How I Take Notes While Reading / My annotation Guide

Back in 2018, I wrote a post talking about how I annotate my books. I looked back on that post and realized that it definitely needs to be updated because I no longer follow pretty much any of the things I said in that post.

Over the year, my annotations went from being super colorful, with different colored pens/highlighters, sticky tabs, and more. Now, the only things I use are a black pen and yellow sticky notes.

Before I get into the specifics of how I annotate currently, I want to mention that there is nothing wrong with the colorful, intricate system of annotating. It just personally doesn’t work for me. If you like that, then maybe my older system will work better for you!

Anyway, let’s get into the post!

Symbols:

* First up is the asterisk—also known as my favorite symbol! I use this symbol probably the most when annotating. Basically, I use it to mark the quotes that I really relate to. When a character says something that I really connect with, I want to make sure I remember it, so when I flip through the book, I can find these marks easily.

! Exclamation points are used to highlight important parts in the story. This relates mainly to big plot points, foreshadowing, cliffhangers, etc. Anything big that happens, I keep track of it with this!

[ ] / __ If there are any specific quotes I like in a story, I usually mark them by underlining them. If I really like the quote, I underline it and put an asterisk next to it! When there is character description, world building, etc., I mark it by putting it in brackets!

? Whenever I’m confused by any part in a story, I put a question mark next to it. Sometimes this could be a word that I don’t know the definition to (so I’ll go back & look it up), or I just can’t understand an entire section (this is more common when I’m reading older classics). Other times, I am just confused by why a character did something, so I’ll put a ton of question marks next to the passage.

:) / :( The last symbol I use is smiley faces. If a character does something cute, or there is a happy moment in the story, I put a smiley face. On the other hand, if there is a sad moment, I put a sad face! This mark is pretty self-explanatory.

Writing I write down any quick thoughts I have about a book in the margins, directly onto the page. Usually, this consists of one or two words like “aw” or “I love him.” I’ve even written things like “LOL” or “OMG.” Sometimes I have a bit more to say, but usually I use this as a quick way to capture some of my thoughts.

Post It Notes:

I use yellow post it notes to write down any longer thoughts that I have, if I can’t fit them in the margin of the page. Usually, these are the specific things I want to mention about a book in a review post.

When I go back to writing my review, I refer back mainly to these post-its!

What if I’m not reading physically?

The majority of my reading this year has consisted of e-books and audiobooks, so obviously writing in the book is not possible. When this is the case, I literally open up a blank note on my phone, write down the title & author of the book, and then make a bulleted list of things I want to write down.

Sometimes I separate this into a pro/con list, but usually it is just my rambling thoughts as I read.

Here are some examples of that:

That is pretty much it for my note-taking while reading! I would love to hear how you annotate (if you do), so please share any of your methods or systems down in the comments.

I hope you all enjoyed the post & I’ll see you again on Thursday :)

Thought Collective #2: Let’s Chat About School.

I have always loved learning. As a child, I would look forward to the start of a new school year, more than any other kid. I couldn’t wait to be back in the classroom. I was also very independent, and I had so many different interests. In fact, I would become so enthralled by a topic that I would spend hours on my own researching everything about it. I would read books, watch Youtube videos, scroll through hundreds of websites.

My friends, family, friends of family, and teachers all saw my thirst for knowledge, and I was praised for it. I still am, to be quite honest. And I like that feeling. But at some point in my school career, my own, internal desire for more knowledge turned into expectations from others and a fear of failure or not being good enough. I felt so weighed down by the assumptions people had of me, by the presumptions that were place on me. So much so that eventually I cracked. I let my perfect exterior break, piece by piece, until I no longer knew who I was. I stopped caring about education.

In high school, I reached an all time low in terms of education. Learning became something that I was excited about to something I dreaded. I was not interested in anything I was being taught. I rarely studied, and when I did, I would have breakdowns at least weekly because I felt like it wasn’t getting through to me. Part of this was the environment of my school. I got accepted into a prestigious high school, and I was initially excited to go.

Unfortunately, my experience there was not good. The teachers expected a lot from us, and we were constantly made to feel like we had to be the best, and anything lower was not okay. The students all competed with each other and every conversation was centered around grades, studying, and anything related to school. I was looked down upon when I told people I was going to study communication in college rather than something traditional like medicine, business, or law.

To sum up, it was toxic.

Fast forward to the present. I just started my junior year of college this week. I told myself I would start fresh in college. I stopped trying to please others, and I was looking forward to studying communication. My love for learning returned.

Some of my negative habits and mindsets from high school are still with me (studying for way longer than necessary, getting upset when I get anything lower than an A+, etc.).

But my state of mind is so different now.

I just want you to know that if you feel like you aren’t doing well in school, or you’re currently hating what you’re learning, that can change! Don’t let the school system make you hate or fear learning. Because you should always want to learn!! Knowledge is such an incredible and powerful tool that can make you unstoppable!

And there are so many forms of knowledge- not everything is about being book smart! There are also so many ways to get an education that don’t require going to school. Reading, youtube videos, talking to your relatives and asking them questions, etc.

The moral of the story: learning is FUN!

I know this post is very ramble-y and doesn’t flow too well, but I hope some of you can relate to parts of this story! I want to hear about your experiences in school, and any thoughts you have about it!

Let’s keep the conversation going in the comments!

My Favorite Book Adaptations

It’s no secret that the book is *almost always* better than the movie. But that doesn’t mean that there aren’t some really good adaptations! Today I wanted to share a few of my favorites! We’re going to talk about both movies and tv shows, so buckle up and let’s get into it!

Disclaimer– these are not the only good adaptations I’ve seen, but I just wanted to pick a few today! Also, there are some that I have seen but haven’t read the book it’s based off of, so I can’t compare how well they stick to the books.

Movies

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before: First up is one of my favorite book to movie adaptations of all time! I remember watching this movie for the first time and just being in so much awe over how well it was done. It was pretty much exactly as I had pictured the book to be, and it blew my expectations away.

Unfortunately, the second movie just wasn’t at the same quality as this one, but I just pretend it doesn’t exist (oops).

Little Women: This is a pretty popular opinion, so I’m sure you’ve already heard how amazing this movie is. If you haven’t, though, I highly recommend watching it. I felt so fuzzy and warm inside as I was watching it, and it made my heart so happy. I actually read the book after watching the film, which is not common for me, but I have to say, it followed the book pretty well. While I was reading, I kept finding lines that I remember being in the movie, and as I was reading, I could picture the scenes in my mind. In this instance, watching the movie first actually added to my enjoyment, I think.

The Great Gatsby: This is a movie that critics always have negative opinions about, but as simply a CONSUMER of movies and not a critic, I believe that it is phenomenal. When I read the book for the first time in my junior year of high school, it wasn’t until I watched the movie that I thought the book was amazing. Before watching it, I just thought the story was okay.

But the movie brings it to life in a way that made me envision myself living in that time period. I loved the vibes, the aesthetic. I still stand by the belief that it is a great movie.

Bird Box: This was a PHENOMENAL movie adaptation, in my opinion. Although there were definitely some parts that differed from the book, I still really enjoyed it. While I was watching, I definitely felt chills down my spine, as it was so eerie. I actually think I need to rewatch this movie soon, as it was a favorite of mine in 2018, and I haven’t watched it since.

TV Shows/Mini Series

Normal People: This is one of those instances where the movie (or show, in this case) was better than the book, in my opinion. I gave the book 3 stars, but as I watched the show, I fell more and more in love with the story. I just feel like this book translated really well into a cinematic version, and that enhanced my enjoyment of the story. When a tv show can do that, that’s how you know it’s good!

Little Fires Everywhere: This book is a super popular one, and for good reason. And the show was just as incredible. First of all, Kerry Washington and Reese Witherspoon in one show? Amazing. The direction of this show? Also amazing. There were a few changes in this show that I wasn’t completely happy with, but overall I think it was also really well done. It’s probably my favorite tv show adaptation ever, and I will be re-watching it soon.

A Series of Unfortunate Events: I will admit that I never finished reading all of the books in this series. I think I only read the first five or six (out of 13, I think) and stopped. Not because they weren’t good books, but I simply forgot about them because that was back in elementary school when I was mainly getting my books from the library, and also my attention span was not that great and I was always becoming interested in new things.

When I watched the Netflix show, however, I instantly remembered everything I had read in the books. I felt like I was back in fourth grade, picking out these books. It was just so fun and entertaining. I think it was so well done. I have also seen the movie adaptation, and think it is also a really great one! I honestly can’t choose which I like more.

What are some of your favorite adaptations? And what are some that I absolutely need to watch?

I am always looking for new movie/show recs, so please share them with me in the comments!

Books I’m Bringing to College – Junior Year Edition!

I can’t believe it’s already time for me to write this post! This is now my third year of sharing what books I’m bringing to college with me, but it’s a little different this year. Freshman and sophomore year, I had YOU choose what books I brought through a series of Twitter polls.

This year, I am not doing that, only because I completely forgot that I had done this in the past, and I already chose which books I’m bringing with me. I hope you can forgive me for that, though (🙈).

Alright, let’s look at the books!

The Vanishing Half by Britt Bennett: This is one of my most recent book purchases, and it is one I am really looking forward to reading. So many people have been talking about this book, which makes me really interested in it. I’ve also heard amazing things about The Mothers by this author, so if I enjoy this one, I will be adding the other to my TBR for sure!

Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo: I want to finally pick this one up in the very near future, so of course I am bringing it with me to school. I actually bought it while I was at school last year, so I had it with me for a long time, but never got around to it. This year, I really plan to.

An Unkindness of Magicians by Kat Howard: I am not a big adult fantasy reader, but this is a book I remember hearing Merphy Napier talk about a lot in the past, and the way she described it made me really interested. That was a year or two ago, though, and I still haven’t read it.

Broken Things by Lauren Oliver: This is another book that I have had on my TBR for quite a while, so I want to get to it ASAP. I also own Before I Fall, which I also want to read sometime soon. Hopefully I really enjoy this one!

Something Like Gravity by Amber Smith: This cover is gorgeous. I’ve heard great things about this book. I’ve talked about it quite a lot, so we’re just going to move on. But I am really excited to read it!

A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder by Holly Jackson: I have been wanting to explore the world of YA mysteries for a while now, especially after reading the Truly Devious series this year. Many of my friends have really enjoyed this one, so I want to give it a shot! I’m not letting my expectations get too high, though, as I am a bit picky about this genre.

A Heart in a Body in the World by Deb Caletti: I’ve talked about this book a lot quite recently, as I really want to read it, and I have heard amazing things about it. I know it will be a more hard-hitting story, which are usually some of my favorite books.

The House by Christina Lauren: Did you know Christina Lauren wrote a thriller many years back before they started mainly writing romance? Truthfully, when I bought this book, it was before I even knew who Christina Lauren were, and it took me many months before I made the connection. I think it will be very interesting to see their writing in a different genre.

August Wrap Up 2020

The biggest lesson I learned in August is that just because I am capable of reading 10+ books every month, that doesn’t mean I have to.

I have consistently been reading quite a lot of books each month, mainly because I had a lot more time this year with, you know, the pandemic happening. But I was starting to feel burned out, and I wasn’t enjoying my time reading. It felt more like a task to check off my to-do list every day instead of a hobby I enjoy.

In August, I only read 6 books, which is a GREAT amount of books to read. That was something I reminded myself of this month. Even if I had read less than that, I still would have been really happy with the number. The number of books you read each month does not make you more or less of a reader.

Anyway, let’s take a look at what I read and my thoughts!

5 stars

King of Scars by Leigh Bardugo: This is my only 5 star book of the month but it is very well deserved! After reading this book, I realized that I definitely care more about the story, characters, and world of the Grisha trilogy and this duology opposed to the Six of Crows duology. Don’t get me wrong, the latter is really good, but it just doesn’t give me the same joy that Nikolai, Zoya, Nina, Genya, Tamar, Tolya, and the others do!

4.5 stars

The Black Madonna of Derby by Joanna Czechowska: I’ve already talked about this in a review post I published at the beginning of the month, but I really enjoyed this! It was one of the first times that I related to a character’s ethnicity in a book because I’ve never looked out for a book with Polish main characters before!

4 stars

Good Wives by Louisa May Alcott: Last month, I read Little Women and absolutely loved it! This month, I read the 2nd of four books, and it was also a really great read! I definitely preferred the first book (or the first half, if you have an edition that combines both), which is why I gave this one a bit of a lower rating. However, it was definitely a heartwarming story, and I love these characters so much!

The Sleep Revolution by Arianna Huffington: Sleep is so so important to me, and when I listened to a podcast episode of Sakara life with Arianna Huffington where she talked about her story with sleep and hustle culture, I knew I wanted to read her book! This is a nonfiction book that really dives into the importance of sleep. It is packed with so much scientific information, as well as anecdotes from celebrities that show what lack of sleep can lead to. The one thing I wish this book did more of was talk about how to get better sleep and how to create a good sleep routine. However, I still really enjoyed learning more about the topic, and I think it is worth the read, especially if you are someone who consistently gets under 8 hours of sleep.

2 stars

A Conjuring of Light by V.E. Schwab: Okay, so I know I talked about this series before, and I gave it some high praise. But…the more I read this one, the more disinterested I was. I really did not care at all about any of the characters, so I kept zoning out of the story. I think I tried to give in to the hype when I read the first two books, but I realized that I actually didn’t like them as much as I thought. It’s not that the books are bad, I just don’t think they are for me. I really love Schwab’s writing, though, and I think that her other books may suit my tastes better. It’s unfortunate, but I had to be honest with myself!

1 star

Just Friends by Dyan Sheldon: I finished this one on the very last day of the month, and unfortunately it was my least favorite of all. The writing felt very juvenile, the characters were not well-developed, the story was just a repetitive cycle, and the ending was incredibly rushed. I don’t want to go on about it for too long, but I just really didn’t like it. Luckily, I finished it in just about 4 hours, so it was a really quick read. Otherwise I would have DNF’d it.

How many books did you read in August? Have you read any of the ones I talked about? Let me know!

Fall TBR 2020

Hello everyone! Today’s TBR post is a little different from the rest of the one’s I’ve done this year. I am making a TBR for the entire Autumnal season rather than a monthly post! Mostly, this is because I am going back to school in a week, and I don’t know how often I’ll be coming home and changing my books. This way, I can read whatever ones I have on hand without stressing out about my TBR. Plus, I’m going to be doing less reading while taking classes, so it just makes more sense to do this sort of post.

First, as you may know, each month I read a book picked from my e-book TBR jar, so I decided to pick three books now rather than one!

September’s pick: The Perfect Liar by Thomas Christopher Greene

First up we have this mystery/thriller that sounds super interesting to me. It’s told from alternating points of view, and it’s all about a family keeping secrets. I don’t want to say or know too much because for this genre I feel like that’s the best way to go into it. But, I am excited to read this!

October’s pick: Instructions for a Funeral by David Means

This book is actually a short story collection, so hopefully it’ll be a faster read for me! This one has some good ratings on Goodreads, so I am hoping to enjoy at least half of the stories in this. Again, I don’t know too much about this one, but I received it from Netgalley a while ago, so I would like to finally check it off my list!

November’s pick: The Museum of Us by Tara Wilson Redd

Finally, this book is a YA contemporary that deals with mental health. The synopsis is very short, so I don’t know too much about it. However, from the first few reviews, it looks like it is a really beautifully written story, and I am looking forward to reading it.

General Fall TBR:

As far as the rest of my TBR, here is a list of the books I want to read. There are 12 of them, so approximately 4 per month, plus my three e-books, making it 5 books per month total!

I’m not going to go into detail for these, as there are a lot, so you’ll have to come back for my wrap-ups to see how I feel about them!

Adult / New Adult

The Vanishing Half by Britt Bennett

The Switch by Beth O’Leary

Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo

Writers and Lovers by Lily King

An Unkindness of Magicians by Kat Howard

Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee

Young Adult

Something like Gravity by Amber Smith

A Heart in a Body in the World by Deb Caletti

Broken Things by Lauren Oliver

The House by Christina Lauren

A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder by Holly Jackson

Midnight Sun by Stephenie Meyer

Where Dreams Descend Blog Tour // Review

Hello and welcome to another review post! Today I am sharing my thoughts on the debut novel ‘Where Dreams Descend’ by Janella Angeles! Thank you so much to Wednesday Books for sending me an ARC of this to review!*

The book comes out TODAY, the day you are reading this, so check it out if you are interested!

*All opinions are my own!

Goodreads Synopsis:

In a city covered in ice and ruin, a group of magicians face off in a daring game of magical feats to find the next headliner of the Conquering Circus, only to find themselves under the threat of an unseen danger striking behind the scenes.

As each act becomes more and more risky and the number of missing magicians piles up, three are forced to reckon with their secrets before the darkness comes for them next.

The Star: Kallia, a powerful showgirl out to prove she’s the best no matter the cost

The Master: Jack, the enigmatic keeper of the club, and more than one lie told

The Magician: Demarco, the brooding judge with a dark past he can no longer hide

Review:

So to start off, I just want to say the aesthetics of this book? Phenomenal. The synopsis was SO intriguing to me as someone who loves stories about magicians/circuses (The Night Circus, Caraval- both favorites of mine). This book is supposed to be inspired by Moulin Rouge and Phantom of the Opera, both of which I know nothing about (oops 🙊). BUT, if those are things you are interested in, this book might be right up your alley!

I definitely think a lot of people are going to absolutely adore this book. From the minute I saw the cover art, I knew the story was going to be dreamy.

I think the best way for me to share my thoughts of this book are through pros and cons, so it’s easier to understand! Let’s start off with the good.

Things I LOVED:

  • The atmosphere: The beginning of this book is very ominous. The reader is filled with tons of questions right off the bat. A few chapters in, we are transported to a new location and it was really well described. I was so curious the entire time about what this place was, and I was itching to learn more!
  • The feminism: Our main character, Kallia, is strong and fierce. Female magicians are not welcomed in the world she lives in, so Kallia is put at a disadvantage right from the start of the magic competition. BUT, she does not get intimidated by the men who are clearly trying to sabotage her performances, and she does not quit. She stands up to them the entire time, which I admired a lot.
  • The plot twists: There were quite a few plot twists in this story that I did not see coming (maybe if you are familiar with PotO or MR you wouldn’t be as surprised), and it really added to my enjoyment. I adore plot twists in books- without them, I feel like stories are much too bland.
  • The ending: My favorite part of this story, and what probably ended up saving the book for me, was the ending. It leaves off at just the right part- I want to know what happens next and I can’t wait to read the second book now. This is a duology, and the second installment will be released next year!

Things I DIDN’T LOVE:

  • The writing: This story felt quite choppy in a few places, and it didn’t always make sense to me. I was getting lost by it. It felt like it was strung together a little awkwardly, especially at parts where the POV changed. I don’t know if this was due to the e-ARC formatting, or if it was done purposefully, but it threw me off a bit. I think it needed a few more editing passes to feel completely finished.
  • The middle: This book was very slow-paced, and I think it could have been shortened quite a bit. This is saying a lot, coming from me, a person who loves slow-paced books with lots of description. This one was just too slow. I feel like the book focused a little too much on having beautiful prose instead of explaining the plot. There needs to be a good balance of the two!
  • The character and story development: On top of that, the characters didn’t feel fully developed to me, either. Also, I feel like too many things were left unexplained. The magic system could have been so interesting, but instead, I was left really confused by it- especially the mirrors (you’ll understand after reading it). I’m hoping that all will be explained in the next book, which is what I’m really holding out hope for.
  • The romance: There is a love triangle in this story, though I don’t fully understand it, either. It felt a little forced, in my opinion, and again, I feel as though it needed some more development. I think in book two it will be explored more, and if Kallia ends up with who I hope she does, then this could turn into something I like!

All in all, I think this duology has a lot of potential, and many others have adored this story, so it is worth checking out if the synopsis interests you!

My rating: 3/5 stars

Have you read this book? Are you planning to? Let me know all of your thoughts in the comments!

Again, thank you so much to Wednesday books for providing me with an ARC.

*New* Five Star Predictions + Update! (#4)

I can’t believe I’m already doing my fourth ‘five star predictions post.’ I might finally be getting better at this, but I don’t want to jinx myself with this next set!

Anyway, I’m going to quickly go over the books from my last predictions post, and then share 5 more predictions!

Previous Predictions:

Burn Our Bodies Down by Rory Power: This was absolutely without a doubt a 5 star read for me. I have an entire review post up for this one if you want to check it out, but it really did exceed my expectations. Beautiful. Phenomenal. Amazing.

Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo: Another 5 star read! Woohoo! I’m already doing better than my first predictions post (oops). I really knew I would love this one because Six of Crows was such a great read, and the only reason I didn’t give it 5 stars was because I wanted to better know the characters. I definitely got that from this second book!

Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens: The first one I got wrong. I gave this book 3 stars only. I just wasn’t a big fan of it, and it was a huge disappointment to me because I know so many people loved it.

Nutshell by Ian McEwan: Another loss here. This one was just not a good book to me at all. I was so bored by it, and I did not enjoy the story. I gave it 2 stars, and I don’t want to talk more about it, but it just wasn’t for me!

Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng: Luckily, we’re ending on a positive note! I gave this one five stars, which doesn’t surprise me at all. I absolutely loved Little Fires Everywhere, and I knew that Celeste Ng would not disappoint with this one.

I got 3/5! Not too bad, if I say so myself. Should I aim for 4/5 in the next round?

New Predictions:

A Heart in a Body in the World by Deb Caletti: I have been wanting to read this book for far too long, and I’m very embarrassed that I have not yet read it (especially since I have an ARC 😭). I have heard nothing but amazing things about this one, though, and it is supposed to be about a heavier topic. If you know me, you know that I love hard-hitting contemporaries, so I am looking forward to it.

Something Like Gravity by Amber Smith: Full disclosure- this book is on here solely because of the cover. In all honesty, I don’t know what it’s about at all. BUT, I have heard some great things about it, and every time I see it on my bookshelf, I feel drawn to it. I’ve been scared to pick it up because of this reason, though, so this is my way of forcing myself to finally pick it up.

Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo: I have now read all of Leigh’s published works (not including her novellas) except for this book! I am SO excited for it, especially considering that I have given all of her books high ratings. Plus, dark academia is totally my vibe, and I’ve been wanting to read more of it.

An Absolutely Remarkable Thing by Hank Green: This book has such a high rating on Goodreads, and everyone I know who’s read it has LOVED it. I am very excited to pick it up, especially because I know it has to do with social media. That is a topic I have been increasingly interested in reading because I have really been seeing how social media affects me personally. I think it will be both an enjoyable and thought-provoking read!

You Have a Match by Emma Lord: Last year, I read Emma Lord’s ‘Tweet Cute,’ and I was lucky enough to receive an ARC of her next release! I absolutely loved her debut book, and I have such a good feeling about this one. I just know it will be such a cute, swoon-worthy read, and sometimes you just need one of those!

Please let me know if you’ve read any of these and what your thoughts were! I’m really hoping that at least 3 of these are 5-star reads, but obviously I hope all 5 of them are.

I can not wait to get into these soon, and hopefully give you all another update in a couple of months!

What are some of your 5 star predictions?

Thought Collective #1 – Getting Out of a Slump

I have been thinking a lot about my content online recently and what value my posts serve. Not just on this blog, but on Instagram and Twitter as well. I want my platforms to provide value of some kind and be a space that I am proud of.

In full transparency, I had an entirely different post planned to go up today, but I felt like it was so meaningless and I didn’t feel confident in posting it. Which is sort of where this post idea came from.

I feel like I have been writing a lot of posts this year where my heart is not entirely in them, but I knew that other people would be interested in them or they followed some trend, so I wrote them anyway. And that put me in a big rut. I haven’t been feeling motivated or inspired at all. There were even a few days where I considered just deleting my blog entirely.

But then I spent some time thinking it over and reminding myself why I started this blog. It is a creative outlet. A place to express myself. A safe space to share my thoughts and find others with similar interests. And I don’t want to lose that.

Essay GIF - Find on GIFER

However, I do want to start sharing more of my thoughts on here—my ramblings, the things that I am passionate about.

This is how the thought collective was born. This is a new series I’m doing, probably about once a month (maybe more, maybe less), where I just write about whatever topic is on my mind that week.

I hope that at least some of you will find this interesting or useful! Don’t worry, though, my book content is not going anywhere! I just need a bit of a bigger space here. And if there’s any topic you want me to write about, please feel free to comment or message me on any of my social media accounts :)


Now, onto the topic of today’s post- pulling yourself out of a slump!

During quarantine, I put a lot of pressure on myself to do, do, do. I thought to myself that if I have all of this time at home, I have to use it to accomplish everything and anything I ever wanted to do but kept putting off.

At first, this was great. I worked on a new novel, I started research for my undergrad thesis, I read more than ever before. On top of this, I started running and working out daily, baking, and taking on other projects (an internship for one).

This was a really toxic mindset, though. I didn’t realize it until a few weeks ago, when I tried to have a relaxing Sunday, but all I could think about were the tasks I had on my to-do list. I wasn’t enjoying reading anymore because it felt like I was only doing it to be ‘productive’, I couldn’t sit still long enough to watch a movie or even tv show because my mind was on other things, and I was constantly exhausted.

I’ve finally burnt myself out. Since the first of August, I have had no desire to wake up in the mornings and work on any of the goals I had set for myself. I would wake up, try to be productive, and then end up scrolling through social media or watching Youtube videos for hours.

I am slowly working my way out of this creative (& life) slump, which I talked a bit about on Instagram. There, I also shared some of the ways that I get myself out of this sort of feeling, so I’m going to elaborate more on those now!

Take a Break

The first thing to do is to give yourself a break. It was so hard for myself to accept that this was what I needed, if I’m being honest. I’m awful at taking breaks, and I can’t do it for very long. But this time around, I took a week-long break. That is probably the longest I’ve gone without being productive in years.

Your body needs time to rest and recover, though. And it’s so important! Not only is it a good time to refresh your mind and maybe consume some content that inspires you, but it can also improve your physical well-being, too.

**By the way—don’t wait until you’ve burned yourself out to take a pause. It is good to do so often!!

Change Your Routines

Change can be scary. But it is oftentimes exactly what we need. I tried out a new morning routine in July which involved me waking up extremely early and getting work done from the minute I got up until about noon. I quickly realized that this did not work for me at all.

So, I’ve reinvented my routine, and I made it much more suitable to my needs. I now get to sleep in more, I get a bit of work done, but I also have a slow, peaceful morning. And it is so nice! I can definitely do an entire post about my morning routine, as well, because it is something that I find is essential to a productive day!

Create Freely

One thing that I love doing when I’m in a rut is allow myself to create… ANYTHING. This is something I do just for me. I want to talk more about this in a future thought collective post, but I’ve realized that with having any sort of social media platform, there is a pressure to post everything you do. I share a lot of my days online through my Instagram stories, and I like creating things to share with others. However, you don’t have to post everything you create. Some things can (and should) be just for you!

I like to do this by painting or art journaling. Most of the time, the things I create are imperfect. They are messy. But they make me happy! That is all that is important here. Allow yourself to do something without the fear of failure or the pressure of critique’s from others! It is such a therapeutic thing to do. Trust me!

Write Out Your Thoughts/Feelings

The next step for me is journaling. Now, I try to journal everyday, but I usually just do morning pages where I write out anything that comes to my mind or I talk about my previous day, just to get my creative juices flowing.

But, when I’m in a rut, I like to specifically write about why I’m feeling the way I am. This journaling is much more intentional, and it takes more time, but it can really help you figure out the root of your slump.

Here are some prompts/questions to get you started:

  • What am I feeling right now?
  • What is currently upsetting me?
  • What are three things I am grateful for?
  • What distractions are hindering my productivity and how can I eliminate them?
  • What does my dream life look like?

Revisit & Revise Your Goals

Finally, I think frequently reading over your goals can be super motivating! However, sometimes you may look at them and realize that they are no longer things you want to focus on right now. And that’s okay! Don’t be afraid to take off some of your goals or revise them to better fit your current needs.

I’m very competitive with myself, so I push myself to achieve goals even if I no longer care about them, which just isn’t productive. I’m learning to be okay with letting go of my goals, even if I don’t always achieve them! This is such a vital lesson to learn.

The most important point of reworking your goals is making sure you are making them realistic but challenging. And prioritize the things that are most important to you!

That is all I have for you guys today! I know this was a long and rambly post, but I hope you got something good out of it. If you have any other tips for getting out a rut, feel free to share them in the comments!

Also, remember that what works for me may not work for you! It’s all about trial and error because everyone has different experiences. If you do try any of these, let me know how they went :)

I’ll see you all on Thursday (with another post I am very excited about)!

Folklore Book Tag

I have not stopped listening to Folklore since it came out. And listen. I was never a huge TS fan. I’ve always enjoyed her music, but I wouldn’t consider myself part of the fandom or anything. Then, Lover came out, and so many people on my Twitter timeline were talking about it. Naturally, I listened to it, and I fell in love with so many of the songs.

But, folklore??? This is a whole new level of perfection, and I think it may be one of my favorite albums of all time (and definitely Taylor’s best). I’m in it now. I’m part of the fandom, okay? Y’all converted me.

I know this post is a little late, but I had other posts to get up first, so I apologize. But it’s never too late to gush about these songs, so it’s fine.

I was tagged by Ruby, who is such a light! Thank you so much for the tag 🥰 And thank you to Isla, who created it!! I am in love with it and all of the questions!

The Rules:

  • Link to the original creator: Ilsa A Whisper Of Ink
  • Tag at least 3 people. 
  • Declare the rules and list of prompts in your post
  • Thank whoever tagged you and link to their post.

The Questions:

*I tried picking books that I don’t talk about too often for this tag, too!

the 1 // a book with an ending that left you speechless

Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid: Wow, this book was phenomenal! I just talked about it in my July wrap-up, but it truly was amazing. The entire book left me speechless, to be quite honest. I had no idea where the story was going, and it really took me by surprise in the best way possible. I’m not going to go into details because you absolutely should pick it up for yourself! And you can read it along with the Unfriendly Black Hotties Book Club because it’s their August pick!

cardigan // a book that makes you feel happy and sad all at once

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid: This book is definitely a favorite of mine, and I will be re-visiting it soon. It tells lots of great stories and is filled with adventure.

But the entire book is really sad throughout, which is why this is the perfect answer to this question! I’m sure you’ve heard lots about this book before, but if you haven’t read it yet, you definitely should!

the last great american dynasty // a book with a fascinating and well-told story

Truly Devious by Maureen Johnson: I don’t talk about this series enough to be honest! But it was so interesting, and the whole thing left me wanting more. It is crafted really well, and I think it is one of the best YA mysteries out there.

The entire series was great, too, which is hard to find in books! I usually end up really disliking at least one book, but that was not the case at all here. Each one really added to the story and it wrapped up nicely.

exile // a book you wish you hadn’t read

Sociable by Rebecca Harrington: There are a lot of books I could have chosen for this one, so I’m just going with my latest 1 star read.

This was an ARC I received quite a while ago, but I just finally read it last month (oops). I could have saved some time by not reading it, I can say that for sure.

my tears ricochet // a book that made you cry uncontrollably 

Summer Bird Blue by Akemi Dawn Bowman: This is a book about a girl dealing with the grief of losing her sister, and if that isn’t enough to make you cry, I don’t know what will.

I was honestly in tears for the majority of the book. The writing was also so beautiful, and I really love this author.

mirrorball // a book that feels like it was written just for you

The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern: I know I said I was trying to pick books that I don’t talk about a lot for this tag, but I just couldn’t not mention this book! The entire time I was reading this book, I really felt like I was in a trance. I adored every single thing about it, and the whole book is really an ode to storytelling. It made me fall in love with writing even more.

seven // a childhood book that makes you feel nostalgic

Judy Moody Books by Megan McDonald: I thought about my answer to this one for a while because I have a lot of childhood favorites (The Magic Treehouse, Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Junie B. Jones, A Series of Unfortunate Events, etc.).

But my official pick is the Judy Moody series! I loved so many of these books, and I can picture a few of them on my shelves so clearly. It just warms my heart when I think about these books (and yes, I’ve seen the movie). The two pictured above are definitely my favorites!

august // a book that reminds you of summer

The Last Summer of the Garrett Girls by Jessica Spotswood: I read this book a few years ago, and I adored it! It has ‘summer’ in the title, so obviously it is the perfect choice!

It was fun to follow the lives of four siblings because not many books do that. I need to pick up more by Jessica Spotswood because this book was a really great read!

this is me trying // a book that deals with loneliness & sadness 

How to Make Friends with the Dark by Kathleen Glasgow: This book was so heartbreaking but beautiful. I listened to the audiobook, and the whole time I was so immersed in this story.

It is definitely a book about loneliness and grief and friendship and pain. Also, the cover is really stunning.

Illicit affairs // a book that gave you a book hangover

On the Come Up by Angie Thomas: This book was just SO. GOOD. I think I might have even loved it more than THUG, which is hard to believe! I read it fairly soon after it came out I believe, and I still think about it to this day!

I don’t know how Angie will top either of her two books, but I know she will, which is incredible to me.

invisible string // a book that came into your life at the exact right time

Every Last Word by Tamara Ireland Stone: I read this book when I was about 14 I think, and it really changed my world. It was the first time I saw myself represented in a book (OCD), and I related to the main character so much. I also think it’s what got me into poetry, and I will forever be thankful for that because poetry changed my life for the better. This book holds such a special place in my heart!

mad woman // a book with a female character you adore

You Should See Me in a Crown by Leah Johnson: I LOVE LIZ LIGHTY SO MUCH AND I ALWAYS WILL. Thank you for coming to my Ted Talk.

epiphany// a book that was haunting

The Turn of the Key by Ruth Ware: This was a phenomenal read and it really had a haunting vibe to it! It takes place in a smart house, and the twists and turns make it a super chilling read- which is one of my favorite types of stories! It was a really well done retelling of a classic, too!

betty // a book couple that fills you with yearning

The Diviners by Libba Bray: There were many couples in this series that I adored, but I’m going to point out one specifically that made my heart soar!

Mini spoiler- Proceed at your own risk!I completely loved Memphis and Theta together!! They made me so happy, and it was just so wholesome. I was so glad that Theta had found someone who cared for her so much, especially after the toxic/abusive relationship she had left.

peace // a book character you’d die for because you love them so much

The Lady Rogue by Jenn Bennett: The main characters in this book, Theodora & Huck, completely stole my heart! They were both such amazing characters. I say this every time I talk about Jenn Bennett, but she really does write the best characters. They are so well fleshed out, and I feel like I really know them!

hoax // a book that you thought you were going to love but didn’t

The Bookish Life of Nina Hill by Abbi Waxman: This book was a huge disappointment for me because I was expecting to love it, but it fell so flat 😭 I was hoping for a relatable main character plus a fun romance, and this was just…not that at all. There was no character development, and the romance was lacking completely.

I tag anyone who loves Folklore and wants to do this tag! It was such a fun one :)

Let me know what you thought of my answers & tell me what your favorite song (or songs, I know it’s hard to choose) is from the album!