Eight Ways in Which My Reading Life Has Changed Over the Years

This week’s Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl, is all about ways you have changed, particularly as a reader, over the years. I am not a book blogger, since posts about books make up not even ten percent of my total posts. I don’t read nearly enough to be a book blogger. This may be one reason I haven’t participated in #TTT for a while. However, I loved this week’s theme. Here are some ways in which my reading life has changed over the years.

1. I read because I want to, not because I have to. As a child and teen, I didn’t like reading much. Especially not the assigned literature we were supposed to read for school. For this reason, in my young adult life, I didn’t read much at all. Over the years though, I discovered a love of reading and now read for pleasure. Sometimes I still feel like I have to finish a book, but then it’s me creating the pressure.

2. I read almost exclusively English-language books. The book famine, ie. the lack of accessible books to people who are blind or otherwise print disabled, is still pretty severe in Dutch-language literature. In English, almost every book I want to read is available in an accessible format nowadays. This is one reason I enjoy reading books in English far more than in Dutch.

Another is the fact that I blog in English and, to be honest, I don’t do much in life (except for peeing and sleeping and eating) without some motivation related to my blog. I love to venture out into the bookish blogosphere at times.

3. The way in which I read, has changed. As a child, I almost exclusively read audiobooks. Oh and the occasional large print book suited for children much younger than me, because with how poor my vision was, ordinary large print was too small for me. I hated reading Braille, so unless I was forced to, I didn’t touch a Braille book.

Now I read almost exclusively by touch. I recently bought a few audiobooks, but to be honest am quite a bit disappointed in the narrators.

4. I discovered eBooks. As a teen, I read books my parents scanned for me. Then I didn’t read much at all as a young adult. In 2013, I found out that Adobe Digital Editions, the main program at the time to read EPUB eBooks, had been made compatible with screen readers. I read EPUB from then on, although I no longer use Adobe Digital Editions. I use the iPhone’s book app instead.

5. I joined Bookshare. Bookshare is the U.S.-based online book service for the print disabled. In 2005 and 2006, when I first started reading English-language books for pleasure, I was a member of the UK’s National Library for the Blind. I for a short while read physical Braille books then. That didn’t work out due to shipping issues. Bookshare, though it existed back then, wasn’t available to international customers at the time. It became available to those outside of the U.S. sometime around 2015. I joined Bookshare in mid-2016.

6. I found out about Kindle. That’s another eBook format that didn’t use to be very accessible. Back in like 2015, there was the accessibility add-on to Kindle software, which would read the content of the book aloud. Like I said, I’m not a fan of audiobooks and I’m certainly not a fan of the robotic-sounding voice of the Kindle accessibility add-on. Sometime in 2018, I found out that the Kindle app for iPhone, and to a lesser degree Kindle for PC, now support screenreaders and most importantly Braille displays. I still don’t buy Kindle books very often, as Bookshare has a wide selection of books too, but I know that if I really want to read a book, I can.

7. A larger percentage of the books I read is fiction. Roughly ten years ago, I only read a bit of teen fiction and mostly read biographies and other nonfiction. Now about half of the books I read and the majority of the books I finish are fiction.

8. I read a wider variety of books. Though most of the fiction I read still belongs in the young adult category, over the past few years I’ve ventured out into other genres as well. I love reading a diverse selection of books now.

How has your reading life changed over the years?

November 2019 To-Be-Read List

I haven’t read that much in the past few months, but this week, I’m enjoying reading again. I discovered a To-Be-Read list linky, so am linking up there. I still have a huge pile of books I’d like to read or am reading but haven’t finished. Here are a few I’m planning on reading this month.

1. Matilda by Roald Dahl. I think I said before that I read it a ton of times in Dutch as a child, but now I’d like to read it in English. I’m choosing the audiobook version narrated by Kate Winslet.

2. Scars Like Wings by Erin Stewart. This one has been on the list of books I can’t wait to read for months. It was published last month and I fully intended on buying it on Kindle as soon as it came out. That didn’t work though, as I don’t have my husband’s current credit card details in my account yet. Just now, I had the amazing idea of checking whether the book is on Bookshare before I buy it once I do have my husband’s payment details. And guess what? It is! This sounds like such an amazing book.

3. Left Neglected by Lisa Genova. I started this one a few months ago, but never got beyond the first chapter. Not because I didn’t like it, but because other activities got in the way of my actually reading.

4. Unthinkable by Helen Thomson. This month is somehow dedicated to nonfiction. I love the topic of this book. As you can see, medicine is my thing.

This is another book I’m partway through already. I really want to read some new stuff too, but can’t think of any right now. I mean, of course, I have a huge TBR pile, but I don’t want to up the pressure by forcing myself to read more than I comfortably can.

5. Preemie Voices by Saroj Saigal. This is a collection of letters from people born very prematurely in the late 1970s to early 1980s. They share their experiences and advice for parents of currrent day preemies. I was a preemie too, slightly younger but now at the average age the preemies in this book were when they wrote the letters. I feel there’s a lot I can relate to in this book. Even more than when I started reading it some five years ago when it was published.

What’s on your to-be-read list for this month?

#WeekendCoffeeShare (September 15, 2019)

Hi everyone, how are you? Let’s catch up over a cup of coffee or once again green tea in my case. I’m joining in with #WeekendCoffeeShare.

If we were having coffee, I’d share that this week was full of ups and some downs, though the downs weren’t as low as I’d expected. As regular readers of this blog know, I will be moving to the care facility in Raalte in eight days. My staff, my husband and I have been doing some preparation in regards to my leaving my current day activities and going to start up in Raalte.

If we were having coffee, I’d share that I finally told my mother I’ll be going to the care facility. I sugarcoated it a little, saying I’d be staying at my care agency in Raalte during the week and going home to my husband on week-ends. As a result, at first she wasn’t sure I’d be actually sleeping at the care facility. After a little “but I thought you were doing so well” and all, she wished me good luck at the place.

I am not 100% sure how to feel about it. In a way, this seemingly supportive attitude contradicts my memories from years before and that is hard to adapt to. However, I’m trying to be gratefulfor her support. I haven’t talked to my father or sister about it yet.

If we were having coffee, I’d share that my sister gave birth to a baby girl, Janneke Sietske, last Tuesday. She is named Janneke after my sister’s and my grandma who died last year and Sietske after one of my brother-in-law’s grandmothers. Janneke had some health issues early on and we haven’t been able to visit yet. We’re planning on visiting her next week though.

If we were having coffee, I’d share that today, my husband and I made some small banana soaps for the staff at day activities. I’ll give them to them on Friday, when I have my leave-taking party.

If we were having coffee, I’d share that my last appoitnment with my nurse practitioner went okay. He has referred me to the mental health agency in Raalte. I haven’t seen the referral letter, but he said he’d written about my trauma but that, for now, here and now work is most appropriate for me. I did try to get it through that ultimately, I do want to process my trauma. I’m not sure that will happen, as most likely I can’t get trauma therapy without at least a C-PTSD diagnosis if not DID/OSDD. Precisely getting my trauma-related issues assessed is a huge trigger for me.

If we were having coffee, lastly I’d share that I finally finished The Fault in Our Stars, which I started reading already three weeks ago. I will hopefully be able to finish at least one more book before the end of the month.

What’s been up with you lately?

The Daily Four (September 9, 2019)

I am once again joining in with The Daily Four. I am a day late with this one, as I didn’t discover it till nearly 9PM yesterday, which is my usual bedtime. Here are the questions.

What truly motivates you to write?
My readers, I guess. Before I became a blogger, I had an online diary and even when I still kept my diary on my private computer, I always envisioned someone reading it. I rarely write without an audience in mind. It doesn’t mean I get depressed if my posts don’t get (m)any comments, but I delight in finding that people read my work.

Other than that, I’m motivated by an intrinsic will to write. Even in the times of my personal computer diary, I would be proud if I wrote an entry everyday for a certain amount of time. The longest I’ve gone without skipping a day, is probably like three months.

What’s cluttering up your life today and what are you doing about it?
I don’t really know. I’m not one to be bothered by physical clutter easily, probably because I don’t see it and as such, it doesn’t distract me. However, there may also be this thing like mental clutter, where thoughts clutter up your life. That definitely happens to me and I’m not sure it’s a thing, but I’m making it into one. Worries tend to clutter up my life in this way. So does thinking about what I should be doing instead of doing it.

Did you enjoy a creative childhood?
Yes. I was a writer from an early age on. I also enjoyed drawing when I still had enough sight to do it. My mother was the most encouraging of my artistic creativity, but my father encouraged me to think creatively.

Have you ever wanted to write a book or if you have written a book do you feel accomplished for doing so?

Yes! I wanted to be a children’s book author when I grew up and have quite a few unfinished manuscripts. One of them was pretty far along. It was called The Black Queen and was about a teen girl whose mother had multiple sclerosis. I must admit, my stories were full of plagiarism though and not very imaginative.

I still intend on someday writing my autobiography. However, I’m not sure whether I’ll do it, as it requires quite a huge attention span to sit and write a book.

Books I’d Add to My Personal Library

Today’s Top Ten Tuesday is about books you’ve read that you’d add to your personal library. What is meant are books that you don’t own a physical copy of and wish you did. Well, I can’t quite use physical books, as I can’t read print and Braille books are very clunky. However, there are still books I wish I owned that I borrowed from the library. Here goes.

1. Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll. I read it in its Dutch translation in one of my last years in primary school and, though I didn’t enjoy it that much at the time, I’d love to read the original English right now. My father read it in English at the same time that I read it in Dutch.

2. Winnie-the-Pooh by A.A. Milne. My father read my sister and me the best Dutch translation by Nienke van Hichtum. This yet again isn’t a book I’d necessarily want a physical copy of, though that’d be nice, but I’d love to read it in its original language.

3. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley. I read this in my senior year of high school. Though I easily accessed it online back then, legally or not I’m not entirely sure, I would love to own a copy.

4. I Never Promised You a Rose Garden by Hannah Green. I borrowed this one from the UK’s National Library for the Blind and actually read it as a physical Braille book. Back then, you could send Braille books free of postage anywhere and the NLB offered its service to international customers. Bookshare, the U.S.-based online accessible book service, at the time didn’t, which was the main reason I used the NLB. I loved this book.

5. Planet of the Blind by Stephen Kusiisto. Another book I borrowed from the NLB. I loved how much I could relate to Kusiisto’s experienfce, going blind gradually from the same eye condition I suffer from.

6. Aspergirls by Rudy Simone. I had this book as an eBook, but lost it when I moved from Adobe Digital Editions to the iBooks app on my iPhone. I didn’t actually finnish this book, but would love to.

7. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams. I read the first book in this series in its Dutch translation at age twelve. Though I really don’t think I’ll ever read the other books, as they get really weird or so I’m told, I’d love to have a copy of this one.

8. All of Astrid Lindgren’s books. I don’t know whether they’re available in English, so I’d go with the Dutch translations.

9. Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank. I read it in Dutch when I was about thirteen, but I borrowed it from the library back then. I’d love to own a physical copy of both the original Dutch and the English translation.

10. Born on a Blue Day by Daniel Tammet. This was an intriguing autobiography by a man with Asperger’s. I read it in its Dutch translation before I had access to many English-language books and would love to own a copy of the original English.

Which books would you add to your personal library?

Recent Reads (August 2019)

I discovered the It’s Monday? What Are You Reading? (#IMWAYR) linky a few weeks ago. I was at the time reading a lot, but not enough to make this a weekly theme, so instead, I chose to participate the last Monday of the month with my monthly reads. I was hoping they’d be more than a few, but no such luck.

I read only three books in the past month. That still is more than my average, I think. I did start a couple of other books, but didn’t get far enough into them to judge them.

First, I read Attachments by Rainbow Rowell. I was inspired to read it by a fellow blogger who confessed she hadn’t read Rainbow Rowell. Neither had I, even though Fangirl has been on my to-be-read list for years. I chose to read Attachments first though, because it seemed more geared towards my age group. Then again, at times I really love young adult fiction, so I don’t really know what I was thinking. The book definitely didn’t disappoint. Occasionally, it dragged on a little, but for the most part, it was hilarious.

Then I read Don’t Wake Up by Liz Lawler. This was the polar opposite of Attachments. Not hilarious at all and it definitely didn’t drag on. It was a true page-turner. I wrote a review about two weeks ago.

Then I didn’t read much for the next two weeks. I managed to finish one book, Angels in Our Hearts by Rosie Lewis and Casey Watson. This is a collection of moving short foster care memoirs. They definitely didn’t disappoint either, though I took some time to finish the book. I had never read anything by Rosie Lewis but had enjoyed reading Casey Watson for years.

For this reason, I decided to buy another book by Casey Watson, A Boy Without Hope as an audiobook. I had intended to read it in the ParaTransit bus to and from day activities, but the narrator’s voice is hard to understand and pretty much impossible to decipher in noisy environments. It was my first-ever English-language audiobook and will most likely not be followed by many more.

Next on my reading list is The Fault in Our Stars. It’s been on my TBR list forever and I was originally hoping I could finish it before today. Well, I’m not nearly finished, but I assume I will be next month.

Book Characters I’d Like to Be Best Friends With

I first discovered Top Ten Tuesday, a weekly book-related linky hosted by Jana from That Artsy Reader Girl, a few weeks ago, but didn’t feel like joining in then yet. Today, the theme is book characters I’d like to be best friends with. There are a ton of lovely characters in the books I’ve read. Of course for the YA books, let’s assume I’m at a similar age to the characters.

1. Jasmine from Unspeakable by Abbie Rushton. I can relate to Megan very much and would love to have had a best friend like Jasmine when I was her age.

2. Beth and Jennifer from Attachments by Rainbow Rowell. I just recently read this book and the characters are totally hilarious.

3. Katie from Inside the O’Briens by Lisa Genova. She’s in a lot of ways similar to me. I bet she could teach me some proper yoga.

4. Caleb from Rules for 50/50 Chances by Kate McGovern. He’s so totally funny. He also sounds very caring and like he’ll do a lot for a friend.

5. Piper Reece from Handle With Care by Jodi Picoult. At least I’d be a lot more loyalthan Charlotte is. Then again, that’d destroy the storyline.

6. Mellie Baker from And She Was by Jessica Verdi. Someone I’d love to get to know beyond her gender identity.

7. Kate from My Sister’s Keeper by Jodi Picoult. I love her fighting spirit and her supporting Anna even if it may mean she’ll die.

8. Sophia from Believarexic by J.J. Johnson. I could also imagine myself befriending Jennifer herself, but I relate more to Sophia.

9. Alex Taylor from Don’t Wake Up by Liz Lawler. I can totally imagine myself being the only one to stand by her side, having myself often been accused of making up stuff for attention. Yes, even if it could cost me my life even earlier in the story than it did Fiona’s.

10. Allie Johnston from A Different Me by Deborah Blumenthal. I was going to choose a different character from that book, but I forgot his name. I’d want to get to know Ally too. She does sound a bit vain and not just because of her body dysmorphia, but I’m pretty sure we have some things in common.

What characters from books you’ve read would you like to befriend?

Book Review: Don’t Wake Up by Liz Lawler

Like I said before, I’m really enjoying reading a lot lately. I had a number of books on my TBR list for a while, but hadn’t gotten down to actually reading them. Now I found the time and energy to read. Some of the books I’ve been reading, have been out for many years, so I won’t bore you with a review. Though Don’t Wake Up was published two years ago already, I still think it’s worth reviewing.

Synopsis

Alex Taylor wakes up tied to an operating table.
The man who stands over her isn’t a doctor.
The offer he makes her is utterly unspeakable.
But when Alex re-awakens, she’s unharmed – and no one believes her horrifying story. Ostracised by her colleagues, her family and her partner, she begins to wonder if she really is losing her mind.
And then she meets the next victim.
So compulsive you can’t stop reading.
So chilling you won’t stop talking about it.
A pitch-black and devastatingly original psychological thriller.

My Review

This was actually the first-ever thriller I read, because the genre normally scares the crap out of me. This one, however, was so compelling I just had to check it out. And I must say, I wasn’t disappointed. Yes, the plot was very scary at times, but it also kept me wanting to read on.

The synopsis above only covers the first 25% of the book or so, so I wasn’t sure it’d be interesting enough to read on beyond that. But it was.

One of the reasons that I didn’t before like reading thrillers, is that I don’t like bad endings, in which the main character dies for no apparent reason at the last page. In this sense, Don’t Wake Up definitely didn’t disappoint. Of course, bad stuff happens to people in the book – several people die in it -, but the book didn’t make me feel sick to my stomach at the end.

The characters were really well-developed. The book is mostly written from Alex’s point of view, but several other characters get a viewpoint too. This was necessary to keep the thriller effect. I liked it.

Overall, I really loved this book and it has me longing for more thrillers. I just searched for Liz Lawler on GoodReads and found she had another book published earlier this year. I’m definitely going to want to read that one too.

Book Details

Title: Don’t Wake Up
Author: Liz Lawler
Publisher: Twenty7
Publication Date: May 18, 2017

Read With Me

#IWSG: Writing Surprises

I am once again joining in with the Insecure Writer’s Support Group (#IWSG). This month, I’ve done a good amount of writing, but not nearly as much as I had wanted to. I have a lot of thoughts in my mind that I would want to put into words, but somehow, I can’t manage to sit quietly for long enough to actually go about writing those posts.

Anyway, the optional question for this month is whether your writing has ever taken you by surprise. Well, yes, but not in the ways the hosts think. I mean, I have only one published piece and, though the acceptance of the piece came unexpected, I wasn’t specifically not expecting it either. I had mostly not been thinking about it.

What I want to write about is the way my every blog post or other writing takes me by surprise. I rarely plan my writing in advance. I don’t have a blog planner. Maybe I should have one, as even right now, with two weeks’ notice of the following #IWSG day today, I sit here typing up a post that I don’t really know about where it’s headed. I mean, I could write the same old crap: that I’ve been meaning to write (more) poetry and fiction. In fact, a ton of ideas have been floating around in my mind, usually at night, but inbetween day activities and other obligations, I cannot find enough quiet time, like I said.

I am not even sure what direction I want my writing to take. Like, recently I’ve developed an intense interest in reading and book-related blogging. I have been spending a lot of my limited free time with my nose stuck in a book. I know, to be a good writer, you need to read a lot. I don’t mind. I just don’t know whether this will stick.

#WeekendCoffeeShare (August 4, 2019)

I didn’t participate in #WeekendCoffeeShare last week, but this week, I’m joining in. Not that I have a lot to share as far as I can think of off the top of my head, but oh well. I just had a drink of Crystal Clear.

If we were having coffee or any other drink of your choice, I’d share that the weather is a lot better than it was last week. The week before, it was hot but not tropical hot, but last week, temperatures rose to 40 degrees Celsius. Now they’re in the lower 20s.

It’s good weather to walk, and so I did on Monday and Thursday. Yesterday too. I walked my in-laws’ dog with my mother-in-law for over an hour. I loved it.

In fact, if we were having coffee, I’d also share that I’ve been more active in the exercise department lately. I went on the elliptical twice this week. Unfortunately, my Fitbit activity tracker didn’t track it as exercise.

If we were having coffee, I’d share that I’ve been watching but not paying attention to the talk about Siri and Google and all that eavesdropping on human conversations. I don’t really care. Same for the Tygpress thing. Yeah, I’m offended by the fact that some person probably took my content and is distributing it without my consent. However, the main thing I worry about is this thing killing the joy of WordPress for most people and my losing my audience. Or worse yet, that WordPress will somehow have to quit and I’m left without a blog. Ever since I moved my online diary to WordPress in 2007, even if I didn’t have an active blog all of the time, I spent most of my time trying to have one.

If we were having coffee, I’d confess that I did in fact eat all the candy that was left over from the candy cake we made on Tuesday in one sitting. That is, I left over two waffles for my husband. Then again, on Friday, when we went to the marketplace near day activities, we bought a ton of fruit.

If we were having coffee, I’d share that I spent most of the week-end in my room reading. I’ve developed an interest in Rainbow Rowell. Not that I don’t read my usual memoirs anymore, but I want to read more fiction too.

If we were having coffee, I’d share that things on the house-buying front are moving smoothly. Did I share that we agreed on an offer for a house? We will hand in the signed buyer’s contract tomorrow.

If we were having coffee, lastly I’d share that my husband is a great cook. I had to have microwaved meals several times this week and eat at my in-laws once, but when my husband did cook, it was delicious.

What have you been up to lately?