Category Archives: Book tags

The Sunshine Blogger Award

Disclaimer: If you’ve noticed that I’ve basically fallen off the face of book earth lately (or if you haven’t), it’s just because fall is a crazy busy time in my life, and I do plan to catch up on what I’m not posting now when I have time again later. But A few weeks ago Rachel tagged me for The Sunshine Blogger Award, and answering some bookish questions is just what I needed this week. Thanks, Rachel!



  1. Thank the person who nominated you and link their blog to this post
  2. Answer the eleven questions asked by your nominator
  3. Nominate eleven bloggers
  4. Ask them eleven questions, different to the ones you’ve answered
  5. List the rules
  6. Display the Sunshine Blogger Award logo on your post and blog

Rachel’s Questions:

What’s the worst book you had to read for school?

Grand Opening by Jon Hassler. I actually liked most of the books that I had to read for school, but this one immediately comes to mind. I went to high school in Minnesota even though I lived in Iowa, and we were assigned this book because it was set in Minnesota and was written by a Minnesotan, so in addition to just finding the story pretty boring it also felt irrelevant to me in the spirit of supporting home-state authors that it was presented to me with.

Within your own country, where would you most like to visit that you haven’t already been?

New York City. For most of my childhood, I wanted to live in New York after graduating high school, but then I was pretty depressed around that time and gave up a lot of things. I’m not really interested in setting up my life there anymore, but for as badly as I wanted to go then, I owe it to myself to at leas visit.

What’s the best first line of a book you’ve ever read?

I have no idea. I tend to savor them in the moment and forget them, I guess. But I just flipped through some favorites from my shelf to see if anything jumped out, so I’ll mention this opener by Lauren Slater in Lying: A Metaphorical Memoir – “I exaggerate.” That’s the whole first chapter. It’s a perfect fit for the book. (And arguably for all books. What are writers if not exaggerators?)

Do you have any tattoos and do you want any?

I don’t have any yet. I would like to get at least one, but I’m the most indecisive person alive, so I’m just waiting until I’m sure that I won’t end up hating my choice.

If you watch booktube, who’s your favorite booktuber?  If you don’t watch booktube, what’s your favorite thing to watch on youtube?

Currently Ariel Bissett, but it fluctuates. I would rather read than watch/listen to book reviews, so I like that Ariel isn’t really reading and posting about the most popular books at the moment, though her content’s still bookish. I especially liked her recent documentary about Instagram poetry, and her “books I want to read that nobody cares about” videos.

Which classic do you think more people should read?

Sister Carrie by Theodore Dreiser. I had to read this one for school, and it didn’t sound like anything I would be interested in so I was surprised by how much I enjoyed it. It’s a sort of dual look at what a person will do for money, and what a person will do for love, in a great mirrored structure. I’ve recommended this one to a lot of people who don’t ordinarily read classics, because it’s easy to read and surprisingly resonant and I don’t know why more people don’t know about this book?

What would you consider the most overhyped and the most underhyped book you’ve read in the last year?

Overhyped = The Power by Naomi Alderman. I wanted to love this one because so many others seem to, but in the end I thought it had some great concepts but poor execution.

Underhyped = Freshwater by Akwaeke Emezi. I thought this was a brilliant novel about identity and African culture, and was sad to see it fade out of sight after its release this spring.

Would you like to work in the publishing industry, or do you prefer to keep books and reading strictly a hobby?

I actually tried (pretty half-heartedly) to get a job in editing/publishing after finishing college, but I was so burned out at the time and it was only ever second-choice to writing. So I’m taking the rest of this year to finish my first novel, and depending on how that goes I’ll regroup before moving forward, but I plan to always be doing something with books, so I would love to make a career of that in some way.

If you’re a writer, which author’s style do you think is most similar to your own?  If you’re not a writer, which author’s style do you connect with the most as a reader?

Oh gosh, it’s hard for me without ever having been published to compare myself to anyone who has been; although I’m pretty sure I’ll still have imposter syndrome long after my name is printed on books. But maybe a bit like Caroline Kepnes? Fast-paced, mysterious, contemporary, but the focus is mostly on all the weird stuff that’s going on.

What’s your least favorite book cover?

There are so many bad covers out there, it’s hard to choose. But lately I talked with my Stephen King book reading buddy about some bad covers of his books, and this is one that immediately comes to mind:


Who’s your favorite actor/celebrity?

Can I say Evelyn Hugo? I’m fickle about non-bookish celebrities, and don’t have a go-to at the moment.


My questions:

  1. What was your first dream job as a kid, and did that dream get realized in any way?
  2. Are you a library person?
  3. What’s the longest book you’ve read, and was it worth the time?
  4. Is there a genre you never read? (Why?)
  5. Which book do you feel like the only person who hasn’t read yet?
  6. Do you judge a book by its title?
  7. What’s your favorite mythological creature?
  8. Is there a book you’ve loved especially because of where or when you read it?
  9. Would you be satisfied or disappointed to reach the end of your Goodreads (or other long-term) TBR?
  10. What is your favorite subject (outside of books/language) to learn about?
  11. Do you have an irrational level of fear for going blind and not being able to read any more (or is it just me)? Or another irrational fear?


Read Voraciously, Failing at Writing, Book Jotter, The Cozied Reader, Jenna Bookish, The Reading Chick, I’ve Read This, and anyone else who wants to answer these questions!

If you’ve already been tagged for this award recently or just aren’t interested, no pressure. If you do decide to post, please link back to me so I can see your answers! 🙂


The Literary Elephant


Mid-Year Book Freak-Out Tag (2.0)

This is a great tag for taking stock of my reading year and just sharing the bookish love. I answered the same questions for this tag last year, and I’ve been seeing it everywhere again lately so I’m picking it up for Round 2. If you’re curious for more info, all titles link back to my reviews.

The questions:

1. Best Book You’ve Read in 2018 SO FAR


Not That Bad ed. by Roxane Gay. I kind of can’t believe my favorite book so far this year is nonfiction, and a collection of essays at that, but this one completely gripped me in a way that nothing else has yet in 2018. Highly recommend.

2. Best Sequel You’ve Read in 2018 SO FAR


Iron Gold by Pierce Brown. This is the fourth book in the Red Rising series, and it’s  not my favorite of Brown’s books but I haven’t read many sequels this year. This one requires some patience because it’s mainly a set-up book between the original trilogy and whatever delightful chaos I’m sure is coming next, but it does some great things with characterization.

Runner-up would be Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo, but I really liked Six of Crows better in that duology.

3. New Release You Haven’t Read Yet But Want To


The Outsider by Stephen King. I hauled two books last month and read one of them, and it wasn’t the one I was most anticipating. I love King’s writing and I really want to read more of his books. I’ve read several of his old classics, but I want to check out his most recent work.

4. Most Anticipated Release for the Second Half of the Year


Providence by Caroline Kepnes. Sequels/new-releases-by-fave-authors are always my most anticipated because they’re the releases I watch for months, whereas new-to-me authors I like to pick up on impulse. Providence comes out tomorrow and I’ve had my eye on it a long time. I’m still reeling from the ending of Kepnes’ last release, Hidden Bodies, and even though Providence is not a sequel in the Joe Goldberg series I just need to see what Kepnes has been writing.

Runner-up would be Pierce Brown’s Dark Age, book 5 in the Red Rising series. This is probably my actual most-anticipated upcoming release, but since I already mentioned one of Brown’s books I thought I should switch things up.

5. Biggest Disappointment


The Female Persuasion by Meg Wolitzer. This is not to be confused with The Worst Book I’ve Read in 2018 So Far, which I think would go to Our Kind of Cruelty by Araminta Hall. The Female Perusasion is simply a book I expected a lot from that I didn’t feel it delivered in the end. This is exactly why I don’t usually anticipate books by new-to-me authors: my expectations end up skewed. I really hope the next Barnes and Noble Book Club selection impresses me more, but now I know not to plan for an automatic 5-star read.

6. Biggest Surprise

freshwater thedeathofmrs.westaway

A good surprise, and a bad surprise.

Freshwater by Akwaeke Emezi is a book I went into a little warily, having seen some positive early reviews and then absolutely nothing. I didn’t click with it immediately, but it ended up being one of my favorite books from the first half of this year.

On the other hand, The Death of Mrs. Westaway by Ruth Ware is a new release from an author I’ve loved since her first release, In a Dark, Dark Wood. I’ve always loved her atmospheric writing, but in this newest novel the atmosphere felt like a crutch that the rest of this predictable mystery had to rest on. By far my least favorite Ware book.

7. Favorite New Author


Daphne du Maurier. I read my first du Maurier novel this year, the Gothic classic Rebecca. I loved the story, I loved the writing, and I’ll definitely be reading more of du Maurier’s books. It seems so cliche to fall in love with a classic author’s work, but Rebecca is so exactly to my taste that I can’t believe it took me so long to pick it up.

8. Newest Fictional Crush


I didn’t pick one last year and my reason stands: when I like a guy in a book, I like him with his fictional counterpart; I appreciate fictional characters for the creations they are, but generally I don’t wish to meet them or date them.

But I did really enjoy reading about Mr. Knightly and Emma though, in Jane Austen’s Emma. I thought they were a great match, and that’s the best romance I’ve read this year.

9. Newest Favorite Character


Leni from Kristin Hannah’s The Great Alone. She’s strong and resilient and inspiring, and she really saved this book for me when I struggled with Hannah’s writing style.

Runner-up: Eleanor from Gail Honeyman’s Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine. This is another book that fell a little flat for me, but I did really enjoy reading about Eleanor and she has stuck with me since January.

10. Book That Made You Cry


The Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls. We can’t pick our parents, right? And no matter how much we love them, sometimes they make the wrong choices. I have very little in common with Walls’ story in this memoir, but a few of the details about her parents’ failures really got to me anyway. It just sucks to depend on someone who lets you down. The whimsy of most of this story made the sad parts sadder for me, so it was an all-around success.

11. Comic Book That Made You Happy


Saga: Volume 8 by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples. This one was sad and happy, but definitely one of my favorite volumes of the series. Not to be confused with volume 7, also pictured, which was just kind of uneventful, though not particularly disappointing.

12. Favorite Book to Film Adaptation


Ready Player One by Ernest Cline. I may even have liked the film more than the book– I know, blasphemy. The book has a few great elements that the film doesn’t touch, but I thought the balance of plot and 80’s references was handled better in the film and it was just really well-done and fun to see brought to life.

13. Favorite Post You Have Done This Year


Top 25 Favorite Books, 2018 edition. Every year I revise my list of top 25 favorite books of all time, and it’s definitely still a work in progress (how does anyone have one favorite book?), but I always love seeing how my tastes change from year to year, which titles stay, what new books make the list. It takes a lot of thought and effort and I always end up with a list of books I’ve loved, and love to look back on.

14. Most Beautiful Book You’ve Bought This Year


Circe by Madeline Miller. This is the UK cover, which I ordered. Both the UK and US covers are gorgeous, but I bought this one. I just love the floral pattern and the shiny bronze color and the texture of the art. And there’s another drool-worthy pattern stamped onto the actual hardcover, underneath the jacket. I haven’t actually read this one yet, but it’s coming up fast on my TBR.

15. A Book You Need to Read By the End of the Year


Home Fire by Kamila Shamsie won the Bailey’s Women’s Prize for Fiction for 2018. There are a few others from the shortlist especially that I also want to check out, but I can’t not read the winner. Prizes aside, it just sounds like a great read: a modern Antigone retelling featuring two Muslim families. I’m hoping to get to it this summer.


If you’ve read this far, thanks, and consider yourself tagged. I love seeing the answers to these questions, so feel free to let me know in the comments if you’ve participated with this tag!

And that’s the end. Though I don’t actually have a lot of 5-star reads yet, I have been feeling great about my reading year. I feel like I’m learning and growing a lot as a reader in 2018, and branching out more with the books I’ve been picking up. Even the books I haven’t loved have taught me things that I’ve been applying (or removing) from my own writing as I’ve been focusing more heavily on that this year, as well. 2018 is going fast, but I can’t wait to see what fresh new surprises the second half has in store for my reading.

How’s your year going? Have you read any of these books?


The Literary Elephant

Unforgettable Bookish Memories Tag

It’s been months since I’ve done a book tag. I wasn’t tagged for this one, but I’m in the mood for some bookish questions and this is one that’s been floating around my feed lately so I’m jumping on board.

  1. The First Book You Ever Read (or was read to you) – thecrayonboxthattalked.JPGI’m looking at The Crayon Box that Talked by Shane DeRolf for this one, which is a book I loved around the time I learned to read. I know my mom read a lot of books to me before I could read, but neither of us can remember a first book. I’m not even sure The Crayon Box that Talked was the first book I read myself, because I think I had the words memorized by the time I actually learned to read, and was just reciting it. But it is one of my earliest and fondest bookish memories.
  2. The first book you ever bought with your own money – ugliestrilogyScott Westerfeld’s Uglies trilogy (back when it was a trilogy). I was reading these in seventh grade when my parents suddenly decided that I wanted too many books and I would have to chip in if I wanted to keep adding to my bookshelves. Other than Christmas or birthdays, after Uglies I bought all of my books myself. I also started visiting the library a lot more frequently because I couldn’t afford all the books I wanted either.
  3. A book you stayed up all night reading – voyagerAll-nighters are usually guilty pleasure reads for me, because I worry that reading tired will make me miss things and I don’t want that to happen in a book I really love. One of my last all-nighters was also accidental: featuring Voyager by Diana Gabaldon. This is the third book in the Outlander series, which I was briefly obsessed with. I was planning to sleep  through the morning to make up for the lost night, but a family emergency involving a flat tire ruined that plan. I’m pretty sure I went out that same day to check out a copy of the next book in the series, even though I was probably yawning all the way through the library.
  4. What book or series will you never forget – harrypotterseriesThis is obvious, but I have to go with Harry Potter. I loved the series as a kid, but it’s also one of the few child-appropriate stories that’s just as fun to read as an adult, and not just for the nostalgia. So many times while reading YA (and I can’t read middle grade at all anymore) I’m left cringing at the way the stories seem dumbed-down and condescending, but Harry has lessons for all ages and Rowling is never talking down to her audience. Furthermore, it’s such a huge franchise that it’s a great connector for readers worldwide, and being a part of such a wide audience is pretty phenomenal.
  5. A book you frequently think about –  harperleeduo.JPGI’m going to go with two books here– To Kill a Mockingbird and Go Set a Watchman, both by Harper Lee. The first was one of the few mandatory reading assignments from high school that I really loved, and it’s definitely remained a favorite over the years. But last year I read Go Set a Watchman, which upturns some of the assumptions made in To Kill a Mockingbird, and months later I’m still trying to sort out how I feel about the duo. I love the ways that they contrast each other and challenge perspective, but it’s definitely a set that’s hard on the heart.
  6. A scene that has haunted you for years after reading it – coralineNeil Gaiman’s Coraline includes a scene in which the main character gets trapped with the Other Mother, who has buttons for eyes. Weird eye details/injuries gross me out above all other physical details/injuries, and the button eyes of Coraline have stuck with me for years. Runner-up: Stephen King’s Misery, in which the protagonist is forced to eat his own thumb. These are the details that haunt me. (Great books though. Would read again.)
  7. An unforgettable character – sixofcrowsduoInej from Leigh Bardugo’s Six of Crows duology. She’s been through hell, but instead of letting it break her, every trial makes her stronger. She has an unusual and specific skill– tight-rope walking– that she turns into an admirable (though admittedly dark) career. She’s resourceful, she sets her own code to live by and sticks to it, she’s a loyal friend, and she chases her dreams. She knows when to let something go, and when to hold on. Also she’s Kaz’s best friend, which would be pretty amazing. I wouldn’t want to be either of them, but they’re inspiring to read about.
  8. A book that changed your opinion about something – gonewiththewindMargaret Mitchell’s Gone With the Wind. This was the first classic that I read voluntarily, my freshman year of high school. It was long (over 1k pages in the mass market paperback copy I read) and I was so afraid that I was too young, that it would bore me and go over my head. But I loved it. This book started my love of classics, but perhaps more importantly, it taught me not to make assumptions about books I haven’t read, and to be more confident in my abilities.
  9. Share another bookish memory – This isn’t about a specific book, but lately I’ve been wondering if my reading rate has slowed down and I’ve been remembering this: in a high school English class, we were supposed to read so many pages per week outside of class, and then write little book reports every Tuesday and Thursday to prove we were actually reading. By the third report I realized I’d written about three different books instead of just reading the 50 pages or whatever was required, and I set a challenge for myself, to have a different book for every report. For the entire semester I read at least two books per week so that every report featured a different novel. I have no idea where I found that kind of time at that point of my life. I think  I was reading faster then, but less critically. The only book I specifically remember from those reports is The Shining.

Book nostalgia gets me every time, so these questions were right up my alley. If you’re interested in answering them, consider yourself tagged, and let me know in the comments so I can see your answers! I think it’s so incredible how people can unite over a shared love of books and still have such different memories and opinions about what they’ve read. It’s a beautiful world we live in.


The Literary Elephant

Mid-Year Book Freak-Out Tag

I saw this tag on quirkyandpeculiar‘s blog, and I thought, “what a great way to check in on my progress this year and get excited about the rest of 2017!” So here we are. It’s the middle of the year, and I’m (still) freaking out about books.

  1. The best book I’ve read so far in 2017: darkmatterUgh it’s so hard! I’ve already read 53 books this year, and there have been some real gems, but I think the one that has impressed me most so far is Blake Crouch’s Dark Matter. I was skeptical about the “science fiction thriller” description, but I could not put this one down, and every time I thought I had a handle on my emotions, there was another crazy plot twist. I loved every page.
  2. FullSizeRender (11)My favorite sequel of the year: This one’s easy. The Magician King by Lev Grossman is the second book in the Magicians trilogy, and by far the best of the three. It has a constant sense of adventure, unforeseeable plot twists, fantastically flawed characters, magical danger, and so so much more. I’ve had a long-standing opinion of second books in a series being the worst, but sequels have definitely improved lately. I can’t wait for the episodes corresponding with this part of the trilogy to appear on Netflix.
  3. A new release I haven’t read but really want to: The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas. So many great books came out this May (and other months, but especially May) that I haven’t gotten around to because I’m still trying to read everything else I’ve missed in earlier years and before I was born and really one lifetime is not enough for all the reading I want to fill it with. So frustrating. Being able to catch up on my reading for the rest of eternity is the only reason I would consider vamprisim.
  4. My most anticipated release for the second half of the year: Again, so hard because there are so many, but I’m going with Ruth Ware’s July release, The Lying Game. I’ve been waiting for this one since finishing The Woman in Cabin 10 last summer and the release date is finally almost here, so this one’s high on my radar of new releases at the moment.
  5. My biggest disappointment of 2017: caraval Stephanie Garber’s Caraval. There was so much hype for this book, but I didn’t really like much more than the atmosphere of it. I had issues with a lot of the relationships (especially the one between the sisters), and the characters I was most interested in seemed overlooked. I have higher hopes for the sequel, and I didn’t entirely hate Caraval, but I was expecting greatness and I was disappointed.
  6. gosetawatchmanMy biggest surprise of the year: This one’s definitely Harper Lee’s Go Set a Watchman. I can’t believe I managed to avoid being spoiled on the big surprise in this book because it’s pretty controversial. It wasn’t a great surprise or a terrible surprise for me, it was just a giant shock. I read To Kill a Mockingbird in high school and have been living with pretty solid opinions of it, but Go Set a Watchman threw everything I thought I knew into question. It was a major shock to be so uprooted about something as steadfast as a literary classic.
  7. Favorite new-to-you or debut author: I iletyougobelieve she was a debut author in 2016, but I read Clare Mackintosh’s I Let You Go earlier this year and loved it. At first I thought it had a slow start, but then I realized that there were clues woven into that first part so expertly that they’re almost completely invisible until things speed up. And then they never slow down again. I’ve been loving thrillers lately, and this one has been one of my favorites. I’m planning to read her newer release soon.
  8. FullSizeRender (18)My new fictional crush: I’m not sure what to say here because I don’t approach book boyfriends like lots of other girls. When I appreciate a fictional man in a book, I generally appreciate him with whoever he’s with in the book, or for whoever he should be with in his respective fictional world. Even in my fictional fantasies, I’m still me, and I need a person suited to me, not suited to the fictional girl he’s adoring. That said, I think Nikolai Lantsov from the Grisha trilogy is pretty fantastic.
  9. My new favorite character: Lucienacourtofwingsandruin from Sarah J. Maas’s A Court of Thorns and Roses series. Book three, the recently released ACOWAR, lays the groundwork for a lot of the secondary characters to become major focuses in the three upcoming related books, and while several of them are quite intriguing, I think I’m most interested in getting a closer look at who Lucien is as a character and what will happen with him next.
  10. FullSizeRender (3)A book that made me cry: Jennifer Niven’s All the Bright Places has some pros and cons, but it did remind me of what it’s like to feel completely alone even when there are people who care. I was so sure that this was going to be a romance that I didn’t look closely enough at the upcoming disaster and was so much more sad than I expected when it struck.
  11. A book that made me happy: This may thefemaleofthespeciessound odd, but I’m going with Mindy McGinnis’s The Female of the Species. For a hard-hitting YA book with messages about rape, trauma, and grief, this one left me feeling fiercely proud of my gender and of the progress that females have made in recent years toward becoming a strong presence in the world. Even though this is a serious story, it’s also full of hope for the future.
  12. My favorite book-to-movie adaptation that I’ve seen this year: I’m ashamed to say I haven’t watched many adaptations lately. But I did watch the entire second season of Outlander this spring, which I liked far better than its corresponding book (Diana Gabaldon’s Dragonfly in Amber), and the Outlander TV show has earned its current place as my all-time favorite book-to-TV adaptation so far.
  13. thisadventureendsThe most beautiful book I’ve bought/received this year: Emma Mills’s This Adventure Ends is gorgeous, and I’m partially looking forward to reading it just for an extra excuse to take some pictures of it. I’m not very good at photography, as you’ve probably noticed if you follow my blog, so I generally don’t even try until I’m actually reading the book, but here’s a picture of the cover from the internet to show you what I mean about the cover in the meantime.
  14. Some books I need to read by the end of the year: SO MANY. My TBR is back up over 300 on Goodreads again, which is higher than where it started at the beginning of the year, though I’m only 20 books away from reaching my goal for the year. But some of my top priorities for 2017 are: The Hobbit, by Tolkien, because I still haven’t read any Tolkien books and I swear this is the year. Lord of Shadows by Cassandra Clare because if I reach this point it will mean I’ve succeeded with my Shadownhunters marathon of 2017. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen because why haven’t I read this? Also I want to read it before Curtis Sittenfeld’s Eligible, which is also on my TBR. And some upcoming releases are on my 2017 MUST-READ list, like Maggie Stiefvater’s All the Crooked Saints, Andy Weir’s Artemis, Ryan Graudin’s Invictus, Kristin Cashore’s Jane, Unlimited, and probably a lot more that I’m going to sacrifice sleep to find time for.

And a bonus question of my own:

15. A book I’ve been meaning to read in 2017 but haven’t yet: V. E. Schwab’s A Darker Shade of Magic has been on one of my TBRs already, and it’s been on my mind all year even when I haven’t felt up to starting what’s probably going to end up being a three-book marathon. It’s definitely going to happen soon, though. Now that all three books are out, there’s no more reason for hesitation.

That’s the end of the tag, and since I haven’t been tagged I won’t tag anyone, but please let me know if you’re participating in this tag because I’d love to see more answers! I’d especially appreciate seeing anyone incorporating my bonus question into the tag, because I think it’s interesting to see how people’s reading tastes and priorities change, even month to month, and sometimes the things we put off tell as much about our experiences as the things we achieve.

How’s your reading progress going this year?


The Literary Elephant


As usual, I have not been tagged for this one, and I think it’s pretty old, and I don’t know where it actually originated (if you know, please leave a link in the comments or at least let me know, so I can give credit where its due). But this is one that is always fun for me to read, and I don’t think I’ve talked about my TBR on my blog before. So we’re gonna let it happen.

How do you keep track of your TBR pile?

Two ways. I joined Goodreads in…2012? But I didn’t start using it regularly enough for that to be a reliable way to keep track of things until 2015 or so. So I use my Goodreads TBR shelf primarily now, but I also have written lists. With my written lists, I keep track of books I own but haven’t read yet, so that nothing new and unread on my shelf can get lost in the shuffle, and I keep a list of the books that I know I can get pretty easily through my library. (I live in a very small town and a lot of my library books come through a loan system shared with other towns in the area, so sometimes the wait isn’t worth it or there simply aren’t any copies available.) This way I can keep track on Goodreads of all the books I ever want to read, but I can also keep track of what’s easily available to me to help me prioritize. I make an effort to update about once a month.

Is your TBR mostly print or e-book?

Right now, I’m reading exclusively print books. I use my TBR shelf on Goodreads to keep track of books I don’t own or have access to yet, as well, so I guess it’s not fair to say that my entire TBR is in print format. By the time I get around to reading some of them, maybe I’ll have switched over to e-book or audiobook copies, who knows. But right now, I’m reading print books, and if they come up in my TBR and I don’t own a physical copy yet, I try first to get a physical copy.

How do you determine which book from your TBR to read next?

I set monthly TBRs for myself. If I surpass the monthly goal, I generally try to pick up books that have been on my shelf unread the longest because I feel bad for neglecting them. But first, when I’m planning my monthly TBRs, I look at my list of books I can get easily through the library, and I pick usually 2-4 that I’m most in the mood for. I prioritize books in a series, both with my library picks and the books I plan to read from my own shelf. If I’ve started a series, there will be at least one book from it on my monthly TBR. Sometimes I’m in the middle of several at once, and if I’m not in the middle of any series…well, I’ll probably be starting one. I also am currently a subscriber of Book of the Month Club, so I put at least one BOTM book on each monthly TBR. After planning for whichever series I’m in, and my BOTM book, and my library books, then I turn to the list of unread books on my bookshelf, and choose from there as many more as I feel like I can handle that month. Of course, there are always new releases or new discoveries, so I have to be flexible enough to add new books on a whim. But mainly, once my monthly TBR is set, I just choose whatever I’m most interested in at the moment from that list, until it’s gone.

What book has been on your TBR the longest?

It’s impossible to say. I know I’ve had books on my mental TBR longer than I’ve had my Goodreads TBR, but now they’re all on Goodreads (mostly) and all I know is the date I added them to that shelf, which may or may not be the date that I decided I wanted to read them. I didn’t have a great system until 2015 so… the closest to truth I can get in this question is to say that the first/oldest book on my Goodreads TBR shelf is Alice Walker’s The Color Purple. (Which I will be reading this year as part of my 2017 reading challenge, so it won’t have that spot too much longer.)

What book has been most recently added to your TBR?

Patrick Rothfuss’ The Name of the Wind. I’ve been hearing about how good this book is for so long, and when I went to check its rating on Goodreads (an impressive 4.55), I realized I’d had it in mind but never actually added it to my Goodreads TBR. So I did that.

What book is on your TBR strictly because of its beautiful cover?

I don’t decide to read a book based on its beauty. I do sometimes decide whether to buy or borrow based on cover attractiveness, however. Last month I bought Emma Mills’ This Adventure Ends because it was on my TBR list and it’s beautiful.

Which book on your TBR do you never plan on reading?

I cull my TBR regularly for books that I added on impulse and am not actually really interested in reading, so I don’t think that I have any. But I will say that Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables is on my TBR and I know it’s going to be a long time before I pick it up because it’s so long and I’ve seen the movie enough times that it’s going to be a real challenge to forget enough of the plot to want to start reading.

What is an unpublished book on your TBR that you’re excited for?

I discovered Ruth Ware’s two thrillers in 2016 and coming up soon (July 25) is her next release–The Lying Game. I’m super excited for it. I haven’t pre-ordered yet, but I probably will.

What book on your TBR does everyone recommend to you?

Kristin Hannah’s The Nightingale. I own it. I fully intend to read it. Probably even this year. I don’t know what’s holding me back. I guess I just haven’t been in the mood for WWII historical fiction, but I do really want to read it, and I will. Eventually.

A book on your TBR that everyone has read but you?

  1. Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen. I’ve read other Austen, and I have a copy of this one, and it’s my classic of the month for September, so I’ll get there.
  2. The Night Circus, by Erin Morgenstern. Again, I own it, and I really want to read it, and especially around the time Caraval came out I felt really left out for not having read this one. I just feel like it’s going to be a good October read, thrilling and magical and…spooky? Is it a little spooky? For some reason I have a full October TBR already even though that’s still so far away and I don’t have any other months planned.
  3. Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas. I just officially added this one last week when I read A Court of Wings and Ruin. I feel like I’m not going to like it as much as the ACOTAR series, but I want some more Sarah J. Maas in my life while I’m waiting to see what’s happening with the fourth ACOTAR book. Everyone’s read it, everyone has opinions, and… I want to see for myself.

I realize that was three and not one. (My answers for these questions have been a bit long, oops!) I just always feel left out when anyone has read a book that I haven’t, which is awful because it’s not even possible to read enough books to combat that. But I’m trying to cope, and these three have been on my mind a lot lately.

Which book on your TBR are you dying to read?

Iron Gold by Pierce Brown. Its release date got pushed back from August 2017 to January 2018, and those four months extra seem like eternity. I’m trying to avoid think about it at all, but clearly it’s not working. I absolutely loved Brown’s Red Rising trilogy when I read it in 2016 and I neeeeeed to know what happens next.

How many books are in your Goodreads TBR shelf?

295 at the moment, but that fluctuates a lot. For most of the year it’s been hovering around 280, but I’ve been adding books again. The problem is partially that when I read a book I really like, I always add another book by that author to my TBR afterward, or a book in a similar genre or with a similar premise if it feels like something new that I haven’t experienced enough of. I only keep one book from a series on my Goodreads TBR at a time–even if I want to read the full series, I only add the first book to my TBR, and when I finish that, I add only book two, and so on. So my TBR is this constantly changing beast that I’ll probably never conquer, and that makes me sad on one level, but then again, what kind of life would it be without a perpetual list of books I’ve yet to read? As satisfying as it is to complete a list, I don’t ever want to hit zero on this one.

And that’s a wrap.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this inside look at my TBR. I’m not going to tag anyone, as usual, because I wasn’t tagged myself and this is an old one. But I do love to see answers for this one, so if you want to give it a shot, let me know in the comments below so I can check out your TBR tag post! (I love tags like this that you can answer fresh every year or so and always have different answers. It’s interesting to compare where you stand and how things have changed.)

I’m really curious: how big is your TBR?


The Literary Elephant

Reader Confession Tag

I haven’t done many tags (so far only one other), but I found one I liked on @readingeverynight‘s page (I’ll link the tag post here), and I didn’t have a review to share today so even though I haven’t been tagged I’m going to answer these questions instead.

Have you ever damaged a book?

Not horribly. Up until the last few years I used to reread books all the time so I have several copies with some wear and tear, but I think they just look well-loved. So some of my books, especially my first Harry Potter copies, have cracked spines and covers peeling at the edges, but I’m not a dog-ear bookmarker and I’m generally careful with books.

Have you ever damaged a borrowed book?

Maybe? Once in middle school when Twilight was big I had borrowed a friend’s paperback copy for a reread and it slid off the top of my stack of textbooks between classes. It hit the floor on the base of the spine and got this weird little crack/buckle that ran horizontally across the spine about a third of the way up. It was tiny, like maybe 1/4 of an inch, but I remember it really vividly because she was standing right next to me at the time and was really upset about it. We were 13 and Twilight was a big deal. That’s the only incident I remember.

How long does it take you to read a book?

It really depends on what’s going on in my life and how long the book is. In the last few months, I’ve been averaging between 100-150 pages per day, so I’d say on average maybe about three days? I don’t force it. Some days I only read 10 pages, some days I read closer to 400; but usually about two books per week.

Are there books that you haven’t finished?

Unfortunately, yes. I never officially DNF a book, but I do start a book sometimes and then find myself busy with other things and not pick it back up for a long time. I never start a book I don’t intend to completely finish, even if I hate it. At the moment, I can only think of three books I’ve started but not finished before moving on to something else: The Death Cure by James Dashner, The Stand by Stephen King, and Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte (which is my classic of the month for March so this one will be off this list soon.)

Are there hyped/popular books you didn’t like?

Please don’t hate me. When I read the Lunar Chronicles, I gave most of the books 4 stars, but ever since completing them I can only remember the things I disliked about them, and I remember those things so strongly that it’s stopping me from picking up Marissa Meyer’s other book, Heartless. There were definitely good things about the series, but the writing style was most definitely not for me. I made it all the way through the series, but I don’t have any desire to own, reread, or really even think about these books again.

Is there a book you wouldn’t tell anyone you were reading?

I don’t think so. When I was in middle school I read a few of the Pretty Little Liars novels and my mom ended up perusing one I was in the middle of; she thought the characters were so awful and mean that she forbid me to read them. I, of course, was not to be deterred and read four of them I think before I got tired of the series, so I had to keep that on the down low at the time. That seems kind of ridiculous now. Otherwise, people don’t generally ask what I’m reading in my regular life even though I bring a book with me everywhere I go, so it’s not really an issue.

How many books do you own?

I wasn’t going to count, but I was curious. I ended up with 535. Maybe. That’s how many I just counted, but it doesn’t account for all the children’s books that I own that are still on my younger brother’s shelf and it probably depends on what you’re counting as a book. I didn’t count the sudoku book I got for Christmas, but I did count my dictionary, and the two I’ve already paid for that haven’t actually arrived in the mail yet, so… somewhere around there, probably.

Are you a fast reader or a slow reader?

I would say I’m somewhere in the middle. Some genres, like YA, romance, and thrillers I can read faster than, say, historical fiction and classics, but I don’t think I have any sort of unusual pace for any genre. If it seems like I’ve read a lot of books in a certain month, I probably just spent more time reading rather than having picked up my pace.

Do you like to buddy read?

I don’t know. I’ve never properly tried a buddy read. I definitely like talking about books I loved with friends who’ve also read them, but my friends read at different paces and have different reading priorities so sometimes one of us has to wait awhile for someone else to get around to a particular book. Schedules are so hard to figure out. I might be interested someday, but for now reading is a pretty solitary activity for me.

Do you read better in your head or out loud?

Both have their benefits. I read in my head most often, but I think reading out loud makes me slow down a little and notice things in different ways, so I like to practice both. I have a significantly younger brother who doesn’t like to read but likes to be read to, and he’s listened to lots of snippets from the middles of books I’m reading. He’s gotten old enough now that he notices when I try to skip over swear words or come up with replacements for words like “prostitution” that I don’t want to have to explain to him. He pays a surprising amount of attention even in the middle of the action and always seems to figure out what’s going on and ask weird questions about it. It is kind of fun to try to cover those things on the fly, but even if I’m just completely alone I’ll read out loud sometimes justfor the fun of it.

If you were only allowed to own one book, what would it be and why?

This is so hard. I have a top 25 list because I can’t ever narrow down my favorites to a reasonable number. I might have to say I’d pick the bible, just because it’s so long and varied that if it was only book I could read for the rest of my life at least I would still have a range of stories and content. I don’t like to just reread the same thing over and over again, even if I love it. I’m afraid of overkill.

So that’s a little info about my reading life for anyone who’s curious–I know I love comparing my own book experiences with other people, which is why I enjoy tags like this. Feel free to tag me if you ever find something similar, I’m trying to get into tagging a little more! But for now, since I wasn’t specifically tagged for this one, I’m going to do the general tag here and say anyone who wants to answer these questions should do so and comment below so I can check it out! I’d enjoy comparing some of these answers. 🙂

Would any of your responses be similar to mine?


The Literary Elephant

Rapid Fire Book Tag

So I’ve never done a tag before, and I don’t know how often I might decide to pick up on one, but the Rapid Fire Book Tag is one that is always fun for me to look at answers to–it’s so interesting to compare your own answers to such quick and easy questions and it’s just a fun way to start a conversation–or at least a thought bubble–about books. I haven’t actually been tagged for this, but I wanted to try it anyway. Also, I’ve seen this done so many times in so many places and with such different credit given that I’m not even sure where credit is due. If you know where this tag originated, please mention the creator in the comments below so I give credit.

And now, for some bookish questions!

E-book or physical book?

Definitely physical book. I’m a tactile person. I like to turn real pages and see my progress and carry the weight of fictional lives around in my hands.

Paperback or Hardback?

This one’s a toss-up. Aesthetically, on an individual book level, I would have to say hardback. But for reading convenience, and for shelf appeal, paperback (I love the flat spines lined up together better than the curve of dust jacket spines). Also, paperbacks are generally cheaper, and I would rather buy multiple paperbacks than one beautiful hardback. It usually just comes down to whatever I can find cheaply. It’s nice to have a matching set, but it really doesn’t bother me to have every book in a series or by the same author in different formats. I like a little chaos on my bookshelves.

Online or In-store Book Shopping?

In store, preferably. Again, I’m a tactile person. But I live in an area where I don’t have a bookstore nearby, so I make sure I always stop when I’m close even just to browse the shelves–I like to look at the choices in person, and then if I’m sure I want a book, I’m fine with ordering it online if I know it’ll be cheaper that way. Either way, it doesn’t feel real until it’s in my hands.

Trilogies or Series?

Trilogies tend to have a similar sort of tension arc that can be very pleasing if it’s what I’m in the mood for, and they certainly feel less overwhelming than jumping into an ongoing series that has eight long books already published; but if the world is built well and the characters are dynamic, I want those extra books that a series offers. I like short stories, and I like long stories. As long as the page count matches the tension of its unique tale, I’ll read any length of content.

Heroes or Villains?

Both. I don’t believe either can exist without the other. If a villain isn’t crafted well, I won’t think as highly of the hero for besting him/her. On the other hand, if the hero is bland, it’s much more fun siding with the villain! Whichever way a character leans, he/she needs to be as layered as an onion, and I often find that villains better fit this requirement. A recent discovery of favorite book types is the sort in which the protagonist is the villain. Some complicated emotions stem from rooting for the bad guy.

A Book I Want Everyone to Read?

This is so hard. I used to recommend my favorites to everyone that would listen without taking into account that not everyone is a teenage girl and even if they are they don’t necessarily have the same tastes. Now I’m super aware of varied opinions and I hesitate to make flat recommendations. But I’ll try. I recently read Sherman Alexie’s The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, and I think this short novel is an important read for almost every reader. There are graphics. The chapters are short, but the messages are huge. There’s humor and tragedy and a whole lot of lessons about adversity. It’s fun and it packs a punch. If you’re alive, you should probably read it.

Recommend an Underrated Book?

You by Caroline Kepnes. This is definitely an adult book, but it’s so unique and compelling I just can’t get enough of this series and I am waiting so impatiently for there to be another novel published. This one’s slowly been gaining popularity, I think, but I never see it mentioned as much as I would like. I think it’s so fascinating to be following the bad guy of the story and wanting him to win. Morally gray characters are great. The main character of You completely creeps me out and I would never ever in a million years want to meet him, but I also kind of really want him to get away with his crimes and find love and keep being creepy.

The Last Book I Finished?

Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell. I liked it a lot. I couldn’t put my finger on exactly what I liked at first, but I couldn’t put the book down and then suddenly it was 3 am, so I guess that’s a good sign. I’ll be posting a complete review within a week.

The Last Book I Bought?

Hmm. Well. The last books I bought were actually a Book Outlet order of seven books. I think the last one I took out of the box was The Enchanted by Rene Denfeld. I ordered my Book of the Month Club book since then, but technically that was a gift subscription so I didn’t pay for it, but I suppose I could have skipped the month and I chose to spend a month of the gift, so maybe it counts? That book was Lucky You by Erika Carter, which is an exclusive BOTM book until its official publication in mid-March.

Weirdest Thing I’ve Used as a Bookmark?

I mostly use assorted small pieces of paper, and I don’t think that’s unusual. But one time in my eighth grade “Life Skills” class I had to sew a pillow and then I had time to spare so I sewed a bookmark out of fabric scraps. I did actually use it, and I do actually still have it.

Used Books: Yes or No?

Well, I don’t have a lot of choice on this one. In college I bought a lot of used books, including novels for English classes, and as long as they were in a reasonable condition it didn’t really bother me. I’ve even gotten a couple of signed books by shopping used. Also I have book hand-me-downs that were used by friends or family members before they came to live on my shelves, and that’s fine with me too. So yeah, I guess I can get behind used books. It would be sad to waste them. But I don’t have a good store around that sells used books, and I do like to look at what sort of condition they’re in before buying, so I don’t often have the chance to pick them up.

Top Three Favorite Genres?

Literary fiction. I like really introspective looks at characters and morals and seeing something realistic spun out in an elaborate way that just feels so plausible. These books feel most real, like fiction that could step out of the book into my own world.

Thriller. These get all the emotions going, and really fast. I never know which way a thriller is going to lean (other than the threat of death is often involved. I need a break from all those death threats, so I can’t read thrillers back to back to back, but I do come back to them often); but wherever it’s going, it’s going to get there fast. These books are totally immersive for me, and I have a lot of fun guessing what’s coming.

Fantasy. Sometimes I need a complete escape, and the best way to do that is to leave the modern world entirely. Fantasy books are full of new possibilities and ideas that stretch the mind. So it’s exercise, right?

Borrow or Buy?

I want to say buy, because I love having full bookshelves of my own books to choose from, but honestly I can have a hundred unread books on my shelf and I will still check out books from the library and pester my friends into loaning me great books they’ve read lately. I can read books I own anytime, and that’s a wonderful option, but…often “anytime” gets pushed back and back while I read borrowed books.

Characters or Plot?

Characters. Don’t get me wrong, a strong plot is important, but I think if characters are written well enough I’d read their everyday lives even without any sort of linear plot. Learning about great characters is plot enough–no well-written character has a boring backstory.

Long or Short Books?

Long books. I do sometimes like being able to read a book in one sitting, or even just in a few sittings throughout a single day, but I like to be able to keep going when I like a book. Flash fiction and poetry are cool, and often very powerful because  know it takes a special kind of skill to make something that short contain a full and engaging narrative or moral, but there’s nothing quite as satisfying as sitting down with a huge, heavy book and just living inside it for a week or two. What is food? Who needs sleep? Just one more chapter…

Long or Short Chapters?

Short chapters. I can’t resist chapter ends, or chapter beginnings, so I want lots of them. It’s hard for me to quit reading between chapters. The pages practically turn themselves in a book full of short chapters. That said, I hate it when a chapter ends in the middle of the action, or a conversation, or an observation. I don’t want it to be forced–if the section isn’t really over, I’d rather read a little longer than pick up a book at the beginning of a chapter and have to go back to remember the first half of the conversation that was cut off by the chapter break.

Name the First Three Books I Think of?

Iron Gold by Pierce Brown, because I’m super anticipating it’s release later in 2017.

Dark Matter by Blake Crouch, because it’s been at the top of my TBR for months and I’m finally getting around to it.

Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas because after reading A Court of Mist and Fury I’m seriously considering starting her other series.

Books that Make Me Laugh or Cry?

Books that make me laugh. I think sad and tragic stories are important, too, and I do read them, but I rarely actually cry over them. I can keep the sobs contained on the inside. But I can’t always stop myself from laughing out loud while I’m reading, and really that’s just so much more enjoyable than crying. I don’t seek out books full of humor, but I love unexpectedly laughable situations and characters. If I’m reading along in a regular book that I don’t expect much humor from, it’s great to end up laughing out loud. Even just a chuckle. I like books to surprise me, even in emotions. Sad stories usually have so much build-up you just know the beloved character is going to die, and then it’s predictable. Laughter is spontaneous.

Our World or Fictional Worlds?

Our world, or a warped version of it. I do like high fantasy, as well, and all sorts of magical worlds, but part of the appeal of fiction for me is to see something that already exists in a different light. I mean, if I love a book set in New York, I can go there and look at the same landmarks mentioned in the story and feel more connected to the parallel world of that fiction. I can’t visit a continent that doesn’t exist. Again, I’m a tactile person. If I really love a story, I want something to hold on to it by, and I haven’t yet managed to catch a faerie.

Audiobooks: Yes or No?

No. I’m glad that they exist, but I don’t use them. I like the idea of audiobooks, and I like multi-tasking. It would be nice to be able to read and drive, which audiobooks would allow, but I just don’t connect to the words as much when someone else is reading them. I have to see them on the page and be able to go at my own pace, to pause for thought, or reread segments that strike me, etc. Also I don’t like the outside influences of voices for characters. I want to be able to build them in my head, and often a voice can get in the way of that.

Do You Ever Judge a Book by its Cover?

Yes. I won’t buy a book just because it’s beautiful, but if I’m really drawn to a cover I’ll be more likely to look into what it’s about and decide if it’s something that interests me. On the other hand, if I think a book has a really bad cover, I might still read it from the library, but I probably won’t buy it if I don’t like looking at it.

Book to Movie or Book to TV adaptations?

Book to TV. Generally I like TV shows better than movies–characters are very important to me in any story, and I love the development that a good TV show can give a character. Also, episodes are a more manageable size than movies, but all put together they go on and on and on, so the story is much longer but you don’t have to sit through it all at once. Or, you know, if you’re in a binge mood, you can. Wait, what day is this? How long have I been watching Outlander?

Series or Stand-Alones?

Depends on my mood. If I’ve been looking through my TBR and feeling overwhelmed about all the books still unread, it’s more satisfying to knock out a few stand-alones than one series (I only add the first book of a series to my TBR so I don’t feel like I have to read them all for any reason if I don’t like the beginning). But I also love to venture so far into fictional worlds that it’s hard to find my way back, and that’s much more likely in a series that goes on and on.

And that’s the end of the Rapid Fire Book Tag! Since no one specific tagged me for this one, I won’t tag anyone specific either–but like I mentioned at the beginning, I love to see other people’s answers, so if you’re inspired and want to share, consider yourself tagged! Make sure you add the link in the comments below or tag me to look at your post, because I would love to see more rapid fire responses. Tell me about your reading habits!


The Literary Elephant