Do You Collect Books? (Let’s Talk Bookish)

Let’s Talk Bookish is a weekly meme that was created and hosted by Rukky @ Eternity Books and then cohosted with Dani @ Literary Lion. It is currently hosted by Aria @ Book Nook Bits. The meme encourages participants to discuss a new topic each week and visit each other’s posts to keep the conversation going.

Prompt: Do you enjoy collecting books? Do you feel like physical books are overpriced? Do you buy books after you’ve read them to add to your collection? Do you buy special edition collector sets? How invested are you in your book collection? 

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Over the years, I have been pretty open about the fact that I do not collect books, usually for practical purposes. Books are heavy and take up a lot of space, and having to move them or find ways to store them typically is not easy. When I was younger, I had dreams like other bookworms about having my own personal library. But, it turns out, affording a house big enough to convert a whole room into a library is not as simple as my teenage self thought. Consequently, I have had to cut down my collect dramatically, and now I try to keep it from growing to an unmanageable bulk.

I know this sounds like sacrilege to many a book lover. But, I found that, once I took a hard look at my collection and assessed it honestly, it became easier to let go. The reality is that I owned many books I likely would not want to reread, so it seemed wrong for me to keep the books on my shelves when I could donate them to someone who would read and enjoy them. Now, my collection is primarily books I can see myself rereading, books I know I cannot obtain easily from the library, and books that have a sentimental value to me. The rest I typically donate to the library or to teacher friends for their classrooms, because that way I know they will be shared and read.

The price of books is a factor in my choosing not to buy as many. However, I hesitate to say that books are overpriced. Authors work hard on their craft, and they are aided by many editors, proofreaders, illustrators, marketers, etc. All those people deserve pay for their labor, and I accept that the price of a book should reflect the cost of that labor. I even accept the high prices of e-books because, even though the cost of paper is not being factored into the price, I see the product as the writing and the labor that went into it, not the paper. If the price of a book is higher than I want to pay, I will go to the library or find a used copy from the library book sale or a used bookstore. And, yes, sometimes I am sad I cannot afford to add a book to my collection. But my having a budget I need to stick to doesn’t necessarily mean the item is overpriced. It just means that I personally need to monitor my spending. Life is unfair sometimes, and there are plenty of things I cannot afford to buy, including, sometimes, books.

Going to the library for most of my books, however, does allow me to spend what money I have wisely. Because I have to budget, I do not spend money on many new-to-me authors, but tend to stick with titles and authors I am already sure I will love. The library gives me the freedom to take a chance on other books. Once I have read a book from a library, I may indeed choose to buy a copy of that book to keep and reread later. Or, even more likely, I will buy copies of the book as gifts for friends and family. Many publishers, it has become clear, see libraries as the enemies of authors, but I actually do use the library as a discovery tool that then leads me to purchase books. I do not think I am alone in this.

So how invested am I in my book collection? I am invested, but I hope that maturity leads to some sort of wisdom. I do not ever want to feel like I am overly attached to material objects in my life, or that I will not be able to give something away if it could do more good elsewhere. And, the more books I give away, the easier it becomes. Life goes on. Many of those books I have never thought about again! So I am invested to the extent that I want to build a personal collection that truly means something to me, and not just because I can’t stand to give a book away. But I also hope that, if I should have to, I would indeed be able to let go of my books.

How Do You Feel About Holiday Books? (Let’s Talk Bookish)

Let’s Talk Bookish is a weekly meme that was created and hosted by Rukky @ Eternity Books and then cohosted with Dani @ Literary Lion. It is currently hosted by Aria @ Book Nook Bits. The meme encourages participants to discuss a new topic each week and visit each other’s posts to keep the conversation going.

Prompt: Christmas books and movies dominate the media during the winter season, but Christmas isn’t the only holiday being celebrated. Do you like reading holiday books at all? Have you ever read a holiday book about another religion? What about a holiday book not set during the winter season? If you’re religious but don’t celebrate Christmas, do you feel represented in the holiday media?

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I suppose it is difficult for me to say that I like reading holiday books because, in many ways, the holiday book market seems to be primarily relevant only for picture books. There are, of course, some Christmas classics such as Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol or J. R. R. Tolkien’s Letters from Father Christmas. And it seems like the YA market occasionally dabbles in a title such as the Hallmark movie-esque So, This Is Christmas. But there aren’t exactly a ton of middle grade, YA, or adult books out there centered around New Year’s Eve, Hanukkah, Thanksgiving, or any other holiday one could name. Even Halloween book lists usually contain generic horror and thriller titles– not books specifically set during Halloween. How can one enjoy reading books that do not seem to exist?

In some ways, I understand why there is not a big market for holiday-themed books. Centering a title around a holiday would mean that its shelf life would be short. There would be a big marketing push maybe in the month or two leading up to the holiday, and then the hype would be over. Not many people would likely want to read a book about a Fourth of July romance in September. Even so, it does seem like there is room for more holiday books. People and libraries presumably buy the holiday picture books to get children in the holiday spirit. Older children and adults might want something festive, too.

I would love to read more books about holidays and books that feature characters who practice different religions in general. But I do think these holiday books would need to have some thought put in and be done right. One of the things that confuses me about holiday picture books, for instance, is that popular characters will often have several books out–“Character Celebrates Christmas,” “Character Celebrates Diwali,” “Character Celebrates Hanukkah,” and so forth. I understand wanting fans of the character to have a book that reflects their own celebrations, but it seems strange to have a character celebrating multiple religious practices and cultures. Which one is actually theirs? All of them? None? And sometimes holiday picture books are reduced to mere symbols of the holiday, such as baking a special food and gathering with family. The actual reason for the celebration and the beliefs of the people who celebrate that holiday don’t get mentioned at all, leaving readers with a very superficial understanding.

There definitely seems to be room in the market for more holiday books, and I imagine there would be readers willing to buy them. After all, holiday movies tend to be popular. Surely the people who watch those would also read a holiday book? It would be wonderful if publishers took a chance on more holiday stories. And more stories that reflect a deeper cultural and religious understanding of the holidays they depict.

Books as Gifts (Let’s Talk Bookish)

Let’s Talk Bookish is a weekly meme that was created and hosted by Rukky @ Eternity Books and then cohosted with Dani @ Literary Lion. It is currently hosted by Aria @ Book Nook Bits. The meme encourages participants to discuss a new topic each week and visit each other’s posts to keep the conversation going.

Prompt: Do books make good gifts? Do you ever give or receive books as gifts? Would you rather receive a book from your wish list or be surprised? What would you do if you didn’t like the book you were given? Would you expect someone to read a book you got them right away?

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Books make great gifts! I love giving people books because I feel like they serve many purposes, such as being entertaining and educational while preventing the world from being filled with more junk like plastic toys kids will use once and forget, or novelty items the recipient will end up throwing away. Even if the recipient does not want the book, they can easily donate it or, at the very least, recycle it. And books can be enjoyable even for people who describe themselves as “non-readers.” I’ve gifted nonfiction, cookbooks, coloring books, and puzzle books, for instance, to people who would say that they don’t read. They often do read–just not 800-page fantasy books, or whatever it is they imagine “real readers” read.

Because I love books, people often do gift me books–and the more the better, I say! I like receiving books for the same reasons I like giving them. I don’t really want more novelty items or knickknacks in my life. But since I am particular about what I like to read and what I want to devote space to, I would prefer that people gift me books I have expressed interest in–if only because there is possibly only one person who routinely manages to buy me books I actually enjoy. The others seem to gift me books they would like, but that aren’t my taste at all. But it’s not a big deal, and it’s the thought that counts. If I don’t like the book I was gifted, it is really easy for me to donate it to the library so they can sell it at their book sale and raise funds. Or, if it’s a children’s book, I can usually give it to one of my teacher friends for their classroom libraries, which they tend to have to stock themselves. I don’t feel guilty about this because I firmly believe that books are meant to be shared, and they are not doing much good sitting on my shelf unread.

Since I don’t always enjoy the books I am gifted, I am sensitive to the reality that the recipients of my books might not always like them, either. So my policy is generally never to inquire about the book once it has left my hands. There are some books I have gifted that I know have never been read at all. Others I later learned the recipient did not enjoy. But the same thing could happen with any gift, book or not. I just don’t ask and everyone can maintain the polite fiction that the book was read and enjoyed. Thus are friendships maintained.

Do you like to gift books?

Do You Use Your Local Library? (Let’s Talk Bookish)

Let's Talk Bookish

Let’s Talk Bookish is a weekly meme that was created and hosted by Rukky @ Eternity Books and then cohosted with Dani @ Literary Lion. It is currently hosted by Aria @ Book Nook Bits. The meme encourages participants to discuss a new topic each week and visit each other’s posts to keep the conversation going.

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Do you have a local library you go to often?

Yes! Anyone who reads our blog regularly knows that Briana and are enthusiastic supporters of the public library. Even when getting to the library was difficult for me, I would walk, bike, or take the bus to make sure I was able to get my books because there is nothing more exciting than walking into a building full of stories–and being able to take them home free.

I also like to attend programs at the library since it’s a fun and free way to spend a night out and meet new people. I’ve been able to make crafts with materials I don’t have at home, win prizes at Bingo Night, attempt to solve a murder mystery, and enter the Summer and Winter Reading Challenges. Sometimes I invite friends or family to go with me since, again, it’s a free night out! Sometimes they even have snacks, which is a bonus.

Does/did your school have a library?

My elementary school had a library full of old books, mostly classics. I loved checking out books each week, though I was always sad we were limited to only one book per week. Later on, in high school, I was devastated to realize that the school library was only open for about a half hour after school–and I couldn’t go because I had to go home. But the library was mostly full of outdated nonfiction, so it wasn’t particularly useful, anyway. They later changed it to a computer lab because the administration decided libraries are obsolete. Well, sure–if it’s full of outdated books no one can access!

My college library did not have a popular fiction section, but I found it extremely useful for academic purposes, especially paired with interlibrary loans, which I took advantage of frequently. I also applied for a library card from the local public library while in college, and would sometimes walk there to check out books for entertainment. Also, a little-known tip is that sometimes the education majors are asked to read children’s books or popular fiction, so you can often find at least some of these books even in an academic library.

What are your favorite things about libraries?

Too many to list! I love that libraries are committed to equal access, and that they are always looking for new, innovative ways to reach more people and connect them with resources that can improve their lives. There is really nowhere else that feels as welcoming. I can walk in, with no questions asked, stay for hours, spend no money, and have no one bother me. And I always leave with a stack of books because there’s no charge, and if I don’t end up reading them all or loving them all, it doesn’t matter. I can always check the books out another time, or find a different book I’ll love. Lately, I’ve expanded to borrowing more movies because I don’t want to pay for a streaming service. And I regularly check out WiFi hotspots so I don’t have to pay for an internet provider at home. People always give me their tips to save money, and I always reply with, “But have you tried the library?”

Are there certain books you borrow more or less often from libraries?

I borrow almost all of my books from the library at this point in my life. I will buy classics since the public library does not tend to stock those, or books that my library is unable to purchase for me. But there are certain books I really couldn’t see myself ever purchasing if the library did not have them–graphic novels because they’re expensive and I can read them in about an hour or less, audiobooks because they are expensive, certain YA books that I don’t see myself ever rereading or that I am not positive I will really enjoy. My purchasing power is limited, like most people’s, so I obviously gravitate towards buying authors I already know I love, or books that I am 100% sure align with my reading tastes. The library allows me to try out new-to-me authors and other books I feel less certain about.

What do you love most about the library?

Thoughts on Rereading Books (Let’s Talk Bookish)

Let’s Talk Bookish is a weekly meme, hosted by Rukky @ Eternity Books & Dani @ Literary Lion, where we discuss certain topics, share our opinions, and spread the love by visiting each other’s posts.

The Prompt: How many times is enough? Why re-read at all? Is re-reading just a comforting pastime? Or is there excitement to be relived? What kind of books do you re-read? Do you ever re-read books you don’t like in hopes that it will be better the second time? Were there any books you didn’t like as a child but liked as an adult, or vice versa? (Suggested by FIVES @ DOWN THE RABBIT HOLE)

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I absolutely love rereading books! Although I admit I find the “How many times is enough?” prompt a bit funny because I largely reread books for myself, because I know I enjoy those books and want to dive back into and experience the story again. I’m not trying to achieve or accomplish anything, so there’s no set amount of times I would ever reread a book; I just do it when I feel like it. Some books I have reread only once; some books I have reread two dozen times.

And my opinion is that the best books can be reread indefinitely: they always have something new to offer the reader, and their value doesn’t rely on the reader being surprised or not knowing what happens next.

I have reread books I didn’t actually like, however. Generally I do this with classics. I think to myself, “Ok, I didn’t like Wuthering Heights as a teenager, but maybe I would get something more out of it now,” and I give it a shot. Or someone tells me something about a classic that makes me think about it in a new way, and I reread it to see if I like it more with that perspective. Sometimes I do like the book more the second time. Sometimes I don’t really enjoy it, but I “get” it more than I did as a younger reader. Sometimes I still just hate the book. It’s interesting to give some books a second chance, though.

As a child, I used to reread the books early in a series before reading the next one, but I don’t do that anymore because I simply don’t have the time, and I have a lot more access to books and books on my TBR list than I did as a kid. I’m not going to invest the time in rereading something simply to remember what happens. So, honestly, while I read a lot of middle grade and YA and adult fantasy, I don’t generally reread those books because I don’t expect to get a lot out of them the second time. My rereading now is largely relegated to classics.


Do Bloggers Owe Their Readers? And Vice Versa? (Let’s Talk Bookish)

Let’s Talk Bookish is a weekly meme, hosted by Rukky @ Eternity Books & Dani @ Literary Lion, where we discuss certain topics, share our opinions, and spread the love by visiting each other’s posts.

The Prompt:  Do bloggers owe their readers anything? Do bloggers deserve anything from their readers? Do you think there’s a specific etiquette that bloggers/readers should follow when interacting? Do you as a blogger pressure yourself to provide certain things to your readers? Do you do certain things when you read a blog post?

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This is an interesting question, but because book bloggers are almost 100% unpaid, I think the answer is short: bloggers and their readers owe each other nothing besides common courtesy. And because the book blogosphere is so good at this, I don’t feel it’s necessary to elaborate much on the topic either. In over 10 years of blogging at Pages Unbound, Krysta and I have very rarely received a rude comment; when we have, those comments were frequently from people who are not book bloggers but rather people who found our site from outside sources like search engines or Pinterest. In the book blogosphere as a whole, readers usually leave polite comments, even when disagreeing, and bloggers usually leave polite responses. I think that’s the most anyone of us “owe” anyone here.

If a book blogger managed to successfully monetize their blog (I haven’t seen this yet, in spite of seeing some attempts), I’d say they owed their readers more. If readers were paying to read certain posts or subscribe to the blog in some way, I’d say the blogger owed those readers quality content and whatever content they might have promised, whether they said they were going to publish two discussion posts a week or list all the middle grade books coming out in the summer or whatever.

But because blogs are free? There’s no kind of contract here. Sure, a blogger should strive to write interesting and comprehensible content — but they don’t have to. If readers don’t like the content on a blog or think it’s absolute gibberish they can just . . . not read that blog. There’s nothing stopping them from exiting the site and never visiting again.

And while I try to support book bloggers in general by reading their content, commenting, and liking their posts, I don’t actually owe that to them as a reader, and I understand no one owes that to me Book blogging is largely the realm of hobbyists, and when there’s no money exchanging hands, everything is just very casual.


What Makes You Like a Character? (Let’s Talk Bookish)

Let’s Talk Bookish is a weekly meme, hosted by Rukky @ Eternity Books & Dani @ Literary Lion, where we discuss certain topics, share our opinions, and spread the love by visiting each other’s posts.

Prompts: Are there any physical qualities you look for in a character? What personalities tend to draw you to characters? Are there any archetypes you prefer, are you always falling for the villain? What makes you like characters?

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This was supposed to go up Oct. 29, but I, uh, forgot to hit the “schedule” button, so here we are. 😉

Physical Qualities

I am NOT a visual person when I read. Apparently there are a lot of people who practically see the action of the book rolling by like a movie when they read? I can hardly imagine that. I barely envision what anyone or anything looks like, and the truth is that I rarely remember what a character’s physical qualities are unless they somehow become plot relevant or are mentioned several times throughout the book.

Anne Shirley in Anne of Green Gables? I have an excellent visual because Anne dislikes her red hair, she gets called “Carrots” by Gilbert and ends up in a feud, and Mrs. Rachel Lynde goes on about she’s homely and scrawny. The main character in the most recent YA book I read? I have no idea if she’s short or tall or has brown eyes or blonde hair or really anything about her, and I certainly don’t favor some characters over others because of their physical appearance.

Character Personality

In terms of character personality, I think there’s a lot of gray area in terms of what it means for me to “like” a character. There’s a difference between finding the character interesting, thinking the person is nice to other characters, and thinking the character has the type of personality that means I’d personally like to be friends with them.

Yet one trait I think characters need for me to truly admire them is kindness. A character can be badass and smart and creative and do things that seem morally right (like fighting to save a kingdom from ruin), but if they aren’t driven by kindness and wanting to help others, exactly how nice are they? I love characters who, no matter what their other strengths and weaknesses, find the most power in kindness.


Bookish Memes and Games — Fun Filler or Worthless Waste of Time? (Let’s Talk Bookish)

Let’s Talk Bookish is a weekly meme, hosted by Rukky @ Eternity Books & Dani @ Literary Lion, where we discuss certain topics, share our opinions, and spread the love by visiting each other’s posts.

Technically the meme is posted Fridays, but I’m getting to it today. 🙂

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I’ve made various comments about this topic in the past, but I never wrote a full post about it, so when I saw the prompt for this week’s discussion, I thought it might be time!

As some of you may know, Krysta and I have been blogging at Pages Unbound for almost ten years now. (Ah!) When we first started, we definitely participated in more memes. Discussion posts weren’t very prevalent around 2013, and memes were a good way to break up reviews and also to visit other blogs and strike up a bit of a discussion in the comments.

As our blog has gotten older, we’ve essentially stopped participating in memes, as we’ve prioritized more original and in-depth content. (I realize I am currently participating in the Let’s Talk Bookish meme.) Krysta and I also run the Classic Remarks meme here at Pages Unbound. For me, the most interesting memes are ones like this, ones that prompt discussions and lead to full blog posts where I can reflect on a topic. They’re basically discussion posts, except more than one person gets to participate in the discussion at the same time. (Several years ago, there was also a meme called “Conversations” that was along this line, which Krysta and I took part in.)

On the flip side, that means I no longer have much interest in short memes that ask participants to do something like post a single line from a book or post just the title of what they are currently reading or even share a whole list, if it’s literally just a list of book titles with no real explanation about why the books are on the list. I don’t participate in these memes any more, and I generally don’t read the posts of others who participate in them.

Even if I did have interest, I admit I find it a bit overwhelming (especially on Tuesdays and Wednesdays!) to go through my feed and see dozens of bloggers posting essentially the same thing. Which Top Ten Tuesday post do I read? All of them? None of them? A random selection of five of them??? Unless the topic is particularly compelling to me, or I want to see a particular blogger’s answer, I pass over the memes, and I’m always excited to see a discussion post in my feed, embedded among all the memes, that I can read instead.

This isn’t to say that no one should do memes. As I said, I used to do them myself. But Krysta and I, together, have managed to post something on our blog nearly every single day for the past several years. We don’t even have room in our schedule for memes at this point. If people find memes fun or thought-provoking and get good page views and discussion from them, I think that’s awesome. I just no longer have much interest myself.