Image

Tackling the TBR [86]: December 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:

December 2022 TBR Tackler Shelf:

Apparently I’m in the mood for a bunch of big fantasy books this month! Which makes sense because the last few weeks have seen me reading mostly Urban Fantasy and YA titles. I need a break.

Last month I challenged myself to pick a series from my Incomplete Series Challenge and zero it out. It was a success! I finished both the Toll and Gleanings by Neal Schusterman, laying to rest a series I’ve had open for about two years. This month I have chosen Fury of a Demon, the third and final book in the Dragons of Terra series. This is going to be a bit more of a challenge because there isn’t an audio option for this book. Either way, I’m excited to see series start to drop off my list that have been on there for ages. I’m still starting more than I complete, but have slowly been shifting my focus to getting back to things in a more timely manner. Baby steps.

I’m really excited to continue with the sequel to Justice of Kings, but I think I’m most looking forward to The Coward by Aryan which was chosen for this month’s Patreon Book Club. All the good ones keep winning! :D

Note that I didn’t even mention House of Chains… we’re probably ignoring that book again this month.


Have a great month in reading!

by Niki Hawkes

Image

Tackling the TBR [85]: November 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:

November 2022 TBR Tackler Shelf:

Look!! It’s still November and I’m posting my November TBR! Granted, it’s mid-November, which would normally render half of my TBR irrelevant because the books had already been read, but in this case I’m reading slow AF, so it’s fine.

You’ll notice a significantly more conservative lineup this month. Life has been a bit hectic and so I haven’t been able to concentrate on reading for about two weeks. The weird fringe-benefit of this is that I also haven’t been super stressed about all the books I’m not reading right now (something I often struggle with), but instead have found a certain zen at reading everything at a snail’s pace… I’m sure that will change, but for now I’m enjoying myself.

The loose focus this month is to continue/finish series, per my Incomplete Series Challenge. I picked one main one to put efforts towards: The Arc of the Scythe by Neal Schusterman. When I chose this one to wrap up in November, I thought I only had one book left (The Toll), but the joke is on me because Gleanings (a collection of short stories that come after the end of the trilogy) came out just this last Tuesday and I must, must read it as a completionist before I can consider the series wrapped up.

House of Chains made the lineup again. I’m about 30% of the way through, but between my general lack of concentration and how glacially I’m reading this one, I’ll be thrilled if the progress jumps higher than 35% by the end of the month. I’ll finish it eventually, damnit. But in the meantime, please enjoy seeing it in the lineup for the 1000th time.

The book I’m most looking forward to is Justice of Kings, which was chosen for this month’s Patreon Book Club… I’m due to start it tomorrow.


Have a great month in reading!

by Niki Hawkes

Image

Tackling the TBR [84]: October 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:

October 2022 TBR Tackler Shelf:

::sits down to compose this post::
Shit. Did I really miss posting a TBR for September?? That can’t be right…

I did it again!! And this time I didn’t even notice until this very moment. Obviously my current post organizing system is working splendidly… not.

Well, while August was a month dedicated towards tomes, September has been a delightful expedition into series novellas along with a whole bunch of other fun reading.

Around the beginning of the month I borrowed a reading system from Matt’s Fantasy Book Reviews (he’s a content creator on YT and GR) which entailed scheduling out reading based on the speed at which I usually consume content. I took a whole day and recreated my version of his spreadsheet and started tracking my daily reading pace. And it is AMAZING.

I’ve tried to do all of this before, but only with pen and paper, which doesn’t leave any room for rearranging or adapting and simple data tracking, so it has always been a major flop. But with the spreadsheet I’ve been able to completely customize my schedule to something dialed and wonderful while still being able to plop in mood reads here and there. I’m embracing my need to plan and leaning fully into this very structured new system. I ran it all last month and had SO MUCH FUN with books. It has effectively taken away my anxious need to read all the things right now, and allowed me to fully immerse into just the book in my hand. I love it.

So I’m continuing on into October with this new schedule, which has been constructed with my continual goal to complete series in mind. I do have a few new series starters planned for Patreon Book Club (Jade City) and my Read/Burn/Hoard series on Youtube (Howl’s Moving Castle), but otherwise everything is focused on advancing and completing series. And I must say, I’m particularly excited about the lineup in front of me! And because I have an accurate prediction of how long each one will take, this isn’t an ambitious list, it’s a realistic one given my time and reading habits. :D Curating my reading to this extent may be the best thing I’ve ever done for myself with this hobby.


Have a great month in reading!

by Niki Hawkes

Image

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

Image

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

Image

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