#ShelfLove: Mid-Year Check-In

Shelf Love Challenge 2016

A lot has changed in my life since I started this year’s Show Your Shelves Some Love challenge.  I got a full-time job.  I moved to a new apartment.  I began to truly focus on my health.  With all of those changes, I’ve come to realize quite a bit about myself that I didn’t previously know, and books have become an even more important part of my life as a result.

For instance, I realized I have to work for the sake of my mental health, not just my bank account, but I also have to have a job or at least be doing or working towards doing something I’m passionate about.  After I was offered the job, I was so excited to finally be working full-time again, but the excitement quickly wore off because my job is 1) not challenging and 2) has nothing to do with books.  So, my game plan has changed a little bit.  It’s no longer “I want to eventually go to grad school to become a librarian.”  It’s now “I’m taking the steps to go to grad school as soon as possible.”

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My TBR shelf before I moved.

That doesn’t have much to do with #ShelfLove, other than the obvious (books, of course), but my recent move to a bigger, but very differently configured, apartment made me greatly appreciative of this challenge’s existence and the lovely women hosting it.  I’ve discussed many times before how my book collection has caused quite a few problems when it comes to moving.  There’s the back-breaking weight, the cost of packing materials, and then the process of unpacking and reorganizing.  Ok, that last one is kind of fun.  Alright, a lot of fun.

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Only 2 of my book boxes before I moved. The other 5 or 6 were in storage.


For the first time in nearly seven years, I finally cut down my collection and moved to a place big enough to have all of my books in one place and easily accessible.  No longer do I have to drive out to my storage unit and dig through boxes to find that *one* book I want to read or loan to the Boyfriend.  Granted, not all of those books are on shelves, thanks to my shelves still being in storage until we have the money and time to shut down the storage unit for good, but all my pretty lovelies are READily available 😉 and that makes me a happy gal.

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My TBR shelf now. Though it doesn’t appear to be any different, it really is.

Though the main purpose of this challenge is to read the books we already own, and I’m definitely doing that, it has also made me rethink the books I choose to keep.  I was holding onto a lot of books I knew I would probably never read, but the pressure to read them because I bought them was causing me unnecessary stress.  I finally decided to take them to the used bookstore.  I thought letting go of these unread books would be difficult, but I didn’t shed any tears, and those books are better off in the hands of someone who will actually read them.  So far, I’ve made over $50 off those books and I’ve got another box that is halfway full.  Since my job hasn’t made me rich, that extra money means that I could afford to buy myself some exercise clothes that actually fit and are cute and comfortable so I’m more likely to get off the couch.

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The remaining books after the purge.

What does concentrating on my health have to do with #ShelfLove?  It means I’m reading more.  Not only am I setting aside time every night to read as a form of self-care, I’m also reading while I exercise.  Whether I’m reading a book on my Kindle while I’m on the treadmill or listening to an audiobook while I’m walking during my breaks at work, I’m getting through my books much faster than I did last year.  I’m already at the halfway point of my goal of reading 51 books off my TBR pile.  Last year I was about five books behind.  Of course, I was still in college and taking Summer courses to finish my degree faster, but I wasn’t making as much time for exercise, either, and there’s nothing I’d rather do more while I sweat than read.

Overall, the changes in my life have improved my relationship with books and reading.  I didn’t believe that was possible, especially since I was sure my new job, moving, and exercising more would all cost me valuable reading time.  Instead, the opposite has happened, and maybe this challenge has something to do with that.  Perhaps my determination to stick with it has made me come up with workable solutions.  All I know is that before #ShelfLove, and before I started blogging, I was barely getting through half the books I now read in a year, despite owning double the number of books I own today.

#ShelfLove: Literary Travels

Shelf Love Challenge 2016

This month’s #ShelfLove discussion is all about the real places in books that we would visit.  While I would love to say I’d go on a road trip across the US, visiting all the literary spots that American literature has to offer, I realized after being honest with myself that the literary locations I want to travel to are, with one exception, in Europe.  Without further ado, here is the literary vacation I would take if time and money weren’t an issue.

First stop: Scotland

Scotland - Moyan Brenn
Image: Moyan Brenn

If you are someone who knows me well enough to know what my favorite series is, then you would also know that the first place I would visit, and where I want to someday move to, is Scotland.  Particularly the Highlands of Scotland, but, thanks to the Boyfriend’s Scottish roots, I would also traipse around the Lowlands.  I would probably need a year to see every little spot and visit every library and bookstore.

Next stop: England

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Image: rawen
Bust of J.R.R. Tolkien -summonedbyfells
Image: summonedbyfells










I wouldn’t spend nearly as much time in England, but it would still take me awhile to see everything because I would visit for two reasons.  The first being that I would have to visit every real place mentioned in the Harry Potter series.  The second being that I could not go to England without seeing anything and everything related to J.R.R Tolkien.  Also, I would want to stay in Podditon.  Perhaps half a year would suffice.


Next stop: France

Cuisery - marnix.catteeuw
Image: marnix.catteeuw

I would spend even less time in France, but I added it to my list of literary vacation spots after I read The Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George.  The idea of slowly making my way down the Seine in a barge full of books and stopping for a long visit in Cuisery while improving my spoken French seems like the perfect way to spend a lazy month or two.

Last stop: New Zealand

Hobbiton - Tom Hall
Image: Tom Hall

This is another obvious choice if you know me well enough to know my all-time favorite book.  Thanks to that book and The Lord of the Rings books being made into movies, I can now visit the home of my people, Hobbiton, as well as other Middle Earth locations.  I would probably only stay here for a week or so before heading back home to Texas.

If you won the lottery or had a seemingly endless trust fund and lots of time to kill, where would you go?

#ShelfLove – Library Love

Shelf Love Challenge 2016

For this month’s #ShelfLove discussion, participants are supposed to write about their local library.  However, I’ve done that before.  A couple of different times.  I’ve also written about the important role libraries have played in my life.  Libraries have had such an enormous impact on my life that I want to be a Librarian.  Unfortunately, that’s several years away, and I haven’t set foot in a library since before I graduated.  I’ve stopped myself from checking out any books because I have so many at home that my shelves are struggling under the weight.  So, instead of writing about a library I haven’t been to in several months, I’ve decided to re-share those older posts along with a few links about libraries and librarians.

Posts I’ve written:

Other stuff:

#ShelfLove – My Ships

Shelf Love Challenge 2016
This month’s discussion for the Show Your Shelves Some Love Challenge is supposed to be about our Book Boy/Girlfriends.  However, I don’t have any.  I was going to bow out of posting anything this month, but then I read one of Terri’s posts over at Second Run Reviews.  It was about her lack of a Book Boyfriend because her Husband already possesses the qualities she admires in Jamie Fraser.  After that, I saw this week’s Five Fandom Friday topic was OTPs.  I didn’t (and still don’t) have enough OTPs to participate in FFF, but it did give me the idea to write about my favorite Ships in place of a Book Boyfriend.

I Ship:

  1. ♥Jamie and Claire♥ – Like Terri, if I were going to have a Book Boyfriend it would probably be Jamie Fraser.  However, I’ve already got an IRL man that has many of the qualities I admire in Jamie.  Also, the Boyfriend is a Scot from a well-known clan with a verra long history.  So, I think I’ll keep him instead of pining for a fictional man.  Besides, Jamie belongs to Claire, and they’re perfect for each other.  Their marriage is the kind of marriage I hope to have, and before meeting the Boyfriend, Jamie and Claire gave me hope that it’s possible.  I don’t ever want them to lose each other.
  2. ♥Eleanor and Park♥ – While I loved the book by the same title for more reasons than E and P’s relationship, this is young love at it’s finest.  I hope that their love for each other blossoms into the kind of relationship that lasts a lifetime, but even if it doesn’t, the time they have together in the book is full of those moments that any of us who experienced our first romance in high school will never forget.  I shipped them so hard I started reading the book a second time as soon as I finished it because I just couldn’t handle the book hangover.  I also now have an E&P playlist chalk full of the Cure, the Smiths, and so many other great bands and songs the two of them listen to together.
  3. ♥Ceony and Emery♥- While I haven’t yet read the third book of the Paper Magician trilogy by Charlie N. Holmberg, I already know that these two get each other on a level that a lot of couples never reach.  I have difficulty writing about them without getting all spoilery, so I’m just going to stop there.

Why do I only have three Ships?  My “Read” shelf on Goodreads is a pretty good indication that I rarely read books involving a romance.  When I do, they’re usually not major parts of the story.  So, while Harry and Ginny’s relationship resulted in marriage and kids, it wasn’t developed enough before the epilogue to make much of an impression.  Ron and Hermione’s relationship is a little more developed, but they spend more time arguing than anything else, and Ron was never my favorite.  Other series with the potential for a major Ship are ones that I’ve only read the first book, and so the relationship hasn’t grabbed a hold of me yet.

What are your Ships?  Are there any books or series I must read so I can add more Ships to my list?

#ShelfLove 2016

Shelf Love Challenge 2016
I’m joining the Show Your Shelves Some Love Challenge again!  Below are my goals.

My Goals

  • Read at least 51 books from my personal library that I got before January 1, 2016 (my shelves and I are going steady).
  • With the exception of one book, I can only buy books using gift cards.  I can “buy” as many free books as I would like, accept ARCs, and enter giveaways to my heart’s content, but I may only use my hard earned cash to buy one carefully chosen book.
  • The one book I buy this year must be purchased with the funds I raise from selling books to the used bookstore.
  • Participate in the monthly discussion posts.


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These are, of course, only my physical books, and not all of them are books I haven’t read yet, but the majority of them have never been opened. Total, I have approximately 400 unread books sitting on my shelves or in my Kindle and Nook.  One of my projects this year will be to update my TBR shelf on Goodreads to get a more accurate total (none of the ebooks on my Nook are on it).

#ShelfLove – End of Year Check-In


This is it!  The last month of the #ShelfLove No Book Buying Challenge!  Those of us participating are discussing how we did.

For those of you who don’t remember, I chose not to purchase any books this year.  Free books, of course, didn’t count.  I made one exception, but other than using gift cards I received for Christmas and my Birthday, and getting books from the Boyfriend as a prescription against insanity, I didn’t buy a single book.  Not spending my own money on books took some creativity on my part and generosity on the part of others, but I can at least say I was successful.

I also succeeded in reading at least 51 books that were already on my shelves…or in boxes…in a storage unit.  Yeah, lots of books, itty bitty living space.  There, my friends, is where I flailed.  You see, despite not buying books with my own money, I still managed to bring a lot of books home with me this year.  In fact, I have less space on my bookshelves than I did before the challenge started, and that’s after taking several boxes of books to the used bookstore to earn enough money to buy the Outlandish Companion, Vol. Two.  I earned that book, darn it, so why isn’t there any space on my shelves?!  Well, between the Boyfriend showing he loves me through books, a couple of subscription boxes I get, and all the giveaways I’ve won this year, I not only replaced the books I sold but ended up filling every last nook and cranny of my bookcase.

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I have so many books and so little space for them that when the Boyfriend asked me what I wanted for my graduation present, I told him, “NO BOOKS!”  I then checked myself for a fever because that is the first time in my life I’ve ever turned down the opportunity to get books.  It turns out this challenge has been a sort of 12-Step program for me.  So, I plan on participating again next year, but that’s for another post.



#ShelfLove – Thankfulness


This month, those of us participating in the #ShelfLove No Book Buying Challenge are discussing whether or not we’re thankful for taking on the challenge and whether or not our book buying and reading habits have changed.

Am I thankful for the #ShelfLove challenge?  Oh yeah, and I have reasons:

  • I came up with several ways to get books for free, and I started listening to serial and short story podcasts.
  • I’ve fallen in love with audiobooks thanks to discovering the free audiobook website, podiobooks.com.
  • I became much more discerning about the books I purchased with the gift cards I received for Christmas and my Birthday.  The same goes for the books I chose when the Boyfriend made an agreement with me to help me survive the Spring semester.
  • I finally got my Goodreads shelves updated, created a spreadsheet of all my unread books, and made TBR jars.
  • I cleared out enough books from my collection to earn enough money to buy the one book I had been looking forward to for most of the year.
  • I’m finally ok with not buying books.  I’ve also come to prefer book-related gifts instead of bookstore gift cards.  Why?  I own more books than can fit on my shelves.  Despite all the books I took to the used bookstore, my shelves are no less stuffed than they were at the beginning of the year.  In fact, I have even more books thanks to the Boyfriend, gift cards, and winning giveaways.

#ShelfLove – Organizing the Shelves


This month, those of us participating in the #ShelfLove No Book Buying Challenge are discussing how we organize our books.

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Dresden likes to keep one of his toy mice on top of the boxes for safe keeping.

I have too many books to keep in the apartment I share with the Boyfriend.  Because both of us have large personal libraries, but only so many walls to place bookshelves against, most of my books are in boxes in storage.  Only two of my book boxes are in the apartment instead of my storage unit.  They hold my Harry Potter books as well as all my books from Anne Rice’s “Vampire Chronicles” and the “Lives of the Mayfair Witches.”  Since I’m re-reading all those, I decided to keep them at home rather than having to go to my storage unit every time I finish one of the books.  There are several other books in the boxes as well, but I simply don’t have space on my shelves.

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My overcrowded bookcase.


With a few exceptions, all the books on my shelves are books I’ve never read.  Also, I have them organized by height and from hardcover to mass market paperback.  The disadvantage to organizing them that way is that, whenever I get a new book, I have to rearrange the shelves.  You might think I would also have the problem of finding specific titles, but there is a large part of my brain dedicated to the books I have and where they are at any given time.

Even though we have four floor-to-ceiling bookcases, I only have the use of one of them.  That might seem unfair, but they’re his bookcases, and he made room for me when I moved in with him.  However, my books were creeping into other parts of the apartment, such as the table and floor next to my desk, which was in the living room until a couple of weeks ago.  Now that Summer is over, and Texas finally got the memo, I’ve moved my “office” into the dining room (the air conditioning never quite makes it there).  We aren’t planning on renewing our lease, so I decided to take over the room until we move into a place with three bedrooms.  I also have a shelf that contains all my French books, and I’ve loaned him several of my books so I can keep them on one of his shelves instead of mine.  Clever, huh? 😉

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One of the Boyfriend’s bookcases post-organization. Can you tell he likes ducks?

After our trial period of living under the same roof assured us that we could share living space without committing double homicide, I convinced him to let me organize his books.  The closest he got to being organized was having all of his Jim Butcher books on one shelf.  He culled books to go to the used bookstore while I began grouping the ones he decided to keep into genres, more or less.  I also kept any series together and in order, and then I organized by height whenever possible.  Since we’re both writers with decent sized collections of reference books, we decided to combine them on one shelf with a bookend in between.  We’re just not at the point in our relationship where we feel comfortable completely integrating our libraries.  Right now, it’s enough to know that we have similar tastes and many of the same books in our separate collections.


#ShelfLove: The Perils of Book Hoarding


This month, those of us participating in the #ShelfLove No Book Buying Challenge are discussing the pros and cons of owning a significant number of books.  For myself, I’ve only seen having a large personal library as positive, with one exception: moving.  I’ve been packing and unpacking my belongings throughout my entire life, and I don’t even know the number of times I’ve moved.  I’m uncomfortably familiar with the general workings of Uhaul rentals and storage units across the country and during one move I managed to double the weight of my poor Nissan.  I’ve also hurt my back a countless number of times from overfilling boxes with my book collection.

You would think I would have learned by now and tossed the majority of my Smaug worthy hoard.  Think again.  Despite my efforts to pare down the number of books I own, my library has only expanded in size.  Thanks to ebooks, and the No Book Buying Challenge, that’s no longer happening exponentially, but it’s still happening.  I have bought with gift cards or received as gifts, more physical books than I’ve read this year.  The books I have at my apartment are double stacked on the shelves, I have several more boxes in storage, and the Boyfriend and I are planning to move next year.

The boxes of books are the ones I hope always to own.  The ones at home are mostly books I’ve never read; which has led me to think that perhaps there is another con to book hoarding.  I’m not getting any younger and tomorrow is never a guarantee.  Either I need to make peace with the idea of never reading many of those books, or I need to make a decision.  Do I cull my collection (again) or develop the discipline to choose a book I own instead of a library book or one borrowed from the Boyfriend’s shelves? I think I’ll just throw my hands up in the air in frustration when I move again, just like I’ve done every move before *sigh*

#ShelfLove: The Best Bookish Gifts


This month, the hosts of the #ShelfLove No Book Buying Challenge want us to share the best bookish gifts we’ve given or received.  While I was thinking about the various gifts I’ve gotten over the years, I realized that, with the exception of bookstore gift cards, my family doesn’t get me bookish gifts.  The Boyfriend and his family?  They’re considerably more thoughtful when it comes to gift giving.  It’s not that I don’t appreciate bookstore gift cards.  Oh, trust me, I do. The one my Mom got me for Christmas allowed me to get The Outlandish Companion, Vol. 1 by Diana Gabaldon (and several ebooks) without going against the No Book Buying Challenge.  However, gift cards don’t require much thought.

In the almost two years the Boyfriend and I have been together (our anniversary is next month! <3), I’ve received the following thoughtful and bookish gifts from him and his family:

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This was half of my gift for our first anniversary.

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This is the second half of my anniversary gift.  Though it’s not technically bookish, it replaced a computer chair that my best friend gave me, which was by that time completely worn out and beginning to cause me quite a bit of back pain.  There’s no way I would be able to get everything done for this blog and my college classes every day without this chair.

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These are some of the stocking stuffer gifts that the Boyfriend’s Mom put in my Christmas stocking.

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This is a metal Celtic bookmark that Pete, the Boyfriend’s Mom’s husband, gave me for Christmas.  Though he didn’t know it at the time, I had been eyeing bookmarks like this for awhile, but wouldn’t buy one because they cost about as much as a paperback.  He said he got it because every time he saw me, I was always reading.

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Probably the best bookish gift I’ve ever gotten from anyone is my Kindle, which the Boyfriend got me for Christmas.  He also got me the USB power adapter, and that was the first gift from him that I opened.  You’ve never seen a girl get excited over an adapter unless you saw me when I realized it meant the other box was a Kindle.

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The second best bookish gift is this Kindle cover, which anyone who loves Doctor Who will recognize as River Song’s journal.  I have the Best.Boyfriend.Ever.2015-08-13 01.16.23

For my Birthday last year, the Boyfriend got me these beautiful editions of Grimm’s Fairy Tales and The Arabian Nights.  He got me several other books as well, but these are special for two reasons.  One, he knows I love fairy tales, and two, I rarely ever buy myself hardcover editions despite having to stop myself from drooling over how substantial and permanent they look on the shelf.  Hardcovers say, “Here’s a private book collection to be passed down to future generations.”  My budget says, “That’s at least FIVE mass market paperbacks from the used bookstore.”

Though I haven’t pictured it here, one very thoughtful gift my Dad gave me for no other reason than he knows how much I love to read, but don’t have the money to buy books.  It’s a disc full of free ebooks.  I don’t count them in my TBR because there are too many books for me to read in a lifetime.  There are also a lot of genre books on the disc that I know I’ll never read.  However, I’ve discovered quite a few books on there that are great and I likely wouldn’t have found otherwise.

My BFF and I have gotten into the habit of gifting each other with books ever since she got in a scarily bad accident and was in the hospital with far too much time on her hands.  I immediately bought a tote bag full of books to keep her mind busy and got her hooked on a new series in the process.  Now she and her husband keep an ear open to the books I wish I could buy and get them for me for Birthdays and Christmases.  The most recent one was Seraphina by Rachel Hartman.  Somehow they managed to pick up a copy right in front of me without my seeing and then gave it to me when we were out of the store.  I’m pretty sure they’re secretly ninjas.