shanti · writing

Beautiful Books: Writing progress

Hi Virtually Readers! The end of November, and hence NaNoWriMo, is approaching. I have been writing…despite the fact that my laptop died and all I had to write on for three weeks was my phone or that laptop I borrowed at work. Yes, I have become the person who works on her novel instead of doing work, and I don’t feel at all guilty about it. Anyway, I FINALLY got a wireless keyboard, and then I arrived home and have a new laptop, and so I have definitely upped my productivity on my novel. I’m feeling…okay about it. So I’m linking up with Sky @ Further Up and Further In  and Cait @ Paper Fury for their Beautiful Books feature, where you talk about a novel you’re writing. You can see my post for last month here. Oh, and I thought of a title, or at least a working title: it’s called Skies Contained!
Continue reading “Beautiful Books: Writing progress”

books · discussions · Shar

Books I read this year + stats

Hi Virtually Readers! What have you guys been up to? The other day, just for fun, I was counting all the books I’ve read this year (I keep track on calendars I make for myself) and decided to analyse them a bit. Fun fact: I took stats at school last year, and it was my least favourite class. However, plugging numbers into a program that makes pie graphs is pretty easy. So today I’ll show you each fancy chart, then talk about it.

(disclaimer: I made these with Infogram, but I ended up taking screenshots of the charts because I couldn’t work out how to get the images. Technology is hard, yo)

stats post graphics

Books read by month

screen-shot-2017-08-10-at-9-02-44-am-e1502338536711.pngThe most interesting thing about this graph, I think, is the variation. You can see I read the most books in January, June and July (although august isn’t over; I read 4 books in the first 5 days of August but haven’t finished any since). Why? In January, June, and July, I’ve had holidays. In between, I still read, but I was also studying my butt off trying to finish high school, so I had far less time on my hands.

Books read by genre

Screen Shot 2017-08-10 at 9.03.06 am

Last year I would have told you I read the most contemporary, which is still true, because they’re fluffy and easy to get through and generally shorter than genres like fantasy or historical. But I also have read a lot of fantasy this year. Curiously, Sci-fi and dystopia are my favourite genres (they often overlap so I put them as one), but I read far less than in other genres. Also, I only had one historical fiction book, although books like Passenger, Wayfarer and A Great and Terrible Beauty would classify as both historical fiction and fantasy. I put them under fantasy; the one ‘pure’ historical fiction book was Black Dove, White Raven. I want to read more historical. Also, look how many classics, adult books and nonfiction I read! #proud.

Books I read by gender of author

Screen Shot 2017-08-10 at 9.03.25 am

This isn’t that surprising, considering that probably the majority of YA authors are women, but maybe I should read a few more books by men to branch out a bit? The ‘both’ included Illuminae, Gemina, and two short story anthologies.

Books I read by series

Screen Shot 2017-08-10 at 9.03.39 am

I’ve finished so many series this year! Considering I read the most contemporaries and those are generally standalones, you’d think this wasn’t the case, but I’ve read a lot of books that are in series this year. (ACOL, Dreams of Gods and Monsters, Lara Jean trilogy, HP, The Lunar Chronicles, Black Heart, the last two Raven Cycle books, The Winner’s Trilogy, Passenger… you get the idea)

Books I read by reread or read for the first time

Screen Shot 2017-08-09 at 9.50.05 am

I really enjoy rereading, and just over a quarter of the books I read were re-reads. (Rereading all of Harry Potter and The Lunar Chronicles definitely helped). I think this is about how much re-reading I want to be doing; it’s good to try new books but also return to old favourites.

Books I read by publication date

Screen Shot 2017-08-09 at 9.46.36 am

I felt like I read a lot of new releases this year. But I think it’s okay that I’ve also read lots of books that were published earlier than this. (This includes 7 HP books, the Lunar Chronicles, and all the classics and adult books and nonfiction I read as well). I love shiny new releases, and I think this year has had a lot of good books, but I’m glad that I haven’t based my choice of reading material on the publication date alone just to keep up with other bloggers.


This was so much fun to analyse! Thankfully, it involved no t-tests, p-values, or chi-squares (if you know what these are, you get bonus points). Also, these are probably not that accurate because for a few books I guessed release dates and didn’t bother with looking anything up, and also just assumed about the author’s gender sometimes. But whatever. This was mainly a fun exercise, not a precise one.

What do you think of these stats? Which genre do you read the most/least? Do you read more recent releases or backlist books? 

books · Shar

I completed a reading challenge+ bookish recommendations

Good morning Virtually Readers! Remember this post where I announced I was doing the Ivyclad Ideas reading challenge? I completed it so I thought I’d use it to look at some of the books I’ve read this year and recommend the good ones.


 Column One


A classic—I’ve read two classics this year, both written for children. I recommend Peter Pan if you want to know about the original myth, and The Wouldbegoods as a fun children’s adventure story.

RetellingLunar Chronicles all the way.

Short story—I read two short story collections: Begin, End, Begin and Summer Days and Summer Nights. I didn’t like all the stories in them, but I liked the collections in general and some stories were excellent.

A playThe Importance of Being Earnest is hilarious and a classic and very short.

A book that’s a movieTFIOS. I guess I don’t really recommend this one?


Column Two

Book with a male MCBlack Heart has criminals and magic plus it BREAKS YOU.

1st person narration—I read a lot of books like this, but Night Swimming is a fluffy Australian contemporary.

Book with no romance—Highly, HIGHLY recommend Radio Silence.

Book set in the UKThe Bone Season is this really unique part-fantasy, part-dystopia.

Book that’s less than 200 pagesGirl Code is a nonfiction about girls and tech and coding. It’s written by two girls who made a game called Tampon Run to raise awareness about the menstrual taboo. Interesting if you’re into that thing.

Column 3

Female MCThe Handmaid’s Tale is very depressing but also eye-opening. Dystopian with a lot of oppression of women.

3rd person narrationWhen Dimple Met Rishi is an Indian-American love story. Very cute.

Book with a love triangle—Apparently love triangles are out of fashion, because I haven’t read any proper ones. I had to go for Gemina because it kind of had one?

Set in a fantasy landI did Bright Smoke, Cold Fire for this prompt but I didn’t really like this book. It was too creepy.

More than 500 pages—All the Harry Potter books from 5 onwards. These were rereads, and I obviously recommend them.

Column 4


Has a typo—I don’t really read to look for typos? But Illuminae has a lot of intentional ones. These books are perfect for space+action+unique format.

Has aliens—I didn’t want to repeat Gemina, so I said Avalon. This has space ships+ mystery+a lot of betrayal+ awesomeness. I don’t know if it’s a series? It should be.

Adult book—I read Lost &Found, but I didn’t really like it. It was super weird and had like no point. Plus the 7 year old character in no way acted like a seven year old.

At least four people die—I used Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows for this (Illuminae and Gemina would also count, but the deaths just feel really detached and not that emotional?) (Also, I put HP7 in my more than 500 pages list as well but since there were other books in that category I didn’t think this counted as repeating). SO MANY TEARS.

A book with picturesAmerican Born Chinese is about accepting who you are. It’s a middle grade graphic novel that combines the three stories that all turn out to be connected with a fantastical twist. It’s a fun, easy read.

And that’s it! If you’re interested in any of these books, I linked their titles either to my review, Shanti’s review, or the goodreads page. I really enjoyed this challenge, and it was fun to try to read books that fit the description or fit books I’d read to the inscription. Thanks to Rain for having the idea! You can see the original challenge here.


Have you ever done a reading challenge? Did you enjoy it? Have you read any of these books? And do you have any recommendations for me?

books · discussions · Shar

Changing book buying habits

Hi Virtually Readers! Emily recently wrote a post about how people with a lot of books do better on bookstagrampost about how people with a lot of books do better on bookstagram. That got me thinking about why we buy books in the first place and whether we should, so I’m writing this. 

Screen Shot 2017-06-14 at 8.48.09 pm

Why bookworms buy books

#1– We’re bookworms

It’s what we do! We want to have all the preciouses with us all the time! We don’t have anything else to do with our money!

#2–It supports authors

Buying books is how authors get their money. And if we want to support authors, then we can buy their books. Although it should be noted that only a very small portion of the book price pays the author. The rest is for the bookshop, the publishers, and the actual physical product.


Especially for people on #bookstagram, we just like the pretty outside of the book (especially if it’s just as pretty and delicious on the inside. MMMMMM)



A few months ago, Shanti and I bought some books. They I don’t regret buying those books (Dreams of Gods and Monsters, Gemina, The Scorpio Races, Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda, Cress, Cinder, Scarlet). I might regret it when I try to move house, I suppose. Getting books was super exciting, especially because we’d either read and loved or were part of series we already liked. Buying them wasn’t really a gamble. But I get the impression that a lot of other book bloggers buy books without knowing they’d like them.

Let’s be honest–too many books are annoying to lug around if you’re moving, and if you don’t enjoy them or only plan to read them once, they’re a bit of a waste of money. If you’re like me and don’t have a lot of money to spend on expensive books, and you don’t need them for bookstagram (although really, I would classify bookstagram as a want and not a need), then they’re not really worth it.


Books (at least physical ones) use natural resources to be made. Buying them creates more demand, which requires more supply (I don’t know any economics). A lot of the money goes to corporate multinational publishers (not all of them are though) (also, support indie bookstores and not Amazon with some questionable worker rights). And also, getting rid of them is a waste of time. You have to first decide if you don’t want the book any more, then make the effort to sell it/give it to your library or op shop or friend. I personally think that sometimes buying books isn’t worth it.

Disclaimer 1: If you have money (and like a job or something AKA not me) and you want to spend your money on books, go ahead! That’s fine. I’m talking more about when it’s a waste of your money or time.

Disclaimer 2: If you can buy free books or secondhand books, that’s great. Tell me where you get free books from, please. Unless it’s from dodgy Russian websites. That’s illegal. Don’t do that. 

Disclaimer 3: This doesn’t mean not to buy ANY books. Just ones you aren’t pretty sure you’re going to like.

So here I am, saying ‘don’t buy too many books’. But what else can you do? Here’s my solution: Libraries.

Until I started book blogging, I rarely bought books. The ones on my bookshelf were mainly gifts. I got all my books from the library.

Currently, I belong to two libraries: my school’s physical library(although I’ve just graduated so that will change) and a New Zealand digital library which uses a program called Overdrive. I can get a lot of books from these two places, keep them for a few weeks before returning them. I don’t need to pay any money for it.

A lot of you probably have access to a good library. If you don’t, I  guess that’s a good excuse for buying a book not libraying?

Also, fun fact: Libraries do support authors. The more people who try to request a book, the more copies the library will buy, which gives the authors money without you having to pay. Secondly, in Britian libraries give authors a small sum every time their book is checked out.



With all these things in mind, here’s a list of rules I’m going to try to make for my own book buying.

1- Don’t buy doubles. (I don’t really get why you would get a second copy of a book you already have?)

2- If you don’t know if you’ll like a book, get it from the library first.

3- If you can get the paperback, do: your pathetic arm muscles will thank you later, even if it’s ‘uglier’.

4- Get books second hand if you can.

5-Don’t buy books without reading the blurb. Yes, even if it’s gorgeous.

6- Give away or sell books you don’t want. If they can make someone else happy, why should they lie festering on your shelf?

7- Have a monthly budget that *encourages* you to choose well

Do you have any book buying rules? Do you agree with this, or am I wildly wrong (I’m totally open to people disagreeing)? Do you ever buy a book without looking at the blurb? Do you use your library?

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.



  • 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.



  • 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.



  • 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.)


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 · shanti · writing

Parents and other Drama (Beautiful People)

Hi Virtually Readers! So I am currently VERY excited because I’m about to graduate from high school. You’ll definitely hear a bit more about that in the next few weeks. Anyway, because apparently I’m not busy enough, I’ve been working on my current WIP, Lighter Places, during May. It’s currently at about 10k words, but hopefully I can give it lots of time this summer. Lighter Places is about Elaine, who does lighting at her school in Thailand. She’s in her last year, and trying to figure out what it means to pursue a passion and also serve others. I’m linking up with Beautiful People (thanks Cait and Sky) to tell you a little more about her parents (but if you want snippets, go look at my twitter feed, ‘kay?)


1. Overall, how good is their relationship with their parents?

Elaine really admires her parents, who are divorced, but is a little intimidated, particularly by her mother, who does so much. Her dad works as a businessperson in Singapore, and is always giving her gifts, like a scooter–but she really wishes that he was around more.

2. Do they know both their biological parents? If not, how do they cope with this loss/absence and how has it affected their life?

Elaine does know both of her parents, and lives with her mum. She doesn’t see much of either of them, because her mum is so busy, and her dad only comes when they have holidays. This means that Elaine has to deal with a lot of the daily issues with her siblings.

3. How did their parents meet?

I actually have no idea, haha. Let me see…. I think they were both in an international club in university (Elaine’s mum studied International Development and her dad studied International Business Management), and went on a trip together, and fell in love. But they divorced basically because they were too busy, and had high expectations of the other to manage that busyness.

4.How would they feel if they were told “you’re turning out like your parent(s)”?

Elaine would be gratified, but she’d be thrown into a bit of an existensial crisis, because she sees her chosen direction of work, managing lights, as not being able to serve others or make a difference like her parents have.

5. What were your character’s parents doing when they were your character’s age?

Pakpao, Elaine’s mum, was studying hard to get into a university in the UK, but also giving a LOT of time to soccer–she was co-captain of her team. James, her dad, was managing his friend’s band, dealing with their money.

6.Is there something they adamantly disagree on?

I assume this is Elaine and her parents? They don’t disagree so much as get into trouble over what they perceive each other’s expectations are–Elaine worries that her mum thinks she spends too much time and money on lights stuff, but her mother doesn’t really care.

7.What did the parent(s) find hardest about raising your character?

They don’t really understand why she loves lighting so much, and she doesn’t explain it to them. They wish that she was friends with their friends kids, but she isn’t, because she’s still figuring friendship out.

8.What’s their most vivid memory with their parental figure(s)?

Elaine remembers when her dad took her to the theatre when she was about twelve. She had loved film lighting before, but after that she fell in love with the interactive nature of lights in a live production. She also remembers meeting some of the women who her mum worked with, and how much her Mum cared about them. That’s what compelled her to look into serving others somehow with her job.

9.What was your character like as a baby/toddler?

She was very stubborn and very loud, and consequently had lots of friends. Her dad is always asking her why that isn’t the case any more.

10.Why and how did the parents choose your character’s name?

I don’t really know, because her name was initially Elissa, then it changed to Elin, and now it’s Elaine. Her dad liked it because it sounded old-fashioned and sweet, and her mum liked how it sounded, and meant ‘bright shining light”. But it took quite a while to settle on a name!

So are you engaged in any writing endeavors? Would you like to hear more about this one? how do you feel about parents in stories? let me know in the 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.


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.


  • 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.


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 · 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.

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.



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.


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?

features · shanti · writing

Writing Goals for 2017 (Beautiful Books)

Hi Virtually Readers! Today I’m away holidaying, hopefully feeling warm, but you get to read about my writing goals for 2017. I’m linking up with Sky and Cait for their Beautiful Books feature.


1. What were your writing achievements last year?

Um, I edited Entreaty in June and it somehow grew by 8000 words? But I really need to spend some time thinking about the plot, because I basically didn’t change that. I also wrote 3 short stories for fun, and several more for classes, won a writing award at school, and did some more dabbling in poetry

2. What’s on your writerly “to-do list” for 2017?

I really want to finish the first draft of Lighter Places. I also want to keep on working on poetry, try some flash fiction, maybe write a short play, and continue working on non-school writing (though I’m taking 3 english classes atm= it’s really hard to tell what’s for school and what isn’t.) I also need to read through Entreaty again to fix tiny things and hopefully get to a place where I’m comfortable sharing it and getting feedback, because I’ve put so much time into this story that I don’t want to abandon it.

3. Tell us about your top-priority writing projects for this year!

Lighter Places for sure. I’ve only written 6000 words so far, but I really want to finish the first draft. It’s about a girl called Elin who is trying to balance what she sees as important with what she loves/is good at, and also make friends and survive high school. (that’s also my goal, to survive high school)

4. How do you hope to improve as a writer? Where do you see yourself at the end of 2017?

I really want to get better at editing, and also find time for fun projects, and accept others help and be able to give effective feedback. I just want to still be wrting at the end of 2017; I’m not really sure where I’ll be.

5. Describe your general editing process.

Hmm, I’m not experienced enough in this, but I read through the whole thing and make notes, and look at my comments from when I was writing the draft, then go through chronologically (for novels like Entreaty) or parts where I’ve spotted plot holes or problematic dialogue (for short stories), and try to make it better.

6. On a scale of 1-10, how do you think this draft turned out?

Which draft? Um, the second draft of Entreaty gets a 6, because the writing was better, but the plots wasn’t.

7. What aspect of your draft needs the most work?

The plot. It needs to be more complex and mysterious, and the characters need to have more clear motivations. I also have no idea how to do the ending—this time round, it was sort of violent, which is the opposite of the point of the story, so I need to fix that somehow.

8. What do you like the most about your draft?

I don’t know—I think that I developed Asli’s character and his family more?

9. What are your plans for this novel once you finish editing? More edits? Finding beta readers? Querying? Self-publishing? Hiding it in a dark hole forever?

I’m seriously contemplating the dark hole option…but I just need some other people to read it (maybe Shar and my mum or dad?) especially to work on the plot.

10. What’s your top piece of advice for those just finished writing a first draft?

Don’t forget why you love this story, why you spent hours on it. Don’t forget that you—and it—are worth it. (that’s so trite, but I think it’s also true?)

What do you think of my writing goals? And do you have any goals for this year?