Almost there…

With September halfway gone, the allotted time I originally got to fix up our brand new tiny library is almost up, and everything is almost ready.


After months of feeling buried under an endless book-pile, and having my head filled with author names and book titles of all kinds and genders, I finally feel like I have a handle on it and it is all a matter of stamping the labels on the books as they sit on the bookshelves.

I can do this. The finish line is in sight.

God help anyone who dares mess with my book order and organization. I’ll go all Hulk on them! I have no idea how is this gonna work out. I don’t’ think I’ll be able to let anyone ever get their hands on these books, but I’m supposed to encourage everyone to borrow them and take them home.

How do librarians do this job?

I feel like a dragon, and this is my treasure. I’m hoarding it! Get away! Don’t touch it!

It might have been a bad idea to give me this tiny library to run.

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Reminiscing about my first time…

There is a saying in Spanish:

“Todos hablan de la Feria, como les va en ella”.

It means our experiences shape our opinion of things. And, apparently, audiobooks are an excellent example for this. Some time back, I stumbled upon On Trying to Love Audiobooks by accident, and it just dug into my brain and took residence there.

I simply haven’t been able to stop thinking about it, trying to remember my first experience with audiobooks. It honestly took some thinking, but I’m pretty sure it was while I was living abroad.

I used to spend a lot of time commuting, stuck inside crowded subway and surrounded by people speaking a language I couldn’t understand. At first, I tried putting some music into my phone. That didn’t work.

I had an old fashion phone that collapsed every time I tried to play some music in it. I ended up buying the cheapest MP3 player I could find. And while trying to find something interesting to load in it, I stumbled into audiobooks.

Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone

At first, it was a matter of being stuck in a too-squished-and-uncomfortable-to-read-an-actual-book kind of situation so I would turn to my audiobook. Even so, music was the top choice most of the times.

But, then… there was Stephen Fry reading Harry Potter to me. I don’t think I have ever encountered a better narrated book since. It just made me feel like I was actually in the middle of the story!

I was hooked!

I keep searching for a book narration that drags me into a whole new world again. It is a whole other experience than when you read a book by yourself.

I guess my love for audiobooks owes a lot to the age of MP3’s. As Allison’s experience proves, things could have been very different had I tried audiobooks a couple of years earlier.

Summer’s End 

And the summer is almost over. How sad is that?

Honestly, it is depressing. And the worst part is that I’m not even sure when it began or where did it go.

This year, I had the craziest summer ever (or at least the craziest I can remember). It all started magnificently. I had promised a friend that I could house-sit for her while she went on a trip, so I spent the first days of my summer break chilling out at her pool without giving a single thought to all the housework piling up at my house. And it was great… It all went to hell from there.

…It all went to hell from there.

Between surprise visits, unexpected traveling, emergency dog-sitting my parent’s pit bull and starting back at work earlier than expected… Summer vaporized into the hot air like a mirage. I didn’t even get to spend a single day at the beach.

And I live three blocks away from it!

I feel like this summer was both, the single most productive and busy time of the year, and the most boring lazy accomplished-nothing couple of months. I guess it would depend on how you look at it. Yes, I’ve worked so many unexpected hours that my savings account has completely recovered after I spent a good chunk of it visiting Japan this spring, and suddenly having to replace my phone; but, at the same time, my reading list looks like it’s frozen in time. And that just saddens me.

How insane is that I measure my productivity in books read and not hours worked? Do you do that, too? Is it a book lover thing?

Maybe I need a different job. One where I can read all day and get paid substantially for it. Do you know any jobs like that? I’ll take any suggestion.

the Book Pile’s transformation

Sometime ago, I mentioned that one of the advantages of my workplace (one of the reasons I have stayed there) is the large amount of books available. There used to be a couple of shelves, that went mostly unused. Most people would take a book and then just put it back on the table next to the bookshelf.

I started to think about it, fondly, as The Book-pile. There was always something wonderful hidden inside. I’ve talked about it before.

After a couple of major book donations, the pile became unmanageable and the table started to give under the weight of the books. That’s how it came to be that my boss decided to order some new shelves and assign someone to make some sense of all that craziness. 

This summer, as it happens all summers, my workload started to look increasingly slow to the point where it became obvious I’d been mostly reading during work hours. I even reorganized my files. It ended up looking beautiful: simple, practical and labeled!

Sadly, my boss noticed. She thought to take advantage of my sudden organizing mood, obvious love for books and my free schedule… and assigned ME the task of shelving everything in the book room, into some kind of logical system. 

It has been an insane task. It turns out that we have way more books that I thought possible. And it became not only a matter or placing them in the shelves, but checking each one and deciding if they need fixing. 

Some books just needed a new dust jacket, so that was easy. But some, needed some real fixing. 

Of course, I could have opted for tossing them out… labeling them as damaged and throwing them away. But I just couldn’t. 

I love books. Really, I do. I feel bad when one is left neglected… But, or course, my boss just looked at me like I was crazy when I innocently asked if I had a budget for fixing books, and told me I could do as much as I wanted with the supplies the office already had. 

I raided the storage room, and blessed YouTube for all the things it has taught me about fixing damaged books. 

Still, some were beyond what I could do. Those went into a box I labeled “Adopt a book”. Hopefully someone will take pity. 

To make my daunting job more manageable, I divided it up in little tasks. Like all those Organize-Your-Life articles I’ve ever read said to. And, it turns out, it DOES help. 


I have already separated the books alphabetically according to author’s last name. And it already looks like I’m making progress.  Getting rid of the table was a major accomplishment. 

This task has been consuming not only my days at work, but also my evenings at home. It feels like it is all I can think about. It will still take some time before it is all ready, but I’m really getting excited about this project now.  

Wish me luck! 

Heart & Mind

I’ve always been fascinated with the human mind and how the brain works. it is such a complex and intricate machine/organ. I’ve read many books and articles, and watched many documentaries about the brain, about brain surgeries and mind disorders. i just find it all so interesting and compelling.

One of the things that I’ve learned about this, and that has changed the way I se many things, is about the contrasting and cooperating halves of our brains. I like to think about it like a set of conjoined twins: each one has it’s own roles and jobs, but they are both always ready to pick up the slack should there be a need.

Just imagine it. At this moment, each side of your brain is doing its own thing. One side of your brain does all the math, and the other makes you cry at the end of sad movies . You use one side of your brain when you write a letter, but the other when you listen to music.

One side is linked to creativity, impulses, and emotions; and, the other one, to rational thought, and the interpretation of symbols (basic for reading and writing).

So, it came as no surprise when I realize that I feel more emotionally attached to stories when I’m only listening to them. It takes more of a toll on me, when I’m listening to an audio-book and I feel more invested in the characters and their lives, than I do when I’m actually reading the same book.

But, at the same time, I find it hard to remember where exactly in the story I was, and the precise way in which something was said. This doesn’t happen when I’m reading  book, printed or electronic. If I can see the words, I am most likely to remember it.

I guess this is way I work well with a paper planner. I always feel more comfortable with remembering things if i can write them down and see them written somewhere, no matter where… even if it is just on a post-it that i’m going to loose at any moment.

This would also explain why I like to have both, the audio and the printed version of my favorite books…

Does the same thing happen to you?

Have you notice a difference in how you enjoy books if they come in print or in audio?

 

Travel reading

This year’s spring break was way more exciting than any in recent years, but it also involved a lot of airport time and time sitting in buses and trains. And, most importantly, a lot of time unplugged.

Of course, I wouldn’t survive anywhere without my books, or at least something to read, but thankfully I don’t need internet to use my e-reader.

And now comes the quick catch up. Feel free to go back and check out all the stuff that jut magically appeared with last week dates.

Serial bookworm

The second week of the year is well an truly over, and I’m barely starting to sort through my mess of books, in the hopes that one will simply call to me…

Maybe something with dragons, or magic… Something totally surreal and out there to take my mind out of everything remotely real… 

And then I started to notice something. There are book series everywhere!

book-series Here.

And here

This one, too.

And this one!

They’re everywhere! What’ up with that?

I know I’ve said it before, but I hadn’t realize how few of my book are actually stand-alone stories. Even some that I thought were stand-alones, aren’t anymore. How crazy is that?

As many book addicts out there, I have a tremendously long list of books waiting to be read. A list that keeps on growing way faster than I can actually read them. Usually, when I hear of a book that might-could-possibly-maybe-likely to be interesting… I add it to the CHECK ‘EM OUT list I keep in my bullet journal.

From there, I look them up and stay on the lookout for those titles every time I visit the bookstore (be it at the mall, or the digital kind). Once I get my hands on them, I add them to another list I keep of all the books I want to read… that’s my actual TO BE READ list, and that’s how it grows and grows non-stop.

So… this is where I come to this year’s reading goal:

Clear up my to-be-read list from all book series.

Starting with the already-started ones and then moving on from there, until it takes some searching to find a book part of a series in the first 50 names my list.

That’s the goal… Let’s get to it!

Opportunistic reader

I have always been very proud of the fact that I can sleep pretty much anywhere…

I can sleep as easily sleep if it’s daytime as if it were nighttime. I can sleep in small beds as in large ones… Even in a hammock. I can sleep on the floor, or in a bedroll. I can sleep on sand (which I have done, when we spend all day at the beach), it does t matter if the sun in on my face.

I can even sleep standing up.

Ok… That last one I haven’t done in ages, but I used to do it all the time when I was younger and we had to stand around during school ceremonies listening to boring speeches. I would just find a wall to lean on, somewhere where no one would pay attention to me, and nod off for a couple of minutes at a time.

This past couple of weeks, I discovered that I might be doing the same with my reading.

These past few weeks, work has been intense and quite busy. For some days before he Christmas break, I had been depending heavily on my phone’s alerts to keep my on time with a changing schedule… But I have been this busy before, even more so… And this is the first time this totally halted my reading.

Having little free time usually means it takes me way longer to finish a book that it would’ve normally taken me, no matter how much I’m enjoying it. But I feel like I haven’t  read anything at all in more than three weeks! This is one of the reasons why I finished my book count before the year was over

I keep feeling at the end of the day, like I forgot to do something. That feeling precisely is what got me thinking about it, and I realized that I read at some very strange times. Like…

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Also… Did you know it’s easier to read while you’re supposed to be working when you don’t actually have a book in your hand? A tablet is way less obvious. I could as well be actually working!

But, let me say this… The best tool to read while you’re supposed to be doing something else: A phone that syncs your bookmarks and notes.

The beginning of the end

There is still a week to go, but the year is almost over and I’m calling it already.

Farewell 2016…

Welcome 2017!

And, unlike last year, this year’s goal was achieved ahead of schedule. Something that still make me smile everytime I think back on it.

While I was going over the whole of the books crossed out of The List, I realized that the first days of 2016 caught me with a half-read book that had to be put down in account to lack of reading time. Just as the end of the year will see me.

Talk about going full circle!

It might all be a strange coincidence, but I’m inclined to think that it has something to do with winter always being the busy season (and not just with work).

Last year’s unfinished book, The Witch’s Daughter, remains so… Not having made it back to the To-read List… Which doesn’t bode well for this year’s Graceling and Truthwitch, that I’m supposed to be reading right now (but can’t really remember how the characters got to where they are).

I’m sure, like me, you have more than one reason why you’d put down a book. But…

…does it make you feel as guilty as it makes me feeling?

Anyhow… I’m still quite proud of myself, regardless of unfinished books. Now I can honestly say that those who read less than five books in a year, are simply not interested in reading. I mean, just check it out!

Books read 2016

It all added up to almost 40 books this year. And I feel a step closer to being ready to take the Goodreads Challenge.

Maybe in a couple of years.

Christmas traditions 

It was an average day, walking back home from school and talking with a friend… When he asked me what plans I had for Christmas  I remember standing there looking at him totally confused for a couple of minutes before realizing that Christmas was the following weekend and I had been completely oblivious until he mentioned it to me.

In my defense, I was living in a major Asian city back then, and Christmas wasn’t such a big deal for the locals with whom I had been spending my time… I still felt terrible about it, though.

Xmas2017When I was a little girl, Christmas was this enormous production. It didn’t matter if we spent it with my mom’s family of my dad’s… It always included a day of traveling, but a bunch of cousins waiting at the end of it.

I remember there was always a big tree, covered with lights and decorations and surrounded my bunches of presents in all colors and sizes. There was Christmas music, lots of noise and, of course, insane amounts of food.

But now, I’m all grown up. Santa Claus doesn’t bring me presents anymore, and all my grandparents, and even some of the aunts and uncles, who we used to visit around these holidays have passed away.

This all means that if I want Christmas to be a big production, I have to make it so.

It has been some years already since that season that almost went unnoticed, and since then I have collected and set a few holiday traditions for myself. I don’t have children, so some of my traditions have a somewhat grown-up feeling to it, like my spiked hot chocolate, but most of the them are simple things like the Santa hat I wear for the whole week or the cookie baking that obsesses me.

This year, I wanted to add a Christmas book to my rituals, but the days seemed to go by without enough hours. So, I guess it will have to wait until next year. In the meantime, I’m watching Arthur Christmas and avoiding the soccer craziness that seemed to have corrupted my brother and brother-in-law.

What about you? What traditions/rituals are you enjoying these holidays?

Hell week

It makes me feel I like I’m letting myself down when I don’t read. Specially when I have a book that’s already started…

Last week has been specially bad.

Coffeebath Work was annoyingly busy, the weekend was supposed to be long but ended up feeling way too short and exhausting, I got to the point with my audiobook where I’m not sure I’m really understanding the story seeing as there are some very strange words and easily confused names…

And to top it all, my paper book was weighting down my bag when I had no chance to read at all, and at home when I actually could’ve read some.

A new week started, and things didn’t get better…

The week is half-gone already, and I still feel like I’m trudging through the hours without achieving much.

Why can’t I just quit work and devote my whole days to reading and drinking coffee?

Doesn’t that sound delightful?

Technicalities

Definitely! There are some books that are more suited for listening to than others, and that’s just a fact.

2312 by Kim Stanley Robinson

2312 by Kim Stanley Robinson

Most of the times, I can let my mind wander about through the eyes of a main character, across strange lands, meeting interesting people and living a completely different life. And that’s my thing… Let my mind fly away while my body is stuck here doing monotonous and boring chores.

But 2312, has way too many new words, easily mixed up names, too long words that I had never heard before, and strange and bizarre places that bring up concepts that require all of my attention and maybe a dictionary on hand. Maybe not the most appropriate book for listening to.

And I do find it quite interesting, and I’m looking forward to know what Alex was working on that was such a secret…

Truthwitch by Susan Dennard

Truthwitch by Susan Dennard

The search for the print book has already begun. Hopefully, it won’t take more that what’s left of the year.

In the meantime, let’s try some magic. Witches to be precise.

Truthwitch by Susan Dennard.

How cool would it be to always know when someone is lying to you? I think that would be a superpower that could be very useful.

… On second thought… I think I would rather believe it when people tell me I don’t look fat wearing my most comfortable pair of jeans, regardless of what the truth actually is.

Success!!

cool

Look at me! Look at me!! I made it! I reached this year’s goal and it’s not even October yet!!

After last year’s unaccomplished goals, it feels really good to check this out of my yearly checklist. It makes me feel very proud of myself, to accomplish something ahead of time (something that doesn’t usually happen with me), even when it most likely means I neglected many other things to spend much of my time reading.

I will ignore all those things that seem to be dragging on and be permanently etched into my to-do list while remain ignored… and will focus on thisfw1 one thing that I can feel good with myself about.

I did it! I read more book this year than last year!!

Of course. The reading must go on… even if that makes next year’s goal potentially more difficult (not that I’ve decided already what that’ll be), and we’ll see how things look when the year is over and the final count is in.

In the meanwhile… I’ll congratulate myself by adding something extra to this month’s book budget.

Audio vs. print: Vocabulary

To be completely honest, the first time I re-read Seraphina, will probably be to check out all those words that weren’t quite clear to me. There were, along the whole book, some words that I’m not familiar with (English not being my native tongue and all). Most I could discern for the context and guess what she was referring to, and there were a few that were aimed to descriptions or objects that could be ignored without affecting my understating of the plot. But there were a few that really bothered me.

audiobookI remember the first books I read completely in English, some years ago when I was in school and one of my teachers recommended it as a good way to improve my vocabulary. I used to have to sit down on my desk with my trusty dictionary and stop a couple of times in every page to search for a word and write it down (so I wouldn’t forget it).

But the years passed and the times I had to stop and consult my dictionary became fewer and fewer. And then came the era of electronic readers, and everything became even easier. Now, when I encounter a word I’m not familiar with, I just have to tap it with my finger and I get a definition. Easy as pie.

But, guess what?! It doesn’t work for audiobooks. Shocking, right?!

So, I’m already in search of the eBook or print book that would give me the visual to catch all these unknown words. I might even start using them. Who knows when I can bring up into conversations things like chemise or sally-port, right?!

Sick days

I spent the whole weekend lying in bed, writhing in pain.

Ok. It wasn’t really that bad, it was just a really bad stomachache. A really, really bad stomachache. I did manage to get up a few times and drink some tea and mostly slept. Every couple of hours, I would wake up without really feeling like getting up… And I used those random times to read.

SickI came to one conclusion… Not all kinds of reading are the same when you’re sick.

Being sick is a horribly depressing thing. You feel weak, slow and heavy. And on top of that, there’s all the things that I cannot eat. That’s always the worst part of it all for me: No coffee and no bacon.

I don’t care what my doctor says, bacon (and all friend stuff) is the meaning of life. Eating “healthy” stuff ONLY is a nightmare.

That’s why you need something happy and cheerful that can lighten you up and help you feel better, when you feel sick and sad. Something funny, with lots of happy interactions or action and fighting that can let you loose track of the story and go back to sleep at any moment… Only to pick it back up when next you wake up.

There should be a section in bookstores for books to read when you are sick.

 

What do you like to read when you’re feeling sick?