Posts tagged ‘reading’

2018, January 5

My 2017 in books

In 2017, I challenged myself to read 25 books and made it one book past that, to 26 instead. It was a true challenge as unexpected circumstances got me depressed and in no mood to do anything, let alone sit down and read. So what I did read was both for fun and for work and barely anything stands out.

The total page count comes to 4417, with the longest book being “Tools of Titans” by Tim Ferris at 707 pages.

My top favorite reads of 2017 are:

  • “Big Magic” by Elizabeth Gilbert – I loved my friend Janel Gradowski’s, “Facing your fears”guest blog post inspired by “Big Magic” so much, that I looked forward to reading the book last year. I actually received it for my birthday in May 2016, except in Romanian which I didn’t care for, so it was really great to finally dive into it in English. I can honestly say I loved the book and Janel’s impressions of it are so very true.
  • “House Sitting Secrets Revealed: Learn to excel at house sitting from a successful full-time house sitter” by Crystal Gabrielle – This is one very long title, but I absolutely adored the book. I have a friend who house sits on a regular basis and I’ve been asking her questions sometimes, and have to admit was at times jealous of her being able to visit so many nice places and explore those cities while she’s house sitting. I loved the book because it explains so well what house sitting means, it is full of examples, resources and of truly great tips and advice drilling down to the specifics for those who wish to pursue this as a side-hustle or even as a full-time endeavor, while still remaining an easy read.
  •  “That Was the Year” by Jenny Bravo – I looked forward to reading the newest novel in the TATM series which I bought right after it was published in December 2016. It took me back to my younger years, it was a somewhat frenetic read, but a good read about friendship with romance thrown in, which is how life turns out to be so often.

Below is a print screen of all the titles I’ve read last year. Take a look, and check out the list itself on Goodreads. Who knows, you might see something you’d also like to read.

Now, please let me know in the comments below how many books you’ve read this past year? And what are your favorite reads for 2017 (or previous years)? Don’t hold back, I always love a good book recommendation!

I am challenging myself to read 25 books in 2018. Here’s hoping it’ll be much easier than it was last year.

Here’s to a great 2018, filled with lots of reading!

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2017, January 6

My 2016 in books

In 2016, I challenged myself to read 20 books and made it to 23 instead. I have to admit, that includes both reading for fun and for work, but hey, at least sometimes I’m getting paid to read so I won’t complain!

At the end of 2015, I won an Amazon gift card at work, and promptly ordered a few books for myself, which my dear friend from London was so kind to bring with her when she visited her grandmother so I could make use of Amazon stores “free shipping in the UK” policies. I have to say, I haven’t finished reading half of those titles, but I am very happy to have them close by.

my-year-2016-in-books

I read in several genres, from murder mystery, romance, young adult, to poetry, recipes, instructional books, and even fairy tales and a comic book.

One book that I regret not finishing this year is the DOODLE ART HANDBOOK: The Non-Artist’s Guide in Creative Drawing by Lana Karr, Olga Dee,  especially because I would’ve liked to doodle more, and this book is wonderful for someone just starting out in that department.

The total page count only comes to 3521, with the longest book being The Chicago Manual of Style by University of Chicago Press at 1026 pages.

My favorite reads of 2016 are actually series rather than single books this time around:

  • Banana Muffins & Mayhem, by Janel Gradowski – In June, I took part in Janel Gradowski’s book launch tour, and for this occasion I re-read the novels I finished before, and read the ones I haven’t from her culinary competition mystery book series.
    When I finished reading Banana Muffins & Mayhem, the fifth novel, I came to the conclusion that it was my favorite of the series. As much as I love the main character, Amy, I really loved getting a different POV from her best friend Carla in this novel. Reading the book coincided with a pretty complicated year in my life, and especially some of the advice given to Amy regarding life and family I have taken as my own silver lighting and put my worries aside for now.
  • These Are the Moments, by Jenny Bravo – I have to say, I fell in love with Jenny Bravo’s writing style! She writes with such ease, yet conveys such raw, complicated and powerful emotions through her characters, that I was drawn in from the very first sentence of each book.
    Although I loved every single one of the books, These Are the Moments was my favorite of the series so far. As the book’s description befittingly states, this young adult and new adult fiction novel dares to ask the questions: Do people ever really change? Do two people, who can never make it work, actually make it right? And most importantly, do they even want to?
    I actually read the Those Were the Days: A TATM Short Story (in a heartbeat!) first, which was free on Kindle (Amazon), and immediately bought the novel and also the novella Moments Like These: A TATM novella. I look forward to reading the newest novel in the series which I bought right after it was published in December, That Was the Year, and already can’t wait for the third novel!

Below is a print screen of all the titles I’ve read last year. Take a look, and check out the list itself on Goodreads. Who knows, you might see something you’d also like to read.

2016-in-books

Now, please let me know in the comments below how many books you’ve read this past year? And what are your favorite reads for 2016 (or previous years)? Don’t hold back, I always love a good book recommendation!

Since I would’ve liked to read even more last year but did end up surpassing my goal, I decided to challenge myself to read 25 books in 2017. That was my goal in 2013, too, and just like that year, I totally plan to update this with higher numbers over the course of the year!
I am already ahead of schedule with a book I finished reading on January 2nd ;)

Here’s to a great 2017, filled with lots of reading!

2016, December 9

What do You gift writers?

2016 is nearly over and I’d like to thank every single one of my readers for making it such an amazing one, and my bloggy friends who have filled it with so much awesome blogging, flash fiction, poems and even essays to read, each week!

Here’s wishing you all an early Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

tea-book-gift

As for my blog post’s title? I wrote this back in 2011 for FFDO, but wanted to share here on my own blog now since that website closed.

This is the season of gift giving, and more often than not, we end up with gifts we like, but which aren’t too related to our field. When I give a gift I like to really think about what the person would enjoy and use. Shopping for writers is rather easy, in my opinion, as we all have access to the basics.

While I do not personally have the one formula you could use to determine what each of your fellow scribbler and avid reader family members or friends would like to receive, I have put together a short list of things which could tickle their fancy.

  1. Gift baskets. I know what you’re thinking. Gift baskets come in all shapes and sizes, but not one shop or website carries one named “Writer’s gift basket”; right? They don’t, or at least not the ones I looked through around here as research for this article. So why did I include this here? Because, you can make it yourself!
    Grab a pretty basket and fill it up with: pens and pencils, pencil cases, bookmarks, journals, stapler & staples, ink (either for a pen or for a printer), notepads, erasers, post-it notes in any or all shapes and sizes, stationery, note books (maybe something fancier, like a leather note book), day planners, diaries, bookplates, writing-themed magnets (magnetic scrabble fridge tiles), a book light, memory sticks, and chocolate. Every writer loves chocolate.
  2. Books. Kind of obvious, yes. But every writer I know has a never-ending wishlist. Many have books on the craft of writing, technical books, collections of writing prompts or all those wonderful novels and poetry out there which they would love to own, yet simply can’t afford or feel that they shouldn’t indulge.
    See if they are willing to share the wishlist (or they might have one online on Goodreads, Amazon, or BookDepository so you can check it without them even suspecting what you are up to).
  3. I’d like to include Literary Magazines, either Single issues or Subscriptions under this category, too. This is a luxury most poetry or short story writers would appreciate as it’s always nice to hold a magazine in hand while reading rather than the average e-mail subscriptions.
  4. Amazon Prime might be a good idea as well. I think if there weren’t the added benefits like free same-day or two-day delivery, unlimited streaming for movies and series, hundreds of playlists and unlimited photo storage, the single reason a writer would choose Amazon Prime is: borrowing one book per month with no due date from the collection of over 800,000 books of the Kindle Owner’s Lending Library!
  5. Other Software or Updates. In this very tech-y day an age, most writers use a laptop for writing, on a daily basis. The key software for these writers is a word-processing software. Most PC users use Microsoft Office-based Word, however there are other ones out there as well, like Scrivener or White Smoke.
    If you’re feeling fancy, ask if they’d like to switch from their free blogging platform to their own self-hosted domain. They’re not as expensive as eight years ago when I first started blogging.
  6. An editor. Let me rephrase that since editors might not let you tie a pretty red bow around their neck and agree to sit pretty under the Christmas tree: An editing session. Are the writers in your life in need of a second opinion? Are they letting their masterpiece collect dust on a shelf, or putting off writing/sending out query letters because it needs more editing? An editing session could help them out big time.
  7. A creative writing class, workshops or conferences. Either in “real-life” or online, many writers would like to further perfect their craft. Have they got fear of writing, issues with time management, or are in need of fresh creative energy to move out of a rut? There are several websites you can check out, and in case you can not decide on your own, include the writer in the decision making process. They are the ones who best know what they need.
  8. Customized items. Great for stocking fillers. In this area of gifts, there are many things you can customize, like jewelry: cufflinks, pins and badges, pendants, bracelets engraved with their favorite (short) quote, earrings;
    clothing: T-shirst, neck ties, hats, scarves;
    and even kitchen items: mugs, serving trays, bowls, wine bottles, etc. And you can never go wrong with writing-themed Christmas tree ornaments!
  9. High end pens. Quill pens, fountain pens, ballpoint pens. These are good choices for every writer of course, but especially for pen-enthusiasts.
  10. Book ends. They seem underrated, but I think they are worth keeping in mind because they not only keep books from falling off not-yet-filled-up shelves, they allow for building a bookshelf anywhere – on a windowsill, a desk, etc. They also come in all shapes and sizes and are customisable to your writer’s dreams.
  11. Time to write. This can be as simple as arranging play-dates, taking the kids to a movie one day per week, going to visit the grandparents without your spouse on a weekend, taking over some of the chores or cooking dinner yourself so your writer will have a bit of time to themselves, to clear their head from the everyday worries and write without interruptions.
  12. A place to write. If you are in the mood to make over a room in your house, how about giving your writer a cozy space to read and write in? A door to shut would be ideal, but even simply rearranging a shared space to make room for a bookshelf, a comfy chair, or a desk will go a long way. Build them a book lover’s Christmas Tree!
  13. A writer’s retreat or travel for research. If you can afford it, check out a few places close by and send your writer on a short writing retreat. Or if they have a trip coming up, offer to extend it by a few days. Send them on a short trip for research, if for example, they are city-bound yet writing about a beach setting.
    A weekend away from a noisy house, in a cute little bed and breakfast is guaranteed to make their year!

How about you? Would you be happy to receive any of the above listed? How do you shop for the writers (and readers) in your life? Any ideas I could steal?

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As a disclaimer, the above listed are things I use and love, or I would love to receive.

I have personally worked with Karen Schindler in the past, and she has edited my work in such a way that she kept my voice throughout the stories; sometimes sending them back with edits that I didn’t even notice at first were not my own writing. I highly recommend Karen’s services.

In April 2012, I took Milli Thornton’s Ace Your 10K Day online class. She has several classes to choose from, her insight for the issues I had were more than helpful as they were easily applicable; and overall, Milli was a pleasure to work with.

If you’re crafty, a while back I made myself some classy handmade bookmarks, and cute corner bookmarksa writer’s clock, pretty calligraphy ornaments and a travelogue and built a Booklover’s Christmas Tree! With a little imagination, they can easily be transformed to your own needs and even crafted with your children to gift to the writer in their life.

Happy gift giving!

2016, October 21

The “I Am the Reader” book tag

There is a book tag floating around among YouTube channels, called “I Am the Reader” and people get all chatty answering the questions.
I’m not sure who started the tag, and I’m not going to go search for them either, but the questions did sound interesting when I happened upon a vlog this past weekend.

i-am-the-reader

Here are the “I Am the Reader” book tag questions and my answers:

  1. Choose one word that describes being a reader.
    – Magical.
  2. What’s the very first book you fell in love with?
    – For Christmas when I was in second grade my mom gifted me the book called “Me and My Sister Clara”, by Dimitar Inkiow, which is the only book I’ve read as many times as I’ve read the HP series. I recall that I even colored in the drawings in my Hungarian version of the little book.
  3. Hardcover or paperback?
    – I love a good hardcover, but usually I buy paperback books for the simple reason that they’re cheaper. And along those lines, I have a lot of e-books which I either won, found for free or bought when they were on sale.
    As long as the book is good though, it really doesn’t matter what form it comes in. I just want to read.
  4. How has reading shaped your identity?
    – Reading the Harry Potter series and a question from a friend prompted quite an interesting list of what my seven Horcruxes are, because, I now believe we all have horcruxes in real life.
  5. What book do you read when you need to be comforted?
    – Lately I don’t have a go-to book to read when in the need to be comforted so I just pick up a book from my TBR pile. But if I had all of my books living with me instead of in my old room at mom’s, it’d most likely be the HP books.
  6. Who taught you to be a reader? (Or did you do it all on your own?)
    – I read books since I learned how to read, but mostly off the Required Reading Lists for school. I usually didn’t like them.
    The reply to this question coincides more with what I call My Harry Potter Story:
    one of my friends hasn’t shut up for months and made me watch the first Harry Potter movie with her. I loved it and when I got home my first question to my mom was: when can we buy the book?
    This was right before the beginning of the 9th grade when I went to high school, and my new Hungarian literature teacher’s first request was for the class to read the first Harry Potter novel. So the next day, I got the book and read it in a heart beat. For Christmas and birthdays I got the rest of them as presents over the years, and I bought the last four myself.
    I started reading more and more while waiting for which ever happened to be the next book in the HP series to get written/published and haven’t stopped ever since. That is also when I started reading more in English.
  7. Describe your dream reading lounge.
    – One of these chairs in the corner of a quiet room, next to a fireplace, with a warm knitted blanket, an endless supply of Toblerone and tea, and my Pixel kitty purring in my lap.
  8. What book changed the way you act or see the world?
    – I loved the reality  “The Fault in Our Stars”, by John Green, presents. I’ve talked about it before, if you want to have a look.

That completes the tag. If you feel like sharing, go ahead and answer the questions in the comments below. Or if so inclined, write a blog post of your own and let me know where I can find it – I’d love to hear all about your reader’s experiences!

2016, March 18

From Scene to Screen – Edward Ormondroyd’s “Time at the top”

1881Three years ago over at Friday Flash Dot Org, in one of the From Scene to Screen features on the website, I talked about Edward Ormondroyd’s “Time at the top” and the movie adaptation by the same name easily being two of my favorites.

In it, I also shared a picture of my copy of the book below my Ramsing of my favorite number, won in a giveaway from Rukmini’s place. Just perfect together! (See photo to your left here.)

Since the Friday Flash Dot Org website closed last year and I didn’t talk about this book on my blog before, I decided to post today in case you’re up for a little review type reading.

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Edward Ormondroyd’s “Time at the top” and the movie adaptation by the same name are easily two of my favorites from what writing I was introduced to during my young adult years.

From the moment the movie started I was drawn in, even more so when the single line “based on the novel…” came up on my TV screen. Normally, I read the book, then watch the movie, but given that the first time I saw this movie was still in my high school years, back then the sequence did not matter as much as it does now. As soon as the movie ended however, I had “Time at the top” on my wish list of books to purchase.

A book about time travel was definitely something I wanted to read, and the main character, Susan was someone I wanted to read about in her own “setting” in the novel. Susan is someone I could relate to, having lost someone dear to me. She is adventuresome, curious, invested, and filled with a desire to help out her new friends while trying to better her own life – these are traits I wish everyone possessed.

Of course, some things are inevitably lost or changed in “translation” from scene to screen so differences appear throughout the two works when compared. Not many did I find distracting from the book’s original feel, however.

The book’s action and story line take place in the early 1960s and goes back to 1881. The movie’s story line changes slightly, the present being 1998 instead of the 60s. While it is one of the biggest differences, this did not strike me as too distracting from the plot itself. The writers managed to make the change believable. It might be because viewers relate better to movies shot in the present of what their current present is.

That said, I find it particularly interesting that in the book (which was first published in 1963), the author and Susan are talking about how the pace of life is too fast and there seemed to be a longing to more peaceful times where cities were smaller, a longing for fresh air, green open spaces, of seeing the country sky full of stars in a way one has never thought about them before in the city. This longing of a time long gone is something I see my present filled with. Because of this, I’m positive this plays a huge role in the novel’s timelessness, the plot is still compelling and enjoyable whether it was read in 1980, in 1998, in 2011 when I reread it, is being read at the moment in 2016, or will be read in 2088.

At the beginning of the novel, Susan has an odd encounter with an older woman and from helping the stranger she is given “three” as a reward. Three turns out to be how many times she can travel in her apartment building’s elevator to the top, and travel further than the last floor, back to the past. In the movie, she discovers this by accident when a neighbor asks her to take some things to the basement for them.

The main plot line stays the same in both the novel and the movie, as gradually discovering the power of the elevator time machine, Susan and her new friends from 1881 travel back and forth in time and succeed in changing both the past and the future, changing a little piece of history. I really liked how the elevator took Susan back in time into Victoria and Robert’s house, which stands in the same spot as her apartment building stands in 1998; this turns into a constant mark for distance during her travels.

Susan ends up play acting to get what she wants, like Portia from “The Merchant of Venice”. She wants a big house in the country, where it’s quiet and pretty, where birds are singing and there is room for everybody. She believes that with a little luck and a little bit of faith one can change the life they’ve made. She believes that when one feels that hope is awry, things can still turn out right.

“Time at the top” is a book where the author self-inserts himself into the narrative in an adorable way. In the movie adaptation he is portrayed as a quirky writer with pen and notepad in hand, and a little bit prone to ridicule on screen. He sums it up well himself when asked if he doesn’t have someplace he needs to be “Oh no, I’m a writer and keep any hours I want.” (Wish I could say that myself, but I digress.) While on paper the change between first person narrative and third person narrative can be a little bit confusing, I liked his presence overall.

If you haven’t yet, I’ll let you all discover the unusual, very unlike-most-time-travel-books, ending by reading the book or watching the movie. Come back here and let me know what you think!

Or have you already read this book, or seen the movie adaptation? Tell me if you liked each one, what do you think of the two in comparison?

PS: I also credit Edward Ormondroyd for providing my young adult self with my favorite number, 1881. Ever since first watching the movie, I’m truly aware of the numbers 1 and 8, and of their presence in my life.

2016, January 22

My 2014 & 2015 in books

I honestly forgot to do a blog post like this with my 2014 in books, so I decided to write one today. I’ll quickly brush on 2014 saying that although I originally challenged myself to read 40 books, I was happy for the tiny win of reading a book more than the 20 I downgraded my reading challenge to, and made it to 21.
Looking back, I notice that half the books I read are from the “Pretty Little Liars” book series, which I honestly didn’t like that much (this is one of those very few times where the TV show is far better than the books, I think). I probably should’ve just stopped reading them, but it doesn’t matter now.
I also read quite a few cooking/baking related books, even though I didn’t have too much time for experimenting in the kitchen. Reading such short reads does fit in well with how much time (or rather how little, given a lot of over time at work) I had on my hand for simply reading.
The total of pages read in 2014 goes up to 5442, of which the longest book I read was Harlequin Holiday Collection: Four Classic Seasonal Novellas, by Debra Webb at 485 pages.

My two very favorite reads of 2014 are:

  • Paris Letters, by Janice Macleod – I started reading this book in September, but put it aside to read when I had more time, so ended up really reading it in December. It has just the right amount of humor, romance, and adventure. Paris Letters made me feel happiness and hope, it gave me inspiration, encouragement and advice. Reading this book when I did helped me immensely in the sense that I liked my job as quality assurance tester, but was already thinking of leaving the firm I was with and finding a better-paying job. Janice’s story, and my boyfriend’s nudging, really inspired me to go beyond wanting this and actually taking steps toward it, starting to learn a bit more and build my CV towards a better job.
    It also “worked” – I am now technical author, which to me translates to “I get paid to write and do some traveling, too”. Nothing short of a dream come true!
  • Let it snow, by John Green, Maureen Johnson and Lauren Myracle – An anthology of three short stories, all tied together by a thread, that are sure to make you smile and will warm your heart during the holiday season. The three narrations fit so seamlessly together without losing their individual flavor. I loved every one of the stories in there! It is one of those reads that just makes you want to snuggle up on your couch, a hot cocoa or tea in hand and wish you had a fireplace to read by!

Below is a print screen of all the titles I’ve read in 2014.

2014 in books

 

In 2015, I started out way too optimistic again, on the just-for-fun reading train. I challenged myself to read 20 books, and ended up downgrading/finishing only 10. I kept putting off reading for fun, and ended up stressing out about finishing my 2015 reading challenge.
On the other hand, I’ve read more than 50 training manuals which I also edited/re-branded for work, and which I cannot add to my reading challenge since they’re used in-house by the client.
I finished a few books that I started reading a long time ago, and which I kept putting off reading. I am really happy to get these off my TBR list! It was also nice to read while I traveled to/from London for work, I’d definitely rather read since I can’t sleep while on a plane.
The total page count only comes to 1819, with the longest book being Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, by Susan Cain at 352 pages.

My three top favorite reads of 2015 are:

  • Pies & Peril, by Janel Gradowski – I found the plot easy to follow, and it kept me guessing about who the killer was. The timing for me to re-read this book was perfect as my boyfriend and I have been watching an old murder mystery series last year.
  • Buckingham Palace: Official Souvenir Guide, by Royal Collection Publications – Purchased this when I visited Buckingham Palace in August 2015, and it provided the best “tour” when I read it at home and talked about the Palace to my friends and family. I love it!
  • E-guide: 52 Weeks, 52 Ways to Love Your (Wild) Self, by Judy Clement Wall – This surely doesn’t come as a surprise, as I went through the exercises in the 52-52 guide this past year and shared with you my thoughts about them every week of 2015! I love love love this e-guide! Even though I try to be mindful of what I need, I put everyone else first far too many times. So this is such a beautiful reminder that I need to be better about loving myself, first.

Below is a print screen of all the titles I’ve read last year. Take a look, and check out the list itself on Goodreads. Who knows, you might see something you’d also like to read.

2015 in books

My friend Trisha shared a link last week about a reading challenge she’s trying since she also wants to read more, and not just work/study stuff. I’ll share The 2016 Reading Challenge here in case anyone else is interested. I really liked the idea, especially the fact that it gives one a lot of room to tailor it to their own taste. As Anne, from Modern Mrs. Darcy phrased it, “read 12 books in 12 different categories in 12 months. It’s simple and doable, but it provides the structure you need to approach your reading list with intention in 2016.”

Now, please let me know in the comments below how many books you’ve read this past year? And what are your favorite reads for 2015 (or previous years)?

Since I haven’t read nearly as much for fun as I would’ve liked last year, I decided to challenge myself to read 20 books in 2016. And I totally plan to update this with higher numbers over the course of the year! So, don’t hold back, I always love a good book recommendation!

Here’s to a great 2016, filled with lots of reading!

2015, September 22

Stretch every day

Last week in the year of loving ourselves fearlessly, the assignment was to stretch every day. And, I did just that.
Here’s the very cute doodle j has in the 52-52 Guide for this past week.

stretch every day

Bodily, I’ve taken up the habit of stretching my back every half an hour or so at work, given I’m sitting at my desk for 8 hrs a day. I also do this when I work from home, except there it’s easier as I can move from the couch to the bar stool, to the desk or to the bed; it’s fun to switch around my spot every now and then.

Mentally and spiritually, I’ve started reading “Better than before” by Gretchen Rubin, and what I’ve noticed is that even though I’m around page 50, I’m already starting to stretch. I’m already starting to go beyond my reach, because habits have enormous influence over our spiritual lives, as well as our work life, family life, health, etc.
Probably because of this month being beginning-of-school-year time in most time zones, September is the time most of us get back into a routine, including getting back to proper eating habits after the seemingly endless barbecues and parties of summer.
So I think that this past week’s assignment was perfect for nudging me towards stretching myself a bit more, spiritually.

The assignment for Week 38 is to Write an “I am not old” Poem. The thing is however, j urges us to “write it out: you are not old (or alone, or lesser, or afraid). Write what you are. Boldly. Lyrically. Like you know it to be true. Because of course, it is.” I’m curious how this will go for me.

How was your week? Did you stretch every day? Bodily? Mentally? Spiritually? In every which way?

PS: If you’re interested in joining us, you don’t have to have the e-guide to play, but if you’d like it, you can buy it in the shop.

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