Reading Long Books

Saturday, 11 February 2017

I read Bleak House by Charles Dickens this semester for a class. Just let me reinforce that: by about 4 weeks into the semester, I had finished the absolute TOME that is Bleak House. All 900 + pages of it. And if you asked any of my friends, they would tell you how frustrated I was by it, and how by the end of it, I was done with having Charles Dickens control my life. The reading requirements for that book dictated when I could and couldn't go out, when I went to sleep, when I woke up, when I got other work done. Essentially Dickens and I are in a relationship right now, and it's complicated.

But it got me thinking of the relationship we have with long books. Bleak House is a multiplot novel, so not every section is ultimately fulfilling, and that took some getting used to. In an age where we really are obsessed with and seek out instant gratification, this book, and most long books like it, make you wait. They test your patients and your stamina -- they want to see if you can make it to the end. 

But when then, if we are all so fascinated with reading as many books as we can, building up our Goodreads shelves, and hitting that yearly challenge, do we spend time reading these tomes?  Is there something inherently challenging in these books? Or do we just do it for the bragging rights that, "Yeah, I read (Insert title of very long book here). Oh it was nothing!" I personally am scared of these very long books, and I think Bleak House has helped me past the fear. I was always scared that I wouldn't get it, or I wouldn't have the commitment to actually finish it. But I did, and while I won't be reading any more until the summer, I've put together a list of books i'm not afraid to read now:


This book terrfies me, because i'm not the biggest consumer of fantasy, but also look at how long it is!! And there are still two more!! But the amount of things i've heard about this, and the amount of close friends that have read and loved it make me want to pick it up. So who knows what this summer will bring.




I have seen the film, and i've read Jean Rhys Wide Sargasso Sea and loved it, but I have just shied away from this one. It's honestly not that big in comparison (only about 500 pages, give or take editions), and I know that once I read it it will be a new favourite.



I have seen this one floating about and my best friend is currently in the midst of reading it, and loving it. It sounds a bit witchy and i'm so intrigued by it, so I know that it's now on my to read list.





And here it is. The Brick. I have wanted to read this for so long, and I was too intimidated by the length and the sheer amount of story there is. I love the musical and I know that it's very different, but I still love these characters, and if I get to any of these soon, it'll most definitely be this one.



What are your thoughts on reading long books? Brag a little, and let me know the longest book you've read in the comments! Thank you if you've read until the end, and happy reading!


My Dream Crate | Loot Crate

Saturday, 21 January 2017

Note: This is not sponsored content. All opinions are my own.

I've known about Loot Crate for a long time, and I've even subscribed for a time a few years ago before I moved away for school and all my money suddenly disappeared. But, I was a approached a few weeks ago by the lovely folks at Loot Crate, who asked me to put together my Dream Crate! I was able to choose a theme, and all the items that would go in the box, and I had so much fun with this, you have no idea.

I did a bit of Googling to see what other people were putting together for their Dream Crates, and it might just be the influence that school is having on me, but I decided to make my theme Bibliophilia, or the love of books! So i've put together a ton of bookish goodies  for my Dream Crate! Take a look, and let me know what you would put in your Dream Crate? Or even better, make your own post and link it to me in the comments!






A Poem for Every Night of the Year, edited by Allie Esiri

Okay, I saw this book when I was browsing the Book Depository, and was totally taken by the cover (Seriously, how Instagram worthy is that?)  and I love these kinds of books that are something to be experienced over a longer length of time. I also love poetry, and I think that some poetry isn't always super accessible. And in the same way that Loot Crate introduced me to a ton of new fandoms when I was subscribed, I think that learning about new poets and poems is amazing.



Doctor T. J. Eckleburg by Firuty

This might be one of my favourite things that would be in my Dream Crate, and honestly, I'm thinking about buying it for myself. I love The Great Gatsby, and even if people haven't read it, it is a staple in the American literary canon, and most people have seen the film because hellooooo, Leonardo DiCaprio. In the book the eyes are a symbol for the eyes of God, looking out over the Valley of Ashes, and I love the idea of my tote bag looking out at everyone on campus, or in the produce aisle.



11oz Luna Lovegood Mug by printsmadewithLOVE

I mean, if you're going to ask me to make a nerdy Dream Crate, something Harry Potter has to be included, right? I love Luna, and this is one of my favourite things that she says in the series. I love the colours of the mug, and honestly, I love mugs. I have far too many of them, but I love them none the less, and one more is okay, right?



Postcards from Penguin: 100 Book Jackets in One Box 

I've started a project this year, which is to send more letters to my friends and family. I've had my eye on these postcards since the first time I spotted them and how cool would it be to open this up and go through all of the book titles and see which ones you've read and haven't read? Send a postcard of your friends favourite book to your friend? I love post cards, and the Penguin covers are so clean and nice!



2017 Biblio Calendar

I have this weird love of stationary and calendars and planners, and once I saw the art work in this one, I know I needed to include it in my Dream Crate. I haven't gotten myself a 2017 calendar just yet, but this is one strong contender for me. All the art work is black and white and super clean and minimalistic. Ugh, it's gorgeous 



"Pages" Print 

I don't know if you can tell, but I love these prints from Obvious State. This one is one from one of my favourite Shakespeare plays, the Tempest. It's also got the beautiful image of the open book, leading to the sinking ship and Prospero's island. It's such a beautiful piece of art, and I can imagine any bibliophile loving this.



Thanks so much to Loot Crate for reaching out to me to make this post! I had such a great time! Let me know what your dream Loot Crate theme would be, or what you would include in a biblio-themed box? Thanks for reading, and i'll see you soon!


Review: The Great American Whatever by Tim Federle

Sunday, 8 January 2017



Book: The Great American Whatever

Author: Tim Federle

Publisher: Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers

Pages: 288 Pages

Format: Hardcover

Source: Purchased at Woozles Book Store

Rating: 5/5 Stars



Quinn Roberts is a sixteen-year-old smart aleck and Hollywood hopeful whose only worry used to be writing convincing dialogue for the movies he made with his sister Annabeth. Of course, that was all before—before Quinn stopped going to school, before his mom started sleeping on the sofa…and before Annabeth was killed in a car accident.

Enter Geoff, Quinn’s best friend who insists it’s time that Quinn came out—at least from hibernation. One haircut later, Geoff drags Quinn to his first college party, where instead of nursing his pain, he meets a guy—a hot one—and falls hard. What follows is an upside-down week in which Quinn begins imagining his future as a screenplay that might actually have a happily-ever-after ending—if, that is, he can finally step back into the starring role of his own life story. 




This was the first book I read just because I wanted to read it in a really long time. It really threw me off because it was so different from all the things i've read in the past few months, and yet the more I think about it, the more I like the elements that initially threw me off. Tim Federle's use of multiple narration styles, and his sort of reinvention of the buildungsroman, which was very different but very familiar, was really brilliant. It was a bit tropey, but it used the tropes in the best ways, and it didn't feel like a regurgitation of things i've already read. It felt new. It felt like a breath of breath air.

Quinn Roberts was an interesting protagonist in the way that I didn't like him as a person, but I felt myself really care about him. He made bad mistakes, and I really disliked how he treated Geoff. Honestly, when your friends are going out of their way to treat you kindly, you don't ignore them. You don't just forget about them. There was one moment about half way through the book where Quinn asks when Geoff will next see Amir, and Geoff says something along the lines of "I don't know. You know Amir and I aren't really friends?", and that was a moment where I wanted to smack some sense into Quinn and show him who is the more important person in his life.

Quinn's relationships really were the focal point of the novel, and each relationship showed a different, flawed side to him. The relationship he had with his mother showed how he was capable for sympathy and genuine love. The relationship between his sister that is unveiled is interesting as it shows equally how selfish he is but also how much admiration he had for his sister, and how he really looked up to her and saw her as an equal. It's these relationships that complicated the relationship that I had with him. It was his negative qualities that made me see him as human and complex and fascinating, but I didn't want him to act on those impulses because I hold sympathy and love and being genuine to people above the other emotions. Quinn was super fascinating and Tim Federle really struck a balance with him.

I at first really didn't like the romance in the book but the further I step away from the book I realize how necessary it is to the plot. I normally don't like romances as plot devices, but then I usually get the romantic interest as a fully fledged character, which is not the case in this book. Don't get me wrong, I see that Amir is three dimensional, but he's not a fully fleshed out character and he doesn't get a proper story arc. He is there as a thing for Quinn, not so much as a person. Replace him with any other male and our story doesn't really change. It's not so much who Quinn falls for that matters, it's the fact that he falls for someone, and realizes that what he's after is not external validation. We as readers can see that he received a lot of validation from others in the time before the novel, he doesn't get much in the course of his story. This novel isn't a romance, it's the story a young kid learning to fall in love with himself.

Tim Federle's writing was really smooth, like it read like Sondheim sounds -- totally stream of conscious, but as soon as it's over, you realized he had a plan all along. There were moments when reading this I had the inkling that I wasn't going to like it, but I just needed to hold on and see where the moments I disliked were leading to. It was a good exercise in patience. But Federle's writing was super melodic and I was sucked in from page one and it doesn't let up, as seen through the fact that I read this in one sitting. I would definitley pick up another one of his books, and it turns out that I have picked up some of his other works. He's a musical theatre librettist! He wrote the book to Tuck Everlasting: The Musical (which I can't really speak to as i've only got the cast album and haven't gotten to his bit).

Overall, I picked this one up on a whim and I was truly swept up by it. Tim Federle has written an amazing coming of age story, where the romance isn't what's important. The focus of the novel is forgiving your past self, falling in love with present you, and trusting future you to make the right decisions. 5/5 Stars. What a way to start the year.


Looking Forward

Monday, 2 January 2017

Hi.

I'm back. Hopefully for good this time. I've missed this blog, and reading books I care about, and mostly the community that I was once apart of. So many times have I fallen off the blogging bandwagon, and so many times i've come back with a "new dedication" which usually wears off after a few weeks. After taking almost half a year away from the blog, I feel my fingers start to twitch with the want to blog again. I feel the need to get back into the community and to learn what's out there.


This past year has been so fucking hard for me. Now, I don't want to spread the rhetoric that "2016 was horrible blah blah blah" because this year held amazing things for me: I finished my second year of university. I started my third year. I got to study amazing things. I got to travel. I went to New York City. I saw Hamilton, and Fiddler on the Roof, and Fun Home, and met some of my idols. But it was also filled with negativity. My mental health has never been lower. My anxiety took over my life. This past semester was super overwhelming and stressful. My grandmother passed away. I spent an entire year away from my family. I lost friends. But all years have ups and downs, and the goal is to make the lowest highs higher than the highest lows...


Does that make sense?


I think why I let this blog fall to the backburner is because I was anxious about it. My anxiety manifests itself inward, with a lot of self criticism that it totally out of left field and is mainly stupid. But I started to notice that my posts didn't get a ton of views, or that other blogs were bigger than mine, and my anxiety took over, and instead of being motivated, I shut down. I stopped because I was scared. I started blogging and I loved it so much because I was doing it for me, but somewhere along the way I started feeling like I was doing it for someone else, and that wasn't fun.


I also felt an immense pressure to talk about things that I didn't want to talk about. This pressure mainly came from my involvement with academia. I started feeling that by reading and enjoying YA and the things I loved, I wasn't academic enough, so I stopped reading the books that I really wanted to read. Which is maybe the most idiotic thing that I could have let happen. In my personal life I am the largest advocate that YA is literature and holds as much merit as literary fiction and adult fiction. YA is valid in terms of content, character, and genre. My anxiety allowed me to get pushed around.


I know this is coming off a bit like i'm not taking accountability for myself, which is a problem, but I'm writing this to keep myself accountable. I love this blog, and my god i've missed it. I making this a priority, and I cannot wait to see what this year brings.


If you've stuck around throughout this whole post, thank you.