Massive School Book Haul + Mini Reviews

Interested in what I read for school last year? Here are all my physical books, and some mini reviews of the ones you might not know about!

I have no idea what happened when I uploaded this, but the off audio will stop around the 1 minute mark so hang in there!

From the Notebook: Searching for the Joy in Reading

I’m here today to talk about something that you may have guessed: I haven’t been reading a lot recently. In the aftershock of having graduated from college, I’m just now beginning to realize that reading can be fun again. I’ve been struggling with this for a while now, but I think I’ve finally had my eureka moment! Here’s my explanation of what’s been going on and what I’m thinking now!

Thesis Thursday: First Complete Draft is … Complete

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!

13094374_10209689763425465_2413078371465464007_nYou heard that right, folks. Since the last time I made one of these posts … I did it. I wrote the first draft of my third chapter. It lives and breathes in the world, bringing my page total for the first draft up to 75 pages altogether.

The fight is far from over. In fact, I really should be editing right now. However, all of the initial hard work is … done. On top of that, my defense was just scheduled for next Wednesday, so time is really running out on this whole thing. I can see the finish line–for this, as well as school in general.

I think there are only going to be one more of these posts, considering that there will be a Thursday right after my defense. Wow. What am I going to do with my Thursdays now?

Well. Hang on. Back up. Let’s talk about this third chapter that just, as far as these posts are concerned, appeared out of nowhere. The working title is all over the place, because I don’t like it and it’s really long, but here’s the gist: big, traditional publishers exploit teen online engagement for their own marketing gains, but focus on what their research says will make the next bestseller and NOT the next good book. While authors can make use of these new media outlets these days, publishers ten to ignore them and instead create these debilitating feedback loops with their own marketing departments that keep us trapped within really bad trends.

Out of all three chapters, this is the first one that really made me … angry. Like, really tumblr_mkqimsivr61ruw1vso1_500angry. And all the stuff I researched and talked about, it’s nothing that I didn’t at least subconsciously know about YA publishing. But seeing it, reading it, understanding the depth of the madness–it’s just terrifying.

I write posts like In Defense of YA: We need a Rebellion of Our Own because I genuinely love YA, and I believe that the genre has a powerful role to play in literature if only we can rescue it from its dependence on tropeism and “what sells.” However, writing an essay like this and seeing how far the traditional publishers go to keep producing the next new megahit … it’s sad. I start to wonder if the whole idea of a rebellion isn’t just some cute idea. I start to wonder if YA is eventually going to implode on itself, and if I’ll have to watch the whole genre fall apart.

200_sNot to be a total Debbie Downer, I guess that’s why I do this kind of research: because I think I can say something that someone can here. And my research did turn up a bunch of publishers doing really important and innovative things because they believe as I do. So, the battle isn’t lost. But, still.

I’ll probably come out with a From the Notebook video on Monday talking about how this paper literally made me consider deleting my blog and throwing in the towel on my participation in these schemes. Obviously, I only considered that for about 0.1 seconds before I threw the idea out entirely, because I love you guys and this community and I get excited about books and what we do. I could never leave.

But this paper did make me think about it. And other things.

Really wish I had time to process those things, but it is not this day. I have chapters to edit 5dfa891ff25b2dcdd6fdbba908cf9130and other papers to write and graduation to get through. There will only be one more Thesis Thursday post, I think, and then I’ll try to figure out something new to do with the day. I’ll tell you guys all about my defense, and maybe wrap all this work up a but more thoroughly. For now, though, this post is the honest truth.

I hate YA. I love YA. I really, really want to fix it. Who’s with me?

Thesis Thursday: I DID IT!

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!

12804668_10209117395316620_614087368349724463_nIf this were a movie, I think this is the point where I’d give some great speech about how I always knew I could do it. But, here’s the thing: considering that I had three panic attacks on Monday before it was even noon, I did not think that I could do this.BUT HERE WE ARE.

The chapter was due Wednesday. I finished it Tuesday. GO ME.

I finally, finally got all my reading done in time to spend all last Saturday writing the beginning of this paper. I spent (rounding) 5 straight hours, left for dinner with friends, and then 3 more straight hours just pounding away. That first night, I got up to 14 pages–which honestly wasn’t that great. I thought that I only had one more section to write and then my conclusion, and the paper at that point felt really lacking to me.

Enter Sunday. I just had to take that day to myself, meaning that I needed it to do all the12798887_10209122216317142_1628587853003279900_n homework I had for Monday and that left me no time for thesis writing. I let it go and pretended that that didn’t bother me. (It did.) However, in thinking about it all day, I realized that I needed to add a section, so I really needed to write TWO more sections and my conclusion and also rewrite my intro.

Which is why I had all those panic attacks on Monday. My Mondays have a really long schedule, and I wasn’t sure I’d even sleep that night. But I hunkered down and finished the paper and I even slept that night. VICTORY IS MINE.

In the end, it ended up being 24 pages. Between that and the 29 page first chapter, I’ve already hit the minimum page requirement for this thing. And there’s one more chapter to go. I must really hate myself.

12801277_10209140220927246_1575951528546352262_nI realized something, though, that is trending between my first two chapters. It’s not intentional. My first paper, “Taming of the Tropes: How the Female Assassin in YA Literature Showcases the Biggest Issues and Best Possible Subversions of YA’s Most Popular Tropes” (working title), is all about the content of YA books, and how they claim to include these strong female characters but the publishers are LYING. This second chapter, tentatively titled “Masking the Issues: The Commodification of Young Adult Book Covers” talks about how publishers are putting more and more effort into producing covers of quality but not texts of quality.

Basically, I’m calling out big conglomerate book publishers for being liars.

Whoops?

Alright, yeah, there’s a lot more to it, and I still love YA A LOT. Just consider it part of my continued effort to get all readers of young adult a genre that actually speaks to them like humans rather than formulaic tropes that are packaged in shiny covers.

Thesis Thursday: AND WE’RE OFF

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!

Can’t say that I have too much to say today because GUESS WHO IS WRITING THIS SECOND CHAPTER THIS WEEKEND? Me. The answer is me. If it is also you, then I am confused.

413benup3el-_sx324_bo1204203200_After last week’s Sources Book Haul, I only have one more resource to add to the pile (in book for, anyways). This book was given to me by another one of my professors when I tried to explain my jumble of ideas, and it sounds like exactly what I needed: canonical and important. The book is The Culture Industry by Theodor Adorno, and it’s all about mass market culture and art.

Guess how that applies to young adult book covers. Guess. I’m sure it’s really hard.

I’ve also complied a shitton of data from the YALSA top ten listsmaxresdefault since 2010 about cover art, and read articles and theses up the whazoo. Once I get this book done, I have no more excuses. I need a draft before spring break.

In lieu of anything else, I’m going to share my initial whiteboard thoughts with you guys, to see if y’all agree. What am I missing? Am I off base? SOUND OFF!

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From the Notebook: February Wrap Up

Happy last day of February everybody! Today I am bringing you my monthly reading wrap up, since this just happened to fall so nicely. I read a lot more than I thought in February, though a lot of it was for school. Okay, 11 isn’t usually a huge number for me but considering what I’ve been working through, it feels like a lot. And, yes, some of the books for school I didn’t read in full, but … I’m counting them. Fight me. Hopefully in March I’ll have some more entertaining books to read. Please, for the love of all that’s chocolate.

Monthly PopSugar update: I only ticked off two new categories this month, sadly – book with a blue cover and book about a culture you’re unfamiliar with. 8/40 complete!

Links mentioned in post:

Review: “Choosing My Religion” by Stephen J. Dubner

414Dq6zuagL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_Choosing by Religion by Stephen J. Dubner

Goodreads | Amazon

Choosing My Religion is a luminous memoir, crafted with the eye of a journalist and the art of a novelist by New York Times Magazine writer and editor Stephen J. Dubner. By turns comic and heartbreaking, it tells the story of a family torn apart by religion, sustained by faith, and reunited by truth.

Two stars

From the Notebook: Back to School Book Haul

Now that Amazon/Chegg have finally delivered all my school books for the year, I thought that it might be cool to do a book haul! Don’t worry: not a text book in sight. In fact, these books are all either fantasy/scifi short story collections, memoirs or–okay–some really strange philosophy texts. Some of them you’ll see on the blog … some of them you won’t. Either way, here’s a really cool 16 book haul for you guys!

Thesis Thursdays: MEETING YOUR IDOL IS COOL

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!

Okay, I know that I promised something regarding Bridget Zinn and Poison for this week. I lied.

BECAUSE I MET SARAH J. MAAS LAST SATURDAY, GUYS.

I’m from a really small town in New York, where no authors ever come near. Remember that time I traveled five hours one way to see Cassie Clare, Holly Black and Sarah Rees Brennan? No regrets, but yikes.

Anyways. Sarah JUST HAPPENED to add a few extra stops in Pennsylvania to her Queen of Shadows tour, and ONE OF THEM WAS ONLY 4 HOURS AWAY. I couldn’t miss this chance.

So I didn’t. (Props to my best friend of six years for driving me.)

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Sarah is REALLY PRETTY, guys. AND REALLY NICE AND REALLY WONDERFUL AND AWESOME. She took time with everyone and was just … amazing. I shook the whole time and spoke in this really high pitched voice but it was okay because *shrieks loudly and incoherently with fangirl screaming*

12006142_10208002864014034_7938053637420484565_nAhem. So what makes this a Thesis Thursday post, you ask? Because I wasn’t kidding when I said last week that the basis of my thesis is Sarah’s books. Literally. My entire evolving idea has had Throne of Glass as it’s center cog. When I did my Worth It Wednesday post for this series, I also talked about last year and my academic conference presentation that centered on her books. Now that I’m a senior, I get to do my English work on books *I* pick. And right now, that’s just … SarahSarahSarahSarah.

I have most of her books in ecopy (and I forgot my hardback of 12004722_10208002862293991_682126073511519324_nACOTAR, dammit), but when I saw all of the hardbacks just sitting there behind her … I splurged. And I justified this because I need physical copies to put sticky notes in as I do my thesis. (Okay. Really just #1 but shhhh…)

Her books also exemplify the way that I would like to be as a writer, which is what I’m incorporating into the novel I’m writing for my other senior project. Not just in how much fun the books are, but also in how they’ve grown and changed as the series has been published. Her books aren’t just amazing for a reader; for a writer learning their craft, Sarah sets a great example for debuting strong and consistently getting better.

So this is a Thesis Thursday not because I did any actual work (ha!) but because I got to meet my idol and she was amazing and for this week I’m just going to revel in the fact that I am writing an honors thesis and I AM EXCITED ABOUT IT. And Sarah is a big reason why.

Thesis Thursdays: An Introduction

Okay, nobody panic. This feature sounds kind of pretentious and crotchety, but it isn’t. In fact, this feature (which may not always be weekly) will be a combination of book reviews, tirades against academia, writerly panic and frustration, rants about book tropes and fan girl freak-outs–usually about Sarah J. Maas, probably. Let me explain.

I’m a senior this year. *INSERT PANIC HERE* I have chosen to inflict upon myself the year long English Honors Thesis course that my Department offers here. Now here you might expect me to say that I’m studying Shakespeare or some post modern writer or something.

Well, you might. But you’ve been following me on this blog and you know that that isn’t my style.

First things first, remember that post I wrote about being an English and Writing double major? While I’m writing this English Thesis, I’m also completing my Writing Senior Project, which is a novel. This will come into play later.

16034235The topic of my English Honors Thesis, broadly, is YA publishing trends and female assassins. It’s conception came from me saying HOW CAN I JUST KEEP REREADING THRONE OF GLASS FOR CREDIT? Turns out, my thesis adviser really likes what I came up with. I’m not going to bore you with the academic details, I’m just going to say that I’m going to be writing about the tropes of these books and therefore reading a bunch of books like Throne of Glass to make my point. Which is where the rants about annoying tropes and the book reviews come in. I’ve actually got a short list on Goodreads about what books I’m considering.

The YA publishing trends component of this is going to mean that there are some books on there that don’t make sense, but don’t fret. I’ll explain that all in due course whenever I figure out what the hell I’m doing.

Don’t forget that novel I’m writing! It occurred to me, rather late in the game, that if I was doing all this work talking about tropes of female assassins and what they do well and what they don’t that maybe I should WRITE the book that destroys all the tropes I hate and is actually more like what I want to read. So far I’m two chapters in and while I’m way rusty (more on this later), I’m making myself laugh so that’s about the best I can expect.

Still with me? If not, that’s cool. I honestly don’t know if anything remotely interesting will come out of this besides amusing rants and more book reviews, but that’s okay. At least it’ll help me sort out my thoughts.

Tune in next week when I discuss Poison by Bridget Zinn, why I can’t tell if I like it or not and why I’m confusing myself as to whether or not to consider it for my thesis!