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 ūüėČ

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?

Book Review | She’s Not There by Joy Fielding

She's Not There Joy Fielding Crime Fiction One More Page Book Review

[I received a copy of this book from its Canadian publisher Penguin Random House Canada. This does not affect my review of the novel.]

Imagine: your husband surprises you and your two young children with a luxurious¬†vacation in Mexico to celebrate your 10th anniversary. Imagine: on the night of your anniversary dinner, your youngest child, 2,¬†goes missing. Imagine: fifteen years later, after being constantly hounded by the press, a young woman calls you claiming to be your daughter. Imagine getting to watch every detail unfold in Joy Fielding’s latest mystery She’s Not There

Before I started reading this book I had heard other bloggers mentioning that they had read the book in one day. Well, I was in the mood for a quick and engrossing read this weekend, and I gladly fell into the group of readers who couldn’t put this book down until it was finished. I’ve completely embraced crime fiction, my friends!

Joy Fielding does a great job of transporting her readers into the various situations her characters go through in She’s Not There: I held my breath as I read the exchange between Caroline and maybe-Samantha; I felt tense when Caroline and her other daughter, Michelle, couldn’t stop arguing; I traveled alongside the Shipleys as they followed an intriguing lead¬†on a crazy whim… But,¬†it was not just my emotional response to this book that made me love it so much; I was also fascinated by the way Fielding crafted¬†her characters and the way they each handled the same incident differently. I read on a friend’s blog (I forget where at the moment – sorry!! If I am quoting you, can you please leave your link in the comments so I can give you credit?) that crime fiction/thrillers are essentially studies of human choices and how those choices play out as consequences.¬†Reading She’s Not There made me wonder: what would I have done if I were Caroline? How would I have reacted if¬†my child went missing? What would my life look like? In the end, not only did She’s Not There provide a bit of escapism for a day, it also made me look inward and wonder.

Verdict: A really well-paced and well-plotted novel that will lure you in and hold your attention until the very last page. This was my first Fielding book, but I’m excited to read more from her.

Read if: You’ve ever wondered how you would react if a child went missing on your watch, you enjoy fast-paced thrillers, want to see why Joy Fielding is so (rightfully) beloved.

Are you a Joy Fielding fan? What are your favourite mysteries/thrillers?

February 2016

Happy leap day everyone! I spent the day at work, which made it more or less a normal day, but I really can’t complain because I love my job and everyone I work with (even when they point out that I came in dead last in our Oscars pool…) That being said, I’m thankful for an extra day of reading! Speaking of reading…

This month, I read:

*The Illegal by Lawrence Hill (My first Canada Reads book this year!)
*The Trouble with Goats and Sheep by Joanna Cannon
*Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter
*Birdie by Tracey Lindberg (Canada Reads book #2!)
*A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara
*She’s Not There by Joy Fielding
*13 Ways of Looking at a Fat Girl by Mona Awad

I feel like I read a good mixture of books this month: The Trouble with Goats and Sheep and She’s Not There were really really great mysteries; The Illegal was a fantastic book that I had meant to finish a long time ago; Birdie was an interesting and tough read; A Little Life left me in pieces; and I hate to say that I was a little underwhelmed by Beautiful Ruins and disappointed by 13 Ways of Looking at a Fat Girl¬†(or, more accurately, by its cover copy).

All things considered, if my reading matches these past few months, I’ll be very very happy.

Have you had a good reading month? Did you read anything that blew you away? Did you read anything that left you underwhelmed?

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?

Get Ready For Valentine’s With These Bookish Pick-Up Lines (Success Not Guaranteed)

Bookish Pick Up Lines Valentines Day for Book Lovers

Unless you’ve been living under a rock and haven’t come across any Valentine’s Day merch recently, you’ll probably know that Valentine’s Day is coming up soon. (It’s this Sunday, in fact!)

So, to get into the spirit of the “holiday,” I’ve combined two of my favourite things (book lovers and being cheesy) to help you get ready for V-Day. Note: Every time I’ve used puns to try to attract people¬†I’ve been met with groans and slow claps, so… Your mileage may vary.

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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 | 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. ūüėČ

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 | New Year, New Beginnings

Christmas Lights

Hello, friends! Happy new year!

Despite myself, I’ve always been the type of person who loves the idea of new year and the promise it brings of a fresh start. But because¬†I utterly failed at my reading/blogging resolutions last year, I didn’t want to¬†set myself up for failure by listing specific goals. Instead, I want to work on general improvement.

Last year, I suffered through a “sophomore slump” of sorts. I was juggling a job and an internship¬†for a portion of it, and generally dedicating my time to figuring out my life. This year, I hope to feel more stable in that regard so that I can focus more on my blog and reconnect with you all.

Anyway, in the spirit of new year, I wanted to ask you: do you have any reading goals this year? Are you doing any reading challenges like the Goodreads challenge or the 50 Book Pledge? Is there any new content you’d like to see here on this blog?

Wishing you all a merry start to the new year! I’m looking forward to another great year with you.

Daydreams of Bookworms

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I’ve always been a little prone to daydreaming during my down time. Nothing is more therapeutic than sitting on the couch, staring at my bookshelves, and imagining fun things. As a reader, I find that a lot of my daydreams have to do with books. (In fact, I came up with the idea of writing this post when daydreaming about bookish situations on the subway…) So, I thought I’d share some of my bookish daydreams — I’m sure I’m not alone.

1. Running into an author on the subway… while reading their book.

As I mentioned above, this thought came to me while I was on the subway. I was minding my own business when a Margaret Atwood lookalike stepped into my train! My heart got that brief panicky feeling until I realized it wasn’t actually her. (Does Margaret Atwood take public transit?) I then proceeded to daydream about meeting an author on transit while coincidentally holding their book. That would be SO COOL.

2. Being able to work with books all day.

Growing up, I didn’t really know what I wanted to do when I was older. When I got to university, I quickly realized that I didn’t want to study anything but English. (I compromised and minored in Economics.) Then, when it came to really thinking about a career, I didn’t see anything but books in my future. How would I ever get bored while working with books?

3. Having unlimited books a my disposal and having unlimited shelf space to keep them.

It’s the ultimate bookworm struggle: wanting more books while simultaneously running out of bookshelf space! So, until I move into a place where I can house my own personal library, having all the books and all the bookshelves will have to remain a daydream.

4. Catching someone reading the same book as you in public, and then bonding over how much you’re enjoying said book.

I once had a woman tap on my shoulder as I was reading Heather O’Neill’s Lullabies for Little Criminals on the bus to tell me how much she loved the book. Unfortunately, I hadn’t read enough of it to have a good discussion about it with her at the time, but since then I’ve hoped and prayed that I could 1. see someone reading one of my favourite books on transit and 2. have the courage to start talking to them about it. Spontaneous book club!

5. Being able to remember all the details in all the books I’ve read.

Sometimes reading so voraciously has its downfalls: I find it so hard to keep track of certain things, especially names. I can hardly remember the names of the secondary characters in the book I just finished a few days ago! This is not necessarily a problem, but it definitely makes things difficult when you’re reading a book in a series and you can’t remember what happened in the book before. #booknerdproblems

So there you go! Just a few of my bookish daydreams. (I’m sure the list could have gone on forever.) Do you have any bookish daydreams? Do we share any of the same dreams?