10 Things I’ve Learned About Audiobooks

If you’re new around here, I recently won a one year subscription to Scribd Unlimited and am trying to make the most of it!

I wrote my first month thoughts here, but have continued to learn more and thought I would share my overall thoughts in one concise post! A couple items are repeats/updates but overall they are all new thoughts!

  1. My favorite audiobook styles have become are narrative nonfiction and alternating narrator fiction.  Narrative Nonfiction (such as I’ll Be Gone In The Dark by Michelle McNamara) can feel like a long form podcast, and Alternating Narrator Fiction (such as The Confusion of Languages or An American Marriage) can keep things interesting with varying voices and perspectives.
  2. I love listening to parts of books I’m reading in hardcopy while I’m doing chores around the house. I genuinely don’t mind cooking dinner or washing dishes as much anymore because I’m still getting in quality reading time! I thought switching between audio and text would throw me off but as long as you finish either medium at the end of a chapter it hasn’t been an issue for me.
  3. I love having unlimited audiobooks through Scribd so I can listen to books I already have on hardcopy without spending more money for the audiobook too.
  4. I was able to listen to a book without falling asleep on a solo roadtrip!
    I recently drove from San Diego to Phoenix and I listened to a book for most of my driving time! This was new to me and something I was nervous about. I’ve never been an audiobook person before so used to fall asleep when I tried, but it worked surpringly well on my last road trip! I made sure to pick a book with a ton of suspense so there was no way I would fall asleep in the car. I’ll Be Gone in the Dark (before he was caught) was perfect for that.
  5. A good way to finish the book you’re not loving? Use the strategy of “I’m not loving this in text, I’m going to put it on 1.5x audio to finish it”.
    It works sometimes – such as when I was listening to A Piece of The World and just having a hard time focusing but enjoyed the story, but I tried the strategy for The Immortalists, it didn’t change anything and I just had to stop listening at a certain stage.
  6. I’m having a hard time finishing audiobooks!
    The last two audiobooks I’ve listened to, I’ve stopped both with about 35 minutes to go, with no real desire to start listening again. Does this happen to you? I think there’s just such a lack of finality with audiobooks that I just kind of gave up. I will add they were both nonfiction so the end would have just been wrap up etc, with no big reveal or conclusion and I just never didn’t feel compelled to finish it! (is that bad?!)
  7. I can listen to audiobooks on my walk to work with bluetooth earbuds!
    They are the Otium T2 Wireless Earbuds, and for only $30 they are SUCH a steal! The major negative review for them on amazon is that the battery life is horrendous, and I have to agree – it’s not great – but that’s just where technology is for a device this small! They’ve been fine for my walk to work and also for cooking dinner, and the sound quality has been great so far! Highly reccomend.
  8. Scribd gets so many new titles each month!
    For May, they got new titles from some of my FAVORITE authors, such as Paula McLain and Jon Krakauer, and they also got some brand new releases such as A Higher Loyalty by James Comey and Educated by Tara Westover. Very cool!
  9. I still desperately wish the Scribd app had a cast funtion.
    I would love to listen to my audiobooks on my google home speakers but it doesnt have the functionality to do that yet. Major bummer! I can listen as I cook by using my wireless earbuds, but trust me I’ll be so stoked the day I can listen to audiobooks on my google home.
  10. And finally can I love audiobooks and reading? YES!
    Audiobooks are not replacing my love for reading on paper but they are totally enhancing it! They’re giving me another option and a way to maximize my reading efficiency 🙂

If this hasn’t been enough to convince you to sign up, I’ve had multiple friends sign up and tell me how lifechanging it has been. Take the plunge and sign up with my referral code for 2 free months! (Also this is totally not sponsored, just pure love for my scribd subscription)

How to Read About Conflict in Foreign Countries

This year (and it’s only been 2.5 months!) I read two books that completely blew my mind. I relearned the fundamental fact that “I don’t know what I don’t know.”

The first of those books was Pachinko by Min Jin Lee, a fictional memoir about the Japanese occupation of Korea throughout the 20th century. The second was Nothing to Envy by Barbara Demick, a non-fiction account of “ordinary lives” in North Korea. I learned SO much.

I found out about Nothing to Envy on an Instagram post, suggesting that someone participating in the #harpiesreadtheworld reading challenge may use this for the category of Read a Book About A Country the US is in Conflict With. Which got me thinking, What do I look for in a book, if I want to learn about another country and their history?

I’ve learned through past reading experiences that when I’m reading about a place I don’t know too much about, I really love feeling like 1) the book is well researched, 2) the book is fully set in reality, and 3) I need significant context to feel like I understand the entire story.

Pachinko and Nothing to Envy squarely worked for me and while they covered both genres of fiction, and non-fiction, I learned so much from both of them.

To illustrate, some recent books that have been popular but hasn’t worked for me are Exit West by Mohsin Hamid and The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead. Both books had moments of magical realism in them, that lost me, made me feel like I wasn’t learning because the story wasn’t real. And speaking of context, Stay with Me by Ayobami Adebayo and The Alice Network didn’t dive quite deep enough for me or provide me with enough information that I can feel like I really learned a lot.

So, getting back to the positives, here are books that I would recommend to get serious context in to conflict in other countries.

Happy reading – and happy learning!

What you should pick for your BOTM Extra

It’s January 24th, so naturally I’m already gearing up for next month’s Book of the Month selections.

I bought my mom a Book of the Month membership for Christmas, and got a free book credit in the deal, so I’ve been trying to figure out what book I should get. Whenever I go diving through the BOTM archives, I’m just reminded of all the books I’ve loved so far!

Since I’m doing The Unread Shelf Project, I think I’m going to buy a book I’ve already read to have on my shelf (Tossing up The Woman in Cabin 10 or Into Thin Air) But, if you have found yourself in a similar situation – or just want to add an extra to your box here are my top five suggestions!

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If you’re looking for a well researched, slow-burning, character rich, historical fiction novel: Pachinko by Min Jin Lee (my review)

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If you’re looking for a book that will destroy you and put you back together again, while making you consider different types of relationships from your own: All the Ugly and Wonderful Things by Bryn Greenwood (my review)

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If you want to experience life on the Galapagos Islands, with a touch of WWII espionage intrigue: Enchanted Islands by Allison Ahmed

 

If you’re looking for the quintessential unputdownable thriller: The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware (Confession: I don’t own The Woman in Cabin 10, yet, but these are her other two that I read this past summer!)

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If you want a new [fictional] best friend: The Hearts Invisible Furies by John Boyne

 

Honorable Mention: The Animators, The Couple Next Door, and The Profiteers.

 

 

I cannot recommend any of these enough and I’m so grateful for BOTM for bringing them in to my life!

(If you’ve been considering Book of the Month but haven’t taken the plunge, use my referral code! You’ll get a sweet deal, and I’ll get a free book)

Moving in to 2018 with Intentions Set

One thing I regret about 2017 is that I can summarize the year in to the following: four months of studying and stressing for my Professional Engineering licensing exam, six weeks of being ready to get the hell out of New York City, and six months of “adjusting” to San Diego. I feel like I let this whole year slip by as a road block to get over. So my goal for 2018, bookish and non, is to be intentional. Be present, be relaxed, be myself, and DO NOT OVERBOOK.

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This will hopefully involve less travel – or less travel due solely to the feeling of obligation. The people and events that were a part of my life on the east coast are still very very important to me, but it’s time that I start living my life in California. There’s so much to discover here and I’m ready to start trying a little bit harder.

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Our first San Diego 4th of July! Here’s to staying put on holidays to come!

On a bookish note, I want to be more intentional with my book selections. I learned in the past year that I get so fired up about non-fiction, and am pretty apathetic about historical fiction and novels. I think it’s good to challenge your reading patterns, but I can only read 30-40 books in a year, so I want them to be good ones. Books that make me feel, learn, and wonder about the world. Specifically, I want to read more about science – biographies about scientists, microhistories of different fields, and just books about nature. One thing about being a structural engineer, is that I find myself solely focused on buildings, when I got in to the field of engineering because of a much broader interest in science.

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One of the great nonfictions I read in 2017!

In terms of #bookstagram, I want to be more intentional with my posts. I think it was Rachael at @booksforbrunch, who wrote that she wants her bookstagram account to reflect more of her opinions and reviews than just ‘look at this book I just got in the mail!’. I think it’s a challenge to curate your feed in that way (Let’s face it – the peak desire to post is usually when you first open the package), but I think it will make my content more worthwhile and allow me to contribute more to the community.

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This was a fun picture to take – and ended up being my #bookstagram profile picture! I’ve never again gotten anything to balance on that ledge.

In terms of book buying, Kate at @katereadsbooks_ is the QUEEN (of many things but especially) of claiming she’s going on a book buying ban, but I think I’m going to declare 2018 a year of buying ZERO books. I want to continue my Book of the Month subscription, but otherwise I want to stick to the library. I’m heading in to 2017 with seven unread books on my shelf (and many more on my kindle) that I’ve had sitting there for the last six months.  It’s time to read them, people! So in keeping with the theme, I want to be more intentional about buying books.

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Here’s a book I bought in July and haven’t read yet! I will read this in 2018!

And in terms of this blog, I want to be more intentional about writing. This doesn’t mean posting less because, let’s face it, I haven’t written since September, but it means planning posts and writing them; reviewing books that I read; revising posts before posting them.

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2018 will be the year that I read the books I have stored on my kindle! Hopefully with some of this delicious banana bread cold brew.

Basically I want to be better, and I think that by slowing down I can achieve my goals.

The Importance of a Bookish Community

I’ve been finding recently that I think a lot about the bookish community – whether it’s Book of the Month, Goodreads,  #bookstagram, or here in the world of Book Bloggers. If the goal is to read books, why do we spend so much time taking photos of books and talking about them and all these other related activities? I definitely feel the pressure to read as many books as I can, which is usually around 40 per year, so why am I spending so much time scrolling through bookstagram or taking the time to write down my thoughts in a book review?

I think the answer is threefold –

1. We read to make connections – with the characters on the page, and the places their describing. So it makes sense that with such a desire for connection, that would extend beyond the page, and to each other.

2. We need inspiration! Sometimes you’re just not reading a great book, and it’s easy to put it down and forget about it and, honestly, forget that you love reading. But a solid scroll through some of my favorite bookstagram accounts can fire up that feeling about reading that I knew I always had, and be just what I needed to get me to open that book again.

3. We need to process these emotions! The #1 reason I started a blog was that I realized I was literally putting one book down, and picking the next one up. They were blurring together, and I wasn’t taking the time to process how they made me feel because I didn’t have a medium to do so. A lot of books deal with really tough issues – like abortion, and immigration, and metal illness – and I think its important for us to read these books and think about these issues, and it’s great to have a community to do so!

 

For about half of August, I didn’t have my phone, which made me think a lot about if I was just addicted to #bookstagram and if I should go back to it when my phone was returned to me. Somedays I  really missed the bookstagram community, and some days I didn’t, but I did realize that my motivation to read was slightly lacking. I wasn’t seeing my “friends” getting excited about books, so what did it matter if I kept going with The Alice Network. Obviously, this isn’t a life or death situation, but I came to the realization that a bookish community in any form is important to me.

So what now? 1. I’m going to keep blogging and bookstagramm-ing. 2. I’m starting my own book club in San Diego (more on that on a post to come, but spoiler, I’m really excited!)

Your Turn:

What’s your favorite aspect of the bookish community?

What does blogging or bookstagramming mean to you?

Do you think you’d miss it if you stopped?

My San Diego Bookish Bucket List

My major victory of today was that I finally took those extra steps across the street, and joined the library! It was the EASIEST process ever, and since I actually have a California drivers license (I never got a New York one), it made joining so much easier. I have been on a major book buying binge recently (due to having significantly more bookshelf space, significantly lower rent, and no library card), but that is all about to stop! I’m proud to say I’m the proud carrier of a San Diego Public Library card!

So joining the library had me thinking, what other bookish things can I  just not wait to do? So without further ado, here we go.

Bookstores

Blue Stocking Book Store – I went here when I  visited San Diego in February and the owner was so friendly!  I didn’t buy anything because I had limited luggage space,  but I can’t wait to go back. This store has a beautiful collection of new and used books, and I loved browsing through it. This may become my regular!

Warwicks – I first heard about this one through Swan Huntley’s bookstore, and google calls it iconic! I cannot wait to check this one out.

Adams Avenue Bookstore – I really like the neighborhood Normal Heights, and this one seems to fit in with the vibe. Quirky, cozy, and unique were three adjectives I found when searching.

Coffee Shops

Holsem Coffee – ok this one is already my favorite. From their rose flavored lattes with real rose petals on top, to their banana bread cold brew, their coffee is top  notch. The design of the shop is also beautiful, and I can easily see myself spending many a Saturday here.

Heartsleeves Coffee, James Coffee Co, and Bird Rock Coffee Roasters are all on my to-visit list too

Other Bookish Adventures

I hope to go to more bookish events, whenever those occur in San Diego.

I hope to spend more Saturday’s reading on the beach.

I hope to form a book club with a group of my new friends.

So where to begin? Tomorrow I’m heading to the main branch of the SDPL! The building looks amazing from the outside, so I’m excited to see the inside. [will report back 🙂 ]

Your Turn:

Have you been to San Diego? Have any bookstore or coffee shop recs?

Where’s your favorite place to relax with a good book?

Do you use the public library??

 

 

What Happened When I Invested $145 On Books – My BOTM Story

When I got back from living abroad in the start of 2016, I had recently reignited my love of reading and was also really in to subscription boxes. These two came together in the form of a spontaneous decision to join Book of the Month Club with a 12-month subscription. The membership came with one book per month – to be selected on the 1st of the month each month. Each book was selected by a judge with a personal summary/ sales pitch. I always love to read their take, both when I’m making my decision and when I finish reading the book.

What did I get from it?

Not to be cheesy but…. Book of the Month Club totally transformed my reading life. Since many of the books were available through BOTM before they were publicly released, I always knew about hot new books coming out and I stayed up to date on the book scene to know about what was coming out. My TBR grew and grew and I was never found without a book in my purse.

In concrete terms, I received 15 brand new hard cover books – this breaks down to the 12 I paid for up front + 1 free book from BOTM  just because + 2 free books because I wasn’t happy with two of my selections. I also read 9 more BOTM selections that I received from the library or borrowed from a friend.

I never paid for an ‘extra book in my box’ and I only paid for shipping once (+$1) and it was a total accident!

The perks didn’t stop with the books I received- here’s a quick list of some of the other ways BOTM influenced my reading life.

  • I bought a kindle on Amazon Prime day. While I couldnt read BOTM books on my kindle, BOTM really helped to reignite my love of reading and I decided to invest in a Kindle Paperwhite.
  • I joined the library! I love it – it’s so easy and obviously totally free 😊
  • I started to read more than I watched TV. NYPL.com is more frequently visited than Netflix.com in my browser…
  • I started listening to the All The Books podcast by Book Riot to hear about new releases every Tuesday.
  • I started to talk all of my friends ears’ off about books.
  • I commented on my first discussion thread online (On BOTM’s discussion boards).
  • I started to visit local bookstores in New York City – my favorite, Three Lives and Co. in the West Village
  • And finally, I started this blog! I couldn’t keep all my bookish thoughts in my head anymore and had to get them out.

Bookshelf

A few months ago, Book of the Month started something called a ‘Bookshelf’ that let’s you distinguish you books on to Love, Like, and Dislike shelves. I’ll share mine here and include the books I got via other means, but were still BOTM selections. Bold indicates that it was my personal selection from BOTM!

LOVED

  • Perfect Little World by Kevin Wilson – February 2017
  • The Grownup by Gillian Flynn (Short Story) – January 2017
  • The Trespasser by Tana French – November 2016
  • A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles – September 2016
  • The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware – August 2016
  • All the Ugly and Wonderful Things by Bryn Greenwood – August 2016
  • Missing, Presumed by Susie Steiner – July 2016
  • Enchanted Islands by Allison Amend – June 2016
  • The Association of Small Bombs by Karan Mahajan – May 2016
  • The Profiteers: Bechtel and the Men Who Built The World by Sally Denton – March 2016

LIKED

  • Exit West by Mohsin Hamid – March 2017
  • The Sun Is Also A Star by Nicola Yoon – December 2016
  • You Will Know Me by Megan Abbott – December 2016
  • The Couple Next Door  by Shari Lapena – September 2016
  • Siracusa by Delia Ephron – August 2016
  • The Girls by Emma Cline – July 2016
  • Before the Fall by Noah Hawley – June 2016

DISLIKED

  • Lucky You by Ericka Carter – January 2017
  • Whatever Happened to Interracial Love by Kathleen Collins – December 2016
  • Every Man A Menace by Patrick Hoffman – November 2016
  • The Mothers by Brit Bennett – October 2016

 TO BE READ

  • Killers of the Flower Moon by David Grann – April 2017
  • Startup by Doree Shafrir – April 2017
  • The Veins of the Ocean – June 2016

While I decided not to renew my Book of the Month subscription, I would wholeheartedly suggest to any readers out there, that they should join. It has been a great way to jumpstart my love of reading!

Welcome to Feel Learn Wonder!

Welcome to my little corner of the literary and internet world! I’m a 27 year old engineer, with a very long TBR list.

In an ideal world, I would read all day, with a flat white or a craft beer by my side, soaking up the words of the pages. Instead, that’s only a small facet of my life, albeit one I’m trying to grow. This blog will feature books I’ve read and so badly want to discuss with the internet – and all things book related in my life.

I’ve absolutely loved to read since I was a little girl – I was a regular at the local public library, my favorite store in town was the locally owned bookstore, and my favorite part of family vacations was hands down the long car rides, airplane rides, or beach days for reading the latest young adult novel. Somewhere in my teen years, I lost the drive to read and spent most nights texting friends and boys until it was time for lights out. But in the past two years, as a full fledged adult, I have rediscovered my love of reading.

At this point,  you must be wondering about the name of the blog. Well, it’s really quite simple. As I think about books I’d love to read and books I’ve already loved, I’ve come to the realization that I read for three reasons…

1. I read to feel – I will adore a book that hurts my heart to its core – and best case, puts it back together

2. I read to learn – and I feel strongly about learning through both fiction and non fiction, and

3. I read to wonder – wonder about the world we live in and what an interesting place it can be.

So what will you find in terms of books on this blog? Well I tend to stick to things I like, so here’s a quick rundown of that.

Likes:

Lots of Contemporary Fiction

Love, but not Romance

History and Historical Fiction

Specifically: World War II, American History, or a captivating Microhistory

Things that are topical

i.e. Books about the prison system, the heroine epidemic, feminism, and more

Dislikes:

Romance

Science Fiction

Bad Character Development

History Books That Read Like Text Books

So thanks for coming along! I’ll be back with my first review soon, but for now, I’m off to finish my current book on loan from the library.

Currently Reading: Moonglow by Michael Chabon