books · discussions · features · shanti

Emily St John Mandel, and Swirling Complexity

I love it when a book that you’re forced to read becomes fun. And then you like that book so much that you read some of the author’s other books. This happened to me with Station Eleven, by Emily St. John. I had to read for class. I would call it dystopia, but we learned about it as science fiction, which I guess is fair enough. It’s a very clever book, and quite a lovely one, considering how it write about unspeakably horrible events.

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blogging · books · features · shanti

Interview: Michelle Cooper, Author of Dr. Huxley’s Bequest

Hi Virtually Readers! Remember a few weeks ago when I reviewed Dr. Huxley’s Bequest, a really wonderful exploration of the history of medicine that covers a lot of ground? It’s a fascinating book, and Michelle Cooper, who wrote it, is one of my favourite authors. She is an incredible researcher, and uses her characters and stories to bring history–and now science–to life. She was gracious enough to let me interview her (which I promptly derailed by losing her email in my spam folder). If you want to learn about Tasmanian Devil milk and Michelle’s research process, you’ll definitely want to read the interview below.

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books · features · shanti

What I look for in genres

Hi Virtually Readers! I’ve been thinking about genre in books a lot lately because I’m taking an English course that is essentially about genre. We’ve talked about romance, gothic, romantic comedies, and we’re about to start detective stories. I’m really appreciating some of the things this is making me think about–especially the conclusion that there is no such thing as a ‘pure’ genre. All stories use elements from different genres. For instance, the book ‘Trouble is a Friend of Mine’ is ostensibly a mystery story, but it also has elements of comedy and horror. I thought that I’d talk a little bit about what I look for in different genres, and some of my favourite books from each of those.

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blogging · books · collabs · discussions · features · shanti

Our Fourth Blogoversary!

It’s our blogoversary! Shar and I have been writing about books for 4 years on this little site, and we’ve changed a lot over that time, and hopefully gotten better at writing. We’re going to sort of interview each other about it to celebrate, because writing posts together is fun. This is definitely something to celebrate, and we’re so glad to be here to do it!

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books · features · shanti

Diagnosis: Stress Reading

Remember YA Psychologist? You should, because YA Psychologist was great. Anyway, in that vein, I thought I’d talk about a disease which has been afflicted me greatly recently: stress reading. Of course I read stressfully, when I am forced to read things for educational purposes. But I mostly read stressfully because of libraries. I love libraries and everyone should support them. But they do have due dates. This is particularly acute with digital books: because they’re digital, I don’t have to physically return them which makes me less likely to do so, and I also have ppor impulse control and end up with a whole lot of books that I don’t have time to read. But stress reading can happen to anyone, so I thought I’d share a diagnosis manual, because why not medicalise everything?

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Symptoms:

  • feeling like you have to read fast otherwise you’ll let people down
  • looking at your bookshelf and feeling panic rise within you
  • losing all self control when requesting books from publishers and at the library
  • having more than five books on your ‘currently reading’ list
  • not being able to read because you have so much to read

Possible Causes:

  • trying to read too much
  • underestimating how long it will take you to read things
  • going overboard at the library
  • prioritising what you read and therefore losing control of everything that is not a priority
  • Acquiring every book that is recommended to you
  • having other things going on in your life that mean you can’t read as much as you plan to

History:

This problem is almost as old as the written word. Since Lady Murasaki wrote The Tale of Genji in the 11th century, more and more books have appeared, and many of them would probably be great–if you had time to read them. Want to be readers tend to accumalate all the books they want to read, and consequently, are unable to actually read them. Book doctors through the centuries have diagnosed stress reading, and linked it to library fines, miscellaneous non-bookish responsibilities, and the ownership of book blogs. Cases have risen particularly in the last seven years with the rise of digital ARCS and digital libraries.

Treatment:

Unfortunately, stress reading is a recurring condition. No matter how you treat it, it will probably flare up again, probably when you have other things to worry about. Still, treatment is not futile. If you have a severe case, try to go on a book buying and library ban until you have read everything you have. Secondly, remember that a lot of pressure is self imposed. you can simply choose to return books without reading them. If you have books from publishers that you must review, don’t beat yourself up if they’ve been publisehd for a while by the time you review them. Healing will take some time; to find joy in reading and maximise chances of success, read slowly, read for enjoyment, and take breaks.

In case it wasn’t clear…I almost constantly have a low-grade case of stress reading. But I’m coming to terms with my condition, and am going to try to read a book I own for every library book I read from now on. Let’s see how that goes….

Do you suffer from stress reading? what do you do to treat it? tell me in the comments!

books · features · lists · shanti

Non-Fiction Fiction Pairings

I am growing to love non-fiction. I know that not everyone reads non-fiction, which is fine, but if you don’t have much idea where to start, I thought I’d do a post pairing books popular in the blogosphere with some non-fiction books I love. If you recognise these books, or think you’d enjoy them, then definitely see if you can pick a copy up. I’ve tried to group books that are similar in content and tone, even if they come at it from totally different angles.

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books · features · lists · shanti

talking to other bookish people

You are on a bus, and you see that someone a few seats ahead of you is reading a book. You peer around, looking for the cover. It’s a book you’ve read! Someone else is discovering words you love right now, and you’re witnessing it. What a glorious sight. But then the question comes: should you talk to them? what do you say?

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books · features · shanti

Curses for the Booklover

Sometimes I wish I was magical and could lay curses on people. Not, like, deadly curses. But just enough ones so that it’s really annoying. (this was a feature in a book I read in the last five months but I CANNOT FOR THE LIFE OF ME REMEMBER WHAT IT WAS BUT IF YOU KNOW WHAT I’M TALKING ABOUT PLEASE TELL ME THE TITLE). Anyway, if the person who you want to curse is a reader, here are some gentle suggestions. And if anything like this has happened to you recently, you might want to think about who would have a reason to curse you.

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  • The Book Slump Curse

This is a pretty basic one. Chant ‘you won’t finish any books/and no new ones will take your fancy/the book slump has its hooks in you’ five times while balancing a book on your head and sitting in a library.

  • The Character Names Sound the Same and You Won’t Remember Who is Who Curse

Make a broth of ink and willow tree leaves, and pour a ladle of it out at all of the cardinal directions around where the reader lives, starting with East, then North, and so on. They won’t remember the character names and will be confused and it will seriously detract from their experience of the book. Mwahahaha.

  • The Stress Induced by Getting Too Many Books From the Library and/or Publishers

Rip up a calendar and write YOU HAVE TO READ OR ELSE YOU WILL LET EVERYONE DOWN on the scraps of paper. Then find the readers TBR (or e-reader case) and slip the paper in between the pages. Guaranteed 100% success rate.

  • The Wait Is This a Sequel Curse

Open goodreads on your device of choice, then shake your device gently, humming the Pirates of the Caribbean theme song and pausing every three minutes to mutter you can’t tell if it’s a sequel or not. After fifteen minutes, the information about whether the book in question is a sequel or not will disappear from Goodreads. Note: it will disappear for both you and the person you’re trying to curse, so make sure that you don’t get hurt by the curse. Note 2: You must be friends (on Goodreads) with the cursee for this to work.

  • the There Are A Lot of Books in the World curse

This curse works by overwhelming the reader with how many books they’ll never be able to read. This is most effectively caused by leading them to a library, or a bookshop, but can also be achived by recommending them books in oblique ways. I recommend writing book titles in the sky with a plane, leaving slips of paper with authors written on them in the bookworms shoes, or writing a ‘found this awesome publisher/imprint with books you’d like’ text on the hour. This is a very kind curse, but remember that the agony of indecision will cause the cursed person to writhe in agony on the floor. The curse will only be effective if you run your finger along your bookshelves (or scroll the ebooks on your e-reading device) while humming their favourite song.

  • the reading is not enough curse

do you really want to inflict some next level punishment on someone, what you need to do is find a book that has heavy fandom attached to it (six of crows, Simon vs., SJMaas, Illuminae, whatever you can think of), and get them to read it, then slowly–ever so slowly–lower them into the seething pot of fandom. Send screenshots of fan posts to them! mention the book in every conversation! Find fanart and buy it and give it to them. whatever you can think of (it is easiest to do this if you are also obsessed so that someone can share the intensity of your suffering) to pull them into the whirlpool of fandom. Chances are that they will stagger out three to five years later, emotionally bruised but forever your frenemy.

What are some bookworm curses that you’ve had to face? and have you encountered these ones? tell me about it in the comments!

 

 

books · features · shanti

Characters I love

Hi Virtually Readers! One of the top things that will make me love a book is when I feel like the characters are really well written. Characters are the heart of all novels. The setting and the plot is a way to showcase (usually human) beings who have to make complicated choices. In the choices and in the ambiguity, they’re more human; more like us. At their best, well written characters help me to know myself better. Today I thought I’d share a quick list of who some of my favourite characters are and why.

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books · features · shanti

The Bookish Planet: The Castle

it’s time for another installment of The Bookish Planet, the feature where we give a guided tour of settings seen in a lot of books. Today, the feature is The Castle. They are often found in Magical Forests, within fantasy kingdoms. The Castle is exciting, magnificent, sometimes crumbling, sometimes lavish. No matter which castle you end up in, something exciting will be going on.

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