Studious Saturday: Why I rarely reread books

studious saturdays

This week I’ve been thinking about my reading tastes and style compared to other friends and bloggers which made me realise that, unlike many others, I tend to dislike rereading books. I decided to share my thoughts with you briefly on why I prefer to only read books that I haven’t read before, which I also believe may be a slightly unpopular opinion but could produce an interesting discussion.

  1. Time, time time!

My main reason not to reread books, which I think many others can probably relate to, is due to time related constraints. Most of us are already struggling to juggle our social, family and work life while also managing to find time to read so it’s no wonder that we often can’t find the time to return to our most loved books. I often feel guilty when I decide to pick up a book that I have already read instead of finishing off the various tasks I have pending or even starting a new book.

2. Too many books on the never ending TBR list

Also linked to the first point, the little time that I save for reading is usually spent catching up on my to-be-read list. Between a pile of backlist books waiting to be started and the constant stream of exciting new releases, books that I have already read somehow always tend to fall behind in my reading priorities.

3. Expectations

Most of us would understandably only go back to books that we have previously enjoyed and want to rediscover, I also fall into this category. However, I cannot imagine visiting any of my favourite books and feeling disappointed that they didn’t live up to my expectations as I reread them for the second time. Even if I did have enough time and a visibly reduced to-be-read list, I still don’t think that I would reread some of my favourite books because I would feel worried that I wouldn’t like them as much.

Those are my main reasons for not re-reading books and although I realise that they may feel strange to many in the bookish community, I have come to understand that my reading habits are somewhat peculiar and many others may not understand them.

Question time

Do you ever reread books and if so why? What are some of your favourite books that you like to revisit?

Studious Saturday: My reading and blogging goals for 2019

studious saturdays

Welcome to the first Studious Saturday post of 2019 on Facing the Story! I hope that you have enjoyed the holiday season (I certainly did!) and are feeling refreshed and ready to start the new year. After a short social media and blogging break at the beginning of January, I decided to finally revive my blog again with a burning topic that I think many other book bloggers are currently discussing, namely their goals for the year. Mine are to…

Read 55 books

I have set my Goodreads challenge for 2019 on 55 books which is only 5 more than last year. I surpassed my goal of 50 books in 2019 by finishing one exciting thriller on New Year’s Eve so I feel that this goal is achievable based on my usual reading speed.

Branch out to other genres

It’s no secret that I usually lean towards the Mystery/Thriller, Contemporary Fiction and Historical Fiction genres, however I tried some Science Fiction last year which I enjoyed and I am hoping to carry on exploring the genre. I am also currently reading my first Fantasy novel and loving how different it is to my usual choice of books. This will definitely be one of my reading priorities for the year.

Discover Spanish Contemporary Literature

Living in Spain has its perks and one of them is the huge selection of novels by acclaimed Spanish and Latin American authors. Unfortunately I didn’t plan out my reading for 2018 so well and I only read one book in Spanish. I hope to correct this in 2019 and finally start on the never ending list of Spanish literature that my colleagues have recommended.

Schedule my posts in advance

This will be my main blogging goal for this year, especially as I have many other personal goals which mean that I will have less free time during the week to write and blog hop. I struggled with planning several times last year and I could tell the difference in the quality of my writing between the periods where several posts were scheduled in my queue and those where I was hastily proofreading and editing a post right before publishing it. Essentially, I am hoping to use Kaleena’s 2019 book blogger spreadsheet template to plan out my month in advance so I can fit enough time to blog hop, write out my posts and read ARCs with plenty of time to spare.

Design a new look for my blog

Although I am pleased and proud of my content, a fresh and clean design can really make a difference to a blog as a whole and I admit that my current design is not particularly eye-catching or satisfying. I am a huge lover of a minimalist look but I think the current design is a bit of an overstatement in this category. At some point this year I hope to create a new logo and background and also choose a new theme.

 

Those are my main reading and blogging goals of the year which I hope to achieve, although I know that sometimes life gets in the way and it is not always possible to achieve them all. Nevertheless, I plan to work hard on my blog this year and to enjoy the books I am planning to read. I also wanted to take some time to thank you all for staying with me during my blogging journey – I never believed that so many people would read my reviews and thoughts on books when I created Facing the Story last year and I am extremely grateful for your kind words and support.

Question time

What are your reading and blogging goals for 2019?

Studious Saturday: My Top Books of 2018

studious saturdays

It’s almost 2019 and time to reflect back on some of the best books I have read this year. As I am writing this I have read 48 books out of my goal of 50 (still 2 weeks to go so I know I can reach my goal!) and it has been incredibly difficult to narrow down my top reads. As I tend to read many backlist books due to my never ending TBR list, I decided to split my choices between the best 5 backlist book and the top 5 books published this year. You can find out my full thoughts on each one by clicking on the links below.

Top backlist books

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5. The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry  

4. We Were the Lucky Ones

3. Kane and Abel

2. The Travelling Cat Chronicles

1. Close to Home

Some of my top reads in this category were from the Historical Fiction and Contemporary Fiction genre and I was extremely pleased to find these four gems, some from recommendations and others at random. Cara Hunter has been my newfound top author in the Crime/Mystery/Thriller category this year. The ending of Close to Home was mind blowing and deserves the top spot here and the second book in the series, In the Dark, didn’t disappoint either.

Top books published in 2018

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5. A Spark of Light

4. The Curious Heart of Ailsa Rae

3. In the Dark

2. The Tattooist of Auschwitz

1. The 7½ Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle

A mixture of books from character-driven stories to the poignant tales of A Spark of Light and The Tattooist of Auschwitz are included here. However, I already knew the winner straight after I had finished this book and it was a very clear choice for me. The 7½ Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle is incredibly clever and captivating and deserves to win every possible award. I have been recommending this book to everyone around me (I think some people may be getting quite aggravated by now) and will continue to do so going into next year. No words can do this book justice so you will just have to trust me here and read it, you won’t be disappointed!

It seems that 2018 was a great reading year for me and I can only hope that 2019 continues this way too. I already have my eye on several 2019 releases although there is still a tall pile of books from this year on my TBR list which I hope to eventually get to.

Question time

Have you read any of these books and what did you think of them? What are your top picks of 2018?

Studious Saturday: What makes a Thriller truly thrilling

studious saturdays

Shortly after finishing From the Shadows by Neil White, I reflected on thrillers and the various techniques authors use to provoke a wide range of emotions on their readers. I have read some truly wonderful Thrillers this year and, after comparing the aspects that make them stand out to the rest, I decided to summarise my thoughts in this week’s Studious Saturday post.

A bold start

The first few chapters are without a doubt the most vital in engaging the reader and introducing the story line and main characters. In particular, thrillers need a strong start to excite the reader and encourage them to keep reading. Without this technique, the story already feels sluggish and the writing usually falls flat before the main events unfold.

Multi-layered characters

This often applies to all genres because we need to be able to relate to the characters, or at least find them likeable. However, it’s crucial that characters are complex and mysterious in Thrillers, especially murder mysteries, because often the story line rapidly changes to suggest that one character may be the culprit until another piece of evidence is discovered and we find out that another character could be the murderer. I also believe that it’s possible, although difficult, to build a successful character-driven thriller while not focusing as much on the plot, although I know that others may disagree with me here.

An unexpected plot twist

Perhaps the most “thrilling” aspect is a huge plot twist that we didn’t see coming. Without this, the story may feel incomplete and not as gripping. Many Thrillers build up in suspense and and tension slowly until the big reveal whereas others shock with an abrupt and unpredictable twist. Both techniques are incredibly powerful when used correctly and both have their place as the author may decide which to use depending on how they plan on developing the plot.

Pace

It is often difficult for many authors to achieve a good level of rhythm and it usually depends on many other factors – whether they are striving for a plot-driven rather than a character-driven book and if they wish to keep the reader guessing until the final chapter or rather focus on the events surrounding the mystery in a more reflective manner. Personally, I am a huge fan of fast-paced Thrillers as I am usually more eager to carry on reading until finishing the book in a few sittings. However, as pacing depends on other factors, I am open to reading slower-paced Thrillers or ones with a variety in rhythm if well executed.

An appropriate ending

The final chapters are essential for a hard-hitting and noteworthy Thriller and often this is the deciding factor for many readers on whether they found the book successful or not. I have read some brilliant Thrillers that have convinced me to read until the end to only find a disappointing and odd ending that doesn’t correspond to the rest of the story line and doesn’t provide a satisfying conclusion. An excellent Thriller requires an appropriate conclusion to tie up all lose ends and explain the mystery in a convincing manner. Of course, this would depend if the book is a standalone or a part of a series, in which case ending on a cliffhanger could work, but either way the author needs to find the right balance between a gripping final few chapters and the right pace to conclude the story.

Question time

What do you believe are the factors that make a thriller truly thrilling? Do you agree with my suggestions and would you add any other points?

 

Studious Saturday: exploring bookshops in London

 

studious saturdays

Some of you who have read my previous post Studious Saturday: exploring bookshops in Bath would know that I spent part of my time during my last visit to the UK discovering bookshops by taking (or maybe even dragging!) my family and friends with me. Today’s edition includes three beautiful bookshops in different parts of London and I would like to share my thoughts on them with you.

Daunt Books

Right at the heart of Marylebone is a treasured bookshop perfect for lovers of travel and adventure. Daunt Books is an inspiration to anyone planning their next trip, or even those who work in the area and want to get away during their lunch break.

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This bookshop is split in several floors. Upon entering we can find the latest hardbacks and paperbacks in contemporary fiction. I though that this bookshop is like any other and does not have anything special until I walked a little further into the travel section.

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From here Daunt Books splits into three main areas – the downstairs focuses on Asia, Australia and Africa, the upstairs has a wide range of books for UK travel and the main level is filled with European books. I especially liked how each section is divided first by country and then in alphabetical order so it does not take too long to find the book you are looking for.

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The interior is beautifully decorated in an Edwardian style building with oak balconies and gorgeous green walls. Overall, this visit was a huge success and I managed to satisfy both my love of travel and books all in one afternoon.

Persephone Books

Our next visit was a short ride away on the London Underground and a half hour later we found ourselves at Persephone Books, a unique and extraordinary bookshop close to Russell Square station.

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This is not only a bookshop but also a publisher of forgotten female authors. I was intrigued to discover that all covers are the same classic gray so here there was no option of judging the book based on its cover. Instead, the short descriptions beneath each shelf were enough to encourage us to skim through books that most peaked our interest.

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There is a huge variety in books, from memoirs to short stories, and the clean gray  covers coupled with the colourful bookmarks that come with each book are just the perfect present for a loved one.

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The shop was dimly lit (which also explains the grainy photos, apologies for the low quality!) and classical music was softly playing in the background which made for the perfect book shopping experience. I supported their cause by buying a card for a friend who I was going to see later that day but I would also like to go back and buy one of these wonderful books. I encourage you to stop by this bookshop if you are ever in the area as you won’t be disappointed.

Goldsboro Books

Our final stop was a bookshop tucked away on a side street close to Leicester Square which specialises in signed first editions, perfect for collectors. We decided to walk from Persephone Books to here which in hindsight was perhaps not the best idea; it looked close on the map but the walk was nearly 45 minutes long and by the time we arrived it was already dark. Nevertheless, we were immediately transported to one of the most beautiful and rare bookshops upon entering.

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The store is divided into several areas by genre and publication date. The staff were busy at work sorting some of the latest books that had arrived as we walked around in awe of all the first editions out on display. Some of the most remarkable signed editions include The Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith (or J. K. Rowling) and Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee (I know what you are thinking… the original first edition signed by Harper Lee?!). My favourite section however was the stack of Bridge of Clay books in one corner of the room.

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It was evident from the hundreds of copies that they had very recently arrived to the store. Each was numbered from 1 to 500, signed by the author and published in collaboration with Goldsboro Books. I was very tempted to buy a copy but managed to stop myself in the end. I now regret it because I really want to read this book and a signed edition would make the experience even more special. However, I know that it won’t be too long until I visit this bookshop again when I’m next back in London because I loved it so much so I can’t say for definite that I won’t grab a copy next time I pass by.

Our day was over but we had a lovely afternoon in London and discovered three wonderful bookshops. Thank you to my mum for joining me in this adventure! I also hope to continue the “exploring bookshops in…” series in Madrid and any other city I find myself in the future. Stay tuned for more editions in this series soon!

Question time

Have you been to any of these bookshops? If not would you like to go? If you have been, what did you think of them?

 

Studious Saturday: exploring bookshops in Bath

studious saturdays

During my holiday in the UK last week I visited family in London and friends in Bath, which I also decided was the perfect opportunity to explore a few bookshops in both cities along the way. This week I will summarise my thoughts on two lovely but very different bookshops in the beautiful city of Bath.

Mr B’s Emporium

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Hidden on a side street in Bath’s city center, Mr B’s emporium is a wonderful celebration of books of all genres. I was immediately drawn to the general fiction area upon entering and spent some time looking through the new releases. I already had my eye on several acclaimed novels but the staff were also kind enough to ask if I needed any help in choosing a book, which I really liked.

I was also excited to learn that Mr B’s Emporium would be one of the stops on Markus Zusak’s book tour of Bridge of Clay, although unfortunately several days after my visit when I would no longer be in Bath!

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The ground floor has several fun features including a heart shaped collage of other readers’ favourite books and a guestbook gallery full of recommendations. I loved reading other’s recommendations and was touched to find that I also share the same  tastes as other book lovers who had previously stopped at this shop.

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The top floor is beautifully decorated with a reading nook at the very end and many fascinating non-fiction books as well as an area with books written in different languages. I loved the comfortable armchairs and tray of tea and coffee on the side for readers to help themselves after choosing a book to read. I could have spent the whole afternoon here! Later on I also discovered that the owners hold their book signings, talks and other events on this floor and I can already imagine how cozy this must be, especially on a cold winter’s day.

I really liked the personalised service that this bookseller offers and enjoyed the beautifully decorated and unique interior. If you have a stopover at Bath in the future I fully recommend visiting this bookstore!

Topping & Company Booksellers

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Bright and bold on one of the main streets in Bath, Topping & Company is the perfect place to visit if you are looking for a specific book. They hold book signings almost every day and have a wide variety of literature, from poetry to non-fiction. My favourite aspect was the signed first editions, which are highlighted on almost all book covers upon entering.

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I had a great time looking through the various genres and found several books that I had not previously heard of that are now added to my TBR list. The classical music in the background was the perfect touch to a relaxing afternoon. I recommend visiting to anyone looking for a specific signed first edition as a gift to a loved one, as well as those hoping to meet their favourite author, as this bookseller hosts several book signings each week (full list of events available on their website).

Thank you to my friends for their company during our visit to these two bookshops, especially to Ioli for recommending them!

Studious Saturday: meeting Jodi Picoult

studious saturdays

Welcome to another Studious Saturday post! I have been on holiday this past week which meant that I was able to dedicate a lot of time to reading. In addition, I was very lucky to get tickets to the last stop on the Jodi Picoult UK Book Tour which included a pre-signed copy of her latest book A Spark of Light, as well as a Q&A session and photos with her to follow. Jodi Picoult is one of my favourite authors and I had been looking forward to this event for a long time. I really enjoyed the Q&A session in particular, where she shared some insightful details of her life as an author which I would like to share with you today.

The session started with a brief explanation of how and why this book was written and a short reading of the first chapter (which is also the ending of the book because the story is written in reverse). She revealed the backstory to A Spark of Light – the contrasting views of terminating a pregnancy that a woman may experience throughout her lifetime, justifying that one’s view on abortion may change when reaching 15, 30 and 50 years of age. Coupled with the current political controversies surrounding the topic in USA, she felt that now was the right time to write this book.

I was particularly impressed with the research that she carried out prior to writing the book. She interviewed 151 women who had terminated a pregnancy to find out their motives and analyse their experiences which she would later on use to develop her characters. Most astonishingly of all, no more than 10 of those 151 women agreed to be involved in the book with all of them choosing to be written in using a pseudonym. Jodi discussed the stigma surrounding  in the topic with eloquence and impartiality, something which I highly valued.

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Without going into too much detail of the Q&A session, I wanted to provide a quick summary of some of the most interesting and valuable subjects she discussed:

  • When writing a book, she usually begins by drafting several pages of a summary with a brief outline, although she already has the twists planned out. The outline of A Spark of Light was 48 pages, mostly due to the reverse timeline.
  • She discarded the first person narrative in A Spark of Light, which she used in most of her previous books, because there are 10 characters and she wanted to portray each story without confusing the reader.
  • She has one unpublished romance novel written under a pseudonym of a mixture of her children’s names. The editor’s feedback was that it was too well written for the genre.
  • Her favourite author is Alice Hoffman and some recently published books that she has read and recommends include Bridge of Clay by Markus Zusak and Vox by Christina Dalcher.
  • Jodi usually writes about topics concerning society and there is an evident trend when looking back on her novels; she started by writing books where human emotions were explored, then proceeded to analyse relationships upon getting married, and finally decided to delve into controversial topics such as gun control and medical rights after her children were born.
  • She explained that once an author sells rights for a movie adaptation, they are no longer involved in the production of the film. She was deeply upset at the ending of the movie adaptation of My Sister’s Keeper and had previously warned the producers that the film would not perform well if they stray far from the original ending of the novel. She hopes that Small Great Things is a bigger success as soon as a screenwriter has been chosen, especially as there are talks that Julia Roberts and Viola Davis have been cast as the main characters.
  • Her next book will pose the question “Who would you be if you weren’t who you are today?” and hinted that elements of Ancient Egypt may also be included.

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The most exciting part of the event was meeting Jodi at the end and having my photo taken with her. As I read chapter after chapter of A Spark of Light, I realise that I also look back more on the points she discussed and start to analyse them in greater detail. It is another though-provoking and moving book and I am greatly enjoying it so far (review to follow shortly!).

This was her last event in the UK but for any fans based in Canada, her final stop will be Toronto on Monday and I highly recommend going!


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