Tag | The ‘I Should Have Read That Book’ Tag

Welcome one, welcome all, to another Tag Thursday! It’s been a while since I’ve posted a tag and I wasn’t really seeing many around. Luckily, however, I recently stumbled across this particular tag on Beth’s blog. She created it and, ok, so I wasn’t tagged to do this tag but when have I ever let that stop me? Let’s jump straight into it…

Rules

Thank the person who tagged you and link back to their post
Link to the creator’s blog (booksnest.co.uk) in your post
Answer the questions below
Tag 10 others to take part
ENJOY THE TAG!

The Questions

  • A book that a certain friend is always telling you to read 
  • A book that’s been on your TBR forever and yet you still haven’t picked it up
  • A book in a series you’ve started, but haven’t gotten round to finishing yet
  • A classic you’ve always liked the sound of, but never actually read
  • A popular book that it seems everyone but you has read
  • A book that inspired a film/TV adaptation that you really love, but you just haven’t read it yet 
  • A book you see all over Instagram but haven’t picked up yet

My Answers

A book that a certain friend is always telling you to read

Liz is forever telling me that I will enjoy The Masked City, the second book in Genevieve Cogman’s series. I’ve read the first book and quite enjoyed it – the irony being I read The Invisible Library before Liz did and yet she continued with the series and I didn’t hurry to do so! Although she didn’t give it a rave review necessarily, she thinks I will really like the second book because, as you might be able to tell from the title, it’s set in Venice and I am a sucker for anything involving Italy.

A book that’s been on your TBR forever and yet you still haven’t picked it up

Ignoring all the classics that have definitely been on my TBR way past their due, I think I’ll say Neil Gaiman’s Fragile Things. That one has been on my TBR since 2012, or so Goodreads tells me, so it’s kind of ridiculous that I haven’t picked it up yet given how much I LOVE Gaiman’s work and this is short stories so surely wouldn’t take as long to read as a full-blown novel (looking at you, American Gods).

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Discussion | What’s Your Number (Of Unread Books)?

For months now I have had a plan, a dream if you will – that makes it sound far too inspirational, it’s really not – to finally, properly catalogue my books, not for bragging purposes or even really for inventory purposes, but rather because I actually want to make a concerted effort to curate my own personal library.

I’m a person who likes owning books and I’m finally, thankfully, in a place in my life both financially and practically where I have the space to have bookshelves and so own books as I wish. When I moved out of my parents’ house, this was one of the perks of renting my own place – I could have as many shelves and books as the space a house would allow, without any judgemental looks from my parents. I’m fortunate in that my housemate, Liz, thinks much the same way about books and we’re both quite happily creating our own little mini libraries of our book collection.

However, for some time now, I’ve wanted to have a better way of seeing what books I physically own, which of those I’ve read, and which I have yet to read. Inspired by Emma from Drinking By My Shelf’s Balancing the Books video series, I want to start culling my bookshelves so that I actually only own books I want to read at some point in the future. And yes, believe me, there are books on my shelves that I’m hanging onto for literally no reason other than I think I should be seen to own X book or Y book. That’s silly, I want to change that. Now, I’m not anywhere as near as disciplined as Emma is so I definitely won’t be balancing those books, but I would like to see the number of unread books decrease significantly. And no, I’m not aiming for ‘zero TBR’ because 1) I’d never make it, and 2) I actually don’t like the idea of not having unread books to hand if the mood to read takes me!

So this is it, guys, this is my confession, this is my number: as of today, Wednesday 27th February I own 622 books*. Of those I have read 286 and I have yet to read 336 of them.
*that I will be counting for this purpose, there are some kids books I keep for nostalgia purposes!

Now, these numbers could go up and down in the future – the simplest way that could happen would be if I buy books, which seems highly likely But, also, if I don’t want to own a book anymore and I unhaul it, I will be removing it from my spreadsheet which means, if I haven’t read it yet, great, my number will go down by 1 but if I have read it my ‘read’ number will instead decrease. Do you see my point? Regardless of the details, I’d like to get that number of unread books down by quite a bit. I’ve been doing Down the TBR Hole posts on this blog to cull my Goodreads To Be Read list but I think something also needs to be done to my actual physical TBR that I own right now and that is staring me in the face as I walk around my own home. Let’s see how I do, shall we?

Do you like owning a lot of books and having your own IRL TBR shelf? Are you not in a position to own a lot of books? Do you want to have a book collection of your own, and do you mind if this includes unread books as well as ones you’ve already read and loved? I find the different approaches to owning books really fascinating so please do comment below and share your opinions on it!


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Review | The City of Brass by S.A. Chakraborty

cityofbrassTitleThe City of Brass (2017)
Author: S.A. Chakraborty
Publisher: Harper Voyager
Read: 8th – 20th February 2019
Genre: fantasy; historical fantasy
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Among the bustling markets of eighteenth century Cairo, the city’s outcasts eke out a living swindling rich Ottoman nobles and foreign invaders alike. But alongside this new world the old stories linger. Tales of djinn and spirits. Of cities hidden among the swirling sands of the desert, full of enchantment, desire and riches. Where magic pours down every street, hanging in the air like dust. Many wish their lives could be filled with such wonder, but not Nahri. She knows the trades she uses to get by are just tricks and sleights of hand: there’s nothing magical about them. She only wishes to one day leave Cairo, but as the saying goes. Be careful what you wish for.” (Synopsis from publisher)

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Review | Emma by Jane Austen

emmaTitleEmma (1815)
Author: Jane Austen
Publisher/Edition: Penguin/Penguin Red Classics
Read: 6th – 12th January 2019
Genre: classics
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

“Beautiful, clever, rich-and single-Emma Woodhouse is perfectly content with her life and sees no need for either love or marriage. Nothing, however, delights her more than interfering in the romantic lives of others. But when she ignores the warnings of her good friend Mr. Knightley and attempts to arrange a suitable match for her protégée Harriet Smith, her carefully laid plans soon unravel and have consequences that she never expected.” (Synopsis from the publisher’s website)

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Review | Enchantée by Gita Trelease

enchanteeTitleEnchantée (2019)
Author: Gita Trelease
Publisher: Macmillan Children’s Books
Release Date: 21st February 2019
Read: 23rd – 26th January 2019
Genre: fantasy; young-adult; historical fantasy
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Paris in 1789 is a labyrinth of twisted streets, filled with beggars, thieves, revolutionaries – and magicians… When seventeen-year-old Camille is left orphaned, she has to provide for her frail sister and her volatile brother. In desperation, she survives by using the petty magic she learnt from her mother. But when her brother disappears Camille decides to pursue a richer, more dangerous mark: the glittering court of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette. Using dark magic Camille transforms herself into the ‘Baroness de la Fontaine‘ and presents herself at the court of Versaille, where she soon finds herself swept up in a dizzying life of riches, finery and suitors. But Camille’s resentment of the rich is at odds with the allure of their glamour and excess, and she soon discovers that she’s not the only one leading a double life.” (Synopsis from publisher)

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Discussion | The Perils of Star Ratings

Inspired by Sam from Thoughtsontome’s recent video on the subject, I thought today I’d talk about rating books and how the numbers/stars might not always tell the whole truth.

As you can see from Sam’s video, I think there’s a misconception around the bookish world that rating something 3 out of 5 stars means it was a “bad book” which, clearly isn’t the case. Even if we judge it by the Goodreads’ official rating system, 1 star means ‘did not like it’, 2 stars means ‘it was ok’, 3 stars means ‘liked it’, 4 stars means ‘really liked it’, and 5 stars is ‘it was amazing’. So by even this scale, 3 stars is actually quite positive, it means it was a “good book”, it was fine, it was a nice read. It’s not really until we get down to 2 or 1 star that the ratings start to really reflect a negative reading experience or a “bad book”.

I can be a little generous with ratings sometimes, I’ll admit it. But, as of late I’m trying to rate a book out of 10 and then halve it to get what my rating should be. That’s working out ok, all in all. It sounds like it shouldn’t make a huge realm of difference, but I think it makes it a little easier to decide whether a book really should be a 3 or a 3.5 star rating after all. But when I look back over some books I didn’t really like and then I see I gave them 2 or 3 stars it makes me suddenly reassess – clearly, sometimes, I should be harsher since a 3-star rating could imply I did actually like it.

When it comes down to it, I think it’s difficult to give out 1-star ratings. 1 stars, for me, are reserved for books that were so completely horrific that I didn’t find any merit in them and didn’t enjoy the experience of reading at all. It could just be a case of, I know myself and my reading taste so well that I wouldn’t even start reading a book I found so abhorrent. Maybe that‘s why I never seem to give out 1-star ratings, and why 2-star ones are few and far between? Or maybe it’s because I’m aware in the back of my mind that people see even a 3-star rating and instantly presume that I didn’t like the book all that much, so what would a 2-star say? Any book that is a book, beginning middle and end, with characters, semblance of a plot, and an ok writing style surely deserves at least a middling rating, right?

At the end of the day, just as opinions on books are subjective, so too are star ratings; they’re an attempt to quantify something which, most of the time, is just a gut feeling. Did you like it? Did you not like it? There’s just something about X book that makes it not quite 5 stars but book Y is so obviously an immediate 5 stars. It’s as simple (and as difficult) as that.

How do you rate books? Do you use the 5-star rating system as on Goodreads? Or do you have a different rating system? Do let me know in the comments!


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Down the TBR Hole #28

Welcome folks to the twenty-eighth round of Down the TBR Hole! For those of you who have no idea what I’m talking about, check out the previous posts via the tag or check out Lia at Lost in a Story who is the creator of this wonderful meme/project.

I’m trying to make this a regular feature of my blogging schedule because it’s good to regularly reevaluate if/why you want to read a book – that way you don’t come back to your TBR years later and have no clue why a title piqued your interest in the first place. I’ve also added a summary of results bit at the bottom of each round so I can track how many books I’ve kept and ditched from my TBR shelf in each round and overall.

Just a reminder of how this works:

  • Go to your goodreads to-read shelf.
  • Order on ascending date added.
  • Take the first 5 (or 10 if you’re feeling adventurous) books
  • Read the synopses of the books
  • Decide: keep it or should it go?

Outside of doing these posts semi-regularly I have also been culling my TBR list at random points when I’m bored – all of this is good in terms of getting my TBR to a reasonable amount of books but it also means that these posts are getting harder for me to do as I’m beginning to really agonise over whether to ditch or keep books on there. Not that any of this is a bad thing! Let’s get going on the 10 books under scrutiny today…

1. Metamorphosis and Other Stories by Franz Kafka

Why is it there? I tend to be really bad at reading (modern) classics in translation. Here’s the thing: I felt bad about this (and wanted to correct it) when I was at university, surrounded by people who talked about modern classics, something which I was (read: still am) horribly out of touch with. But I don’t really care to “correct that” anymore just for the sake of feeling more “well read”.
Do I own it? No
Verdict? Ditch

2. Precarious Life: The Powers of Mourning and Violence by Judith Butler

Why is it there? So this is a bit of theory I added to my TBR when I was at university and this was referenced in some of my secondary reading. It sounded super interesting as it explores the idea of how mourning and violence operates in a post-9/11 America. Now I’m out of university I don’t have such ready access to this kind of secondary reading so it’s unlikely I’ll ever get to this, to be honest.
Do I own it? No
Verdict? Ditch

3. The Hours by Michael Cunningham

Why is it there? I genuinely can’t remember how this got onto my TBR. It allegedly “recasts the classic story of Woolf’s Mrs Dalloway in a startling new light” which makes me even more suspicious of how this ended up on my TBR in the first place because I really haven’t got along with what I’ve read of Virginia Woolf so why on earth would I think this would interest me at all?
Do I own it? No
Verdict? Ditch Continue reading

Review | King of Scars by Leigh Bardugo

kingofscarsTitleKing of Scars (2019)
Author: Leigh Bardugo
Publisher: Orion Children’s Books
Read: 29th January – 5th February 2019
Genre: fantasy; young-adult
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

Face your demons… or feed them. Nikolai Lantsov has always had a gift for the impossible. No one knows what he endured in his country’s bloody civil war – and he intends to keep it that way. Now, as enemies gather at his weakened borders, the young king must find a way to refill Ravka’s coffers, forge new alliances, and stop a rising threat to the once-great Grisha Army. Yet with every day a dark magic within him grows stronger, threatening to destroy all he has built. With the help of a young monk and a legendary Grisha Squaller, Nikolai will journey to the places in Ravka where the deepest magic survives to vanquish the terrible legacy inside him. He will risk everything to save his country and himself. But some secrets aren’t meant to stay buried–and some wounds aren’t meant to heal.” (Synopsis from publisher)

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Review | Girls of Paper and Fire by Natasha Ngan

girlsofpaperTitleGirls of Paper and Fire (2018)
Author: Natasha Ngan
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
Read: 4th – 8th February 2019
Genre: fantasy; young-adult; LGBTQ
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

“Each year, eight beautiful girls are chosen as Paper Girls to serve the king. It’s the highest honour they could hope for…and the most demeaning. This year, there’s a ninth. And instead of paper, she’s made of fire. Lei is a member of the Paper caste, the lowest and most persecuted class of people in Ikhara. Ten years ago, her mother was snatched by the royal guards, and her fate remains unknown. Now, the guards are back and this time it’s Lei they’re after – the girl with the golden eyes, whose rumoured beauty has piqued the king’s interest. Over weeks of training in the opulent but oppressive palace, Lei and eight other girls learn the skills and charm that befit a king’s consort. There, Lei does the unthinkable – she falls in love. Her forbidden romance becomes enmeshed with an explosive plot that threatens her world’s entire way of life. Lei, still the wide-eyed country girl at heart, must decide how far she’s willing to go for justice and revenge.” (Synopsis from publisher)

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T5W | Nostalgic Ships

Welcome one and all to this week’s Top 5 Wednesday post! For those of you who don’t know Top 5 Wednesday is a weekly meme/challenge which was created by the wonderful Lainey from gingerreadslainey and is now overseen by the equally lovely Sam from Thoughts on Tomes. Every Wednesday, participants devise their Top 5 based on a given topic.

This Wednesday’s topic is Nostalgic Ships: discuss the first fictional couples you ever got butterflies over, or couples you used to be really into when you were younger. I’ll be honest, when I first heard this week’s topic, I didn’t think I’d be able to think of (read: remember) my earliest ships. It turns out I was wrong: a quick think back to some of my favourite childhood and pre-teen reads identified couples I adored pretty damn quickly. So it turns out I was a bigger shipper than I thought I was!

5. Michael/Mia from The Princess Diaries series by Meg Cabot

princessdiariesIs there anyone who read The Princess Diaries and didn’t find Lily’s older brother Michael hot? It was painfully obvious from the get go that Mia’s little crush on Michael would only get worse/better as the series went on. Admittedly, I “out grew” the series at about book 6 so I don’t know how this ship fared as they got older (not well, I assume?), but I used to LOVE Mia and Michael because of that ease of friendship which blossomed into more. I was disappointed when Michael didn’t stick around in the film adaptations to be honest, but his “replacements” are pretty damn appealing too so I’m not too mad about it! Even so, Michael and Mia will always hold a weirdly nostalgic bit of my heart.

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