set aside for the express purpose of reading it as soon as I’m finished with my current book! My TBR stack is pretty massive, and I typically “categorize” them according to my moods. If I’ve read a pretty heavy book, I’ll usually head to the stack to look for something a little more fun and light. I usually plan ahead for the next three books or so, and then leave the rest up to fate!

When reviewing, I typically blog and update my info on LibraryThing the day after finishing a book. It’s something I love to do, so I don’t put it off! By that point I will have almost always started the next novel, but the continuity of it all is partially what makes it so fun!

Musing Mondays: Holiday habits

musing_mondays It’s Monday again! Here’s this week’s question:

With the holiday season now upon us, how does it affect your reading? Do you have more, or less, time to read at Christmas? Do you read Christmas themed/related books?

As life gets busier and busier, I actually find myself making even more time to read lately. Reading is always my way to escape everyday worries or troubles, or just a way for me to jump in and experience someone else’s life for a while. And now that the Christmas tree is up and looking pretty in the living room, it’s the perfect spot to sit with my mug of tea and work my way through a good novel!

I wouldn’t say I read anything special at Christmas, though a recent holiday-themed book I’ve enjoyed is Laurie Notaro’s An Idiot Girl’s Christmas: True Tales From The Naughty List. Notaro is a genius! She’s one of the few writers I’ve found that can literally make me do a spit-take while reading. Maybe this year I’ll try to track down another classic to read as a special project around Dec. 25. Something about cold air and warm blankets make me want to hunker down with a classic work of literature — perhaps a re-reading of Jane Eyre? Or maybe I’ll just press on with my out-of-control TBR stack . . . here’s to trying!

Musing Mondays: OMG Twilight!

musing_mondays This week’s Musing Mondays question from its new home at Just One More Page:

How do you feel about wide-spread reading phenomenons — Harry Potter, for instance, or the more current Twilight Saga? Are these books so widely read for a reason, or merely fads or crazes? Do you feel compelled to read — or NOT to read — these books because everyone else is?

Well, how incredibly topical is this?! Especially since I’m still riding ridiculously high from my Twilight-filled weekend (much more to come on that later, either to your joy or dismay).

I’ll be the first one to tell you I don’t usually jump in with the hype. Even when practically everyone I knew was reading the Harry Potter series — including my dad and sister — I stubbornly refused to read them, even though I never stopped hearing good things about them. My only rationale was that I didn’t “like” that type of book, and I thought, stupidly, they were just for children. I actually read the entire series last summer — books one through seven, all in a row — beginning around April and ending last September, after Deathly Hallows came out. I initially started reading them as we were gearing up for the midnight release party of book seven last July at my bookstore job; I wanted to be excited like everyone else was. And once I started reading them, pushing straight through, I loved it. I felt silly that I’d put it off for so long.


The same is (mostly) true of Twilight — I’d heard customers buzzing about the series randomly over the past few years, but never paid much attention. I don’t typically read anything with a science fiction / fantasy / mystery slant, and all anyone had to do was say the word “vampire” and I was out. But as we got ready for the midnight release of Breaking Dawn in August — and I found myself as mistress of ceremonies once again — I wanted to be excited about the release and be able to discuss the books with customers. So I bought Twilight around June, hunkered down with all three books and read and read and read. Then, of course, I got to wait around for the fourth and final book with everyone else — although I waited considerably less time. And I loooooved them (OMG EDWARD CULLEN! lol lol), despite the fact that I wasn’t necessarily in the targeted “age bracket” anymore. (And for the record, I have several good friends in their forties and fifties who have read and adored the series, too!)

To some extent, I guess these books are “fads” — just in the way that popular things can only stay popular for so long. I don’t believe the Twilight Saga has the staying power that the Harry Potter franchise does, mostly because Twilighters are a certain demographic (women) and Harry Potter appeals more to both genders. Plus, they’re just much better written with much more dynamic, interesting plots (sorry, Stephenie Meyer). But Twilight had a dramatic pull for me — something absolutely compelled me to read like the wind, dying to figure out the fate of, basically, two star-crossed lovers. There’s an emotional element to them that surprised me. I know many people don’t agree, but that’s what’s great about art — we all draw from it what we want to draw. And though the books can only fly off the shelves for so long before something new breaks in and draws the attention away, readers will continue to discover these book series long after we’ve stopped hearing about them daily.