My Favorite Blogs & Resources

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When I first began blogging (only five months ago) I didn’t really do much research. I had a vision and I went for it! Yes- this can be a good thing but if you have minimal experience, like I did, it can be difficult. I took a month off from blogging in July and re-launched my blog in August with some brand new ideas and a new look. What did I do different this time? I took a look around the blogging community, especially book blogs, and saw what was working and what was not working for other bloggers.

There are countless wonderful blogs that I have discovered while researching, but today I wanted to share just a few great blogs with some excellent blogging resources that you must check out! Even if you aren’t looking to start a blog, these blogs have some amazing content for everyone!

Modern Mrs. Darcy

Modern Mrs. Darcy is a book and lifestyle blog that discusses books, style, modern women, and family. There are so many great topics to explore on this blog! I can literally get lost and spend hours reading her quick lit reviews and her fun DIY crafts!

Coffee and Candlelight

Coffee and Candlelight is a book and lifestyle blog that I discovered via Instagram. Mikayla, the blog’s owner, offers free printables, book reviews, and how-tos. Also, her Instagram is off the chain. You read that correctly. Off the chain.

Now Novel Blog

I have been receiving Now Novel’s emails for months now. If you are a writer, whether it’s just for fun or you are working on your next novel, you need to follow this blog! There are so many writing resources and tips and tricks on creating your novel, it’s unbelievable.

The Chronic Creative

I have the incredible honor of working with the creator of The Chronic Creative and trust me; she’s just as cool as her blog looks. The Chronic Creative is a blog dedicated to living creatively! Tiffany describes herself as “a part-time young adult librarian and full-time crafter, living with chronic illness the only way I know how…creatively!” And that’s exactly what she discusses and exemplifies on her blog! I love attempting her awesome DIY’s and lettering tutorials, although I’m not near as good! You will love it.

Ocean of Myths

Ocean of Myths is a lifestyle blog that literally has everything! Recipes, book reviews, tips, inspirations…you name it…she has it. Not only do I absolutely love the calming design of the blog, Lydia’s voice while writing is relatable and interesting! Lydia is the owner of the ah-mazing blog, btw. Go check it out. Like now.

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Organizing Your Goodreads!

I cannot express to you how much I love Goodreads! Before Goodreads, my TBR list consisted of sticky-notes crumpled at the bottom of my bag and illegible notes scrawled in my school notebooks. I’ve been a member since June 2013, but I just recently started really utilizing the bookshelves to better organize my read books.

GRBesides my read, currently reading, and to-read shelves, I have nine other bookshelves that help me stay systematized. Fiction, Non-Fiction, Mystery, Young Adult, Favorites, Recommendations, Read in 2015, Read in 2016, and Abandoned.

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My favorites shelf is reserved for books that I gave a 4/5 or 5/5 rating. I base my ratings on my initial feeling after I finish the book. Check out my personal rating system for my blog!

I just started organizing books by year in 2015. When you click on a shelf, Goodreads shows you the date you added the book and the date you finished it- which is great! I just found it easier to have all my books that I’ve read for the year on one bookshelf instead of going through my entire read shelf and looking at individual dates.

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Abandoned books are books that I began reading, but never finished. It could have been because I just couldn’t get into the book or because I started reading different books and just never went back. I keep these separate from my to-read shelf so I know that I actually began to read them and stopped for whatever reason.

I wish I utilized my recommendations shelf more! This shelf holds books that are recommended to me, but I sometimes forget who recommended what book! It’s ridiculous I know!

My other shelves are pretty self-explanatory. I only have bookshelves for genres that I read the most (ex. mystery, young adult, general fiction).

Goodreads has so many other features that make keeping track of your reading very easy!  If you are a reader who doesn’t have a Goodreads account- you need one!

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So You Wanna Start a Book Club?

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I have always wanted to start a book club! All of my closest friends, cocktails, and great books- nothing better! I recently decided to start a Revitalized Reading Facebook group for those who want to discuss books and popular issues within the world of literature! Not exactly a book club, but maybe eventually it will turn into one! You can join the Revitalized Reading Facebook group here. Because book clubs are growing in popularity, I thought it would be fun to write a little “how-to” on starting a successful book club! So, you wanna start a book club? Then keep reading!

  1. People, Places, Things
    1. Congratulations, you have finally decided to start up that book club that has been on your to-do list for years! Now what? First, you need to decide WHO will be in your book club. Is this a club with just your closest friends, co-workers, or family? Once you have decided who will make up your book club you now need to figure out if it will be open or closed. An open book club allows new people to join at any time and it increases your chances of growing as a club! I like open clubs, but closed clubs can be great too. A closed club allows you and your friends/co-workers/family to share something fun between a close-knit group of people. Either way, it’s a win-win!
    2. Next, you need to figure out WHERE you will be meeting and how often you want to meet! Coffee shops are great for discussion groups. You could also take turns hosting book club meetings. How often you meet depends on how many times you want to meet up to discuss one book or how quickly your group can read one book. For instance, you may decide to meet every week. The first week you can discuss up to chapter 10 and the second week you can discuss the book as a whole. Or you could meet once a month and discuss one book you’ve read. See? Lots of options to make your book club your own!
    3. And finally, WHAT TYPE OF BOOKS WILL YOUR CLUB BE READING? Are you strictly a mystery book club? Or does everyone really enjoy Young Adult fantasy? Find what genres work for your group and choose books that are great discussion starters.
  2. Choose Someone to Get Things Movin’!
    1. If you are the one starting the club- most likely this person will be you, but you don’t have to do it alone! Recruit members of your group to take on different tasks! Say one of your friends is super organized. He/she can be in charge of sending out email reminders and contacting everyone with dates and locations of meetings. Someone else can write up a few starter discussion questions and research books to be read in the future. It is also important to have a few rules in place. For instance, what if someone shows up and they haven’t read the book? Many clubs encourage people to come even if that haven’t finished the book, just remind them that the ending may get spoiled for them! The more the merrier, right?
  3. CHOOSE SOME GREAT BOOKS!
    1. Once you have a general genre, there are many ways to choose the books you will be reading as a club. One person can choose the book list if you all have similar taste or each person can choose a book and then draw titles out of a hat in the order you will read them. You can also find many book club lists on sites like Pinterest!
  4. Make Your Book Club Your Own!
    1. Be creative! Make themed cocktails and have themed snacks, or even better, dress up as your favorite characters from the book! Have fun with it!

Here are a few resources where you can find some excellent books that are perfect for book clubs:

http://deliberatereader.com/72-great-novels-for-book-clubs/

http://oneshetwoshe.com/2015/03/book-club-picks.html

https://blog.hpb.com/2013/05/29/2013529best-underrated-novels-for-book-clubs-html/

 

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My Bookshelf Tour!

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We actually re-organize it quite a bit, but right now this is what our bookshelf looks like!

When you start accumulating more and more books, you will eventually figure out that without a “system” things can get pretty messy pretty fast! Right now, my boyfriend and I have two full book shelves and a closet full of books. The books we keep in our closet are ones that are older or ones that we don’t necessarily read a lot. The books on our second bookshelf are ones that we will read occasionally, but are not the “prettiest”. And we have one tall bookshelf in our living area that we use for our favorite books, books that looks interesting, and a few coffee table books. Brandon loves antiquing for odd little “knick-knacks”, so we also use this area to display some of our finds.

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The first thing you will notice about our bookshelf is that it is organized by color. Some people like to organize their shelves by genre or author, we find that it’s easier to “color code” if you have a lot of books in different genres! Our top shelf is our “white book” shelf. We didn’t plan this, but most of these books are classic novels and all of them are paperback! This is where you will find classics such as Moby Dick, Pride and Prejudice, and King Lear.

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Our second shelf down is what you can call our main shelf. It’s the focal point of the entire bookshelf and it holds books that are blue-ish or yellow-ish. This shelf is a mixture of classic and modern novels. It also includes some of my favorite decorations- our cute little house plant, a pair of deer antlers that I added glitter to, and an old Indian cricket box we found at an antique store.

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On our third shelf down you will find books that are red and a tiny pile that are gray/tan. Once again, most of these books are classic novels with the exception of one or two. We have an outlet right next to our shelf, so this is where we will usually set our phones when they are charging! Haha.

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The fourth shelf down was the most difficult to organize. I would have never known how many black books we own if I didn’t color code my bookshelf! Our pile of black books was so large, we probably only put about a third of them on the shelf. Most of these books are Brandon’s favorites or books that I talked him into leaving on the shelf because I liked the covers! You will also find a few more of my favorite decorations, a deer candle holder that I found for two dollars in a thrift store (and it’s super heavy) and a brass replica of a Tibetan mask.

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Our bottom shelf is home to our green hued books, coffee table books that aren’t on the coffee table right now, and books that we checked out from the library that we aren’t reading right now(although most library books end up placed all around my house). Brandon found a pair of marble horse head book ends at our local antique store, so we placed one of them in between our stacks of books!

I hope you enjoyed this tour of my bookshelf! I’m sure it will change in a month or so, but right now I’m really digging this look! How do you organize your bookshelf? Let me know in the comments!

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Get Through Your Summer Reading List A Little Easier…

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Ah, summer time. The time to kick back and read those books that you’ve been putting off reading for months! Now that you have “more time” it should be easy, right? Well I will be the first to say that it’s not as easy as it sounds. It’s hard to get into the mindset to read a ton of books when you have been slacking all year (and obviously, I’m talking about myself). I have come up with some rules I follow when trying to get through a book list that can make it a little easier to keep powering through.

 

  1. Schedule your reading. Lately, I’ve been scheduling my reading time in my planner. I give myself (at the very least) one hour a day to just sit down and read. This helps me hold myself accountable so I can’t use excuses like “I don’t have the time”.
  2. If you can’t get into a book, stop reading it! Hey, your time I precious. Don’t waste time reading a book that you just can’t get into or that you know from the first 10 pages that you won’t like. I used to be the type of person who absolutely NEEDED to finish a book no matter what, but it became a struggle to finish these books and it took forever. You have a list of books to get through; don’t waste your time on the ones you’re not going to like.
  3. Cleanse your palate. If you read my blog, you have probably heard me say that a lot. I like to read smaller books between the books that are 300+ pages. I call these smaller books “palate cleansers” because they give you a break from reading one long continuous story. This is when I usually read short stories and novellas.
  4. Get out of the house. It’s summer. Why spend all your time reading inside the house? I have noticed that I, personally, want to read longer if I’m outside (depending on the temperature). Got to a park, sit on your porch, or go to that (air conditioned) coffee shop with the giant window that lets the light in! Trust me, the sun will keep you relaxed and wanting to read more!
  5. Choose wisely. Choose books according to what you like best! Yes, summer reading is my time for experimenting and setting goals- but that doesn’t mean that I can’t read a few books that I absolutely know I will enjoy. I love mysteries so I made sure to put a few of those on my reading list. This keeps me reading so I can get to these books faster!

I hope these tips come in handy this summer! Let me know your favorite tip to get through your long reading lists in the comments! Happy Reading!

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