“Hey.” Annabeth slid next to me on the bench. “Happy birthday.” She was holding a huge misshapen cupcake with blue icing. I stared at her. “What?” “It’s August 18th,” she said. “Your birthday, right?”
The Last Olympian (pg. 372)
This is my third time rewriting this introduction, and this time I’ve decided that I’m just gonna be as weird as I want because this is MY blog and I do what I want.
Anyway, last weekend, my friend Rachel came up to visit and we threw a birthday party for a fictional character.
Now to be clear, this wasn’t just any fictional character, but Percy Jackson, hero and protagonist of the The Lightning Thief (which was recently named as one of Time‘s 100 Best YA Books of All Time), its sequels, and many spinoffs. For longtime readers of Maggie’s Musings, it should come as no surprise that I’m a huge fan of the Percy Jackson series. I grew up with these books, and even now as an adult, I still love re-reading them. They hold a special place in my heart.
I usually don’t remember dates like this, but Percy’s birthday just so happens to be the day after my brother’s birthday (speaking of which: Paul, if you’re reading this, IOU one (1) birthday gift and a cake or other treat of your choice). And since Rachel was already coming to visit that weekend and she also happens to be a Percy Jackson fan, we thought, why not? Let’s live the lives our twelve-year-old selves would’ve wanted us to have.
It’s strange how when the world comes to an end, you focus on all of the big things that change. When the plague (you know what I mean) first started ramping up in 2020, we knew a few things we could expect. We knew that our work and school schedule would be disrupted, we knew we’d have to adjust to a “new normal” (ugh, I hate that phrase) in our daily lives.
But I think as things in the U.S. start becoming more normal-ish, I’m realizing that there are a lot more “little things” in my life that have changed. And while it might seem silly, one of the things that’s definitely changed is my reading habits.
Approximately a thousand years ago in June 2020, I wrote a blog post about a new hobby I started during the quarantine: creating Funko Pop figurines inspired by my favorite book characters. My first project was June and Day, the protagonists of one of my all-time favorite books, Legend by Marie Lu. In that post, I talked about my research, the tools I used, the sources that inspired me, and the process behind each figurine.
When I finally finished those first two figurines, I was feeling pretty proud of myself. I was pleased with how they’d turned out, especially for a first attempt, and I was already looking forward to the next project I’d be working on.
So, naturally, since I’m an overachiever, my next project was much more ambitious: the six main characters from Leigh Bardugo’s Six of Crows duology.
Since I’ve already gotten into the nitty gritty of my creation process in my first post, I’m going to spend this one focusing more on each character and the choices and challenges for each one. Without further ado, here they all are, in order of creation.
Most book bloggers like to start off the year with lists of books they want to read in the coming months. But not on Maggie’s Musings. Nope, here we talk about all of the books I don’t want to read in the new year.
I’ve sort of accidentally made a tradition of doing a purge of my “to-be-read” (TBR) books every two years – I did it for the first time in 2017 (read Part 1 and Part 2) and then again in 2019 (Part 1 and Part 2), and now it’s 2021, so I guess it’s time to dust off the old TBR list again.
But before I begin, I did want to mention three books that got kicked out automatically because they already survived one round of this and I still didn’t read them: Nerve by Jeanne Ryan (2017 Part 1), Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card (2017 Part 2), and Airborn by Kenneth Oppel (2019 Part 1). A few other old ones are still around, but they’re on thin ice.
Do you ever just look at stuff that you wrote years ago and think, “Wow, what on earth was I talking about?”
I have that experience pretty often. I’ve had this blog for almost five years, you know. But this post isn’t about how cringeworthy I might have been when I first started this blog – in fact, it’s actually about one of my favorite posts I wrote in the early days of Maggie’s Musings.
Even as a high school student, I had a bone to pick with story tropes. Not much has changed in that regard, at least. I wrote a post about my “Book Blurb Blacklist,” 15 things that would immediately turn me off from reading a book. It was a delightfully snarky post, and looking back now, I still agree with pretty much all of it.
However, there’s a question that has gone unanswered for far too long: What are the things – tropes, phrases, whatever – that make me actually want to read a book?
In 2020, I set a goal to read 65 books. I set it a bit higher than my previous reading challenges, which were usually in the 45-50 range, but I knew I would be able to meet it.
The thing is… I wasn’t really expecting to meet it so soon.
Since I no longer have my big reading goal looming over me, I want to be more intentional about what books I read throughout the rest of the year. This is for two main reasons:
I still have some smaller reading goals to complete, like reading #OwnVoices diverse books and nonfiction books.
I may or may not have gone on a book shopping spree the last few months, and now I have several books on my shelves that I should read before I buy any new ones.
Charmaine did a list like this at the beginning of July (which makes a lot more sense, since she still had half a year to work with), so I stole it felt inspired by it and decided to make my own reading commitment for what’s left of the year.
So without further ado, here are 10 books I want to read before the end of 2020!
It seems like everyone and their weird uncle has started a new hobby lately. Some people are baking bread, making soap or candles, or learning a new language.
Well, I’ve also started a new “quarantine hobby.” It was a terrible idea, not because I hate it, but because I’ve become practically obsessed with it over the past few weeks and I can’t make myself stop.
Here’s your hot take for the week: We don’t understand The Hunger Games.
“But Maggie,” I hear you say, “How could we not understand The Hunger Games? It was the biggest teen movie franchise since Twilight! Don’t you remember reading about how well the movies performed commercially? Didn’t you give a presentation on the cultural impact of dystopian fiction on young adults?”
I did indeed give such a presentation, but that doesn’t debunk my claim right off the bat. There are plenty of readers and viewers of The Hunger Games who looked beyond the hype and saw the message of the story – we wouldn’t still be talking about it otherwise. But in general, our society has missed the point.
Let’s get one other thing out of the way: The Hunger Games is not my favorite book or film series, not by a long shot. If you asked me to name my top ten books of all time, I doubt it would make the list. That’s not to say it’s a bad book though! I think it’s an excellent read and I’d recommend it to anyone looking to better understand young adult literature. Personally though, I’m more interested in how The Hunger Games is (or maybe was) a cultural phenomenon.
For those reading this who missed out on The Hunger Games or just did not care, here’s the premise: a futuristic and dystopian nation known as Panem holds an annual “Hunger Games” in which 24 “tributes” between the ages of 12-18 are selected to participate in a televised fight to the death. The heroine, Katniss, volunteers for the Games to take the place of her younger sister Prim. Fair warning, there will be plenty of spoilers as we keep going!
It’s a common stereotype that readers are notorious for hating on e-books, audiobooks, and pretty much any form of reading that isn’t a hardcover from 1974 with a faded velvet bookmark. You’ve seen the poorly-formatted memes and comics – kids these days with their “Kindles” and “Nooks,” not reading scrolls by candlelight like we did in ye olde America. What happens when your e-reader’s battery is drained, or you can’t find your headphones?
At the beginning of the month, my campus library posted this poll on their bulletin board:
And recently in my papermaking/bookmaking class, we’ve been talking about how books and the methods we prefer to use when we read them. Despite what the memes suggest, people of my generation still love printed text.
Unfortunately, this love of traditional reading often comes with a disdain for other ways of consuming books. But let me confess something: I love having e-books and audiobooks. As time passes, they’ve become a more present part of my reading experience, and I’m incredibly thankful for it. These days, when I hear someone mocking non-traditional reading, it takes a lot out of me not to start an argument. So instead of starting an argument in person, I’ve decided to write a little bit about why e-books and audiobooks are in some ways better than printed pages.