A Defense of Non-Traditional Reading

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?

Don’t get me wrong, “non-traditional” forms of reading aren’t perfect. The blue light from our smartphones and e-readers is considered harmful, though there continue to be ways to work around that effect. You could argue that people tend to retain written information better when it is on a page rather than a screen. And of course, the aesthetic – there is nothing quite like having a beautiful collection of books to surround yourself with.

At the beginning of the month, my campus library posted this poll on their bulletin board:

12 library poll

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.

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Fictional Festivities | 12 Days of Christmas Book Tag

‘Tis the season to curl up in front of a fireplace with a good book and a big mug of hot cocoa. Snowflakes are falling outside of your window, and the only sound you hear is the crackle of the fire and the crinkle of pages being turned. It’s just you and the book, no one else around.

I don’t know about anyone else, but I find it’s a big challenging to get into the “Christmas spirit” when you’re a student. My school wrapped things up particularly late this year, so I didn’t get to go home until December 19. Between research papers on medieval and Renaissance literature and politics exams, it was easy to forget that Christmas was right around the corner.

And so I thought, what better way to get ready to celebrate Christmas than crank up my favorite Christmas music and participate in a Christmas-y book tag? This is the 12 Days of Christmas book tag, created by Falling Down The Book Hole, though I learned about it through Paper Fury’s post a few weeks ago. I did my very best to limit my answers to books I read this year, though you’ll see I bent the rules a tad bit…

Without further ado, let’s celebrate the 12 Days of Christmas!

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How to Make Me Read Your Book | 6 Story Tropes I Live For

Let’s saw we go to an ice cream parlor. My treat. I order my sundae, which is chocolate ice cream with peanut butter sauce, cookie dough chunks, whipped topping and rainbow sprinkles (no cherry). You open your mouth to order yours, but I cut you off and say, “We’ll both have the same thing.”

“But Maggie,” you protest. “I don’t like chocolate ice cream. And I’m allergic to peanuts! I’d much rather have vanilla ice cream with fudge and oreos on top!”

“Well, you’re wrong. My sundae is the best kind of sundae, so you’ll just have to learn to like it,” I say.

Sounds stupid, doesn’t it? Aside from the fact that my sundae would probably lead to me having a heart attack someday soon, it’s not gross or detestable. Neither is yours. Neither sundae is right or wrong, we just have different tastes in ice cream and its toppings, and there’s nothing wrong with that.

Sometimes though, I think we get a certain idea about stories – we think that they have to be a certain way, and anything that doesn’t fit that mold is morally reprehensible. Granted, there are a few things that any story should have: your characters should be well-rounded and the plot should be coherent. Just as you wouldn’t put pickles on your strawberry ice cream, you wouldn’t write a story without those important elements.

But from there, who’s to say what the rules are? All audiences have different tastes when it comes to character and story tropes, so it’s just a matter of figuring out which ones work and hoping that the right person finds your story.

I try to keep an open mind when it comes to stories, but if I’m being honest, there are a few tropes that just get me, you know? Like, if I see one of those tropes in a story, and it’s being done well, it’s safe to say I’m hooked. I’ve compiled a list of a few of my favorites today – maybe you’ll agree, maybe you’ll disagree, but hey, that’s the fun of it!

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Roasted Reads | 6 Thoroughly Disappointing Books

It’s autumn. Leaves are falling, the nights are getting longer, and there’s a chill in the air. It’s the perfect weather for a roaring bonfire. And you know what we do with bonfires?

We roast things.

Look, we’ve all been there. A close, trusted friend (or – gasp – a family member) recommends a book to us. They claim it’s the best use of ink since the first Bibles rolled off of Gutenberg’s printing press. And you trust them, so you decide to give it a try.

And you don’t like it.

Maybe you don’t hate it – maybe you’re just apathetic about it. And then when your friend/family member asks you what you thought, you’re caught in an awkward position. Do you risk your relationship by telling them the truth, or do you lie to spare their feelings?

I’ve read more than my fair share of what I would call “overrated” books. Not all of them are bad books – in fact, in many cases, I think they’re pretty decent works of literature. But the more I think about them, the less I like them. And mostly, I just think they need to be taken down a peg or two.

So gather around the campfire, readers. I’m about to roast some books.

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Making the Most of Required Reading | Seven School Books I’ve Actually Enjoyed

Most people don’t like required reading. Not even English majors. There’s nothing that kills my motivation more than someone handing me a paperback and then telling me I will be graded on my ability to read, comprehend, and analyze the words inside. I love reading. I wish I could do it more often than I do. It’s just that I have the kind of personality where the instant someone tells me something’s required, even if I will probably enjoy that something, I’m determined to dread it.

Sorry, professors.

Actually, I’m not all that sorry, because in sprite of my bad attitude, I have enjoyed a lot of my required reading. At the very least, I’ve only hated one or two books (and generally with good reason, so I don’t feel all that bad). Since school recently started for a lot of us Americans, I thought I’d take some time to talk about the books that make me love being an English major.

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Afterwords: Top 5 Heroes

As I did in my previous post about book heroines, today I’m revisiting my three-year-old top five heroes list. And, like I said in my previous post, I’m certainly not diminishing the awesomeness of the characters I wrote about before (although, if I’m being honest, there are a few that I haven’t had many thoughts about in the years since). The characters of Artemis Fowl from Eoin Colfer’s beloved series and Sage from The False Prince are still some of my favorites.

But like I said before, I’ve read a lot of books since then, and I think it’s time to give a few other characters some love too.

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Afterwords: Top 5 Heroines

Once upon a time, I wrote a blog post that was appropriately titled “Top 5 Heroines.” It was, as you might guess, a list of my favorite heroines from books. Now, even though I wrote that blog post three years ago, I still stand by it. There were some really awesome female characters on that list: June Iparis from the Legend trilogy, Cammie Morgan from Gallagher Girls, Deryn Sharp from the Leviathan trilogy, Reyna Ramirez-Arellano from The Heroes of Olympus, and Stargirl from Stargirl.

But I also wrote that blog post three years ago. I’ve read (and re-read) a lot of books since then, and I’ve fallen in love with both new characters and old. So while I still love and adore all of the ladies on my original list, I thought it was a good time to show some appreciation for a few of my other favorite heroines.

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Author interview with Sarah Henry: intricacies are just cracks in the wall

Author Interview with Sarah Henry: “intricacies are just cracks in the wall”

black and white photograph of a young woman with short hair and a feather pen tattoo on her collarbone. Sarah Henry.
Sarah Henry, author of intricacies are just cracks in the wall. She is also a photographer and videographer.

I am very excited to be sharing a project that is very close to my heart with you today. Sarah Henry, my friend and fellow English major (and now graduate), is publishing her first book, intricacies are just cracks in the wall through an IndieGoGo campaign. The novel tells the story of a young woman and her recovery from an abusive relationship through poetry. It explores experiences of mental health disorders, relational abuse, and the pains of self discovery.

I had the privilege of being a part of this project near the beginning as a member of Sarah’s writing workshop. It’s great to see all of her hard work finally coming to fruition through the published novel and the short film she created based on it!

As part of the launch of intricacies, I interviewed Sarah to talk to her a little bit about her writing process and the creation of both the book and the film. So what are you waiting for? Read on to hear more about intricacies are just cracks in the wall!

UPDATE 7/24/19: Sarah’s IndieGoGo campaign may be over, but you can still by intricacies are just cracks in the wall on Amazon and Barnes & Noble!

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Real-Life Reading

Real-Life Reading

I talk a lot about books around here. Most of it’s fiction, because if we’re being honest, stories are sometimes way more interesting than reality. At least, it often seems this way. When I was younger, I thought nonfiction meant the kind of books you use for research projects – big chunky things like textbooks. I never really thought of nonfiction as something people enjoyed reading for fun.

Fortunately, I got over that misconception as I got older, and even though nonfiction still isn’t my genre of choice, I read a lot more of it. I even have a couple of favorite nonfiction books, which I’m sharing today!

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Seven siblings from stories

Seven Siblings from Stories

Siblings. Love them or hate them, you’re pretty much stuck with them. They’re always there for you in when you’re knocked down… sometimes to give you a hand, sometimes because they pushed you. Such is life.

In case you don’t know, I have a younger brother (just one – the header image is of me with my brother and my cousin). So as someone who’s experienced having a sibling, I feel like I can be a pretty good judge of when someone writes sibling relationships well… and most of the time, they don’t. They usually fall into one of two extremes: always getting along 24/7, or hating each other’s guts. Going off of my own experience and what I’ve learned from others, sibling relationships usually fall more in the middle.

But anyway, just because most people can’t write siblings to save their life doesn’t mean there aren’t good, well-written sibling relationships in stories. I’ve compiled a list of seven of them, just to prove it. So here we go.

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