The Sunday Salon – Reading Habits

Two things last week got me thinking about my reading habits — the Friday BBAW question and a post by Eva at A Striped Armchair.  BBAW asked about your blogging goals for the coming year and Eva was talking about reading on a whim.

I consider myself a whim reader and by that I mean I pick what I want to read based on what I feel like reading not on a structured plan.  Even when I’m participating in challenges I manage to find a way to ignore any sort of plan I’ve put in place and pick my next book randomly.  The last few days I’ve been thinking about why I do this and I can come up with no reason for it.  Normally, I’m a very organized person who loves to make lists and have everything in a certain order, and while I do make reading lists, I don’t have any prescribed way of reading the books on the list.  Even when it’s a book I’ve been wanting to read, I sometimes leave it until I’m feeling it more.

Here’s the good thing in all of this; I think this is what keep reading fun for me.  I’m always looking forward to something new and not knowing what that is, makes it fun.  Hardly do I ever think about the next book I’m going to be reading while reading, unless of course the book is bad, scary, or sad in which case I might make an effort to be sure the next pick is something more uplifting, but other than that, I don’t go out of my way to think about it.

On the right sidebar, I have a widget for the next book on my TBR and I realized earlier this week that it’s pretty much useless to me.  You see, I pick those books at random from a pile sitting on the little table next to the desk.  In some cases, the books I have there never get read. It was just a book on the pile and for that moment looked interesting. Sometimes I do read the books but sometimes I don’t.

In some ways, I have similar feelings about my blog.  I love doing this and BBAW gave me a humongous list of new blogs to visit, but I randomly take days off and don’t feel guilty about it in anyway.  My goals were, and remain, pretty simple — just to talk about my book reading.  I’m trying to keep it that way and I know it will stay fun.

So, the wrap-up.  Last week, I read:

Dracula in Love by Karen Essex.

Packing for Mars: The Curious Science of Life in the Void by Mary Roach

The Last Kingdom by Bernard Cornwell

Dracula in Love was meh, Packing for Mars was fascinating and gross, and The Last Kingdom I’ll be finishing up today and it confirmed my love of everything Cornwell writes.

That’s it for today folks.  Enjoy your Sunday.

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BBAW Wednesday—Unexpected Treasure

We invite you to share with us a book or genre you tried due to the influence of another blogger.  What made you cave in to try something new and what was the experience like?

I don’t read a lot of non-fiction, but this year, thanks to a few books I’ve seen around, I have been.  For me, reading is more of an escape and a form of relaxation and that’s the reason I don’t pick up much non-fiction in general.  This year though I’ve been finding myself reading more than just my regular fiction and that’s due to some book bloggers who gushed over books that I may not have ever thought to even look at.

Some of the non-fiction that I read this year:

The Whale: In Search of Giants of the Sea by Philip Hoare

The Far Traveler: Voyages of a Viking Woman by Nancy Marie Brown

The Shipwreck that Saved Jamestown: The Sea Venture Castaways and the Fate of America by Lorri Glover and Daniel Blake Smith

Life in Medieval France by E.R. Chamberlin

I’m also planning to read a book about the Anglo-Saxons too.  I saw a show on the National Geographic Channel about this man in England who found a Saxon hoard with a metal detector and now I’m fascinated by Saxon gold, the lifestyle, and history.  Right now I’m reading Packing for Mars: The Curious Science of Life in the Void by Mary Roach which is both fascinating and gross.  Yep, geek is showing but I’m OK with that today.

I read a lot of historical fiction and I usually end up googling people and places after I finish, especially if it’s a book I enjoyed.  I think I read more non-fiction than I think I do in that manner but when I step into a bookstore, the first place I don’t end up is in the non-fiction section, unless it’s cookbooks and I don’t count those.  I hope to add a lot more non-fiction to my reading list next year, thanks to the help of a few bloggers.

BBAW Monday – First Treasure

As today is the first day of BBAW, I thought I’d take a minute to participate in the first topic:

First Treasure — We invite you to share with us about a great new book blog you’ve discovered since BBAW last year!  If you are new to BBAW or book blogging, share with us the very first book blog you discovered.  Tell us why this blog rocks your socks off and why you keep going back for more.

I started Just Book Reading a few weeks before BBAW last year, but thanks to that lovely week, I managed to find several new blogs to read and some great resources to help me out.  I have a few favorites that I started reading before I decided to start my own blog and those are the few I’m going to highlight here.

I found Devourer of Books one day when I was cruising around looking for some reviews, and when I was done reading, had a massive number of books to add to my list.  Jen does a great job of writing incredibly concise reviews and I always know at the end of the review if the book is for me or not.

I love historical fiction and the Medieval Bookworm was a natural fit for me. Meghan’s writing is wonderful and she captures the essence of the book so well.  Even if it’s a book that isn’t for me, I still enjoy reading her reviews.

At Home With Books features books that I like to read and I think that’s the reason I love reading Alyce’s reviews.  Each time I stop by I always find something to add to my list.

Marg at The Adventures of an Intrepid Reader is always reading something interesting and I have to say that I love the little snippets about Australian life that she infused her blog with.

Over the last year, I’ve added a lot of blogs to my regular must read list including: The Literary Omnivore, The Crowded Leaf, Jenny’s Books, alita.reads, A Striped Armchair, Puss Reboots, and…I am going to stop there or I will go on listing everything I read and boring you all.

I thought I would wrap up by sharing a funny thing about the name of my blog.  When I decided to stake my blog claim I picked the name — Just a Book Reader — which I was very happy with.  It left me a bit of anonymity and I felt it described me pretty well.  After all, I was just a book reader…well, one with lots of opinions but one just the same.  A day later, and a Google search later, it turns out that there was another blog out there with that name.  It was defunct but I still felt weird about it so I shortened the name to Just Book Reading because it was close to the original name and easy enough to change without jumping through too many hoops.  And, thus, that is how I became Just Book Reading.  What I learned was to get my Google fu on before setting my heart on a name without a more thorough search.  Will not happen again.  So there you have it, true confessions.

Happy BBAW!

Meh, it’s Monday, BUT Book Blogger Appreciation Week Begins!

I meant to get up early yesterday and write a Sunday Salon about my meh week of reading but decided to do laundry instead (there were many reason that laundry become the overriding thing to do yesterday) and then sat down and read all day instead of writing.  There was also some beer drinking and football watching later in the evening, which brings me to Monday…

Let’s start with what I read last week:

Esperanza by Trish J. MacGregor

The Mosaic of Shadows by Tom Haper

Dracula in Love by Karen Essex

And why it was meh:

I had very high hopes for Esperanza.  It’s set in Ecuador, features ghosts, and looked like an all around great read.  It wasn’t bad but didn’t thrill me the way I expected it to.  I loved the mythology behind the ghosts (in the book they’re referred to as brujos which is a reference to South American witchcraft) and it worked so well in the story.  Thick backs of fog to hide the ghosts, mythical cities, and a country full of folklore were part of the allure.  The problem was really one of execution I guess.  While I was interested the whole time, there were a few places that made me stop and wonder if I had missed something because the story went off in strange ways.  For instance, at some point the story time travels and I have nothing against time travel, it just felt like a wha??? moment.  I was willing with the ghosts that want to possess people but not so willing with the time travel.  Why couldn’t we just stick with the ghosts?

The Mosaic of Shadows had a perfect setting, Byzantium, a mystery which I was willing to accept under the guise of historical fiction, and some interesting characters.  It states very clearly on the cover that it’s a Byzantium mystery but it wasn’t much of a mystery for me but that didn’t disappoint at all since I’m not a mystery person anyway, but somewhere along the way, it fell flat.  I finished but even though the ending was exciting, I couldn’t really get into it.  Not sure why.  This book is the first in a series but I don’t know if I’m going to keep up with it although I may re-think that in the future because the following books look really good.

Dracula in Love has been sitting on my TBR pile for a long time.  I read a few reviews early on and wasn’t so sure it was for me.  I gave in on Sunday and decided that it would be the day for reading it.  I still feel that it may not have been the book for me after finishing it and I like vampire stories and have a very deep affection for Bram Stoker’s Dracula.  This book followed the same epistolary style but was told from Mina’s point of view.  Several of the reviews I read noted the amount of sex; some found it too much, others didn’t seem to think anything of it.  Don’t forget it takes place in Victorian England so sex, while deeply thought about wasn’t much talked about.  It didn’t bother me in the least but the silly references about it were annoying. Also, while most of the same characters appear (Dr. Seward, Arthur Holmwood, Jonathan Harker, Dr.Van Helsing, etc.) they have been changed slightly and have become so maddening that I wanted to slap a few — Seward in particular who seemed to diagnose each and every woman he met with some sex related disease of the mind.  Anyway, the last 100 pages were good but I had to go through 267 pages to get there.  And there was one thing that bothered me immensely and if you want to know what it was you can highlight this text (Fairy vampires?  Really?  Why?  Me throwing hands in air…) but I won’t ruin it for everyone by saying it out loud.

So there you have it, my week of meh.  I’m moving on to some non-fiction as a brain cleanser and then I plan to pick up an author I know I like and see what happens.  I started Packing for Mars: The Curious Science of Life in the Void by Mary Roach and I’m loving it.  Her writing is spectacular.  After that, Bernard Cornwell and some Saxons will be up next.

And, very important to note — Book Blogger Appreciation Week (BBAW) starts today.  I have to admit that I’m already behind, which seems to be my life these days.  This week will be filled with a new question each day, and I’m going to try and participate as much as I can with work and life intrusions happening as they do.  I started my blog last year shortly after BBAW and didn’t get to participate but I remember being so impressed with the sense of community that it created that it gave me the inspiration to start Just Book Reading.  So I guess I owe something to BBAW after all.  🙂

I’m behind on visiting other blogs as well and hope to do a little reading and commenting this week too, which being BBAW, seems to very appropriate.