Last 10 Books book tag

More book tag fun! This one looks like a great way to talk about books but also some general reading habits, which I’m always curious about but somehow don’t end up discussing here very often. Thanks very much to Katie who kindly tagged me– her posts are always great discussion starters, including her answers for this tag, so be sure to stop by her post and chat if you haven’t already!

And now, on to the prompts!

Last Book I Gave Up On:

Gerald's Game

Gerald’s Game by Stephen King

I actually don’t DNF permanently, but I do occasionally start reading a book that I know I don’t have time to finish or quickly discover I am not in the mood for, and shelve it for a later date. I used to do this more often, but the most recent one, Gerald’s Game, I think has been shelved for about 18 months; none within the last year. I’m on a quest to read all of King’s fiction, and am curious about this one because I think it’ll be more psychologically-focused, which I tend to like more from him than heavier sci-fi. I own a copy and am still interested, I just had another deadline at the time and set it aside after two chapters, always intending to pick it back up.

Last Book I Re-Read:

That Summer

Last Summer by Sarah Dessen

In recent years I haven’t been rereading much, but I used to do it all the time and would like to do more of it again in the future. I have a bad memory for plot and detail- I typically only remember how much I liked or disliked a book- so rediscovering favorites can be quite fun. Last fall I picked up an old Sarah Dessen novel I used to love (not this one) and it was such a quick, nostalgic, and enjoyable experience that I decided to reread all of Dessen’s books, also picking up the three I’d never read at all. The last one I read was Dessen’s first release, That Summer, which is kind of awful and turned me off the project for a little while, but I’m aiming to get back to her books in February and rank them all when I’m finished.

Last Book I Bought:

The Removed

The Removed by Brandon Hobson

I’m trying (as I often do, as many of us surely often do) to get my physical TBR under control in the new year by purchasing fewer books. This rarely (okay, never) works out for me in the end but I’m strong in January. I have acquired a few exciting titles from friends, but the only books I’ve actually bought came in my BOTM box at the start of the month, and the one I chose as my January selection was Hobson’s The Removed, an Indigenous contemporary (possibly literary?) book about Native life, grief, and a bit of magic. I’m so looking forward to it and was hoping to fit it in before the end of the month, but even if that doesn’t quite happen it’s still high on my priority list.

Last Book I Said I Read But Didn’t:

Sense and Sensibility

Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen

I don’t think I’ve ever done this exactly, although if someone is talking to me about a classic or very popular book about which I’m fairly informed on the plot/themes anyway, I have been known to let the conversation continue without clarifying that I haven’t actually read the book, so maybe that counts? It’s pretty rare that I’m in this situation so the best I can give here is a guess- it might have been Sense and Sensibility, which I had seen the film for several times but just read for the first time last year. I’ve read most of Austen’s other novels so I don’t mind getting into discussions about her work, but Sense and Sensibility does tend to come up pretty often when Austen is involved and for a long time it was a gap in my reading.

Last Book I Wrote in the Margins Of:

Gutshot

Gutshot by Amelia Gray

I can probably count on one hand the number of times I’ve written in any book margins, and most of those times were related to college paper assignments. But I also did it once last year in this short story collection to help me keep track of the many stories here (they’re flash fiction length, so there’s a lot packed in). I was buddy reading the book and planning to have a discussion with my buddy reader at the end, and margin notes happened to be most convenient at the time, so I caved to the temptation. It’s a book that I own, and I wrote in pencil, because I wouldn’t mark up a borrowed copy and prefer mine to look clean, though there’s nothing wrong with marginalia. I think it’s a practice that can be put to good use, though it’s not one I tend to use. Typically I use post-it tabs while reading, to mark quotes and make small notes.

Last Book That I Had Signed:

Real Life

Real Life by Brandon Taylor

I live very rurally and haven’t been able to go to any book signings or author events since my college days, but I do occasionally buy pre-signed books, and this is one of those. I bought two signed books on my trip to New York last year, Lily King’s Writers and Lovers which I picked up from The Strand and Taylor’s Real Life from Books Are Magic. I am actually not certain at this point which one of those two was technically the last; we went to The Strand twice. But this is the one I’ve already read and loved, so it’s the one I’m featuring.

Last Book I Lost:

Julius Caesar

Julius Casesar by William Shakespeare

I’ve never misplaced a book or left one behind somewhere I couldn’t get it back, but I’ve loaned out a few that have never been returned. A few I know are still with my friends and may (probably, hopefully) come back to me at some point, but I’ve completely lost touch with the friend who borrowed my copy of Julius Casesar nine years ago so I’m not expecting ever to see this one again. It’s one of my favorites among the Shakespeare plays I’ve read so far, but obviously it’s been a while since I’ve read it, so at some point I’d like to get a new copy and read it again.

Last Book I Had to Replace:

The Mercies

The Mercies by Kiran Millwood Hargrave

I’ve not read any books to tatters, so I’m using ‘replaced’ here to mean ‘returned to the library and then was desperate to have a copy of my own on hand.’ In this case I bought as a gift for a friend a popular 2020 release I thought she’d love (Kiley Reid’s Such a Fun Age) and then at the last minute panicked that she might already have it and I still wanted to be able to give her a book, so I bought The Mercies as a backup gift. Both had been library reads for me that I really liked and could see myself rereading and/or loaning out, so I figured I’d just keep whichever one I didn’t gift. This was the one I really wanted and luckily my friend didn’t yet have Such a Fun Age and really wanted that one, so it worked out perfectly.

Last Book I Argued Over:

The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains

The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains by Nicholas Carr

I don’t argue about books often; if you have a different opinion about me on a book, that is your right. Reading is subjective, and I believe we all bring our own life experiences to the table every time we pick up a book, so we’re never all going to agree and we just need to accept that. The exception for me has been school- I will argue over a book in a classroom debate. Two specific instances have been memorable; the last of those instances featured The Shallows, which I don’t remember a lot about beyond the argument. Essentially, another student believed that since the invention of the internet we’ve been moving toward becoming a totally paperless society and thus it was inevitable and beneficial that our brains would change to process text differently. I believed that there was value in keeping at least some information in hard copies and retaining the knowledge of how to use those texts, in preparation for the what-ifs if nothing else. She was very loud (“No, there’s no need for paper”) and I’m typically a confrontation avoider, but others who agreed with me were keeping quiet and I could see the teacher marking down participation points, so I felt like I had to make my stand. (My other intense book argument was over Tim O’Brien’s The Things They Carried, in which a classmate tried to argue that there was no place for an unreliable narrator in literature. I was more comfortable in that class and like unreliable narrators so that one I jumped into voluntarily.)

Last Book You Couldn’t Find:

Lincoln in the Bardo

Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders

I’m going to take this very literally- I was looking at my shelves a few weeks back and realized Lincoln in the Bardo wasn’t where I thought it should be. I don’t have enough shelf space so I have to organize first by size, and then as much as I can within that frame I tend to group things by their contents. By genre, sure, but also within that every book ideally has something specific in common with the one next to it. This process is complicated by the fact that I don’t separate my read from unread books (I do not want to be confronted by my physical TBR in that way) and don’t like to know much about books before I read them, so I don’t always know where the unread books should go within my system. As I read them, I shuffle them around to where they’ll fit best. I usually keep this one (currently unread) near Colson Whitehead’s The Underground Railroad (the connection being history + magic) but it somehow turned up next to Donna Tartt’s The Goldfinch instead. I’ve read neither so I can’t say for sure that there’s no connection between them, but I must not have put it there intentionally because I can’t think of one!

And that’s the tag! Some of these I didn’t think I would have an answer for, so I’m happy to see that I’ve come up with a book for every question without taking too much liberty with the intent of the prompts. Looking back at the covers, this seems like quite an eclectic mix. And it’s gotten me thinking about my reading habits- I really should learn to let myself DNF… Anything here in my answers you relate to?

I’m tagging: Diana, Eleanor, Fatma, Laura, Marija, Rennie, Stephen, and anyone else who wants to join in! No pressure of course, but please link back here if you decide to try the tag because I’d love to see your answers! πŸ™‚

The Literary Elephant

49 thoughts on “Last 10 Books book tag”

  1. Well done on being the champion for paper and printed works. I agree, not just for those who already favour print, or who’ve been drawn into the electronic word versions (reading ebooks for example) and then backed out again, but the trend for collectibles and reissues of various modern classics seems to be expanding, even if not all who collect are actually readers.

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    1. Ah, thank you! πŸ™‚ Yes, I think you’re right. In reader communities it’s easy to get an insular view of which books are selling and trending, but it really is a bigger industry that encompasses more than those of us chatting about books constantly on the internet, and with as often as reissues/collectibles/companion materials come out they really must sell well. I certainly do think there’s a group of people who buy books for the sake of having a collection, and as long as they’re viewed both as a luxury/art item like that and also a functional item for avid readers, it’s hard to imagine them going away completely, no matter how useful the digital world can be.

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  2. Thanks for the tag – this looks like a fun challenge to try and I’ll definitely have a think about it over the weekend. I’m very much the same as you in not making margin notes or ever losing a book (!) and I loved reading about your shelving system. I have literally none (although my TBR is separate) so I always enjoy learning what other better-organised people do.

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    1. You’re very welcome, and of course take your time! πŸ™‚
      I’m glad to hear you’ve not lost a book- I’m sure no one does it intentionally but it’s such a sad thought!
      I also am curious to hear about how others arrange their shelves. I’m sure my organization system would look nonsensical to anyone but me, and it can be hard to manage when things aren’t fitting in right, but most of the time I find it a useful system. It’s great for mood reading and makes finding recommendations easier, although separating read from unread books really seems like a more sensible starting point!

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  3. Another great tag, I’m definitely keen.

    I have read both Lincoln in the Bardo and the Goldfinch. They are both brilliant but utterly different. The only similarity I can think of (and this is very broad-brush) is that they are both about mourning…

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    1. I’ll look forward to your answers! πŸ™‚

      Ooh, interesting! I do have a little section for books with a strong grief component so mourning is a similarity I might’ve actually run with, if I’d had any idea! All I could remember about The Goldfinch synopsis was that it had to do with art (paintings?). The fact that my knowledge of them both is so hazy probably means it’s time to finally pick them up.

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  4. Ooh this sounds like a great way to talk about particular books and reading habits, thank you for the tag! This further reminds me of how badly I need to read both Real Life and The Mercies. I’ve deemed February the month when I’ll read more of our alternative Women’s Prize, so maybe I’ll get to The Mercies soon!

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    1. I hope you’ll have fun with the tag if you decide to post it! πŸ™‚ And yay for alternate Women’s Prize reading, you’re in for a good time! The Mercies was such a beautiful and engrossing read for me, I definitely recommend it. (And Real Life is so good too, when the time comes!)

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  5. This was fun to read! I might try it out myself. The line “I do not want to be confronted by my physical TBR in that way” made me laugh because I do keep a dedicated shelf for unread books and it is a bit of an affront. Also, count me in as another one who doesn’t think paper is going away.

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    1. Thank you, and please do!! πŸ™‚
      It seems like such a logical and useful system, keeping books-to-read altogether in one place, but I would feel like they’re criticizing me from across the room, haha. It might ultimately be good for my spending habits to give it a try, but a spreadsheet I can minimize is enough for me for now!
      I really think it would take a lot for paper to be phased out completely. I can’t see it happening unless for some reason we are physically incapable of producing paper in the future, in which case I still think there will be some sort of paper alternative. I’m glad I’m not the only one who sees it as here to stay- it really was kind of frightening hearing someone argue so vehemently against paper text! What a world that would be.

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      1. As a kid, it kind of felt like the future would be paperless, maybe because that’s how sci fi movies always portrayed it. But we actually use paper in so many ways and there is an interaction with paper and books that is totally different from screens and computers. I don’t see how one could entirely replace the other!

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      2. YES, when I picture a hypothetical paperless future it definitely looks like an old sci-fi movie rendering, haha. I can see that there are benefits to being able to store a lot of information in a limited amount of physical space, but I agree, physical copies are an entirely different experience and useful in their own ways, perhaps even more accessible in some ways (paper can be used for braille, for example, while screens- at least so far- cannot!); it’s hard to see paper ever going away entirely, even if there’s a time when everything has a digital copy, as well.

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      3. It always makes me think of Star Trek! I land on the side of thinking that we humans interact with paper differently than we do with screens. Personally, it feels like it activates a different part of my brain and so I feel like I would lose something if my life was entirely digital.

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      4. I fully agree on reading in different formats feeling like an entirely different experience even at the level of how your brain engages. Screens tire my eyes faster than paper does, too. I don’t think I would crave reading in the same way I do if I couldn’t pick up physical books.

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      5. I’ve been reading more ebooks this past year and although I’m glad to have access to the format, it’s solidified that it doesn’t work as well for me. I can’t keep track of chapters and quotes as easily in my mind and I find I get tired of reading much, much faster. I 100% agree with you that I don’t know if I would be as much of a reader if physical books didn’t exist.

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      6. I feel the same re: ebooks, although even in the last year when it would’ve been more convenient I’ve shied away from picking up very many of them… When I’m reading a physical copy I’ll remember a snippet I want to look back on and can visualize whether it was on the left or the right page, top or bottom, and about how far into the book, etc. Trying to find something specific in a digital format can be so hard if there’s not a search function or if I can’t remember exactly the wording I’m looking for! Every “page” looks and feels the identical, and that can be surprisingly frustrating.

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      7. Yes, that is one of my major problems with e-books too! Even using the bookmark or highlighting feature doesn’t seem to work the same for me. I’ve also recently realized that I don’t like to read e-books in front of my kids because it just looks like I’m on my phone. I read books in front of them because I don’t mind them seeing that books and reading are valuable but I’m not sure they get the same message from me staring at my phone!

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      8. Oh, that’s interesting! I hadn’t really thought about it before, but I would agree it seems there’s more of a stigma against “being on your phone” for long stretches of time no matter what we’re doing there, than there is for reading what is visually obvious as a book. Reading is generally seen as educational I think, whereas messing around on one’s phone is seen as an indulgence. Even though reading can also be indulgent and screen usage can be educational, it seems putting a book on a screen lowers the book rather than elevating the screen! I wonder if a tablet just for reading would feel the same- if it’s screens in general that make it look less like reading or if it’s the phone specifically (which is also how I eread).

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      9. That’s a good point – that one elevates the other but not necessarily the other way around. I’m not really sitting anywhere public to read these days so I was thinking of it more from the perspective of what my kids see me doing. But then again they don’t really have the same biases about screens and phones vs books so maybe I’m overthinking it all!

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      10. Ah yes, the differences across generations in perception of screens is a whole other aspect to consider! And I’m sure it’s challenging having to constantly think about which behaviors you’re modeling to the kids, especially since kids seem to pick up on all sorts of little things; there’s probably a point where you have to just hope for the best, but I do think that at the very least kids can tell and appreciate that you’re paying attention! πŸ™‚

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  6. thank you so much for tagging me!! this tag sounds so fun to do and ill definitely be posting my answers soon ☺ and i totally relate about not being near any places where book signings happen… at least in the US you have a shot, i feel like no one ever comes to canada even though we’re right around the corner lol πŸ€·β€β™€οΈ

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    1. Ah, you’re welcome, and I’m eager to see what your answers will be! πŸ™‚
      I’m glad I’m not the only one who can’t conveniently get to signings, but I definitely do have a shot if I’m willing to travel a bit for it, and am so sad that’s not the case for everyone. :/ Not just for the signing itself, but seeing authors in person is such a great experience, one that I miss. And yes, Canada is SO CLOSE, more authors should make it a part of their touring schedule!

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  7. I think I’m going to try this one because it got my brain thinking about how I would fill in the answers. And can I say, your method of keep read and unread books on the same shelf would give me a bookish heart attack.

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    1. Yay! I’ll look forward to checking our your answers! πŸ™‚
      Not separating my read and unread books is probably my most controversial bookish habit, I know- and it makes so much sense to have your unread books all in the same place! But it would probably give me a heart attack if I had to look at all of my unread books lumped together- I have a fairly big personal library. I do have a spreadsheet where I can keep proper track of things, but I really do like seeing them mixed together even if that makes me a bookish heathen, haha.

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      1. I so wish there was a little free library nearby where I live, but it’s really not a community of readers here so I don’t think it would be sustained very well even if there was one. I have never parted with a single one of my books because I don’t have an outlet for them here and it’s instilled a book hoarding habit in me. It will be hard to do, but ideally I do want to move before too long and find a good way to donate what I don’t need in the process. And when that times comes you’ll be the first to know what’s going, if there’s anything you want to rescue! πŸ™‚

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      2. You could check and see what the rules are around book donation for the closest correctional facility. Some places are super strict — NO BOOKS — which I know pisses activists off, but to be fair, there’s a big problem with people putting drugs on book paper and then the inmate eats the paper. Depending on the drug, it can make them violent and irrational. HOWEVER, some places love book donations and encourage it. You could also see if your library has a book sale area. Typically, books in good shape can be placed there, and the money goes back to the library. A last, albeit sneaky, way that I get rid of books is by wrapping some up for birthday/white elephant/other holidays. If you have a book with a love story, you could give it to a buddy for Valentines Day, for example.

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      3. Correctional facilities are a great idea I hadn’t considered and one I’ll definitely look into, but I suspect I’d have to go farther to find a correctional facility than a thrift store that would take books, haha. The towns around here are all pretty small, even the bigger county seats nearby have like, temporary jail holdings only, not any proper facilities where people are staying for any length of time. As far as I’m aware, anyway. Worth checking out though, so thanks. (And I would not have known that books can be a method of entry for drugs!)

        I think my library has an annual book sale but I think that’s for books they’re pulling off of the shelves. I’ve never seen books for sale there outside of that sale day. Something else to look into though, there might be a possibility there. Even if not at my local branch it might work if I drive to a slightly bigger one.

        And I love your idea of gifting gently used books, although most of the books I would want to unhaul are titles I haven’t liked so much, which makes gifting them kind of awkward and difficult! I WISH I had enough active readers in my life with varied reading tastes to be able to put books I that didn’t work for me into more appreciative hands. Someday, someday.

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      4. My husband has this theory that it is important to get books into people’s hands, even if they abuse the books, even if they never read them, because it is a point of contact that could mean something important for someone in relation to books.

        Also, I need to keep scaling back my image of where you live and make it smaller and smaller! But also bigger.

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      5. I think that’s a great theory, and it does seem important for people to have books without expectations.

        My home area is so small! Big sky, lots of corn fields, but very few people and amenities, haha. My high school was a consolidation of five nearby towns, and I still had only 80 kids in my graduating class, if that helps for scale. (I didn’t come back to exactly the same address after college, but I’m close.) It’s the epitome of what they call ‘flyover country.’ But I do love the quiet and the clean air!

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      6. Lol I’ve already decided I don’t want to attend any high school reunions! I did have some good friends but it was certainly an everyone-knows-everything-about-everyone sort of situation, which got increasingly awkward once we were old enough to start dating each other. (I opted out of that too.) There are benefits to small town life, but high school never felt like one of them for me.

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  8. Great post! I am impressed with the arguments you have in your class. I also believe there is much value in paper and actually putting our knowledge on paper. It is such a direct action, I think – there is nothing that stands in that case between humans and the information, it is all there on a object in front of us, which cannot really be said about putting information on computer. Computer information feels “second-hand” and “already processed information” which is “somewhere out there.” Maybe a bit unrelated, but I am also a big supporter of writing things by hand and on paper, rather than typing. Typing is very convenient and I have nothing against it, but studies have also shown that we remember up to 70% percent more information when we write something by hand, rather than type, and our hands remember things our brains may not, because of “muscle-memory” in our hands. Pianists know it only too well. Also, when writing, you feel as though you are a true “creator” of that letter or sentence, and, really, sometimes I feel like, processing things on a computer is like learning the piano through a computer. One is somehow removed from the direct participation with the tangible object – and therefore losing a valuable experience.

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    1. Thanks so much! That’s a great point, that putting words to paper can be seen as an act of strength in itself, and I definitely agree that the physical copy is immediately accessible in a way that digital copies are not. There is potentially the barrier of language, but that would exist with digital copies as well.
      I also like writing by hand; I do admittedly go straight to the keyboard to type things out most often, but there’s more of a thoughtfulness to handwriting, more intent behind every word written that way, and yes, those words are easier to remember. I do prefer to let myself sit at a desk with proper paper and pen and write until my hand hurts, when I have the time; it was how I got started with writing so there’s a nostalgia to it as well, a sense of going back to roots and reconnecting with myself rather than just throwing letters up quickly onto a screen. That’s a very interesting thought, that processing on a computer can seem like learning piano through a computer. Other than my handwriting sessions I don’t often think about the tangibility of words in that way, but I do think you’re right in noting a difference in how we interact with material when we can hold it in our hands versus just seeing it, like we’re trying to gain information through osmosis instead of really interacting with it. A very different experience indeed.

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