Books I’m embarrassed I haven’t read.

I was looking through my to-read list on Goodreads the other day, and realized there are many books I feel like I should have read by now. It’s all in my head, of course, but I can’t help but feel a bit of shame when I see certain books on my list. Here are some of the books that bring me the most shame:

  1. Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen – I’ve picked this book up twice in the past few years, and I just can’t seem to get very far into it. I enjoyed the writing, so I’m not sure what’s holding me back. I would like to try to listen to it as an audiobook this year (specifically the version narrated by Rosamund Pike).
  2. The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath – Many of the people I follow in the bookish community absolutely love this book. I was never assigned this book throughout school, so I only started hearing about it recently. I also hope to get to this one this year.
  3. The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini – I saw the movie and would love to experience the written story. I even bought the book, I just haven’t read it.
  4. Freakonomics by Steven D. Levitt & Stephen J. Dubner – Another popular book that I purchased but never read.
  5. The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho – I’m curious about this book and it was recommended by a close friend. I’m not sure when I’ll pick it up, though.
  6. Beloved by Toni Morrison – I’m actually ashamed that I haven’t read any of Toni Morrison’s work. She is an author that I just learned about in the last couple of years. I need to get to this one soon.
  7. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak – This is also a book that was never assigned reading for me so it’s fairly new in my world. I went ahead and purchased a copy to read this winter.
  8. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot – This particular book came up in many of my public health classes. I bought a copy while in college and just never got around to reading it. This is more of an academic shame and I plan to read it soon.
  9. To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee – This is one of those books that everyone and their mom has read. I’m not sure why my teachers never assigned this book, but I feel like I missed out on something. Now I’m a little afraid to pick it up in case I don’t like it as much as everyone else does.

These are just some of the books that I feel bad for not having read and I plan to read soon (in the next year or so). Are there any books on your TBR that you feel you should have read by now? Let me know in the comments below!

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On rereading.

I used to reread books more often. I used to reread the Harry Potter books every summer in anticipation of each new book in the series. I used to also reread random books whenever I wanted to refresh my memory of the story. For example, I recall rereading A Solitary Blue and A Separate Peace. The only book I’ve reread in the past five years is Night and that was for one of my book clubs.

This past year I’ve been so busy binging on books and authors that are new to me that I hadn’t had the urge to reread anything. However, I recently realized that I fancy rereading Americanah. I also plan to reread Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone in Spanish (Harry Potter y la piedra filosofal), does that count?

I am totally OK with not choosing to reread books like I used to, I just have different reading priorities at the moment. I imagine that I will want to reread some of the amazing books I’ve had the chance to read recently. But that’ll be a little farther down the road.

How do y’all feel about rereading books? Are there any books you reread based on seasons, moods, or tradition? Let me know in the comments below!

Books I’d recommend: For my mom

My mom’s birthday was last week and that got me to thinking about what kinds of books I would recommend for her to read. My mom doesn’t like to read, she says it makes her sleepy. But she has read a few books that my sister and I recommended when we were younger: Homeless Bird by Gloria Whelan, Como Agua Para Chocolate by Laura Esquivel, and Esperanza Rising by Pam Muñoz Ryan. These are some books I’d love for my mom to read. Whether to read about powerful women, the lives of immigrants, or to be able to talk about some of my favorite books with her, these are the books I chose:

  1. Caramelo by Sandra Cisneros – This book is on my TBR for this year and it was recommended by a friend. My mother spent much of her youth in Mexico City, and she has now spent most of her life here in the U.S., so I think she would be able to identify with the story somewhat.
  2. In the Time of the Butterflies by Julia Alvarez – Again, I’ve not yet read this book, but I saw the play in New York while in college. This is the story of the Mirabal sisters who rebelled against the Trujillo dictatorship in the Dominican Republic. I think my mom would enjoy this heart wrenching and inspirational story.
  3. The Book of Unknown Americans by Cristina Henríquez –  I read this book last November and really enjoyed it. It follows the life of the Rivera family who immigrate to the United States to try to improve the life of their daughter who has been involved in a horrible accident. The story highlights the language, racial, and cultural obstacles faced by the Riveras and their immigrant neighbors.
  4. We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie – This is a written version of the Tedx talk given by the Adichie about what feminism means today. I’d love to have my mom read this or watch the video so we can discuss some of the points Adichie makes.
  5. Harry Potter y la piedra filosofal by J.K Rowling – This is the first Harry Potter book translated into Spanish. I’ll admit, this book is on the list for purely selfish reasons. My mom has always watched the Harry Potter movies with my sister and me, but it would be awesome if she could read the first book and really understand why we were so immersed in the world of Harry Potter. Plus, reading this book in Spanish is one of my goals for 2016.

I really enjoyed thinking of books for my mom to read. I think I might make this a series with book recommendations for my loved ones or closest friends. What books would you recommend for those closest to you? Let me know in the comments below!

On reading anxiety.

While I was in graduate school I added many books to my to-read list on Goodreads. Once I graduated last May, I began to tackle that list. I managed to read 24 books from my TBR last year, but my list on Goodreads is up to 150 books as of today. Before last year, I used to read between 11-14 books each year. Last year I managed to read 31. I’m hoping to keep that up and read at least 25 this year. Even then, I get anxious just thinking about all the books I’d love to get to, but don’t have the time.

This year I’m making an effort to read more books that are physically on my shelves. That’s because I’ve only read a small percentage of the books I own. I bought a lot of books in the last few years, but more than half of the books I read in 2015 were checked out from the public library.

Basically, I just feel anxious because I know that even if I keep up my reading level, I add new books to my TBR too often to ever truly bring it down. And I usually add books to my TBR because of the recommendations from people I follow via blogs, YouTube, or Book Riot (along with my level of interest in the book). Do y’all ever feel anxious about your TBR or certain books you’d like to get to in the near future? What do you tell yourself when you feel this way? Let me know in the comments below!

2016 reading goals.

This year I was much more deliberate about the books I chose to read. This was in part because I started reading more this year and had the opportunity to explore different writers, genres, and styles. I was also participating in Book Riot’s 2015 Read Harder Challenge. I would like to continue this next year. However, I have a few reading goals for next year that I would like to work on in addition to the reading challenge:

  • 50% of books read should be owned by me
  • Must read five books before I can buy a new book (“Five to buy” strategy from Read Susie Read)
  • Read at least one book written in Spanish
  • Read at least two books by Latino writers

The first and second goals have to do with the fact that I’ve purchased so many books these past few years, and have read a very small portion of them. Most of the books I read this year were checked out from my local public library. I live in a small apartment and have only one bookcase, so I need to be more strategic about my book-buying habits. That is why these goals focus on tackling the books that I already own. I purchased them because they are books I interested in reading, so I might as well get to it!

I’ve only ever read one book written in Spanish and it was for a high school Spanish class. I really enjoyed the experience and would like to read more books written in Spanish. I also don’t speak Spanish on a daily basis as I should, and so I believe reading in Spanish would help strengthen my vocabulary. I also believe it is important to make sure I am reading books by Latino/Hispanic writers in order to explore writing from people with backgrounds similar to my own or that of my parents.

Apart from these four goals, I will also participate in the Goodreads Reading Challenge as I do every year, and will participate in Book Riot’s 2016 Read Harder Challenge. I try not to become obsessed with these challenges and goals, but I find them to be a fun way to strengthen myself as a reader. Have you set any goals for yourself or do you plan to participate in any reading challenges next year? Let me know in the comments below!

Becoming a stronger reader.

I’ve been putting a lot of thought into the fact that I have not read many books by Latino writers, and I have only read one book in Spanish (Como Agua Para Chocolate by Laura Esquivel). I’ve read a couple of books by Junot Diaz and one by Sandra Cisneros. That’s all that comes to mind when I think of the books I’ve read by Latino writers. That’s disappointing.

In the following year I plan to work on this. I would like to explore books by authors like Isabel Allende, Daniel Jose Older, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, and Julia Alvarez. I would also like to read at last one book in Spanish next year. I’ve been thinking about reading Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone in Spanish because it is a book I am very familiar with. This means I can use context clues if I get lost or confused when reading it in Spanish. I’m not quite sure where to find a Spanish version of this book, so if y’all have any suggestions please let me know.

I really want to make an effort to support Latino writers. This will also strengthen me as a reader and as a person. I’m not sure what’s been holding me back, but I really have no excuses. Is there anything you’d like to work on to improve yourself as a reader? Let me know in the comments below!

Books as a security blanket.

As a young reader I was always fascinated by historical fiction and books that took place in different time periods from the past. I loved reading about travels in The Magic Treehouse series, learning things about different wars and historical events through the American Girl and Dear America books, and I very much loved reading the Little House on the Prairie series.

Although I still enjoy reading books with a strong historical background, I’ve been exploring so many different authors, genres, and styles this year that I don’t feel like I have a “favorite genre” at the moment. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that. I really enjoy reading new things and expanding my comfort zone, but it’s alway nice to have that certain kind of book you know you can fall back on when you’re going through a reading slump or are having a bad day. I’m just not sure what book(s) that is for me now. I’m not worried about it though, I’m sure I’ll figure it out soon.

What books or genres would you consider your “security blanket”? Let me know in the comments below!