Archive for Discussion Day

Discussion Day: My dream library

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Discussion Day

So many little (or not so little) girls spend hours dreaming of their wedding. They pick out their favorite dresses, choose the perfect space and plan every last little detail down to the flowers. Not me. What did I spend hours planning as a kid? My dream library!

The Beast's library!

No, not quite like this, though this is AWESOME. (Image belongs to Disney)

To start with, I want to have one whole room dedicated solely to books. I’d probably leave a corner as a reading nook, with a couch or lazy boy, and maybe a desk with a few papers and pens on it, in case I want to make notes while reading. The walls would be lined with shelves, and I might even have a few down the center of the room, depending on how big the room is and how many books I’ve accumulated by then. I’d like to have a window, probably as part of my reading nook. Each of the rest of the walls would then be painted with a “window” looking onto a different fantasy/sci-fi world. So, for example, one might look out of Bag-End onto Bilbo’s birthday party, or out onto Rivendell. Another might be framed by a wardrobe and look onto the lamp-post where Lucy meets Mr. Tumnus. Most importantly, the room would have NO technology in it beyond lights – I distract myself far too easily with internet and computers!

Of course, I have no painting ability, so I would have to hire someone to design and paint the windows. I’ll probably never come up with the money to do it. But a girl can dream, right?

Have you ever thought about what your dream library would be like? What do you want it to be like? Do you have your dream library?

Discussion Day: Do you write in your books?

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Discussion Day

A few weeks ago, a bunch of my college friends and I got together. As often happens, the “party” degenerated into everyone sitting in the same room silently reading. One of my friends sat down with Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (obviously re-reading) and *gasp* pulled out a PENCIL! I was a little bit horrified, I have to admit. When I asked her about it, she told me she has been passing her copies around to all her friends and asking them to re-read and annotate in the margins. Asking them to write in her books! I cringed.

In high school, I was much more tortured by this issue than I am now. I had several teachers who actually required us to highlight passages in our books for English class (Ayn Rand’s Anthem was a particularly horrifying experience for me – we were required to highlight in 4 different colors AND underline passages in ink! *shudders*) While I can understand the reasoning behind the assignment it still makes my skin crawl and my teeth itch. Those marks will now be in that copy FOREVER – what if I screwed up and marked the wrong thing?

As someone who gets most of her books from the library,  I’ve had “No damaging books!” drilled into me for a long time. Even writing in music is difficult if it’s not in pencil (I had one flute teacher who required us to have a set of markers to write on the music with because “it makes you play differently when you see that color, and you’ll notice it better!” I’m sorry, but I’d rather write the name of the color in pencil where it’s supposed to go than scribble illegibly in marker. But that’s just me.) The words or notes on a plain page are a kind of beauty to me, and I worry that my words are defiling that beauty somehow. Plus, what happens when the margins fill up?

The thing I don’t get about myself? I am PERFECTLY OKAY with a small dogear on a page of something I really liked, as long as it’s my own book. This too is defiling the book. Why am I okay with that, but NOT with writing?

I know I’m probably in a minority here. Annotating is a great idea, especially with something you know you’ll read a lot – you can keep track of your changing opinions and remind yourself of your favorite parts. And after all, it is your copy, and you can do with it as you choose. Isn’t that why you bought it in the first place? And yet, with all these reasons for writing in your books, I still can’t bring myself to do it.

Do you write in your books? Do you have pet-peeves about how others treat books?

Discussion Day: Read faster!

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Discussion Day
A while back I came across a discussion post that detailed a way to figure out how many books you’ll read in a lifetime. (Apologies – I no longer remember who originally posted it. If it was you, please let me know, cause I’d love to link you!) The formula was fairly simple:

Average # of books you read per year x (Average life expectancy – your current age) = Total books remaining

I’m not that good at math so I plugged my numbers into a handy-dandy calculator:

15oish x (90ish – almost 24) = approximately 9,900 books!

Wow! That seems like a lot, right? But then I got to thinking about it, and I wasn’t so sure.

Right now, my TBR list on GoodReads is over 600 books. That’s almost 5 years of material right there. Then, add in all the books that I don’t know about yet (plenty!) and all the books that aren’t published or even thought of yet. (Also, I must admit that 150 is a little on the high side. That’s my goal though.) Then consider: in the past year between almost 140 reads (admittedly, probably 20 or so of that re-reads) and the books I added to my TBR list, my net total was up from last year! Suddenly 9,900 doesn’t seem like such a big number – I’m NEVER going to read all the books I want to before I die! Nerd problems, I know, but suddenly I want to drop everything and just spend the rest of my life reading.

My solution? Read faster and live longer! Come on science, I’m counting on you!

How much do you read in a year? How many books do you have left? Does it bother you to think you might never read it all?

Writing reviews is scary!

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Have you ever loved something so much you were afraid to review it? It is pretty rare for me, but sometimes I just can’t make myself do it.

Normally today would be devoted to a Media Monday post. A few weeks ago I borrowed a movie from a friend that I’ve wanted to see for a long time. Knowing I didn’t have a post for today yet, I sat down to watch planning to write a review. 2 hours later, I knew I couldn’t do it. I loved it, and I suppose I could heap praises on it, but I just… can’t.

For one thing, when I love something that much, be it book, movie, song, whatever, it becomes personal. I’ll admit I have a bit of an obsessive streak – when I love something I want to know every little thing about it. The book, or in this case movie, becomes so much a part of my life that I’m almost embarrassed to share my obsession. At the same time I’m worried that others won’t agree with me, and because it has become so personal it would be really difficult to not take it personally if someone didn’t agree with me.

The other problem is that in writing reviews that are balanced, I have to sit down and make a list of things I liked and find some things I didn’t like. I’m pretty good at nit-picking – I was always a better small scale editor than big picture editor anyway. But looking at it in that much detail would ruin the magic. It’s like in that How I Met Your Mother episode about shattered illusions – once you notice something that bothers you, you will never be able to stop noticing it.

So, in short, there won’t be a review today. I need to keep this obsession to myself a little bit longer.

Discussion Day: Recommendations Without Reviews

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Discussion Day

It’s the New Year, which means bloggers everywhere have spent the past few weeks doing something I love. No, not eating too much (though I’m sure they did that too). Not making New Year’s Resolutions, though that’s cool if you’re into that kind of thing. They’re making recommendations without writing reviews! Read more »

Media Monday Discussion: Reruns

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Film Reel

Image borrowed from

This weekend I had the opportunity to go see The Hobbit again. It definitely wasn’t made for two viewings that close together – some of the slower parts had me zoning out and sleepy. But, it was still just as good the second time around, plus since I’d already seen it, I noticed more interesting details –  Kili (the only non-dwarf-looking dwarf) is the only archer and wears what looks suspiciously like an elven cloak, they used more music from the LOTR trilogy than I originally thought etc.

This got me thinking. There are so many ways that things can get better on a second watching, mostly because when you’re less plot-focused you have time to notice so much more. That’s why I can rewatch favorites over and over, trying to catch all the details. But there are some people who can’t stand watching something more than once. Case in point – my father, if he accidentally tapes a rerun of one of his TV shows, will watch just long enough to be sure he really has seen it (a minute or two) and then deletes it, no matter how long it has been and how much he might have forgotten. He loves his TV and movies, he just never wants to see the same thing twice. I’ve never understood that, but I can accept it as a way of life.

But now I’m curious. What makes a person so averse to repeats? Is it boredom? Is it that the ending is already spoiled? Is it just a time issue, or is it actually not fun to watch anymore?

Do you watch reruns of your favorite movies and/or TV shows? If not, why not?

Discussion Day Confessions: I am a Book Bigot

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Discussion Day

Hi, my name is Anne, and I am a Book Bigot. What’s more, I’m incredibly ashamed to admit it.

We’ve all heard the saying “don’t judge a book by its cover” and I do my level best not to (although sometimes I think we should – but that’s a discussion for another day). My personal book prejudice is much deeper than that. I’ve said many times, and proudly, that I’m a genre reader: Sci-fi and Fantasy no matter the intended age group of the audience. Lately, though, I’ve begun to wonder if that isn’t its own kind of prejudice. If I pick up a contemporary, do I enjoy it less because I “know” I don’t like contemps as well? I know I tend not to pick contemps out of a batch – if I bring a contemp home from the library, 9 times out of 10 I end up taking it back before even cracking the cover. Is that really because I don’t want to read it? Or do I not want to read it because I’m prejudiced against its genre?
Read more »

Writing reviews, Corner style

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Discussion day

Here on Creativity’s Corner, I like to do thing my own special ways. (I mean, don’t we all?) I may not have the biggest blog on the block but I love what I do have, because it is so me. I love interacting with all of you, because you’re all such special people and you make me see the world in new ways. But there’s one thing that I don’t particularly like about blogging, and it’s time for me to confess.

I don’t like writing reviews. My mother always told me if I didn’t have anything nice to say, I shouldn’t say anything at all, right? So why do I feel the right to publish any negative opinions? Besides that, I hate making waves. I love discussions, but I don’t want to step on any toes! Add to that the fact that it really takes a lot to make me not like a book and I feel like I’m almost not qualified – everyone says they want a balance of reviews, both positive and negative, but I find it excessively difficult to write a negative review, because I just don’t want to.

Here’s how my review writing generally goes:

  • Finish book and form my opinion (usually one of three: “OMG SO GOOD!”, “meh”, or “well I won’t be reading that again, but it was probably my fault I didn’t like it”)
  • Sit down to write review – set up page, list characters for reminding myself, fiddle w/images etc.
  • Not sure how to start but I’d better… OOOH SHINY! NEW BOOK!
  • Finish second book. I feel guilty for not reviewing first book. So, I give myself a stern talking to before sitting down to write BOTH reviews.
  • I got interrupted. I need portable entertainment for some reason, so I pick out another book, but promise myself that I will write the reviews BEFORE finishing yet another book.
  • Oops. That book was exciting and now I’ve finished it without writing a single review.
  • And repeat ad nauseum until I have so many reviews piled up that I can’t stand to even look at my review notebook because it isJUDGING ME!

It’s an embarrassing and painful process. I’ve tried many methods to get myself out of the vicious cycle. Some of them work for a little while, but they all fail eventually. At this point, I’ve just resigned myself to the fact that I am a procrastinator through and through!

Do you ever have trouble writing reviews? What tricks do you use to make sure you don’t get backed up on reviews?

Discussion day: What’s in a genre?

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Genre word cloud

Image doesn’t belong to me. If it’s yours please let me know!

When I say the word “genre” what comes to mind? There are so many different genres of novel that a specific definition is hard to pin down. Here’s what has to say:

1. A class or category of artistic endeavor having a particular form, content, technique, or the like.
2. Genus; kind; sort; style.
That’s awfully vague. Let’s try wikipedia:
The term for any category of literature or other forms of art or entertainment, e.g. music, whether written or spoken, audial or visual, based on some set of stylistic criteria. Genres are formed by conventions that change over time as new genres are invented and the use of old ones are discontinued. Often, works fit into multiple genres by way of borrowing and recombining these conventions.
That’s better, though still not very specific.. Genres are extremely helpful when picking out what to read next. I know, for example, that I will probably like a Sci-Fi or Fantasy novel over most Mystery or Romance novels. I love that they keep all the books that are similar together in one place and if I ever needed to, I could wander through one specific section to find something I’ll like (not that I’ll EVER need to again, with a TBR list of 500+!)


The problem with genres, as I’m beginning to find out, is the genres are generally so open to interpretation. I know, as readers we like our freedom of choice and expression, and if you want to call a book a certain genre, I’m not gonna argue with you. Subjectively, you as a reader read it that specific way, and that’s fine by me.  But say, for example, you’re at your local library. If it’s anything like mine, they had to decide which genres to separate out. There are 22 different genres on wikipedia’s list of genres and that’s not even counting all of the sub-genres under things like Action, Fantasy, or Science Fiction!


This eliding of genres is definitely necessary – but as a reader, it frustrates me to no end. My library essentially has five sections: Fiction (of which there are a few shelves marked as mystery), Non-fiction, Romance, Sci-fi/Fantasy, and YA. Now, I can understand why they put Sci-fi and Fantasy together. They’re both “speculative” or “imaginative” fiction. That makes sense to me (though why novels like American Gods by Neil Gaiman and Graveminder by Melissa Marr are classifed in the Fiction section makes NO sense). But what I don’t get? Throwing all the YA into one pile. Granted, it’s probably their smallest collection, but it does have it’s own little room that could easily be divided up into small sections. But for some reason the powers-that-be have decided that YA is a genre – everything else is sub-genre. As a genre-specific reader (I’ll read anything Sci-Fi or Fantasy, no matter what age it’s geared to) this industry wide distinction has me itching my teeth in disgust!


There is another facet to the problem, of course. Someone (if you can remember who, MEGA brownie points) once said “There is nothing new on this earth” or something like that. That may be true, but author’s are still trying, and the easiest way to get around that is to combine old things in new ways. I can’t tell you the number of books I’ve read that straddle the line between Sci-fi and Fantasy, or Fantasy and Contemporary. Mixing of sub-genres is even more complicated, and would require a national, or possibly international, committee to decide on. I mean really, who decided that in YA the sub-genre would be Paranormal Romance, while in adult the exact same genre masquerades as Urban Fantasy?!


I honestly don’t have a working solution to this thing either. I can see both sides of the argument. My OCD side hates the fact that we can’t be more specific and uniform in the way we describe our books. The rest of me feels like that kind of system would be FAR too much work for everyone.


What would you suggest to describe genres? Should we be more specific? Less? Is there any one genre that you wish we would pay more attention to?

Discussion Day: Middle Grade

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Flying Books

Image source unknown – feel free to claim if it’s yours.

We all have a pet peeve when it comes to reading. For some, it’s grammar issues. For some it’s certain kinds of characters or certain kinds of plots. For me? It’s the concept of the “Middle Grade Novel.” (Among other things, of course. I’m not a “one pet peeve” kind of person.)

When I was going through Junior High, I was having trouble with my reading. I was born in the wrong time, obviously, because by the time I hit about 10, my reading ability was far beyond the books that were appropriate for my age. I might have stopped reading altogether if it weren’t for Harry Potter coming out that year, and for the lucky find of a few adult authors who wrote “clean” novels. At the time, there weren’t that many “middle grade” novels, and my reading was suffering because of it. I struggled through adult lit, and if there were a few concepts I didn’t understand, and some innuendos I completely missed, well, I don’t seem to have suffered for it.

Young readers these days are very lucky. In the wake of Harry Potter there was a flood of new novels, all geared toward that age group. MG and YA both got their start from that trend, and I think it’s great. We need to have books that will keep tweens interested in reading. My problem? A lot of times authors resort to simplifying a book to make it MG. That seriously rubs me the wrong way.

Just this morning, Beth Revis posted this discussing the difference between MG and YA in plot. She goes into a lot more detail, but the big difference she points out is MG is about discovering the world, while YA does more with discovering yourself. I’m okay with that description, though I’m not sure it applies in all cases. I’m even okay with making that distinction between audiences – an MG audience is more likely to be dealing with the “discovering the world” phase, while YA audiences are more likely to relate to inner turmoil. And I can say without doubt that I like both kinds of stories – let’s face it, my favorite genres (fantasy and sci-fi) are all about discovering new worlds! So why am I able to say that I dislike MG, in general?

I would argue that the root of the problem is that authors, or possibly their editors, believe that for an MG novel to fly with their audiences, they must simplify it. I can understand why they think that – there are so many other things shouting for our attention it’s easy to get distracted. But I also think that if a tween or teen is picking up a book in the first place, they’re saying they’re willing to give it a shot. Maybe I’m alone in this, but when I was reading at that age, if I didn’t understand something, I used context clues, or figured if it was really important it’d get explained later on (if it didn’t, I’d usually forget about it anyway). Looking back, this was how I learned many things in those years. I still use books as an opportunity to learn about things I don’t know. But, if the challenge to learn these things isn’t there, if the books are too easy, then what message are we sending the kids reading them?

That’s not to say I don’t have my favorite MG novels that I return to time and again. Harry Potter is the obvious series, though later it becomes more YA. The Faerie Wars by Herbie Brennan and The Neverending Story by Michael Ende are two others that I reread on a regular basis. In fact, on a recent revisit of The Faerie Wars I discovered a mention of the TARDIS (a reference to Doctor Who) that I never would have understood at the time – I only discovered Doctor Who a few years ago. I loved finding that little tidbit, but obviously my reading the first time around didn’t suffer from not understanding something.

I know I don’t have much say in the matter, but I would hope that there are some authors out there who can believe in their audience. I don’t mind having some MG novels that are easier – everyone develops at different speeds, and some tweens wouldn’t be ready for a challenge. But for the ones that are (and for those of us who still like to discover the world) can we please have something a little more complex? 10-year-old me is still cringing inside at the idea of being talked-down-to!

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