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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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 · opinion

Discussion: When Diverse Characters Are Only Defined by Their Diversity

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Diverse books are important. Reading diverse is important. Representing all human beings is important.

And I feel many books are getting better at being diverse, especially in the YA genre. Finally, because I can’t really phantom why a lot of books struggle to represent minorities. When I go about my day, I see and speak so many different kinds of people, but lot of books still don’t reflect that. And they should! Let’s talk about all the different human beings. Make your books relatable and don’t be scared to talk about taboo-topics. (Because, you know, that’s how they become less taboo). 

And like I said, while we are definitely not where we’re supposed to be yet, diversity is becoming a bit more prominent. Progress! But there is something that bothers me about a lot of diverse books being published right now.

A lot of diverse characters are defined by their diversity. 

And I also want to read books where diversity is a part of the character, but it’s not the entire character. I want books like: ”Oh yes, this is my best friend Tim, he is bipolar. But hey we are going to save the world now.”

I feel like most books that represent diversity are all about the diverse aspect: “And this is a story about a blind girl and how goes about her life” etc. Continue reading “Discussion: When Diverse Characters Are Only Defined by Their Diversity”

opinion · personal

The Old Taylor Swift is Dead: a Track by Track Review of ‘reputation’

First things first: I’m a huge Taylor Swift fan. Ever since I heard her song Teardrops on my Guitar somewhere on Myspace in 2006, I was sold. Her dreamy and personal lyrics about heartbreak and young love were relatable for me at that time. But as Taylor grew up, so did I. Her debut album  Taylor Swift (2006) and Fearless (2008) will always have a special place in my heart, but I don’t relate to the lyrics in the same was as I did back then.

If you listen to Speak now (2010) and Red (2012) you can hear Taylor Swift grow up through her music. 1989 (2014) – her first official pop album –  felt like the conclusion of that. In a way, I grew up with Taylor Swift. As I matured, so did she. Of course, her well-curated public image refrained her from singing about certain subjects explicitly, and I think with reputation (2017) she’s finally letting that go. It’s like that with this album she’s saying ‘‘well, everyone already knows what kind of a sneaky snake I can be, better embrace it.”

So without further ado, here is my track my track review (and favorite lyrics of each song!) of reputation.

…Ready for it?

This song actually came out a few weeks before the album as one of the promo tracks. It was one that I immediately liked. I think the heavy bass that the song starts out with are a really good introduction of what the album is going to be like. It also introduces a metaphor you will hear throughout the rest of the album. It’s very Crime & Punishment. Favorite lyrics: he can be my jailor / burton to this Taylor. 

End Game (ft. Ed Sheeran & Future)

When I saw this was on the track list before the album came out I got excited and scared at the same time. This track was either gonna be good or an absolute mess. It ended up being pretty damn good. I could do without Future’s part, mostly because I feel he’s super toned down in this song, but I really enjoy Taylor and Ed’s parts. When (and if) this is released as a single, I think it’ll be really successful just through momentum alone.  Favourite lyrics: I hit you like bang / we tried to forget it / but we just couldn’t / And I bury hatchets / but I keep maps of where I put ’em / reputation precedes me / they told you I’m crazy / I swear I don’t love the drama / it loves me.  Continue reading “The Old Taylor Swift is Dead: a Track by Track Review of ‘reputation’”

opinion · personal

The Old Taylor Swift Is Dead: Writing A New Narrative

I was actually going to blog about something else today, but I can’t wrap my mind about anything but Taylor Swift right now So here I am.

Because Taylor Swift, an artist I’ve been a fan of since 2007, has just released a new single.

Look What You Made Me Do & its interpretation

Look What You Made Me Do is the introductory track to Taylor’s new upcoming album reputation (small R, according to her official website). The song is darker and more vindictive than anything she’s ever done before. Taylor Swift is an artist with very distinct ‘era’s’ – with a new era starting whenever she releases new music, every two years or so. From 2006 till now, long-time fans will be able to tell when a certain song was released or a picture was taken based on her music style and fashion choices.

Since it’s release just a few hours ago, everyone left and right has accused Taylor of releasing yet another victim song. This is something I personally disagree with, at least to a certain extent. The lyrics are something I read as hyperbole, not only meant to reshape the narrative around Taylor, but also to create buzz around the album. Lyrics like ”I don’t like your kingdom keys / they once belonged to me” and ”All I think about is karma / Maybe I got mine, but you got all yours” Tell me there’s a certain type of self-awareness in this song, disguised by anger and frustration. Not to mention ”I don’t trust nobody and nobody trusts me”, letting us know that she’s aware of her own portrayal in the media, mistakes she’s made in the past and how it has affected her and how people view her persona.

With the song, Taylor is pointing out her own imperfections. It shows that she’s petty and holds grudges, that she never forgets or lets go. She’s not presenting herself as a hero here, she’s presenting herself as a master manipulator ready to attack. And that’s not a flattering portrait.  Continue reading “The Old Taylor Swift Is Dead: Writing A New Narrative”

Books · opinion · Self-development

The Truth About ‘The Secret’ (The Most Terrible Self-Help Book I Have Ever Read)

I hate The Secret. There. I said it. Can’t go back now.

I know I’m a self-help blogger, and this book is like a bible to those who like to consume self-help content, but I hate it. It’s a godawful book and I feel like I need to tell you why.

I feel like every generation has it’s own self-help book, at least in the past century. In 1936, Napoleon Hill did it first with Think And Grow Rich. Hill was also a fraud by the way, which shouldn’t be all that surprising. This is a really interesting 20,000 word longread I recommend. Twenty years later, The Power of Positive Thinking was all the rage, written by the guy who was also Donald Trump’s pastor when he was a child. Which is just a weird fun fact I wanted to share.

And for our generation, it’s Rhonda Byrne’s The Secret, a short book that describes the so-called ‘law of attraction’. A philosophical concept that basically comes down to this: if you want to attract positive things, you need to think positive thoughts.

Each of those self-help books, from Napoleon Hill to Rhona Byrne and many books that were published in between, focus on the same ideas, each tailored for its own generation. Think and Grow Rich was released in the time of the Great Depression, and mostly focused on making money. ‘The Secret’, launched in the age of social media and the smartphone, reads very self-centered. It’s full of questionable advice, superstitious bullshit and entitlement. I believe that anyone who reads this and applies the advice given will be off worse in the end. But first, let me explain the main points in the book, so you don’t have to read it and instead, can read something that’s actually worth your time.

What’s ‘The Secret’ anyways?

The book is simply a rehash of ‘The Law of Attraction’: the belief that whatever consumes your thoughts will be what you end up getting in life. So if you only focus on the things you don’t want, you will only get those things. And if you focus on the things you do want – a nice house, lots of money, happiness, a good job – you will get those things.

“Thoughts are magnetic, and thoughts have a frequency. As you think thoughts, they are sent out into the Universe, and they magnetically attract all like things that are on the same frequency. Everything sent out returns to the source – you.” ― Rhonda Byrne, The Secret

There aren’t many self-help books that bother explaining why the law of attraction works, but Byrne gives some half-ass explanation about the universe and how it’s made up of energy and that all energy has a frequency. Your thoughts also emit a certain frequency, and therefore the frequency of your thoughts will resonate with the frequency of other energies. Or something like that. It sounds just as weird as it is.  Continue reading “The Truth About ‘The Secret’ (The Most Terrible Self-Help Book I Have Ever Read)”

opinion · personal

Some Thoughts: Inauguration Day

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I wasn’t planning on posting this. I actually wasn’t planning on writing this in the first place. But hey, this is my blog and I can post what I want.

I actually wanted to post a blog about jealousy today, but I will keep that for later. It didn’t feel right.

The funny thing is, I was actually planning on completely ignoring this inauguration and pretend it was a totally normal Friday. But this morning, as I was scrolling through my Twitter feed all I could think about is the future of this country, the future of its people and of course my own future.

I’m not gonna lie, I’m pretty terrified, and many people are with me. But I don’t want anyone to think that this fight has been fought, and that we’ve lost. We are not bowing down to a king or dictator, the president is just an employee on a temporary job. 

We’re gonna have to hold our breath a lot in the next four years, and it’s not going to be easy for any of us. If you’re queer, a person of color or anyone else that isn’t what is considered the default in this country, I want you to know that there are people that care about you and that will fight for you. I still have hope, and I need you to have hope too.