Why Giving Up On Comic Books Is OK

I got into comic books pretty late in the game (see my post about that here). The thrill of collecting issues soon waned though as I grew overwhelmed with the number of stories I wanted to keep up with.

It’s easy to fall behind on so many issues, especially if you follow the big two: Marvel and DC. Having the time and energy to get to your local comic bookstore (LCBS) every new comic book day (Wednesdays by the way) can feel like a chore after a while.

Not to mention the financial investment in these collections. Sure, it’s only $3-4 per issue, but if you follow, say, five different comics, that’s $15-20 per visit. Each visit might occur weekly or every other week.

I got to the point where my visits were monthly. The combination of remembering which issues I needed and which comics to keep up with (especially if they weren’t put on my pull list from the beginning) made me fall behind to the point where I just made a note to wait for the trade of that collection.

Let’s not forget that if you buy physical issues, they eventually start taking space. You need the added investment in storage for them, short and long comic boxes or crates or shelf space. When does the madness end?

If you’re like me, you feel guilty about recycling old issues you’ve already read. So where should they go? Libraries don’t really take single issues. You can try selling them back to your LCBS or maybe online. But that’s another chore in itself.

With all these factors to consider, it’s easy to feel guilty about giving up on comic books. You can start feeling bad about not supporting your LCBS and comic book creators, especially knowing how much they rely on the issue-by-issue support. It’s alright though.

If you find one or two series that you’re really passionate about, then go ahead and make a pull list for those. If you’re worried about the physical space, then consider a digital subscription. If you’re concerned about the expense, then decide on a budget to help you choose if you’ll buy individual issues or wait for trades on certain series.

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What to Do About the DNF Guilt

What is it about not finishing a book that gives us so much guilt? Find out in my latest blog post!

I’ve spoken before about that awful feeling with the DNF pile in your reading list. You can check out that post here. Quick definition for those that aren’t familiar, DNF stands for “did not finish.”

I know, it’s hard to imagine not finishing a book when you really consider yourself a reader. When you identify so strongly with the label reader that it’s just a core part of who you are as a person, the sick feeling of not finishing a book feels like a betrayal somehow.

I was listening to my cousin’s podcast recently (Eclectic Readers – check them out!) and they discussed that guilty feeling with the DNF pile. That got me thinking about the association of guilt with leaving a book unread.

The word itself means a sense of remorse for some wrongdoing, like breaking a law or committing a moral offense. Lord knows there’s nothing illegal about leaving a book unfinished. There’s nothing even immoral about it. Seriously, it’s a totally neutral action, of which there are no consequences. So, why do we feel the DNF guilt?

As I began to really think about it, I’ve come to believe the feeling stems from a sense of “cutting your losses.” Sure, it’s not the same as running a business and spending millions of dollars on a project that turned out to be a lost cause. It’s probably at most a $25 + tax loss on a brand new hard cover from Barnes & Noble.

It’s still a loss though. It’s a loss of money spent to purchase the damn thing. It’s a loss of shelf space that could have gone to more worthy contenders. It’s a loss of time and energy, as you’ve already spent both on starting and getting through some portion of the book, so you might as well finish, right?

The guilt we feel from not finishing a book comes from a sense of loss, and in my experience, people sure hate to lose. For me personally, that monetary loss cuts deep. Sure, one book is at most $25, but what if I bought 10 books that I didn’t end up finishing? That’s $250! Maybe that still doesn’t sound like a lot to some people, but for those who prefer to save money wherever they can, that’s a dent in the wallet that makes them wince.

This also reveals another deeper problem: the need to stop buying so many books. It’s so easy to get caught up and swept in by the love at first sight feeling when you see that gorgeous cover on the shelf and just want to take it home. Looks can be deceiving. Even words can lead you astray. That back cover description of fascinating worlds and characters just sucks you right in and entices you with, more often than not, sweet nothings.

That’s why this year, I’m resolved to exercise restraint to reduce the DNF guilt and the feeling of having wasted money and minimize time spent on books I don’t enjoy to avoid that feeling of money, time, and energy lost. That means less trips to Barnes & Noble to browse the aisles. I often go to the cafe to write, and when I’m done with that, I think to myself, “Let me just take a quick peak.” I have to physically force myself out the door, because I know a quick peak will devolve into “just a book or two.”

I’m also going to use my library more to find books I want to read. Granted, that’s a bit harder, because many of the books I want to read are independently or self-published, which means they don’t get picked up by most libraries. My library especially can be a bit lackluster with its selections. Unless it’s The Girl on the Train or Gone Girl or The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo or whatever iteration of Girl we’re on these days, the chances of finding the book I want from my local library are slim.

I will make every effort to find the books I want to read through the libary first. When that fails, I’ll look into second-hand options to try to find them for much cheaper than retail prices. Heck, I’m even making the effort to borrow books from friends more often. Buying brand new from a big-name chain bookstore is my last resort this year.

Also, I already started making the executive decision to just nix some titles off my TBR altogether. If I can’t find it for a reasonable price anywhere, I take the Marie Kondo approach. If it doesn’t spark joy, I let it go and click delete on my Goodreads “Want to Read” list.

What are your thoughts on the DNF guilt? How do you avoid the guilt altogether? Let me know in the comments!

Goodreads Reading Goals: Yay or Nay?

reading goals GRFor the past two years I’ve used the Goodreads reading goal tool to track how many books I get through in the year. Maybe it’s because I also worked full time while doing grad school part time, but I felt so much stress to make sure those numbers were met. I think though it has a great deal to do with our society’s evolved mentality of, “If it isn’t recorded, did it really happen?”

There are some books I read that aren’t recorded in the Goodreads reading challenge because they’re not available on the site/app. Still, knowing this, I can’t help but feel stressed that my numbers aren’t more, because I know they should be. This manic need to prove to strangers that I’m reaching my goals takes the enjoyment out of reading.

I find myself trying to fly through books so that I can catch up and make my numbers. I know it sounds crazy, but there’s this peculiar desire to prove to the internet what a good reader I am. Especially since I feel like I used to read a lot more as a kid. Of course, when I was a kid, I had way less responsibilities and more time to read. Then again, did I really read more, or did I just not pay as much attention because I wasn’t recording it somewhere for everyone to see?

I think for 2019 I’m going to refrain from the Goodreads reading challenge. I’ll still keep track in my pretty bullet journal, because that feels more fun. Also, it’s just for me, so no one else needs to see it unless I want them to. This way I can still have some kind of goals and hold myself accountable for the books I do and don’t read. But I don’t want the stress of proving my reader status to the world with online goals.

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So, who else out there is planning on dropping the Goodreads reading challenge next year? Who’s planning on starting it? Do you have any other ways you keep track of your reading? Let me know in the comments!

The Benefits of Diverse Reading

Lately, I’ve made a much more conscious effort at reading diversely. We chose The Paper Menagerie by Ken Liu for my cousins’ book club. I read Krik? Krak! by Edwidge Danticat for the 2018 Madlibs reading challenge. And for my book club at work with my coworkers, we’re reading Who Fears Death by Nnedi Okorafor.

I’ve enjoyed the books I’ve read in the past, but it is so easy to fall into patterns, especially when those works get widely passed around by the mainstream. It’s easy to miss out on some truly excellent work from writers of different backgrounds simply because they are not given the same platform.

Who Fears Death by Nnedi Okorafor, 2010

A few years ago when I started listening to the Book Riot podcast, it made me aware that I’d fallen into the pattern of reading the same authors and types of work. Not that those stories aren’t worth telling, but rather that other stories are worth telling also.

So, I started curating a list of diverse reading on my Goodreads to be read (TBR) list. But I still didn’t get around to reading so many of those books until just a few months ago.

Why? Well, I still have a whole library of books I own at home that I haven’t read and need to get through. Having those books I own still sitting on my shelf made it easy to keep with my reading patterns. I knew I still wasn’t reading diversely, but I had no one to hold me accountable.

Krik? Krak! by Edwidge Danticat, 1996

With the use of reading challenges and book clubs though, the excuses stopped. Having people to discuss the books with made it easier to choose diverse stories. More than that, having a planned out list for reading challenges made me more conscious of what I was choosing to read, and I’m grateful for that.

The reason I’m writing about this is because truly diving in diverse reading has made me aware that I really don’t know much about other cultures.

The Paper Menagerie and Other Stories by Ken Liu, 2016 (Source: Image from Goodreads)

Ken Liu’s work is the first I’ve read with Chinese folklore. Edwidge Danticat’s book is the first perspective I’ve read about Haitian immigrants and the political struggles that country has gone through. Nnedi Okorafor’s novel is the first time I’m delving into African culture.

With just these three books, I’ve been introduced to new worlds that gave me an appreciation for what I still have yet to learn. I don’t want to be the kind of person who never thinks of other cultures and ways of living and buries her head in the sand. I want to learn about other people. I want to understand others’ stories and hear their voices.

We can learn so much about each other through our stories, so I think all readers should make an effort to start diversifying their bookshelves. It’s not enough to make lists without taking action.

How do you all diversify you’re reading? What books have you read recently that tell a story different from your own life? Let me know in the comments!

Why It’s OK to Give up on a Book: The DNF Doubt

Image by ecassells from Pixabay

For those who don’t know, DNF stands for did not finish. I had to look it up when I first came across it because I’m at that awkward age where I’m a millennial, but I don’t know all the lingo the kids are using these days.

Anyway, DNF hadn’t been a part of my vocabulary, not only because I didn’t know what it meant, but because I used to be the type of reader who couldn’t fathom not finishing a book (except Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood…sorry Ms. Tucker!)

Ok, there were two others that fit the rare DNF category, but in my defense they were Jonathan Swift and Nathaniel Hawthorne, and I was 8-years-old. My mom was a proponent of letting me pick up books she knew I wouldn’t understand and letting me figure out for myself that I was not smart enough yet to get them.

Other than those three rare occasions, I was never a DNFer. How could I possibly put down a book I’d started without giving it a chance? How could I truly judge its quality without reading all the way through? What if even after 100 pages of nothing, I missed something truly incredible? I couldn’t not finish a book, no matter how boring or bad it was. Besides, what did it matter if it wasted my time? I had time to waste.

Alas, I am no longer the carefree student with time on my hands and a dwindling bookshelf. Now I’m a responsible adult who has to divide my time carefully between all the things I want to do, read, watch, listen to, etc. My bookshelf is double-stacked from top to bottom and I’ve barely made a dent in the last five years. Time can no longer be wasted. Therefore, I decided to no longer waste time on books that just don’t do it for me.

I can proudly say in the past year I’ve DNFed two books! One I stuck with because “well I already started it and I’m more than halfway through and it’s for my reading challenge I might as well finish it.”

I did it again. I let the DNF doubt drag me down into another non-enjoyable book that I gave nothing but excuses. It’s like I’m in a bad relationship with my book boyfriend. Take my advice, readers. Don’t do this to yourselves. If a book isn’t sparking your interest, or if it’s making you mad or any other negative feeling, don’t hate read or try to give it the benefit of the doubt. Just let it go. There are so many good books out there waiting to be read, and we do not have time to waste on those that do not give us joy.

Set a standard if you have to, whether it’s determining how many pages in you can go before you decide enough’s enough, or taking notes and reviewing how it makes you feel. Just figure out a way to let yourself know it’s time to get out and move on.

What books have you had to DNF? Let me know in the comments!

Audio Books! Can I Get An Amen?

I started listening to audio books a little over a year ago, hesitant to take on the endeavor because I thought, “I can’t possibly pay attention to a story if I’m listening to it.” Of course, that logic is flawed because that’s how I used to take in stories when I was a kid, before I knew how to read.

What opened me up to the idea of audio books was actually podcasts. Once I started listening to things like Limetown, Welcome to Nightvale, Wolf 359, and a plethora more, I realized I did in fact have the capability to multitask when it comes to paying attention to stories audibly.

I started with re-reads, as I figured it’d be easier to listen to a story I was already familiar with, so if I miss a line or two, I wouldn’t be totally lost. Cassandra Clare’s The Mortal Instruments series is where I dove in to the audio book scene. While I recovered from my LASIK eye surgery a couple of months ago, I voraciously ate up Pride & Prejudice through Spotify and listened to Amy Poehler narrate her memoir Yes Please on Overdrive through my library.

Slowly I became more comfortable with listening to audio books and taking care of such tasks as scrolling through Twitter and catching up on emails. Long car rides are also an ideal setting for audio books.

I started a new job last month, and I can only listen to so many podcast episodes before I’m all caught up and have nothing left to listen to. I ventured into Playster and decided to give new books a try, now that I was a more skilled multitasker with enhanced listening abilities.

Once again, Cassandra Clare came to my rescue with Tales from the Shadowhunter Academy and The Bane Chronicles. Honestly, I marvel at my ability to write about traffic school and listen to the enthralling voices of Chris Wood and Keahu Kahuanui all at the same time. Also, hearing the chilling encounters in World War Z helped me get through the day writing about vital records (it’s a thing; go look it up).

Now as I work, I am finally getting into another classic that’s been on my TBR list since 10th grade: Jane Austen’s Emma. British narrators are possibly the best, in my opinion.

The wonderful thing about audio books, and I’ve saved this best part for last, is I can add them to my Goodreads count of books read! Why is this so exciting for me? Because on top of starting a new job last month, I also started grad school, which means I’ve had no time whatsoever to do leisure reading. Audio books have changed the game though.

I used to be one of those people who thought, “Audio books don’t really count,” because I had that notion that one can’t really pay attention to them. I have been proven wrong and seen the light. Listening to audio books is just an enhanced way of reading. It’s engaging, entertaining and it definitely counts. Audio books are a full-time worker grad student’s best friend. Hallelujah!

Do any of you listen to audiobooks? Which do you recommend? Let me know in the comments!

One Book At A Time

I am drowning in a sea of things to read. My double-stacked book shelves taunt me with their tomes. My Goodreads TBR list laughs at my folly. My kindle glares at me as I time and time again pass it over for a physical text.

When did it get so hard to read? As a kid, I breezed through the Harry Potter series, finishing an entire book in two nights (would’ve been one if mom hadn’t insisted I sleep).

It wasn’t just Harry Potter. Anne of Green Gables was my go to for a while, and I stopped counting how many times I’d read it after reaching ten. Goosebumps was devoured book by book within a day.

drowning-in-books
My latest haul from Second Edition Book Shop

So, what happened? Well, I’m an adult now. I have a job that takes up eight hours of my day. I like to exercise and dedicate some time to catching up on television after work. Then there’s dinner. Then I need to set aside time for writing. What’s left for reading? A half hour before bed and weekends (when I’m not doing things).

Even when I have free weekends with 20-hour days to fill with reading, I don’t. I just can’t anymore. I used to sit in my bedroom for hours on end just reading, my eyes roving over the page like a typewriter set on high speed. Now, I read for an hour, maybe two tops, and I’ve gotta get up and do something else. There’s blogs to follow (thanks, Book Riot). More television to catch up on (listen I watch a lot of shows don’t judge me). Then, oh yeah, just getting out of the house and seeing sunlight while I can.

I haven’t even mentioned the distraction of social media. Between Instagram, Twitter and a constantly refreshing Facebook feed, it’s enough to drive someone insane. When did our lives become so cluttered? It’s great to have all this connection, but at the same time, it’s so overwhelming I eventually feel disconnected.

That’s when I return to reading. I try not to let my shelves and TBR list daunt me. I remind myself, “One book at a time.” Just take it one read at a time. Sure, I can’t possibly read every book in the world (challenge accepted!), but I can certainly try. What are we if we don’t have dreams?

How do you deal with an overwhelming TBR pile or overflowing bookshelf? Do you read one book at a time, or multiple? Let me know in the comments!