June Wrap-up!

I wrote actual blog posts this month! And quite a few of them! Yay! Finishing up school definitely increased the amount of time I have to read and blog, and I’m happy that I’m able to do more here now because I love posting reviews and things and I missed doing this as much as I’d like.

Reads for June

Here’s all I read in June:

American Panda by Gloria Chao — 5 of 5 stars — review forthcoming!

White Rabbit by Caleb Roehrig — 3 of 5 stars — review here!

Running With Lions by Julian Winters — 5 of 5 stars — review forthcoming!

Final Draft by Riley Redgate (ARC) — 4 of 5 stars — review here!

A Quick & Easy Guide To They/Them Pronouns by Archie Bongiovanni and Tristan Jimerson (ARC) — 5 of 5 stars — review here!

Clowders by Vanessa Morgan (ARC) — 2.5 of 5 stars — review here!

When the Beat Drops by Anna Hecker (ARC) — 5 of 5 stars — review here!

Manga Classics: Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare, et. al  (ARC) — 4 of 5 stars — review here!

Probable Claws (Mrs. Murphy #27) by Rita Mae Brown and Sneaky Pie Brown (ARC) — 3 of 5 stars — review here!

The Trans Generation: How Trans Kids (and Their Parents) are Creating a Gender Revolution by Ann Travers (ARC) — 4.5 of 5 stars — review here!

Esme’s Wish by Elizabeth Foster (ARC) — 4 of 5 stars — review forthcoming!

 

 

Reading stats:

  • Number of books read: 11
  • Number of nonfiction books: 2
  • Number of ARCs: 8
  • Number of books by marginalized authors: ~6
  • Number of library books: 0

Look at all of those links to reviews that I actually wrote this month instead of just slapping a “forthcoming” label on! And guess what? One of those three other “forthcoming” reviews is ALREADY WRITTEN! I’m getting so good at this! (Even though I still have a HELL of a backlog of reviews I still need to write sitting in my post drafts…)

I spent most of my reading time this month concentrating on my ARCs from NetGalley — I’d gotten quite a few of them that I hadn’t been able to give my full attention to because of school and they’d been published before I had a chance to read and review them, so I made an effort to read them and review them and get back to where the ARCs I have are for forthcoming releases rather than books that have already been published. I got to a good place, got my ratio back above 80% and only two books that have been published already sitting in my queue… And then I went on a requesting spree and got approved for 11 more books because I don’t ever learn and still underestimate how many publishers are willing to approve me to read their books. So I’ve got plenty of stuff to read now! It’s a good thing I have more time to read and stuff now, as I’m hoping that I’ll be able to do a better job of keeping up with reviewing ARCs before they release now.

On The Personal Side…

The biggest news of June — I have a Master of Library and Information Science degree now! What’s kind of funny is that the date my MLIS was awarded, according to my transcript, is six years to the day from the date I graduated from high school. It feels weird being done in more ways than one — it’s weird saying I have a master’s degree, sure, but it’s also weird that this break from school isn’t a short one and I DON’T have to just start classes again in a few weeks. I have been in some sort of school continuously for 20 academic years and I’m used to having to go back to class after a certain amount of break, but I’m no longer enrolled anywhere and don’t have to do that now… I don’t really understand this concept of NOT having to spend my non-work hours doing school-related things. I have free time, and I don’t comprehend it.

The second biggest news of June — I’m getting a car next week! I’m getting a really good deal from a family friend on a 2015 Hyundai Elantra that I just love, and I’m really excited about it even though I still don’t have my license. I may still be a gay who can’t drive, but at least now I’m a gay who can’t drive BUT WITH A CAR.

In terms of July projects, Camp NaNoWriMo is going to be here in 45 minutes for me and I’m really excited because that “free time” stuff means I can actually write this month! I can’t wait. I’ll be running sprints for a few shifts a week from the @NaNoWordSprints Twitter account along with some of my fellow MLs, so come write with us! Additionally, one of my fellow MLs, BookTuber Silly Little Ravenclaw, and I are doing a Pretty Little Liars readalong (#SummerOfPLL) and you should join us! My blog post about the readalong has some fancy calendars that I put together while using Canva for the first time, and it’ll be lots of fun!

What are you looking forward to in July?

Reading For Fun While Being A Student?

I  have been a student for quite some time; counting from my first year of preschool (I had two years because my parents kept me in that class a second year because I was really short and they had hoped I’d “grow into” my class. I’m 4 feet 8 inches tall now. We can see how well THAT strategy worked out…), I am currently in my 20th consecutive year of school. I can’t even remember a time when I haven’t been a student. Being a student is a standard part of my life; everything else gets worked around that.

This includes reading. I LOVE reading, but it more often than not takes a backseat to my student life because it’s not something that (usually) has deadlines and requirements that I need to take care of in a time-sensitive manner. Reading is something that is just there when I want it, and while that’s a great thing, there is still the issue of making time for it.

How does one make time to read while being a student? I honestly have no idea.

I am one who doesn’t do well with routines; I get off-track very easily, and when I get off-track one time the entire routine shuts down almost entirely and I have to start over from scratch. If I read an hour every day for four weeks straight and then miss the next day accidentally, I am FAR more likely to miss the next several days as well than to get back on track and read for an hour during those days. I’m also someone who has trouble sitting and reading for short periods of time because my attention really needs to be focused on what I’m doing, so reading for a few minutes here and there on my commute or while I’m waiting for something doesn’t really work for me.

What usually ends up happening for me is I’ll find a longer block of time where I’m available to sit and read at LEAST one section of a book. If a book is divided into sections (like sections made up of chapters), I can put a book down at the end of a section most of the time. I can usually work with breaking a book into two or four pieces (not literally) and putting the book down at the end of each of those pieces. I also tend to read a lot of books straight through in one sitting. My best reading sessions allow me to make large strides through a book; I feel much better reading this way.

This strategy can be something of a problem, though, when being a student severely reduces the amount of time you have available to block off for reading.

This is where I turn to you: if you’re a student (or have been one in the past), how do you find the time to read? What are your reading habits like as a student? Do you have any tips for increasing the amount of time you spend reading as a student? Let me know in the comments!

How Reading More Diversely Broke My Reading Slump

I loved reading as a kid. New books were the most exciting thing in the world for me — during Scholastic Book Fair seasons, my mom would buy up all of the books that I said I wanted, and then she’d keep them hidden in a cupboard and give them to me every so often throughout the year. Barnes and Noble’s summer reading program was exciting because I could get a brand new book at the end of it, and all I had to do was read! I spent countless hours volunteering in a small library when I got a little older, and During those childhood and early teen years I couldn’t get enough of books.

Something changed during my late teens.

During my early teens I didn’t know I was going to end up being a bi, demisexual, non-binary, neurodivergent, disabled* person. That was a scary thing to start figuring out as a teen because I lived in a rural, conservative community with conservative parents and no real support in that regard. All of a sudden, I found myself wanting books that represented my newfound queerness especially, and yet I learned that getting my hands on them was exceedingly difficult. I got tired of all of the white allocishet abled characters and their white allocishet abled romances because the only thing that I had in common with them was that I was white.

I still had my books and I still collected new (mostly used) ones, but from the ages of about 17-21, I almost entirely stopped reading. I didn’t make a lot of time for it, it didn’t feel fun to me anymore, and yet I still liked the idea of it. The idea of reading good books sat so well with me that I wanted to spend the rest of my life in libraries. I felt at home surrounded by books, but I couldn’t get myself to read them.

In early 2017, I made a concentrated effort to read more diversely, and my world expanded. I found bi characters who understood me so well that I couldn’t stop grinning. Trans characters who knew how I felt so much that I cried. Characters with OCD who understood what was going on in my brain so well that I had to sit back and just let that fact sink in.

I didn’t just find characters like me; I found characters that weren’t. Even though I could no longer relate to those white allocishet abled characters from my early teens, it’s still a fact that I know far more about that culture than I do other cultures I don’t share. I read more books by Black authors. Latinx authors. Jewish authors. Muslim authors. I fell in love with these characters, and while these books didn’t make me an expert by any means, they did help me grow as a person. They got me outside of myself and into the shoes of others, and I grew more empathetic than I’ve ever been in my life.

Diverse books made me feel excited about reading again. I feel alive when holding one in my hands, and I feel so much more deeply when I read than I’ve ever felt before. Despite being a full-time graduate student with three jobs and hardly any time to breathe, I’ve managed to read 91 books so far this year, and I am well on my way to finishing 100 before December ends. Without diverse books, I don’t think I would have even managed half of that this year. Not every book I read WAS diverse (I’m still on a quest to finish every Stephen King book, I did a Harry Potter re-read, and I read quite a few Lurlene McDaniel books for the Hey Lurlene! podcast this year), almost all of my favorites were by diverse authors about diverse characters, and the excitement I felt while reading those stories kept me wanting more. I’ve pre-ordered and bought more new books this year than I ever have in my life, and all but one of those books was diverse. I found my happy place while reading again. I found that spark.

Part of me wonders whether I would have had such a long reading slump at all if I’d had access to diverse books earlier in my life. I can’t say for sure, but the genuine happiness I feel while reading these books now is something that I probably could have used as a teen. If I were to give my teen self a gift, I’d give them a letter saying “yeah hi YOU’RE NOT CIS OR STRAIGHT FIGURE IT OUT ALREADY” and a box of my favorite diverse reads from this year. I’d like to think that I would have turned out just a little bit happier.

Books I’d include in the box to myself (in the order in which I read them this year, and linked to either my review or the book’s Goodreads page):

These books brought joy back to reading for me. I wish teen me could have had them.

 

*I still have trouble claiming the term “disabled” for myself, but I’m figuring that one out.

**If you’ve read my review then you’ll know that I didn’t think TATWD was THAT great for a YA novel, but the OCD rep in this book hit me so hard that I wouldn’t hesitate to give it to my past self. It would have done wonders for me.

Want a Raspberry?

I’ve never been all that good at reviewing books. Not verbally, at least. I can tell what I like and what I don’t like, but these feel-good moments and cringe-worthy moments come to me more often as feelings, and I’ve never been good at describing my feelings.

I used to be a heavier reader than I have been the last few years. College is mostly to blame for that — when you’re trying to pass all of your classes, who has time for fun reading? I sure felt like I didn’t. I’ve never regretted letting myself have the time to finish my homework, of course, but I do wish that I had been able to make more time for fun reading.

Though I still have almost two full years of my master’s degree left to complete, I’m going to change that now. I’m a future librarian — my future degree says so. Why shouldn’t I be able to read fun books while going to school?

In addition to the Bookout app, this blog is a tool for helping me read more regularly. My usage of the app is to develop a better, more regular reading habit; my usage of this blog is to help me reflect on my reading more than I have been in the past.

I’m not sure how often I’ll be posting here just yet because I’m still figuring out my new reading schedule, but in the meantime please enjoy the raspberries. Thank you for stopping by!