Read for You

Something I struggle with as a reader is juggling my TBR. There’s always the constant pressure to read the new releases that everyone is talking about, but then there are all of last year’s releases that you never got to. Then there are the classics that you’re constantly feeling guilted into reading because if you don’t, you’re not a “real” reader.

books in black wooden book shelf

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There’s a huge chunk of books on my shelf that I haven’t read, and it overwhelms me to no end. There’s no reason this should stress me out so much; after all, there are millions of books I’ve never read and millions more I will never get to. It’s nearly impossible to keep up with every single trending release unless you basically shirk all other duties and responsibilities. Readers, we expect too much from ourselves.

And this is what inevitably puts me into a reading slump, because I put too many books on my plate and can’t keep up. I’m sorry, but I can’t read six books at the same time. I can’t read thirty books per month.

What ends up happening is I tell myself, “Here’s an ARC I just received, I need to make this my priority so I can review it.” Then I say, “Here’s a new release that everyone has been talking about. I need to make this a priority so I can stay relevant.” Then I say, “Oh wow, here’s that book I bought 3 years ago that sounded so interesting. I’m finally going to tackle my back-list books and read it this month!”

Until I’ve got 12 ARCs, 3 new releases and about 46 back-list books on my immediate TBR. This cannot keep happening to me.

white book beside white mug

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I’m going to read what I want, and if that means I’m going to binge-read every book that Brandon Sanderson has ever written, then that’s what I’ll do. If that means I want to read trashy Wattpad books for a month, I’m going to do it.

Listen, I’m not saying don’t prioritize those ARCs because I know you made a commitment to reviewing it. I’m not saying don’t read all the new releases, if that’s what you want to do. But y’all, read what you want, not what you think you should be reading, because then it becomes a chore instead of something you love.

The Wonder of Audiobooks

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Hello, my name is Devyn, and I’m addicted to audiobooks.

I mean, it took long enough, right? Audiobooks are amazing. Everyone has been telling me this for years, yet every time I tried ended in failure. I’m not sure why this was, but I just felt like I wanted to be able to clean the house or do laundry while I listened, and I guess I just have a one-track mind. I couldn’t focus on one or the other.

Maybe I wasn’t listening to the right books, but for whatever reason I didn’t discover the wonder of audiobooks until about a week and a half ago. Something just clicked in my head and all of a sudden I got it.

I was listening to The Last Namsara by Kristen Ciccarelli and I was suddenly like, “Hey, this is awesome.” It helps that it was read by Pearl Mackie from Doctor Who, so there was an extra level of interest there.

After that, I was a goner. I’ve been listening to audiobooks nonstop ever since then and it has become a problem. But it’s so relaxing! I can lay in bed next to my husband while he’s playing video games, listening to books and coloring. I don’t understand why it took me so long to discover this, but I’m so glad I have now. I’ve been able to blow through my TBR and I’m killin’ it.

Some have been better than others, that’s for sure; but I have to admit that it’s been doing wonders on my reading times. I can listen to an entire book in less than a day. I can go for a walk and listen. Go to the gym and listen. Clean the house and listen. It’s amazing, okay. 

I know I sound like a broken record and many of you are like, “Um, okay crazy lady. I’ve been listening to audiobooks for years.” Okay, hipster reader person you, that’s awesome but I’m just learning it.

And listen, if you’re someone who has been apprehensive about listening to audiobooks or you’ve tried it already and thought it might not be for you, I beg you to reconsider. It’s possible that the books you were listening to just weren’t good. I listened to at least a dozen before this week that just weren’t for me, and even in the last week I’ve listened to one or two that I wasn’t a fan of. So I put them away. It’s okay to quit if you’re not feeling a certain audiobook; just pick another!

Of course there will be some people that never find the right audiobook and will never get into them. That’s cool, and they’re not for everyone. I just think that readers should know all the resources available to them, and audiobooks are a game-changer. I’ve just been checking them out from the library on the Overdrive app, so there’s a good chance that your library does the same sort of thing.

Just try it! You may find that it’ll change your life.

A Guide to Stop Book-Hoarding

As a book lover and someone who has dreamed of someday having my own library, I know that we all want something that looks a little like this:

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What’s not to love? Of course I want to dedicate a room in my house to just books.

Yet recently, I found myself feeling overwhelmed by the amount of books that I owned and had not read. I had been so focused on accumulating that I had allowed my unread shelf to pile up until it was completely unmanageable. It caused me to stagnate, and when it came time to pick my new read, it was impossible to choose.

If you’re not the kind of person who gets stressed by unread books on their shelves, then go crazy, kid. Buy all the books you want. You are your own person and you are free to own all the books in the world and read them at your own pace. I envy you!

However, if you’re like me and feel the need to purge and start fresh, then this post is for you.

One of the first things that I did was purge the books that I had already read, but may not have liked very well. Personally, I threw out any book that I had given 3 stars or lower, but you can do it however you’d like! I found this to be a great starting point for me because it was good practice in letting go for a person who tends to hoard everything.

Next, I got rid of any books that I owned that I wasn’t interested in reading anymore or anytime soon. Maybe I was when I first bought it, but some time has passed and my interests have changed. So that book that’s been sitting on your shelf, collecting dust for 5 years? Chuck it. You don’t need that weight in your life.

I did this in waves, because I’d go through my books one time and find a few that I wanted to part with. Then I’d look through them again and find a few more. I did this 3-4 times until I felt satisfied that everything left on my shelf was either a book that I’d read or a book that I was definitely planning to read in the near future.

The most important thing to do is make rules for yourself so that this never happens again. You may say, “No, I’ll do better. I won’t buy as many books.” But old habits die hard, and soon you’ll be drowning in unread books again.

I have two guidelines for myself when it comes to buying books now: either I’ve already read it and I gave it 4 or 5 stars; or I haven’t read it, but it’s by an author that I have read and liked at least 75% of the time.

For example, I’m interested in reading Markus Zusak’s newest book, Bridge of Clay. I have read The Book Thief, which was amazing, and I Am the Messenger, which was not so much. Because I’ve had two different experiences with this author, I don’t want to take a chance and waste money on a book I may not enjoy.

For this reason, I’ve put Bridge of Clay on hold at my library. If I end up enjoying it, then I can purchase it and add it to my personal library. If I don’t, then no harm is done and no money is wasted.

I want a big library just as much as the next bookworm, but I want to fill it with books that I love. But, this is just the way that I do things; if you read strictly from the library, that’s absolutely fine and doesn’t make you any less of a bibliophile. If you buy all the books in the world, it doesn’t make you any more of one. We all love to read, and that’s all that matters in this community: not the size of your library or the amount of books you read.

Why It’s Okay to DNF Books

If we’re not all familiar with the term, here’s a fact for you: DNF means “did not finish”. The abbreviation has become a verb in the bookish community: “I didn’t like this book, so I DNF’d it.”

People tend to turn their noses up at people who DNF books, especially if they proceed to review it/give it a rating on Goodreads, or any platform really. It’s a tough call, but I believe it’s completely okay.

woman wearing brown shirt carrying black leather bag on front of library books

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There is literally an immeasurable amount of published books in the world, and thousands more are published every year. It’s become my philosophy that if I’m reading a book and I’m not enjoying it, I shouldn’t have to suffer my way through it. I’ve got dozens of other books on my TBR (to be read) shelf that are calling my name. If this one book that I’m reading is making me miserable, or taking me forever to get through, there’s no shame in putting it down and picking up something more interesting.

Because here’s the thing: it’s your life. You can do whatever you want. You can read whatever you want. Screw what the snobs tell you; if you don’t like that book, you don’t have to read it. Simple as that.

Now when it comes to reviewing the book on Goodreads, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with leaving a short explanation as to why you weren’t into it and why you DNF’d it, because those feelings are completely valid. However, I have found that for books that I DNF before the halfway point, I will leave off a star rating as a respect to the author since I didn’t complete the book. If you read more than half the book though, I think that can be up to you if you’d like to give it a rating or not.

You are the reader, and if you’re not happy with a book, pick something else! You should not have to put yourself into a slump to make other people happy. Make you happy.

What is “Bookstagram”?

For someone who might not be in on the fads and trends, this might be a difficult question to answer. In the last decade, pop culture has been exploding with the birth of fandoms and the people who are apart of those fandoms, typically called “fangirls” or “fanboys”. While comic conventions have been a thing for over 40 years (the first San Diego comic con occurring in 1970), attendance has been growing steadily in recent years.

Now more specifically to books, there are many platforms in which book fangirls and fanboys can express their loves and passions. Fans who choose to post YouTube videos about their love of books are called “booktubers”, so naturally, the people who post pictures relating to books on Instagram have been lovingly dubbed “bookstagrammers”.

As a semi-recent addition to the bookstagram community, I can confidently say that the community is one of the most positive that I’ve been a part of. Many fandoms, while fun and full of lively debates, can become aggressive where disagreements and arguments are concerned. I’ve found that on bookstagram, most individuals are very accepting of other’s opinions and are generally respectful and friendly to one another. Seeing as I only launched my bookstagram account about 2 months ago and already have made connections and friendships with several lovely people speaks volumes for the love this community has for each other.

While browsing through bookstagram, you’ll find plenty of beautiful pictures of books. We here in this community find the sight of books very aesthetically pleasing. Many bookstagrammer also run their own blogs as well as booktubes.

Another fun perk to being a part of the bookstagram community is seeing the amazing bookish merchandise! You may not have known this, but you can buy book related products of all kinds: candles, prints, themed-bookmarks, pillows, coffee, tea, t-shirts, accessories, jewelry, blankets, pins, stickers, mugs, etc, etc, etc. When I joined this bookish community, I was stunned by the hundreds of Etsy shops and online businesses selling beautiful products. If you become a rep for any of these numerous shops, they will typically send you free items as long as you feature them in 3-4 of your photos each months as a way to promote their company.

All in all, bookstagram is a lovely community filled with wonderful people that I’ve been so lucky to become connected with, and I’m so excited to meet more fellow book lovers through it. You can follow my bookstagram account @spineless_bookwyrm!

Introducing Myself

Good morning from Hawaii! My name is Devyn Guerra, and this is blog number 5 or 6 that I’ve started now? I’m the absolute worst about remaining focused on one topic; sometimes I’d love to write about my life. Sometimes I’d love to write fantasy. Sometimes I write fan fiction. And sometimes I like to post my bookish opinions on the internet.

So here I am.

I was born in South Carolina 21 years ago and I lived there for 9 years. Still, those were never really the formative years from me, and so I’ve always considered Texas my home. I lived there non-consecutively for about 8 years total, but they were some of my most important. Sure, I moved away junior year to live in Nevada for three years, but I eventually ended up back in the Lone Star State.

Unfortunately, I didn’t live in a very pretty part of Texas. While I would absolutely love to live somewhere like San Antonio, my dream city, I ended up in a dumb town called Harlingen, and I love it. It’s where I’ve made some of my most important friendships, suffered my greatest losses, and where I met the love of my life.

I’m grateful for all the moving around I’ve done in my life because it has prepared me for a lifestyle I never saw myself living: the military life. A little less than a year ago, my boyfriend proposed to me, enlisted in the Army, and shipped off for basic training, all in the matter of about one month. It was all very fast, but we decided it was the quickest way for us to be married and to start receiving a steady income. So far, the long separations have been very difficult, especially considering I am probably the clingiest person alive and require constant reassurance, but we’ve made it work and are now happily married and stationed in Oahu.

Now, I find myself with loads of time on my hands. I’m not in school (yet), and I’m not working. So what does that leave me to do? I hope to begin building up a legitimate internet presence with my newfound time and to actually use this opportunity to write. I find that I always run out of steam about a month into a new blog, but it’s always been because I’m so tired from work or school. I would come home after a long day and find that it was easier to relax in front of Netflix than to actually write anything. So all my blogs before have fizzled out. So this is my chance to finally do something I love.

I hope that you’ll follow me and that you’ll enjoy future blog posts. Comment with any questions that you have for me, and contact me if there is a specific book that you’d like for me to review. Mahalo!