Finding Focus: From Intention to Action

When I started this blog a few months ago, I didn’t start it with a specific intention. I had recently discovered the bookternet, and wanted to join the bandwagon. Since then, I’ve sporadically written posts and reviews and such, because the only thing I’ve ever been clear about this blog is that reading is my priority and I’m not about to start shaving off reading time in favor of writing, or doing my laundry, or anything.

Curating all of my social media to be all about books- following bloggers and authors, posting pictures of my reading, general book squeeing- was quite the eye-opener. I learned a lot about the intersections of publishing and social justice, #ownvoices, the push for diversity, problematic representation, etc. I’d never been mindful of any of this prior to this year, but it became something I couldn’t unsee. 2016 has been my best reading year by a long shot, but along with it has come a certain mindfulness about how we talk about books and the ginormous influence on readers, I had several “holy shit that’s so effing true!” realizations about all of it. I made friends with wonderful people like Naz and Bina, as well as the #DiverseBookBloggers, who were all dedicating their time to actively promoting diverse books and authors of colour. By this time I was all aboard with the gravity of representation in publishing, having revelatory conversations with book friends and learning so much. The blog still remained as it was- without intention.

I’ve had some time to think about this in the last couple of months, and the lack of intention was starting to really bother me. I was fixated on having a theme of some sort on the blog that was different, not for stats (I still haven’t figured what most of them mean or how I’m supposed to use that data to gain followers), but just to be able t0 contribute in a way that was unlike whatever already existed in what felt like an oversaturated book blogging community. In that time, I was becoming more vocal on twitter about the importance of diversity, and had also been burned pretty badly by some books that I’d read or bought which were just products of the power of patriarchy and white privilege. The more I paid attention, I was stunned by the mediocre bar set for privileged folks to publish their books. I was also outraged by the harassment marginalized authors and bloggers were receiving for daring to speak about problematic content. I was seething, and disillusioned, and filled with an urge to take action.

All of that introspection brought me to this- this was never supposed to be about me. Instead of worrying about how this blog can stand out, I’m going to stop centering myself, and focus on the cause- on boosting marginalized voices and experiences. Clearly, publishing has a long way to go, so why not add my voice to the cause? I’ve realized that at this point we need every person we can get to talk about own voices and diverse books, and the only reason I ever felt we had plenty of people talking about it was me living in my tiny privileged bubble of like-minded book people. It’s high time I acknowledge that privilege, and use it to do something. It doesn’t mean I’ll completely stop reading white/cishet/able authors, but they don’t need me to promote their books for them. Marginalized authors could use every person reading their books to talk about them, and that is what I am going to do.

Long story short- you’ll be looking exclusively at own voices and diverse content on here, starting now. It’s going to get loud here, and I hope you’ll stay with me for the ride.

November 7th, 2016: It’s Monday, What Are You Reading?

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It’s Monday, What Are You Reading? is a weekly meme currently hosted by The Book Date. It’s a place to meet up and share what you have been, are and about to be reading over the week, and add to that ever-growing TBR stack.

Continue reading “November 7th, 2016: It’s Monday, What Are You Reading?”

Bookish (And Not So Bookish) Thoughts: April 20, 2016

Happy hump day!

It’s Wednesday, which means it is time for Bookish (And Not So Bookish) Thoughts, hosted by Christine at Bookishly Boisterous.

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Let’s start with the bookish ones, because those are way easier:

I got to host the Dewey Readathon’s twitter two nights in a row, which was a pretty great time. Chatted with fellow participants, answered/redirected people’s questions, talked about readathon stacks, game plans, beverages, cheerleading, and all of the other fun stuff. If you haven’t signed up yet, there’s still time! TWO MORE DAYS WHAAAAAAAAAT!

I have been reading Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson as part of Social Justice Book Club and it has been going slowly, only because I have to put it down after reading each chapter to process my feelings. I even put it down for a couple of days because it got very intense. I am hoping that they keep #SJBC going so that I have an opportunity to read other books like this one. Intense, but necessary reads.

I have been doing well with my self-imposed book ban so far; however, Open Books tweeted that they will be doing a Sidewalk Sale this Friday through Sunday. Purchases would support their literacy programs, so yeah, I’ll probably end up there either on Sunday afternoon. I’m hoping this motivates me to get through a chunk of books on Saturday, so at least I’ll be taking books of my TBR stack. Oh well. I’m not even sorry

Book Riot Read Harder book club tomorrow night. We meet at Roscoe Books at 7.30 p.m. If you’re in the Chicago area, you should definitely join us! I’m bringing snacks, and there’s always wine.

I finally signed up for NetGalley and Blogging For Books!

Other life things:

I had been feeling very unmotivated at work since that one work success a little while ago. Severe avoidance behavior along with negative verbal behavior, and feelings of frustration. Talked to my friend and co-worker E about it and she offered some great suggestions. Implemented a couple of those today- made detailed to-do tasks, set timers for each task, prioritized the ones I had been avoiding, and it worked well today! At the end of my work day I was feeling really productive- wrote E an email expressing my gratitude, with a game plan to tackle other work stuff in the same way in the next week. 

My general future course is ridiculously uncertain at this point; I’m having severe anxiety about where I will be in the next few months, which are contingent on being accepted into grad school. I have received a couple of rejection letters already, went through the entire grieving process with each of them, but my general level of anxiety varies from day to day. The funny thing is I have a semi-decent plan B, but the anxiety is so crippling at this point that it is preventing me from taking action steps toward my plan B. This has definitely been a factor in the lack of work motivation. All the anxiety about said uncertainty is also alienating me from family and friends, because they have the best intentions, but most of the time I’m not even in a place to talk to them about it or hear the things they have to say. One of my closest friends has expressed his concern and how he is feeling the effects of my behavior. On the good days like today, I’m motivated to take action about it- I consciously made the effort today to reach out and check-in with him. On other days…I spend an hour talking myself into getting out of bed first thing in the morning and going through the motions. 

The thing is, I had experienced a similar transition about 3 years ago (undergrad to grad school). I will say I didn’t handle it too well- lot’s of lonely nights spent in my apartment( and a lot of booze). I’m grateful that I have a job to go to this time around, because at the very least I am accountable somewhere. I’m also a little older, and wiser, and my 24-year old body cannot handle alcohol like by just-out-of-college-21-year-old one did. I am also more comfortable with and highly value my alone-time now (reading time, plus a human services job can be emotionally and intellectually draining when I’m being productive). At this point, I am just taking it day to day. I can’t really complain, I know I have well-meaning people in my life, I just do not know how to adequately communicate all of these things to them. My goal right now is to use the strategies from days like today, and arrange my environment by putting these self-management strategies in place in advance, so that they take their course on the next day. This blip of positivity I am feeling today, I hope to carry with me tomorrow. 

Sorry if that got a little too deep. A medium to write is allowing me to articulate my private events, which is cathartic. 

Current mood: I want to skip the next two days to #readathon! Hope you guys had a great Wednesday 🙂

-J

Read The Books You Buy Challenge 2016

To pair with my #ReadMyOwnDamnBooks challenge (that I’m starting only in April, oops), here’s another challenge that I’m participating in, primarily to increase the likelihood of me following the ‘rules’ of my self-imposed book-buying ban. 

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As seen above, this one is hosted by The Book Date. I was a little annoyed at myself for completely forgetting that I had signed up for the Clean Your Reader Challenge hosted by new internet friend Kerry, which was my own fault. I got a little over-enthusiastic about reading challenges this year since I was reading a lot more than I did last year and I didn’t really track the reading challenges I was participating in (rookie mistake). This is also a little unusual for me, because I’m a DATA NERD. I love taking data, especially data on my own behaviors ( I can go into detail if anybody is interested in how I go about this). 

Anywho, this is my official “commitment post.” I think a decent goal for the year would be to read at least 80% of the books that I buy/will buy in 2016. I’ll post monthly stats of all of my challenges because a visual representation works as motivation for my reading behavior (read: data nerd. Yeah. Wasn’t kidding about that). 

Good luck to everyone who is attempting this, or any version of book-buying bans/self-imposed rules for reading. 🙂

Which leads me to ask, do you guys have any self-imposed reading/book-buying rules?

-J

“My name is Janani and I’m a book-buying addict”

I buy books. A LOT of books. So many, many, MANY books. Along with library books, audiobooks, and borrowed books, it is impossible for me to catch up with my TBR stack at the moment. I live in an apartment with a roommate, my room is relatively small, we don’t really have a lot of shelf space in and around the house. As a result, there is a corner of my very small room that looks like this: 

 

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Yeah, it’s starting to become a problem. The growing pile of unread books is stressing me out (especially in the last few days because I haven’t had any time to read). These aren’t just backlist bumps, these are books that are out now that everyone is reading and talking about, and the longer it takes me to get to them, the more it stresses me out because “I want to read all the books and talk about all the things!”. Also, I have a significant move coming up in the near future (either in or out of the country), and the last time I had to move I spent an indecent amount of money moving my books, so I would like not to have to do that this time. 

The solution? I am going to actively participate in #ReadMyOwnDamnBooks, courtesy the fabulous Andi. The rules are pretty straightforward:

  • Read my own books. 
  • Try to knock off 100 in 2016 by either reading them or ditching the ones that are DNF. 
  • I can’t buyyyy myself any books until I’ve read a significant amount of my own- This part of the challenge is something I will be tackling monthly (shaping that behavior and all that). 
  • If I’m itching for newness…use the library- Or reach out to my amazing bookish friendships. 

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Putting it out here means accountability, so I’m relying on you guys to help me out. I’m going to be realistic about this, and check progress monthly. I know we’re a week into April, but this is the first month I will be making a sincere effort toward this challenge. If anyone out there is already participating and needs cheerleading via the internet, let me know! I love being an interwebz supporter. 

Wish me luck!

-J

Reading Challenges 2016

Hello folks,

Okay, first of all, I can’t believe that it’s April because HOLY COW where did the last three months go? Anyway, I’m still figuring out how to use WordPress and mess around with themes and the like ( I have been told my learning celeration is at least a solid x2 so I’ll get there fast, I promise). Over the weekend I came up with a bunch of ideas for blog posts, quickly became overwhelmed trying to decide how to go about them, and currently taking 20 minutes out of my workday to type this in my basement office-space while drinking coffee (it’s all about multi-tasking, baby).

The point of all this is to say that I put a pin on all of the time-consuming blog posts for a second and just do a quick summary of the reading challenges that I’m participating in this year. This is not an exhaustive list, as I keep adding to them, but I will figure out a better way to organize this, I promise (i.e., new friends and blogging experts, your suggestions are most welcome!)

The roster (Note- these are the annual challenges only, there’s others like Weirdathon, 245in48, and Dewey’s 24 hour marathon that I participate in as well):

  1. Goodreads 2016 Reading Challenge: I started out this year with a goal of 75 books, pushed that to a 100 by the end of January, and then pushed it to 150 at the end of February. I have come to accept that this reading goal will shift as I progress through the year.
  2. Book Riot Read Harder 2016: This one is going pretty well so far, since it has been the primary factor that has shaped my reading behavior in the last year.
  3. Panels Read Harder 2016: I’m very new to the comic-book world, and all of my comic interests are governed by kickass female protagonists, minority protagonists, non-conforming characters, graphic novels, etc., making this the perfect challenge for a newbie.
  4. Read My Own Damn Books: (Ha, this one took a hit in the first quarter of the year but I’m going to make a sincere effort in April, goddammit). Edit: I forgot that I actually need to sign-up for this with a blog link, oops. It has been added to my to-do list.
  5. Popsugar Ultimate Reading Challenge: I started this challenge at the beginning of the year because at that time I had only committed to doing Book Riot’s challenge. Since I have been reading more than I did last year this challenge doesn’t seem too daunting, so I’m plugging away at it along with everything else.
  6. Read The Books You Buy Challenge 2016: I discovered this challenge 20 minutes ago, and will make my commitment post at some point today in order to sign up, but this goes well with the RMODB challenge because man I have been book-shopping a LOT.

I think that’s it, I could be wrong. Like I said, I’m still working out how best to organize these in order to keep them updated. If you don’t want to see my brains explode all over the blogosphere, please feel free to chime in with solutions/suggestions!

Also, I’m having a solid case of the Mondays (feelings of overwhelm resulting in avoidance, classic), and I’m hoping I snap out of it soon.

Current mood:

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Hope y’all are heading into a wonderful week 🙂

-J