Reading Preferences: Format, Structure, + Length

I’ve been a reader for a long time—not as long as most readers I know (I wasn’t the child who stayed up all night reading, who devoured the Harry Potter books; I didn’t even really start reading heavily until I was twelve or thirteen, funnily enough far after I started writing) but I’ve considered myself to be a “reader” for a while. And though I’m a slower reader and haven’t read a ridiculous number of books, of them that I’ve enjoyed, I’ve come to notice a pattern.

I have a lot of personal preferences with books, ranging from genre to length (I love fantasy/sci-fi which tend to be long, but I prefer shorter reads). But what I’ve noticed recently is that the books I tend to enjoy reading more, the books I’m able to read quicker, and the books I “just can’t put down” are all similar in a few aspects.

One: Shorter, quicker reads.

I love me a long, dense fantasy book that keeps me in the story for a long period of time—especially a series. It helps with being totally immersed in the world, keeping my brain within that space even when I’m not reading. I tend to take a few weeks to even months reading a 500+ page fantasy. And while I love them, especially because it’s my favorite genre, I have started to realize that shorter books are more enjoyable to me. The accomplishment of reading a book in a shorter amount of time, being able to read more stories in a year by fitting two or three books in the time it would take me to read one, is way more appealing to me.

Two: Length of chapters and structure.

On the note of length, the most important element of a book that I prefer is shorter chapter lengths. There’s nothing worse for me than picking up a book to find it having 20-30 page long chapters. There’s nothing more soul-crushing. I’ve mentioned that I’m a slow reader, which isn’t technically true. I’m a fairly average reader when it comes to speed. I tend to read in shorter, infrequent bursts, so it takes me longer to read a book, not that it takes me longer than a minute per page or anything. So when I’m reading a book with long chapters, it’s difficult to a) read more than one chapter and b) find a place to pause. With short chapters, I could read two or three in one sitting no problem. In fact, I’m more likely to say “just one more chapter, it’s another short one” so I end up reading even more pages than with the long chapter books. It seems silly but it’s true! Long chapters with many page breaks/scenes are even better than one long chapter. And it’s not just about time with reading, it’s the pacing that makes the book more enjoyable. Shorter chapters tend to have a quicker pace, they tend to make me want to keep reading longer and I end up finishing much quicker.

Another aspect that is similar to chapter length, is a book broken up into parts. If a book as three to seven parts, I’m hooked. It’s another marker, a goal that I can keep reading to. “Just one more chapter” or “I’m almost done with part two, I might as well read the last two chapters.” The most structured and broken up the book is, the better. There’s nothing worse for me than having to trudge through a 400 page book with only twelve chapters, even if I like the story and end up loving the book.

Three: Format.

The format of what I’m reading is another, though less important, preference for me. I read printed books much more often than I read ebooks. However, I noticed that I read faster on my Kindle reading an ebook than I do a printed book. I don’t know the specifics of it, because I don’t read ebooks often, I just know that I read slightly faster. Maybe the screen? The ease of the buttons? No page numbers? I’m not sure. With printed books, however, I prefer paperback. With hardcover, I take the jacket off so it doesn’t get damaged and keep it in a drawer. There’s something about paperbacks, being able to see the cover throughout the reading process, that keeps me engaged more. It’s strange, but it does. I often buy books because of their covers, or buy certain editions because I love the cover, so to be able to see that and be reminded constantly makes me want to read it more often. There’s also something to be said about the comfortability of a paperback in the hands, or even just one hand, and it’s softer when holding.

The most important one for me, though, is chapter length. It’s such a part of my reading preference that I’ve adopted it into my own writing—I never write long, endlessly long chapters. They tend to meander and slow the pacing of the story. I prefer writing short, concise chapters that keeps the plot moving.

 

Most of these preferences aren’t really anything I look into when buying or going to read a book—I always start with the cover and whether or not it interests me, then I read the back of the book. I rarely won’t choose a book because of the above preferences, but they are a factor to whether or not I like a book or not—honestly, the process of reading and the enjoyment I get from doing it definitely alters my perception of the story. The time it takes me to read it, whether I’m comfortable—it all matters.

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Book Cover Design

Ever since I decided on going to school for graphic design, I’d always had the goal of designing book covers. It made perfect sense to me: as a writer and a reader, I’m surrounded by books. It’s something I’m passionate about. So it feel natural and exciting to start the process of designing books.

To start, I had a goal of marketing myself as a book cover designer to do freelance work. But I knew I needed some work to go into my portfolio to do so. This led me to the idea of redesigning the covers of books I love to bulk up my portfolio. But I didn’t want to just design books that had terrible covers, I wanted to redesign covers that were already good, maybe even one of my favorites, to challenge myself to make one as good—or better. I don’t know if I accomplished that, but I’m dang proud of the ones that I’ve done so far.

I’ve been working one a few in the last few months in my spare time. Here are three that I really love:

These are just front covers that would work for e-books, but I’ll have a few full spreads in my portfolio for print hardcover jackets and paperbacks.

My goal for the very beginning of 2018 is to have a portfolio up online (other than the link above to just a WordPress page) and to put myself and my work out there to get jobs with self-published authors or small independent publishers.

If you happen to see this post before my portfolio is up and ready, like the covers above, and are in need of any design work (not just book covers!), feel free to message me through any social media outlet or here on WordPress. I’ll have a proper way of contact up soon!

Young Adult: Reading YA as an Adult

I’ve seen several times articles or thoughts about adults reading YA books. That doing so is weird, or that some read them because they’re “easier plots” or “simpler reads,” or for a bunch of other reasons, some positive, most negative. Reading YA when not a teen has a stigma attached to it, as if a True Adult shouldn’t stoop down to read such “childish things.” (This, I find ridiculous. I read just as many adult books as I read young adult books—there are plenty of “easier plots” or “simple reads” in the adult book range and plenty of complex plots and difficult reads in young adult.)

For me, there’s one major reason why I read young adult: I like it. Another reason is, I write a lot of young adult so I read a lot of young adult. But aside from those, there are two factors into why I still read young adult. The first being…there’s a lot of books out in the world. To be more specific, there’s a lot of young adult books out in the world.

By that I mean, I never, ever, ever, ever could have read every young adult that had ever been published in the seven years I was a teenager. Not even just the ones that interested me—I love fantasy and sci-fi and paranormal and dystopia and contemporary and most in between. And because as time goes on, there are just more of them. Sure, a few fall into the chasm of lost books that no one cares about anymore because NEW SHINY BOOKS arrive all the time, but for the most part, books stay on the shelf. Books are there forever once they’re out. The pile of young adult books to choose from just grows and grows. So every year, each new batch of teenagers has even more young adult books to choose from than the last had.

And with the boom of young adult in the last few decades, this is the case for me:

I’m not a fast reader. I own a lot of books. I own a lot of young adult books. And I still haven’t read them all. I likely won’t ever read them all (thought I’d like to at least read the ones I own). To attest to that point, I have a young adult trilogy that I’ve wanted to read since high school but haven’t gotten around to it yet. And it’s not because I don’t want to read that trilogy anymore. I’ll still read them once I’m in the mood, someday, I’m sure. It’s not because I lost interest in them over time so that now they sit on my shelves collecting dust—like so so so much dust, I seriously need to clean my shelves. The reason I haven’t read them is because…I just haven’t yet. Because there’s just so many books, y’all and I’m a slow reader. I always add to my TBR, young adult and adult and anything I find. There’s just more and more and more of them, all the time. So of course, I couldn’t have read them all while being a teen. So I continue reading those YA books I wanted to read then, now as an adult.

And a lot of those YA books I own, still unread? They’re the first fews books of a series that are still being published.

That’s the second factor. That’s the big one for me.

Cassandra Clare’s Shadowhunters books. Sarah J Maas’s Throne of Glass books. The Shades of London series by Maureen Johnson. Maggie Stiefvater’s The Raven Cycle. All books that I started reading (or I now own but came out during the time) while I was between the ages of thirteen and nineteen and didn’t finish (or in many cases have yet to finish) until after my teenage years.

I’m now twenty-four. I started reading Cassandra Clare’s mega-series Shadowhunters when I was fifteen or sixteen (the optimal age for those books) and I’ll be thirty when the last trilogy starts being published (according to her estimated release dates she’s posted). THIRTY. I’ll be the age Cassandra Clare was when she started writing the books three years before City of Bones came out in 2007. THIRTY. And you bet, I’ll be reading them. Because I love that world, I like those books, and I want to see it to the end.

And look at Harry Potter. There are legions of adult fans who read them as children/teens and still reread them, still pass them down to other adult friends to read for themselves or to their kids. People started reading Harry Potter at different times in their lives, and the books came out over several years, so there were loads of people finally reading the last book at adult ages. I didn’t even read Harry Potter until I was in high school, years after Deathly Hallows had come out.

Also, when I like an author’s writing or world or whatever, I stick with them. I’ll read anything by my favorite author Victoria Schwab, whether she writes young adult or adult, until I die and I can’t read them or she dies and can’t write them. I started reading her books out of high school (when I had just turned twenty) and started with her young adult books, then with her adult books. But if I had been a teenager while first discovering her, nothing would have changed. I still would’ve continued to read whatever she put out while going into adulthood. I didn’t just think, “Oh, I’m an adult now, I need to stop reading those books even though I love them and love the author.” Because that’s ridiculous.

Seven years between thirteen and nineteen is not a lot of time to discover all the young adult books available. And to stop reading them just because you turn twenty would be silly. And that’s not even mentioning the people who started reading young adult books at the age of thirty or fifty and love them. All of it is great. Read what you want and read it without shame.

Maggie Stiefvater posted a great thread today on Twitter (which is the reason I started thinking about this topic today) that I like. I think there may be an even deeper reason to why adult adults (the people who started reading young adult at thirty or fifty) gravitate toward YA. This is an interesting take on the topic, I agree with it. But I think the vast majority (as you can see from even her poll at the start of the thread) are freshly adult adults. Her first books came out when those 18-24 years olds were young teens. The first Raven Cycle book came out when those 18-24 years olds were 13-19 (and her first YA books were published much earlier than that, which likely led people to the Raven Cycle books to begin with). They probably followed her as a writer and continued to read her books from teenhood to adulthood, as I think is most common, and is exactly as I did.

The point I’m trying to make is that there’s this weird “mystery” to why so many adults read young adult books and it’s really not that big of a mystery. Young people still read them after phasing into adulthood. It’s really as simple as that.

(I very well could be wrong. I don’t have any data to back me up. This is just an opinion post.)

BookTube-A-Thon 2017

BookTube-A-Thon was recently! Actually, a while ago, at the end of July. Anyway, it’s one of my favorite events to take part in, having done it now three years in a row. The main challenge is to read seven books in seven days. And I did not accomplish that — but, I did accomplish all the other reading challenges and read quite a lot for a single week, so I’m proud of myself.

My official count is six and a half books read. Which isn’t terrible! That’s awesome! But also so close that is makes me so mad! I had an opportunity to have a fun night away and instead of saying no, I did it and ended up spending almost 24 hours of that week not reading. I definitely could’ve made it to seven had I not done it. But it was still fun so I don’t regret it. I still read more than I ever usually do in a week.

Here’s the breakdown with challenges:

  • Read a hyped book:
              The Female of the Species by Mindy McGinnis – 3/5 stars 
  • Read a book with a protagonist very different from you AND read a book with a person on the cover:
              Binti by Nnedi Okorafor – 4/5 stars 
  • Read a book in a single day AND read a book entirely outside:
              Saga, Volume 7 by Brian K Vaughan – 5/5 stars 
  • Read a book you bought because of the cover:
              Seven Brief Lessons on Physics by Carlo Rovelli – 4/5 stars 
  • Read seven books:
              This Savage Song by Victoria Schwab – 4/5 stars
              The Miserable Mill by Lemony Snicket – 4/5 stars
              Vermilion by Molly Tanzer (the half a book, but I’ve recently finished and gave it 4/5 stars)

I also switched Seven Brief Lessons on Physics in for Behold the Bones by Natalie C Parker because it was shorter and I wanted to get my sixth book in on the last day!

Anyway, I had a good time reading — this is the second year of getting six and a half books in (the other year I only read three) but I’m still happy with the results. Next year, I’m totally making it to seven! I’m determined!

2017 Favorites: July

July simultaneously felt really long and felt like it flew by — I don’t know how, but it did. My monthly focus for July was reading, and I did a fair amount of it, so most of my favorites this month are book related.

BookTube-A-Thon

My favorite read-a-thon to participate in (and really the only one I do participate in, though I plan on doing more in the future) is BookTube-A-Thon, hosted by Ariel Bissett. You don’t have to be a BookTuber to participate and I do it every year – it’s so much fun and a little stressful. It’s a week long, with many challenges, but the main challenge is to read seven books. I did not. I plan on writing a wrap up post soon.

This Savage Song by Victoria Schwab

One of the books I read during BookTube-A-Thon was by my favorite author Victoria Schwab titled This Savage Song. It’s set in an alternate future of the United States, telling the story of two teens from opposite sides of a divided city, crossing paths long after “the phenomenon,” an event where monsters are created from acts of violence. It’s such an imaginative, cool world and the story was engaging from start to finish. It’s just a really awesome book and I can’t wait to read the sequel.

Binti by Nnedi Okorafor

Another book I read for BookTube-A-Thon was the novella Binti by Nnedi Okorafor. It’s a sci-fi story about a girl named Binti, chosen to go to the best university in the galaxy, having to survive an attack by an alien race on the ship taking her there. It’s one of the most interesting, imaginative stories I’ve ever read, from an incredible perspective of a black woman that doesn’t often get the attention from the mainstream as it should, especially in this genre — it’s the only one I’ve ever really heard of, but I know there is more out there. I’m excited to find more stories similar and I’ll be starting with the sequels to Binti.

Call Me By Your Name (Trailer)

Technically, the trailer came out in August and I’m writing this in August, but I don’t want to wait to talk about this film. I’m incredibly excited to watch Call Me By Your Name, a gay-themed drama starring Armie Hammer (one of my favorite actors). I’ve been waiting for this trailer for so long, ever since hearing about the film — I’ve watched it a dozen times already. And, it’s an adaptation of a book, so I’ll be hunting for that to read in time before the film is released.

In A Heart Beat 

This entire list is either something book related or something gay. I’m not mad about it. In A Heartbeat is the most adorable gay-themed animated short about a school kid who has a crush on his classmate and his heart becomes anthropomorphic, chasing down his crush, risking the boy being outed. It’s adorable, the music is perfect, and it’s an instant classic up there with some of my favorite animated shorts like Paperman, which has a similar vibe.

So that’s all my favorite books/films/etc. things from July!

Writing While in a Creative Slump

I’ve been in a creative slump.

For the most part, I try to write as often as I can. It’s what I love to do. Sometimes I write for hours, every day, for a week straight. Sometimes I write for twenty minutes on only one day of the week. It all depends on how much time I’m able to carve out for myself. It’s all about carving out time, making it work, doing what I can.

With doing anything creative, there needs to be a balance of creativity coming in and going out. Refilling the creative well is important: soaking up from all sources (books, films, art, television, life), taking in inspiration and creative energy in order to focus it and use it to produce, to let it flow out. Whenever I’m in a creative slump, and nothing else is working, I know I need to fill the creative well.

But the last few weeks, I’ve been incredibly busy with work—the small business I co-run launched a new product, so we’ve been busy promoting and making the product and sampling at stores a lot. I haven’t had much time to work on anything else, especially writing. I’ve had to make choices with my time and writing hasn’t been winning the time slot. A few times, I carved out a bit of time to write, but sat down and couldn’t get it going—and I knew it was because my creative well was dry, that I was in a creative slump. But I barely had enough time to read or watch anything, let alone write.

A few times, I could’ve carved out more time to fill the well or maybe even try to write, but I chose to do something like getting other work done or spending time with family or watching a few YouTube videos before going to sleep instead. One such YouTube video was by my favorite author, Victoria Schwab. In her video, she talks about when a writer is at their computer, they’re really just transcribing and that writers write all the time, whenever they think about their work—plotting, creating, building. That’s all writing, too. And that had me thinking about my writing time.

So what do I do when I’m unable to carve out writing time and unable to refill the creative well? There’s one thing I know I can do:

Not write. Or, I should say, not transcribe. Seriously. I just don’t do it. I don’t sit at the computer, I don’t pick up a pen. Because sometimes it’s not feasible to do so. I’m not a full-time writer, it’s not my job, so I don’t need to do it. So I don’t.

And that’s okay.

It doesn’t mean I’m not making progress. Because no matter how busy I am, how hectic life is, my brain is always with me. I always have a few stolen minutes to think while doing mundane tasks—showering, driving in the car, lying in bed at night, walking the dog. I always have time to think about the story, the characters, the world—and maybe jot down a note or two. And that keeps it going. Even when I don’t have time to sit at the computer and type out the actual words, just keeping the wheels turning is all I need to do—it’s still being productive, it’s still writing.

Favorite Book to Film/TV Adaptation

The Walking Dead

One of my favorite shows on television is The Walking Dead—I’m a big sci-fi, dystopia fan, and zombies are an always fun, often disgusting time. The show is based off of a series of comics by Robert Kirkman, a series I didn’t start getting into until way after the show. I’ve been reading the comics in the 6-issue bind-ups and I’m only on volume seven, but they’re great. It’s cool to see the differences they’ve made with the show—characters added or taken out, storylines differing—and they’re really quick reads. I’ve been buying them when on sale and picking a weekend to enjoy a few issues. As an adaptation, it’s really incredible. I think the show takes a lot of risks and is incredibly well-made—the effects work alone is worth watching.

The Hobbit

I’m a huge fantasy fan, and though I haven’t yet read The Lord of the Rings trilogy by JRR Tolkien (I’ve seen all the films), I read The Hobbit a few years ago and loved it. Because I never saw the first trilogy in theaters, only later when on DVD, I’m glad I was able to see The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey and The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug in theaters (I missed the third movie while it was in theaters, but have it on DVD) because these films were so incredible to watch on a big screen. The adaptation of the book was really well done, though I’m not certain an entire trilogy was necessary—the structure of the book seemed more like a two-parter. At any rate, it’s one of my favorite adaptations.

The Hunger Games

I’ve only seen the first two films in the quartet (for no other reason than neglecting to see them in theaters at the time, always forgetting, and just never remembering to pick them up on DVD), but I’ve read all three books, and The Hunger Games is one of the best adaptations I’ve ever seen and certainly the best YA adaptation. It’s so perfectly adapted, getting everything just right, being as faithful as possible to the source material, having a really awesome style, and having some killer performances, especially from Jennifer Lawrence. Though, as a film, I enjoyed the second one more, but as an adaptation, the winner is the first in the series.

A Single Man

After hearing about the film starring Colin Firth, I read A Single Man by Christopher Isherwood one summer day and liked it—but then I saw the film and loved it so much more than the book. The film is very stylistic and Colin Firth’s performance is incredible and heartbreaking and I could watch it again and again. Honestly, it’s the rare occasion where the adaptation is several times better than the original book.

The Magicians

The Magicians is one of the coolest, fun shows on television right now. It’s funny and magical and disturbingly creepy at times—it’s like all the best parts of Harry Potter and The Chronicles of Narnia but for adults. It’s based on a trilogy of books by Lev Grossman, and though I haven’t read them yet, I have the first and plan on reading it this year. This is the only adaptation on my list that I haven’t read yet, but because I love the show so much, I’m assuming I’ll love the books even more.

Atonement

As one of my favorite films of all time, Atonement definitely needs to be mentioned even though I’ve never read the book—though I plan on it! The film is beautiful; every scene, every shot is stunning. And the performances are incredible—Keira Knightly does some of her best work, as does James McAvoy, and Romola Garai gives one of my favorite supporting performances—and of course Saoirse Ronan is so young and so brilliant in the film it astounds me. Everything from the style, the era, the score—which I still regularly listen to—is just perfect to me. And I’m sure the book will be just as incredible.

Top Ten Favorites Books

Though I haven’t read as many books as I’d like to have by this time in my life, I’ve read a lot compared to most people I know. Compared to most readers, I’ve read close to nothing. But the point is, since I posted my Top Five Favorite Films, I thought I’d do the same for my favorite books…except it’s actually my Top Ten because I couldn’t decide on only five and some of them are series…so it’s more like a lot. Anyway, here they are in no particular order:

A Darker Shade of Magic by VE Schwab
The Shades of Magic trilogy is my favorite book series of all time, by my favorite author, Victoria VE Schwab. It’s an adult fantasy series about four connected Londons in parallel worlds with varying degrees of magic. A one-of-a-kind magician who can travel between them from one London and a pickpocket from another meet, travel through worlds together, and general chaos ensues. Schwab’s writing is incredible, the best I’ve ever read and these books are dark, fun, and exciting.

Vicious by VE Schwab
Another book by my favorite author, Vicious is about two college students who deduce that superhuman abilities can derive from near-death experiences and do it to themselves in order to gain such powers. Jumping back and forth in time, the book explores the dynamics of superheroism and villainry from an interesting perspective.

The Archived by Victoria Schwab
Yet another Victoria Schwab book—I swear there’s more than just hers on this list. The Archived is the first in a series of two YA books about a girl who is a Keeper for the Archive, an otherworldly library where the dead are shelved like books, and must keep those dangerous dead, called Histories, from entering back into our world. It’s like a light fantasy and murder mystery book all in one. The sequel, The Unbound, is also a favorite—and I’m still holding out for a third book, no matter how long it takes.

Saga by Brian K Vaughan
This series is actually not technically books, but comics. I’ve never been a huge fan of comic books, only recently getting into them—thanks, in part, to this series. I’ve been reading the six-issue bound volumes as they come out, reading mostly in the summer—which is my favorite time to read graphic novels and comics. Saga is about two soldiers from opposite sides of a galactic war falling in love, having a child, and going on the run from the war and those that want them, and their half-breed child, killed. It’s like a full-on adult Star Wars space odyssey with some of the most incredible artwork, which creates a vivid landscape for an awesome, kick-ass story about a blended alien family.

The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson
I fell in love with The Name of the Star and its two sequels (I believe, as of writing this, a fourth is on the way) a few years ago. It’s the story of a teen girl from the South of the US going to London to start her new life at a boarding school at the same time as the city relives the horrifying events of the Jack the Ripper murders as someone begins to mimic them. The book somehow balances being funny and creepy perfectly—the main character is relatable, Maureen Johnson’s writing is both dark and hilarious, and the book’s plot is often-times creepy and fully intriguing, with twists and surprises I didn’t expect.

Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel
This book surprised me—I hadn’t expected to love it as much as I did and I hadn’t expected to finish it so quickly. I read it in only two days; I couldn’t put it down. The story goes back and forth through time, before and after the night a famous actor dies on stage from a heart attack at the same time the world begins to fall from a deadly virus. All the characters have some connection to the actor, the main character having been in the same play as a young child actress, later growing up to travel through the desolate land of the northern midwest with a theater troupe called the Traveling Symphony, who plays for the small communities having survived the pandemic. It’s a beautifully written, poignant novel about the little things we’d lose just as much as the large things during such an event.

We Were Liars by E Lockhart
First: This book has a terrible title. I mean, a fine title that just doesn’t fit the book. That’s the my only complaint about it. This book is my favorite summer read I’ve ever read—and that’s what it is. A summer read. Read it in the summer only, trust me it makes for a better experience. Also, don’t read into the book at all, don’t look it up, don’t spoil yourself. Don’t even read this paragraph, just skip it. This is all I’ll say: The book’s about a family who have summer homes on a private island and it’s suspenseful and beautifully written. That’s it. If you love YA and suspense and beautiful writing, READ IT.

The Forest of Hands & Teeth by Carrie Ryan
This is a book that I read a long time ago, in high school, and have sort of forgotten all about it—time for a reread, I guess. However, I do know that I loved it and everything about it. It’s a very unique spin on the zombie genre, with a similar vibe to M. Night Shyamalan’s The Village crossed with The Walking Dead. It’s been on my favorites list since then, so even though I remember so little, I still have it on my top ten because I do remember that it was great and I loved it.

Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo
I’m a huge fan of Leigh Bardugo and her work. The Grisha Trilogy she wrote is one of my favorites YA series and Six of Crows is part of the same world. I thought that the Grisha Trilogy was so fantastic and then I read Six of Crows and was blown away. It’s even better than the trilogy and is so unique. It’s set in the same “Grishaverse” so several people within the world have special powers, but in this book, the focus is more on a different set of skills: thievery and conning. A gang of young criminals work together on an impossible heist and it’s a blast. It’s one of the most fun books I’ve ever read. It’s just a straight up cool Ocean’s Eleven-esque fantasy book.

The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater
And finally, though this list is not in a particular order, The Raven Cycle is my favorite YA series of all time. It’s just the greatest series ever. I love the characters, the world Maggie Stiefvater has created, and the entire series itself. The Raven Boys and its sequels tells the story of a group of private school teenage boys and a girl named Blue, obsessively searching for the legendary Raven King, who is likely buried nearby, in hopes to be granted a wish—all with the help of the psychic family of women Blue’s grown up with and set in a town situated on a “ley line” of magical energy. It’s a book series I wish had come out while I was in high school, because I would’ve been all over it obsessed—I mean, I still was while in college, but still.

2017 Favorites: February

This past month of February, I’ve enjoyed several new things that I want to share. I have a perfect variety of favorites this month: a YouTube channel, a book, a song, and a film. Here are my February favorites:

Aubrey Aiese’s YouTube Channel

I’ve been subscribed for a while to Aubrey’s channel, HurricaneAubrey, and have enjoyed her videos a lot. She took a long hiatus on her channel, but eight months ago she’s uploaded several videos and vlogs that I found so wonderful to watch (I marathoned her latest on a playlist I made of videos I’d missed over the last few month because of being busy). She’s an artist (she does all the lettering for Lumberjanes!) and lives with her boyfriend, also an incredible artist, in Portland. Like in the video here, she vlogs about her life and the places she goes and the work she’s doing. It’s fun and light and even inspirational to see the life of another artist, how they work and live. I love watching these types of videos from other artists and designers and illustrators, it’s fun to see how other people in your general field of work live and work.

The Bad Beginning

A long time ago, in like the fifth grade, I read the first book in Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events. I never finished the series for some reason, even though I enjoyed the book, but I loved the film with Jim Carrey. Now that there’s a Netflix series of the books, I decided to reread the first book and read the rest of the series in time with watching the show. I haven’t started the show yet, as I just finished the first book, but now that I have, I’ll be watching the first two episodes (as the show goes two episodes per book) and will read the rest of the books probably along with watching the show. So this year, I plan on reading the first four books to watch the first season. The book itself, after not having read it in almost fifteen years, is incredible. I mean, it’s terrible, but a really great read. I can’t wait to continue with the rest of the series and finally learn what happens.

Sick of Losing Soulmates – dodie

I recently discovered this song by dodie, a singer song-writer and YouTuber. Sick of Losing Soulmates is one of the most beautiful songs I’ve ever heard. The lyrics are lovely and emotional, dodie’s voice is soft and wonderful, and the video is A+ incredible.

A Single Man

One of the best films I’ve watched, A Single Man is a beautiful adaptation by Tom Ford (I read the book last summer) and has one of the best performances by Colin Firth I’ve ever seen. The cinematography and the sets are gorgeous, the entire aesthetic of the film is beautiful, highly stylized and vibrant. It makes the day-long story of a man (after having lost the love of his life, Jim, in a car accident) going about his day with the plan of killing himself at the end of it less bleak, though not any less sincere. It’s an incredible, tragic, beautiful film.

Books + 2017 Reading List

Books are a large part of my life—I read them, I write them, I buy them constantly (probably too much). I dedicate a lot of my space to books: I’m always carrying one around, bringing one to family events and long car rides, and I have a moderate collection (the most recent count was 250+) so most of my room is full of books. I love books. Books are great, man. Hop on this train.

Since finishing school and focusing more time on art and design, I decided to rearrange my space. Moving my office and all my art supplies and the giant drafting table I use into my bedroom has made it seem much smaller, but I’m starting to like it. I’ve spending a lot more time in it now that all my things are in one place instead of the office downstairs and the drafting table/art supplies in the other room. Moving is what I’ve been doing in my spare time (taking several days I should’ve been writing or working) the entire month of January. And as of today, the 25th, I’m still not completely done—I have a pile of art supplies on the floor and my desk is a mess. The point is, I took this time to not only rearrange my life, but my books too. I scanned their barcodes with the Goodreads app to create a list of all the books I own—which I could add to every time I bought or was gifted another book. (This is how I learned I owned over 250+ books, a few of which were duplicates, I don’t know how or why.)

I wanted to categorize the books I owned and see how many books I have by different people, like female authors, LGBT+ authors, POC authors, and any combination of those, and see how diverse my collection is—I have a guess that it isn’t as diverse I would like them to be, something I need to work on. But I also want to look at the characters and stories within those books and categorize them by the same, which I think would have more diversity because it’s what I’m drawn to read. Anyway, I plan to use the Goodreads app to help do that now that all of them are in one place and I can search for them easily. (This especially helps with friends and family for gift reasons—they can go on my profile and find that list to search which books I already have!)

Speaking of books, I’ve compiled a list of books that I want to read this year. As I’ve said of my goals for 2017, I have a goal to read 35 books. Though I’m usually more aggressively specific about when I read each book—I used to decide which specific books I would read within each month at the very start of the year, which made it difficult to follow and less fun, so now I’m taking a more relaxed approach. I just have a single, long list in no particular order (though some land roughly when they are released and/or a time of year I’d like to read them—like I want to reread the first for A Series of Unfortunate Events books sooner so I can watch the Netflix show and all those comics/graphic novels are probably during the summer, which is when I like to read them.)

Also, I know there’s 37 books on the list, I promise I can count. I’m just planning on wanting to skip one or that I won’t get to a few or I might want to swap out with a different book. See, totally relaxed.


2017 Reading List:

  • Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke
  • Burial Rites by Hannah Kent
  • The Bad Beginning by Lemony Snicket
  • The Reptile Room by Lemony Snicket
  • The Wide Window by Lemony Snicket
  • The Miserable Mill by Lemony Snicket
  • Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo
  • A Conjuring of Light by V.E. Schwab
  • Rooms by Lauren Oliver
  • This Savage Song by Victoria Schwab
  • Shadow Scale by Rachel Hartman
  • Beowulf by Seamus Heaney
  • Lady Midnight by Cassandra Clare
  • Lord of Shadows by Cassandra Clare
  • The Emperor’s Blades by Brian Staveley
  • The Graces by Laure Eve
  • The Female of the Species by Mindy McGinnis
  • Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald by Therese Anne Fowler
  • The Strange Maid by Tessa Gratton
  • The Fellowship of the Ring by J.R.R Tolkien
  • Vermilion by Molly Tanzer
  • Behold the Bones by Natalie C. Parker
  • Lumberjanes, Volume 3: A Terrible Plan by Noelle Stevenson
  • East of West, Volume 3: “There Is No Us” by Jonathan Hickman
  • The Walking Dead: Volume 7: “The Calm Before” by Robert Kirkman
  • The Walking Dead: Volume 8: “Made to Suffer” by Robert Kirkman
  • The Walking Dead, Volume 9: “Here We Remain” by Robert Kirkman
  • Pax by Sara Pennypacker
  • The Magicians by Lev Grossman
  • Wildwood by Colin Meloy and Carson Ellis
  • The Copper Gauntlet by Cassandra Clare & Holly Black
  • The Bronze Key by Cassandra Clare & Holly Black
  • Conversion by Katherine Howe
  • Her Dark Curiosity by Megan Shepherd
  • The Sweet Far Thing by Libba Bray
  • The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson
  • Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen