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?

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?



  • 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


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.


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 · discussions · Shar

How to make time for reading (when you’re a busy student)

Hey Virtually readers! Remember how I wrote a post recently about why university students don’t read? Well, here’s some tips on how I make time for reading even though I’m a busy, stressed student. I know Lara did something like this, and we might have too, but here are some more suggestions nevertheless.

Continue reading “How to make time for reading (when you’re a busy student)”

book review · books · shanti

Unearthing (mysteries and more)

I’m convinced that Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner are two of the few people who make me amenable to sci-fi. It’s been over two years since I reviewed their last co-written novel, Their Fractured Light. Unearthed has many things similar to their previous trilogy: dual narration between a boy and girl, the worlds of space to explore, and great mystery (or perhaps even conspiracy). Unearthed is completely compelling; fast and angry and eager, just like the two characters at its’ heart. I wasn’t a huge fan of the ending and one character development thing, but apart from that, it was great. I have never watched Indiana Jones or Tomb Raider, the two comparison titles for this novel, but I loved the adventure and space setting of this novel, and the romance is a lot of fun too. Continue reading “Unearthing (mysteries and more)”

blogging · books · discussions · Shar

Discussion: Why blogging makes me read things I dislike, and not read what I do like

All the time in the book blogosphere I see people saying ‘I want to read this but I don’t have the time’, or ‘all these new releases are stressing me out’, ‘I want to read X backlist title but I’m trying to keep up with new releases’. This is a post in response to that. It’s not about how all new releases are terrible (because there are so! many! good! new! books!), but rather that not letting how popular a book is determine if you read it. Continue reading “Discussion: Why blogging makes me read things I dislike, and not read what I do like”

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.

Continue reading “The Bookish Planet: The Castle”

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 · Uncategorized

My Reading Challenge

Hi Virtually Readers! It’ll be a short post today because I have a lot of schoolwork and also very sore arms because I went rock climbing this afternoon. I’m so busy, in fact, that I haven’t had time to schedule already written blogposts *facepalm*. Anyway, today is the first day of Lent, which is the 40 day period leading up to Easter. Christians often challenge themselves to go without something for Lent, and I’m going to tell you about what I’m doing without. Unsurprisingly, it’s related to reading.


So, what’s your challenge? I’m not *gasp* going to read any fiction. Before you all freak out (if you were ever that invested to begin with, haha), I will still listen to YA audiobooks because I listen to about 1 audiobook a month anyway, and want to finish the one I’m on. And I’m also going to read classics, which for these purposes are defined as literature which is somehow canonical and also over 50 years old. Obviously, stuff I have to read for class or other activities does not count.

Why are you doing this? Well, I read a lot of YA. And I love YA, don’t get me wrong. But I’m also curious about history and psychology and people, and this will mean that, instead of prioritising YA literature over everything, I’ll get a chance to read some books that I wouldn’t otherwise.

What does this mean for Virtually Read? Basically nothing. If I read anything interesting, I might post a review here, but otherwise I have heaps of YA book reviews that I can use for the blog, and some posts pre-written, and I’ll still be thinking about YA and interacting with the YA blookunity. You will see more nonfiction stuff on Twitter and goodreads, though.

What are you going to read? That’s a great question, imaginary person. Some of the books on my TBR, though I won’t necessarily get to them all, are

  • This Amazing Book is Not on Fire by Dan Howell and Phil Lester
  • I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
  • Smart Girls by Shauna Pomerantz
  • An Edible History of the World by Michael Standage
  • Here I Stand by Amnesty International
  • The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion
  • The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat by Oliver Sacks.

Would you like my recommendations? Heck yes.

How will you survive? By reading interesting things that I care about and learning new things and just seeing how I go.

So what do you think? Could you survive without fiction? And do you have any suggested reading for me?