Second Annual Book Buying Ban Time

Coffee Time

Hello! Today’s post will detail on the book buying ban I have placed myself on.

Last year, around September or so, I made a post called ‘My brain told me I have enough books‘, where I talked about going to a library sale and not having the urge to buy a single book. Shortly after, I placed myself on a ban that lasted from then until after Christmas. And it actually worked – aside from the one book I mentioned in the post that I planned on buying that October, I bought 0 books the rest of 2017.

Well, I just went to Half Price Book’s clearance sale, and I’ve decided to make this ban an annual thing because holy cow did I get some books. This time, I’m starting now, in August. As you read this, I’m in Chicago. I might visit a book store there and buy a book. I don’t know. I might. But after this trip, I’m placing myself again on this ban. Again, I have an October exception: Wotakoi volume 3 and The Monster Baru Cormorant. These two books, I am buying.

And that is all. Between Now and Christmas, I will get nothing else.

Keep in mind, this book buying bonanza I just finished at the clearance sale still needs to be hauled, so I will have one more haul post and the end of September, but they will all be books purchased today or earlier. And the two books I plan on getting in October will be hauled at the end of December. Unless I get books as Christmas gifts, those two books will be the only ones in the haul.

I know I can do this, as I’ve done it before. And man, it does wonders for my TBR. (And lemme tell ya, walking into a bookstore on January 1st after not buying books for four months is heaven)

Wish me luck! If you plan on doing a full or partial ban anytime soon, tell me about it!

Happy reading!

Coffee time: On the impact of a good first sentence

Coffee Time

Hello! Today’s coffee time post is about how much a first sentence can suck you into a book.

First sentences aren’t the end all be all of how much I’m going to like a book. It can be absolutely plain and I’ll still end up giving a book five stars. But man, when a book has a good first line, I know the rest of it is going to be just as good. There is only one book in the examples I’m going to give where I loved the first line and ended up not caring for the book.

But I will tell you one thing: whether or not I liked the book, if a first sentence is good, I tend to remember it. It sticks with me.

What qualifies as ‘good’?

To me, the number one indicator of a good first line is frisson. The definition of frisson is ‘a sudden strong feeling of excitement, fear, or thrill’. So, essentially the chill or that shiver you get when you read a sentence. The one that makes you catch your breath or go ‘ooooh’. I’m sure as avid readers you’ve all come across something in your books that have caused you to experience frisson.

And the best part is, frisson is obviously completely subjective, so the sentences I’m going to list caused it for me, but they might not do so for you, whether it be lack of context or the words just not doin’ it for you. Either way, I hope you find the examples I give at least intriguing if not frisson…ing.

‘Mr. and Mrs. Dursley, of number four, Privet Drive, were proud to say that they were perfectly normal, thank you very much.’

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (Harry Potter, #1)This first one is obviously from Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone and when I first read the book back in 4th grade, honestly this sentence was just a sentence. But now when I go back to reread the series for the umpteenth time, this sentence really hits me. Maybe it’s because now I know the significance of it. Maybe it’s because I know what adventures are to come. Maybe it’s because it sends me back to being nine years old and reading this for the first time.

Regardless of the actual reason, every time I’ve ever read Harry Potter, which is probably in the twenties at this point honestly, this sentence gets me so pumped for it. Actually, I started writing this, copied down that sentence above, and it made me feel so nostalgic that I’m now playing the first movie in the background as I write. Yer a wizard, Harry.

If there’s no frisson involved, a good first sentence should basically catch the reader off guard, make them laugh, or stick them right in the middle of something action-y or spooky. It should be something that lets the reader know right away that something is happening.

‘It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen.’


The above sentence is from 1984, and it lets the reader know that the book is going to be just a bit… off. Just a bit disconcerting. It’s going to leave them with an uncertain and uncomfortable feeling. Depending on your country of origin and your current political situation, it may even speak to you in a way that is a bit too close to home.

I first read 1984 back in 2006 when I was sixteen and I feel like I need to reread it to fully appreciate it. At the time, it wasn’t my favorite. I feel that a reread now that would have me enjoying.. well, ‘enjoying’ the book a lot more. I feel like it’d be hard to read it and not think ‘oh great, I’ve found the cheeto’s manifesto’.

‘I’m pretty much fucked.’

The MartianThis cheerful and optimistic line is the first in The Martian by Andy Weir. Going into this, I had heard it was a funny sci-fi, but I didn’t really grasp the extend of how ridiculous it was going to be until I actually cracked it open and read that first line. Well, listened. Audiobook. 😛

The remaining two examples both come from some of my all-time favorite books. Both, upon first reading them, gave me frisson. Both, when finishing the book and going back to look at the first sentence, had even more significance. Both of the following books I consider to be masterpieces.

‘The monster showed up just after midnight. As they do.’

A Monster CallsThis one is technically two sentences so it might(?) be cheating? But you need both to get the impact. This line is from A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness. If you haven’t read this, I very much recommend it. This book has stayed with me since I first read it and I’m about due for a reread I think. This first line sets the tone of the book. The tone of inevitability, the tone of ‘this is how it is’. The theme lasts throughout the book and makes it one of the best I’ve ever read.

‘A Promise. This is the truth. You will know it because it hurts.

The Traitor Baru Cormorant (Baru Cormorant #1)This is my favorite opening line. This is the one where I read it, went ‘someone’s trying to be dramatic’, read the book… had my heart destroyed, went back and reread this line and went ‘fuuuuuuck‘. This line seems innocent enough at first, but after the events of the book, it holds so much more significance. It rips your heart out all over again, knowing this was said and then the events of the book followed. I loved this book, and its opening line makes it resonate so much more.

The line is from The Traitor Baru Cormorant by Seth Dickinson, which was one of my favorite books last year and will likely be a favorite for a long while. The second one comes out this October and already I’ve seen people getting advanced reader copies of it. I am so envious. You bet your butt I’m getting it on the day it comes out.

So, which books have you read where the first line really struck you? I know there are more. Honestly I had above five more titles I wanted to mention, but I figured this post shouldn’t get too long. If you loved the first sentence, did you also love the book? Have you ever read a first sentence and just said ‘nope’?

Happy reading!

Coffee time: On coming to terms with book borrowing betrayal

Coffee Time

A year or two or three ago, I wrote a post titled On Borrowing Books: A Harrowing Tale of Betrayal, where I told a story about some books, she-who-must-not-be-named, and the complete and utter devastating betrayal that she dealt me. I highly recommend you go read it if you haven’t already, especially if you intend on reading this post. Context is important.

Though if you really don’t want to, a short summary is that this… person… borrowed six of my books about a decade ago, gave back three in awful condition and claimed that I had never even lent her the remaining three, despite knowing the plot content of them. Highly suspect, no? Seriously go read the post, I get very uh… involved in the story.

So for some reason, these past ten years I never repurchased the three books that had been stolen from me. Was it ego? Was I holding out some hope that even though I likely wouldn’t know her to recognize her now, that one day she’d appear at my door with the books she’d taken? I don’t know. The thought of re-getting these books has been on the back burner of my mind every time I’d go through my book collection for the past ten years. Ten years this is been bugging me, that I never got these books back.

And for ten years I’ve been telling myself ‘I should get these again’, because hey, I now had 9 out of 12 volumes of a series, and without the remaining three, I’d never be able to reread it to completion. So guess who hasn’t read Death Note in almost ten years. Time’s up, it’s me.

But last week, I bit the bullet. I found the books, used, online, and purchased them. I think I spent thirteen dollars total for all three. And they arrived today:

I’m not sure what actually convinced me to buy them. It wasn’t that I was really in the mood to read Death Note (but now I likely will soon just because I can). Maybe it was the fact that it has been literally a decade and my mind was like ‘oh it’s been long enough’. No clue.

Anyway, you should all read Death Note, it’s really neat.

Have you ever lost books or had them borrowed or not returned? Did you re-buy them, or did you turn it into a generational feud like I did?

Coffee time: On reading multiple books at once

Coffee Time

Hello! Today is the start of a new type of post – coffee times! Basically they’ll be discussion posts because you, me and the entire universe knows that the likelihood of me drinking coffee while writing these things is 99.9%. If not coffee, then it’s alcohol, but that’s a whole different kind of discussion. Anyways, these’ll happen whenever I come up with content for them. 😛 I have done a few of these in the past, but I didn’t have the catchy title at the time. My personal favorite is On Borrowing Books: A Harrowing Tale of Betrayal. So if you’re interested in my being dramatic, go read that one.

I decided to write this post because usually I read two to three books at once: An audio book for the car, a physical book, and maybe a second physical book if I have a buddy read going on. That’s it, max three books. But looking at my Currently Reading Shelf on goodreads, right now I’m reading seven books. In addition to that, the Borrowathon readathon starts today, so I’ll be picking up a bunch of manga this week too.

So, this is way above my norm and honestly I’m a bit intimidated by it.

  • Black Powder War by Naomi Novik is my one audio book. That hasn’t changed.
  • Fool’s Fate by Robin Hobb is my buddy read book, currently reading it with Zezee
  • House of Leaves by Mark Z Danielewski was my one physical book…. then it put me into a reading slump. Currently I’m about 60% through it, judging by the bookmark placement.

And this reading slump lasted a whole month – I picked the book up in January or February and then March was an awful reading month for me because of it. I didn’t really read anything, aside from audio books during my commute. And this is when I started thinking about reading multiple books at once.

I knew I didn’t want to DNF House of Leaves, and I still don’t. I do like it when I can get myself to read it, but it’s definitely one of the most challenging books I’ve read, so my pacing is very slow.

After the slump month and having to write a wrap up of ‘I did literally nothing’, I figured I should break my own rule.

  • The Blood Mirror by Brent Weeks was the book I decided to pick up. I figured that if I was going to pick up a new book outside of my normal number, that it would at least be one on my ’10 in 2018′ list. So now I’m about 100 or so pages into that…
  • The Flood by William Dietz is the next book I picked up. I borrowed it from a friend. Well, the friend lent it with a ‘READ IT READ IT’ heavily implied, so I was kinda pressured into picking it up quickly. I have a lot of books borrowed right now, but this guy was insistent that I read his book immediately, so here we are, book number five. I’m enjoying it so far, but am only reading it during my lunch breaks at work.
  • A River in Darkness: One Man’s Escape from North Korea by Masaji Ishikawa I then picked up on my kindle app. Why, I don’t know. Recently I got Amazon Prime as part of the family plan and the kindle started popping up notifications going ‘hey you get a free ebook every so often’, so guess who picked up this ebook and is now reading it. I read it… mostly when I’m having slow moments or hiding in the bathroom at work. 😛 So this is definitely my slowest read. It’s good though!

  • A Court of Frost and Starlight by Sarah J Maas… this one is the last and most recent one I added to my Currently Reading list. And honestly it’s just from my lack of impulse control. I bought this very recently and with me participating in Bout of Books (ending today) I wanted to read something I knew I could buzz through. And while I like all the books listed above, they’re not exactly ones that I fly through. So I started this one and am now half way through it. So for it’s uh… it’s decent. It’s very fan servicey.

And then today is the start of Borrowathon so a bunch of borrowed manga will be read. The list just keeps getting bigger.

So right now my currently reading list is huge and it’s becoming hard to prioritize which to pick up. Eventually it’ll get back down to a manageable level, but I just… found it odd that when I broke my limit for one book that magically three more on top of that got added in.

I mean I’m not complaining per say – I’m enjoying all the books I’m reading. It’s just… a lot, haha.

So, is this something you do as well? Do you have a strict one book at a time policy or maybe are you in the middle of ten books? What would your ideal be? I think mine is probably three books, where I had it before. I don’t want to DNF any of these though, so they’ll slowly be marked off the list. Hopefully the urge to pick up another one in the mean time won’t happen. 😛