Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Let's (Not) Talk About My Goodreads Goal

Above is my Goodreads reading challenge as of April 15th. Real Talk: I have more books in my TBR pile then I've set my Goodreads goal to. And I don't care.
The bottom line is, I've stopped forcing myself to read books. I get questions a lot IRL about being an english major and if that has changed my perspective on reading. Overall: no, it hasn't. I still read trashy books and enjoy them despite them having (somewhat) no literary value. I notice things like tropes more but that doesn't undermine the book's value or hinder my enjoyment. What has changed is how frequent I'm reading.
All. Freaking. Year. I force myself to read boring theory readings for class, and slunk through the first few chapters of classics before I can enjoy them, or take 30 minutes to read a 14 line sonnet because I don't process it the first time around...
So once winter break, reading week, and the four months of summer break begin, I can't force myself to read. I won't force myself to read.
I read two books in January, one of which was for class. I read one book in February. The one book I read in March was a play for class. And so far in April I've only read - you guessed it - one book.
Which puts me 9 books behind schedule if I want to read 50 books this year.
And since when did we start forcing ourselves to read? My answer is booktube. Obviously booktube and book blogs really inspire me to read. They introduce me to new books: books I wouldn't pick up on my own, etc. I think booktube, specifically, is really showy. If you're new, I did booktube for a while and am currently taking an extended hiatus. Some booktubers will read 10+ books a week, and I think if that's a natural inclination to read a lot, that's great! Sometimes I do read that many books. However, I rarely read that many books, and when I was doing booktube regularly, I felt an immense pressure to read a lot because I felt that reading a lot meant producing more content.
So I won't be pressuring myself to read anymore, and I won't be pressuring myself to finish books anymore. I mean, if I was cataloging all the books I've started lately, my Goodreads "currently reading" shelf would have at least 6 books on it.

In 2014 I read 63/50 books.
In 2015 I read 72/70 books.
In 2016 I read 41/50 books.
2016 was my first year of university and I'm pretty sure it's only been getting more difficult since. If I don't hit my 50 book goal this year, I'm not too sure what I'll set it to next year. For now, though, I'm stopping the madness of scrambling to finish books and quickly pick up another one. It's just not worth it. I would struggle over what to rate each book, when it came to review time, I could barely remember plot points. And what was it all for? I mean, I wouldn't have read the books if I wasn't interested in them, but it felt like I was doing it all to say I'd read the books. There is a video on my youtube channel kind of talking about feeling pressured to read. I also work at a book store and feel the pressure because of that as well, but I have my awesome co-workers to back me up there. On the internet, you're kind of alone.
So even though we're already in April, I want to promise myself that this year, I will stop forcing myself to read, and just enjoy the books I'm reading.
When and if I decide to go back to booktube, I'm not going to read just so I have content.
I'm going to stop worrying about what my Goodreads shelves and goal look like, and just enjoy reading.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Review: QUEENS OF GEEK by Jen Wilde

So I haven't worked on my TBR from my last post AT ALL... big surprise, eh?
But I'm home for the summer (sort of, I still have to write 2 exams and revise an essay) and that means I'm back at my "home" store. So I perused the ARC shelf in the staff room and found QUEENS OF GEEK. Now I heard a little bit about this one on the book twitters, but when I read the description all I could think was *ew lame concept* but I took the ARC anyways and thought *oh MAYBE I'll read it.*
I ended up reading the whole thing in a few hours today and it's exactly what I needed. I've been finding it difficult to pick up a book and actually read it since the semester ended. Which is very, very frustrating because I finally have time to read and suddenly I can't???
Anyways, here's my little review/rave/why you should also read this book. Quick warning: I use the word, or some variation of the word nerd a lot and it's not meant to be offensive or malicious at all. I consider myself quite the nerd!
First of all it follows our two main characters Charlie and Taylor - two best-friends and nerds. They're going to their first con with their other best friend and nerd, Jamie.
Charlie is a popular vlogger (I think she has 3 million subscribers?) and recently starred in an Australian indie film that got really big. She's Chinese-Australian, and openly bisexual. She recently broke it off with Reese Ryan, her co-star, after he cheated on her. Now, they have to do press together at SupaCon - the nerd convention that Charlie has treated Taylor and Jamie to because they're about to graduate from high school.
Taylor has anxiety, she's on the autism spectrum, and she's curvy/fat/plus-sized/whatever you wanna call it. She's got a good Tumblr/Twitter following and is really excited that she might get to meet her favourite author (Skyler Atkins) at SupaCon. She even cosplays as the main character of Skylar Atkins' book series (there's also a movie franchise). It's obvious from the start that Jamie has a thing for Taylor and you basically will ship it right away.
Speaking of ships, because it's a con, there are other YouTubers there other than Charlie, like this girl Alyssa Huntington - you will also ship them immediately.
So there are the basics down.

  • Diverse cast of characters with relatable attributes? Check!
  • Nerdy kids running around at a nerdy convention? Check! 
  • The promise of not one, but two, love stories? Check!  

So yeah, the concept itself is not the most relatable. No one I know has a youtube and movie star for a best friend that can fly them from Australia to the States for a convention, but I digress, because the characters and the things they go through are so relatable.
I didn't relate to Charlie that much - I'm straight. But I did love the confidence in herself, and the way that's shaken up through her break up with Reese is relatable (not a spoiler! they break up before the book starts!). I found Taylor more relatable, because I have a panic disorder, I'm a nerd, and I'm also curvy/fat/plus-sized/whatever you wanna call it. I definitely have overcome a lot of the self-hatred that comes along with being plus-sized, and I loved that this book sort of covers Taylor at a point in her life where she's also kinda past that. Mind you, I am older than her, but I also really came to terms with my body in my last year of high school, so that was great to read about.
I also found it really cool how Wilde focused a lot on how much the internet really helps people with social anxiety. My panic disorder isn't triggered by anything social, but the way she was able to describe anxiety and panic attacks was just so relatable and well done. Not everyone experiences anxiety the same way, but I thought it was very well portrayed.
I also loved that Jamie was so understanding of it. No spoilers, but there's one scene that really stood out where Taylor was upset for a reason I won't disclose, and Jamie goes to comfort her by hugging her, and she tells him that she doesn't want to be touched. He completely understands and backs off. Now I don't know a lot about autism spectrum disorder, so her not wanting to be touched could have something to do with that, but I also think that can link up with anxiety and it was great to see an honest portrayal of a friend helping a friend and being respectful about it.
Another thing I found funny was that when it was a bit trope-y and cheesey sometimes the characters acknowledged it? IDK how to explain that without spoilers but it was very meta and unexpected.
Overall, you should read this book. On Goodreads I gave it a 4/5 stars and I think I'll stick with that. It wasn't a 5 star for me, but it could be a 4.5. I don't know, star ratings are hard.
Have you read it? Let me know what you thought!