Possessions: My Complicated Relationship with Books

I love books, the way they smell, the way they look, and how they make me feel when I’m surrounded by them; at my workplaces, I seek out libraries and rooms with books in them, just to be able to sit with them near. It’s one of the few ways I’m able to relax.

Naturally, my apartment is also filled with books. Though my husband doesn’t feel quite the same way about them, he enjoys them too. We have them piled up on a chest of drawers beside our bed, they’re piled on shelves in our office, and stacks of them line some parts of the wall. When I was little, my entire Christmas list consisted of books. I would just hand my parents a list of some of my favorite authors, and they’d go out and buy me piles of them. Most of my Christmas morning was spent organizing my new acquisitions, perusing the covers, deciding in which order I’d read them. I dreamed of the day when I had a job and be able to join some sort of book-of-the-month club, where I could look forward to some reasonably priced books every month.

Then, I moved, and my relationship with books (and all possessions, really) changed. I moved from California to Chicago and realized that possessions were quite the burden when faced with moving them halfway across the country. I didn’t have room in the car to bring my 8 large bins of books that I’d been collecting since childhood; I barely had room to fit all my clothes, kitchenware, and linens. Then, I got tired of Chicago and moved yet again; that time, I purged what I had — giving my now-husband, then-boyfriend anything that I wanted to save, but only saving truly important things, because we weren’t sure where we were going to live in the future. All the books I’d acquired in Chicago ended up in used bookstores, high school classrooms, take-one, leave-one shelves in my apartment building. At that point, I stopped trying to acquire books. Where was I supposed to put them all? How can I move them yet again? I’ve been through 3 large, across-country moves now in my life, and I’m so tired of worrying about that stuff. It’s stressful getting a new load of books and looking at my cramped apartment, with various items lying along the walls of my office, wondering where I can possibly squeeze these new additions.

Despite my heavy reliance on the library, and our much-needed weekly visits to that glorious place that is filled to the brim with bookshelves and books, we still somehow manage to gain more and more, and I’m still trying to figure out how we’re supposed to fit it all into where we live. I have complicated relationship with possessions now. I love new things; I love new books, but I hate acquiring them, because it requires either a laissez-faire attitude towards how much stuff I’m piling up in the spare room or some very clever, tricky arranging mechanism that I still can’t figure out no matter how much I think about it. I love the idea of getting my books back from California, where my parents are loyally storing them; I love the idea of getting a place big enough to install floor-to-ceiling shelves on the walls and filling them up with the books I have (I’m willfully ignoring the fact that I have many more years ahead of me of acquiring new ones), but how is that ever going to happen? When is that going to happen? Buying large houses is expensive! So is buying all those bookshelves! Where is that money going to come from?

Basically, lately, I’ve been having a sort of existential crisis with myself over my relationship with books. I love them, I want them, I need them to be happy, but they’re stressing me out! It’s hard to find the balance between having some favorites and accumulating all the books I’ve ever wanted to read but will probably only touch once. I’m hoping that by not buying so much and feeding into that sort-of addiction, I’ll be able to handle the urge to get books a little better; I’m hoping that we somehow luck into a huge house that I’ll be able to fill with all the items I want (but I’m not holding my breath on that one).

Reading Aloud to Grandma: A Story

My book addiction started as a hobby — not something that was a large part of my life, but a thing that I enjoyed doing when nothing else was going on. It strengthened the older I got, and by the time I was about eight or nine years old, I was hooked. My sisters and I spent a lot of time at my grandma’s house in those days, since my parents worked nights, and I would bring over an entire stack for the evening, “just in case.” Even now, I always have a charged Kindle and a physical copy or two, “just in case.” And just in case of what, I couldn’t really tell you. A dull moment? My reading speed becomes phenomenal and I finish a whole book in a free fifteen-minute period and have nothing to do for the next five minutes? I really don’t know. All I know is that I never want to be without a book, so I bring extras, in case the book I bring doesn’t work or is whipped away by a hurricane or something. I know it sounds crazy, but hey, I’m a book addict: I’m kind of crazy when it comes to books.

I’m not sure what led up to the conversation about reading, but my grandma in some way mentioned something about me reading, so I asked her what books she liked to read. Partly, I was truly interested in what she might like. But mostly, I was looking for guidance. In those days, I exclusively read Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys, and was perilously close to finishing the shiny, yellow and blue hard-backed series. I figured that my grandma had already read Nancy Drew, since she probably finished them at my age (as I imagined was the case for all the adults in my life). So, I threw the question out there, looking to see what might come next for me.

“Oh, honey, I don’t read. I can’t see the words very well,” my grandma replied.

My mouth dropped open at the same time my heart broke. She didn’t read. The words played over in my head like some sort of horror movie tagline. My grandma didn’t read. I was no longer concerned about a post-Nancy Drew world, because this, this was a true catastrophe. How did she get through the dull moments in life? What did she do with her time? How could she not read? To not fall in love with characters and become friends with them, to not solve daring mysteries, or go on adventures with them — how? I really didn’t understand that sort of life or that sort of world, and I felt overwhelmingly sad for my grandmother. How could she live such a deprived life? I had to fix it for her. This sort of thing could not stand — I would not let my own grandmother suffer, if I could help it. “Come here, Grandma,” I said, patting the spot next to me on the couch. “I’m going to read this book to you.”

It’s funny, being an adult and looking back at your thoughts as a child. I knew, I was absolutely certain, that not being able to read was a misery for grandma. She probably cried about it at least once a week, wishing her eyes were better so she could live a better life. It never once occurred to me that maybe reading wasn’t a priority for her, that she could have found a way to enjoy stories if she really wanted it. No, she was suffering from lack of books and never mentioned it, because she didn’t want to be a bother. But I was having none of that.

Luckily, my grandma was accommodating and aimed to please her granddaughters, because she got right up from her super comfortable recliner to sit next to me on a semi-comfortable couch and listen to me read. I’m not sure exactly what our first book out of the Nancy Drew/Hardy Boys series was, but that’s what started a years-long tradition of us going over to grandma’s house and reading to her. Usually it was me who did the reading, but my two sisters also joined and took turns. Sometimes, it would be all four of us, sitting on the couch or outside, listening to the adventures of Nancy Drew, sometimes just three while a sister played the PlayStation, and sometimes, it was just me and grandma. We went through almost the entire series of Nancy Drew, a good portion of Hardy Boys, the first 4 books of Anne of Green Gables, and the first 3 books of Harry Potter (my sisters eagerly joined in for those ones). And my grandma once again experienced the joy of stories. (As a kid, I truly believed in this sentiment, though I will say that she genuinely loved Anne of Green Gables.) I’m not sure how much of it was her indulging me, how much was her just wanting to spend time together, or how much she really even enjoyed the stories, but until she moved away to Oregon when I was fourteen, there was always some reading time built into our visits together.

Now, there are babies in the family that I can read to. They’ve quickly figured out that storytime is a guaranteed from me — I will never say no to a child who asks me to read a story to them. And at family gatherings, I’ll be curled up in the corner with a couple of the kids, a nephew, niece, or cousin, reading them whatever book they thrust into my hand. We’re often caught by one of my sisters or my parents, who rolls their eyes and smiles when they see what we’re up to. “Of course,” they mutter.

But I can’t help but notice that even though they were most likely sent to fetch us, they sit down right next to us and take the next reading shift, unable to drag themselves away from sharing a story with the family.

Perpetual Series Starter: Why My To-Read List NEVER ENDS

Normally, I’d post a beauty review on Fridays, but it’s been too cold to go outside and I’ve been too tired to just wear makeup around the house, so I’m going to talk to you all about a recent discovery I just made. I’ve taken it upon myself to do a better job tracking my reading (some of y’all have such fun stats at the end of the year, I want to play too!), so I also started tracking how many series books I have going on and how many I still need to read.

It might have been a mistake, and I suddenly see why I can never seem to make a dent in my to-read list. You guys, I have 153 series ongoing.

ONE HUNDRED AND FIFTY THREE SERIES, not books — SERIES. (Can I get a confirmation that series is, in fact, the plural of series? Is it not?)

Yes, some of them are duologies or trilogies and are close to being finished, but that is way, way too many. I’m probably going to start a couple more this week. It’s neverending! Why do I do this to myself? Is it just me? What’s normal, or average, you think? At least among people who read an insane amount?

Are there any challenges for people who have this problem and encourage us to finish the series we’ve started a decade ago? That would be super helpful right about now.

2017 Beat the Backlist Challenge

The one thing I’m always complaining about is how long my TBR list is and how I just keep adding to it, so it’s really hard for me to take book recommendations, because I’m so backlogged. So, this challenge is perfect, because I want to focus on getting to those books I keep meaning to read and keep putting off for other books.

This challenge is hosted by Austine from NovelKnight, and she has a fun twist to gamify the challenge as well. Because I love playing games and participating in friendly competition, I’m also going to join the Hogwarts House Cup mini-challenge and read for Slytherin.

My goal at the moment is going to be 15 books — I feel I already do a good job trying to read at least 1 TBR book a month, so I’m going to raise the bar and see if I can do better than that. I may update this if I’m breezing through it, but we’ll see!

If you want to sign up yourself, go ahead and head over to NovelKnight and sign up!

I’ll keep track of my progress on this post:

  1. Fruit of the Lemon by Andrea Levy – to-read since 2015
  2. Ann Veronica by HG Wells – to-read since 2009
  3. One Paris Summer by Denise Grover Swank – to-read since 2016
  4. My Bridges of Hope by Livia Bitton-Jackson – to-read since 2011
  5. The Floating Island by Elizabeth Haydon – to-read since November 2006
  6. Console Wars by Blake J. Harris – to-read since 2013
  7. Masque of the Red Death by Bethany Griffin – to-read since 2012
  8. Industrial Magic by Kelley Armstrong – to-read since 2006
  9. Baby-Sitting is a Dangerous Job by Willo Davis Roberts – to-read since 2006
  10. Gregor and the Code of Claw by Suzanne Collins – to-read since 2012
  11. The Travelers: Book One by DJ MacHale and Carla Jablonski – to-read since 2011
  12. All Our Yesterdays by Cristin Terrill – to-read since 2016
  13. Haunted by Kelley Armstrong – to-read since 2006

Library Love Challenge Sign-Up

2017 Library Love Challenge

With moving into a pretty small apartment with another person who also desperately loves books, I’ve found myself in very serious lack of shelf space, so the library has been a huge help for me being able to read books while also not accumulating so much stuff (and helping us save money so we can buy a house that has more room for our books!). So, when I saw that Bea’s Book Nook and Angel’s Guilty Pleasures were teaming up to do a challenge specifically aimed at reading books from the library, I knew it was the perfect challenge for me this year.

Basically, here are the rules:

  1. Runs: January 1, 2017 – December 31, 2017. You can join any time.
  2. Put a sign up post on your blog or (dedicate a Goodreads shelf or LibraryThing) and link it below. Make sure it’s public.
  3. The goal is to read at least twelve (12) books from the library, but you can read more. While twelve is the minimum, there is no maximum limit. See the different levels below and pick the one that works best for you.
  4. Any format will work for this challenge (print, ebook, or audio); as long as you checked it out from the library, it counts.
  5. Books can be any genre (fiction, nonfiction, romance, fantasy, mystery, thriller, horror, etc.).
  6. Crossovers from other reading challenges are allowed, including re-reads. The goal is to support your local library and save money.
  7. Write a review – 2 sentences or an essay, whatever works for you, but there is a minimum of 2 sentences. Not sure what to write? How about something like, “The plot was a delight, but the characters didn’t capture me.”

Not too bad, right? And there’s a giveaway involved if you join, so overall, a pretty cool challenge!

The level I’m aiming for is: Overdrive Junkie – Read 36 books.

I would do the highest level (50 books), but I’m trying to be better at balancing real life and reading, so my goal for the year is only 52 and I want to read some of the books I own and haven’t read as well.

I will track my progress here and link to reviews as well. Want to join me? Head over to Bea’s Book Nook and sign up!

  1. My Bridges of Hope by Livia Bitton-Jackson
  2. The Floating Island by Elizabeth Haydon
  3. Console Wars by Blake J. Harris
  4. Masque of the Red Death by Bethany Griffin
  5. Industrial Magic by Kelley Armstrong
  6. Baby-Sitting is a Dangerous Job by Willo Davis Roberts
  7. Gregor and the Code of Claw by Suzanne Collins
  8. The Travelers: Book One by DJ MacHale and Carla Jablonski
  9. All Our Yesterdays by Cristin Terrill
  10. Haunted by Kelley Armstrong

Giveaway: War for the Oaks by Emma Bull

Shelf space is getting low in the Alyssa & Andrew household. After all of the ARCs we picked up at BEA, plus all of the wedding gifts, we’re really not sure what to do with our space anymore. So, throughout the course of a month or two, we’ll be hosting giveaways for some of our used books that we just can’t fit on our shelves anymore.

These giveaways are open to US only.

This one is called War for the Oaks by Emma Bull. It’s a former library book in decent shape. It’s not the prettiest looking, but it’s readable and its an a fantasy book written in the 80’s about faeries.

Summary from Goodreads:

 Eddi McCandry has just left her boyfriend and their band when she finds herself running through the Minneapolis night, pursued by a sinister man and a huge, terrifying dog. The two creatures are one and the same: a phouka, a faerie being who has chosen Eddi to be a mortal pawn in the age-old war between the Seelie and Unseelie Courts. Eddi isn’t interested–but she doesn’t have a choice. Now she struggles to build a new life and new band when she might not even survive till the first rehearsal.

Here’s what you’d be getting:




Interested? Help us out with clearing some space by entering to win below. Since WordPress does not let blog users embed the Rafflecopter Widget within their posts, simply click on the link, and it will bring you to the giveaway page. Thanks!

CLICK THIS LINK:  a Rafflecopter giveaway

#WeAreHuman Riveted Readathon

After the Pokemon Go Readathon, Andrew and I have discovered that we LOVE readathons. An excuse to sit around all day, curled up with book after book? Yes, please! Add in the social element that readathons give us, and we are so in.


Right now, Riveted is hosting a Readathon that:

  1. Is focused on giving money to the It Gets Better Project
  2. Gives you access to FREE FULL-LENGTH books that you can read during the readathon, given you have a Riveted account (which is also free).
  3. Rewards the charity for more people reading. If they hit 5,000 reads by 11/11, they’ll donate more money to It Gets Better

Readers, what more can you ask for? Let’s take advantage of this!

Right now, I’m burning through Afterworlds by Scott Westerfeld, and am enjoying every minute of it. I’d love to hear how everyone else is doing with their books.

Join the Readathon!

Pokemon Indigo League Read-a-thon Progress Page

To participate and sign up for this read-a-thon, visit Read At Midnight to see the rules and sign up!

Pewter Gym – BOULDER BADGE EARNED for Andrew & Alyssa
Alyssa: Freedom’s Landing by Anne McCaffrey — COMPLETED — 342/342
Andrew: Hunter by Mercedes Lackey — COMPLETED — 394/394

Cerulean Gym
Alyssa: The Summer of Riley by Eve Bunting
Andrew: Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro

Vermillion Gym
Alyssa: The Maze Runner by James Dashner — in progress — 66/373
Andrew: Divergent by Veronica Roth

Celadon Gym
Alyssa: The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
Andrew: I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou

Fuschia Gym
Alyssa: Naamah’s Blessing by Jacqueline Carey – in progress — 26/610
Andrew: Fever Pitch by Nick Hornby – COMPLETED – 239/239

Saffron Gym
Alyssa: Naruto Vol 7: Orochimaru’s Curse by Kishimoto Masashi – COMPLETED – 192/192 pages
Andrew: Elite by Mercedes Lackey

Cinnabar Gym
Alyssa: White Teeth by Zadie Smith — in progress — 45/542
Andrew:  Shrill by Lindy West

Viridian Gym
Alyssa: Legend by Marie Lu
Andrew: World War Z by Max Brooks



Starting CP: 10

Total Pages Read: 633 (+63 CP)

Gym Badges Earned: 2 (+40 CP)

Reviews Posted: 2 (+40 CP)

Tweets: 5 (+10 CP)

Pokemon Photo w/ Book Posted: 1 (+5 CP)

Evolution Bonus: 50 CP

Current CP: 218



Starting CP: 10

Total Pages Read: 671 (+67 CP)

Gym Badges Earned: 2 (+40 CP)

Reviews Posted: 1 (+20 CP)

Tweets: 7 (+14 CP)

Pokemon Photo w/ Book Posted: 2 (+10 CP)

Evolution Bonus: 50 CP

Current CP: 211

Pokemon Indigo League Read-a-thon Sign Up

If you follow my Twitter, you might know that my husband and I are slowly becoming ever more obsessed with Pokemon Go, and Pokemon, so now that we’ve been setting aside more time for reading recently, we thought it’d be appropriate to join a Pokemon-inspired read-a-thon hosted by Read At Midnight. To sign up yourself, or see a more detailed list of the rules, please visit the main sign up page at Read At Midnight.

Here we go! To follow our progress, you can view our progress post by clicking here.

The Challenge/Gyms

There are 8 reading challenges within this read-a-thon, based on the 8 gyms that are in the Indigo League. Earn a badge every time you complete a book!


  1. Pewter Gym:
    Alyssa’s Choice:
    Freedom’s Landing by Anne McCaffrey
    Andrew’s Choice:
    Hunter by Mercedes Lackey
  2. Cerulean Gym:
    Alyssa’s Choice:
    The Summer of Riley by Eve Bunting
    Andrew’s Choice:
    Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro
  3. Vermillion Gym:
    Alyssa’s Choice:
    The Maze Runner by James Dashner
    Andrew’s Choice:
    Divergent by Veronica Roth
  4. Celadon Gym:
    Alyssa’s Choice:
    The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
    Andrew’s Choice:
    I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
  5. Fuschia Gym:
    Alyssa’s Choice:
    Naamah’s Blessing by Jacqueline Carey
    Andrew’s Choice:
    Fever Pitch by Nick Hornby
  6. Saffron Gym:
    Alyssa’s Choice:
    Naruto, Vol 7: Orochimaru’s Curse by Kishimoto Masashi
    Andrew’s Choice:
    Elite by Mercedes Lackey
  7. Cinnabar Gym:
    Alyssa’s Choice:
    White Teeth by Zadie Smith
    Andrew’s Choice:
    Shrill by Lindy West
  8. Viridian Gym:
    Alyssa’s Choice:
    Legend by Marie Lu
    Andrew’s Choice:
    World War Z by Max Brooks


Andrew chooses…Gastly! gastly

Alyssa chooses…Poliwag! poliwag



Let me know if you’re joining, and if you’re interested in following our progress, you can do so here!

I Don’t Read New Releases

With the recent release of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, I realized it was the first time in a while that I’ve actually been intrigued by a new release. “Maybe I should get it now,” I thought. That was, of course, before I looked at the price and decided against it. New releases really aren’t for people who’ve just been married and gone on a honeymoon trip to Europe.

But that made me realize that I haven’t actually read a new release probably since Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows came out. I haven’t actually bought a book on the release day to read in about nine years, and I wondered why. It’s not because I don’t care enough about books or a certain series or author– I live and breathe books. It’s certainly not because I don’t have discretionary money, though I do have a habit of saving rather than spending. So, why? Why don’t I do that?

It’s also a trend in other entertainment areas — I don’t watch movies the first day they came out anymore (I used to love midnight showings), and I very rarely pick up a video game on its release day. And I think, really, it’s because of hype.

I am so over buying into the hype about something.

Being excited is one thing, and sometimes the first day excitement really is just that. But I’ve seen way too many mediocre things lauded as “amazing” because of the mob mentality hype that often comes along with midnight showings and release days. Recently, I’ve been waiting at least a few months, sometimes even a year before something comes out to see how it is. For video games, it’s purely a cost issue once reviews come out saying it’s good. But for books and movies, I just want to make sure that my opinions are my own and that I’m not raving about a book I would actually think is only okay if I weren’t immersed in a culture that was talking about how great it is.

I’m not trying to make a point or anything, this is just something that I’ve been thinking about now that The Cursed Child has come out. I’m so glad people get excited about books and I can’t wait to read the new Harry Potter book — in a few months or so.