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Just One Little Blue Happily Ever After (and an apology)

Although I generally try to avoid apologizing for lack of blogging – well, I’ve been negligent enough of this blog for long enough that I feel I truly should apologize. It has certainly not been a lack of book endeavors in my life over the past six months, but quite the opposite. Library school, for me, turns out to be one of those experiences that is simultaneously one-hundred percent exhilarating and one-hundred percent draining. I’ve gotten a chance to read and discuss young adult books, my favorite, as well as get an intro into adult books. And to meet so many people who love talking about them as much or even more than I do! It’s like being in a competitive food eating contest for your absolute favorite food, with your friends also entered; it’s fantastic at first, but after awhile it can be a bit grueling to always be eating the same food with the same people, no matter how much you love it and them.

So where does that leave Book Endeavors? As summer begins, I hope I’ll have more time to post. But I can’t to commit to a regular schedule. And then there’s the question of whether or not I should continue. If I’m already spending so much time talking and thinking about books and library services, do I need another outlet to write about it? Especially since in my capacity as the webmaster for our youth services library group, I feel that any blog posts about books should go there first. A part of me wants to simply start a personal blog instead. With so many of my friends and family far away, it’s hard to stay continuously in touch with as many people as I’d like. Maybe, just maybe, it’d be worth it to start a blog solely for documenting my thoughts and adventures as frequently or infrequently as I please.

Speaking of adventures, I have a big one coming up. In my library program, there’s an option to take one of my core requirements as a course abroad in Copenhagen for four weeks. They actually would like the students enrolled to blog and/or make videos about our experiences. So there will undoubtedly be those at some point. More importantly, at this moment, is the whole reason why I was reminded of my long-abandoned blog in the first place. I will have a twenty-four hour layover in Paris on my trip over. This immediately made me think about Gayle Forman’s Just One Day (which I talk about here), in which Allyson spends a single day exploring Paris in the company of aspiring Dutch actor Willem. Honestly, this was the first thing I thought of when I booked my flight.

But just now I remembered the upcoming release of Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins. It is the third in a set of companion novels, which also happens to be set in Paris (at an international school, I believe). As the first two books were great, I’m more than excited for this one. I looked up the release date, and when is it? The very same day my flight leaves. Then I got the idea – what if I bought a copy of the book, read it on the plane, and then took a picture with it in Paris? Which of course reminded me of Just One Day, and made me wonder if I should do the same thing with that book.

But being raised on fairy tales, it seems like a weird thing to do in sets of two; three is the magical number, after all. I considered for a second, and came up with Maureen Johnson’s 13 Little Blue Envelopes. Although 13 Little Blue Envelopes does not take place mostly in Paris, several scenes occur there. Besides, it also takes on larger aspects of traveling in Europe and includes Copenhagen as well. Not to mention that the protagonist is forced to travel with only a monstrously huge backpack, which may well be what I must use for convenience.

I haven’t decided on details yet, but that’s the idea for what I’ve decided to call my Just One Little Blue Happily Ever After project. Stay tuned to find out whether this blog has only been temporarily or permanently abandoned, if it shall be made-over into a personal and/or travel blog, or what comes of Project Just One Little Blue Happily Ever After). Only time will tell (or we could make it like American Idol and you could vote on the fate of my blog using a special toll-free number… it’s up to you).

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Road Trip Down Memory Lane

This isn’t a full post as much as it is a few quick updates about what I’ve been/will be up to. I’ll be participating again this month in the discussion over at Tumblr’s Reblog Book Club for Laurie Halse Anderson’s new book, The Impossible Knife of Memory, so I’ll probably be cross-posting some of my thoughts on that in the upcoming weeks.

In other news, some six months later, I’ve finally put together a video of  the cross-country trip my mom, sisters, and I made this summer. This is totally unbook-related, but it’s one of my creative projects I wanted to share, so here it is.

And because this wouldn’t be BookEndeavors without at least SOME books, I just want to give a shout-out to a few of my favorite books that include road trips (but aren’t necessarily road trip books).

1. Jellicoe Road, by Melina Marchetta – Now this, might not strike most people as a road trip book. Almost the entire story takes place at a state boarding school in rural Australia. But the book starts with a road trip, and it ends with one.

It happened on the Jellicoe Road. The prettiest road I’d ever seen, where trees made breezy canopies like a tunnel to Shangri-La. We were going to the ocean, hundreds of miles away, because I wanted to see the ocean and my father said that it was about time the four of us made that journey. I remember asking, ‘What’s the difference between a trip and a journey?’ and my father said, ‘Narnie, my love, when we get there, you’ll understand,’ and that was the last thing he ever said.”

2. The Key to the Golden Firebird, by Maureen Johnson – Again, not strictly a road trip book. But that’s perhaps the scene in the book that truly draws all three of the sisters in the novel back together, gives them a chance to be giddy and honest and unabashedly weird. Plus the book revolves around a car, so there’s that. I wrote a full review for this book a while back, which can be found here.

The funny thing about stop signs is that they’re also start signs.

3. Saving June, by Hannah Harrington – Now, this one is a true road trip book. After her sister June’s suicide, Harper and her best friend take off to visit California, the place Harper knew her sister always dreamed of going. I’ve always enjoyed books about grief after the death of a loved one. Maybe it’s my way of preparing for the worst; or maybe it’s that in those books, the protagonists are usually already near rock bottom at the book’s outset, so I don’t feel like I spend half the book waiting for the other shoe to drop. At any rate, I thought this book had it all – justified angst, character development, plot, and of, course the kind of music necessary for any road trip, fictional or otherwise.

Some people think that a place can save them… Like if they could just be somewhere else, their lives would be totally different. They could finally be the people they always wanted to be. But to me, a place is just a place. If you really want things to change, you can make them change no matter where you are.

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It Was the Best of Puns (It Was the Worst of Puns)

I was lucky enough to be able to fly home for Christmas this year. Although Halloween might be my favorite holiday, Christmas is the one I personally find hardest to spend without family. Especially considering that my sister will soon be heading to Italy for a semester, I wanted a chance to see her before her globetrotting adventure in fabulousness began. Even better, despite living in the age of Facebook and many of my friends and extended family members knowing I was heading home, I still managed to surprise my sister! And best of all, I got a chance to catch up with a friend from my own semester abroad in Istanbul.

A picture of my friend, Irene, and I, taken right before she had to leave.

A picture of my friend, Irene, and I, taken right before she had to leave.

Although I’ve read many lovely books lately, such as Rick Riordan’s Heroes of Olympus series, I’m not feeling compelled to review any of them. Maybe I’ve read too many books lately to dedicate a full post to a single one. Instead, my visit home got me thinking on a smaller kind of story: the pun. After all, aside from a fondness for crossword puzzles and the need for multiple road tests, I’ve also inherited my dad’s weakness for puns. If we were Superman, puns would be our kryptonite; we can’t help but fall for any set-up, no matter how good, bad, or ugly.

So what? You might be asking yourself.* Who cares if you enjoy a second-rate form of humor? But I think the pun is a seriously underrated art form (or should I say punderrated?). To quote one of my favorite books of the year, Gayle Forman’s Just One Year, “I’ve since come to understand that the universe operates on the same general equilibrium theory as markets.It never gives you something without making you pay for it somehow.” Though I don’t necessarily agree with the quote on the whole, I think it can be applied to humor. There is no such thing as a buttless joke.

And of course, puns are no exception. People make puns using people’s names or incorporate slurs. But my favorite kind of puns make language itself the true butt of the joke. They function solely on homophones and assonance (and probably some other literary devices). And after all, what’s a butt without a little assonance?** I’m sure Cyndi Lauper would agree with me. Girls just wanna have puns, oh-oh girls just wanna have puns. Okay, I’ll stop now. Maybe.

Found this image here, though I’m not sure who originally came up with the idea. But if Libba Bray wrote it, would that make it A Great and Tearable Beauty?

And since you can take the girl out of the English program but you can’t take the English program out of the girl, I have to put this out there. I think puns are especially admirable for their dichotomous nature, the way it’s hard to tell whether a pun should be called good or bad, and which is a bigger compliment. When we give my dad a hard time for his puns, we don’t tell him they’re bad, we say they’re mediocre.*** Puns have a lot in common with being sore after a workout or getting up from the table following Thanksgiving dinner; they’re groan-inducing, inevitable, but still somehow immensely satisfying experiences.

Do you have a favorite pun? Leave it in the comments!

*Okay, so you might not actually be asking yourself this, but my hypothetical straw man is.
**I’m sorry. That was bad. I’ve had that pun in my system for days.
***But don’t worry, my family’s teasing is all in good pun.

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Indies First (and other assorted endeavors)

Hello, BookEnders! Sorry to leave you hanging for a month. I have many excuses, most of which revolve around the fact that suddenly and not entirely unexpectedly, my life’s been reduced to a flurry of classes, group projects, and dinner shifts at the retirement home. Lately I’ve barely had enough energy for Gossip Girl, my latest Netflix obsession.*

When I have read lately, the last thing I’ve felt like doing has been stringing together coherent thoughts about them. I will say that I was underwhelmed by Trish Doller’s Where the Stars Still Shine and overwhelmed by Hilary Smith’s Wild Awake. Both books revolve around mental illnesses of their characters, and reading them within the same week reinforced the emotional impact I personally felt was absent in Doller’s novel.

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Are we friends on Goodreads? If not, we should be.

Are we friends on Goodreads? If not, we should be.

Despite having limited free-time lately, I’ve still managed to reach my 2013 Goodreads goal this week, about a month ahead of schedule. I’ve been very good this year about the number of books that I’ve read, but less so about challenging myself to read books out of my comfort zone. I have read many more excellent books this year than I have in past years. However, I didn’t get through any of the classics I had hoped to read.

Lastly, today I had a bit of a book endeavor. The Saturday after American Thanksgiving is known as “Small Business Saturday,” a movement for supporting small businesses which emerged to counteract the chain-centric shopping that happens on Black Friday.** As part of Small Business Saturday, author Sherman Alexie suggested an event called Indies First, in which local authors would handsell and recommend books at nearby independent bookstores.

I had been looking forward to Indies First for about a month, and it finally arrived yesterday. Unfortunately, due the string of days I had off from class, I lost track of the days of the week. I totally forgot about until an hour before I had to leave for work. Luckily, I still had enough time to stop by Eliott Bay Book Company. There I browsed a bit before going over to talk to author Jennie Shortridge for a few minutes. She was very friendly, and had some good recommendations. Although I was sorely tempted by a beautiful collection of Louise Glück’s poetry,*** I settled on a few of Shortridge’s recommendations, both set in Seattle. The Glück will still be there next time I go.

The books I got from Eliott Bay Book Company (Where'd You Go, Bernadette and Hotel Angeline)

The books I got from Eliott Bay Book Company (Where’d You Go, Bernadette and Hotel Angeline)

And hopefully I will go again soon, or to one of the other numerous indie bookstores in the area. I’ve shifted to buying many of my books online, due to sheer convenience. I tend to get book cravings, where I remember a certain book and I want to read it immediately. But more often lately I’ve been getting both my e- and hard copy books from the public library. I won’t apologize for enjoying my e-books and frequenting my local library, but there is something to be said for going to the bookstore instead sometimes. Instead of pulling everything off the shelves that looks interesting, you have to pick out a single, perfectly promising book (or two or three). There’s definitely more at stake when you’re playing for keeps.

It was nice catching up… we should do it again sometime. This post was more of a combination platter than the whole enchilada****, so thank you for bearing with me. I’ll be on break from school in about a week, so hopefully I can end out the year with some quality posts. Until next time!

* I’ve been quite conflicted as I like to finish shows before starting new ones, but I still have two season of Gossip Girl left and I suddenly want to start The OC. But I eventually need to return to The West Wing and finish that up. Decisions, decisions.

** I’m not sure that that is the actual origin of Small Business Saturday, but that’s what seems to be generally inferred.

*** Any immediate family members who might be reading this may want to take note of my love for Louise Glück and the traditional exchange of gifts that coincides with the rapidly approaching Christmas holiday.

**** Yes, I am craving Mexican food; no, I probably won’t abandon my inclination toward mixed food metaphors any time soon.

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“Will” Power

Let’s talk about Will. For whatever reason, a surprising number of cute male characters in YA bear the name Will. Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy, Elizabeth Scott’s Perfect You, Susan Cooper’s The Dark Is Rising sequence. And of course longtime BookEnders know I would never leave out Will from Melina Marchetta’s Saving Francesca and The Piper’s Son. Maybe it’s some deep-rooted nostalgic fondness for the Will I maintained a misguided, quite unrequited crush on throughout my high school years. Maybe it’s just a coincidence that so many of my favorite YA boys share a moniker. Or maybe authors and I love it because it’s more than a name or a love interest, it’s a tense. The promise of a future. Will.

If that’s the case, then it’s the perfect fit for Maria Boyd’s young adult novel, Will. Its titular protagonist, Will Armstrong, has made an art form of never quite capitalizing on his potential. But since his home life took a turn for a worse last December, he’s gone from St. Andrews’ well-respected slacker to the kid who can’t help pushing things too far. When he takes it upon himself to moon a busful of girls from Lakeside, the nearby girls’ school, his teachers decide to get creative with their punishment.

Although he’s spent years avoiding the stigma of associating with the school band, he is sentenced to play in it for a full two months while St. Andrews and Lakeside mount a joint production of 1953 musical, The Boy Friend. Though he longs for a return to normal life, eventually the company of Year Seven outcast, Zachariah, new kid and male lead in the musical, Mark, and leading actress, Elizabeth, have him starting toward a new normal. But how long can he keep it together now that a single misstep spells expulsion, and worse, no one will leave him alone?

I’d definitely recommend this to fans of Melina Marchetta’s Saving Francesca. It deals with many of the same topics – family, grief, deciding whether to blend in or stand out – in a way that is equally honest, funny, and best of all, unpatronizing. Not to mention both are set in Sydney area boys’ schools. Will also reminded me a lot of Andrew Smith’s Winger as well, probably due to the similarities between supporting characters Mark (Will) and Joey (Winger), as well as their protagonists’ tendency to take action before thinking about the consequences.

Will wasn’t technically perfect. The dialogue could be confusing sometimes, since there were never any speech tags and characters’ lines weren’t situated in a way that always made it clear. I thought a few of the secondary characters could have been consolidated, since there were quite a few of them and some served overlapping purposes. I was torn between a four and five star rating. But I went for the full five because it had that spark. The one that keeps you up until four in the morning, even though you promised yourself you’d “just read the first chapter or two.” The unquantifiable something that makes you cry in that painful way where your chest hurts because you can’t quite breathe, and the only thing left to do is keep reading.

Although Will was released in 2010, I honestly hadn’t even heard of it in passing before now. Perhaps like many other Aussie YA books, it simply hasn’t received as much publicity or marketing in the U.S. I stumbled across it when playing around with the subject headings for The Piper’s Son on the Seattle Public Library’s online catalog. Nonetheless, it was a wonderful debut from Boyd, and I sincerely hope to see more from her soon. In the meantime – Will Armstrong reinforces my love for the Wills of the world – well, those of the fictional variety, anyway. And you, my dear BookEnders, are left with one last question – Will you or won’t you?

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Reader’s Block

It’s impossible to get a degree in creative writing without hearing the phrase “writer’s block” approximately 10 bajillion times. After constant discussion of it, I’ve come to the conclusion that writer’s block is kind of like Santa Claus – he sneaks into your house in the middle of the night, distracts you with shiny new playthings, and you run out of cookies a lot faster when he’s around. Most of all , the older I get, the less I believe in his existence. Nevertheless, he’s in so many stories and ringing bells on so many street corners, it’s hard to escape the idea of him. He might as well be real.

See? Lying in wait, always watching for any moments of weakness. Photo from here.

This post is not about writer’s block or Christmas (or my weakness for creating increasingly labored metaphors). It’s about a phenomenon I personally have never heard discussed, but have experienced several times. It’s like Santa Claus’ evil twin, the one who secretly goes around punishing those on the Naughty List and suppressing all the elf uprisings. Every now and then, I find myself locked in a fierce battle with him: reader’s block.

I first encountered him when I was eight and several chapters into Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. There was a creepy disembodied voice only Harry could hear and students were being attacked every which way. Simply put, I was so scared for Harry, Ron, and Hermione* that I couldn’t read on for several weeks. My father had been reading the book at the same rate and I eventually had to let him read ahead of me, a tremendous blow to my childhood pride.

Fast forward twelve years and The Book Thief, once I finally started it, nearly drove me to a complete reader’s block relapse. I generally read a lot like I eat – not necessarily fast, but singlemindedly. While I usually finish a book like The Book Thief in a sitting or two, it took me a month. The book was set in Germany during World War II, centered around a family who harbors a Jewish acquaintance in their basement. I could only read it in bits and pieces, a sense of familiar dread growing as I couldn’t help getting more and more emotionally attached to the characters.


Trailer for The Book Thief‘s upcoming movie!

Why do I bring it up now? Because almost a month after the release of Battle Magic, a new book by one of my favorite authors of all time, I’m only halfway in. I haven’t touched it in weeks… I’m never “in the right mood.” Battle Magic is a novel set in between already-released books in Tamora Pierce’s Circle universe. From reading the The Will of the Empress, I know that this story is about the time that Briar, Rosethorn, and Evvy – characters I know and love – get caught in the middle of a war. I know the experiences they have in Battle Magic are enough to give them all nightmares and PTSD.** As much as I love Pierce’s writing, it’s hard for me to know that these characters, who I think about like I do my own friends, are about to go through something so horrible.

It makes me wonder what it’s like for a writer to do something like that to her characters. You have to, or else there’s no story. You have to know them, and you have to make them suffer. You may not always have to kill your darlings, but you always have to at least torture them a little. I’ve never gotten to that point in my own fiction writing. With short stories, I feel like I always catch my characters before they hit rock bottom. I write a lot more poetry, usually, a different beast entirely. And with creative nonfiction, well, it’s writing down the things that have already happened. Though there’s still that same impulse to try and protect my characters.

Which books have you gotten stuck on? Any advice you have for getting yourself to move past it?

*Which I then read as “Hermy-own,” which my entire family persisted on until Goblet of Fire set us straight. I also read Neville as “Neh-veal,” a pronunciation I’ve never heard of anyone else ever using.

**Not spoilers, by the way. This emerges very early on in The Will of the Empress, and doesn’t give anything away about the earlier books in the series.

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Mental Health Awareness Week

Hello BookEnders! I know I updated only a few days ago. But I was just scrolling through my tumblr dashboard, and in the midst of all the gifs and quotes and articles about reading and writing and librarianing, one stood out for a moment. “I’ve decided to pick three books for #read for mental health week.”

"I decided to pick three books for mental health week." Original post here: http://iwouldratherbereading.tumblr.com/post/63400696540/i-decided-to-pick-three-books-for-read-for-mental

Click here for the original post.

I haven’t read all three of the books in that post. I’ve been meaning to read The Bell Jar for ages, hadn’t heard of I Never Promised You a Rose Garden, but loved It’s Kind of a Funny Story. First, I had to look up when Mental Health Awareness week even is (for 2013, it’s October 6th through the 12th). Mental Health Day itself is coming up on Thursday, October 10th. There’s something a little sad about becoming aware that you were unaware of mental health awareness.

But although I didn’t know there was a special week or day designated to mental health awareness, it’s a topic that’s been on my mind a lot this past year. And while I won’t go into details, I have a lot of people in my life who’ve dealt (and are still dealing) with mental illness in one form or another. And I include myself in that group.

That’s something I’m hesitant to admit on this blog – probably because we’re socially conditioned to view mental illness as some kind of shameful secret, a sign of weakness. But to me, it seems like another unavoidable part of the human condition. Like with physical illness, some of us just get sick for a little while; others face more chronic conditions. We get better and we relapse – and (hopefully) we get better again.

I’m not qualified to talk about mental illness beyond what I’ve learned from my own experiences and that of my friends and family. And it’s often hard to know what to say when you’re not sure how (or if) you can help someone you love. But I always know how to talk about books. So, taking my cue from the above tumblr post, here’s a few books I’d recommend for mental health awareness week.

1)      Saving Francesca, by Melina Marchetta – There are dozens (perhaps hundreds) of reasons to love this book. One of them is its exploration of depression and its effects on an entire family. The story starts when Mia Spinelli – driving force of the Spinelli family and mother to sixteen-year-old protagonist Francesca – can’t get out of bed. Although Mia’s major depression drives the larger storyline, her depression is reflected in Francesca’s life, as well. I think it generally gives a really complex look into what depression means for different people.

Quote from Saving Francesca:

The depression belongs to all of us. I think of the family down the road whose mother was having a baby and they went around the neighborhood saying, “We’re pregnant.” I want to go around the neighborhood saying, “We’re depressed.” If my mum can’t get out of bed in the morning, all of us feel the same. Her silence has become ours, and it’s eating us alive.

2)      The Nature of Jade, by Deb Caletti – In this novel, high school senior, Jade, begins to pursue her interests – such as volunteering in the elephant house at the local zoo – in spite of the anxiety and panic attacks from which she suffers. I especially love this book now, because a) it’s set in Seattle and b) it helps me feel close to the friend who recommended it to me, although she is pretty far away geographically. If you have a hankering to read about elephants, Seattle, or a smart, funny girl who happens to have anxiety, check this one out.

Quote from The Nature of Jade:

I am not my illness. “Girl with Anxiety,” “Trauma of the Week” — no. I hate stuff like that. Everyone, everyone has their issue. But the one thing my illness did make me realize is how necessary it is to ignore the dangers of living in order to live. And how much trouble you can get into if you can’t.

3)      It’s Kind of a Funny Story, by Ned Vizzini – I know that the post above includes this novel, but I have to second it. Craig Gilner is an overachiever determined to get into the prestigious “Executive Pre-Professional” school of Manhattan. The only problem – he’s not sure how to cope once he’s actually there. Craig enters a downward spiral that brings him into a mental hospital, where he meets others suffering from mental illness in one form or another. There, he learns not only why he’s there – but what happens once he gets out. It’s sad, it’s honest, but most of all – well, kind of a funny story.

Quote from It’s Kind of a Funny Story:

“I’m going to be here until I’m cured?”
“Life is not cured, Mr. Gilner. Life is managed.”

I know I always say this at the end of blog posts, but I would truly love for readers to add to the discussion in comments; what books have contributed to your understanding of mental illness? This is by no means a comprehensive list, just a few books that have stood out for me. In the meantime, make sure to do your best in supporting those in your life struggling with mental illness – this week, or any other time of the year.

National Institute of Mental Health’s Website – This site provides a pretty broad array of different resources and information. If you have any other resources to share, please leave them in the comments.

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Sorting in YA Lit

Next week in class (“The Life Cycle of Information”), I’ll be leading a discussion on how influences such as culture and language shape the frameworks through which we organize information. It relates strongly to the human impulse to categorize. Our entire thought processes tend revolve around putting “like with like.” I think this partially explains why people sometimes have trouble accepting people or ideas that exist within more than one existing category, or outside of the established categories altogether.

The reading and my preparation for the discussion got me thinking about some wildly popular young adult books, and how they include “sorting.” Harry Potter* is the obvious example. In the first book, each new Hogwarts student goes through a public sorting ceremony, which places him or her in one of four houses. Each house has a particular set of attributes. Similarly, in Veronica Roth’s dystopian YA novel, Divergent, all of society is based on five different factions (Abegnation, Amity, Candor, Dauntless, and Erudite) to which people can belong. Again, each faction draws a different kind of person. Even with The Hunger Games, there’s the divide between the (tyrannical) Capitol and the twelve Districts it rules. And each District has its own distinct culture.


The trailer for the upcoming movie version of Divergent. It doesn’t come out until 2014, but luckily the third installment in the trilogy (Allegiant) comes out in only a few weeks.

What interests me most is not so much the existence of these different sorting systems in the books (though I think it’s fascinating how both Divergent and Harry Potter both take on the limitations and problems caused by having such fixed social categories). I’m more curious about the way fan culture incorporates these aspects of the books. When WB debuted the interactive online reading experience, Pottermore, one of the most discussed features was its official** sorting quiz. I personally had somewhat of an existential crisis when it placed me in Slytherin, the house known for its members’ evil cunning and ambition. After months of internal struggle, I came to the conclusion that the quiz did not take into account my strong rejection of Slytherin’s trademark traits, and thus I consider myself a Ravenclaw.


This song and video really captures the depth of fans’ attachments to their Hogwarts houses for me.

Likewise, many tumblr posts, fanart and quizzes are dedicated to studying the faction system within Divergent. In fact, before I even read the book, I kept seeing different posts about these mysterious “factions.” Curious about which one I would fall into, I finally read the book. Similarly with The Hunger Games, there’s a wealth of quizzes about which districts people are most suited for. Again, it’s to a lesser extent as residence in each District is a matter of dictatorship rather than personal choice. But I still find it intriguing that all three of these bestselling series incorporate worlds where people live in formally defined categories.

It reminds me of something one of my favorite musicians, Alex Carpenter (see above), said in a recent video blog he did about rivalry.

“We’re saying to someone, ‘Hey. We both like the same thing, pretty much. We both like this sport, or this book, but we’re going to create a division within that just so we can yell at each other and pretend that we don’t like the same thing.’”

This brings me back to the reading I’ve been doing for class, and the way we seem to instinctively categorize and subcategorize both ourselves and the world around us. There are people who like books, and within that, people who like certain types of books (fantasy, dystopian, young adult, etc.), even people who like specific series. But within that already pretty specific category, it keeps on dividing. Into people who sort themselves one way or another.

Do you have any other examples of popular series that have the attraction of sorting? If you have your own sorting story, share it in the comments!

NOTES:

*Harry Potter is a bit ambiguous in terms of it’s designated reader age. It’s a children’s book series with some very adult themes and crossover appeal. I DON’T KNOW WHICH CATEGORY TO PUT IT IN. But since its protagonists are teenagers and many young adults read it, I’ll include it.

**J.K. Rowling herself approved and tested it, which gave it much more authority than if it was just a quiz WB had created without her input.

 

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Settled in Seattle

Hello, BookEnders! It’s been awhile. I’ll mention here that this post is only loosely bookish, as it’s really more of a life update about my first impressions of my LIS (library and information science) program. Though it does include a few fun facts about the history of the book!

I’ve finally reached a point that I had well and truly started to think would never come – I’m feeling settled in Seattle (but certainly not Sleepless). I’ve been in my new house for a month now; I’ve been at my entertaining, challenging job serving food at a retirement home for about a little longer; and I finally finished my first week of graduate school. On a subconscious level, I’d also been worrying about whether or not I was going into the right program. After making this enormous move across the country, what if I’d made a mistake? What if I should’ve just gone to University at Buffalo, the local program, or worse, not gone into library and information science at all?

New city, new school, new haircut. Also a fine view of my new bookshelf in my new room. Can you guess my favorite author from it?

New city, new school, new haircut. Also a fine view of my new bookshelf in my new room. Can you guess my favorite author from it?

Within my first few days of classes, though, it became clear to me that I’m in exactly the right place. Although the classes are longer than I’m used to, the discussions are engaging enough that I barely noticed. Likewise, the reading, although intense, has been fascinating. Did you know it’s been almost two-thousand years since the actual form of the book has changed? Even when we switched from hand-written books to machine printed ones, we still stayed with the codex, a set of thin sheets, bound on one side, between two protective covers (re: the traditional, non e-book book). Also, silent reading wasn’t discovered until the 11th or 12th century. Considering how much time I spend engaging in silent reading, I was amazed to realize I’d never even thought about silent reading as a discovery, something that hadn’t been around as long as writing.

And then there are the people in my program. Maybe it’s because the Seattle area has so many opportunities, or the professors have so many connections, but there isn’t the competitiveness I feared. Instead, I’m surrounded by brilliant people who have lots of overlapping interests with me (*cough* Tamora Pierce *cough*). Now instead of worrying I’m in the wrong program, I get to worry about keeping up with all the talented, experienced students and professors around me.

Speaking of Tamora Pierce, I’ll end this ramble of a post with a quote from one of my favorite books, Squire. “Suddenly Kel’s view of the next four years changed. She had expected hard work mixed with dread for the Ordeal of Knighthood at the end of it . . . Never had she thought she might have fun.”

Author’s Note: I’ve been thinking a lot over the past few weeks about the future of this blog. Namely, there are so many book blogs out there; how do I make mine worth reading, aside from staying true to the uniqueness of my own writerly voice? Do I put in too much of my personal life? And do I focus more on books themselves, or library science, as they aren’t necessarily the same topic. I’d love to hear any feedback in comments.

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Reblog Book Club

Hello, Bookenders!

This is just a quick update to let you know about a new project I’m taking part in. I’m contributing to the discussion in, the Reblog Book Club, the first official Tumblr book group. Here’s the first paragraph of my initial (spoiler-free) reflection on the first book, Rainbow Rowell’s new novel, Fangirl:

“As you may have surmised from my recent deluge of Fangirl posts, I’m contributing to Tumblr’s first official book club, the Reblog Book Club. Fangirl is Rainbow Rowell’s newly released YA novel. Cath is a devoted fangirl to the mega-hit Simon Snow fantasy series, and a popular fanfiction author in her own right; her twin sister, Wren, used to be. As Cath heads off to her first year of college she explores how college life and Simon Snow diverge and how they overlap – and how she and Wren do.”

You can find the rest of the review here, at the Reblog Book Club. My other posts will be put up periodically under my tumblr name, “your-ya-story.”

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