Library Haul 8/3/19, My Eyes are Bigger than My Stomach

Sometimes it really hurts when most of your Library Hold list becomes available at the same time.

Case in point:

That’s my library haul for today. 1,654 pages of reading ahead of me—1,410 pages of which are due back on 8/17. Sure, that’s a very doable number, but at least a thousand of those pages are going to be slow work. Oh, and there’s the new Robert Crais book that should be arriving in my mailbox Tuesday (and you know I can’t let that sit around unread).

Honestly, it’s not that big of a problem (and a great problem to have!), but man…I look at that stack and just feel tired. Anyone else ever do this to themselves?

Brother, Can You Spare a Dime? (or Ten Minutes)

5 Stars
So a couple of weeks ago, I mentioned that I’m wanting to toy with the look and functionality of this site. I spent time I should’ve been reading/writing and have a rough draft completed. Before I spend a few more hours launching it, I’d like a few eyeballs to take a look, give me some feedback. I know all too well that I’d let something simple slip by* or an eyesore. I’m hoping to get 10 +/- volunteers (in addition to the handful of people I volunteered).

* Actually, while doing this, I found a major problem with this current theme—Tuesday night will likely involve too much time fixing it (never you mind the fact that no one’s said anything about it for years, I know it’s there).

If you’re willing Drop me a quick line—make sure to include an email address (which I’ll forget about right after using). In return for any feedback, you’ll be eligible to receive 5% of all the profits I make from this thing in 2019 (which means you may end up owing me $5).


And now, a bonus video, because I can’t get this performance out of my head after I typed that Post Title.

Happy Blogiversary to Me!

You can really tell that graphic design isn’t my thing, can’t you?

While looking for something else this weekend, I found my kick-off post from this day in 2013.

2,279 Posts Later, here we are — I’ve already posted almost as many posts this year as I did that first year and had almost 6x the visitors. Guess it’s safe to say that things have grown a bit. My traffic isn’t what I dreamed it might be early on, and likely won’t be — but I’m honestly a little stunned every time I look at my stats. That many people have dropped by????

More important than the numbers — I’ve had a blast doing this. I’ve read so many great things — many, many things I’d never have even heard of without this blog. I’ve corresponded with more great authors than I can think of — and best of all, there’s you readers.

I want to thank all of you for your time, your comments, your encouragement — occasionally, your editing. I assure you that every view, every like, every comment, every retweet, every email is encouraging and I can’t thank you enough. Hopefully, I remember to say sthat more regularly.

Awkward Moments in Book Blogging

This weekend I received a request to review an indie published book from the author. His name rang a bell, so I assumed I knew him from twitter or had read him before.

Yup. I had read him before. The same book, actually, two years ago. Clearly, record-keeping isn’t his strong suit. But, that’s no big deal. I figured I’d hit him with the URL to my original post, say something jokey in response, and call it a day.

But, I hated the book — gave it 1 1/2 stars. My post on it was sketchy, because to really get into what I thought of the book, I said, “it’d just be mean.”

So, yeah, I think this’ll be one of those emails I forget to reply to…

Where the Magic Happens…or something

So, I’m just too tired to write anything real tonight — besides, I have to wait until next week before I can talk about most of what I’ve read lately. So let’s do a little behind the scenes . . .

Three years ago when I switched to a day job, my reading habits had to change — among other things. It took almost no time at all to realize that reading in the break room just wasn’t going to work — it was too loud, there were too many things going on, you couldn’t sit by yourself, really. And then there were all these nice people wanting to talk.

Actually, people in general being around was something to get used to, but that’s another story.

Then I realized that there were perfectly good stairs a lot closer to my work space than the break room was. So I started hanging out there and reading — sometimes, sitting on the stairs, other times leaning against the railing — it’s at a decent height for that. Nowadays, that’s where 40-60% of my weekday reading happens while on break.

It’s not perfectly quiet, but it’s close enough. Except when the flautist practices every couple of months. There are people who pass through — and some of them talk to me, but the conversations are short — because they’re on their way to somewhere else. Sometimes it’s just a “hi,” occasionally I workshop ideas for posts here when someone asks about what I’m reading. I’ve even been given a couple of good recommendations.

Now, the keen-eyed among you might have noticed a couple of post-its on the wall (circled below).

So, for a couple of years people would joke about putting up a sign where I read with my name on it or something (more than one person has suggested getting me a chair). But last December, I moved to a different floor, and within a month, someone had put up the larger post-it reading “[H. C.]’s Reading Spot.” This would be in the larger circle.

A couple of weeks later, that person asked if I liked my sign. I had to confess that I had no clue what she was talking about and apologized profusely. Who pays attention to the walls along the stairs? Especially when you’re not climbing the stairs, but are focused on the book/eReader in your hand. So when I went out for my next break, I went looking for it — and she’d added another post-it (the smaller one), “<– This is the sign.”

Very helpful.

So, yeah, that’s where I read and recharge from all the interaction with people so I have enough energy to get back to work and interact with more people.

Sure, it’s not as snazzy as some of the reading nooks you see on Instagram, Bookstr, etc. It could be more comfortable, that’s for sure. But I’ve gotta say, when the book is halfway decent, I don’t notice. That’s where the magic happens.

Looking back at 2018 for Books and the Blog

As we kick off 2019, I wanted to take a glance back at 2018. 258 books read (plus comics, picture books, short stories, and the like that I don’t know how to count) — I exceeded my goal (nothing like exceeding an arbitrary number to boost the ol’ ego), 380 posts (short of my goal by a couple hundred, and worse — 15 fewer than 2017, which was down from 2016. This is a trend that I need to reverse). I had some strong gains in traffic — views and visitors — actually, strong gains doesn’t quite cut it. Consider my mind boggled. I’m also seeing good growth in followers here and on various social media fronts, which is encouraging as all get out — not just growth in numbers, but I’m actually interacting with people (and vice versa).

So here’s my breakdown of books by genre, like the one I did last year. Genre labeling is more difficult this year, I read a lot of hybrids, but I tend to go with the overarching genre (for example, Brassley’s The Drifting Lands books are fantasy novels in a SF setting, I went with Fantasy). Mystery/Suspense/Thriller is back to where it should be. Fantasy jumped up a bit, and Urban Fantasy took a dive. It’s been forever since I’ve read a Western, I guess (at least one that wasn’t a hybrid with Urban Fantasy or SF or something) — and I had to add a category for Poetry. Theological books went down in actual numbers, not just percent — but I read some big, technical stuff this year that take a lot of time/energy to read, so I’m not too bothered by that. Still, for someone who doesn’t plan too thoroughly, the percentages stay remarkably the same from year to year — tastes (and series I follow) apparently stay the same.

Genre 2018 2017 2016 2015 2014 2013 2012
Children’s 11 (4%) 7 (3%) 5 (2%) 0 (0%) 0 (0%) 0 (0%) 0 (0%)
Fantasy 30 (11%) 7 (3%) 31 (13%) 17 (9%) 11 (7%) 15 (8%) 12 (6%)
General Fiction/ Literature 22 (8%) 29 (10%) 27 (11%) 17 (9%) 7 (4%) 30 (16%) 30 (14%)
Horror 0 (0%) 0 (0%) 1 (.4%) 0 (0%) 0 (0%) 0 (0%) 0 (0%)
Humor 3 (1%) 1 (0%) 0 (0%) 1 (1%) 3 (2%) 0 (0%) 0 (0%)
Mystery/ Suspense/ Thriller 107 (38%) 102 (37%) 61 (25%) 64 (34%) 62 (37%) 63 (33%) 73 (35%)
Non-Fiction 22 (8%) 10 (4%) 11 (5%) 8 (4%) 4 (2%) 2 (1%) 11 (5%)
Poetry 1 (0%) 0 (0%) 0 (0%) 0 (0%) 0 (0%) 0 (0%) 0 (0%)
Science Fiction 25 (9%) 27 (10%) 37 (15%) 16 (8%) 17 (10%) 14 (7%) 11 (5%)
Steampunk 3 (1%) 1 (0%) 2 (1%) 7 (4%) 3 (2%) 3 (2%) 11 (5%)
Theology/ Christian Living 25 (9%) 30 (11%) 33 (14%) 42 (22%) 42 (25%) 37 (19%) 10 (5%)
Urban Fantasy 29 (10%) 45 (16%) 36 (15%) 19 (10%) 20 (12%) 26 (14%) 48 (23%)
Western 0 (0%) 0 (0%) 0 (0%) 0 (0%) 0 (0%) 0 (0%) 1 (0%)

Have a great 2019, hope you find plenty of good things to read!

2019 Reading Goals/Plans/Expectations

All this needs to be taken with a grain of salt, obviously. Maybe a salt lick. Remembering all too well the poet’s lines:

           But Mousie, thou art no thy-lane,
In proving foresight may be vain:
The best laid schemes o’ Mice an’ Men
          Gang aft agley,
An’ lea’e us nought but grief an’ pain,
          For promis’d joy!

So, I’ve got 6 Reading Challenges in the hopper — I looked at a number of others, but these are the ones that clicked with me. Last year was the first that I really got into Reading Challenges, and appreciated the way they made me think about what I was reading (and outside of maybe 3 or 4 books, they didn’t direct my reading).

Additionally, I’m going to focus on bringing down the number of books in my Physical and Electronic TBR Pile/Mound/Heap (33 and 21, respectively, not counting review copies). Those numbers aren’t as big as some people’s, I realize. But that’s 2 months and change of reading if I read nothing else. This is a personal challenge, that I’m dubbing The Reader Who Went up a Mountain but Came down a Hill. We’ll see how well that works.

I’m also going to finish off my Rebus-catch up, I’m going to try to read the rest of the DC Fiona Griffiths (although I’ve been saying that for 2 years now), and I want to read every Fredrik Backman novel I can get my hands on. Actually accomplishing these three would only chip away two books from the above mountain…

But mostly, I’m going to focus on “Serendipity and Whim” like Alan Jacobs talks about. By all means feel free to throw suggestions at me.