Showing posts with label discussion. Show all posts
Showing posts with label discussion. Show all posts

Friday, October 22, 2021

Favorite Horror Tropes

About two weeks ago I joined a Top 5 Tuesday post about some horror tropes that I didn't really care for, so I wanted to make a companion post to share some of my favorite tropes in horror (and, of course, I had to make a matching trope-y title banner!). I've really started to get more into horror in the past couple years, and I've been absolutely loving it. There are a lot of tropes that I probably have too much fun with in horror, but here's a few that tend to come to mind when I think of some horror tropes that I always tend to enjoy seeing. I'd love to hear if you like/dislike any of these tropes, and feel free to share some of your favorites as well!

1. Something's "off," but you don't know what. 

This can take a lot of different forms. For instance, I love when we're in a small town or a new area and the protagonist can tell that something's just not quite right, but can't put their finger on what. Of course, usually weird and/or creepy things start happening and then it starts to get more obvious. I also love when there's a person who is by all accounts a seemingly normal person, but there's just something not quite right about them. Basically anything with a bit of a weird vibe is my favorite, especially when you can't determine why it's so weird, it just is. 

2. Slow reveals

This is actually probably more common in movies, but I've read some books that do this well also. You know how some books/movies will slowly sort of pan towards a scene that doesn't necessarily overtly seem horrifying or disturbing because it's so normal, but as you get closer you realize it's something you want to wash out from your eyes forever? I'm a huge sucker for that, something about the slow realization of horror in front you is just so captivating to me. 

3. "It's not out there, it's in here with us."

This is one of the oldest tropes out there, probably, and is a bit overused at this point, but in general theory and execution and I still find this a great one just because of how undeniably scary it is! No matter what it is you're hiding from, there's something comforting about knowing that it's outside of your house or room or wherever, so the realization that it's actually inside where you are and you don't know exactly where is just terrifying to me. Sort of like how we've had a few wasp nests since we moved into this house that were all outside and that were removed, but then we found a live, angry wasp in our bathroom one night where we used to feel safe from them (this is absolutely the same thing as finding an alien or serial killer in your bedroom, duh). No, thank you. I also think the movie Alien does this one excellently. 

4. Anything gothic.

Going back to the basics on this one, but give me a big, spooky, crumbling mansion that's absolutely going to be haunted any day and I'm there. If a book/movie has any mention of a gothic mansion or castle or a classic haunting, I'm probably going to be at least checking it out. I can't help myself. 

5. Never seeing the monster.

I like this trope in a lot of variations, whether it's the characters and audience never actually see the scary thing, or whether the characters see it, but the audience doesn't. I think the book Bird Box handled this trope perfectly, where you literally should not try to see it, because if you actually do, you are no longer going to be that helpful or lucid enough to describe it (Now, the movie took it in a few weird directions, but that's neither here nor there). 

6. The house hates you.

This also falls under haunted houses in general for me usually, but I love when a house is actively trying to get people to leave the house, or is simply trying to kill them. What's scarier than the big place that's supposed to be a safety net wanting to push you out, often very aggressively?

7. Ancient evils.

This one is very tricky to get right, in my opinion, but when done right it's really fun. I largely tend to love when ancient evils are a problem when it means we get to dive into some history and explore some legends and the like. I always love when a story means characters have to dig through old books (I know, what a surprise) or track down old locals or people who may know something. Finding old things, digging deep into the past, it's something I love in general, so when you put it into a horror atmosphere, it's just that much more fun (usually). 

8. Everything's all wrapped up... or is it?

I don't know if this actually a trope or not, but it's hands down one of my favorite. This happens when a horror story is wrapping up and everything's either back to normal or just cleaned up to fix whatever the problem is, but then the last scene or page has something like, "but they never could figure out why that room always stayed so cold, no matter what they did" or something like that. I wish I had a good example, but you know what I mean, right?

What are some your favorite horror tropes?

Friday, September 7, 2018

Discussion: Posting Reviews on Social Media--Is There a Limit?

*Note: For the purpose of this discussion post, "social media" refers to Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc. I am not referring Goodreads or other review-based websites where it is obviously perfectly fine to share your reviews, good or bad.. 

There's nothing better than writing a review for a book you loved and then sharing it with everyone you can to get them excited about the book as well. Unfortunately, it's pretty inevitable that a not-so-great book will pop up and a less than stellar review will be written. The question for some bloggers and other reviewers then arises: do we share those reviews to the same extent as others? It only seems fair to treat all reviews and books the same, right? Well, that's where it gets tricky.

This is a topic that I've seen debated off and on for quite a while. No one likes to see people talking negatively or hatefully about something they put their heart and soul into. Social media is a big place, but at the same time it can feel pretty small and it's easy for one small post to make its way into the view of someone who might not want to see it. It's especially small when people tag authors or other creators in a post that doesn't have many positive things to say about said person's work. Many authors on Twitter have even spoken up about being tagged in bad reviews. Can you imagine working all day and then getting home and seeing that people specifically tagged you just to trash all the work you did all day? It would be horrible. I'm sure some people might not mind it, but as someone who is particularly sensitive, I would definitely have a problem with this. Of course, there's also an additional level--what if an author isn't even on social media? It seems they won't see it, so does that make it less intimidating or worrisome to share it?

Everyone will differ, but I personally don't typically share a review a lot on social media if I've given it three stars or less (unless there's some really good reason for doing so). I will usually only tag an author in a review if, 1) it's four-and-a-half or five stars, or 2) I'm specifically asked to share the review and tag the author no matter what. To me, it's a matter of common courtesy. Some authors don't even like being tagged in positive reviews, so there's always a fine line and I try to use my discretion on whether or not to share it. If I've seen that an author regularly shares reviews that others have written, I'm more likely to tag them in a positive review. Also, many self-published authors I've worked with don't mind at all being tagged in positive reviews because it helps get the word out (and some don't even mind if its a negative review, but I still try to avoid that). There's still the old adage that 'any publicity is good publicity,' and although I don't fully agree with that, the idea that sharing the word about an author in general is helpful because it will still lead people to that author. Even bad reviews can bring people in--I know I've read two-star reviews that hate a book because of something that I know I would love, so I pick it up anyway.

From what I've explored, it seems to boil down to this: it doesn't seem inherently wrong to post a bad review on social media in the same way as a good review, as that creates an honest environment that shows you are a sincere blogger that doesn't just post nice things to keep people happy. The red flags seem to pop up when you are tagging an author or someone involved in the creation of the book in question.

At the end of the day, I'm reviewing books because I love books and talking about books, so sharing my thoughts on them is just natural. This is the best way for me to see what others think and open up discussions about what we love or don't love about books, and it is what helps create a strong community. I'm not here to personally judge authors and make them feel bad about their work. Even if I hate a book, they still worked hard on that and the very last thing I ever want is to make someone feel bad about their work. Just to prevent misinterpretation--I'm not against honesty and I will say if I don't like a book. It's not bad to write a bad review, and in fact it's good to have a variety of opinions, but it's important to keep thing non-personal and not openly attract the author of a work to see negative opinions.  Because most reviewers feel much the same about loving books and wanting to share them, it's always a complex and interesting situation when it comes to bad reviews and how we go about sharing those. Bad reviews are often the most popular of reviews because love controversy, so should they be promoted to the same extent as a positive review?

THe purpose of this discussion is to find out what others think about this topic. Posting bad reviews on social media is something I think that's acceptable, but still possible that it could back to the author, so it's tricky. What do you think? Do you think there's any problem with promoting bad reviews on social media as long as the author isn't tagged? Should authors even be tagged at all in reviews, good or bad? Is it okay to share if an author isn't on social media? Let me know your thoughts!

More authors tweeting on the topic:

Friday, April 20, 2018

Discussion: Genre Snobbery and Other Frustrating Book Genre Issues

I could not begin to count the number of times that I've seen someone refer to 'genre fiction' with an air of superiority and utter disdain for said genres that they include in that category (i.e. fantasy, romance, science fiction, historical fiction, mystery, etc.). There are so many people that seem to think if you're not reading nonfiction, classics, or high-brow literary fiction then you're just reading fluff and wasting your time. I think I get angrier every time I hear things like that, and although I wish I could just brush it off and , I've seen too many people become upset or bothered by it, so I think it's time for a quick little discussion.

First, why do we even do this? Why do we judge any specific genre for something that likely isn't even true? I completely understand that not every genre out there is everyone's cup of tea, but that hardly means we should look down on it or write it off as being unimportant or unnecessary. For a personal example: I don't like romance books all that much; there's nothing wrong them, I just don't like romance as the main plot point in a novel--though of course I'd be lying if I said that there aren't always occasional exceptions. However, I've learned not to simply dismiss this genre as something silly and fluffy because there's so much more to it than that. Just  because non-romance readers think it's only filled with sappy love words doesn't mean it actually is. And hell, even if it is just a lighthearted romance--what's wrong with that? What's wrong with relaxing with a lovely book after a stressful day of life? Why is it so vital that someone only reads books that are viewed as 'important' and 'challenging'? If you simply prefer to only read those types of books then that's fine, but don't look down on people who wants to read other things. The point is: try not to judge what others want to read.

On the same topic, I tend to get irrationally annoyed when it comes to 'genre fiction' (if you haven't already figured that out). When it comes to fantasy in particular, fairy tales and the like have been around and told for centuries--usually with some sort of moral lesson to be learned à la the Brothers Grimm. Even in the ancient world fantastic texts existed, just look at The Odyssey or The Aeneid.  I've learned more life lessons from fantasy stories than I have from a lot of other types of books. Fantasy itself has broadened my own imagination and ability to wrap my head around complex  ideas and imagine different world systems. The Book of Lost Things by John Connolly, for example, is a fairy tale-inspired tale that helped me with dad's death when I was eleven years old because the protagonist was experiencing the same things that I was. I learned how to deal with very difficult issues because of that, but many readers would brush off books like that because they aren't a classic or something similar. I also love historical fiction because it allows me to travel back in time and learn about the culture a specific time period or location through the lens of an interesting story that also usually captures an important issue of the time. Most readers I've met that read from different genres, myself included, can pick out at least one important thing from almost every historical fiction, fantasy, science fiction, etc. book that we've read that has better shaped our worldview or taught us about different cultures and perspectives.

Something else that has become bothersome is how negatively young adult books tend to be viewed and classified, but that's an entire discussion on its own and not one that I have room to get into here. All I'll say about that for now is that I think it's horribly ridiculous how many people write off YA books just because they are classified as YA, even though YA is not actually a genre and more of a publishing term developed to target a specific audience due to the general age of characters in those books. People fawn endlessly over To Kill a Mockingbird, but if that were published today, guess what it would probably be published as? That's right, probably young adult.

The last thing that I want to talk about is simply how hard it can be to even categorize books sometimes. Sure, a traditional epic fantasy or murder mystery is easy to spot and label, but there are some books that mold multiple genres into one book and make it extremely difficult to accurately categorize them. One example might be The Changeling by Victor LaValle. That book sort of splits the line  between literary fiction and fantasy or magical realism, but it's not something that you can definitively say 'yes, it's this,' or 'no, it's definitely not that.' There's always overlap which then makes it hard determine. With books that overlap in genres like literary fiction and 'genre fiction,' I always wonder, 'So how will you manage to judge this?' I even imagine a book like Master Assassins by Robert V.S. Redick would appeal to die-hard literary fiction fans, but that they might be put off by the fantasy setting. When I was trying to organize by reviews by genre, I had a pretty good number listed as 'miscellaneous' because it was nearly impossible to pinpoint it to only one genre. Genres are limiting, and I think that's a big problem when it comes to getting people to read certain books, largely because many books will be ignored solely because of how they are labeled.

Honestly, there is so much more that I could say on these topics, but in the interest of not writing a small novel in the process, I'm going to leave it brief. Please let me know your own thoughts in the comments, I'd love to keep this discussion going! Whether you agree, disagree, don't care--let me know! (Or, if you're feeling shy, feel free to send me a message!)

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Friday, January 12, 2018

Discussion: Why I Do This Crazy Thing Called Book Blogging

Every now and then I get asked something along the lines of, "Why do you take book blogging so seriously?/Do you get paid for this?/Why do you love doing this so much? It seems like a lot of work."

Well, no, I don't get paid for any of this and yes, it is a lot of work. But honestly: I don't care. I think any book blogger has been met with similar thought/questions form others--or even themselves; I know I've even wondered similar things myself. Because of this, I decided to write a post that attempts to explain exactly why I love book blogging.

I'm going to try to break this down into a few main reasons:

1. To encourage others to read.
Whether I'm encouraging people who don't read that much to pick up a book, encouraging regular readers to read a book outside of their comfort zone, or just encouraging readers to continue loving books, it's all great and something that I love. Reading is a brilliant way for people to expand their knowledge of the world and to discover different cultures, worlds, ways of life, and so much more. It's a way to enhance your vocabulary, to spirit you away into different worlds, to de-stress, to learn to write, to spark your own creativity, to find a home--the benefits are endless.

For me, there are few things more enjoyable than sharing my love of books with other people and furthering their own interest in books. In order to share a love of books with others, there needs to be other people that also love to read, and in this day and age the best way to get people to do that is to share your love of books online where others can see it. It's important to get out there and promote reading, and I think that book blogging is a fantastic way to encourage other people to read.

2. To promote authors/publishers!
I am more than aware that most big publishing houses actually have paid publicists and marketers that do their own promotions in a professional and much more effective manner than I do, but that doesn't mean that I can't also help to promote books and authors in my own way. I especially like to promote smaller presses and self-published authors whenever I have the ability to because I understand that sometimes the traditional route of publishing just doesn't always work. I have a pretty busy review schedule normally, but I always try my best to include self-published review requests. This can be daunting, especially since it means I get a lot more review requests than I would if I didn't, but I like to do it when I can because I want to help get the word out about new authors and their books. I can't always accept every review request, but I try to do what I can. Even if a book isn't necessarily 'my thing,' it my just become the new favorite of someone who read my blog and found it that way. I want to do my part to help spread the news about the books and authors I encounter through my days of reading.

3. To stay on top of and improve my own reading.
Book blogging really holds me accountable for my reading. I think I'm much more likely to read more when I know that there are more books out there that I want to read and review, and blogging makes me painfully aware of how many books there are out there that I want to read. It almost adds pressure in a fun way, if that makes any sense (?). Sometimes it does feel overwhelming, but that's when I just step back and remember why I'm doing this. Similarly, reviews help me think critically about books and also remember what I read better. By taking the time to think over the book, its characters, the plot, the pacing, the writing style, etc., I have a chance to ingrain the book more in my head and also work out those analysis skills I spent four years of college fine-tuning. In turn, this also helps me figure out more carefully exactly what I enjoy and look for in a good book, which is always a plus when picking out new books.

Another huge plus is that blogging also keeps me abreast of the upcoming releases and the great new books that are coming out, which is something that I was never good at doing before I started my blog. It used to be that I would find out that a book in a series that I really liked came out... almost a year later. Except Harry Potter--we always knew the release dates for Harry Potter books and movies.

4. I like to stay busy.
Honestly, I like work. I like having things to do. I love free time, but I go crazy if I have nothing to do and this is somewhat my 'free time' because I enjoy doing it. I'm crazy about having schedules and productive things to do, and book blogging helps me do that. Also, books are great for my mental health and really help me in ways I can't even describe.

5. The community
Holy hell, guys--who knew that I was missing out on such a fantastic bookish community all of the years before I started my blog? I have yet to meet a book blogger who is not amazing and welcoming and all-around fantastic. You don't even have to have an active blog to be a part of the book community--if you read and participate, you're welcome! Much of my experience with this community has been great and full of some of the most open-minded, hard-working people that I've ever met. I look forward to what the future holds for the book world, but I'm already incredibly pleased with how it is at present.

6. I love books!
This the most important reason, and the primary reason that I even started a blog in the first place. I wanted a place where I could talk about books and share my one main passion in life. I don't have a ton of hobbies other than reading (though I do have a few, I should probably add more) and I love having a place that I can talk about them all the time. I love having discussions with people and being able to visit the blogs of other like-minded book bloggers, and that just makes everything worth it. I may have started using affiliate links on my site, but in the end, it's all about the books (I'm just trying to keep eating also, I've become quite used to doing that).

Well, for those of you that made it through all of that -- thank you! Would you believe me when I said that all of that was the majorly edited down version of everything that I normally wrote? Because it was. I hope I managed to get across everything I meant with this post. I love doing this.

What is it that you love about book blogging? 

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Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Tell Me Something Tuesday: Were You Hesitant to Give Low Ratings When You First Started Blogging?

Tell Me Something Tuesday is a weekly discussion post hosted by Rainy Day Ramblings where a wide range of topics from books to blogging are discussed. Weigh in and join the conversation by adding your thoughts in the comments. If you want to do your own post, grab the question and answer it on your blog.

This week's discussion question is:

My answer: I definitely was! To be honest, I still am in some ways. I always want to give books the benefit of the doubt, but sometimes I can't help but dislike them. When I first started blogging, I made a promise to myself that I would always be completely honest in my reviews, no matter how much I may have disliked -- or even hated -- a book.

I don't like giving low ratings. I know that authors work incredibly hard to create their books, and I also realize the impact of knowing that my review may or may not sway someone from reading their book. Because of that, and because I don't think it's right, I don't ever trash an author or their book. I'm not afraid to say what I really disliked about a book, but I will always try to do it respectfully. I also like to point that hey, just because I hated something in a book, it doesn't mean that everyone will.

The most difficult times I've had with low reviews is when it is for a book that an author specifically reached out to me with for review. I don't want to negate their hard work, but I am also tied to my own honest values and I'm not going to shelter my words or feelings. One thing that I have learned is that if my review is three-stars or lower I will not post a link on Twitter or tag the author or publisher. It's not exactly fun to receive a notification to a review that hates your book, and I've heard many authors on Twitter voice their desire not to be tagged in negative reviews, and I want to respect that.

Despite the fact that I do still hesitate a little, I will say that I have become less hesitant over time. I've spoken with authors about this before and they often tell me that although it might hurt a little to have a poor review, a review is still a review and it is (usually) appreciated all the same. Other bloggers have also helped me to feel more confident as I see other low ratings and reactions to my own low ratings. I feel much more comfortable and confident overall.

So yes, I was still hesitant, and sometimes I still am, but I know that honesty is incredibly important in reviews and I don't want to lie about how I feel about a book.

So now I pose the same question to you: Do you hesitate to give low ratings? Have your feelings ever changed?

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Tell Me Something Tuesday: Is It Easier to Read and Review Books That You Picked Up Yourself?

Tell Me Something Tuesday is a weekly discussion post hosted by Rainy Day Ramblings where a wide range of topics from books to blogging are discussed. Weigh in and join the conversation by adding your thoughts in the comments. If you want to do your own post, grab the question and answer it on your blog.

This week's discussion question is:

This is a great question that really made me stop and think. In general, for me the reviews that are easiest to write are those I have the strongest feelings about -- whether good or bad. If a book was mediocre, than I don't usually have as much to say, and it's often more difficult to craft something that conveys my thoughts.

For those reasons, sometimes I think it is easier to read and review books that I choose because I usually have some sort of desire to read that specific book. A majority of the time I do end up liking a book and therefore a review flows from me much easier. At the same time, books that are presented to me as a review request or that show up at my door have also proved to be great books for reviews as well, so I'd say that, overall, the ease of writing a review really just depends on the book itself. Sometimes it's actually harder for me to write a review for a book I've been highly anticipating or really love because it's too intimidating and I don't know how to accurately capture my thoughts.

I will confess, however, that reviews are often not the easiest thing for me to write. I have the hardest time putting my thoughts into words, especially when it's about something as large as a book and I'm trying to avoid spoilers. I try to capture the main aspects of how the book is written and what its strong and/or low points are, and that's easiest to do when I have some idea of what I'm expecting from a book. But then, just to contradict myself, I also try not to have too many expectations about a book before diving in also.

So now I pose the same question to you: Are books easier to review if you chose to pick up? Or do you prefer reviewing books that you have less attachment to?

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Tell Me Something Tuesday: How Do You Handle DNF Books?

Tell Me Something Tuesday is a weekly discussion post hosted by Rainy Day Ramblings where a wide range of topics from books to blogging are discussed. Weigh in and join the conversation by adding your thoughts in the comments. If you want to do your own post, grab the question and answer it on your blog.

This week's discussion question is:

(note: for anyone who does not know, DNF = 'did not finish')

We've all (probably) been there: you've just started a book and it's not grabbing you yet, so you tell yourself to just hold on, maybe it'll get better -- but it doesn't. Then comes the question: push yourself and finish it or just give it up? Some people have no qualms with putting down a book, and some people hate doing that so much that they just push through. There is no right or wrong way, so I think DNFs are always an interesting discussion!

Personally, I will DNF a book if I am just not feeling it. I definitely try to push myself and give any book as much benefit of the doubt as possible, but sometimes it just doesn't happen. Or it even happens that sometimes a book might not actually be something I don't like, but it just doesn't fit my current mood, so I have to put it down and promise to come back to it later.

Where DNFs gets really tricky is when it comes to advanced review copies/galleys. If you have agreed to read and review a book, does that change how you feel about not finishing it? Do you feel obligated to finish a book? For me, I always try to finish any book that I have explicitly said I will read and review. Fortunately, I've not had many issues where I haven't wanted to finish a book I've agreed to review, and that's probably partly because I try really hard to screen the books that are offered for me to review.

Another area that lends itself to intense consternation regarding DNFs  is whether or not to review them in general. I usually like to leave a review for DNF books in order to explain why I didn't like it or what went wrong. This way others can still see your thoughts and also whether or not this is an issue that might bother them or if it's something that they, in contrast, love to see in a book. However, I also don't think it's vital to leave a review, because if I didn't want to spend time reading the book, I might not want to spend time leaving a review. It really just depends on the situations and reasons why I DNF a book.

But in the end, I think it's important to realize that we can't necessarily love every book we pick up, and that's okay! There are far too many fantastic books to read out there to waste time reading something you don't enjoy.

So now I pose the same question to you: What do you concerning DNF books? Do you have any problems with not finishing a book? Do you review them or feel obligated to finish ARCs? Let me know below!

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Tell Me Something Tuesday: Do You Comment Altruistically Or With Specific Intent?

Tell Me Something Tuesday is a weekly discussion post hosted by Rainy Day Ramblings where a wide range of topics from books to blogging are discussed. Weigh in and join the conversation by adding your thoughts in the comments. If you want to do your own post, grab the question and answer it on your blog.

This week's discussion question is:

First off, I'd like to say that I promise I'm not just saying this to sound 'good' when I say that, in general, I do altruistically. Let me explain. (This might be long, you are forewarned.)

Way back before I was a part of the booklr community, I didn't comment. On anything. Ever. I was either too shy, felt that I had nothing good to say, or just didn't really want to bring attention to myself. I figured any comment I posted would be met with snide remarks, argumentative comments, or would just be completely lost and therefore irrelevant. I'm a quiet person and I don't generally voice my thoughts that often. (I know that my sound odd coming from someone who runs a blog based on sharing my views... but trust me, I still struggle with it!) And this goes further than the internet: I don't even like to ask questions in class - in fact, I avoid it if at all possible. I've always thrived on being an observer.

But then one day I joined the booklr community. I started a blog, started meeting some people. And I also realized that this community thrives from comments. That without comments, many discussions wouldn't exist! That pretty much every book blogger I've come across genuinely appreciates each and every comment that they receive. So I took a deep breath and I started commenting.

I started posting small agreements with reviews on great books or expressed my own interest in something. And suddenly, somehow, I started getting more comments in return. It was so exciting! And that's when I realized that in order to generate my own comments and discussions, I had to give my own thoughts and opinions, but that isn't where I decided to focus my attention, because realizing that connection then made it truly click for me how important commenting is. So now I try to comment as much as possible, whenever I can. Sometimes that means more than ten comments a day, and sometimes that means only three comments a week. I love reading and reacting to posts, and I don't even care if people return the favor on my blog at this point. (And... get ready for this... I've started commenting with disagreements or comments that don't completely agree with something a blogger said, and guess what? It's been fine! It sparks more discussion and I get to meet even more people.)

Basically, what I'm trying to say is that commenting is fun, meaningful, and incredibly important. It lets you connect and talk to new people in the community, and it's worth every minute you spend crafting a response, and although I love finding comments given in return, I don't expect them. It's hard to keep up with commenting - I fall weeks behind in responding to some of the ones posted on mine, so I hardly expect others to take the time to add a comment to my own blog.

So now I pose the same question to you: Do you comment on other blog posts because you genuinely just enjoy commenting and supporting bloggers, or do you hope for some comments in return? (There's no harm in either!)

Friday, May 5, 2017

Discussion: Does it matter if a character is 'likable'?

Almost every review or discussion about a particular book includes some sort of comment - some in brief, some in detail - about whether a character was likable or unlikable. Often times, negative reviews result when readers find that a character was unlikable. Others, such as myself, can find enjoyment in a novel regardless of an unlikable character. Neither view is 'right' or 'wrong,' but it does lead the question: does it matter if the protagonist of a book is likable or unlikable?

First, it's probably useful to figure out what we even mean by a 'likable' character. Is it being able to relate to and empathize with a character's actions and emotions? Is it having a character that always tries to do the 'right' thing by following a strong moral compass, or it simply someone who has a strong, entertaining personality? Defining what makes a character likable is tricky, and probably differs according to each reader, but in general it seems to combine aspects of everything mentioned above. "But wait," you say, "isn't that just the definition of a well-written character?" Although yes, all of the former aspects are appreciated, it's not necessarily crucial for a character to hold strong moral values or have relatable qualities to be considered 'likable.' One example of a book in which I love the characters is Six of Crows, which is largely due to the incredibly charismatic personalities each character exhibits.

Conversely, what are unlikable characters? And this is where it gets really tricky, because there is a fine line between characters that are unlikable because they are poorly written and characters that are unlikable because of their own personal character. I've seen people lament the dislike of a certain book due to it having characters that made poor choices, had bad moral values, didn't care about right or wrong, or just simply didn't 'click' or relate with a reader. These are all completely valid points to make, but I don't think that means you have to automatically dislike a book because of an unlikable character.

Personally, I don't need to like a character to enjoy a book. Does it help? Sure, sometimes. But in general, if a character is interesting enough, I don't care if I think they are the most amazing person ever or a complete and total asshole. There's a difference between characters that are strongly developed with consistent character/personality and are unlikable versus characters that are unlikable due to their poor development and lackluster character. There are numerous book where I found the main character, dull, rude, annoying, or just plain stupid, but the mark of a good author is apparent when people still read and enjoy said book. Sometimes unlikable characters are supposed to be that way, and I still want to read the story. But sometimes they are just plain obnoxious (Falling Kingdoms, I'm looking at you..), and I can't keep going, so I DNF.

One reason I actually enjoy unlikable characters is because it allows us, as readers, to read about a wide variety of human nature. Some people just aren't inherently likable, but that doesn't mean that there is no story to tell. I mean, even many famous figures - Steve Jobs, for instance -- weren't exactly 'likable,' but society as a whole is still generally extremely impressed with him and will continue to read about him and buy products from his company. This brings me to the argument that likable vs unlikable characters also comes down to pure judgment: do we dislike a character and therefore deem their entire story unimportant? Or do we consider reading past and seeing what else is there. Again, this all depends on how the character is written, but I'm writing this with the assumption of strong, well-developed characters and not characters who are unlikable simply because the writing is bad.

Overall, I fall into the category of readers who do not think it matters if a character is likable. If the story is well-written and I'm still finding myself intrigued and not hating the book, then I'll keep on. It's always  nice to read about characters that we can personally connect with, but I rarely try to see myself in characters in books, so perhaps that's why I don't mind so much. I would love to go into more depth on this topic -- maybe with more examples -- but since I don't want to go on for ages, I'll leave it here.

So now I'm curious: what do you think of likable vs. unlikable character? Does it matter to you? Will you read a book even if the character just doesn't work for you?

Friday, April 7, 2017

Discussion: Keeping Track of Short Stories — How Do You Catalog Them in Your Yearly Reading?

One of the course I'm taking for this final quarter of University is focused on reading world literature, and we are doing this through reading a variety of short stories from around the globe. Because I generally like to keep track of my yearly reading (using Goodreads, for instance, as well as my own Excel spreadsheet with more details), this prompted me to consider how short stories should be included in reading lists, as I've yet to determine a good way to include short stories.

If I'm reading a collection of short stories and I read the entire book, then I just count that as one book. But how do you include short, 20-40 page stories? Does it matter? I consider short stories just as important as full-length novels and I always want to keep track of them. It's fairly easy to include in my Excel document, as I include page counts in my tracking, but on apps and websites like Goodreads, it becomes slightly more complicated.

Because of this, I'm curious to find out how you all include short stories in your yearly reading lists, or if you even count them at all. Or, maybe you don't even consider this a problem because you don't keep yearly reading lists. So please leave a comment below with your opinion on this topic! 

Do you combine a certain amount of short stories and then add them together one book? Do you count them individually? Do you even worry about including short stories in your yearly reading? Let me know!

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Tell Me Something Tuesday: Do You Cheat and Read Ahead While Reading a Book?

Tell Me Something Tuesday is a weekly discussion post hosted by Rainy Day Ramblings where a wide range of topics from books to blogging are discussed. Weigh in and join the conversation by adding your thoughts in the comments. If you want to do your own post, grab the question and answer it on your blog.

This week's discussion question is:

Personally, I don't think I have ever done this! I absolutely hate being spoiled by a book, and that is what generally prevents me from reading ahead. Also, if I'm that desperate to know what's going to happen, then I'm generally really loving or engaged with the book and I will subconsciously try to draw the book out longer because I don't want it to end. It's a problem.

The only exception to the above is if it's a book that I really dislike or no longer want to read, but that I still want to know what's going to happen. That's when I'll allow myself to just sort of skip forward

Now, have I ever accidentally spoiled myself? Definitely. We've all had those times when it's a really intense moment and we flip the page and our eyes somehow drift right to the opposite page and somehow something is inadvertently spoiled... yeah, that's always frustrating.

So now I pose the same question to you: do you ever cheat and read ahead while reading a book? If so, why? Do you have a strict rule to never look ahead? Do you ever have exceptions? Let me know in the comments!