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Tackling the TBR [83]: August 2022

It’s once again time for my favorite feature: Tackling the TBR! There’s nothing I love more than picking out which books to read next, and this slightly organized method of reading has really amped my enjoyment to the next level. Bring on the mantras!

Read the best books first.
&
Life is too short to read books you’re not enjoying.

However you put together your TBR for the next month, the goal is to reduce the amount of obligation in reading and increase the fun.


Here’s a look at how the system works:

1. Identify the titles that take top priority in your TBR.
2. Combine them all in your own Tackling the TBR post.
3. Throughout the month pick from that pile as the mood strikes you.

Here’s what mine looks like:

August 2022 TBR Tackler Shelf:

Last month I didn’t post a Tackling the TBR for July… and I didn’t notice until about the 20th (Facepalm). That oversight is just one of the consequences I’m facing for having so much content to generate between three main platforms (here, Booktube, and Patreon). I do think it a testament to how much I’ve been doing that I didn’t even notice until the month was almost over. Me and my OCD have been working hard to not be too bothered by July’s missing post.

Last month I read so many books. Short books, but all the same it was a wonderful month with a momentum I hope to carry over into August. I’m FINALLY caught up from my snowball of too many books going at once (which started in March and had taken me this long to fix), and true to my theory, it has made ALL THE DIFFERENCE in my reading life. I’m thrilled.

Books are fun again! They’re not taking me forever to read. And I can choose what I want next on the lineup without digging myself a deeper hole with current reads. It has been lovely.

Now that I’ve simplified my day to day reading life, I’m striving to do the same with my overall reading world. I’ve so many open series right now vying for my attention that it can sometimes take YEARS to get back to something I’ve started. My goal for the next few months is to focus on closing out as many started series as possible, and my TBR reflects that.

This month I’m mostly looking at tomes – the bigger books that take more of a time commitment – with hopes of progressing a lot of chunkier fantasy series. Next month I’ll probably turn my focus to reading outstanding series with only one or two books away from completion. I plan to document my progress with this on my YouTube channel.

Overall, reading is amazing again and I can’t wait to see what kind of dent I can make into this more conservative lineup. Wish me luck!


Have a great month in reading!

by Niki Hawkes

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Tackling the TBR [82]: June 2022

It’s once again time for my favorite feature: Tackling the TBR! There’s nothing I love more than picking out which books to read next, and this slightly organized method of reading has really amped my enjoyment to the next level. Bring on the mantras!

Read the best books first.
&
Life is too short to read books you’re not enjoying.

However you put together your TBR for the next month, the goal is to reduce the amount of obligation in reading and increase the fun.


Here’s a look at how the system works:

1. Identify the titles that take top priority in your TBR.
2. Combine them all in your own Tackling the TBR post.
3. Throughout the month pick from that pile as the mood strikes you.

Here’s what mine looks like:

June 2022 TBR Tackler Shelf:

Last month I actually made a good dent in my TBR – making progress on all but three of the books listed. March’s very poor decision-making still has me scrambling to dig myself out of a reading hole, and I reckon I have at least one more month to go before I’m back to reading just one book per format at a time.

To that end, this month I looked at the 7 physical books I had going and decided to make a game out of reading. I used to do this kind of stuff all the time when I was a kid and I figured I either needed to get creative with it or sob/rage until I DNFed everything and quit reading altogether. My game: read one chapter at a time, then rotate to the next book.

To my surprise, the game helped tremendously!

On average I spend about two hours a week physically reading print or ebooks (more or less depending on how many baths I have time to take). I’ve been gradually working to increasing this time, but no method has been super effective… until now. On just my ereader alone, I clocked in almost nine hours per week. Holy shit!!

I think the spice of variety, along with having some absolutely killer books to rotate through (broken up by the occasional dud) was key to my success. I know full well had I tried to read that much focused on a single title, I would’ve gotten burnt out. So instead of finishing a book a week, I managed to progress most of them to about the 30-40% range.

As with any new reading game I’ve tried over the years, I know I’ll eventually want to mix it up again. But for now reading has been a joy and I’m really proud of my progress. I’m currently down to 6 books going (finished one, DNFed one, started a new one).

My goal is to be down to only two books going by the end of June so I can start Soul Taken by Patricia Briggs. Then I’d like to be down to just one by the end of July. At my current rate, that’s totally do-able. We’ll see how it goes. :)

The morals of the story for the month are:

•Stop getting yourself into these situations where it takes you months and months to unbury yourself from your currently reading stack.

•When buried, do what you can to enjoy the moment despite the circumstances and get creative to make it fun.

•You enjoy books MUCH less when you’re anxious about getting to the next one.

To that last point, I’ve managed to have only one audiobook going this month, and wouldn’t you know it – I’m actually enjoying myself for the first time in months! I think one at a time with the quicker completion and freedom to choose that come along with that will be key to my overall reading health.

I’m pleased I’ve found ways this month to mitigate what could’ve been a massive reading slump, but the saga continues…


Have a great month in reading!

by Niki Hawkes

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Tackling the TBR [81]: May 2022

It’s once again time for my favorite feature: Tackling the TBR! There’s nothing I love more than picking out which books to read next, and this slightly organized method of reading has really amped my enjoyment to the next level. Bring on the mantras!

Read the best books first.
&
Life is too short to read books you’re not enjoying.

However you put together your TBR for the next month, the goal is to reduce the amount of obligation in reading and increase the fun.


Here’s a look at how the system works:

1. Identify the titles that take top priority in your TBR.
2. Combine them all in your own Tackling the TBR post.
3. Throughout the month pick from that pile as the mood strikes you.

Here’s what mine looks like:

May 2022 TBR Tackler Shelf:

Last month I read quite a few off of my list, but it was a haphazard experience. I find myself venturing into May with no fewer than SEVEN books in progress. That’s way too many. But it’s not unexpected given my usual reading pattern. All that doubling-up I did in March, where I set aside several WIPs to attend to time-sensitive obligations, resulted in me feeling really behind in reading and not able to pick up what I wanted. The problem compounded as I had too many going at once and was rarely rewarded by being able to mark one as “Read” on Goodreads (I live for that payoff). Then I get into a slump and resentful that I haven’t been able to pick up anything new because I’m so buried so I throw everything I’m reading out the window and pick up something totally random (Body Finder, this time around – a YA lovestory/mystery) and end up getting a bit of a second wind from that rogue read.

I AM NOT CONSTRAINED BY MY TBR!

Or, at least that’s how it feels for a couple of weeks, where I give myself permission to start whatever I feel like starting and the rest of the WIPs will be tended to when I have a chance. Maybe it’s the next stage of acceptance? Either way, I approach reading with a bit more peace, but I still hate the situation I’m in. But aside from risking reading burnout by forcing myself to read more in a day than I actually want to, I resign myself to the long-haul.

Right now I’m in the long-haul stage. I recognize that it’s going to take me about two or three months to dig myself out of this reading hole, but I’m getting systematic about it. Most of the books are on my kindle, so I made a game of reading one chapter from each book at a time in rotation. I’ve been doing it for six hours and have been having fun. The next stage will be me getting impatient that I haven’t finished anything in several weeks, so I’ll start speed reading, DNFing, and abandoning for later until I end up with just one or two at a time. By this point I will have been not enjoying my reading experience for at least four months and will vow with every fiber of my being to never let outside obligations get me into this situation again.

But also… there’s an ARC I didn’t think I’d get approved for that just became available. So, maybe I’ll just read that, then get back to my reading restoration plan.

In all seriousness, this is quite the problem for me. I went through several of these reading slump cycles before finally figuring out what caused them all. After spending four months at the beginning of last year digging myself out of this exact same situation, I figured I’d finally learned how to avoid it. And maybe, just maybe, I could have the impatient-free reading life I’ve always hoped for. But my choices have not reflected my newfound values in this, as I continue to ignore what I need for myself in favor of book clubs, getting greedy with ARCS, and agreeing to Buddy Reads (note: it’s not THAT I’m agreeing to these things, it’s WHEN. Like, don’t sign up unless you find yourself between reads and it sounds fun). Perhaps a combination of facing these consequences for the next several months (again) and applying what I just learned from the book “Essentialism,” I’ll learn how to say “No, thank you” to requests and treat reading as a sacred, personal experience. I feel like I’m getting there. I just have to dig through this mountain of books I’ve placed in front of myself first. Wish me luck.


Have a great month in reading!

by Niki Hawkes

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Tackling the TBR [80]: April 2022

It’s once again time for my favorite feature: Tackling the TBR! There’s nothing I love more than picking out which books to read next, and this slightly organized method of reading has really amped my enjoyment to the next level. Bring on the mantras!

Read the best books first.
&
Life is too short to read books you’re not enjoying.

However you put together your TBR for the next month, the goal is to reduce the amount of obligation in reading and increase the fun.


Here’s a look at how the system works:

1. Identify the titles that take top priority in your TBR.
2. Combine them all in your own Tackling the TBR post.
3. Throughout the month pick from that pile as the mood strikes you.

Here’s what mine looks like:

April 2022 TBR Tackler Shelf:

Whoops – it’s almost halfway through April and I haven’t posted my TBR! With all the content I’m working on these days, I don’t have a system in place to remind me to upload this post. Most of the time I rely on random cues to let me know it’s getting close to the beginning of a new month and go from there. This month my cue came late haha.

I find myself in a massive reading slump. Compounded obligations from last month and a few looming this month have sucked all the reading enjoyment out of my life. Fortunately, I took most of my hostility out on Shorefall by RJB (which I’ve listed on my TBR but have already finished for the month), that review will be out in just over a week. And went rogue and picked up a random YA, The Body Finder. I threw everything else aside and took four days to read that, and now I’m feeling a little more normal.

I’m allowing myself to read what I feel like reading as much as I can this month, but of all the books on my lineup, I’m hoping to make a concerted effort to get to the final Age of Madness book by Abercrombie. Nothing helps a slump like spending time with Glokta. I’m also excited to get around to the new Kim Harrison, as well as Collapsing Empire by Scalzi.


Have a great month in reading!

by Niki Hawkes

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Tackling the TBR [79]: March 2022

It’s once again time for my favorite feature: Tackling the TBR! There’s nothing I love more than picking out which books to read next, and this slightly organized method of reading has really amped my enjoyment to the next level. Bring on the mantras!

Read the best books first.
&
Life is too short to read books you’re not enjoying.

However you put together your TBR for the next month, the goal is to reduce the amount of obligation in reading and increase the fun.


Here’s a look at how the system works:

1. Identify the titles that take top priority in your TBR.
2. Combine them all in your own Tackling the TBR post.
3. Throughout the month pick from that pile as the mood strikes you.

Here’s what mine looks like:

March 2022 TBR Tackler Shelf:

February was an interesting reading month. I delightfully carried over my enthusiasm for dropping strict reading structures and allowing myself to read what struck my fancy in that moment. It led to a lot of staring at my shelves, wondering what I was in the mood for haha. But overall, aside from a few reading obligations I’m wrapping up, it was another successful month. I even picked up a few nonfiction to fill the space between reads, which is the epitome of embracing mood reading for me (because it’s stuff I generally don’t use for my content creation).

This month is seeing me trying to wrap up a few obligations I signed up for before my epiphany. I’ve a buddy read for Thousand Names (which I’m excited for but still a bit stressed because I’m not sure how I’m going to do it all) and Shadow of the Gods for my book club. In the Shadow of Lightning is one I’ve been sneaking peaks at here and there and am already 15% in – it’s my “physical” read for the month, and I’m excited to devote most of my time to it. The only thing that comforts me is, no matter what I decide to spend time on from this list, it will be stellar reading.


Have a great month in reading!

by Niki Hawkes

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Tackling the TBR [78]: February 2022

It’s once again time for my favorite feature: Tackling the TBR! There’s nothing I love more than picking out which books to read next, and this slightly organized method of reading has really amped my enjoyment to the next level. Bring on the mantras!

Read the best books first.
&
Life is too short to read books you’re not enjoying.

However you put together your TBR for the next month, the goal is to reduce the amount of obligation in reading and increase the fun.


Here’s a look at how the system works:

1. Identify the titles that take top priority in your TBR.
2. Combine them all in your own Tackling the TBR post.
3. Throughout the month pick from that pile as the mood strikes you.

Here’s what mine looks like:

February 2022 TBR Tackler Shelf:

Last month I shared my confliction between reading books I had pre-determined has high priorities and other books that have caught my eye lately… well, I decided to try mood reading for a change, and It. Was. AWESOME!

I picked up many things on a whim (several of which came from my pre-determined list, which I’m totally okay with), and had one of the most enjoyable reading experiences in ages. I’m definitely going to continue this new strategy for a while. I’m calling it “structured mood reading” because I’m still taking the time to curate and evaluate my reading list, then choosing from a whim within it. All of the titles you see above are the pool from which I’m selecting my reading for February 2022, and I’m excited for so many of the titles. Even staring at it now, I’m not sure which one will be chosen next to read, and that prospect is new for me and very, very thrilling (take it where you can get it haha).


Have a great month in reading!

by Niki Hawkes