Feminist Fridays: Book blogging as a feminist space?

When I think about why I love blogging and why I’ve stuck with it for over five years, a few things come to mind: a welcoming sense of community, bloggers that support one another through encouragement, thought-provoking discussion, etc. Lately I’ve been asking myself what makes this kind of positive, supportive community possible online, and I’ve come to one of countless possible conclusions: a sense of equality. More specifically, I’ve been asking myself: Is the book blogging community a feminist space? 

{Disclaimer: This discussion is based on my own personal experiences in one corner of a much larger book blogging community online. I am not saying that all bloggers are feminists, nor that these views are necessary in order to be a blogger. Any statements that sound generalizing are inadvertent and are not meant to imply that every book blogger shares these same beliefs.}

When I say that the book blogging community is a “feminist space,” I’m not trying to suggest that only people who identify as women are book bloggers; rather, that this community is a space for everyone and anyone–no matter you gender, sexuality, race, class, etc.–to share their thoughts on books and bookish topics. Are there flaws with this view? Of course. No community is ideal, no matter how hard we strive to make it so. There are barriers preventing some people from participating as much as others: access to internet, computers to post with, cameras to take photos with, purchasing books vs. buying them from libraries, etc. There has also been much debate and discussion about the entrenched hierarchy of popularity regarding statistics. When one blogger becomes hugely popular, it can feel as though the sense of equality has diminished. At times it can feel as though numbers are all that matters and that an impressive number of page views is necessary in order to make your voice worth listening to in the midst of all others.

One way to combat this inequality due to statistics is to emphasize discussion and commenting rather than the number of views a blog receives. For the past few summers I’ve participated in the Comment Challenge hosted by Lonna @ FLYLēF and Alicia @ A Kernel of Nonsense that runs from June to August. After filling out a short survey, the hosts match you up with a blogger that has similar interests as far as the kinds of books they write about. The goal is to comment on each other’s posts as much as possible over the course of the challenge (you can choose between the 5+ or 10+ posts categories) in order to help bloggers connect with each other and meet new people. Not only has this challenge introduced me to some fantastic new blogs in the past, but it also gets me into the habit of commenting more on other blogs. If this challenge sounds at all interesting to you then I’d highly recommend giving it a try! Click here to read more about the rules of the Comment Challenge.

With that said, my personal experience with blogging does lead me to view this platform as a feminist space. When I blog I feel comfortable sharing my opinions without being discriminated against or judged because of my gender. When I read other blogs I don’t care which gender they identify with. I’m able to make weekly features like Feminist Fridays and not be bombarded by angry, insulting comments; I’m lucky enough to be part of this supportive community that fosters thought-provoking discussion and challenges me to think more deeply about important topics such as this one. To me, these freedoms are priceless.

Whether or not this means that the blogging sphere is simply a feminist space from my perspective or that this sense is pervasive throughout the book blogging world, I’m not sure. Nevertheless, I am so grateful that a discussion like this is even made possible by this incredible platform. 

Click here to see other Feminist Friday posts!

Do you think book blogging is a feminist space? How can we improve it? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY

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Sunshine Blogger Award | 6

Hello, hello! It’s time for yet another award (this seems to be a recurring Wednesday theme recently…). Thanks so much to Emma @ Emma Reads for nominating me!! Emma is one of the sweetest bookworms ever so definitely check out her blog!

1. Kiss, marry, kill: The main characters of the last three fiction books you read.

I’m writing this post well in advance of when it’s going to be posted, so at the moment my options are Klaus Baudelaire from A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket, Thor from Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman, and Jean Valjean from Les Misérables by Victor Hugo. This is SO difficult, but I think I would kiss Klaus, marry Jean Valjean, and kill Thor? I don’t want anything bad to happen to any of them, though!

2. Would you rather be an elegant princess/prince type character in a fairytale, or a witchy badass villain?

I know this is stereotypical, but I would rather be an elegant princess rather than a witchy villain. The dress! The romance! The singing! (I’m thinking of Tangled here, people!)

3. You fall into a pit of acid or get bit by an exotic spider or into a verbal altercation with a wizard, and you’re given the power to pull things out of books. Which book are you reaching into first???

WHOA these questions are escalating quickly! The image of a “verbal altercation with a wizard” is hilarious, so let’s go with that scenario. I would probably try to pull out a pie and then throw it in their face because that’s funny and delicious yet simultaneously passive aggressive.

4. You’re being sent to a desert island and you can only bring one book, and it has to be one you haven’t read yet. What book are you bringing?

THIS QUESTION. It’s so difficult to choose from books you haven’t read yet because you have no idea whether or not you will actually enjoy it… but I guess I would choose A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin because then it would force me to finally read start this series.

5. Link your favorite blog post of yours!

No specific favorite post comes to mind; however, I do really enjoy writing the Classic Couple series in which I pair classic literature with contemporary counterparts. More posts in this series coming your way!

6. Which Hogwarts house would you most want to be in, and which do you want to be in least?

I would want to be in Gryffindor the most because I really admire bravery and loyalty, and I would want to be in Slytherin the least because its traits are the least important to me. (For reference, I generally consider myself a Ravenclaw/Hufflepuff).

7. Would you rather have a pet unicorn or grow a mermaid’s tail when you touch water?

MERMAID’S TAIL. FOREVER AND ALWAYS.

8. The last book you gave 5 stars and the last book you gave 1 star?

I actually stopped rating books on my blog and Goodreads a while ago. Click here to read my post explaining my reasoning. 

9. Who’s a popular author you’re just…not that into?

My go-to answer to this is usually Jenny Han. After not being very impressed with the trilogy starting with The Summer I Turned Pretty I’m just never in the mood to try any of her other books.

10. Show you’re currently watching, or last one you watched?

This past term I started watching the first few episodes of Jane the Virgin and it is WILD. I definitely want to continue watching it when I have the time!

11. Picture this: You’re at the altar, about to say “I do” to Cornelius (or Cornelia) Wainwright III, a disgraced businessperson who is only marrying you for your chocolate factory fortune. You dramatically say “I can’t do this” – which fictional character or celebrity do you confess your love to instead?

WOW, what a question! To be honest, I would probably confess my love to Aragorn from Lord of the Rings.

I’m going to pass along Emma’s questions because they were so much fun to answer.

Thanks again to Emma for nominating me and providing the most hilarious, thought-provoking, creative questions for me to answer! ❤

What are your answers to these questions? What do you think of mine? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,
HOLLY

Blogger Recognition Award | 3

It’s always a delight to wake up and learn that someone has nominated you for an award, especially one as fun as the Blogger Recognition Award. Thanks so much to the lovely Lili @ Lili’s Blissful Pages for nominating me!! Definitely check out her blog ❤

  • Generate a post about the award.
  • Thank the blogger who nominated you, and provide a link to their blog.
  • Write a brief story about how your blog began.
  • Provide two pieces of advice to newbie bloggers.
  • Select 15 blogs to nominate.
  • Comment on each nominee’s blog and provide a link to the post that you created about the award.

I first started blogging back in eighth grade (five years ago!) with a blog hosted by Blogger. It was originally called Me Gusta Leer, because at the time (as I am still currently) I was really into learning Spanish. I basically only posted book reviews and the occasional random discussion post about Spanish or bookish topics, but it was very simple.

Later I wanted to rename my blog, so I came up with the title Nut Free Nerd. I liked its alliteration and the way it encompasses something more about me personally– the fact that I’m allergic to nuts. My original blog titled Nut Free Nerd still exists on the internet, and you can click here if you’d like to check it out. (It’s a tad embarrassing– oh, that awful design!)

nutfreeavatarOn December 9, 2012, I decided to start a new blog with a different blogging platform. I started from scratch on WordPress, and thus, Nut Free Nerd as it exists today was born! As I began to follow more and more blogs, I gradually increased the amount I post as well as the quality of my content. The WordPress platform helped me connect with other book bloggers and made me realize just how wonderful the book blogging community is! My talented brother created the logo I use today (thanks!), and I have now fully embraced my inner book blogger.

Instead of giving the usual general advice of blogging for yourself and not someone else’s expectations, not worrying about stats, and consistently creating original content, I’m going to give some very specific advice that I’ve found really useful:

Advice #1: Schedule posts in advance when possible. Personally, I would not be able to posts regularly whatsoever without scheduling a plethora of posts in advance. This is especially true during term time when I have little extra time to plan and write posts, particularly longer discussion ones. Scheduling posts in advance frees you up to be more creative with the time you do have in your busy schedule.

My planner for 2018.

Advice #2: Keep a blog calendar. For years I have written down my blogging schedule in my planner and it is so useful for staying organized, keeping track of what posts still need to be written and/or scheduled, and ideas for future posts down the road. I love being able to clearly visualize what I’ve already completed and what I still need to finish.

Thanks again to Lili for nominating me!

What’s your best piece of blogging advice? What do you think of mine? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY

Mystery Blogger Award | 3

Start warming up your super-sleuth abilities because it’s time for another Mystery Blogger Award. Thanks so much to Erin @ Her Big Mouth Book Blog for nominating me!!

  • Thank whoever nominated you and link to their blog
  • Mention the creator of the award and provide a link as well
  • Tell your readers 3 things about yourself
  • Nominate roughly 10 – 20 people for this award
  • Ask your nominees five questions

  1. When I was in high school I used to exclusively wear argyle patterned socks.
  2. My two favorite TV shows are The Office and Lost (I can’t possibly choose between them).
  3. I have three piercings in each ear.

  1. Which book got you interested in reading? I honestly can’t remember the first book that got me into reading. I was lucky that my parents read a lot to me when I was younger, so I don’t clearly remember most of the books that were read to me then. I do remember loving If You Give A Pig A Pancake by Laura Numeroff, mostly because I thought the pig was adorable and wanted one for a friend.
  2. What’s your biggest bookish pet peeve? Love triangles, especially when they’re used as the only thing driving the plot forward. I mean, how often do love triangles really happen in actuality? Why are they used so often in fiction? Isn’t there something more interesting to write about?
  3. What’s your greatest strength as a reader? Greatest weakness? I think my greatest strength is that I like a variety of genres. My greatest weakness is probably that I don’t often remember the details of books once I finish them, so whenever I read for my courses I have to take copious notes for reference later on.
  4. What author would you like to interview and why? Definitely William Faulkner because I would love to know his motivations for writing the kinds of characters and stories that he did. What did he really think about race? Gender? Class? And how did he develop an entire fictional county over numerous novels and short stories?
  5. What are your favorite kind of blog posts to write? I really enjoy writing discussion posts, especially rambling ones. It’s nice to be able to get down my thoughts on paper (or my laptop screen) and then hear what other people have to say if they write comments.

  1. If you could create any crayon color, what would it be?
  2. What’s the last song you listened to?
  3. Do you prefer driving or being the passenger of a car?
  4. What book are you most looking forward to reading next?
  5. What’s the weather like right now where you live?

Thanks again to Erin for nominating me!

What are your answers to these questions? What do you think of mine? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY

Unique Blogger Award | 2

Happy Valentine’s Day! Whether or not you celebrate this strange little holiday with a partner, friends, or loved ones, you can always celebrate here by spreading some blogger love. Today I’m going to answer some questions as part of the Unique Blogger Award. Thanks so much to Marisa @ Marisa the Redhead for nominating me!

  • Share the link of the blogger who has shown love to you by nominating you.
  • Answer the questions.
  • In the spirit of sharing love and solidarity with our blogging family, nominate 8-13 people for the same award.
  • Ask them 3 questions.

Q1: What book do you want to read that has been on your TBR List forever? 

I talk about this a lot, but it needs to be said so that I’m actually motivated to read it. A Game of Thrones has been on my TBR list for FAR TOO LONG, people!

Q2: What genre do you usually stray away from and why?

Lately I’ve strayed away from books that are just romance, mostly because those plots tend to be quite predictable and straightforward. I do enjoy one every now and then, though!

Q3: If you could have dinner with three authors, who would they be? 

William Faulkner, J.R.R. Tolkien, and Willa Cather. Not only have these authors written some of my favorite books, but they’re also fascinating people in general. I can only imagine the conversations we would have!

  • YOU!!

  1. What is your favorite genre to read?
  2. What’s the best book you’ve read so far this year?
  3. What’s a surprising thing you love about blogging?

Thanks so much to Marisa for nominating me! Definitely check out her blog! ❤ And have a lovely Valentine’s Day!

What are your answers to these questions? What do you think of mine? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY

One Lovely Blog Award | 3

Recently I had the pleasant surprise of being nominated for another One Lovely Blog Award. Thanks so much to Loretta @ The Laughing Listener for nominating me!! Definitely check out Loretta’s wonderful blog if you haven’t already. Now, on with the fun facts!

  • Thank the person who nominated you for the award
  • Display the banner/sticker/logo on your blog
  • Share 7 facts or things about yourself
  • Nominate up to 15 bloggers that you admire and inform the nominees
  1. I am a HUGE Lord of the Rings fans. I’ve loved both the books and the movies since I was eleven or twelve and I get incredibly excited whenever I meet someone who is also an avid fan.
  2. I love stickers. I usually order them from Redbubble because they have a HUGE selection and pretty decent prices. Recently I put a bunch on my 2018 planner and I love them. 
  3. I can touch my nose with my tongue. I feel like this one doesn’t need much explanation.
  4. Grilled cheese is my go to meal. Whenever I don’t know what to eat for lunch, you can usually find me making a grilled cheese. I like mine with cheddar cheese, a little bit of ham, and sliced pickles inside (it sounds weird, but it’s so good!).
  5. I LOVE taking photos with my polaroid camera. I got this adorable yellow polaroid camera for Christmas a year or two ago and I’ve been in love with it ever since.
  6. I play the violin. I haven’t actually played it in three years (since starting college), but I played it in my school’s orchestra from third grade until I graduated high school. I definitely miss playing in an orchestra!
  7. I don’t know how to describe my taste in music. Whenever people ask me, I usually reply by saying that I like everything except for country music. My Spotify is a JUMBLED MESS.

What’s a fun fact about you? What do you think of mine? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY

Top Ten Tuesday: 2018 Bookish Resolutions

Happy Tuesday!! This week’s Top Ten Tuesday topic (now brought to us by That Artsy Reader Girl) asks us to share our bookish resolutions for 2018. Now that the new year is well underway and I’ve done some reflecting on 2017, I think it’s time to set some new goals. I don’t like to put an exorbitant amount of pressure on myself to meet unrealistically high expectations, so these are ten relatively simple goals that I’d like to keep in mind throughout the next year.

1. Read 24 books. I’ve made this my Reading Challenge goal on Goodreads for the past few years now and it’s worked out really well. This is a number that I can meet without any added stress, which is precisely what I need from a yearly goal.

2. Balance reading for classes, reading for fun, and blogging. I absolutely LOVE studying abroad at Oxford, but when term is in session I miss blogging and reading for fun so much! I’m hoping I can figure out a way to balance all of these things better during my last two terms there.

The main library at Mansfield College, Oxford.

3. Be more engaged with the blogging community. This goal is one that I wish I had done better at in 2017… so I’m carrying it over into 2018! As with the previous resolution, I’m hoping that I can find a way to make this work while balancing everything else I have to do.

4. Read more nonfiction. I’ve read some really great nonfiction books recently, which makes me feel motivated to read even more of them in the new year. Any recommendations would definitely be appreciated!

5. Read A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin. Now, what would a Holly resolution list be without this novel inevitably included? I vow that someday I will read this book!

6. Continue writing discussion posts regularly. This is a resolution I accomplished in 2017, but I would really love to keep it up this year as well. Creating interesting, thought-provoking content that sparks engaging discussions is something that I want to always strive towards with this blog.

7.  Keep better track of the books I want to read. More often than not I forget to write a book title down when someone recommends it to me, leaving me without a list of books I want to read whenever I go into a bookstore or decide to order books online. Putting them on a list in my phone or something similar would be so helpful!

8. Be more creative with my bookstagram posts. I love taking photos and updating my bookstagram, but in the midst of writing pages and pages of essays it’s easy to revert back to posting the same kinds of photos every single time. This year I’d like to be more creative with my books, props, scenery, etc.

9. Be more open to talking about this blog IRL. I rarely ever mention my blog to people unless they bring it up first, and even when they do I’m pretty hesitant to talk about it (as I’ve discussed in this post from a while back). In 2018, I’d like to be more open about talking about my blog if people bring it up.

10. HAVE FUN!! As always– what’s reading without a little (or a lot!!) of fun?

Happy New Year, everyone!!

What are your resolutions for 2018? What do you think of mine? Any advice on how to accomplish them? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY

What does it mean to be a “relevant” reader? | Discussion

Today I’d like to talk about a topic that I’ve been thinking about a lot lately: What does it mean to be a “relevant” reader?

Recently I watched a video by Ariel Bissett in which she talks about the pressure in the online book community to read certain books as soon as possible to be “relevant.” She emphasizes this stress particularly in the YA genre with popular new releases at the time such as When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon and The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas. Ariel discusses how before joining Booktube she didn’t have this large awareness of what was recently released, current trends and topics in specific genres, book “hype, etc. While this can certainly be an advantage of being immersed in this bookish community, it also comes at a price: feeling like a bad person or that you can’t be a proper reader unless you read the books that “everyone” is currently talking about. 

Ariel emphasizes that this need to be relevant is ridiculous. As she points out, the books that are deemed “relevant” are not always the books we’re most interested in reading. Her solution is to try to not give into this competitive feeling of needing to be relevant– yet she acknowledges that this is a really difficult thing to do. How do you participate in a community that focuses on reading competitively when that isn’t what you initially signed up for? (Metaphorically speaking, of course– there aren’t any sign-up sheets to be found here…)

Shortly after watching this video I read a great blog post by Hannah @ Mortal Reader in which she discusses feeling lost in the book community when she tries to keep up with all the constant cycle of new releases being published. She explains that she often finds herself picking books to read based on what she thinks the people who read her blog will be interested in rather than simply picking up whatever book she herself would like to read in that moment. Here is yet another manifestation of the pressure many of us feel to be relevant readers when we blog, make videos, and create other bookish content online.

 I’m certainly guilty of feeding into this competitive edge of reading as well. For instance, I definitely felt pressure to read John Green’s most recent novel Turtles All the Way Down as soon as possible once it was released so I could write about it. I also really relate to something that Ariel discusses in her video: the problem of viewing rereading as not making progress towards our reading goals. I LOVE rereading books and feel no shame at all when I reread old favorites… but why is this attitude the exception rather than the rule? Why does stigma exist? Why does rereading often make people feel as though they’re not staying “relevant”?

My way to deal with this notion of “relevant” and “competitive” reading is to try my best to ignore it. You may have noticed that I love reading classics and old books, which are mainly what I talk about on this blog. Are people dying to hear my thoughts on William Faulkner or Willa Cather? Probably not. But those are the kinds of books that I love to read, so why would I read anything else? Personally, reading what I enjoy is more important to me than “staying relevant”– whatever that means.

What are your thoughts on “relevant” and “competitive” reading? Do you feel this pressure to read certain books in the online bookish community? What can we do about this? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY

Spreading Blogger (and Christmas!) Cheer

Recently Michelle @ The Writing Hufflepuff created this post in which she highlights bloggers as a way to spread blogger cheer during this festive season. Seeing as Christmas will be here before we know it (TOMORROW?!?!) I thought I would take the time to pass on Christmas cheer through a few blogger shoutouts. Here are some lovely bloggers and blogs that I’ve followed recently (and you should, too!):

Zoie @ Whisked Away by Words

Not only does Zoie have a beautiful blog, but she also leaves the most thoughtful comments. I love how she writes about travel as well as books!

Pamela @ Reverie Society

I love that Pamela’s blog is bilingual. She also writes such thought-provoking discussion posts and has a gorgeous blog design.

Loretta @ The Laughing Listener 

Loretta mostly reviews audio books, which motivates me to want to listen to more novels that way. The way she formats her reviews that makes them so easy and entertaining to read.

Marilyn @ Be Who You Want To Be

I love how much personality Marilyn’s writing has– she also has such a great taste in books! I’ve added so many titles to by TBR list since following her blog.

Georgiana @ Reader’s High Tea

Georgiana is another blogger with such ideal bookish taste. I’ve also had a great time reading through her posts on War and Peace. 

Last but not least, thanks so much to Michelle for constantly being a ray of positivity in the blogging community ❤ I hope you all have a very Merry Christmas if you celebrate!

What are you plans for Christmas Eve or Christmas in general? Have any favorite traditions? Reading any festive books? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY

Sunshine Blogger Award | 4

Hi everyone! I hope you’re having a lovely day! To brighten up this wintery mood I’m going to share the Sunshine Blogger Award. Thanks so much to Dani @ Perspective of a Writer for nominating me!

  • Thank the person who nominated you in a blog post and link back to their blog.
  • Answer the 11 questions sent by the person who nominated you.
  • Nominate 11 new blogs to receive the award and write them 11 new questions.
  • List the rules and display the Sunshine Blogger Award logo in your post and/or on your blog.

Who is the one person that is the sunshine in your life?

Just ONE?!?!?!? I’m going to cheat and say all of my family and friends. How can I pick just one?!?!

Do you prefer all happy movies, or occasional sad movies?

Preferably all happy movies. I’ll watch sad movies if I’m with other people who also want to watch it, but I definitely try to avoid reading sad books if I can help it.

What is the one food that always makes you happy?

PIZZA. Or oatmeal… there’s nothing better than a steaming bowl of oatmeal and raisins in the morning.

What is the sunshine on your blog?

The comments section! I love reading everyone’s comments even though I’m usually pretty slow at finding time to respond to them all. I appreciate each and every one of them ❤

What is your favorite holiday?

CHRISTMAS.

What is one thing you love about yourself?

My ability to remember song lyrics even when I haven’t listened to a song in years.

What is one thing you love about the blogging community?

I love how incredibly kind and supportive everyone is in the blogging community, especially when it comes to inclusiveness.

What is the one book that made you smile the most?

Definitely The BFG by Roald Dahl. No matter how many times I read this book it will always make me laugh!

Where is your corner of sunshine in your home?

At the moment, it’s the Christmas tree in the corner of our living room. I love when the house is decorated for Christmas!

What is your favorite color or colors?

Probably yellow and mint (or is it called turquoise/teal? It’s the color of my blog…).

What is the one movie (or drama) that always makes you happy?

Definitely Jurassic Park. It’s such a wacky story and I love the cheesy, witty banter between all of the characters.

As per usual with these kinds of posts, I’ll pass along the same questions that I answered for those that I’ve nominated. Thanks again to Dani for nominating me! Answering these questions was a blast!

What are your answers to these questions? What do you think of mine? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY