My 7 Bookish Resolutions for 2018

The end of 2016 and the entire year of 2017 have been times filled with changes for me. I’ve graduated from uni with a Master’s, travelled to New Zealand, started a Ph.D and am currently on the job hunt, trying to build a career during my Ph.D. In other words, I found myself with more time on my hands than in the previous years and I did what I’ve always wanted to to in the past: read more books. Looking back at the quantity and quality of the books I’ve read, I can happily say that 2017 has been a good year.

However, 2017 was a year filled with an abundance of physical purchases. I’m trying to live my life as much under the principle of minimalism as possible. For me, minimalism means to only surround myself with things that serve a purpose (eg.: kitchen supplies) or things that I absolutely love. I’ll delve more into the struggle of trying to live a minimalist life while also loving to collect things in a future post. For now, I can summarize that whereas I’ve spend most of my money in the past on travel, I’ve spend all of my money on physical possessions in 2017.

I don’t regret my purchases for the most part, but a part of me wants to go back on the road at least once in 2018. In order to do that, and since I don’t have a steady job at the moment, I need to save money. Now, my desire to travel is not the only reason I want to spend less on books. For the most part of my adult life, I’ve fallen into the trap of collecting books, but never being able to read all the books I’ve purchased. There were times were I owned more unread books than read books. In 2017, I’ve noticed how I’ve fallen back into that trap. Now, there is nothing wrong with having unread books, but I want to own more read than unread books.

As a way to keep my bookish purchases more in control (& an attempt to save money), I came up with 7 bookish resolutions for 2018. So let’s take a look at them, shall we?

My 7 Bookish Resolutions for 2018

1.Buy less physical books
Rather self-explanatory, isn’t it?

2.Buy a physical book only after having read 3 physical books you already own.
I’m not trying to kid myself by putting myself on a complete book-buying-ban. I know I couldn’t stick to such a ban. However, I want to reduce the number of unread books. So I decided to allow myself to buy a book only after having read 3 existing physical books I’ve purchased in the past but never got around to reading. I hope this rule will inspire me to read more from my book collection.

3.Loan more books from the library.
My university library isn’t the biggest nor the best out there, but it has a decent collection of books published in the English language (my preferred language to read in). So if I really want to read a book, I’ll try to get it from my library before purchasing it.

4.Buy only a Tolkien related book after having read 5 physical books (Tolkien or non-Tolkien)
I think the sole reason I don’t call myself a minimalist is my ever growing Tolkien collection. I love Tolkien and his works and I love collecting books and other things related to Tolkien and Middle-earth. However, I want to be more conscientious about my collecting habit. So instead of completely banning myself from adding stuff to my collection, I’ll try to have it more controlled. Knowing that Funko will release another batch of LOTR Funkos, it’ll be a bit of a struggle. I don’t want to punish myself in any way if I fail a rule. However, I do want to re-evaluate my purchases and minimize my purchases as much as possible whatever that means.

5.You can repurchase an e-book as a physical book only when you gave it at least 4 out of 5 stars.
For the most part, I want to limit my bookish purchases to e-books. However, I do want to own my absolute favourite books as physical copies at some point. So with rule number 2 in mind, I’ll slowly repurchase some of my favourite e-books as physical books.

6.You can only buy an e-book after having read 2 existing e-books.
E-readers are a great thing. With only a click, you can read a book after a few seconds of waiting. The bad thing about e-readers is that with only a click, you can read a book after a few seconds of waiting. I don’t know about you, but I’m much more tempted to randomly buy a book as an e-book because it is so easy, fast and doesn’t really feel like I’ve spend money. Quickly, small sums here and there can accumulate to a greater sum. So in an attempt to keep my e-book purchases in check, I’ve came up with this rule. The exception to this rule a free e-books.

7.Read more out of your comfort zone.
I really want to widen my horizon and knowledge so I need to force myself to read more books out of my comfort zone. For fiction, this means that I’ll try to read more authors I haven’t read before. For non-fiction this means reading more books on science and history. Also, whether fiction or non-fiction, I’ll also try to read more books that were written authors from, or published in, countries outside of Europe and North-America (my preferred reading horizon).

This will be an interesting experiment, for it really feels as if the outcome is uncertain, for me. I want to have regular check-ups throughout the upcoming year and discuss how my progress is going. However, I’m not sure how often I want these check-ups to be. Maybe I’ll do them every 3 months, who knows.

What about you, how have your reading habits changed in the last 12 months? Do you have any bookish resolutions for 2018? Leave a comment down below!

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Reading Habits Tag

It is no secret that, over here on Travelling Geek Show, we love books and tag posts. So when I stumbled upon this ‘Reading Habits Tag’, we couldn’t resist. I stumbled upon this very old tag somewhere in the depths of Youtube and was surprised at how much I enjoyed watching people talk about their reading habits. If you’re curious about our reading habits, then keep reading!

Reading Habits Tag

1. Do you have a certain place at home for reading?
Alice: I love to read in bed, but also at my desk. I have a very comfortable IKEA chair that’s perfect to stay there for a long time.

Maria: It’s either my bed or my reading nook. I tend to read in the evenings, shorty before going to bed so most times I end up reading in bed. However, throughout 2017, I’ve lowly, but surely create a reading nook for myself. Well, actually it is a Tolkien reading nook.

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Maria’s reading nook

2. Bookmark or random piece of paper?
Alice: I prefer using bookmarks, but only if I’m reading for pleasure. I’m not sure why, but when I read books for University, I tend to sticky page flags rather than actual bookmarks.

Maria: I used to be a ‘random piece of paper’ – kinda gal, but over the years I’ve accumulated some beautiful bookmarks which I’m now using. Personally, I prefer bookmarks with elastics that keep the bookmark in place no matter how much the book gets thrown around

3. Can you just stop reading or do you have to stop after a chapter/ a certain amount of pages?
Alice: I usually tend to stop reading at the end of a chapter because it makes it easier to remember where I left for me.

Maria: Usually, I tend to stop reading after a chapter. Unless I’m very tired and that chapter is very long! In that case, I’ll just stop reading anywhere.

4. Do you eat or drink while reading?
Alice: Nope.

Maria: Most of the time, yes I eat or drink while reading. Reading is a relaxing hobby to me so a good cup of tea alongside some biscuits is a must!

5. Multitasking: Music or TV while reading?
Alice: Nope again. I hate listening to music or TV in the background. I don’t mind noises, but only if I can’t hear words, otherwise I would be completely distracted.

Maria: That depends. I can’t watch TV anymore while reading, but I can listen to a certain type of music while reading. In general, I can listen to any genre of music as long as there are no lyrics and singing involved. Having song in the background where a person sings is too distracting or me.

6. One book at a time or several at once?
Alice: I would always choose one book at a time, but sometimes I find myself reading more because I prefer carrying the Kindle in my bag during my commute rather than a bulkier physical book. However, I know for sure that I’m going to read one book at a time during the Holidays since I’ll be at home.

Maria: I wish I could say that I read only one book at a time, but I tend to read two or three at once. At the moment I’m reading China Mieville’s Perdido Street Station and are listening to Bram Stoker’s Dracula on audiobook on Youtube.

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7. Reading at home or everywhere?
Alice: While I prefer reading at home, I also do it during my commute and everywhere I have the chance.

Maria: Mostly at home since I get too distracted outside. However, whenever I read outside, then it is either in a park or in a café.

8. Reading out lout or silently in your head?
Alice: Silently, hands down.

Maria: Reading silently. Reading out loud takes too much time and is too exhausting for my voice.

9. Do you read ahead or even skip pages?
Alice: I don’t like skipping pages, to be honest, I don’t see why I should do it.I don’t like skipping pages, to be honest, I don’t see why I should do it.

Maria: No, I don’t read ahead, nor am I skipping pages. When I want to know what is happening later on or want to know how a cliff-hanger is resolved, I simply check Wikipedia.

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Alice reads

10. Breaking the spine or keeping it like new?
Alice: I’m pretty proud of myself for taking so much care of my books. I love to keep them like new and I never enjoyed when my mom read my books because she always broke the spines, ugh. That’s probably the inner librarian in me.

Maria: I love breaking the spines and I’m not ashamed of it. If I’m about to disappear today, my books with broken spines will be a testament to what I loved. People can pick any random book of my shelf and tell which book I’ve read and how often. Which brings me to the next question…

11. Do you write in your books?
Alice: Only if they are books for school. One of the reasons why I love my Kindle is that I can highlight stuff without damaging my books.

Maria: Yes, I write in my paperbacks. Now, hardbacks, especially collector’s editions are somewhat tricky, but I love to highlight passages in books (with actual highlighters). I also love to annotate my books while reading them for the same reason I love breaking the spines of paperbacks: I want to engage with books to the extend that they become an extension of myself. So in decades to come, when I’m an old granny, my children or grandchildren can pick up my books and get an insight into the person I was.

12. Who do you tag?
Maria: I know I do this all the time, but I tag anyone who wants to do it. Whether you just want to answer one particular question or do the entire tag, go ahead. Either leave as a comment with your answers or leave a link to a post of yours with this tag!

Merchandise Monday: Self-made LOTR Signpost & Jewelry Box

You know what I love more than purchasing fandom related merchandise? Creating fandom related merchandise. Whether it being a seasonal greeting card, or a quick fanart, I love getting inspired by my fandoms. Most of the times, I use pen and paper to get creative, but occasionally, I want to get crafty. A while ago, I’ve done a miniature Lord of the Rings signpost for my bookshelf (with the help of my dad) and re-painted a wooden box I’ve got from a local arts & crafts store.

I’m afraid, I don’t have any real DIY for both items, but I’ll try to explain as best as I can how I did it down below.P1110409

 

While the LOTR signpost serves not function whatsoever, other than decorative purposes, the wooden box holds some of my smaller Tolkien collectibles. Now, neither of these two items were my original idea. If you’ve spend any time on Pinterest, you’ve probably stumbled upon similar DIYs before.

The desire to make a geeky miniature signpost has been on my mind for a while and with the help of my dad, I’ve finally made one. We used various, differently sized pieces of wood you can get from any department store, nails, wood varnish and white acrylic paint. Now, I could’ve cut the wood to the right size without the help of my dad, but he is a hobby carpenter and gets stuff like this done more accurately. We had no particular measurements in mind and just worked with the wooden pieces we found in his workshop. Then, I picked a varnish and acrylic paint of my liking, after everything was assembled. Just a tip for you: after you assembled the signpost, take some sandpaper and make sure every cm or inch of that signpost is smooth before you paint it. After the varnish and acrylic paint dried, I took some Mod Podge and covered everything with a thin layer.

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The wooden box was a lot easier to do. I purchased an inexpensive wooden box from a local arts & crafts store and painted it with the same varnish as the signpost. Again, before painting it, I smoothed out the wood with some sandpaper. As for the decorative elements, I’ve looked through my Tolkien books and decided to copy some of Tolkien’s original design elements for The Hobbit. Once again, after the varnish and paint dried, I added a thin layer of Mod Podge as a protective layer to it.

LOTR box before and after

As much as I love my other, bought merchandise items, there is something special about creating and receiving hand-made geeky stuff.

What was your most recent geeky DIY? Is there an unique DIY you’ve stumbled upon the internet that you’d like to share? Leave us a comment down below!

Why I Prefer to Track my Reading Habits on Trello Instead of Goodreads

In the last few months, and for the most part in 2017, I’ve overcome my reading-slump. As an English major post-grad, reading became more than just a casual hobby. Every novel you’ve read, you’ve automatically annotated and scanned for underlying themes. Over time, it was impossible to read a book without ‘taking it apart’. This, in combination with being forced to read novels one dislikes, has driven me into a reading-slump. In other words, I changed from someone who enjoyed reading to someone who had to force herself to sit down and read a few pages.

For the last three years, I tried to motivate myself to read more by following Booktubers and Bookstagrammers, by become more active on Goodreads again, and by participating in Goodreads’ yearly reading challenge. While all these measurements did help me to some extend, there were some down falls to this as well. However, I will post my thoughts on Booktube and Bookstagram in another upcomintg post.

So what is the Goodreads reading challenge?

In case you’re unfamiliar with Goodreads and its yearly reading challenge, it is basically a self imposed reading challenge. At the beginning of each year, you decide how many books you want to read. Let’s say, you read 20 books on average every year and you want to challenge yourself to read more, then you’d probably pledge to read 30 books for the Goodreads reading challenge. Then, throughout the year, you’d add the books you’ve read and thus track the number and type of books you’ve read in a particular year. For many, this reading challenge is a great motivation. You have a goal to work towards, an online community to interact with and to hold you accountable for.

Why I don’t like the Goodreads reading challenge

To me, this doesn’t work. Instead of being motivated to read more, I start to feel bad whenever I don’t read and whenever my reading progress is slower than anticipated. In a way, going public with a promise of how many books I want to read makes me want to stop reading. I guess, in my case, it goes back to my time at university where I’d drag myself from one reading deadline to another. In a Guardian article, writer Richard Lea summarizes the core of the issue I have with the Goodreads reading challenge: “All this talk of pledging, of targets, of tracking your progress, is just another step in the marketisation of the reading experience, another stage in the commodification of literary culture”. Joining the Goodreads reading challenge became not only a chore to me, but started to feel like a way to shame other readers. Browsing through Goodreads, and other book communities on the internet, the more seems to be the better. The more you read, the greater your reader-credibility it seems.

However, I know I’m not the only one who struggles with the Goodreads reading challenge. It was my friend Alice who gave me the idea to set my reading challenge to a symbolic number, 3 books in my case, with her blog post The Pressure of Not Reading Enough. There, she writes: „[…]why not lowering down my reading goal to a symbolic number? I would still get my stats at the end of the year and wouldn’t feel the pressure of reaching that number in time!“

As of now, I’ve surpassed my reading goal of 3 books by having read 19 (For some reason Goodreads shows the number as 20 by counting LOTR twice). Moreover, here are also 3 books I’m currently still reading. Ironically enough, 20-25 was the original number I had in mind for my reading challenge.

Goodreads reading challenge

Why I use Trello to track my reading progress

As indicated by the blog title, I’m now using Trello to track my reading. Sure, I’m still active on Goodreads, but it is more for my friends than for myself. Goodreads is my public way of letting people know what I’m currently reading. Whereas, Trello is my private, actual way of tracking my reading progress. On average, I tend to read roughly 20-25 books every year. It is a lot less than many other read. Heck, there are, apparently, people out there who read 20-25 books in just two months. Yet, I don’t care. I’m not embarrassed or ashamed of this number. I enjoy taking my time and read books at a pace that are enjoyable to me. I have no pressure to read more, nor do I want to read a lot more.

The difference between the Goodreads reading challenge and my method is that I don’t have a certain number or reading goal in mind. Instead, I use Trello to track what I’ve read over the years. Each time I finish a book, I’ll add it on my Trello board and give the book my own color coded rating. Again, this is just a way for me to remember whether I liked or disliked the book.

trello reading journal

On the left is my ‘to be reading’ – list featuring all the physical books I have on my shelf. Next to it is the list of books I’m currently reading. Whenever I’m done with a book, I’ll move it to the 2017 list and color code it. I used to have a list of books I’ve randomly heard of that I want to read some day instead of a list of my actual TBR pile. However, having this list of books I still want to own only increased my TBR pile even though I wanted to decrease it. Now, by knowing exactly what I still need to read every time I go on Trello, helps me to stay focused.

As for my color coding. I have the following labels (purple and dark blue remain unused):
trello reading labelsWith these easy labels, it helps me to remember how much I like a particular book and which genres I tend to prefer. As said before, my Trello method is a way of memory keeping, allowing me to look back at what I’ve read over the years, rather than a reading challenge. For example, I was surprised to remember that I’ve read “White Tiger” by Aravind Agida and that I wasn’t too excited by it. When I was younger, before university, I never tracked or written down which books I’ve read and now I no longer remember and now I wish I did track the books I’ve read.

What about your reading habits? Do you use Goodreads? If not, how do you keep track of what you read?

Today in Middle-earth: Meeting Strider

Year 3018, September 29th

Frodo and the hobbits meet Aragorn in Bree:

Suddenly Frodo noticed a strange-looking wather-beaten man, sitting in the shadows near the wall, was also listening intently to the hobbit-talk. He had a tall tankard in front of him, and was smoking a lon stemmed pipe curiously carved. His legs were stretched out before him, showing high boots of supple leather that fitted him well, but had seen much wear and were now caked with mud. A travel-stained cloak of heavy dark-green cloth was drawn close about him, and in spite of the heat of the room he wore a hood that overshadowed his face; but the gleam of his eyes could be seen as he watched the hobbits – “At the Sign of the Prancing Pony”, The Fellowship of the Ring by J.J.R. Tolkien

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And thats a wrap for this series! Did you enjoy our recap of what happened in the first 8 days of  Frodo’s journey? Personally, I enjoyed it so much that I got the urge to re-read the entire The Lord of the Rings even though I’ve already re-read it this spring!