Friday, March 16, 2018

The Friday 56 & Book Beginnings #4

The Friday 56 is a weekly meme hosted by Freda's Voice where every Friday you pick a book and turn to page 56 or 56%, and select a sentence or a few, as long as it's not a spoiler. For the full rules, visit the the page HERE

Book Beginnings is a weekly meme hosted by Rose City Reader that asks you to share the first sentence (or so) of the book you're reading.

Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy
 A modern classic in which John le Carré expertly creates a total vision of a secret world, Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy begins George Smiley's chess match of wills and wits with Karla, his Soviet counterpart. 

It is now beyond a doubt that a mole, implanted decades ago by Moscow Centre, has burrowed his way into the highest echelons of British Intelligence. His treachery has already blown some of its most vital operations and its best networks. It is clear that the double agent is one of its own kind. But which one? George Smiley is assigned to identify him. And once identified, the traitor must be destroyed. 

Book Beginnings: The truth is, if old Major Dover hadn't dropped dead at Taunton races Jim would never have come to Thursgood's at all.

The Friday 56: Irina was a member of the delegation in her own right. She was a trained textile buyer: "Come to think of it, she was a sight better qualified than her old man, if I can call him that."

What are you reading this week? Have you read anything by John le Carre? How do you feel about spy novels?

Thursday, March 15, 2018

On my failed (and now successful) book clubs

Every dedicated reader that I know is (or has been) part of a book club. The clubs are always structured differently and always focus on different sorts of books, but one common thread is that these clubs bring people together because of their love of books.
Confession: Until this year, I’ve never been part of a dedicated book group. But I’ve had several groups that didn’t work out for various reasons.

  1. High School Summer - During my junior year of high school, a group of us attempted to start a book club. We read exactly two books before everyone got busy and we threw in the towel. It was also problematic because everyone had vastly different tastes in books - we went together to see a movie of one of the books we’d read and half the group was sobbing and loving the film while the other half slept through it. Definitely not a good start to a good book club.
  2. College Roommates - My sophomore year of college, I moved in with some girls who I was delighted to learn were readers. We decided that we’d each take turns forcing our favorite books on each other. It was a mess. One roommate loved paranormal romances, the other loved contemporary YA, and I primarily read SFF. We couldn’t find common ground (and one roommate refused to read my SFF pick for her). We didn’t even make it past the first month.
  3. Writing Group - For about a year, a group of college friends and I stayed caught up by starting a writing group. We’d skype weekly to discuss our writing projects and occasionally talk about books we’d read. I started getting excited that this could be an excellent way for me to connect with people about books, but after a few months, our meetings became more and more sporadic until they ceased entirely. We still text about books now and again, but the long distance model simply wasn’t sustainable for us.
  4. Elderly Women - When I moved to a new town after college, I was excited to learn that my church had a long-term book club. I expressed an interest, but unfortunately, the book club met during my work hours. I still read a couple months worth of their books and was not at all interested in the poorly written, self-published autobiographies they tended to read. When I learned that the youngest woman in the group was in her mid-50’s, I realized it probably wasn’t a good book group for me at this time in my life and that they wouldn’t be interested in reading anything I’d like.
  5. Church Book Group Round 2- When I moved to a new city for graduate school, I was again excited (though somewhat wary) to learn that there was a well-established book group run by a woman at church. Within a couple meetings, I knew this was the book club for me and I’ve been attending ever since. It’s a unique group - the same woman has been running it since the early 1990’s and she has kept a spreadsheet of every book that’s been read as part of the club. You are never allowed to choose a book that’s already been read, so it forces you to be a bit more creative. It’s also a very well-attended group (averaging 12-15 people each meeting) and everyone has such diverse tastes in books that you’re certain to read something you like on a regular basis. It’s been my best book club experience ever - and one that I’m confident will continue for years to come.

What experiences have you had with book clubs? What different structures have you experienced in book clubs? What are your favorite books you’ve read because of a book club?

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

On tips and tricks for better blogging

Someday, I'll write my own guide to being a new blogger (which we already talked about a bit for The Bibliotaph's birthday). Right now, though, I need a little more experience to be superhelpful to bloggers everywhere. In the meantime, here are some helpful guides to being a new blogger and how to start on the right foot.

  • Avalinah's Book #NewBloggers 101 Guide - This series of posts on various aspects of being a blogger (and how to do things right) is being worked on by a handful of very experienced book bloggers. Covering topics from the importance of scheduling posts to getting more comments, from knowing where to request books from to writing a review policy for your blog, their goal is to cover every aspect of blogging in order to help book bloggers everywhere. It's in-depth, it's immensely helpful, and the bloggers working on this series are so kind and sweet. This is the first place I would recommend reading when you're starting a book blog.
  • PaperFury- Cait from PaperFury is a blogging with LOTS of experience. She's got a lot of good stuff to say. Her posts with tips are a little harder to track down since she does it infrequently. To start, here is her post on getting people to read your blog. She also has two (yes, two) lovely posts on getting more comments (see here and here). And here is another post on thinking of good discussion posts! PaperFury has a depth of experience (and HUNDRED of posts), so dig a little deeper for even more blog tips.
  • Book blogging ideas - There are so many places to get blogging post ideas, but this post by the PJV is a helpful start. Here on the Bibliotaph, I also have a list of A-Z blogging topics that are a good jumping off point.

These are the resources that I most recommend for starting bloggers. What other posts would you recommend new bloggers check out? What helped you when you were starting?

Monday, March 12, 2018

Music Monday #3

Music Monday is a weekly meme hosted by Lauren Stoolfire at Always Me that asks you to share one or two songs that you've recently enjoyed. For the rules, visit the page HERE

I found this song a couple months ago and it has been my go-to chill jam ever since. It's beautiful and sweet and very VERY calming. I found out that Gordon Downie actually passed away a few months ago, so that made this song even more bittersweet.

Phoebe Bridgers is one of my new favorites. Her album is so melancholy and so wonderful and it's exactly what I've needed lately. She was actually kind of discovered by Ryan Adams (a lot of the album is about their relationship) and she's now BFFs with Conor Oberst (from Bright Eyes). Plus, this music video is just great.

What have you been listening to lately? Have you heard of either of these artists already?

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Dear You: Besties

Dear You,
I've always appreciated what good friends we've been and I'm so grateful for you in my life. I was thinking the other day about the kinds of best friends in books that makes me think of you and my first thought was obviously The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants by Ann Brashares. That's the kind of friend you are and reading those books makes me laugh a bit because I can relate to that group in a lot of ways. It also got me thinking about Peaches by Jodi Lynn Anderson, another book about a group of friends who learn how to stick together. And these are all the kind of books I think you'd actually read, so I'm glad we have some books in common:)
Well, here's the mix I promised I'd make. I hope you like it. Like those books, I've tried to find music you'll like (since our artistic tastes differ so greatly). Good luck and thanks for everything.

What books make you think of great friendships? What music do you want to share with your best friend?

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Happy 1st Birthday, The Bibliotaph!

Image result for birthday cake

This month marks one year since The Bibliotaph began and what an exciting year it's been! I've learned so much about books, the blogging community, and my own tastes since starting (and I'm so excited that I've followed through on a project for this long). In honor of this one year anniversary, I'd like to share a few lessons I've learned this year:

  • Be mindful about how many books you request on Netgalley - This has been one of the biggest and most painful lessons this year. I requested WAY too many books and got approved for far more of them than I thought a new blogger could be. It was intimidating and I still have a ton of books to catch up on. But I've learned my lesson - I currently have 5 books approved that are coming up in the next few months and I refuse to request any more until I finish most of those. 
  • Taking a hiatus is a okay - Over the holidays in December, I simply forgot that I didn't have very many posts queued up. Once I came back at the end of the year, I was horrified to learn that I'd had two weeks without any posts - how had I let this happen? Had finals and holidays occupied my time so much that I couldn't even post something about taking a hiatus? But it was okay - I got back into the groove of posting and missing those two weeks didn't kill my blog. It turned out alright. Learning this means I'll be more mindful about taking breaks in the future - especially during times when I know I won't be able to give the blog my full attention.
  • Don't worry about posting every day - When I originally started, I felt like I was bursting with post ideas and I was excited to post as often as possible. I had months of material queued up when I realized that I was starting to run out of ideas and that blogging might be more difficult than I'd thought. It also took me some time to realize that posting several times a week was fun, but so much work - way too much work for a student. I started this year with posting twice a week (and occasionally throwing in blogging meme posts) and it's been so much easier to keep up with.
  • Blogging memes are lifesavers - I didn't fully understand this until a couple months ago. When I started (and when I was full of ideas), I felt like blogging memes were kind of lazy - it was just bloggers working off of each other's ideas. Now, I feel differently. Blogging memes help me to connect with other bloggers and get an extra post or two in when I haven't had time to work on a full post. Also, it's fun to have short posts about what I'm currently reading and the music I'm into lately - they're easier for casual blog readers to connect with and comment on. And they're so much fun to think about.
I'm so excited that I get to apply these lessons in my next year of blogging! As part of this next year, I'm going to be testing out redoing past blog posts by discussing how my opinions differ after a year and what new books I would add to various book lists. I'm looking forward to this new part of my blogging adventures and thank you for taking part in them!

What blogging lessons have you learned in your time as a blogger? What's been the biggest lesson you'd want to pass on to less-experienced bloggers? How long have you been blogging?

Friday, March 2, 2018

The Friday 56 and Book Beginnings #3

The Friday 56 is a weekly meme hosted by Freda's Voice where every Friday you pick a book and turn to page 56 or 56%, and select a sentence or a few, as long as it's not a spoiler. For the full rules, visit the the page HERE

Book Beginnings is a weekly meme hosted by Rose City Reader that asks you to share the first sentence (or so) of the book you're reading.

No Country for Old Men

In his blistering new novel, Cormac McCarthy returns to the Texas-Mexico border, setting of his famed Border Trilogy. The time is our own, when rustlers have given way to drug-runners and small towns have become free-fire zones. 

One day, Llewellyn Moss finds a pickup truck surrounded by a bodyguard of dead men. A load of heroin and two million dollars in cash are still in the back. When Moss takes the money, he sets off a chain reaction of catastrophic violence that not even the law–in the person of aging, disillusioned Sheriff Bell–can contain.

As Moss tries to evade his pursuers–in particular a mysterious mastermind who flips coins for human lives–McCarthy simultaneously strips down the American crime novel and broadens its concerns to encompass themes as ancient as the Bible and as bloodily contemporary as this morning’s headlines. 
No Country for Old Men is a triumph.

Book Beginnings: I sent one boy to the gaschamber at Huntsville. One and only one. My arrest and my testimony. I went up there and visited with him two or three times. Three times. The last time
was the day of his execution.

The Friday 56: I need another room.

You want to change rooms or you want another one besides the one you've got?

I want to keep the one I got and get another one.

All right.

What are you reading this week? Have you read anything by Cormac McCarthy? What are the most ridiculous quotes you've seen from these memes so far this week?