How to be a minimalist bookworm in 6 steps (+ shelfie!)

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Hello everyone,

No, the two are not mutually exclusive! It is possible to love reading books without having to own many of them.

In my post last week, we talked about the reasons for holding onto the books that we have, and the reasons for getting rid of them. I LOVED hearing everyone’s feedback. Seems like us bookworms are all over the map: Some of us keep everything that we’ve read, some of us keep only the books we love, and some of us fall somewhere in between.

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I also realized something about myself and my book-collecting habits: The thing is, I admit to myself that I will probably NEVER collect a whole series, or all the books by my favourite authors. On my bookshelf right now, there is a mishmash of standalones and series that I only have one or two books of. For a given series, I will very likely have book 1 as a physical copy, book 2 as an eBook, and book 3 borrowed from the library…

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Another thing I realized is that I don’t own physical copies of some of my favourite books for this reason, and that some of the books that I DO own, I actually don’t like.

Since I already suck at collecting series and keeping physical copies of my favourite books, and I don’t have much space in my tiny metropolitan apartment, it gives me license to, well… Focus less on owning physical copies.

(WOW, that sounded really……….. zen. Speaking of which:

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Anyway, I digress :’) 

Today, I want to share with you some of my tips I’ve brainstormed about approaching a life of bookish minimalism. I am by no means an expert. This is kind of an instruction manual that I am writing for myself. I haven’t done an unhaul yet, therefore, points #4-6 are still works in progress!

#1. Take advantage of the library!

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If you are like me: 95% of the books that I read, I will only read once. There are books that I enjoyed that I will probably not read again. If that is the case, why not read a book and return it when we are done?

#2. Ebooks and audiobooks!

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You may have noticed that eBooks and audiobooks do not take up (physical) space!! If you are short on space and looking to reduce clutter, then these digital options may be a solution for you.

Psst…. I am OBSESSED with the Overdrive app which allows you to borrow eBooks and audiobooks from the library!

#3. Prepare for an UNHAUL

This is a word that I’ve learned from some of you guys: Unhaul = Getting rid of the books that we actively dislike or wouldn’t bother to reread.

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…….. Okay, maybe less dramatic.

My approach to an unhaul would be to sort our books into four categories (and a fifth optional category):

A) Books that we hate to the end of the earth

B) Books that we don’t plan to read or re-read

C) Books that we loved and might want to re-read one day

D) Books on our TBR that we look forward to reading

E) Books from category A and B which have REALLY PRETTY COVERS (optional)

#4. Donate or give away books from category A

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Why hang onto book that we actively dislike? They say, the key to happiness is to let go of things that make us UN-happy, right? Remember that there might someone else there who will give more love to this book than you ever will.

#5. Decide what to do with category B

The “meh” books are the hardest, aren’t they? I would say, do what your heart desires with this category. If you don’t want to give these away, maybe hang onto them for a bit longer. Perhaps pack them away into a box and see if you miss any of these books. If and when you feel ready to part with them, that will be a time to give them away.

#6. Keep the books in categories C, D, and (optionally) E

Of course we want to hang onto things that make us happy 🙂

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And as promised, a shelfie 🙂

As you guys can see, it is not so much a bookshelf as a shelf in my kitchen where I keep my books. The top shelf is out of the equation because it is not within reaching distance. Therefore this shelf is already at full capacity! It makes sense to optimize this space and fill it up with books that I love and look forward to reading. Let me know if you guys want to see more about my upcoming unhaul 🙂

Last but not least, please check out Hannah’s blog post, where she gives some more tips about being a minimalist bookworm.

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Have you ever done an unhaul? If so, what was the approach that you used? Do you prefer physical copies or do you rely on eBooks and audiobooks like me? What is your approach to clutter?

 

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Artemis // A fast-paced sci-fi with a strong female MC

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Hello everyone!

Do you guy remember Andy Weir, the guy who wrote The Martian? Which, by the way, was originally a self-published novel?! Artemis is Andy Weir’s newest novel, and it is a book that I’ve aspired to read in 2018. I enjoyed this book, and I am excited to share my review with you guys.

34928122Jazz Bashara is a criminal.

Well, sort of. Life on Artemis, the first and only city on the moon, is tough if you’re not a rich tourist or an eccentric billionaire. So smuggling in the occasional harmless bit of contraband barely counts, right? Not when you’ve got debts to pay and your job as a porter barely covers the rent.

Everything changes when Jazz sees the chance to commit the perfect crime, with a reward too lucrative to turn down. But pulling off the impossible is just the start of her problems, as she learns that she’s stepped square into a conspiracy for control of Artemis itself—and that now, her only chance at survival lies in a gambit even riskier than the first.

What I Liked

  • Jazz is a very badass woman. She is confident, smart and quick on her feet. She relies on herself and she works alone. Her character develops throughout the novel: She learns to trust her friends, and her relationship with her estranged father also grows.
  • The world-building is simply AMAZING. This novel is VERY thoroughly researched. It seems like the author has figured out the science and technology behind life on the Moon, and made it seem so believably real.
  • Love the diversity. Jazz is originally from Saudi Arabia and comes from a Muslim family. It is cool that there are pockets of Artemis where people of different cultures congregate, similar to neighbourhoods in real life.
  • Plot points are intricately interwoven with sharp twists and turns that keep you guessing.
  • Awesome audiobook performance.

What I Didn’t Like

  • There are many secondary characters who I don’t care much about. They just aren’t as cool as Jazz, and they don’t have much personality.
  • There is a LOT of scientific jargon. It’s good in that this is a highly scientific novel, and the technical details made it feel more realistic. However, sometimes I was just lost…
  • Because of the above, it was hard for me to get into the novel until halfway through.
  • Sometimes the dialogue lines made me cringe :’)

The Bottom Line: 3.5/5 stars

Artemis is a fast-paced and action-packed book with a strong female MC. You’ll love this novel if you are a fan of The Martian!

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Have you read The Martian or watched the movie?! What do you think of jargon – is there a place for it in science fiction?

Valentine’s Day Write Tag!

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Happy Valentine’s Day everyone!

I was about to post something else entirely today, and then Kat @ Life and Other Disasters tagged me in this SUPER fun write tag! I absolutely LOOOVE write tags, so I couldn’t help but do this one RIGHT away. Please do check out Kat’s blog. She is so sweet and you will love reading her answers!

The Rules

  • Thank the person who tagged you but also link back to the original post! (I want to see all your lovely answers, people!)
  • Provide a short description of your WIP/story!
  • Don’t use just one character for all answers if possible!

My WIP: Children of the Sun

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Meredith, Rio, and Edene are detectives at the Deviant Investigation Unit. They are responsible for investigating strange deaths in the city of Toronto. One of the victims is Sandy.

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It’s hard to be the only teenager on the Unit. On an online forum, Meredith meets fifteen-year-old Zenith, who is nice, funny, and seems to understand her though they never met in real life. Zenith lives with his mom, Carmen.

If there is a couple in your WIP, what are their plans for Valentine’s Day? And if there is no couple in your WIP, is there someone your main character would like to spend Valentine’s Day with?

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Meredith doesn’t have a significant other, but she looks forward to spending Valentine’s Day with Rio. It’s not a date (she is too young for him, and he doesn’t believe in relationships anyway.)

Who has no shame about going out for dinner on Valentine’s Day alone?

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Sandy would rather prefer her own company. People are over-rated.

One of your characters requests a song on the radio for their crush! Which song and for which character would they pick it?

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Zenith would pick “Fly Me to the Moon” for Meredith, not only because it is his favourite jazz song by his favourite jazz musician, but also because the song choice would show maturity and depth of character. After all, how many teen boys know jazz?

Is there a character who would organise an Anti-Valentine’s Day party?

“Party” is Rio Matsui’s middle name. He loves an excuse to host a party, but a Valentine’s Day party? That’s just so lame.

What romantic gesture would swoon your main character?

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Edene is a sucker for old romantic movies, which she would watch with a bucket of popcorn in one arm and a box of tissues within reach. Roses, is that too much to ask?

Which character would buy a bunch of red roses and hand them out to strangers on the street, just to make their day?

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Sandy loves practical jokes. Once, she was hired by a radio show to give roses to strangers on Valentine’s Day. Why not spice things up with fake spiders?

What are your main character’s favourite Valentine’s movies?

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Carmen doesn’t have a favourite Valentine’s movie, but her guilty pleasure is marathoning Gilmore Girls. Zenith used join her (back when he was smaller and had chubby cheeks.)

Who is ready for the February 15th, just to get all the chocolate on sale?

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Rio can’t resist chocolate. Why can’t every day of the year be February 15th?

Is there a character who never spends Valentine’s Day alone aka always has some sort of date?

Edene always has a date for Valentine’s Day. Even if it is a different guy each year and it never ends up working out.

Bonus: Create a Valentine’s Day aesthetic for one or several of your characters!

Zenith is all tough and spiky on the outside, but he’s been waiting for the one person who will soften him up.

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Photos courtesy of Pinterest 🙂

I won’t tag anyone this time. However, if you would like to do this tag, please go ahead and do it! 🙂

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Any special plans for Valentine’s Day? Would you ever go out for dinner alone? (I’ve done it a few times and it terrifies me!) Tell me about your WIP!

Review: Dear Martin

Hello everyone!

I absolutely loved The Hate You Give, by Angie Thomas. When I heard about Dear Martin, I snatched up the audiobook the first chance I got. I loved it SO much, and I can’t wait to share my review with you guys.

24974996Justyce McAllister is top of his class and set for the Ivy League—but none of that matters to the police officer who just put him in handcuffs. And despite leaving his rough neighborhood behind, he can’t escape the scorn of his former peers or the ridicule of his new classmates. Justyce looks to the teachings of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. for answers. But do they hold up anymore? He starts a journal to Dr. King to find out.

Then comes the day Justyce goes driving with his best friend, Manny, windows rolled down, music turned up—way up, sparking the fury of a white off-duty cop beside them. Words fly. Shots are fired. Justyce and Manny are caught in the crosshairs. In the media fallout, it’s Justyce who is under attack.

I love the characters in this novel. Justyce aspires to be like Martin Luther King, so he writes a series of letters to him. In these letters, Justyce talks about his struggles as an African American teen- the racist attitudes he encounters as a part of daily life, and also things like romance. It becomes apparent that Justyce is a person of principle. He strives to be the best person that he can and to do the right thing. The turn of events in this novel pits Justyce against his principles and he has to make a choice that will determine the person he will become.

As you can guess, this book talks about racism and police brutality. I love how the book allows for areas of grey and ambiguity, allowing the reader to draw their own conclusions. Yes, the police officer who shoots the innocent black kid is wrong to do so, and yes, he should be convicted and jailed. However, we get a glimpse of his point of view and where these biases originate from. Justyce and his friend, Manny, are good kids who are devoted to their future. However, Manny’s cousins and many of the other African American kids on the block are involved in gang violence, and it is because of this that the stigma of violence still exist. I love that we get a sense of where each character comes from: not just Justyce and his friends, but also the police officer, the gang members, and Manny’s friends who are racist.

The characters change and grow. Justyce at first has almost a naive vision of “doing the right thing”, and this philosophy is challenged as the series of events unfold in this novel. We see how Justyce struggles with this, how his perspective on racism deepens, and how it affects the person he becomes. One of the minor characters in this book develops as well. The message of this book is uplifting in that people and their attitudes are able to change. Problems continue and society is slow to change, but there are people out there who are kind, who do not discriminate.

I love how concise this book is. The pacing is just right. There isn’t a chapter wasted and I am never bored.

My one small complaint about this book is that I am not convinced by the romance between Justyce and his love interest. I like the idea of an interracial relationship and the fact that this exists in this novel, however, this romance feels a bit forced. I don’t quite sense the chemistry between the two.

The Bottom Line: 4.5/5 stars

Dear Martin is a phenomenal book that explores racism, gang violence and police brutality, showing us that it is more than black and white and there is no magic bullet. The key is to keep doing good. It’s a book that will stay in my head for long after I turned the last page.

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What is your favourite diverse book?

Let’s Chat! Should we keep each and every book?

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Hello everyone!

Today I am going to write about a topic that is personal to me. Maybe it is something that you’ve thought about as well.

Being youngish*, I am still renting and will likely move every few years. My most recent move was difficult – I realized just how much stuff I had, including books.

*Youngish, as in, in my late twenties – Wait that is still young right!? Right!? Yes I thought so too :’) 

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Unpacking the 23-kg box of books that I shipped from my previous home, it turns out that I didn’t even like some of the books that I decided to keep. There are also books that I liked, but probably won’t reread. And that prompted me to ask myself a few questions:

What is the value of keeping a book that I didn’t even like? What is the value of keeping a book that I liked, but don’t plan to reread?

Reasons for Keeping:

#1. We can keep track of which books that we’ve read. There is a sense of accomplishment in getting a visual of all the books that we’ve read this week/month/year, isn’t there?

#2. It is a great conversation starter. If a friend or family member asks about a book on our bookshelf, it gives us the license to rant all about it, whether we loved it or hated it.

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#3. What if one day we change our mind about this book!? Maybe we didn’t like it the first time around, but who knows!?!

#4. They look pretty. Nope, as board-certified bookworms, we don’t judge a book by its cover… BUT that doesn’t mean that we can’t admire a book cover, does it?! 😉

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#5. It is super satisfying to collect an entire series, or every single book/series that an author has written. (I actually haven’t had the opportunity to collect a whole series, but I imagine that it is an awesome feeling.)

#6. Why get rid of books that we’ve spent $$$ buying!??! It’s like throwing money out the window like this kid here. (Kid, STOP THROWING MONEY OUT THE WINDOW.)

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Reasons for Ditching**:

#1. Out with the old, in with the new! If we get rid of the books that we will never re-read, it will make room for new books that we will love!

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#2. Free up space. If you have a small space (like me), you might not have room for all the books that you’ve read and the books that you are planning to read. And that brings to the next point…

#3. More mobile. If you have fewer books, they are much easier to move.

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#4. Why be reminded of all the books that we disliked? Imagine looking at our bookshelf and seeing that it is filled with (and ONLY with) books that we love.

#5. Someone will read the books that we donated/gave away, and maybe they will love it more than we ever will.

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To be honest, I am still on the fence. What do you guys think?!

**”Ditching” as in, donating or giving away. I would never have the heart to throw away books :’)

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How many books do you have on your bookshelf? Do you get rid of books that you didn’t like / won’t reread? Is there such a thing as having TOO many books?

Series Review: To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before

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Hello everyone!

This is my first series review! (Yay!!) But then again, how did I NOT write a series review since I started blogging in May 2017!?

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The true is that I don’t read many series, in general. I gravitate towards standalone books (because I like brevity and have commitment issues…… lol) That being said, I ACTUALLY LOVED THIS SERIES SO MUCH!

What if all the crushes you ever had found out how you felt about them…all at once?

Lara Jean Song keeps her love letters in a hatbox her mother gave her. They aren’t love letters that anyone else wrote for her; these are ones she’s written. One for every boy she’s ever loved—five in all. When she writes, she pours out her heart and soul and says all the things she would never say in real life, because her letters are for her eyes only. Until the day her secret letters are mailed, and suddenly, Lara Jean’s love life goes from imaginary to out of control.

One of my favourite aspects of this book is the characters. Lara Jean is such a sweet and relatable person. On the surface, she is your typical cute, innocent, happy-go-lucky girl. She loves to stay home and bake or work on crafts. Unlike her older sister Margo, who is a high achiever and wants to travel the world, Lara Jean just wants to stay close to her family and close friends. Lara Jean is much more gentle than her younger sister Kitty, who is feisty and sharp-tongued. As we read on, we learn that Lara Jean values her family above all. Lara Jean is different from me in a lot of ways, however, I can’t help but love her from chapter one.

The secondary characters each have personalities and are very real. I adore the members of Lara Jean’s family – Kitty, Margot and their father, who form the foundation of this entire series. The love interests are also interesting: Peter, the popular guy at school, Josh, the next-door neighbour and childhood friend, and John Ambrose McClaren, a member of Model UN who is very intelligent. Then there are minor characters that we hear less about, like Gen or Chris. Just when we think we know a character well, they surprise us for better or for worse, which I think is like real life. That’s what I love about this series – Each character is so believable and human, and I care about each and every one of them.

I love the family dynamics in this novel, and the focus on family. This is often ignored in YA novels, and I always ALWAYS praise a novel that does this well. The interactions between Lara Jean, Kitty, Margot, and their father are often laugh-out-loud hilarious or heartwarming (or both at the same time.) Sometimes the sisters get on each others’ nerves, but beneath it all, they love each other very much. It is touching to see how the girls take care of their father since their mother’s death years ago.

Like all families, Lara Jean’s family evolves and changes. When Margot moves away for college, Lara Jean will have to take the responsibility as the oldest child in the household. At the same time, Kitty is growing up and learning more about the world. And although their mother has passed away, her presence is felt throughout the course of the novel. Each of the Song sisters is shaped by their relationship with their family members. I love how family is the underlying theme of this entire novel.

The plot is somewhat predictable. Usually I can foresee what the main conflict of the book would be, although the resolution surprised me at times. Also, because I loved the characters so much, I wanted to keep reading regardless.

I adore the light-hearted, humorous, and easy-to-read style. The dialogues are witty and flow so well. On many instances I forget that I am reading instead of experiencing the novel. There is also more than one occasion where I stayed up at night to read JUST one more chapter.

The Bottom Line: 4/5 stars!

  • To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before is an excellent start to the series, and got me hooked right away. ★★★★/5
  • P.S. I Still Love You is my least favourite book of this series- It feels like a filler since the main conflict of the first half extends from the last plot point of the first novel. ★★★/5
  • Always and Forever, Lara Jean is my favourite book of the series, and drew the series to an end in the most amazing way possible. (No spoilers here.)  ★★★★★/5

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before is a light-hearted romance and a coming-of-age story where about a girl becoming a young woman. If you love contemporary YA, this series will sweep you off your feet. 

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Do you prefer standalone books or series? Do you have a favourite series?

February Goals and TBR!

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Hello everyone!

I love this time of the month when we look back at what we’ve accomplished and create goals for the upcoming month! It is refreshing to take a step back and see how we are progressing in relation to our goals. And yes! I think there are always encouraging things that we can say to ourselves, even if we are not (yet) where we aim to be.

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Reading

Read 5 books! From diverse genres!

Minimize spending on books by borrowing from libraries or buying from second-hand stores! (I registered at the library in my new city! Yay!!!)

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Writing

Write a bit every day. After taking a break throughout January (because, #life), I am ready to get back into the groove of things again! It will be hard to commit to a certain word count amount each day because of my new job, however, I think I just have to pick up the pen and get started. I think writing a bit each day is a way to get back into the rhythm of things without feeling overwhelmed.

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Blogging

Review the books that I read.

Post on Mondays and Thursdays. I did have to reduce my post frequency in January (because…. #life, haha :’) ) One of these days I might post more often, however, right now twice a week is a comfortable amount for me.

Blog hop on Tuesdays and Fridays. Before I always blog hopped here and there, however, it was easy to fall off the wagon once life became more overwhelming. I think one possible solution is to blog hop on set days of the week 🙂

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Life

Continue to recycle and compost appropriately!

Use reusable cloths instead of napkins and paper towels. (Exceptions: cleaning after my dog and toilet paper, lol!)

Use reusable shopping bags and produce bags instead of plastic bags. (Exceptions: poop bags for my dog)

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(Not my greyhound but it is an accurate depiction of what he does all day :’) )

And, last but not least…

Figure out what I’m doing at work. Although I am continuing to be a pharmacist, I am now working in a different province, a different hospital, and a different clinical specialty. So I feel like I am starting from square one again :’) It will take time, but I want to study a bit each day and become good at what I do.

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What are some books you plan to read this month? What are some of your other goals? Do you have a schedule for blogging and/or blog-hopping? What do you do to get the writing juices flowing again after taking a break?