It's okay NOT to read


Books consume a huge part of my life. This certainly isn’t a bad thing, but for me, sometimes I feel that my life can get too consumed by books, and sometimes I don’t always want that. Being part of the bookish community means people are always talking about how to read more during school time, when you’re tired, when you’ve been in a slump, when you’re with people, when you have a social life... just how to read more in general. And although these tips can be extremely helpful for some, I find them to be counter-productive, and sometimes even damaging. 

Before I say any more on this topic, I have to admit where I got the inspiration for this post from! I was actually writing a blog post about my tips on how to read more (I know, ironic given the title of this post!), but I could only come up with one piece of advice: read less. After writing about 3 paragraphs just explaining that one piece of advice, I thought I’d justify my opinion in a whole blog post, mainly for myself, but also to try to reassure you that it's okay not to read.

Everyone reading this post loves books. (If not, seriously, why are you reading my blog? What are you actually here for?). But do we need to read constantly, or at least once a day, to class ourselves as book lovers? I say definitely not. I love books with all of my heart, but even if I don’t pick up a book for a whole week, it doesn’t make me love books any less than someone who reads 3 books a day. I’m not in a reading slump, I’m just doing something else, other than reading. It’s nothing to be upset or ashamed about.

You don’t need to feel the pressure to read all the time. It can be hard, if you’re talking about books for the majority of your day, but by not reading, you can get ready to be engrossed in a book when you really feel like doing so.

One of the ways I initially brainstormed for what this post was originally going to be was to force yourself to read, and set page goals. I then completely scrapped that idea. Although if you really just need to get something read, that method can be helpful, I don’t think we should be doing that. I’m a mood reader, so I read what I want, when I want. We shouldn’t be forcing ourselves into reading, because it can take the magic away.

You don’t have to read all the time to be a valid member of the community. We all love books - there shouldn’t be any competition for who loves books the most. You can take a couple days break from your book for any reason, or no reason at all, and that’s completely okay! Reading doesn’t have to be all consuming, even though sometimes a really good book can be. For me, different books change my reading habits, which is perfectly okay too. I don’t expect to read every book in a few days, and to be completely addicted to it. You shouldn’t go into books expecting to be fully addicted, because it’s just not realistic.

You are your own person. You don’t need to be like everyone else on Twitter or Instagram. I know it can be toxic or disheartening when your favourite booktubers say they read 20 books a month, but if that’s not you, then you don’t need to aspire to be that way. It’s not about reading all the books - in the case of reading, the quality of the books you read comes over the quantity you read. 

You don’t need to push yourself to read books you don’t really want to read, or when you don’t feel like reading. I’d much rather read 2 or 3 books I absolutely adored, in a month, than 10 that were just mediocre. I love reading books. For me, that statement means I love to read good books, and I enjoy reading; not that I love reading loads of books, and not that I read lots of books I enjoy. It doesn’t mean you’re any less of a reader.

4 stars

Review: How Hard Can Love Be?


How Hard Can Love Be?
By Holly Bourne
Series: Normal #2
Source: Waterstones
Format: Paperback
Page count: 480
Published: 1st February 2016
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance, 

All Amber wants is a little bit of love. Her mum has never been the caring type, even before she moved to California, got remarried and had a personality transplant. But Amber's hoping that spending the summer with her can change all that.

And then there's prom king Kyle, the guy all the girls want. Can he really be interested in anti-cheerleader Amber? Even with best friends Evie and Lottie's advice, there's no escaping the fact: love is hard.

I’ve loved all of Holly Bourne’s books, so obviously I was really excited to read this book. I love Holly’s writing style, so one day when I wasn’t feeling too good, I thought I’d pick it up. 4 hours later, and I didn’t expect to have read it so quickly! It was the perfect spring read, and really made me excited for summer. It’s such a fun and quick read, yet still holds some important messages, which I adore!

There was nothing I didn’t love about this book, but my favourite aspect was Amber, the protagonist. I loved her in Am I Normal Yet?, the sequel and companion novel to this book, but I loved her so much more in this one. From the very first page, she was so funny, sarcastic, and fierce, yet was greatly flawed and had weaknesses too.

I was also really impressed with the way feminism was introduced in this book. I didn’t think the Spinster club would be able to meet as much - and Lottie and Evie weren’t in this book much - but there were still aspects of feminism. I think it’s so well done, and I’m really glad that the important issues will be introduced to readers who may not have known about ideas like this before.

I was surprised to find I loved the romance! It wasn’t complicated, and the love interest was such a lovely guy. Usually in contemporaries, I find the boyfriend is often a bit of an arse, but Kyle wasn’t like that at all. He respected Amber 100% (which I’m so here for), and was also a feminist!

The setting was so dreamy. In this book, Amber’s visiting her Mum in America, so the entire book is set in San Francisco. I’ve never visited America, but I’ve always wanted to, and this book makes me want to even more! It sounds so sunny and fun (such a change from England), so I hope that one day I’ll be able to visit!

I was really impressed with the family themes explored in this book. Like in every family, Amber’s relationship with her Mum and Step-Dad are complicated, but out of everything, the love they show for each other shone through, which made me so happy. Alcoholism is not explored in books often, and usually it’s not done very well, but in this one it was shown to not be the addict’s fault, which is an important lesson.

This book made me admire and adore Holly Bourne even more. She’s one of my favourite authors, and from following her on Twitter, she seems so cool. I can’t wait for the final installment of this series, and to read other books from her!


Does the perfect book even exist?


Does the perfect book actually exist? There’s been many times when I’ve said “this is literally the perfect book for me!” Or “the setting was pure perfection!”, but did I really mean these things when I was saying them, and shouting my meaningless opinions into the void of the internet?

Recently, I was thinking about my favourite books (y’know, just to pass the time... who doesn’t think about their favourite books 24/7?), and it occurred to me that I was never fully satisfied with them, even though I call them my all-time favourites. There was always something that wasn’t quite right, even if it was a very miniscule flaw, and didn’t make much difference to my enjoyment of the book. Sometimes it’s the ending, or at others it can just be one line of dialogue that didn’t sit quite right with me. 

I know I’m an extremely critical reader and reviewer. When I’m reading a book, I know I’m constantly looking for flaws instead of the positive elements of the book. (Disclaimer: I’m not saying this is the right way to go! Sometimes it doesn’t work for me, and each type of reader is equally valid and a valuable reviewer.) I think this means that even if I’m reading a book I’m absolutely loving, and that it’s becoming one of my favourites, I can’t just read it and enjoy everything as it is. It’s just in my nature to look for the negative instead of the positive! I can’t help being a pessimist and extremely cynical! (dw I hate this about myself... haha... ha...).

When I was reading my all-time favourite book, Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock, (I know I bang on about this one all the time but stick with me, I actually have something valid and new *gasp* to say about this book), I initially wasn’t happy with the way it ended. I thought it was too ambiguous, and I just wanted more. I thought it wasn’t long enough, and that we didn’t get enough closure.

Maybe it’s just in our human nature to be greedy with things we’re really liking. I really didn’t want this book to end, so maybe that’s why I wasn’t originally satisfied. I could read about Leonard forever, so of course, I would be sad whenever the book ended, no matter if it was after 200 or 600 pages. 

But, after thinking about the book and everything that happened in it, I decided I was pleased with how it finished. I first thought the ending was just the easy way out, but I thought about the messages and the impact the ending had, and why it was written the way it was. This made me love the book even more, because I was able to appreciate it, as I was thinking about everything that had happened. It’s still definitely my favourite book ever. 

I chose this to be my example because as of writing, Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock is my favourite book. But do I think it’s perfect? No! And do I mind? Of course not! It’s still my favourite book, even if I am wishing for a slightly longer ending.

But is there such thing as a perfect book for someone, even if another reader can’t find their perfect book? As I said before, if I had to choose a ‘perfect book’ for me, I would choose FMLP, even if I didn’t find it completely perfect. However, someone else might have found their perfect book, which is awesome!

However, some books just get you. We read to feel that we’re not alone, and the books that understand you, that write what you’re feeling, that make the world more bearable, can be the most glorious thing to read, and the most perfect feeling to find. Are these books perfect? There may be some minor flaws, but these sorts of books are so important (and are often my favourites, purely because of this). 

One book that completely made me feel so much less lonely was The Perks of Being a Wallflower. It’s a pretty popular book now, but it’s so special to me, and is one of my all time favourites. When I first read it, it was special to me, but it was only when I was re-reading it at the end of 2015 it hit so close to home. I read it at a time when I really needed it, and the way it comforted me and made me feel couldn’t have been better. I can think of flaws within the plot/characters/writing, but the overall message was perfect.

So is The Perks of Being a Wallflower perfect? No - I don’t think so. But the message and what it did to me was, so can a book be half-perfect? Does a half-perfect book exist? (and is ‘half-perfect’ an oxymoron?); if not I think a half-perfect book totally is real. For me, some elements of this book are perfect, even if - in my opinion - other aspects could be improved. 

Another way you could judge perfection in books is: Has the book achieved its purpose? I personally believe that every book is written for a reason, and that the author wants to make us realise something, learn something, or understand something. I think it must be every author’s dream to hear their book has changed someone! In English class, we’re constantly learning about a book’s message, and how the author wanted us to feel. If a book has changed us in some way, is it perfect?

I can count on one hand the books that have changed me. None of the books featured in that list were perfect, but if I had to choose books that were perfect, I do think these books would be ones I would choose. I didn’t even give one of them 5 stars! However, they all mean so much to me, and have really helped me. They’re perfect because they’ve made my life better, or me a better person.

I think one thing that we can conclude from this is that no book will be perfect for everyone. It’s literally impossible; one book can’t please everyone! The perfect book may exist, but it won’t be perfect for everyone. Does that mean it’s not perfect anymore? Different people will have different opinions on what makes a book perfect, and if a book can be truly perfect, and that’s okay! I think it is subjective to each different reader. 

Some readers will find their perfect book, yet others won’t. I haven’t found my perfect book, though I’m pretty sure some people will have done. Jennifer wrote a great post on critical reading and I think she sums it up perfectly; some people are much more critical than others. I’m extremely critical, so I haven’t found mine, but other people have/might have done.
I asked Twitter if they've found their perfect book, and it seems the majority of people (within my circles) have! This is interesting, because as I said before, I haven't. Maybe it depends on how critical a reader someone is, or maybe just down to how well you know your own personal tastes!

What about you: do you think the perfect book exists? If so, have you found your perfect book?