Banning Bookstores: Catching my TBR pile

I’M ACTUALLY CATCHING UP ON MY READING. This is the true meaning of adulthood!

I added a cat for reference. You're welcome

I added a cat for reference. You’re welcome

Throughout college, my for fun to-be-read pile was put aside due to my required reading for classes. Instead of Neil Gaiman, H.P. Lovecraft and Roxane Gay, I was busy reading Shakespeare, Anne Lamott, and…well H.P. Lovecraft (you know, Gothic Literature). Of course, my college reading didn’t stop me from going to bookstores and buying way more books than I could possibly read while in school. Over the years, my to-be-read pile got a little out of hand. It is an accomplishment to be able to actually photograph all the books I need to read.

Since my graduation, I have banned myself from bookstores until I actually read the books I have accrued over the past 4 years. I made exceptions for books I had been waiting on to be published, like Amanda Palmer’s The Art of Asking, but other than that, no book buying at all.

I am determined to lessen the amount of books on my shelf going unread. If you’d like to join me in decreasing the amount of unread books on your shelf, we can do this together! Comment below for support, goodness knows I need it.

Multi-Reading: Tips for reading multiple books at once

The titles from right to left: THE CANTERBURY TALES, GERALD OF WALES, THE WOMAN IN WHITE, THE SLIPPERY ART OF BOOK REVIEWING, THE FOREST FOR THE TREES, and THE CELTS

The titles from right to left: THE CANTERBURY TALES, GERALD OF WALES, THE WOMAN IN WHITE, THE SLIPPERY ART OF BOOK REVIEWING, THE FOREST FOR THE TREES, and THE CELTS

I have always struggled with reading more that one book at a time. I can do it, but I find my mind stretching to remember all the events, ideas, and themes of each novel/article/whatever. There are people, however, that read multiple books  at the same time for pleasure, like Leigh Kramer who writes a blog about reading an astounding EIGHT books at once! A round of applause for you, Leigh.

Keren Threlfall argues that reading multiple books at once, “…keeps material fresh and new” and three to five books at the same time is about perfect. I admire that so much, but I haven’t figured out how do it!

While in college, you need to read many things at once. It is a necessity. No matter your major, different classes force you to constantly be reading different novels, articles, textbooks, websites, who knows what else.

And it matters because I want everything I read to make an impact. I want all of the novels I read for school or fun or just for knowledge to matter. To sink in. For that to happen, I need time to read them.It doesn’t help that I am a slow reader by nature.

I have a few tips on how to read more than one book at a time that I have discovered through much trial and error.

1. Make them as different as you can.

The more different the genres are, the easier it will be to separate them in your mind. Fantasy vs. Nonfiction. Young Adult Fiction vs. Biographies. Male Main Characters vs. Female Main Characters. Novel vs. Play. Pairing books in this way will not only help you keep them straight, but provide a nice break between genres. If you’re getting tired of one genre, you have another one to go to for a reprieve. Sometimes, books for classes aren’t that varied. Do the best you can. Divide British authors and American authors, get creative!

2. Schedule certain days to read certain books.

Collegiate life requires a planner. At least, it does for me.I know there have been times I am in 3 different literature/English classes that all require a tremendous amount of reading. It can be daunting. Dedicate a few days out of the week for specific reading materials.

A sneak peak at my unorganized organization method.

A sneak peak at my unorganized organization method.

Maybe Monday and Wednesday you read that one novel. Tuesdays and Thursdays you read that one play. And the weekends you can dedicate to that book you really want to read for fun or that other novel you’re supposed to be reading. Or maybe that journal article. Sometimes, there is no room to schedule out reading like this, and you just have to wing it. You must make time for it though. If you don’t, you’ll drown.

This method was helpful for me because, first of all, this keeps you organized. Unless you are one of those people who can be disorganized and happy. That’s fantastic, and I’m jealous. Second of all, this helps you block out time to read. Really a life saver.

There are a lot of scheduling softwares and tools out there for you, but my favorite? A good old paper planner and pencil. Works every time.

3. Mix excitement and boredom.

This tip requires a lot of self-discipline. Pairing up a book that you are excited to read with a book that is super boring is a great way to balance things out. BUT. You have to stick to your schedule. Read the exciting book, and prolong the anticipation/love affair by getting a little on the side from a boring one. But you must actually read the boring one.

These three things have helped me master the art of reading an astonishing TWO books at the same time. Look, it’s an accomplishment. Just be happy for me.

If you have any more tips, please comment. I would love to get up to three books at the same time by the end of the year.

Acts of Literary Citizenship: A Twitter Adventure

For the past week, Haley Muench and I were put in charge (yikes) of the @LitCitizen twitter account.

Running social media for myself is one thing. Running a Twitter account for a broad concept which has a strong community is quite another. We needed a plan. We needed to figure out what the community wanted to know about, what they wanted to know from us.

Have you ever tried to figure out what people you haven’t even met want from you? It’s some pretty difficult stuff.

Then, we thought of Acts of Literary Citizenship. These are actions that people can take to show their dedication and passion for the literary world. After all, what good is a passion for something if it isn’t shared?

As our professor, Cathy Day‘s, class has evolved,  a list of about 40 Literary Citizenship Acts were already compiled. We added about 10 more due to our twitter experiment, and I think they are pretty brilliant.

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Just think.

If people would do one of these acts once a month, the entire literary world would benefit. Being a writer myself, I understand how vital having a supportive community can be. So many writers give up on dreams (and possibly extremely wonderful books) because they feel like they don’t have a shot. All it takes is one person to say, “Hey, this doesn’t suck.”

Literary citizens and these acts of literary citizenship could change the life of an author (and therefore the life of a book).

Thanks to the wonderful additions to our list from our witty followers, we are now up to 50 Acts of Literary Citizenship. As a class, we hope to have 100 by the end of the semester. Which means, we may need your help. If you have an action that would help spread the word about authors, books, artists, or freaks, let us know in the comments below.

We’d love to hear from you.

Help Artists be Artists, but Keep Your Secrets

Artists need other artists. We just do. Otherwise, who else will encourage us to drop everything we’re doing and chase a caravan of gypsies? Or buy a cat for the sole reason that when it walks across the keyboard, maybe it will come up with something brilliant?

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This is the one I chose. A little useless, but he’ll get the hang of it.

Literary citizenship is about helping artists be artists. We need support. Without it, too many promising people give up on their dreams. In order to support those people, we have to speak out! Talk about the anchor sculpture made of chewed gum and the book that made you cry.

As a senior in college, I have accepted my fate as a confused and lost soul in the world of politics and rules and professionalism (but I’m very capable). I am in the reminiscence stage, remembering what I’ve learned and where I have come from. One of the greatest memories I have is of creative writing workshops in class. Other writers, just like myself (meaning new and still gooey), would tell me all kinds of skills to improve and techniques to try. The realization that outside of the University no one cares dawned on me pretty quickly.

What will I do without my classroom full of wonderful minds to help me sculpt and pick and sift through my work?! How will I survive?! BUT WAIT, there’s Social Media. And of course books such as Steal Like an Artist by Austin Kleon.

Literary citizenship is about being connected. TALK to people on the Internet and try to help them with whatever it is they need help with. Share techniques and ideas and motivation. SHARE ALL THE THINGS.

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Except maybe your secrets. Keep your secrets. Keep the tricks that make your craft soar. Keep it secret. Keep it safe.

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