Our Half Year Report + a Summer Book Giveaway

Estelle and I crossed the six-month blogging hurdle in May. How have six months already flown by? Oh, the books we’ve read and the people we’ve met. Everything about being a book blogger is pretty flippin’ fantastic. There are a couple reasons for today’s post.

We want to:

– reflect on the bookish resolutions we made for this year to re-motivate ourselves.
– do a little dance and celebrate our six (well, technically almost seven) month blogoversary with you guys.
– share our favorite books that we’ve read so far this year. That means we’re doing a GIVEAWAY. It is summertime, after all, and we want you guys to have the chance to take some of our favorites with you to the beach! That’s how this all ties into our Sweet Summertime Reads feature we’re doing with Ginger and Tara. Check out the end of this post to enter our super fantastic giveaway!

resolution accountability.

MAGAN:

  1. Read 115 books this year. I’m currently 3 books behind the pace I should be reading, but I am about to go on vacation and am prepped with lots of books. I am not changing my goal, though I am nervous to be slacking. I dislike that I feel like I’m playing catch up. Estelle has been encouraging me to just keep pushing toward 115. I CAN DO THIS. (hopefully)
  2. Read at least one book/month from my shelves. When I wrote this last year, I wasn’t planning on attending book conferences. I’ve since gone to two (TLA and ALA) where I’ve gotten wonderful books. Considering those have been added to my shelves, I’ve been doing well with reading through those. I’ve read books I bought last year, too, but I haven’t tackled my old, old books.
  3. Pass along books I no longer want to own. I’ve done a few twitter giveaways of books I didn’t want to keep. I have a stack of books currently waiting to be taken to a children’s home. I am feeling better about decluttering my shelves, but there’s still room for improvement here.
  4. Don’t get caught up in a schedule and quit reading for me. Hmm.  Reading has not lost its appeal, but I do feel like during March and April, my life got chaotic and I couldn’t read nearly as much as I wanted to. I felt more selective about the books I was picking up and tried to be mindful of the review books I’d received. I never once felt overwhelmed by blogging, but I did feel let down by some of the books I had been amped to read. Though it wasn’t a scheduling issue, per say, it was something that really brought me down. Don’t worry – I’m back on the upswing of things and life is calm(er) now.
  5. Participate in book swaps. Thanks to the conferences I’ve attended and social media, I’ve met some amazing bloggers who have been generous enough to lend me books. I have also tried to send books out to other bloggers. I’m hoping this continues and I can be as generous as others have been to me.
  6. Have at least one author listed for every letter of the alphabet on our list of reviewed books. Well, we only have 7 open letters, so I’d say we’re making progress. Does anyone know GOOD books written by authors with the last names starting with Q, U, X, Y, Z? Help!
  7. Become a better writer. Well, I’d say this is pretty hard to quantify, but I am trying pretty darn hard to do this. I keep a notebook with all my thoughts and feelings while I’m reading so I can look back at that when I’m writing. One issue I wrote about was wanting to be able to write negative reviews. I’ve had to write a few this year (with a few more coming up) and while that’s never a great feeling, I believe it’s necessary. My hope is that you’ll find my reviews to be thoughtful, honest, and valid because I am willing to share the good and the bad.

ESTELLE:

 1. Read 100 books again. Well I’ve been on the road to reading 100 books so after some convincing from Magan, I decided to up my book goal to 120. I’m on some kind of a roll it seems!


2. On the other hand… I have not read 6 classics. I have not read even 1. But the good news is since I’m on my way to completing my first goal, I can buy time to read the classics and have the time to concentrate on them. I don’t expect to breeze through them… which is probably why I haven’t read one yet. Ugh. Must. Get. On. That.
3.  Thanks to my genius husband, I have gotten into the habit of taking notes on my books just like I wanted to do. He bought me this Book Lover’s Journal for Christmas. It’s small enough to throw in my purse and I’ve been pretty good at keeping consistent notes!

book lover's journal

It has been easier to write my reviews when I get behind. Which I still do. As I write this, I’m six books behind on reviews. Boo. But hey, notes make it easier and sometimes it’s easier for me to pick up a book instead of writing a review right after I’m finished.
4.  Because I’ve been reading so much (and even though I’m six reviews behind), I’m already scheduling book reviews for July which leads to…
5. Balancing my time better! I’m not always on the computer. I don’t always have to read a book that needs to be reviewed. And I’m going to the gym more. So this is working!
6. FAIL. I fail in every way in not buying books. I blame the authors. Stop writing awesome books. (Just kidding.) I need to really take a break this summer in purchasing anything. I have a ton of books from NetGalley that need to be read and years worth of books that have been making a home on my bookshelf.
7. I wanted to start writing my own young adult book. I’ve written a bit. Nothing book-like. I just need time. And that feels like a major excuse right now. I’m still hoping in the next six months I will have something to show for it. (Whether it’s good, that’s another story.)

our half year favorites.

ESTELLE:

  1. You Have Seven Messages by Stewart Lewis
  2. The Comeback Season by Jennifer E. Smith
  3.  The Princesses of Iowa by Molly Backes
  4. Mister Death’s Blue Eyed Girls by Mary Downing Hahn
  5. Don’t Let Me Go by JH Trumble
  6. Dreamland Social Club by Tara Altebrando (Goodreads)

MAGAN:

  1. Unbreak My Heart by Melissa Walker
  2. Second Chance Summer by Morgan Matson
  3. The Survival Kit by Donna Freitas
  4. Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi
  5. Insurgent by Veronica Roth
  6. Pandemonium by Lauren Oliver

a summer book giveaway.

We will be giving away three books to one lucky person. Enter to win by choosing which three books you’d like from our lists above and let us know what they are in the comments below. Don’t forget to click ENTER on the Rafflecopter widget below!

Rules and Regulations: US entries only. Giveaway ends on June 15th. Winner will be emailed and here!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Bookish Resolutions for 2012

 

Ornament on Magan's Christmas tree

Hello, friends!  We hope you had a wonderful Christmas! Under our Christmas trees, we found lots of bookish goodies – Barnes & Noble gift cards and books from our wishlists.  We’ve discussed resolutions and 2012 goals with a few people via twitter and definitely a lot between the two of us.  It made us think – what do we hope to accomplish next year? Maybe you’re thinking about next year, too. We’d love to hear what your plans are for 2012 – in your personal life and all things book related. If you feel like doing a post like this, link your post at the bottom so we can read what you hope for the new year.

Happy New Year,
Estelle & Magan

M A G A N

I am nervous to write these down and make them blog-permanent. One thing you should know about me is how I’m terribly afraid to fail. I am going to try to keep these as realistic as possible, but I also want to continue to push myself as a reader and blogger.

  1. Next year I’d like to read at least 115 books. That will allow me to stay on schedule with my posts here at Rather be Reading. We each write approximately 8 reviews a month. Considering I’m currently at 90 books and I didn’t begin until mid-May of 2011, I know I can hit that. (Yikes. This still scares me!)  I need room to read books that maybe I won’t review on here so we don’t have duplicate content and I need to allow for books that maybe I just won’t like or want to review.
  2. It’s time to tackle the books on my bookshelves – I want to read at least one book / month that I already own.  I utilize the library a lot, buy new books frequently, and receive books from NetGalley. That leaves little room for finding something on my perfectly organized bookshelves that I’d care to read. I admit I get sucked into wanting to read the latest and greatest release, so sometimes it is difficult to go back to something that was…gasp… published 10 years ago.
  3. If I don’t want to read a book I already own… ever.. it is either a) going to be taken to Goodwill, b) sold at Half Price Books, or c) put up for grabs on the blog so I can mail it to someone who would like to read it.  Why clutter my

    Magan's Bookshelves in the Living Room

    bookshelves when I can fill them with my favorite books?  It’s time to stop being a hoarder.

    (Oh, and PS, I’m including a picture of my recently completed bookshelves (to the right). We moved into our house January 1 of this year and this project took me waaaaay longer than it should have.  I’m glad my favorite books and some of our favorite knicknacks have a home now.)

  4. I don’t want to be the blogger that gets super caught up in a schedule and quits reading for herself. I love following book blogs. LOVE it. I add so many books to my lists from them and they inspired me to start sharing what I think about books. I want to make sure that I’m reading things that make me happy, that are written well, and to not get frustrated when I shouldn’t be spending more money on books and can’t get the book I want immediately. This book-reading thing is expensive. Books aren’t cheap, so I need to utilize the library when I can…
  5. or learn to swap books between bloggers. I would love to find people who are interested in sharing books so we can do kindle shares or lend out books via snail mail.
  6. This is really silly, but I want to have at least one author listed for every letter of the alphabet on our list of reviewed books. (Who said goals had to be all serious?)
  7. And last but not least, I want to become a better writer throughout the next year so I cam more effectively communicate how I felt about a book. I don’t want to become stale or repetitive, but I do want to be able to share a negative review with you when something doesn’t speak to me. I have trouble sharing negative feelings, but I just need to get over it.

E S T E L L E

I was never one to believe in making resolutions for the new year. But this year I started making little goals for myself. Reading a certain number of books, writing a certain amount of pieces, working out a certain number of times a week — and it really helps. I only answer to myself (which is sometimes difficult) but I have found this year has been so fulfilling because of these tiny goals I’ve been setting. I’ve been so lucky to welcome so many amazing people into my life because of the first two (and I never thought that would happen) and with the third one, well I feel a whole lot better about myself too. When it comes to setting some sort of “rule” for the year, I do think it’s important to remain flexible and not freak out about it. (Hard for me because I love to freak out.) But it does help. Just take your time and it’ll happen. So here are some of my guidelines for 2012:

  1. Read 100 books again. I don’t want to set the bar SO high because I want to make sure I have time to:
  2. …read 6 classics and concentrate more on contemporary adult fiction. We all know those two will be more time consuming.
  3. I also must get into the habit of writing a few notes and finishing a book review before reading 5 other books. I do this ALL the time, and it gets very hard to go back and remember what I read when my mind is infiltrated with more characters, plotlines, and writing styles. This will also cause me to…
  4. Get ahead on reviews. Magan is really super at this and because I spend more time reading than writing my reviews I’m sometimes cramming my monthly reviews into one week. I don’t want to do that anymore. Because sometimes I will come across books I do not want to review at all (2 come to mind at the moment) and some that just don’t fit what our blog is all about (Mary Todd Lincoln bio, anyone?). I never want to feel like I can’t be reading for me. That’s just crazy talk!
  5. In other non-blogging resolutions, I would love to balance my time better so I can make time for blogging, the gym, and my husband without feeling like I’m going nuts. This should be fun. It’s a hobby!
  6. Find every single book in my house that I have not read and make it a priority! It’s getting a little out of control. It’s just so easy to buy books on the Nook or on my lunch break but NO more. (Or at least, less of this please.)
  7. I also… big drum roll … would love to start writing a young adult novel. At some point this year. I don’t have to finish it but I would like to have a few chapters written.

Over the course of this year, this list might get a little bit longer. But I think for now it’s a great start. Hope all of you enjoyed your holiday (and are continuing to enjoy them). Here’s to a fantastic 2012!

As a fun bonus, here's what my sister painted me for the holidays!

We’d love to hear what your plans and goals are for 2012. Write a post and link up so we can read, follow along, and encourage you to hit your goals!