Sunday, October 15, 2023

The Dilemmas of a Book Nerd

Can you think of anything nicer than sipping a favourite
hot beverage while delving into a delightful new book?

I seem to be talking about books more often these days. Perhaps it's the season of the year—autumn is always a good time to curl up with a good book. Perhaps it's the season of life—I'm less involved out there in the world, so I'm able to take time to read more, which delights me deliciously.

Recently I found Miranda Mills's 2019 YouTube vlog, in which she joined a Book Tag answering ten questions about the dilemmas of a book nerd. As a self-confessed book nerd myself, I thought they'd be fun questions to answer - I've shared my responses below. Hope you enjoy!

Dilemma #1: Book Storage – How do you store and organize your books? All my books are shelved. Except for two small boxes in the closet downstairs - books I'm done with but not ready to let go yet as they are historical markers of my earlier life. My study walls are filled with bookshelves and they are filled to the gills with my Nonfiction and To Be Read books. All my Fiction and Christmas-themed books are on our family room shelves. Cookbooks and food related volumes nestle, of course, on the kitchen bookshelf. My new collection of Miss Marple mysteries with their pretty bright covers are in the vintage style case in the living room. And my small Children's collection and most of my Yet to be Read collection of thrift store, used bookstore, and library sale finds are housed in the large cupboard with built-in shelves in Rick's den. (He also has his own large bookshelf in that room but I'm overflowing into his cupboard space; thankfully he doesn't complain.) 

Dilemma #2: Tracking – How do you keep track of what you have read and what books you own? Until recently, I didn't keep track of what I read (except for some notes and tons of quotes in notebooks), and I never had an organized master list of the books I own. I have far too many now to remember titles or authors by heart. Since 2018, I started tracking what I read each year - a simple list of title and author (which I need to expand to include a bit of info on the book and my response to it). The growing 2023 list is on the sidebar of my blog and will eventually be stored in a Word doc, along with the others. As for tracking the books I own... since I don't have quite the same recall of my youth—where I could put my finger on a book in a moment's notice—this past summer I created a catalogue in Excel (title, author, date acquired, categories, where shelved, to whom it's lent). 

Dilemma #3: Borrow – Do you lend your books out?  Not often. I used to lend out books. I like to share my love for reading with others, and when I find a book I really love, I want to share that information. But I don't lend out much - favourite books sometimes didn't get returned or they arrived in a state I was not happy about. I do make pencil notations in my books, but I don't bend their spines or dog-ear pages, and I don't read while eating food that can create sticky messes on the covers. I entrust my books to a handful of people who I know will take care of them, and more importantly, return them. Usually they are kindred book lovers who know what our books mean to us.

Dilemma #4: Buying – How do you buy or acquire your books? I love books. I love collecting them, with every intention to read them. I love going into bookshops, browsing thrift stores, secondhand bookshops, and library annual book sales (when paperbacks are fifty cents and hardbacks are a Loonie - one dollar). Quite often the books I'm looking for aren't stocked in the local shops—my tastes don't always run to bestsellers and the books I often want sometimes take several weeks to arrive. So I use Amazon. I will put books on their online wish list or titles directly into the Shopping Cart as I come across them. Then I go back and decide what to buy now or save for later. I follow some people who are booklovers and if they are kindred-style readers, I'll often follow through on many of their recommendations. (I mention a handful of them HERE.) I love gift cards to bookstores - if I have to choose between clothes or books, it's most often books. One last note on this, I don't buy all the books I read. While I own many, there are still many others where I use my library card to borrow and read. 

Dilemma #5: Comments – How do you respond to the “How do you read so much” comment or similar comments? People don't generally ask me that question. I don't get a lot of books read in a year; usually the count is under a hundred. I could probably count, on one hand probably, the days in my entire life when I did not read a book, even in my childhood. I have never made goals to read a certain amount of books in a year. I read every day because I have to - it's like breathing for me, something on the inside feels unfulfilled otherwise. Sometimes I read books quickly - easy cozy books, for example; other books I take my time through them. I try to remind myself I'm not in a race. I want the books to stay with me. If I hurry, the books start melting into each other, and I wonder what event happened in which book. It makes it difficult to tell someone about the great book I just read if I can't talk about it properly.

Dilemma #6: Next Book – How do you pick your next read? My frame of mind or mood will often shape what I read next. Sometimes I want books to meet my mood or need, books that encourage, comfort, inspire. If something happens in the news and I'm unsure of its history, say women's rights or civil rights, then I search out books to inform me. If a 'famous' person dies and they've written books or poetry, or were a Nobel Prize winner or well-known person in their field, then I search out something of their works, to be a kind of witness as they pass from their lives on this planet. If I'm in the middle of a series I like—Louise Penny comes to mind as does Donna Leon, SJ Bennett, and Charles Todd—then quite often I'll read the next in the set. The seasons of the year also guide what I read next. I look for nature books set in the season we're in at the time. I look for novels that either begin or have great seasonal descriptions in them. Some books have a mood that feel conducive to certain times of year. My choosing by seasons started years ago and is most evident in my growing collection of Christmas-themed books that I always bring out, ready to reread in late November into December. I enjoy coming upon the seasonal descriptions that creates or matches the atmosphere and ambiance in real time. When it comes to choosing books, I am much like a magpie; if someone suggests a book on their blog that interests me, I'll go in search of it.

Dilemma #7: Travel – How do you pick what book(s) you bring on vacation with you? There's a good question. If I'm looking for a book or books to read while traveling long distances, then I usually want something that draws me quickly into the book and holds my attention. Most likely, a novel. If I'm on a road trip with Rick, then we sometimes pick an exciting thriller audiobook to listen to. We don't usually find ourselves on a tropical beach on vacation so I don't know what I'd read there, probably a good mystery or maybe a book set in a tropical place. Light reading, for sure. 

Dilemma #8: Annotate – Do you write or highlight or mark up your books in any way? I do. That's one reason I love paper books over Kindle. I like to read with a pencil in my hand. I do make notations in the margins if I'm compelled by what I'm reading. And I like finding those notations when I flip back through the book. Although recently I had a sudden insight, what will be done with all my books with all these notations when I'm gone? No self-respecting secondhand bookshop—who are usually strident about gently used, clean copies—would take my marked up copies. I NEVER dog ear my books or break the spines; that irritates my soul, but pencil markings help me find what I'm looking for when I want to revisit a passage. I like seeing, when I'm browsing through a book, what struck me when I read it last time. Some people make notes elsewhere, not in the book itself, but that means these notebooks have to live in proximity to the book—it probably wouldn't work for me. I imagine that notebook being somewhere else when I need it. 

Dilemma #9: New or Backlist – Which do you prefer, new releases or backlist books? Backlist, for the most part. Unless I'm addicted to a particular series where I wait with bated breath for the next in the set. I find I dislike, in other cases, to be rushing along with the crowds for a copy of the next 'bestseller'. I often come late to the party with books that have been out for months, years, sometimes decades. I want to read it in my own timing. There have been times, though, when I wondered why I waited so long to finally pick up a book that fans stopped raving about years earlier, but I firmly believe there is a right timing for me to read my books.

Dilemma #10: Sequels – Do you read books as they are released, or wait for an entire series to be published before reading the first book? I could never wait for my favourite author to finish her series first before beginning it. Some authors take years to complete a set. If I'm interested in a series, I will get the books as they are released. And if I get introduced to a book in the middle of a series, I never mind to start wherever; I eventually go back to the beginning and read them in order, but I don't mind reading them out of order in the meantime. Sometimes copies aren't available when I'm ready for them.

(Added) Dilemma #11: Keeping Books - Do you keep books that you probably will never read again, on the off-chance that they might 'improve' with age? Some novels or nonfiction books I know immediately I'll never read again for whatever reason - boring, not my usual genre, too horrible a story, or badly written. Those go immediately into the Give Away box to pass along. Some books that I might not have quite gotten into the first time but they have enough good in them to try again later - those I will keep for a while. As for my favourites, I enjoy re-reading my favourite books - some are annual visits, much like visiting old friends. 

And so, I've mused and amused myself into mid-Sunday afternoon. Darling Rick has made the tea, and I'm off to join him for a cup and a pumpkin spice muffin. Our autumn days are still quite lovely around here, not too cold yet. Life is good, and I'm grateful. Please take care and we'll see you soon, beautiful friends. Happy reading! 

Wishing you a beautiful week ahead.

Photo credit:
Image by kiberstalker from pixabay


  1. I have looked at your blog off and on for a few years but have never commented. I especially enjoy the posts on books. The past couple weeks I have been on a vacation of sorts. I typed “reading” into your search bar and have spent many enjoyable hours looking through past posts on that topic. Thank you so much for continuing to blog. So many people are not, and it is a bright spot in my life to find others who enjoy books as I do. Dianne

    1. How lovely to hear from you, Dianne. I'm so glad you've taken a moment to let me know you visit now and then. And I am delighted you've enjoyed your visit through my archives reading old book posts. Wishing you a beautiful day!

  2. Good morning, Brenda. Thank you for another delightful post about one of my favourite things - books! It's a rainy morning here and I came in a bit wet from my early walk, but now the sky has lightened and droplets fall off of coloured leaves. Time to make some soup for lunch and after, a sit down with a cup of tea and a book. A perfect way to spend an autumn day.

    1. Your day sounds idyllic, Lorrie: an early walk, making soup for lunch, and then time in the afternoon for tea and a book. Thank you for dropping in - always appreciate your presence here.

  3. Thanks for sharing your responses to these fun questions!

    1. I was especially intrigued by #1, 2.

    2. Thanks, Margie, glad you enjoyed the questions, especially #1 and #2.

  4. The comment "How do you read so much?" always takes me off guard. I never know what to say to those people because it's part of who I am, and how can they NOT? It's like my brain can't compute the question. :) Thanks for great questions and answers. Enjoyed it very much.

    1. Hi Joy,

      Something Miranda Mills mentioned when people ask that of her - she replies by saying she makes room for reading in her weekly schedules (whether evenings or weekends). She dedicates time for books, because reading is important to her, not only on a personal level, but in her line of work as a vlogger and writer.

      Like you, it still surprises me to discover folks who don't like to read and who don't have any desire to pursue books even as a gentle pastime. Each to her own, right?

      Thanks for taking the time to comment.


To My Beautiful Readers,

Some people come into our lives, leave footprints on our hearts, and we are never the same. ~ Franz Peter Schubert

Thank you so much for leaving your 'footprint' here in my comment box. I do appreciate you taking a moment to share your thoughts today.

Brenda xo