This week on BTT:
Does the price of a book affect your decision about buying it? Do you wait for cheaper editions of books you want?
Yes, I rarely buy books new. The majority of my books are used books from school or charity sales. If I do buy a new book, it is often from a book overstock site. If I do buy a book completely new (say from Amazon), it is usually a treat to myself such as a birthday or Christmas gift. I almost never buy hardcover books new (unless they are cookbooks) and try to wait for the paperback edition.
Bonus BTT from last week:
Do you write in your books? Highlight? Make notes? Or do you like to keep your copies as pristine as possible?
Pristine as possible. I have never really had the habit of highlighting or writing in books, textbook or otherwise. I usually buy used books or give my books away when I am finished with them. I like books that move between people so I keep them as untarnished as possible.
It bothers me a lot when I find people write or highlight in library books though. Sometimes, it can be amusing if they are correcting grammar, but usually it’s not.
BTT this week:
I read an interesting blog post from the YA author A.S. King the other day that touched on censorship—especially as it pertains to young adult books.
Here’s an excerpt, but really, you should go read the whole thing because it’s fascinating:
I don’t know about you, but quiet censorship freaks me out. It’s the censorship that’s spoken over tea, over lunch, at random times when we are not prepared to answer because we are caught so off-guard that we really only think about what was said on the plane home. Last year I was asked to be on a censorship panel as an “expert.” I had to reply and say I was not an expert at official challenges. So far, my books haven’t had an official challenge as far as I know. Instead, I get embarrassed looks from dedicated librarians who whisper, “My principal won’t let me have that one in the stacks.” I have quiet un-invitations. I have quiet conversations with saddened teachers who tell me that a colleague said, “But you’re not going to actually give that book to students, are you?” I get quiet letters from devoted teachers who apologize for not being able to share my book with a student who needs it because of a fear of losing their job. Ah quiet. It is usually an indication that something really important is being withheld. Like the way we whisper cancer.
I think most of us are probably against censorship on principle, but … do you think it should vary depending on the impressionable age of the readers? Or is it always wrong? How about the difference between ‘official’ censorship by a government or a school system, as opposed to a parent saying No to a specific book for their child?
This is the kind of topic you write essays and theses about. It covers not only official government censorship, but the issue of parenting. Every parent has the right to teach and raise their child the way they want as long as the child suffers no harm. Often, we can not agree with how a parent chooses to expose it, but where am I to say what someone allows their children to learn? I just hope parents do not let their children live in ignorance and intolerance.
I had no book censorship as a child. As an immigrant, I knew the English language best. I transitioned into adult books at around age 12. I would still read Young Adult novels in high school, but I was increasingly reading more adult books. My own school library had a lot of new, literary adult books. These books were not scandalous.
Books are tools and sources for learning. I think a young person can learn a lot about adults and the world through stories and controversial topics. In my humble opinion, they are better at outlining these issues than TV or movies. I think books open minds in every way so I do not think there is a hard and fast rule about when or how you can censor books for children.
I do think parents and other adults can offer advice to children on what they can read. Some children are more mature than others, but I think some stories and books are better for certain periods in people’s lives. It’s not a matter of right or wrong, but more if the reader can appreciate or relate to the subject matter. I tailor my recommendations to my friends, and I would do the same for my child if I had one.
This was a long answer. What are your thoughts on it?
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From BTT this week:
What do you think of fanfiction? In general—do you think it’s a fun thing or a trespass on an author/producer’s world? And of course, obviously specific authors have very firm and very differing opinions about this, yet it’s getting more popular and more mainstream all the time. Do you ever read or write it yourself?
Yes, I’ve read a lot of fanfiction. In fact, a couple years ago, one of the habits I’ve had to cut down on is reading less fanfiction. Much like tv show marathons or Youtube videos, I can easily find hours flying away if I find a good fanfics.
In general, I think it’s fun and I’ve read some brilliant and fantastic fanfiction over the years. In the early 2000s, I was apart of the Harry Potter fandom to the point where I beta read/edited for at least 2-3 fanfic authors. I even tried writing it myself briefly. For me, the easiest way to enjoy a fandom whether it is from a movie, tv show or book is to read the fanfiction.
There are an increasing number of published authors who started out writing fanfiction. EL James of Fifty Shades is just one example. Cassandra Claire of the City of the Bones series wrote Harry Potter fanfiction. I see a lot parallels from her published series from her original works. Whether they deserve it or not, I am glad when authors can get published after having “fun” in fanfic. I believe it can be a good writing exercise.
Then again, I am not an author so I have no real opinion on what it is like to know my stories and characters are being played with. I rather not know about it, but I think a lot of art becomes more than the creator. I think fanfic is largely harmless and actually enhances a fan’s experience of the work. It’s only plagiarism if the fanfic author rips entire plotlines, dialogues or shows a flagrant disregard for intellectual property. Fandoms are also very good at spotting authors who plagiarise other fanfic authors.
What is your view on fanfiction?
If there was one book you could make sure nobody ever read again … what would it be? And why? – BTT
I’m not the kind of person who doesn’t “hate” many things. There are many books I find boring, but few that I truly hate or dislike. Here’s a run down of books that are just not for me:
- Wuthering Heights – The only classic on the list. I like Anne and Jane, but this work by Emily grated on me no end. Ugh. Hated the characters so much. I don’t find Heathcliff attractive and wish he and Cathy fell off the moor.
- Fifty Shades of Grey series – Those precious hours of my life that I will never get back.
- Most of the Twilight series – I don’t enjoy the message this sends at all. Similar to the above
- Mists of Avalon – A book I tried to read and finish three times, but I still could not do it. Blah. I know some people like this a lot, but I don’t like Marion Zimmer Bradley’s style at all.
What are some books that you didn’t like?
Outside of books, what’s your favorite thing to read? Newspapers? Magazines? Blogs? Fanfiction? Specific websites? – BTT
I use to read a lot of fanfiction and it’s diminished considerably since I became an ‘adult’. I do spend a fair amount of time on TWOP forums. I read a couple of blogs, but to be honest, I’ve always found it hard to track a lot of blogs. I like reading emails and messages from friends. I wish I had time to read more magazines and newspapers too. I spend a good amount of time on Wikipedia (and sometimes Google) too since I love looking things up.
How about you?
Which is better (or preferred) … stories with multiple character points of view? Or stories that stick to just one or two at most? And, why?
This question reminded me about the popular Song of Fire & Ice series by George R. R. Martin which does the multiple character POVs to the hilt perhaps to the annoyance of some readers. I don’t think it’s bad when an author can do it well. Martin does for the most part, and the format of multiple POVs works very well for movies or TV shows since you can see how the stories and characters come together. In a book, it can be more difficult to do successfully I think. In many ways, I feel like I know and like a couple of characters more than the other so when time is focused on ones I like less, it can drag a little bit. Ensemble dramas work well on TV because there is something for everyone, but even then, I can’t stand how certain central characters get overlooked or pushed aside for others.
Multiple POVs also work well in comics and graphic novels. I think for world building, fantasy and sci-fi, it is a very good technique. For other things, I do not mind the convention of knowing a couple of characters very well.
What are your thoughts?
Are “best” and “favorite” the same thing? If someone asked you “What’s the best book you ever read?” would the answer be the same as for “What’s your favorite?” – BTT
I try to tailor my recommendations to whomever is asking. Bests and Favourites are very subjective. If someone asks me the best book on travelling to certain places, I may offer a travel guide, but my favourite would probably be a memoirs of the same place.
I don’t think I’ve ever been asked what’s the best book I’ve ever read. There are times when I like a book a lot for being well written and beautiful, but it’s not necesarily a favourite. For me, a favourite is a book I really wish to own or reread. For authors, I could say War and Peace and The Death of Ivan Illych are the best of Leo Tolstoy’s work, but Anna Karenina will be my favourite from his works for sentimental and nostalgic reasons.
How about you?
Connected to last week’s—it’s one of the ways writing has changed. Books from a century or two ago spent huge swaths of text describing locations and character traits, but modern writing does all of this in shorthand. You might know a character is short with blond hair and blue eyes, but the author leaves the rest for you to figure out on your own. The writer might tell you the story takes place at a beachside town, but leaves the details to your imagination. Why do you suppose this is? Is it that we have shorter attention spans these days? That, bombarded with video and photos as we are, we don’t NEED every detail of an unknown scene described, because we have a stock of images already in our heads? – BTT
Writings styles have changed in the last one hundred years. Writers use to be written by word, and books did use to be one of the most popular sources of entertainment for those who could read. I also think there is some value in less descriptions in certain ways. There’s a change in how stories are told as well. The physical appearance of the characters are not necessarily as important as who they are and their journeys in the stories. Stream of counciousness or magical realism novels do not offer a lot in the way of physical images either, but perhaps they offer more emotional and intellectual imagery.
It’s not always the details we should worry about, and I can fill in the blank if the writer offers more important things to the story. I like character development, interactions, and plot points more than how the sun shines on the sand. Of course, it is lovely, but not always necessary.
How much do you visualize when you read? Do you imagine faces for the characters? Can you see the locations in your mind’s eye? Or do you just plunge ahead with the story, letting the imagery fall to the wayside? – BTT
I don’t know how one let’s imagery fall at the wayside. Isn’t it natural to be immersed in the world of the books especially when it is fiction? Imagining these things is my default. I do find it harder to get visuals on the faces of the characters. Unlike some others, none of the characters look like anyone else I know or celebrities. I often do not have ‘picks’ on who I would like to be in the role. Much like my dreams where there are more strangers than people with familiar faces!
When reading a good book, it should play as a movie in your head and a good writing will grab you so you can plunge into the deep end.
How about your reading visuals?
Which is more important? Quality for your reading? Or quantity? – BTT
In almost every case in life, quality is better than quantity. Having said that, I aim for both in my reading. I like reading a lot of books. I love them, and I’m very glad to have a range of interests in genres, styles, and periods. I have thousands of books I could read and most of them probably wouldn’t be bad. Yes, there are many books out there that are not “quality”, but I find reading a quality hobby and act in of itself. It’s not often I regret reading a book.
How about you?
I’ve asked before how you feel about lending your books. I’ve asked how you feel about libraries. But—how do you feel about borrowing books from friends? Is this something you like to do? Does it make you feel uncomfortable or rushed while reading? Does it affect how you feel about the book you’re reading, pressured into liking it? – BTT
Thankfully, I do not have to borrow books from my friends very often. I read and have more books than most of them. On occasion, I do borrow from friends. I prefer to borrow from the library though. With friends, I feel rushed about it. I often either forget I have the book as it becomes mixed into my own books. Then when I realize it, I must finish it and return it. I personally don’t like holding people’s books on too long. I am not pressured into liking it though. It’s mostly a time and etiquette thing to return the book.
How about you?
August is just flying past…
All other things being equal (good writing, enthralling story, etc), which would you rather read—something serious, angsty, and tragic? Or something light, fluffy, and fun? Or a blend of both? (Since, really, isn’t that how real life works?) – BTT
I try to balance my reading to be both light and serious. I think it veers slightly more to the serious side these days especially with all the non-fiction. I like to escape to books, but I’m more willing to escape into something completely different albeit more serious than for the TV or Movies I choose (which are firmly more comedy/dramedy). I’m more tolerant of angst if it’s in the written form.
These last couple of weeks, I have been more in the mood for something light and fluffy. It all depends on one’s mood relative to everything else going on in life.
How about you?