Posts By: Louise

Book Recommendations Series | The “Giving” Survey

January 11, 2016 Books 0

This is the third and final part of a brief series of posts on book recommendations.

Let’s talk about book talk. Specifically: how recommendations work, when they’re welcome and when they’re not, and how people feel about both getting and giving them.

These surveys will be available until the end of the month. I’ll report back on my findings in February!

BookRecSurvey

Today’s survey is all about giving book recommendations to other people. You’re presumably at least a little bit of a reader if you’ve followed along with my surveys so far, and most readers I know get positively evangelistic about their favorite books. Yes, I’m guilty of this too! So, I want to know all about your book rec methods.

Take this survey to tell me what you think, then see my own answers below and join the discussion in the comments.

How frequently do you think you recommend books to other people? This includes blog posts, social media discussions, etc.

My answer now is very different from what it was just one year ago when I worked at the public services desk at a library. Now… maybe once or twice a month?

Do you recommend books whenever you see an appropriate opportunity, or do you wait to be asked?

I like recommending books, but will only do so if I’m sure the person I’m talking to is a reader & I know their personality/preferences at least a bit.

Are you more likely to recommend a book to some people than others, or do you prefer a scattershot approach?

In real life, I usually rec books to close friends or family. Online, it’s just whoever happens to be reading my little book rants, haha.

Do you expect people who’ve read something you recommend to discuss it with you afterwards?

Not really! If they really liked it I will happily talk about it with them, but otherwise I’m not expecting like a book report or anything….

How do you react if someone isn’t interested in your recommendation?

Shrug and move on, my friend, shrug and move on.

How do you react if someone read something you recommended, but hated it?

It depends on the book. If I recommended it because I just really like the book and was sure they’d like it too, I’ll be honest, that would be pretty disappointing.

Are there any books, series, or authors in particular that you just can’t stop pushing at people?

It depends on the audience. For example, I have been trying to get my spouse to read The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch and just about anything by Brandon Sanderson for AGES.

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Please feel free to share a link to this survey with other readers you know. The more people who take it, the more interesting the results!


Book Recommendations Series | The “Finding” Survey

January 10, 2016 Books 0

This is the second part of a brief series of posts on book recommendations.

Let’s talk about book talk. Specifically: how recommendations work, when they’re welcome and when they’re not, and how people feel about both getting and giving them.

These surveys will be available until the end of the month. I’ll report back on my findings in February!

BookRecSurvey

Today’s survey is all about actively looking for book recs. Yesterday we looked at how you handle unsolicited recommendations — today, I want to know how you actually seek out recommendations and what you do once you’ve found them.

Take this survey to tell me what you think, then see my own answers below and join the discussion in the comments.

Do you actively seek out book recommendations on a regular basis?

Yes! Some of the best books I’ve ever read have been handed to me by friends/teachers/librarians.

How do you find those recommendations?

Oh, all of the above I guess. When I was doing collection development for a public library I read A LOT of pre-pub material and ARCs, but now I’m focusing more on “personal” stuff like following authors on social media and just talking with friends about what they’re reading lately.

What do you do with those recs once you’ve found them?

I have a huge TBR list on Goodreads. It’s a little embarrassing TBH….


Do you keep track of who recommended any given book to you? If yes, how?

I haven’t been keeping track of this at all! I didn’t even know that Goodreads had a “Recommended by…” feature until recently when I noticed someone else using it. (It’s hidden under “More details…” at the bottom of the Edit Review screen.)

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Please feel free to share a link to this survey with other readers you know. The more people who take it, the more interesting the results!


Book Recommendations Series | The “Receiving” Survey

January 9, 2016 Books 0

This is the first part of a brief series of posts on book recommendations.

Let’s talk about book talk. Specifically: how recommendations work, when they’re welcome and when they’re not, and how people feel about both getting and giving them.

These surveys will be available until the end of the month. I’ll report back on my findings in February!

BookRecSurvey

Today’s survey is all about receiving book recs. I know that some of us get random recommendations more often then others — it really depends on your group of friends, your field of work, how active you are in the infinite bookternet — but everyone will experience an unsolicited book rec at least a few times in their lives.

Take this survey to tell me what you think, then see my own answers below and join the discussion in the comments.

Do you like getting unsolicited book recs?

It depends on who the rec is from. I know I can trust the opinions of some friends, but when acquaintances or library patrons try to get me to read something I tend to ignore their advice because they hardly know me!

How do you respond when someone recommends a book that sounds appealing to you?

I add it to me “to-read” list on Goodreads. Even though the app is not actually that great, I do find it helpful for adding books to my TBR on the fly when something appeals and I’m nowhere near a computer.

How do you respond when someone recommends a book that does not sound appealing to you?

I’m kind of a chicken in social situations, so usually I just nod and smile and hope they never bring it up again.

Are you more likely to trust book recs from a specific person?

Yes, I have a couple of close friends with similar tastes to mine, AND there are a handful of book bloggers whose recommendations I really, really trust.

Has anyone who recommended a book to you ever asked you later what you thought about it?

Nope, actually, I can’t think of a time that this has happened to me. Sometimes I read what they recommended and if I liked it I bring it up with them later, hoping for a nice conversation.

What do you say if you read a book someone recommended but you hated it?

I just tell them I hated it… not quite so bluntly as that, but I have to be honest! Sometimes people just don’t enjoy the same books, and that’s OK.

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Please feel free to share a link to this survey with other readers you know. The more people who take it, the more interesting the results!


Saying Goodbye

January 7, 2016 Home Sweet Home 0

Curiosity_BW

We had to say goodbye to our beloved cat, Curiosity, this week.

He was only 10 years old. He had a liver tumor and some other internal issues, so we elected to put him to sleep. Holding my sweet, handsome boy while I let him die was the worst thing I have ever done.

Getting used to life without him is going to be hard. I keep expecting to see him in his usual napping spots, seeing little reminders everywhere. I miss him so much.

 


The Movie Musicals Challenge

January 4, 2016 Just for Fun, Movies 0

This year, I’ve decided to try a fun challenge that has nothing to do with reading:

The Movie Musical Challenge!

Hit that link to learn more at Bookish Whimsy, the creator/host of the challenge. Basically, the goal is to watch the films on the AFI’s Top 25 Greatest Musicals list over the course of a year.

AFIlogo

Check out the full list at the AFI website.

Here’s the list….

  1. Singin’ in the Rain (1952)
  2. West Side Story (1961)
  3. The Wizard of Oz (1939)
  4. The Sound of Music (1965)
  5. Cabaret (1972)
  6. Mary Poppins (1964)
  7. A Star Is Born (1954)
  8. My Fair Lady (1964)
  9. An American in Paris (1951)
  10. Meet Me in St. Louis (1944)
  11. The King and I (1956)
  12. Chicago (2002)
  13. 42nd Street (1933)
  14. All That Jazz (1979)
  15. Top Hat (1935)
  16. Funny Girl (1968)
  17. The Band Wagon (1953)
  18. Yankee Doodle Dandy (1942)
  19. On the Town (1949)
  20. Grease (1978)
  21. Seven Brides for Seven Brothers (1954)
  22. Beauty and the Beast (1991)
  23. Guys and Dolls (1955)
  24. Show Boat (1936)
  25. Moulin Rouge! (2001)

The ones in green type are films that I’ve seen at least once in the past. I’m looking forward to viewing some of them again –in fact, I even had a part in a community theater version of The King and I — and I’m also looking forward to seeing some new shows!

(Check out my Current Projects page, where I’m keeping track of this challenge.)

 

 


New Series: Backlist Love

January 3, 2016 Backlist Love, Books 0

backlistlove_redux

Most book blogs I follow focus on reading either new releases and ARCs or books that fit some kind of theme, whether it’s “classics” or all the titles from some list or other. Something I’d like to see more of? Backlist titles.

Don’t get me wrong, I like reading about new stuff. And those folks who focus on a theme have produced some of the most thoughtful blog posts I’ve seen on in the bookternet.

But one thing I miss about working at the public library, about being able to walk down to a bookshop during my lunch break, or even being able to spend my lunchtime at the school library as a kid is that I don’t really have that opportunity to serendipitously stumble across interesting titles that I would never have heard about otherwise. Some of my favorite books have come to me this way.

Rather than just sit around feeling bummed about it, I decided to “be the change” and do my own backlist-focused thing here at Lone Star on a Lark. So for the next year (maybe more?) I’ll occasionally do features on some of the books that really grabbed me once upon a time, in hopes that maybe someone else out there will see something they think is worth reading, too.

Even though this isn’t exactly a “challenge” I do have just a few rules to follow for this series:

  • The book must be at least 5 years old.
  • I will give priority to books that I actually own, though the series isn’t necessarily limited to that.
  • Books that I’ve previously reviewed don’t count.
  • Books that are on any challenge list (like Classics Club) don’t count.

Since I’m focusing on books that my husband and I currently own, a lot of the titles I feature will be from the following categories:

  • History or biography
  • Science nonfiction
  • Science fiction
  • Fantasy
  • General fiction
  • YA
  • Children’s fiction
  • Children’s nonfiction

Some of these titles are already well-loved, even “classics” by some estimations. Others will be a little more obscure or forgotten by the general public after a brief stint in the spotlight.

Please note: Yes, I am aware that other websites and blogs have features with the name “Backlist Love” — someone even uses this as their Twitter handle! I am not affiliated with any of those people, nor am I trying to steal their content.

Do you like to fit backlist books into your blog, too? Do you think it’s important to share recommendations for older titles, or would you rather stick to the new stuff or a particular theme?


Foodies Read 2016

January 2, 2016 Books 0

Once again, I have decided to sign up for the Foodies Read challenge!

foodiesread2016

This year the challenge is being hosted by
Heather of Based on a True Story

I almost didn’t this year. I worry that it is a bad idea to try to do too many challenges or series at once. I’m already working on and a handful of other reading challenges and other little personal goals. And last year I had a hard time meeting all of my goals!

That’s why this year, I’m focusing on only 3 specific titles. This puts me at “Short-Order Cook” level, which I realize does not seem all that impressive. However, I just don’t have any other unread food-related books on my shelves at home (other than cookbooks) and I’m not entirely sure which other ones I want to buy or borrow from the library yet. I’ll probably end up reading more than 3 “foodie” books but these are the ones I’m absolutely committed to:

  1. Consider the fork by Bee Wilson (2012)
  2. The Food Lab by J. Kenji Lopez-Alt (2015)
  3. Wine folly by Madeline Puckette and Justin Hammack (2015)
Wilson_ConsidertheForkLopezAlt_TheFoodLabPuckette_WineFolly

I’ll be keeping track of this challenge on my official Current Projects page.


Foodies Read 2015 Wrap Up

December 30, 2015 Books 0

This year I participated in the Foodies Read 2015 challenge. I went for “Pastry Chef” level, originally aiming for 5 food-focused books but tacking on an extra here at the end of the year just for giggles:

  1. Cooking for geeks: Real science, great hacks, and good food by Jeff Potter (2010)
  2. Reviewed 23 December 2015

  3. French lessons: Adventures with a knife, fork, & corkscrew by Peter Mayle (2001)
  4. Reviewed 13 May 2015

  5. Relish: My life in the kitchen by Lucy Knisley (2013)
  6. Reviewed 13 February 2015

  7. The road to Dr Pepper, Texas by Karen Wright (2006)
  8. Reviewed 27 September 2015

  9. Vegetarian cooking for everyone by Deborah Madison (1997)
  10. Reviewed 24 October 2015

  11. 100 million years of food by Jeff Potter (2016)
  12. Reviewed 22 December 2015

I’m glad I decided to try this challenge. Food + books = 2 great tastes that taste great together! I learned a lot and found some interesting new recipes.

I’ve been wishy-washy about participating in this challenge (or any reading challenges) next year, but I finally decided to go ahead and give it another try. More details about my Foodies Read 2016 plans in a couple of days!


TBR Pile Challenge 2016 #ReadMyOwnDamnBooks

December 29, 2015 Books 0

This post is completely different from what I thought it would be.

My plan:
Complete the 2015 TBR Pile Challenge. Come up with a list for the 2016 TBR Pile Challenge. Commence reading assigned books.

The reality:
Adam of the blog Roof Beam Reader, original architect/conductor of this challenge, has decided to drop it. At first I thought, “No big deal. I can fly solo on this.”

And I could, if I wanted to. But there’s the problem: I don’t.

I realized that what I really liked was making the list, writing the book reviews, and interacting with other reading challenge participants. I also realized that I don’t like having the pressure of a lot of assigned reading.

Some assigned reading is fine. I’m still doing the Classics Club. And I think I want to try some shorter or more specific projects, like re-reading favorite series critically or some kind of holiday-themed blog events. I’m also interested in more open ended challenges, like the Women’s Classic Literature Event and Foodies Read.

But over the past month or so I’ve been hankerin’ to read just about everything that isn’t on my official TBR Pile Challenge list, including several items that I’d already put on my list for next year, and it kind of sucked the fun out of reading. I didn’t want to “fail” but I didn’t want to read those particular titles at that particular moment, either.

All this is a very long-winded say of saying that I’m not doing it again next year.

– – –

What I am doing, though is signing up for the #ReadMyOwnDamnBooks (hosted by Andi at Estella’s Revenge) challenge instead.

ReadMyOwnDamnBooks2016

One of the “extra” rules that I set for my TBR Pile Challenge was that I had to read books that I already owned. This was a self-imposed rule and one that I would have stuck to if doing the challenge again, because I just want to be able to say that I’ve read almost all the books in our little library.

The #ReadMyOwnDamnBooks challenge focuses on that aspect without requiring a list of assigned titles. I’m including a list below simply because I’d already started working on it when I intended to to the TBR Pile thing in 2016, but this is not “the” list.

  • All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
  • Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter by Tom Franklin
  • Foundation by Isaac Asimov
  • Guns, Germs, & Steel by Jared Diamond
  • Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke
  • Liar, Temptress, Soldier, Spy by Karen Abbott
  • The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd
  • Voyage of the Beagle by Charles Darwin
  • The Warmth of Other Suns by Isabel Wilkerson

I’m not even going to make a separate page for this challenge. I might not even review all of the books I read for this challenge here on the blog. Low pressure is the name of the game. We’ll just see how this goes this year, shall we?

How about you — have you ever given up on a reading challenge or other hobby event because it just wasn’t fun anymore? Is anyone else out there doing the #ReadMyOwnDamnBooks challenge, too?

 


TBR Pile Challenge 2015 Wrap Up

December 28, 2015 Books 0

The end of the year is looming, which means it is time to wrap up my reading challenges.

This year I signed up for the TBR Pile Challenge hosted by Adam of Roof Beam Reader. The idea was to work through a list of 12 books that I’d been meaning to read for a while. So, how did I do?

I read (& reviewed) 11 out of 12 titles on the list:

  1. The adventures & memoirs of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (1892)
  2. Reviewed 23 December 2015

  3. The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas (1844)
  4. Reviewed 7 November 2015

  5. The diviners by Libba Bray (2012) 
  6. Reviewed 9 February 2015

  7. The little prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry (1940)
  8. Reviewed 20 November 2015

  9. The astronaut wives club by Lily Koppel (2013)
  10. Reviewed 22 June 2015

  11. Cooking for geeks by Jeff Potter (2010)
  12. Reviewed 23 December 2015

  13. Founding brothers by Joseph J. Ellis (2000)
  14. Reviewed 4 July 2015

  15. Reason for hope by Jane Goodall (1999)
  16. Reviewed 26 May 2015

  17. Vegetarian cooking for everyone by Deborah Madison (1997)
  18. Reviewed 24 October 2015

  19. A year in Provence by Peter Mayle (1989) 
  20. Reviewed 1 March 2015

  21. Freeman by Leonard Pitts, Jr. (2012)
  22. Reviewed 1 February 2015

  23. Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke (2004)

So that’s not exactly “winning” … but I don’t think it’s too shabby, either.

The final unread book, Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, was misplaced when we moved house. I’ve since found it, but couldn’t find the time or enthusiasm for it here at the tail end of the year. Perhaps I’ll try it in 2016.

My favorite book was probably The Count of Monte Cristo. I’m glad I did this challenge because I got to read several really awesome titles, but the Dumas doorstopper was certainly the most memorable of them.

It turns out that the Roof Beam Reader blog is not hosting the TBR Pile Challenge in 2016, so stay tuned for my future plans….