“There was no possibility of taking a walk that day.”
First line in Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brönte
Hi, guys and welcome to my Let’s Talk Bookish post for the week. It’s been a while since I’ve done one of these but not because I didn’t want to. Life got in the way and I didn’t have the energy or creativity required to write discussion posts.
I think my answer is summed up pretty well when I say that I had to google “problematic books” before writing this post because I wanted to find out which books are deemed problematic. Did you know that Goodreads has a list of Popular Problematic Books? It’s based on people shelving books as “problematic” (which luckily very few people do), and Twilight is number 1.
I’ve read a quite a few books from that list and have heard of a lot more. I can’t help but wonder why these books are on that list. I don’t see any issues with them and have never come across other books I would deem problematic and therefore tell people not to read. In general, I’m not part of that “cancel culture”, which these so-called problematic books are a part of. It’s leaning heavily towards banning books (although for different reasons) and don’t all readers agree that that’s a bad thing?
Another thing I also always think about when I hear the term “problematic books”: who decides that? And how am I or other people supposed to know? Not everyone reads reviews of the books they decide to pick up. It’s a thing we do here in the online bookish community, but not every reader is a part of this community (unfortunately). Should we judge them for reading and loving a book somebody else has deemed problematic? That’s very easy to answer because that’s a hard NO. I firmly believe everyone is allowed to love whatever book they want.
So to go back to the original question of how I deal with problematic books, I will say that I don’t spend very much time thinking about it. If someone calls a book problematic, I will still read it if I find it interesting. I want to form my own opinion. As that list on Goodreads shows, finding a book problematic can depend on the person reading it. It’s all very subjective in my opinion. That’s why I don’t want to discourage people from reading books that other people say there’s something wrong with. The problematic part of the book can be a very small thing while the rest of the book is perfect to you as a reader. That’s just sad to miss out on.
That’s my take on problematic books! I’d love to discuss this further in the comments so let me know what you do when you come across a problematic book. Have a great weekend!
First line in The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater
You might have heard the term Middle Book Syndrome before as it is a quite common “disease” that befalls (mostly) the second book in a trilogy. In some cases, it’s also referred to as Second Book Syndrome, which goes to clarify that it also concerns series longer that 3 books.
So what is Middle Book Syndrome? Middle Book Syndrome is when the second book in a series doesn’t live up to the quality of its predecessor . It can be so for various different reasons. Often, the second book will include a lot of set-up for the third book, especially if it’s a trilogy. The second book then fails to have its own set-up and conclusion, but will instead give you a cliffhanger ending, because now we’re finally ready for the third book! The second book will drag and you’re left with that feeling of just waiting for the next book.
You can also run into second books that go in a totally different direction compared to the first book. It will explore a different plot that might only loosely be connected to the plot of the first (and future third) book. This thing about a different plot can be really effective though if the author manages to create interesting ties to the exsistent plot of the first book. Then the second book becomes a layer instead of a break.
Now I want to give some examples of books I think suffer from Middle Book Syndrome. I’ve tried very hard to keep it spoiler-free and only talk about the books in broad terms. However, if you’re someone who don’t want to know anything at all about these books, proceed with caution.
City of Ashes by Cassandra Clare – Book 2 in The Mortal Instruments
I don’t know how many of you remember that The Mortal Instruments was only meant to be a trilogy. Odd to think about because we now have a gazillion books in that universe.
City of Ashes however was not the best follow-up to City of Bones. The storyline went in a weird direction, and the things that needed resolving from the end of book one was dragged on into book 3. Very little in this book actually made a difference to what happened in book 3.
A Gathring of Shadows by V. E. Schwab – Book 2 in Shades of Magic
The case of Middle Book Syndrome isn’t too bad with this one but I still wanted to include it.
The first book can actually work as a standalone which is great but not very good for the second book here. It kind of have to build up the story again and therefore has a very slow beginning.
Then we have the big event that takes place in this book… I still don’t know why we needed that. I don’t think it had a major influence on the overall plot.
The Obelisk Gate by N. K. Jemisin – Book 2 in The Broken Earth
I will admit that this series in general wasn’t my favorite but I still enjoyed book 1 and 3 a lot more than The Obelisk Gate.
We follow two different storylines but it seemed like only one of them absolutely needed to be there. The other one was just a lot of info-dumping because we needed to know these things for the third book. On top of that, the interesting storyline also dragged a bit and could have been wrapped up faster in my opinion.
Now I don’t want this post to come off all negative so I also want to give you some examples where the author truly nailed the second book. For some reason, the second book in a series is often my favorite one which seems weird even to me. That means I have a lot of examples for this but I’ll try to contain myself.
Thunderhead by Neal Shusterman – Book 2 in Arc of a Scythe
Will there ever be a better sequel than Thunderhead? I highly doubt it.
This book portrays such an intelligent way of adding another layer to your story. Shusterman expands his world greatly in this one all while keeping the plot from the first book. It raises the stakes and introduces new characters that fit seamlessly with everything else in the book. Such a thing could easily come off as a divergence from “the important stuff”, but no. Shusterman is an expert at connecting everything.
The Girl in the Tower by Katherine Arden – Book 2 in Winternight Trilogy
The Girl in the Tower is a great example of the story going in a completely different direction compared to the first book. I think it works because the trilogy in general is very character-driven and a lot of the main character’s development happens in this book. The most important part of a character-driven novel in my book and so it doesn’t become boring. And yes, the plot takes a turn but it still manages to connect book 1 and 3 in a mindblowing way.
Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins – Book 2 in The Hunger Games
Catching Fire did what I least expected of it, which was to do The Hunger Games once more. A competion with a lot of traditions could easily have given us a lot of repeat-scenes. Did that happen? Not at all. All the traditions were given a twist and the entire mood of the book was even more gloomy than in book 1.
It still works as a set-up for book 3, especially with that cliffhanger (!!), but that is not at all obvious when you’re reading it the first time. In that sense, it works so well on its own.
Honestly, I just wanted to talk about some sequels and this is what came out of it. I recently began to notice how my favorite books in trilogies tend to be the second one. I figured that was kind of weird and wanted to explore this Middle Book Syndrome and why it didn’t apply to those books.
Now I of course want to know about some books you think suffer from Middle Book Syndrome. OR maybe you’re like me and love so many second books in series. Let me know about those too. Have a great day!
First line in The Ask and the Answer by Patrick Ness
Welcome fellow readers. I hope you’re having a great day and thank you for stopping by. Today’s post is for the weekly meme Let’s Talk Bookish, which is hosted by Rukky @ Eternity Books. Each week we dicuss a different book related topic, and this week the topic is: Should readers read books that aren’t for their target age?
It’s a heavily debated topic we’re diving into today. Therefore, I’ll start with providing a light definition of these age ranges.
Written for ages 8 to 12
No profanity or graphic violence
Romance is limited to crushes and innocent first kisses.
Themes often revolve around friendship, bullying and family.
The characters don’t do much self-reflection, but instead react to their immediate surroundings.
Written for ages 13 to 18
Romance and sexuality are prevalent themes although no graphic sexual content is allowed.
The characters are often put in new and difficult situations and the books deal with the struggles to find one’s place in the world.
Relies more on self-reflection than middle grade books.
Written for ages 18 and older
A more complex story and setting is allowed although not required.
Disclaimer: these aren’t definitive explanations because those don’t really exist. They are just to give you an idea of what I’m referring to when I mention the age ranges.
Now, when discussing the topic of reading outside of one’s age range there are two sides: to read books meant for someone older and to read books meant for someone younger. Let’s start with the first one.
Reading books written for older readers
In my opinion, this is where we run into most problems. As you might have noticed when reading the definitions above, MG and YA are mainly defined by what isn’t allowed in those books. These restrictions are there for a reason, and that is mainly to protect children and teens from content they aren’t mature enough for. I’m not an expert on the minds of children, so I’m going to go much more into that here.
However, I’m also all for breaking the rules. For a middle grade reader that means the parents can allow a book meant for someone older, if they deem it appropriate for their child. They know the child best, and in such cases I don’t think age ranges should be looked at too rigidly.
With teens, I’m fairly certain they can make these decisions themselves. Also, if you tell a 15-year-old they aren’t allowed to do something, you can be certain that’s exactly what they’ll do. Instead, I think it’s more important that teens figure out their own reading tastes and that include reading something they don’t like. I highly doubt they’ll be scarred for life.
To sum up, I don’t think anyone should feel forced to read books meant for someone older, but I do believe it can very educational in terms of figuring out what one likes as a reader.
Reading books written for younger readers
As you can probably tell, I have far less issues with ‘reading down’. There’s no more worrying about not being emotionally ready for certain topics. You can just read what you want.
To more specifically answer the question of the week: should readers read books that are written for younger readers? I think you should at least give it a shot. Reading books meant for children or teens can give you a great insight into the mind workings of these age groups. We’ve all been that age, but we tend to forget what actually mattered at that point in our life. Reading MG and YA can therefore be quite benefitial if you in your day to day life surround yourself with children or teens.
However, if you’ve tried MG and YA and didn’t like it, then of course, you shouldn’t read it. Just don’t look down on other readers who do enjoy it. We’re past that, aren’t we?
To just elaborate on that – I think it’s perfectly fine for adults to read MG and YA as long as you review the book with that in mind. What is deemed great in an adult novel, isn’t necessarily deemed great in a YA novel and vice versa. The result can be a too low rating for a MG or YA novel and that might discourage someone from the target age from reading it.
This section summed up: read what you want but be aware of what you’re reading.
That was a bit of a long one, so thank you if you read all of it. I hope it made you think just a little bit. What are your thoughts on these age ranges? Do you read books that technically aren’t meant for you? Let me know in the comments.
Hello and good day to you. The inspiration for this post came from the booktuber Merphy Napier (if you love fantasy you should really check her out), who made two videos recently called “Books I rated too high” and “Books I rated too low”. She really is one of my favorite booktubers but those videos made me realize how I don’t rate books the same way as she does. And I think there’s an important discussion there. Do we rate a book based on how much we enjoyed it or do we evaluate the actual quality of the book?
I found myself in a conundrum because what makes a book objectively good? My opinion is that if there was actually an answer to this question, wouldn’t there be books that EVERYBODY loved? As far as I’m aware, that’s not the case and far from it. Doesn’t that mean that it comes down to the individual reader and what they enjoy? What a reader enjoy can vary so much and not everyone is even aware of what they like and dislike in books. Many people love books that aren’t close to winning any awards and therefore might be considered “bad books”.
briefly consider what could label a book “bad” or “not worth reading”.
writing – the general idea is that repetitive writing is bad writing because it
lacks creativity and the reader will get bored easily.
characters – characters that are very one-dimensional can seem unrealistic and
maybe shows the laziness of the author.
holes – a sign that the author haven’t thought everything through and tied it
I’m not an
expert on writing books but this was just to give you an idea about what I’m
referring to when I say that not every reader care about all of this. So, what
is the point of rating books based on these parameters?
To use myself as an example, I rate books based on my enjoyment of them and sometimes my enjoyment is reduced due to poor writing, plot holes etc. But only sometimes. Other times, I will completely ignore these faults because something else about the book has made me love it dearly. And then I will rate it 5 stars. In my review of the book, I will explain what was great about the book so other people can make the decision whether they would enjoy the same things or not. That’s why I think it makes more sense to rate a book based on my enjoyment of it. Should I rate it lower because I imagine someone else is not going to like it? That just seems absurd to me.
You can of course also have the discussion on the significance of assigning a number to a book. I like seeing the number in a review because it helps me understand the reviewer. We use words like ‘enjoy’, ‘like’ and ‘love’ a lot in reviews and the rating just tells me how much they enjoyed, liked or loved it. The biggest problem with rating books is when you get an average rating like on Goodreads. It’s easy to judge the book based on that little number but there can be so many 5- and 1-star ratings in there. I think it’s always necessary to research a book further before dismissing it or adding it to your TBR.
To round this off, I don’t believe one can be completely objective when rating books. We all like different things. There isn’t a book that everyone loves just as there isn’t a book that everyone hates. Assumed objective quality just makes us feel bad for liking a “bad book”, and we feel forced to like a “good book”. That’s really not necessary.
What do you think of this distinction? What do you consider when rating books if you even rate them? I’d love to know if you consider the book’s quality more than I do.
First line in The King of Attolia by Megan Whalen Turner
readers. Today I want to talk about the topic of borrowing books vs. buying
them. Since I discovered booktube and book blogging, it’s come to my attention
how many people buy everything they read. Or almost everything. I’m so
astounded every time I see those giant book shelves in the background of
booktubers’ videos or in a blog post. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with
owning so many books (it’s awesome actually), but it has made me realize how
I’m the odd one out.
of the books I read, I borrow from the library. I do own books but only the
ones I really like and therefore might want to reread. It means that I most
often borrow the books first time I read them and then decide if I want to buy
them based on how much I liked them.
post I want to discuss some points about borrowing books vs. buying them. There
are drawbacks to both but there are also arguments that make both completely
valid. In the book community, it can sometimes feel like there’s this great
pressure to buy every book you hear about. This post is mainly just to say
that’s it okay if you do, but it also perfectly fine is you don’t want to or
are able to do that. You can still be a successful blogger, booktuber etc.
Let’s discuss some of the problems with using the library but also some of the
we have a very strong drawback to buying books. They are kind of expensive, at
least if you buy everything you read and need to have the hardback editions
with the new beautiful cover (I know the temptation). A trip to the library is
just the cheapest solution.
I also want
to make a point here about the importance of supporting your local library. The
level of funding and people’s usage of the library often go together. So even
if you’re able to afford all the books you want, I still urge you to go to your
library once in a while to support it. Not everyone can afford to buy their
favorite books, and everyone should have the opportunity to read.
running a blog or a Youtube channel about books, your life is so much easier if
you actually own the books you’re talking about. For example, if you’re going
to review a book, you can annotate by using stickers or write in the margins.
Those notes are also perfect if you want to reread some of your favorite parts
of a book years later.
I also want
to mention the problem of borrowing books if you want to participate in
readathons. It’s doable but requires so much planning and maybe also some luck.
The books you put on hold at the library might be unavailable and won’t come
into your possession until after the readathon is over. I haven’t participated
in any readathons because of this but I plan to try it out. My solution is to
research when readathons are happening and hope the hosts publish the list of
prompts early. I also want to focus on the month-long readathons instead of the
very short ones.
problem goes for TBR posts. I mean, the library decides what I read. I
basically just make some suggestions to it.
take up a lot of space in your apartment/house and that’s awesome. Who doesn’t
want their own private library? I want it but I can’t help but think “What do I
do when I need to move to a new apartment?”. The sheer workload of that makes
me a little bit more hesitant when buying books. When I love a book, I don’t
care about that. I will gladly destroy my back to move them.
can also arise if you live with someone who’s oblivious to the magnificence of
books. I live alone so my books take up the exact amount of space I want them
to. I imagine not everyone’s partners would accept an entire wall or room
dedicated to bookshelves. Maybe that’s the actual test of true love?
books you support the authors in a very important way: financially. Being an
author doesn’t exactly make you rich (unless you’re J. K. Rowling), and
therefore sales are crucial for them to continue writing books.
also get paid when a library buy their book but not as much obviously as if it
was bought in a bookstore. I live in Denmark and here authors also get a small
commission every year as long as the library has their book on their shelves.
The more books you have, the more money you get. In that sense, it’s not
dependent upon how many times people borrow those books. Such rules differ a
lot from country to country, so I think it’s a good idea to check up on the
conditions for your country. You could be supporting authors financially
without giving them your own money.
also support authors in other ways that don’t include buying their book at the
bookstore. Rating their book on Goodreads and generally talking about it helps
create buzz around the book so that more people hear about it. Maybe you reach
someone who’ll want to buy it.
books is a very convenient tool if you end up with too many books on your
shelves. Maybe you bought a highly anticipated new release that turned out to
be horrible, so you want it off your shelf. Popular places to turn in your unwanted
books are the library and used bookstores.
difficulties here lie in the fact that I’m a Dane reading books in English,
which means that the books I would unhaul aren’t in very high demand. Sometimes
I’m able to donate some books to charities that for a period of time will
accept anything. Otherwise, finding new homes for my books can be quite time
consuming which is again why I prefer to borrow them from the library.
I hope you enjoyed this first discussion post from me. It was just a topic I felt I had to touch upon because I sometimes feel like the weird one for using the library so much. I wanted to explain why. I just love going there and almost consider it to be my second home. I hope you want to chat with me in the comments about this whether you prefer to buy or borrow.