Thursday, May 3, 2018

Seeing the Movie First

Like many readers, I've always had a book before movie policy. As most of you are aware, this makes us incredibly popular. Phrases like, "We can't go to that movie yet, maybe if it's still in theaters in a month" are always crowd pleasers. Then the 2018 the PopSugar Reading Challenge included this prompt - Read a Book Made into a Movie You've Already Seen.

ABSOLUTELY NOT. That is against the RULES of being a reader. and is completely wrong for a reading challenge. The book is ALWAYS better (okay 99% of the time).

But wait. The book is usually better - or at least a more complete story. Anytime I see a movie based on a book I spend most of the time noticing all the discrepancies between the book and movie. I notice all the elements of the book that the movie left out or neglected. One notable example of this for me is The Hunger Games. I objectively think those movies are very well executed adaptions. Unfortunately, all the things I imagined differently would jar me out of the watching experience. I'm rarely able to fully immerse myself in a movie based on a book because of the constant cataloging going on in my brain.

Maybe I have this whole thing backward. Maybe if I see the movie first I can just enjoy it for what it is. I tend to find books more immersive then movies in the first place so maybe reading the book second will allow me more enjoyment of both.

Another factor that occurred to me. There have been a few instances where I did see the movie first.  I'm not a huge classic reader. The only reason I made it through Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen was because I saw and loved the movie first. I had attempted to read it on couple occasions but found the writing style tedious and repetitive. Knowing my favorite moments were coming up helped me get through the parts of the book I found exhausting.

Does this mean I have a new "Movies First" policy? No. But it does mean the next time someone asks me to go see a movie that looks good I can say yes.

Side note - I recently saw A Wrinkle in Time without reading it first and I really liked the movie. I'm looking forward to tackling the book soon.

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

One Month Down - a shopping ban check-in

Within the first 2 days of starting my shopping ban I really noticed how many of the sites I visit daily are recommending purchases for me. And I think that's on me. I enjoy online shopping and over time have gravitated to blogs that recommend clothes and decor and books that are up my alley. But it did represent the first question to how my online shopping ban was going to work.  Do I allow myself to "virtual" shop without purchasing?

So far I haven't set a hard fast rule on that. I've tried to really notice when blog reading turns into shopping and I haven't been checking flash sale sites daily like I did pre-ban, but I have followed a few links to cute clothes and I did view the entire Target Opalhouse collection online.  Oops.  But no purchases so I'm calling it a win. It did inspire a trip to Target because I really liked a quilt I saw online, but I didn't like it in person. No damage done.

So far in the first month I had 2 fails, both Kindle books that I read immediately - not impulse purchases because of sales. I've also downloaded the nine free Kindle books for World Book Day so my unread Kindle book number isn't going down anytime soon.

Overall, I'm calling month one a win. I have gone actual shopping a bit more, but it hasn't lead to purchases just higher daily step counts and I'm definitely feeling much more aware of my spending.  Onto month two!

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Three Month Shopping Ban

Last week I was listening to Young House Love has a Podcast and they referenced The Year of Less by Cait Flanders. Among other things in the book Cait outlines a year of not purchasing things that aren't NEEDS. Listening to this podcast episode made me realize March was almost over and I'm still in Christmas spending mode. I'd also just made a major purchase (27 inch iMac) and that had me in a online furniture shopping frenzy. New desk, new nightstands, bedding, etc. I haven't made any of those purchases, just spending an inordinate amount of time looking for them.

I mulled several options for instituting my own shopping ban. One month doesn't feel long enough.  I'm more than capable of filling up my online shopping carts for a month without purchase and then clicking "Buy" once the month is up. That doesn't seem like it would really force any changes to my habits. I also hate the idea of passing up the "perfect" desk if it came into HomeGoods or something during the ban.

After really evaluating my spending habits, I ended up settling on a three month online shopping ban.  If I really need/want something enough to go to the store to buy it, fine, but no mindless internet shopping. No purchasing just because it's on sale. At last count I had over 100 unread kindle books from purchasing them on sale. Officially from March 27th through June 27th I won't do any online shopping with two exceptions:

1) I'll still order my groceries online and have them delivered once or twice a month because that is just a time saver on something I need anyway. Food/paper goods only.

2) Bathing suit - I have one swimsuit I love, but I've lost 30lbs and it's dangerously close to being too big. If I lose anymore weight, I'll attempt to find a suit locally, but I prefer one piece suits and I have a long torso so I generally have to find them online.

If it turns out that I do go out to shop more with this ban in place I may make it more stringent, but I think a three month online ban is a good place to start changing habits or at the very least, identifying my shopping triggers.

Has anyone else done a shopping ban online or full on?  Tips?

Random PS - I have to go through every post after I write them and delete my double spaces after sentences. Please tell me this isn't still taught in schools because it's a habit I'm never going to shake.

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

2018 Goals

Last year was a decent reading year for me, but as always I feel there are a few things I could do to make it better. These all seem doable, but would have significant impact.

Read Books I Own

I know a lot of reader identify with this one. My Owned and Unread Bookshelf is approaching the 3 year mark (how long it would take me to read them all if I read nothing else). I have cut back on book purchases over the last few years and become a much better library user, but I haven’t cut out all book buying. Since library books have a due date and I always have library books around, my owned books keep getting pushed back.

This year I’m going to make it a priority to read books I own. If I don’t like them at 25% - DNF and donate!

Quit Buying Books!

Between Kindle sales, BookOutlet and thrift stores, I still accumulate a fair number of new books annually because I have a hard time passing up a deal on a book I have on my (very long) TBR list. I think I’m going to cap my Kindle sale books at one a month MAX and just stay off BookOutlet and out of thrift stores.

Read (at least attempt) longer/harder books

I read Gone With the Wind at twelve. I read The Power of One and Tandia in high school and loved them all. If I look though books I’ve read, even 4-5 years ago I was reading a few chunksters annually and they are books I thoroughly enjoyed and am glad I read: The Stand and 11/22/63, Poisonwood Bible, and The Passage to name a few. But in the last two or three years, the only times I’ve finished a book over 500 pages were later books in YA series. This goal ties in with my first one because I do own quite a few longer books that I just never seem to get to.

My top three priorities (subject to change):

Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln by Doris Kearns Goodwin
Roots: the Saga of an American Family by Alex Haley
Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry

Find new ways to use Audiobooks

I went through a ton of audiobooks when I was traveling for work 2014-2016, but now that my commute is down to 20-30 mins (45 on a bad traffic day) I’ve inadvertently cut back on audiobooks and I miss them. My commute is just so short that I feel like I can’t “get into” a book before the ride is over and I don’t always start them up again. I’ve tried listening when cleaning and that doesn’t work for me.

Other possibilities:
During exercise – works for walking outside, but not anything on a machine indoors. Not enough of a distraction.
During other hobbies that don’t engage all of my brain – puzzles, cross-stitch, etc. I’ve had a little success with this. Just need to make it a habit instead of iPad and TV.

Less Mindless Internet browsing/More Reading

I’d like to better use small amounts of downtime to read 5-10 pages instead of always waiting until I have at least an hour of reading time.

Read Diversely

I hate that this still takes planning and effort, but if I don’t make it a priority (and many other readers like me) than neither do publishers.

Less Decision Paralysis

I have a very first world problem in that I have so many book choices sometimes I struggle to pick my next book. This year I'm going to try having a Priority TBR of 10-20 books. I'll update it weekly after every library trip so it will only be books I currently have access too, but then when it's time to pick a book I'll only chose from those titles. Maybe it won't work, but I think narrowing my choices in a given moment will help with decision paralysis.

What about you? Any goals you really want to achieve this year? Any tips for me on accomplishing mine?

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

What I’ve been reading lately

Summer has just flown by and as much as I'm ready for some lovely Fall weather, I'm trying to avoid thinking about Winter following close behind.  Summer doesn't tend to be a great reading season for me, but all of these are definitely worth a read.

 The Royal We[2]

Title:                  We Are Okay
Author:             Nina LaCour
This is a very strong book that didn’t fully connect for me. That may be partly by design. Marin, the MC, is dealing with a heavy dose of grief (and several other emotions that aren’t revealed to the reader until much later in the book). I felt the portrayal of grief was accurate, but it made it hard for me to connect with Marin. This is still a book I would recommend depending on the reader.
 The Dry

Title:                  Where'd You Go Bernadette
Author:             Maria Semple
LOVE, LOVE, LOVE! I started this on audio read by Kathleen Wilhoitte (Luke’s sister Liz on Gilmore Girls) and was immediately drawn into the story. It’s part eccentric, suburban mom drama / part disappearance mystery, but mostly it’s funny. I switched from listening to reading about 90 minutes in because I had to finish that day. There was no way I was going to sleep until I knew what happened.
 The Dry

Title:                  The Dry
Author:             Jane Harper
Reese Witherspoon acquired the movie rights to this book in October 2016. The book wasn’t released until March 2017. I really enjoyed the book and for what it’s worth think it will make an excellent movie. Excellent mystery, good characters, and probably the strongest sense of place I can remember feeling when reading. The setting felt tangible
 The Dry

Title:                  Mortal Heart
Author:             Robin LaFevers
I read Grave Mercy several years ago and really like it, so it’s surprising that it took so long for me to return for Dark Triumph and Mortal Heart. Both of these books held up to my expectations from Grave Mercy. I would say that Grave Mercy and Dark Triumph felt like YA Historical fiction with just a touch of Fantasy Mythology. Mortal Heart was much heavier on the Fantasy Mythology element.
 The Dry

Title:                  American War
Author:             Omar El Akkao
Very dark novel set 50-75 years into the future. Global Warming caused the oceans to rise and the fallout resulted in a second US civil war. This book mostly follows Sarat Chestnut as her family is displaced by conflict to a refugee camp. As dark as this novel and concept are, the tone wasn't grim and it didn't overuse foreshadowing. The author doesn't care if you know the end - what's important is the journey and I found it interesting and thought provoking.

What have you been reading lately? Answer in comments or if you have a blog post you can link up at Modern Mrs Darcy.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Clever Title About Closets Here

As I mentioned before, I live with my mom now.  One of the awesome things about the house Mom bought is that all the bedrooms are good sized. I’m not in the master and my room is 12 ft by 17 ft.  The bad news is that it does not have a walk in closet. I’m not saying the wall closet isn’t a good size, but about 2 feet of it is behind the wall and not very useable.  Also, can we all agree that bifold doors are a non-functional eyesore? 

The end result is that I only use about 4 ft of my closet.  You can see the mess in the area I can't reach.  That's where clothes, etc go to die.

Due to a reduction in closet space, I now have two dressers in my room instead of one.  The room is big enough for them, but it feels like too much wood on that wall with both of them and I’d love to be able to go back to a single dresser.

Did anyone notice this lovely panel in the closet pics?  That’s right, behind my closet is ATTIC space!

Now the roof line does start to slant down right where my closet ends, but I don’t need the whole closet to have 8 ft ceilings.  Since my Mom is planning to hire a contractor to redo one of the bathrooms and the kitchen anyway, I figure it can’t hurt to ask how much it would cost to expand my closet into currently unfinished space.

This is a picture from the hall (loft?) towards my bedroom.  Straight into my room is the closet and you can see how the roofline starts sloping down right where the closet ends.  From my rough measurements I believe I can go back at least 4 more feet and have the back wall still be at least 5 ft high.

Quick key to the following floor plan ideas: I have a million minor iterations for layout within the closet once the exterior structure is done, but what is shown in these is just a rough idea.  Clothing racks in gray scale are single hung at 5 ft.  Clothing racks in color are double hung at 6 ft.

Current Closet floor plan (2 ft by 9 ft - 18 sq ft) 

Option 1 – The bare minimum (36 sq ft)

Move the back wall back 2 ft and leave the existing bifold doors.  I would make about two more feet of hanging space usable and I could add a section of drawers/shelves.  There would be no disruption to the wall of my room and I’d leave the pull light alone. Technically, this doubles the size of the closet, but in terms of added storage space it doesn’t add that much.  It just means it would all be useable.

Option 2 – True Walk in with Pocket Door (72 sq ft)

Move the back wall back 4 ft.  Take out bifold doors, rebuild wall with pocket door to save space. In this scenario, the back wall would be 5 ft high.  Allowing for 2 ft for hanging clothes at that height.  This puts that ceiling height right in front of the clothes at least six and a half feet which is plenty for me and should work for most of the population.  In this scenario I would also add the electrical switch and change out the light fixture.  I’d also try to add an outlet to either the East or South wall (luckily the room is oriented so top is North - happy coincidence).

Option 3 – Fully maximize available space (84 sq ft)

So I'd been looking at the unused space to the left of the closet thinking, "Man, I want to use that!".  I just didn't see myself storing much in a dark corner.  Last night I had an epiphany, "Move the door!".  Epiphany might not be the right word because I'm not 100% sure that this door position would work with the sloping ceiling. As you can see in the picture below, that section of wall doesn't allow for a pocket door so the door would need to swing into the closet. I *think* a 80 in high by 30 wide door would clear, but it would be super close.
I definitely want to run it by someone who knows things.

If I did this option I could store all my clothes/shoes in the closet and still have empty space.  I mean 84 sq ft is overkill (it's like half a tiny house), but I feel like if I'm going to do it, I should go all out:)  

I'm sure that it will cost more than I'd like and I wish I was brave/skilled enough to DIY it. But, alas, I haven't even looked behind the panel into the attic to see what's going on back there so I think I'll have to leave this one to the professionals.  Has anyone ever finished an attic space with slanted roof lines?  Anything I should be prepared for?

Monday, August 7, 2017

Favorite Books I Read in 2016

It's almost August of 2017, but I'm doing a quick catch-up post of the best books I read last year. As I mentioned last week, 2016 wasn't a banner year in books for me, but there were still several winners.

Do you like Celebrity Memoirs? I do.

Talking as Fast as I Can: From Gilmore Girls to Gilmore Girls, and Everything in Between

Lauren Graham's memoir was everything I expected and more. She'd proven to me that should could write with her foray into fiction with Someday, Someday, Maybe. Talking as Fast as I Can was a fun insider's view of two of my favorite shows.

Scrappy Little Nobody
So funny and surprisingly insightful. I've now read it three times and every time I finish I go look for more of her movies to watch.

Have you ever heard of a Space Opera?

Illuminae (The Illuminae Files, #1)

I think I've seen movies that would be considered Space Opera's, but it's a sub-genre I wasn't really aware of until I read these two books. These are told in emails, journals, etc during a series of disasters in space in the future. I cannot overstate how much I love these and how bummed I am that Obsidio, the third and final book, was delayed until March of 2018.

Gemina (The Illuminae Files, #2)

Do you need a new favorite OTP (one true pair)?

The Hating Game

Far and away the best hate-to-love romance I've ever read. It's believable, adorable and funny. Biggest criticism is a lack of a sense of place. I have no idea what country this takes place in, let alone city.

Think you don't "get" literary fiction?

Fates and Furies

I don't have great luck with literary fiction, but I try to read one a year. I enjoyed this even thought it turns out I didn't "get" most of the references. This stands as a great story even if you aren't up on literary mythology.

Side note: After reading, I listened to Slate's Book Club Podcast where they discussed this book and found out I understood roughly 3-5% of the subtext. There was a lot going on I wasn't aware of.

There were other books I liked, but these were the biggest winners.