Being brutally honest about books

Wednesday, 31 August 2016

The Fabulousness of Ebooks

Ereaders aren't a new thing, but in my experience they are severely underrated, and some people think they're superior beings for preferring paper to electronic books. I would like to stress that preferring to read one way does not make you any better than people who prefer to read another way. There are advantages and disadvantages to both paper books and ebooks. But bear in mind that ereaders weren't invented just for fun, they were invented because they have benefits over paper books.

I've had my Sony Reader for more than three years now, and it's still exciting to read stuff on it. So, here are 11 reasons why ereaders and ebooks rule.

Disclaimer: There are different types of ereaders, and these features might not apply to all of them.
My baby

1. They're light and easy to hold

Some books are just too massive. This is where ereaders come to the rescue - I downloaded War and Peace because that book is over 1,000 pages long. Reading a 1,000-page paperback is not fun at all - I'm reading the last Obernewtyn book, which is over 1,100 pages, and the page size is big too. It's really hard to read.

Those are my legs and that is the book. It's soo big! *cries*

2. You can look up what words mean!

I can't stress enough how useful this function is. When you're reading something and come across a word or phrase you don't understand, just press down on the word and the definition comes up! This is so much better than having to get out a dictionary. My vocabulary has definitely increased since I got my ereader.

3. They're portable

Who here has had to bring a whole extra suitcase full of books with them on holiday? I have, and it sucks. With an ereader, you can bring tens, even hundreds of books with you on holiday, and only need to make room for one device that's usually smaller than an actual book.

My ereader, next to my laptop for reference

4. You can change the font and text size

The text size in some books is just too small for comfort, and in others it's too big. On an ereader, you can choose the font size that suits you the best, and you can also choose what font the text is in. How cool is that?

5. You can get books without having to leave your house!

Going to the library is a hassle. Going to a bookshop is dangerous. If you have an ereader, you can get books just by having an internet connection. (This is very useful when it's the middle of the night and you want something new to read... Shhhh!) I download most of my ebooks for free from Project Gutenberg and Goodreads, although I also borrow them from the library. Of course the same problem occurs with ebooks as it does with paper books - you end up with more books on your shelf than you can read. But it's still more convenient.

6. Nobody knows what you're reading

Are you reading Les Misérables, or are you reading Fifty Shades of Grey? No-one knows. However, this can be slightly awkward when your Year 12 form teacher asks what you're reading and you have to say, "Fanfiction, actually..."

7. They're electronic devices, which means... buttons to push!

Who doesn't love playing with technology? C'mon, it's fun.

8. You can make notes on the page... without ruining the book!

You can highlight sections, make typed notes and handwritten notes, all without marking the paper. What sorcery is this?

9. You don't need bookmarks

No matter how many ebooks you've got on the go, the ereader always remembers where you're up to. Your younger sister can't pull your bookmark out of an ebook!

10. There's no way to damage the book

No dog-eared pages from when your "friend" borrowed your book, no food or sand in the pages, no yellowing of the paper, no cracked spine, no rips and tears and dents and bends... It's incredible. My ereader is getting old and has cracks and chips in it, but since I'm very protective of my physical books, it's much safer to have an ereader.

11. Ebooks are the best for studying at a tertiary level

(Note: I don't use my ereader for this, I use a computer, so this reason is a bit of an odd one out.) It's so much easier to download ebooks you might need to refer to in your essay and use the finder to find keywords than it is to use paper books. I wouldn't be able to study without  textbooks and journals being available online. Thank you, internet!

Do you have an ereader? If so, what do you love about it? What do you dislike about it? Do you ever buy ebooks, or only download free ones?

Sunday, 28 August 2016

Goodreads Book Tag

I came across this cute little book tag on The Review Room and decided to share what I've been reading recently. As you may know from an earlier rant, I love Goodreads and use it every day, so if here's what my profile kind of looks like at the moment.


What was the last book you marked as read?
If Not, Winter: Fragments of Sappho

If Not, Winter: Fragments of Sappho by
What are you currently reading?
13130788
I've been reading this for months. It's soooo long!

What was the last book you marked as TBR?
25497701

Rooks and Romanticide by J. I. Radke

What book do you plan to read next? 
Either one of three books on my bookshelf (Strange Are the Ways by Teresa Crane, Pompeii by Robert Harris, Sacred Country by Rose Tremain) or Leo Tolstoy's War and Peace on my ereader.

Do you use the star rating system?
Yep, I find it very helpful. My rating system is the same for this blog and Goodreads.

Are you doing a 2016 reading challenge?
Nope. I last did a reading challenge in 2012. So on the challenge box it just says, "I want to read books in 2016," which is very accurate. I just want to read books this year, not a specific number.

Do you have a wishlist?
I have a to-get list, but since books are so expensive it's a very short list. This is it:

Blank 133x176

Darkbane (The Legendsong #3) by
Cleopatra's Shadows
Cleopatra's Shadows by
Do you have any favourite quotes? Would you like to share a few? 
With pleasure! 

“The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid.”
Jane Austen, Northanger Abbey
“A room without books is like a body without a soul.”
Marcus Tullius Cicero 
“We read books to find out who we are. What other people, real or imaginary, do and think and feel... is an essential guide to our understanding of what we ourselves are and may become.”
Ursula K. Le Guin 
“We don’t need a list of rights and wrongs, tables of dos and don’ts: we need books, time, and silence. Thou shalt not is soon forgotten, but Once upon a time lasts forever.”
Philip Pullman 
“All that is gold does not glitter,
Not all those who wander are lost;
The old that is strong does not wither,
Deep roots are not reached by the frost.

From the ashes a fire shall be woken,
A light from the shadows shall spring;
Renewed shall be blade that was broken,
The crownless again shall be king.”
J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring  
Who are your favourite authors?
My three most-read authors are Tamora Pierce, Louise Rennison, and John Marsden but they aren't necessarily my favourites. I'm still just getting my foot in the door of adult books so I haven't found any favourites yet there.
 
Have you joined any groups?
I did, but I've since left them. I don't remember if I ever posted anything in those groups. I've actually never been in any book groups, online or offline. I'm not sure that they'd work for me.

I tag...

Everyone reading this who uses Goodreads!

Friday, 26 August 2016

Poet in the Spotlight: Sappho

Happy National Poetry Day, everyone!

I'm not a poetry fan. I'm really not. I just tend to...not get it.

But I adore Sappho, a famous poetess from Lesbos who lived around 600BCE. Most of her work is lost, but the fragments that remain are beautiful - she says so much in just a few words.

So to celebrate National Poetry Day, I thought I'd share with you some gorgeous Sappho poems. These are all from If Not, Winter: Fragments of Sappho translated by Anne Carson (2003). Enjoy!









 



 
One of Sappho's poems

Saturday, 20 August 2016

Girls don't want boys; girls want more LGBTQ characters in genre fiction

I see plenty of LGBTQ books (especially in YA) being published these days, and this is a fantastic step for representation. These sorts of books are essential for young LGBTQ readers to know that they are valid and are not alone in having their experiences. They're also important as they help non-LGBTQ readers to understand the issues our community faces. It's all well and good to have these sorts of books becoming more mainstream.

But.

Most of these books fit into a specific LGBTQ genre. Which is fine in itself, I certainly won't complain about there being a whole category of books dedicated to non-cis and -straight characters.

But.

The problem is that these characters are being confined to this one genre. We need to see more LGBTQ characters in our beloved genre fiction, characters whose orientations are not part of their character development or the plot, they just happen to be LGBTQ because they can. We need to see these characters because our LGBTQ identities are not all that we are - we can exist without being riddled with angst because we don't conform to a hetero- and cisnormative ideal. We can be LGBTQ and still get on with our lives without it being a big deal. We can be LGBTQ and face huge problems that have nothing to do with our orientations.

Therefore.

There need to be more LGBTQ characters in genre fiction to make sure we get the representation we deserve, and to make sure our community (especially the young ones) doesn't get classified as angst-ridden, hormone-raging adolescents. Genre fiction deals with bigger, wider issues, like historical and fictional societies, war and politics and morally grey decisions. It's easy for LGBTQ characters to be featured, heavily or not, in these books without any stretch of the imagination (there have always been LGBTQ people and there always will be, so there's no need for "Is it historically accurate for this Medieval character to be gay?" These characters won't always use these labels for themselves, especially if they live in the past, before these words came into use, but labels for their orientation is a subject for another post). It's easy, so they should be included in these books. They need to be included in these books.

Example.

I'd like to point you in the direction of the Bi the Way trope (FYI, TV Tropes is an amazing website for a) learning about millions of tropes you didn't know existed, and b) filling in a few hours). In this trope, the character just happens to be bi because they can be, not because it makes them more interesting or allows for more angst. If you go to the page, you can see examples of the trope's use in literature, film, TV, and other media. This trope proves that it is indeed possible for a character in genre fiction to be LGBTQ without their orientation being its own plotline.

Conclusion.

Give me bi men in space. Give me aromantic lesbians in Ancient Greece. Give me transwomen on fantastical quests. There are so many stories to be written, and so many identities to represent, so just make it happen: put more LGBTQ characters into genre fiction. It doesn't have to be a big deal. Just give my community the representation we deserve.

Disclaimers.

  1. While writing this post I was thinking about genre fiction books, but the same applies for TV and movies. 
  2. My definition of LGBTQ includes heterosexual aromantics and heteroromantic asexuals. I won't take part in any discourse surrounding this.
  3. I just decided now that this will be the first in a series of posts about LGBTQ representation in fiction. Can't wait? Neither can I! 

What are your favourite examples of LGBTQ characters in genre fiction? What is your favourite type of genre fiction? Who is your favourite LGBTQ figure from history?

Tuesday, 16 August 2016

Top Ten Books Set in the Future

Top Ten Tuesday is an awesome meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week's theme is Top Ten Books With X Setting (top ten books set near the beach, top ten book set in boarding school, top ten books set in England, etc). If you read my blog you'll know how much I love historical fiction, but you may not know that sci-fi is also one of my favourite genres, and I love futuristic settings a LOT.
Click the covers to go to the Goodreads links. 

1.
Uglies (Uglies, #1)
The Uglies series by Scott Westerfeld
2.
Diverse Energies
Diverse Energies edited by
3.
The Comet's Curse (Galahad, #1)
The Galahad series by Dom Testa
4.
Blood Red Road (Dust Lands, #1)
 The Dust Lands trilogy by Moira Young
5.
Genesis (The Rosie Black Chronicles, #1)
 The Rosie Black Chronicles by Lara Morgan
6.
Adaptation (Adaptation, #1)
  The Adaptation series by Malinda Lo
7.
The Carbon Diaries 2015 (Carbon Diaries, #1)
The Carbon Diaries series by Saci Lloyd
(Wait....)
8.
Titanic 2020 (Titanic 2020 #1)
Titanic 2020 by Colin Bateman
9.
Exodus (Exodus, #1)
The Exodus series by Julie Bertagna
10.
The Mammoth Book of SF Wars
The Mammoth Book of SF Wars edited by Ian Watson & Ian Whates

What are your favourite futuristic books? Have you read any of these? Do you have any recommendations?

Tuesday, 9 August 2016

Top Ten Books by New Zealand Authors


Top Ten Tuesday is an awesome meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week's theme is Top Ten Tuesday REWIND - go back and do a topic you missed over the years or recently or a topic you really want to revisit. I missed 19 July's Ten Books Set Outside The US, but since that's too broad I thought I'd narrow it down a bit and show my international readers what they should be reading. These books aren't all set in New Zealand, but they're not set in the US, either.

1. 


Love in the Land of Midas by Kapka Kassabova

2.

Rosetta by Barbara Ewing

3.

4.

I Am Not Esther by Fleur Beale

5.

The Prince of Soul and the Lighthouse by Fredrik Brounéus

6. 


7.

Juicy Writing: Inspiration and Techniques for Young Writers by

A Necklace of Souls by



Hairy Maclary from Donaldson's Dairy by Lynley Dodd
(C'mon, it's a classic!)

Talk to me... 

Do you have any favourite New Zealand books? Are you going to try any of the ones on this list? How well do NZ writers compete internationally?

Monday, 8 August 2016

Goodreads, what have you done???

I go on Goodreads daily. That's right - every day. Often it's just to check my notifications, sometimes it's to add a book or look up a book or update my reading status. I've been on Goodreads for eight years, I started using it in August 2008. That's a long time, and I have become attached to this wonderful website for readers of all shapes and sizes.

But then, on Friday, when Goodreads loaded on my screen, it was different. The homepage had changed.

I do not like it when websites change without warning. I especially do not like it when websites make a change that sucks. The news Goodreads homepage, dear reader, is ugly. It's three columns wide, which is not easy on the  reader's eye, nor is it aesthetically pleasing. In short, I hate it.

Take a look for yourself and tell me what you think. Am I right in despising its ugliness? Or am I overreacting?


Monday, 1 August 2016

Thirty Bookish Facts About Me

Thank you Cait at Paper Fury for sharing these questions!

1) Currently reading?

Music & Silence by

2) Should’ve read, like, yesterday?

Throne of Glass by

3) Book that impacted you?

One? Just one?!

5) Current series crush?

 Don't have one.

6) How strong is your self-control around books?

 Well, if I see a book lying around anywhere, I pick it up to look at it. But apart from wanting to look at all the books, I'd say I have good self-control, especially about buying them.

7) Plot vs characters? 

Strong, interesting, and unique characters are necessary for me to love a book. However, I find narrative a very interesting topic to study (I'm a Media student, I've studied it twice). When a book has great characters and little plot, it can be okay. When a book hasn't got great characters but has a very interesting plot, it can be good. So I might go with plot.

8) Would you write under a pseudonym?

Yes. But I also want recognition. So I don't know.

9) Would you marry your bookshelf?

We live together anyway, I don't need a document to prove my love. I guess we're living in sin, then.

10) Do you ever get sick of reading?

Yes. Doesn't everybody? 

11) Random bookish memory?

 "Companionably reading" with one of my old friends. Our whole friendship was mostly based around this - we would usually sit in her room and each read our own book. I need a new friend to do this with; it was great.

12) Character you relate to? 

I find it very hard to relate to characters in books and I can't think of any.

13) Do you own bookish merchandise?

I have a rune necklace from when I got my book signed by Cassandra Clare.

14) Controversial opinion? 

Romance is unnecessary in books for young people. That includes eleven-year-olds and eighteen-year-olds. I'm not saying don't put romance in any book at all (I agree, but no-one would take me seriously) just that it's unnecessary.

15) NOTP?

  Plenty but none I can think of specifically.

16) Why didn’t I love this?

What is this question asking? No comprendo. 

17) Hardcover vs paperback?

Paperback. (Hardcovers are just so hard to hold.)

18) Do you ever like villains?

Yep 

19) Cringeable reads? 

Paranormal fiction in general.

20) Where do you get your books from?

Libraries, for the most part. 

21) Haunting read?

I'm sure I've read some, but I can't think of any. 

22) Highly anticipated upcoming release? 

I don't actually have any, for once in my life. I'm not anticipating any upcoming releases. This is a good thing, though.

23) Annoying character qualities?

 Moody, "popular", "unpopular", spoiled brat, too noble or selfish to sacrifice one person/thing for the greater good.

24) Least favourite genre?

Animal stories. Although I have read a surprising number of horse books for someone who doesn't like animals.

25) Best tropes?

 Girl dresses as boy. Hate-love. Female warriors. Anti-heroes.

26) Rereading?

Only for books I love

27) Have you abused a book?

I nearly threw a copy of one of the Lord of the Rings books out the window on accident. 

28) Series you quit on? 

 Cassandra Clare's Shadowhunters universe. I loved The Mortal Instruments and The Infernal Devices, but I have no interest in reading the new series because there's a bit of sameness and I've just grown out of it.

29) Wish it wasn’t a standalone?

 I can't think of any. For at least the past year, I've preferred to read standalones over series. 

30) Bad bookworm side-effects? 

Getting writing inspiration from every book you read, so that while you're reading a book you're thinking of your own writing and therefore don't take in the book you're reading.
I'm Alexandria, a 19-year-old reader/writer/blogger from New Zealand. I love language, history, and sci-fi. Hi! I'm always around if you want to talk, which you can do via comments, the contact form, or Facebook.

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