Discussion post: Books that I’ll (probably) never read

Books I'll never read
This post is a tough one for me to write, as the fact that I own a large number of books that I’ll probably never get around to reading is never something I would usually admit to.

Looking at the stats…

It’s time to face facts. There are currently 184 physical unread books currently on my bookshelf, along with 109 unread books on my kindle and 11 in my audiobook library. That’s a total of 304 unread books (and yes, counting up all of these was slightly horrifying and took forever!).

Despite the fact that I already own almost enough books to open my own private library, only a paltry 5 of the 50 books that I’ve read so far in 2017 are books that I owned prior to the beginning of 2017. This means that the vast majority of the books that I’m reading are either new releases, review copies or books that have been otherwise bought or borrowed by me in the last six months.

What does this all mean??

These statistics really doesn’t bode well for the piles of books that have accompanied me from house to house for years but haven’t yet got around to reading – some of which I don’t even remember buying!

Looking at it mathematically I’m on track to read about 90 books this year – as long I carry on at the rate I’ve been reading for the first seven months. At this rate, finishing all the books I currently own without adding any in new books at all would take me almost 3 and a half years.

If I carry on my current rate of reading on average 10 books from my backlist every year (which is far more likely, given my obvious weakness for new releases, Amazon ebook sales and second hand bookshops) working through the books I currently own will take about 30 years.

What am I going to do about it? 

All of this makes the chances of me ever finishing the books I already own increasingly unlikely! But even though I know this is the truth, I just can’t bring myself to get rid of my unread books. Every time I do a clear out and read the back covers of long neglected books, I’m reminded of why I thought I’d enjoy it and I remain convinced that soon there will be a day when that particular book will be perfect for my mood.

However, in an attempt to try and tackle some of the backlog of books that have steadily been piling up, for the next six months of this year – and beyond that as well – I’m going to make a real effort to attempt to read at least one book a month that I’ve owned since before Christmas 2016.

I’ll also make an effort to donate some books to charity, including those that I know that I can’t see myself reading anytime in the near future – such as biographies or titles that I’ve had for a while but I now know from experience that I’m not a huge fan of the author.

Does anyone else have this problem? Are there any books in particular on your bookshelf that you think you’ll never get around to reading?

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Discussion post: Focusing on a particular genre

Focusing on a genre

Today I’m going to talk about something I’ve been thinking about for a while – whether not focusing a specific genre for a book blog is a positive or a negative, or whether it can be both.

I read a lot of different genres depending on my mood and what I’m feeling like at the time – and my blog has evolved naturally as a result of this. I quite often have a few different books on the go at once. For example at the moment I’m listening to a crime/thriller audiobook while I’m out and about, reading the latest fiction release as an eBook while on my commute and reading an epic fantasy in paperback at home.

I’m enjoying each of these equally, and sooner or later they’ll all pop up as reviews on this site. However, I’m conscious that for some people, they might be primarily interested in just one of these genres.

I have lots of wonderful followers who are kind enough to read and comment on my posts, no matter what the subject matter. However, I’ve often wondered if my blog would do better if I focused more on one particular genre or topic.

A lot of the blogs I personally follow have a clear identity and have carved out a real niche for themselves in the blogosphere – and this is something that I see as a real positive. For example, I follow a lot of blogs that are mainly focused on YA, on crime or on fantasy or sci fi. I love that there are bloggers that I can come back to time and time again and know that the books they’re reviewing are ones that I know I’ll be interested in.

On the other hand, I also think that not having a specific genre can help to attract a wider audience. I also follow a number of blogs where not all of the reviews are necessarily of books I’d read, but I know that when there’s a book review I’m not personally interested in, I can always skip down and read a discussion post, Q&A or review that does interest me.

Plus, sometimes reviews of books I would never have thought I’d be interested in pop up on my WordPress Reader that sound great, so I’ll add them to my TBR and potentially discover something new.

I’m really interested to hear what you guys think about this one – so please do comment and let me know!

Do you have a primary genre for your blog? Is this because you’ve made a conscious decision that this is the area you’re going to focus on for blogging, or simply because it’s the genre you’re most interested in as a reader?

Do you prefer to read blogs that are mainly about a specific genre, or are you happy to skip past the reviews that aren’t for you if there’s other interesting, non-genre specific posts for you to read?

Discussion post: Reading outside your comfort zone

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When it comes to reading, I’d say I have quite eclectic tastes. I’m just as happy reading literary fiction as I am epic fantasy. I’ve always got time for a good thriller or crime novel and if I hear about a great new dystopian or post-apocalyptic book, I’ll buy it straight away.

That said, there are a number of genres that in general, I don’t tend to read. This includes poetry, non-fiction, autobiographies and books that are too focused around war or long-drawn out battles. I’m also not a huge fan of young adult contemporaries.

Of course there are exceptions to every rule. I recently read and really enjoyed When Breath Becomes Air, a memoir by neurosurgeon Paul Kalanithi. I do enjoy character driven novels set in the time period of WWI or WWII, just not those that are overly focused on the technicalities of battles. I really enjoyed Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood, which looks at a real life crime and its repercussions. I’m also hoping to explore poetry more in the future and have heard that Rupi Kaur’s Milk and Honey is a good collection to start off with.

Sometimes when browsing through other book blogs, I see reviews of books or lists of new releases that sound great or that have amazing beautiful covers – even though they aren’t in a genre I usually read. I also hear a lot of hype about particular books in the blogosphere, particularly YA contemporaries, that makes me wish that I’d read something and could join in the conversation. This can sometimes tempt me in, but a part of me is still always wary of investing in something if I know there’s a high chance it won’t be for me.

In the long run, I do think it’s best to understand your own likes and dislikes, and to accept that they might well be different from other peoples. There’s nothing wrong with trying to read outside of your genre every once in a while, especially if it’s something that’s been recommended to you, but I personally think I’d rather focus my time on genres that I know I’m more likely to enjoy based on past experiences.

What are your views on this? Are you an adventurous reader? Do you feel sometimes feel pressured to read books that aren’t generally your go-to genre or do you know what you like and stick to it?

To reread or not to reread?

Discussion - rereading

Last month I reread a couple of my favourite books (ahead of the release of the last book in a series) but before I did this I had a real internal struggle about whether or not this was the best way that I could be using my reading time. Here are some of the pros and cons I debated over.

Pros:

  • Rereading is comforting. I know I’m going to enjoy it. There’s usually a reason I loved the book in the first place. The characters are familiar and it can be great escapism – like watching Home Alone every Christmas.
  • You notice things you never noticed the first time around. The first time reading, I’m usually focused on the plot and what’s going to happen next. The second time is for all the tiny details that I might never have noticed if I hadn’t committed to a reread.
  • It helps refresh your memory of books and revive your enthusiasm when there’s been a gap between releases. I’m particularly bad for forgetting everything that happened in a series and feeling totally lost when I pick up the latest release.
  • Personally, rereading books can help to lift me out of a reading slump. Sometimes I can’t decide what to read next or struggle to get excited about anything, but falling back on an old favourite for a bit of a break can be really helpful in pushing past this.

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What is ‘fan fiction’?

Discussion - fan fiction

I’ve never really read any ‘fan fiction’ – as I’d define it – until a few weeks ago I saw a Buzzfeed article recommending their top pieces of Harry Potter fan fiction. I thought I’d check one out actually quite enjoyed it!

Generally, fan fiction still has a questionable rep. Some people see it as ‘ripping off’ other people’s characters and ideas. Also, it seems to me that there’s an awful lot of bad, mad and downright weird fan fiction out there on the internet, and that to find something good you have to get lucky or follow recommendations from others. The result is that most people don’t consider fan fiction to be ‘real’ writing.

But essentially, fan fiction is taking the universe or characters that someone has created and using them to tell a new story. This got me thinking about just how many popular books that could essentially be classed as fan fiction.

For instance, sequels to a whole range of books have been taken on and written by new, different authors, from ‘Scarlett’, the follow up to Margaret Mitchell’s epic ‘Gone with the Wind’ to the recent continuation of the late Stieg Larsson’s Millennium trilogy by David Lagercrantz. Many recent authors have also taken inspiration from secondary characters in timeless classics and given them their own imagined storyline, such as in Jo Baker’s ‘Longbourn’ (Pride and Prejudice taken below stairs) or in Gregory Maguire’s ‘Wicked’ series (looking at the other side of the wicked witch of the west).

These are just a few examples. When you start thinking about it properly you can come up with hundreds.

I think for me the main definition of ‘fan fiction’, as I understand it, is that it can be written by anyone and posted online for everyone else to read for free if they can find it. Expansions or continuations indeed are a version of fan fiction, but have been selected by publishers as an officially recognised original piece of work. However, these lines may blur as more and more people self-publish their work.

To me, it feels like books picked up by a publisher carry more weight, and that they’ve been selected because they’re the best that this genre has to offer. Plus my TBR is already longer then I can ever hope to handle, so I just don’t have time to dedicate to wading through the vast expanse of fan fiction available on the internet.

I do recognise that I might well be biased in my views though, as I haven’t had much exposure to good fan fiction. I’m more than willing to try reading more though, so if you have any suggestions, please do comment and let me know!

What does everyone think about fan fiction? Do you read it?