Thursday, January 17, 2019

5 Justifications For Having More than 30 Books in Your House


Are you ready to spark some joy? Then come along as I give you the perfect response to anyone in your life who has been watching that Marie Kondo Netflix show “Tidying Up and Losing Your Soul By Giving Away All Your Books.”
I’m pretty sure that’s the title, based on the Internet. My social media feed has exploded with memes mocking this preposterous notion:
While what Kondo actually said is that she keeps her personal book limit to around 30 volumes, if you’re a booklover seeking justifications for keeping a significantly larger dragon horde of literary treasures personal library, you’ve come to the right place.
Full disclosure: my name is Amy Green, and I work for a book publisher. I love authors and books and being gracefully disorganized. (That is totally a thing. It means the chaos around you is reflective of a life so full and rich that it defies structure…and dusting.)
To be fair to Marie Kondo, I can imagine a scenario where 30 volumes might possibly be a good standard. Like if you have a fully-loaded Kindle. And live in a tiny house. Next door to a library.
Otherwise, if you’re feeling guilty for double-stacking your shelves, I have a response for you. Since Kondo created a whole method of cleaning based on a rearrangement of her name, the KonMari method, allow me to present the GreAm method. (Slightly less catchy, but whatever.)
It is rigorous—you must be willing to defend your right to a full bookshelf with logic and determination. It is holistic—in that I’m basically telling you to keep your whole library. And it is aimed at inner peace—because there’s nothing as peaceful as being surrounded by books. So let’s begin.
One: Books spark joy.
Am I using the organizational maven’s own mantra against her? Why yes, I am.
Do you know what brings me joy? BOOKS! Adventures to times and places I’ll never visit in the “real” world, deep journeys into hope and heartbreak, thrilling escapades where someone won’t get out alive but I probably will, somewhat-confusing classics I had to read for school that made me a better person even if I didn’t appreciate them at the time…I love them all.
I mean, it’s great to have a few travel mementos that bring a smile every time you look at them, don’t get me wrong, but books contain whole worlds—the lives and journeys of beloved friends we’ve admired and empathized and learned from. The joy quotient is just through the roof. Libraries and bookstores spark so much joy that they might as well be actual infernos of happiness. (Is that a little Fahrenheit 451? Maybe. But you get the idea.) And if your house just happens to resemble a library or bookstore…all the better!
Two: Books are super tidy.
A book is the tidiest object I can possibly imagine. Think of those crisp white margins, the uniform edges, the perfectly straight lines of text.
Also, the KonMari method is apparently really big on folding things. There is a precise method for how to fold tea towels and fitted sheets and the jingle-bell-bedecked Christmas socks you only wear once a year (hey, it’s all about the joy, don’t judge). Thankfully, your personal library is all about folding. Book terminology time: a “signature” is a group of pages (in multiples of four) folded together and glued to the spine of an average paperback book. Books are essentially collections of tiny, neat little folds. See? Tidy in the extreme.
Three: Books are not clutter. informs us that clutter is “a disorderly heap or assemblage.” I have a very simple solution. We can create a piece of furniture, similar to a display case, that allows you to line up your books in an orderly fashion.
We’ll call it a “bookshelf.” No clutter? No problem.
(And those escapees that end up stacked and piled around your house? Those are educational and aesthetic home décor accessories. Clearly.)
Four: Kids’ books would have to be included in that total.
Imagine you have the American household average of 2 children. This, out of 30 books, would give them approximately an allotment of 15 books from the total, so 7.5 books each. (Sorry, but this is the math, people…be glad I didn’t use the real average of 2.3 children. We can pretend the .5 book is the bafflingly popular Goodnight Moon and leave it at that.) Please imagine reading the same 7.5 books to your toddler over and over and over until the words are ingrained in your head like an ancient liturgy and you have visited the triumphs and travails of the pirate/princess/anthropomorphic cuddly animal so often that they feel like a member of the family…
Wait. Actually, this is pretty much what happens to parents anyway, even if you have a mountain of books available for your little one, so I guess we can throw out this reason and move on to…
Four, Second Try: Marie Kondo has written multiple books.
Does this directly relate to why you can feel perfectly fine owning more than 30 books? No. But I’m throwing it in here for the sheer irony of it. I can’t determine the exact number of unique titles by Kondo because of translations and digests and journals, but there are at least 3 (10% of her household quota), with probably more to come. Is it unreasonable for an author who has made a living from the book industry to tell people to get rid of their books? Well…not technically, but it is a little amusing.
Five: Books can talk back.
One part of the KonMari method that some people find either freeing or really eccentric is the practice of thanking your belongings as you release them to a better place (like the Goodwill donation bin).
Hey, I talk to inanimate objects, mostly malfunctioning technology, all the time, I can get behind that. But books are made of words and therefore the only things that can respond to me. Like, when I yell at the character, “What do you think you’re doing?” it might take him a few chapters, but he usually tells me. And when I flip through the pages of a book to thank it for its service, inevitably I’ll notice that one hilarious or meaningful scene that always got to me…and start skimming…and then reading…and then I move the book out of the donation pile for good and it’s never going back, sorry, I just can’t do it.
If minimalism requires book-lite living, well…who really needs to be tidy, anyway?
I agree with all a lot of is said in this article. And now I don't feel so alone in how many unread books I have on my shelves. So many though that there is no room on the shelves and new books have to piled elsewhere in my tiny room. I have debated getting rid of some I have already read and don't plan on reading again, but just haven't initiative to do so. The more I buy, whether it's from a thrift store or by Amazon (I'd already spent one gift card, then received two more, on which I still have some money), it seems the more I ignore the ones at home. I try not to buy so many just to save space and money, hence the reason I tend to borrow more often, whether from the library or from the collection of books at work (no due date in this case). 

For the record, I was not familiar with Marie Kondo until I saw this article. And I have to admit getting rid of things seems hard for me to do. Though I did manage to find some things I wanted to take to Goodwill when I left the trailer park I had lived in for so long. And I also donated some of the books I'd already to a local thrift store, some to the center where I work and some to the library. I wrote about this in this post in 2016. In that post said, "I guess you can say I'm a book hoarder."

Right now, I'm deciding what to get get with the remaining balance on my Amazon cards. I also got a Best Buy card for my birthday and will now use that one for my printer ink. I'd looked at getting ink from Amazon, but now that I have a Best Buy gift card, it will be used for the ink. I'm looking to see what else  can get on Amazon, since it sells much more than books. I should be trying to find some new clothes, but I like to try then on first, so I probably won't get any on Amazon. If I had enough, I'd be going to Lane Bryant right now.

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Do I Look Like a Protagonist? Ways to Describe Your First Person Narrator

I just came across this blogpost on how to describe a narrator in a first-person story. I now am asking myself if I am going against what is said here:

Avoid the Mirror Trick
It seems like an easy answer to simply have the character look in a mirror and describe what they see, but it’s been done so many times (and done badly) that agents and readers cringe when they see it. If the novel happens to start this way, it’s likely a kiss of death unless there's a unique twist to it. 

Avoid the “Let Me Introduce Myself” Cliché 
Another common cliché is having the character introduce themselves and describe what they look like. For example, “I’m your average gal, five foot four, brown hair, blue eyes” or “I’m nothing special, six foot, black cropped hair and brown almond eyes.” This was quite popular a while back, but these days, it usually comes across feeling stale.

Here is part of one of the opening paragraphs from my story (which I have quoted on my blog previously):
... I hate the way I look. Curly dark hair, dull-looking brown eyes and teeth sticking out in all directions…an overbite. It should come as no surprise that my dentist said I need braces. ...

Does this appear to doing what the post says not to do? I know that no rules are hard-and-fast, but I still want to to see what others think. Those who've read my manuscript or have seen quotes from my story on my blog will know that the character's teeth are important to the story since it revolves around him getting braces. Those who have read my story will also know it is a diary-style format. I now wonder how the "mirror trick" or "let me introduce myself" cliché applies in this instance. Again, nothing is wrong or right about this, but some things, like these, are good to know to help in policing your work.

How many of you have had this happen in your work?

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Book Club @ Blogger's Bookshelf 2019

I want to try this one now. I think I'm now going to try to stop signing up for challenges, except the monthly and seasonal ones 🙂

January: Play Me--Laura Ruby

Carla's Reading Challenge 2019

Still another I want to try. I was sure I didn't want to do anymore. but this one looked good. I liked a lot of the monthly prompts.

Some years you don’t need any inspiration to dive into a good book; but other times, you could use a little inspiration. Join me on this twelve month reading challenge below: read whatever other books you like, just read one book that fits the month’s category challenge and hashtag it #carlasreadingchallenge2019 on social media so we can all follow along!
JANUARY – Read a children’s book: Isle of the Lost--Melissa De La Cruz
FEBRUARY – Read a book that you already own.
MARCH – Read a book written in a historical time period.
APRIL – Read a book written by someone of a different faith.
MAY – Read a book written before 1969.
JUNE – Read a book released this year.
JULY – Read a book you chose solely for the cover.
AUGUST – Read a book you chose solely for the title.
SEPTEMBER – Read a book with an illustrated cover.
OCTOBER – Read a bestseller that you’ve avoided or missed.
NOVEMBER – Read a book set in a country other than your own.
DECEMBER – Read a book that takes place during a holiday.

Wednesday, January 9, 2019


I wanted to read New Adult, but the challenge for that genre I did last year was not being offered. This was the best I could find.  I plan to read mostly new adult, but might get daring. I have read 50 Shades.
So this is pretty much a reading challenge created on a whim when I learned that last year’s New Adult Challenge hosted by The Girl Who Read Too Much was no longer running this year! I tried looking for other NA reading challenges, but they’re kinda *ehrrmm* really challenging! Haha!
I kinda wanted something low-key, something that will push me enough to read, but won’t be too demanding a reading challenge. Thus, the birth of Smutty Reads 2019 Reading Challenge! 
I swear to you, this is the easiest reading challenge ever, especially for those of you who read a lot of New Adult and Smut!
The ONLY RULE? READ SMUT! That’s it! And reward yourself with a title and a badge at the end of the year! 
  • For starters, all entries must be under the New Adult/Smut genre.
  • The challenge will run from January 1, 2019 until December 31, 2019. Basically, you will have a whole year to read and re-read you favorite NA books, discover new smut authors, and plainly bask into the hotness our beloved genre can bring!
  • Declare to the world that you’re participating in this challenge via a blog post, a tweet, an IG post/story – whichever platform you prefer, really. ❤ It’s basically to let other people know that this challenge is actually happening ~teehee~ and that some might still wanna join!
  • Share your TBRs, progress, and reviews by using the hashtag #SmuttyReads2019Challenge.
My Books:

Monday, January 7, 2019

Creative Writing Class Begins Again Today

When I first became a peer mentor in 2016, I was teaching a class on creative writing at work. However, it was scheduled so late in the day and almost no one came after a while, and it was cancelled at the beginning of 2017. Now after tow years, the class is back. I will be doing it on alternating Mondays, starting today. several of my fellow clients and mentors have been excited about the class. And it will be earlier in the day, when most clients are still attending.

My first planned activity is one I had done several times when I first ran the class. I wrote different words and phrases on tiny slips of paper, then folded the slips and put them in a small bag. Participants will draw some of the words (I haven't decided how many just yet) and write a piece that includes all the words drawn.

I can't wait to see how the class turns out this time.

Saturday, January 5, 2019

Middle Grade or YA?

Yesterday I began working more on my diary sequel. As you may have seen on my blog in the past year, I have received feedback from several people whom I have let read my story. Only one gave a bad review and one I have not yet heard from. But everyone else who has read my story has given me good feedback. 

I have now wondered how to classify my novel, whether as middle grade or young adult. The protagonist is 12 in the first book and is about to turn 13 in the WIP sequel. Also, the leader of my writers group said it sounds like a YA novel aimed at grades 4 to 7. And I'm more confused on how to classify my book based on what I have read in this link:

I may not be a parent, but the
info contained here is quite helpful
for my post.

Middle Grade Books: Ages: 8-11 yearsGrades: 3-6Length: 30-50K wordsCharacters: Protagonist (main character) is around the age of the reader, 8-11 years old or youngerTopics: friendship, family, the character's life and world, external conflict vs internalPoint of View: often third-person, meaning the narrator is outside the story looking inContent restrictions: no profanity, graphic violence, or sexuality permitted

Examples: Diary of a Wimpy Kid series, Sisters (by Raina Telgemeier), Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, Wonder (by R.J. Palacio)
Young Adult Books:  Ages: 12-18 yearsGrades: 7-12Length: 50-75K wordsCharacters: Protagonist is older, 12-18 years oldTopics: self-reflection, internal conflict vs external, analyzing life and its meaningPoint of View: often first-person, meaning the narrator is telling the story about himself or herselfContent restrictions: profanity, violence, romance and eroticism permittedExamples: The Divergent TrilogyThe Fault in Our StarsThe Hunger Games Now, these guidelines are just that—guidelines. Often the lines may be blurry in some books, which makes categorizing them difficult. If ever you are confused or concerned or want to learn more, read the book yourself to see if it's a good fit for your child. You are the best gauge, as the parent. You know best what your child can and cannot handle. 

I am now beginning to think that I have blurred the lines as suggested in the last paragraph quoted above. When the time comes, though, I will let others determine if they think it is appropriate for their child to read, and websites to determine what age range they want to file my story under. Books that could fall under either are often categorized as both on Goodreads.

Chapter Break Bingo – January 2019

Here is the new card for January.

Mark up the card however you wish to claim the squares.
Here’s a recap for clarity (with specific dates for example):
January 5 – new bingo card available
February 2 – Julie and I will post our January completed bingo cards. You can link up your bingo cards in this post
February 3 – new bingo card available
March 2 – Julie and I will post our February completed bingo cards. You can link up your bingo cards in this post. We will also be posting the January winner of the most squares in this post.
My books:
  1. Quicksilver Chronicles--Frances K. Woods (5 squares): Shelf Love, Siblings, Outdoor Activities, Repercussions, Competition
  2. Journey to Topaz--Yoshiki Uchida (4 squares): Library Book, Physical Book, New-to-You Author, Not in a Series
  3. Wasted--Marya Hornbacher (2 squares): Diet, Free Space
  4. The Isle of the Lost--Melissa De La Cruz (9 squares): In a Series, Start a Series, Dystopia, Magic, YA, Made into a TV Show, Super Powers, Cold Weather, Ghost/Spirits/Ghouls
  5. Educated--Tara Westover (1 square): Audiobook

Friday, January 4, 2019

What’s in a Name 2019 Challenge

The What's in a Name Challenge has moved to a new host for 2019.


The challenge extends from January 1, 2019 to December 31, 2019.  You can sign up any time, but only count books that you read between those dates.
Read a book in any format (hard copy, ebook, audio) with a title that fits in each category.
Don’t use the same book for more than one category.
Creativity for matching the categories is not only allowed, it’s encouraged!
You can choose your books as you go or make a list ahead of time.
Sign up below with a link to your What’s in a Name challenge page, not to your main blog page.  Feel free to save the graphic at the top of this post!  Also, link back to this sign up page in your challenge post so others can join too.
The categories below are links to each category sign up link.  Add your post for each category so we can see what you’ve read and discover ideas as needed.
Here are the categories:

Thursday, January 3, 2019

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Just One More Pa(i)ge Reading Challenge 2019

I know it seems like a lot more, but I just couldn't resist this one. Many of the monthly prompts are right in my league.

January: Mental Wellness Month – read a book addressing mental health issues or by someone with a mental health illness:
Wasted--Marya Hornbacher
February: Black History Month – read a book by an African-American author
March: Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month – read a book by or about someone differently-abled
April: National Poetry Month – read a book of poetry
May: Asian Pacific Heritage Month – read a book by an Asian Pacific author
June: Pride Month – read a book by a writer who is LGBTQ+
July: 4th of July Political Woke-ness in the US – read a book that would fall under the #resist category (a stretch, perhaps, but I feel good about it)
August: Women in Translation – read a book by a woman that has been translated from its original language
September: Constitution and Citizenship Day (Sept 17) – read a book by an immigrant/refugee
October: Bullying Prevention Month – read a book centered around friends/close relationships
November: Nonfiction November – read a nonfiction book (bonus point: if the book is by an American Indian author, as it’s also American Indian Heritage Month)
December: End of Year Happy Days – read a rom-com or other positive feels book (to end the year on a positive note…also, we have fun “naming” this month)

2019 Foodies Read

Once again doing the Foodies Read, getting as many books as I can this year.

We welcome your reviews of any books about food.  What are books about food?
  • Cozy mysteries set in bakeries or coffee shops or restaurants
  • Romances set in food trucks
  • Cookbooks
  • Memoirs of chefs
  • Nonfiction about the history of food
  • Political books about food policy
  • Science fiction set in futuristic cafes
  • ….or anything else where food is a major part of the plot
My books: