Tag Archives: bullet journal

Mindful Book Consumption

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I am continually fascinating by the way ancient or no longer spoken languages affect modern English. If you follow me on social media, you know how much I love to pick apart Chaucer’s Middle English for words we no longer use, like grutch (which really needs to come back because I, for one, grutch on a regular basis) or talk about how there was no word for the color orange, so Chaucer used yellow-red to describe foxes.

Today, we will be going further back than Chaucer to Old English. I can already hear my students gasp and say, “You mean Chaucer isn’t Old English.” No! It gets even harder to read. Think Beowulf or runes and you’re close to where I want you to be. In Old English, the word for library is “bochard” or literally “book hoard.” It conjures up images of monasteries with books chained to the shelves because they are so valuable or a dragon sitting atop a pile of books.

If you’re an avid reader, you may feel a little twinge of shame or guilt. Are there piles of books stacked in your room? Do you have a to-be-read list that will take you several decades to get through? Do you take out stacks of books from the library that require a hand-cart to move? Do you buy books faster than you read them? If you answered yes to any of these questions, then you may be a book hoarder.

Book hoarders often go hand-in-hand with my previous post about mindless book consumption. In this case, that consumption is usually based around acquiring books, especially more than you can read in a given time frame. If you’re a book hoarder and trying to slow down your buying or at least pair it down to more meaningful purchases, this post will talk about what I did to break the cycle of excessive book buying.

Book buying was a major problem I had during grad school. At the time, I was reading and writing a lot for class and not doing much outside of my schoolwork. I was also stressed out fro my course load and other duties. This led to me buying A LOT of books in a 2.5 year period. Books are fairly inexpensive, especially if you’re willing to buy used books or look for sales, and I was willing to do what I could to score a deal for a book I wanted. Less money spent = less guilt = more books. You can see how this became a problem. When I entered my last semester of grad school, I only had three classes, one of which I completed the work for by the middle of the semester, and I finally had time to read for myself. I looked around my room and panicked. When the hell had I bought so many books?!

To read them all felt like a monumental task, but last year, I decided to start tackling my to-be-read pile in earnest. By the end of 2017, I had read 120 works (including novels, graphic novels, and a few short stories), and I attribute my success in knocking a hunk out of my to-be-read pile to a habit I got into in 2016: using a bullet journal. A bullet journal is basically a DIY planner where you can keep track of your to-do lists and whatever other charts you need. Staring at my massive to-be-read pile, I decided something had to be done, so I created a to-be-read spread in my bullet journal to help keep track of what I had along with what I read and when. You can see my 2018 to-be-read spread below.

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This spread encompasses several pages (5 to be exact with a blank page that isn’t pictured just in case I need more room). What I did was break my book pile into several groups. The first page consists of graphic novel series I’m reading, nonfiction works, and standalones. The last two tend to be smaller categories for me, so it made sense to put them together. The other three pages are series and authors with more than one book that I’m hoping to get to read. I group series together as much as possible. You may have noticed some blank spaces. Those are for books that I’m aware are coming out from an author I like but don’t have a title yet. Not every book in my massive list is actually available or in my collection. Many are coming out next year or are on pre-order, so I include them as a place holder for next year’s journal. Next to certain books, you’ll notice color blocks. Those indicate what month the book was read. Yellow is January, pink if February, and green is March. I fill them in after I finish reading them.

This system helps me stay focused on knocking out what I already have. I like ticking off boxes on my to-do list, and my to-be-read list is like a massive, year-long to-do list. If you’re the kind of person who feels at least some fulfillment from crossing things off a list, then this may work for you. It also acts as an inventory of my library, so I can keep track of what series are on-going versus done and what books I didn’t love and might want to donate later.

As I get new books, I add them to my list to keep it current, but this system alone probably won’t stop you from acquiring new books. I certainly haven’t stopped, but seeing how many I have has helped me to step back and ask some important questions. Do I need it now? Can I wait to buy it? Why do I want it? When will I get to it?

What I’ve also implemented is a self-imposed rule that I can only buy half as many books as I read the previous month. Last year, I told myself as many as I read, which was a mistake because I read twelve in January and there was no way I was giving myself license to buy twelve books. I consider it to be a rolling total of how many books I can buy. This doesn’t include freebies I find online or books borrowed from others.

I know I will never stop buying books, but it’s clear that I had to be more aware of how many of those books I was actually reading. To recap, here are some ways to tackle your to-be-read pile:

  1. Inventory your library to determine what books you have yet to read.
  2. Donate unwanted books or books you didn’t really like (especially ones you know you’ll never go back to) to keep them from piling up.
  3. Make a list of books you have to read and make a point to read from that list rather than just buying new books.
  4. Before you buy a book, ask yourself why you’re buying it. If it’s an impulse buy, you may want to put it back for now (I use the Goodreads phone app to catalog books I might buy in the future or you can just take a picture of it).

I hope these tips help you wrangle your to-be-read pile into shape!

Let me know what you think below or how you keep your to-be-read pile in check.

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Author Update

dead magic

I feel like I’ve been a very negligent author. While I have been writing (Dead Magic is at 15k words or so), I haven’t blogged much.

Part of that is because I’ve been feeling under the weather lately. I had the flu early in the month, and while I feel better, I still don’t feel 100%. It’s made me very tired, and some nights I come home completely wiped out when usually I would stay up and work on a new blog post or write more.

It’s frustrating to say the least. I usually make to-do lists for myself in my bullet journal, but recently, those lists have gotten smaller or have taken longer to get done. I’m hoping that over the next few weeks, I’ll finally shake off this illness once and for all and actually get back to blogging.

I’m really excited about Dead Magic, so I’ll be sharing updates and bits of the story with you soon. All of our old friends are back from The Winter Garden: Adam Fenice, Immanuel Winter, Emmeline Jardine. Dark forces are moving toward London. They want to tap into the cosmos and speak with higher beings, but to do so, they need a certain book. That book has fallen into Emmeline Jardine’s hands and she isn’t giving it up without a fight. All Immanuel wants is a normal life, but he finds that he is in possession of new powers he never asked for and that his life is threatened by an unseen enemy. Soon, Emmeline and Immanuel find themselves in a race against time and the dark magic that threatens to bring the country to its knees. The balance of life and death hinges on their actions. Can they follow the right path or will the temptation of power be too strong?

In a few days, I’ll publish a little sniplet of a new scene from Dead Magic (Ingenious Mechanical Devices #4). Stay tuned.

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March 2016 in Review

Last year, I decided that I would post my accomplishments for the month and what goals I hope to achieve in the following month.

March was a strangely productive month for me in probably every aspect but blogging (sorry, readers). April has started with a lovely sinus infection, BUT I know it’ll shape up to be a great month.

What I accomplished in March:

  1. Read 5 books, 2 of which were for class.
    1. The Dark Days Club by Alison Goodman
    2. Hunter of Demons and Master of Ghouls by Jordan L. Hawk
    3. Hunger of Memory by Richard Rodriguez
    4. A Chorus of Stones by Susan Griffin
  2. Wrote 10,ooo words of Dead Magic (IMD #4)
  3. Found translators for the Italian and Spanish versions of The Earl of Brass (IMD #1)
  4. Finished all of my projects for the English department

What I hope to achieve in April:

  1. Read 3 books
  2. Write 12,000 words of Dead Magic (IMD #4)
  3. Write 4 more blog posts this month
  4. Edit the cover for The Earl of Brass in translation (Italian and Spanish)
  5. Finish up the last of my grad school work and prepare for graduation

So March was a much better month in terms of productivity. I think as the days get warmer, it gets easier for the words to come. I also got into a better writing routine at night, which I’m hoping to keep up as soon as I get over this sinus infection. It’s always lovely to start the month sick and completely disrupt my writing mojo. Oh well, life goes on, and I keep telling myself that I’ll feel better in a few days.

Anyway, I’ve been working on Dead Magic and have finally begun making decent headway into it. I’m really starting to get into this book, and I think you’ll like it as well. Over the next few weeks, I’ll be posting more info and insights about it now that I know where it’s going.

I’ve also taken up using a bullet-journal, which is a way to keep up with monthly and daily goals. Pictured above are March and April’s bullet-journal spreads. This little journal holds me accountable and reminds me that I need to get things done. It’s also highly portable and not as easy to lose as scraps of paper. I don’t always get everything done, but I try to get as much done as I can. You may notice the little sad face on April 1st. Sinus infection = nothing getting done.

What I’m most excited about are the forthcoming translations of The Earl of Brass! I recently joined Babelcube, which helps put translators and authors together, and now I have Italian and Spanish translators. I’m beyond excited. I know a bit of Italian, but not nearly enough to get anywhere near translating an entire novel. As the translations progress, I will update everyone. Hopefully it’ll be a smooth process. What I will need is a second set of eyes that can read Spanish or Italian, so if you can and are willing to read my The Earl of Brass for any glaring typos, please drop me a line!

That’s all I have for March. Let’s hope the productivity continues in April!

What are you planning for this month?

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