10 backlist books I want to read in 2021

I don’t know about you, but ever since I started book blogging, I tend to look forward to new releases much more than before. Sadly, that focus on new releases tends to make me forget about older books – something that the beat the backlist challenge post by Austine on Novelknight this week reminded me of.

As I was talking about this with my partner, I thought it might be interesting to go back and have a look at some titles I’ve missed over the years, see if I could find some that I’d be interested in! So I went on a tour of Goodreads and my bookmarked blog posts, and spent a too long amount of time reading through lists of YA 2018 releases, to pick and choose from the ones I hadn’t read yet and make my first TBR for the next year.

Here are the 10 finalists of that first selection – the 10 YA novels of 2018 that I’d like to read in 2021 :

The forgotten book, by Mecthild Gläser

The synopsis portrays this as a YA retelling of Pride and Prejudice – a YA fantasy romance that seems like a perfect way to start my year!

Find it on Goodreads here

Girls of paper and fire, by Natasha Ngan

This is the first book in a series, and I’ve seen it in so many recommendations since it came out in 2018 that I absolutely need to add it to my TBR. I don’t usually read a lot of series, since I’m someone who likes reading the entire story all in one go (so when there’s multiple books in a series, I tend to wait until it’s finished to pick it up), but this one looks so interesting that I can’t wait to read it!

Find it on Goodreads here

Heretics anonymous, by Katie Henry

From the Goodreads synopsis, this is a contemporary novel about atheists and misfits in a catholic school. As someone who went through two catholic schools and didn’t really fit in properly, I’m interested to see this take!

Find it on Goodreads here

The forest queen, by Betsy Cornwell

This is marketed as a gender swapped Robin Hood retelling, and I’m 100% on board with it. I loved the story of Robin Hood as a child, and gender swapped stories are one of my favorites themes – I’m really excited to see the result in this one!

Find it on Goodreads here

To be honest, by Maggie Ann Martin

Sometimes, all you need is a fluffy contemporary YA romance. After the train wreck that is 2020, I’ll definitely need to read more than one of these next year!

Also : have you seen this cover? It’s super cute!

Find it on Goodreads here

Furyborn, by Claire Legrand

The cover for this book is stunning, and I’ve been meaning to read it ever since I saw it last year at my local bookstore. I think this is also the first part of a series, and I remember being really interested in the plot after reading the back of the book at the bookstore, so I’m expecting good things from this one!

Find it on Goodreads here

Empress of all seasons, by Emiko Jean

This is a high fantasy & mythology YA novel that I first heard about when Lauren @ Northern Plunder reviewed it on her blog, and her review makes it an automatic addition to this list.

Find it on Goodreads here

We regret to inform you, by Ariel Kaplan

This is a YA contemporary mystery about rejected college applications, and I didn’t know I needed this until I read the synopsis, but it sounds so right up my alley that I immediately added it to my library wishlist.

Find it on Goodreads here

———————–Related posts : Library book tag

Sky in the deep, by Adrienne Young

This is another novel I had initially seen at my local bookstore, then forgotten about as the new releases kept coming my way – and I definitely should have added it to my TBR when I saw it the first time.

I don’t often read historical fiction/fantasy, but this story seems really promising so I’ll give it a shot sometime in January!

Find it on Goodreads here

Reflection, Elizabeth Lim

A Mulan retelling written by the author of Spin the dawn and Unravel the dusk? Of course I’m reading that! The gorgeous cover is a nice bonus as well.

Find it on Goodreads here

———————–Related posts : Spin the dawn (The blood of stars, #1), by Elizabeth Lim

What are some older books you’ve been meaning to read ? Any recommendations ? Let me know in the comments !

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!

Dealing with procrastination and avoidance

Procrastination isn’t good for you, and neither is avoiding the things you need to do. I know that. I know that for a fact.

Yet, the other day, I realized in a flash of panic that I had three extremely important things to do that I had just been passively avoiding for weeks – some for months, actually – and just had to muster the courage to face before it got too late. I needed to :

  • send a tax adjustment to the government (I made a small-ish mistake in my tax declaration and it’s been haunting me since I realized it)
  • send an email to my university’s administration to get my previous diploma’s classes credited so I can graduate this year (which. I’d like to be able to do. Tuition isn’t cheap.)
  • renew my medical insurance and my address on my social security card (it expires in a month and I have medical appointments I need to have that card / insurance for!)

Those three are, taken separately, pretty simple things that might take some time but aren’t necessarily complicated to do, and they’re clearly important enough that I should have come around to doing them a while ago. So how did it get to this point ?

It’s overwhelming

Sometimes, when something generates a lot of anxiety or overwhelms you, the unconscious reaction is to avoid it, as a coping mechanism : if you don’t think about that thing, then it can’t cause you any distress.

The problem with avoidance as a coping mechanism is that it teaches your brain that you aren’t capable of facing what causes you this type of anxiety, that it’s just so overwhelming that the only solution is to push it as much away from your conscious mind as possible.

Photo by @stilclassics on Unsplash

In essence, it’s the difference between stress management – the good thing, the one where you confront what’s stressing you out and deal with it in a way that makes you less stressed – and stress avoidance – where you ignore the stressors and hope they go away on their own (which they don’t.).

In the short run, sure, not thinking about it will make you feel better, help you not get overwhelmed by what you’re trying to avoid. But in the long run, it’s likely to turn your initial reaction to this stressor into an even bigger one – making it worse and worse until you either have to deal with the cause of your stress (in my case : those 3 administrative tasks that really really need to be done) or with the consequences of not doing it (here : losing my insurance so I can’t go see the dentist, or not being able to graduate this year because my classes haven’t been credited on time).

How to stop doing it

At the time I’m typing this, my papers for the class credit have been sent and half the classes have been approved, and my medical insurance has been renewed – I still have to take care of the social security and the tax returns, but it’s a work in progress. I’m getting there.

So how do you deal with avoidance as a coping mechanism?

I don’t have a universal method for this, but the thing that works for me – that actually works and forces me to confront what’s causing that behavior while not provoking even more distress – is to:

1 . Tackle one thing at a time.

Here, I’ve got three separate problems I’ve been avoiding unsuccessfully. I’m not going to try to solve all of these in the same day : that’s more likely to make me panic and quit / have a panic attack than succeed, and we’re trying to find a better solution than that. So I’m focusing on solving one after the other, step by step.

2 . Divide them into easily manageable chunks

Just like studying for midterms, if you try to do it all in one go, it’s going to be much more difficult than if you take the time to separate it into more manageable tasks that you can take care of efficiently and without too much stress.

For the class credits, I divided it like this : check out necessary papers / fill out class credit form / retreive official grades from my previous university / write email to the person in charge of class credits / add papers to the email and send.

While that may look like a lot of extra steps if you’re someone who’s not bothered with anxiety at the idea of doing important administrative papers, this was the right way to do it for me : it helped me stay focused on the small tasks I was doing, instead of thinking about the issue as a whole and getting overwhelmed by what was at stake here (and panicking. A lot.)

3 . Don’t hesitate to ask for help

Photo by @nate_dumlao on Unsplash

It’s easy to drown in something like this if you’re alone and have to do all of it on your own. But if you have anyone you can count on, someone you can ask some help from, then don’t hesitate to do so. My partner helped a lot, actually – not in actually doing the tasks that generated all that anxiety, but in making myself confident enough that I could handle them on my own.

Be it someone who can re-read your email before you send it for that internship you really want, someone who’s there to help you figure out which papers go where, or even just a friend to stay with you at that party where you’re so anxious to go because you won’t know anyone else… A little support can go a long way.

And if you feel like you don’t know where to even start, or that anxiety is significantly deteriorating your mental health, please consider speaking with a licensed therapist, who has the skills and knowledge needed to best assist you with these issues.

I hope this post was a little bit useful – if you have any tips on how to deal with avoidance as a coping mechanism, or with procrastination in general, feel free to leave them in the comments!

Jumping on the Notion bandwagon

It’s finally October!

As Zoom University is now back at full speed, I’ve been gradually shifting my interests in YouTube content from outfit and meme videos to studytube guides and tips for online school. I’m a very easily suggestible person, and I’d been hopping from studytube to studytube until I got to Mariana’s Study Corner‘s channel – which you can find here.

She makes a lot of excellent quality content, and has done a whole series of videos using everybody’s new favorite content manager – Notion. Being an aficionado of the bullet journal method, and loving writing stuff on paper all the time, I didn’t particularly care for it, but it still sounded interesting. It looked like something I might have wanted to check out if it fitted my style a bit better.

Then, CW from The Quiet Pond tweeted about book bloggers all making their personal Notion pages right now (and it was a really funny tweet, by the way), and that was it. I was interested.

So I went on the internet, hoping to discourage myself from trying yet one more thing just because I saw an ad for it, or heard people talking about it, and I googled “disadvantages to using Notion”.

The main one was it takes a long time to charge if you have bad internet. Wait. That’s not an inconvenient for me, I have good internet ! (I’m paying a lot for it, but with Zoom University, we couldn’t afford not to).

Aaaaand here I went, hopping on the Notion bandwagon just like everybody else. I’ve now spent a lot of hours on my homepage, set up a budget tracker, an internship hours tracker, a class tasks masterlist and a page to help me manage my late ARCs. And so far, it’s been great!

Image from @mikeyharris on Unsplash

I love how flexible Notion is, and how easy it is to use and adapt to your own methods. It lets you create tables, drop lists, checklists inside tables which you can filter according to due dates for your work, or different tags for your TBR books… the possibilities are endless and I’m enjoying it a lot.

So since I’m here and talking about Notion, I thought I’d share three of the videos that inspired me and helped me the most to understand all the different functionalities Notion has to offer :

And as an extra, if anyone’s interested, here are some pictures of my current Notion setup :

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?

Why The latte factor is one of the worst personal finance books I have ever read

Warning : this post contains spoilers. But, to be honest, I wouldn’t recommend this book to anyone, so go ahead and read the spoilers.

If you’ve read a few personal finance books in the past year or so, or browsed through some personal finance blogs, you’re likely to have encountered a reference or two to the now international bestseller The latte factor, by David Bach.

As a personal finance aficionado, I got this eBook on loan from the library a few weeks ago, after hearing a lot about it – if everyone is talking about this, it must be interesting, right ?

Right.

Sadly, The latte factor was, by far, the most disappointing personal finance book I’ve ever read.

Synopsis

Zoey cannot see any way off her endless treadmill—until one morning, when she strikes up a conversation with Henry, the elderly barista at her favorite Brooklyn coffee shop.

Over the next few days, as Henry reveals what he calls the “Three Secrets to Financial Freedom,” Zoey discovers that there is more to his life story than meets the eye—and that by following the simple, proven path he describes, she truly can create the life she’s always wanted.

What I didn’t like

The narration

The narration of this book felt terribly condescending and patronizing, and you could see every “plot point” miles before it even came up.

On a certain level, the story reminded me of another disappointing read : The 5 am club, by Robin Sarma. Both were a masquerade of financial advice disguised as a pseudo novel featuring an elder man as a mentor-like figure. Even the protagonists were similar : the Brooklyn journalist who wastes her money on coffee, and the entrepreneur who doesn’t know how to be productive, were both a version of the reader being lectured by the author.

Both these characters are women, by the way – isn’t it interesting how the ignorant protagonist is a woman and the wise, old know-it-all-but-still-seductive one happens to be a man ? Almost as if he were the writer’s self-insert, and the main character a projection of his misogynistic vision of women.

As one reviewer said : “Thanks for mansplaining money to me“.

The advice

It’s simply boring. The “three secrets to financial freedom” that Henry, the barista-actually-owner-of-the-coffee-shop (I told you there would be spoilers!) so generously gives to our main character are actually the following three things :

  • Pay yourself first
  • Make it automatic
  • Live rich now

And that’s… not really groundbreaking advice.

Pay yourself first

The first piece of advice is the best one – keep some money out of your paycheck to put into a savings account, before calculating how much you can spend on leisure or activities this month. The author’s take on the underlying logic behind this is, however, difficult to follow, and doesn’t seem that revolutionary.

Make it automatic

This is an extension of the idea that if you have to make efforts to save money, you won’t get around to doing it – but according to Bach, if you set up automatic payments from your main account to your savings or investments, it’ll be done without your active participation, and thus will have a stronger chance of actually being done.

This felt like a very condescending depiction of his readers : the author assumes that if you’re reading his book, you lack the self-discipline and/or organization skills necessary to put a set amount of money into your savings account every month. And sure, there might be people who need to make it automatic to make it easier, or to be sure they don’t forget – but that’s not a reason to treat your reader like a child, unable to do things themselves.

Again – not particularly bad advice, but not a secret, and not new at all.

Live rich now

The idea behind this one is to figure out what’s important to you – what projects or dreams you want to achieve the most – and budget for it accordingly. And even though, in the beginning of the book, the author tells us that budgets just don’t work for individuals – hence his second piece of advice – he seems to skip over the step where, in order to see if you can save the money necessary to take that extra photography class, or go on vacation, you kind of do need to make a budget.

Sorry, David. You can’t escape it.

The math

The problem behind the math in this book is that it’s blatantly wrong. Even the most basic parts.

For example : in the beginning, the author tells you that your latte at 5$ a day will save you 1885$ a year if you stop buying it – then goes on to explain that liking a nice coffee when you’re on your way to work is what secretly keeps you from becoming truly rich. But wait – if I’m getting coffee on my way to work, even if I work 6 days a week, that only amounts to… 1560$. Aaand we’re already more than 300$ off the mark.

But even if you choose to ignore the weird math : the most important piece of advice that’s supposed to help you become a millionaire with all those 5$ bills you’re so diligently saving is an investment – specifically, one with a 10% (or more !) return rate.

You heard right – more than 10% of interest.

As expected, when the main character goes home and talks about this amazing opportunity with a friend, they immediately tell her that she’s never going to get an account that will yield these kinds of returns – not in this day and age. Yet the author only uses that to further his point even more, making the friend sound like an idiot and doubling down on the 10% interest rates road.

In real life, investing all your savings into something high-risk that promises you a 10% interest rate is the best way to lose all your hard-earned money – and if you, like most Americans, need to save for retirement or pay pack heavy student loans ? That’s not an option you should ever consider.

What I liked

I’m sorry, I’ve got nothing to show here. I wish I could. Sincerely.

Conclusion

Don’t read this. For the price of this book, you could buy yourself 5 Grande lattes at your local overpriced Starbucks, and have a morning full of joy (and caffeine) – something you definitely won’t get if you decide to spend your time reading this.

In the end, the only person that will be enriched by The latte factor is… David Bach, with his masterclasses on how to follow the Latte factor method and live your dream – at “only” 50$.

Seriously. Go read something else.

5 tips to study for your online exams

Unlike usual, this post isn’t about books – or rather, not about novels or recreational books. It does include textbooks, though.

Since we’re in self-quarantine here, all non-essential services are closed, which includes universities and schools all over the country. Many schools are now turning to the internet to maintain their classes online as much as possible, either having their classes live on platforms like zoom, or using panopto and other video conference software to record videos and power point presentations and make them available to their students whenever possible.

If you’re a full-time university student, like me, you’ve probably had to rethink your entire study methods over the past few weeks : online learning is, after all, very different from in-person classes. And with online classes, come… online finals !

So I thought I’d share some of the tips I found useful while preparing for my exams after switching all my classes to online learning.

1. Don’t underestimate the difficulty of the exam

Many professors will assume that, since you’re doing the exam online, it makes it an open book exam – meaning, they’ll prepare their exam keeping in mind that you’ll have access to all of the course material when you take the test, and will be able to look for the answer to their questions relatively quickly.

Underestimating the difficulty of the exam is one of the most dangerous mistakes you could make : if you rely too much on having the material at hand when you take the test, and don’t put enough effort into understanding it and making sure you have a good enough comprehension of the class, you’re setting yourself up for failure. However, having the ability to look through your notes and textbooks while you’re writing your answers is an advantage that you should take advantage of !

2. Study guides are, in fact, useful

Making a study guide to keep track of all the course material you need to know to achieve the grade you’re aiming for is a lifesaver. You can use the syllabus your professor gives you at the beginning of the semester (sometimes put online so you can access it at any point during the semester) to give you an idea of the amount of work you’ll have to put in, and when you’ll need to start studying.

If you have textbooks or required reading, printing the documents and putting tabs on the side to note where the important concepts or chapters are will save you a lot of time !

3. Take advantage of your professor’s student hours

A lot of university professors still have their student hours, even while the university campuses are closed. They might answer your questions via email, or a video conference with other students, but this is an important resource you would do well not to neglect : studying on your own, at home, is difficult enough in itself.

Photo by @nickmorrison on Unsplash

If you have any questions about the material that your teacher could clarify for you, using the means at your disposition to contact them and ask for explanation could help you save your grade, and make sure you don’t lose precious knowledge that will be useful during the actual exam.

4. Pay attention to the parameters of the test !

Online exams may be available for up to 24 hours, depending on your teacher’s wishes, but that doesn’t mean you have all this time to think about your answers ! Those hours are here so that all the students can start the test at a time that fits their schedule the most. Once you start the exam, the real countdown begins : that’s the amount of time you’re allotted to actually answer the questions.

If you’re in quarantine in an apartment with one or more other people, you might want to make sure to let them know that they are not to disturb you for the entirety of the time it will take you to pass the test – concerns for plagiarism aside, there is nothing more disheartening than realizing you won’t be able to finish in tie because someone interrupted you with something that could definitely have waited one more half-hour for your attention.

You also want to make sure there’s no ambiguity over how, exactly, you’re going to be evaluated. Is it a multiple choice questions type of test, or will you have to make developed, long thought-out answers ? Does it cover all of the material, or only half the semester ?

5. Make sure your material is working properly

This one may seem pretty self-explanatory, but it’s so frustrating to hit the “send” button, only to discover you didn’t have a properly working internet connection and all your answers have disappeared when you tried to transmit them…

Side-note : this isn’t a made-up scenario : it happened to me last semester, in a multiple choice question online exam with more than a hundred questions. Luckily, I had backed up my answers by writing my choices on a paper while I went through the exam the first time, so I didn’t lose everything. Still, it took me an additional 15 minutes to re-fill the entire form, and that prevented me from being able to double-check my answers before the time limit was up. So, essentially : don’t be like me. Make sure everything works before you start the exam.

Some universities here in Canada are putting everything in place to ensure the success of their students, as best as possible. Mine, for example, offers the option to only have the mention “Success” or “Failure” in your academic file for classes in which you don’t get the grade you hoped for. My brother’s university goes one step further, making the “Failed” mention an automatic “Abandon” mention, thus making sure the results of this crisis don’t alter your GPA in any way.

What measures are other universities putting in place to best help their students ? How do you prepare for your online exams ?

5 online classes I’d like to take

(If my IRL classes finally let me breathe !)

I’ve been in university for 5 years now, and am showing no signs of stopping anytime soon – I’m trying to get grades good enough to be able to do a doctorate, so I’ve got at least 6-7 more years ahead of me. Classes are hell and take so much of my time… but there’s still more stuff I want to learn than stuff I have no interest in.

Fortunately for me, I don’t have to pay hundreds of dollars for every single class I want to take – it’s the miracle of free online classes ! I especially love the platform Alison (I swear this is not a sponsored post, I just honestly love their online classes) and the french platform Fun.

So here are my top 5 classes of the moment that I’m planning to take – as soon as my IRL  psychology classes let me have a few hours to myself !

austin-distel-Imc-IoZDMXc-unsplash.jpg
E-business and E-commerce

I’m cheating : most of those aren’t actually classes, they’re learning paths : a group of separate classes all centered around the same topic. This first one, e-business and e-commerce, is composed of 7 separate classes, including one on e-commerce web strategy, and one on social media strategies for small businesses.

There’s probably never going to be a time when I’ll actually need to know that stuff, but I kinda just want to learn it for the fun of it.

Study skills

Another learning path, this one only has three classes on essential study skills – and I desperately need to improve mine. For years, I’ve thought that the best way to study was to just learn by heart every single word of my class notes, and write them all again on my exam paper. Turns out, in university, that’s not how it works – and it’s taken me a long time to realize that.

Which means : I’m in need of a new study strategy, ASAP. Hence this class. (Or learning path. Whatever.)

Hospitality management

I’ve worked in a hotel for a while before, as a housekeeper, and I’d love to do it again someday. It’s a good job, it pays the bills, and all my coworkers were nice. But ever since I worked there, I’ve been meaning to learn more about customer service and the hospitality industry in general. This learning path in hospitality management seems to be pretty useful in this way, and I’m especially interested in the hotel operations class !

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Human nutrition

I know nothing about nutrition. And I mean, nothing. At 21, realizing that I have no idea what kind of foods my body needs or how much I should ingest… didn’t go well. I’m overdue for some education about food and human nutrition.

Agir pour sa santé ! (Act for your health !)

This last one is actually a separate class ! It’s a french class on health, which should be pretty similar to the previous one but still different enough that I don’t feel like I’m taking the same class twice. It’s about the determinants of health, and how we, as individuals, can act to preserve / improve our own health.

As French is my first language, it should also be much easier for me to follow, and faster to go through than the other ones in this post – I read English pretty fast, but learning new material is still a bit harder when it’s not your first language.

Are there any online classes that you’d like to take ? Or did you take so many boring high school / university classes that you can’t bear to think about taking any more for fun ? Feel free to tell me about it in the comments !
N.B. : All the photos in this post are from Unsplash.
This is NOT a sponsored post

Inside and out book tag

I’ve had a very productive day today : I applied to 5 job postings, had a business phone call for 20+ minutes and faced my mother for a full hour before running away and hiding in a Starbucks with my laptop and 2 grande coffee frappuchinos.

Which means : I’m feeling extra lazy tonight, haven’t done any grocery shopping, and am distracting myself with a book tag instead of writing my planned post for today. So here goes the Inside and out book tag !

I first saw it on Morgana’s blog (which is awesome, by the way).

1. Inside flap/Back of the book summaries: Too much info? Or not enough?

I love reading what’s inside the flaps and on the back of the book before I buy/borrow something. If there isn’t enough information, I’ll probably open the Goodreads app and check the book info on it before deciding what to do – those summaries save me a lot of time and effort.

If it’s clearly something I do or don’t like, I’ll be able to make my decision way faster than if the back of the book is just a collection of compliments about it form various authors or newspapers – as good as a recommendation from the New York Times is, it doesn’t really tell me if the book I’m holding is right for me or not.

2. New book: What form do you want it in? Be honest: Audiobook, E-Book, Paperback, or Hardcover?

Short answer : I love hardcovers.

Long (and honest) answer : I come from France, where the publishing industry just doesn’t do hardcovers – the very first hardcover I ever got was the cursed child screenplay book, because those shipped from the UK as soon as they were published and the french publishers didn’t wait until we had a paperback french version before selling the English hardcovers in the whole country. I’m pretty sure at least 50% of the fun I had reading it came from the novelty of having a hardcover book in my hands.

3. Scribble while you read? Do you like to write in your books, take notes, make comments, or do you keep your books clean clean clean?

I used to hate the very idea of writing in books, but now… not so much. I had a french teacher in high school that told the class to write as much as we wanted in our copies of the books we had to read for her class, and I remember feeling horrified at the moment, but I kind of see what she was trying to do now.

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I’ve taken to annotating them with sticky tabs I can then write on if I’m not 100% sure to keep the book forever, and just plainly writing on them if I’m planning to keep the book and just buy another copy if I want to lend it to someone else.

I try to write somewhat neatly, though, if only because I want to be able to re-read my annotations later and still be able to understand what I was thinking when I read that book.

4. Does it matter to you whether the author is male or female when you’re deciding on a book? What if you’re unsure of the author’s gender?

I have no idea why, it’s totally not a conscious decision, but most of the books I read in the past few years were written by women. Maybe it’s because reading something written by  woman gives me hope that someday I might be able to do the same ? I don’t know.

5. Ever read ahead? or have you ever read the last page way before you got there?

Never ! Although I do really appreciate trigger warnings in reviews and sometimes look for a review from a trusted blogger before I start reading.

6. Organized bookshelves, or Outrageous bookshelves?

I used to have very organized bookshelves when I was in France and had all the space I wanted to put my books in a nice way. Right now, most of my books are in cardboard boxes in a storage unit, and I just have one shelf with the few I’ve been able to buy and keep with me during the past three years.

7. Have you ever bought a book based on the cover (alone)?

Totally ! And I also borrow a lot of books based on the cover alone.

8. Take it outside to read, or stay in?

Depending on the weather ! I live in Canada now, so I take my books outside during the summer, and keep them inside during the winter – no need for any snowflakes to fall and melt on the pages !

I don’t usually tag people, but if you haven’t done this tag yet and are looking for an excuse to do so : consider yourself tagged ! And don’t hesitate to tag me so I can go see your posts and check out your blog !

My reading habits

I’m always pretty curious of how other people read, and where/when they do so : do they read in their bed ? In the bus when they go to work in the morning ? I know my father’s been keeping a book in the pocket of his coat for some time now, just in case he gets stuck waiting in line for something, or has some free time and no additional work to do – but how do others read, and how does it compare to how I read ?

When I thought about making this post, my first idea was that I don’t read that much in my day, and to be honest, that thought didn’t make me feel good about myself. But I spent some more time thinking about it, and realized that wasn’t actually true. So here’s a short post about my own reading habits !

WHAT I read

First things first : in examining my daily habits, I actually realized that I read a lot of stuff throughout the day. Most of it, though, falls under one of four categories :

  • Books

I wish those made up most of my daily pages read, but they sadly don’t : books are expensive, and since I moved to a new city at the beginning of the semester, I haven’t found the time to make myself a new library account, so I can’t borrow any books for free yet. (It’s written as a task in my bullet journal, but I haven’t been able to do it yet – I’m hoping to find some time for that this week though !)

  • Fanfiction

Maybe one third of my daily pages read. It’s easy to read, I can access it on my phone whenever I want, and it doesn’t take as much effort as a brand new book since I already know the characters and the world they evolve in. I usually select fanfictions only over 15k words, so I’m sure to have enough to read for the whole ride home after my last class of the day.

  • Blog posts

I love blog posts. I usually open a bunch of those on my laptop whenever I open WordPress, and bookmark tweets and posts that sound interesting in order to come back to it later during the day.

  • Class reading material

I have so much class reading material in a week, it’s terrible. I’m currently taking 5 psychology classes, and each of those gives me at least two documents every week, of between 10 and 20 pages each – that’s at least 100 pages of academic reading material every week ! And that doesn’t include chapters from the class book, and optional readings (which I sometimes try to do, when by some miracle I get to have some extra time to do so).

I had some extra time on my hands while writing this, so I made a pie chart to illustrate this post :

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This is way too simple for me to be this proud of it, but I like it, so. Here it is.

WHERE I read

With physical books, it’s usually at home, in my bed before going to sleep or in a comfy chair when I’m taking a day off and having some time for myself. I read eBooks and fanfictions on the move (since I live in a big city now, I usually spend at least an hour a day in commute, sometimes up to two and a half hours) and blogs on my laptop after dinner or in the afternoon when I have some time to relax between classes.

HOW I read

I actually own an e-reader, but I haven’t used it in a couple f years – I bought it in France in 2012, so it’s a bit old and probably needs a ton of updates before I can get it to work well again, but I haven’t had the heart to get rid of it. I mostly read eBooks on my phone now, as well as fanfiction.

I mainly use my laptop for blog articles, but I prefer to print my class reading material before reading and annotating it : it’s so difficult to annotate a PDF on my laptop, it’s not worth the effort. And, of course, I love having access to actual physical copies of books, especially hardcovers !

What about you – how do you read, and when ? Do you have any unexpected reading habits ? Feel free to comment about it !