In Defense Of My “Reading Too Much”

People often say to me that I “read too much.” They normally say this to me after they notice that I carry a different book every couple of days or catch me reading a book when I come be doing something else. Now, I am actually totally okay with people telling me this. Mostly because it allows me to launch off on a speech about why I love reading and how good the book I am currently reading is.

But, I am starting to feel as if some people are sort of looking down on me, as if they think I have a life that is boring, have no social life, and/or just wasting my time. While I am not really angry or sad about this, I do feel like I need to vent my feelings and defend my fellow bookish people. And since I have a nifty, little blog, I decided to do just that!

First, I must ask how someone can read too much? What is the amount of time that I must spend reading for me to be reading too much? I mean, if you are enjoying it and it isn’t bad for you, then you really can’t have too much of it. If anything, you can really only read more because there are all these books out there in the world.

Reading is a practice that people like me enjoy, just like how other people may enjoy video games, sports, television, and many other sorts of things. And really, reading is thing that should be valued (just like all those other things should be valued).

Oh, and about the stereotype that readers are anti-social… Where did that stereotype come from? I mean, I am a very sociable person and spend lots of time with my friends, even if I “read too much,”, and I am pretty sure other readers do to. Besides, if someone prefers reading instead of socializing, that really shouldn’t be frowned upon.

Another thing I want to say is that I do not consider the time I spend reading wasted time. I love reading and love the bookish that comes with it. I have read so many amazing stories and met so many great people. I don’t regret all the time I spent reading at all.

Also, there is evidence that reading literature makes us smarter and nicer (thanks, Christina, for the link!). There is evidence that reading does affect you as a person and can make you more understanding of other people and more able to perceive the world through their eyes.  Which, in my opinion, is seriously awesome and very true.

So, all I really ask is that people stop automatically judging and assuming things about people who they believe to “read too much.” I don’t judge people who don’t like reading or just don’t read very much. Remember, reading is a hobby that should be valued. And if you are also a bookworm…

Keep reading 🙂

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What Do We Mean When We Say ‘Likeable?’

Reading Reynje’s very thoughtful and well-written post is what inspired me to write this! Be sure to check her post out 🙂

I will never hesitate to say that I can be a person with a rotten personality. I can be mean, mocking, angry, and grumpy. I can be a person who people don’t want to be in the same room with. I am not like that all the time, of course, but there are days when the struggles I face frustrate me and make my good mood go bad, causing me to take it out on other people.

When I am like that, I highly doubt that anyone would call me ‘likeable.’ So saying that my whole personality is likeable would be lying.

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After pondering about that fact, I started to wonder what readers mean when they say a character is likeable. Many reviewers, including me, use the word likeable to describe a character they liked or felt an emotional connection to. But do we ever think about what a disservice that description could be to the characters?

In fiction, most readers want characters that are human. We want them to make mistakes, to be flawed, to be real. We want them to be angry, scornful, and mean at times, just like us. Heck, some characters are very flawed, sometimes bad people like Chelsea Knot from Speechless or Flick from How to Lead a Life of Crime.

And because they act human, we like, even love, them. But saying they are likeable is not accurately describing those characters. Because if you were to meet them awhile walking on the street, would you really want to be their friend? Probably not, unless you met them when they developed into better people.

Of course, the word likeable is totally subjective. And there are characters who can be described that way. But for the characters that I am talking about, the characters that are very flawed and human, I don’t think that saying they are likeable is completely accurate.

So what do we mean when we say a character is likeable? Well, in those times I slip up and say a character is likeable, I normally mean that, well, I liked them. I might not have liked them if I actually met them on the street, but seeing the world through their eyes caused me to like them. People might have their own meaning but that is mine.

Oh, and I am also having misgivings about the word unlikeable also…

I am not trying to insult anyone with this post. In fact, I would love it if you tell me your opinions on what a likeable character is in the comments! I would love to discuss this with you!

Reasons Why You Should Totally Read Manga

Make sure to check out Cloudy’s reasons! 🙂

Reading manga is something that I have always loved doing. To me, a manga can be better than a book at times. The characters can be a bit over the top sometimes but that is what makes them so charming. And the stories that I always stumble across in the manga section of the bookstore’s shelves are really amazing *cough*Pandora Hearts*cough*

Manga is EVERYWHERE!

But alas, not many people here, even in the bookish part of the blogosphere, read manga. That kind of makes me sad because not only because I won’t be able to squee over manga as much as I want to but also because I won’t be able to crazily recommend a manga that I absolutely love. If I do, I will probably just be politely ignored unless the person I recommended the manga to is also especially into reading manga.

So. I’m going to try to force persuade you people to try out manga… and maybe even come to love it?

Reason One: If you want, you can read manga for absolutely free online.

Yes, it’s true! You can probably find any manga title you want on websites like MangaHere that offer free fan scanlations. And the scanlations actually have a lot of quality and hard work put in them, so don’t be afraid of running into a bad translation. They are out there but there are also a lot of quality ones. It would be much appreciated if you supported the mangaka and publisher but if you are just trying out manga it wouldn’t hurt 😉

Reason Two: You will be expanding your horizons!

If you are one of those people who are always wanting to try new things, then trying out manga might be exciting for you. And even if you don’t, I still urge you try out manga.

Reason Three: If you want to read a certain story, there will probably be a manga for it.

Seriously, the world of manga covers so much ground that it is hard to not find a story you will be interested in. Do you want to read a emotional story about kid cyborgs who kick terrorist butt? There is a manga for that. Do you want to read a story about a crazy city with equally crazy people with gangs and with a dose of supernatural. There is a manga for that. Do you want to read a story about a group of girls coming together and kicking butt with superpowers? There’s a whole genre for that called the Magical Girl genre (it’s a pretty good genre, really, especially when you find the gems).

Reason Four: The over the top characters are actually pretty well done.

In manga, sometimes a character’s personality will be outrageous. And, um, those character’s personalities are actually written pretty well most of the time, in my experience. I actually take them more seriously in manga than I do in regular books.

Reason Five: Along with the story, you get some pretty visuals!

This is more of a preference thing. If you don’t like exaggerated eyes and every-color-of-the-rainbow hair than manga style art might not be for you… But for me, they are perfect. What surprises me most is how a mangaka can take the general aesthetics of the manga art style and add their own flare to it. And sometimes, the mangaka can make the normally cutesy art and turn it into something brilliant. Like pretty much anything drawn by Jun Mochizuki is brilliant.

From Pandora Hearts by Jun Mochizuki

Reason Six: You get to learn a new reading style!

Some may not like the way manga is read, and I get that. But I never found it to be a hard style to learn. It’s just the panels and “chat bubbles” being read from right to left. Not the words. Besides, if you do try to learn the reading style, you will be using some brain power! Which is always good 😛

Reason Seven: Manga is just pretty awesome.

Okay, maybe not all manga is awesome. But a lot of it is.

Some Recommendations:

Fruits BasketThis is probably one of the most well-known ‘gateway manga’ out there. I mean, even I got introduced to the world of manga by reading this! I will admit that this manga is very happy-go-lucky and cutesy at first. But after a few of volumes, things get deep and depressing. Secrets rear their ugly heads and things get pretty dark. Fruits Basket does even all of the sadness with some sweet and light moments, though.

Pandora Hearts– Ah, Pandora Hearts. When will I ever stop recommending this masterpiece? Probably never. Anyways, this is my all-time favorite manga series, and for good reason. The characters are fleshed out and intriguing, the art is freaking beautiful, the twist are to die for and are always shattering my theories, the atmosphere is (mostly) dark and mysterious, and it is is constantly making allusions to Alice in Wonderland (in a way that only adds to the story, of course). What more could you want?

Kimi ni TodokeIf you love stories that are heartwarming, fun, and sweet, Kimi ni Todoke is for you. Unlike most shojo manga, Kimi ni Todoke focuses on friendship just as much as it focuses on romance (maybe even more). Plus, I find it rather refreshing that Sawako isn’t just ‘plain’ but just plain scary-looking (scary enough for her to become a social outcast for most of her life). Although I think that she is absolutely adorable.

Puella Magi Madoka Magica– This manga series is often categorized as part of the Magical Girl genre and it should be since it has the traits that most series in the genre share. But Puella Magi Madoka Magica is one those unique gems I was talking about earlier. It takes the regular template of the Magical Girl stories and deconstructs it completely. This series isn’t as girly cute as it is dark, sad, and thought-provoking.

Higurashi: When They CryIf I were to say anything about this series, I would say that it is a masterpiece of a murder mystery. The manga does have a very unique story structure that might take some getting used to, though. I’m just going to explain it since it’s not exactly a spoiler. At the end of every arc, normally every character dies. And then the story resets and is told in a different way. Every different story arc gives a clue about what is really causing the murders. This isn’t for every murder mystery fan because of the story structure, but I still recommend it nevertheless.

Kitchen Princess Cutesy is probably the best word to describe this. If I want some brain-candy to read, this is one of the series that I turn to.

Death Note– This manga has often been called one of the best manga to ever be created of all time. And awhile I don’t exactly agree with that (I don’t like the fact that almost all the woman in this manga are easily manipulated), I do see why people would think so. Death Note is a mystery series(with some supernatural thrown in) about the battle between idealism and justice. And it is quite the battle to read!

What Will You Choose?

Are you going to try out manga? Or are you going to avoid it? Whatever your answer is, please say so in the comments. I would really like to know 🙂 (If you don’t want to read manga, I totally respect your decision!)

If these recommendations don’t seem good for you, feel free to ask for some more 🙂

Now that Lottie has finished obsessively pushing people to read manga, she has only one warning: try it once, but know that you may never be able to come back. Of course you may hate manga and come back… But hopefully that doesn’t happen 😛

What Makes You Pick Up A Book?

There are so many books in the world to pick up with your hands and read. But a person is not going to be interested in picking up every book. Readers have things that make them want to pick up a book. Whether it be the promise of a fantastic adventure or just the pretty cover, we all have things that we need in order to want to take a book off the shelf.

For me, there are four main things that make me want to gently pick up a book and start reading:

1. A beauty of a cover.

I kind of want the book to look on my bookshelf, so a pretty cover is something that I definitely look for. I know, I know, I’m being vain and I shouldn’t judge books by their covers. But I can’t help it! An attractive cover that stands out from all the rest of those covers will make a book more desirable, thus making me want to pick it up.

Examples of pretty covers: 

Eleanor & ParkUnspoken (The Lynburn Legacy, #1)The Miseducation of Cameron Post

2. An intriguing synopsis.

This is one of those kind of traits that a book must have or else the deal is off. If a book’s synopsis makes me feel like I am already in love with the book, that’s when I know that the book will be very much worth picking up. If a book’s synopsis makes me feel indifferent or bored, I will leave the book.

3. A good first impression.

Another deal breaker. I almost always flip through the pages of book before buying it, searching for things that just pop out. If I am impressed with that first impression, I will definitely be picking up the book.

4. High reviewer ratings.

There are many fantastic people out there writing reviews for all these fantastic books. Might as well find the ones I trust and look out for the books that they absolutely love 😛

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The book doesn’t require all of these things, though. I can excuse the absence of a good cover and high reviewer ratings. But #2 and #3 are a must have. Sure, an awesome looking cover will make the book stand out and easier to notice out of all those other books on the shelf and high reviewers ratings are a great way to see if a book is quality or not, but I do choose with my gut also.

Using those main four things (and my gut) as a basis for deciding whether or not a book is worth picking up hasn’t always worked. But hey, I have already put on a wedding dress and danced around with a great story that I adore in my hands tons of times so far. I think it works for the most part 😉

Now just imagine that man with the imaginary me as a book… source

What makes you pick up a book? Please tell in the comments!

Readers Live A Thousand Lives…

“Readers Live A Thousand Lives.”

-George R.R. Martin

I have seen this quote appearing in front of me a lot lately. This quote has got me pondering over why I read. There are a lot of reasons, really, but one of them is quite simple: I get to live another life that I will probably not live in the real world.

I probably won’t be able to join a circus and become an aerialist in my lifetime. I probably won’t be able to send letters to a parallel universe during my life here in this world. I probably won’t be able to go on an adventure of epic proportions with a ghost and a boy absolutely smitten with me anytime soon. And I probably won’t find myself being chased by a crazy guy in the desert.

But if I read a book I will be able to, in a way, do all those things in a fictional world inside my mind. I could go on all those great adventures, awhile sitting in my special reading place, and then go home in time for dinner. That is one of the reasons why reading is such a fantastic thing and why storytellers are fantastic people.

By now, I have probably lived over a hundred lives and learned over a thousand things awhile living them. By reading these books, experiencing all those lives, I think I am becoming a better person, a person who will be able to understand other people (even if it is only a little bit), a person who knows that adventures lie in words and the real world.

If someone tells me I should be doing something better than reading, I will ignore what they said and thrust a book in their hands, knowing that they will experience a life if they read it.

I will end this kind-of-messy post by thanking all those amazing authors who have made those hundreds of lives I lived possible. Thank you, for making living a thousand lives possible. Thank you so much!

Rating Books: I Am Terrible At It

I am a glutton when it comes to books. I can never get enough. And I love reviewing the books I read since I get to tell everyone my thoughts on a story that I either loved, liked, or hated. But what I do not love is actually rating the books I read.

Ratings are, obviously, a representation of how much a person likes a book. One star normally being the worst rating and five stars normally being the best. Other bloggers may have different ways of rating books (I have seen some blogs with 1-10 rating systems), but this system is the most used.

star rating scale

Why I Don’t Like Rating Books:

There are many reasons why I don’t like rating books, but here are the main ones:

  • A book’s rating will never truly represent what I thought of it. It’s true. I might give a book a high rating just because it is entertaining, no matter how many flaws it has. So if someone just looked at the book’s highest rating they will probably get the wrong idea. And that kind of upsets me. So this causes me to spend a looong time pondering what rating the book deserves.
  • A rating of a book is sometimes based on my mood. If I was angry and just read a book that was pure fluff and no substance to make me feel better and it accomplished that then I will probably give it at least four stars. It might be one of the most mediocre books ever but it wouldn’t matter to me. It made me feel better and that’s what made me love it. But then I start wondering if the book really deserves that rating… which, of course, starts bothering me.
  • I am very fickle with ratings. I change my mind a lot when it comes to those little stars so it shouldn’t be surprising to me when I realize that I changed a book’s rating about five times before I reluctantly settled one rating. And that one rating will haunt me for a couple of days.

Why I Use Ratings:

You are probably wondering why in the world I even chose to use star ratings if it bothered me so much. Well, here is why:

  • All the other awesome blogs were using ratings. When I first started blogging, I thought that I was sort of obligated to use star ratings, because all the other blogs were doing it. I didn’t realize at the time how hard it was going to be to actually rate books until about a couple of weeks into blogging. So why didn’t I stop? Well, that is because…
  • Ratings allow an easy way to organize the reviews on your blog. After using ratings for a bit a time I realized that it made organizing my reviews easier. If I want to check out my one star reviews I can just click on a category. And that makes me feel secure about my blog’s accessibility to other people.

Conclusion:

I will still be using ratings for a long time. I might change that later, but right now I just hope to get better and feel more confident in rating books.

Do you have trouble rating books? Please tell in the comments!