Confessions of a book blogger #4: I cannot DNF books

Confessions of a book blogger #4: I cannot DNF booksThis is just one of those things that I, personally, cannot deal with. I hate leaving things unfinished, no matter what it is.

I can leave them alone for a long time, for years even, but I will eventually finish whatever it is I am working on. Whether it’s a project or a book I’m reading. At some point I will make sure it’s done.

Books I really don’t like, I will therefore still finish reading. Not just because I cannot stand to see them unfinished, but also because that’s the only fair way to give a review; if you’ve not finished it, how are you supposed to give a fair and honest review?

How do you feel about DNFing a book? Yes, no, maybe? Let me know in the comments!

(DNF, for those who didn’t know, means: did not finish).

P.S. I’ve recently DNFed my first book. It’s been two years, I think I really should give up at some point… It does feel very strange and wrong however.

Confessions of a book blogger #3 – I don’t ship fictional characters

Confessions of a book blogger #3 -  I don't ship fictional charactersYou read that right. I don’t ship characters. I’ve mentioned it before somewhere in one of my blog posts, but I feel like I should really put it out there now.

Ever since I started reading (pretty much right after I was born), I’ve read (or listened to) stories and just accepted them the way they were. Sure, sometimes I didn’t like the way things ended (I’m all for happy endings), but that’s just the way it was. I never even considered that you could want a character in a book to end up with someone else than they did. I mean, it’s a story. You can’t change that. Why bother even thinking about what should be different.

Since my entrance into the book community a year or two ago (though I was only following people at that time, not making my own content), I’ve started to think about this more. There have been stories I would’ve liked to turn out different, yet I still can’t make myself care for the relationship of fictional characters. It’s just not my thing.

Perhaps because romance isn’t really my thing. Not in books; I’ll read the occasional contemporary romance, but usually I stick to all the other genres. Also, not in real life. I really enjoy my boyfriend being romantic, but I suck at it. Wait, that should be capitalized: I SUCK at it. I’m ok with that though: me doing romance is just not realistic. I’ve got things I’m much better that.

What about you? Do you ship fictional characters? Do you have an OTP? Do you have any idea how long it took me after first seeing OTP to figure out what it meant?

Confessions of a book blogger # 2 – I still LOVE children’s books

I adore children’s books! Maybe not really a big shock, huh? Since I’ve been posting quite some reviews of these books as well. And sure, maybe I don’t like all of them, there’s still so many that I love. I’m not talking about Harry Potter (which was originally intended for adults and is in certain cases very Confessions #2 - I LOVE children's booksinappropriate for children), but real children’s books, preferable with cute pictures.

A picture book with just a line or two just doesn’t quite cut it however. I like the ones with the full stories and the occasional picture, so you can see what the strange creatures the author invented look like.

One of the most well-known may be The Chronicles of Narnia, which is immediately one of my exceptions, because there was too much overt and covert sexism and god-fearing in the books for me to be able to enjoy it. Usually I can get over it with old books, but not with Narnia. Though it should give you a good idea of the books I’m talking about.

Confessions #2 - I LOVE children's booksI’ve read so many of them in Dutch now that I’d also love to read some in English or German, so if you’ve got any suggestions for children’s books that were written originally in either of these languages (German, Dutch, English), please let me know in the comments. I can never have too many recommendations!

Do you also still love to read children’s books? Or am I alone in that?

Books and Feminism #1 – Beauty

Books & Feminism - beautyThere’s been this trend lately of great stories with kick-ass female characters. Seems very feminist, or does it?

Now, just as a disclaimer, I do love most of these books and stories and have enjoyed reading them quite a bit. This however, doesn’t mean that there aren’t recurring issues I can’t be critical about with regards to their lack of feminism in certain respects. While I’m of the opinion that all kinds of women should be represented in books, this still happens very little. The things I’ll mention are only a problem because they’re overused. If they were only used sporadically I feel it wouldn’t really be an issue and in fact promote diversity in characters. As it stands, the following is more of a trend, which is not a good thing.

One of the first things that’s noticeable in a lot of YA is the young woman who doesn’t feel she looks very good, maybe she doesn’t think of herself as ugly, but she’s sure she’s definitely nothing special. She doesn’t have the confidence to not worry about her looks. We all know these stories, right? It’s just about all of them. A young woman who keeps wondering why that super-awesome-totally-cute/hot/drool-worthy guy is into her.

I’m gonna ignore the heteronormativity for now, though I’m sure I’ll have a post about this as well at some point.

Books & Feminism - beautyFirst of all, the focus on beauty and having to be beautiful in our society is already an issue; why do women have to be beautiful, why can’t they just be ugly without everyone and their grandma commenting on it? Honestly, I’ve never understood why. Sure, someone’s ears might be huge, but what’s the point in commenting on it? It’s not going to change anything, except that if this person hears, they might even feel worse about themselves. Not everything is aesthetically pleasing. It can’t be, as what is pleasing is defined differently for every single person. Something that doesn’t appeal to you, will appeal to someone else. Trying to fit someone into a mold of what’s beautiful to you, is a pretty bad idea.

I want to take this even further. Everyone understands beauty is different for different people. But, should why do we really focus on beauty at all? Dove’s natural beauty campaign for example. It seems great and inclusive (though it’s not!), but why is beauty so important? It really shouldn’t be. And with the campaign, Dove (again) focuses on beauty; you have to be beautiful. In your own way, sure, but still beautiful. Why isn’t it ok for people when someone is not beautiful?

Books & Feminism - beautyA lot of female main characters in book do this as well; they focus on the beauty they do or do not have. The world’s falling apart and they need to try their best to survive AND look good while doing it. I’ve never read a survival book about a man who still had the need to look gorgeous while surviving the apocalypse. Why can’t there be more women in books that also have the same disregard for the exact state of their looks?

So far, I can only think of two characters from popular books that do not seem to have this problem: Katniss Everdeen from The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins; she gets changed a lot by others, but none of it really on her own volition, and Lynn from Not a Drop to Drink by Mindy McGinnis; there is very little in terms of looks in this book. That is, if I remember right. Please correct me if I’m wrong. And let me know if there are other characters that should be part of this as well.

On Instagram, I asked for some help to come up with some other characters. These are from books I don’t know myself, but I’ve been assured they’re definitely worth mentioning as well. Can you come up with more?

  • Celaena Sardothien from the Throne of Glass series by Sarah J. Maas (suggested by @slatedfangirl)
  • Matilda Giles aka Tilly from the Angels Gateway series (suggested by @iknowdarkplaces)
  • Jane Eyre from (of course) Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë (suggested by @thebooklovingnerd)
  • Sophie from Howl’s Moving Castle by Dianna Wynne Jones (suggested by @emma.reads.x)
  • Lisbeth Salander from The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson (suggested by @emmas__bookshelf)
  • Henrietta from Henrietta the Dragon Slayer by Beth Barany (suggested by @livelovereadya)

The idea was to just write one post about this, but there’s so much to say that in a next post I’ll tackle another aspect of these “strong female characters” that bothers me, because it’s practically become a trope instead of a characteristic.

Confessions of a book blogger #1 – I eat while reading

Yes, now it’s out there for the world to see. I am one of those readers; one of those that eats and snacks and stuffs herself while she reads (okay, stuffing might just be occasional).

I know there’s quite a few people out there that don’t like to eat anything while they’re reading they’re books. I can understand their perspective. Honestly, I don’t want my books to get smudged either. I really don’t.

Confessions of a bookblogger - I eat while I readHowever, when I get hungry (or just feel like something), I’ll make myself something to eat, or grab a quick snack. Just eating while doing nothing else kind of bores me and thus… I read.

Most of the time it’s something innocuous like chips, popcorn, or berries. At other times it’s a full meal. It’s a bit harder when it’s a full meal, but I preserve and somehow manage to read as well. Admittedly, I don’t manage to read a lot while I’m eating a proper meal, but small snacks and books work perfectly well together for me.

What side are you on? Do you or don’t you eat while reading?

Book synopses

Why do you always translate the foreign language (i.e. languages other than English) synopses yourself? 

You might ask that. You didn’t, but you might. Since it’s a bit of a different thing that I do (I haven’t seen it anywhere else), I thought I could explain this.

It’s really very simple in fact. I like to give a translation of the synopsis I read, so you can read what I’ve read. The synopses in different languages are often different. I want you to know what I’ve based my opinions on. Translations of the books are usually available, but translations of the synopses aren’t. For some reason, the synopses are often completely changed.

I could find a description from Amazon, or Goodreads, but I don’t use those for the same reason, because I want you to know what I’ve read; what was in (on) my book. The only way to do that is to translate it myself. It’s impossible to do this word for word and make it sound like a proper sentence in English, which is why I state it’s freely translated.

Do you read any foreign language books yourself? What do you do when you review them? Let me know in the comments! I’m quite curious to know how others tackle this issue.

Pre-loved books

Pre-loved, second-hand, used. No matter what you like to call them, I love buying them. Don’t get me wrong, I also love all my new books! But there’s just something about used-book shops and pre-loved books. I am a bit of a snob though, because I’ll only buy them they are in near perfect condition.

There’s three main reasons why I like to buy some of my books pre-loved: money, fun, and the environment.

Pre-loved books | Why I love them
Yes, these are all pre-loved too!

1. Money: pre-loved books are much more affordable than their just-been-printed cousins. You can find them in yard sales for dime, most used goods stores often start around fifty cents. Used-book stores however, usually get a bit more expensive, as they’re more knowledgeable about the product they sell, but even there the books start around the same prices! I love the feeling of finding a book I’ve been wanting to read in near-perfect condition for a steal.
You might not find the new releases in those places, but what about the new releases you meant to buy last year, or two years ago, but never got around to? Those you can now get for only a fraction of the price! And who doesn’t like to save money to buy those new releases you really  need right now!?

2. Fun: it’s so much fun to go through all the (mostly badly organized) bookshelves and try to find something you like. Somehow it’s so much more satisfying to find a book you want in a used book store than it is to just go and buy one. There are always new and beautiful gems to be discovered, while in regular bookshops there are usually only the new releases.
When I have the time, this is one of my favorite things to do. I do need to make sure that I have plenty of time though, because I usually lose track of it trying to find the perfect buy. I have found so many classics in such good condition in those places, it made me wonder if people had read them at all. If you want to see some of my pre-loved books, check out my Instagram, here, here, or here to start.

Pre-loved books | Why I love them
Hemmingway for only €1.-

3. Environmental impact: reuse, repurpose, recycle. That’s the saying, isn’t it? Why not apply this to books as well. It’s just another reason to get some that have already been printed. You could think that getting an e-reader would be better, but studies have not come to that same conclusion. What they do know, is that it all depends on how many books you read on your e-reader and how often you get a new one. According to this report you’ll need to read at least 30 books before getting a new Ipad to not increase your carbon footprint. However, others have suggested this might be much higher, though I can only find this Huffington Post article for this at the moment.* Clear is though, that it all depends on the usage.
Reading a used book however, reduces your carbon footprint, because you don’t add on the total carbon emissions to your carbon footprint for that book, but only a part. The total of that depends on how many people have read the same book, but it’s at least half of what a new book would’ve been.

Also, I sometimes just feel a bit sad that so many books have been disposed of by their previous owners. Sometimes, I just need to save one or two (or more) of them.

What do you think of buying and reading used books? Yay, or nay? And if not, why not? I’m curious to read your thoughts about this. Let me know in the comments!

* More on this in an other blog post