What to read next?

It’s summer here in the Philippines and as expected, it’s scorching hot again. My blogger friend Chachic put up a post yesterday about summer reads, and her question got me thinking of something else, something that I’m sure readers with mountains of books waiting to be read always face: how do you choose what to read next?

I know some people choose their next books on a whim. Some follow a schedule, or let reading challenges guide them. For those who have to go through review copies, they have to follow a schedule based on release dates. I want to know — how do you pick your next read?

I tend to go through the following:

  • I usually pick what I read next based on the genre of what I just finished reading. For example, right now, I’m readingtwo fantasy books (On the Edge by Ilona Andrews and Unearthly by Cynthia Hand) because I realized that I’ve finished reading 4 contemporary YA novels almost one after the other. I needed a dose of magic, quick! I don’t always switch genres like that — it really depends on the mood. I try not to read too many of one genre one after the other, though, because variety is good.
  • If it’s a series, I try to hold off on it, unless I really, really want to know what happens next. Perfect example: Kate Daniels series. I just had to read one after the other. Another example of holding off on reading the next books after reading one or two: Chaos Walking series. I have yet to read the second and third book.
  • I don’t receive much ARCs except for e-galleys and that’s where I’m kind of crummy with scheduling. I try to read all the galleys I acquire but sometimes I just forget. That’s why I don’t get too many galleys nowadays because I forget, and I feel bad for not posting it on time of publication/release.
  • Challenges also can dictate what I read next. I tend to space them out through the year, although that often fails for the classics challenge since it takes me longer to read them, and sometimes when I try to pick one up, it’s a little too late in the year. Well, at least I’m trying. Required Reading mini-challenge helps A LOT in making me pick the next book to read, and it helps me pay attention to the older books in the TBR pile.
  • Again on moods — I pick up a book based on moods sometimes. Best example is when I reread This Lullaby by Sarah Dessen right after my brother’s wedding. I had to drop the dystopia reads for a while then because of the love in the air. ;) Valentine’s Day also did that too me. :p
  • Book discussions also tell me what to read next, although I haven’t really participated in that many.
  • Finally, peer pressure. :P It works. Sometimes.

Now that I’ve rambled there…what about you? How do you pick which book to read next?

Completion Compulsion

The series that I obviously had to complete.

A couple of days ago, my bookish Twitter list was buzzing with excitement, which left me a bit at a loss because I wasn’t paying much attention to that lately with the move back to the house and such. It didn’t take me long to figure out why they were excited — it was the release date for City of Fallen Angels, the latest installment in Cassandra Clare’s The Mortal Instruments series.

I was all: Oh okay.

City of Fallen Angels by Cassandra Clare

I can still wait. I can still wait.

Don’t get me wrong here. I liked The Mortal Instruments series, and it was one of the books that got me reading again. I loved City of Glass, and I thought the ending was just perfect, so the idea of releasing another three more books after the trilogy has ended didn’t sit quite well. Still, I was curious, and that didn’t lessen the love I had for the original trilogy.

But in the time between reading City of Glass and now that City of Fallen Angels has been released, I have read so many other books in between, both good and bad, that somehow, the excitement and need I had to always complete a series has diminished, almost to a little disinterest over the entire thing.

Never mind that I am on book buying fast for Lent. I feel that even if I wasn’t on fasting, I still wouldn’t prioritize buying this. I haven’t even read Clockwork Angel yet — I don’t even have my own copy.

Again, this isn’t anything against the series or Cassandra Clare’s work. In fact, I am still curious about her books, and given the time and money, I’d get them. I’m talking about book series in general. You see, years before, I had this compulsion to complete everything. If it’s a trilogy, I must have all three books and I must read them in order. If a new book comes out, I must read it up to the end, even if some of the books weren’t really that good. I hesitate in buying books that I know are a part of a series because I know that I would need to get ALL books. Sometimes I won’t even read the first book if I know I don’t have the next books with me because I didn’t want to be left hanging. I don’t know why, but I must complete the books. I must see it all the way to the bitter end. (See, this is why I read the Twilight series all the way to Breaking Dawn and even The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner.)

Now, I don’t feel that need to complete. Maybe it depends on how much I liked the first two books (I’m setting two because sometimes the first book isn’t always that good and sometimes it picks up on the second book). Sometimes it depends on how much I like the author. Sometimes, it depends on the hype (but I’m very wary of hype nowadays). Maybe this is me being choosy, or growing up in terms of my choice of reading.

Cliffhanger endings are a different story, though, but again, it would depend on how much I loved the first book before I decide to get the next one, if there was a next one.

Have you ever felt the same need I used to, to complete a series no matter how bad it may be? Were there series you used to love but now you don’t feel the need to get them all? Or were you never a series person and you’re happy with just one?

Favorite Books as Gifts

The other weekend was the first Filipino Book Bloggers meet-up for the year 2011, which was also the first Flips Flipping Pages meet-up for the year, and the first one I attended with them. It’s always fun to spend time with fellow book-lovers discussing books and I liked that we discussed our best and worst reads for 2010. It just goes to show how different everyone’s choices are.

Anyway, there was a book swap after the discussion, and we were advised to bring our best or worst book for swapping with other people. Since my worst book is an electronic copy, I decided to bring a brand new copy of my best book (one of them, anyway — Feed by Mira Grant) so other people can read it. I figure if a blogger gets it, then a book about blogging (and zombies) should be in good hands, right?

I realized then that I’ve been giving books as gifts ever since I can remember. I don’t always receive books as gifts (with the exception of last Christmas and my 18th birthday — bags of books there), but I know that I always go to books whenever I’m giving gifts way back. I think that was before I really knew about the concept of gift certificates (sorry, I was way younger then and I never thought of GCs), and I always found it difficult to get clothes for someone else. If the recipient of the gift isn’t a reader, then I would resolve to getting her* pillows, stuffed toys or candles.

I find it kind of funny that I tend to give specific books as gifts, especially for people who don’t have wish lists. You know how when you spot a copy of one of your favorite books in the store, and for some reason you want to buy another copy even if you already have a copy (or multiple copies of it). It’s like, you want to buy that copy and give it to someone who you know will appreciate the book in the same way as you did. Like you’re saving the book or something. That’s how I feel, anyway. :D It’s almost like getting a pet for someone who you know will take care of that pet the way you would. Did that make sense?

I’ve been keeping count of the books that I loved and gifted/gave away to other people. So far, they are:

  • Feed by Mira Grant – 3 copies bought (1 gift and 2 for give away)
  • Paper Towns by John Green – 2 copies bought (1 gift and 1 for give away)
  • The Truth About Forever by Sarah Dessen – 1 copy as gift
  • Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins – 2 copies bought for give away
  • The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde – 1 copy as gift
  • Naermyth by Karen Francisco – 3 copies bought (1 gift, 2 give away)
  • The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness – 1 copy bought for give away
  • Tall Story by Candy Gourlay – 1 copy as gift
  • Piercing the Darkness by Frank Peretti – 1 copy as gift

Most of those books are my favorites, or if they aren’t in my list, they’re books with good reviews. I find it funny that I have bought so many copies of Feed and Naermyth and Paper Towns — promoting much?

What about you? Do you have specific books that you give as a default gift? How many copies of your favorite books have you bought as gifts for friends or for giveaway?

* I say “her” because it’s very hard to shop for some guy friends who are not readers. It’s not like you can give them something generic like bathroom faucets or something. Anyone who agree with this, say aye!

The Reread Factor

One of the things I learned about myself and my reading habits in the past year is how critical I’ve become when it comes to books. I used to be very easy to please when it comes to books. When I started my book blog, I hardly rated anything below two stars, and I always feel guilty when I give books low ratings. Now the first month of 2011 is barely over and I’ve already decided not to finish a book and gave my first negative review for the year.

This brings me to something I’ve been thinking about for a while now. You know how sometimes you love a book so much on the first read that you’ve elevated it on your most favorite books list? Then a few years later, you decide to pick the novel up again and reread it, and you realize that it wasn’t as good as it was when you first read it. Has that ever happened to you?

I named a lot of books as my favorites last year, but their reread factor kind of worries me. I wonder if I would still love them again if I reread them a few years later? Some of the books that are my absolute favorites have that re-read factor. They’re the ones I consider as timeless books, the ones I know I will re-read every now and then and emerge loving it still. For the others…I’m not quite sure yet. In a way, I’m afraid to reread some of them because I’m afraid to lose my love for them. I know I will never know until I do so, but I guess I don’t want to lose my initial enchantment over them. Is that weird? Maybe it’s a sign of growing up?

Some books that has passed the reread test for me, off the top of my head, are: This Present Darkness and Piercing the Darkness by Frank Peretti, The Truth About Forever by Sarah Dessen, Fairy Tale Fail and My Imaginary Ex by Mina Esguerra, Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli, Flipped by Wendelin Van Draanen, The Hunger Games and Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins, Invisible Lissa by Natalie Honeycutt and A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett (this is a classic, so I think this shouldn’t count?).

What about you? What books have you reread and still loved? Do you have any books that you ended up not liking on a second read?

Filipino Friday: Goals and Resolutions

Filipino FridayI meant to host Filipino Friday last week, but all the hoopla and celebrations for the turn of the year caught up with me and I totally forgot about it. Ooops. Sorry Chachic!

But anyway, here I am! To those unfamiliar, Filipino Friday is a weekly (or sort of weekly) discussion among Filipino Book Bloggers about anything book or book blogging related. I’d like to start off this year’s discussion with something that I am sure everyone did or is still doing now that the new year is upon us: reading goals and resolutions.

I’m fond of setting goals and resolutions, because I believe in the power of setting one. That’s one of the big reasons why I love the new year because it allows people to start with a blank slate and leave whatever they don’t want to bring into the new year from the past there. I am also slightly nuts about setting challenges for myself, so I am always open to joining challenges that I like, or even some challenges that I am not sure I like them just so I can try to go outside of my comfort zone. So here’s this week’s question: what are your 2011 goals and resolutions as a reader and (Filipino) book blogger? Do you plan to read more books from last year, or do you plan to concentrate on a certain genre only? Do you want to up your stats, your comments or network more? Are you joining reading challenges or are you winging it? Do you plan to buy more books or less? Do you have a reading order ready for the books you will read for January, or even in the next months or the whole year?

I’ve already posted about joining the TwentyEleven challenge, which I hope helps me try new books and genres that I haven’t read before. I’ve also decided not to put a number on the books I plan to read this year after I’ve reached 100 last year — although I wouldn’t mind reading more than the number of books I read last year. I have set other goals for myself, though:

  • Read 5 classics – I’ve been setting a 10 book goal in a year, but I know that I will never reach that number because I read classics too slow. I read 3 last year (5 if you count the C.S. Lewis books, which I am not sure are classics), so this year, I’m aiming for a lower number from 10, but higher from the total I read last year. :)
  • Read at least 20 books by Filipinos – I really enjoyed Project 20:10 last year, and even if I didn’t reach the target 20 books, I’m happy that I tried. I have discovered many good Filipino fiction last year because of that challenge. I want to do that again this year.

As for resolutions? I haven’t set a final list, but here’s what I have from the top of my head:

  • I will embrace my Mt. TBR. No more stressing over the number of books I have or will have. Sure, I still think I have too many, but I will not stress over it anymore. I figure, as long as I can read and love reading, I will not stop getting books, so why fight it?
  • However, I will avoid impulse buys. I am very bad at impulse buys. Book buying is my kind of retail therapy, so whenever I am sad or angry or emotional, I tend to get more books. :P I will try to stop doing that…by doing what, I am not sure yet. But I will avoid impulse buys as much as possible.
  • I will allow myself not to finish books. Best example is the book I posted about yesterday. However, I will only probably do this for review copies, if I really cannot stand it anymore. I will still attempt to finish the books I bought with my own money, no matter how much I end up disliking it. I have very high tolerance, anyway. :P And while review copies are nice (and free), I will not force myself to love the book or finish it if I have lost interest.
  • I will keep on writing honest reviews and find ways to improve my reviewing. I know I tend to ramble on my reviews, so this year I’m going to work on that. :P
  • I will clean out my shelves twice this year. No, not dusting or re-arranging (although I would do that), but I will weed out books that I know will find better homes somewhere. If I know I won’t re-read it anymore, then I can give them to someone who will love it more than I do.
  • I will attend more bookish events this year. I think this is self-explanatory? :)

So what about you? What are your reading/blogging goals and resolutions this 2011? I know some of you have already posted your goals and challenges in your blogs, so feel free to leave a link for them below and I can do a round up here, too. :)

I’m sure most of us agree that 2010 has been a good year for us Filipino Book Bloggers, so here’s to hoping 2011 will be an even better year. :) *cheers*