Why I Don’t Listen to Audiobooks

I’ve seen many people talk about how they love audiobooks and it helps them to read more throughout the month. Yeah, that’s great and all, but that only works for people who aren’t already using their time listening to something else like I am. I’m talking about PODCASTS.

Confession: I’m kind of addicted to podcasts? I can’t seem to stop subscribing. Even though my commute to work is literally like…less than five minutes, I turn on a podcast as soon as I get in the car. This is why I don’t have time to listen to audiobooks. I’m too busy using my 10 minutes of driving time and my 20 minutes of getting ready time a day listening to my podcasts.

What are these podcasts that are keeping me from being more productive in my daily reading? I’m so glad you asked. Here are the 8 podcasts that I listen to regularly along with a few that are more seasonal or I’m just getting into.

Podcasts That I Listen to Every Week

This American LifeI’m basic. Sue me.

Planet Money – I was an Econ undergrad, but you don’t have to be to listen to this podcast! Honestly, this is probably my fave. They have a few episodes a week that are 25 min max and they’re always SO GOOD. Super interesting/educational and also super easy to follow.

Criminal – I like true crime as long as it’s not TOO graphic and the thing I love about this podcast is that it focuses on all kinds of “crimes”. They have typical murdery type episodes, but they also had one on a streaker and the last one I listened to was about Sarah Winchester. Super interesting!

This is Love – This podcast is done by the same people and host as Criminal. I don’t like it quite as much, but I still find it pretty enjoyable.

Bookish Podcasts because I’m A Librarian

The Public Libraries Podcast – This podcast is great because it talks about various topics that public libraries deal with all the time (how to best serve the homeless population, how to get teenage boy of color interested in reading, how to teach teen parents about reading to their babies).

What Should I Read Next?¬†– I really like this podcast because Anne Bogel (the host) is really engaging when she talks about books. Some book podcasts (like the two following this one) have hosts that tend to…fangirl over books for lack of a better term. That’s a bit of a turnoff to me. I want to listen to people talk about books, but I want to listen to them talk seriously¬†about books. I don’t want to hear, “Ugh, you just have to read this book because it’s so great and…and the main characters are just so…ugh. You just have to read it.” Anne is super articulate when describing books and I appreciate that.

All the Books! – I listen to this podcast because I just want to be aware of what books are coming out and what might be popular.

Hey YA – Same as above except this one focuses on YA.

Podcasts That Are a Tad More Seasonal

Invisibilia – This podcast talks about the invisible forces that shape us. It’s a super interesting premise and I like that they kind of go all over the map. It’s not one that I would want to listen to always, though, so it’s good that it’s a little more seasonal.

Serial – If you haven’t heard of Serial, then you’ve been living under a rock for the last three years. Obviously, I thought the first season was super engaging. I only got like…2.5 episodes into season 2, though, before I got bored. Season 3 came back with a vengeance and I really liked following stories from the one court.

Found – This is a podcast based on found objects–letters, notes, flyers, receipts. Sometimes they’re actually able to track down the origins of the found objects, but other times they just discuss a broader theme based on the object. It’s made me a lot more aware of the “trash” that I might find laying around.

Revisionist History – This is Malcolm Gladwell’s podcast. I think I’ve read almost if not all of his books by now and I really enjoy them. His hosting skills are quite good as well.

New Podcasts That I’m Trying

Household Name –¬†These guys teamed up with Planet Money for an episode on Panera Cares and I really enjoyed it. It talks about brands. I’m only a couple of episodes in, but I think this could be one that I add to my weekly rotation.

Endless Thread –¬†Last Seen (below) played a preview of one of their episodes and I thought it was really well done. I think the premise is that it explores a different Reddit thread each episode? But I’ve only listened to the one, so I’m not sure about this one yet.

Podcasts That I’ve Finished

Last Seen – This podcast is about an art heist that occurred almost 30 years ago at the Gardner Museum in Boston. The art still hasn’t been recovered and the hosts detail the multiple theories that have crept up over the years.

Dirty John – This is now a television series and the story is CRAZY. It’s about this guy who cons a lady into falling in love with him and it doesn’t end well.

Dr. Death – This podcast is about a doctor who was operating in Texas but was causing all these problems and some of his patients even died. He clearly should not have been operating, but proper protocol wasn’t followed so he ended up operating on like…a ton more people than he should have.

S Town¬†– This is by the same people who do This American Life and Serial so obvi I listened to it. You think the podcast’s going to be about one thing, but then it takes a turn and you think it’s going to be about something else, but then it takes another turn and ends up being about something else entirely.

Do you listen to podcasts? Which ones? Let me know what other podcasts I should be listening to instead of audiobooks!

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6 Books Coming to a Screen Near You

On-screen adaptations of books have been doing really well lately and I think studios and streaming platforms are all excited to get their hands on the next big thing. There are a number of books being turned into movies or TV shows as we speak, but here are the 6 I’m most excited for. Titles link to their IMDB page.

1) The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness (2020)

Chaos Walking movie

I liked the book quite a bit, but I don’t plan on continuing with the series for various reasons. It’ll be interesting to see how this movie comes across as so much of the book is in the main character’s head. And also, the movie is going to be called “Chaos Walking” instead of “The Knife of Never Letting Go” so does that mean the movie is covering the whole series? Looks like a great cast though.

Starring: Tom Holland, Daisy Ridley, Nick Jonas

eBook | Hardcover | Paperback

2) The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon (May 17, 2019)

The Sun is Also a Star movie

This is one I haven’t read yet, but I’ve only heard good things and I think it’s amazing that Yoon has come out with two books and gotten two movies deals (that actually came to fruition). She is rocking it!

Starring: Yara Shahidi, Charles Melton

eBook | Hardcover | Paperback

3) Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer (August 9, 2019)

Artemis Fowl movie

I loved Artemis Fowl as a kid! Was I the only one who was obsessed with decoding the symbols on every page? Even though it was a repeating message, I did the whole thing because I was sure there might be a difference or something new later haha. Anyway, I think it’s interesting that they’re finally coming out with the movie now. I have almost no recollection of the storyline, so I might have to pick this back up as a refresher before the movie comes out.

Starring: Ferdia Shaw, Judi Dench, Josh Gad

eBook | Hardcover | Paperback

4) The Woman in the Window by A.J. Finn (October 4, 2019)

The Woman in the Window movie

This book has made quite a splash and especially with this article coming out about the author, I’m a little more wary of supporting this author (he kind of creeps me out now, and that transfers over to his book). But, it’s got a great cast and I’d be interested to see if they follow the book exactly or if they throw in some new twists.

Starring: Amy Adams, Gary Oldman, Julianne Moore, Anthony Mackie

eBook | Hardcover | Paperback

5) Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli (2019)

Stargirl

Another one of my childhood favorites! I’ve reread “Stargirl” a few times over the years and it’s always so good. It’s magical and emotional and I hope, hope, HOPE that they don’t ruin it with the movie!

Starring: Grace VanderWaal

eBook | Hardcover | Paperback

6) Good Omens by Neil Gaiman & Terry Pratchett (TV Series, 2019)

Good Omens tv show

Another one that I haven’t read yet, but I love Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett and David Tennant seems like the PERFECT person for them to team up with. This book has definitely moved a few places up my TBR so I can be ready for this show. Honestly though…Pratchett and Gaiman…what a pairing.

Starring: David Tennant, Michael Sheen

eBook | Hardcover | Paperback

If you’re interested in purchasing any of these books and are anything like me, you should consider making that purchase now before the only cover that exists are the dumb movie tie-in covers.

Which of these movies are you most excited about? What other books are you excited to see on the big screen soon?
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Pinterest & Blogging

When I first started this blog almost four years ago, that was kind of all you did–blog. Now, I’ve noticed that bloggers are also using Twitter, bookstagram, booktube, and Pinterest to promote their blogs. So, as one does, I’ve decided to give Pinterest a shot. If any of you would like to follow me, I’m just over at www.pinterest.com/whatsshereading. I created a board for my monthly TBRs (all two haha) and then another where I pinned a bunch of cool/cute/amazing book nooks (so jealous of all the home-owning people who can create something like that).

But now, I’m looking for tips (because I, honestly, have no idea what I’m doing). Do any of you guys use Pinterest for your blog? What type of boards do you suggest? Do you find it difficult to keep up with? I’m a little intimidated by the number of graphics I feel like I’ll need to create. Is there anything you wish you knew before you started using Pinterest for your blog? Please give me all your advice in the comments!

The eternal struggle of rating books

In March I’ll have been running this blog for 4 years. That’s so crazy to me! It doesn’t feel like it’s been that long, but I guess it has. I started this blog shortly after I graduated from college and before I was working full-time or had completed my Master’s. Apparently that was 4 years ago! Over that amount of time, I feel like my ratings have become more consistent. Early on, I definitely gave more five star ratings than I do currently. This is basically a short rundown of how I rate books these days.

discussion posts

Firstly, if it was just up to me, I would probably give half-star ratings (and I do occasionally). But since Goodreads doesn’t allow half-star ratings, I try not to do that unless I have to. I want my ratings on here to match the stars I give a book on Goodreads.

One Star

I rarely give out one star ratings. That’s just because if I dislike a book enough to give it one star, I’ve probably DNFed it and I don’t give ratings to books I DNF. Here’s a link to my post about why I DNF books.

Two Stars

I finished it, but I didn’t like it. I didn’t absolutely HATE it, but I wouldn’t generally recommend it.

Recent(ish) two stars: S.T.A.G.S. by M.A. Bennett, Hello, Sunshine by Leila Howard, Coming Up for Air by Miranda Kenneally

Three Stars

This book was okay. Pretty good even. I didn’t hate it, but there’s still room for improvement in my opinion. Maybe the writing wasn’t great, the characters were a little annoying, the world wasn’t convincing, or the plot was lacking. It’s not something that I would necessarily recommend, but it was fine.

Recent three stars: The Gilded Wolves by Roshani Chokshi, Love √° la Mode by Stephanie Kate Strohm, The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken

Four Stars

I liked this book a lot and would highly recommend it! Maybe there were a couple little things that didn’t make sense or jive with me, but I’m willing to overlook them!

Recent four stars: Truthwitch by Susan Dennard, Sadie by Courtney Summers, The Feather Thief by Kirk Wallace Johnson

Five Stars

As I said earlier, I have definitely become more selective with my five star reviews. At this point, a five star comes when I absolutely LOVE a book. If I finish it, close the cover, and then hug the book (or my Kindle) to my chest (possibly holding back tears, but that’s optional), it’s a five star book.

Recent(ish) five stars: Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman, Bone Gap by Laura Ruby, Alex, Approximately by Jenn Bennett

How do you rate books? Do you find you’re freer or more stingy when handing out five star ratings? Do you ever one star books or do you just DNF? Do you do partial star ratings?

To reread? Or not to reread?

I almost exclusively buy physical books that I’ve already read and liked. I just don’t want to waste money on a book that I end up not liking, you know? So unless it’s one of my auto-buy authors (Sarah Dessen) or part of a series that I’ve been reading and enjoyed, I’m only going to buy something if I already know that I like it. But then a lot of my books just sit on my shelf unopened because I already read the ARC or the library copy or whatever and I don’t get around to rereading.

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Pros/Cons of Rereading Books

Pro – You know what you’re getting

You’ve already read the book, you know how the plot is, how quirky the characters are, how swoony the romance is, you know how it’s going to make you feel. You can purposefully pick a book to perfectly suit the mood you’re in.

Con – There are no surprises

Chances are you remember that mindblowing twist at the end of the book. It is never going to be exactly as satisfying as the first time you read it because you know what’s going to happen.

Pro – Additional insights

Sometimes you get something else out of a book on a second or even third read-through. I think this is especially true with books you may have read when you were much younger or with series’ where you had to wait years between books. For me, Harry Potter fits both those categories.

Con – Time constraints

Who has time to even think about rereading books when new books are being published EVERY DAY. If you’re spending time rereading a book, you’re not spending time reading a new book–a book that would probably become your new favorite book of all time.

Pro – Can help you out of a reading slump

This is definitely the case for me. If I’m ever in a bad slump, I can pick almost any Sarah Dessen book off my shelf and I’m back. Rereading a favorite book can be like slipping into that cozy, old sweater you only wear on rainy days. There’s something very comforting about losing yourself in those worn pages.

Con – It might ruin the book for you

Perhaps you read a book when you were younger and you remember really enjoying it. It’s been a few (or more) years and you decide to pick it up again. To your horror, you realize that the writing is not that good, the protag is especially weak, and the love interest is alarmingly problematic in a number of ways. Some things are just better left as a rosy memory.

So yeah, I’m still pretty on the fence about rereading. There are obviously points on both sides and readers should probably take it on a case-by-case basis.

How do you decide whether or not to reread a book? Any pros/cons that I missed?

4 reading habits I’d like to change

The new year is such a natural time to reevaluate your life and I’ve found myself doing that a little bit with my reading life. I’ve already written a post listing my 2019 reading goals, but I was also thinking last night about some of the bookish habits that I might like to change.

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1. Using my reading journal

I currently use a small, hardback spiral notebook that fits in my purse to take my reading notes, but I’m not very consistent at it. At this point, I think my layout is fine, I write the title and author at the top and whether it’s an ARC and/or the date of my blog tour post if applicable. Then I leave a space where I can list main characters and the rest of the page is for me to take notes. If you’ve read some of my reviews, you’ll notice that I have content ratings at the end. For a period of time, that was difficult for me to keep track of while I was reading, but I eventually just designed a rubber stamp that I could use on each page of my journal that looks like this:

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It was super easy to make, I just made the design I wanted in Word and then submitted it to rubberstamps.net. From what I remember it wasn’t super expensive either. Anyway, that’s a long explanation for me to tell you that my layout is no longer the problem. My problem is now just consistency. I don’t consistently take notes while I’m reading and I think it’s just because I don’t always have my notebook out while I’m reading. I’d like to try to get better at that since I think it’ll make my reviews better and easier to write.

There are a TON of reading journals out there, but here are a few I found that sound great.
Reading Log Book¬†– I liked that this one has a table of contents and a really thorough review layout (great for those end of the year graphs) including a place to mark where you’ve posted a review. There’s not much space, though, so it’d be better for someone who just wants to jot down brief thoughts.
The Book Lover’s Journal¬†– This one is a spiral (which I’m a fan of) and I like that it gives you a ton of different categories to rate (pace, plot development, characters, etc). There’s also a place to mark where you read a book which I think is kind of cool.
Read Harder Journal¬†– Okay, this one is cool because it combines a journal with reading challenges. There are 12 challenges spaced throughout (read a book about books, read a book that was originally written in another language) and it also gives you suggestions if you’re having a hard time thinking of one. And then, of course, regular review pages.
Reading Log¬†– I like this one because it’s cheap (only $6!) and also because you can mark in the table of contents what genre each book is.

If you’re looking for something a little more high-end, LEUCHTTURM and Moleskine both have journals as well. I like that Moleskine has alphabet tabs so you can somewhat alphabetize your reading list.

2. Diversifying my reading

I don’t mean in terms of like…POC and stuff like that, though that’s good too. In the past I’ve really stuck to YA as my home base and I’ve rarely read outside of that. I feel like in this last year, though, I did venture outside of YA more than I have in the past and I liked it! This year I want to read more adult and genre fiction, I want to read more classics, I want to read more nonfiction, and I want to try to listen to more audiobooks. In order to do this, I will definitely be utilizing the library more (which is easy when you work there and stuff).

3. Being more selective when requesting ARCs

This is an eternal struggle. ARCs are inherently an exciting thing–you get to read a book early before almost everyone else! But part of getting the ARC is committing to write a review about it. With a baby, it has been so hard to find the time to write reviews so usually I’m reviewing books a month or two after I’ve read them. That kind of defeats the purpose of the ARC since the whole reason publishers send them out is to promote the release of the book. So, I need to really be selective about which ARCs I request. Lately I’ve been trying to really think about whether I want to read a book before I make my request. I wrote this post¬†about a year ago listing seven ways to keep yourself from going crazy on Netgalley–I’m still trying to live by my own guidelines haha.

4. Be a better blogger

By better I maybe just mean more consistent. I actually want to write reviews for all the books I read. I’ve still got plenty of books from last year that I haven’t reviewed and I’m hoping to get caught up within the next few months.

I also want to improve the quality of my reviews and other posts. I want to make sure I’m proofing and editing them before they go up. I want to make sure I’m taking the time to produce thoughtful and well-written posts. I hope that by doing this, I can provide a good resource for other readers, but that I can also create a space where a group of people can come together and talk about books!

Lastly, I don’t want to go weeks at a time without posting and then have five posts in one day. I want you guys to be able to expect certain things from this blog and I want to meet those expectations. I want to have a good variety of reviews, discussions, and book news posts.

What do you guys think? What reading/bookish habits do you want to change?

Top 5 Reasons Why I DNF

Now that I have a baby, I feel like my reading time is much more valuable. It’s hard to come by and I want to make sure that I’m always reading things that are enjoyable. This means I have much less patience for books that I don’t like and I’ve had to make tough decisions regarding which books I put on my DNF list.

discussion posts

1) The book doesn’t make me care

I need to care about the characters and what they’re doing. If I can put a book down and not feel the urge to get back to it for a week or two, then something’s wrong. I have so little spare time and so many hobbies/relaxing things to fill it with (reading, TV, cross-stitching, podcasts, Fortnite, etc.) so if a book isn’t pulling me back in, I’m more likely to use my free time doing something else.

2) Poor writing/editing

I wouldn’t classify myself as a writing snob–I can still enjoy some mediocre stuff–but I’ve come across some books where the writing is just. so. bad. Honestly, I’m not trained as an editor AT ALL, but I feel like I could do a better job than the actual editor did! I have no patience for bad writing, poor descriptions, and changing details. Don’t tell me the love interest’s eyes are blue, then change it to green after a couple chapters, and then end the book with them being brown. (True story, this actually happened in a book I read. It was an ARC, but still…)

3) Annoying main characters

I can deal with unlikable characters to a point. That being said, sometimes we’ll get a main character who is SPECTACULARLY whiny and we’re supposed to sympathize with them. Meanwhile, they experience absolutely no character development throughout the whole book. I don’t have time to be aggravated by my main character.

4) Unoriginal story line

I’ve noticed that once a book in a specific genre gets big (let’s say…The Hunger Games) then there are TONS of other books in that same genre (let’s say…Dystopians with strong female leads/possible love triangles) that come out of the woodwork. I like them for a while, but after I’ve read a few it feels like so much of the same. I’ve found this especially to be a problem when I’m trying to read backlist titles sometimes.

5) The plot is ???

On the complete opposite end of having an unoriginal story line is having a plot that is either non-existent or completely incomprehensible to me. There are some books that maybe I’m just not intellectually ready for, I guess? I don’t really think that’s true, but how else can I explain why an author would write such an abstract plot? I’m not opposed to trying when it comes to books, but if I have to try too hard, then I’d rather read something else.

There are my top 5 reasons why I choose to put a book on my DNF list. I totally recognize that some books just aren’t for me, so usually I judge a book based on the above criteria.

Here’s a link to my Goodreads DNF shelf for anyone curious (not all-inclusive, but indicative all the same, I think).

How do you decide whether or not to DNF? What was the last book you put on your DNF list? Have you ever regretted a DNF decision?