Classic Remarks: Classic Fanfics

This week Krysta and Briana at Pages Unbound are hosting the discussion: What is your opinion of prequels or sequels written for classic works that are out of copyright (i.e. not written by the original author)? Should authors be able to use other writers’ characters and plots for their “own” stories? Are there any classic prequels or sequels you recommend?

I am going to answer this question with a question. Why is it than when people do this with Sherlock it gets taken seriously, but when someone does it with Harry Potter it’s borderline plagiarism?

Because y’all, these books are really just fanfiction.

Now, it’s worth being said that there is a big difference in legal terms between Jane Austen fanfiction and Percy Jackson fanfiction. Because the classics are out of copyright and in the “public domain”, authors and publishers are free to publish any works written about those characters. Since Percy Jackson is still under copyright, to do so would require consent from Rick Riordan and probably include payment. So in that way, fanfiction is questionable in terms of legality. (We won’t go into fair use today, but let me tell you, I could and have written a whole essay about it!)

My beef with this subject is the scorn for which a lot of readers treat fanfiction, but then those same readers will gush about books like The Eyre Affair.

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Discussion: How Often Do You Re-Read Books?

I realize that for book bloggers this question comes with a little baggage. We love re-reading our favorite books, but we also feel a lot of pressure to keep up with new releases or read ARCs or finish our never-ending tbr. I know that a lot of us don’t prioritize re-reading. But I’m still curious.

My first year blogging I didn’t re-read a single book. My second year I started doing “Favorites February” and re-read the Percy Jackson series, but then didn’t re-read anything else for the entire year. By my third year blogging I knew that if I wanted to re-read books (which I did), I was going to have to be methodical. That was around the time I started doing my genre rotation, so I worked a re-read into that. These days I force myself to re-read something after I’ve read four new books. So about 20% of the books I’ll read this year will be re-reads. Maybe a little more, because of series. That being said, I abandoned by genre rotation last summer, so we’ll see if I can keep it up this year!

Do you re-read books? How often to you re–read? Let me know in the comments!

Favorites February 2021

Okay so, I realize it isn’t February today, but when I was planning my book list I genuinely thought that it would be February today, and I’ve already started my reading for this. So, here we are. WHATEVER! It’s February tomorrow!

Every year here on Never Not Reading I read a favorite series (or suuuuper long novel) in the month of February. As I am reading I write a series of posts in which I write about the books in detail and host a small discussion. In the past I’ve read Percy Jackson, Emma, and His Dark Materials.

In 2021 I am SO EXCITED to announce that I will be reading The Hunger Games trilogy!

I’m really looking forward to this re-read for a number of reasons. Perhaps the biggest of those is that with the release of A Ballad of Songbird and Snakes last year, The Hunger Games was everywhere and made me feel super nostalgic. I even considered tagging ABOS&S to the end of this re-read since I haven’t read it yet, but decided against it. After giving it months of thought (seriously, I’ve known this was going to be my Favorites Februrary since like, April) I decided that I don’t really care about the prequel.

The other reason I’m super excited about this re-read is that it’s been a hot minute since I read The Hunger Games. I can’t remember for sure when I last read it, but it’s been at least five years, probably more.

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Classic Remarks: Shakespeare’s Collaborators

This week Krysta and Briana at Pages Unbound are hosting the discussion: Why do you think people tend to ignore Shakespeare’s collaborators and speak as if Shakespeare always wrote alone?

I should start by saying that, once again, this is a topic that I know almost nothing about. But therein lies my hypothesis to this question. People don’t talk about Shakespeare’s collaborators because, like me, they don’t know enough about the topic.

Like most English speakers, I studied Shakespeare in school. Freshman year we studied Romeo and Juliet, Julius Caesar, and the sonnets. Senior year we studied Macbeth and Hamlet. These literature studies came with some perfunctory background study on Shakespeare’s life and the time, but nothing more in-depth than learning the words “Stratford upon Avon” and “Globe Theater.” We talked very briefly about the notion that Shakespeare may not have written his works, but our teacher didn’t seem to know enough about it to help us draw any definitive conclusions. Shakespeare’s collaborators? I would only know about that from reading historical fiction!

And y’all, I went to a good school. I took advanced classes. If this was my educational experience, I have to assume that the average American didn’t fare much better. Maybe Brits get a more details learning experience about Shakespeare.

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How to Write YA Fantasy

Main Character

Your main character absolutely MUST be a teenage girl. Ideally she should have a traditionally masculine identity, such as a warrior or hunter, and she must be proficient with weapons. A bow would be best, but knifes are okay too. She should have a tragic backstory that probably includes the death of one or both of her parents.

World Building

If you can come up with a unique magic system that would be best, but the most important thing is that there is some impediment to magic use. Possibly magic users are persecuted, maybe magic is something only a very few understand, but more likely magic has mysteriously or sinisterly disappeared. This should be an especial problem for the main character and her family who have depended on magic in the past.

This should be high fantasy, but it should probably be based on a culture that isn’t white so that you don’t get compared to Sarah J. Maas or J.R.R. Tolkien. Urban fantasy isn’t particularly popular right now, probably because the market was so over-saturated with it in the early 2010s. So find a way to make high fantasy unique.

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6 Books I Wish I Could Read Again for the First Time

Some books improve every time you re-read them. You notice more and more details with every re-read, catch things you didn’t catch the first time, get to know the characters even better. But for some books, nothing is quite like the experience of reading it for the first time. For me, those books feel like literal magic when I read them. I can get lost in them for hours at a time.

And sometimes I wish I could forget the book entirely so I can go back and read it for the first time again.

The Night Circus

The experience of reading The Night Circus was a lot like the experience of falling in love. Discovering the Circus was so enchanting, watching Marcus and Celia fall in love so heart-wrenching, discovering the terms of the bet so devastating. Though I loved re-reading this book (and I think I’ve re-read it twice), I would love to be able to read it for the first time and experience that feeling of falling in love with a book.


Life of Pi

Life of Pi is a book that is wonderful to analyze on a re-read, and things make more sense and you see where Martel was going and why he wrote what he wrote in each spot. But the ending is such a shock the first time. Some people hate that, but I love it. I hate to reference Twilight, but it’s like the way Meyer describes the whole world re-orienting when the wolf boys imprint, that’s what the end of Life of Pi was about. The whole book flips upside down, and it forces you to question EVERYTHING.


And Then There Were None

I haven’t re-read And Then There Were None, mostly because I don’t think it would re-read very well. Christie wrote it as an unsolvable mystery, very successfully, I might add. But then she hated to do that to her readers (thank God), so the epilogue explains the whole thing. But I can’t imagine that the reading experience would be quite as exciting now that I know.


Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone

I remember my fifth grade teacher reading Harry Potter to us as a class, and just begging her to keep reading each day. I think it must be partly that we experienced it together, partly the charming writing that I’m still enchanted by when I read the first book, and partly that I’d never read anything like it before. I’m still a Harry Potter fan, but I would love to recapture the feeling I had reading it for the first time when I was ten years old, still young enough to imagine that my Hogwarts letter might come, without knowing what all would happen next, and of course without all the baggage that comes with HP in 2021.


The Scarlet Pimpernel

The Scarlet Pimpernel is a book I’ve read maybe a half dozen times, and loved it every time. But I just remember the first time I read it, HOW exciting it was, HOW MUCH I was desperate to know who the Scarlet Pimpernel was. I remember reading so quickly that the words started to blur, so desperate was I to know what happened next. And like Life of Pi or And Then There Were None, there’s nothing quite like finally finding out who the Scarlet Pimpernel really is. And I just can’t experience that again.


Ender’s Game

Like with Life of Pi, the shocking ending of Ender’s Game is something that can’t be experienced again. This is yet another book that I’ve re-read again and again and enjoyed it every time, but it lacks that emotional and exciting impact at the end of the first time you read it. Similarly, the companion novel Ender’s Shadow is one that I would love to be able to read for the first time again. Its another of those that makes you re-frame everything you read in the first book.


Is there a book you wish you could read for the first time again? Why? Let me know in the comments!

Classic Remarks: Classic Book You’re Afraid to Pick Up

This week Krysta and Briana at Pages Unbound are hosting the discussion: What is a classic novel you are afraid to pick up? Why?

I should preface by saying that in 2020 I finally read the Classic on my tbr that I was most intimidated by, which was Lonesome Dove. I was intimidated partly because of its size (it was 800 pages long!) and the fact that it was a Western, which is easily my least familiar genre. I had no idea what I was going to get, and 800 pages of I don’t know what I’m going to get was pretty scary! I ended up liking it well enough, I think I gave it 4-stars, but it’s not one I would purchase or re-read. You can read my sort-of-review here if you want.

Right now there actually aren’t very many classics on my tbr, and most of them are books that I would call “modern classics”. Meaning, written after 1950. They are books that have made it into the literary canon, but maybe aren’t old enough yet to really refer to as classics. And there is one in particular that I’m nervous about.

I am, of course, referring to Kindred by Octavia Butler.

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Discussion: Can you read in the car?

When I was a kid I constantly had my nose buried in a book. Sometimes I would read even when I was walking down the hall at school. So, of course, any time my dad hauled me off to one of his baseball games or on a road trip, the car was a valuable place for me to get some good reading done. I would stuff my backpack full of however many books would fit. And something I remember hearing all the time was “I’m so jealous, I wish I could read in the car.”

This isn’t something I still hear as an adult, and not because I stopped reading in the car. I wonder if I don’t hear it because I have fewer interactions with people who are just acquaintances, or if this is just not as much a thing anymore? But I certainly understand this sentiment much better now. I do get carsick, and these days I only read in the car if we’re going to be on the highway for an extended period of time.

Which, of course, got me wondering if YOU ALL read in the car. So, can you read in the car? Why or why not? Let me know in the comments!

The Last 10 Books Tag

I saw this tag earlier this week on Kristin Kraves Books, and I like that it’s not organized the way tags often are. I’m going to do my best to really tell you about the LAST, and not just my favorite that you’re probably tired of hearing about.

Last Book I Gave Up On

I actually rarely give up on books. I can probably count the number of books I’ve DNFed on two hands, and they’re probably all classics. In 2019 I stopped halfway through The Wind in the Willows, not because it was terrible, just because I didn’t care enough about it to keep reading and there were other things I was more interested in. I see why it was charming for the time it was written in, but I didn’t feel particularly like being nostalgic for a time period that was only good for the landed gentry…


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5 Most Detestable Characters that We Love to Hate

There’s something so satisfying about reading a truly evil villain. Sometimes, if they’re especially over the top, we even end up loving how much we hate them. These are the characters we are rooting for to die, get utterly humiliated, or otherwise get their come-uppance. These are the characters we never get tired of raving about how horrible they are. These characters make their books even more unforgettable.

Professor Umbridge from Harry Potter

Hands down, Umbridge is at the top of my list. I know in 2021 this is a bit of a controversial opinion, but I just hate this women so friggen much. The fact that she delights from torturing children is just HORRIBLE, but her superficial qualities like her annoying laugh and pink cardigans make hating her much more fun than, say, hating Bellatrix Lestrange.

I think my favorite thing about the introduction of Umbridge as a villain is that it introduces into the Harry Potter series the concept of a shade of grey between good and evil. Here is a woman that isn’t a death eater, and is in fact on the side of the “good guys”. However, she is just as twisted as those who are killing people in the name of blood purity. Later in the series, she hops right on that bandwagon as soon as it enters the government. To me, she represents the danger of those with backwards ideas and more ambition than compassion working in and for our government.

All these years later, and Umbridge is still the most hated character in the fandom. We will never get tired of her, and book 5 just wouldn’t be the same without her.

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