Bookish Memory Check

Hello everyone, happy Wednesday! As I was browsing blogs yesterday I found a post by Tanja of Where Stories Lie where she did a Bookish Memory Check. It looked like fun so I thought I’d try it. It works as follows:

  1. Go to your Goodreads ‘read’ shelf
  2. Sort by random
  3. Test your memory on the top five books

Tanja says:

Do you ever go through you ‘read’ shelf on GR and think “when did I read this? I don’t remember this one at all“? No? Well, maybe it’s just me. My memory isn’t exactly the best and most of the time I only remember the way I felt while reading a certain book, but not the details of the plot – and definitely not the character names. Of course, there are plenty of books that I adore and I can tell you exactly what happens in them, but that’s the exception and not the rule.

Tanja of Where Stories Lie

My memory is also not the best sometimes and I do wonder how this will translate to books I read a long time ago. I currently have 459 books in my Read shelf on Goodreads so let’s see how it goes!

Now this is an amazing list for my first try!
First Book Memories: The first book is It by Stephen King. WOW how can anyone forget having read this book!? What impresses me is that I read this in 2017! Almost four years ago while I lived in Mexico. It was amazing in so many ways. There are scenes that are still embedded in my brain and there’s nothing that can get them off. So this book is about a group of kids living in a town when all of a sudden strange things start happening to them. Some of them have apparitions of birds chasing them, basically the thing that most scares them in the world starts haunting them. Now I could very well be mixing up the book, the first movie that was released, and the more recent two movies. Each version had subtle but distinct differences. What I do know is that It was unsettling and gave me a couple of nightmares here and there. To this day I can’t see an old fridge out of place (like in the middle of the road, side of the street, in an alley) because I feel really queasy (if you know, you know).

After reading blurb/my own review: Okay so the irony is that this book is about how memories from childhood are fuzzy and sometimes gone altogether! I didn’t mention the clown, Pennywise up top because it is kind of a given and even in my review I don’t mention it. Pennywise came in many forms in the book while in the movies it was the main form of It so I can see why I didn’t think of the clown first. I even have an It poster in my office! This is not a book that I’d read again just because of how long it took to read. Also, having experienced the story in three different ways I feel like I’m okay.

Second Book Memories: My friend Cass recommended Emma by Francisco Hinojosa to me! She described it as Harry Potter but with a female protagonist and also by a Mexican author, I think? I do remember it was something like a satire where it did mirror a lot of the wizarding world but also made fun of it. I remember I didn’t like it as much as I wanted to like it. But that was 2014! I wonder what I would think now… I don’t actually have that book with me, it is probably in Mexico somewhere? Or did I just borrow it? XD No idea! I also don’t have any photos of it to show…

After reading blurb/my own review: ::dies laughing:: !!!!! Well I did NOT remember that at all! Apparently this book IS set at a magical school but they teach the main character Emma, who is a virgin (of course!) about sexual education, masturbation, pornography, aphrodisiac foods, and such. In my review I say that it has nothing to do with Harry Potter apart from the setting and a couple “interesting” references. My issue was that it wasn’t well written and that the book could have been written without trying to be a parody of Harry Potter. I’m still laughing because how could I NOT remember that?! Well, it has been 7 years wow. XD

Third Book Memories: The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt….I did NOT like this book, I remember that much. I think I read it with a book club? Can’t remember which one…. I remember that the first few chapters of the book where really impactful, a lot of interesting things happened there but after that the book just went super slow and had so many unnecessary deviations to the plot. I think I just don’t like that trope of “oh, we miscommunicated that’s why this whole mess happened” when it would have been super easy and obvious to communicate properly…. Granted, some are more successful at using that trope than others.

After reading blurb/my own review: Right! This book won the Pulitzer in 2014…. why? Yes, I remember now that it was unnecessarily long… 774 pages! The book is about Theo and his journey after surviving a very traumatic event that involves a painting of a goldfinch. Throughout the book Theo just makes a lot of bad decisions and the really interesting stories are sort of in the background. Overall, this book was triggering for my anxiety and overall mental health so I can see why I did not enjoy it much.

PS. I started Ulysses and about 10 pages into it I gave up XD

Fourth Book Memories: The Spark by David Drake. Okay, I got this book in an Owlcrate box! I remember it had all the annotations from the author as well. It was a cool world where traveling from town to town you had to go through these areas of mist or fog and so usually one would do the journey with someone. The plot was…. a young man had to travel to the see the king for…. something… ha! I think I enjoyed the book but it wasn’t that memorable, clearly.

After reading blurb/my own review: Ooookay not an Owlcrate box, a Page Habit box! XD Oooops. And apparently I enjoyed it a lot more than I remembered. Some of it is coming back though! Pal is a farmer who basically wants to become a Champion of the King. So he travels to the castle in order to go through the trials to become one. It’s a very rich and well-built world that didn’t just involve a normal guy becoming a knight magically, he has to actually grow and learn in order to become a Champion. It really was a well written book and an author that I wanted to read more, especially since it’s the type of science fiction I don’t normally read.

I don’t have a photo of the book but here’s how Jurassic Park is still a big thing in my life to this day. These are three Christmas tree decorations that I absolutely love ❤

Fifth Book Memories: !!!!!! Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton!!! I love this book so much. So I saw the movie when I was very young and I loved it. I remember my grandma telling me to not watch it because I’d get nightmares but I didn’t get nightmares hahaha I became obsessed with dinosaurs because of this book and also my uncle who also loved dinosaurs. Anyways, this book is NOT like the movie, it’s much more cruel and realistic in quite a few ways. I remember that a lot more people die in the book and the characters are a bit different than the movie. Ian Malcolm is one of the best characters ever, both in the book and in the movie(s). (Note to self: This might be a good blog post, re-read the Jurassic Park books, watch the movies, and compare!)

After reading blurb/my own review: So first of all…. I read it in Spanish! Of course, they were my uncle’s copies, that’s why. I definitely need to get my hands on copies for myself now. And I didn’t write a review for this book on Goodreads because I read it a very long time ago! I remember this one pretty well!

So, out of these 5 books that took me down memory lane, I really want to re-read Jurassic Park! I will never re-read It, it was just too long XD Instead I do feel like reading another Stephen King book. The Goldfinch is one I also don’t need to read again, didn’t like it, no need to go there again. The Spark does have some potential and I saw that there is a sequel so I could check that out if I want to read something else by the same author. Emma is one that is more interesting than I remembered but I don’t have any strong feelings about it either way.

What a great exercise! I might do one of these a couple times a year or so since I did have so much fun with this one. Thank you to Tanja for creating this and sharing her experience!

Dewey’s 24 hr Read-A-Thon — April 24, 2021

This weekend I took part in Dewey’s 24hr Readathon. I live on the West Coast so I got to start at 5am. Glorious! -_-‘ I am not normally one to get up early but I wanted to actually do this and get some reading done this Saturday so I set my alarm to get up at 4:30am. wow.

But first I needed to prep! The week before I put together the following TBR:

As you can see these are pretty varied books, from romance to fantasy! Overall a fun pile of books! I had already started The Duke and I and read one story from Smoke and Mirrors but that’s alright.

My day started at 4:30am with some Overnight Oats (Mint Chocolate Chip). This is not an ad but I loooooove Overnight Oats.

I started out in my office couch with kitty and The Duke and I by Julia Quinn.

And so I read for a good couple of hours on the couch! The Duke and I is rather steamy and spicy so it was very easy to just read and keep reading. The tension and the chemistry between Simon and Daphne were definitely tangible through the pages and, even after seeing the series on Netflix I did enjoy the way that the book focused more on the two of them instead of all the other characters.

At around 8am my sister brought me some caffeine in the form of an Orange Peel Mocha from the local coffee shop:

Once I had the caffeine in my system I just kept reading through the morning (I also had a jalapeño bagel for more fuel) and moved to a different couch (ha!). I finished The Duke and I at around noon and my thoughts on that were very mixed! On the one hand I definitely loved the more intimate look at the Bridgerton family and the discussion on childhood trauma and the effect on someone’s life. However, there was a sexual assault scene that I was very uncomfortable with soooooooo yeah that changed things. I ended up giving this book 3 stars because it was definitely very entertaining and fun to read but a key part of the book was just very uncomfortable for me so I couldn’t give it more than that.

For the next book I moved outside!

I started out The Rain of God by Arturo Islas and it was a difficult read for me. Not because it was badly written or anything but because it hit home! It is all about a Mexican American family plus their experience living in a small town near the border of the US and Mexico. There are so many parts of this book that are heavy and really quite painful. There is violence, emotional and physical abuse, cheating, hypocrisy, just a lot. Because of that, after a carne asada dinner with my family I took a bath and listened to an audiobook.

Between the World and Me was amazing and so so important!

So yes, I strayed from the TBR but is that news? XD I had already started listening to the audiobook for Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates and so I listened to the last 2 hours of the book. This was also my first ever audiobook and I absolutely loved it. This was a good break for my eyes aaaand I was able to open up a package that I got that day that was full of stationery and stickers, a mystery bag from Stickii while I listened to the audiobook.

After I finished unboxing I sat and listened to Between the World and Me. It was honestly a great experience to hear the author himself narrate the book. It’s a powerful story that he’s telling his son, about what it means to be a black man and carry the weight of always being on alert. Is he doing all the right things in order to preserve his body intact? The contrast of him going to France where he doesn’t have to do that is startling. As a woman I identified with some of the aspects of always being on guard, saying the right things, wearing the right clothes, etc. His perspective serves as a window into what it’s like to live as a black man in the United States and one that I would like to continue learning about in order to be a better ally for black people.

After finishing this book I took a bit of a break and then continued reading The Rain God. I came back into the office where I started my day, put on some music and finished the book in the next few hours. Each chapter in the book is about a different member of the family. One of the chapters is about Felix, a gay man who is beaten to death. Why is it that so many people, people of color, people who have different sexual orientations, people who practice different religions, always have to live as others say they should live? This readathon put these two books in parallel for me, characters in The Rain God have to assimilate into American culture, which means thinking less of people browner than them, people who don’t speak English “properly”, etc. We are all part of the obstacle that stands in front of people who simply want to live their lives as they are. If anything, these books taught me to listen and read more of these stories to be able to see from other perspectives, even if it is so so hard to do so. For it isn’t easy to learn about so many black people being murdered by police and it’s also not easy to read about Mexican people like me who are prejudiced of other Mexican people who are simply trying to survive.

And so I called it a night at around 11pm. Although the readathon was not over I was very much done for the day. I rated these last two books 5 stars each! They both gave me a lot to think about and have motivated me to learn more while still trying to enjoy my reading.

So, in the end I finished 3 books, read a total of ~13.5 hours and read 640 pages! I call that a WIN. I also got BINGO for the Bingo Challenge! I didn’t describe what each challenge was for but you can see it below:

Pink = The Duke and I
Blue = The Rain God
Purple = Between the World and Me

And that was my experience with Dewey’s 24 hr Readathon this weekend! I did have a good book hangover all Sunday ha! I slept in and just kept pondering about all the books. Also I had two book club meetings that day: one with my friends from Mexico, we are reading Obsidian Puma by Zoe Saadia, and the other with the Questbridge Alumni book club where we read Beloved by Toni Morrison. All in all a big reading weekend!

Did you participate in the Dewey’s 24 hr Readathon? Have you read any of the books I mentioned here?

Annotating books

There’s this question among the reading community: do you write in your books? Do you make notes, highlight, or otherwise mark the books in your library? If so, why?

You could say that my journey exploring these questions started in high school. At the time we had to read a book in class for which we would eventually have to write an essay or where we would have to remember specific facts for a future exam on said book. Our teacher would give us each a random copy of the book from the school library. Most would hope for a nice and clean book, a brand new one, but others wanted those that had been written on, those that had the answers that would be on the test clearly marked (one less thing to think about right?). I always wanted the clean book, and I would never write on the book because then other people could cheat if they got my book! The outrage! And what’s the point in that right? Our teachers allowed us to put post it notes on our assigned book and we would later have to remove said post its, so that’s what I would do. At this point I didn’t see writing on books as a good thing, which is definitely true as schools have few supplies and they need the books to last for as long as possible.

At that point the only books I owned were the first four Harry Potter books. I never wrote in them even though they were almost falling apart from the countless times I read them. I didn’t even think about writing in them because that would stain them, deface them, make them less valuable right?

Then I’m off to college, where I actually buy (very expensive) books for various classes and I just write left and right in them because that’s what is encouraged. If your book is blank you didn’t do the work, but careful on highlighting everything because then you are also not doing it right! That’s where I learned to highlight the important and crucial parts, writing key words on the margins. I read Frankenstein by Mary Shelley a couple of times, either the whole thing or specific parts of the book for various classes in college, it now looks like this:

Screen Shot 2018-06-06 at 20.55.03
Ah yes, specific underlining, boxing keywords, quotations highlighted and passages marked with post its! The different colors also signify the different times I read this book. 

The annotations are concise and when I look back I see the themes that I would use in the essays I would write. I can see the quotations I picked to back my points. It’s a very useful and good way to keep thoughts straight for such projects, but they lacked something I had yet to discover.

After college I didn’t write in my books once again, I thought that non-academic reading didn’t need and shouldn’t have any annotations involved. It was for pleasure, I just wanted to know the story and move on. Which, after four years of essays and analysis, was totally justified. I didn’t go back to writing in my books and in fact, I felt a complete aversion to doing so until I read The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood. The Blind Assassin was filled with words I needed to look up and phrases that I loved! It took all I had and I grabbed the lightest colored pencil I could find and started writing in the margins and underlining some phrases. And then, I saw this video:

Yep, I agreed with (almost) all she had to say on the subject and my mind was forever changed! I want my library to be mine, I want my copy of Margaret Atwood’s The Blind Assassin to be unlike any other because it has my thoughts on it too. Then I also shared my copy with one of my best friends and she started annotating it too. So now it’s even more special because it will have both of our thoughts on it. No other copy in the world is the same.

Here are some examples of different ways that the books in my library are marked as well as some of the tools I use to mark them:

Now, how do you clearly mark a book as yours? Well, you put your name on it! ha! I learned about the use of ex libris many years ago but only in 2016 did I start adding my signature and some kind of mark to my books, signifying that they are from my library.

Another way that some books in my library are marked is with dedications. Some books are given to me by friends or family and I always insist that they write a dedication somewhere in there. This is partly because I want to remember that a book was given to me by someone and it changes the significance of that book, even before I read it. I have a few of those and although I don’t show those annotations here, believe me when I say that they are special.

Among the types of annotations I make now, most are simple highlighting of phrases that I like or that are especially powerful. Some are doodles and drawings, smiley faces, hearts, various emoji that show my reactions to a particular passage.

Yes yes, we can do this in an ebook (kinda), here are my annotations for The Goldfinch, which had plenty of them since it was a book club pick and I had strong opinions about it…

As you can see my highlights and notes are color coded and organized. But I don’t easily go to my Kindle app to go through these notes. (Unless I’m writing a blog about it XD)

Now, when I find books at thrift stores that are annotated I truly cherish them because they are unique. They are hours that an author spent on the book but also hours that someone spent reading and marking that book with their thoughts and emotions as they read.

Jazz by Toni Morrison. Annotated by what seems like two different people. Look at the different annotation styles, how it all fills the page margins. Unfortunately I lost this copy when my bookbag was stolen a couple of years ago. 😦

To end this post I’ll say this, love your books the way you like. If you want to keep them pristine so be it! If you want to write in them, doodle, make them works of art with paint, do so! I believe that everyone’s book collection is special as a whole already because each person dedicated time to put it together on their shelves.

Do you annotate your books? What are your opinions on this?