Most of us, if not all, have a number of books that we go back to often. We re-read them over and over, enjoying them more with each read. They are books that comfort or captivate us, ones that touched or enriched us in some way. I know I have a few shelves dedicated to my favorite "re-reads".
There are a few books that I make a point of re-reading every year, among them are Louisa May Alcott's Little Women, Louis L'Amour's The Lonesome Gods, and Anne LaBastille's excellent series of memoirs, the Woodswoman series. Though I already have this practice in place, I've found myself re-reading even more books this year, so much so, I think it's safe to say that I've re-read books I've read in previous years more than I've read new books this year.
2019 has reminded me of the joy and benefits of re-reading good book. I've found that I take more away from a second or third reading. I've also learned that it is often beneficial to go back and re-read a book that you may have found wanting after the first read. Returning to a book later down the line will often find you reading it with new eyes and a new perspective. This tends to enhance your overall reading experience. What once seemed like a dull, lacking, or hard to grasp book, transforms into an enlightening, wonderful read.
I have found that timing is everything when it comes to certain books. You can pick up a great book, but if it's at the wrong time, it'll hinder your experience. Countless times, I have picked up a book and started to read, only to put it down because I just couldn't get into it. I've learned that when this happens, it doesn't necessarily mean that the book isn't right for you, just that the time isn't right. I've often returned to a book months or even a year or more later, only to find it an excellent or, at the very least, useful read.
While some people may advise you to get rid of that book that you never finished sitting on your shelf, I'd recommend holding on to it for a bit. You never know, by giving it another chance, you just might find a new favorite book. Give yourself a chance to discover the joy of re-reading. ;)
In case you haven't noticed, I've been pretty silent on the blog front, particularly when it comes to Modern Jo March. I've already published a post discussing some of the reasons why MJM has been dark for most of this year, but I wanted to take some time and discuss the other reason now.
I have been suffering from chronic migraines for about 2 or 3 years now that have been progressively getting worse. As part of the treatment and attempts to relieve and reduce them, I was told to limit my screen time, because obviously staring at a screen for long periods of time isn't good for you (in more ways than one). As a result, the last several months has found me putting down the kindle and other devices, and picking up physical books, and it's actually been really great!
As a book blogger, beta reader, and proofreader, I am often sent far more digital copies of books than physical ones, with good reason, digital copies are easier and cheaper to share for authors and publishers. The problem I've come up against is the fact that in order to read and review, or read and give feedback, I find myself spending a lot of time staring at my kindle screen (or laptop, depending on what kind of work each book requires of me). That's not good for my brain and is a prominent trigger for my migraines.
So what to do?
As of February, I started cutting back on my screen time all around, not only putting down my kindle, but also cutting back on my time scrolling through social media and staring at screens as a whole. I have requested a physical copy when I can, explaining my issues with migraines, while cutting back on the digital copies I accept. This has done two things for me: 1) I am much better (and pickier) at choosing the books (digital copies) that I cover, as I only have a limited amount of screen time to devote to them these days (and a limited budget to buy physical copies!), and 2) I've also gotten much better at making the most of my screen time.
As a freelance writer and blogger, I do have to maintain not only a social media presence (though it's not a large one), but also keep up the content for both my blogs. I've learned to use social media management platforms (I use Hootsuite and Buffer) which helps me cut down my daily screen time as they allow me to schedule posts in bulk for the week as well as see all of my social feeds in one place (organized into columns). They've been a huge help!
NOTE: A few other helpful things for me are to check the time whenever I open an App to be more mindful about how much time I spend on it (I only allow myself about 5 minutes at a time on my socials) and to dim my screens when I do use my devices. Both have made a huge difference in my migraine frequency.
While navigating this journey to better brain health, I have come to learn a few things. I realized that I tend to retain a book better when I'm looking at a physical page, rather than a screen. For some reason, I have a much better, deeper experience with books when I'm reading physical copies as opposed to digital. This doesn't surprise me too much, as I have always preferred physical books to digital anyway, I just didn't realize how much more I got out of a physical book versus a digital.
I've also learned how much more productive I can be when I cut out time spent on social media and scrolling the internet. It's truly a marvel the amount of work you can get done when you're not tied to a device. ;) Also, it's amazing how much happier I am when I don't spend a lot of time staring at a screen!
These days, my screen time is about 85% devoted to writing, researching for my books and projects, the upkeep of my website and blogs, and freelance work for other authors. It's a simpler and more organized way to conduct your day, and I for one am happy with the outcome.
Who knew migraines could end up being helpful?! ;) (But make no mistake, they are also a really trying and painful aspect of life)
I would challenge others to be more mindful of your screen time and how it impacts your life. I believe you'll be surprised. ;)
Another year has come and gone, and 2019 is officially here. I am thankful for last year, this blog grew a great deal and saw more accomplishments last year than any other year it has been running. 2018 saw more content, featured a few great interviews, AND saw me rebranding. 2018 was a banner year for Modern Jo March.
The blog started 2018 as The Book Corner (which it had been called since its inception), but ended the year as Modern Jo March. Around about August, I decided to take this thing more seriously and that I needed to be more unique, starting with the name of this blog. After a great deal of thinking and weighing the options, I landed on a name that I thought fit really well with my overall theme and goal for the blog. Modern Jo March was born. The name gives a nod to my favorite book heroine, the one who has inspired me the most, Jo March from Louisa May Alcott's Little Women. To read more about the rebranding, you can read my post on it here.
Looking back over the content, I'm proud of this little blog's accomplishments. They may not seem like a lot to others, but I know what it took to keep this thing afloat and producing content. I am proud to have continued honing my interview skills here on the blog, and am most proud of my interviews with authors Karen Witemeyer, James Donovan, and Regina Jennings. Most of the interviews featured on the blog are with authors I already knew in some way, the three I mentioned above were the exceptions. They found me reaching out past my circle of contacts, and I believe they came out really well. I plan to continue to broaden my horizons in this area for 2019.
One of the most important things I've learned in 2018 that pertains to the blog is that taking regular planned breaks is actually more productive than trying to do this 24/7. That is why I have implemented two planned hiatuses for the year. Modern Jo March is currently on its first hiatus for 2019, which will end next week. The second hiatus will happen towards the middle of the year, sometime in July. These breaks allow me to catch up on other things and gather more content for the blog without feeling like I'm under the gun all the time.
I hope you'll continue on with me for 2019 and that it will be both a productive and an enjoyable year. If you have suggestions for the blog, please feel free to contact me with them. I'd love to hear from you!
Happy New Year Everyone!
-Modern Jo March
Winter is officially here. I don't know about you, but I usually end up reading mostly nonfiction and classics during the winter season. I'm not sure why, I just naturally gravitate towards them. So winter is here and I've, once again, found myself digging into some great nonfiction.
Around the same time last year, I had just finished Anne LaBastille's Woodswoman. I absolutely loved it and found it fascinating. This year, totally unintentionally, I found myself finishing the second book in her Woodswoman series, Beyond Black Bear Lake. I really enjoy LaBastille's writing, and her passion for the Adirondacks, conservation, and nature.
I've noticed a pattern in my reading during the winter season. Yes I usually gravitate towards nonfiction and the classics (Alcott, Emerson, etc), but I've noticed that I usually spend the last part of December and most of January reading nature themed books. Be it John Muir's Nature Essays or Anne LaBastille's books, I find myself wanting to center my mind on nature. I love being outside and in the woods. Being in and around nature brings me to a peaceful state of mind and soul. I think READING about nature also achieves this.
I also have a pile of other nonfictions books that I received for Christmas. Most of them are autobiographies/biographies, as I enjoy reading about other people's lives and stories. Among those are books about legendary cowboy actor Ben Johnson, and books by Jamie Farr and Gary Burghoff. I have a few other nonfiction books mixed in, like Meg, Jo, Beth, Amy: The Story of Little Women and Why It Still Matters by Anne Boyd Rioux and Life at the Dakota by Birmingham, that I'm super eager to dig in to.
While reflecting on my own winter reading habits, it made me wonder: Do you all lean towards/favor certain genres in certain seasons? Let me know! I'd love to hear from you! ;)
Liz Austin. Bibliophile. Writer. Book hoarder. I would rather be reading....