So You’re In A Reading Slump

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Hello folks, it’s been a while – too long, in fact. What’s been keeping me away, you ask? Well, I was in a reading slump. Considering a large part of my content consists of book reviews, the reading slump all too quickly evolved into a writing slump. And here we are.

The slump can quickly spread to various activities, and you’ll find yourself angrily eyeing your bookshelves as if they’ve personally offended you. That just isn’t a healthy attitude for a bibliophile to have for a long period of time.

My slump began when I started reading two rather daunting books at the same time. Unlike my usual simultaneous reads, both of these were books I felt I had to read with no background noise or distractions. This severely limited my reading time as well as the joy I usually find in stories I don’t have to take too seriously.

To top it off, I got a lot of my ‘wished for’ and requested books on NetGalley and Edelweiss all within the same week. Factor in the two hard reads, along with the mounting list of ARC’s I had to review, and I was getting more and more stuck.

So, you’re stuck. What do you do?

There are a few different things that may work for you, but I’ll be sharing the things that have worked for me now and in the past.

– First, stop reading the books that have you stopped up, if that’s part of your problem.

– Do a book detox – watch some episodes of a new tv show or grab a new cd to listen to. Put reading out of your mind for a little while.

– Try to re-read a favourite, preferably a short stand-alone title.

– Head to your local library to browse. Pick the first title that speaks to you and read as much as you can in the library. Sometimes a change of location helps more than you think! Try heading to a park or to the beach to read if it’s nice out.

– Read some short stories – either collections, or online tales. I’m a fan of the shorts found on Tor.com, as well as short fanfiction.

– Check out some alternative format literature: comics, plays, or audiobooks. Kickstart your love of a good story with something a little different from your usual. Try listening to some narrative podcasts.

– If there’s a list of books you have to read for review purposes, pick the one with the absolute furthest deadline. Doing something ‘wrong’ by temporarily neglecting the read coming up soonest might make the one you pick up more thrilling to finish.

So those are the different things I’ve used in the past to get out of reading slumps. This time around, I set aside my two difficult reads. I then caught up on some procedural crime dramas for a while, before picking up a book I don’t have to have reviewed until June. I’m now more than halfway through it and going strong.

Back to effortless and enjoyable reading!

Does my list include things you do? What techniques do you use to get out of a reading slump? Let me know in the comments below!

On Reading Authors You Dislike

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So I thought today would be a good day for another discussion post. It’s been a while and it’s nice to get a little discourse going now and then!

A while ago, there was come controversy about Joseph Boyden lying about his Native identity and about the way he treats the people he bases his characters on.

Considering The Orenda has been on my ‘to read’ list for ages and I had just gotten a copy, I was really dismayed when I came across that information. For ages I agonized over whether or not it was okay for me to read that book – or any of Boyden’s work. Reading it seemed almost like I was indifferent or in agreement with his gross behaviour.

I dithered over it, but it really got me thinking about other authors whom I’ve disagreed with regarding personal views or actions in the past.

Orson Scott Card is a well-documented homophobe. William Golding was an attempted rapist and messed with boys by pitting them against each other and observing the results. Many authors are or have been unsavoury characters: plagiarists, thieves, murderers, racists, rapists, misogynists – not to mention those that are more well known for their heinous actions than their writing. Hitler, anyone?

So what’s a bibliophile to do?

As someone who loves reading for both pleasure and knowledge, could I be content avoiding books by unpleasant individuals knowing that any insights I may glean from their work may be lost to me?

Definitely not.

Still, in some cases I have no desire to show my support for reprehensible authors even if I’m curious about their work. So I generally don’t buy their books. This means they don’t have my financial support. I’ll take out a copy from the library. While this does ensure that the book in question will remain in circulation, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. If I find that I absolutely have to have a copy, to write in or to re-read, I’ll get it from a second-hand store. That way I’m supporting local business and the author still doesn’t get my financial backing.

The benefits of reading work by authors I disagree with are plentiful. I tend to view their work through a more critical lens if I know about their personal views before diving in. It’s also helpful to be informed of the context in which any work is written, and that certainly includes the author’s beliefs and character, along with the time period, political climate, and place in which they lived. Right there is research that I wouldn’t have otherwise undertaken.

If the work is fiction, I can see how their views influenced the plot, characters, or setting. In non-fiction there is much less deductive power necessary to examine the thoughts of the author.

Still, reading things written from perspectives differing from my own is always a learning experience. You gain so much more to think about than you would reading something by someone who agrees with you on an ethical or rational level. It encourages you to form counter-arguments, debate skills (if you discuss it with others, or take notes), and will possibly help inform you in your interactions with other literature in the future.

I’ll continue to read books by authors of questionable morals in the future, and would be interested to know what you think of the subject. Do you read or buy books written by authors that you disagree with? Do you find any merit in them? Let me know in the comments below!

 

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian

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Short review today, folks.

A while ago, I mentioned going to a book tasting with my friend J, where we both picked up Giant Days.  I also managed to pick up another book that had been on my TBR list for quite a while. With even more encouragement from J (you should read that, it’s really good) I finally picked up a copy of The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian.

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I’d be surprised if you’re North American and haven’t already heard of this book. I mean, it came out a decade ago. But it has also been at the center of some controversy. It’s been censored – removed from libraries, school reading lists, and rebuked for it’s depiction of violence (read: hardship) and sex (read: masturbation).

Honestly, the protagonist is a 14-year-old boy, and people need to readjust their expectations, in my opinion.

I really enjoyed this book.

All too often in books depicting Native American protagonists, they are othered quite neatly. But Junior’s voice is clear and funny, and everything I would expect to hear from a boy his age. His natural musings and good humour really put his life experiences into perspective.

Struggling with the quality of his education, and the alcoholism and deaths prevalent in his community, Junior leads a life that his friends off the reservation would struggle to understand. Still, this glimpse into his life and community was compelling – his voice was believable and I really enjoyed the little drawings peppered throughout the book.

Junior’s voice while straightforward was also very insightful. There’s a moment two chapters into this book that I knew I would like it.

“Poverty doesn’t give you strength or teach you lessons about perseverance. No, poverty only teaches you how to be poor.”

Truth.

Junior loves his community, but he also feels trapped in it. He decides to attend the all-white school off of the reservation, and with that decision comes a whole lot of difficulties. Still, he handles it with all the aplomb that a 14-year-old could be expected to. He’s a smart and sensitive kid and you root for him the entire book through. You wish for more for him, for his family, and for his community.

The depictions of side characters were excellent in this book. Junior’s family and friends were just as interesting as he was, for all that we didn’t know as much about them. His relationship with Rowdy the whole book through was especially touching and telling.

If you’re looking for a quick read, I would recommend this one. I don’t generally read contemporary literature that isn’t genre fiction, but this one is a gem.

It will give you things to think about – maybe things you hadn’t ever considered.

Have you already read this book? Did you enjoy it? Let me know in the comments below!

Spark Joy

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So here I am, back to our regularly scheduled blog posts!

For those of you who don’t know, I recently moved into a lovely new place and so I’ve been rather remiss in posting regularly these past few weeks. Well, now that I’m all settled in that will be a thing of the past.

When undertaking a move (and not hiring movers) one of the main things I consider is stuff. How many things do I own? How many do I really need to take with me? Are there methods to organize my material possessions before I move, to decrease the risk of bringing a mess into my new living space?

It turns out that a book had the answers that I needed.

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A little while ago, Spark Joy and its companion The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up were doing the rounds in every bookstore I stepped into. When a copy came to me, I was curious to see what all the fuss was about.

Marie Kondo is a professional organizer. She goes into people’s homes and works with them to create a sustainable tidying and cleaning system to suit their individual needs. The essence of Spark Joy was simple enough: hold an item in your hands. Really feel that item. Is it special to you? When you hold it, does it bring you joy? If not – well, it’s time to say goodbye.

I admit that I was skeptical.

Surely if it was that easy, I would have de-cluttered my space far sooner! But alas, I did not. And this book helped give me the kick I needed to say goodbye to things that just didn’t bring me joy anymore.

Living now in a space surrounded by only things that make me happy – clothes, books, paintings – it’s clear to me that the KonMari method is on to something.

Spark Joy is divided into multiple sections that tackle the tidying of different sorts of objects you may find in your home. Despite that, I would honestly advise that you read the whole book through rather than jumping in and out wherever seems convenient. Kondo doles out helpful and funny little insights here and there that are worth reading.

From a better folding method for your clothes, to tidying sentimental items, to the ways that tidying your things can mean tidying your life, I found that the more I read the more my skepticism vanished. I got rid of things I’ve been holding on to for far too long, and in a space surrounded by only things that bring me genuine joy I breathe easier.

Here and there, Kondo will reference some of her real-life clients, and I found those accounts fascinating. I wouldn’t mind a whole book filled with those tiny glimpses into people’s lives – but that could be because I am a very nosy person. Still, they added helpful perspectives to an otherwise straightforward instructional text.

The small and adorable illustrations that pepper the text also helped bring a light-heartedness that I don’t often see in books such as this. Though practical, they were fun enough come across while reading.

Would I recommend Spark Joy? It helped me. It might help you! So yes. Though I still have more to do on my tidying journey, I’ll definitely be applying the principles I learned from this book while I do so.

Have you found any books to help de-clutter your space, or your life? Did you find Kondo’s books helpful, or were you indifferent? Let me know in the comments below!

Spring Bookish Bingo

Hello folks, I’m back! I know that last week I said that I would be back to my regularly scheduled Fanfic Feature Friday today, but I’ve just moved this week and time has gotten away from me. So come Monday I’ll be back to my regular schedule.

For now, Winter Bookish Bingo is over, but Spring Bookish Bingo has arrived! Bookish Bingo is hosted by Bekka at Pretty Deadly Blog, if you’re interested in joining. The Spring round runs from March until the end of May.

This card is very exciting – I already have a whole bunch of ideas of what I’d like to fill the squares with! Once again, I’ll be trying to fill the whole card.

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Some ideas I’m kicking around for the various categories:

Scary: The Dead-Tossed Waves, Survive the Night

Blue Cover: The Silmarillion, It Started With Goodbye

Magic: Roar

Over 500 pages: Edgar and Lucy

PoC On Cover: The Prey of Gods

Non-Fiction: The Right to Be Cold

2017 Debut: Maud

Witches: A Great and Terrible Beauty

That’s all for now!

If you have suggestions for the other categories, let me know. If you’re choosing different reads for those categories I’d love to know your picks. Comment below to weigh in.

Update 2: Winter Bookish Bingo

We’re almost through with Winter Bookish Bingo, so I thought I’d post another quick update on how I’m doing. Find my last update here. Bookish Bingo is hosted by Bekka at Pretty Deadly Blog.

Categories with a snowflake are ones that I’ve read for so far. The books read since the last update are listed below!

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Sequel: Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo

Own Voices: If I Was Your Girl by Meredith Russo

GR Choice Nominee: Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo

Blue Cover: The Djinn Falls in Love

Cover Buy: Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo

Set Abroad: Giant Days Vol 1.

So, no new bingos since my last update, but still a fair amount of reading got done! I have a few categories left, but I don’t think I’ll be filling out any more squares. I’m currently reading The Silmarillion and Edgar and Lucy – neither of which fit into any of these categories. They’re both quite long as well so it remains to be seen if I’ll have time to read anything else before February comes to an end.

Are you participating in Winter Bookish Bingo? How are you doing so far? Let me know in the comments below.

Looking Forward: Big Titles

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There has been some cool book news recently, so I thought I would link it up in case you hadn’t heard of these yet. It’s certainly going to be an exciting year for readers, and it’s only just beginning! Here are some big titles I’m really anticipating.

On May 4th, Beren and Lúthien will be found at a bookstore near you. When I first heard about this, I assumed that it would be a complete narrative with new material from Tolkien’s notes. Understandably, I was pretty thrilled. While that isn’t quite what this book will contain, it’s close enough that I’ll pick up a copy anyway.

From the publisher:

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In this book Christopher Tolkien has attempted to extract the story of Beren and Lúthien from the comprehensive work in which it was embedded; but that story was itself changing as it developed new associations within the larger history. To show something of the process whereby this legend of Middle-earth evolved over the years, he has told the story in his father’s own words by giving, first, its original form, and then passages in prose and verse from later texts that illustrate the narrative as it changed. Presented together for the first time, they reveal aspects of the story, both in event and in narrative immediacy, that were afterwards lost.

I’m currently reading The Silmarillion, so I may try a complete read of Middle-Earth titles before I tackle this new book.

Next!

If you haven’t heard about The Book of Dust – well, I’m about to fix that.

Phillip Pullman’s His Dark Materials was an absolute dream of a trilogy. Kid me read my copies until they were ragged, and as an adult I gained even more insight when I went back for a re-read. If you haven’t yet explored worlds with Lyra and Pantalaimon, I strongly urge you to pick up a copy of The Golden Compass and dive in. (But disregard the terrible film of the same title. Please.)

For those of you who read and enjoyed HDM – rejoice! On October 19th of this year, the first of The Book of Dust trilogy will be released.

From Pullman’s website:

So, second: is it a prequel? Is it a sequel? It’s neither. In fact, The Book of Dust is… an equel. It doesn’t stand before or after His Dark Materials, but beside it. It’s a different story, but there are settings that readers of His Dark Materials will recognise, and characters they’ve met before. Also, of course, there are some characters who are new to us, including an ordinary boy (a boy we have seen in an earlier part of Lyra’s story, if we were paying attention) who, with Lyra, is caught up in a terrifying adventure that takes him into a new world.

I will definitely be doing a His Dark Materials re-read later in the year to prepare for this release! It will be really cool to see an older Lyra, and learn more about Dust as well.

Are you looking forward to these new releases? Will you be pre-ordering, or biding your time for a library copy? What other 2017 releases are you waiting for? Let me know in the comments below!