Why I read more than one book at a time

Welcome back! Today’s post is all about reading habits, namely : reading multiple books at the same time.

I was picking up some books to bring back to the library today when I realized that I had read almost all of them at the same time, piece by piece. It’s a habit I have with certain books, but not all, and something I’ve been doing for quite some time now. So why do I read multiple books at once?

I’m a mood reader

If I don’t feel like reading a book on topic A, I will do anything but that. Including reading something on another topic, until I want to get back to book A again. This usually means that if something isn’t fully captivating, I’ll probably be in the middle of at least two books at the same time, if only to get back to the one I’m most interested in on that specific day.

Photo by @daanouthere on Unsplash

They’re non fiction

If I read a fiction book, it’s only one and it’s all in one go or nothing at all, but with non-fiction, it’s much easier to stop in the middle, pick up something else, and come back to it later.

If I get a little bored (because, even if I often only post reviews of four to five stars books, I rate half of what I read below that, which means I do, sometimes, get bored) while reading something, in a non-fiction work, I can just finish the chapter and put it down without fearing that I’ll have trouble remembering what it was about when I start it again.

It helps sort my priorities

If I’ve got more than one book at a time, I can roughly see how much reading time I have left in all of them, how long I have them for (if they’re from the library) / want to give them, and prioritize accordingly.

It can also be helpful in identifying which books I should consider DNF-ing and which ones are worth the effort.

Photo by @florenciaviadana on Unsplash

If I’m in the middle of a book, and it’s been sitting on my bedside window (I don’t have a bedside table, but I do have a bedside window corner – just enough space for one person to sit under the window and see the tiny courtyard shared with the neighbor) for more than two weeks, it might be time to let it go and admit I’m just not that interested in it. I don’t often DNF books, but when I do, it’s usually because I’ve been stuck trying to read them for too long.

Time is of the essence

Since I’m a full-time student (and hopefully still a straight-A student at the end of this semester), have a part-time job (when not in lockdown), try do do sports every two days, try to practice photography and to blog in my limited spare time, I don’t really have long spots of uninterrupted reading time.

I used to read the most during my daily commute, but my university has converted fully to online classes, so when I do go somewhere to study, it’s to the university’s library, and I go there on foot – not the best time to take out a book or my phone to read comfortably.

I’ve been adding small reading times to my timetable every day, to help me relax and take some time for myself in the middle of all this. Recently, being able to just pick up something, put it down 30 min later, and pick up something else on my next break has been a really useful skill!

Do you read multiple books at a time, or only one? Did you read or post something interesting on the same topic? Link it in the comments so I can check it out!

Why I love The 100, yet haven’t read the books.

I have to admit it : I not so secretly love the TV show The 100, but have never read the books it’s supposed to be inspired by. And I’m not sure I will.

Warning : this post might contain spoilers for The 100, seasons 1 to 6. It will not contain any spoilers for season 7, which is currently airing. Read at your own risk.

I discovered The 100 in my second year of university, which was in itself a weird time. I was supposed to study biology for a year, then try to get into med school somewhere in France again, as I had failed the first year of med school once. But honestly, I had no idea what I really wanted to do with my life, and I had absolutely zero motivation to study and do well in biology.

I didn’t do much work at home, but one this I did have was good internet and lots of free time, so… I binge-watched The 100 right before finals.

I stopped in season 3, at the Lexa episodeyou know which one, then tried again, and stopped immediately after, when Ontari takes over, because… ew. But I couldn’t stay away from the show for very long, and I’ve been watching it dutifully ever since, episode after episode, right when they come out. It might be the show I’ve stuck with for the longest time, after Criminal Minds (which ended in 2019 and oh boy was I sad about it).

So why do I enjoy this show so much ?

It’s a post-apocalyptic scenario with spaceships

I’m a hoe for spaceships. I just love sci-fi, and anything sci-fi related with a mostly interesting premise will have me interested in no time.

Here’s the synopsis of season 1, on IMDB :

Set ninety-seven years after a nuclear war has destroyed civilization, when a spaceship housing humanity’s lone survivors sends one hundred juvenile delinquents back to Earth, in hopes of possibly re-populating the planet.

Nuclear apocalypse + spaceship + last survivors of the human race ? Sign me up.

It has kick-ass women characters

Octavia is my fave, sorry not sorry – her determination, from the beginning, to survive on the ground and make her life there was admirable. Raven is amazing, and clever, and her character arc during the A.L.I.E. storyline was excellent. And, of course, my favorite bisexual disaster, Clarke. And Harper, who finally got the happy ending she deserved, along with Monty.

Promotional photo from IMDB

I’ve even come to love Emori and Echo (although I don’t say too often that I think the Bellamy / Echo ship is pretty cute, because of how… vindictive Bellarke shippers can be. But that’s a discussion for another time.), and both their tragic backstories.

On a more serious note, I love the strength and the differences between the women characters, and I appreciate the fact that they each have their own interests, desires and goals. And they don’t take shit from anybody.

It reinvents itself every season

Future storylines are mostly set up well in advance, and it makes the renewal of the show at every new season more of a “the universe is bigger than we thought!” thing than a “this is a deus ex machina plot twist” feeling.

When we first learn about the flame, the “spirits of the previous commanders that guide the current leader in their thoughts“, we don’t think much of it. But when we realize that the flame is actually a computer chip that stores people’s consciousness in a highly specialized AI, made by the person responsible for the AI that destroyed the world ? Wow. The universe really is bigger than we thought.

The show tries to reinvent itself every season, and so far, I haven’t been disappointed. Even seasons 5 and 6, taking some pretty big leaps to bring new things to the screen – with the Dark Year and the 120+ years slumber, were entertaining and in line with the rest of the show in terms of risks and consequences for the characters’ actions.

It tries to do justice to some pretty heavy themes

Sure, they might not succeed every time – looking at you, season 3 episode 7 with that dumb as hell “kill the lesbian” idea. But The 100 tries its best to bring some morals to the characters’ decisions, and gives them interesting moral dilemmas right from the start. After all, Clarke is imprisoned because her father had planned to tell the truth about the oxygen situation to the people of the ark – and how might have things gone differently if the people in charge had listened to him rather than executing him for his decision ?

Promotional poster from IMDB

The most important themes in the show are those of humanity, survival and leadership, and you can see these themes in every single episode – from Abby telling Kane in season 1 that she’s “here to make sure [they] deserve to survive”, to Clarke telling Madi that “there are no good guys” in season 5, and choosing to protect her daughter at all costs. Conflict is well set up, and when it arises, it makes sense.

Why haven’t I read the books, then ?

The thing is, the TV show isn’t an adaptation of the books – it’s inspired by them. Which means it doesn’t follow the novels’ plots.

The story itself is apparently very different, almost right from the beginning, and something that accentuates that difference is the absence, in the book, of a number of main characters from the show! Finn, Raven and Murphy, for example, simply don’t exist in the books – and since two out of these three have managed to survive up until the final season, their absence is bound to make for a very different story. It’s true the other way around too : the books introduce main characters (one of them who has her own POV) who never appear on the screen!

Simply put, when writing the TV episodes, The 100 writers don’t take the book into account at all – and I’ve been putting off reading the books because, since I appreciate the show so much, I’m afraid my expectations will prevent me from enjoying the original story as much as I should.

I might still give the books a chance, though, but I think it’ll have to wait until season 7 is over, and all loose ends have been wrapped up in the TV show. I don’t think I could make sure not to be influenced by one in my reading / watching the other, and my enjoyment of both might be diminished because of it.

Have you watched the series and / or read the books? What do you think of them? Would you watch a book that inspired a show, if the show isn’t a direct adaptation?

Blogging when English isn’t your first language

Today’s post is a little more personal than usual – I’m going to be talking about the challenges of writing blog posts when English isn’t your first language. (And yes, this might have been inspired by my frustrations this week, trying to understand some subtleties in English grammar and spending hours on it).

Learning English

When I first discovered blogs as a teenager, I was mostly reading blogs in my native language, French. I read a lot of lifestyle blogs at the time, and absolutely loved the visuals, the soft colors, the energy in those blog posts. (Sadly, when I got back into blogging in my twenties, I couldn’t find those French lifestyle blogs again – I wonder where they went…)

In high school, I went on to learn English out of spite. I began high school with grades averaging 20% in English class, and tried to talk about it with my teacher at the time. Having no patience for a student with grades as bad as mine, he looked me right in the eye, and, in front of the whole class, loudly said : “It’s not my fault if you’re lousy.

Yeah. Talk about building confidence.

So I learned English out of spite. I started reading fanfiction in English only, changing the soundtracks on my favorite TV shows, and slowly improving step by step. By the end of high school, I was back with the same teacher for my last semester – the irony! – and when he gave me my last exam paper, he pulled me aside and told me he was impressed by my progress. (I always wondered if he knew being mean would motivate me to study even more ?)

Blogging in English

Moving to Canada in a bilingual province helped me become more confident in my ability to communicate in English, and I started reading almost all of my books in their original language, without having to wait for a French translation – but I didn’t feel comfortable enough to write and blog in my second language yet.

Blogging in French, however, was much more difficult than I expected. Not because I had trouble with the writing part, but because finding an audience was challenging and even though blogging isn’t for the followers, it is in part for the interactions and the comments – which I just couldn’t get in French. English is the language of the internet, and if you want to reach out to people, you’ll have much more luck using a language that so many of them will understand.

I started blogging in English about a year ago, and every time I write a post it takes me forever to write – not because I don’t know the words, but because my sentence structure is inherently French and I want my posts to feel as natural as possible for the readers.

My boyfriend kindly offers to check up some of my posts once in a while, but it can get really frustrating to spend so much time re-writing every single sentence in my posts. Usually, he’ll point out phrasings that mimic French grammar a little too much, or that would seem a bit strange to an English speaker – and help me find more specific words for the precise thoughts I want to express.

For example : just this week, more than 10 minutes were spent trying to figure out the essential difference between “this lacks _” and “this doesn’t have _“. It’s something that can seem extremely simple, but if you’re writing in a language that’s not your first, it’s one of the many things you might want to pay attention to so you don’t write something that sounds unbalanced, or poorly constructed – at least, that’s what I was thinking.

Is it really important?

More and more, I question the relevance of putting so much effort into the perceived “quality” of my writing. I know it’s important when I’m trying to write something more narrative, like fanfiction, for example.

But should people try to use elaborate sentence structures in blog posts, or should we try to make them as accessible as possible, with more direct phrasing and easily understandable vocabulary?

I’ve read a few posts on how to improve your posts when English isn’t your first language, and some of them mention that an overly complicated language might be perceived as pretentious or showy. A more conversational writing style seems to be preferable – but how do you, as a non native speaker, distinguish a conversational writing style from an overly simple one?

Do you blog in your first language? If not, what kind of methods do you have to make your posts as “natural” as possible?

Related posts : on the same topic, you can check out Kristina’s post @books and dachshundsblogging with anxiety : can I say that?

2020 discussion challenge announcement

This is going to be an extra short post – one that will, hopefully, lead to some much longer posts in the future : I’m going to try to participate in the 2020 discussion post challenge, hosted by Nicole @ feed your fiction addiction and Shannon @ It starts at midnight !

There are 5 levels to the challenge, but I’ll be aiming for the first one, “discussion dabbler” : the goal will be to post between 1 and 10 discussion posts during the year !

This type of post isn’t my specialty, to say the least, so I’m aiming pretty low, but I’m positive this will be a nice experience for me and that pushing myself a little bit outside of my blogging comfort zone will be beneficial in the long run. I really want to create original content, and a challenge like this one might be just what I need to get the inspiration to do so !

You can see the challenge rules here, and there’s still time to sign up – registration is open until December 2020. The posts will be linked up in monthly posts on the organizer’s blogs, so go check the January link-up if you haven’t seen it yet ! I love reading discussion posts, so I’m looking forward to what other people will post this year !