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#WW: Pros and Cons of Reading Goals

25 Mar

Intro:

Normally, I have guest bloggers on Mondays, but today is an exception. (Shannon accidentally overbooked her website for March). That being said, today’s guest blogger is discussing a topic I’m sure many book bloggers and bibliophiles can relate to: reading goals. We’ve all seen them, the 2015 reading goals, the reading challenges, the reading lists. CL Mannarino is an avid reader who has found herself facing many of these lists, and her enlightening discussion brings up the question of why we read in the first place.

Pros and Cons of Reading Goals

Last year, I had a goal to read 35 books. It was going to be brilliant: I had a whole list of books/series that I would tackle for that year. Each one was designed to either clean out my bookshelf (10 unread books for every 1 book I’d already enjoyed), or round me out into a more aware, well-read person.

Didn’t happen.

Instead, according to Goodreads, I read…maybe 19. There were a few books listed that I didn’t finish. So let’s say 15. That’s generous.

clmannarino_2014editIn the past, this would’ve torn me apart. I would read lists that appeared on Facebook saying, “How many of these classics have you read? Most people read less than ten” and hurriedly go through to make sure I’d tackled at least ten listed. After I could check off at least fifteen, I would smirk to myself and sit back.

Those kinds of things made me feel so well-rounded. Until I followed who would review James Baldwin and Jack Kerouac and I would feel guilty. None of those kinds of writers ever interested me. I was never an Austen person, and the only Bronte novel I enjoyed was Jane Eyre. But because I’m an English major, any post or person, no matter how off-base or high-horsed, telling me “well-rounded people read classics” made me feel guilty for not reading more of them.

It’s why I set my Goodreads goal. These other people – smart bloggers, who enjoyed deep literature that didn’t speak to me but I felt like ought to because I considered myself fairly intelligent – set lofty goals. Read more this year, they said.

They had plans. So I planned, too. And I planned a plan for someone else’s dreams instead of mine.  That, and I’d read about 30 books in 2013, so I thought I could duplicate my success.

I thought I’d be more broken up about it than I am. I thought I’d feel guiltier about reading so much more slowly this year than I do. More than anything, though, I feel relieved.

I didn’t meet the goal, but I didn’t become a less-rounded person because of it. I tackled some pretty important literature, but I also read a lot of duds. And I didn’t finish everything I started. I’d just decided I didn’t want to waste my time with something that didn’t hold my attention.

Don’t be afraid to not finish something, by the way. Often, you’ll wind up coming back to it in the future, when you’re ready to read it.

I think a big part of this guilt-free feeling is that I know more about my ability to fulfill resolutions than I did before. I know my desires better, and I’m not going to beat myself up for not being the kind of reader I expect myself to be. (Or the kind I expect myself to be based on others’ outspoken expectations of “good readers.”)

This year, I’m going to tackle my bookshelf. I’ll widen my horizons a little bit. I’ll read a few things I’ve bought. I’ll read some stories from places I’ve never read from before. Above all, I’ll go where my literary desires take me and keep the pressure off.

Reading was fun for me. It should be, still.

Bio:

CL Mannarino is a fantasy and realistic fiction writer and personal essayist. She works in Massachusetts as an editor while she writes, reads, walks, and bakes on the side. She’s trained in line-editing, extreme shoveling, and home improvement. CL can be found on her blog, her Facebook, or her Tumblr.”

Want to be a guest blogger? I would love to have you on! I am accepting original posts that focus on reading and writing. A picture and a bio are encouraged. You do not have to be published. If you qualify, please email me at shannonathompson@aol.com.

~SAT

#WW: Website Wonders

25 Feb

Website Wonders:

Every month, I share all of the websites I come across that I find helpful, humorous, or just awesome. Below, you’ll find all of February’s Website Wonders categorized into Writing, Reading, as well as Inspiration and Art. If you enjoy these websites, be sure to like my Facebook page because I share even more websites and photos like this there.

Enjoy!

Writing:

25 Things You Should Know About Antagonists: A great article all writers should read.

What age did the greatest authors publish their most famous works? I knew this was going to be fascinating the second I clicked on it.

Little-Known Punctuation Marks for National Punctuation Day: Because I’ve been spending a lot more time being an editor recently.

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Reading:

10 Books That Will Absolutely Blow Your Mind: My favorite book – The Stranger by Albert Camus – is on this list.

House Of Books: The Most Majestically Beautiful Libraries Around The World Photographed By Franck Bohbot: No description needed. These gorgeous photos are enough.

32 Books That Will Actually Change Your Life: How many of these changed your life? Me Talk Pretty One Day was the first book I read of Sedaris’, and he’s still one of my favorite authors. I also agree with Beloved, The Giver, World War Z (not the movie. Boo.), and Never Let Me Go.

Inspiration and art:

These Incredible Paintings Will Both Amaze And Confuse You: Beautiful. Unnerving. Imaginative. This is very strange, but it won’t allow me to add this link to the text, so here it the URL: (http://theawesomedaily.com/incredible-paintings-of-rob-gonsalves)

How to Be Creative and Find Your Brilliance: 10 Superb Articles: We could all use more tips.

Check back next month for more articles!

P.S.

I just received this review for my editing services from an amazing, upcoming author, and I could not be happier and more grateful than I am right now.

“Shannon’s content review and editing services worked wonders for my manuscript. She was quick, professional, and wonderful to work with. As a well-established author with behind-the-scenes experience, I found her input to be invaluable. Whether you are just starting out or a seasoned veteran, I highly recommend her services.” – A.I. Kemp

Please check out my services or email me at shannonathompson@aol.com for anything. :]

Website Wonders

28 Jan

Website Wonders:

Every month, I share all of the websites I come across that I find helpful, humorous, or just awesome. Below, you’ll find all of January’s Website Wonders categorized into Writing and Authors as well as Reading. If you enjoy these websites, be sure to like my Facebook page because I share even more websites and photos like this there.

Enjoy!

Writing and Authors:

8 Unstoppable Rules for Writing Killer Short Stories: A great little list.

Where to Find the Best Free Stock Photos: This was supplied to me by a fan, so I had to share!

Can I Mention Brand Name Products in My Fiction?: A fantastic and informative piece.

How Dreams, Goals and Habits Make You a Wildly Productive Writer: We could all be a little more productive. ;]

20 Quotes From The Greatest Love Letters Of The 20th Century: I am a sucker for love letters. I even own a paperback full of the greatest love lovers ever written, but surprisingly, none of these were in the text that I own, so I had to share these!

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Reading:

Before The Internet, Librarians Would ‘Answer Everything’ — And Still Do: I love librarians. I have always known how important they are, but it was further proved to me during my time at KU. Tami Albin saved my life.

 27 Places That Are A Book Lover’s Dream Come True: My dreams!

10 Stephen King Short Stories That Should Be Films: I will add this: as long as they directed it right.

American Libraries: This is a giant archive that you can research and read for free.

6 Beautiful Libraries You Need to Visit Right Now: Oh, the places you will go.

~SAT

THIS IS THE LAST WEEK YOU CAN BUY ANY OF MY BOOKS.

(Sorry for the bolded capitalization. Sort of.)

Links:

Minutes Before Sunset: AmazonBarnes & NobleSmashwordsKoboDieselSony, and AppleGoodreads.

Seconds Before Sunrise: AmazonBarnes & NobleSmashwordsGoodreads.

Take Me Tomorrow: AmazonBarnes & NobleSmashwordsGoodreads.

Best Christmas Books of All Times

22 Dec

Intro:

Happy #MondayBlogs! What better way to lighten Monday’s normally dreadful mood by having guest bloggers come in and share their thoughts about reading and writing? Today is the first guest blogger for this new section of ShannonAThompson.com, but this isn’t their first time blogging here! If you’ve been with me for a few months, then you’ll recognize Ninja Essays and all of their perfection. Today, Ninja Essays has created another beautiful infograph titled “Best Christmas Books of All Times.” So, you might check it out and find that perfect Christmas gift for your reading friend or for your companions that are traveling this holiday season.

Thank you, Ninja Essays!

Best Christmas Books of All Times

It may be cold, crowded and hectic, but everyone agrees that Christmas is the best time of the year! It’s time to connect with our families and show appreciation for everything we have. The loving Christmas mood has inspired many authors to write heart-warming stories that embody the spirit of the holiday. 

When you get overwhelmed by cooking, event organizing, shopping and wrapping, it’s time to let the perfect Christmas read take you to a world of magic and mystery. The best Christmas books mix sadness with sweetness and joy; they make you reflect on your actions and recognize the importance of kindness, giving and affection. 

The following infographic by NinjaEssays.com suggests the best Christmas books in five categories: Children, Classic, Romance, Fantasy, and Mystery & Crime. It’s the perfect selection of books that remind us what Christmas is really about!   

Infographic Source

Best_Christmas_Books_By_NinjaEssays

Want to be a guest blogger? Wonderful! I am accepting guest posts that focus on reading and writing. No blatant advertisements. You are allowed a book link in the post as long as it’s relevant to the post. Including a bio and a picture is encouraged. If you qualify, please email me at shannonathompson@aol.com. I’ll look forward to hearing from you!

~SAT

Author Announcements

26 Sep

Author Announcements:

Yesterday was my two-year anniversary of blogging here on ShannonAThompson.com. For that reason, I would like to thank each and every one of you for liking, sharing, and commenting on my website as we move forward into the future. A special thanks goes out to my top five commenters – Charles Yallowitz, Mishka Jenkins, theowllady, Deby Fredericks, and Phoenix Rainez – and I hope the next year is just as amazing!

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If you’re interested, here were my top three blog posts from this past last year:

1. Censorship of Self-Published Authors or Something Else? (Oct. 13, 2013)

2. Scribd, Oyster, and Why I’m Hesitant as a Reader and Writer (Dec. 29, 2013)

3. Writing Tips: Hobbies and Talents (Nov. 13, 2013)

I hope you enjoy the posts if you haven’t read them already!

Moving onto the future – many exciting things are happening this fall, so I wanted to share them today, and I hope you’ll help me share the news.

I am doing a meet and greet book signing in the Kansas City area on October 2 from 6 – 8 p.m. Here is a link to the event’s page on Facebook for more information. I know many of you are from around the world and cannot make it in person, but it would mean the world to me if you shared it with your friends and followers in case they are nearby me. I would love to meet everyone that I can! (Also free chocolate muffins and apple tea will be served.)

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I would also like to take this moment to state that prices have now been added to my Services page. They are subject to change, but I hope you check those out. The Author Extension Community provides personal assistant services, including review requests and content editing, as well as social media help, such as Facebook event photos and assessment guidance.

In other news, my latest poem – Peeling Oranges – has been added to my interactive poetry series on Wattpad. Be sure to like, comment, and vote for your chance to be mentioned during my next YouTube video on my channel, Coffee & Cats.

My next two posts – Website Wonders and September Ketchup – will be closing up this month, but I just want to thank everyone for being so enlightening, encouraging, and energizing these past few weeks. I’m excited for what Autumn will bring, and I cannot wait to spend it with you all right here on ShannonAThompson.com.

Have a great weekend,

~SAT

P.S.

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When Reading is a “Fad”

22 Sep

Announcements: 

During my latest interview, I had to fight a blush when The Random Book Blogger asked me which Take Me Tomorrow character I would marry if I had to chose one. Read my answer by clicking here, or read her book review by clicking here. The Random Book Blogger shared a favorite quote from the story, so I thought I would share it, too, “Family,” Noah emphasized, “is important.”  If you want to know why Noah said this, you can check out the book here. ::wink wink::

When Reading is a “Fad”

Fad, according to the dictionary, is “an intense and widely shared enthusiasm for something, especially one that is short-lived and without basis in the object’s qualities; a craze.”

I think we can all agree that fads happen in the reading community often. Even if you aren’t a reader, popular titles have taken over the big screen. Twilight, Divergent, Harry Potter, Fifty Shades of Grey, and The Fault in Our Stars were everywhere, and even more novels will pop up in the future. Anymore it seems like most movies are based on novels, which is understandable considering most major production companies want an audience before they spend millions creating a film for the big screen, but it has only increased the visibility of reading fads. In fact, bookstores have even changed. The one near my house have an entire shelf dedicated to books for the big screen, and it includes books that are currently in the theatre as well as books that will be released as movies later this year. Someone is always standing by that shelf, and it was my recent trip to the bookstore that forced me to think about this.

Are reading fads positive or negative? Should we pay attention to them or write them off as nothing but entertainment?

That’s what I’m talking about today. Below, I’m going to be focusing on the pros and cons of book fads, including why you should stay updated on the latest and why you shouldn’t care. (Because that’s the unbiased thing to do, right?)

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photo from myshopsdiscount.com

Why you should care:

For me, this is a given, but I’m also involved in the publishing world. I want to know what’s in and what readers are talking about mainly because I’m obsessed with the book market (and it is a part of my job). That being said, I want to ignore that part of my life for a minute, and talk about this from strictly a reader’s perspective. It can be fun to share reads my friends and family who also read. By reading what is “in”, I’m increasing my chances to being up-to-date in my personal life as well as my work life or just plain ol’ conversations at the coffee shop. Paying attention to reading fads can be like paying attention to fashion fads. No one wears poodle skirts anymore, but people love that side braid, so I’m going to attempt that side braid, and when I try it, I might like it, and I might dislike it, but at least the trend pointed me to an opportunity I didn’t previously consider. Not a bad thing if I actually find myself enjoying what is “in”. (And that never means that I have to give up my traditional ponytail – a.k.a. my other books – that I’ve always loved and will continue to love).

Why you shouldn’t care:

Who cares if poodle skirts aren’t in anymore? I want to wear one, and I’m going to wear it to the bookstore. (Is this metaphor weird yet?) No one has to read what everyone is talking about because we don’t have to conform to the same conversations that everyone and their cousin is having. So what if everyone cannot wait until Valentine’s Day for Fifty Shades? Good for them. I can’t wait for chocolate, and that’s me. (Okay. Not going to lie. I probably will see the movie, but that’s for the top section. Oops.) But readers don’t have to care about what’s in or what might be in or what is in the theatres or whether or not they read the book before the film or even if there is a film at all. Just enjoy the entertainment like you want to, and if someone wants to talk about the in thing, let them (or talk about something else). There’s so much to discover in the world, and who knows? You might discover the next “big” thing before anyone else knows how big it is. That makes you a hipster. (In a good way….no PBR allowed…okay. Fine…PBR allowed, but only if the bookstore is BYOB).

In the end, there are many reasons as to why one reader might enjoy keeping up with the latest trends and there are just as many reasons not to. Being a reader means the reader is allowed to read whatever they want to for whatever reasons they want to. I have no problems with “fad” readers, and I have no issues with readers who strive to avoid trending books. I’ve personally found myself on both sides of the argument only to realize there shouldn’t be an argument at all.

Reading is what we enjoy, and that is enough for me.

~SAT

10 Cry-Worthy Books From My College Years

8 Sep

Announcements: 

Take Me Tomorrow now has a book trailer, which I hope you’ll take a minute to watch, like, and share before you read today’s post! Thank you.

10 Cry-Worthy Books From My College Years

After I wrote Books That Changed My Childhood, I received a few emails asking me about my other novels, so I am going to continue sharing different types of reads that have affected my life. I’m also adding my favorite quotes! I’ll be honest. I started writing a list of novels that affected my high school years, but it got out of control, so I moved onto my college time only to realize most of the books did, in fact, make me cry.

Yes. That was a warning.

Most – if not all of these – made me cry. And if you’ve never cried at a novel, I recommend these because everyone should cry at a novel at least once in their reading lives.

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1. The Art of Racing the Rain by Garth Stein – Yes, this novel is told from a dog’s perspective. And yes, you can take a dog seriously. (If you think you can’t, trust me when I say you must read this book.) A friend recommended this novel to me, and I was hesitant when I picked it up in the bookstore. To my surprise, I read it in one sitting, even when my vision got blurry.

“Here’s why I will be a good person. Because I listen. I cannot talk, so I listen very well.”

2. Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro – If you’ve ever though that first-person can’t be taken seriously, then, Ishiguro is here to prove you wrong. There are no other words to describe his prose in this novel. You will begin at childhood and grow into an adult, just like you did in real life. It will remind me of how you learned in life, and it will tear you apart.

“All children have to be deceived if they are to grow up without trauma.”

3. The Unmemntioable by Erin Moure – Arguably one my favorite poetry collections if not my favorite. (I can never decide which one is my favorite.) I first read this in my poetry class at the University of Kansas, and I have continued to read it over and over ever since. The exploration of language, history, relationships, and identity is more than enough to cause emotional reflections.

“When there was no one left, it became nowhere. There were no more letters after the w.”

4. American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang – Cry-worthy? Debatable. But the emotions are just as strong. The awe could possibly bring tears to your eyes. They sure choked me up. But I mainly added this because it’s the perfect example of a graphic novel that proves all graphic novels can be taken seriously.

“It’s easy to become anything you wish . . . so long as you’re willing to forfeit your soul.”

5. When The Emperor Was Divine by Julie Otsuka – This novel has never left me, perhaps because Otsuka never gives names to her characters. She forces you to become them, delicately and masterfully, before she explores Japanese concentration camps in the United States. This is one of those stories I lent out to someone and deeply regretted it when I didn’t get it back. I will have this book on my shelf again one day.

“He wondered if you could see the same moon in Lordsburg, or London, or even China, where all the men wore little black slippers, and he decided that you could, depending on the clouds. ‘Same moon,’ he whispered to himself, ‘same moon.'”

 6. Breath, Eyes, Memory by Edwidge Danticat – Not for the light-hearted. I first read this memoir after the earthquake in Haiti. I wish I could say more about it, but I fear that I would take away from the exploration of culture and identity if I did.

“Love is like the rain. It comes in a drizzle sometimes. Then it starts pouring, and if you’re not careful, it will drown you.”

 7. A Long Way Gone by Ishmael Beah – Again, not for the light-hearted. This is a memoir of a child solider, and it is also one of my favorite books. Right when you think you can handle his prose, he reminds you of his age, and you are torn apart, but you keep reading because his voice coaxes you to.

“We must strive to be like the moon.”

 8. One Day by David Nicholls – Maybe the emotions in this novel are a little too close to reality? Meet Dex and Em, two friends who continue to meet on the same day every year for…oh, you know, their whole lives. A definite reminder of how time passes, how much can happen, and how we change because of it all.

“You can live your whole life not realizing that what you’re looking for is right in front of you.”

9. Aimless Love by Billy Collins – Another poetry collection, but this is technically a few of his collections together. If you’re hesitant about poetry, I definitely recommend Collins because he is easy to slip into but complicated over time. You might not cry, but you might have to take a moment to feel like crying after reading a few of his poems.

“No wonder the moon in the window seems to have drifted

out of a love poem that you used to know by heart.”

 10. On the Road by Jack Kerouac – Yes. I just admitted this. I cried when I read On the Road. I’m not sure why since it’s not necessarily a “sad” novel, but it was for me. The exploration and exploitation of Dean really brought the sadness out in me. I would get more into detail about how I feel about Dean and the other characters – which were definitely based off of real people – but I don’t want to spoil the story. On the Road is more than just a recount of drugs and sex in the Beat Generation. It’s forcing life when faced with living like you’re already dead.

“…the only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars.”

Oh, just an extra. Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer. I only debated this novel because I technically read it when I was fourteen, but I reread it later on, and I cried. Again. And at the theatre when I saw the adaptation. And when I got home and read it again. And again when I forced my friend to watch the movie.

I don’t purposely read novels that are turned into movies, but it might be interesting to note that these are also movie adaptations now: Never Let Me Go (I cried) and One Day (I almost cried.) On the Road (Okay. So I didn’t cry at this one. But the feels!)

So what novels or poems have brought tears to your eyes? Why? Share them below, and let’s have a cry fest! (A happy, artistic one, of course.) I’ll bring the tissues.

~SAT

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