book review · books · features · lists · shanti

Fiction-Non-Fiction, Economics Edition

Hi Virtually Readers! Uni has started again for me properly and I am extremely busy and trying to figure out how to keep fitting Virtually Read into my life. I’m also panicked that I’m going to stop loving reading somehow, but that seems stupid, right? Does anyone else ever feel that way? I wrote an article about how to read and study at the same time and feel like a bit of a hypocrite because I’m not very good at following this advice. Anyway, I’ve been thinking lots about the economy because it matters a lot and also needs a total restructure because capitalism really sucks (this is what you learn at university). I like to read economics books because I feel like that helps me to understand the financial system better. So this edition of Fiction-Non-Fiction recommendations is themed around the economy!


Sacred EconomicsTess of the Road

Okay, full disclosure: I’m not actually done reading Sacred Economics. I’m about a third of the way through. It’s a book about why the economy is broken, and how it is set up in systems which perpetuates injustice and inequality. Beyond that, Sacred Economics is a book about healing the economy, understanding it enough to actually change it. I don’t know enough about policy to understand how these concepts could translate, but I really appreciate this visionary book. Tess of the Road is on the surface a very different book. But like the global economic system, Tess is shattered in hidden and blatant ways. The novel is about her quest for something larger and more mysterious–something underneath–an embodiment of the principles of the world and the way they exist. I reckon it pairs beautifully with Sacred Economics.


Talking to My Daughter About the EconomyThe Islands at the End of the World

Talking With My Daughter About the Economy is an excellent, readable primer on fundamental principles that govern economics. If you’rs a bit intimidated by learning about the economy, I hightly recommend it. To be honest the ‘talking to my daughter’ aspect of the book was somewhat contrived in a ‘now child listen to my wisdom and I will contextualise it by entioning your iPad’ sort of way. Still, it’s a good idea. The Islands At the End of the World is similarly centred on a father daughter relationship, where a father and daughter are navigating a broen world made more frightening by their inadequacies. Together, with resoucefulness and vision, they can understand why they are so lost. Again, it sort of matches on a deepre level.


No LogoTheir Fractured Light

Naomi Klein is a bit of a legend, and references to this tome, which I read ages ago but should probably read again, are all over the place in my reading for an Advertising critique paper I’m doing. In this book and This Changes Everything (also a great economics book!) she details some of the ways that the global economy is injust, particularly in the context of large corporations. Their Fractured Light is also about confronting massive corporations, from within and without, and seeking justice. It uses an astonishing range of characters to examine different responses to inequality. It’s also a fabulous adventure story.


Naked EconomicsSpinning Silver

I read Naked Economics a few years ago when I was just reading non-fiction for Lent (this year I’m mostly vegan). Now I read HEAPS of non-fiction. I don’t really agree with the premise of Naked Economics; it’s very much a status-quo, liberalism-inspired approach to the economy (does anyone else find it confusing that liberal politicians don’t follow policies of economic liberalisation?). Charles Wheelan places far too much faith in the power of the trickle-down effect, for instance. Nevertheless, it’s important and useful to know how people with different economic opinions than me justify that position. Spinning Silver is a stellar book, and has a character who is venal and money focused. But as a compassionate writer, Naomi Novik gives Miriam the context to explain how she became that way, and the book is all about how money matters and how different people understand it.


Doughnut EconomicsStation Eleven

Doughnut Economics, like Sacred Economics, is an invitation to reimagine the economy. It goes beyond identifying problems, and is quite data driven (compared to Sacred Economics, which is heavily philosophical). I really enjoyed it–although I don’t really know what I can do as a non-economics student who does not make policy. The principles of Doughnut Economics is that the systems of the world–social and cultural systems, ecological systems, climate systems, and of course financial systems, are deeply intertwined. Station Eleven demonstrates the same thing, by showing how interconnected different aspects of the world are, and what happens when they’re broken (The World Without Us is a non-fictional approach to the same thing). If you long to understand the world as interconnected in fragile and resilient ways, you’ll love both of these books.

do you understand economics? do you want to? and have you read any of these books?

book review · books · discussions · features · shanti

‘Tis the Season of Rereading Strange The Dreamer

Welcome back to ‘Tis the Season of Rereading, people! I’m back where it all began (at least, this series) in India with wintry air and slow internt and a lot of gladness. It’s approprading and reviewing one of my favourite books of this year–Strange the Dreamer, and its sequel, Muse of Nightmares.

Continue reading “‘Tis the Season of Rereading Strange The Dreamer”

book review · books · discussions · shanti

‘Tis The Season of Rereading: The Austin Chronicles

Hi Virtually Readers! It is December which is half YAY ADVENT JESUS FAMILY FOOD SUMMER and half OH NO THE YEAR IS ALMOST DONE. But whether feelings of coziness drive you towards books or feelings of panic drive you towards books, our annual feature ‘Tis the Season of Rereading is back for its fifth (!) year. Way back in 2014, Shar and I decided that we really like rereading books in our holidays and wintertime, and ever since then we’ve had this recurring seasonal feature on Virtually Read. It is fun! As always, there is an open invitation to join in if you would also like to reread a book, write about it and link back to us, but no pressure. Anyway I have some gooood stuff lined up for this but the first one is rereading the Austin Chronicles. Continue reading “‘Tis The Season of Rereading: The Austin Chronicles”

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.

Continue reading “Interview: Michelle Cooper, Author of Dr. Huxley’s Bequest”

books · shanti

What makes a good audiobook

Hi Virtually Readers! I’m an avid listener of audiobooks. They help me read so much more and process things in different ways. However, I didn’t recently find myself listening ton an audiobook for a class, and the only effect it achieved was making me fall asleep (ironically enough, the book was called ‘The Big Sleep’). However, there are so many good audiobooks out there. what makes an audiobook compelling?

Continue reading “What makes a good audiobook”

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.

Continue reading “What I look for in genres”

blogging · books · shanti

8 reasons to read Lucy Parker

Hi Virtually Readers! I have been a really slack blogger lately, and I’m very sorry. But I’m on almost-holiday now and hopefully I will be able to write lots of posts and pull my life together. There are many many ideas in my head…I just need to write the posts! Anyway, today the post is Eight Reasons to Read Lucy Parker, in case you didn’t guess from the title….or the picture…haha. Lucy Parker is my new favourite (and only favourite so far) romance novelist. I’d heard vaguely of Lucy parker, who writes romantic contemporary fiction, but Ella (from Novelly Ella) was raving about ‘Act Like It’ and it was at the library and I was in a bit of a book slump and her books were just what I needed and I had Ella (and now Lara) to fangirl with which was great. Lucy is from New Zealand which earns her SO MANY bonus points.


Continue reading “8 reasons to read Lucy Parker”

books · shanti · tags

ABBA Book Tag, round two

More than two years ago, I invented a tag. It was the ABBA book tag, because ABBA is cool, ironically and also actually, and because I wanted to invent a tag. It didn’t spread very far, which is fine. But several people I don’t know did it, and I count it a success. I am now two years older than I was then. I still like ABBA; in fact, I watched Mamma Mia! again last month and had so many thoughts about feminism in the movie that I took notes at midnight about it. (That’s the kind of person I am, in case you were wondering. and, just btw, because some people seemed to be confused: the way that the categories correspond to lyrics is not the exact meaning of the lyrics. I understand the lyrics, okay. I took them slightly out of context to make the categories. Here we go!

Continue reading “ABBA Book Tag, round two”

blogging · features · Shar

‘Tis the Season of Rereading Fangirl

By Shar

Hi Virtually Readers! Fact about me: I have a strong belief that just like we have a long period of buildup for Christmas, we should have a long period of tapering off the celebrations. So while Christmas season is over, here’s one more ‘Tis the Season of Rereading post anyway. Follow the category ‘features’ to find all the other posts!


Christmassy Narrative about my Acquistion of Fangirl

Shanti and I were Christmas shopping in the bookshop. Like a wonderful sister, I sent her outside while I bought her a Trudi Canavan book and a colouring book (aren’t I lavish). While engaged in browsing for these books, I *accidentally* noticed Fangirl innocently sitting on the shelves, innocently costing about 400 rupees (that’s maybe 8 new zealand dollars). I *suddenly* remembered that I had money from my birthday way back in October and resolved to buy it. So I did.

Later that week (aka the week before Christmas) I was trying to motivate myself to finish Like Smoke, a collection of short stories by an Indian author (basically, the idea was good but I think I could have written it better). I promised myself that if I finished it, I could read Fangirl. My persuasiveness worked: I finished both books the same day. (Did I do anything else? Hmmm, maybe no).

Fangirl was the first thing I reviewed on weavingwaveswords! It’s a terrible review, but you can read it here (please don’t, though). I also stole somebody’s photo off google images. Whoever you are, I’m very sorry, and I have since removed it.


Reasons I liked rereading Fangirl

  • Twins: Cath and Wren are twins like me and Shanti. There’s this one scene where Cath and Wren are telling someone all the differences between them and we do that so often I FLAILED.
  • Family: Cath’s family isn’t perfect, but she looks after them. I feel like a lot of YA novels either ignore family or have terrible families. This was the realistic happy medium, and it was great.
  • Levi (the love interest) because AWWWWWWWWW. One thing I appreciated that I didn’t other times is that Levi has difficult reading. He’s not dumb or anything, just can’t really focus on reading long things. I’ve always been a reader, and I think I sometimes need a reminder that just because somebody doesn’t read, they’re not a useless, stupid awful person 🙂
  • A lot of the book was set in winter, which it is now. So that was nice.
  • Another thing I didn’t really notice in previous rereads was Cath’s social anxiety. I don’t know much about this condition (is it a condition? Trying hard to be politically correct) , but I felt like it was described very thoughtfully and sensitively.
  • Reagan, Cath’s roommate. Reagan is everything Cath isn’t: loud, confident, and sociable. Their (amazing) friendship despite their differences is something I really appreciated.
  • The fangirling ❤ Cath writes fanfiction for her favourite series. While I don’t read or write fanfiction, I am a fan. Is fanfiction plagiarism? I don’t think so. But the discussion of it was certainly interesting.
  • Emergency Kanye Dance Parties. I personally believe in emergency ABBA dance parties, but they are the best.


    Have you read fangirl? Do you want to? How do you feel about fanfiction? What’s the weather like where you are right now? What music would you dance to in an emergency party?


books · collabs · shanti · Shar · tags · Uncategorized

Book BFF Tag

A few days ago, I saw the ‘Book BFF’ tag on Heart Full of Books youtube channel. Given that Shar and I are twins and ‘book BFF’s’ I thought it would be fun if we joined in too. Basically, we have to guess each other’s favourite book or author in each of the groups. It may be a little confusing in written form, but it’ll be fine. Also, I feel too lazy to add links to all these books, so I just list the title and author. However, the categories of books that they had seemed sort of random, so I made up our own categories, because I’m divergent and I can’t be controlled.

book bff.jpg

Category 1: Favourite Fantasy Series

Shar said hers were Harry Potter (J.K. Rowling), Eragon (Christopher Paolini), and Percy Jackson (Rick Riordan). I (Shanti) said that Shar’s favourites were Harry Potter, so she was right.

I said that my favourites were The Old Kingdom Chronicles, by Garth Nix, and also Daughter of Smoke and Bone, by Laini Taylor. Shar said that my favourite was The Old Kingdom. Again, spot on. This was a pretty easy question, though, because we both like fantasy and read lots and lots of it.

Category 2: Favourite NZ/Au book

Shar said that her favourite were Karen Healey’s When We Wake and Lili Wilkinson’s Love-shy. I had a total mind blank and said any books by Fleur Beale, which was exceedingly stupid of me, because When We Wake was sitting on the shelf.

Anyway, my favourite New Zealandy books are the Dreamhunter books (very creepy) by Elizabeth Knox, and Montmaray Journals (by Michelle Cooper) and The Old Kingdom also. Shar totally guessed on this one and said Lili Wilkinson too. Not that I don’t like her also, she’s just not a favourite.

Category 3: Favourite Contemporary Author

Shar’s favourite contemporary authors and Jenny Han and Rainbow Rowell. I said Morgan Matson and Jenny Han, which was close enough.

My favourite contemporary author, in case you haven’t noticed the screeching, is Jenn Marie Thorne. Her books are still fairly new to me, but I love them an absurd amount. With a few wee hints from me, Shar got this one right.

Category 4: Favourite non-YA

Apparently, Shar’s favourite non-YA (or crossover) are Farenheit 451, by Ray Bradbury, and The Catcher in the Rye, by JD Salinger. I absolutely missed the bat on this one and said A Darker Shade of Magic, by VE Schwab. .

I wrote my favourites as The Secret Life of Bees (which is adult-ish) and The True Meaning of Smekday, which is MG and decidedly wonderful. Shar had no idea and said The End of Night, by Paul Bogard, which I also love, so she wasn’t wrong.

Category 5: Favourite Retelling

This was an easy peasy one: The Lunar Chronicles, by Marissa Meyer, all round. However, points also to A Curse Dark as Gold, The Forbidden Wish, Vicious (it is TOTALLY a Frankenstein retelling), The Weight of Feathers and A Wicked Thing.

Category 6: Favourite Historical Fiction

Shar doesn’t read that much historical, so I sort of gave her hints and we ended up both putting down The Book Thief, by Markus Zusak as her favourite one.

Mine was also pretty obvious: have you heard me tell you how FREAKING AWESOME The Montmaray Journals, by Michelle Cooper are before? They are such excellent books. (If you need convincing, go read this Tis the Season of Rereading review. Also, ‘Tis the Season of Rereading is almost upon us. Be excited!) There is so much great historical fiction out there: If I gave out second place, Ruta Septys would get a lot of credit.

Category 7: Favourite Royal Protagonist

So the problem with The Lunar Chronicles is that there are too many royal characters, which is to say that I said that Shar’s favourite would be Cinder, and she said Prince Kai, adding a lot of hearts after his name and a note saying ‘except he’s Cinder’s’.

Shar said that my favourites would be Winter (who I do love) or Sophia from Montmaray who absolutely wins as one of my favourite characters of all time. So we sussed eacho other out pretty well on this one.


Category 8: Favourite Boarding School Book

Shar said her favourite was White Cat (Holly Black) or Catcher in the Rye (JD Salinger). I was utterly confused and wrote Harry Potter or Song of the Lioness (Tamora Pierce) for her. This was quite a random category, so maybe that’s why I was so long.

For my favourite boarding school books, Tamora Pierce’s Protector of the Small definitely wins. I love Keladry a ridiculous amount. Shar said that my favourite would be White Cat or the School for Good and Evil (Soman Chainani). Sadly, after the mess of the second book, my love for the School for Good and Evil has faded a little.

Category 9: Favourite Literary Family

I love families in literature, so I thought this would be a fun category. Shar said that her favourites were ‘The Weasley’s ?? Idek’ and I put down the Weasley’s for her also.

I said that my favourites were The Garrets (from My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick) and The Dregs, from Leigh Bardugo’s 6 of Crows, because they totally count as a family. Shar said Karou & co for me (from Laini Taylor’s Daughter of Smoke and Bone) which is also true.

This tag was quite random, but a fun chance to look at some favourite books. I tag anyone who has a bookish BFF.