First Lines Fridays: June 23rd

first-lines-fridays

First Lines Fridays is a weekly feature for book lovers hosted by Wandering Words. What if instead of judging a book by its cover, its author or its prestige, we judged it by its opening lines?

The Rules:

  • Pick a book off your shelf (it could be your current read or on your TBR) and open to the first page
  • Copy the first few lines, but don’t give anything else about the book away just yet – you need to hook the reader first

Finally… reveal the book!

 


‘Run! Now!‘ TJ shouted, yanking Allison’s sleeve. Her eyes were focused on the ground, where their friend lay twitching slightly. An arrow shaft stuck out of his chest. Her first thought was that it was all part of the game–just some elaborate prank for the newbies on their first outing. If it was, it wasn’t very funny. 


 

 

Interested? Keep reading to find out which book this is from.

 

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It’s All Fun and Games by Dave Barrett

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What it’s about:

When Allison’s best friend, TJ, convinces her to come along for an epic game of LARP (live-action role-playing), she reluctantly agrees despite her reservations about the geeky pastime. TJ’s weekends are filled with powerful wizardry, mystical creatures, and intense battles with his LARP group. Each adventure is full of surprises, but the goal is always the same: to defeat the monsters and find the treasure.

Not long after their quest begins, the friends discover that something has gone wrong. The fantasy world they’ve built has transformed, and the battle they’re in the midst of is no longer make-believe.
Now they must fight for survival against brigands, kobolds, and other deadly mythical creatures that come to life. Fortunately, the group’s once-fictional magical powers have also become real – including Allison’s newly acquired gifts as a healer. They’ll need everything in their arsenal if they hope to make it home alive.

(Cover links to goodreads)

Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository | Barnes & Noble


I came across this while browsing through the giveaways on Goodreads a few weeks ago, and was intrigued, so I entered the giveaway and actually won a copy. I probably would have eventually bought it, though, even if I hadn’t won, because this sounds kind of like the movie Nights of Badassdom (which I totally recommend). Basically, it sounds like something I’ll probably love and have a great time reading, so I’m excited to get to it ASAP.

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Harry Potter Moment of the Week: June 22nd

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This weekly meme was created by Uncorked Thoughts and is now hosted by Lunar Rainbows.

The topic this week is: Favorite Quote from Order of the Phoenix?


I’ve been debating about this for days (I almost didn’t do this topic because it was so hard!), and I finally settled on:

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“Don’t worry. You’re just as sane as I am.”

 

First, I love Luna. She’s one of my favorite book characters from any book/series, ever. Second, I like quotes that stand on their own, outside the context of Harry Potter, for prompts like this one.

(But mostly, there were just too many good quotes from OotP. I mean, the sass and snark in that book was unreal and I loved it all, especially all the ones related to Umbridge.)


Do you have a favorite Order of the Phoenix quote?

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T5W: Unlikable Protagonists

top-5-wednesday

T5W is a weekly meme created by Lainey from gingerreadslainey, now hosted by Sam from ThoughtsOnTomes. You can check out the goodreads group to learn more.

 

June 21st: Favorite “Unlikeable” Protagonists
— People always tear down “unlikeable” protagonists. But tell us the ones you pulled for!

 

Ugh, this topic has been torturing me all month, and I finally decided to just go with a couple of TV characters to get to 5, because I couldn’t remember 5 from books :/

As usual, these aren’t in any order, but I did like some more than others.


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Mathilde from Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff– I hated her a little, but overall I actually liked her. She’s a kind of terrible person, but I respected her commitment to the things she set her mind to do.

 

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Lestat my precious night child from The Vampire Chronicles by Anne Rice– He is a huge ass, he’s narcissistic, cruel, sadistic, and just all around terrible and I love him for all of it. He’s the reason I fell in love with vampires ❤

 

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Macbeth from the eponymous Shakespeare play– Full disclosure: I’m actually only just now reading this for the first time :O I think I like him? Probably?

 

 

 

giphy5Emma Swan from Once Upon a Time– Oh my gods, she was so freaking annoying the first season. Actually, no, she still annoys me (I’ve only seen what’s on Netflix), but I keep rooting for her. I mean, I’m a bigger fan of almost everyone else in the show, but I kept hoping she would get her shit together and eventually be happy and stuff.

 

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Meredith Grey from Grey’s Anatomy– Ok, Mere is probably one of the most unlikable protagonists I’ve ever encountered in TV that I’ve liked. (Or at least I’m assuming she’s unlikable because I rarely encounter someone who actually likes her.) I don’t always love her, but I’ve related a little too much to her at times to not want to see things work out for her.

 


Who are some of your favorite unlikable protagonists?

 

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Must Read Mondays: June 19th

must-read-mondays

Must Read Monday is a weekly thing I do here to recommend books I’ve read and enjoyed. I might sometimes throw in something I gave 3 stars to, but for the most part they’re books I gave a 4-5 star rating to. That doesn’t mean they’re necessarily amazing literature, but it does mean I liked them enough to recommend them to other people.


Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers by Mary Roach

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When I read it: March 2012

Genres: non-fiction (more specifically: science, medical, a touch of history I think, and death); humor

Recommended for: I recommend this to almost everyone when I recommend non-fiction. But, if you’re very bothered by corpses, death, body disposal, funerary practices, etc., you’ll probably want to skip this one.

 

Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository | Barnes & Noble


What it’s about:

Stiff is an oddly compelling, often hilarious exploration of the strange lives of our bodies postmortem. For two thousand years, cadavers—some willingly, some unwittingly—have been involved in science’s boldest strides and weirdest undertakings. In this fascinating account, Mary Roach visits the good deeds of cadavers over the centuries and tells the engrossing story of our bodies when we are no longer with them.


I read this book more than five years ago, and I still talk about it at least monthly, I think.

I’ll be completely honest here: I like morbid stuff. Blame it on my little goth heart, or whatever, but I’ve always been more fascinated than frightened of things like death and bodies, and what happens to said bodies after our consciousness departs them. I strongly considered becoming a mortician after I gave up the dream of anthropology (forensic, specifically, and no it wasn’t because of Bones because by the time the show aired, I’d already ditched that dream).

This book, from what I remember, covered a bit of history about how bodies were dealt with from possibly ancient times all the way to the present. Mary Roach also researched a lot of different body disposal methods, and explained how they worked, where they originated, etc. I think she even took a trip to “The Body Farm” in Tennessee, which I think is awesome. (Am I creeping anyone out yet?) At the end of the book, I believe, there’s even some info on how you can donate your body to science when you die, which really excited me because that’s what I want to do.

While the subject matter is serious, the entire book is pretty funny. Mary Roach seems to have a great sense of humor, and it made this a very enjoyable read, as well as informative.

While this is about death and what happens to bodies, I don’t remember it being super gory. Maybe a little, but it was all pretty technical, I think. This isn’t like reading about a crime scene or a murder in a thriller/mystery/horror novel, but more like a textbook, if it was written in the most light hearted way possible by someone with a sense of humor.

So far this is still the only one of her books I’ve read (and I plan to re-read it eventually), but I have one other on my shelf, and I want to read most of her books.


Have you read this, or any of Mary Roach’s other books?

 

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Fandom Mashups: June 18th

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This is a weekly meme created by Lunar Rainbows. Every week there’s a new scenario and you choose 5 characters from 5 different fandoms to complete the task.

The topic this week is: The Moon is full, bright and it’s making you feel dreamy so you’ve decided to stay up all night and gaze at it.  Which characters do you think would want to enjoy this evening with you?


My picks:

 

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Luna Lovegood from Harry Potter– I know, totally cliche, right? But even ignoring her name, doesn’t moongazing sound exactly like the kind of thing Luna would be down for?

 

 

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The Creature/Frankenstein’s Monster from Penny Dreadful–
Why? Because he’s had a rough life with too few beautiful things, but he can still appreciate beauty, and I think he would be content to just have people willing to spend time with him. (I have a serious soft spot for any portrayal of Frankenstein’s monster/”monster,” but this one in particular :/ )

 

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Sookie Stackhouse from the Southern Vampire Mysteries/True Blood–
Assuming we could make it a “No uninvited supes, especially vamps, allowed” event, I think miss Stackhouse might enjoy actually being out in the moonlight without worrying about becoming someone’s snack. (We’d also have to figure out some way for her to not be bombarded by our inner thoughts, but whatever.)

 

 

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Lydia Deetz from Beetlejuice– I can see her being cool with hanging out, staring at the moon, and maybe writing (or reading) some dark poetry or something.

 

 

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Regina Mills from Once Upon a Time– Why her? Because she’s had a really crappy time, and she’s always stressed, she’s changed and grown a ton, and I kind of just want to take her to a year long spa retreat, but a night of just chilling under the moon, not being allowed to worry about anything, etc. will have to do.

 


Who would you take moongazing?

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Double Book Review: The Haunted/The Hunted by Cassie Alexander

 

 

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The Hunted; links to goodreads

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The Haunted; links to goodreads

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Genres: erotica; BDSM (sort of) erotica; paranormal

Why I read them: I was in the mood for something kind of mindless, and found these waaaay back in my Kindle (I think I actually won these like 2-3 years ago in the Erotica group on goodreads for some game or something I’d participated in). I remembered that The Haunted was ghost/human erotica and decided it sounded perfect for the mood I was in. For The Hunted, I just decided to go ahead and knock another really old book off my TBR. (Bonus points: both counted for my #RockMyTBR challenge!)

Who I’d recommend them to: Someone who isn’t all that picky about their erotica, and especially fans of paranormal erotica.

My rating (The Haunted): ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆ (Maybe 2.75 stars)
My rating (The Hunted): ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆ (2.5 stars)

The Haunted: Goodreads | Amazon        //        The Hunted: Goodreads | Amazon


What The Haunted is about:

The first in the Sleeping with Monsters series, about strong women and the monsters they love,The Haunted is a very hot modern take on gothic ghost stories.

Daphne Vance’s life is perfect — she’s a beautiful, devoted wife, and her husband has just bought her a vast countryside estate to start their family in.

But when her husband leaves on a business trip, it doesn’t feel like she’s alone in the mansion — she can feel eyes watching her, and hot hands trailing up her thighs. The domineering spirit of the mansion’s former owner is still present — and when she discovers her husband cheating on her, she doesn’t want to resist the Master anymore….


Review:

First of all, that line about Daphne’s life being perfect is a lie. (That’s not a huge spoiler because you realize how not-perfect her life is in the first page or two.) Her husband is gone all the time, and, honestly, he’s an ass. So what’s a lonely, young, new(ish) bride to do, all alone in her gigantic new manor, while her husband is away and not home putting a baby in her? Well, allow the resident ghost, known only as “Master,” to have his kinky way with her, of course!

Ok, all joking aside, I actually loved the idea of ghost/human sexy times. I haven’t read any PNR with that concept before, so it was a new and fun twist for me to read about. And, I’ll be honest, it got pretty dang hot a couple of times.

But, despite the amusing/interesting premise of this book, I didn’t love it. Maybe because my copy is so old, it’s since been updated and edited, but my copy needed a bit of work. There were some errors, maybe some typos, and a lot of sentences that just didn’t make a lot of sense without reading them multiple times (and some that never made sense). I found misused words a few times, too.

On top of that, there were a bunch of things not explained, and this one thing near the end that was totally unnecessary and just came out of the blue. (I won’t say what that thing was here, but if you want to know, I’ll probably put it in the spoiler tag on my goodreads review.) This is erotica, and it’s short, but that doesn’t mean I’m happy with having gaping holes in the plot. I don’t really read erotica for the plot, but I want what I read to make at least some sense. If you’re going to have something like a ritual to do a thing, I want a bit more explanation than simply telling me that a ritual happened and it involved x, y, and z, without any indication of how the person who did the ritual found out about it in the first place, etc. Ugh.

I never cared much at all about any of the characters. I think I liked the…uh…Ok, I can not remember what the servant dude’s name or actual occupation was, so I’m just going to say he was a butler. (I’m not 100% sure that’s accurate, but close enough.) Anyway, I liked him alright, but everyone else I was sort of indifferent about or deeply despised. Except the one drunken guy who tried to rape someone. I hated him and wished he’d died painfully. (More on this in the goodreads review spoiler tags.) I am never a fan of books in which the wife or whatever is desperate for a baby, but continues to hang on to her deplorable husband until he impregnates her, then plans to leave him. And that was a big part of this story. And while I’m fine with spreading the love and and someone having multiple sexual partners, it got a little weird in this one (especially with the desire for a baby thrown in). Like, I was cool with her sexing it up with her husband and the ghost, but then the gardener? (And the thing from the end that I’ll talk about on goodreads.) Passss.

Aside from my complaints, which might not bother other people, I actually did kind of like this one. It was a fun, super quick read (the book is only about 175 pages, so I read it in a day), and I was curious enough to continue on with The Hunted. However, I would still hesitate to recommend it, because of my aforementioned issues with the plot and need for more edits.


What The Hunted is about:

The second in the Sleeping with Monsters series, about strong women and the monsters they love, The Hunted is a BDSM-themed werewolf thriller.

As a call girl, Samantha never hoped for a happily ever after until she met Vincent. It didn’t matter that he was a mobster, for seven years their life was perfect – then he was betrayed and brutally gunned down by other members of the family. Now she’s on the run for her life, and the only thing she has to remember Vincent by is a silver locket with the phone number of a stranger folded inside.

Max is a queer mountain man — and a werewolf. For seven years he’s been living off the grid in exile after his pack threatened his then-boyfriend Vincent’s life. But when Vincent’s dying wishes send the beautiful Samantha to him for protection from the family, he knows what he has to do – honor his dead alpha’s wishes and keep her safe, no matter what.

In her grief, Samantha’s willing to do anything to get revenge, which Max tries to talk her out of – until he realizes his old pack was complicit in Vincent’s death. Then he’s as eager as she is — but they only have each other against the pack.

Is she strong enough to mate with him? And if she is, is he strong enough to kill them all?


Review:

I’m going to go ahead and say that I liked this less than The Haunted, and I’m considering lowering my star rating to 2/5 instead of rounding the 2.5 up to 3 stars.

This one has a bunch of time jumps and perspective shifts that took me over half the book to get used to, and I didn’t like the way it was written. I’m not a huge fan of multi-POV, even when it’s only two, anyway, but this one was really frustrating because it literally just repeated exactly what I’d just read from the other person’s POV, with an additional sentence or two added of their reaction or whatever. I ended up skimming over those after a few of them because it was boring for me to re-read the same thing again.

I didn’t really care much at all about any of the characters in this one, either. I’ll also say that the premise for this one was more boring for me, because I’ve read some shifter erotica and PNR before, so the whole, “Ermahgerd, she’s my mate! Must mount and claim! No, wait, she’s human, ugh, what to do? What to do?!” thing isn’t new for me and I kind of dislike it. A lot. Even when the “mate” is totally on board.

This one also suffered from not explaining things that were very important to the plot, apparently, like the werewolf knot thing. What the hell was it? More descriptive terms, please. Draw me a verbal diagram because what I imagined was probably not the thing the author envisioned, and seemed not only painful but kind of gross.

I don’t even know what to say about the whole, “My long-term boyfriend whom I loved deeply just died, but that’s ok, I can totally mate with his ex two days later!” thing that was going on in this book. It’s like insta-love on a whole new level, but also with insta-sex.

Speaking of the sex… What went down in The Haunted was way hotter, in my opinion, than this one. I’m fine with people using sex like a drug to escape for a while, but it was kind of boring in this one.

And I didn’t really like the “wolf thoughts” in this book. I’ve read some other shifter/were erotica and PNR that let us into the mind of the wolf side of the character, but this one creeped me out and had me rolling my eyes a lot. Not a fan.

 

Ok, I’ve decided that I am going to lower my rating for this one to 2/5 stars. The more I think about it, the less I liked it. I wouldn’t recommend this one. It just had too much going on, needed more editing, and kind of bored me.

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First Lines Fridays: June 16th

first-lines-fridays

First Lines Fridays is a weekly feature for book lovers hosted by Wandering Words. What if instead of judging a book by its cover, its author or its prestige, we judged it by its opening lines?

The Rules:

  • Pick a book off your shelf (it could be your current read or on your TBR) and open to the first page
  • Copy the first few lines, but don’t give anything else about the book away just yet – you need to hook the reader first

Finally… reveal the book!

 


In a city swollen by refugees but still mostly at peace, or at least not yet openly at war, a young man met a young woman in a classroom and did not speak to her. 


 

 

Interested? Keep reading to find out which book this is from.

 

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Exit West by Mohsin Hamid

30688435What it’s about:

In a country teetering on the brink of civil war, two young people meet—sensual, fiercely independent Nadia and gentle, restrained Saeed. They embark on a furtive love affair and are soon cloistered in a premature intimacy by the unrest roiling their city. When it explodes, turning familiar streets into a patchwork of checkpoints and bomb blasts, they begin to hear whispers about doors—doors that can whisk people far away, if perilously and for a price. As the violence escalates, Nadia and Saeed decide that they no longer have a choice. Leaving their homeland and their old lives behind, they find a door and step through.

Exit West follows these characters as they emerge into an alien and uncertain future, struggling to hold on to each other, to their past, to the very sense of who they are. Profoundly intimate and powerfully inventive, it tells an unforgettable story of love, loyalty, and courage that is both completely of our time and for all time.

(Cover links to goodreads)

Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository | Barnes & Noble


I can’t even remember how this ended up on my radar because I feel like I’ve seen it everywhere. However I found out about, I read the description and was intrigued, especially when I saw it shelved as “magical realism,” because I’m always looking for more great magical realism reads. I have some theories about how that part will play out, but I’ve only read the first page so far, so I guess I’ll have to wait and see if I’m right.


Have you read it? What did you think of it?

 

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T5W: Favorite Side Character Ships!

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T5W is a weekly meme created by Lainey from gingerreadslainey, now hosted by Sam from ThoughtsOnTomes. You can check out the goodreads group to learn more.

 

June 14th: Side Ships
— Tell us your favorite relationships that don’t involve the protagonist!

 

**Warning: Some strong language ahead in this post, if anyone’s bothered by that.**

Honestly, I’m not much of a shipper, and when I do ship, it’s usually a canon ship for main characters. (Also, I’m kind of cheating with one, and seriously cheating with another of these, but the serious cheat is the ship I’ll go down with, damn it!)

But, these are a few I came up with, in no particular order…

(All the covers link to the goodreads page for the book)

256683Magnus Bane & Alec Lightwood (from The Mortal Instruments series by Cassandra Clare)

These two, ugh. They were why I mostly finished the series (I couldn’t actually make it through City of Holy Fuck This is Long Heavenly Fire, and I literally just skimmed it to get the basics because I was so done with that series), and I love them. They are my precious book children and I want them to be happy.

 

3Dean Thomas & Seamus Finnigan (from the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling)

Ok, this is one of the only non-canon ships I’ve ever had, but I’m still including it because a) I actually ship it, b) it’s a side-characters-ship, and c) it’s such a popular ship it might as well be canon. Like, Devon Murray even tweeted about how Dean & Seamus could get married in Ireland a couple of years ago when gay marriage was legalized.

 

8490112Zuzana Nováková & Mikolas Vavra (from the Daughter of Smoke and Bone series by Laini Taylor)

I haven’t read this in years, but I remember liking these two and wishing we’d seen more of them. (Also, I’ve only read the first two books, and I barely remember anything from the first book now :/ )

 

 

41865Jasper Hale & Alice Cullen (from The Twilight Saga by Stephenie Meyer)

I can not believe I have a ship from those god awful books, considering how much I hated them, but the thing is, all the side characters were so much more interesting than Boring Bella and Exasperating Edward. (I’m sorry, Twilight fans, but the books were not for me, and while I hated the books, I don’t have any bad feelings about the people who did enjoy them.)

 

And now, my big cheat for this week…

 

22055262Holland Vosjik & HAPPINESS, DAMN IT (from the Shades of Magic series by V.E. Schwab)

Do I need to say more about this one?

 

 


What are some of your favorite side ships?

 

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Poetry Tuesday: June 13th (Plus a special guest haiku :p )

I’m still not sure if I’m going to make Poetry Tuesdays a regular thing. Probably not, but I’m feeling up for posting today. (And I still haven’t gotten around to making a better featured image. It’s somewhere on my to-do list.)

First up, my special guest: my husband. In the car a few days ago, husband and I were talking, and I have no idea how it happened, but he came up with this gem and (possibly sarcastically/jokingly?) suggested I use it for “Poetry Tuesday” this week. And so I am 🙂 (With permission.)

 

First, I saw the light
at the end of the tunnel.
Then I heard the horn.

 

And now my contribution for the week, though I don’t know how I can follow that. Maybe I should have posted mine first 😛

 

I spent last night
digging up graves,
just to make sure
the past
was really
dead
and gone
and couldn’t
reach me
anymore.

-I woke up with phalanges in my hair

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Why I count (pretty much) everything I read on Goodreads

I felt inspired to write this because I’ve seen a few discussions online recently about what people do and do not count, and I realized how much my own choices have changed over the last few years.

For the first few years I used Goodreads, I only added “real books” I read. Then, I considered “real books” to be novels, entire collections of poetry or short stories, novellas, plays, and that was it. If something had a low page count, I felt too guilty to add it. An example would be The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. This story is, depending on your edition, pretty short. I think my two copies are both under 100 pages, which lands them in that hazy place where short stories and novellas meet. I think a novella is typically considered a short novel of 30,000 words, but maybe less than 50,000 words, and short stories are typically anything under about 30,000 words. I could be wrong about that, and maybe there are different classifications depending on where you look for the information.

I didn’t read many comics or graphic novels back then, but I’m pretty sure I didn’t add any I did read. I also didn’t add any long short stories, and I was too ashamed to admit I read erotica, so I didn’t include those for a long time, even the full-length novels. (This was before it was a popular genre that it seemed like everyone was reading without always being judged for reading.)

While I do focus a bit on the number of books I read in a year, my primary goal is to increase the number of pages I read. I don’t know why, it just is. So, eventually, I grew tired of A) not being able to remember what I’d already read, and B) missing out on hundreds–if not thousands–of pages counted each year because I wasn’t including everything I read on Goodreads.

Maybe someone will look at my Goodreads shelves and scoff because I’ve included a single issue of a comic, or a short story, but it works for me to do things that way. The big turning point for me was when I realized that I don’t always like to read an entire collection of short stories in one go, and I don’t want a single volume sitting on my “currently reading” shelf for a decade while I read a piece every few months. (Things like the Grimm brothers fairy tales, or Poe’s complete works, or Bradbury’s complete short stories fall into that category for me.) I was also sick of my yearly page count not being a true reflection of the number of pages I’d read. This was particularly frustrating when I was also reading a lot of fanfic, so not only was I missing out on counting those (which could be quite long), I was also denying myself the inclusion of things that were on Goodreads, if only I would add them.

So, I decided to stop caring what anyone else thought about what I added to my shelves. It is, after all, my account, to use in whatever way works best for me. I joined Goodreads to keep track of every possible thing I read, and I became a Goodreads Librarian to help add things that weren’t already on there (which seemed a particular problem with self-published books for a while, and I read a lot of those back then). So what if someone else laughs because I added “The Raven” as something I’ve read? I read it, so on the “read” shelf it goes.

The point of me writing this is mostly just to say this: If you use Goodreads, and you feel weird about adding shorter things, think about why. Is it because you really don’t care about adding it, or because you’re worried about what someone else will think? Remember that your Goodreads (or whatever book/reading tracking thing you use, if you use something else) is there for you, and it’s up to you how you use it. If you don’t like adding short works, that’s totally fine. But don’t shy away from it because you think someone else will think it’s weird or silly.

I still don’t actually count every single thing I read, but I count almost everything. I prefer doing it this way because it helps me remember what I’ve read and what I thought of it, as well as giving me a more accurate picture of how many pages I read in a year.

As far as the yearly Goodreads challenge is concerned, no matter what my goal is, I still don’t consider it finished until I’ve read that many longer pieces. For example, if my goal was to read 10 books, and I finished it in January by reading 5 novels, 3 collections of poetry, 1 comic, and 1 short story, I wouldn’t actually consider it “complete” by my standards until I’d read 2 more longer things, whether they were novels, novellas, plays, poetry collections, etc.

I’m not going to try to tell anyone how they should use Goodreads, or that they should change what they’re doing. If it’s working for you, and you’re happy with it, that’s all that matters. I just wanted to share this because I think that maybe, if I’d known other people who did add everything a few years ago, I would have started doing it much sooner, and possibly not had as much senseless guilt for so long.


How do you use Goodreads?

Do you also add everything you read, regardless of length/genre/etc., or are you more selective?

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