I’m going to start by saying I don’t know that there is such a thing as a “bad” book. While definitely some books are better than others, and for sure the writing in some books is just terrible, I don’t know that a book can be “bad”.
Okay, I take it back, there are some books that are DEFINITELY bad in every way.
But I don’t think you have to only like things that are “good.” I mean, for one thing, good/bad is so subjective! But for another thing, your enjoyment of a thing isn’t necessarily tied to its quality. I have definitely experienced movies/TV that are so bad I can’t enjoy it, but most of the time I can like something even when I can tell it’s not awesome if it’s achieving whatever it set out to do. This book was supposed to make me laugh, and it did. Yay!
Okay, glad I got that out of the way.
This list are books that the book community on the whole has determined are terrible, and that I to some extent agree are not awesome, but I still love them anyway.
I resisted Twilight for a LONG time. By the time the movie came out literally everyone I knew had read it except for me, and then I saw the movie which was terrible, and so I refused to read it. Until I did. And yes, it was just as bad as everyone says. The dialogue is particularly awful. But … I have still read the whole series. More than once.
I don’t know what it is that makes me keep reading. It’s not the romance. Maybe it’s the melodrama? It’s definitely at least part the Pacific Northwest setting. Whatever it is, so many people enjoy this book that I’m done criticizing it or apologizing for liking it.
Looking at your tbr gives you anxiety. Books are supposed to make us feel happy and relaxed! If your tbr makes you anxious, it’s probably because there are too many books on it, my friends.
You look at some of the books and think “I’ve never even seen that book before!” I think we all have books on our tbr that we can’t remember the plot of or why we added them. But if you’re looking at a book and you don’t even RECOGNIZE it, the problem is either a cover change or you have so many books you can’t even remember them all.
There’s not enough room on your shelves for all your unread books. When books are falling on the floor, when you can bathe in the pile of books on the floor, your tbr is probably too long.
As book bloggers we can all pretty much agree that good cover design is a must. A great cover can make you pick-up a book, and a terrible cover can make you pass it up.
That is NOT what I’m here to talk about today.
Rather, today I would like to talk about cover design pet-peeves that don’t necessarily detract from the look of the cover, but bother me for other reasons. They aren’t things that make a cover ugly, but are things that may make me vaguely annoyed or grumpy. These things don’t make the cover bad, but they could still be improved in my oh so humble opinion.
Don’t include a dragon just for decoration.
I guess this most often happens when cover designers are imitating medieval page illuminations, so it doesn’t happen very often. But seriously, if I see a dragon I want to read about a freaking dragon, okay? Putting a dragon on the cover of a fantasy book that doesn’t have dragons in it is extremely misleading, and it isn’t fair to people who read every dragon book they can find (aka me).
This happened to me once in college. The book was called The Book of Joby, and there were no dragons. The book was fine, I guess, but I was seriously disappointed when I got to the last few chapters and realized no surprise dragons were coming to save or ruin the day.
It’s a stressful time. So let’s take a trip together to our collective happy places, shall we? For me the happy place is any awesome place to read.
5. Literally anywhere outside in October
October is my favorite month. Here in Texas we get very little truly beautiful weather (it’s almost always too hot or too cold), but in the fall we get great outside weather. And in October we tend to get about five perfect fall days. You know the type, sunny but cold enough for a sweatshirt, a good breeze but not too much. On these perfect days I love to go sit anywhere outside to enjoy my book. ❤
I don’t know about anyone else, but historical fantasy is one of my very favorite sub-genres. I love when authors can play with alternate histories, and imagine how things might be different if there were dragons, or magic. While I prefer when it’s England proper, many authors create English-inspired nations and worlds. I especially love when authors are able to capture the tone of literature from that era, but update it to be fun for the modern reader.
Because, in my opinion, fantasy should be fun in the end.
So for you’re pleasure I’ve created a list of recommendations for historical fantasy based on the different eras of British history.
The Tudor era is one of my favorite time periods to read about, but it’s not often adapted for fantasy. I don’t know why as it’s the perfect era for it. Sword-fighting, knights, dragons, they would fit in well here.
However, the second book of the All Souls Trilogy, titled Shadow of Night, involves time traveling to this very era! We even get to meet some of the giants of the time, including Kit Marlowe and Queen Elizabeth herself. I loved how it really submerged the reader into the culture and time period, and the details were so accurate. I’m also a huge sucker for time travel. While this wasn’t my favorite series (nice vampires again, snooze), I did really enjoy this book, and I think it’s worth reading if for no other reason than some good ol’ Tudor witches.
This week Krysta and Briana at Pages Unbound are hosting the discussion: Recommend a diverse classic. I should start off by saying that I haven’t read enough of them. My classic niche is definitely 1800s England and France, which I think we can agree weren’t the most diverse places. And so many of the “diverse” classics assigned to us in school (To Kill a Mockingbird, Heart of Darkness, Siddhartha) were actually written by white folks. In fact, if I’m being honest, both books I want to recommend today were written in the 1980s, so I don’t know that I can even really call them classics. So if you want a good recommendation for classics by diverse authors, I might recommend this list from Bookriot.
In the end, though, I think I’m going to stick with my wheelhouse, 1800s England. It’s pretty common knowledge now that Oscar Wilde was gay, but at the time homosexuality was still illegal and Wilde actually went to prison as a result of a semi-public affair. And while queer themes are usually veiled in Wilde’s work, his exuberant personality makes them such a joy to read and watch.
Oscar Wilde was most famous for being a playwright, and I highly recommend the 2002 movie version of The Importance of Being Ernset starring Colin Firth, Rupert Everett, Reese Witherspoon, Judi Dench, and more. Wilde’s comedy is laugh out loud funny, and these actors really bring the larger than life characters to life.
But Wilde wrote a single novel, The Picture of Dorian Gray, that is my recommendation today. It’s a haunting tale of young Dorian, a wealthy socialite so beautiful and self-absorbed that he wishes his portrait would age instead of him. When his wish is mysteriously granted, Dorian leads a life with no other purpose than to fulfill his every desire. As you can imagine, this leads to all kinds of tragedy for the people surrounding Dorian, and soon Dorian’s portrait is unrecognizable.
Apparently 2020 is the year of black covers over here in Sci-Fi/Fantasy land. It wasn’t until after I was looking at my pre-order list that I realized just how many there are, but golly y’all, every book I’ve bought or pre-ordered this year except for one has had a black cover! I wonder if this is something that’s intentional marketing (maybe black books are selling better right now?) or whether it’s just a coincidence. It might say something about how darker books are more popular right now too.
Anyway, I’m not complaining because all of these book covers are just jaw-dropping. Some seriously awesome cover design.
These are in no particular order.
A Deadly Education by Naomi Novik
In this case I think the black cover is definitely meant to reflect the content of the book. I think there’s dark magic involved, and the school involved seems like it’s probably a pretty dark place in every meaning of the word. Anyway, this cover is sooooo cool looking. I love its simplicity and the way the gold pops against the black. A Deadly Education comes out in September.
A few years ago, back when I was just getting into blogging, there was a trend going around where book bloggers would “reveal” their stats is a big post with overwhelming graphs, numbers, and analysis. They always prefaced the post talking about how uncomfortable it felt and how unusual it is to talk about stats. So I always kind of thought statistics were kind of SECRET, and maybe a big deal.
But I’m on my third year as a book blogger, and I find that I continue to just … not care. Y’all, this is a hobby*, and I refuse to treat it as more than that. I’m here to make friends, not get followers.
So how do you do it? How do you keep from obsessing about something that may seem so important? Well, I’m not an expert. But I do have a few ideas to throw out there that may help.
*This post was written for hobby bloggers, not professional or semi-professional bloggers. Those people should please ignore all the remaining content.
1. Numbers don’t mean anything
This is the most important piece of advice I have to offer. Followers, likes, views, they don’t mean anything. Again, louder for my friends in the back: NUMBERS ARE LITERALLY MEANINGLESS.
If you’ve gotten a comment from my on Instagram or the blogosphere in the last month and a half you’ve probably heard me say “I’ve had that book on my tbr FOREVER, and I just haven’t gotten to it yet!” (Is that the book blogger motto or what?) I’ve also got a quarter million new releases out or coming out in 2020 that I want to read.
The obvious problem here is that I have a hard time prioritizing certain books. As a very much mood reader I tend to skip on heavier or more serious books, even if I *really* want to read them. I DON’T WANT TO DO THAT!!!
So I hand-wrote a list of must-reads in 2020! (Any other type As out there??) Here they are!
Must-Read New Releases
The Year of the Witching Have had this Salem-esque book on my TBR since January, and a fellow bookstagramer just gave me the green-light that it’s not too scary to read. Can’t wait!
The Angel of the Crows First of all, Katherine Addison is my everything. Second of all, an alt-history London with monsters, Jack the Ripper, and a Sherlock vibe? Yes, yes, yes, yes, YES!
Deacon King Kong Heard a great interview with James McBride that made me decide to pick this book up. Excited for the slice-of-life storytelling, religious characters, and light satire.
I’ll Be the One I’m in a fluffy mood lately, and this looks like the funnest book on my tbr. Plus East-Asian rep AND body-positive rep!
Honestly I’m not feeling super celebratory this year. Over the top patriotism has bothered me for a while, but this year it feels especially off. We still ate apple pie and hotdogs, and we still went to fireworks (there is no such thing as a bad reason to set off safe, colorful explosives)*, but posting American flags made out of books on Instagram feels icky.
Still, since this year marks the 244th anniversary of signing of the document that started one of the more influential revolutions in history, I thought it might be fun to talk about some of my favorite books about revolutions. These are in no particular order. Half-assed listicles for the win!
*plus outside is apparently VERY low-risk of Covid spread, so I figured this was a good opportunity to get my kids out of the house for the first time in months
The Hunger Games Trilogy
Obviously! A good dystopia needs a good revolution, but my favorite thing about this revolution is how messy it is. Both sides are willing to do pretty terrible things in the name of victory, and in the end Katniss doles out justice on a whim. Nothing is black and white in this series, especially Katniss, which is what I think STILL separates this book from all the other YA dystopias out there. Plus the side-characters are SO COMPELLING!!!