blogging · discussions · Shar

Giving a book/author a second chance

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You may or may not have heard of Sabriel, which Shanti fangirls about with alarming frequency, as do some of our other friends. However, I picked it up in 2014 (I think. A long time ago, anyway), got about 40% through, and the DNF’d it. I recently finished the audiobook and really enjoying it, which made me think about giving books second chances.

You know the feeling. There’s a book everyone’s talking about… but you’ve already tried it and didn’t finish. Someone’s just published a new book, but you haven’t enjoyed the author’s other works. You

 Reasons not to give the author/book a second chance

  • You don’t have the time. There’s lots of other books you have to read or review and you don’t want to waste your time with something you don’t think you’ll enjoy.
  • There is a seriously off-putting aspect of the book. Maybe it had really horrible rep, or was racist or misogynist, or just really really annoying.
  • You don’t think you mesh with the author. Maybe you’ve read several of their other books and didn’t enjoy any, and maybe something about them and their writing just doesn’t work for you. (It’s okay! It will work for someone else!)

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I’m quite glad I gave Sabriel a second chance, like I said before. I don’t know what my past self was thinking to DNF it (and complain about how dumb it was) for so many years.

But this doesn’t always work. For example, I was kind of meh about Bookishly Ever After, but I reread it (and kind of liked it more?) before trying Dramatically Ever After, which I was really not a fan of. And I didn’t really like quite a few Kasie West books, tried them again, and consistently kept not liking them. (Please note this was giving authors, rather than books a second chance. But sometimes it’s the same idea).

In that light:

Reasons to give the author/book a second chance

  • If you’ve read it before, chances are it’s easily available at your library/on your bookshelf/belongs to your friend/on your ereader, which other books you want to read may not be.
  • Your friends might have really liked this book/author, and constantly harass you about reading it. Maybe you didn’t like it orginally, but they’ll be happy if you give it a chance, and you’ll be able to join in discussions about it (such was the case with me and Sabriel). (Although I do have friends who really want me to give Sarah J. Maas a second try. I have so far refused)
  • You might have changed since you tried reading the book. Maybe you’ll like it now when you didn’t before. (I suspect this was also the case with Sabriel). Look up reviews or ask friends who’ve read the book to find out.
  • The author might have changed since you last read their books. Maybe the newer books are more your type. If you think this may be true, then I’d suggest looking up reviews and synopses to see if there are aspects you might enjoy now.
  • You can try another format.  Maybe you didn’t like it as an audiobook, but you’ll like it as a physical book or vice versa? This was the case for me and Blue Lily, Lily Blue. I DNF’d several times with the audiobook (I’d listen to a few chapters, give up, start again because I’d forgotten the plot) but eventually finished it (and low key enjoyed) as an ebook.

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In conclusion, I think giving a book or author a second chance depends on several things. Firstly, you’ve got to have the time to prioritise it over everything else you might want to read. Secondly, you have to work out if what you didn’t like originally is something that has changed, or if you have changed to like it. Also, I’d say that if you give a book/author a second chance, and still don’t like it for whatever reason a few chapters in, you are still perfectly justified in stopping it immediately, because you’ve got better things to do. And if the first two chances don’t work out, don’t bother with third chances. You’ve got better things to do, and someone else can enjoy the book.

Do you give books or authors second chances? Why or why not? Do you have any reasons to add to either side of my list?

 

 

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book review · Shar

Science non fiction mini reviews

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 I really like science in general, and I surprised myself by reading 3 nonfiction books about science last month. Although they weren’t YA, I really liked two of them, and I’m also trying to branch out my reading and the content on this blog. So here are some bite-sized mini reviews for you. 

Other Minds

 Peter Godfrey-Smith

One thing you may not know about me is that I really like biology, and I’m going to study it in university. My animal loving, science self adored this book. It basically talked through the evolution of the octopus’ mind and extrapolated to draw conclusions about the evolution of humans and brains.

This book was really well structured, not dense even though it was sciency, easy to follow, engaging, and basically made me really really like octopi and cephalopods in general. I learned a lot about evolution and brains (although I did know some things mentioned already; high school psychology and biology ftw!) and really enjoyed it. 5 stars.

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Astrophysics for people in a hurry

Neil Degrasse Tyson

astrophysics-for-people-in-a-hurry-neil-degrasse-tyson1I gather that this author is quite a famous scientist/TV personality? I don’t know anything much about him though. I picked this book because a) it had a pretty cover, and b) I know nothing about astrophysics and wanted to remedy this.

I did learn a lot, but I didn’t find the book that easy to read. It went through various aspects of astrophysics in each chapter, and assumed basic scientific knowledge in all the explanations. I didn’t always know what was going on, mainly because I haven’t done any physics since 9th grade. I could usually figure it out if I concentrated, but it was hard and I had to go back and reread a lot. This definitely affected my enjoyment.

I noticed that the chapters I understood the most, especially the one about the astrophysical origins of chemical elements, were easy and fun to read, and the more theoretical and physical stuff wasn’t.

Also, the writing style was a bit jarring. It was mostly dense language to a layperson at least, but lots of the paragraphs ended in (not very funny) jokes. This didn’t really work for me and felt really awkward. I guess it goes to show good scientists aren’t necessarily good writers?

I did like how the last chapter explored why astrophysics matters amid the turmoil and darkness or life on earth. Then Tyson started to be like ‘the cosmological perspective lifts us from the darkness of our mundanity’ which I felt was a bit much.

I rate this book 3 stars: I’m glad I read it, but didn’t exactly enjoy it.

 

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

Rebecca Skloot

immortal-lifeI’ve been meaning to read this ever since I discovered it was a book, or maybe before that, when I first heard about Henrietta and HeLa in biology class about 2 years ago. This book is about the cells of a black woman who had cervical cancer. In the 50s, a sample was taken, and they turned out to be essentially immortal—able to divide infinitely without dying like normal human cells. This made them ideal for experiments, and they were used to discover a polio vaccine, standardizing culture mediums, learning more about viruses, studying how cells become malignant/cancerous, finding out how to freeze cells effectively, how to clone cells, developing the basis of IVF fertility treatments, learning more about genetic diseases and chromosomes, used to learn about the effect of radiation on cells, used to screen chemotherapy drugs, and to test cosmetics (among other things). An enormous and lucrative industry was built around her cells, but Henrietta died a few months after the sample was taken (without her permission), and it was decades before her family found out about the cells.

This book was really well written, and struck a fine balance between exploring the personal aspect of Henrietta’s story, and her family’s, medical ethics from the 1950s to the present, and the science about how the cells were used. I found it easy to read and intensely interesting. I would say that the book isn’t for everyone; it’s quite dense and scientific in some places and then more like a non fiction novel in others, but it’s really well researched and thorough. It’s definitely worth reading if you like this kind of thing. Four stars.

 

Do you enjoy nonfiction? Do you have any recommendations for me? How do you feel about octopuses?

 

books · lists · shanti · Shar

2017 round-up with Shanti and Shar

Hi Virtually Readers! It’s the end of another year–a somewhat tiring and also exciting year–where, among other things, we read a lot of books. This year, our reading tastes evolved a little–we read a lot more adult books and non-fiction (this growing up thing, it’s terrifying). Anyway, we’re linking up with The Perpetual Page Turners end of year survey to tell you about it. Shanti is italics, Shar is normal, questions are in bold. Let’s go! Continue reading “2017 round-up with Shanti and Shar”

features · lists · Shar

‘Tis the Season of Rereading: How to choose what to reread (ft. a handy flowchart)

Hi Virtually Readers! I haven’t had any time to reread this week (although I WILL I swear) so today I’m doing something different: a guide to deciding what to reread. In the comments of several of our posts, people have said something like ‘I’d love to join in/reread, but I don’t know which book to choose’. I’ve always been a big rereader, so it surprises me that some bookworms aren’t (which is okay). This is a step by step checklist guide thingy to choosing a book to reread.  Continue reading “‘Tis the Season of Rereading: How to choose what to reread (ft. a handy flowchart)”

discussions · features · Shar

’tis the season of rereading Alice Oseman

It’s getting to be the Christmas time of year, Virtually Readers, and that means one thing: ‘Tis the season of rereading! (Also, like trees and food and sometimes snow and presents and the birth or Jesus but mostly, rereading). It’s the first of December, so it’s time for our yearly super fun feature! Continue reading “’tis the season of rereading Alice Oseman”

books · discussions · lists · Shar

Shar’s Top 5 most relatable books | Get to know me!

Hi Virtually Readers! I recently finished rereading Radio Silence, which is obviously AMAZING and started thinking about other books I found relatable. This post is going to be a combination of get-to-know-me (through said relatable books) and FANGIRLINGGG!!!! (also, I know I’ve read other relatable books. These are the first that came to mind). Note: covers link to goodreads, title texts to my review if I reviewed it)   Continue reading “Shar’s Top 5 most relatable books | Get to know me!”