Sarah To Zero

Hi!

You’re probably wondering what the heck ‘Sarah To Zero’ means.

We’ll get to that.

Today, I’m gonna share with you my reading goals for the year! But first I wanted to give you a little review and wrap up of last year.

Last year I had ten goals. TEN. Have I met me? I don’t know why I did that. Although, a lot of them were more just intentions and quite abstract. They weren’t massively rigid. So I think I actually did a good job of hitting them all a bit. I read almost every day. I didn’t allow seven consecutive weeks to pass without finishing a book. I read more women than men. So I’m feeling good about those and they’re habits I’d like to carry into the future.

My main goal was of course, the number of books I wanted to read. I set it at 50 again after a very busy December 2018 reading 17 books to meet my goal. I wanted to reach 50 more comfortably before I moved it up. Sensible, I thought.

WELL.

I only went and read 73 books! I was so bloody chuffed with myself, so it’s okay if you are too. Haha. I comfortably reached my goal in about September and after that I just wanted to see how further I could actually take it. I definitely went above my expectations.

But, you know, I can’t take all the credit. A big shout out has got to go out to my new best friends: audiobooks! For some reason I only started listening to these in the later section of the year. My office thankfully allows headphones and WOW the amount of books I’ve been able to listen to. I’ve really enjoyed the different medium as well, to be honest, and have no idea why I waited so long to try them!

So yeah, pretty solid year I think. I had a lot of fun.

But on to this year. The goals. So they’re ambitious. But simple.

They’re twofold.

I want to read 100 books.

Yeah, don’t question it. It’ll be fine. I already know I’ll be taking part in about three readathons; me and my mate are setting up a book club(!) (did you see my last post?); and I only discovered audiobooks in like October or something and that really boosted my book count so imagine an entire year of them! So I feel like I definitely have the tools to push my 73 up to 100. It’s just a matter of whether I use them.

I want to minimise my unread owned books as much as I possibly can.

This is Sarah To Zero. Get it? This is me reducing my owned unread books to zero. This has been something I’ve thought about for a long time, and actively tried to change over the last couple of years.

I love books.

I want to consume every word ever written. So it makes sense that I’ve bought several books over the years. It didn’t help that in university I lived two minutes away from an amazing second hand bookshop; this is the culprit for many of my books! Couple the buying with the fact I wasn’t reading more than twenty books a year and you are obviously left with disaster and disappointment.

But I want to change that.

And I like to be real with you guys. So I’ll tell you. I started twentytwenty with 214 owned but unread books.

Yikes.

Ideally, I think I’d like that number to be 20.

SO.

We’ve got our work cut out for us. But only I can control this number.

Therefore, making no books a top rule in my no buy for this year was paramount. I picked a 100 books to read because I like to push myself, and also because I think I can do it. But imagine getting to December 31st and only having 114 books left on my shelf. That floods me with relief, even though some of you are probably thinking, what the fuck Sarah, that’s still so many books!

For me, that’s not many.

And what’s funny is I’m desperate to read all the books on my shelf. Otherwise they wouldn’t be there. I wouldn’t have bought them. Or I would have donated them by now. It’s just a matter of slowly working through them. I want their knowledge.

My newfound love for audiobooks is also going to help me out here. I have an existing subscription to Scribd (which is therefore allowed to continue according to my no buy rules) and I’ve already discovered that a massive amount of my physical shelf is on here. Being able to listen to them in work is going to hugely impact my ability to crush through them. Last year I listened to a lot of books I don’t own, because the magic of discovery was so exciting. But this year I have a clear focus so listening to the books that I already physically own will really help me reduce my shelf. So yeah, Sarah To Zero. It’s happening.

And that’s it. Didn’t you see in my twentytwenty post that simplicity is my word of the year? I really mean it.

What are your reading goals for the year? I’d love to hear them! Have you set an unrealistic goal for yourself? Do you want to get back into reading after having a long break? Do you own too many books like me and have a similar challenge to reduce them? Let me know!

Since joining it a while ago, I’ve found bookstagram a really motivating place. It makes me want to read more. So if you’re struggling or needing some inspiration definitely check the world out. My bookstagram is @theunreliablereader 🙂

The Wolves (Act I and II) – Bon Iver

 

Endless Worlds Book Club

I’m starting a book club! Yeah, you heard. And I want you to join!

I’ve wanted to join a book club for a few years now but just never acted on it. Partly because I’m shy. Partly because I can’t be bothered with the ‘big personalities’ that are inevitable to any group. You know the ones. They love the sound of their own voice. And partly because I worried I wouldn’t always enjoy the book that was chosen and then it would feel like a chore.

BUT.

No more.

My friend Carina and I have decided, fuck it, the way to solve all these problems is to simply start our own! And then Endless Worlds was born.

So what do you need to know?

– We want the book club to be accessible to anyone who wants to join. Therefore we’ve decided to pick a book bi-monthly. That gives you lots of time to read the book without feeling pressured or overwhelmed. (For you book nerds who read several books a month, it gives you the time to also read all your personal tbr* as well!)

– We wanted to be able to invite friends who didn’t live locally so instead of meeting irl we’ll be having our discussions on our Instagram page. But if you want to sit sipping a glass of wine pretending you’re at a pub with everyone whilst you type away your thoughts then we’re all for it. I might be too! Tea is also acceptable.

– Our Instagram account is @endlessworldsbookclub and we cannot wait for you to see the fucking amazing logo our very talented friend Beth has so kindly designed for us! You can check out her designs at @designsby.bh on Instagram!

– We want you to bring anyone to the book club who you think would love it. A simple way to do this is to share your book around. As there’s two months to read each book, there’s definitely time for a few of you to read one copy. This will also make the club cheaper for you!

– It won’t just be the bi-monthly books. As we get going we’ll be introducing all sorts of extras for you to participate in! Spoiler: they’ll be super fun!

– What books are we reading? Jeez, could be anything. We’re keeping it very open. Our only criteria is that it’s boss.

– January/February’s book will be announced tomorrow!

And that’s about it.

I hope you’ll join and if you have any questions at all just let me know. 🙂

tbr* – for the non-book nerds means ‘to be read’

Ahay – Of Monsters and Men

June/July Wrap Up

Bit late on the uptake here, what’s new. I apologise. Haven’t written much recently. Easing in with a wrap up. You might be wondering where June’s wrap up even was? There wasn’t one. I read one book in the entire month of June. Oops. Let’s start with that one:

Wishful Drinking – Carrie Fisher

I actually really enjoyed this book. Fisher has a way of bringing to life the most absurd anecdotes with a biting self-deprecation. Her life is one hundred percent different than mine but I think that’s part of the fun. Getting a look into this supposedly glamorous Hollywood landscape was cool.

In July, I had a slow start but made it up by reading seven (YEAH, SEVEN) books in the last week as part of The Reading Rush. I also got myself a three month cheaper membership to Audible and have become an audiobook fanatic. Here’s the eleven books I got through in July! (We’ll keep it short.)

Keeper of the Lost Cities – Shannon Messenger

Recommended by Regan at Peruse Project, I’ve started listening to this series through audible. The sense of community and adventure if excellent so far. Can’t wait to keep going.

From a Low and Quiet Sea – Donal Ryan

Some parts of this I loved and some parts I didn’t. When I read the back of this book it sounded like three very different people where going to find their words collide. If that happens in the last ten pages I don’t think it counts. More like three short stories where I hated one.

The Witch Doesn’t Burn In This One – Amanda Lovelace

The second collection I’ve read my Lovelace and again it ripped me apart, blew me away and comforted my soul. Go and red her poetry. RIGHT NOW.

Exile – Shannon Messenger

Second audiobook in the series, love Keefe.

Tales of the City – Armistead Maupin

A reread from uni. If you haven’t read this, please do immediately. It’s fast-paced, sarcastic and relentless. It’s a San Franciscan soap opera with heavy LGBTQ themes, what more do you need to know?

If Cats Disappeared From The World – Genki Kawamura

A charming little story about discovering what is important to you at the end of your life. Touches on grief in a realistic way and well as moments of loneliness.

Felicity – Mary Oliver

Some love poetry by Oliver and I was there for it. Give it a read, not much more to say!

George’s Marvellous Medicine – Roald Dahl

Quick little read to push my readathon numbers up! Always meant to read it. Enjoyed it. Liked how his stories actually cover serious topics like neglect and mild emotional abuse.

Rubyfruit Jungle – Rita Mae Brown

Had this lesbian classic on my tbr for years. Whilst it is that, it’s so much more. There’s harrowing moments of sexism, poverty, homophobia. Not a light book but manages to make you laugh all the same.

Everblaze – Shannon Messenger

Third audiobook in the series, think they’re getting even better!

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone – J K Rowling

Nothing realllly needs to be said about this one other than I actually finally got round to reading my illustrated edition. The artwork is honestly lovely and adds that little extra to the story. Got me feeling so Fall as well! Okay, turns out I had lots to say about that one!

Phew, we got there eventually. Was quite nice to have a super productive month after such a shocking June. June was my downfall last year and I just didn’t read anything for months after that so I was worried history was repeating itself! I think I’ve managed to push through now and will be spending the last few days of August cramming in my book for the NEWTs Readathon!

Happy Reading!

Vulture, Vulture – Of Monsters and Men

 

The NEWTs Readathon

So I’m officially done with the Reading Rush for this year! I did pretty well, I hit my goals. I’ll do a full wrap up next week of the books I got through. But today I want to talk about readathons. This was not the first readathon I’ve ever been a part of but I would say it was my first successful one! I really enjoyed the motivation it gave me to pick up a book. Every chance I got (breaks in work, waiting for my tea to cook, when I’d normally binge Netflix) I had a book in my hand. The sheer quantity of extra minutes I had a book in front of me lead to of course, inevitably, more pages read.

I was in a bit of a reading rut in June and I was worried I’d spend four months reading nothing. This is exactly what I did last year so it was a real worry! Therefore, for me, the readathon came at the perfect time. The momentum I felt immediately after those seven days was electric and I want to keep it going. I’m still fourteen books off my target for the year but because of last week’s boost I’m now aiming to not just achieve that goal but smash past it.

Serendipitously, I stumbled across a video on YouTube. It was a girl I’ve never seen before talking about a readathon her friend started last year. It’s called the NEWTs Readathon. Yes, it’s Harry Potter themed. Do you even need anymore information or shall we all just sign up now? So this readathon is more complicated than any I’ve heard before but the detail is truly astounding. The amount of time and creativity put into this challenge and community is truly excellent.

So what do you need to know? Lemme try and simplify this.

– G created it over on her YouTube channel Book Roast.

– It’s the second part in a two-part yearly readathon.

– The first part was back in April and was called the OWLs Readathon.

– You don’t need to have done that to take part in the NEWTs. Just jump in.

– If you did the OWLs you will have picked subjects to ‘take’ and then ‘sit exams for’.

– The exams are simply a book prompt. One book per prompt. The more books you read the higher your grades end up being in the subject.

– For example, if I did prompt 1 in Charms I would have received an A (for Acceptable). However, if I’d done prompts 1-3 I would have received an O (for Outstanding). There’s also E in the middle (for Exceeds Expectations). Get it? Well neither did I at this point. Let’s confuse you more!

– So, journeying through to August, we’ve arrived at the NEWTs. It’s a MONTH LONG readathon. I know, how amazing.

– Have a look at the magical careers PDF and choose your career! Each career will tell you the NEWT subjects you need to acquire.

– If you sat OWLs you now use your ‘grades’ to see if you have good enough scores to progress to the NEWT level. If you don’t, I guess you need to choose a new career. However, this is also for fun so do it anyway!

– If, like me, you haven’t completed the OWLs readathon, then it’s a bloody free-for-all isn’t it!

– I’ve literally just chosen my career and will now take the NEWT subjects it requires, to the grade it requires.

Sooooo, did you follow that? I hope so. I definitely could be doing it wrong. But that’s my interpretation. I’ll leave the videos down below for you and you can try and decipher it for yourself!

Either way, I think it sounds super unique and interesting. I love that it’s a month because it’s still a big challenge but it’s more manageable that last week. The Reading Rush is fun because it’s a very concentrated, intense week. But like, I also enjoy watching movies, vegging in the evening after a long day at work, seeing other humans and like, you know, having time to sleep etc. But a month? Almost too easy.

I’ve chosen Curse Breaker. I’m required to read a total of nine books for the month (which is still a lot more than my normal monthly total, so it’s not like actually easy. I was joking before). I’ve decided to not set a TBR this time (I know, gasp!) as I’m very much a mood reader. I’ve got a list of my prompts though and each time I finish a book I’ll move on with the next one! Here’s my prompts as an example for you:

O in Ancient Runes

– book recommended by a friend

– book written in the past tense

– book that has been on your tbr for ages

O in Arithmancy

– book that ends on an even page number

– a standalone

– book that’s longer than 350 pages

E in Defence Against the Dark Arts

– book that’s black under the dust jacket

– first book that you remember just now from your tbr

A in Charms

– a book that you think has a gorgeous cover

And there you have it! Now it’s your turn.

NEWTs Explanation Video: https://youtu.be/Rq7vFHcngYs

Book Roast’s NEWTs TBR Video:

Happy NEWTs everyone!

Harry Potter Inspired ASMR – Hogwarts Library (This is an ASMR YouTube Channel I found a few years ago. The videos are incredibly relaxing and are perfect background noise for your hours of reading!)

Reading Rush TBR

So it’s that time of year again: The Booktubeathon! The Reading Rush! That’s right, this year Ariel has teamed up with Raeleen and rebranded the readathon to include all reading social media communities. There is a new website with forums to engage in and badges to win. I’ll also be going to the Liverpool Read In at 6pm on the 25th if anyone local wants to join. It’s at the Waterstones café and the idea is to meet other readers and just have a nice hang out.

As always, there is seven book challenges. You can pick one book to cover each challenge or one to cover several; what you do with the challenges is totally up to you! Usually the seventh challenge is to read seven books but they’ve decided to put that as a bonus eighth challenge this year to alleviate some of the pressure people used to feel. Fair enough, I’m still going to try for it cos I’m mad. So what I’ve decided to do is pick three main books that cover all seven challenges for me. I’ll read these first. I’ve then selected an addition four (which also tick off at least one challenge) that I’ll move on to if I finish those first three. If I manage to read all seven books I’ll have covered all seven main challenges and then the bonus eighth challenge. However, say I only read 5 books (which is already a lot, I know) I’ll still have covered all seven challenges already. Make sense? Simple? Not a clue what I’m talking about? Okay, well here’s the challenges and then I’ll tell you my tbr and hopefully it’ll make more sense!

The Challenges

1. Read a book with purple on the cover.

2. Read a book in the same spot the entire time.

3. Read a book you meant to read last year.

4. Read an author’s first book.

5. Read a book with a non-human main character.

6. Pick a book that has five or more words in the title.

7. Read and watch a book to movie adaptation.

My TBR

(Challenges covered in brackets).

The Main Three

Everblaze – Shannon Messenger (1,5,2)

Tales of the City – Armistead Maupin (7,4,3)

The Bricks That Built The Houses – Kate Tempest (1,4,6)

The Bonus Four

Rubyfruit Jungle – Rita Mae Brown (4)

Felicity – Mary Oliver (2)

The Woman Warrior – Maxine Hong Kingston (3)

If Cats Disappeared From The World – Genki Kawamura (6)

Danny’s TBR

The Catcher In The Rye – JD Salinger (3,4,6)

George’s Marvellous Medicine – Roald Dahl (1,2)

The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy – Douglas Adams (5,6,7)

Carrie – Stephen King (4,7)

And that’s it! Are you doing the Reading Rush? What’s your TBR?

Happy Reading!

Nintendo Game – Alessia Cara

 

Most Anticipated Spring Reads

Now that we’re finallllly seeing some sun (don’t hold your breath, Liverpool, it’s supposed to rain here this week!) I thought I’d do a little post about some of the books I’m currently most excited to read. Some feel a bit springy but others just need to be read immediately regardless of season. Do your reading habits change with the seasons? I think mine do occasionally.

We Are Okay – Nina LaCour

Something about the warmer weather just makes me crave YA. Like some fun, angsty, honest, somewhat naïve but no less enjoyable stories. After reading Five Feet Apart last month I was on the hunt for another excellent young adult to sink my teeth into. I’ve known about this book for years. I think every booktuber or Goodreads user on the planet must have mentioned it by now so I picked it up at Gay’s the Word when I was in London. I don’t know much about it other than it deals with grief and mental health. I think. It won’t necessarily be as breezy as a spring book ought to be but I’m excited to finally tick it off my list.

Fierce Femmes and Notorious Liars: A Dangerous Trans Girl’s Confabulous Memoir – Kai Cheng Thom

I really had a great trip to Gay’s the Word earlier this month. I wanted to buy everything. Well as soon as I saw this near the front of the shop I literally pounced. It’s been out a couple of years but has gained a lot of attention recently after being picked as Our Shared Shelf’s March/April book (that’s Emma Watson’s feminist online book club for those of you not in the know). The selections are always excellent but I’ve literally never seen a book like this before. It’s a memoir but with fictional/magical realism elements. It also obviously has an LGBTQ+ theme as well. I’m beyond excited to read this!

The Bricks That Built The Houses – Kate Tempest

This book I bought at the Glastonbury Bookshop in 2017. I know, Glastonbury has a bookshop. Literally what doesn’t it have? I’d just seen Kate Tempest perform earlier that week and my life had been altered. It was one of my highlights of the festival. She’s this amazing spoken word poet/rapper and this is her first novel. I don’t know why I haven’t read it yet. I’ve read the first page several times and it’s so poetic that, whilst it gives me chills, I think it’s been intimidating me. Well no more! I’m tackling it this spring. The synopsis sounds like an adventure and it just sounds perfect for this season of change and rebirth.

Educated – Tara Westover

This book has been on my radar for a while and was kindly sent to me by a publisher friend a few months ago. I love a memoir. Anyone who knows me or reads my posts must know this by now. They’re just my absolute favourite thing. This particular memoir follows a woman through childhood and adolescence in the mountains of Idaho with her survivalist family. Tara didn’t enter a classroom til she was 17 due to her family’s isolation from mainstream society. This is the story of her self-education. It’s a story of loyalty and self-invention. It sounds incredible.

Tales of the City – Armistead Maupin

I first came across this book in uni, you know, one of those classic haven’t-read-it-but-have-left-yourself-no-time-so-now-we’re-writing-an-essay-about-it-anyway type situations? For those of you who want to strangle me, I feel you. But regardless, this book really started to intrigue me. It’s a series that I really want to get into but need to properly read this one first. It’s set (and written) in 1970s San Francisco and has all the LGBT elements you’re looking for. It’s also like a book soap opera. I know, how cool?! It follows many characters as their narratives intertwine. The themes are sometimes hard hitting but more often than not it seems to just be a really fun, sarcastic, chilled book that is perfect for spring. Also, the book is bright orange so it’s literally screaming at you to read it in the sun!

————————————————————–

A few favourites from winter:

Everything I Never Told You – Celeste Ng

Quiet Girl in a Noisy World – Debbie Tung

Dept. Of Speculation – Jenny Offill

Nina Is Not OK – Shappi Khorsandi

Boy Erased – Garrard Conley

Bone – Yrsa Daley-Ward

Art Matters – Neil Gaiman

The Terrible – Yrsa Daley-Ward

Vicious – V.E. Schwab

The Incendiaries – R.O. Kwon

(Okay that was ten, but you’re forgetting I read 17 books in December and just really epic ones in January and February! So hard to pick favourites.)

Inside Out – Soccer Mommy