The Rise and Reign of the Mammals Book Review

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Refreshing start to the New Year

With how i’m just going to focus on mood reading and reading what I want when I want and no longer doing the Goodreads challenge I decided to start off the year with intentionally not reading anything for the first day of the new year. Kinda like intention setting. I played Sims 2 all day and had a blast! I got some sims through University, which always takes so long.

It is so refreshing (for me personally – if you want to do it, go for it and good luck!) to not have to worry about anything in regards to a Goodreads challenge (anymore, though it worked for me for awhile as I mentioned before) or any books I said i’d get to in either a TBR or a POP. Even though POPs were looser I was still treating them like a TBR, just one I knew I wouldn’t get through all the books and had a tiny bit of freedom with.

Speaking of POPs, I know what my problem was. Sharing it. If I share any TBR or POP etc, I’ve then set the expectation i’ll get to those books, or at least do the best I can. It’s like a promise even though it isn’t and I can’t break a promise. I was frustrating myself without realizing it.

Now i’ve been writing down books that call to me, that catch my eye, that I wanna get to etc. just so when i’m ready to read I can see if any of those still catch my eye, so I can remember. But i’m no longer sharing them and i’m not treating them as monthly things anymore. It’s for however long said mood lasts. Before I pick up a book I must ask myself, do I feel like reading this right now? If the answer is no, I won’t pick it up then.

If for some reason I look at my private temporary POP and think “I don’t wanna read any of these books right now, but I wanna read something” well, at least i’ve crossed some books off the list and am that much closer to figuring out what I do want to read.

So, now it’s the 3rd day of the year. Have I picked anything up yet? Yup! I still really want to read a bunch of things! I’ve started The Rise and Reign of the Mammals, which is the sequel to The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs which I read last year and it made it onto my favorites of the year!

I’m not too far in yet but so far i’m enjoying it just as much as The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs!

Have you picked up anything yet? If so, what? How is your New Year starting off?

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Why i’m no longer going to do the Goodreads Challenge (but i’m not against it)

I became an avid reader in late 2015. If you’re not new here you might already know that, otherwise I posted my reading journey here. I was 26 years old in 2015. I started doing the Goodreads challenge then. I’ve done it every year since 2015 (I didn’t always start it at the beginning of the year but usually I did).

At first I truly believe it got me to keep reading and to become an avid reader. It pushed me and motivated me. But eventually, it started to stress me. So I set it lower once I got to a point I was happy with in my reading, no stress about the numbers. But, it no longer feels right to me to have a reading challenge goal on Goodreads at all.

It’s so gamified in the book community. A source of stress for some. Turning reading into a numbers game when it should be an enjoyable hobby or way to learn. Not a chore, but fun. It wants quantity over quality, and by quality I don’t mean you have to read classics (unless you want to) or hard stuff. By quality I just mean books one really wants to read and enjoys. But instead, you gotta hit those numbers, so short books it is. And if one wants to read short books, that’s fine. But when you want to read those chunkers? It’s no longer fine.

You can still see anyone’s books they’ve read in any given year on Goodreads even without a reading challenge goal set. On their profile on Goodreads go to their bookshelves, hit “stats”, and then any years they’ve logged books into Goodreads will show up and you can look at them by year. Sure they have to have read dates on them but generally those are automatically added when you choose “currently reading” and then “finished”.

By not having a Goodreads challenge my reading will feel just a little more private (even though it really isn’t but it still feels different since not everyone knows you can still see people’s read books by year even without a challenge and it has more steps to do so so even someone who knows is less likely to do it than they are to click a reading challenge and quickly and easily see all the books).

I stated how I just want to read what I want when I want and mood reading and all that in my previous post 2023: The Year of Mood Reading. I love to read now. I needed a kick in the ass to get here, I know I did, but the kick in the ass has done it’s job now and i’m in love with reading. I don’t see myself not reading, that seems absurd to me now. Not read? But why not? I wanna read so many things! But at the same time, i don’t have to read anything, and if I didn’t read anything ever again? That could be ok. Confusing, but ok.

So no Goodreads reading challenge goal feels less stressful, no matter what I would’ve done with the challenge. I thought about setting it to 25 (i’ll most likely crush that), thought about setting it to 1 “to make a point” or nothing at all. And now i’ve decided, none at all. And I don’t think i’m going back to it. The ones i’ve done already will stay up on my Goodreads. I just won’t have any new ones.

But as the title says, i’m not against it. I already said I needed the kick in the ass it gave me to become the reader I am now. I’m grateful for it and I know it works wonderfully for some people. We’re all different. And things can change with a person to, like they are for me. But even so we’re all different and our brains and lives work differently. Do what is truly best for you, and have fun!

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2023: The Year of Mood Reading

I became an avid reader in late 2015, I was 26 years old. I’ll try to be short since i’ve mentioned it before. I grew up struggling with reading comprehension, not knowing I have aphantasia and was thinking differently than others, and being told I wasn’t allowed to read the things I did want to read, like Harry Potter, because “evil will send you to literal hell”. Thankfully I had Goosebumps and Fear Street from R L Stine to show me that reading could be fun! Even if I still struggled, I enjoyed it. So I have much gratitude to R.L. stine.

But after high school I didn’t read much, just a nonfiction book on paganism here and there as I wanted to learn something, that was it. Until 2015 when I realized I was being dumb thinking I was “too old” to read Harry Potter, that I had missed my shot, and read it. I loved it. Then I wondered what the hell i’d read next and I found booktube and it spiraled from there.

So i’ve made TBR lists and stuck to them (and hated it but couldn’t stop myself), finally changing them to POPs (pile of possibilities) but still … not quite where I need to be.

Readathons, popular in the queer book community, popular in the horror book community, buddy reads, group reads, etc. I’ve started a million (ok about 100, i’m serious) different series only to never continue them because I couldn’t make the time, no matter how much I loved that first book.

I’ve had so much fun and got so much out of the online book community, I am very grateful for it. And I think I did need that push and those experiences first, to kick start me on my journey and show me the awesomely wide world of books. But I think i’m moving past that now but I got to do it consciously. And it’s not as easy as it sounds.

I am not saying any way is better than another, everyone is different! Do what works for you and makes you happy. I am only talking about my personal reading journey, no one else’s.

I know I have a bunch of “reading goals” and challenges but i’m not going to be using those as “must do” things. I’m using them because the challenges on storygraph are fun and it can be fun to see how much I complete of them, without the goal of completing them. Also most of them don’t have a time limit anyway so I can finish them years from now if I want to. Also, I know i’m going to have a lot of times where I don’t know what I want to read, but I can look at them and go “nah, don’t feel like reading that at the moment”, “maybe”, “Oh, yes, that!”. Because I may not be able to think off the top of my head what I feel like reading but I can identify if a thing is a “no” or a “yes” once I see it. So i’m going to be using them as tools to help me decide what I am in the mood for reading, if that makes sense. I can always say fuck them if it doesn’t work out for some reason.

Next year, or starting now really, i’m only going to read when I want and what I want. I will game if I want. I will write if I want. I will draw if I want. I will do puzzles or watch tv or movies if I want. You get the picture, and yes, I do enjoy doing all those things. But rarely do I do most of them. And that makes me sad because I don’t have a good reason.

I will have a rule for myself of no readathons. I will not say ahead of time i’ll participate in a buddy or group read in case I don’t feel like it when the time comes. If when the time comes I feel like it, sure I can read it and chime in. There is one possible exception to my no readathons rule: Nonfiction November! I love nonfiction November but if I don’t feel like nonfiction in november (I pretty much always do though), then I won’t participate. But there is a strong chance I still will participate because i’ll want to. I won’t use the prompts at all though, i’ll just read whatever nonfiction books I want (since that’s all you have to do to participate, the prompts are optional).

And of course, no feeling like I “have” to do anything in regards to reading. If I start to feel that, I need to reevaluate what i’m doing wrong. I’m not in school and I am disabled and unable to work. I don’t have to read for any reason, I read because I want to. I should not be turning it into a chore.

I want to have pure joy at reading, no stress, only unbridled joy. I mean it’s fine if a story stresses me out if i’m enjoying the story, you know what I mean. I am one of those people that I love the really depressing stories … i’m already in therapy ok? (Seriously, I am in therapy) I just want the joy of going “I really want to read right now” and then figuring out what i’m in the mood for, and reading it. Not feeling like I have to, though I don’t quite know how to kick that feeling. Probably just takes practice. I’ll keep kicking it.

I mentioned earlier how i’m awful with series, I want to change that! I want to binge series and not feel like i’m doing something wrong by doing so. I mean, if I don’t change it, that’s fine to I guess but I think that will change as a consequence of doing this :).

I’ll be able to read at my own preference and pace. No “I have to read this much” or “read this book this fast” or “I must read this now, then this, then …”.

Also, I don’t want to feel bad if I want to reread books! Down with rereading shame! Seriously, there are many good reasons to reread, but even if there wasn’t, why the fuck not? Read what you want, you don’t need to justify that to others.

Thank you for listening to my rambling.

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Some Classics I Want to Read

I do not plan when i’ll read these books, as I stated in my last post i’m going to go with just mood reading so i’ll read them when I want to, and I also make no promises on finishing them. If I start one and decide at some point while reading it it’s not for me, I can DNF. Though I don’t DNF much. But these are (just some) classics that I have yet to read/give a shot and I do want to.

Have you read any of these? Which classics do you want to read?

Edit: I actually did read Romeo and Juliet when I was 14 for school but I thought it was stupid then. Now in my 30s I want to reread it and see what I think now.

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What if I never joined the online book community?

Because of something i’d heard someone say I got to thinking, what if I never joined the online book community?

I wasn’t much of a reader as a kid. I did read sometimes but because reasons I struggled to remember what I read (I believe aphantasia is to blame as I was reading fast and not giving myself time to process what I was reading). Thankfully Goosebumps showed me reading could be fun as a kid, even if I did struggle I still enjoyed the stories!

But after high school? I ended up only reading when I wanted to know something. So, not often. I always wanted to learn how to read better, figure out what I had to do to remember what I read and have better reading comprehension, I just figured I was too dumb.

Well at 26 I decided fuck it, imma read. I knew what I wanted to start with, Harry Potter, since I had not been allowed to read it growing up like most people my age did. So, I read Harry Potter, in 2015. I loved it. But then I had a problem, what the hell do I read next? I think I looked up Harry Potter reviews on YouTube and found BookTube and then it spiraled from there. I learned I just needed to slow down and process. Actually think about what I was reading. I can’t describe it as well as i’d like but yea..

What if, there was no online book community? Or I just, didn’t interact with it at all? How would I have found that next book? I’m disabled and can’t really get out much, so I order books online. I could potentially browse book store websites to find new books .. Maybe I could google to find stuff about books? I don’t know but I know I wouldn’t know about nearly as many books as I do.

I also don’t think i’d have branched out as much. I love to read all over the place, all genres etc! I might have stuck to horror. I love nonfiction but I was also intimated by it by for awhile, and … I can actually blame the book community for that when I think about it. The few books I picked up between high school 2007 – 2015? All nonfiction. About Paganism related stuff but still. I soaked in the fact others were intimated by nonfiction and avoided it for awhile. So i’d have probably checked out more nonfiction. But would I venture out of horror and nonfiction? Maybe a little? Probably not a lot. And that would be sad. Some of the books that mean the most to me are in other genres.

I have made friends I am grateful for through the book community and learned about so many books and broadened my horizons (and hopefully will continue to do so). Does that mean it doesn’t have it’s cons? No. It’s a community, like any other, it’ll have cons, but the pros do outweigh the cons for me. 🙂

There is another thing. If I had no online book community, i’d never make a monthly tbr or pile of possibilities. I wouldn’t think to do such a thing. I might make a list of books I was interested in but, that’d probably be it. I’d be free to 100% mood read. And technically, I am free to do that, I just, haven’t done so.

I want that joy, of mood reading. Complete mood reading. No TBRs. No POPs. Yes I have a ton of ideas for stuff I want to read and do, challenges etc, but i’m not using them as things I have to do. I’m using them as things to help me decide what I want to read and see an accomplishment anytime I tick something off. Most of the things don’t have a time limit anyway.

Anytime that I decide what I want to do, i’m going to be honest with myself. If I want to do something else, i’ll do something else. But if I decide I want to read, then it’ll become a matter of figuring out what I want to read. What genre? Etc. What book can I hear calling to me. And that’ll be what I read. After all, i’m in my 30s and not in school. No one is going to tell me what I can or can not read and no one is going to tell me what to do with my free time.

No TBRs. No POPs. No Readathons. Those are going to be my rules. No announcing i’ll participate in a group read. I can always decide I want to read that book and read it because I want to and why not join in the convo? but no saying it ahead of time. Just spur of the moment mood reading. And I want to see where that takes me. I already know I like to read all over the place and have so many things I want to read, I don’t see it being a problem.

I also want to mention i’m thinking of reading some popular and controversial books next year. I don’t generally make the time to read them even though I want to so i’m hoping i’ll want to next year. There are plenty out there so ..! I also joined the popsugar 2023 reading challenge on storygraph just to see what I manage to do next year. No pressure to do anything, as already stated.

So yea, that’s all I got to say for this post. Any thoughts?

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How I did with Nonfiction November and manga

How did I do with Nonfiction November and 30 in 30 Manga Reading challenge?

In my opinion? Great! I read 4 nonfiction books, 1 for each of the prompts, and 6 volumes of Food Wars! … That’s it, 6 volumes. I know that’s no where near 30 but I do remember it being said that the point is just to read more manga than you usually do, and I succeeded in that. Sure, more woulda been nice but I didn’t fail either. And hopefully this time I won’t stop reading Food Wars and will actually finish it! I initially read the first 12 volumes, loved them, and then … well i’m bad at series ok? So I need to read 6 more and i’ll be where I was at before. There are 36 volumes. Wish me luck.

The Nonfiction Books I Read

I read Cleopatra by Stacy Schiff for the prompt Record. I gave it 3 stars. I listened to it on audio book and it was very interesting. I’m just bad at processing audio books and I know it didn’t really get into my brain, but that’s a me problem. I did like it.

I read The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs: A New History of a Lost World by Stephen Brusatte for the prompt Element. I loved this! It was so fascinating (and I have it physically) and understandable and there are pictures and DINOSAURS. I have a newfound love for dinosaurs now. I gave it 5 stars. My review on Goodreads states:

“Dinosaurs are fascinating! I learned so much. Very well written and accessible.
My favorite dinosaur, is penguin. Confused? Read the book. If you are remotely interested in Dinosaurs, read it.”

I read Entangled Life: How Fungi Make Our Worlds, Change Our Minds & Shape Our Futures by Merlin Sheldrake for the prompt Border. I gave this 4 stars. This was also very fascinating, and unexpectedly thought-provoking! I read it on kindle.

I read Cultish: The Language of Fanaticism by Amanda Montell for the prompt Secret. I gave this 4 stars. This both is and is not what you’d expect. Once you read it you’ll see it everywhere. But is that really terrifying? Yes and No. It depends. Read it if you want to understand what I mean. I listened to it and did really enjoy the narration and it kept my attention.

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Nonfiction November POP (Pile of Possibilities)

I love Nonfiction but don’t read enough of it! I aim to change that! I’ve participated in Nonfiction November before. At first I thought I wasn’t going to pay attention to the prompts but then with Olive explaining different ways to interpret them and the Nonfiction November reading challenge on storygraph with recommendations I decided i’ll give them a shot!

Nonfic Nov announcement by abookolive

Nonfic book recommendations by abookolive

Nonfic November storygraph reading challenge

I’ve also made an Expand your mind with Nonfiction 2023 reading challenge for myself on storygraph. I made it public in case anyone wants to join in. Even though there are 24 prompts a book may fit more than 1 (and as 2023 implies goes through-out all of next year).

This is NOT all of my possibilities as that would be ridiculously long. I have a lot more possibilities for Record and Element (mostly Record) than I do Border and Secret (the 4 optional prompts) but I still have options for each. So here are just some of my options. Also some of the options work for multiple prompts but I only put them in one here.

Each of the covers should link to the Goodreads page if you wanna check them out!

Record

Element

Border

Secret

Other (many of which do actually fit a prompt)

Yes, that is a lot, and yes I have even more possibilities lol but i’ll stop here because that is still a lot. I either have the book or it’s available on hoopla, libby or scribd for me.

I am so excited for Nonfiction November! Are you planning to join? Have you joined before? Do you enjoy Nonfiction? There are so many subgenres and wonderful writers I truly think there is something out there for everyone! Have you read any of the above books and if so what did you think of them?

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Wednesday Wrap Up October 12th, 2022

What I Am Currently Reading

The Hacienda by Isabel Cañas – I’m 105 pages in as of writing this and enjoying it so far! Took a little bit to get going but i’m interested now.

What I’ve Recently Finished

Frankenstein by Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley (The Second Norton Critical Edition) – I love Frankenstein so much. Loved some of the essays, not so much others.

What Do I Think I’ll Read Next?

Whatever I feel like then.

Other Stuff

With everything I got going on, the possible new hernia while still recovering from hernia repair surgery (I see the Dr tomorrow) among other things, i’m going to stop posting on a schedule. I do already have a couple posts scheduled to go but from now on i’m just going to blog when I REALLY want to. When I have something I really want to say, maybe it’s gushing about a new favorite book or deep diving into a book or some other topic. Could be cannabis related, could be news related, could be book related, could be life related etc. Just whatever calls to me to blog about. So i’ll be sporadic from now on but the posts I make will have more passion behind them.

I also recently made a storygraph profile! It is here if you want to check it out.

I also added it to my linktree links, which has all my socials in one spot.

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