October Goals and TBR

Hello everyone!

There are people who say, “Happy Monday!”

I, on the other hand, am more like this polar bear:

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At least we are cute, right? :’)

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Gemina (The Illuminae Files #2) by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

Guys – this might just be my new favourite series. I finished reading Illuminae (Book #1) last night and it is SO, SO amazing. I am really looking forward to reading the second book in the series.

Fun fact: Marie Lu is listed as the illustrator for this book?! I will be listening to the audiobook but this makes me very curious about the print edition.

Aside: For all you audiobook listeners out there, do you make up the spelling of character/place names in your head? I just realized (while reading the Goodreads summary for this post) that “Corynza” is actually spelled Kerenza and “Bay-Tech” is actually BeiTech O_O

The Deal (Off-Campus #1) by Elle Kennedy

This is a recommendation from Lois @ My Midnight Musing, who convinced me to read more sports contemporary fiction. I enjoyed Him by Elle Kennedy, so I am looking forward to more of this author’s writing!

All the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders

This book caught my eye in the bookstore (isn’t that cover awesome!?) The Goodreads rating is okay (3.58/5 stars), but the description is interesting enough (engineer and magician work together to save the world), so we’ll see how it goes!

To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee

This is my challenge #1 this month: Read a Classic novel. Even though I tend to enjoy Classics, like Catcher in the Rye and Huckleberry Finn, they intimidate me. I guess I am scared that I won’t understand them, and, therefore, be a Bad Reader. Also, Classics novels tend to have small font, and I can’t stand small font. (Believe it or not, I judge books by their cover and their font size.)

Carry On by Rainbow Rowell

I think this has been on my TBR for, like, years (seriously). But I am finally going to do it. Promise.

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (Chinese) by J.K. Rowling

This is my other challenge for the month. Because I have black hair, yellow skin, and brown eyes, people often assume that I can read and write Chinese…

However, I’ve been in Canada for the past 18 years of my life, and 100% of my friends speak English. So, while this assumption is not entirely wrong, my Chinese… kinda sucks.

BUT!!

I am going to improve my Chinese by reading a Chinese book. It might take an immense amount of effort, I might read 2 pages per hour, and Google translate might get a lot of traffic from me this month, but… BRING IT ON 🙂

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And OH, did I mention that I am beta-reading a novel for a fellow author!? (Can you tell that I am excited!?) Her name is AM Leibowitz, and she is a writer of LGBTQIA fiction. Check out her blog here.

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Some of my goals this month:

  1. READ six books (as above), and beta-read one novel 🙂
  2. Finish WRITING that novel. Good news? I am at 130,000 words.* Even better news? THERE IS AN END IN SIGHT!
    *No, it’s not an epic fantasy. It’s an……….. epic contemporary novel?
    **No worries, future beta-readers: I’m going to trim it down before I send it out to you guys.
  3. BLOG!
  4. FIND A JOB in the city that I am moving to in 4 months to be with my fiancé. As much as I love my fiancé, I hate job-hunting :’)
  5. SLEEP seven hours a day. Unfortunately, sleep tends to be the last priority these days, but I want to live to a hundred, so that has to change :’)

 

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Do you like Mondays, or are you like me and the polar bear? How do you feel about the Classics? Do you read/speak any other language? Do you care about the font size of a novel? What books are you reading this month?

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September Wrap-Up!

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Happy Friday!

How is your week going? Goodwill (a donation centre and thrift store) had a sale today, so of course I went and scooped up some goods. I absolutely love thrifting! It is like a treasure hunt, or a box of chocolates – you never know what you will find! Here is (part of) my haul:

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Yes! Those are the first 12 volumes of Sailor Moon, which was my favourite cartoon growing up. Seeing these on the shelves (in PRISTINE CONDITION), I couldn’t help but pick them up :’)

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Anyway, can you guys believe that it’s almost October?! I feel like I just did my August wrap-up post :’)

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I read 6 books this month – 5 audiobooks and 1 book in print – despite work, writing, pole dance classes, blogging, and everything in between. Sooooo I am quite proud of myself :’)

History is All You Left Me by Adam Silvera (Audio) ★★★★/5

Griffin still loves Theo, even though he is bitter that Theo ditched him for his new boyfriend Jackson. When Theo dies in a drowning accident, Griffin realizes that Jackson is the only person who can understand what he is going through. I loved this book, which broke my heart in all the right ways. Check out my review here.

They Both Died at the End by Adam Silvera (Audio) ★★★/5

Death Cast informs Mateo and Rufus that they have 24 hours left to live. When the two boys meet using the Last Friend app, they make a pact to live their life to the fullest on their last day together. This was the book that I was eagerly waiting to be released. Although I liked the book, it was kind of… depressing. Click here for my review.

Will Grayson Will Grayson by David Levithan and John Green (Audio) ★★/5

What is it like to meet another person who shares the same name as you (both first name and last name)? It must be a trippy experience. And that’s exactly what this book is. Super trippy :’) The writing is whimsical and laugh-out-loud hilarious, but I didn’t find the characters interesting or relatable.

Looking for Alaska by John Green (Audio) ★★★★/5

Miles “Pudge” Halter lives a pretty boring life… until he moves to a new school and meets Alaska Young, who is beautiful, unpredictable, and anything but boring. I absolutely loved the writing in this book, which made me laugh and brought me close to tears :’)

Two by Two by Nicholas Sparks (Print) ★★★/5

Russell Green is living the perfect life as a loving husband, father, and executive in a successful advertising company. Then, everything crashes down when he loses his job and his wife. And of course, in true Nicholas Sparks fashion, another woman who comes to the rescue :’) Although this is an adult romance, it is surprisingly very, very clean (even compared to most Young Adult romances I’ve read this year.) I have a few qualms about some of the characters and the ending of the book, but I really enjoyed reading it.

When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi (Audio) ★★★★★/5

This is the memoir of Dr. Paul Kalanithi, an accomplished neurosurgery resident with a love for literature. He spent his life in pursuit of one question: What makes life meaningful? He found himself confronted by this question when he was diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer. This was an incredible book with absolutely superb writing, that made me think about how to live life to the fullest. One of the best books I’ve read all year :’)

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Kudos to these awesome bloggers and blog posts for either putting a smile on my lips, or giving me food for thought (or both!) 🙂

Mikaela @ The Well-Thumbed Reader gives tips about how to grow your blog. This is a must-read for newbie bloggers (such as myself)! And even if you have been blogging for a while now, maybe there are some tips that you will find useful here as well!

Marie @ Drizzle and Hurricane Books talks about how to buddy read and how to write the best comments in the universe. These are only a few of the amazing posts on her blog 🙂

Dani @ Perspective of a Writer explains why we should all read subtitles! As a Chinese immigrant who had to learn English as a second language, subtitles have been a big, big part of my life, and even now I prefer to read subtitles rather than, well, listen to people talk on TV 🙂 How do you guys feel about subtitles?

Darren @ The Arty Plantsman is a botanical illustrator who also writes little tidbits about life, including a social experiment about making sure no one will sit beside you on the bus (it is hilarious). Check out this other post about how to help a friend or loved one who have depression.

Ryan @ A Writer’s Path gives advice to writers about how to put yourself out there. A must-read for all those who want to make it as a writer!

Michael @ Ex Libris discusses The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest by Stieg Larrson and It Can’t Happen Here by Sinclair Lewis on his Youtube channel! Kudos to Michael for making his first videos in English. Definitely check these out and show your support 🙂

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How was September for you? Do you love thrift stores? Are you a fan of Sailor Moon? What were your favourite cartoons or books growing up? Do you like fall? How do you feel about subtitles? Any favourite books this month? 🙂

WIPPet Wednesday: La-dee-da-dee-dop?

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Hello everyone!

For the writers out there: Do you… hide the fact that you write? Although writing is something that I do every day, and is essential to my being, very very few people know that I write. It’s silly, but I’m afraid to be judged by it.

When you think about it, don’t we attach stereotypes to certain hobbies? When someone travels, they must be adventurous. When they like to DIY, they must be creative and maybe a bit quirky. When they read, they must be introspective. When they pole dance, they must be earning money on the side to supplement their pharmacist income (not true, by the way). And when they write, they must be, I don’t know……….. weird?

Also, when I do tell people that I write, the next question is, inevitably, “What is your story about?!” Which I am never, ever prepared to answer. How can I distill my story down to a few sentences?

This week’s snippet goes back in time – back to when Olivia was still dating her ex-boyfriend Rudy. When she moved in to his home, she encountered a dripping tap that wouldn’t turn off.

“You never got it fixed?” She asked.

“Nope. I mean, it’s not quite so bad.”

Her eyes dared him to elaborate.

“Here, look.” Rudy says.

Olivia tried not to stare at his bare, muscular back as he strode to the other side of the living room. He grabbed his acoustic guitar and sat on one end of the couch, placing it on his lap.

“It’s like a rhythm.”

He tapped the wooden body of his guitar, two beats per drip. He closed his eyes as his head bobbed along.

Then he stopped, his eyes on Olivia, and patted the space on the couch beside him. There were flutters in her stomach, and she was again a deer in headlights. When she was nestled beside him, he began again, the heel of his palm tapping a beat on his guitar. His eyes closed as he strummed a sequence of chords. Olivia’s head was bobbing to the beat too.

He sang, “The tap keeps running /

Cause the water won’t stop /

And the clocks a ticking /

Because… La-dee-da-dee-dop.”

WIPPet Math: 9 paragraphs for September.

WIPpet Wednesdays is a blog hop where writers can share a snippet from their WIP. The only stipulation is that the excerpt is somehow related to the date. Be sure to check out some of the other lovely WIPpet snippets here. Thank you Emily Wrayburn for hosting.

If you missed last week’s snippet (and yes there was a snippet last week!), check it out by clicking here. My character aesthetics are in the post as well, but you want to scroll down to the very end for the snippet 🙂

 

5 Ways to be Excited About Reading Again

Hello everyone!

How was your weekend? Mine was an eventful one: My friend has a crush on my other friend (a feeling which I suspect is reciprocated), so naturally I set them up on a subtle lunch date. It went well 🙂

Psst… If I never make it as a writer, maybe I can be a match-maker 😉

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Today’s topic is also about love, that is, the love we have for reading. Marie @ Drizzle and Hurricane Books wrote an amazing blog post titled “Book bloggers: do we still love reading?” This blog post made me reflect about how my relationship with books changed as I became a book blogger: I used to be excited about opening each and every book. And now, well… I’m kind of not.

Then I realized I’m kind of in a mini-reading slump. It was “mini” in the sense that I continued to read at a pretty fast pace for me (about 6-7 books per month). It was a “slump” in the sense that I didn’t enjoy reading as much as I used to: though I couldn’t find flaws in a book I read, I also wasn’t moved by the stories or the characters.

Here are a few things I’ve brainstormed about how to be excited about reading again. (Spoiler alert: It is starting to help!) 

1. Try a different genre!

Do you have a favourite genre? For me, it is contemporary YA. But recently, I read so many contemporary YA books that… well, it’s starting to bore me. When I began reading books from very different genres (When Breath Becomes Air, a memoir, and Two by Two, an adult romance), it is like a breath of fresh air. My next book is a YA science fiction (Illuminae, a YA science fiction), which I am so, so excited about.

Reading is like eating: No matter how much you like a certain dish, it’s not as tasty when you eat it all the time. Maybe it is time to try something new!

2. Try a different medium!

What is your preferred medium for reading? Do you like reading books in print? Or do you prefer audiobooks? Are you a graphic novel fan? My reading diet consists 90% of audiobooks, because I simply don’t have time to, well, actually read. Then, one day, I set aside some time to sit down and flip open an actual, physical, paper book (Two by Two). It was like magic.

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Are you an audiobook fan like me? Maybe it’s time to read an actual book again! Have you always loved reading physical books? Maybe it is time to give audiobooks a chance!

3. Find a reading buddy.

If you find it motivating to read the same book with a buddy or a group, maybe this is the option for you! There are plenty of reading groups on Goodreads (such as Fantasy Buddy Reads or The YA Book Club). Alternatively you can find a buddy who wants to read the same book as you!

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To be honest, although I am part of some reading groups, I haven’t actually actively participated in one. I am kind of a rogue agent :’) What is your experience with buddy reading or reading groups?

4. Read what you want.

As a book blogger, I find myself gravitating towards new releases, books that people like to read about and talk about. I don’t request ARCs, but I can imagine that if I did, I would feel the pressure to read and review them.

Maybe it’s time to read that book that we’ve always wanted to read, even if it is not a New & Shiny Book, even if it’s not popular, even if it’s not even on our TBR.

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5. Read when you want.

I am terribly guilty of forcing myself to read. Because life is so busy, I feel that I have to use every spare moment to read or write. Then I think: Maybe I will enjoy books more when I only read when I want to read.

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Maybe today, you want to read to binge-read an entire book! Or just a chapter! Or just a paragraph! Or you just wanna chillax! It’s all okay!

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Do you like setting people up (like me)? Have you experienced a reading slump – if so, what helped you get out of it? Do you think you will ever get tired of reading your favourite genre? What do you think about buddy reading and reading groups?

They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera // A phone call that can change your life

333852291On September 5, a little after midnight, Death-Cast calls Mateo Torrez and Rufus Emeterio to give them some bad news: They’re going to die today. Mateo and Rufus are total strangers, but, for different reasons, they’re both looking to make a new friend on their End Day. The good news: There’s an app for that. It’s called the Last Friend, and through it, Rufus and Mateo are about to meet up for one last great adventure and to live a lifetime in a single day.

Young Adult / Contemporary / 384 pages

They Both Die at the End is an interesting book that makes you think. Note that I listened to the audiobook version and did not read the physical book.

They Both Die at the End takes place in an unique world: In this hypothetical near-future world, an organization called Death Cast has data on who dies within the next 24 hours, and will contact these people (called “Deckers”) by phone. Because of this, there are also other businesses that are set up to cater to Deckers, such as the Last Friend app, which pairs Deckers up with other Deckers, or with non-Deckers, so that they will have someone to spend their last moments with before they die. There is also the Make A Moment company, which simulates thrilling experiences, like sky-diving, and there are bars and clubs where Deckers go to party it out for one more night. And because people get advanced notice before they die, this also makes for some interesting experiences: you can watch your own grave being dug, or you can attend your own funeral among friends and family. Even though They Both Die at the End is classified as a contemporary novel, some aspects of this novel strikes me as being science fiction (in a good way.)

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Mateo and Rufus both won my heart from page one. Mateo is a sweet and kind boy who loves to read and play the piano. However, he is afraid to go outside and face the world, and he enrols in online courses to be able to stay inside the house. Rufus is the exact opposite: he is surrounded by a close-knit group of friends and he is not afraid to get into trouble. In the beginning of the novel, Rufus is beating up another guy for getting in between him and his girlfriend. As Mateo and Rufus get to know each other through the Last Friend app, they both have something to teach each other: Mateo learns to take risks, and Rufus learns to be kind.

Though most of the chapters are told through either Mateo or Rufus’s points of views, the story occasionally shifts very briefly into points of views of minor characters, like Zoe and Delilah (other Deckers who are called by Death Cast), or Andrew and Victor (employees of Death Cast), or Mateo and Rufus’s friends. These chapters add some interesting insights to the story: Like, how does a friend feel when he/she knows that you’re going to die in a day? Or, how does it feel to work at a company who notifies people of their deaths? Or, does a celebrity have any regrets when they know they are about to die? On the other hand, there are so few paragraphs devoted to each supporting character, that I don’t feel connected to any of them, nor am I interested in how they think. I keep on wanting to speed through these sections and continue reading about Rufus and Mateo.

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As to be expected, this premise leaves some food for thought: What would you do if you know that you had less than a day to live? Would you want to know that you have less than a day to live? These are all important and worthwhile questions, and we see how different characters approach this: Mateo decides that he wants to take more risks, doing things that he would be scared to do before, including seeking a Last Friend. On the other hand, Delilah chooses to deny the fact of her death completely. While I appreciate that the book talks about the theme of death without hesitation, there are times when I wonder if it is too repetitive and not subtle enough. 

The writing is great, but… it’s pretty depressing. There are books out there about depression or grief that somehow packs in some pockets of humour (I don’t know how the authors do it), but this one does not joke around. Because of this, the book is a bit of a heavy read. It was harder for me to get through compared to some of Adam Silvera’s other books, like History is All You Left Me.

The audiobook is good. I have no qualms about it.

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The Bottom Line:

They Both Die at the End is an interesting read for days when you are feeling philosophical.

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Have you read this book, and what did you think about it? If not, will you be reading this book? Would you want Death Cast to exist in our world and call us when we are about to die in the next 24 hours?

[Images are courtesy of Amazon and Goodreads]

My WIP aesthetics! (and a snippet!)

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Hello everyone!

First of all, thank you everyone for sending me good wishes after my pole dancing accident two weeks ago! You guys are such sweeties! Thankfully, I am back in one piece and, yes, back to pole dancing, although I have toned down on my daredevil-ness (for the time being……..)

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SO, a few things happened last week, with respect to writing/blogging:

a) I got addicted to making aesthetics. I swear, it’s like a drug; and

b) After being inspired by Marie @ Drizzle and Hurricane Books and Lauren @ My Paper Infinity‘s story and character aesthetics, I decided to make my own! (Do check out their posts if you want to see some super awesome aesthetics!!)

… and because of these reasons, today is going to be a slightly different WIPPet post 🙂

Here are a few words about my WIP: (Some of which you may recognize if you’ve been following my snippets for a while!)

  • Dr. Google
  • That awesome city in Canada called TORONTO ❤
  • A punky Asian rockstar
  • References to: Taylor Swift, Hedley, Monet, Van Gogh, Italian architects, and How to Win Friends and Influence People
  • Lots of #awkwardmoments
  • Mike drops
  • Cheating
  • Snooping
  • Forgiving
  • Chicken noodle soup
  • A trigger warning
  • The funniest kissing scene you may ever read 🙂

Aaaand without further ado, here are my character aesthetics! I am SO SO SO excited (and a teensy bit nervous) to share these with you guys 🙂

Olivia

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Matt

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Rudy

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Zelda

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Amelie

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All images are courtesy of Pinterest. Collages are created using this awesome app called Fotor. If you want to make aesthetics of your own, check out this super amazing tutorial by Michelle @ The Writing Hufflepuff

AND last but not least, my snippet for today:

As you may remember, Rudy is sweet, good-looking, and has legions of fangirls. He’s just not so great at fending them off (which may have something to do with him being Olivia’s ex-boyfriend.) In today’s snippet, however, Olivia and Rudy reconnect over lunch:

There is something about speaking to someone who once was close, who you once confided in, who once was your best friend even before you started sharing a bed. You know how to talk to him, and he knows how to listen for the words that are unsaid. It’s like travelling from one island to another. You don’t have to swim, because there is a bridge that is already built.

Olivia tells Rudy about what happened afterwards. As she speaks, she feels lighter, as if all these words have been weighing on her chest, and they are now being set free.

WIPPet Math: 101 words for 9/20 (9 + 2 = 11, then slip in the 0 between the 1s)

WIPpet Wednesdays is a blog hop where writers can share a snippet from their WIP. The only stipulation is that the excerpt is somehow related to the date. Be sure to check out some of the other lovely WIPpet snippets here. Thank you Emily Wrayburn for hosting.

New snippets are posted each week. Click here for previous snippets 🙂

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Are you a daredevil, or are you cautious and level-headed? What are some words that you would use to describe your WIP? Do you have aesthetics for your story/characters? OR, are you going to make some? (If so, please share!!!)

6 Ways to Be a Bookworm and Not Be Broke

Hello everyone!

GUYS, it’s time for a reality check. Over the last few months, I’ve been spending anywhere from $80 to $150 CAD per month on books. To put this in perspective, the only other bigger spenders on my budget are rent and food. I pay more for books than I do for my car insurance, pole dancing membership, and Internet. Seriously.

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As much as I believe in enriching the brain as well as our bodies, there must be a way to read voraciously without breaking the bank. Here are some of the things that I’ve brainstormed:

1. Go to the library.

Difficulty: Medium

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To be honest, I don’t think the library is used enough! Previously, I’ve denounced the library because:

a) It’s far and I… just don’t want to walk/drive there.

b) I’ve been listening to a lot of audiobooks because, well, life gets busy and there isn’t always time to sit down with a book!

c) I want to read books that are recently released. Libraries only have old books.

NEWSFLASH YOU GUYS! If your library has OverDrive, you can also get eBooks and audiobooks. And if you don’t have the time to visit your library in person, you can actually download these from your phone!

Also, some libraries have an AMAZING selection, both old and new! For example, when I signed up for OverDrive, I found out that my library actually has an audiobook copy of They Both Died At The End (which was, like, just released 2 weeks ago), my soul screamed in happiness, and I snatched it up shamelessly 🙂

This is for those who love the experience of reading books and don’t mind not actually having the book to keep.

2. Buy used books.

Difficulty: Medium

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I absolutely love used books. Firstly, they are CHEAP. And I’m a cheapskate at heart 🙂 Finding the right book does require some digging, since used book stores are usually not as organized as your conventional bookstore. But hey- isn’t that part of the fun?

Whether old or new, you are reading the same words and the same story 🙂

This is for those who love the experience of reading physical books and don’t mind the old-book smell and the occasional coffee stain.

3. Reread old goodies.

Difficulty: Easy

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Do you have old favourites on your bookshelf that you haven’t touched in ages? Better yet, do you have the memory of a goldfish (like me) and barely remember any books that you’ve read more than a month ago?

IF SO, maybe it is time to reread some of those books that you used to love. The economist in me rationalizes that you will be getting the most bang out of your buck if you read a book two, three, or four times, rather than just once.

This is for all bookworms who do not have a photographic memory 🙂

4. Do not buy books. (Aka. Book-buying ban)

Difficulty: HARD

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[Cue scary music]

A book-buying ban is not for the faint of heart. It is one of those things that are easily said, but difficult to do.

Personally, it has not worked well for me: I equate it to being on a strict diet where I cut out only my favourite food in the universe. I do well on this diet for a week, maybe two weeks, maybe even three. But then I decide the world is unfair and go on a book-buying binge :’)

This is for those who have willpower and discipline.

5. Take advantage of sales.

Difficulty: Medium

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If the time is right, there might be a sale at your bookstore or online retailer! Audible, for example, occasionally have $5 sales or 2 for 1 sales, both of which are good deals!

On the flip side: sales can lead to overspending if you buy books that you never intended to buy in the first place!

This is for those who love books but can resist over-spending.

6. Create a budget.

Difficulty: Hard!

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In recent years (due to a thing called adulting), I started creating a spreadsheet for my earnings and spendings each month, and it made a world of difference to me. I definitely won’t get into technicalities here, because entire blog posts (and websites! and books!) have been dedicated to this subject. But in short, we want to answer these questions:

a) How much do I earn each month?

b) How much do I spend each month on essential needs? (Ie. food, electricity, room over our heads)*

c) How much do I want to save each month? (For a house! or a car! or a vacation!)

d) How much spending can I allow on books each month?

*As much as we would like to think so, and I hate to have to say this, but for the sake of this blog post and this blog post only: Books are not essential needs.

This is for those who need to meet #adulting demands and believe in the power of spreadsheets.

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What are your favourite money-saving tips? What works and what doesn’t? Do you go to the library? Do you like used books? Are book-buying bans effective for you? Do you like spreadsheets as much as I do?