books · discussions · features · shanti

Setting in Stone 1: A Place for a Story

Hey Virtually Readers! You may not remember, but way back in June I published a excellent popular post about setting and how non Western European or North American settings are discriminated against. You guys were really into the post—yay!—which got me thinking more about setting, and so I have decided to commence a new discussion series called Setting in Stone. Shar thinks the name is stupid, but I’m ignoring her. I’m very good at that. I don’t know how long this series is going to go on for—I have about 10 posts planned, and will write as the inspiration strikes, but this first one is going to be about how setting informs story.

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Setting is a vital part of the story. It sets limitations for the characters and plot, informs mood and atmosphere, and usually shapes the climax.

How is setting a limit, and why is that a good thing? If a book is set in a small town, it means that the characters are focused on how to get out or how to stay. If a story is set in a city, then the isolation and opportunity will again pull characters in two directions. To some extent, yes, this is a trope, but that’s how settings limit character mindsets.

By the Chekov’s gun principle, a setting also limits plot. If a certain shop is mentioned, it must become significant in some way. If a lake is part of the setting, then something has to happen at the lake. Obviously, an author can make her setting fit her story—in fact, she should make the setting fit the story—but geographical limitations also apply. There can’t be a lake in the middle of a story set in the desert. There can’t be a tornado in a story set in a rainforest. These rules of geography have to dictate how the story unfolds within a setting. In magical realism, perhaps, all bets are off; but still this is a general rule.

Why are so many cute, summery books set in beachside towns during the summer? Because sunshine and beaches makes the reader think of cute fluffy things. Similarly, creepy books are often set in forests or winter time, like Megan Miranda’s Vengeance. These Broken Stars, a space opera with a romance and a mystery, is on a lush but empty planet, conveying an atmosphere of beauty and eeriness, while the harsher, more brutal Illuminae consists of the barren metal walls of spaceships. The connotations of various settings are quickly formed, and, along with writing style and content, contribute to the ‘mood’ of a novel. A forest can mean magic or horror. A cozy college dorm is more like a place for falling in love with someone you didn’t expect.

Finally, setting aids the story by informing character choices towards the climax. For example, in Rebel of the Sands, the climax involves a character raiding a train and discovering a (non-metaphorical) power. If the book had had the same Western vibe but been set in, say, a mountainous region, the climax would have been different, both in details (e.g. sand is everywhere, trains wouldn’t have existed) and in broad terms (how the characters escaped and how they felt).

The effect the setting has on the narrative is impossible to quantify and certainly variable between books. Swallows and Amazons, a classic children’s book set in the Lake District of England, revolves around the lake. The story would be utterly different if set in Iowa. However, while stories set in generic small towns or big cities do depend on their settings, it may not make much difference whether the setting is Portland or London, Derbyshire or Queensland.

It’s safe to say that setting is pretty important, even if it’s not immediately obvious how. Over the next few weeks I’m going to try to show different aspects of the interaction between setting and story, and it’s going to be awesome.

What’s one story where you feel like the setting had a big influence? Are you excited for this series? tell me your thoughts in the comments!

books · features · Shar

The Bookish Planet: Magical Forests

Hi Virtually Readers! It’s time for another Bookish Planet, your guide to literary locales. Today, inspired by my love of Into the Woods (seriously, Into the Woods is ridiculously good and you should watch/listen to it if you at all get the chance), I’m giving a brief introduction to an excellent setting for books, the Magical Forest. The Magical Forest is known for having trees and magic. Basically it’s like its name. All sorts of dodgy and wonderful stuff can happen inside. bookish planet

 

Description: You’ll know you’re in a magical forest when there are trees and there is magic. It’s not too hard to work out. You may also find magical beings, like fairies or witches; plot creators, like trolls or evil queens; magic sources; magic portals; swords; unsolved mysteries; fairy tales; and, most dangerous of all, potions. You may be in the Magical Forest because you’re participating in a plot, or else perhaps an innocent bystander who thought it would be a nice place for a holiday. Either way, you’ll probably end up in a story. The forest is, in a word, atmospheric; there are shafts of light filtering through ancient trees, thick undergrowth, old paths, beautiful maidens and so on. Within your literary explorations, you’re probably more likely to find a Magical Forest in European based fantasy books, but it can be part of other traditions too. The best things about Magical Forests is that they can be anywhere where there are both trees and magic, an easy criteria to fill in fantasy stories. There are always new places to explore; you can never fully know the Magical Forest, and that is one of the most enchanting reasons to visit. Continue reading “The Bookish Planet: Magical Forests”

books · features · shanti

The Bookish Planet: Islands

Good morning Virtually Readers. You are all travelers, going back and forth between cities and oceans and galaxies and all the places in between (usually through books let’s be real). So it is with great pleasure today that I can give you a guide to one of the most wonderful places of all: an island. Sometimes these islands are magical; sometimes they are tropical. Whatever it is, you’ll be glad you went there.

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Description: The key feature of the island is its isolation from the rest of the world. This can create a magical feeling where relationships are more intense, and time has its own spin. This creates a story that is compelling, for how self sustaining it is. The outside world loses its influence; you are in a bubble of island life. But islands still have problems; don’t forget that, no matter how absorbing they are. Islands are still part of the world, and that is part of what makes them so worth visiting. Don’t let the island consume you, despite the wonder of the ceaseless ocean and the people. Each island is unique, and therefore it is worthwhile to visit several, just to get a sense of the breadth and range of this location.

People: The gorgeous pageant contestants of Beauty Queens (by Libba Bray); Puck and Sean from Thisby, in The Scorpio Races (by Maggie Stiefvater); Morveren and Jenna from Stormswept (by Helen Dunmore); Persis, from Across a Star Swept Sea (by Diana Peterfreund); Sophie from A Brief History of Montmaray (by Michelle Cooper); Tamsen, from Young Widows Club (by Alexandra Coutts); Anne, from Anne of Green Gables (by L.M. Montgomery); Frances from Daughter of Deep Silence (by Carrie Ryan); Katie Morag from Katie Morag (by Mairi Hedderwick and okay this is technically a childrens picture books series but IT’S REALLY BEAUTIFUL) .

History: Some islands have been there forever, such as Thisby. Others are seemingly newly inhabited, like the island in Beauty Queens. Wherever you are, there are often residents who would love to introduce you to the history. Pick up a brochure, ask someone at the local shop. If you’re really lucky, someone may have written a history—for example, the isle of Montmaray has a Brief History written by Princess Veronica Fitzosbourne.

Where to Stay: Many islands have a bed and breakfast where you can stay. Otherwise, you’ll have to hope you can find a castle or a friendly resident. If the island is uninhabited, Robinson Crusoe it up (or Swiss family Robinson if you’re with others) and make huts, feed yourself from the jungle and so on. You can do it. (probably.)

Culture: Island culture, rather like finches on the Galapogos islands, develops independently. Try to figure that out. Some places have water horses, others have grief support groups, vengeance plots, or mermaids. Most islands have a hatred of tourists. So don’t act like a tourist. Be genuinely interested. Don’t be a prat. This is good life advice in general. Islanders don’t like to be taken for granted; ask them questions, discover what makes them different, what makes you the same. Be respectful. Also enjoy the food. Islands, at least those with decent housekeepers, have great food, like November cakes. You can visit islands at any time of year—so what are you waiting for? If you can’t *actually* go to an island, spray some salt water in the air, grab a book, and commence your journey.

What’s your favourite book set on an island? Have you read any of these ones? let me know in the comments!

books · features · Shar

Bookish Recipes: November Cakes

Hi Virtually Readers! My friend recently read the Scorpio Races (I reviewed it here; btw it’s definitely my favourite Maggie Stiefvater book by a long, long way) . Anyway, I’ve wanted to make November Cakes ever since I read this book over a year ago, and I finally did. So here’s a recipe (Which I found in the back of the book… I don’t think? this is violating copyright because it’s not the actual book, and I adapted the recipe a bit anyway.)

First, life advice for reading a recipe that I never rarely follow: read the entire recipe first because then you’ll know how long it will take. Don’t just skim the ingredients because then you will start at like 9 pm and not be done until late or something.

Also, I took photos, but just fyi, they’re not going to be beautiful. Hover over them for captions. Now, let us begin.

This recipe has four parts: the dough, the filling, the glaze, and the icing. And again, disclaimer: I got this recipe from the book.

Dough

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 and 1/2 cup flour
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 3 teaspoons yeast

Method: Microwave milk, water, oil and butter for two minutes. ( I actually ended up putting it in a pan because I couldn’t work out how to turn the microwave on. After I did this, I realised the switch was off. Don’t be like me). When it comes out, make sure it’s not too hot to touch (because hot things kill yeast), then add eggs.

Add one and a half cups of flour, the salt, the sugar, and the yeast. Use a spoon to kind of stir through the dry ingredients (which are floating on top of the liquid) before mixing with the liquid. Then add the other two cups of flour one by one and knead for a while. (The recipe suggested using a mixer but we don’t have one so I kneaded.) Then leave the dough to rise in a warm place (I put the bowl over a pot of just boiled water)

One note: I only could find 1 teaspoon of yeast, then I found the rest later which I added halfway through rising. Don’t be like me.

When the dough is close to being risen, make the filling by melting three tablespoons of butter and adding 1/4 teaspoon orange extract. There wasn’t any in my kitchen, so I used lemon juice instead.

Then, roll out the dough on a flat, floured surface. The width of the dough determines the  number of cake you can make (the recipe said 12, but I made 15 and they were all quite big), and the length determines how wide they’ll be. Spread the butter/orange mixture on top, then roll it into a log shape and cut slices off. Put these rolls in pre-greased muffin pans and leave them to rise again for about half an hour.

When the rolls look like they’ve risen enough, put them in the oven (mine was at 175 degrees C or so) and cook them until they’re brown on top. (Mine got a bit too cooked because I went to help my mother reconfigure an iPod with my tech-savvy genius).

Meanwhile make the icing.

Icing

Ingredients:

  • about half a cup icing sugar
  • 1 tablespoon melted butter
  • 1 tablespoon water

Basically, mix these things together until you get a thin liquidy icing that you’ll be able to drizzle over the cakes. I didn’t take any photos, sorry.

When the buns are done, leave them to cool and make the best part: the glaze.

Glaze

Ingredients:

  • 1/2  cup honey
  • 7 tablespoons butter (the recipe said 8. we did six because butter is unhealthy, 7 is probably okay. Besides, you don’t want to get heart disease from too much butter)
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Melt the butter and honey in a pan, stir in the sugar and wait until it boils. Keep it boiling for about two minutes. Stir the whole time otherwise it will burn. Mix in the cream and vanilla, keep stirring for another minute or so, then take off the heat and spoon onto the rolls. (are these cakes, buns, or rolls? I don’t know)

Give the glaze a few minutes to cool, then drizzle the icing over the buns.

Then, eat the buns while they’re still warm, think about Thisby, Puck and Sean, and enjoy the deliciousness of your creation.

Is this delicious or what? Have you read The Scorpio Races? What’s other bookish food you’d like to try? Do you think you’ll ever make November Cakes?

books · features · shanti

A Question of Fiction: Mel Duan

Hi there Virtually Readers! So I bet that none of you were thinking “it’s been a long time since we’ve seen one of those awesome Virtually Read features around here, like The Bookish Planet or A Question of Fiction.” But that’s okay. They’re sporadic features, that’s how it goes. Anyway, I am doing a (surprise) feature again today BECAUSE I CAN. It’s A Question of Fiction, where we invite literary characters onto our blog and give them a nice old fashioned interview. Such fun. So today, we have Mel. She won’t tell you her full name, but you need to know several things about her: She lives in Team Human, she likes to joke around, and she is fiercely protective of her friends. (Like, she will punch for them. I know. Violent. Anyway.)

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Interviewer: Good morning, Mel. It’s a pleasure to have you on Virtually Read. Can you start off by telling us about one of your favourite childhood memories?

Mel: Well, it’s nothing specific. I loved playing soccer in the backyard with Lancelot, my little brother, and Kristin, my older sister. I’m quite the score on a soccer team.

Interviewer: Ha ha.

Mel: Other than that, I used to really like hanging out at Cathy’s house. We’re best friends, and if my parents were busy with a case, I’d go over there. For a long time we were convinced that there was a secret tunnel—New Whitby is a quite old city, you know—and we were always looking for it.

Interviewer: Can you tell me a bit more about your friends?

Mel: I’m really close to Cathy, we’ve known each other all our lives. I can’t imagine what we’ll do once she leaves for Oxford. I also get on well with Ty, but we didn’t work out as a couple which is ENTIRELY HIS FAULT. Sorry. And then there’s Anna, but I’ve been a bit busy with all Cathy’s drama—and she has her own issues, so I haven’t seen so much of her lately. I don’t know. We’re all capable people, but sometimes I feel like I’m the one who doesn’t know what I’m doing.

Interviewer: Do you have any plans for the future?

Mel: Not really. That’s the problem. I can get into the University of New Whitby easy peasy, and I’m sorta thinking about Ivies, but I just don’t know what I want. [laughs] I guess I’m letting the future take on me.

Interviewer: Way to work in an 80’s song reference. But you know, it’s okay to feel that way. It’s how a lot of teenagers feel. It’s why YA books are written—that identity, what-is-my-place-in-the-world thing defines the genre, and it’s what makes YA books so popular across generations.

Mel: [rolling eyes] Dude. Be as meta as you want. But I don’t care about your media theories. Just ask me the questions.

Interviewer: Fine. Tell me what you think about vampires.

Mel: I don’t mind vampires, really, they’re quite all right, even if they’re about as pretentious as teenage poets.

Interviewer: Ouch.

Mel: But I’m just….I don’t know… I would like them to leave me alone. AND CATHY TOO THANKS FRANCIS.

Interviewer: So how is it for you, living in New Whitby the ‘vampire city’?

Mel: It’s fine. I never go to the shade. I’m not some vamposeur, okay?

Interviewer: Do you believe in any other ‘supernatural’ creatures?

Mel: It’s not about belief, it’s about reality. And the reality is that I don’t want to be a zombie. And I don’t want to live without laughter. I can’t help but be suspicious of those I do. As for other beings, well, Cathy is really the right person to answer this question. That’s all I’ll say. It’s a big world out there, and I am a sarcastic teenager, not an expert.

Interviewer: Tell me about one time you felt despair.

Mel: Probably when ALL MY FRIENDS STARTED HANGING OUT WITH VAMPIRES. Seriously, the Shade sucks. All those bloody vampires…lots of opportunity for puns, though.

Interviewer: You seem like a very loyal friend. Do you have any advice for others who are going through, uh ‘FRIENDSHIP DRAMA’?

Mel: Listen to your friends. Make their business your business. Stick up for them. Don’t let them make the wrong decisions. Be their sunshine, their laughter, their smiles, the one they can rely on for as long as the sun shines. That’s what it means to be a good friend. You have to be persistent, even if your friends seem to be leaving you behind.

Interviewer: That’s excellent advice. Thank you so much for your time. Do you have anything else to add?

Mel: Just…be careful. Ask questions. Investigate the world around you, because it will pay off. probably. Ooookay, thanks. And if you see my mom, tell her I’m not coming home until she tidies her room.

Interview: Thank you so much.

 

Team Human is an AMAZING book which I whole-heartedly recommend. I hope you guys enjoyed this feature (it’s as immortal as vampires) and my puns. Tell me about your favourite funny book, and your thoughts on this interview in the comments!

books · features · shanti

How to Survive High School (YA edition)

So if you’re reading this, it means I’ve graduated from high school! It’s very exciting, and I’m quite happy. What does it mean for this blog? Well, not much really. Shar and I have six months ‘off’ before we start university, and we’re going to have all sorts of adventures, and probably start another blog? Anyway, we’ll keep you posted if the schedule is going to change. But because I am incapable of being serious, I thought I’d compare my high school survival methods with the typical YA protagonists. 

 The YA Protagonist survived high school by I survived high school by
Getting a boyfriend Bringing lip balm everywhere (dry lips are the ENEMY, seriously, keep it in your pencil case)
Finding and solving a mystery  Finding lots of mysteries, like why do people like Snapchat? And what is calculus? I’m didn’t solve any of these mysteries, but I did learn lots about people and world while doing so.
 Looking effortlessly fabulous  Putting effort into how I look (speaking of, you may see a book outfit post sometime this summer), but tried to worry about comfort and what I liked, rather than trends
 Having awesome summers Having really awesome summers, but they weren’t as idyllic as YA implies. Sometimes you have to *sigh* walk to the pool. Sometimes your friends aren’t around. Sometimes *gasp* the library is closed. Sometimes you have to go hiking with your parents.
 Ignoring their best friend  Spending time with friends. I could not have survived high school without all my friends. It’s really easy to get wrapped up in your own ‘plot’, the responsibilities and commitments and assignments, but friendship matters too. Sometimes it’s strong last-forever friendship (like Shar), sometimes it’s ‘I will lend you books and convince you to do your homework’ friendship, sometimes it’s ‘I will put up with your angst friendship. Friendship is seriously so important. Don’t ignore your friends, even if you ARE a YA protagonist.
 Because they fell in love with their (other) best friend Falling in love with blogging, and YA, running, wearing skirts, and newspaper. And then giving those things lots of time.
 Not spending time with their families  Spending time with my family. My family are very kind, and supportive, and indulgent of my book buying, and they don’t think I’m too weird, and generally I’m so glad for their support.
 Not having to do homework  Doing a lot of homework. Procrastinating on a lot of homework. Handing assignments in on time (mostly)
 Being inspired by cool teachers Being inspired by cool teachers. But I tried to learn from teachers who weren’t cool as well?
 Becoming sleep deprived  I need my eight hours (or maybe seven depending on how late I stay up reading), I usually got up around 5:30 to have time for piano and running in the mornings.

I’m glad that I went to high school, and I’m glad that I finished, and I’m glad for all the people who have helped me–including the lovely readers of this blog. Thanks so much, guys. I also don’t know how I would have spent all this time without YA books and reading and writing, so I’m grateful for that as well. Anyway, this is a milestone for me, but for you it’s probably another Saturday. So tell me about one YA trope that you have experienced and one you haven’t, and maybe how you feel about high school. I look forward to your comments.

discussions · features · Shar

You know you’re a Reader when…

Hi Virtually Readers! I was feeling like a fun post today, and since I’ve been thinking about what makes me a Reader, here’s a post about it.

This is a handy guide for determining if you’re a reader or a Reader.

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You know you’re a Reader when:

  • You think finishing that book is more important than sleep
  • You’ve mastered the art of reading under your covers (whether it’s because you don’t like getting up to turn off the light or because it’s wild and illicit)
  • You’re a pro at reading and walking. (And if you don’t know how, check out this guide)
  • You read paperbacks only half open because you don’t want to crack the spines.
  • You’re broke but you still buy books.
  • You can be found stroking your books when you’re not reading and whispering “My preciousesss” to them.
  • Reading is your #1 method of procrastination
  • You want to lend your fabulous books to people because everybody deserves their awesomeness but then you don’t want to because what if the book gets hurt/damaged/never returned that would be sad so then you have this dilemma.
  • You recommend your favourite books to everybody. Your BFF. That annoying person who sits next to you in bio. Your enemies. Your siblings. Your friends. Your dogs. Your friendly local aliens. BASICALLY ANYTHING WITH A FACE SHOULD READ THIS BOOK IT IS THE ACTUAL BEST.

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  • The library is your favourite place because FREE BOOKS.
  • You know how to read when you’re supposed to be doing work. (Under the desk? Long bathroom breaks?)
  • You find it hard to talk about things that aren’t books.
  • You’ve made book related crafts/fanart/clothing/snacks.
  • You always dress up as a book character for dress up days. If nobody know who you are, then a) sucks to be them, and b)it’s your job to enlighten them.
  • Sometimes (often? Always?) you choose reading over socialization.
  • Other people are constantly missing your on point book references.
  • You have an opinion about hardback vs. paperback, characters vs. plot, and contemporary vs. fantasy. [insert other bookish quandaries here.]
  • Sometimes you want to fall into a book.

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Which of these is you? Which of these isn’t? What do you do when you want to fall into a book? Have you ever dressed up as a book character? How do you know you’re a reader?

books · features · Shar

Why Harry Potter is so great

Hi Virtually Readers! I recently finished the Harry Potter series, which I started rereading in January. It was great, obviously, and so I decided to make a list about why.

Quick note: This list doesn’t mean I think Harry Potter is perfect, the best book ever, and the only series I’ll ever love. It’s not. But since I prefer blogging about the good, and not the bad, of books, this is what we’re doing.

Also warning: spoilers ahead. There are two main ones, and in my opinion one is quite obvious and the other doesn’t really spoil much, but you have been warned.

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  • It’s funny. Harry is just a funny person. So is Ron. So are Fred and George. Dumbeldore is fabulously quirky, which I appreciated more with this reread. Even when times are serious, there is time for joking.

“But we’re not stupid. We know our names are Gred and Forge.” -Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone

“Just then Neville caused a slight diversion by turning into a canary”-Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

Harry: “Yes”

Snape: “Yes sir”

Harry: “There’s no need to call me sir, Professor” – Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

  • The dialogue is excellent. It’s engaging and realistic and easy to read.
  • It’s fantastically complex. While Harry defeating Voldemort is obviously the main story arc across all the books, each book involves different subplots that are interesting of themselves and also contribute to the whole. For example, in The Prisoner of Azkaban there’s Lupins true identity, in The Half Blood Prince there’s Harry being obsessed with Malfoy and all the Malfoy subplots, there’s breaks for Quidditch, there’s Dumbeldore’s Army… the list could go on. Because there are 7 books, and at least 3 or 4 of them are over 500 pages, a lot can fit in.
  • There are amazing side characters. Tonks. Lupin. Sirius. LUNA. NEVILLE (any Luna+Neville shippers out there?). Fred. George. Percy. Ginny. Dudley. Bellatrix. Again, because the stories are long, there isn’t a need to focus on a few key characters like standalones and contemporaries (though this can be good too). There can be lots of characters and plot.

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  • It uses fantasy to comment on real issues. For example, the idea that wizards are better than other magical creatures and what that means for discrimination I love the part in the Deathly Hallows where Harry learns from being kind to Kreacher. It’s a great moment. Especially in later books, the discrimination against Muggle-borns kind of reflects religious or racial discrimination. And everything about a lack of transparency in the Ministry of Magic, and how the government can be a force of good or evil—that’s something in our world too.
  • The combination of traditional tales/folklore with new creatures. We all know about dragons and werewolves and vampires and mermaids and witches and giants. But Rowling combines these with new magical creatures like Blast-Ended Skrewts and Bowtruckles and Horcruxes. It’s a perfect blend of familiarity and originality.
  • It’s diverse. While LGBTQ+ representation isn’t explicit, racial representation (gotta love those Patil twins, Dean Thomas, etc.) and arguably mental illness representation is all there.
  • It’s not black and white. Harry isn’t perfect. Neither are Ron and Hermione. Harry has to overcome his own demons before he can face Voldemort. Later books describe Voldemort’s path to evil. He’s an amazing villain—so evil, yet also three-dimensional. Ultimately, love wins, and Voldemort cannot beat death. In the final battle, Harry starts calling him Riddle, which reminds us that he’s human, not superhuman. I could talk about this for hours, but I’ll attempt to restrain myself.
  • It’s fantastic writing. I could write entire essays about this. ‘Nuff said.

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Have you read Harry Potter? If no, leave. If yes, what do you like about it? What don’t you like? How do you feel about Nuna (Neville+Luna)? What’s your favourite book?

books · features · Shar · writing

Bookish Hangover

Hi Virtually Readers! Remember when I diagnosed Just Another Chapter Syndrome? This is a another illness that many of you may recognise (and no, it has nothing to do with alcohol). It’s serious and awful, so do try to be sensitive to those who suffer from it in the comment section.

About the disease

It’s defined as ‘an inability to get over a book’. This disease has been around as long as good books, i.e, forever.

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I finished  The Half Blood Prince when I should have been sleeping.

The symptoms:

Those afflicted may exhibit some of the following:

  • Excessive emotional expression, usually crying or shouting.
  • An inability to meet anybody without recommending the book to them.
  • Insomnia brought on by thinking about the characters
  • Deafness caused by loud yelling of ‘I can’t believe it’s over!’ or something of the sort.
  • A refusal of reality; this may manifest in the patient calling their siblings by the names of the characters, muttering about swords and knives rather than vegetables, or strange statements like ‘I don’t need to do my homework! I’m the chosen one!’
  • Loss of interest in activities such as homework, chores, and socialisation.
  • High pitched squealing with other fangirls.
  • Mental fixation on the book’s plot of characters
  • A desire to hold, stroke, or cry on the book.

As you can see, these symptoms are serious and can last for anything between an hour and several weeks. It’s an illness that comes in bouts, like a cold: it can be caught (the most common method is recommendations.), lasts for a while, then the patient will recover, only to catch the disease again.

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Treatment

Unfortunately, the only way to permanently cure book hangovers is by stopping reading entirely. This is risky and not recommended. However, with patience and wisdom, it can be treated.

  • As already mentioned, avoiding recommendations will prevent relapse. This may require the patient to block their ears to avoid wanting to read more.
  • Conversely, getting new recommendations and reading another book will cure book hangover, but only temporarily, so beware.
  • Joint fangirling can dispel the patient’s hangover blue and help them move on; this is one activity they will always show interest in.
  • Make the patient panic about homework/dirty dishes/work so they stop obsessing over their book.
  • Distract the patient with smol animals/children.
  • Counseling the patient through the stages of grief:

Denial: ‘I can’t believe it’s over.’

Anger: ‘How could the author do this to me?’

Bargaining: ‘I’ll be over this book if there’s another five book series in this world and my favourite character is resurrected.’

Depression ‘I’m going to sit here and think about death a while. The death of my book, that is.’

Acceptance: ‘I finished this book, but at least there are more out there!’

  • Patience. In time, new books will come. Get ready for the next hangover. Until then, things will be okay.

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Do you get bookish hangovers? What are some symptoms/treatments that I missed? Which books have given you bad hangovers? Do you go through stages of book grief?

books · features · shanti

The Bookish Planet-Generica.

Good morning Virtually Readers! Today, I am pleased to welcome you to….Generica! We’ve caught glimpses of it in our guide to High School and Summer, but Generica is bigger than both of those places. Generica could be anywhere! It’s probably a medium sized town in America with a big enough high school that not everyone knows each other, lots of football games, and is basically a suburb with not personality because the characters are the personality. This is gonna be great! (and hopefully not too short—but there isn’t much to say about Generica)

bookish planet

Description: There’s really not much to say about Generica. The town may not even be named. It probably has a high school for its characters to spend time in. There will be houses where teenage parties are held (parents out for the weekend, drinking and wild times etc.) There might be football games sometimes, and for some reason the whole town cares about them. Sometime kids go to the mall, because consumerism is entertainment. But there is nothing to distinguish Generica from any other Generica, and this is it’s downfall.

People: Almost every single contemporary character of all time, including Mim from The Secret of a Heart Note, Taylor from The Way to Game the Walk of Shame; Chloe from 6 Months Later; Skylar from I’ll Meet You There; Unknown from The Perks of being a Wallflower; Kate from What We Saw; Dave and Julia from Never Always Sometimes; Sydney from Saint Anything; Devon from First and Then; Taylor from Second Chance Summer; Samantha, Jase, Nan, Tim, and Alice from My Life Next Door; Janie from The Face on the Milk Carton; and Digby and Zoe from Trouble is a Friend of Mine. There are many others.

History: How long have bland medium sized towns been around in literature? I don’t know. Probably a long time, and that’s the point. The town is a convenient backdrop to the more exciting business of the plot and the characters. So who cares if it’s bland?

Where to stay: Let’s face it: you don’t come to Generica for the sights. You come to see your friends, and you’ll probably be staying with them too. If a hotel is even mentioned, it’ll be because prom is being held there or something. Hopefully you can crash in someone’s house.

Language: There is nothing distinctive about the language. The kids use popular slang, definitions for which can be found by any bored author on urban dictionary. If Generica is so luck as to have *gasp* non-white, suburban, cisgendered, middle class, Christian background people in it, they may use some slang so that it’s obvious that they’re  *different*. If this happens try not to be too shocked—the author isn’t racist, just narrow minded. (note from non-sarcastic Shanti: this is a gross overgeneralisation and by no means true of all authors). The point of the language is not to date the book too much, and most of all, to not make it clear at all where this Generica setting could be.

What are your favourite books with a generic setting? Does this annoy you, or are you okay with it? Tell me in the comments!