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  • Ginni Chen 5:00 pm on 2017/01/19 Permalink
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    Ask a Literary Lady: How Do I Pick up Reading Again? 

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    Dear Literary Lady,

    Have you ever stopped reading for a long period of time because of work, or school, or family, or just life? If so, what motivated you to start reading again? I haven’t picked up a book in ages, and I really need a kick in the pants.

    – E.G., Milwaukee, WI

    Dear E.G.,

    I’ve had my fair share of bookless stretches, and I know how tough it is to snap out of it when you’re just buried in the day-to-day.

    The descent into literature-less madness is slippery and sinister. It begins when you realize how busy you are. You start worrying that there’s something you could, or should, be doing instead of sitting down with a good book. Time and again, you put off reading in order to do something “productive.” When you miss the comfort of curling up with a book, you reassure yourself that you might not have time to read right now, but this too shall pass and you’ll get back to cracking spines. But it doesn’t pass. You just get busier and busier. Eventually, reading fades from your routine and you forget that it’s even an option.

    But fear not! You can get your readerly ways back even when you’re short on time, energy, and inclination.

    First, get thee to a bookstore. Look at all the pretty people reading. Smell the coffee. Feel how warm and cozy it is. Note how neat and orderly the stacks of books are, with their crisp white pages. Even if you only have ten minutes to spare, browse around the new bestsellers. You’ll find that you can’t tear yourself away.

    Second, feed your FOMO. Ask your friends what they’re reading and join conversations that coworkers are having about books. Browse book blogs, read book reviews in the paper, or listen to literary podcasts. Surround yourself with evidence that others are reading voraciously and having a grand ole time without you.

    Next, return to an old favorite. When you’re mentally and physically drained, an old book can be comforting in its familiarity. You don’t have to worry about finishing the novel or following the plot closely because you already know what happens. You can skip forward to your favorite parts, or rediscover an old phrase that you used to quote. In fact, if you’re short on time, just open your favorite book to a random page and start reading.

    Don’t forget to ask for help from your bookworm friends. If you don’t know what to read, or you don’t have anything to read, reach out to them. Ask them for suggestions, ask them to lend you their copy of an old favorite, or trade a whole bunch of books with them at once so you have some fresh reading material within arm’s reach.

    Lastly, treat yourself to one book. Just one. I know, it seems counterintuitive to just buy one, but it’s important to think of it as buying a gift for yourself. You’re not buying books like you buy groceries or paper towels. You’re forcing yourself to narrow your purchase down to one book. One perfect, glorious book. As you weigh your options, flipping through pages and comparing book jackets, you will find that you want to read them all.

    Love and paperbacks,
    Literary Lady

    The post Ask a Literary Lady: How Do I Pick up Reading Again? appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

  • Ginni Chen 4:00 pm on 2017/01/04 Permalink
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    Ask a Literary Lady: I Need a Better New Year’s Resolution Than “Read More” 

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    Dear Literary Lady,

    Every year, my New Year’s resolution is to read more, but I never know if I actually have. What are some reading-related resolutions I can make that have tangible, measurable results, so I can ensure that I’m on track?

    H.B., Portland, OR

    Dear H.B.,

    It’s great that you want to read more, but as far as New Year’s resolutions go, it might be too vague. There are many ways one can “read more,” but to make a reading habit that lasts throughout the year, you have to ask yourself—what do you want read more of, and why?

    Do you want to increase the number of books you read each year? Do you want to devote more time to reading? Do you want to expand the variety of books you read? Or do you want to be more well-read? All of these are worthy goals, but they have different motivations. By identifying your motivations, you can narrow down your New Year’s resolution and ensure that you set goals that resonate with you all year.

    Being specific in your goal-setting requires more than just describing what you want to achieve at the very end of 2017. If you tell yourself you’re going to accomplish something by 2017, you’ll become discouraged in March when you’re only a quarter of the way there, and that New Year’s resolution will fall by the wayside. I would suggest breaking down your 2017 resolution into monthly, weekly, or even daily increments. You can measure your progress at each stage and feel a sense of accomplishment when you hit those small milestones.

    As with any goal-setting activity, I cannot overstate the importance of being highly specific about what you are doing, and when you are doing it. Below are a few suggestions of ways you can swap out general reading-related resolutions for more specific (and more fun!) goals.

    Instead of saying “I will read more in 2017,” try the following:

    1. Make a list of all the books you want to read in 2017. It’s a great way to wrack your brains for all the books you meant to read, but never got around to. Ask friends and family to weigh in on your list, and be sure to leave some space open on your list for new suggestions. Once 2017 kicks off and you start reading, you’ll have a list you can check off each time you finish a book.

    2. Resolve to read for at least a half hour a day. It doesn’t matter if you read two pages in half an hour or twenty pages, the point is that you’re sitting down with a book and unplugging for a bit.

    3. Assign yourself a different genre each month. If you’re not a very adventurous reader, this is the year to force yourself to branch out. Devote one month to reading poetry, another to science fiction, another to autobiographies, and so on and so forth. By the end of 2017, you’ll be familiar with all the different sections in a bookstore, and you might even have some new favorites.

    4. Be an armchair traveller in 2017. Make it your goal to read books written about other cultures and countries. Explore the most celebrated books around the world and devote a couple months to reading fiction from a different continent. What are people reading in Italy, in Japan, in South Africa, in the Caribbean? What new voices are being translated for American readers?

    5. Resolve to keep a book log or journal. After every book you read, write down your impressions of it, your questions, your likes and dislikes. Even though you haven’t set any goals about what kind of books you’ll read or how many, the act of writing after reading will help you get more out of the books you do read. If nothing else, you’ll learn a lot more about what kind of reader you are.

    There are a lot of ways to “read more.” You could increase the quantity or the quality of the books you read, you could read more widely in different genres, or you could read more of the classics. You could become more knowledgeable about literary studies, or you could simply spend more time ruminating over your personal thoughts on books.

    My suggestion is to figure out what kind of reader you want to be at the end of 2017, and build your New Year’s resolution around that!

    Love and paperbacks,
    Literary Lady

    The post Ask a Literary Lady: I Need a Better New Year’s Resolution Than “Read More” appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

  • Ginni Chen 3:00 pm on 2016/12/21 Permalink
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    Ask a Literary Lady: Can Santa Bring My Kids Books This Christmas? 

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    Dear Literary Lady,

    Every year, my kids write their letters to Santa, and every year, they ask for a lot of toys. Usually Santa obliges, but this year, I’m hoping Santa will bring some books instead of toys and help my kids learn to love reading. How can Santa make my wish come true and show my kids that books are fun?

    – R.C., Boston, MA

    Dear R.C.,

    Santa can absolutely make this work! It’s a well-known fact that Santa Claus loves bringing children books instead of toys because (a) books last longer than toys, (b) books are easier to wrap than toys, and (c) books are logistically easier to deliver around the world than large plastic trucks.

    I bet Santa dreams of a day when he can stop going to the crowded toy factory and trying to figure out exactly what toy each child requested. Instead, St. Nick can go to his book factory at a leisurely pace, browse quietly, enjoy a latte, and then calmly gather all his gifts.

    That said, I understand your dilemma. You want Santa to make your kids happy on Christmas morning, but you also hope Santa nudges your kids towards reading. Maybe Santa make both these wishes come true by trying the following:

    1. Personalized books
    Santa could bring a personalized book just for your kids. When your kids realize that they are the star of the story, they’ll want to read it over and over again—and maybe even write their own stories.

    2. Books about a child’s latest obsession
    Kids often go through phases where they’re obsessed with something, and Santa usually knows what it is. Whether it’s dinosaurs, airplanes, ponies, or ballet, Santa could give your kids informative books about their favorite things. Be prepared to hear them repeat all the useful facts they learn!

    3. Toys that come with books
    The only thing better than a toy is a toy with a backstory. When your children wake up and see that Santa has brought them a new friend that comes with a book, they’ll want to read the book first. There’s nothing more important than finding out who the new toy is and where they come from.

    4. Classic novels with the corresponding children’s version
    Santa knows that kids are endlessly intrigued by whatever adults are doing. On Christmas morning, you might find that Santa has brought you one of your favorite classic novels, and your kids have received the children’s version. Now you can pass on your love of reading to your kids side by side. Just make some cocoa, snuggle up, and start reading.

    5. Books with dress-up clothes
    What could be more fun than dressing up and playing pretend? Santa could really step up the game by bringing books and costumes that go and in hand. A book about wizards could come with a hat, a wand, and a cape. A book about a detective could come with a magnifying glass and a deerstalker hat. There’s no end to the characters your kids could be!

    Don’t worry. With a little creativity and a lot of enthusiasm for reading, Santa can convince your kids that books are just as much fun as toys.

    Love and paperbacks,
    Literary Lady

    The post Ask a Literary Lady: Can Santa Bring My Kids Books This Christmas? appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

  • Ginni Chen 4:00 pm on 2016/12/07 Permalink
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    Ask a Literary Lady: Alone For the Holidays? 

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    Dear Literary Lady,

    My family won’t be able to get together for the holidays this year, so I’ll be spending it alone. Any suggestions for books to read when you’re missing your loved ones?

    – L.Y., Atlanta, GA

    Dear L.Y.,

    I grew up far away from my family, so this is a question that I’m all too familiar with. There have been many holiday seasons where I’ve loaded up on books, curled up in my bed, and just hibernated until the holidays were over.

    It’s hard to be surrounded by families when you’re not with your own, and the festivities of the holiday season can make you feel especially lonely. You don’t want to go out because the stores are either mobbed or closed. When you do make it out of your house, everything reminds you that you’re very much alone. You could spend the holidays with a friend’s family, but the thought of someone else’s crazy family is exhausting and makes you miss yours more.

    So what’s the best thing to do? Stockpile books (and hot chocolate) and wait out the winter holidays.

    In my experience, it’s important to get a wide variety of books to combat holiday moodiness. Sometimes you’re going to want a book that reminds you of home. Sometimes you’ll want a feel-good book about the holidays. Sometimes you’ll want to forget that it’s the holidays altogether. Sometimes you’ll want to be cheered up, and other times you’ll be craving a good cry. Make sure you get books for all those moments.

    Here are some of my favorite books to read, and reread, whenever I’m alone for the holidays:

    1. A Fine Balance, by Rohinton Mistry
    This is a story about finding friendship and family far away from home. If you’re ever feeling alone and inconsequential in an uncertain world, this novel will speak to you.

    2. A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius, by Dave Eggers
    Read this book whenever you miss your siblings. In fact, read this book whenever your siblings are driving you nuts and you think you don’t miss them at all. You will.

    3. The Harry Potter Series, by J.K. Rowling
    Look, sometimes you just want to pretend you’re an orphan with magical powers and that’s why you’re spending the holidays alone and it’s absolutely not because your boss wouldn’t give you time off and flights were too expensive…

    4. Where’d You Go, Bernadette?, by Maria Semple
    Sometimes we’re all just too caught up in our own family drama to see the lighter, funnier side of things. Here’s a novel that will make you embrace all the dysfunctions and quirks of your family.

    5. The Best Christmas Pageant Ever, by Barbara Robinson
    This list wouldn’t be complete if I didn’t share one throwback book from my childhood. I have a yellowed, dog-eared copy of this book from the 80’s that I will keep forever. If you were ever a kid in a school holiday play (or if you were ever an adult who had to sit through one) this gem will have you rolling on the floor.

    What books help you through the holidays?

    The post Ask a Literary Lady: Alone For the Holidays? appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

  • Ginni Chen 4:00 pm on 2016/11/23 Permalink
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    Ask a Literary Lady: Help, I’ve Lost Interest in Reading? 

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    Ginni at B&NDear Literary Lady,
    I used to love to read, but lately, I haven’t been able to get into the books on my reading list. I’m frustrated that I haven’t been able to finish any of them. I find myself easily distracted when I’m reading, and I end up playing with my phone, staring blankly at the TV, or doing absolutely nothing. What happened to me, and what should I do?
    – P.D., Toledo, OH.

    Dear P.D.,
    Before you pick up another book, I want you to stop and check in with yourself. Ask yourself if anything has been bothering you, if there’s anything in the back of your mind, if you’re stressed out about anything. Has anything happened lately? Is anything about to happen? How are you feeling?

    Books can be many things to us—they can be fortifying, enlightening, comforting, and entertaining. They can help us relax, help us escape, help us empathize with others, and help us think. But sometimes, books are not enough. Sometimes, you don’t get what you need out of reading to deal constructively with actual, difficult issues in your life.

    So before you tackle your reading slump, I suggest tackling your situation as a whole and assessing what you truly need. What is happening that your favorite activity cannot solve? Do you need to take care of yourself? Do you need to take action in some way? Do you need to connect with people in your life? Do you need to get something off your chest? Those are all things that even the best book ever written cannot do for you. Sure, a great book can lead you to water, but it cannot make you drink.

    As wonderful as books are, they ask things of us. They ask for our undivided attention, our brainpower, our emotions, and our time. Sometimes, you just don’t have any of that to spare. That’s when you start to feel like you’re just not “into” a book and reading an entire novel becomes too difficult to sustain.

    If any of this strikes a chord with you, my advice is to set aside your ambitious reading list for a bit. Don’t get hung up on finishing one novel after another. Don’t worry about checking another book off your list. Don’t get frustrated with yourself for not making it to the last page.

    Instead, find ways to take care of yourself. You can even do so in ways that intersect with your love of literature. Try writing for yourself. Hang out with friends and talk about books. Go to the bookstore with friends and just browse together. Find quotes and poems that speak to how you feel. Focus on your story, and not someone else’s, just for a little while. You’ll go back to books soon enough, and you’ll enjoy them even more.

    Love and paperbacks,

    Literary Lady

    The post Ask a Literary Lady: Help, I’ve Lost Interest in Reading? appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

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