Bookish posts · opinion

What Does it Mean to be Well Read?

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A few days ago, I was trying to describe boyfriend to one of my friends, I called him ‘one of the most well-read people I know’. My friend looked at me, a puzzled look on her face. ‘What does that even mean?’ she asked. That comment made me think.

And frankly, I don’t even really know what it means to be well-read. Does it mean that you’ve obtained a lot of knowledge through books? Does it mean that you’ve read all the classics? When I think of someone that is well read, I think of someone that hasn’t only read a lot of influential literary works, but also knows a lot of obscure authors and reads books written and published all around the world.

Looking at the Merriam Webster definition of being well read, it’s considered to be well-informed or deeply versed through reading. A clear, yet very on-the-surface definition that leaves a lot of room for interpretation. It’s funny, because my boyfriend considers me to be well read, and I consider him to be well read. But we both don’t consider ourselves to be well read. I know, that’s a little confusing.

Looking online, there are tons of different lists and articles about becoming well read. But do you really need to read all of those books to be well read? Is there really a universal idea of what it is to be well read? Personally, I don’t think so.

Let’s nail this down. I think that to be well read, you need to read a wide variety of genres. Not limited to, but definitely including, influential literary works. I think it’s important to read both fiction and non-fiction, as well as authors that have a different (cultural) background from you. And lastly, for me, to be well read means to think critically about what you read.

Of course, when we speak of a ‘wide variety’, we can’t define this numerically. The definition of being well read will always be flexible, and that’s what makes it so interesting!

I’m curious: What do you consider ‘well read’? Is your definition different from mine?

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Book reviews

Book Review: Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys

salt to the sea book review

It’s hard to review books that depict real, often horrific events. Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys is such a book. It’s a historical fiction novel based on the wreckage of the Wilhelm Gustloff, a German military transport ship which was sunk on the 30th of  January, 1945. By one estimate, a total of 9,400 people died, which makes it the largest loss of life in a single ship sinking in history.

Salt to the Sea is a young adult novel, very similarly written to Sepetys’ other book, Between Shades of Gray. Simple, short sentences. Even some of the characters reminded me of that book, and the story of Between Shades of Gray main character Lina is also woven into this book, albeit a bit haphazardly.

“Just when you think this war has taken everything you loved, you meet someone and realize that somehow you still have more to give.”

Because this book contains four different POV’s, it was hard for me to get into the story. We usually only stayed with one character for two or three pages, and sometimes even less. This, in combination with the simple language, made it hard for me to connect to any of the characters. Just as I was getting into one story, we were jumping to the next. And the first three quarters of the book, I had the feeling that we were still at the very beginning of the storyline.  Continue reading “Book Review: Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys”

Bookish posts

7 Classics That Are Fun AND Easy to Read

easy to read fun classics

The number one complains I hear from people trying to read (modern) classics is: ”They’re so boring, dense and hard to get through!” And while there are definitely classics like these they don’t have to be this way! I recently looked at my Goodreads list and noticed that I’ve read quite a bit of classics, especially the ‘easy-to-read’ ones. What can I say, I just like those the best. Here’s a little rundown of my favorite classics that are fun and easy to read!

Catcher in the rye_easy fun classicsThe Catcher in The Rye by J.D. Salinger
A book that is hated by those who were forced to read it in school, and loved by people who read it for pleasure. Holden Caulfield is hated by teenagers, but most adults can sympathise with him. He goes through a lot, and his thoughts and opinions are a reflection of that. If you’re among the people that read this years ago and hated it, I recommend giving it another try.


1984 by George OrwellSchermafbeelding 2018-02-08 om 13.04.58

A dystopian novel as a dystopian novel should be. I don’t think I can say anything about this book that hasn’t been said yet. The power of 1984 is found in its descriptions of a totalitarian society, historical revisionism, suppressing individualism and limiting language so one can limit what people are able to think. The book made me think about our perception of memory, and if telling people what they should remember really does change their memory.

Schermafbeelding 2018-02-08 om 13.06.33The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde
Although pretty much every major character in The Picture of Dorian Gray is unlikeable, it is a pleasure to read about them. Every major character is a reflection of either Oscar himself or how the world viewed him, which is super interesting! The prose is beautiful and the dialogue very clever. It’s quite eerie and confronting to watch the inevitable demise of Dorian Gray, and I thought it was very well-done. The entire story is good, but I promise the ending will leave you speechless.

Animal Farm by George OrwellSchermafbeelding 2018-02-08 om 13.05.10.png
Animal Farm is a well-written and witty critique of how socialist ideals are corrupted by powerful people, how the uneducated masses (represented by Boxer in the novel, among others) are taken advantage of and how communist leaders often turn into the thing that they – supposedly – despise the most. This short book is an amazing way to teach a valuable life lesson. Continue reading “7 Classics That Are Fun AND Easy to Read”

Bookish posts

How to Handle The Dreaded Reading Slump: 7 Tips

how to get out of reading slump

Reading slumps suck. I should know, because I’ve been in plenty of them. When I’m in a reading slump, nothing captures my attention. I can’t get more than 50 pages into a book without tossing it aside. My TBR grows and grows, while all I do is rewatch Lost and Supernatural. 

It’s normal that your brain needs to take a break from reading every once in a while, Reading requires concentration, it’s an active experience rather than a passive one. So don’t feel bad for taking some time away from reading if you need to. But if that doesn’t help to get out of your reading slump, here are some of my all-time favourite tips!

Surround yourself with books
One thing I love to do when I’m in a reading slump: reorganize my bookshelves! I love going through the books that I love, seeing them usually reminds me of a certain time in my life when I was reading that particular book. Going to a bookstore or the library can also help. Sometimes, surrounding myself with books is all I need to get excited about reading again.

Take some time away from the internet
I’m currently reading a book called The Shallows: What The Internet is Doing To Our Brains, and it talks about how the internet has affected our attention span. According to the author of the book, the typical electronic screen is an “ecosystem of interruption technologies”. If you find that you keep checking your phone and you can’t get into your book, maybe it’s a good idea to take a bit of an internet break or leave your phone in another room.

Make better use of your Goodreads
If you love reading as much as I do, there’s a big chance you have a Goodreads account. If you update it regularly, there are all kinds of cool features you can check out. I love the yearly progress stats, where you can see how much you’ve read. There is an extensive giveaway page and tons of interesting lists, like the Best Biographies of English Royalty list, not to mention this amazing cult classics list. And it’s so much fun to add a bunch of interesting books to your TBR!  Continue reading “How to Handle The Dreaded Reading Slump: 7 Tips”

Book reviews

Book Review: They Both Die At The End by Adam Silvera

they both die at the end adam silvera book reviewTitle: They Both Die At The End
Author: Adam Silvera
Pages: 368
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary/magical realism(?)
Publication date: September 5th, 2017
On September 5, a little after midnight, DeathCast calls Mateo Torrez and Rufus Emeterio to give them some bad news: They’re going to die today. Mateo and Rufus are total strangers, but, for different reasons, they’re both looking to make a new friend on their End Day. The good news: There’s an app for that. It’s called the Last Friend, and through it, Rufus and Mateo are about to meet up for one last great adventure—to live a lifetime in a single day.

 

In They Both Die At The End, Adam Silvera reminds us that life cannot exist without death, and love cannot exist without pain.

The book is set in a contemporary New York City in 2017. However: one element is different from this world compared to our own.  The existence of DeathCast, an organisation that figured out when people are going to die and calls them on their ‘End Day’ to let them know.

The story opens with Mateo, that gets the infamous call. Almost instantly you feel sorry for him, because Mateo understandably doesn’t feel like his life is finished, as he’s still a teenager. Mateo doesn’t have much of a social life and downloads the Last Friend app. He gets a few messages from people that are up to no good – I liked that Silvera took the time to explore the sociocultural constructions of society and life around his alternate reality. There were a lot of things available for consumption around the Death-Cast app which made it feel that much more realistic.

Then the story then starts switching POV’s when Rufus comes in the picture. By the way, I haven’t seen many people talk about this but Rufus says a lot of ‘yo’ and ‘we out’ in this book, which I guess is to make him sound more ‘hood’? It felt forced and stereotypical. Mateo and Rufus meet up and start hanging out, knowing that for the both of them, this is their last chance to do what they want, say goodbye to loved ones and tie loose ends together.

“Maybe it’s better to have gotten it right and been happy for one day instead of living a lifetime of wrongs.”

Continue reading “Book Review: They Both Die At The End by Adam Silvera”

Bookish posts · opinion

5 Popular Books I Didn’t Like

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Throughout my reading life, if there’s one thing that I’ve learned, it’s that I often don’t like books that everyone else likes, and I often like books that many people dislike. Of course, it’s impossible to like every book you read, and the fact that I disliked these doesn’t mean that they’re objectively bad. Reading is personal! Here are five popular books that I didn’t like.

cloud atlaas_dislikedCloud Atlas by David Mitchell
David Mitchell’s Cloud Atlas is a really hard book to review; it starts off as a journal around 1850 documenting a voyage home from a faraway island, then it’s a series of letters from a 1930’s British musician, then a the story of a journalist set in 1975, then a publisher (set in today’s time I believe) who is fleeing from gangsters in a movie dramatization, a dystopian future story told from a clone’s perspective and finally a post-apocalyptic future where technology is all whipped out. Does it sound confusing? It kind of makes sense in the book, but I still thought it was super confusing in the end.. My biggest problem with this book is that Mitchell jumped to the next story just as I started to get invested in it, and there is never really a resolution after that. The idea is interesting, the execution done poorly.

The Da Vinci Code (Robert Langdon, #2) By Dan Brownda vinci code_ disliked
Does the Da Vinci Code need an introduction? You know this book, and you know that there are lots of people that didn’t like it. However, it was also crazy popular. What I dislike about this book is that Brown sort of spoon-feeds the reader pseudo-intellectual illuminati crap. Besides that, the characters are weak and the dialogue unnatural. The plot is very similar to Angels & Demons. Also, I don’t think Dan Brown ever heard of the well-known ‘Show, don’t tell’ writing rule.

wrath dislikedThe Wrath And The Dawn (The Wrath And The Dawn, #1) By Renee Ahdieh
This book was huge on booktube a while back. So naturally, I had to read it. The Wrath and the Dawn is a retelling of the classical One Thousand and One Nights tale, and it’s so DULL. When I read a retelling, which I don’t do often, I want it to spike my imagination and add a twist to the original story, so the reader doesn’t get bored. This didn’t do that. It was basically a rehash of the original with a horribly executed love triangle thrown in.

Am I Normal Yet? (The Spinster Club, #1) by Holly Bournenormal yet disliked
Another one I heard of through booktube and bookblogs. I think the biggest fault with this book for me was how the feminism aspect was integrated into the novel – in my opinion it was done very poorly. There are quite a few moments in the book where the main characters lose their individual, distinct voices and go on lengthy feminist rants that did not fit the storyline well. I like a lot of feminist books, so that’s not it, but this was just so preachy and felt forced. Continue reading “5 Popular Books I Didn’t Like”

Bookish posts · Readathons

24 in 48 Readathon: How Did I Do?

24 in 48 readathon wrap up

On Friday, I blogged about the 24 in 48 readathon I was planning to participate in. Since the readathon is over, of course I’m here to update you on how the weekend went!

Saturday January 27th

The readathon started at midnight eastern time on Saturday the 27th, which was 6:00am for me. Of course, the crazy person I am, I set my alarm for 6am to actually start at the same time as everyone else, even though the readathon rules allowed you to participate in your own timezone.

I decided to download this app called Bookout. And oh my GOD, over the weekend I ended up loving this app and even purchased the pro version (which I never do, but since I loved it so much and it’s a lifetime purchase instead of a monthly subscription, I was down). The app allows you to set a manual timer every time you read, and based on the amount of pages you read in that time, it calculates how long it takes you to finish a book. There are also plenty of other really fun stats, and as someone who is obsessed with stats and keeping track of my progress, this is right up my alley.

Around 9:30am, I had read for almost 2.5 hours and I had about 4.5 hours to go of They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera.

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I was doing pretty well! After about 2.5 hours, my concentration is usually gone and I need to take a break, so that’s what I kept doing for most of the day. I finished They Both Die at the End in the afternoon, and gave it three stars (full review coming on the blog this week, stay tuned!)

The thing about readathons for me is that around the 7 hour mark, my brain feels overloaded and I cannot concentrate for longer periods anymore. My mind starts to wander after 20 minutes of reading and I don’t read nearly as fast as I usually do. I don’t really do audiobooks and I don’t like switching too much from one book to another (because I really like immersing myself in one world) so instead I just took frequent breaks. However, I did manage to read a total of 8 hours on Saturday!  Continue reading “24 in 48 Readathon: How Did I Do?”