Bookish #1

What’s harder than a first post? A second post.

I started this blog with the intention to write about travel and then general life experiences. Once again I think I’ll elaborate on the travel part in a different post, but I have since decided that I don’t want to limit myself to writing about just one thing. So as stated previously: ‘this blog is going to be a little bit of whatever I want to blog about’, starting with books I have recently read.

I am definitely an avid reader. I used to carry around a notebook in which I would list not only the title and author of the book I was currently reading, but also the start and finish date, and how I came to acquire it. My obsession with books and reading definitely peaked between Year 8 and Year 9. Unfortunately, I reached such a high that the amount I read each year decreased drastically. 2015 has so far been the worst reading year for me. Now that I seriously look back I did read a few novels here and there, however we could round that number down and also correctly state that I really only read two books this year: my Year 13 English novel and the Road Code.

One reason it was so easy to let reading go this year (besides Year 13 of course!) is that I feel like I’ve read just about everything for my age group. I’m not exaggerating – I was reading 20/30 books a month when I was younger, and I read reasonably widely within the Young Adult genre, and even sometimes beyond. During my teen reading slump I really felt like books had little appeal. Reading the blurb, no matter how riveting the plot sounded, I could infer how it ended. Plot twists lacked surprise. Books within certain genres became too easy to guess what would happen. I could map out in my head how the story would be set up. Character voices bored me, adding to the predicability of their journey, and it was becoming increasingly difficult to sustain an interest in sitting down and flipping pages.

Determined to change this, the past couple of weeks I have been rediscovering my love for reading and even regularly visiting my library. I’ve scoured the internet for recommendations and I am getting through a stack of books pretty quickly, with lots of more to come. It’s great to be getting back into this. Reading is such an important thing to do, at any age, as the benefits are abundant. In hindsight, the time away from books that I had this year has actually been quite good. Books feel fresh and interesting again. Having studied genre theory in school this year I have also realised that being overly familiar with a genre or sub-genre does not necessarily mean I should write it off. We gravitate towards certain genres for a reason: they empower us as readers or viewers. This increases our willingness to engage with the content in front of us, allowing us to predict what might happen, or recognise certain troupes, thus increasing our overall enjoyment towards it.

Here’s what I have been reading since school ended:

The October List by Jeffery Deaver

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A friend recommended this book to me about a year ago and it was the first book I ‘read’ this month. I used quotation marks because I actually only read the first couple of chapters and the final one. The rest of the book I just skimmed through. However, this is a really unique and clever novel because it is written in reverse. This back to front format is original and it suited the story brilliantly. Even with all the skimming, I still really enjoyed finding out what happened and piecing together the story, so I predict that it would be even more riveting if one had actually read the novel properly.

The Last Time We Say Goodbye by Cynthia Hand

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Let me tell you: this book will leave you up late at night and in tears. I read this one over a couple of days based off a recommendation from a library book club and I definitely did not expect it to move me as much as it did. At first I didn’t find it particularly gripping. The main character’s voice was not particularly enjoyable and I felt as though the author was trying a bit too hard to relate to the current high school demographic. However, this book turned out to be a wonderful read. It revolves around the suicide of the main character’s younger brother, Ty. This is a heavy and difficult topic, but I believe it portrayed the consequences of suicide in a honest, raw, and above all realistic way. In no way at all did it glamorize suicide or the pain felt by all those affected by the tragic act. My favourite passage is when the main character reflects on her brother’s suicide after another young person takes their own life and how even after their friends, acquaintances, extended family etc. finish their mourning, she and Ty’s immediate family will never be able to fully disassociate themselves with the pain his suicide caused. She then ponders over the harsh truth that Ty, unlike a celebrity or other well-known person, will not be immortalized or glorified in his death for the simple fact that he is just a regular person from a regular loving and devastated family. Cynthia Hand could not have written this book any better. It is an incredibly emotional novel from the first page to the author’s acknowledgements at the end.

Decked with Holly by Marnie Bates

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Completely different to the books mentioned earlier, I saw this one on a Buzzfeed Christmas books list and read it a couple of weeks before Christmas. It was a hilarious contemporary and, despite the plot, completely steered itself away from ‘insta-love’. Unlike the cover suggested, this one wasn’t as festive as I was hoping for but I thought it was a great read anyway.

Spark by Rachael Craw

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After going to a dialogue workshop with this author earlier on in the year where she read aloud sections of her book, I have been wanting read it myself. Rachael Craw is a New Zealand author and Spark falls within genres I didn’t expect a book by a young adult author from New Zealand to. If I’m honest, I still don’t quite understand the whole Spark, Shield, and Stray thing (I’m referring to the groups within the first book, not the actual novels themselves), but I am really excited that the author has written these books for teenagers. I had hoped that it would be set in New Zealand or have some ties to the country, nonetheless it was still a good debut novel despite also lacking diversity which it had huge potential for. The only thing that really bothered me was the physical transformation of the main character upon discovering her abilities(?) where she becomes almost unnecessarily taller, leaner, you get the gist… Anyway, I look forward to following this author and seeing where she takes this trilogy. Fans of Young Adult science fiction, romance, thriller, or action are sure to get a kick out of this book. Take a look at the rave Goodreads reviews and try it out!

Afterworlds by Scott Westerfeld

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I’m actually reading this one at the moment, though not in the way it was intended. This book is two novels in one. Darcy is a Young Adult author who is a young adult herself (I found this very exciting) who is rewriting her soon-to-be-published debut novel. We get to read this novel, titled Afterworlds, in alternating chapters and it is a completely different story from Darcy’s. Personally I found Darcy’s story more interesting. So at about a quarter of the way through I decided to only read about Darcy. Her chapters are very engaging – each time I had to put the book down I couldn’t wait to pick it up again. Perhaps my favourite thing about this novel was Scott Westerfeld’s use of a (I’m going to use the word again) diverse main character without trying to make this ‘diversity’ a selling point of his novel or part of her ‘coming-of-age’ storyline. I loved that what helped her transition into adulthood was not based on her ethnicity, religion, or even certain preferences. Rather, it was living on her own for the first time, sticking to and blowing a budget, discovering New York whilst falling in love, and being surrounded by a new crowd of older but like-minded people.

What have you been reading recently?

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8 thoughts on “Bookish #1

  1. Young adult is SUCH an awesome category – there are endless books. So happy you’re getting back into reading! I loved Afterworlds and Stray and The Last Time We Say Goodbye…you’re starting off with some excellent choices.

    All the best with your new blog! It looks fabulous 🙂

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  2. I’ll have to take another look at Afterworlds. I’ve been hearing a lot of mixed reviews about it without actually seeing what it’s about! It’s more inception-like than I would have imagined, and it’s cool to see a brand new concept kicking around. And if it’s doing diversity well I’m certainly interested

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    1. Thank you for your comment 🙂 Whilst I can understand the mixed reviews, I do think Afterworlds is worth giving a go even if only for the main protagonist (Darcy). If you have any recommendations for diverse books I’d love to hear them!!

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  3. If you think about it, reading can be a different kind of travel 😉

    Yay for getting back into reading! I haven’t read any of the books you’ve been reading recently, but I’ve heard a lot of good things about them! I really want to pick up The Last Time We Say Goodbye sometime.

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