Grammar, Cosmic Coincidences, and a Different Kind of Hope: Reading Solutions and Other Problems by Allie Brosh

To start this post, we need to go back to 8th grade. Middle school. An absolute hellscape of memories some good, a lot bad. One day my best friend at the time started making jokes about a blog post that her language arts teacher had shared with her class for a grammar lesson. I find it really funny looking back now because while I still struggle with grammar and writing it doesn’t compare in the slightest to how atrocious some of my mistakes were back in the day.

The blog post in question was the Alot post from Hyperbole and a Half (laughing at the fact that I had to circumvent autocorrect to even type a lot incorrectly!) This post was (and probably still is) a perfect way to teach a grammar lesson to middle schoolers. It was an instant classic and many of my classmates joked about it for years to come. I’m actually pretty sure we referenced this all the way up to our senior year. Since I wasn’t in the same language arts class as my best friend, I decided to look up the blog when I got home. I think I read every published post that night. It became a favorite of mine and I realize now how deeply Hyperbole and a Half influenced my life.

I’m not sure I remember what my first blog was and I can’t even remember what site I published it on but I know that I was inspired by Hyperbole and a Half to start my own. I know that I posted a lot of angsty poetry on it and am honestly kind of glad I don’t have access to that content, my journals from that time are content enough. This blog was created in 2015 when I was really into lifestyle influencers. I wasn’t able to make YouTube videos so I decided to blog instead. The Tumblr account that I used religiously just wasn’t cutting it for what I wanted to use it for. I kind of fell into a zone of wanting to monetize blogging after seeing other people my age do it and it all went from there. Over the years I’ve realized that I’m not great at blogging, sometimes I consider starting a podcast simply because I have so many big ideas that don’t seem like they’d fit into one blog post. It’s interesting how content evolves over time and what we can choose to do with our platforms.

When Allie’s posts started becoming less frequent I would still check in on her blog. It was a little haven on the internet for me and I was always so grateful for how open she was about her mental health struggles. The blog was the perfect balance of humorous and real. Even when she “disappeared” from the internet I would always wonder how she was doing, couldn’t help but reminisce every time I typed the words “a lot”. Hyperbole and a Half was central to a period of my adolescence and I think I’ll always feel connected to that blog.

In the past few years, I’ve struggled with the idea of a “purpose” and have sunk deeper and deeper into this pit where all I can think about is the meaningless of life. It’s a big change from 19 year old me who cried about taking a Philosophy of Person class because I had to think about mortality. Now I think about it constantly.

I was at a crossroads when this article popped up on my newsfeed. I dropped everything I was doing and read it. By the time I had scrolled to the end I was crying. I ordered Solutions and Other Problems immediately.

Image: Cover of Solutions and Other Problems by Allie Brosh

The night that my preorder came in the mail I stayed up too late reading it. I cried a lot but I also laughed… A lot. It might have been one of the most cathartic reading experiences I have ever had. Solutions and Other Problems was raw and real and it was everything I needed in that moment.

It was comforting to read from the perspective of someone who has the same mindset on existence as I do. Too often I get existential and people try to be hopeful. And don’t get me wrong, there are moments when I appreciate it but most of the time, I don’t want to be hopeful. I don’t want motivating stories because it feels like pity. Sometimes it even feels judgmental and I can’t bring myself to think the way that these well meaning individuals want me to think.

Allie took the words out of my brain and wrote them out. She made me feel okay about the way I see the world. I don’t think that everything happens for a reason and I honestly curse the universe quite a bit for having had to endure so many of the things I’ve had to endure. Sometimes I feel trapped because other people tell me that I need to live for me but in the end, I don’t want to do anything because I don’t get the point. The more that I think about the title, “Solutions and Other Problems” I can’t help but love it more and more. Trying to find the solution to life is probably the biggest problem I’ll ever have.

This book is probably going to have divided opinions not only because of how long it took to be published, but also because of the content within. It felt like a pivot point for Brosh and was similar to how it felt like her blog content shifted after her first depression post. I gave this book five stars and am already ready to reread it but I could see that some people might find the overall message to be too negative or something along those lines.

I’m a pessimist at heart but this book gave me a small seed of hope. It reminded me that there are still things worth sticking around for. Just knowing I was here long enough to read more content from Allie made me proud for a moment. It’s the same thing I felt when I realized I got to see more Taylor Swift albums get released. It’s a different kind of hope but it’s worth being here for.

I know this wasn’t much of an actual review but I’ll link my official Goodreads review here once I finally write it. I just wanted to share the cosmic coincidence of finding hope in content that I’ve held close for 10 years now. I’m going to sign off now and I’ll talk to you in my next post.

You can get your own copy of Solutions and Other Problems from the following:

Barnes & Noble // Bookshop // IndieBound (where you can find your local indie to shop from)

You can also find me in these places:

Twitter: @/nihilisticactus

You can add me or follow my reviews on Goodreads here.

Readerly: @/sideofadventure

If you’re interested in supporting the blog my Ko-fi is here.

Followers by Megan Angelo: An Intriguing Novel on the Over-Trusting Nature We Have With the Internet (Spoilers)

Well that title was a mouthful, wasn’t it? I didn’t really know what else I wanted to title it. This post is going to be part review and part discussion so I kind of just word vomited what I thought was fitting.

Seeing as this is a blog post, on the good ole internet I guess I’ll start off with this question: How safe do you feel using the internet?

In recent years we’ve had increasing jokes about the “FBI guys” in our cameras, we’ve had plenty of conspiracy theories about tech (ALA Shane Dawson and many others), and Black Mirror has sprung plenty of discussions about the future of tech and the world.

Ever since my freshman year of college when I took a class called Media Literacy I’ve been somewhat skeptical of tech. But am I overly cautious? In short, no. In fact I think I could do a lot better with how I use technology. But I do things like cover my cameras, and I’ve slowly but surely deleted accounts of mine and limited what I do on the internet. At the same time though I still overshare. I have a TikTok account where I crack niche jokes about mental health and rant about my customers at work. I walk a fine line with my balance but as far as I’m concerned I’m fine with what I do on the internet.

Followers is a book that takes a look at this relationship that people have with social media and the internet. It’s intriguing and I think it had the potential to be very poignant and relevant but I didn’t love it.

Followers

Synopsis

An electrifying story of two ambitious friends, the dark choices they make and the stunning moment that changes the world as we know it forever

Orla Cadden is a budding novelist stuck in a dead-end job, writing clickbait about movie-star hookups and influencer yoga moves. Then Orla meets Floss―a striving wannabe A-lister―who comes up with a plan for launching them both into the high-profile lives they dream about. So what if Orla and Floss’s methods are a little shady and sometimes people get hurt? Their legions of followers can’t be wrong.

Thirty-five years later, in a closed California village where government-appointed celebrities live every moment of the day on camera, a woman named Marlow discovers a shattering secret about her past. Despite her massive popularity―twelve million loyal followers―Marlow dreams of fleeing the corporate sponsors who would do anything to keep her on-screen. When she learns that her whole family history is based on a lie, Marlow finally summons the courage to run in search of the truth, no matter the risks.

Followers traces the paths of Orla, Floss and Marlow as they wind through time toward each other, and toward a cataclysmic event that sends America into lasting upheaval. At turns wry and tender, bleak and hopeful, this darkly funny story reminds us that even if we obsess over famous people we’ll never meet, what we really crave is genuine human connection.

Rating

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Review/Discussion

Followers reminded me of the celebrity centered books that I used to read as a teen. The peek into a seemingly glamorous life that so many people crave but this book took a modern spin with adding in the reliance on technology. I can see where the author was coming from, wanting to write a hard-hitting moralistic novel about how we trust the internet with so much and how it could eventually come back to bite us but it wasn’t overly impressive. As a debut novel, I thought that it had showed a lot of promise and if Angelo publishes something else and it sounded interesting enough I would most likely give it a chance.

As someone who is already skeptical about the internet this didn’t read as very electrifying nor did any of the events truly shock me. This was marketed as sci-fi but if I’m being honest, there wasn’t much about it that felt unrealistic. Sure there was technology in the future sections of the book that doesn’t exist but this book mostly centered about personal endeavors and tech critique instead of focusing on the technology itself.

I wasn’t a fan of either of the main characters. Orla and Marlow were both incredibly annoying in their own ways and I thought they were so wishy-washy and unremarkable that I was very quickly bored throughout. My main motivation to finish reading this book was to find out about the cataclysmic event that took place that caused such a strong before and after in the plot. If I’m being honest the event was somewhat unremarkable. Since I’ve grown up with the internet, I’ve done my fair share of oversharing, I’ve done my fair share of dumb things but so has most other people my age. The “current day” portion of the book took place in 2015 and 2016 and to read about what ended up taking place, this event known as the “Spill” I found myself rolling my eyes at how people reacted. From the description and the lead-up, it was obvious that the Spill caused a bunch of people to lose their lives thanks to good ole technology. What I wasn’t expecting was that these people were losing their lives to suicide. The Spill happened because some hackers, in an act of cyber terrorism, shut down technology and then turned on the citizens of the world by sharing their deepest darkest secrets that were on the internet with everyone.

Now don’t get me wrong, I think some of the things that I’ve done on the internet would be pretty humiliating if they got out but even if they got sent to everyone I’ve ever known I don’t think I’d ever kill myself over those things. And especially considering that the internet was down and barely salvageable in the aftermath of this I doubt anyone could use this information against anyone. The bullying could only happen in person, yes relationships could be ruined but if every single person was having their worst shared about them with absolutely everyone, why care? Maybe living the event would be different, or maybe if I was older than I am I would feel different but I’ve grown up with people oversharing. Hell, people share everything online now, people make tasteless jokes and there are hundreds of people making bank off of selling their nudes. So maybe I wasn’t the target audience for this book because I was bored! I didn’t care that all of these people had their lives destroyed by the internet. I do think that people 100% rely too heavily on the internet but I also don’t think that this book is as timely as one might think.

AAAAND now I feel bad for saying that I thought it was unrealistic that people took their lives for having their darkest shared to everyone… I swear I’m not trying to be a horrid person I just personally feel like a lot of people, especially my peers, would not feel the life ending need for these things to come out. I mean back in 2016 I was in college and was dating my first boyfriend. I think the worst that could be put out about me was the smutty fan fiction that I read but nowadays people are open about any and all smut they read, hell there’s even a read-a-thon specifically for reading smutty books.

The internet is a vast place. It is both a dark and light space and I think a lot of people could use some breaks from it from time to time. I think that Followers was a book that posed some interesting questions about influencer culture and the power that the internet holds but overall I was bored with it. This book was thought provoking and I think there is an audience out there for it but it just wasn’t the perfect fit for me.

 

Reading YA (AKA How I Used to Read YA vs. How I Read it Now)

This post was brought about by not only some discussion that I’ve seen on Twitter recently but also from an excerpt of a book I read recently. Basically I’m going to discuss how my reading has changed from ages 13-18 to now at age 23 in regards to the young adult genre.

When I was younger, reading was my escape. I mean since kindergarten I’ve loved reading but I think middle school is when I started branching out more than just reading the same few books every year from my elementary school library and repeatedly reading the Harry Potter series. For Christmas when I was 13 my grandma gifted me with two books Graceling by Kristin Cashore and Twilight by Stephanie Meyer. I devoured these books. I reread them almost immediately after reading them the first time and from there out I feel like everything changed.

Now fast forward to high school. My tight knit friend group from middle school split up as half of us went to one high school and half of us went to the other. I was very quickly getting worse with my mental health as I tried to navigate a new school, constant fights with my family, and my need to continue feeding into bad habits that were only made worse by Tumblr… Honestly, Tumblr could be an entire blog post on its own *eye roll*.

Anyways, so despite the fact that my friend group split up, we tried our best to stay close. There were three of us that managed to hang out consistently; my best friend, Panda (I’m going to refer to her by her nickname for the sake of this post), and myself. My best friend went to the newer high school in our town while Panda and I went to the older one. Panda and I were essentially inseparable, we hung out constantly, told each other everything (literally everything) and I truly thought I had found my person. So when our friendship fell apart, I was shattered. I won’t go into details but it was a mess and if I could go back and change what happened, I would in a heartbeat. And what makes that whole situation worse is that I was the floater, I didn’t have the set friend group, I hung onto Panda’s, so when we stopped talking I stopped having friends. Sure I had my best friend and people from my church but more often than not I wasn’t allowed to do anything but go to work and school so I rarely got to see my church friends.

So that’s where books come in. I was a loner, had crippling social anxiety, and took way too many AP classes for my own good. I didn’t do shit. I lived my life through the books I read, it was the only way to escape the life I was living. I didn’t date, no one liked me like that. I didn’t go to dances; I was scarred by freshman year homecoming (too much grinding) and worked both years over prom weekend. I didn’t even touch alcohol until I was 20. Books were an escape. I could read about all these people living lives I wanted to live (or didn’t… ex: The Hunger Games) and I could use them to create these epic daydreams about what my life could have been like.

Nowadays I read YA for fun with more of an objective viewpoint for the purpose of reviewing. I’ve slowly grown to enjoy reading adult novels more but I still have a heart for YA, especially because the market has grown so much since I was younger. It’s been a joy to see the way that YA has expanded and to read all the new stories that have been released. It’s even more exciting to read about upcoming stories and see just how creative authors are. So it kind of sucks when I read YA that disappoints me and here’s where my critique comes in with a slight “review” of an excerpt I read for the book The Best Laid Plan by Cameron Lund. I was highly skeptical about this book after reading the synopsis and so when I had the opportunity to read a 60 page excerpt I figured I might as well give it a chance.

The writing was good but the story itself feels like it could leave an incredibly negative impact on young readers. Essentially this book is about a girl who thinks she is the last virgin in her high school graduating class and that she needs to have sex before she graduates because “being a virgin in college is like having a disease”. Yes, that is an actual quote from the book! This book could have taken on a sex-positive tone in so many less obvious ways. Honestly I’m not even sure if I would call this sex-positive… It’s basically putting forth the notion that one has to have sex at a young age to be normal. Spoiler alert: you don’t have to have sex ever to be normal.

There were so many lines that just felt weird to me and all of the side characters either slut shamed or were misogynistic in their own special ways *another eye roll*. This also has one aspect of YA contemporary that has slowly but surely made me feel uncomfortable the older I’ve gotten. That aspect being that one of the love interests in this book is in college while the main character is in high school. I wrote about this more in depth in this blog post in case you wanted to read my thoughts on this (it’s really not all that positive). It pains me to read in the synopsis for Lund’s book that the main character doesn’t want to come across to this college boy as immature. Again, this puts forth really bad ideas. Let me just put this here IF YOU ARE IN HIGH SCHOOL AND A COLLEGE AGED PERSON TRIES TO GET WITH YOU STAY FAR FAR AWAY FROM THEM THEY ARE NOT GOOD NEWS. This guy isn’t even fresh out of high school, he’s 20… Even me, who was one of the oldest people in my grade had only freshly turned 19 by the time I went to college. I just don’t want any young person reading this book and thinking that they are less than for not having sex or even not wanting to have sex, there are so many reasons for not “getting laid” in high school and I don’t think this book was doing anything progressive by making losing your virginity some sort of game.

I think that teenagers are going to do whatever they want to do or can do. It’s also incredibly important to have books out there that talk about things like safe sex or things like that. Looking back at my teen self I feel like this book would have made me feel weird about my decision at the time that I wanted to wait until marriage, granted there was a very quick sentence that mentions reasons that people might stay a virgin… Yeah, one sentence, not much of an explanation or anything because they sped past that real quick *third eye roll*. Overall I think that YA has made many strides over the years with OWN Voices novels and being in general more expansive within every subgenre. So when something like this book comes up where it’s putting forth ideas that could be potentially harmful it just feels weird. And granted I only had access to the first 60 pages of Lund’s book but I don’t think much of anything could get me to love this book by the end of it but if anyone wants to say otherwise I would be willing to hear out your arguments for the book.

I’m grateful that I still feel like I can escape into YA and I’m also grateful that I can use my very small platform to review books that I read. It’s always interesting to read about teens and get a peek into other experiences and I don’t think that’s something I’ll ever get sick of.

This post is at a marathon length now so I’m going to sign off. Have a nice day everyone!

Happy New Year: Blog Goals For 2020

Hi everyone!! Happy New Year!

I hope that the end of 2019 went well and that the holidays were peaceful. I ended up taking a lot longer of a break than I expected and I have to admit, it was really needed. Truth be told, I haven’t completed a book in a few weeks but in my typical fashion I am in the middle of at least seven. I spent December watching a lot of Netflix and a lot of Disney+. I started crocheting again and made a whole bunch of Christmas presents and am about 1/3 of the way done with my first sweater!

I’ve tried staying off social media more in the last few weeks and it was so nice. So now that it is the new year, I’ve decided to break my hiatus and make a comeback on the blog.

I have a few goals for this upcoming year in regards to the blog and I will probably be sharing a few personal goals at the end of this post as well.

Starting off, I would like to continue growing my follower count. I don’t really have a specific number in mind and I’m not going to stress about that but I feel a sense of joy and pride when I realize that people are reading what I’m saying and I really want to be able to continue to share my thoughts with more people.

Post at least once a week. I tried to be consistent, but personal things always seem to get in the way so I know that I can’t hold myself to a specific schedule. While I would love to try, I don’t think that’s going to be possible, at least not now. So, even if all I can get out is a weekly post and not a review or something like that, I just want to make sure I’m committing to creating content. A half goal with this is also to post more lifestyle themed things. While I absolutely love the book community and what I have fostered in my theme over the last year, this blog started off with a far bigger variety of posts than what it has now. I think that this, in part, was why I felt so burnt out and fell into that huge reading slump. I loved writing posts about hiking and I had so many ideas for posts centered around makeup that I never bothered writing because I just kept trying to focus on book posts. This definitely doesn’t mean I’m stepping away from book blogging (I think this blog will always be books at the center) but I do want to put it out there that I’m going to write a lot of different posts this year!

Find a way to review books in a way that makes sense to me and makes me happy to put out posts. Okay, so I was really proud of a lot of my posts from 2019. But at the same time, there are a lot of posts that I really wish I could have done differently. I’m not going to say that I hated any of the posts that I put out, but I think I need to rework the way that I write reviews. So that’s a big goal of mine. I started to change things up a little towards the end of the year and I’d like to continue on with honing in on a reviewing style that fits me.

 Add pictures. I used to be a photography fiend. For a long time I even wanted to be a photographer. But after high school I put my camera away and I haven’t really picked it up since. So a lot of my posts have been devoid of pictures and while I don’t necessarily think that’s a bad thing, I miss having pictures scattered in my posts. I miss being creative. I think it’ll be interesting what I come up with for this goal but I would like to focus more on creativity this year. So hopefully you guys will see some stuff with that in the near future!

Last goal for the blog, READ MY ARCS. I started off so gung ho when I got access to ARCs on NetGalley and now (especially because of my reading slump) I’ve fallen so behind on my ARCs. And so this year, my goal is to get caught up on my ARCs and limit how many I request until then.

I’m really excited to start off this year and get posting again. I have a few posts from last year that I was in the middle of writing that I want to get put up by the end of the month and then I’ll just see where the universe takes me.

In terms of personal goals, I want to focus on time management and cleanliness this year. I also want to foster healthy personal relationships and do a lot of hiking. I would also like to try and focus on my health and figure out all the issues that I have.

Spring semester starts in a little over a week and I’ll be taking a writing class and French. I’ve heard that French takes up a lot of time so we’ll see how well the time management goal of mine starts off right out of the gate.

Do you guys have any big goals for this year? I’m really trying to keep things simple so that I don’t get overwhelmed. I think this is going to be a year of change and I couldn’t be more excited.

Happy New Year, again! And I hope everyone finds some joy and peace this year ❤

 

I Saw The Movie First: Jurassic Park

One huge taboo in the book community has always been watching the movie before reading the book… Or just watching only the movie. I used to be so adamant about making sure that I read the book first that there were some movies that I went years without watching solely because I hadn’t gotten around to reading the book yet.

Now I’ve become really relaxed on my “Must read the book first rule” and I also have come to find out that a ton of my favorite (or old favorite) movies were actually based off of books! So I figured, might as well use it to my advantage and write some blog posts comparing books and movies.

Does anyone else get an incredibly weird feeling when they go into a book that they’ve already watched the movie for? Like that is definitely how I felt when I reread Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton last weekend. Jurassic Park is in my top 5 favorites movies of all times. I even have a quote from the movie tattooed on my thigh!! I think the first time I ever watched the movie I was 6 or 7 and it terrified me. To the extent that I had a reoccurring nightmare about getting chased by a t-rex for over 10 years! But now, I’ve come to love the movie and have used it to allow myself to foster my obsession with all things dinosaur.

Image result for jurassic park

I first read the book version of Jurassic Park in 2017 and then reread it last weekend. It’s an insanely fascinating book but one that I could see a lot of people not enjoying anywhere near as much as the movie. It leans heavily on the sciencey side of things and goes into incredible detail explaining everything. It took me a while to get through it but I thoroughly enjoyed it in the end.

Personally, I think both the book and the movie are absolute masterpieces. The main thing that differs within the book is how much more heavily they focus on the velociraptors. There’s an entire subplot about them that is taken out of the movie entirely and it’s just, wow. *chef’s kiss* And there are two t-rex’s which is fascinating getting to see how that works out.

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The way they changed the characters for the movie too is interesting. They aged up Ellie and aged down Grant, I think mainly to add in that underlying romance between the two because in the book, Ellie is engaged to someone else and Grant is almost twice her age! In the book, Tim is the older child while Lex is the younger. Oh! And IAN MALCOLM IS BALD. Y’all, the whole time I was reading this I was picturing a bald Jeff Goldblum… Oh, I laugh every time. Everyone essentially has the same personality in the movie and I think they did a great job with the cast and characterization of everyone. I have a really hard time with making my own picture of a character in my head so while I tried to come up with new pictures of the characters in the book, I mostly just put the movie actors in there instead…. Even if they don’t match the book description.

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There are definitely a lot of scenes within the book that are left out of the movie and I really enjoyed going more in depth with learning about Jurassic Park and everything inside it while reading the book. I really can’t say that I enjoyed either one more because they’re so alike but so different in really good ways. I feel like a lot of times it leans one way or the other with a book or movie being better but I’m happy to say that at least for me, this pair is spectacular all around.

Now I just want to watch all the Jurassic Park movies again…

FOMO In The Book Community

So unrelated but also sort of related… I finally took the Enneagram test the other day and it was revealed unto me that I am a Type 6 and ooooohhhh boy did I feel SEEN when I read the description for the type.

Now the biggest thing with being a Type 6 is that I’m scared. Of everything. Like wow, this has never made more sense to me in my entire life! And right now, one of the things that I’m really struggling with is FOMO. And this post will specifically talk about FOMO in the book community that has been created online.

I would absolutely love to start a BookTube channel but I feel as if I could never gain momentum in such a vast community. I also feel like this blog will never gain momentum, nor will my Twitter or Goodreads. I just feel like I’ll be stuck within this tiny little bubble writing for the two people who seem to read all of my posts.

And yes, I’m well aware that I don’t need a vast amount of followers or anything like that but I have a lot of opinions that I want to share and I want them to be seen widely! So right now I’m struggling with a lot of FOMO regarding the online book community. I think part of this is having seen so many posts about this most recent BEA and Book Con but also just because I’ve been following an increasing number of bookish people on Twitter and I always want to participate in conversations but I almost feel like I don’t have the right to just reply to these public tweets.

I started filming clips to try and make a reading vlog a few weeks back and I keep trying to tell myself to film because I know that I’ll have fun editing the footage once I actually film stuff. I took a film production class back when I was still in school and I had so much fun creating videos and I miss that aspect of being creative. Digital art is how I started off feeling like I was good at being creative and I want to start that up again. At this point I don’t think that I’ll ever feel confident enough to post anything to YouTube and that makes me sad.

For once I just want to feel like I’m part of a community instead of only sitting on the sidelines. My whole life I’ve been on the sidelines. Every friend I’ve had has always had someone that they’re closer to, every group I’ve been in I feel uncomfortable for one reason or another. I constantly feel like the odd one out and it sucks.

But despite all of this, I’m going to continue to persevere and maybe someday I’ll find a bit of a community for myself. That’s all I can hope for.

Also, on a side note, I hit 100 followers on here and I just wanted to say that I am so very thankful for everyone that has chosen to follow me since I began this blog back in 2015. It’s been quite the journey since then and I wanted to genuinely thank you for sticking with me no matter how long you’ve been a follower. Thank you!!

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Annotating Books

I have seen numerous videos of people talking about how they annotate books and I thought that this would be a really great post for my blog! I just really wanted to start a discussion about annotating books and why (or why not) you do!For a very long time I thought that annotating books was sacrilegious. I hated even dog earring pages and it physically pained me when my books got damaged!! I still cry a bit inside when my books get damaged and I still never dog ear pages but I’ve come very far with my ability to write in my books. Paper Towns by John Green was the first book I ever wrote in for fun and I’ve written in countless school books to use for papers and projects.The books that I’ve annotated most recently have been nonfiction books. I find it really helpful for keeping track of stuff in my self-help books when I highlight and take notes within the book. I used to try and journal outside of the book along with what was in the book but unless it’s a library book I’ve stopped doing that because I never reread my journals.Recently I decided to annotate my Throne of Glass series as I reread it because I want to do a review of the series at the end of it… I was going to do a post comparing that series to my all time favorite book Graceling by Kristin Cashore but have since decided that Graceling will get it’s own post because I have much to say about it! The reason I decided to go in big on annotating Throne of Glass is because I know that they’re books that I will never loan to anyone.The not loaning books out to people anymore is actually a big reason why I’ve decided that I’m going to start annotating books. I always feel anxious about writing in books because “what are other people going to think when they see this?” and honestly? Now I really don’t care. I’m going to annotate books that I know I’ll keep, or books that I really want to analyze and when/if I get rid of them then someone else gets to see what I thought was important in that book.I think that I put too much pressure on myself about keeping books in pristine condition. Books are not meant to just sit on a shelf and look pretty (though they do look really nice and pretty on shelves) in fact, my favorite books are the ones that are completely beat up and barely holding themselves together.Now that I’ve decided that it’s okay to annotate I also feel this pressure about annotating every book I read. So now I have to tell myself that it’s okay to not annotate a book if I don’t want to! I think a lot of my annotating is going to occur with books that I’ve already read. Once I have an entire set of hardcover Harry Potter books I want to annotate that entire series (going to save the paperback ones just as keepsakes).With a number of the videos that people have published talking about annotating books I find it interesting what they use as a system. I’ll include links to some of the videos that I’ve watched at the end of this post! From what I’ve seen, most people have pretty similar systems for what they decide to tab and I kind of liked that.This is the system that I’m using for the Throne of Glass series:For nonfiction books I really just highlight and write in the margins and then put a sticky tab in there. No differences in colors for those unless I run out of the tab that I used at the beginning of the book.I think I’ll use around the same type of system as with Throne of Glass for other books but I think I’ll change certain categories around depending on the book.Now I’d like to open it up to everyone reading this. What’s your opinion on annotating books? When you get rid of annotated books do you get anxious or laugh at the idea of someone reading your notes and trying to decipher what you saw in that book?If you take notes when you read, do you take notes in the book or out of it? Do you annotate your e-books? I never annotate e-books!! I used to highlight quotes but I almost never reread e-books and have just stopped annotating them at all.Here are the videos that I watched before deciding to make this post:

How I Annotate My Books by XCatherineReads:

How I Annotate My Books by BooksWithChloe:

How I Annotate Books by Little Book Owl:

I really like how she has multiple systems! Also props to her for being able to keep so many colors straight… I could never!! Which is why I have so few colors when I actually use the color system.

Annotating for a Lazy Reader by Paperbackdreams:

Honestly I appreciate the honesty in this one, I also watched her original video and it was quite similar to a lot of the other “each color represents a different thing” system but I also like her new “lazy” approach!There were also a few videos where people talked about annotating within vlogs they posted but I honestly can’t remember which ones those were.

Audiobooks: An Internal Struggle

People love audiobooks. And for years now I’ve wished that I could be one of those people. I really and truly want to try and love audiobooks but no matter what I do they just don’t seem to mesh well with my brain and reading style.

It’s funny because I’ve had this struggle for my entire life. I remember trying to listen to the Harry Potter audiobooks when I was a kid and giving up on them before I made it to the second CD. They just read so slowly! (Maybe this plays into why I hated the Order of the Phoenix for so long!!) And then I couldn’t control the speed of their talking so I just had to read at a snail’s pace along with the narrator.

I want to say that I tried audiobooks for the second time sometime during the end of high school once I had my own car. I’m a little foggy on if this was actually during high school or if this was during my first summer after college but I want to say it was during high school. I figured I might as well try to listen to books while I drove to and from work (like my 15 minute “commute” across town was enough time to get in some good listening lol). But again, it was just never enough time and on most trips, if I wasn’t going to work I had someone else in the car; usually my sister because I was always her go-to chauffeur after I got my license and car.

In college I learned about Scribd and Audible thanks to BookTube, Whitney from WhittyNovels in particular always influenced me to try audiobooks again because I always saw her getting so much reading done with Scribd! I used many, many free trials and never finished a single book. I always thought, “Oh! I can totally use this while I’m cleaning or doing something that requires my eyes but not necessarily my whole brain power.” And then I’d be 20 minutes into the section I was listening to and could not understand any of the story because I’d zoned out from concentrating too hard on cleaning or whatever.

This year I again tried audiobooks after a few years of giving up on them and wow, they yet again sat in my car completely untouched (I checked some out from the library) because I always turned on music when I was driving instead.

Now when I watch reading vlogs where audiobooks are used, or hear about how many audiobooks people listen to I feel oddly jealous. I wish that audiobooks worked for me but they just don’t.

When I’m doing idle work, I like listening to Youtube videos, music, or podcasts. Those never seem to cause me any problems, even when it’s a pretty information heavy educational podcast. So that constantly makes me question why I can’t also pay enough attention to audiobooks to know what happened by the end of it! I can even pay enough attention to Youtube videos to understand what is going on in them while I’m also reading a book but for whatever reason I don’t mesh with audiobooks at all!

I also have a slight aversion to e-books so maybe it’s just some deep seated prejudice towards electronic “reading” that keeps me from utilizing audiobooks. I would love to try a Kindle again but I haven’t decided if I want to go for it or not. I’d love the ease of traveling with a small e-reader and have seen that one of the newer Kindles is waterproof which I think would be an awesome feature.

Audiobooks are amazing and I think that it’s really cool that they’re becoming so innovative with them; like when they have a full cast of people for the characters or just the fact that they’ve become so easily accessible with apps and subscriptions. And while they might not be my cup of tea I do like seeing them become more and more popular as the years go on. I think they’re a great way to encourage reading for those that don’t actually enjoy reading, or even for those who can’t use a physical book.

For now, I think it’s time to set aside my need for wanting to find a way to love audiobooks and just move on and keep trucking with physical books. I’m sure someday I’ll attempt to use audiobooks again but for now, I’ll just take the time to sit down and read even if it does mean I can’t multitask as well!

Do you “read” audiobooks? If so, what’s your favorite part about them? What’s your least favorite part? What is your overall preferred way of reading?

Mid-Year Blog Goals

Adventures With a Side of Espresso

This post is definitely more for me than for all of you reading but maybe you’ll get a little bit of enjoyment out of it. Now that it’s June (ugh I hate that it’s already June) I feel like I need to try and come up with some goals for myself for this blog for the rest of the year. I’m hoping I can come up with five but I guess you’ll just have to keep reading to see what I come up with.

1 Get 100 followers by December 31!

I would really just like to keep growing traffic and followers and though my blog has slowly grown over the years I would really like to have at least 100 followers by the end of the year. I feel like if I really took the time to focus on blogging and marketing my blog then I could definitely get a lot more traffic than I am right now but that means actually putting in the effort to market my blog and I can’t help but get cold feet about whether it’s even worth it.

2 Finish my Harry Potter quote series

I realized that I started this series in 2015… And obviously now it is 2019 and I have only made the first two posts in the series. I AM A FAILURE (not really but holy cow these posts are sooooo easy to make I can’t believe I haven’t finished it yet). Stay tuned!

3 Post weekend posts at least once a month

I would really like to increase my post volume at least once a month. I’m going to keep myself on my schedule of posting MWF but I want to try and make posts on Saturday or Sunday at least once a month if not more. I just need to get a day where I can sit down and block out many hours to just focus on the blog and get a bunch of stuff written ahead of time. Sometimes I just find this hard to do because a lot of my posts right now center around reading and I can only read so many books so fast! And hopefully this weekend was a post filled one because I wanted to get all my end of May posts up at the very beginning of June and I really don’t want to waste whole weeks each month to posts that simply wrap up the previous month.

4 Make my first affiliate sale

So far I’m only a part of the Amazon affiliate program and I’ve gotten exactly one click as of the time of me writing this post. I would really like to branch out into other affiliate programs and hopefully if I can increase traffic to my blog I can also start getting some affiliate purchases. I’m still really looking into how all of this works but it would be cool to have this work out!

5 Create one creative post a month

Whether this post is sharing pictures that I’ve taken and edited or something that I’ve painted or even just pages I’ve done in a coloring book I really want to start bringing art back into my life and I’d like to share my progress. I feel like this one is going to be really difficult for me considering how uncreative I’ve been feeling but we’ll see! I will also rope into this writing. So if I happen to write a poem or short story that I feel is good enough to share then that will count as a creative post as well.

Bonus goal:

Monetize my blog. Honestly if anyone out there has any advice on this topic I would love to hear some! I’m incredibly technologically challenged so I really can’t do much in terms of websites and whatnot but I would love to turn this into a bit of a more profitable venture. The reasoning behind that is just because I have a really bad habit of feeling like I need to monetize my hobbies but I also have been putting in a significant amount of hours writing posts recently that I’d really like to actually have something to show for my time.

Rereading this post, I think a lot of these goals are just me wanting to focus more on blogging as a job and working to create good and enjoyable content (even if it’s only that to myself). I really do love writing and blogging and it would be awesome if I can take it above and beyond just doing it for fun. Here’s to hoping everything goes to plan! Have a great week everyone!

A Trope That Never Bothered Me Before

So I finally sat down to read Save the Date by Morgan Matson. I’m going to preface this post by saying that Morgan Matson is one of my all time favorite authors and I will read absolutely anything that she comes out with. I also used to be quite obsessed with her Top 8 series the she wrote under the alias Katie Finn.

Warning you now that this post will contain minor spoilers for Morgan Matson’s books.

MorganMatson
I got this picture off of Morgan Matson’s website in case any of you were wondering 🙂

I’ve read every single one of her books multiple times (except Second Chance Summer, because 1. It makes me sob and 2. I don’t have a physical copy of it) and until reading Save the Date I never realized that there was a common theme in her books that now really bugs me.

In almost every single one of these books, the main character is a high school student (I think every single one is said to be 17) and the love interest is in college. As I was reading STD (yes, I am going to refer to it as that for the rest of this post, sorry!!) I kind of figured that Jesse was going to be a scumbag, it just made sense that Charlie had to have her little crush shattered by the person she thought was her “dream guy”. It made me so uncomfortable that Jesse is a sophomore in college and he’s trying to have a casual hook-up relationship not only with his best friend’s sister but also a high schooler.

Matson’s main characters are all romanced and a few are even implied to have lost their virginities to these college boys. To me this just screams inappropriate. I get that a lot of these are very innocent, I mean apart from scumbag Jesse, the farthest Charlie goes with a guy is a kiss on the cheek from Bill at the end of STD. There’s also a whole lot of underage drinking and other shenanigans… Like in The Unexpected Everything Andie was almost caught drinking at the age of 14, yep FOURTEEN! And okay, maybe I did spend my entire high school career reading books and staying up too late scrolling through Tumblr and taking too many AP classes but I still feel like 14 is really young to be out partying.

When I first read Matson’s books I was in high school and I never thought anything of an age difference or even a lifestyle difference but now that I’m older and have gone off to college and just been in the “real world” for a while I can’t even begin to imagine wanting to date a high schooler. Now I do think it’s different when someone continues to date a younger boyfriend/girlfriend when they leave for college but I also don’t feel comfortable with people who do things like date a freshman when they’re a senior. And yes, most of the characters are just finishing up their first years of school (or in Clark’s case, not in school at all) but that’s a whole year of being an adult and they’re deciding to be with high schoolers.

And you know what, maybe I’m crazy in developing this dislike for the pairings that are developed in these books but I just feel like no one who has moved past high school should be dating someone who is still 17. I’m in no way condemning Matson’s books, but I also don’t want impressionable young girls to read these books and fall for the Jesse’s because it’s “cool” or “exciting” to be in love with a college guy. Trust me, young girls reading this, college guys aren’t that great… Honestly, most guys aren’t that great. Read your books and wait to find someone who actually cares about you!

On a similar note, I also have never found myself interested in books where college students fall for their professors. I just think it’s a storyline that doesn’t make sense. There’s a power difference there that makes me uncomfortable and I don’t really think that there needs to be as many stories involving this storyline as there are.

As I’m working through Morgan Matson’s books again this spring, as I tend to do, I have to wonder how many other odd tropes I’ve just looked over in books before. Like I mentioned in my Rereading Old Favorites post I have to take a step back from a good chunk of my old favorites just because there are so many issues in them now that I completely brushed over in the past.

I really do like Matson’s books but I do hope that girls don’t romanticize dating an older boy because of the couples that she creates. When I was first reading her books it never occurred to me that this could even be an issue, I didn’t know any older boys and honestly I know that not a single one would’ve looked my way anyways. But I know that there are other girls out there that would and still will catch the attention of older men and I genuinely worry. I know that high school relationships can be awkward but that doesn’t mean that we have to glorify dating older people because they’re “mature” and “experienced”.

All in all, I don’t want to just brush this off but at the same time I have to wonder just how influential these relationships might be… I mean, maybe I’m reading too much into things and it means nothing. But I just got that nagging thought after reading STD and had to sit down to write about it.

Do any of you have thoughts on this? Or know of other YA books that have this trope? I couldn’t think of any off the top of my head but I’m sure there are others out there.