“Tyler gets me a job as a waiter,

after that Tyler’s pushing a gun in my mouth and saying, the first step to eternal life is you have to die.”

(Fight Club, Chuck Palahniuk)

Ah. Ahhhh. Ahhhhhh. 

I didn’t know if I would like Fight Club until I opened the first page and read the first line. And then I was like ‘okay, I’m going to like Fight Club.’ And I did. A lot. I’ve been reading mainly YA contemporary and YA sci-fi lately so this was a nice break from that.

Fight Club (the book and the movie) has definitely become something of a cult classic, and I already knew a little bit about the book because of idle chatter I’d caught wind of here and there. I already knew, as most people do, about *SPOILER* *SPOILER* *SPOILER* Tyler being the narrator himself. Knowing this beforehand was both a disappointment for me and an intriguing way to read the book the first time around. On one hand, if I hadn’t known about Tyler than the ending would come as a huge plot twist that would probably make me rant and rave and freak out on this blog…or, I would have figured it out on my own, which would also have been nice. Reading it with the pre-won knowledge I picked up on a lot of foreshadowing–and I’m curious to know whether I would have picked up on it if I hadn’t known what to look for. It kind of makes me want to have a device that can erase a book from your mind so that you can read it with a blank slate. (I would call it the Page Turner, and I would have so much fun re-reading the Harry Potter books for the hundredth time).

However, I think knowing the end beforehand also helped me focus more on certain details that I would have maybe glossed over if I hadn’t been searching for them. And that great first line (oh the contrast! oh the excitement! oh the intrigue!) was given another layer of awesomeness knowing the whole Tyler/narrator thing. Plus, while the plot twist was a major one, it didn’t make me any less interested in the rest of the book. If anything, it made me more interested.

I guess what I’m getting at (if I’m getting at anything) is that knowing a book’s major spoilers doesn’t have to be a bad thing. Of course, I love running into plot twists that I didn’t see coming, but I should have seen coming. It’s one of the greatest feelings in the world.

How do you feel when you hear a spoiler about a book you’ve been meaning to read? Would it discourage you from reading said book? Let me know in the comments below!

Alsoooo, if anyone has any great YA recommendations, would you let me know? I just finished Cress in the Lunar Chronicles and the next one doesn’t come out until November and it’s making me really sad.

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Why? Whyyy? WHY? (Basically, me whining)

Cinder

 

Look at it. Look at it. 

Pardon my use of bold and italics, but I’m in a state of extreme over dramatics right now, wherein everything I say and do is five times more hyped up than it needs to be. But, even acknowledging that…IT’S JUST NOT FAIR.

This is the third time I’ve checked, in the second local bookstore I’ve gone to, for Cress, the third book in the Lunar Chronicles series, and it’s never there. I just want to know what happens. Please. Please, world, you can’t leave me hanging like this. You have one copy of Cinder left. You have several copies of Scarlet. But never, ever any copies of Cress. 

And yes, I could be proactive and say, go to another bookstore that is known for having a wider selection of books. Or, I could, say, order it online. Maybe I could stop writing this blog post and just go to the bookstore online and reserve a copy, waiting the necessary seven days or so for it to come in.

Maybe.

But the truth is, I’m just too lazy. I’ll walk every day to the bookstore looking idly for a copy of Cress, but I won’t take the three minutes it would take to reserve my own copy online. Why is this? Honestly, I’m not sure.

One theory of mine is that since I just *have* to keep checking the bookstore, I get to keep *accidentally* buying replacement books. Seriously. In the quest for Cress, I’ve found myself with Fangirl, The Secret History, Throne of Glass, We Were Liars, Sharp Objects, and Mockingjay. Guys, this is bordering on a problem. I think a big component of it is that right now, I don’t have a library card, because I’m in the process of finding a new library. In the resulting book famine, I just can’t control myself.  It’s like I’m Becky from Confessions of a Shopaholic, and I’m filling my head with these awful delusions that if I just keep looking for one book, then the rest of the books I’m buying aren’t actually real. But my wallet says they are real. Oh so wonderfully, terribly, beautifully, achingly real. I know this, and yet I still find myself wondering into the bookstore much more often than I can afford. I guess love really is blinding.

But not literally blinding, you know, otherwise I wouldn’t really need to buy all of those books.

Anyways, at risk of rambling (and I know that I do too much of that as it is–I try to edit my posts down to spare you guys!), let me end this post with a question.

Do you find yourself buying books beyond the point of reason? What do you do to quell the urge to buy, read, buy, and read some more? Or do you just give into bookish lust with the reasoning that skipping dinner every night is just that worth it? 

 

 

The Hype, the Hope, and the Hesitation: On Reading Massively Popular Books

Book blogs raved about it, it was on the forefront of so many Top 10 lists, and even my friends were encouraging me to read it. And because I had ten dollars to spend and Attachments by Rainbow Rowell was sold out, I caved. I finally bought the book Cinder.

Cinder

And I then finished Cinder. On the same day, at that. It was that good. I enjoyed it so much more than I thought I would. Don’t get me wrong–I love fairy tale retellings, and this one was definitely one of the more unique ones, but I just never really cared for the story of Cinderella.  (Never mind that Just Ella, another Cinderella retelling, is one of my favorite books. I read it in middle school because it was one of the only on my teacher’s bookshelf that I hadn’t finished.)

So while everyone went on and on about Cinder, I was busy with books like The Sisters Grimm, and the Looking Glass Wars. (Both fab.) And then people kept talking about Cinder, and I began to feel so jealous because what was I missing out on? What if the book really is great? And turns out, it was. Cinder was a spectacular twist on the original boring, slightly drippy tale of Cinderella and I loved it and if I had another ten dollars I’d buy the second book now, too. But after I finished Cinder and realized that the hype surrounding it had been hyping it for a reason, I began thinking about the nature of book-hype, and how it affects different readers. Because while I usually am more compelled to buy a book when everyone is talking about it, I’ve noticed many bloggers write that they are reluctant to read books because of the hype. And I can kind of see where they’re coming from. When everybody is raving about a particular book, the standards are impossible high, which often leads to disappointment. But the curiosity to find out what everybody is talking about always convinces me to buy the book, and in truth, I’ve found some of my favorite books by just going with the flow. Of course, just like anybody else, I’ve been let down by a book that so many people love, and I think that, in a way, that’s a really cool thing about books. That what a hundred people choose as their favorite book could be a letdown for one person, and that one person’s favorite book could spark nothing but antipathy in a hundred people. Books are all subjective; they mean something different and strike a new chord in every person they meet. They are like music for the eyes.

In any case, I digress. Because I was thinking about books and the hype that surrounds them, I found myself wondering what books I read because of the hype, and whether or not I think they deserved the hype. I also started thinking of books that deserved more hype. So I decided to tell you my personal example of each. Feel free to leave your own experiences in the comments!

 A book that you read because of the hype: Cinder, of course! As I said earlier, the only reason I read the futuristic retelling of Cinderella was because everybody was going glowy over it.

A book that you declined to read despite/because of the hype: Well, I don’t really choose not to read books that everyone else loves. Usually, hype makes me excited. But a book that I didn’t read that has a lot of hype would be the Maze Runner by James Dashner. (Whoah. Just noticed that the guy whose most famous book is the Maze Runner has a last name that includes the word Dash. Just whoah.) I probably will eventually, though. It’s just not that important to me.

A book that deserves the hype: Hmm. This is hard. Because a lot of books deserve the hype. But the one I’m thinking about right now would be the City of Bones. I started this series years ago, when it was still popular but not insanely, movie-out popular like it is today. But, like I said, it was popular and as I read it I remember thinking ‘well, no wonder.’

A book that disappointed: The Girl in the Steel Corset by Kady Cross. It seems like so many people were giddy about this book, but to me the best part was the cover. Finley had two different personalities, and I didn’t care about either one.

And finally:

A book that deserves more hype: Heir Apparent by Vivian Vande Velde. I absolutely loved this book when I was in middle school. It takes place almost exclusively in a virtual reality world where the heroine has become trapped, and follows her attempts at escape through the only means possible: winning the game.  The writing was witty, the main character was likable, and there was a dragon! Despite all this, I don’t think it was ever super popular, although it has a strong Goodreads score. So, yes, you should check it out.

So, my questions to you: Does the hype surrounding a book affect the likelihood that you’ll read it? If so, does it influence you in a positive way, or a negative way? Also, what books deserve the hype, and which ones don’t? Let me know in the comments, below! 

‹Oh, wow. Just realized this was my 42nd post. I shall take this time to pay homage to Douglas Adams and the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.

 

The Jane Eyre Complex

 

 

The Jane Eyre Complex: Or, books that aren’t afraid to have average looking main characters. 

Ugly Main Characters

So lately I’ve been reading a lot of those books where the lead female thinks nothing of her appearance, but everyone else is quick to describe her as “like, ohmygosh, one of the most beautiful creatures that has ever graced the planet, in all time, ever, wow,” while the lead male is the kind of guy that causes heart problems, he’s so hot. Now before I start, let me say this: I don’t have a problem with pretty protagonists. I don’t.

I don’t even have problems with gorgeous characters. Although it’s weird, I actually like when the main character is attractive, because for whatever length of time that I’m reading the book, I am the main character, and I feel the pain, pride, and other emotions of that character. Being sort of shallow, I like feeling desirable and appealing, and I can certainly see why so many authors write beautiful characters. I do. There’s nothing wrong with a character being pretty.

That said, I wish there were more less-than-idealized protagonists out there. Because just like every book is different, and every protagonist is different, shouldn’t their be some diversity in appearance? It’s so refreshing to find a main character that has frizzy hair and a crooked nose, especially in the YA fantasy world. Especially, especially in the werewolf-vampire-witch-o-sphere. I have a whole shelf of YA paranormal books, and although I scanned it twice over for this post, I could not find a single one where the leading lady or leading lad was a bit below average. I’m not talking Hunch Back of Notre Dame or Phantom of the Opera here. I’m just talking chubby cheeks, knobby elbows, or an outcropping of zits. Things that we have all experienced at one point or another.

YA Paranormal  (what is going on here?!)

Now, I know that these books aren’t meant to be reality. Books are fiction for a reason, yada yada. But with all the books out there, you’d think there be at least a few shelves of books that have gals and guys dealing with appearance issues. I don’t know if I’m searching the wrong library, but in my reading, I’ve really only encountered a handful. But I’ll stop myself there. The point of this post is not to question why there are so many beautiful characters in novels. It’s to take a look at the ones who don’t (in all genres), and give them a shout out for being the diverse, beautiful er, great, books that they are.

  •  Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

It would be a shame not to start with Jane Eyre. Because to me, she represents the original ugly but absolutely fierce protagonist. Jane Eyre is one of my all time favorite novels, and Ms. Eyre proves that you don’t have to be beautiful to be a role model. She ends up with the money, the guy, and her morals, even though she started out with nothing. It’s so refreshing to read Jane Eyre. Jane knows she’s not beautiful, and she accepts it without complaint. She has been dealt her hand of cards and she never once loses her hope or her values. Go Jane! (Also, Mr. Rochester is ugly as well, but he makes my Top 10 list of Fictional Guys ever, so make of that what you will.)

  • The Summoning by Kelley Armstrong 

The first book in the Darkest Powers series, I commend the Summoning as having a male romantic interest who does not have a “panty-dropping smile” or a beautiful, exotic strangeness about him. Derek is described as having greasy hair, body odor, and a legion of other unappealing traits. He’s also cold and gruff, but still manages to be the guy you end up rooting for. Derek proves that you don’t have to be hot to get the girl.

  • Bridget Jones’s Diary by Helen Fielding 

Bridget is a thirty something singleton whose book actually revolves around her flaws. She’s overweight, and is convinced that by dropping just a few more pounds she’ll achieve self actualization. I love this book, and I love Bridget Jones. She is the woman in us all. The one who is convinced that by changing your appearance, you can somehow change your self. Going on Bridget Jones’s journey is not only hilarious, it helps you appreciate yourself, and realize that maybe, just maybe, losing that five pounds isn’t the answer to the universe.*

  • The Princess Diaries by Meg Cabot 

Another series on my favorite’s list. (Hmm…I’m noticing a pattern.) Although Mia may be a princess, she’s still going through the awkward stage of growing into herself and her imperfections. Her hair is shaped like a triangle, she bites her nails, and she sees herself as freakishly tall. No, Mia is definitely not perfect, but that makes her even more endearing, more relatable, and more awesome. Cabot is really good at giving her characters flaws. Another one of her books, Airhead, takes a plain character and transplants her mind into the body of a supermodel. It examines how differently people treat you when you’re beautiful, and is a fun book for when you’re in the need of a relaxing read.

  • Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister by Gregory Maguire 

Although I’m only halfway through this book, I put it on here because the main character, Iris, is, indeed, ugly. And two, because there were so little books with plain characters that I couldn’t find anymore, and thought five was a much more satisfactory number than four. 🙂 In any case, Maguire is known for writing about characters that don’t fit the pretty mold, such as our friend Elphie from Wicked. For writing not one, but two books with homely characters, he and his books deserve to be put on this list. I love how Maguire really digs deep into the old tales that say ugliness is synonyms with being evil, and uncovers the gritty truth.

So, tell me: what do you think? Do you think there should be more average looking people on our reading lists, or do you think we have enough already? And if it’s the latter, please drop off some suggestions! I love hearing from you all.

*No, that would be 42.