Thesis Thursday: Merry Christmas and Here’s What’s Happening in the New Year

Thesis Thursdays is a weekly(ish) feature where I rant, love and talk about young adult books I’m reading because I’m conning my college into thinking this is all for academia! Find out more here!

giphy1Praise Santa because I’m finally home. I made it out of my penultimate semester as an undergrad alive. (Mostly.) Honestly, since I’ve gotten home I’ve mostly been sleeping around requisite holiday stuff.

But anyways. You aren’t here to read about how tired I’ve been. You’re probably here to read about my thesis. Otherwise I’m confused why you clicked on a post titled Thesis Thursday.

I don’t know if I ever spelled this out, but the two thesis projects I had thisgiphy2 semester had two very different goals. One was for my Writing BA, and that necessitated me writing at least 50 pages of original work. I wrote way over 50 before I even considered participating in NaNoWriMo in November. I think I hit about 170 pages of the novel when I won. It’s still not done. Maybe like … 3/5ths done, if you want to get specific. I’m never really sure when I’m writing because I don’t plan a damn thing. But anyways, that one is completely finished and done as far as the school is concerned. I’m going to finish it, but on my own time.

baby-napThe English thesis, on the other hand, is still a massive work in progress. The goal for this last semester was to research things for it and then write the first chapter, and the goal for next semester is to write the last two chapters, defend it and present it. Not necessarily in that order, as I’ve learned, since my presentation is in the middle of freaking April and it’s assumed I’ll still be writing it then.

The finished chapter is currently titled “Taming of the Tropes: How the 81pujydq2ylFemale Assassin in YA Literature Showcases the Biggest Issues and Best Possible Subversions of YA’s Most Popular Tropes” and basically it’s about how so much of YA lit presents a supposedly empowering female main character and then takes away all her power and agency with a really creepy and terrible romance arc. Specifically, I looked at female assassin literature using Graceling by Kristin Cashore, Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers, Poison by Bridget Zinn, Seeker by Arwen Elys Dayton and–of course–Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas. If you want the fangirl version of my thesis, it’s that Throne of Glass is the only one that gets close to present a truly empowered female character while also presenting a plot that thoroughly subverts popular tropes that I’m sick and tired of seeing.

buriedinbooksThe origin of this thesis was me trying to figure out how I could just re-read ToG forever and this is what happened. I’m happy to say that it held up to my intense scrutiny (mostly), because some of them did not. I wrote a blog post about how shattered I was by this re-reading of Grave Mercy, and I reviewed Poison, so if I get around to it I’ll post a reaction to my re-reading of Graceling (mostly okay) and a review of Seeker (mostly not okay).

However, Thesis Thursdays is a long way from over! My second chapter is 200going to deal with marketing strategies for YA books, like cover trends, blurbing, etc, and how that factors in to commodification and tropes, and my third will tackle different publishing strategies as weapons for and against this war of commodification and tropeism. (While still talking about how amazing Sarah J. Maas, Bloomsbury and the Throne of Glass series are.)

Basically, sit tight and wait for next semester. Expect a bunch of bleary-eyed rants about more things that frustrate me. Whether I’m doing research for my thesis or just writing it.

Also, Michaela and I have not forgotten our Betwixt the Books goals. Look for new videos–both solo and together–as we try to figure out how to keep making BookTube videos while separated, since Michaela graduated a semester early and LEFT ME. Coming after the holidays is our promised #imbibliomancy episode on Kazuo Ishiguro’s The Buried Giant!

Thanks for reading, guys, and happy holidays!

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Happy Holidays.com – How my Christmas (book) shopping was effected by the economy, the web and Goodreads

I am one of those people who, when instantly having no gift ideas for other people, thinks BOOKS. It helps that I talk to people who are book people. This year, when wondering about the gifts I should be, I actually had books in mind for certain people, mostly selfishly chosen but still. Other people I knew I wanted to give books, I just didn’t have an idea. It helped that the two people I had no clue about had a Goodreads account so I could stalk their reading tastes.

 Yeah, I stalked bad. I was all over their to-read list like ketchup on french fries. Multiple times, too, when I couldn’t find a single book on the to-read list I was even vaguely familiar with and therefore had to come up with some sort of feel for the list so I could pick something I’d read that was vaguely related. Still pretty sure I failed, there, but we’ll see what the reaction is at Christmas. The entire point of this is that, without Goodreads–this book-centered Facebook–I actually had a clue what I was going to get these people and I was glad for it.

But then I had a problem. I HAD NO BOOKSTORES.

Seriously! My closest chain was a Borders, which cleared out weeks ago. My local indie, as small as it was, always had the big-ticket items in stock and could order whatever I needed, but that recently went out of business as well after years and years of losing money. This had been a long time coming (in fact, the store had been losing so much money over the years but kept in business so long that the IRS was looking into them being a tax shelter), but it still reduced me to tears. Plus, now I had NOWHERE TO SHOP FOR BOOKS. NO PLACE TO BROWSE. (Plus, my indie had been carrying my books. Now what was I going to do to sell these suckers?) It was the stuff of my nightmares, quite literally. And now my Christmas shopping plans were quite defunct.

Now, instantly you are saying, “…online shopping, you dummy.” But here’s the thing: I HATE shopping for books online. There are no words that adequately describe how much that makes me ill. Don’t even get me started on eReaders. Just see the side picture. Book stores and libraries have been my heavens and havens for as long as I can remember, and they are what I worship–not electronic buying and reading. Browsing bookstores is a favorite pastime of mine when I’ve got a place to do it. All this means, however, was that it took me forever to come to terms with the fact that I had to order all my presents ONLINE.

This, of course, made me cranky and late, which made me extra cranky. Then the books came late and I had to frantically wrap and yadda yadda. The insult to injury came that, when asked what I wanted for Christmas, my usual answer of “gift card to the bookstore” died on my lips. It was no longer a gift that existed, yet it was a gift I had lived off of on birthdays and Christmases alike. I had to ask for Amazon gift cards. It felt like I was spewing acid.

Even now, I can’t decide if the internet is helping or harming me right now. I know that without it, I wouldn’t have Christmases presents for 75% of my recipients and I wouldn’t have known what to get them to boot. However, I also know that it’s the internet that shoved my little indie out of business, and for that I will never forgive it. Well, unless it gives me a bookstore. Then we’d be even.