Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Some "bookish" thoughts.....

There has been a list of 25 or so book related questions making its way around the blogosphere - and I find all of the questions interesting and the answers fascinating. The wonderful thing about these question/answer surveys is that it causes the reader to take time for reflection. I have a couple of questions of my own that I would LOVE to hear your opinions.

Do you re-read favorite books - or do you feel that time is too short and books too many to re-read? I must admit that I never thought to re-read a book until I started teaching. I simply do not feel comfortable teaching a book without at least reviewing it before-hand. This has MADE me re-read some books as many as 4 or 5 times: Pride and Prejudice; Tale of Two Cities; The Hobbit; Macbeth; and A Midsummer Night's Dream. In doing so I have made two rather amazing discoveries: first, in re-reading a book, it is like visiting an old friend. There is a certain comfort of renewing acquaintances with literary characters and discovering that although a year has passed, some things remain the same. At the same time, I always discover new insights into characters and themes - and greater appreciation for the author's writing style. I feel as though I learn to dig deeper with each subsequent reading.

The problem is this: there are just so many hours in a day - and for me, only so many more years left. I already feel so far behind. I allowed my reading habit to go dormant while raising my family, and I now I feel as though I will never read all the books that I want. Is it better to try to increase the breadth of my knowledge by reading only new books (to me) --- or should I also allow time for depth of reading by re-reading a time honored classic again...and again. What do you do? Do you ever re-read books? If so, how often do you re-read the classics? What is your selection process for reading new books vs re-reading old favorites?

For those of you who are fortunate enough to be recipients of ARCs (and I would ask how one networks to be a part of these lists, but I don't want to appear to be a blogger with ulterior motives -- I truly never knew they were available until I started blogging).....how do you temper your personal reading lists with the books that you feel you must review?

How do you segment your time between reading books and reading blogs? Gosh, 6 months ago this question was not a blip on my radar -- but now, it is really a pressing thought for me. I absolutely LOVE reading blogs about reading books (my kids used to tease me when I would buy books about books: "Mom...you've got to be kidding me!"). I have been introduced to so many great authors and books that I never would have found on my own if I had not read your blogs. I have already alluded to the fact that I feel so very far behind (did I waste those years???? I don't think so --- but boy, I would sure like to figure out how to catch up with the years I have left). So a part of me thinks that I should spend more time reading books and less time in front of the computer screen. On the other hand, because I have read these blogs I have been able to recommend books and speak knowledgeably about authors to so many friends -- and turn them on to reading -- that I know the time is not wasted.

My question is: how do you segment your time? Have you been able to find a balance between blog time --- personal reading time --- family time --- career time? If so, please share your secrets!

Library Thing vs Good Reads vs Shelfari: I have a couple of questions regarding these amazing sites. I love that I can keep track of books I have read, as well as books that I want to read, online in a very user-friendly visual format. I found Shelfari first and spent some time uploading information there before later finding Good Reads. I have spent the most time at Good Reads and have my most updated list located there. In a very unscientific poll at the beginning of the year, I discovered that most of you prefer Library Thing. Is there a particular reason, or did you just start with that system first? I am a bit hesitant about transferring over to Library Thing because I am near the 200 book maximum before I need to pay for membership - but perhaps membership is worth it. What do you think?

For those who review books on your blog -- do you also post reviews for those same books on these websites? If so, do you post the same review in all locations or do you modify? I have just recently started posting reviews on my blog - and have yet to "publish" a review elsewhere. I guess I am afraid of the time commitment, but also, I am not sure that my review talents are worthy of anything more public than a personal blog. However, I wonder if posting reviews at Library Thing might (perhaps) increase chances of receiving "early review copies"???

To Keep or To Give Away: so this will be last question for this particular post. Believe me, I have many other bookish thoughts -- but I don't want to appear too overbearing. I noticed that many of you give away your "gently read" books as blog incentives and/or you use online book trading sites such as Bookmooch, Paperback Swap, or Frugal Reader. I tried Frugal Reader for a year. I managed to have 9 books accepted from others, and I think I found 4-5 books to request myself. I found the system frustrating because it seemed that the books I wanted were never available. It was therefore easier for me to visit nearby used bookstores and purchase the book myself. Perhaps my expectations were too high? Perhaps there is a "system" that makes these sites worthwhile and I have just not discovered it yet? Perhaps my list of books needs to increase in order to better my chances?

For those who use these sites on a regular basis (or who do give aways your blog).....what criteria do you use to keep a book vs give it away? Do you find that certain book give aways on your blog generate more traffic than others? Do you enjoy one book trading site more than another? Why?


  1. I keep a book if I loved it; if I didn't like it, or just felt so-so about it, I'm more likely to give it away.
    As far as book trading sites, I love Bookmooch. I tried PaperBackSwap but I didn't like the annoying emails they send out about posting books. And it was too much trouble maintaining both accounts so I settled on Bookmooch.
    As for cataloging sites, I'm totally hooked on LibraryThing for its great interface and user groups. And giveaways! fun fun fun.

  2. I have books that I read when my over 40 yr old sons were preteens! Every so many years (no set amount) I seem to look at the book cover and just go "yeah.. it's time to read them again".. some books I've read 3 or 4 times over many years. They are not classics.. just books who's characters I have never forgotten and who's stories felt.. well just felt right.

    I keep most of my books with intent to read again one day... some I do some I don't. Mostly I know when I finish a new book if I will ever want to reread it or not. If "not" then I give it away.

  3. Molly, I love these questions! Thanks for the award too. If you read a book and love it, I say keep it. I've been adding to my ideal library for years, bookshelf by bookshelf. It's a long process. There will be some books you really like but might not go back to reread.

    Life is short. I reread often. I don't mind though I do sometimes feel the same way you feel and know I can be reading a new book that might possibly be a new favorite. On that note. . .

    I spend a lot of my time daily on the internet, reading blogs. But lately I've been online less and reading more. I try to only be online for no more than an hour or so a day. Writing blog posts don't count but I do try to write it out in my notebook then type it up on Wordpress. I do a lot of my reading late at night and early morning.

    Hope this helps.

  4. On Re-reading:
    I maintain a small shelf of books that I re-read on a regular basis. These books either have captured my heart at one point or have influenced my thinking, including:

    The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov
    The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco
    Beloved by Toni Morrison
    Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky

    We always say "so many books, so little time", but consider that I average about 5-8 books a month, I can always squeeze in re-read here and there, because I no longer have to worry about the story-line. Usually re-reading affords new nuances of meaning.

    On Reading Blog:
    As the blogroll gets longer and longer like my tomes of TBR have gone up, I cannot keep up with all the blogs. I just can't. So I rely on the comment sections. I try to visit the blogs of which the bloggers have recently commented. Then I work my way into the favorite (daily) reads. Hopefully wby this method I'll get round reading everyone on the list in a week.

  5. Great questions, Molly. I do re-read books from time to time, but haven't in a while. I do get some ARCs but I don't let them worry me too much unless I've agreed to review them by a certain date.

    Segmenting time isn't as much of an issue for me since I don't work.

    I use the same review when I post it on other sites - of the three you mentioned, Library Thing is my favorite.

    I am happy to lend my books, but I generally don't give them away.

  6. Hi Molly - I always take time to read my favourites - Pride and Prejudice and Persuasion, Connie Willis, a host of others - a few every year, because I love them so. They are like old friends, and still I find something new in them. Though I have to admit I have difficulty giving away books, too, once I've read them, unless i really didn't enjoy them!

    As for blogging vs reading, I'm still figuring that one out! I'm like Matthew, I let my blogroll show me who has a new post and if it looks interesting, and I try to get to everyone at least once through the week, though i have my really close bloggers that I try to read every day. It's a challenge,though!

    Good questions, Molly!

  7. I was also thinking of picking out a few of these questions and talking about them. But yeah...there are only so many hours in the day! I don't do a lot of rereading these days, but there are some books I've read multiple times and look forward to reading again in the future.

  8. i'm a re-reader. i have certain books that i love and revisit at least once a year. :) some books are like comfy, old jeans. they are broken in and i love 'em!

  9. Wonderful questions and great answers Molly. I'm definitely I LibraryThing girl! I try to keep the books that I know I will want to pick up to remember, to read bits, to lend, to recommend ... but space is becoming an issue. As for time management, I wish I could find a way!

  10. I used to be a LibraryThing girl but now I'm quite partial to Goodreads. I quickly got up to the 200 books on LibraryThing and did not really want to pay for the service. So I switched over and I've found that I like Goodreads a whole lot more. The interface, the updates, the groups, the giveaways, the events calendar... I love it!

    Recently, I've been writing short two or three sentence reviews on Goodreads. I save my longer reviews for the blog. That way if anyone's interested in reading more they can find me there. =)

    Wonderful post, by the way!

  11. Great questions Molly. I am exhausted right now--it is after 11:00 p.m. so I am off t bed and a book. I hope to blog my answers to your questions in the next day or two. I am having a hard time balancing reading time and blogging time--obviously!

  12. Ok...I'll try my best to give these a shot!

    I tend not to reread books because I think there are too many other books out there that I would rather read. But there are one or two that I like to revisit from time to time but they are few and far between ... and I would really have to remember loving a book to reread it.

    Re: reading books and reading blogs: This is a major problem for me. I know I would read more books if I didn't read as many blogs but I love reading blogs. (Plus I have a personal blog too that I keep up with.) I don't know how to find the balance other than sometimes I just feel burnt out by blogging and take a break and read instead. And I'll just set aside at least 30 minutes a day to read. I think blogging is why I won't read 100 books this year!

    LibraryThing vs. Shelfari vs. Goodreads. I started with LibraryThing because of the Early Reviewer program. I just found Shelfari and I like how it looks a bit better but I don't know which one is "better." I think it is your preference!

    I rarely keep my books ... not enough room. If I think a book is good, I will tend to offer it as a giveaway on my blog -- otherwise I post it on Paperback Swap. I only keep books if they have sentimental value (my first ARC!) or I know someone in real life who might want it.

    And I use Paperback Swap .. it has been great for me.

    I don't know about traffic for giveaways as I do them sporadically. I am going to try one of those Hatchette Group giveaways and I'm curious to see how that goes!


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