Feeling Bookish?

Written By: Dawn - Jan• 04•16

A lifelong dream fulfilled- floor-to-ceiling bookshelves! I unpacked 23 boxes of boxes. Sometimes I like to stand in the doorway and just look at them.


I know, it’s been a while! But 2016 is here and we’re all feeling the rush that comes with new beginnings and fresh starts. Every year I set a reading goal, usually about 25 books, and it’s one of the few goals I manage to achieve (31 for 2015).

This year my friend Dani posted a great Reading Challenge template (there are many on the internet) and I decided to stretch my wings a bit and go for it. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that I have a few thoughts on reading given that I’m both a writer and a library professional. Here are my tips for having a great year in books.

  1. Identify your appeal factors. In professional Reader’s Advisory, appeal factors are indictors of preference. Some people are plot driven, others are character driven. Some people want a fast pace, others want an epic read that spans generations in glorious detail. I am character driven, but the factor I respond to most is voice. If the voice of the narrative (note, not the narrator) doesn’t speak to me, I won’t stay with a book. Once you figure out what appeals most to your sensibilities, you’ll be able to find great books, even ones that are out of your comfort zone.
  2. Step out of your comfort zone- occasionally. I say occasionally because, let’s face it, we’re all pressed for time. Sometimes you want an easy read, a light read or a feel-good read. I read mostly commercial fiction. In part because that’s what I write, but also for the fun and escapism. At least once a year, I do opt for some literary title that’s a classic, a prize winner or getting a bit of buzz. My 2015 choice was The Diver’s Clothes Lie Empty by Vendetta Vida. It’s a slim volume with an unusual point-of-view. Slightly creepy, but not in a Girl on the Train way.
  3. Don’t be afraid to jump on the bandwagon. Sometimes a book becomes the book, the one everyone is talking about. Perhaps it won an award or is based on a true story (but not, shall we say, Twilight fan fiction IYKWIM). While normally I’d advise against following the crowd, this is an exception. Why? Because it’s fun to participate in the conversation. It’s fun to read something you normally wouldn’t (see ya, comfort zone) and it’s exciting to be in “the know.” The Martian  was that book for me this year. Talk about a great voice, how could I pass up a book that opened like this- I’m pretty much fucked. That’s my considered opinion. 
  4. Don’t continue reading a book you aren’t enjoying. Yeah, I just said that. The older I get, the better I’ve become at letting go of stories that aren’t doing if for me. There are a variety of reasons I let go of a book but the main one is that I’m not interested in the characters. Notice that I didn’t say I didn’t like them. I’ve stuck with many unlikeable folks for hundreds of pages. (I’ll save the pain of being a George R. R. Martin fan for another post.) Trust your intuition here. I’ve read many books that have horrible set-ups (The Lovely Bones is the first that comes to mind) that were amazing reads. And yes, I understand that books that fall under tips #2 & #3 might end up in this category for you. But that’s okay!

There are several great resources for finding new books. Almost all women’s magazines and new magazines have book reviews, as do newspapers. I rarely use the NYT Sunday Book Review to find to new things, but I do pay attention its bestseller list, since those are the titles my library patrons will be asking about. Local independent booksellers are another great resource (yes Virginia they still exist) as is your local library. In fact, you can go up to a librarian and ask about Appeal Factors and he or she will take you to the NoveList database. Once there you can find read-alike titles or authors as well as good reviews and information on books you’re wondering about. I use Goodreads only as a tracking tool in my personal reading, but many people love it as a discovery spot for new titles.

What, you may wonder, was my favorite book of 2015? Easy. Marion Keyes wonderful The Woman Who Stole My Life

Wishing you all happy reading!

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This is the reading challenge I’ll be doing.

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