Book Stats for 2016

I love bookish statistics, and what they reveal about people’s reading habits. I enjoy it when I come across them on other blogs (for example on Magic of Books), so even though I didn’t read a huge number of books in 2016 compared to other people I know, I thought it might still be fun to see what the stats on the humble selection I did read look like… and to satisfy my nerdy appreciation for graphs and charts. Continue reading

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How I Decide to Read a Book

Last week I listed the ways a book can get my attention. I looked at how things like awards, recommendations and online lists can help a novel to stand out from the crowd for me. However, once a book has my attention, it usually still needs to jump a few extra hurdles before it becomes something I want to buy and read.

So this week I thought I’d analyse all the little factors that come into play when I’m investigating a book to see if it’ll go onto the “to-read” list, or even straight into the shopping basket.  Continue reading

Why You Should Join Goodreads

Okay, so I’ll get it out there first off: I love Goodreads. I am a Goodreads fangirl. Excepting perhaps Facebook, Goodreads is my favourite social media network. Like so many book-related things these days, it is owned by Amazon (sigh)… but I overlook that because it has instigated such a positive change in my reading life and behaviour.

If you’ve never tried it, and one (or all) of the below statements applies to you, there’s a good chance you’d enjoy using it too: Continue reading

How Many Pages Do You Read Before Giving Up On a Book?

Anyone who reads regularly will be familiar with that feeling of struggling through the first pages or chapters of a book, pushing on because you’re waiting to see if it will get interesting. At some point the book either gets better and grabs your interest, or it doesn’t. If it doesn’t, you have two options:

1) force yourself to read a whole book you’re not enjoying, or
2) give up and start a different book.

Believe it or not, when I was younger I always selected option 1. Continue reading

Growing up with Harry: What It Was like to Be a Teen During the Potter Craze

When I was 12 years old, my godfather gifted me a book. It looked terribly uninteresting. The title – Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone – evoked memories of Oliver Twist, a story I had never much liked. The cover – a black and white photo of a steam train – looked even drearier. I imagined it would be an autobiography of a poor English boy living near train tracks, or on a train. Boring.

Despite my godfather’s assurances it was “becoming quite popular in Europe” and that his children had liked it, I resolved not to read it. Continue reading

Fantasy and Optimism: What’s the Use of a Happy Ending?

For me, happy endings have always been one of the biggest draw cards of fantasy fiction. However, I didn’t really place any significance on them till I was listening to a TED talk about gaming.

In this TED talk, game designer and researcher Jane McGonigal discusses the countless hours that are invested by humanity worldwide in playing video games every week.  Continue reading

Are The Most Popular Fantasy Books The Best Fantasy Books?

Image: Popular Fantasy Novels

A month or so ago while trawling through Facebook I came across a Buzzfeed article titled The 51 Best Fantasy Series Ever Written. The image, for maximum click-enticing effect, was additionally headlined “The 51 Fantasy Series You Need to Read Before You Die”.

And yes, like the lemming I am, I clicked on it. Continue reading

How Much Plausibility Would You Like With That?

I recently saw The Martian at the cinema, after having thoroughly enjoyed the book. For me, the film didn’t disappoint, and afterwards I was eager to discuss it with friends. And of course, amidst the discussions of what was and wasn’t the same as in the book, and what we liked and didn’t like, came a topic that always arises when discussing a science fiction book or film these days: plausibility.  Continue reading

Reading Classic Fantasy and Science Fiction Novels

As a teenager, hearing the word “classic” coupled with the word “book” was enough to make me suspicious. “Classics” were the books I got forced to read in school. They were the books everyone told me I simply must read, the books I thought would surely be great… until I found myself struggling through an archaic tome that was neither interesting nor inspiring. Even more daunting was the fact that this canon of old, famous and important books was seemingly endless. I felt like I might be in the grave before I finished them all. Continue reading

Science Fiction and the Joy of Discovering Something New

Ever since I was a kid, I’ve loved reading fantasy novels. I can read and enjoy books outside of the genre, but it’s always been much harder for me to love a book – to become completely engrossed – if it’s not fantasy (that said, I recently read The Help, and it turned out to be one of the exceptions to the rule). Sure, I’ve dabbled in a few other genres, but fantasy is where my heart has always been.

Up until a couple of years ago, however, the spread of other genres I’d sampled had a glaring omission. Continue reading