Top 5 Wednesdays: Forgettable Books

When I first thought about books that were forgettable, my mind jumped to my reads that I rated 3 stars or lower. As I looked at my Goodreads list of books I read, I realized that in some ways, these books were more memorable although not always in a good way. It was often very easy to remember what exactly I didn’t like about it. I was surprised to realize that some of the most forgettable books were actually books that I really enjoyed. I found that some of the books in the 4 star range were the most forgettable. I remembered enough to know that I enjoyed them, but couldn’t remember to much detail about the story or what I really liked. I’m sure a part of this is because I read so many books in total throughout the year that it’s impossible to have a distinct memory of them all. In fact, what tends to separate a 5 star reading from 4-star books is how likely I am to remember them long-term.

Top 5 Wednesday is a meme created by Gingerreadslainey on Youtube, and is now hosted by Sam at ThoughtsOnTomes. The official GoodReads group with the weekly topics can be found here.

1) Go Ask Alice by Beatrice Sparks

46799I don’t know what it is about this book, but despite reading it multiple times, I have no memory of it whatsoever. When I was a teenager, I went through a phase where I read so many of Beatrice Sparks’ series of “anonymous” diaries of teenagers going through problems such as pregnancy, drug addiction, eating disorders, etc. This book focuses on a teenager named Alice who spirals into drug addiction after having LSD in a drink at a party. I read the book, and a couple of years later, realized I had no memory of it whatsoever and tried it again. It’s now been years since I’ve read it, but even pretty soon afterwards, I couldn’t tell you what happened in it or any details at all about the plot. It’s weird because I do have some memory of a couple of Beatrice Sparks’ other books, so it wasn’t just the format or the writing style that I found unmemorable. It was something specifically with this book that I’ve never been able to figure out.

2) Love & Gelato by Jenna Evans Welch

25756328This book was only a 3-star read for me precisely because it was so generic and forgettable. It is about a teenage girl named Lina who is spending the summer in Italy due to her mother’s dying wish for her to know her father. While there, Lina receives the journal that her mother kept while living in Italy herself, and starts to uncover some of her family’s secrets. I’m honestly not 100% sure why I thought I’d enjoy this book because I’m not a big fan of the whole “teenagers grudgingly travel to Europe” nor of travel books in general. I was hoping that the story would be strong enough on the character side to keep my attention, but I found Lina irritating and she seemed so clueless about things that should have been really obvious. It was a quick and fluffy read, but completely forgettable.

3) Seven Ways We Lie by Riley Redgate

26240663I was pretty excited to read this book last year because of the whole “seven deadly sins” concept. The book is told from the perspective of seven high school students who each represent one of the sins, and whose school is faced with the scandal of a student-teacher affair. It was a great concept and I liked how the sin that the characters represented was not always immediately obvious. I also really liked how the author tried to incorporate a range of sexual orientations and especially how the author challenged attitudes toward women and toward sexuality. While I enjoyed the book well enough at the time, and ultimately rated it 4 stars, I can’t remember anything at all about the specifics of the plot. Considering I only read this book in November 2017, I would expect to have at least some memory of what it was about.

4) When We Collided by Emery Lord

25663637This was another case of a book that I enjoyed for the most part while I read it, but pretty quickly forgot about afterwards. The problem with YA contemporary is that they all start to feel pretty similar after a while, especially when you read many close together. This book is about Vivi, who suffers from bipolar disorder, and Jonah, who is attempting to hold his family together after his father’s death and mother’s subsequent depression. I think part of the reason that the book was so forgettable for me is because I had a hard time buying into the relationship between the two main characters. It felt very, very rushed and they did not seem to be very well-suited for each other. It seemed like a very similar story could have been told if the characters were platonic friends, and it might have been that much more believable. Instead, we were expected to just accept that the characters were together and in love, with very little development to back it up. It was a decent book and I’m glad I gave it a chance, but definitely not the most memorable YA contemporary I’ve read (and I’ve read many)!

5) My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick

12294652Maybe I just need to be more selective about the YA contemporaries that I read. I was on the fence about whether to include this book or What I Thought Was True which I read this year. I decided to pick this one because I actually really enjoyed it at the time, but can’t remember much of the story. This book is about a teenage girl named Samantha who falls in love with Jase Garrett, the boy next door whose large family is (for some reason) looked down on by others in their community. Samantha’s mom is running for state senator, and I remember her being an absolutely infuriating character but I can’t remember why. I liked the relationship that developed between Samantha and Jase, but I also thought both characters seemed a little on the one-dimensional side. It was another book that I enjoyed at the time, but forgot about pretty much as soon as I finished.


Top 5 Wednesdays: 2018 Reading Resolutions

I am so excited for a new year of reading challenges! Looking back on my previous year, it was pretty easy to come  up with some goals for the new year. In general, my goal is usually to complete my reading challenges and to read all of the books that I’m most excited to read. This year, I decided to add some extra goals to make my reading/blogging life a little easier to manage. Hopefully these resolutions are easier to stick to than the usual New Years’ Resolutions!

Top 5 Wednesday is a meme created by Gingerreadslainey on Youtube, and is now hosted by Sam at ThoughtsOnTomes. The official GoodReads group with the weekly topics can be found here.

1) Finish all of my reading challenges by the deadlines I set

My interest in reading challenges and compulsion to check things off lists got away from me a little, and I ended up with 5 separate category-based challenges that I was very interested in doing, for a total of 180 books. Clearly that is not reasonable to expect of myself within one year, although to be fair, I’ve picked quite a few graphic novels and shorter books. To complete everything in one year would require 15 items per month. This year, to reach a goal of 158 books, I needed to read 13 per month, and barely managed to keep up with that even though that pace is not unreasonable. It would be great if I can finish all the books I want within the year, but to take the pressure off, I decided to split it up. Here are my challenges for the year, with the deadlines I set:

  • Goodreads Around the Year (52 books plus 1 extra wild card, and 2 additional books for a prompt that I split into three) – by December 31
  • PopSugar (50 books plus 2 additional books for a prompt split into three) – by December 31
  • BookRiot Read Harder 2018 (24 books) – most likely by December 31, but I’m prepared to be flexible with this one
  • Modern Mrs. Darcy 2017 (24 books) – The 2018 list didn’t interest me at all, but I decided I really liked last year’s challenge. I’m giving myself until March 31. 2019 to finish this one
  • ATY Top Picks (25 books) – This is a challenge I created for myself using the Around the Year prompts that I voted for that didn’t make the final list, eliminating any that were repetitive or already on a challenge list. I’m giving myself until March 31, 2019 to finish this one too.

Assuming the 15 month deadline to complete everything, a total of 180 books, that would be 12 books per month or about 3 per week. For the sake of comparison, to finish everything within 12 months, I would need to read 15 books per month. It’s theoretically possible, but I’m not going to stress myself about it.

2) Balance my reading better

One of the tricks I’ve always used to complete my reading challenges is trying to balance out the books that I’m reading across the year, and across each month. I’ve found that it really helps to vary the books I pick in terms of length, genre, etc. so I don’t feel stuck reading too many doorstops in a row, or too many books that have a similar storyline. I also strategically plan some of my longer or more difficult books for times of year where I know I’ll have more time to read. I generally like to alternate between longer/more dense books, and shorter/easier books.

Every year, there are also inevitably a few books that I’m not so interested in reading, usually because it’s a prompt that just doesn’t interest me much. One strategy I’ve found that helps is to knock out a few of the least interesting prompts/books upfront so I don’t put them off all year, and get stuck reading all the boring books in December. Last year, I didn’t do the best job of balancing things out, which led to a pretty underwhelming first couple of months, and a pretty mediocre December. This year, I want to balance things out a bit better to make sure there are at least a few books I’m really excited for each month. It’s so tempting to read all of the most exciting books right away, but I think balancing them out will give me a better year overall!

3) Learn to use Instagram to document my reading

Up until now, I’ve used a mix of Goodreads and Facebook to track my challenge progress. I will still definitely be using Goodreads, but for some reason, I found it nearly impossible to keep up with posting on Facebook. I have no idea why. In previous years, I remembered to post about each book as I started it (or occasionally just as I finished). Last year, I have no idea why but I just couldn’t keep up. It wasn’t just that I read so many books. It just didn’t cross my mind to post them, and when it did, it felt like a chore to come up with something to say with each post. I don’t want to completely abandon the practice, since I’ve found people on my friends list are interested in what I’m reading and like to see how much I’ve read. I recently upgraded my phone and discovered that Instagram was already installed (my previous phone had no room for it). I’ve decided to try and use Instagram instead to post pictures of the books I’m reading, with a shorter caption, instead of making a Facebook post each time. Ideally, I’m hoping those posts will show up on Facebook as well, once I figure out how to set that up.

4) Find a better system for tracking my thoughts about each book

Another thing that became a huge chore this year was tracking what I thought about each book. In the past, I was always very excited to jump straight onto Goodreads and post about the books I read in the discussion boards threads, and I also wrote short paragraphs in a Word document with a mini-review of the book. I would note down why I chose it, a basic plot outline, and my opinions. As those of you who have followed my blog for a while have probably noticed, I don’t really write reviews. It’s funny because I used to love writing reviews of CDs for Amazon, but when it comes to books, I have such a hard time getting the ideas down without being repetitive and I’m always worried about giving too many spoilers.

My intent was never to write reviews, but I like to keep track of what I think because it’s hard to remember every book in detail by the end of the year. The first year I did a reading challenge, I posted my comments on each book in a note on Facebook for anyone who was interested, but that was a year when I read 52 books. I now read well over 100 every year, and the Word document I have for last year’s challenges is a massive 70+ pages. I know that no one will want to read all that! I still want to keep track of what I read each month, and I still want to track my thoughts. I’ve decided to try a point-form note system instead of full paragraphs, which will hopefully be quicker and feel like less of a chore.

5) Finish the series I have in progress!

One of my top priorities for the year is to finish off many of the series that I have in progress! I started so many great series over the past year or two, and I’ve taken away my self-imposed rule to limit books by the same author. At first, I was hesitant to include all the books I wanted from series because I thought it would eat up too much of the challenges and leave me little room for anything else, but once I made my lists, I saw that there was plenty of room for both. Here are the series I’m hoping to finish:

  • Red Queen (3 books remaining)
  • Delirium (1 book remaining)
  • The Selection (2 books remaining to finish the original trilogy, Books 4 and 5 are not a priority for this year)
  • Shatter Me (2 books remaining)
  • A Court of Thorns and Roses (2 books remaining, at least as of right now)
  • Daughter of Smoke and Bone (2 books remaining)
  • The Raven Cycle (3 books remaining)
  • Matched series (2 books remaining)
  • Illuminae (2 books remaining)
  • The Monsters of Verity duology (1 book remaining)
  • The Chronicles of Narnia (5 books remaining)
  • With the Light manga series (6 books remaining)

That’s about 30 or so books from series, which leaves me plenty of space to read a wide variety of other books. I do have a couple of series in progress that I haven’t prioritized (Beautiful Creatures and The Program, for example) but I think any more than I currently have in mind would be too much to manage. It’s also been a full year since I read anything from those two series so it might be hard to pick them up again. The series I chose to focus on are the ones I’ve been enjoying most, or the ones that I’ve been meaning to finish for the longest. I hope to be able to finish them all by the end of the year!

Top 5 Wednesdays: My 2018 Wishlist

This week’s topic was an interesting one, coming at a time when everyone is reflecting on highlights of the year and looking ahead to specific books we want to read. The topic this week is a wishlist for the year, but discussing the themes, tropes or genres we want to see more of, instead of individual titles. I find it hard sometimes to think about books in terms of specific tropes or styles because so much of my enjoyment comes down to how the individual book is written. When I started to look back on the books I read this year, I actually did notice a few things that I would like to see more of.

Top 5 Wednesday is a meme created by Gingerreadslainey on Youtube, and is now hosted by Sam at ThoughtsOnTomes. The official GoodReads group with the weekly topics can be found here.

1) Platonic relationships that stay platonic

I’m all for romances in books, and I do generally enjoy stories where childhood friends fall in love, but I think there’s a real lack of platonic friendships, especially in YA books. I can only think of one or two books off the top of my head where characters were friends and remained friends throughout the story, without developing any romantic feelings for each other. I find a lot of the time when the characters remain friends, there is some mention of an unrequited crush or “We tried to date in the past, but we decided we were better off as friends.” Even in books geared toward adults, characters often seem to be friends because they failed as a couple in the past. I want to see more books where the two friends are just friends, and dating was never even a consideration. I think this is especially lacking when the pair in the book are opposite-sex friends where both are heterosexual. There seems to be an assumption that two straight people cannot be friends without someone eventually developing feelings. I know there are plenty of cases where friends do fall in love and stay together, but there are also lots of cases where the relationships stay platonic.

2) Social media/online lives as a positive part of people’s lives

I think the attitude in general toward social media and the Internet has shifted. The earliest books I read that were very Internet-focused all essentially focused on the online predators and the risks of talking to people online. To be clear, I still think it is essential for people to be aware of the risks and to take precautions to keep themselves safe. However, I think that using social media and the Internet is also a very positive thing for a lot of people, and it really bothers me when books try to downplay or negate the importance of online communities and friendships. Again, everyone is still responsible for their own safety and to be critical of what they see online, but for many people, online friendships are just as real and as valid as friendships that start in real life. In general, I think books have shifted to account for this, especially with so many books recently that talk about fandoms, online friendships and support groups, and even the risks of sharing things online. I would love to see more books that treat social media and people’s online lives as real and positive parts of their world, and not necessarily a problem that needs to be fixed.

3) Slow-burn romances (or at least romances that take some time)

I’m not 100% sure if “slow-burn” is really the right term, but it’s very annoying to for characters to fall in love instantly in just about every book I read. I know some of that might be because the author only has the 300 pages or so for the entire story to develop, but I find it so unrealistic for characters who didn’t know each other at all beforehand to be suddenly ready to die for each other, move across the world for each other, etc. especially when those characters are teenagers. That’s not to say I automatically hate any insta-love romance, because some of them are just adorable and work decently with the story. However, I would love to see more books that show that it takes time for the relationship to develop. I find it so hard to buy into couples who are suddenly so in love with each other when they just met and really know nothing about each other at all…and then end up shocked and the relationship is threatened when they discover something they might not like about their partner’s past. Maybe if they slowed down a bit and actually got to know the person they were dating, it wouldn’t be such a shock to realize that there is something they don’t know.

4) More variety in New Adult book plotlines

I struggle with “New Adult” as a genre in general. Although I’m sure these kinds of books have existed for a long time, the genre name seems to be relatively new. New Adult is meant to encompass books that are aimed toward 18-25 year olds, focusing on issues such as leaving home, going to university, establishing a career, etc. I think in general, we need more books that focus on this life stage. It’s easy for teenagers to find protagonists who are going through the same experiences as them since most YA books are set in high school, and then there is a jump to adult protagonists who are often married and already working in a career. I was very excited to see a New Adult section on Goodreads with characters who were about my age and might be going through many of the same experiences as I am. There are so few books I can think of that even focus on university or college, or getting a first “real” job after graduation. Unfortunately, the New Adult section on Goodreads was absolutely packed with “steamy” romances, many of which seemed borderline-abusive to me. Where are all the books about living on your own for the first time? About horrible bosses and office politics? About struggling through university or college? I know a lot of people read to escape their real lives, but I’m sure many people would love to have characters their own age to relate to.

5) More fantasy standalones

Actually, I’m sure many of these exist but I would love to read more of them. So many of the fantasy books I’ve been reading or that I want to read are part of series, and it always makes me hesitant. Reading a series for me means committing to read the whole series (assuming I like the first book), and sometimes all I want is one book. I’ve read many great fantasy series over the past couple of years, and I have many books from series on my TBR for 2018 alone, but I would love to see more fantasies where the entire story can be told in one book. I find that some series tend to drag things out unnecessarily, almost to justify being a series instead of one longer book, and many of them tend to drag in the middle. A lot of series tend to have that transitional middle book where not much really happens, aside from characters moving from one place to another, and a ton of exposition. I would love to see more books like Uprooted or The Night Circus, which tell an entire (and incredible) story from beginning to end.

Top 5 Wednesdays: Top 5 Books of the Year (That I Haven’t Talked About Yet)

The end of the year is always the time for lots of “Best Of” lists, although it was a challenge for me since I felt like I’ve already talked about many of my favourite books this year. After looking back on my Goodreads list, I discovered several favourites that I have not discussed very much yet. In many cases, these were books that I loved just as much, but I didn’t feel like I had as much to say about them as other books I’ve read. I thought this week’s topic was the perfect opportunity to mention some of my other favourites and give them the attention they deserve.

Top 5 Wednesday is a meme created by Gingerreadslainey on Youtube, and is now hosted by Sam at ThoughtsOnTomes. The official GoodReads group with the weekly topics can be found here.

1) Seconds by Bryan O’Malley

18630542I’m actually surprised that I haven’t talked about this book at all really, since it is by far one of my favourites of the year. I think I tend to overlook it because it’s a graphic novel, which I devoured in a day. This book is about a young chef named Katie who plans to open another successful restaurant, but runs into a series of problems that prevent her plan from working. A mysterious girl shows up in her room one night offering her magical mushrooms that will give her the chance to re-do her mistakes and make them right. The art style took a little getting used to, but once I got into it, I was hooked. I found the story very compelling, and I liked how it felt like a fresh take on a familiar plot device. It was also hilarious when Katie broke the third wall and sarcastically addressed the narrator. I would highly recommend this book!

2) The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas/Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult

3207567128587957I’m including these two books together because they both address racism in a very realistic and powerful way. I’m sure The Hate U Give will make it onto many people’s lists this year, and it deserves it. I was so nervous that this book would not live up to all the hype, and was pleasantly surprised to find that it really was that good. Small Great Things is about an African American nurse who, at the parents’ request, is removed from the care of a patient, who is the child of a Neo-Nazi couple. When an emergency occurs while Ruth is the only nurse on the floor, she is forced to make a split-second decision about whether to follow orders or step in and try to help the child. Although this was not necessarily my favourite Jodi Picoult book, I thought it handled the topic very well, and it was a great story.

3) Wrecked by Maria Padian

28110862This was one of the first books that I committed to reading this year, and ironically enough, I did not get to it until close to the end of the year. This book is a powerful account of a sexual assault on a college campus, as told from the perspectives of the victim’s roommate, and the accused’s friend. I thought it was such a unique way to tell this story from an angle that I’d never seen before. I thought the book was very well-written and the characters were compelling and realistic. I really liked how the two main characters represented several different viewpoints, and how their attitudes shifted throughout the story. I thought this book brought up so many relevant insights about the topic and about the way we treat these kinds of cases and the people involved. The ending was a bit frustrating, but I think that just added to the impact of the story.

4) Asylum by Madeleine Roux 

13597728I feel like I’ve mentioned this book only in passing, although I liked it a lot more than I expected to. This book is the start of a YA horror series about a teenage boy named Dan Crawford who is attending a college prep program where the students’ dorms are in an abandoned asylum for the criminally insane. As Dan and his new friends begin to explore the asylum, they uncover secrets that link them to the building’s past. This book reminds me quite a bit of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children because of the use of creepy “found” photos that supplement the story, and these add a lot to the eerie atmosphere. I thought the storyline was very compelling, although there were a couple of plot holes that made some of the character interactions a bit inconsistent, but I loved the overall story and I thought it was so creepy!

5) Say What You Will by Cammie McGovern

18635084This book was special to me because of the population I work with. I work in a day program for young adults with disabilities, including one person with cerebral palsy who reminds me quite of a bit of the character in this book. This book is about Amy, a young woman who has CP, which affects her speech and mobility. While attending her senior year of high school, Amy convinces her parents to set her up with student aides to help her, including a young man named Matthew who has OCD. I absolutely loved both Amy and Matthew and the relationship that developed between them. I also loved how this book addressed the issue of people being afraid to honestly speak their minds to individuals who have disabilities out of pity or fear of being mean. That’s not to say that people should be free to treat others disrespectfully, but a central issue in this book was that Amy wanted to be viewed and treated as a normal teenager, and would have appreciated being spoken to like one. I thought this book did a great job of bringing the characters to life, and although I wasn’t so sure about the direction the plot took in the second half, I still thought this book was very well-done.

Top 5 Wednesdays: Characters on the Naughty List

It seems almost too easy to fill this list with characters that are just straight-forward villains, and my first instinct was to focus on characters like Dolores Umbridge, Queen Levana, or Count Olaf. The more I started to think about it though, the more I realized that there were plenty of other reasons that a character might make it onto the naughty list, even when they are otherwise a good person. I usually find it more interesting to read about characters who show these kinds of shades of gray. I’m also trying to limit myself to characters from books I’ve read fairly recently, just to add some variety.

Top 5 Wednesday is a meme created by Gingerreadslainey on Youtube, and is now hosted by Sam at ThoughtsOnTomes. The official GoodReads group with the weekly topics can be found here.

1) Nick and Amy Dunne (Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn)

I finished this book two days ago, and I’m still not quite over the story! I somehow managed to avoid all spoilers about this one despite it being out and overhyped for so long, so I was completely surprised by the twist. I thought it was so brilliantly done, and I think both of the main characters would definitely have a place on the naughty list but for different reasons. Like with most thrillers, it’s hard to say why without revealing too much of the plot, but I think both characters would fit.

2) Rhysand (A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas)

As I’ve mentioned before, I have not read the full series yet so I’m not sure what happens with this character beyond the first book. In this book alone, Rhysand is a fascinating character, but I think he would also end up on the naughty list because of how manipulative he is. Even though a lot of the actions he takes end up being for good reason and may even help Feyre, he comes across as very underhanded and selfish. I still think he is one of the most intriguing characters in the book and I’m very interested in finding out more about him in the rest of the series.

3) Kady Grant (Illuminae by Jay Kristoff and Amie Kaufman)

This one is an example of a good person who still might end up on the naughty list because of some of her behaviour. In this case, Kady is a skilled hacker who has no problem breaking into her ship’s computer system to try and reach Ezra,  and to find out what is really going on. I think her behaviour is understandable given her circumstances since she is using the tools at her disposal to help herself and others survive, but hacking into private servers and reading classified files is definitely something that can land someone on the naughty list.

4) Ty (Stolen: A Letter to my Captor by Lucy Christopher)

I have to say, I was pretty underwhelmed by this book. It had been on my TBR for about two years so I decided it was finally time to give it a chance, especially after hearing how great and unique it was. I thought the Stockholm Syndrome angle could have been very interesting, but I just could not buy into the relationship at all. No matter how I looked at it, Ty was still a kidnapper whose behaviour was wrong, and I don’t think the fact that he treated Gemma fairly well changes that fact. He definitely belongs on the naughty list for his extremely misguided approach to getting his love interest’s attention.

5) Daniel Crawford (Asylum by Madeleine Roux)

To be fair, there are two characters by the same name int his book and both could definitely make it onto the list. Dan Crawford, the main character of this book, is the kind of YA protagonist who decides to take matters into his own hands and sneak around to uncover the secrets of his surroundings. He breaks rules to investigate the history of the asylum that has become his dorm, snoops through areas that are supposed to be off-limits, and avoids seeking help even when things become really scary. It bugs me sometimes when characters make these kinds of decisions, but I guess the story would not move forward unless they did.

Top 5 Wednesdays: Bookish Things I’m a Grinch About

Before I get into the actual post itself, I just want to comment on how much I absolutely adore The Grinch as a book! Christmas is not my holiday, and I’ll admit to being a bit of a Grinch about some of the holiday season. It annoys me to hear Christmas music non-stop, seemingly from Halloween on. I like some of the songs, but I find it irritating to listen to the same few songs over and over for an entire month. I also hate the whole controversy about “Merry Christmas” vs. “Happy Holidays.” I really don’t want to get into this debate here since it is not what this blog is for, but I honestly don’t understand the outrage about using the all-inclusive “Happy Holidays” greeting. I honestly couldn’t care less if someone wishes me “Merry Christmas” even if it is not my holiday, and I’m not going to make a big deal about it. If anything, I’d just assume it’s their holiday and wish them “Merry Christmas” back. I’m not a huge fan of most Christmas movies or Christmas-themed episodes of TV shows because I find many of them are too similar and don’t fit well when watching the episodes outside of the Christmas season.

The Grinch has always been one of my favourite Christmas stories because I think it perfectly captures how I feel about Christmas. I have nothing at all against people celebrating the holiday, but I think it has become extremely commercial to the point where the meaning of the holiday is often obscured. In a sense, I tend to differentiate the “real” Christmas as a religious holiday, from the “public” Christmas as a holiday season that is a bit more accessible to everyone (ie. gifts, dinner with friends and family, themed drinks, etc.) and that helps a bit. I love The Grinch as a book because I think it really reminds us of what Christmas is meant to be about: “Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before! What if Christmas, he thought, doesn’t come from a store. What if Christmas…perhaps…means a little bit more.”

I was pretty excited to see a Grinch-y theme to this week’s topic, although I feel like I have covered many of my complaints in my Pet Peeves posts (here and here). I’m going to do my best not to rehash any of those complaints again, although they definitely all still annoy me!

Top 5 Wednesday is a meme created by Gingerreadslainey on Youtube, and is now hosted by Sam at ThoughtsOnTomes. The official GoodReads group with the weekly topics can be found here.

1) Getting books in the “wrong format”

I’m quite picky when it comes to the format of my books. I only really read and buy physical books, and it really bothers me when books are only available in a specific format. I really hate the short “mass market paperbacks,” although that used to be my favourite. I used to strongly prefer paperbacks, but I started to get annoyed with them because I felt like they got so easily damaged. On the other hand, hardcovers are so expensive! I know most people gripe about cover changes mid-series, but I also really hate format changes mid-series or mid-collection. I had that issue with Jodi Picoult’s latest book, Small Great Things, which to this day is only available as a hardcover. It bugs me since all of my other Jodi Picoult books are paperbacks (which was an annoyance anyway, since I had to wait 6 months or so for those versions to be released). I like my collections of books from the same author to be in the same format. My Series of Unfortunate Events collection is ridiculous since half are paperback and half are hardcover, and it’s not even in any kind of order!

2) Movie tie-in editions

I honestly don’t get too hung up on cover artwork since I’m more interested in the content than the covers, but even with that said, I still tend to really hate movie tie-in editions of books. The covers rarely look very nice, and I think part of the problem for me is that I don’t want to associate the book too strongly with the actors or the movie. I like to be able to picture the characters myself as much as possible, but when the image is of the actors, it’s harder to do that. I also find it annoying because I find the movie posters or whatever image they use for the cover don’t necessarily represent the book that well. It just feels like they don’t really capture the spirit of the book since the focus is on the famous person instead. It’s not going to put me off reading the book in general, but given the choice between the movie tie-in edition or the regular version, I will almost always choose the non-movie cover.

3) Stickers on book covers

Bookstores and publishers always seem to put the stickers in the worst possible places! They are always supposed to be easy to remove, but in my experience they always leave some kind of weird residue which is often still sticky enough to be annoying. Or, it leaves the very irritating fragments that are nearly impossible to pull off without ripping anything. The worst for me is when the sticker is covering up a big chunk of the synopsis. If I’ve bought the book, it’s not such a big deal because I can just (spend the long time it takes to) remove the sticker, but if I’m at a bookstore or library, I can’t just start taking the stickers off. If it’s a book that is new to me, it’s especially frustrating because it’s hard to decide if I want to borrow or buy the book without being able to read the synopsis. It’s a good thing I tend to look up most books on Goodreads first by now, but there’s always the possibility of finding something brand new while browsing the shelves. I get the need for stickers when it’s a price tag, but stickers just advertising other books are so pointless!

4) Multiple perspectives from characters with the same “voice”

I have no problem with books that are told from multiple perspectives, when it is done well. I think it can be a great way to explore the story from different angles, and develop a variety of characters with a variety of views. The problem is when the characters are not developed effectively and all “sound” the same. For me, the main culprit is still Allegiant from the Divergent series. The idea of getting the story from both Tris and Four’s perspectives might have been interesting, but the characters sounded exactly the same! I had to constantly keep flipping back to the beginning of each chapter to see who was talking, or wait for the narrator to be addressed by name to figure out who it was. In these kinds of cases, the attempt at multiple perspectives ends up detracting from the story more than it actually helps. It makes the experience of reading it so frustrating!

5) Using other languages without translations/adequate context

This one is definitely very petty, but I find it off-putting when authors include dialogue in other languages without either translating them or at least giving enough context to figure it out. I am currently reading It’s Not Like It’s a Secret, which includes quite a bit of Japanese dialogue that I didn’t feel was adequately explained. The struggle with this is that dialogue in other languages might be more realistic and authentic for the characters, but as a reader, it is difficult to read and it frustrates me to not be able to understand what characters are saying. I get that having the translation for the English-speaking (or whatever other language) reader can ruin the immersion in the story. People don’t usually say what they want in their own language and then repeat themselves in English. Sometimes, books do a good enough job of having the next character respond in such a way that it really does not matter if you don’t understand words from other languages, but that’s not always the case.

Top 5 Wednesdays: Book-related Things I’m Thankful For

As I mentioned in yesterday’s Top 10 Tuesday post, I had to change this week’s topic slightly to avoid posting twice in a row on the exact same subject. I decided to switch today’s post to the top 5 book-related things that I’m thankful for instead, to still go with the Thanksgiving theme. Reading has always been very important to me, and I’m lucky enough to have people in my life who support my interest. Here are five of the people or other book-related things that I am most thankful for.

Top 5 Wednesday is a meme created by Gingerreadslainey on Youtube, and is now hosted by Sam at ThoughtsOnTomes. The official GoodReads group with the weekly topics can be found here.

1) My Parents

Reading and books have always been a major part of my household. My mom has always been a huge reader, and my dad to a lesser extent. Reading was always something that we did together when my brother and I were kids. My parents would often read to us, or we would read to them. We were given books as treats and gifts. Almost every time my dad came home from a business trip, he brought me one of those books that talk or make sound effects at certain points in the story. Reading was always a favourite activity and always presented as something fun to do, and not as a chore like I’ve seen some people believe. I’m thankful to my parents for instilling a love of reading and making books such a huge part of my life.

2) My School Librarians

I had two very influential school librarians in elementary school, both of whom I was terrified of when I was in school. My first school librarian was a big, loud man who was great with kids, but I was scared of him because I always thought he was yelling. I was an incredibly shy child and hated loud voices. This librarian let my mom volunteer to help out in the library, and allowed me to spend my recesses there too. He was also the man who read us the first paragraphs of Harry Potter and A Series of Unfortunate Events, which introduced me to two of my favourite series. The second school librarian I have in mind was also my eighth grade teacher, and I was also nervous around her because she seemed very strict. However, she was extremely knowledgeable about books and was great at giving recommendations. She introduced me to the Pendragon series, which also became a favourite. I’m thankful to both of them for teaching me about how libraries work and introducing me to many of my favourite books.

3) My Best Friend

I’m lucky enough to have a best friend who was just as strongly interested in books as I am, although our tastes are pretty different. We were both always really into the classics (at least abridged versions), and I think in some ways that motivated both of us to branch out and try some of them. One of our favourite things to do together is to visit the local bookstore, where were can both spend hours just browsing the shelves and talking about books. I’ve had other friends over the years who shared my interest in many books, especially Harry Potter, but none have been willing to spend so long just wandering through bookstores. I am thankful for my best friend and how we have introduced each other to so many great books over the years.

4) Reading Challenges

Participating in reading challenges over the past three years has brought me back into reading in a huge way. Even though I’ve always loved it, I strayed away from reading for fun while in post-secondary education since I had so little time to devote to the books I wanted to read for myself. I took on my first reading challenge in 2015 in a very casual way, just to see if I could do it and I found it a great motivator. Not only did I discover many new books, but there was something strangely satisfying about being able to cross items off the list. Since then, I have participated in multiple category-based challenges each year, and it has been a lot of fun! It can be a bit stressful at times if I feel like I’m falling behind on my total for the year, but I love looking for new books and the scavenger hunt aspect of trying to fit everything in.  Plus, posting about the books I’m reading online gives me a built-in conversation topic, since everyone seems to ask what I’m reading or what books are coming up next. I’m already looking forward to next year’s challenges! I’m thankful for reading challenges for giving me motivation to read more and to try new books.

5) Goodreads and the Online Book Community

I’ve always enjoyed participating in online communities about my favourite topics, and would gladly choose Goodreads and other online discussions over an in-person book club just due to time constraints. I’ve had a lot of fun browsing Goodreads for recommendations and reading reviews of the books I’m interested in. I can easily spend hours on Goodreads just browsing, even if it’s just my own massive TBR list. I’ve also discovered some great blogs and vlog channels that I love keeping up with. When I’m not reading books of my own, I often like reading blogs or watching videos about a variety of book-related topics. I also think online communities are a great way for people to connect over shared interests, and even to discuss some of our unpopular opinions. I’m thankful for Goodreads and other online communities because it gives me the chance to discuss books with many others around the world!