Discussion

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

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Read-A-Thons

Booktube-A-Thon 2017 Wrap-Up

It’s official: the Booktube-A-Thon has come to a close! It’s time to tally up page counts, reading challenges, and books read in this wrap-up of the week. At the beginning of the read-a-thon I posted my Booktube-A-Thon TBR with my goals for this reading adventure. Let’s see how I did!!

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George’s Marvelous Medicine by Roald Dahl

This book checks off so many challenges! Not only does it have a person on the cover, but I also read it in one sitting outside. Roald Dahl has done it again with yet another book I wish I had read when I was younger. (Although I probably would have been scarred by the abrupt and surprisingly harsh ending!)

Echo by Nadette Rae Rodgers

Fun fact: I also finished this book outside in one day AND it has a person on the cover… SO MANY CHALLENGES COMPLETED. I suppose this could also count as a book about someone different from me because I certainly can’t control my dreams like the protagonist of this suspenseful, engaging novel. I already can’t wait to read the third installment in this trilogy. Stay tuned for a full review soon!

Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbit

When one of my close friends learned that I never read this book when I was younger she immediately said that I had to read it NOW. Needless to say, this children’s classic was pretty hyped. I ADORED this book– I definitely wish I had read it when I was younger! Winnie is such a great protagonist and my heart simultaneously leapt and broke when I read the very last page. (Also: JESSIE <3)

The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins

I FINALLY finished this tome! It was definitely worth all 635 pages. This is assigned reading for my upcoming term on Victorian literature and so far it’s one of my favorite novels on the reading list. I’m not sure if it actually completes any challenges– maybe the one about characters being different from me– but I’m still so happy that I finished it!

Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë

This was my second time reading Wuthering Heights and I enjoyed it so much more than when I read it years ago. I’m glad this was on my assigned reading list for Oxford because I probably wouldn’t have reread it otherwise. Luckily, I can count this towards the challenge of reading a book I bought because of the cover– I ADORE Penguin English Library editions!! ❤

War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy

Though I’m only half way through this tome, I’m still calling it a success! I managed to read over three hundred pages this week, which isn’t too shabby. I’m enjoying this novel so much more than I initially thought I would. Not only is it easier to read than I first expected, but I’m connecting with the characters much more than I did while reading Dostoevsky’s The Idiot. I can’t wait to see where the second half of this novel goes!

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1 || Read a book with a person on the cover.
2 || Read a hyped book.
3 || Finish a book in one day.
4 || Read about a character that is very different from you.
5 || Finish a book completely outdoors.
6 || Read a book you bought because of the cover.
7 || Read seven books.

I’m honestly SHOCKED that I managed to complete so many challenges! I definitely didn’t expect to read seven books, but I also didn’t think I would complete more than three or four of the rest. I’m so pleased with these results!

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All in all, I feel as though I had an incredibly successful BookTubeAThon this year. I love this event because it’s easy to participate no matter how busy you are during that particular week. It pushed me to read some books that I’ve been meaning to get around to for a while, and it’s always fun seeing the community come together for a glorious week of reading. A huge thanks to Ariel Bissett for organizing yet another lovely BookTubeAThon!! ❤

 Did you participate in the Booktube-A-Thon? How did you do? What do you think of the books that I read? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY

Read-A-Thons

Booktube-A-Thon 2017 TBR

HAPPY BOOKTUBE-A-THON TIME! The Booktube-a-thon is an annual event hosted by Ariel Bissett that encourages people to read as much as they can in seven days. Packed with challenges, giveaways, and fun videos, the Booktubeathon is guaranteed to be a blast! This year the Booktube-a-thon is taking place from July 24th to July 30th. (That’s right: it officially starts TODAY!) If you haven’t heard of the Booktube-a-thon before or you want to learn more about it, you can check out the official Youtube channel, Twitter account, or this new website.

Copy of June

Each year there are challenges you can choose to participate in that will help guide your TBR for the week. This year the challenges are:

1 || Read a book with a person on the cover.
2 || Read a hyped book.
3 || Finish a book in one day.
4 || Read about a character that is very different from you.
5 || Finish a book completely outdoors.
6 || Read a book you bought because of the cover.
7 || Read seven books.

I can say with certainty that I won’t be reading seven books this week, but I’m going to do my best to complete as many of the other challenges as possible.

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Because I have SO MUCH reading to do this summer for my courses in the fall, my TBR will be mostly assigned reading. However, I think I might have a little wiggle room to squeeze in some extra ones!

The Women in White by Wilkie Collins

{Read about a character that is very different from you}

This is the book I’m currently reading for my upcoming tutorial on British Literature from 1830-1910. I’ve already started reading it and I’m really liking it so far. It’s sensation fiction, which preceded what is now the mystery or detective novel. I’m definitely not from nineteenth century England, so this classic is perfect for this challenge.

War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy

{Read a hyped book}

War and Peace is one of the most hyped classics I’ve ever heard of (the length! the huge cast of characters! the complicated story!). This summer I’m reading it for a War and Peace Newbie Read-along, which means that I have to keep up with our weekly reading amounts. I definitely won’t be finishing this tome during the Booktube-A-Thon, but I’ll be happy if I can get through this week’s reading amount.

Echo by Nadette Rae Rodgers

{Read a book with a person on the cover.}

Recently I received a copy of this sequel to Nadette Rae Rodgers’ novel Illusion in the mail and I can’t wait to read it! Thanks again to Nadette for sending me this ARC!

George’s Marvelous Medicine by Roald Dahl

{Finish a book in one day, finish a book completely outdoors, read a book you bought because of the cover}

Roald Dahl’s books are perfect for when you need a break from assigned reading (or when you have to complete reading challenges like these!). This summer I’m trying to read the Roald Dahl books I never read as a kid and this one is next on my list. Everything he writes is brilliant so I’m really looking forward to reading about George’s adventures!

I’ll be posting a wrap-up of my Booktube-a-thon experience at the end of the week, so be sure to stay tuned! Also, if you want to stay up to date more regularly with my progress you can follow me on Twitter (@peanutfreeismeand Instagram (nutfreenerd).

Are you participating in the Booktube-a-thon? What are you planning to read this week? Let me know in the comments section below!

Whether or not you’re participating in the Booktube-a-thon, I hope you have a lovely week! Happy reading! ❤

Yours,

HOLLY

Bookish, Discussion

Are Book Hauls “Meaningless” Content? | Discussion

When I saw that Ariel Bissett made a video titled “Why Do Booktubers Make Book Hauls?” I was immediately intrigued. To tell you the truth, I had been asking myself the same question for quite some time. Book hauls have sort of been a controversial topic in the online bookish community as of late. Some people claim that they are “meaningless” content because the person talking about the books likely hasn’t even read them yet– what could they possibly have to say about it that is substantial or thought-provoking? Another common argument against book hauls is that they are “filler” content  solely used to generate large numbers of views, since these kinds of videos and posts tend to be really popular. There’s also the idea that book hauls are just a way for bloggers and booktubers to boast about how many books they accumulate on a regular basis, which can lead to the notion that in order to be successful in the online bookish community one has to have the privilege of being able to purchase and own all of the books you read.

There are clearly a lot of issues that need to be unpacked, here; fortunately, Ariel does a lot of that unpacking in her video. She counters many of these negative arguments by emphasizing that book hauls essentially do what most bloggers and booktubers endeavor to achieve with their posts and videos: spread a love of books and have FUN. Ariel also points out that book hauls allow us to keep up to date with what people are really excited about reading in general compared to the smaller number of books that they may actually be able to read in a given year. I highly recommend watching her video for a more accurate and detailed explanation of why book hauls can be really valuable and important.

Personally, I agree with a lot of Ariel’s arguments in support of books hauls. Yet I think an important point is missing: people find “meaning” in all kinds of content. Just because a book haul might not be discussing literature from a critical perspective in terms of having already read the books does not mean that it cannot offer interesting ideas for a thought-provoking discussion. Readers of posts and watchers of videos add their own meaning to the original content of the blogger or booktuber by sharing thoughts and opinions in the comments. A similar argument could be made regarding memes, tags, etc.; in other words, a book review or discussion is not the only kind of “meaningful” content. 

I think the most interesting aspect of this controversy over book hauls is the question it raises about bookish content in general: Who is to say what kind of content bloggers and booktubers should be sharing? My answer: NO ONE besides the bloggers and booktubers themselves. Create what makes you happy, what gets your message across, what shares the ideas and opinions and feelings that you want to express.

I haven’t posted a book haul in a while, mostly because I’ve been trying to buy fewer books and read the ones I already own. However, recently I’ve been thinking about maybe posting one in the near future.

Scratch that. I will post one in the near future.

What are your thoughts on Ariel’s video and book hauls in general? Do you post book hauls? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY

Discussion, Video

How Do You Prevent Blogging Burnout? | Discussion

wilberry-15A few months ago Rosianna Halse Rojas created a video called Knowing When To Stop in which she discusses the feeling of not knowing when to stop working and striving to be as productive as possible. As someone who has been thought of as an “overachiever” throughout her entire life, she explains how challenging it can be to hold yourself back from constantly being in overdrive. This inner source of motivation is certainly valuable in terms of work ethic and accomplishing goals; however, there is danger in not knowing when to stop and give yourself a break.

I relate to this video on a personal level in my everyday life so much that it almost feels as though Rosianna has peered through a tiny window into my mind. As a perfectionist, I’m constantly in competition with myself to do more and be better, but eventually this becomes too big a burden to bear. The pressure I place on myself to be as productive as possible and meet my impossibly high standards can be overwhelming at times. There’s this feeling of needing to always live up to incredibly high expectations lest someone expose one’s true identity: that of a normal, average, flawed human being. It’s a vicious cycle that can never be won, for no matter how hard we try it’s obvious that we can never escape the reality that no one is flawless. Still, that truth clearly doesn’t keep us from trying.

It’s no surprise that this mindset has trickled into my blogging life as well. For a while I endeavored to post every single day, which ultimately made blogging feel more like a chore than simply a fun hobby. However, like Rosianna I had a hard time admitting and acknowledging to myself that it was time to scale back and reassess my goals to make them more realistic.

Finding a schedule that works for me (around three posts a week) has been incredibly helpful in reeling in my do-it-all tendencies. Not only does limiting my posts each week ensure that what I’m posting is actually quality content (or at least better than it would be if I was rushing to create seven posts each week), but it also prevents me from developing the dreaded blogger burnout. In high school when I had more time to blog I would frequently feel as though I needed to take breaks or a hiatus and return when blogging no longer felt like a chore. Fortunately, the way my life is now structured in college forces me to step away from blogging each semester due to a lack of free time. As a result, I enter each vacation period feeling refreshed and ready to blog because I haven’t been able to dedicate any significant time to it in months.

Rosianna’s video really resonated with me as it likely does with many other people as well. It’s an important discussion to have, not only with others but also with ourselves. Recognizing and accepting when we need to step back and take some time to relax is a valuable step towards feeling less stressed, more creative, and happier overall.

What are your thoughts on this topic? Do you also struggle with knowing when to take a break? What are your tips for setting goals that are both challenging and realistic? Have any recommendations of other videos or books about this topic? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY

Bookish, Discussion

Why It’s Okay to NOT Make Time For Reading | Discussion

wilberry-2

Like many readers, I have struggled to find time to read when life gets really busy. It’s easy for reading time to get shoved aside by school, work, and other commitments that have a higher priority on our to-do lists. Countless blog posts and Booktube videos have given readers tips for increasing the amount of reading time in their lives: make reading a part of your daily routine, carry a book with you everywhere you go, listen to audiobooks while doing chores or commuting, and simply prioritize it more. on a regular basis. Though these tips can certainly be helpful at times, I think they’re ultimately missing the larger point to be made here:

It’s okay to NOT make time for reading. 

I’ve come to this realization after completing three semesters of college in which I had basically no time at all to read anything that wasn’t listed on one of my syllabi. At first this lack of choice in what I read really bothered me because it was such a deviation from the mountains of books I normally had time to read for fun when I was at home and in high school. Initially I was determined to make time for reading in the midst of my busy schedule of classes, coursework, paid work, and extracurricular activities, but I soon realized that this was nearly impossible. If I wanted to have enough time to study and do well in my classes (not to mention time to socialize with friends and even sleep) then I would have to give up the books on my TBR and hit my academic books instead. 

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This is a sacrifice that I have made each and every semester that I’ve been in college. Though book reviews continue to be posted on my blog, these are reviews that were written over the summer or during other breaks that I have scheduled in advance to automatically be posted in the future. However, as a rule I don’t read anything that isn’t assigned reading for my classes during the semester unless I’m home for a holiday break.

Before college, the thought of giving up reading would have seemed almost blasphemous to me. Giving up reading? But I’m a reader! It’s what I have to do! And that’s the problem: too often I’ve felt as though being a reader means always having my nose in a book, no matter what time of year it is or what other commitments I have in my life at the time. I believed that in order to be considered a “reader” I had to read a significant number of books each year– certainly at least enough to surpass my Goodreads challenge goal– and have an impressive number of books on my bookshelves. Being a “reader” meant living the lifestyle of one, which apparently has become a much larger commitment than anyone could have anticipated.

But this just simply isn’t true. Anyone can be a reader, and there’s a simple one-step process to becoming one: identifying as a reader. Once someone says or thinks, “You know what? I’m a reader.” then he or she is a reader. There aren’t any hidden strings attached or pacts with the bookish gods that one must forge. One’s identity as a reader isn’t something that can be judged or approved by others, especially regarding the kinds of books and amount of books one reads.

The brilliant Ariel Bissett actually has several videos discussing this topic that helped me recently come to this realization, though it has been brewing in the back of my mind for over a year now. Two videos in particular, titled “I Can’t Find Time to Read” and “Not a ‘Proper’ Reader?” hit the nail squarely on the head with her thoughts on our obsession with tracking what we read and setting requirements on who can consider themselves a “proper” reader.

All in all, I wanted to share my thoughts on the mythic rule that we must always strive to make ample time for reading in our lives. We should not feel guilty for the reading that we don’t do, nor should we lament the seemingly never-ending growth of our TBR piles. You can choose to NOT make time to reading and still be a reader. 

What are your thoughts on being considered a “reader,” making time for reading, and on tracking what we read in general? I would absolutely love to know what you think, so please let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY

 

Read-A-Thons

BookTubeAThon 2015 Wrap-Up

A LITTLE STARSTRUCK-2

Alas! the BookTubeAThon 2015 has come to a close. What a week it has been! Between watching all of the update videos, participating in Twitter sprints, and reading my bookish behind off, it’s a wonder that I’ve had any time to blog at all! While I’m sure I didn’t read as much as many participants due to work, my current internship, and other obligations, I’m still really pleased with the reading I managed to accomplish.

booktubeathon 2015 logoThis is my second year participating in the BookTubeAThon, and I cannot wait to participate next year! I love this event because I feel as though it really brings together the bookish community here on the internet. It’s a time where we can all celebrate our passion for reading simultaneously, and it’s so cool to think that as you sit there reading people all over the world are joining in as well. Plus, it’s hosted by the marvelous Ariel Bissett, who I adore. She’s so full of energy and enthusiasm, and her videos always make me smile.

But that’s enough chatter for now! Onward, friends!

Copy of June

The Reader by Bernhard Schlink

The Reader by William Shakespeare  ~  3 out of 5 smileys

King Lear by Shakespeare 2

 King Lear by William Shakespeare  ~  3 out of 5 smileys

Macbeth by Shakespeare

Macbeth by William Shakespeare  ~  4 out of 5 smileys

Our Town by Thornton Wilder

Our Town by Thornton Wilder  ~  4 out of 5 smileys

The Martian by Andy Weir

The Martian by Andy Weir  ~  4 out of 5 smileys

Reviews of all these books will be posted soon, but if you have any questions regarding my thoughts on them feel free to ask away in the comments section!

In total I read 1,108 pages, which is way more than I thought I would end up reading! I had quite a busy week with work and my internship and hanging out with friends, so I honestly didn’t expect to read much more than I normally do. Usually I read around 50 to 100 pages a day, but during the BookTubeAThon I read an average of 158 pages per day. Yay for exceeding expectations!

My favorite read of the week was Our Town, but The Martian is definitely an honorable mention. The down-to-earth message and simplicity of Thornton Wilder’s play just can’t be beat!

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  1. Read a book with blue on the cover: King Lear by William Shakespeare
  2. Read a book by an author who shares the same first letter of your last name: The Reader by Bernhard Schlink
  3. Read someone else’s favorite book: NONE
  4. Read the last book you acquired: The Martian by Andy Weir – this is the last book I acquired from the library… that counts, right?
  5. Finish a book without letting go of it: Our Town by Thornton Wilder
  6. Read a book you really want to read: Macbeth by William Shakespeare
  7. Read seven books: NONE

I managed to complete five of the seven challenges, which totally surprised me! At the beginning of the week I was hoping to complete three of them, but I surpassed that goal within the first two days. I love when you do better than you think you will!

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This past week has been an awesome whirlwind of reading, reading, reading! I loved participating in Twitter sprints because they really motivated me to read, and it was great feeling part of the BookTubeAThon community. I ended up reading the number of books I usually read in a single month all in one week, which I think is a pretty good personal accomplishment! Overall, I call BookTubeAThon 2015 a success!

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 Did you participate in the BookTubeAThon? How did you do? What do you think of the books that I read? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY