Do You Prefer Male or Female Protagonists? (Let’s Talk Bookish)

Let’s Talk Bookish is a weekly meme, hosted by Rukky @ Eternity Books & Dani @ Literary Lion, where we discuss certain topics, share our opinions, and spread the love by visiting each other’s posts.

The Prompt: When it comes to books, do you prefer male or female protagonists and why? Do you not have a preference? Have you ever not read a book because the protagonist was male/female? Do you think it’s important for children to read protagonists of the opposite gender from them? Do you feel like certain genres have more of a certain gender of protagonist than the other? (Mahita @ Amateur Teen Writer)

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I pick books based on plot and premise; the main character’s identity is not a factor in my decision. Some of my favorite books feature mostly male characters, while other favorites are mostly about female characters. (See: The Lord of the Rings and Anne of Green Gables.) The important thing is that the story is good and that the characters are complex and well-written. This also means it doesn’t matter whether a female author is writing a male main character or a male author is writing a female main character; as long as they can write a convincing and engaging protagonist, I’m in.

Because I read a lot of YA books, however, I do read a lot of books that are about teenage girls. While publishing is often accused of being male-dominated, the facts are that children’s literature, and particularly YA books, is dominated by women agents who rep books by women authors about female protagonists to women editors. It’s actually hard to find a YA book, especially a mainstream popular one, that has a boy protagonist, and the ones that often jump to people’s minds tend to be older (ex. Eragon or I Am Number Four).

This is a problem in the sense that teenage boys often feel as if YA is not “for them” because they are so sparsely represented, and because girls in general are more likely to be avid readers than boys, I would love to see publishers publish and market more books featuring boys. (Yes, boys can read and like books about girls and vice versa, but the reality is that people DO like to see themselves in books sometimes, and it would be nice for boys to see more YA options that are about them and for those books to get a lot of hype.) Middle grade tends to be more balanced in terms of protagonist gender, so there’s really just a gap between MG and adult books that I think publishers can still fill. (Read one of our lists of YA books with male main characters here.)

So while I personally don’t choose books based on the protagonist’s gender, I do think it’s important to have balance in the market in general, and I hope that more male-focused stories can find their way into YA just as I hope more female-focused books can find their way into adult SFF and other genres.


What Are the Best Ways to Get Over Reading Slumps (Let’s Talk Bookish)

Let’s Talk Bookish is a weekly meme, hosted by Rukky @ Eternity Books & Dani @ Literary Lion, where we discuss certain topics, share our opinions, and spread the love by visiting each other’s posts.

The Prompt: Sometimes you just don’t want to read anymore, how do you get back into it? Do you give yourself a break? Watch Booktube or read blogs? Read an old favourite book to reignite that spark? Do you just force yourself through it? Maybe you read a picture book or a graphic novel?

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How to Get Over a Reading Slump

I have blogged about this before, but I do not actually see reading slumps as a problem. Indeed, I previously wrote about how I find reading slumps valuable. Not reading gives us time to do other things, such as catching up with friends, writing, gardening, getting outdoors, and more. Just because we are not reading, that does not mean that we are not doing something worthwhile. Because I have never seen reading slumps as something negative, I have never tried to get over one.

Reading is activity that can, frankly, come with a lot of moralistic baggage. Reading is almost universally considered to be a social and individual good, a pastime that educates and improves its practitioners, even as it entertains. Parents, librarians, and educators are forever trying to find ways to get students to read more. Adults are always trying to read faster. As a result of all the language surrounding reading and its benefits, people who read big books, who read many books, or who read “difficult” books are often assumed to be better and smarter than everyone else. Simply put, there is a lot of pressure not only to be a reader, but to be a “good” reader.

As someone who enjoys reading and who has experienced the benefits of reading, I, of course, also think people could and should read more. However, that is not to say that people need to be reading all the time. There are plenty of other activities that are beneficial to people. And there are plenty of other ways for people to experience the benefits of reading, without reading. Gaining information, learning critical thinking skills, becoming more empathetic–these are things people can do without reading. So why do we put so much pressure on ourselves, and others, to be reading all the time?

The idea of a “reading slump” is, I think, more common among avid readers than among the general population. I have, in fact, never heard someone who is not a book blogger even use the term “reading slump,” and I suspect this is because, for many, not reading for a period of time is neither unusual nor concerning. Sometimes we might want to read. Sometimes we might not. This is probably true of most things in life. Sometimes we might want to paint or watch TV or go for a bike ride or sing. And sometimes we might not. But few people talk of “painting slumps” or “TV slumps” or “biking slumps” as if the people not doing these things every day have failed some sort of test. I think this is because reading is seen as virtuous, in a way many other activities and hobbies are not.

The reality is, however, that reading is just one beneficial or pleasurable activity we might choose to spend our time doing. But there are many other interesting things to do, as well! Reading slumps are not a problem. The best way to get over one? Don’t worry about it. Do something else fun instead.

Bookish Memes and Games — Fun Filler or Worthless Waste of Time? (Let’s Talk Bookish)

Let’s Talk Bookish is a weekly meme, hosted by Rukky @ Eternity Books & Dani @ Literary Lion, where we discuss certain topics, share our opinions, and spread the love by visiting each other’s posts.

Technically the meme is posted Fridays, but I’m getting to it today. 🙂

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I’ve made various comments about this topic in the past, but I never wrote a full post about it, so when I saw the prompt for this week’s discussion, I thought it might be time!

As some of you may know, Krysta and I have been blogging at Pages Unbound for almost ten years now. (Ah!) When we first started, we definitely participated in more memes. Discussion posts weren’t very prevalent around 2013, and memes were a good way to break up reviews and also to visit other blogs and strike up a bit of a discussion in the comments.

As our blog has gotten older, we’ve essentially stopped participating in memes, as we’ve prioritized more original and in-depth content. (I realize I am currently participating in the Let’s Talk Bookish meme.) Krysta and I also run the Classic Remarks meme here at Pages Unbound. For me, the most interesting memes are ones like this, ones that prompt discussions and lead to full blog posts where I can reflect on a topic. They’re basically discussion posts, except more than one person gets to participate in the discussion at the same time. (Several years ago, there was also a meme called “Conversations” that was along this line, which Krysta and I took part in.)

On the flip side, that means I no longer have much interest in short memes that ask participants to do something like post a single line from a book or post just the title of what they are currently reading or even share a whole list, if it’s literally just a list of book titles with no real explanation about why the books are on the list. I don’t participate in these memes any more, and I generally don’t read the posts of others who participate in them.

Even if I did have interest, I admit I find it a bit overwhelming (especially on Tuesdays and Wednesdays!) to go through my feed and see dozens of bloggers posting essentially the same thing. Which Top Ten Tuesday post do I read? All of them? None of them? A random selection of five of them??? Unless the topic is particularly compelling to me, or I want to see a particular blogger’s answer, I pass over the memes, and I’m always excited to see a discussion post in my feed, embedded among all the memes, that I can read instead.

This isn’t to say that no one should do memes. As I said, I used to do them myself. But Krysta and I, together, have managed to post something on our blog nearly every single day for the past several years. We don’t even have room in our schedule for memes at this point. If people find memes fun or thought-provoking and get good page views and discussion from them, I think that’s awesome. I just no longer have much interest myself.


“Classic Remarks” Meme Starts Again in May 2020!

Classic Remarks

In 2016, we started a weekly Friday meme here at Pages Unbound called Classic Remarks. The hope was to inspire discussions not only about aspects of classic works of literature, but also about canon formation, the “timelessness” of literature, and modes of interpretation. We’re starting that meme back up in May 2020!

To participate, simply take a look at the upcoming prompts, write a blog post in response and then, on the day our post goes live, leave the link to your post in the comments!

Here’s a sneak peek at some of the upcoming prompts! You can find the full list under our Classic Remarks tab.

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Classic Remarks Prompts

May 1  What is a classic you loved when you were younger, but feel differently about now?

May 8 What classic did you love when you were younger—and you still love now?

May 15 Which of the Brontë sisters’ work is your favorite?  Why?

May 22 Which YA books would you like to see become classics and why?

May 29 Why do you think some individuals believe in the Shakespeare authorship “controversy” even though the scholarly consensus is that Shakespeare wrote Shakespeare?

June 5 What classic did you read in school and end up loving?

June 12 What are some lesser-known works by a classic author you think people should read?

June 19 Charlotte’s Web took the number one spot on the School Library Journal’s 2012 list of Top 100 chapter books.Why do you think this book continues to appeal to readers?

Ten Interesting Posts You May Have Missed (6/9/19)

Post Round-Up

Around the Blogosphere

  1. Jane recommends six titles for fans of Jane Eyre.
  2. David reviews the new Tolkien movie.
  3. Michael discusses the unique magic of G. Willow Wilson’s Wonder Woman.
  4. Mei-Mei talks about the best things about The Phantom Meance, 20 years on.
  5. Christine admits to feeling guilty when DNFing a book.
  6. Elspeth writes about the mysterious case of the vanishing school library.
  7. Gerry analyzes “Beauty and the Beast.”
  8. Miri discusses biased narrators.
  9. Alex features eight anticipated June releases.
  10. Ara lists ten things she wants to see in books.

At Pages Unbound

If You Like Six of Crows, Then Read…

The Gilded Wolves by Roshani Chokshi

gilded wolves

It’s 1889 in Paris and hotelier Séverin Montagnet-Alarie has been offered the opportunity of a lifetime: in exchange for helping the Order of Babel, he will receive his true inheritance.  To find the treasure the order seeks, Séverin assembles an extraordinary team.  But what they find could change history.  Read Briana’s review.

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The Poison Throne by Celine Kiernan

The Poison Throne

Fifteen-year-old Wynter Moorehawke has returned to the palace where she grew up like a sister to the two princes, the bastard son Razi and his younger brother, the heir Alberon. But things have changed. The cats no longer talk, the ghosts are not friends, Alberon is missing, and the king is torturing subjects. The king desires Razi to take the throne, but Razi knows his brother must be the one to rule. Now Wynter must choose: her king or the true heir.  A compelling adult fantasy whose morally-dubious characters somehow manage to still be sympathetic. Read Krysta’s review.

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The Emperor’s Soul by Brandon Sanderson

Shai is a Forger–one of the best. But the arbiters who rule the empire believer her art is nothing more than a trick, or, at the worst, a heresy. But now, as the result of an assassination attempt, the emperor sleeps in a coma and when he wakes, an enemy faction will no doubt declare him unfit to rule. So the arbiters need Shai. They need her to do the impossible. They need her to refashion a soul for the emperor.  A fantasy novella that features a complex protagonist and a carefully detailed world.  Read Briana’s review.

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Warbreaker by Brandon Sanderson

As the youngest daughter, Siri has always been considered unimportant. But then her father sends her to marry the dreaded king of Hallandren in her sister Vivenna’s place. With a neglected education, Siri has no clue how to act in her new role as the wife of a god-king who could kill her at any moment. Feeling useless herself, Vivenna sets out to rescue Siri. But both princesses are about to find themselves embroiled in political conspiracies that may prove to be too much for them to handle.  A rich fantasy featuring court intrigue, a simmering rebellion, and morally complex characters.  Read Krysta’s review.

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Ship of Smoke and Steel by Django Wexler

Ship of Smoke and Steel Review

When the emperor discovers that eighteen-year-old ward boss Isoka can access the Well of Combat, he gives her an impossible mission: steal the ghost ship Solitan.  Isoka’s sister’s life is forfeit if she fails.  But she beings to realize that Solitan may be harboring secrets.  Read Briana’s review.

10 Interesting Posts You May Have Missed in September 2018

Post Round-Up

  1. Kelly at Another Book in the Wall asks if rating criteria varies across genres.
  2. H. P. at Every Day Should Be Tuesday discusses three fantasies published before The Hobbit.
  3. Kristilyn at Reading in Winter feels weird about blogging.
  4. Shealea at That Bookshelf Bitch explains why she does not write TBR lists.
  5. Kim at Traveling in Books talks about her personal history with Tolkien.
  6. Jennilyn at Rurouni Jenni Reads ponders why book bloggers rarely give one-star reviews.
  7. Nandini at Unputdownable Books discusses the Hobbit and LotR films.
  8. Milliebott at Milliebot Reads talks about her love for Sailor Moon.
  9. Michael at My Comic Relief discusses Infinity War and his loyalty to comics.
  10. Michael at My Comic relief also discusses whether the MCU can be too interconnected.

At Pages Unbound

Book Blogger Survey Results: 2018

Did you miss the results of Briana’s 2018 survey on book blogger stats?  Check it out!

If You Like The Maze Runner, Then Read…

Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card

Outnumbered and with inferior technology, the human race has won two wars against the aliens they call the buggers. They fear the Third Invasion, however, and will not trust to luck to save them again. Instead, they scour the Earth for the child who can lead them to victory. Ender Wiggin possesses the qualities necessary to make him a formidable general. To that end, the government places him in Battle School to train him for the upcoming war. The race, however, is running out of time and Ender may not be ready to fight when the war comes.

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Divergent by Veronica Roth

In a futuristic Chicago, all citizens choose one of five Factions at the age of sixteen: Abnegation, Amity, Candor, Dauntless, or Erudite. Their faction becomes their family. Beatrice “Tris” Prior has grown up in Abnegation, learning to forget herself and serve others. But on the day of her choosing, she picks Dauntless. Now, she must survive her initiation, convincing herself and others that this is where she belongs.

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Scythe by Neal Shusterman

Humanity now lives in a utopia where hunger, disease, and death can no longer touch them. To keep the population under control, they created the Scythes, individuals who “glean” a certain number of individuals each year. The Scythes must adhere to the highest code of morality, gleaning only when necessary and avoiding bias. But when Citra and Rowan are taken on as apprentice Scythes, they begin to see that corruption is eating the Scythes from within.

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Unwind by Neal Shusterman

After the Second Civil War, the U.S. chose to protect life until a person reaches the age of 13.  Between the ages of 13-18, however, a teenager can legally be Unwound–killed for their body parts so that they can go on “living” by helping others.  Connor’s parents consider him a troublemaker, so when he learns that they plan to Unwind him, he goes on the run.  He just needs to stay hidden for a few more years.  Along with two other teens, Rita and Lev, he just might have a chance.

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Steelheart by Brandon Sanderson

Steelheart by Brandon Sanderson

Ten years ago Calamity appeared in the sky and gave men superpowers. Called Epics, they quickly used their powers to claim dominion over the Earth. Dave watched an Epic named Steelheart kill his father. And now he will do anything to end Steelheart’s rule. His plan: to join the Reckoners, a group of ordinary men and women who dare to fight back. Because he thinks he can give them the one thing they need. A clue to Steelheart’s weakness

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If You Like Harry Potter, Then Read… (Part Two)

Keeper of the Lost Cities by Shannon Messenger

Twelve-year-old Sophie Foster’s life changes forever the day a boy appears and reveals that she’s an elf and that she can learn to control her Telepathetic abilities if she leaves her world behind to train at a magical academy. But even as Sophie delights in the wonders of her new world, she worries about her past. Why was she sent to live with humans? Why is she capable of things no other elf can do? And why does she seem to remember things she’s never learned at all?

The Rithmatist by Brandon Sanderson

Rithmatist Brandon Sanderson review

In Joel’s world, students train as Rithmatists–people who can make chalk drawings come alive to fight the wild chalklings that threaten their society. Joel would do anything to be a Rithmatist himself, but because he was not chosen during the initiation ceremony, he spends his days studying Rithmatic theory and old Rithmatist duels. Then Rithmatist students begin disappearing and Joel finds himself assisting the professor determined to find the perpetrator. But with no Rithmatic powers himself, how can Joel hope to win a fight drawn in 2D?

Dragon’s Green by Scarlett Thomas

Effie Truelove is not sure magic really exists until her grandfather ends up in the hospital. Then, suddenly, he is bequeathing his library to her as well as an assortment of magical objects. But her father sells the books to a man Effie is not sure she can trust. And thus she finds herself on an adventure to reclaim her inheritance and the truth about her birthright.

Nevermoor: The Trials of Morrigan Crow by Jessica Townsend

Nevermoor The Trials of Morrigan Crow

All her life Morrigan Crow has believed herself cursed and destined to die on her eleventh birthday.  But then a man called Jupiter North appears and runs away with her to a magical citiy known as Nevermoor.  There she is selected to compete for a spot in the Wundrous Society.  But failure means death.

100 Cupboards by N. D. Wilson

Sent to live with his aunt and uncle in Kansas, Henry York is surprised to find that the cupboards in his attic bedroom seem to lead to different worlds!  But when he and his cousin unleash an ancient evil, they must find a way to fix their mistakes before it is too late.

You can find our first list of suggestions here.

If You Like Anne of Green Gables, Then Read…

Maud by Melanie Fishbane

Fourteen-year-old Lucy Maud Montgomery dreams of attending college and becoming a writer, but her grandfather does not believe in higher education for women. Worse, when she finally goes out west to be with her father again, her new stepmother treats her as nothing more than a nanny. Will Maud ever find a way to follow her dreams? Or will she grow old feeling that her world has grown increasingly smaller?

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Emily of Deep Valley by Maud Hart Lovelace

Emily Webster longs to go to college with all of her friends, but has to stay home to care for her grandfather. As she watches her former crowd move on without her, she begins to lose interest in life and to struggle with finding her place in the world. Only when she stops feeling sorry for herself and decides to take control of her future does she realize that her home of Deep Valley has a lot to offer. Emily decides to keep up her studies and to help her immigrant neighbors transition into their new life. Her new sense of identity also brings her her first encounter with love. A companion to the Betsy-Tacy books.

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The Alpine Path: The Story of My Career by L. M. Montgomery

L. M. Montgomery’s autobiography depicts her as a kindred spirit with Anne and Emily as she pursues her writing career.

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Emily of New Moon by L. M. Montgomery

Emily of New Moon

With her father dead, Emily Byrd Starr has been taken in by her mother’s people, Aunts Elizabeth and Laura, and Cousin Jimmy, whom she’s never met before. Aunt Elizabeth, however, seems very harsh. But as the days go by, Emily learns to love her home at New Moon and to make friends from the artistic Teddy Kent to the wild Ilse Burnley. And all the while she’s perfecting her craft of poetry as she prepares to be a writer.

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“The Highway Man” by Alfred Noyes

This narrative poem first published in 1906 tells the story of a highwayman who meets his lover in the moonlight, but is betrayed by a jealous ostler.  The cadence and repetition make it a memorable selection, especially for our girl Anne to recite.

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A Girl of the Limberlost by Gene Stratton-Porter

Elnora Comstock longs to get an education and to play the violin.  Her mother, however, treats her harshly at home and does everything possible to keep Elnora from following her dreams.  Determined to pay her way through school anyway, Elnora begins collecting and selling butterflies from Limberlost Swamp.

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“The Lady of Shalott” by Alfred, Lord Tennyson

Who can forget Anne’s mishap in the lake while playing the Lady of Shalott?  Experience the full romance of story by reading the original ballad.

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When Patty Went to College by Jean Webster

Jean Webster’s first novel follows the escapades of Patty Wyatt, a senior at an all-girls college.  Popular with her peers and fond of pranks, Patty ultimately must learn how to balance her love of fun with a sense of responsibility.

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Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm by Kate Douglas Wiggin

Rebecca Randall arrives to live with her aunts Miranda and Jane in Riverboro, expecting that they will “be the making of her”. Someone, after all, needs to gain an education so that her mother can lift the mortgage from their farm and raise the six other children. But Aunt Miranda is severe and strict, and completely unready to cope with the imaginative child who has just landed on her doorstep. Can Rebecca bring light and life back to the Riverboro house?

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