Bookworm Blogging, Discussions

Empathy, Emotions, and Reading [discussion]

This is my first real discussion post in just over a year! I don’t do a lot of these, because I feel like other bloggers have more to say and say things more succinctly than I do. However! This is something I haven’t seen a lot of and it’s been on my mind lately.

First of all, let’s define what empathy actually is. Dictionary.com refers to empathy as “[…] the capacity or ability to imagine oneself in the situation of another, experiencing the emotions, ideas, or opinions of that person.” This is distinguished from sympathy in the following way: “sympathy is feeling compassion, sorrow, or pity for the hardships that another person encounters, while empathy is putting yourself in the shoes of another.”

That being said, I am an extremely empathetic person. I can attribute this to about a thousand things, but what it means for me is that other people’s emotions impact me pretty strongly. I literally find emotions to be contagious, no matter what form they come in. Whether it’s from a friend, an article I’m reading online, a movie I’m watching, or a book I’m reading, I find myself taking on those feelings.

There are benefits to this: I’m pretty conscious about my friends emotions and behaviors indicating their emotions and I can be a good listener. There are also plenty of cons: I have to disengage from people sometimes so I don’t become overwhelmed, I have to consume emotional media fairly slowly to avoid slipping into a depressive episode, and I can sometimes blur the line between fiction and reality.

This comes up a lot during my reading. What prompted this post was actually my experience reading The Pisces. The main character falls into a depressive episode at the start of the book and I found it to be an emotionally intense experience because it was so real. I could identify the triggers, the symptoms, the disordered thinking. It put me into a mood, which I luckily realized quickly, and I had to put it down after a short session. I’ve been reading it slowly, in bits and pieces, in order to avoid getting dragged down by it.

It’s difficult sometimes, having to navigate my reading so carefully, but I like to think it helps make me a more compassionate and sensitive person. Anyway, here’s my question for you: do any of you also struggle with keeping your empathy in check while reading (or even watching TV/movies)? How do you deal with this so that it doesn’t negatively impact your mental health? If it was something you could just turn off, would you?

I look forward to hearing what you all have to say on this! Thanks for reading. 🙂

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Book Reviews, Bookworm Blogging

If You See Me, Don’t Say Hi [review]

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If You See Me, Don’t Say Hi by Neel Patel
To be published by Flatiron Books on July 10th 2018
224 
pages.
my rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Goodreads avg: 
4.08 (as of 2018-06-27)
cw: homophobia; sex; infidelity; racism; drunk driving; sexual assault/csa
disclaimer: I received an advanced copy of this book from NetGalley and the publisher in exchange for review consideration. All of the opinions presented below are my own.

Spoiler-free Review

Goodreads | IndieBound | Author’s Website

In eleven sharp, surprising stories, Neel Patel gives voice to our most deeply held stereotypes and then slowly undermines them. His characters, almost all of who are first-generation Indian Americans, subvert our expectations that they will sit quietly by. We meet two brothers caught in an elaborate web of envy and loathing; a young gay man who becomes involved with an older man whose secret he could never guess; three women who almost gleefully throw off the pleasant agreeability society asks of them; and, in the final pair of linked stories, a young couple struggling against the devastating force of community gossip. 

If You See Me, Don’t Say Hi examines the collisions of old world and new world, small town and big city, traditional beliefs (like arranged marriage) and modern rituals (like Facebook stalking). Ranging across the country, Patel’s stories — empathetic, provocative, twisting, and wryly funny — introduce a bold new literary voice, one that feels more timely than ever.

We lived through the lives of our future selves, passing our remaining days in a fugue.

My rating for each story:

god of destruction  ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
hare rama, hare krishna ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
hey, loser ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
just a friend ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
if you see me, don’t say hi ⭐️⭐️⭐️
the taj mahal ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
the other language ⭐️⭐️⭐️
these things happen ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
an arrangement ⭐️⭐️⭐️
world famous ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️.5
radha, krishna ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

I should have felt guilty. I should have felt ashamed. I felt everything but.

My average rating was 3.86 stars, rounded up to 4. This was a beautiful collection of short stories. It only took me about two and a half hours to read through them all and I found myself thinking about them a lot in between sessions. In fact, several of the stories have stuck pretty hard with me since finishing the book.

There are a lot of characters with grey morality; you can understand their actions, but at the same time you know that they’re not necessarily doing the right thing. I found this to be really effective, as I was constantly torn with how I felt about them. There were only a couple characters who I outright disliked and even then, I still felt sympathetic towards them.

I definitely recommend getting your hands on a copy of this if you can.

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(Cover and blurb courtesy of Goodreads.)

Book Reviews, Bookworm Blogging

I’m Not Missing [review]

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I’m Not Missing by Carrie Fountain
To be published by Flatiron Books on July 10, 2018
my rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Goodreads avg:
4.00 (as of 2018-06-14)
cw: underage drinking, consensual sex, sexual assault
disclaimer: I received an advanced copy of this book from NetGalley and the publisher in exchange for review consideration. All of the opinions presented below are my own.

Spoiler-free Review

Goodreads | IndieBound | Author’s Website

When Miranda Black’s mother abandoned her, she took everything—the sun, moon, and stars—and Miranda found shelter in her friendship with Syd, who wore her own motherlessness like a badge of honor: Our mothers abandoned us. We won’t go begging for scraps.

When Syd runs away suddenly and inexplicably in the middle of their senior year, Miranda is abandoned once again, left to untangle the questions of why Syd left, where she is—and if she’s even a friend worth saving. Her only clue is Syd’s discarded pink leopard print cell phone and a single text contained there from the mysterious HIM. Along the way, forced to step out from Syd’s enormous shadow, Miranda finds herself stumbling into first love with Nick Allison of all people and learning what it means to be truly seen, to be finally not missing in her own life.

I’m Not Missing is a beautiful contemporary YA romance that also tackles a handful of serious topics. From the beginning, I found it to be a compelling read and worked my way through it pretty quickly. I started it while I was on vacation and finished it soon after returning home. This will definitely make a nice summery beach read!

I really liked the main character, Miranda, because I related to her a lot. I’ve always been a bit of a hopeless romantic and her endless fawning over her crush reminded me of myself in high school and college. It seemed to me like a really accurate portrayal of teenage romance. Miranda also had her own unique quirks, like reading a book of saints every night before bed and reciting the Gettysburg Address when nervous. The book also demonstrated a really nice relationship between Miranda and her father. Miranda is latina and her father is white, so the story also delves a bit into how that has impacted Miranda’s life. The romance itself was cute and I enjoyed it. The love interest, Nick, was a nice boy and treated Miranda well. The author also wrote in a lot of affirmative consent, which I thought was fantastic.

Miranda’s best friend, Syd, is an interesting character because we get to see her in so many different lights. Before Syd runs away, Miranda holds her in such high regard. She seems to rely on Syd in a plethora of ways and thinks that Syd always knows what to do. After Syd leaves, this begins to change. Miranda is able to take a step back and to see Syd as she truly is. She’s also able to rely on herself more and to grow more independent as a person, making her own decisions instead of depending on others to make them for her.

Overall, this was a really great story and I loved reading it. I’d recommend it to all YA contemporary readers, in particular to folks who enjoy books that hit some serious issues alongside the fluff.

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(Blurb and cover courtesy of Goodreads.)

Book Tags, Bookworm Blogging

Down the TBR Hole #20

Started by Lost in a Story, the most fun way to cut down that TBR!

The rules:

  • Go to your goodreads to-read shelf.
  • Order on ascending date added.
  • Take the first 5 (or 10 if you’re feeling adventurous) books
  • Read the synopses of the books
  • Decide: keep it or should it go?

 

The Last Time I Wore a Dress by Dylan “Daphne” Scholinski and Jane Meredith Adams
There are lots of conflicting reviews and nobody I know has read this. Maybe I’ll end up picking it up later, but for now: REMOVE.

His Bloody Project by Graeme Macrae Burnet
Not really catching my interest. REMOVE.

Bluets by Maggie Nelson
Still think this is worth trying. KEEP.

Black Swan Green by David Mitchell
Again, not really feeling any interest. REMOVE.

The Boy in the Earth by Fuminori Nakamura and translated by Allison Markin Powell 
The goodreads average is under 3.5 and none of my friends have read it, but I’m intrigued. KEEP.


Perfect Chaos 
by Linea Johnson and Cinda Johnson
I know this is a dual memoir, but I’m not interested in reading memoirs by parents about neurodivergent children at the moment. REMOVE.

Otherwise by Jane Kenyon
Depression and New Hampshire. Okay yes. KEEP.

Ariel by Sylvia Plath
Okay yes definitely. KEEP.

Unholy Ghost edited by Nell Casey
Wow I was on a depression kick, huh? This still sounds good. KEEP.

The 57 Bus by Dashka Slater
I’ve almost read this several times and then not wanted to. I don’t know that I’m ever going to. REMOVE.

I managed to remove 5 out of 10 books today. Any decisions you would have made differently?

Previous: Down the TBR Hole #19

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(All covers courtesy of Goodreads.)

Bookworm Blogging

July 2018 TBR

Okay, so I very rarely set specific TBRs. I’m more of a mood reader and will prioritize whatever I really want to read at the moment, or will pick at random off my to-read shelf on Goodreads. This month, however, I do have some specific reading that I’d like to get done, so I figured I’d make a TBR post to share with y’all!

My priority this month is going to be the NetGalley eARCs I have that are being published/expiring within the next month or so. They comprise the first half of my TBR and I’m going to try to focus my efforts on these in the order that they’re being published. These books are:

Eden by Andrea Kleine.
Currently reading @ 70% (might even be finished by the time this is posted!).
Anticipated publication date: July 10th.

Give People Money by Annie Lowery.
Anticipated publication date: July 10th.

Baby Teeth by Zoje Stage.
Anticipated publication date: July 17th.

Believe Me by JP Delaney.
Anticipated publication date: July 24th.

The remaining books are off of my backlist TBR and have been chosen for various reasons:

Acceptance (Southern Reach #3) by Jeff VanderMeer.
Currently reading @ 32%.
Finally getting around to finishing this trilogy!!

Dark Places by Gillian Flynn.
Currently reading @ 12%.
Honestly picked this one at random off my TBR.

The Pisces by Melissa Broder.
My hold is on its way to the library, so I might as well read this one too.

The Plague by Albert Camus.
Buddy read with my offline friend, Spencer!

Last month I managed to read 8 books, so I’m hoping I can squeeze in the same amount for July. I’m also working through a couple of audiobooks, but I left those off so I wouldn’t over complicate things too much. Anyway, what are you planning on reading in July??

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(All covers courtesy of Goodreads.)

Bookworm Blogging, Monthly Wrap-Ups

June 2018 Wrap-Up

Books Read:

  • Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl by Carrie Brownstein. 3.5/5 stars.
  • Into the Wild by Erin Hunter. 3.5/5.
  • Horns by Joe Hill. 5/5, review.
  • Providence by Caroline Kepnes. 4/5 stars, review.
  • I’m Not Missing by Carrie Fountain. 5/5 stars, review.
  • The Winter People by Jennifer McMahon. 4.5/5 stars, review.
  • If You See Me, Don’t Say Hi by Neel Patel. 4/5 stars, review.
  • I Kill Giants by Joe Kelly and JM Ken Niimura. 4/5 stars, review.

Books DNF’d:

  • The Poisoned City by Anna Clark. This one didn’t quite live up to expectations. It included a lot of good information, but was formulated in a way that didn’t hold my interest. I understand why all the backstory was included, as it provided a context, but at the same time it worked as a distraction and made it difficult for me to follow things. Not a bad book by any means, just not written in a way that was helpful to me.
  • One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey. I was just… entirely uninterested and made extremely uncomfortable. I have difficulties with classics sometimes. Oh well.
  • Caged by Ellison Cooper. This book isn’t bad, it just isn’t good. The writing could have used some polishing, the characters feel not very real, the plot is a bit interesting but not interesting enough to keep me engaged. It could have used a lot more “show not tell” imo. It does have some diversity to it, at least: the MC is a biracial woman of color. I do also want to warn potential readers that there is a trans character who is forced to come out due to circumstances beyond their control as part of the plot. It is a “twist” in a way and as a cis person, I cannot comment on the rep, but I felt a little uncomfortable about it.

Books read: 8
Books DNF’d: 3
Average Rating:  4.19 stars

Movies:

  • The Theory of Everything [2014] directed by James Marsh. 3/5 stars.
  • Fahrenheit 451 [2018] directed by Ramin Bahrani. 3/5 stars.
  • Dawn of the Dead [2004] directed by Zack Snyder. 3/5 stars.
  • The Purge [2013] directed by James DeMonaco. 2.5/5 stars.

Other Posts:

Notable Posts By Others:

Reading Goal Progress:

In June, I read 8 books, which puts me at a total of 43 books for the year. I’m 6 books ahead of schedule and at 57% of my reading goal for the year. 🙂

I also decided this month (halfway through the year…) to do the 2018 AtoZ Reading Challenge, which entails reading a book for each letter of the alphabet. Any titles that start with the words “A” or “The” will go off of the first letter of the second word. Make sense? Here’s what I’ve got so far.

A: Annihilation by Jeff VanderMeer
B: The Body Is Not an Apology by Sonya Renee Taylor
C: Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo
D:
E: Emperor Mage by Tamora Pierce
F:
G: Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
H: A Head Full of Ghosts by Paul Tremblay
I: The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin
J:
K:
L:
M: Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie
N: Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro
O:
P: Providence by Caroline Kepnes
Q: Quiet Rumours edited by AK Press
R: Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
S: Stardust by Neil Gaiman
T: Text Me When You Get Home by Kayleen Schaefer
U: Unwifeable by Mandy Stadtmiller
V:
W: Wild Magic by Tamora Pierce
X:
Y:
Z:

Monthly Photo Dump:

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Book Tags, Bookworm Blogging

Down the TBR Hole #19

Started by Lost in a Story, the most fun way to cut down that TBR!

The rules:

  • Go to your goodreads to-read shelf.
  • Order on ascending date added.
  • Take the first 5 (or 10 if you’re feeling adventurous) books
  • Read the synopses of the books
  • Decide: keep it or should it go?

 

The Seafarer’s Kiss by Julia Ember
Give!!! Me!!!! Gay!!! Mermaids!!!! KEEP.

Papi: My Story by David Ortiz & Michael Holley
Not even a question. KEEP.

My Life with Bob by Pamela Paul
This seems really good and I really want to read it. KEEP.

Seven Tears at High Tide by C.B. Lee
Uhhh, basically more gay mermaids, but with a selkie. KEEP.

Uprooted by Naomi Novik
Very conflicting reviews from my GR friends AND the plot doesn’t really catch me. REMOVE.

 

My Absolute Darling by Gabriel Tallent
Two of the most used shelves are “abandoned” and “dnf” and the reviews make it seem like something I would hate. I’m going to put this on my shelf of things to avoid tbh. REMOVE.

Dhalgren by Samuel R. Delany
I don’t think this sounds like a bad book, but it also doesn’t sound like it’s for me. REMOVE.

Dragon Teeth by Michael Crichton.
I want to read more Crichton, but I don’t think I’ll enjoy this particular one. REMOVE.

The Teeth of the Comb & Other Stories by Osama Alomar
Another one that just doesn’t seem like it’s for me. REMOVE.

Mark Z. Danielewski’s House of Leaves by Michael J. Seidlinger
A book about a book that I’m obsessed with. KEEP.

I managed to remove 5 out of 10 books today. Any decisions you would have made differently?

Previous: Down the TBR Hole #18

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(All covers courtesy of Goodreads.)

Bookworm Blogging

Series I Need to Finish

I am… very bad at finishing series, so I figured I’d make a post detailing some of the series I need to finish! These are all series that I’ve read at least one book out of, but have yet to complete.

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The Southern Reach Trilogy
So I’ve read Annihilation and Authority and I’m FINALLY getting to Acceptance. I’ll have this one in the bag soon.

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The Raven Cycle
I’m halfway through and I have Blue Lily, Lily Blue sitting on my shelf begging me to read it. Soon.

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The Forest of Hands and Teeth
I’ve actually read The Forest of Hands and Teeth twice, so I really need to work on completing this series at some point!

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Warriors
Y’all please don’t judge me, but my friends and I are doing a Warriors buddy read. We’ve gotten through the first one and are hopefully moving to the second soon!

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Protector of the Small
Tammy is one of my favorite writers and I have no idea how I haven’t finished this series yet, tbh.

So! There y’all have it. Just a handful of the many series I’ve begun but have yet to commit to finishing. Hopefully someday soon I will no longer have these books looming over me. 🙂

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(All covers courtesy of Goodreads.)

Book Reviews, Bookworm Blogging

The Winter People [review]

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The Winter People by Jennifer McMahon
Published by Random House Audio on February 11, 2014 
my rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️.5
Goodreads avg:
3.77 (as of 2018-06-19)
cw: child death, grief, gore, underage drinking/drug use

Spoiler-free Review

Goodreads | IndieBound | Author’s Website

 

West Hall, Vermont, has always been a town of strange disappearances and old legends. The most mysterious is that of Sara Harrison Shea, who, in 1908, was found dead in the field behind her house just months after the tragic death of her daughter.

Now, in present day, nineteen-year-old Ruthie lives in Sara’s farmhouse with her mother, Alice, and her younger sister. Alice has always insisted that they live off the grid, a decision that has weighty consequences when Ruthie wakes up one morning to find that Alice has vanished. In her search for clues, she is startled to find a copy of Sara Harrison Shea’s diary hidden beneath the floorboards of her mother’s bedroom. As Ruthie gets sucked into the historical mystery, she discovers that she’s not the only person looking for someone that they’ve lost. But she may be the only one who can stop history from repeating itself.

 

Much like A Head Full of Ghosts, The Winter People is another audiobook I happened to pick up that I found myself completely enthralled by. My new methodology for finding audiobooks is to sort my TBR by random and to go down the list until I find a book that a) is available on audiobook and b) has a narrator that I like. I listen to the sample and if I like it, I download it and take off. It seems to be working fairly well for me.

The Winter People doesn’t fit neatly into any box. It’s a bit of horror, a bit of fantasy, a bit of historical fiction, and a bit of thriller. It actually has two narrators, as it switches not only between past and present but also between POVs within each time period. It’s hard to nail down, and the reader can’t even be entirely sure what’s happening until close to the end. I will say that it does a pretty good job of answering all your questions, though, so if you hate ambiguous endings you’ll probably like this one.

There are a fair amount of characters, but Jennifer McMahon does a good job of giving them all their own unique voices (well, the narrators probably help there too). I never really found myself mixing them up, and felt like they were all distinctly different people. My favorite is probably Sara Harrison Shea herself, in part because her narrator was unbelievably good. Both of the narrators were great, in fact. I also loved the setting. I have a soft spot in my heart for books set in New England, particularly when I know a lot of the places mentioned. This book took place mainly in Vermont, with a few flashbacks to scenes in Boston.

My biggest (and only, really) issue with this book was the ending. There was a scene that I was positive was the end and I was almost entirely satisfied with where it left off — but then it continued. In my opinion, this kind of caused the book to fizzle out and made for an awkward finish. It meandered just a bit too long. I also felt like things weren’t wrapped up entirely well. There were reasons given for everything that happened, but some of them felt so artificial. Like, it felt like the author couldn’t come up with an organic way to incorporate some stuff into the story but decided to keep it in anyway. Those minor reasons were why I knocked off half a star, they kind of pulled me out of the story I was until that point so invested in.

Overall, I thought this was an incredible read. Halfway through, I started adding more Jennifer McMahon books to my TBR and will definitely prioritize picking up something else by her. I highly recommend anyone with any interest pick this up. If you enjoy horror stories, particularly those with a historical setting, you’re going to love The Winter People.

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(Blurb and cover courtesy of Goodreads.)

Book Tags, Bookworm Blogging

Down the TBR Hole #18

Started by Lost in a Story, the most fun way to cut down that TBR!

The rules:

  • Go to your goodreads to-read shelf.
  • Order on ascending date added.
  • Take the first 5 (or 10 if you’re feeling adventurous) books
  • Read the synopses of the books
  • Decide: keep it or should it go?

Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor
I think people had sort of mixed reviews about this one, but I still think the plot seems interesting! KEEP.

Astrophysics for People in a Hurry by Neil deGrasse Tyson
I really like accessible non-fiction, and astrophysics is something I know NOTHING about, but would like to be at least a little educated on. KEEP.

The Fact of a Body by Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich
This still sounds extremely interesting! KEEP.

Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas
I know some people are obsessed with SJM, but this just doesn’t sound interesting to me right now. REMOVE.

A Swift Pure Cry by Siobhan Dowd
None of my friends have this on their GR and I have no idea how I came across it, but I’m not really interested. REMOVE.

Elsewhere by Gabrielle Zevin
Wow, I actually have zero interest in this, even though it seems pretty highly rated. REMOVE.

Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng
I’ve heard so many good things! KEEP.

Outlander by Diana Gabaldon
Okay, I’m definitely going to read this! KEEP.

A Face Like Glass by Frances Hardinge
Ah, I remember adding this and still really wanna read it! KEEP.

The Marsh King’s Daughter by Karen Dionne
See above! KEEP.

I only managed to remove 3 out of 10 books today. Any decisions you would have made differently?

Previous: Down the TBR Hole #17

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(All covers and blurbs courtesy of Goodreads.)