Monday Musings | Book Buying Habits

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I guess it comes as no surprise that my book buying habits have changed over the years, but as I was celebrating a great find at the library (yes, I’m a nerd), I wondered if everyone has a list of criteria that determines whether they buy a book or not. Or, more realistically, what those criteria are.

When I  grew up, the books I “bought” were the ones I successfully convinced my parents and relatives to buy for me. When I started having a (small) allowance, I was very picky when it came to actually biting the bullet and buying a book with my limited funds. At this point in life, I mostly bought books that I had already read but loved. But once I moved into my own place and started my first “grown up” job, there was no stopping me. I started buying books that I really wanted to read immediately, regardless of price and format. Well, let’s just say that that kind of buying isn’t sustainable and now I’m back in the “pull back” mode of buying where I have to really think carefully about the books I’m buying as I’m running out of space.

So, I normally follow a set of guidelines when I decide whether I want to buy a book: a) how badly do I want to read this book? b) do I want to read it right now? c) can I buy this as an e-book instead? d) might I find it in the library?

I find these guidelines have served me well so far, and when I see an anticipated read at the library, it’s extra exciting.

Do you give yourself any guidelines when deciding whether or not to buy a book? How have your book buying habits changed throughout the years?

Monday Musings | Reader-Author Relationships in the Time of Social Media

Karen Ma One More Page Photo Starbucks Reading

Hi friends! It’s been a while, eh? I hope you didn’t miss me too much 😉

After two years of musing about bookish things (almost) every week, I sometimes wonder if I’ve run out of things to muse about. But alas! As someone who is kind of addicted to social media, I started to think about the author-reader relationship and how it has changed since social media came along. Before social media, author-reader interactions mostly came from face-to-face contact, published reviews, or fan mail. While I’m sure authors from that time weren’t immune to hate mail, their exposure to unfavourable reviews and thoughts were at a minimum. Now, with the ubiquity of social media users and platforms (like Goodreads), authors can easily seek out what their readers are saying about their books. I’ve never published anything, but I’d imagine it takes a lot of discipline to resist the instant gratification of consumer feedback.

As someone who does post my reviews on my blog and on Goodreads, I’m (rightly or wrongly) conscious of the fact that there is a chance that my thoughts can be read by an author. Of course, sometimes this is great – there’s nothing as life-affirming as swooning over a book you loved with its author – but sometimes it can create an awkward situation. (I’m not even going get into those instances where authors seek out those who’ve penned negative reviews.) In my case, I started wondering (for no particular reason, I promise!) whether it would be strange to publish a negative review of a book when its author follows me on social media. It’s standard practice not to tag an author in a negative review, but what if s/he just happens to be scrolling through their timeline and sees it? I suppose this is the new risk that comes with the social media territory. All this said, I do owe it to myself and all of my friends to be completely honest with my thoughts and feelings. So where do we go from here? I think the bottom line is to make sure that all criticism is backed up by concrete reasons; to comment on the text and not the author themselves; and only write constructively and truthfully.

Have you ever had an awkward author-reader situation due to social media? How did you work around it?

Monday Musings | Putting Away Social Media

Karen Ma One More Page Photo Starbucks Reading

I’ll be the first to admit that I’m a wee bit addicted to social media. It’s the first thing I check after turning off my phone alarm in the morning, and it’s the first thing I open up when I’m leaving work for the day. Sometimes, I even check my Twitter/Instagram when I’m with other people. (This is seriously my biggest and most shameful secret.)

I don’t know how it happened, but more and more, I find that social media — as much as I love it — is a big distraction in my life. Don’t get me wrong: I love staying up-to-date with the latest news and I love being able to keep up with my friends online, but I sometimes feel like it’s taking away from my enjoyment of the little every day things. One of these little every day things is reading. What starts out as a “oh, let me update my reading progress on Goodreads!” ends up as a 30-minute Twitter spiral; “I’ll just Instagram this photo and go back to reading” becomes a mini “like”-fest… picking my book back up after my social media “break” oftentimes means having to shut everything down again and re-immerse myself into the book. It’s almost comical how silly the whole situation is, yet it happens to me all of the time.

So, I’ve decided to challenge myself a little bit. At 11pm every night this week, I’m going to turn off all technology and dedicate the rest of my night to uninterrupted reading. I’m going to make time to really, truly, fully enjoy the experience. I’ll let you know how it goes!

Do you ever find social media/technology to be distracting? Do you have any strategies to keep yourself away from it while reading?

Monday Musings | Disappointed by Cover Copy

Reading a book in a bar

Have you ever finished a book feeling a little unsatisfied but unable to pinpoint exactly why? Like… you didn’t dislike the book, per se, but you felt vaguely let down? This happened to me last weekend, and after thinking about it for a while, I realized why: my interpretation of the book’s cover copy was different than what the book ended up being.

The book in question is 13 Ways of Looking at a Fat Girl by Mona Awad (coming out tomorrow from Penguin Random House Canada), which is mainly about Lizzie and her relationship with food and self-image. I did get that the book was going to be centered around those topics from the copy, but what I felt let down by was it was described as “hilarious” both in the description and in a quote. I don’t want to say that this book won’t be hilarious to other people, but I will say that I assumed that I would be laughing out loud throughout the reading process. So, when I wasn’t feeling that catharsis, I felt like something was missing. Another reason why I felt thrown off — and one could argue that this is my own shortsightedness — was that I expected the book to be a linear narrative that follows Lizzie smoothly from one stage of her life to the next. What I didn’t realize was that the book is in fact 13 linked short stories (again, maybe I should have deduced that from the title?). It was a little disorienting when the first chapter was written in first person only to have to adjust to second person in the second chapter. It’s not that short stories are bad, it’s just that I wasn’t expecting to be reading a book of stories, if that makes sense.

So, sadly, I finished the book feeling underwhelmed. I may enjoy the book more if/when I do a re-read of it, but I don’t feel compelled to do so yet.

Have you ever been disappointed by a book’s description?

Monday Musings | Unpopular Opinions

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child J.K. Rowling New Book

(Photo via The Telegraph)

One of the things that I like most about being on the internet and social media in particular is the excitement you feel when others are excited about certain things: Benedict Cumberbatch lands a new role! A new Marvel movie is out! A new HARRY POTTER book! The downside to this is how strange you feel when you don’t share the excitement.

Last week, news broke that J.K. Rowling’s new project — Harry Potter and the Cursed Child — will be published in play form. It pains me to say this as a Harry Potter fan, but I just couldn’t muster up the same excitement as everyone else has. I don’t know why! I’ve felt the same ambivalence towards all other Harry Potter spin-offs: Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, Quidditch Through the Ages, etc. I think maybe it’s because I’m so attached to the original seven books that I think everything else is just trying to match the greatness that was? (I know this is incredibly unfair of me, but I guess that’s what makes it an opinion…) I suppose, what I’m trying to say is, I’m skeptical. Can the original magic be recreated? We’ll soon find out.

Do you have any unpopular opinions? Are you excited about Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

Monday Musings | Library Love

Distant Places by Noah Friebel. 10 Bookish Things I'd Like To Do This Summer (Besides Reading)

Credit: Noah Friebel  Flickr | Facebook

Happy Monday, friends! How’s your week going? I finished reading A Little Life over the weekend, and fell into something similar to despair. That book just rips your heart out and stomps on it, doesn’t it? (I’m obviously still not over it…)

Anyway, as I was walking home today, my thoughts (naturally) drifted towards my local library and how wonderful it is. The Toronto Public Library system is honestly one of the best I’ve ever experienced. There are so many books! They will send books to my home branch! I can place holds for books that aren’t even out yet! I’m sure many library systems are fantastic, so I thought I’d encourage the library love!

Do you love your library system? What’s your favourite thing about it? What’s the most beautiful branch you’ve been to?

Monday Musings | Are You #TeamAusten or #TeamBronte?

Bronte Penguin Classics Oxford Classics

Over the past few years, I’ve spoken to a lot of book lovers and whenever the subject of Jane Austen and any of the Brontes come up, there’s almost always a debate between Team Austen and Team Bronte. (For the record, I’m Team Bronte, as you might have guessed from the photo above.)
I find this so fascinating because, more often than not, people do have a strong preference between the two. Now, I’m not saying that Bronte fans actively dislike Austen and vice versa, but I do find a divide between the two camps and I wonder why that is. (Even when thinking about it myself, I am clearly identify that I really like the Brontes and always felt like Austen was hard to get through, with the exception of Northanger Abbey.)
It’s been a while since I’ve read an Austen novel so I can’t pinpoint the differences between authors — I can’t even explain how it is that I’ve loved every single Bronte novel that I’ve read, no matter which sibling wrote it– so I’m hoping you can help me out here!
Do you have a clear preference between Austen and the Brontes? Why do you think there’s such a divide?

Monday Musings | Riverhead Books’ New Colophon

Riverhead Books New Colophon 2016

Photo source: Riverhead Books’ Facebook Page

Happy Monday, friends! This week is already off to a great start for me as I’ve been geeking out over Riverhead Books’ new colophon all day! (Am I the only one who learned what “colophon” means today?) I learned about the re-design this morning and I can’t stop thinking about it, especially the gorgeous video they made to reveal it — see above, or on Riverhead Books’ Instagram here.

If you’re like me and hadn’t heard of the term “colophon” before, here’s how Wikipedia defines it:

“In publishing, a colophon is a brief statement containing information about the publication of a book such as the place of publication, the publisher, and the date of publication. A colophon may also be emblematic or pictorial in nature.”

As someone who doesn’t specialize in graphic design, I’ve always been interested in learning how book covers and advertisements are made, but I’ll admit that I never really thought about the process behind creating a colophon. Paste Magazine’s exclusive reveal of the Riverhead colophon gets a little behind designer and Riverhead Art Director Helen Yentus’ inspiration and I think it’s worth a read. As they say, a picture is worth a thousand words, and I think Yentus did a fantastic job of modernizing the Riverhead colophon while staying true to its previous version so that it remains recognizable. Now I’m going to pay more attention to everyone else’s!

What do you think? Do you like Riverhead’s new colophon? Do you have a favourite colophon? (Am I ever going to stop saying “colophon”?)

Monday Musings | Reading Series

Divergent Movie Tie In Veronica Roth One More Page Blog

Over the weekend, I participated in #24in48 — a readathon with a goal of spending 24 out of 48 hours on reading — for the first time and had a blast! I didn’t quite reach the 24 hour goal (logging just over 12 hours – oops), but I did finish two and a half books, which felt awesome! One of those books is something you’ve probably heard of and read years ago: Divergent by Veronica Roth.

My one line reaction? I devoured it! I finished it and immediately wished that I had Insurgent on hand. To make sure I continued this forward momentum (and because I didnt want to wait any longer), I made a quick stop to the bookstore after work today. Yeeees! As they say, my night is all booked. 😉

Anyway, this frenzy to make sure I had Insurgent on hand also has something to do with my past failures at keeping up with series. I find that if I don’t keep going with a series immediately, I often drop off and not go back, no matter how much I enjoyed the first book. I’m not sure what causes this exactly, but I have a stinking suspicion that it’s because I have access to SO MANY unread books at home that there’s always something else I could be reading. That being said, I’m hoping to learn how to stick with series again. I rue the day that I drop off on a series that could be my next Harry Potter!

Did you participate in #24in48? Have you read the Divergent series? Do you have trouble keeping up with series?

Monday Musings | Why Do We So Easily Discount Fan Fiction?

Monday Musings One More Page Book Blog Reading App

For some reason, fan fiction seems to have a bad reputation.

Whether this is true of other people or not (let me know if it is or isn’t!), I’ve often found myself reluctant to describe a book or a piece of writing as fan fiction for fear of it being immediately discredited. Over the years, I’ve wondered why that is.

Is it because one of the most famous works of fan fiction in recent years was E.L. James’ 50 Shades of Grey where she reimagined Bella and Edward’s relationship in Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight? Is it because we don’t believe that fans could write compelling stories? Is it because fan fiction is mainly shared on the internet, and we don’t really take the internet seriously?

When I was growing up and in the height of my Harry Potter obsession, I’ll happily admit that I would peruse fanfiction.net for hours on end. (This was before J.K. Rowling officially paired up Ron and Hermione and I was a Harry/Hermione shipper.) I loved being able to see the things I imagined take a tangible form and it thrilled me to think that someone had such similar visions as I did. Though I never took the step to write fan fiction myself, I loved following the creative process of others and will always have respect for it.

Of course, I think the rise of fan culture is helping alter the public’s perception of fan fiction and other fan-made works quite a bit. Books like Sam Maggs’ The Fangirl’s Guide to the Galaxy have been wonderful for that. Maybe, in a few more years, I won’t be scared to label something as fan fiction.

Do you read fan fiction? Do you ever wonder why so many readers are so quick to dismiss fan fiction? Why do you think that is?