Long versus short: opinions please!

I recently read a book with really short chapters.  Normally I don’t pay attention to this sort of thing, but these chapters were so noticeably short that I noticed it.  Some were only a page or two, though a few were longer at 10 pages or so.  

As I never really noticed chapter size before (I am perfectly fine stopping in the middle of a chapter, page or even sentence), I never really had an opinion on which I preferred.  I knew others had an opinion, and I swear most of the BookTubers I follow have said they prefer shorter chapters. 

As a child my dad would be all ‘you have to go to bed after you finish that chapter’ but it was always Harry Potter with massive chapters and 90% of the time I had just started the new chapter so got to stay up like another hour.  

However, this book that I read with short chapters showed me that I actually prefer longer chapters.  Short chapters have the opposite effect on me then they seem to have on other people.  Others like that short chapters make them feel like they are making progress in the novel as each chapter is another part of the novel you got through.  For me, however, short chapters make me feel like I am getting nowhere.  The chapter ends but it has only been two pages.  It makes the book feel longer to me whereas after a long chapter I feel like I have gotten somewhere and made progress.  Some people like the book being broken up more often, but since I can stop in the middle of a chapter, that doesn’t really effect me as much as others.  

So, what is your opinion on the matter?  Do you prefer long or short chapters?  Is there other reasons for liking one over the other that I have not considered?

2017 Goals Check-in

It’s about midway through the year, which is a good time to check in on how things are progressing, goals-wise.  Perhaps make adjustments as needed.  Plus I honestly didn’t know what half my goals for this year were until I looked back at them.

1. Continue on with this Book Blogging thing 

I had a bit of a blog post slump in the second quarter (new job has me thinking in quarters now…) but I seem to be back on track.  I’m not forcing myself to post and have been posting less then previously, but there is new content on my blog.  Overall, doing good here.

2. Clear out my drafts file  

My drafts file is still a mess, even though I deleted a few posts I wasn’t going to get to last night.  But I’m thinking on how to push some out now that I’m back into the swing of things with this blog.  There’s still time for this one. 

3. Keep the number of books on my Goodreads ‘To-read’ list under the number of books in my ‘Read’ list

This goal was basically a mess to start with, but I’m still achieving it?  Basically I want to try and manage the number of books I have listed in my to-read list on Goodreads.  I have become a bit bored with BookTube and more fussy with what I add to my to-read.  Coupled with a good, steady reading mojo and periodic purging of that list and my to-read list has been fairly steady this year, sitting at just over 200, which is where I would ideally like it to be.  

4. Make better reviews 

I never specified whether this was strictly blog reviews or both blog and Goodreads, so I’m not sure if I’m achieving this goal.  My Goodreads reviews are about the same or worse and I haven’t really posted any reviews on this blog this year.  However, I have made a conscious effort to review audiobooks whenever I listen to one, as I feel this is needed in the community, so in that aspect I am doing well.  Otherwise, I need to reassess this goal and work more actively on it.  

5. Reduce the number of unread books on my bookshelf by half (of the total number I started the year with; aka have 6 or fewer unread books by year end)

If you have seen my TBR check-in posts I have gone through how I’m doing with this goal.  In sum: I’ve read a bunch of my owned, unread books but have also bought more.  Thus overall I’m at the same spot that I started and still have 6 more books to read by year end.  

6. A tough one: Stop feeling so guilty about not reading.  Conversely, stop feeling so guilty about reading.  

Funny enough, this goal is not needed anymore.  My Big Life Change TM at the beginning of the year (that messed with my blogging ability for a while) cleared away my reading guilt.  Since then I have increased my reading to a steady 5 or 6 books a month and not been guilty about reading or not!  I’m very happy about this.

There was no specific Goodreads goalbut I’m killing it anyway.  I wanted to read around 50 books in the year but wasn’t going to force myself to meet that goal.  So far I’ve read 32 and on track to read over 60 this year, something that is mind boggling to me!  The past 7 years I was in university where I wasn’t able to read and school and now I can read, guilt free, to the tune of over 60 books in a year!

Some goals I’m achieving without really thinking and committing to it:

a) More varied books:  I have read several non-fiction books this year and have enjoyed them.  I plan to continue this.  Also, I haven’t snubbed contemporary as much and read books I typically would not consider. 

b) Reviewing and empathising audiobooks.  

c) Attempting to read more and acknowledge indy and self-published books.

Overall, I’m doing well but need to reassess and commit more energy to a few goals.  One thing I want to commit to by the end of the year is finding some new favourites.  I have rated most of the books highly this year but overall have felt the books I have read were average as none have really grabbed me and I would have trouble making a list of my favourite books, something I do at the end of each year.  

Middling Ten

Books read:

21. Learning to Swear in America by Katie Kennedy     4.5/5 Stars

22. Every Girl’s Dream by Meg Cabot     4/5 Stars

23. Games Wizards Play by Diane Duane     4/5 Stars

24. Tortall and Other Lands by Tamora Pierce (various narrators)     5/5 Stars

25. Proposal by Meg Cabot     4.5/5 Stars

26. Lireal by Garth Nix (Tim Curry)     4/5 Stars

27. The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern    2.5/5 Stars

28. Remembrance by Meg Cabot    4/5 Stars

29. Famous in Love by Rebecca Serle     4.5/5 Stars

30. Matilda by Roald Dahl (Kate Winslet)    5/5 Stars

Average Rating: 4.2

Audiobooks: 3

Re-reads: 2

Indy/self-published: 0

Reviewed on Blog: 0

Bookshelf TBR: 4

Comments:

Fewer audiobooks in this section for a few reasons.  I’ve wanted to enjoy the walk and my thoughts more in the past few weeks so I haven’t been listening to them as much.  There are several that I want to read right now but they have long waiting lists.  Also, now that I’m a bit more adjusted to my new work schedule I have been reading more physical books and wanting to read more books off my shelf, which leads to fewer audiobooks.

That being said, I have bought many more books that I have not read which affects my goal to reduce by unread bookshelf books to under 6.  There are 2 posts coming up that are an update to said goal.  

I’m doing really well with the amount of books I have read so far this year.  I’m averaging more then a book a week, which I’m pleased with.  Looking at the numbers, since I started working my new job I’ve been reading 5 or 6 books a month, whereas the first 3 months I read maybe 3 books a month.  A great improvement and it means I should read well over 50 books this year!  I’m so happy about this. 

Blog-wise things were slow while I was adjusting to life but have picked up the past few weeks.  I’ll see how this thing goes but I want to keep it going but with fewer blog posts out a month.  I do want to post more reviews on this blog but the books I have been reading recently I haven’t had too much interesting to say and have not bothered with a lengthy review.  However, if you want to know what I’m up to in the book world and read shorter reviews of the books I read, you are more then welcome to friend or follow my Goodreads, which I keep pretty up-to-date.  

Finally, while it does look like I’ve had a great reading month with most of the books being 4 stars or higher, I feel like many of the books I have read are meh and that nothing has really gripped my this year.  Perhaps I need to start picking different types of books or maybe I’m just really picky lately.  

The Martian by Andy Weir

I read this book and a few weeks later I watched the movie, so I will be commenting on both because I found that the movie influenced how I felt about the book.  I also listened to part of the audiobook and will comment briefly on that.  

The Book

Reviews on this book consistently talk about how it is very technical and most didn’t like that aspect of it.  Being a scientist I thought I wouldn’t mind this as much as non-scientists would.  However, I did find it very technical which slowed down reading.  I found the technical parts interesting as it made it vary clear the types of problems Mark had to face and how smart he was and how he had to think things through if he was going to survive, but there was one part where NASA spent an age describing what they wouldn’t do because it wouldn’t work before going into what they would do.  This does not seem like a thing NASA would do because they have a limited time to talk to Mark and they need to get to the point quickly.  Also my science brain wanted to look over all the calculations to see if they were right as I was reading them.  

Talking about how things would go talking to NASA, I found a lot of the questions asked (on both sides) were not very intelligent and would not have been asked as they did not add to the what you need to know right now to fix the situation.  That being said, I do like that there was a ‘daily Mark update’ news show in the book and that NASA was a part of it.  It is easy to imagine that this sort of thing would happen if it was real life.

I loved the characters, but did find Mark a bit too ‘happens to know the exact right thing every time he gets into a bind’.  He always seemed to know the exact right stats and information to figure out any problem.  Astronauts do need to be smart and train for this sort of thing, but it seemed a stretch with the sheer amount of knowledge he just knew without looking it up.  I did appreciate that Mark was allowed to be emotional about his situation.  He was allowed to cry when he got into contact with earth again.  At the time of reading the book I felt he was a little to unprofessional to be an astronaut, but reading ‘Failure is not an Option’ after I read this book, I am relenting on this a little.  The rest of the cast was surprisingly large and diverse, which I liked.  You also got to see some of the side characters develop over time.  Additionally, the way the characters react to the situation is very realistic.  

Just thinking about the amount of money that was spent to get him back is staggering, yet at the same time, it’s not too hard to image that money being spent.  Perhaps not being forked out by the government, but being raised by private citizens?  I can imagine that. 

This book was super funny and had great ‘comedic timing’.  The book would switch between PoV when a polar opposite then what was expected thing was happening.   The writing was not the most sophisticated, but I got over that quickly and learned to love it. The book did drag in the middle and follow a trend of ‘something went wrong, Mark fixed it, something went wrong, Mark fixed it’ a bit too much for my taste, but again, realistic. I do think there were a few inconsistencies in the book, but nothing that really dragged the text down.  Finally, for the first third of the book everyone pinched their chin constantly, which was a great irritation to me.   

The Audiobook

I didn’t listen to much of the audiobook, but the main two things I have to comment on, was that the audiobook I listened to (I’m not sure if there is a different English version) did not match the text of the book.  That is the main reason I didn’t stick with the audiobook.  Finally, I did like the narrator of the audiobook, even if I didn’t listen to much of the book. 

The Movie

Weirdly, while I found the book too technical, the movie was not technical at all and that irritated me.  I felt the lack of the constant calculations and considerations in the movie didn’t show how dire the situation was and how much needed to be considered and how smart Mark was.  Also, while for the most part the movie followed the book, towards the end when they needed to cut things out for time they cut some of my favourite parts!  I wanted to see Mark deal with the sand storm among other things.  However, the final scene they added to the movie was lovely.  

Overall

I loved the book and I liked the movie.  The only thing I would have changed is to see how Mark’s parents dealt with certain critical situations.  

The first ten eleven

Books Read: 

1. Gemina by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff     5 Stars

2. Beauty Queens by Libba Bray (Libba Bray)     1 Star

3. Eve: the Awakening by Jenna Moreci     2.5 Stars

4. Ready Player One by Ernst Cline (Wil Wheton)     2.5 Stars

5. Working Stiff: Two Years, 262 Bodies, and the Making of a Medical Examiner by Dr. Judy Melinek and T.J. Mitchell (Tanya Eby)     4 Stars

6. Queen of the Tearling     Erika Johansen     4 Stars

7. The Martian by Andy Weir     4.5 Stars

8. First Test by Tamora Pierce (Bernadette Dunne)     5 Stars

9. Page by Tamora Pierce (Bernadette Dunne)     5 Stars

10. Squire by Tamora Pierce (Bernadette Dunne)     5 Stars

11. Lady Knight by Tamora Pierce (Bernadette Dunne)     5 Stars

Average Rating: 3.95

Audiobooks: 7 (Narrators in brackets after author name)

Re-reads: 5

Indy/self published: 1.5 (The Martian was originally Indy published, but is now traditionally published due to the response, so I give that a 0.5 rating)

Number of books reviewed on this blog: Currently 3 are formally reviewed, with another one reviewed in an atypical fashion.  I have plans for an audiobook-centric review of the Protector of the Small Quartet that should be up soon.  Finally, I have 2 reviews to write for Goodreads that I don’t plan to have on here, but might end up that way.  

Comments: 

It seems I’m more likely to review books on this blog I didn’t like (Beauty Queens, Ready Player One and Eve: The Awakening) then those that I do like.  I’m trying to be better about this and to review the good and the bad always, but I can improve.  Additionally, books like Gemina, being in the middle of series, are less likely to get reviews because I prefer to do a series review for second books and on wards.  Regardless, I review every book in some form on Goodreads (she says, knowing that she is currently behind in 2 reviews, outside of the Tamora Pierce re-reads).

I have been trying to make a conscious effort to review the audiobook as well as the book when I read audiobooks since audiobooks and their narrators need more love.  Plus it’s good information for people to have.  I read many audiobooks in section of my reading, partially because I was unpacking, which is a good task to listen to audiobooks to, and without internet for a time. 

Love Tamora Pierce and was in the mood for something familiar because of a move and the stress of that and a new job (plus lack of internet).  Also it seems that March and April are times of the year I really need to re-read some or all of her books, or so Facebook’s look back feature tells me.  This makes since as it’s spring and I’m often avoiding exams and need to read something of comfort that I can put down to study when I really need to.  No exams this year, though.  

I’m on track with my randomly picked number of books to read that was less then 50.  Which is good, I guess?  I’m telling myself I’m not attached to the number but I’m also keeping an eye on it, so that is mostly lies.  

What’s next?

With new job things will be weird for a time meaning I have no idea how this reading thing will fit into my new life at this time.  I will, however, be working regular predictable hours for like the first time ever, without school to boot.  This could be very good for my reading, or I could watch too much TV.  I shall see.

As for what’s next reading-wise, I recently posted my library book haul, so that is a good indicator of what I’m looking to read.  I also have a list of unread books on my shelves I want to cut in half, but have yet to read any.  Finally, I have Bitterblue by Kristen Cashore, another re-read and then final in the Graceling Trilogy I have been working through, signed out and really want to finally finish off The Way of Shadows by Brent Weeks, a book I have been reading for literal years.  And if none of that fits my fancy, I have a mile long list of books I want to read over on Goodreads to get around to reading. 

Body functions in books aka protagonists pee too!

thoughtsQuick!  Name the last book that you read that the MC went to the bathroom.  Can’t think of one?  I doubt you are alone.  

For me the book that immediately comes to mind are Tamora Pierce books.  Not all of them include this little detail, but most do.  The female protagonists even have periods!  

It might seem weird, but just the off-handed comment about the main character going to the bathroom or needing to pack extra clothes right before a last minute trip because they are expecting their period makes me super happy.  It makes the protagonists real people!  It doesn’t demonize the fact that as a woman I have a period and have to think about the consequences of that.  It normalizes menstruation for young girls who are self conscious of it.  

The fact that most authors ignore this very common, realistic, mandatory body function frustrates me.  Your main character eats, otherwise readers would find it weird that they didn’t so why can’t they also go to the toilet?  Sure there is a bit of a taboo about this, but including it, as I mentioned before, normalizes it and actually helps young people with their body image. 

Don’t know how to include it in your story?

How often have you had an interesting conversation in the washroom?  If you are in high school, a setting in many contemporary books, I would hazard it would be fairly often because you have some limited privacy there.  When you are about to go into battle battle or slay a dragon how likely is it to have a nervous bladder?  A long run from a monster poses a challenge for woman that men don’t tend to have.  Ditto long treks or hikes or journeys with a mixed group of woman and men.

Just think of all the awkward situations you can get your characters into!  Think of the plotting potential!

You are a reader!

thoughtsThe average person in the US (and likely Canada and many other countries of the world) reads less then 5 books a year.  If, like me, you think that is a very small number, congrats you are likely a reader!

Now, the word reader means a person who reads.  Despite what anyone might tell you, it does not specify what type of things you need to read to be a reader.  It can be books, poetry, short stories, novellas, zines and magazines, fanfiction, instruction manuals, ‘trashy’ internet erotica, role-playing posts…..the list is a long one.  The list I provided is also only things that a ‘reader’ might read, but reading is something essentially everyone does on a semi-daily basis.  Reading a menu or a price tag would make you a reader by the above definition.  

However, in colloquial terms ‘a reader’ tends to be someone who reads ‘a lot’ (and also the types of things I mentioned above and not the ‘everyday’ things), but as the average person reads fewer then 5 books in a year, anything more then that can be classified as ‘a lot’.  That means 10 books a year can make you a reader.  So that ‘only one book this month’ you read?  Congrats, you are still a reader!  ‘I only read a few magazines or fanfic’.  Still a reader!  

Don’t let the words of others define you or bring you down.  You may not read as much as you want or as much as the gatekeepers to reading might say you need to, but if you think you are a reader, CONGRATS!! You! Are! A! Reader!