Why Not Finishing and Un-Hauling Books Has Made Me Feel Better About Reading

When I was young and little naive, I made the absurd goal of wanting to read every book published that I was interested in. I know now how ridiculous this goal was, but I still look back on it as a motivator to read more, and books that I actually enjoy.

I sometimes ask myself why is it that people are so determined to power through a book even though they hate it, or keep a book that they never liked or never will get to on their shelf. Recently, I’ve embraced the power of the unhaul, and the quick ripping-off-the-bandage that is DNFing a book, (DNF=Did Not Finish).

I have a book-buying problem, as most people in the book community probably do as well. I’ve broken my book-buying ban several times; sometimes the temptation is too great. What comes along with acquring books is having more and more to read.  If you don’t immediately read the books you buy, they end up just piling on your shelf, to add to your TBR (TBR=To Be Read) pile and it can get stupidly overwhelming. Especially if the cycle keeps repeating. I have probably over a hundred books on my shelf that I have yet to read. It’s stupid and I’m ashamed of it.

One thing that I’ve found helpful when trying to power through my TBR pile, and it’s definitely not an ideal thing, is if I’m reading a book that I own that I need to read to reduce my TBR pile, and I’m not liking it after around a hundred pages, I DNF and unhaul it. Unhauling books is probably just as controversial as DNFing them, it basically means taking books out of your collection. As a booktuber, I call this unhauling because it’s the opposite of hauling books, or adding them to your collection.

I’ve noticed people tend to be huge DNFers/Unhaulers or power through and keep everything that they own. There is not really an inbetween. I can understand why people power through and keep the books they own, they probably bought and paid for them with their own money or for sentimental reasons they’ve kept the book because they got it as a gift from someone special.

I tend to be the type of person that is ruthless. If an item that I own is not useful to me, it doesn’t make me happy, or it won’t continually make me happy, I get rid of it. Someone else might gain happiness from this item or book, more than I ever will. I’m not completely heartless, I do feel guilty when I give away books or not finish them when I bought them with my own money. That feeling of guilt however, doesn’t compare to the weight I feel lifted off of me when I do give the book away. It’s like a release of anxiety almost.

Reducing the amount of books on my shelf, like I did with my most recent unhaul video, makes me feel better about reading. It makes reading a not impossible task, not a chore, not anything other than enjoyable because I’m surrounded with books that I actually want to read or keep reading again and again.

I do still feel guilty sometimes, especially when I’ve unhauled a book I’ve never actually read. When I feel this way, I tell myself that if you really wanted to read that book, you’ve would have read it already and if you don’t want to read it now, why bother? I also tell myself if I find that I do want to read that book again I can always use my local library and take out the book.

I guess what I’m trying to get across in this post is that you can’t read all the books ever published that you may be interested in. In the entireity of your life, you may not ever get to every book, because more and more are being published every day. Why waste the time, the effort, or the space in your home for the books you’re not interested in? Keep and read the books you love and enjoy.


Don’t Mind Me; Just Haven’t Been Here in a While…

It has been months since I last posted. I do sincerely apologise, however, there was many projects and achievements to accomplish.

Firstly, I became a non-official college graduate in April, for a diploma in Library and Information Technician.

That same month I did what I had planned to do for months. I officially launched a YouTube channel, called ReadingArsenal, devoted to books and reading. I made this channel because I felt like I needed to express my love of reading even more and achieve something that makes me feel good, sharing my love of books. I don’t make videos for fame, I make videos to keep people informed, to discuss, and to make strong connections in the “Booktube” community.

I have such a small following, but as time goes on I’m gaining so much more valued communication and information from my fellow booktubers.

I didn’t realise there are so many people on the internet who had the same interests that I had. Whose voices were loud enough and confident enough to also express their love of reading. I didn’t think I was the only one, surely I wasn’t, but it amazed me all the same.

I was always interested in starting up a channel, but never quite found my niche. I tried the whole gaming thing (I thought I was a gamer, everyone was doing game commentaries), but I just found out I sucked at video games and was a cringeworthy channel.

For six months or more, I sat on this failure of a YouTube channel thinking “is there nothing, really that I’m good at?” Then one night, I was having my many racing thoughts as I was trying to go to sleep and thought offhand, “maybe I should just start a channel, just show my face and talk about books.”

Books! Now that was the key. I was graduating soon, so I asked for a camera and tripod for my graduation gift. Graduating college is a big step; I at least wanted something for my fifteen years plus of schooling, even if it wasn’t gonna work out or I find out I hated it, I could at least practice.

It turned out, I did enjoy it. A LOT. I wasn’t a pro at editing, I was shy in front of the camera, and I had to keep to a script so I wouldn’t film myself not talking, wide-eyed like a deer in headlights. Now I tend to ad lib more; I just cut around the bits of filler words, which probably the list of them is as long as my arm. I’ve learned that my hands don’t need to be flying all over the place to get my point across. I learned, that sitting down, and just talking, I can accomplish just as well with less distraction.

It wasn’t always a bright, shining meadow with a bubbling brook. Sometimes it was cloudy, the water was murky, or not even there at all. Basically, with all the metaphor I’m getting at, things turned bad at certain points. My trusty laptop, been with me throughout my college life (which was four semesters, but come on, that thing was like family) had overheated and died. I think it was partially my fault. I did leave it on in my backpack in the unforgiving Ottawa summer weather, alas, I killed the beast! RIP!

C’mon. It was going to die anyway; I needed a new, faster one for school anyways.

“But, Ceara! You said you graduated and you had already had fifteen years of school! Why would you choose to ever go back?” Well, a question I just made up, I did say that. I guess you could say I was a little like a toddler, not wanting to leave her mom on the first day of school, (but in this case the toddler wants to stay at school forever).20170111_084711.png

So, yes, I applied for a graduate certificate at my same college while my former classmates were skipping off to do whatever their hearts desired. The program was called “Interactive Media Management” and it was just that. There were so many types of classes that it made my head spin; all mandatory to graduate, all starting at lightning speed. There was video courses, photography courses, website courses, everything.

How did this all fit into what I already graduated from, Library and Information Technician? Well, I kept telling myself, “hey, libraries are getting more technologically advanced, wouldn’t I gain an edge over other candidates?” Sure, past Ceara. SURE.

Now, I’m not bashing this course at all. In the end, it just wasn’t for me. I was not prepared for the amount of work it entailed, and it wasn’t making me happy. I was sweating through it, but not smiling, only tears. I met some great people, amazing creators, through this course and I still keep in contact with them after I quit. Not necessarily a “hello there!”, but a like here, and a favourite there. That kind of thing. They might actually see this post. Hello!

Continuing with school wasn’t my thing, but what was? I was still getting into the groove of posting videos. I had that spanking new laptop to use and definitely more time on my hands, so why not? But, nothing comes cheap. If I wanted to actually not go crazy, I had to earn some extra coin.

I mean, I tried that before. Even though I didn’t have that much of a following, I made a Patreon. It was more of an experiment, I guess, than anything else. I told myself, “other people do it and are super successful!” Yes, past Ceara, but people won’t give you money. Especially if you don’t have a following to back yourself up. So, that idea was trash.

Off to the workforce then! I had one past paid work experience as a cashier at a pretty popular department store (they sell balls I think) and I wasn’t working there again! No sirree, having mental breakdowns because of work was enough for me. I also had volunteer experience, at libraries! I hounded the usual online job board fare, your Indeed, your Kijiji, that kind of thing. As September turned to October I lowered my standards with each passing day.

I wanted a library job; that was my one-way ticket, my opening door to a career. And I scoured every official site. If there was something even remotely in my field, I sniffed it out. I was in it to win it. I got a few interviews, none that panned out and none that were what I really wanted, the coveted library technician position. I applied so much I can’t even remember how many jobs I applied to. I probably drove my references crazy for the amount of time I asked for their support in an application.

I then applied for a library technician job at an English college in Quebec. I got a callback. Finally something! It was a far trek, but I had to see. I had to see if I was worth it. I had to suddenly prove myself. Did I actually go to college, or was it just a blur of profs, assignments, and tests? And also money?

I very nervously went in for French and Library standards testing. I managed to fill up most of everything, Library of Congress is what I failed to complete. I still felt good about it. As I decided, plucky and innocent as I was to go through with this, reality reared its ugly head. I had no full driver’s license, I had to take the bus. It would take two hours, minimum, to get there by bus. That depended on the day, and how early they wanted me. I was definitely not ready to move out on my own. Uh oh.

Another big whomp, a former friend from college worked at that same library, who I used be very good friends with, seemed to suddenly vehemently, hate me, for reasons that still escape me to this day. That was the final nail in my otherwise good intention, library job hopes for that place. I did end up getting a final callback, but I refused it.

I just wanted to see if I could do it. That’s what I told myself.

Then one day, I get a call. From that department store that I mentioned earlier. They want me to do an interview. I do it, then weeks later I get a job offer for the Photo Lab Technician position.

At least I’m a third of the way there. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

This post wasn’t meant to be this long, but I got carried away. I hope you enjoyed a little insight into my life, and I sincerely hope you do check out my YouTube channel, ReadingArsenal (not the football teams). It needs some love. I post videos every Tuesday and Friday. See you there.

// Ceara Heffernan, “ReadingArsenal”

PS. This website deserves a name change, doesn’t it? And maybe a little revamping? Probably. It has been the same thing for years.

Book Review #36: A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness, Jim Kay

9780763660659_p0_v1_s1200x630 The monster showed up after midnight.

As they do. But it isn’t the monster Conor’s been expecting, the one from the nightmare he’s had every night since his mother started her treatments, the one with the darkness and the wind and the screaming…

This monster is something different, something ancient, something wild. And it wants the truth.



Man. This book was amazing. My first completed book from Patrick Ness and I’m surprised I have not read it sooner than I did. I swear there were tears in my eyes as I read the ending. Definitely a must read for middle-readers and up.

In A Monster Calls, Conor’s mother has cancer. It’s a reality for many people. This book showed the reality of cancer and the toll it takes, not just on the person who has this horrible disease, but the family and friends surrounding them. Ness truly put a focus on that grief and that gut-wrenching feeling of not being able to do anything, but to be there for your family and friends.

The illustrations by Jim Kay were haunting, yet very beautiful and they complimented the story immensely. The style of the book reminded me greatly of The Invention of Hugo Cabret, which is another book with paired illustrations and written content. Both books also pack a huge emotional punch. Everything about this book made me say “Yes, this will tear me apart and I love it!”

Ness truly brought Siobhan Dowd’s final idea to life, and honored her in writing A Monster Calls. The lessons and truths put in this story are truly a measure of awesomeness by two amazing writers. The book was so sad, yet filled with meaning.

My Rating


Book Review #35: The House of the Scorpion by Nancy Farmer

Image via Simon and Shuster

 Matteo Alacran was not born ; he was harvested. His DNA came from El Patron, lord of a country called Opium–a strip of poppy fields lying between the United States and what was once called Mexico. Matt’s first cell split and divided inside a petri dish. Then he was placed in the womb of a cow, where he continued the miraculous from embryo to fetus to baby. He is a boy now, but most consider him a monster–except for El Patron. El Patron loves Matt as he loves himself, because Matt is himself.

As Matt struggles to understand his existence, he is threatened by sinister cast of characters, including El Patron’s power-hungry family, and he is surrounded by a dangerous army of bodyguards. Escape is the only chance Matt has to survive. But escape from the Alacran Estate is no guarantee of freedom, because Matt is marked by his difference in ways he doesn’t even expect.

This book reminded me (although I have not read it in full) a bit of The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness. It is similar in many ways, although this novel was vastly different.

My initial thought when I picked up this book was that it was Dystopian. I was definitely right about that. When you first open the book, you are taken a bit slightly off-guard at the table of contents, which revealed that you were going to be reading the entire childhood of this boy. Next is a list of characters, and an Alacaran family history. In my opinion, those additions to the book didn’t really seem necessary as I could easily follow what was going on, and who the characters were.

Honestly, I really liked this book. Matt is a character that you fall in love with; he is genuinely a good person, thrust into some awful situations. You are watching this boy grow up, and it is really entertaining. I’m not going to reveal too much of what happens in this book, to keep this review spoiler-free. I will say that the twists and turns this book had were very well done, you could hardly expect them coming. The setting and secondary characters in this novel are very well developed. Nothing seemed sort of “out there” as some dystopian books have done in the past. My only gripes with this novel are that some of the excitement and tenseness dropped off about two thirds into the tome, which wasn’t by much, however it is still noticeable.

The idea of Matt as a clone, and how he was treated because of it made him into the character he is by the end of the novel. Clones were treated as less than human; as monsters. As Matt grappled with this concept, you could see his inner most confusion with the idea of what it means to be human and to have a soul.

The House of the Scorpion is a must-read for anyone who enjoys the literary struggle of the concept of humanity.

My Rating

Book Review #34: Delicate Monsters by Stephanie Kuehn

Image via GoodReads

“When nearly killing a classmate gets seventeen-year-old Sadie Su kicked out of her third boarding school in four years, she returns to her family’s California vineyard estate. Here, she’s meant to stay out of trouble. Here, she’s meant to do a lot of things. But it’s hard. She’s bored. And when Sadie’s bored, the only thing she likes is trouble.

Emerson Tate’s a poor boy living a rich town with a widowed mother and strange, haunted little brother. All he wants his senior year is to play basketball and make something happen with the girl of his dreams. That’s why Emerson’s not happy Sadie’s back. An old childhood friend, she know his worst secrets. The thing he longs to forget. The things she won’t ever let him.

Haunted is a good word for fifteen-year-old Miles Tate. Miles can see the future, after all. And he knows his vision of tragic violence at his school will come true, because his visions always do. That’s what he tells the new girl in town. The one who listens to him. The one who recognizes the darkness in his past.

But can Miles stop the violence? Or has the future already been written? Maybe tragedy is his destiny. Maybe it’s all of theirs.”

Delicate Monsters is a book every teen should read. Raw and gritty, this tome packs a huge punch for its tiny size. Sadie, Emerson, and Miles are all unique in their own flawed way and make this story what it is. You don’t necessarily feel sorry for some of them, but you don’t feel triumphant at their pitfalls either. Every twist and turn you are more invested in this story. 

There isn’t really much more to say; this novel is great in it’s own right and you should stop reading this and go read this book.

Star_Rating_four and a half stars
My Rating