Posted in Books

Nobody’s perfect, but that doesn’t excuse privilege: Carve the Mark, Mosquitoland, and being a more conscious and careful reader

Happy Friday, bibliophiles! I’ve been writing out this post in my head since Tuesday night, so here goes nothing…

The other day, I was reading Aditi’s post about 20 of the most popular YA books on Goodreads. Veronica Roth’s Carve the Mark was among the ranks, and she mentioned that there had been several reviews saying that it had some racist elements, and had a problematic depiction of chronic illness. I had to do a bit of a double take; I read that book at least two years ago, but I didn’t remember anything like that. My whole memory of the book was hazy, really, and even though I’d given it a four star rating back then, it was probably one of those books I just sped through because I was just thinking something along the lines of “haha sci-fi go brrrrrrrrrrr”

Carve the Mark eBook by Veronica Roth - 9780062348654 | Rakuten Kobo United  States

And so I read some reviews–some from bloggers that I follow, some from strangers, and there were indeed a lot that pointed out several problematic elements and stereotypes. I found myself being incredibly ashamed of my past self for not noticing them. I’ve been going back and forth between removing my rating, and I never got to the sequel and thought Divergent was overrated, so I doubt I’ll be picking up a Veronica Roth book in the future. But I ended up putting myself between two spaces:

First off, nobody’s perfect. As much of an intersectional feminist that I strive to be, I still make mistakes. We all do. I’m sure everybody’s had an instance like this one.

But secondly, I still must acknowledge that I have privilege, and that this privilege is part of why I didn’t spot the highly questionable elements there. And since I am privileged, I have to do my best to better myself, and read more carefully, and become better at spotting and making note of problematic elements.

Amazon.com: Mosquitoland (9780147513656): Arnold, David: Books

I’d like to think that I’ve gotten better at reading carefully since I read Carve the Mark, but this example also jumped out at me as something that’s controversial. I read Mosquitoland a few months back; I thought it was a well-written novel, but there is some highly questionable–and I mean HIGHLY questionable and offensive representation of Down syndrome, and some problematic elements regarding the depiction of Native American characters, as well as some poor handling of sexual assault. I still hold the writing highly, but I know that I have to also recognize that Mosquitoland, though powerful, is still a deeply flawed novel. No matter its impact, there is NO excusing some of the content of this novel. (if you’re interested in someone else’s thoughts on the matter, I’d highly suggest checking out The Inside Cover’s Mosquitoland, Three Years Later: A Coda.)

All this got me thinking about reviews. Part of what’s key to reading/picking your reads more carefully is reading reviews before you dive in. Of course, you have to be careful to avoid reviews that have been paid to get a 4-5 star rating (for bias); the 3-2 star range is usually the most reliable source for me, as they usually cover the good and the bad in equal amounts. (1 stars tend to dive into rants, which I fully admit to doing, but it’s better to see both the pros and cons, personally.) It’s just like checking your news sources: seeing both sides of the argument, and getting perspectives from reviewers who have lived some of these experiences. It’s what made me take The State of Us off my TBR, and a few others.

An Absolutely Remarkable Thing: A Novel (The Carls): Green, Hank:  9781524743444: Amazon.com: Books

And sometimes, there’s no way out of it. I went into An Absolutely Remarkable Thing expecting a read as great as everybody seemed to say it was, but I ended up being infuriated by how poorly the bisexual representation was handled. (Personal opinion, here) Hardly anyone (except for one reviewer, so shoutout to them) noted the bury-your-gays trope, as well as the killing off of most of the POC characters (all but one or two) in Four Dead Queens. There will always be times when we’re roped into something problematic, even if we’ve read a variety of reviews.

Four Dead Queens - Astrid Scholte - 9781760524418 - Allen & Unwin -  Australia

The bottom line? Don’t beat yourself up about reading a problematic book, but don’t brush the problematic parts aside like they don’t exist. If you see something uncomfortable depicted in a novel, talk about it, whether it’s in the comments of a review or in a review of your own. Let your voice be heard, but recognize that all of us have at least a little bit of privilege.

Alright, let me step off the soapbox for a minute. I also have a short announcement: I have A BUNCH of books that I’d like to review soon, so as well as my Book Review Tuesdays, I’ll be packing several books into mini-reviews, starting next week. So stay tuned…

Today’s song:

That’s it for this post! Have a wonderful rest of your day, and take care of yourselves!

Posted in Books, Weekly Updates

Weekly Update: March 30-April 5, 2020

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Happy Sunday, bibliophiles!

Whew…it hasn’t quite been a tiring week, but it’s been a week of strange transitions, what with going back to online school, and subsequently finding out that we’ll be doing online learning for the entire rest of the school year. (Oh, and the general disappointment in the fact that The New Mutants was supposed to come out on Friday, but it’s been delayed until who-knows-when…sigh…). I’m starting to accept that this is starting to become the new normal for now, but I think we should all keep in mind that this is not forever. As with all things, COVID-19 will eventually pass. In the words of Phoebe Bridgers, “It’ll all work out/Eventually.” 💗

This Too Shall Pass Waiting Sticker by Pretty Whiskey / Alex ...

Oh, and I started Camp NaNoWriMo again on the 1st! I’m on the same WIP as before, but I’m trying to get it to about 110,000 words. I’m at around 87,000 at the moment. Wish me luck!

WHAT I READ THIS WEEK: 

An Absolutely Remarkable Thing–Hank Green (⭐️–DNF at 36%)

An Absolutely Remarkable Thing: A Novel: Green, Hank ...

 

Ghosts–Raina Telgemeier (re-read, ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️)

Ghosts: Telgemeier, Raina, Telgemeier, Raina: 9780545540629 ...

 

Kids of Appetite–David Arnold (⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️.5)

Amazon.com: Kids of Appetite (9780451470782): Arnold, David: Books

 

Dark Energy–Robison Wells (⭐️⭐️.75, rounded up to ⭐️⭐️⭐️)

Dark Energy by Robison Wells

 

Boys Don’t Knit–T. S. Easton (⭐️⭐️)

Boys Don't Knit (in Public) (Boys Don't Knit, #1) by T.S. Easton

 

Mosquitoland–David Arnold (⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️.5)

Amazon.com: Mosquitoland (9780147513656): David Arnold: Books

 

POSTS AND SUCH: 

 

SONGS: 

 

CURRENTLY READING/TO READ NEXT WEEK: 

I Hope You Get This Message–Farah Naz Rishi

I Hope You Get This Message by Farah Naz Rishi

 

Today’s song:

I just discovered Black Belt Eagle Scout yesterday; I listened to all of Mother of My Children, and I think this was my favorite song off the album 🙂

 

That’s it for this week in blogging! Have a wonderful rest of your day, and take care of yourselves!

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Posted in Book Tags, Books

Currently Reading Book Tag

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Happy Friday, bibliophiles!

Quick update before I begin:

…whooowee, looks like I’ll be staying home for the rest of the school year. I mean, it’s nice to stay around the house all the time, but I do miss going out to restaurants, the movies, bookstores…at least I have the Kindle library to help me with the latter. And they’re pushing back all the good movies…moment of silence for the fact that The New Mutants was supposed to come out today…[single tear slides down cheek]

Anyway, I found this tag on The Comfy Reader, and I thought I’d give it a try!

Here goes nothing…

How many books do you usually read at once?

Strictly one at a time, unless I have something to read for school. I used to be able to read up to four books at once, but I’ve slowly abandoned that method for focusing my attention on one book at a time.

Pfff, there’s this one scene from Hellboy (2004) that would fit this perfectly, where Professor Bruttenholm makes a comment on Abe’s reading habits…I can’t seem to find a gif of it, woe is me…

Guillermo Del Toro Hb GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

How do you decide when to switch between multiple reads?

See above. I…don’t. I’m not sure how I managed it when I used to read multiple books at once, for that matter. I feel like I probably just switched based on when I ended in a good chapter, or if my interest just waned for one book.

Shrug GIFs | Tenor

Do you ever switch bookmarks partway through a book?

NO! NO, ABSOLUTELY NOT…

Bernie Sanders GIF by The Daily Dot - Find & Share on GIPHY

[ahem] anyway, I do pair up my books with a special bookmark that matches the cover color scheme or genre (I have a solar system one that I pair up with sci-fi books, sometimes)

Where do you keep the book(s) you’re currently reading?

It depends. Depending on the time of day, it’s either tucked away in my backpack, or lounging on the coffee table.

Tom Hiddleston Celebs GIF | Gfycat

What time of day do you read the most?

Early to late afternoon, mostly. Whether I’m at school or at home, that usually ends up being my reading schedule.

Book Read GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

How long do you typically read in one session?

It ranges from about a half hour to up to two hours, depending on how enthralled/not enthralled I am with the book.

Clock ticking GIFs - Get the best GIF on GIPHY

Do you read hardbacks with the dust jacket off?

Not really, no. I like to keep the covers on, but it’s always interesting to take a peek and see what books look like sans dust jacket.

The book thief GIFs - Get the best GIF on GIPHY

What position do you mainly use to read?

Most of the time, I’m either sitting cross-legged or lying on my back, depending on the chair I’m sitting in.

Best Ergonomic Task Chair GIFs | Gfycat

Do you take your current read with you everywhere you go?

ABSOLUTELY. Even if I don’t end up reading when I’m taking the book places, it’s always by my side.

Always GIFs - Get the best GIF on GIPHY

How often do you update your Goodreads reading progress?

When it comes to physical books, not too often. I’m not sure why. Kindle books, however, where I can see the percentage of the way through the book I’m at, I update more frequently. Don’t ask me why…I really don’t know why I do it either…

Do not know GIFs - Get the best GIF on GIPHY

What book(s) are you currently reading?

Mosquitoland by David Arnold

I’m currently reading Mosquitoland (I’m on a bit of a David Arnold kick this week). I’m about halfway through, and I love it so far!

I tag anyone who’d like to participate! 🙂

Its All Yours GIFs | Tenor

Today’s song:

That’s it for this book tag! Have a wonderful rest of your day, and take care of yourselves!

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