Chitter-chatter

Chitter-Chatter: Book Ratings – to be, or not to be: that is the question!

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Welcome to the ‘Chitter-Chatter‘ series. I’m so glad you are here.  

In case you have missed previous posts in this series, we are still talking about:

In today’s post, I would like us to talk about book ratings.

Or rather for them to be, or not to be: that is the question. 😊

I have been recently wondering how comparable these ratings are across different genres as well as how granular they really are. I mean if I incline towards 4 stars, but it’s not quite there, but then 3 ½ stars seem a bit low… I know, I am overthinking it.

How do you rate a coffee table book vs. a fantasy book? One will show you lovely images and could make your living space more enjoyable whereas the other one may get your heart pumping and could get you emotionally invested. Is it fair to rate the first lower than the latter because of perhaps a lack of emotional investment? I guess if you, as a book blogger, tend to stick to one genre, maybe this question becomes redundant. But I like to read a lot of non-fiction as well as fiction. And I’m starting to wonder if my non-fiction ratings are directly comparable to my fiction ratings…

What also bugs me the most is when my heart is in a conflict with my brain. That’s where I have not idea how to rate.

I’ll give you an example:

I finished reading The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah. I was fully emotionally invested, I cried a lot and my heart loved it. I gave it 5 stars on GoodReads straight after I finished it. Then I started thinking about it. And my dear brain told me: ‘ehm, the ending was rushed, it was a bit of a soap opera really, there were quite a few clichés… let’s give it 3 or 3 ½ if we are generous, shall we’? My heart is refusing to listen and wants to firmly stick to the 5-star rating.

So which rating shall I give it? Shall I average them? Or listen to my brain?

Ultimately all reviews are our opinions and are therefore subjective. I think describing our reasons for liking a certain book and then pointing out where it personally fell a bit short of us, seems quite fair to me.

We are reading Art. Is it fair to rate the work of art?

I honestly don’t know the answer to it yet.

But I am starting to incline towards writing a review which will leave a reader with my thoughts rather that with thoughts + a number.

I’m not saying we shouldn’t use ratings by the way, I’m just thinking out loud and trying to work out what would work the best for me.

If you enjoy giving your books ratings, please don’t feel judged. That’s not my intention at all.  


Let’s talk!

As I’m trying to figure it all out, I  will be very grateful for any of your advice.

I am especially keen to work out if:

  1. you listen to your heart
  2. you listen to your brain
  3. you listen to both of them

If your answer is 3), how do you then reflect that in your overall rating please?

I appreciate all your comments, they always make my day. 😊

Chitter-chatter

Chitter-Chatter: Reading Challenges and the Art of Failing

 

 

Reading Challenge

As some of you know, I’ve created a ‘Chitter-Chatter‘ series where we can talk about book related topics and which I started with a TBR list discussion. If you haven’t read it, you can check it out here.

I’ve decided to talk about Reading Challenges as that’s something that has been on my mind a lot lately as well.


Early in January this year, I set my first reading challenge. I wanted to be pushed and to read a lot. I pledged 100 books in the GoodReads 2018 challenge. The main reason being that I somehow miscalculated the amount of weeks in a year. 😳 Side note: I have a Maths degree…

After I was reminded that 100 books is not 3-4 books a month…. I freaked out a little as reading a new book every three days or so seemed impossible. And I sort of felt I was signing up for a failure. Then I decided to tackle it head on and read and read.

I was on track until early March when my reading pace slowed down. April was even a slower month reading-wise and GoodReads now cheerily reminds me I am quite behind.

I thought for a second of changing those 100 books to something more ‘doable’… like halving them.. I reasoned with ‘nobody knows, nobody notices’. That thought of avoiding a potential reading failure brought me a sense of relief. Interesting, isn’t it?

And then I though: “hang on a second. Someone will know. I will know.” And I may use that in future against myself. I could be very crafty when needed.

So I took a deep breath and accepted that I am quite likely to fail. I may get close, I may not or I may even successfully complete it. What is the worst that will happen? Well, I won’t meet my own expectations, that’s all.

What’s interesting about us not meeting our expectations is usually what we make it mean. It’s the stories we spin, especially if we make them about us, not our efforts.

Have you ever beaten yourself up after a certain “failure“? Have you talked to yourself harshly and has it demotivated you? Have you played it safe for a bit afterwards? Been there, done that.. many times.

I just read an interesting article that we should aspire to fail daily. So we become “good at it” and are willing to grow even more as we are willing to get involved in uncertain, uncontrollable scenarios. I love control. As a “recovering perfectionist” I’m learning how to let go. And it’s sometimes tough as this particular challenge reminded me. I guess I can now appreciate the effort vs the outcome. And that’s progress. Even though it sometimes doesn’t feel like it.

Do you have a reading challenge that is going breezily? How would you feel about doubling it?

You may say: come on, I won’t complete it then.

My answer? That’s exactly the point.

You don’t of course have to, especially if you are already being challenged with your current reading challenge as it is. I’m also not suggesting it so I am feeling better about my own challenge. It’s just a suggestion – what’s more interesting is to perhaps observe what thought popped in your head when I made that suggestion. That’s where the work usually starts..

I want us all to be comfortable with failing. I want to cheer each and every one of us when certain expectations of ours are not met. Let’s dare greatly and pick each other up when we fall.

Whatever you decide to do, I do wish you well in your challenge and sincerely hope you are having a very enjoyable reading year. 📚 💕


Chitter-Chatter Time

What do you think about Reading Challenges?

  • Do you have one?
  • If you do: how is it going?

And how do you feel about failing / not meeting your expectations about reading challenges or any other aspirations of yours?

Let me know in the comments below.

Monthly Wrap Up

April Wrap Up

In my March Wrap Up, I was somehow processing how quickly that particular month went by. I must admit this trend continues and I am still wrapping my mind around the fact that we are in May. 🙂 🙂

March was a fairly slow month reading-wise and April felt somehow even slower. It’s not that I wouldn’t enjoy reading at present. I just simply can not decide what I want to read, which usually results in me staring into nothingness and day dreaming instead. Not that I mind, it’s just a bit hard to write book reviews when you are actually not reading anything🤔

Anyhow, James and I took a week and half off work at the end of April and enjoyed our time off in Dartmoor National Park – a vast moorland in the county of Devon, in southwest England. It was a serene experience, we would wake up to bird songs, enjoy the tranquillity of moors where wild ponies kept us the only company. Our dog loved it as well and keeps on telling me that we need to book another holiday sometime soon. I better listen! 😉


I managed to read three books in April. I must admit that I loved them all and despite my slow reading pace, there were highly enjoyable reads.

  • Educated by Tara Westover, 5 stars  Review here

This was the book of the month for me.

Educated is a powerful testament of how we can choose to stop being defined by our past. It is a thought provoking memoir that left me with a strong feeling of unease long after I finished reading it.

I’m still thinking about this book and have a feeling it may become the book of 2018. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves… there are still many months to go… 😉

  • Tangerine by Christine Mangan, 4 stars  Review here

Tangerine is a psychological thriller that made me pause sometimes to fully digest what I just read. The relationship between two female protagonists was highly toxic and reading about it was unsettling at times. There were many mind games involved and I was engaged till the end.

  • The Year of Less by Cait Flanders, 4 stars  Review to follow next week

The Year of Less: How I Stopped Shopping, Gave Away My Belongings, and Discovered Life Is Worth More Than Anything You Can Buy in a Store” was another enjoyable read.

It is not a ‘How to’ guide but rather a memoir documenting a year long journey of a self imposed shopping ban. I have been following Cait’s blog for some time and really enjoy both her writing as well as her thought provoking topics. Its review is to follow next week, promise!


And that’s April done and dusted.

Now over to you my friends.

What was your favourite book you read in April?

Chitter-chatter

Chitter-Chatter: To Be Read (TBR) Lists

Chitter Chatter

I’ve been thinking about TBR lists for a while and decided to create a ‘Chitter-Chatter‘ series where we can talk about book related topics and which I can kick off with a TBR list discussion.


Some of you may recall that in my previous post, I mentioned my approach to owning things is in line with a philosophy of minimalism, I talked about mindful consumerism and how I’m trying not to feel owned by the things I own.

What I noticed whilst I was writing that post was that being owned by things may actually not mean only physical things. I think we could end up being owned by things that don’t physically exist or rather by certain expectations.

Closer to the end of last year, I started feeling uncomfortable about my TBR list.

Just looking at it started causing me anxiety. I felt like I could possibly never ever finish reading all of those books on that list. Rather than making me inspired and bringing me joy, my list became this dark and looming presence that screamed at me: “read faster, read more, keep up, you should add more books – you may be missing out”. I started that list when I joined GoodReads in 2012. And it grew since then. It grew much faster than what my reading pace was.

I started going through it in greater detail early this year and did not understand why some of those books actually made my list. It may have been a fear of missing out, it may have been an excellent review or a friend’s recommendation… or simply, my reading taste and preferences have just changed.

The list, with over 400 books on it, had to be minimised so I could feel I was in charge again.

I started deleting books one by one and it was a tedious process. And then I just could not be bothered anymore, took a deep breath and deleted it. Yes, very dramatic, I know. 🙂

I admit it was a radical solution and probably may not be for everyone. I reasoned with myself that if a book is meant to be then it would find me. I also rationalised that the amount of anxiety it would cost me to filter through that list, as I would end up obsessing for a long time if a particular book should go or stay, was just not worth it. It seemed like a sensible solution at the time.

Side note: I wonder sometimes if I accidentally deleted ‘The Book’… but at the same time, I got rid of that anxiety and that made it worth it overall.

What can you do if you feel like your TBR list is getting out of hand?

You could try following suggestions but ultimately, it is all an individual choice.

  • If you like a balanced approach, you could start with spring cleaning. We are now in the midst of spring so why not to prune your list a little via starting with your oldest titles (from the date you added them) and asking yourself – do I still want to read this book?

There are some great blog posts out there that talk about TBR lists’ spring cleaning.

One of my favourite ones has recently been written at The Orangutan Librarian’s blog  And if you don’t know that blog, I wholeheartedly recommend it for its wonderful posts. 🙂

  • You could also create several TBR lists.
    • You could create a short term TBR list, where books you want to read in the near future can wait.
    • Then you could have a mid term TBR list, where books you want to read in the next year or so can live.
    • And then there could be the one day TBR list. You know that day, when you will have lots of time and no work to do. 🙂

You could move books around these lists. Let’s say your short term list is ‘to read in the next three months’. If a book stays there longer than those three months, you could move it to the mid term list or even the one day list as it may just be something you are currently not keen to dive into.

And vice versa. Your one day book may become your short term book if it all of sudden starts appealing to you and you want to read it now. You could also put an arbitrary number on how many books you want to keep in those first two lists that is in line with your reading pace / time to read.

My inner organiser screams in delight about this idea. I like colour coding and organising everything. I may create different reading lists at some point but right now,  I have a relatively short list (under 20 books), which I constantly evaluate, so I am, rather than my TBR list, in control. 😉

  • Or you could just delete it and start a new one or…. not even have one at all. 😉

The idea of not having a TBR list somehow fills me with dread. Maybe I will do it one day so I could prove my TBR list that I am that BOSS I keep on telling it about. 😉


Whatever you do – there is no right or wrong way.

We, book lovers, know how precious those lists can be as books mean a lot to us. I am reminding myself that the purpose of my TBR is to serve me. As long as it does, it can stay. 😂

Happy reading everyone. ❤️


Chitter-Chatter Time

What do you think about TBR list?

  • Do you have one?
  • If you do: Do you maintain it or do you allow it to grow?
    • Do you spring clean?

Let me know in the comments below. 🙂