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life as a mood reader

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I've heard the term "mood reader" thrown around several times, and I had never thought much about it. But as I've matured in my reading, as I've come to know who I am as a reader more, I have realized that I am in fact a mood reader.

I can't do TBRs. I just can't. I keep a list of books I'm interested in reading someday, but that's the extent of my ventures in TBRs. If I even try to construct an exact, numbered order of all the books I'm going to read in the next 5 years I go insane. I feel like I'm restricted and limited. I begin to get stressed out over just how many books there are in the world, and how little time I have in my short life to read them all.
I applaud the people who can be more organized in their reading life. But TBRs induce existential crises for me. It's just not healthy.

Instead of sticking religiously to a TBR like other professional readers. I choose the books I read one at a time. Whenever I finish a book, I immediately go to my bookshelf, or my aforementioned list of interesting books, to see what exactly I want to read next. What sort of story I'm in the mood for (hence the term mood reader).

There are several cons to mood reading. Sometimes I'll accidentally pick up a book that I wasn't really ready for, and my emotions will affect my ultimate opinion of the story. I'll end up hating a book I might've actually loved if I were in a different mind set.
And since I rely on my feelings, there are times where my emotions simply say no to reading. This is when I sink into the depressing feeling that there is no book in the world that will meet my specific desires. Defeated, I turn to Netflix and develop a massive, incurable reading slump.
These instances, thankfully, don't happen extremely often.

I feel like through being a mood reader, I have enjoyed reading even more. I don't feel an obligation to read all the time. It would feel like a chore to pick up a book simply so that I could mark it off of a TBR. And since I only read what I really want, I end up loving most all of the books I do end up reading.
Ultimately, I really love my mood reading habits. It can be tricky at time, but it has opened me up to countless books and genres I may have never read otherwise.

What about you? Are you a mood reader?

Book Review | Eleanor & Park

| goodreads |
I like to think that I am the type of reader who can read and love anything. And for the most part that's true. But I don't read a lot of contemporary books. I just have the hardest time finding contemporaries that I actually love. For some reason, though, I found myself actually craving a cute, fluffy, romantic, contemporary book to read.
I stumbled upon Eleanor & Park at my school's library. Since it has been on my TBR shelf for forever, and since I've read and enjoyed Rainbow Rowell's other young adult book, Fangirl, I figured I wouldn't totally hate it (like I typically do with contemporaries).

Guys. This book was all kinds of adorable. The relationship between Eleanor and Park was probably one of my favorite parts of the book. It wasn't the strange, unrealistic case of insta-love that I expected. In fact they can barely stand each other at the beginning. The development of their relationship is nice and gradual. They bond over a shared love for music and superhero comic books, becoming close friends before eventually starting a real romantic relationship. And if you're a helpless romantic (*cough* like me), you can't help but gush as you read it.

I also really enjoyed the setting. The story is set in the 80's, so it is filled with cultural references that give a cool atmosphere to the whole book. It makes you feel like you're reading a book based on an old 80's film, honestly.

I'm always surprised at how Rainbow Rowell is able to also incorporate some pretty heavy topics along with her cutesy romance. There are serious sub-plots that go on in this book, about bullying, working through bad family situations, etc. I don't want to spoil anything, but I will admit that, while this book starts off fairly happy and carefree, the ending was able to make me tear up. It left me with a mild book-hangover when I was done, which hardly ever happens to me with contemporaries.

The only thing that got on my nerves was that Eleanor could get kind of angsty. I tried to be understanding, since she she had a hard life. But there were too many times where her confidence would shatter and she would worry that Park didn't love her anymore because of her weight or whatever, whatever, whatever. It got a bit annoying. Which is probably why Park was my favorite character.
Park was so sweet and understanding and a total nerd. He genuinely cared about Eleanor and didn't want her to get hurt, even if it meant possibly losing her, and I just thought it was adorable.

I forgot how much I love Rainbow Rowell's writing, and now I'm finding myself wanting to reread Fangirl. She is so so good at hooking readers to keep them reading and interested until the very end. Even people like me, who have trouble finding gems in the contemporary genre will become invested.
“Eleanor was right. She never looked nice. She looked like art, and art wasn't supposed to look nice; it was supposed to make you feel something.” 
― Rainbow RowellEleanor & Park

"wrong will be right, when Aslan comes in sight"

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I've had all seven books of The Chronicles of Narnia sitting on my bookshelf, neatly collecting dust between the spines, for many many years. Every time I would glance at them I would think to myself: "I should just sit down and read all of those someday..." But someday never seemed to come, and the books remained in their little box set. 

Of course I already knew the stories of all the Narnia books. But I had yet to read them all on my own. The stories had all been given to me secondhand. My mom read a couple to me and my sisters when we were young, and I've seen the movies multiple times. I wanted to read them for myself to develop my own personal, untainted thoughts on the popular series.

It wasn't until I was stressed beyond belief that I started to crave a children's book. I wanted something that would lift my spirits, and something that wouldn't take much effort to read and get into. After scanning my shelves for options, The Chronicles of Narnia seemed like the best choice. 

I know there's a mild controversy among readers as to which order is the best to read Narnia. I decided this time to simply read them in the order starting with The Magician's Nephew and ending with The Last Battle. If I ever pick them up again, I'll try to read them in publication order so that I can begin to form an opinion on the matter. For now, however, I'm sticking with the order they're presented as.

Reading these books as an adult was a very different experience than I expected it to be. They still read like children's books, with plots that are easy to follow, characters that are somewhat childish, and writing that isn't too complicated. I found, though, that while they were entertaining, there's so much more to these books than a simple children's fairytale story.

I truly enjoyed reading all of the books in the series. All very short, very quick reads, each like a little treat. They all had special parts or themes that have stuck with me since I finished them. My personal favorites, however, were The Silver ChairThe Last BattleThe Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe; and The Magician's Nephew, in that order. While the other three were still good, they didn't quite touch me in the same way those four did.

As I was reading, I was struck again and again by just how deep these books could get. There were times, especially in the last two books, that I found myself pausing to think about a particular passage or to underline a quote that I thought was profound. Theology and Biblical lessons are woven so tightly within the story in a way that could only be done by C.S. Lewis. From the birth of Narnia, to its rebirth; the speech given by Puddleglum as he resists the manipulations of the witch; Eustace and Edmund's redemption stories; and, of course, the iconic scene of Aslan dying on the stone table.

I strongly believe that Aslan is one of the absolute best illustrations of the character of Christ ever written in literature. "He is not a tame lion."

I will always regret the fact that I never read all of these books when I was younger. But I do feel that I have understood them, and have received so much more from reading them as an adult than I ever could before. They were a lot more than I expected them to be, and I'm sad to see that my journey in Narnia has come to an end.
"I'm on Aslan's side even if there isn't any Aslan to lead it. I'm going to live as like a Narnian as I can even if there isn't any Narnia." --Puddleglum

am I a writer?

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Am I really a writer? I've been trying to answer that question about myself. Trying to gauge whether I should consider myself a writer or not anymore. 

It's been a long time since I've felt joy from my writing, since I've felt that sense of satisfaction I used to get from writing my thoughts down on a page. It's been over two years since I last remember staining paper with my story ideas. I've been thinking a lot about my writing, where I'm going with it, if I will ever write a book like I've always dreamed of, or whether I am a writer anymore or not.

Writers are suppose to write recklessly with fervor and urgency, like they must form words and sentences and paragraphs in order to simply breathe and survive. Whatever spark for writing I used to feel has dulled. I haven't had any bursts of inspiration to write. My mind is as blank as the pages in my journals.

I think I've finally come to the conclusion, though, that it isn't an issue of my not being a writer anymore. Just sitting at my laptop right now composing this insignificant little blog post is enough to nudge the storyteller living within me into action... I'm just a different sort of writer now than I once was.

I'm a cautious sort of writer now. I don't have a lot of time anymore to write for myself very often, so when I do, I pressure myself for it to be great, something that I will be proud of. But that rarely happens. I don't want to take any risks in my writing.

It's hard to get back into something when you're so out of practice. But I'm trying. Maybe I will write a book someday, or maybe not. Maybe I will write something else in a format that I haven't thought of yet. I'm trying to learn how I write now and how to utilize my writing the way it's meant to be shared.

Writing will always be something that is important to me. Whether I feel like a writer or not.