Thoughts on Rereading Books (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: How many times is enough? Why re-read at all? Is re-reading just a comforting pastime? Or is there excitement to be relived? What kind of books do you re-read? Do you ever re-read books you don’t like in hopes that it will be better the second time? Were there any books you didn’t like as a child but liked as an adult, or vice versa? (Suggested by FIVES @ DOWN THE RABBIT HOLE)

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I absolutely love rereading books! Although I admit I find the “How many times is enough?” prompt a bit funny because I largely reread books for myself, because I know I enjoy those books and want to dive back into and experience the story again. I’m not trying to achieve or accomplish anything, so there’s no set amount of times I would ever reread a book; I just do it when I feel like it. Some books I have reread only once; some books I have reread two dozen times.

And my opinion is that the best books can be reread indefinitely: they always have something new to offer the reader, and their value doesn’t rely on the reader being surprised or not knowing what happens next.

I have reread books I didn’t actually like, however. Generally I do this with classics. I think to myself, “Ok, I didn’t like Wuthering Heights as a teenager, but maybe I would get something more out of it now,” and I give it a shot. Or someone tells me something about a classic that makes me think about it in a new way, and I reread it to see if I like it more with that perspective. Sometimes I do like the book more the second time. Sometimes I don’t really enjoy it, but I “get” it more than I did as a younger reader. Sometimes I still just hate the book. It’s interesting to give some books a second chance, though.

As a child, I used to reread the books early in a series before reading the next one, but I don’t do that anymore because I simply don’t have the time, and I have a lot more access to books and books on my TBR list than I did as a kid. I’m not going to invest the time in rereading something simply to remember what happens. So, honestly, while I read a lot of middle grade and YA and adult fantasy, I don’t generally reread those books because I don’t expect to get a lot out of them the second time. My rereading now is largely relegated to classics.


Do Bloggers Owe Their Readers? And Vice Versa? (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:  Do bloggers owe their readers anything? Do bloggers deserve anything from their readers? Do you think there’s a specific etiquette that bloggers/readers should follow when interacting? Do you as a blogger pressure yourself to provide certain things to your readers? Do you do certain things when you read a blog post?

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This is an interesting question, but because book bloggers are almost 100% unpaid, I think the answer is short: bloggers and their readers owe each other nothing besides common courtesy. And because the book blogosphere is so good at this, I don’t feel it’s necessary to elaborate much on the topic either. In over 10 years of blogging at Pages Unbound, Krysta and I have very rarely received a rude comment; when we have, those comments were frequently from people who are not book bloggers but rather people who found our site from outside sources like search engines or Pinterest. In the book blogosphere as a whole, readers usually leave polite comments, even when disagreeing, and bloggers usually leave polite responses. I think that’s the most anyone of us “owe” anyone here.

If a book blogger managed to successfully monetize their blog (I haven’t seen this yet, in spite of seeing some attempts), I’d say they owed their readers more. If readers were paying to read certain posts or subscribe to the blog in some way, I’d say the blogger owed those readers quality content and whatever content they might have promised, whether they said they were going to publish two discussion posts a week or list all the middle grade books coming out in the summer or whatever.

But because blogs are free? There’s no kind of contract here. Sure, a blogger should strive to write interesting and comprehensible content — but they don’t have to. If readers don’t like the content on a blog or think it’s absolute gibberish they can just . . . not read that blog. There’s nothing stopping them from exiting the site and never visiting again.

And while I try to support book bloggers in general by reading their content, commenting, and liking their posts, I don’t actually owe that to them as a reader, and I understand no one owes that to me Book blogging is largely the realm of hobbyists, and when there’s no money exchanging hands, everything is just very casual.


When a Post Doesn’t Do Very Well (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: Imagine you’ve spent several hours, even days, perfecting a post that you’re so excited to publish. Finally, you hit publish and eagerly await the response. But the response is not as much as you’d expected, or worse, it’s nonexistent. Has that happened to you before? How do you handle poor post results? Do you think there’s usually a cause for poor post results? (SUGGESTED BY NICOLE @ THOUGHTS STAINED WITH INK)

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Krysta and I have been blogging here at Pages Unbound for ten years now, and even though we’ve gotten to a point where I consider our traffic stats good for a book blog, unfortunately . . . this still happens all the time.

Now, my standards of what counts as a post “doing poorly” have changed a bit. A popular post on our blog might get 80-100 views the day it’s posted. An average one might get around 50. A “disappointing” one gets around 30 views. And while I know 30 is average for a lot of people or perhaps better than what many book bloggers would expect, it’s still a bit sad when I know we frequently write posts that get 100 views.

So what do I do? Well, frankly, nothing. Besides feel disappointed that no one is reading what is clearly a work of genius (I jest!) and move on with my life. Partially because I know Krysta and I are lucky to have good stats in general, and it’s just a fact that not everything we write is going to interest or resonate with people. And partially because, while I do sometimes think what posts are/are not popular is unpredictable, there are other times I know beforehand that people aren’t going to flock to a particular discussion or review. And I write it anyway because it interests me, and writing what I want to write about, regardless of whether it gets a million views, is one thing I really value about running this blog.

I think someone who is interested in running a very popular blog could come up with ideas ONLY of posts they think will either be popular with followers or rank well on search engines (though, again, sometimes some things you really think will take off flop), but I’m not too interested in doing that. This blog isn’t monetized and never will be, so I don’t see a lot of value in writing things purely because I think they’ll get views. I try to focus on writing things I want to write and shrug off the disappointment when other people apparently don’t think those things are as cool as I do. :p


What Makes You Like a Character? (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.

Prompts: Are there any physical qualities you look for in a character? What personalities tend to draw you to characters? Are there any archetypes you prefer, are you always falling for the villain? What makes you like characters?

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This was supposed to go up Oct. 29, but I, uh, forgot to hit the “schedule” button, so here we are. 😉

Physical Qualities

I am NOT a visual person when I read. Apparently there are a lot of people who practically see the action of the book rolling by like a movie when they read? I can hardly imagine that. I barely envision what anyone or anything looks like, and the truth is that I rarely remember what a character’s physical qualities are unless they somehow become plot relevant or are mentioned several times throughout the book.

Anne Shirley in Anne of Green Gables? I have an excellent visual because Anne dislikes her red hair, she gets called “Carrots” by Gilbert and ends up in a feud, and Mrs. Rachel Lynde goes on about she’s homely and scrawny. The main character in the most recent YA book I read? I have no idea if she’s short or tall or has brown eyes or blonde hair or really anything about her, and I certainly don’t favor some characters over others because of their physical appearance.

Character Personality

In terms of character personality, I think there’s a lot of gray area in terms of what it means for me to “like” a character. There’s a difference between finding the character interesting, thinking the person is nice to other characters, and thinking the character has the type of personality that means I’d personally like to be friends with them.

Yet one trait I think characters need for me to truly admire them is kindness. A character can be badass and smart and creative and do things that seem morally right (like fighting to save a kingdom from ruin), but if they aren’t driven by kindness and wanting to help others, exactly how nice are they? I love characters who, no matter what their other strengths and weaknesses, find the most power in kindness.


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.