May Book Haul – 2016

Hello, I’m here today to tell you about the books I have obtained in May!

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It’s been a fairly hectic month because of exams, but obviously as soon as I finished, I went out on a celebratory book buying expedition. I’ve split the haul into categories based on the place I got the books from.

(Click on the images to take you to the Goodreads pages!)

  1. Library

I literally walked straight out of my last exam and straight to the city library to borrow some books. It’s actually the first time I’ve borrowed physical books from this library – in the past I’ve used their eBook services, and borrowed physical books from my College library, but there’s a lot more choice here. 

Will Grayson, Will Grayson – John Green and David Levithan17208924._UY200_.jpg

I’ve been meaning to read this for a while – it’s the last John Green book I hadn’t read. I’ve actually already read this one, and you can read my review here.

These Shallow Graves – Jennifer Donelly 29908288.jpg

This is a new historical thriller set in 1890s New York. I’ve seen it around a bit on bookish social media, and it caught my eye from the shelf.

 

  1. Penguin

Chasing the Stars – Malorie Blackman28693621.jpg

This is another new release, and it’s a Sci-Fi retelling of Othello, set in space.
I was actually sent this book as an ARC by Penguin. Not for professional book-bloggery reasons – I’m a member of a website called Bookmarks, and I earned a free book by filling in so many surveys! I was mildly sceptical at first, but I’m currently about 100 pages in, and really enjoying it.

  1. Waterstones

The Outsiders – S. E. Hinton32946.jpg

Described as “the original teenage rebel story”, and complete with some moody-looking boys on the front. I feel this is something of a modern classic.

 

  1. Oxfam Books

I love buying books from Oxfam – they’re so cheap, and since the money goes to charity, I seem to be able to justify buying way too many. Every time you go in there’s a different selection of books, and you never know what you’re going to find!

Things Fall Apart – Chinua Achebe37781.jpg

This one is on so many “must read” lists. It’s about the colonisation of Nigeria, written by a Nigerian author. I think this is quite an important book. Particularly relevant at the moment, with all the “de-colonisation” movements in student politics.

The Poisonwood Bible – Barbara Kingsolver5220.jpg

Carrying on in the colonial vein, this one’s about a family of missionaries who travel to the Belgian Congo in 1959. I’m not sure where exactly I’ve heard of this before, but it sounds familiar somehow. Very interesting blurb anyway.

The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar and Six More – Roald Dahl2016767.jpg

Ah, Roald Dahl, one of my favourite childhood authors. I’ve long been meaning to pick up some of his adult fiction, which I’ve heard is utterly bizarre.

Howard’s End – E.M. Forster3102.jpg

This one was recommended to me by one of my best friends, who read it last summer. It’s about life on a Hertfordshire estate at the turn of the century. I’ve read three other books by E.M. Forster, which I have enjoyed by varying amounts. So we’ll see about this one!

The Viceroy of Ouidah – Bruce Chatwin79913.jpg

This is a title I recognised from my Massive Book List. The Massive Book List is a huge list of “good books” given to us in Year 9 at school, which was basically translated in my head as Massive Reading Challenge. I’ve been working my way through them gradually since then. Maybe I’ll do a future post on the Massive Book List.

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So that’s all folks! Let me know if you’ve read any of these books, and what you thought, or if there are any you plan on reading!

XXoOXOOO

Will Grayson, Will Grayson – John Green & David Levithan

This book is about two characters called Will Grayson, one written by John Green, and the other by David Levithan. The book alternates in point of view, with half the chapters being from one Will Grayson, and the other half from the other. They start off as completely separate stories, and then begin intertwining.

WillGrayson

John Green’s Will Grayson is a classic John Green guy, introspective, geeky, moanily lusting after a female love interest. David Leviathan’s Will Grayson suffers from depression, and has a lot of anger towards the world and the people around him, with his only solace being a character called Isaac he’s met online. Both Will Graysons go to different high schools, and have never met at the beginning of the book.

There were certainly aspects of the book that I really enjoyed, particularly David Levithan’s Will Grayson. I’ve never suffered from depression, but I think these chapters gave insight into that kind of trapped mind, and the rage and helplessness he feels. His chapters, particularly the early ones, felt raw and shocking. A really interesting aspect of this portrayal was the fact that the chapters from this Will Grayson’s point of view were written all in lower case letters. As well as making it really clear which person’s point of view I was currently reading, I think this added to his hopelessness and low self esteem.

There’s also something about books with alternating chapters which means I can’t stop reading them. I think it’s often the way the author can leave you on a cliff hanger, and then you know you have to read the next chapter to find out what happens, by which time you’re then on a cliff hanger for the next chapter, and so on, in a massive cycle until you finish the book. Both authors were certainly very compelling.

One of the main problems I had with this novel was the character Tiny. He’s the best friend of the John Green Will Grayson, described with terms like “fabulously gay”, and “the world’s gayest person”. In keeping with this weird stereotype, he prances around the book like a unicorn drunk on pink champagne, and of course, puts on a massive musical at the end about his “gayness”. I don’t know how qualified I am to comment, but I feel as though this is a massive stereotype that really doesn’t fit with any of the gay people I know, and I don’t think it’s helpful to take these characteristics and describe them as “gay”. Gay means homosexual. Not glittery Madonna-loving sparkle queen. There are straight people who act like that, and gay people who don’t.

I also found the idea of a character like Tiny in a high school quite unrealistic. High schools are fairly unpleasant places, and I can’t really believe that Tiny didn’t get more stick for his flamboyant ways. I know there are a few jabs throughout, and the issue when the football team don’t want him in their changing room, but people were generally quite accepting. I know this is a good thing, but I just think it probably isn’t that realistic.

I in no way wish to slate this book, as I did actually really enjoy reading it. It’s definitely made me want to investigate more of David Levithan’s writing (I’ve already read all of John Green’s other books). Although I did find the ending really stupid.

⭐️⭐️⭐️3/5

XxooXoXoO

Booktube Statistics!

Hello people,

Today I’ve made something I’ve been meaning to make for a while… In order to satisfy the cravings of my inner Microsoft Excel nerd, I’ve produced a graph of all the Booktubers* with over 30K subscribers (otherwise it was really long) with their number of subscribers they have! 📊📚📷

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I would like to say though, this is purely for interest. I rarely look at how many subscribers a Booktuber has – if I like their videos, I’ll watch them, regardless of how popular they are. Booktube isn’t a competition about having more subscribers than everyone else, it’s about producing interesting content and having interesting discussions. I think it’s a really positive aspect of Booktube, that people aren’t always harping on about how many subscribers they have, and being all high and mighty about it. 💕

In making this graph though, I obviously had to look at a lot of people’s subscriber counts, which threw up quite a few surprises! Some of my FAVOURITE Booktubers had comparatively very few subscribers, and many aren’t even close to being on my graph! Which I suppose, just goes to show that number of subscribers doesn’t necessarily equal better Booktuber. That’s not to put down the people with a bazillion subscribers though; they’ve all worked incredibly hard to acquire their audiences.

Another surprising thing is the stepwise way that the bars descend. 2 Booktubers have in the region of 300K subscribers, then the next one has nearer to 200K, then there’s a cluster at 150K, and everyone else is below 100K. It’d be interesting to know how the subscribers are divided up: are there thousands of viewers ONLY subscribed to polandbananasBOOKS and abookutopia? Or perhaps more likely, these people’s subscribers form overlapping groups subscribed to all the other Booktubers in various combinations, with no other Booktubers in common to all of them. I wonder how many regular Booktube viewers there are…

In terms of other aspects of the graph, the blue bars are people living in the USA 🇺🇸, red= Canada 🇨🇦, Purple= Australia 🇦🇺, and Green = UK/Ireland 🇬🇧. Only 3 are boys, and the rest girls (21).

Anyway, sorry for the rambling 🙃

In CONCLUSION, I think this graph is interesting, but I don’t want anyone to judge the “worth” of anybody by it, because you’re all fantastic 😊

Let me know if there are any other groovy Booktube graphs you’d like me to make! Also, if I’ve left anybody off, I’m really sorry! Let me know and I’ll add them to the list!

xoXOXoX

* For those that don’t know, “Booktubers” are people who make videos about books on Youtube. If you’ve never watched any, I recommend checking them out!

Cover design: Lolita

Hello! You may be pleased to hear (or may not be), that I haven’t completely abandoned my new blog, but I do have finals starting in two days, so writing book reviews hasn’t exactly been top priority 🙁

For the time being I’ve got another book cover design – I got really enthusiastic and made a few a couple of weeks ago, but didn’t want everyone to get sick of them if I posted them all in quick succession.

Anyway, this one is for the modern classic Lolita, by Vladimir Nabokov, which as most probably know, is about a middle aged man who falls in love and fantasises over a teenager (called Lolita).

Lolita

I chose the childish underwear to emphasise Lolita’s young age, but also show her sexualisation by the author. The black tiles and the printed letters look a bit like a blackboard too, again pointing to her youth.

I know my past few posts have all been cover designs, but I’m planning to do more texty posts after exams finish. This blog is supposed to be about entire books, not just the covers!

XoxoxxX

Cover design: Gormenghast

The next book cover design I’ve done is for the classic fantasy book Gormenghast.

It’s part of a trilogy following the Royal family of an enormous castle called Gormenghast, which has existed for thousands of years, and is full of strange rites and rituals. It’s an intriguing series, which I’ll probably do a proper review of once I’ve finished the third book (which I’m partway through).

Gormenghast

The black bird (which fortuitously landed on my windowsill!) reminded me of the Countess Groan, who has a great affinity for birds, and has flocks of them following her around all the time. The bricks in the background represent the constant presence of the castle walls, which nobody ever leaves, and the dark lower half of the image suits the book’s sinister themes.

XooXXXoO

Cover design: Nineteen Eighty-Four

On a creative whim, I’ve decided to try my hand at designing book covers.

Here’s my first one, for the modern classic Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell (which is fab by the way, you should definitely read it if you haven’t).

Nineteen Eighty Four (1)

I took the photo while I was in London last week.

I wouldn’t call myself particularly arty, but I do enjoy taking creative photographs, and OF COURSE books, so this seemed like quite a good way of combining those things.

Hopefully there’ll be some more to come!

XooxoxX