Why I Can’t Relate to Library-related Posts

I love the library. Or at least the concept of it. Of course I do! A building full of books that you’re allowed to borrow? Who wouldn’t love that! Butttt I actually don’t love the library. And here’s why (why does this sound like a clickbait headline omg)

My library sucks

Yes, I said it. It didn’t always suck. It was paradise when I was younger, because it had a lot of books I wanted to read back then, but now? Not so much

Okay, first some context. When I say ‘the’ or ‘my’ library, I’m talking about the Central one in the center of the city, which as far as I know is the biggest one, because the other ones (especially the one nearest to me) are even worse when it comes to the selection of books.

Now maybe you’re thinking ‘wow Michelle aren’t you being a bit harsh so they don’t have that many books you want to read’. Yeah, but,,, You have to pay a yearly fee (and a pretty high one – at least for me) to even borrow books. When they barely have any books I want to read (and with that I mean English YA books) I’m not going to pay that fee, because I’ll barely use the library if at all.

I do have to admit that I also like owning books, but when I read all those posts about how great the library is and see how easily people borrow books from their libraries I do wish the library/libraries here were a bit better. Also apparently paying for your membership is not a thing in every country??

Seriously you guys with the awesome libraries, treasure them. Do it for us international book bloggers with the sucky libraries (and the books. Always do it for the books)

Do you have the same problem? Or are you one of those extremely lucky bookworms that I envy so much? Let me know in the comments!

The Discussing Hufflepuff: What To Do With Books You Didn’t / No Longer Like?

Living in The Netherlands, I don’t really have a great library where I can find all the books I want to read. The biggest one in Amsterdam barely has English fiction books, let alone YA, so let alone YA books I want to read. This means I end up buying books instead, which means it of course happens that I end up buying something I didn’t like. So what do you do with those books? Or with books that you used to like, but started to (strongly) dislike?

Maybe this sounds like a silly topic, but it’s something that’s been on my mind a lot recently, probably because I’ve been reorganising my shelves haha. Of course there are books that I’ve sold or given away, but there are some books that I didn’t like or no longer like, that are still on my shelves. Why?

Well, first there are some books that I no longer like, that I just feel nostalgic about. It kind of feels like betraying them if I were to get rid of them, which sounds silly, but aren’t we bookworms often silly?

Another important factor is prettiness. I think it’s safe to say that a lot of us bookworms love pretty books. I’ve got quite a lot of pretty or even beautiful books that I didn’t like at all or even loathed, but they’re still on my shelves because they look so pretty!

I’ve also kept some books as a reminder to myself as a writer. So that I can open them up again, see what I didn’t like about them and learn from them (also they’re usually pretty as well I’m so shallow omg)

Lastly, there are some problematic books I kept, kind of as receipts. I can’t always remember all the details, of why a book was problematic, so I’d like to be able to look it up so I can properly explain it to someone, whether they’ve read the book or not. Besides I’ve already bought it so in a way I already supported the author, so I can’t take that back. The least I can do is use as many examples as possible so that other people won’t support them.

What about you? What do you do with books you ended up disliking or no longer like now? Let me know in the comments!

The Discussing Hufflepuff: Am I Overreacting?

Something that I often think when I see something sexist, racist, homophobic, etc. is: ‘am I overreacting?’ This has lead to me not pointing these things out, not tweeting about it, not writing blog posts about it… Nothing.

Last week I wrote a post on The Feministas about sexist Dutch magazines, and honestly? Before I wrote it I wasn’t sure if I should. Was I making a big deal out of nothing? Was the way women are being portrayed in these men magazines the same way women’s magazines portray men? Even though my female friend was just as outraged, even though I discussed it with the other members of The Feministas first, I still felt like maybe I was overreacting.

Now this doesn’t always happen. I know my reaction as to what happened to Arden Cho on Teen Wolf wasn’t an overreaction. I know that when The Real O’Neals made a biphobic ‘joke’ I was right to be angry and hurt (if you missed it, the protagonist Kenny was afraid that what his new boyfriend was going to tell him would be bad news. He was like ‘what if it’s money problems or webbed toes. Or worse! Bisexual!’)

So why is it that often or not I feel like I shouldn’t say anything? Is it because I grew up in such a sexist, racist, homophobic etc. society? My mom always taught me to speak my mind and is very outspoken about these matters as well. Did our society, that is constantly trying to silence minorties, get to me anyway?

Or is it because of my PTSD, because I’m terrified people will get mad and yell at me?

I don’t know why, but it’s something that’s been bothering me for a while. There are so many things that I’ve wanted to discuss before, but I was scared. Scared that I was wrong, scared that I was overreacting. Scared that people would attack me.

But if I felt hurt, violated and disgusted at seeing the way women are being portrayed as objects, sexual fantasies and entertainment for men, shouldn’t that count? Shouldn’t it count that my friend, another woman, also felt this way? Shouldn’t it count that my fellow Feministas were also disgusted after hearing about it? Why did I still worry about it?

Do you ever feel the same way? Let me know in the comments.

The Discussing Hufflepuff: Being Clumsy is Not Cute

One of my blogging goals this year was to post a Discussing Hufflepuff every month, but since I failed to post one during February, March, April and May, I decided to post another one this month! Besides, this was bothering me a lot lately.

I’m sure we’ve all come across The Cute Clumsy Girl trope at least once. Being clumsy is usually the girl’s only flaw (except that she’s usually ‘too naive’ as well) and everyone thinks it’s ‘so adorable’ and they fall head over heels for her. Because such a clumsy girl has to be protected! !

Okay, I do need to be protected from my own clumsiness. But everyone around me needs to be protected from my clumsiness. The amount of times I accidentally hurt someone is not funny (especially my Mom, she’s my biggest victim. Mom if you’re reading this: I’m sorry). Is being clumsy a flaw? Yes (though it really shouldn’t be the only flaw a character has). I hurt myself, I hurt others. I break things, spill things, basically I make one big mess. So that’s definitely a flaw. But that’s not how being clumsy is often portrayed in fiction, especially when it comes to the ‘cute clumsy girls’.

Can my clumsiness be funny or even hilarious? Oh yes. My clumsiness has been the protagonist of a good, funny story at many family gatherings and I often crack myself up by thinking about my antics. But I also internally cry when I remember that I almost burned the house down (okay I make it sound way more dramatic than it actually was) when I tried to bake some bread or the time I threw my new jumper on a BURNING candle. And did I mention that I’ve hurt other people a lot? I’ve accidentally hit my mom many times. Or head butted her a few times too. And there are of course the times I fell down the stairs, slipped on pavement (okay that one was hilarious. But it did hurt), jumped into a pond (I know that sounds like it was on purpose, but it wasn’t. My friend and I were dancing on a bridge, jumping up and down and I just jumped backward more and more until BAM. Foot in pond. Okay that one was also hilarious. But also sucked, because wet sneaker), ruined books, broke precious stuff, somehow got sauce on the ceiling and boy could I go on. Point is, while it can be funny, it can also be disastrous.

And honestly, if you spend a lot of time with me, while you’ll find my antics hilarious, they will also annoy you at some point. A lot. My mom usually laughs when I do something clumsy, but that doesn’t mean she never gets angry. Because sometimes it’s exasperating, and I agree. I hate breaking and ruining things and accidentally hurt people (duh). So when I read or watch one of those ‘cute clumsy girls’ who never portray clumsiness realistic, it bothers meA lot. Especially when everyone falls in love with her because she’s ‘so cute!!’.

How do you feel about The Cute Clumsy Girl trope? Are you clumsy as well? Does any of this sound familiar to you? Let me know in the comments!

signature

The Discussing Hufflepuff: Stop Romanticising Abusive Relationships

No your eyes are not deceiving you, this is an actual Discussing Hufflepuff! One of my blogging goals this year was to post one every month. Of course I failed badly because the previous one was posted in January. 

Today’s topic is something I’ve wanted to write about for a while now, because it’s something that is very important to me. I’ve noticed for a while now that abusive relationships are often not described as abusive, by both the characters and the fans. Worse, they’re being romanticised.

I’m all for abusive relationships being portrayed in fiction. Hell, I encourage it. Because if one thing the romanticisation of abusive relationship does, it’s showing that a lot of people don’t recognise the signs, and fiction can help with that. But instead, fiction often romanticises abusive relationships, and this is very troubling. If we don’t realise that a ship in a book or tv show is abusive, how will we realise that our own relationship might be abusive? How will we realise that these abusive relationships are not something to strive for, but something we need to run away from as fast as we can? 

Writers need to stop romanticising abusive relationships, but maybe they don’t realise that the relationship they’re writing is abusive, because just like fans, they don’t recognise the signs either. So how can we stop the romanticisation of abusive relationships? By calling the writers out (gently, because like I said they might not realise it either) and helping them realise that as writers they have the tool to help their viewers and readers realise they themselves are in an abusive relationship or that someone close to them is, so they can get the hell out. That as writers they can help people in abusive relationship find the courage to break it off, to seek help. And most importantly, that if people continue to see abusive relationships portrayed as normal or even ‘romantic’ in fiction, they will believe that it is normal and romantic.

It doesn’t matter if the characters love each other. If they hurt the other (or each other), physically or mentally, it’s abusive. It’s not romantic when someone is overbearingly ‘protective’ to the point that they decide for you who you can and can’t see, that they decide your every move for you. It’s not romantic when someone keeps pursuing you, even though they say no. No means no. If they truly loved them, they would keep away. At this point it’s just unhealthy. If they make you feel like shit about yourself, even if ‘they don’t mean it’, get the hell out.

This topic is very important to me, because know the signs, but many people out there don’t. And how can they? No one teaches them, the media shows them that these type of relationships are ‘normal’ and ‘true love’. Please help me put a stop to the romanticisation of abusive relationships. It literally makes a difference between life or death.

Usually I have a question to ask you guys, but this time I can’t think of anything, so let me know what you think of this topic in the comments!

signature

The Discussing Hufflepuff #5: ‘ANOTHER book set in that world?’

HAPPY CHRISTMAS EVE! Can you believe it’s Christmas already tomorrow? I’ve got a Christmas post coming up tomorrow, but today it’s time for another Discussing Hufflepuff. Today I want to talk about something that has been annoying me for a while now.

Next year Lady Midnight is coming out, another book in the Shadowhunter Chronicles. Chain of Gold, also a Shadowhunters book, will hopefully be released in 2017. The Hidden Oracle, the first book in Rick Riordan’s new series The Trials of Apollo, will also be released in 2016. Now you may think: Michelle, where are you going with this? What do these books have in common?

All these books get comments, mainly on Goodreads, along these lines: ‘ANOTHER Shadowhunter book?’ ‘ANOTHER mythology book?’ ‘Can’t they write something else?’ and the infamous ‘they’re doing it for the money!’.

This really annoys me. You don’t have to read these, you know. A lot of us, including me, are very excited about these new series. Why does it bother you so much? The authors, and the fans, are not ready to let go of these worlds yet. They still have many stories they want to tell, they find them fun to write, and most of us find them fun to read, so what’s the big deal? Yes, they can write something else. And they have. Rick Riordan has written non-mythology books. Cassandra Clare is writing The Magisterium series with Holly Black. But if they hadn’t, what does it matter? They’re doing what they love, I say let them. As someone who loves to write, I’m sure not going to criticise them.

Also, how many people complained about Blood of Olympus? When I finished it, I figured there was going to be another series. I mean, spoiler: Apollo went missing for crying out loud. Uncle Rick couldn’t just leave it at that. I’m not remembering this wrong am I? I didn’t make this up myself, right? There were things left unresolved, and many more things we complained about that I won’t specify here to avoid spoilers, but if you’ve read Blood of Olympus and you’re part of the fandom, you probably know what I’m talking about. It sounds like all our complaints will be resolved in this new series, so why are we complaining? (when I say we, I’m obviously not including myself. I’m not complaining. I’M HELLA EXCITED. Remind me to never use ‘hella’ again please)

But what even irks me more, is that when authors don’t write another series set in the same world, people also complain (okay I’m guilty of this one). We whine and whine that there’s no book series about the Marauders. If J.K. Rowling announced that series today, would anyone say ‘another Harry Potter book’? And if afterwards she announced a series about the Founders, would anyone say it then? No, forget I asked that. Probably someone will. My point is, we often want more series set in these worlds. We’re often not ready to let go. And again, if you are ready, you don’t have to read this new series! No one will point a gun to your head and force you to (I hope).

And ‘they’re doing it for the money’? UM. IT’S THEIR JOB. WE LIVE IN A WORLD WHERE WE NEED MONEY TO SURVIVE. THEY NEED TO PAY THEIR BILLS AND BUY FOOD. HOW ARE THEY GOING TO WRITE WHEN THEY’RE DEAD BECAUSE OF THE LACK OF FOOD. Guys, I would KILL (okay, maybe not kill) to be able to write for a living. I know a lot of us are. They’re writing something they love, and they’re being paid that way. If a chef makes another pasta, will you go ‘NOT ANOTHER PASTA. CAN’T YOU COOK SOMETHING ELSE FOR A CHANGE?’ Please stop criticising authors for writing several books/series set in the same world. Unless there’s a really good reason to do so! If there is, please let me know.

So what do you think? If you disagree with me, let me know! I’m really curious to find out more about the other side of this ‘debate’. AND WHO’S ALSO EXCITED ABOUT THE HIDDEN ORACLE, LADY MIDNIGHT AND CHAIN OF GOLD?

signature

The Discussing Hufflepuff #3: Rereading Childhood Favourites

Last month I decided to reread the first book in one of my favourite childhood series: De Macht van het Zwaard (The Power of the Sword). I had wanted to reread this series for a while now, as it meant a lot to me back when I was a kid. I reread it over and over again, introduced me to high fantasy, the characters were my friends and I wanted to live in their world and go on adventures with them. I couldn’t understand why this series is not more popular and I’ve been shouting (mentally) from rooftops that it should be translated.

I’m not so sure about that anymore. In fact, I’m not sure at all.

The writing is meh. It’s not bad, but not mind-blowing either. The descriptions aren’t as vivid and beautiful as I once thought. Two of my favourite characters from my childhood turn out to be sexist, which I didn’t see back then because I was a kid. The romance I once admired is creepy and I don’t ship it at all. You see, when the protagonist met the love interest, she was ten, almost eleven. He was 18. Now, there’s nothing wrong with a kid having an innocent crush on an older guy, but it is wrong when said man shares those feelings. THIS IS NOT OKAY AT ALL GUYS. It’s creepy and disturbing and it kind of ruins my childhood, since I shipped them so hard when I was a kid (though I didn’t know what shipping was, of course). Nothing happens between them when she’s still a kid, but he still fell in love with her when she was a kid. Surely I’m not the only one who’s a bit freaked out about this?

I did enjoy rereading it, though. I was transported back into a world I once practically lived in. The other characters are still loveable (though not very three-dimensional, but it’s only the first book) and their relationships are fun to read. So are their adventures and the places they go. Rereading it warmed my heart and it was fun, just not good as I remembered.

If this had been the first time I read this, I would’ve given it three stars, but I gave it four for nostalgia. I will always consider this series one of my favourites, because it meant so much  to me for so long, but I will not praise it like I used to.

Of course I had different tastes and expectations as a kid. I hadn’t read as much and didn’t have a lot to compare it with, but I’m still disappointed it’s not as magical, exciting, mind-blowing, funny and well-written as I thought it was.

It made me wonder, how many other of my childhood favourites are actually not that good? And why? Is it because they’re aimed at kids? (because I’m not so sure about De Macht van het Zwaard. The protagonist is 16 and there’s quite the violence and death). Is it because we have low expectations and not much to compare it with when we’re young? Is it because we don’t really understand three-dimensional characters and character development? Or is it because we don’t notice how creepy and disturbing and sexist books can be, because we have no knowledge of these things?

So therefore I ask YOU. Why do you think some childhood favourites turn out to be not as good as you remembered? 

signature