Let's Talk Bookish – How has reading shaped your life?

It’s Friday and time for another Let’s Talk Bookish. This is a weekly meme hosted by Rukky at Eternity Books where participants are invited to discuss a topic. This week’s topic is “How has reading shaped/changed your life?”

I have always been a reader. My parents read to me from an early age, and I grew up with a great love of books and reading. Some of my earliest memories are going to the library and checking out stacks of books to take home and devour. I participated in the library summer reading program and tore through books, wanting to read the most (I never did, though). Reading has always been a huge part of my life.

When I was in fourth grade, I transferred schools. It was an incredibly difficult transition and the girls at the new school could be incredibly cruel to me. They teased and bullied me, sometimes physically. I took solace in books. I’d always had an active imagination, and having that escape really helped. It didn’t matter that I didn’t live near any of the few friends I had; I had friends in my mind. Stories and books became a solace and a refuge. If the girls were being too mean, I could take a book out to recess and escape or even just walk away and imagine myself into another world.

In high school, I met another girl who loved to read as much as me. We initially bonded over Star Trek, but quickly found we had so much more in common. We would spend hours at the bookstores, pouring over books. We lent and recommended books to each other all the time. We never ran out of things to say to one another.

Reading has also shaped my writing life. Although I was always adamant about not wanting to be a writer (a stance I’ve since reversed), I’ve always been writing because I was influenced by reading. My earliest scribblings were poems. In fourth grade, I wrote a sequel to Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIHM as a gift for my teacher who read it to us. I wrote Star Wars fanfiction in high school, then graduated to pirate romances after I started reading romances. I started writing vampires after Interview with the Vampire and the Anita Blake books by Laurel K. Hamilton. I realized I could connect all my writing into a shared universe from Cassandra Clare, which led to me writing two books this year. Reading has guided and directed my writing from the beginning.

My identity as a reader has always been important to me. I’ve always been proud of it and excited to share my love. Without reading, I wouldn’t be the person I am today and I honestly can’t imagine who I’d be without it.

How has reading shaped or changed your life? Drop a comment below and let me know!

Let’s Talk Bookish

Let’s Talk Bookish is a weekly meme created by Rukky at Eternity Books. Each week, participants are given a topic and invited to respond. This week’s question is, ”  Do bloggers/reviewers have to review every book they read?”

My answer? Goodness, I hope not! I definitely do not review every book I read, nor do I want to. There are several reasons I might not review a book, and I’ll get into them below. First, though, I think I should clarify my status as a blogger/reviewer. I’m doing this as a fun hobby. I started this blog to share my love of books, and I don’t intend for this to be a source of income. I mean, I’d love to monetize my blog and be able to live off it, but it’s not going to happen. So this is something I do for fun and, as such, I have no obligations to review everything I read. I get to pick and choose what makes me happy to talk about and, the moment it stops being fun, I can step away.

That being said, there are a few instances where I might force myself to review a book. If I’m granted an ARC on NetGalley, or if an author were to send me their book and ask me to read it, I would do my utter best to review it. That’s a source of pride for me, but if something were to happen (like I got hurt or sick, work was insane, family disaster, etc.) I wouldn’t force myself to review a book. It would take backseat.

Some books I read, I don’t want to review. Sometimes, I’m too close to them and love them too much to want to open myself up about them. For example, I am probably never going to review Beauty by Robin McKinley. I love that book too much to want to examine it through a critical eye. Some books, I have nothing to say on. They’re not good or bad, but they don’t excite commentary. I’m also hesitant to review personal growth books because they are so personal. They either speak to the reader or they don’t, and I’m not quite sure how to review them. However, now that I’m not doing stars in my blog reviews, it’s a little easier.

So, no, I don’t think bloggers and reviewers have to review every book they read. Sometimes, they should just get to read for the sheer joy of reading and not have to share their thoughts. We deserve a break, too!

What do you think? Should bloggers and reviewers review every book they read? Drop a comment below or a link to your blog!

Let’s Talk Bookish

Let’s Talk Bookish is a weekly meme hosted by Rukky at Eternity Books. This week’s topic is “Should readers read books that aren’t for their target age?”

I think yes, for several reason. First, books don’t really have a target age. Publishers, stores, and libraries categorize books based on what they think the audience is, but that doesn’t mean those categories define who is allowed or not allowed to read them. They’re grouped together as a guess as to who would enjoy them the most. Children tend to enjoy books about children and animals. Teens like books about teens. Adults often like to read about the lives of other adults. But that doesn’t mean the books are solely for them. I doubt most authors are crying over the fact that there’s a huge population of adults who love, buy, and read children’s books. It means those authors did their job. I can’t think of anyone who wants their book to only be appreciated by a narrow audience. They want their stories to be read by as wide a population as possible.

It goes both ways, of course. Should children be reading adult books? And, yeah, if they’re ready. There are some books that kids aren’t ready to be reading, but they aren’t going to gravitate those. They’ll read books they can understand and feel comfortable with. For example, many years ago, a fifth grade student went to her teacher upset because the book she was reading mentioned condoms and safer sex between adults (the mother of the main character) . She didn’t want to read it anymore. She clearly wasn’t ready to read that book, and that’s fine. I, on the other hand, sought out romance and even sexually explicit books when I was a preteen. I got an elicit thrill, and I got to read about safe, consensual relationships between adults. On the other hand, I’ve never been old enough to read the book A Child Called It, and I never will be. But it’s hugely popular with fifth and sixth graders to this day. Different strokes.

Books shouldn’t be kept in cages. Stories are universal, no matter what the publisher stamps as the age category. Not allowing people to read the books that they want is banning books, and that’s not okay by any stretch of the imagination.

Two quotes to sum up my thoughts:

Well, in all my years I ain’t never heard, seen nor smelled an issue that was so dangerous it couldn’t be talked about.”  Hopkins, 1776 (Replace “talked about” with “read about” and that’s where I stand)

“A children’s story that can only be enjoyed by children is not a good children’s story in the slightest.” C.S. Lewis

Let’s Talk Bookish

Let’s Talk Bookish is a weekly meme created by Rukky at Eternity Books. This week’s discussion question is, “What are some tropes/characters that you think are poorly or under represented in books? “

So this is going to seem weird after my passionate defense of sexual content in YA last week, but I think that asexuality and teenage characters who aren’t ready to have sex are under represented in books. And, of course, those are two totally separate situations.

The way I define asexuality is a lack of sexual desire. I know there are many degrees of asexuality and asexual people who have sex, but my basic definition is someone who doesn’t have the desire to have sex. I like the way it was defined in Let’s Talk About Love by Claire Kann, where the main character said something to the effect of, “You know how some people don’t care about running? Well, that’s me. I don’t care about sex.” While that’s not how I personally define asexuality for me, it’s pretty damn close.

There are some books out there about people who are asexual. I’ve read three: Let’s Talk About Love, The Girls Guide to Petticoats and Piracy by Mackenzie Lee, and All the Wrong Places by Anne Gallagher. I also know there are more books coming out or that are out. But it’s not a widespread thing and I would like to see it more normalized.

The second under represented trope is teenagers who aren’t ready to have sex. It seems like any romance with teenagers ends up, at some point, with the teenagers choosing to have sex. And, like I said last week, having sex and exploring sexuality is perfectly natural and many teenagers do it, there are also many teenagers who choose not to have sex for a whole host of reasons. I’d like to see more books where someone tries and realizes, no, it’s not for them. Not yet, not now. Or doesn’t try and just knows that they’re not ready. Where are all the books about late bloomers? I’d like to see more.

What are some tropes or characters you think need better representation? Let me know in the comments!

Let’s Talk Bookish – Sexual Content in YA

It’s time for another Let’s Talk Bookish discussion. This is a weekly meme hosted by Rukky at Eternity Books. This week’s topic is, Is there too much sexual content in YA?

I read a lot of YA, but the books I choose don’t tend to have a lot of sexual content. At least not sexually explicit content. I guess Throne of Glass by Sara J. Maas is considered YA, and that does have sexual content, but, outside of that, I can’t really think of many books that I’ve read that have sexual content. Maybe it’s because I don’t read much contemporary; is that where all the sexual content is?

However, that being said, I don’t think there’s too much content in YA and not because I’m not coming across it. While I completely sympathize with people who don’t want to read about sex, sexual tension, or romance, when I was a kid, that’s exactly what I wanted to read. I read Forever by Judy Blume when I was in fifth or sixth grade because I knew it had sex in it. When my parents left me alone at home, I went through the adult books in the house looking for sex scenes. My library checked out any book to anyone, and when I was in sixth or seventh grade, I checked out a romance book. Even before the sex started, I knew it was the type of book I was looking for because of the sensual descriptions of clothing.

Many kids are interested in sex, and many kids don’t have access to healthy depictions of sex. Their parents either won’t talk to them about it and/or give them rotten information. Books with sexual content are the only place they’ll get an education. I mean, yes, in reality they’re going online and looking at porn and talking to their friends who are as badly educated as they are, but if they can read a book that depicts a sexual relationship and it’s consequences, isn’t that better?

Judy Blume wrote Forever in 1975 because the only books out there about teenagers having sex ended in tragedy. Her daughter wanted to read something more realistic or at least different. (Side note: I have no proof that’s why she wrote it; I believe I read that many years ago somewhere, but don’t quote me on it). So, Blume wrote a book about teens having sex and detailed (or at least soft-focused) the sex scenes. And while those scenes were incredibly cringey (the guy named his penis Ralph, and I pictured a penis wearing tiny glasses), they showed fairly realistic sex between two inexperienced people. And, how just because you have sex, it doesn’t mean your relationship is going to last. But it doesn’t mean your life is going to be ruined, either.

So, I think sexual content in YA is important. It seems that most YA depicts healthy relationships that focus on consent and protection and the consequences of rushing into things unprepared. I think of how hugely important Rainbow Boys by Alex Sanchez was in not only portraying gay relationships, but realistically dealt with the consequences for one of the characters when he took risky chances.

Again, not everyone wants to read sexual content. But I also think there’s enough diversity in YA to satisfy everyone.

Calendar Girls October: Books that Lit Your Way Out of a Reading Slump

Calendar girls is a monthly blog event that’s hosted by Katie at Never Not Reading and Adrienne at Darque Dreamer Reads . This month’s discussion prompt is Books that Lit Your Way out of a Reading Slump.

So, I can’t remember when I’ve ever had a proper reading slump. I’ve read less than usual, like February when I only read about three books. But I’ve still always read every night. So, there hasn’t been a particular book that’s pulled me out.

That being said, I have had a genre light me from reading a book every week or so to reading almost a book a night. And that genre was M/M historical romance.

I’d read a few in the genre and enjoyed it, but it didn’t spark until I discovered Cat Sebastian and K.J. Charles. Once I read them, I devoured whatever I could find. I tore through Cat Sebastian’s book, The Soldier’s Scoundrel like a wild fire. Then, K.J. Charles’s Society of Gentlemen books entered by world. The first, A Fashionable Indulgence was okay, but the second, A Seditious Affair cemented my love.

With such lovely lines like, ” Wednesday by Wednesday, week by week, I have loved you.” I was a goner.

After that, for months after, I read almost nothing but m/m historical romance. I discovered more authors and more series. I read until I couldn’t find anything I hadn’t read. And while I’ve branched back out into other genres, m/m historical romances have a special place in my heart.

What’s a book or genre that snapped you out of a slump? Comment below and let me know!