I’m Breaking My Book Buying Ban

Earlier this year, I decided to join a nice challenge called #TheUnreadShelfProject and I even blogged about it because I was very determined to complete it (and I still am). It went very well (you can check my progress here), until last week, when I started loving more and more The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski.

I’ve purchased the ebook in 2016 because many people recommended it to me and there was so much hype about this trilogy in the Bookstagram/Booktube community back then, plus I managed to get it for only 1,25€ on Amazon (the Kindle edition) and I was very excited about it. But then, I never felt myself in the right mood for it, especially because I didn’t actually know what to expect. If you’d ask me what’s my favourite genre, I would probably tell you it’s fantasy, when it isn’t actually true. My favourite genre has been mystery since I was a teen and I discovered Agatha Christie, but I would always say fantasy first because it happens that the books of my life are The Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter. Also, I’m not actually into young adult and I no longer enjoy getting to know a new fantasy world everytime I read a book, I’m pretty comfortable in Middle-earth, thank you very much.

But, just before Christmas, I’ve been offered Broken Moon for free in exchange of an honest review and I enjoyed it so much that I thought it could be the right time for me to pick up another fantasy YA. And then the magic happened.

The Winner’s Curse has everything I love in a book: not too long (300/400 pages), a good solid plot, a great female main character (the one you read about and think GOALS), effective world-building through all the book, war, a nice love story, and a handsome boy to have a crush for (and he’s 19 so I’m not a weirdo…probably).

The first half of the book was great and I’ve enjoyed reading it every morning before breakfast, but then the story evolved and I couldn’t put it down. I even skipped a whole evening of Netflix in order to read this book (and if you know me, it’s A LOT!) and, after finishing it yesterday, I told myself that I would purchase the sequel after reading at least half of my TBR list. But this self-imposed rule lasted like 10 minutes because I reached for my Kindle and downloaded the second book before midnight.

I’m disappointed with myself for breaking the rules and also because I will probably break them again to read the third book of this trilogy once I’ll finish this second one, but not too much. I justify myself because it’s been ages since I’ve read a book that made me skip a whole evening of Netflix. I’ve read many great books during the last few years, but nothing that made me have ALL THE FEELINGS (maybe Fangirl went close, but not this way).

Many of my bookish friends enjoyed The Winner’s Crime even more than the first book, so I’m absolutely excited about it. Also, I decided to try to read it in 6 days because I’ll have to start Beren and Luthien in March and I want to fully pay attention to that book without being distracted by Rutkoski’s trilogy.

Have you read The Winner’s Curse trilogy? What was the last book that made you have ALL THE FEELINGS? I’d love to know. 🙂

How I’m Using Social Media in 2018

A few days ago The Minimalists published a blog post explaining why they took January off from social media and how they are going to use them in 2018. I really enjoyed reading it and it inspired me to write something similar since I’ve made some quality changes during the last few months.

First of all, I’m one of those people constantly complaining about the algorithm changes, starting from Facebook back in the days to Twitter and then Instagram. I firmly believe it ruined the experience on those platforms, not just for me, but for all the people who don’t want to invest money in ads.

I used to open Twitter and scroll my feed to the last tweet missed being able to read what the people I’ve followed had written while I was away, I replied to tweets, retweeted some stuff and shared a couple of thoughts. It was nice, Twitter was the place where I chatted with like-minded people about Tolkien and Middle-earth, blogging and books. It was my favourite social media, to be honest. Now it’s a completely different experience. When I log in, I scroll my feed and I have to actually look for the people I’ve followed because it’s now full of sponsored posts, tweets from people I don’t know but that the people I follow liked and, the worst, they are no longer in a true chronological order. You can imagine that when you tweet a good old status like “I can’t wait to see Black Panther this week!”, nobody would notice in that chaos because your tweets now need to be visually appealing, containing a link, 200 hashtags, and so on.

Same thing with Instagram. I’ve read so many blog posts about the best strategies to “beat the algorithm” and they sound just too much for me. The most insane one I’ve read was that, in order to get more engagement on your photos, you have to be active commenting and liking stuff 15 minutes before AND after sharing a photo. Sure, engaging with others helps you to get more visibility on Instagram, but we have a life to live! And we can’t beat bots (that people hire to do the dirty work for them), so why bothering.

I’ve spent 2017 forcing myself to make it work for me and my blog, to still use social media to get visibility, in order to prove that on my résumé, to let people know that I can use tools like Buffer, Later and Hootsuite. But, in the end, it didn’t work and it deeply affected the way I approached my life online. It doesn’t matter if I was scheduling my tweets or my Instagram photos, I was still spending too much time online without even getting the results I wanted.

Taking a 48h break from Instagram during Christmas made me realize that the problem wasn’t the blog, the problem was my relationship with social media! Since then, I decided to take it easy, I was very stressed by my last University exam, some health issues and things like that and the fast-paced nature of Instagram (thanks to Stories) didn’t help me at all. I decided that, in order to follow my word for 2018, I’m going to take more breaks here and there more often. I already crafted two little rules that worked very well so far:

  • Don’t check social media before noon.
  • Take Sunday off.

Here is a more in-depth look at my accounts (maybe this will also help you understand where I hang ou the most).

Instagram. Let’s start from my favourite one. I used to participate in so many different challenges, take lots and lots of photos in batches and schedule them in order to always have something to publish every single day. It was just too much for me, so now I post when I have something to share and I try to not stress too much if I miss a post or two from my favourite accounts. Same thing with Stories. This is the best place to reach me out, after the blog, because it’s still the platform where I’m most active (except for weekends, you still have my Contact page for that). 🙂

Twitter. At the end of 2017, I had tons of applets on IFTTT to automate all the things, then I decided to quit and keep my profile only as a placeholder. Then I thought about tweeting the old way (in real time without scheduling nor automating) and, while I enjoyed it more than I expected, I felt like I was talking with a wall since the engagement was basically zero, meaning that my links didn’t even get clicked once, so what was the point of that? I blame the algorithm. To be fair, the only tweet that got some engagement was Tolkien-related and this means that 80% of my followers are still fellow Middle-earth nerds, so I should probably consider that in the future. For now, I will just automatically share my posts through WordPress (no more IFTTT recipes), but I’m not planning to engage there anymore, that’s why I removed the icon here on the sidebar. Last but not least, this is the platform that brings less traffic to my blog. It used to be the first one, but now things changed and so I think it’s useless for me.

Facebook. I deleted my “official” profile 3 years ago and I never looked back. Now I have an anonymous-ish one that I use to interact in a couple of Groups and to manage pages, including one where WordPress automatically shares my posts that I created solely to let people know that I have a blog if they visit my profile from a group (since links aren’t clickable in the Fb bio). I check it only once or twice a day just to catch up with Groups, so it isn’t an addictive platform for me anymore.

Pinterest. The only reasons why I keep it are: you can’t actually delete your profile, it brings a lot of traffic to my blog. Currently, I just use it to do some research and nothing more (it’s the best place to find laptop/phone wallpapers FYI). 😉

Goodreads. I still use it to read book reviews and find interesting readings, but I’m not sure if I will keep updating it, to be honest. I stopped joining the Goodreads Challenge because it gave me too much anxiety and, for now, I feel like a simple list in a notebook works well enough for me.

That’s it! Writing this post gave me even more clarity on how I’m going to approach my online life and helped me to finalize some points.

 

How are you using social media in 2018? I’d love to hear from you!

February Small Goals

Writes Like a Girl started this monthly post & has a monthly link up for it on her blog.

I can’t believe we’re one step closer to Spring (which means pollen allergy to me)! January has been a weird month for me because I mostly spent it at home sick or studying, I can’t wait to pass my last exam now. I’m so ready to go to the cinema, visit a museum or go for a shopping afternoon with my mom.

Here is a recap of my goals for the month.

1. Watch more movies and only 1 TV series at a time. Yes, I did it! I have to say that being sick for almost 2 weeks helped me a lot to achieve this goal (LOL). After watching season 3 of Grantchester, I watched all the three seasons of Broadchurch, which was the perfect show since each season had 8 episodes and it was already finished, so nothing more to wait for. Now I’m looking for a new TV series to start in February. Here is a list of the movies I watched (most of them have been a rewatch):

  • National Lampoon’s Vacation
  • Vacation (2015)
  • The Hangover
  • Alexander
  • Warcraft
  • Death on the Nile (1978)
  • Jurassic World
  • Cutthroat Island
  • Miss Congeniality
  • Practical Magic
  • Wonder Woman

Not too bad for a girl who used to watch one movie a month, if lucky, and all the rest was all TV series! I’m not going to track the movies I watch anymore, but I’ll keep trying to stick with this new habit.

2. Journal daily. Done! Both on the Journey app and my diary.

3. Reduce my time on Instagram. I managed to stick with my rule to not check Instagram before noon and some days I almost forgot it until 5 or 6 pm!

4. Wear more makeup. I didn’t actually achieve this goal because I spent so much time at home, technically it wasn’t my fault!

5. Visit more blogs and leave more comments. I did it, but I can improve this.

Articles Written in January

December Favorites – things I enjoyed during December, on the Travelling Geek Show blog.

Tips and Tricks to Start a Reading Journal in 2018 – I’m pretty proud of my monthly post for Page Flutters since I love journaling and books and all that in between. 🙂

App Review: PDF Converter – a nice collaboration I’ve been able to do. I thought about posting it here on the blog as well, but it was a review so I decided to publish it on Medium instead.

How to Keep an Accomplishment Journal and Feel More Productive with Journey – this month I also managed to guest post for my friend Francesco on his blog Keep Productive and I highly recommend you to check out this app, it’s free and actually improved my life!

February Goals

1. Keep a healthy relationship with Twitter. I’m planning to share how I’m using social media in 2018 in an upcoming blog post. However, I decided to go back tweeting but I’m done with scheduling and social media management apps, I only use TweetDeck from my laptop because it helps me to filter my feed. But I don’t have the app on my phone anymore.

2. Reread Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. February is for book 2 of the saga according to the #HarreadPotter schedule and I can’t wait to finish the book to rewatch the movie since it’s my favorite in the whole series!

3. More analog productivity. I decided to go back to a paper planner for 2018, I still keep my long-term plans on Trello and my events on Google Calendar, but I want to use my cute Molang diary more and I want to establish again the habit to check it first thing in the morning.

4. Buy a yoga mat. I’ve been practicing yoga since the end of Summer thanks to the amazing videos on the Yoga With Adriene channel and I’m LOVING it. Now that I finally understood what it feels good to me, I want to go ahead and invest some money in a mat because the one I use it is for fitness and I keep sliding, which is not good because it prevents me to assume the correct posture. By the way, any advice on a good and affordable yoga mat without?

 

These are my four little goals for this month, I’d love to hear from you! What are your goals for February?

What’s Saving My Life Right Now

What's Saving My Life Right Now

For the second year in a row, I find myself wanting to recap the past month with a Currently post because lists are my jam and, for the second time, Anne Bogel saves me announcing her link-up.

There are few things that I’m enjoying right now and are making my life better and I thought it would be nice to share them.

1. OneNote. I love to use it for saving stuff to read later, it works similarly to Evernote but it’s completely free and its button on Feedly doesn’t require a Pro account. I like to save articles and blog posts during the week, in order to be able to read them during my free time.

2. Lamy Safari + Leuchtturm. I finally found the perfect combo for my daily journaling practice. I love the way my new fountain pen writes on Leuchtturm paper (I have an A5 notebook with dotted paper and black cover) and I even started dusting off my cursive, unused since middle school (LOL).

3. Netflix. Once again it makes its way on my list, but you have no idea how much I wanted this subscription and it helped me a lot to achieve my goal to watch more movies rather than TV shows this month. I’m going to share the list of the ones I watched in my next post, stay tuned!

4. PDF Converter. You have no idea how many companies contacted me in the past to promote random things for them (underpants, a mattress…just to name a few), so I wasn’t very excited when Cometdocs.com reached me out to test their PDF Converter app. Long story short, this app saved my (academic) life multiple times during the last few weeks and now I’m very glad I’ve decided to partner with Cometdocs, I even made my dad downloading it! You can read my article about the app here if you’re interested.

5. #HarreadPotter. This hashtag is a new “challenge” started on Bookstagram to reread (or read for the first time) all the Harry Potter books this year. There is also the option to join a private group on Instagram, but I decided to just read the books and I’m so happy. It’s unbelievable how many things I’ve forgotten about the story, mostly because I tend to remember the movies better.

6. Breathe magazine. I discovered this magazine a couple of weeks ago and I purchased the digital edition of the last number to read on my tablet (because the paper one was too expensive for me) and I’m loving it! After stopping to read Vanity Fair in high school and a couple of history magazines during the first years at University, I haven’t found something affordable that I actually enjoyed. Breathe contains so many interesting articles that I almost forget I’m reading it on a tablet, almost…because how good is the smell of a printed magazine??

Here is the link to Anne’s linkup.

What’s saving your life right now, friends?

The Unread Shelf Project

One of the things I started doing because of the internet is set up reading goals. I’ve always been an avid reader, but I’ve never kept track of the books I was getting through and never known that setting up reading goals is actually a thing. But after joining bookstagram, following more book blogs, booktube channels and using Goodreads, I felt like I was completely missing out one of the most important things in the bookish community.
Over the years, I learned that challenges and counting the number of books I read are not for me, they make me feel too anxious and like if I was in a race. So, I decided to stop numbering the books I’m reading one after another, I just list them in my notebook and I’ll maybe count them at the end of the year.

However, I decided to join one specific challenge for 2018. #TheUnreadShelfProject2018 is a reading challenge hosted by three incredible bookstagrammers I love @theunreadshelf, @katereadsbooks_ and @calsreads. The purpose of the challenge is to help us to tackle our TBR pile of books we already own. I already planned to make some rules for myself in 2018 because I have too many unread books on my Kindle, but after seeing all the post about this challenge on Instagram, I decided to join. This is something I can do, it’s not about the numbers. And if you want to have fun with the community, be sure to follow Whitney (@theunreadshelf), she’s giving us mini weekly challenges like counting the number of unread books we have, going to a bookstore and not buy anything (!), or share the story behind the books in our TBR shelf.

I still have some physical books to read too, but my main focus is going to be ebooks because I want to be more intentional with my purchases and not just download a book because it’s cheap or free and then forget about it. Also, the physical books are all there on my shelf, while the ebooks are “hidden” inside my Kindle, so it’s much easier for me to forget about them.

Here is the list of ebooks I purchased but I still have to read and that I hope to complete in 2018.

Jane Austen Collection:

  • Emma
  • Sense and Sensibility
  • Persuasion
  • Northanger Abbey
  • Mansfield Park

Rainbow Rowell Collection:

  • Landline
  • Elanor & Park
  • Carry On

Other Books:

  • The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin
  • Still Life by Louise Penny
  • Sweet Tea and Secrets by Nancy Naigle
  • The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh
  • The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski
  • Mary Poppins by P.L. Travers
  • The Meditations of Marcus Aurelius
  • Mindfulness: The Most Effective Techniques by Ian Tuhovsky

I know, this is long a super long list and many people would read all these books in a couple of months, but I’m not a fast reader and most of my days are spent studying or writing my thesis, so it’s important to me to consume other mediums too during my breaks and free time (like Netflix and LOTRO).

Since I got my Kindle and I’ve been able to instantly buy and download books, I stopped experiencing that great feeling of finishing a book and wandering around a bookstore (physical or digital) in order to buy my next reading. This is something I’d like to achieve by the end of 2018. Feel free to follow me on Bookstagram (@alicethelibrarian) where I’m sharing my bookish adventures!

 

Do you have any reading goal for 2018?

 

P.s. I decided to add a static page with the list of the books that I can check off here, to keep myself accountable during the year.