learning to appreciate my local library (+ acquisition requests!)

I’ve had an off-again-on-again relationship with my local library for years now. I was a frequent visitor in high school, and could often be found browsing the shelves. In those days, I primarily read in Dutch, making my library an absolute treasure trove of books. As I got older, I started seeing the merit of reading books in their original language. After all, things do get lost in translation from time to time. I started picking up more books in English, and by the time I started university, it was the sole language I read in.

Unfortunately, that also meant that my library had lost a little bit of its magic for me. It didn’t have much of an English section, which is to be expected from a small(ish) town in Belgium. There wasn’t much that called my name anymore, and I stopped visiting for years. These past 2 years, I’ve started to build my relationship with the library back up again. While I’ve wanted to started reading in my own language again, I haven’t managed to pick up many Dutch books. However, my library has been expanding their English section. It’s still quite small, but has some unexpected gems in it.

I figured that if I never showed my appreciation, and never borrowed the type of books I wanted to read, they’d never know there was any interest in those stories. So I started borrowing more (English) books. From adult mysteries to YA contemporaries and science fiction, I tried it all. When new releases that were hyped up in the bookish community started appearing, I borrowed those too. If they knew there were people out there interested in these books, they might add more of them to the collection.

At the start of the year, I wanted to give the acquisition requests a try. For years, I had seen that button on the home page of the library network, but never given it much thought. Stuck in a rather negative mindset, I was convinced my requests would never get approved anyway. In January, I realized that it couldn’t hurt to try, and set off to requests some books I really wanted to read, but didn’t necessarily want to buy.

To my utter astonishment, most of my requests were approved within a week! A few weeks after I got the approval email, I could pick the books up in the library as they’d been set aside for me. I was ecstatic. In February, I requested another book – and got approved for that one too. In March, the same thing happened.

I’m going to continue to request certain purchases from my library for the rest of the year, and update you on how this went throughout the entirety of 2019. At the moment, I couldn’t be happier. I have some books I’ve wanted to read for ages, and I didn’t have to pay anything for them.

Are you curious to see which books I’ve requested and received? Let’s take a look at them together!

Skyward (Skyward #1) by Brandon Sanderson
While I adore Brandon Sanderson’s writing, I didn’t want to buy a copy of Skyward yet. I’d heard some mixed reviews, even from his fans, which made my wary of spending so much money on it. My library doesn’t have many science fiction or fantasy books in English, so I figured this would be the perfect addition to the collection. I picked it up sometime in February or March, but still haven’t managed to read it.

Strange the Dreamer (Strange the Dreamer #1) by Laini Taylor
When I first heard of this book, I thought I would end up buying it immediately. However, on its release date only the hardcover copy was available – which is annoying as it’s both more expensive and less handy to read than a paperback. I waited ages for the paperback release of the beautiful cover, but the urgent need was no longer there. For some reason, I’m terrified I won’t like this which is why I chose to put in an acquisition request. In case I don’t like it – at least I didn’t pay for it.

The Three-Body Problem (Remembrance of Earth’s Past #1) by Cixin Liu
Another book that has been on my to-read list for absolute ages! I think the reason I haven’t bought it myself, is because I’m intimidated. I’m still slightly scared of not understanding science fiction novels, even though I’ve been reading more of them lately. Add that to the fact that it was translated from Chinese, and it makes for an intimidating read. I’m always scared of translations, guys, especially when I am unable to read the original for myself. I have high hopes for this though.

The Silence of the Girls by Pat Barker
After hearing quite a few people go on about The Silence of the Girls, I knew I wanted to read it pretty soon. However, I’ve been trying to buy less new books, and this adult fiction novel isn’t very cheap either. So how could I get my hands on this retelling of the Iliad without spending any money? You guessed it. I asked the library to spend money for me. I immediately read it after picking it up, and have since written a review.

P.S. I feel so accomplished with this acquisition request, because someone already reserved the copy 1 day after I had picked it up. I made a good decision!

The Wicked King (Folk of the Air #2) by Holly Black
Late last year I discovered my library had a copy of The Cruel Prince, which was so surprising. I borrowed it, read it, and thought it was okay. Definitely good enough to continue the series, but not captivating enough to want to buy. I figured that if they’d seen the merit in the first book, they might consider getting the sequel too. Like with The Silence of the Girls, I read it immediately after picking it up and have since written a review.

Fire & Blood (A Targaryen History #1) by George R.R. Martin
Listen, Martin’s books are extremely expensive. Adult fantasy novels are very expensive in general! I haven’t read anything by him since the last A Song of Ice and Fire book, which was 8 YEARS AGO. I’m kind of scared this will feel too much like a textbook history on the Targaryens, which is why I didn’t want to buy my own copy yet. It’s been in my possession for a while now, and I’ll probably have to return it soon, but I still haven’t read it. Sorry!

The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon
Another recent release I wanted to read so badly, but didn’t buy in order to lessen the amount of new books I get. To be honest, this was the most surprising approval of the bunch to me. I never thought they would approve my request and buy it immediately, since it’s a) a very new release, b) expensive, and c) fantasy, a genre my library doesn’t have that much of. I can’t wait to dive into this one soon, and then put it on the shelf for others to discover!


Do you have a local library? If so, what do you think of it? Have you gone through any similar experiences? Let me know if you’ve ever made a library request! Or if you have any recommendations for my next request.

Writing pet peeves | things I hate to encounter in books

Disclaimer: I am not a writer or an author, nor do I aspire to be one. I don’t mean to offend anyone with this list, and I certainly don’t want to seem condescending. I’m simply stating an opinion. I know loads of you won’t agree with me because we all like different things. And that’s fine! Just be respectful about it, please.

Now that we’ve covered the disclaimer, let’s get on to the actual blog post. Today, I thought I’d write about some of my writing pet peeves. I’ve been an avid reader for a long time, and have become far more critical of what I read in the past few years. Along with that comes the realization that there are some writing styles and techniques that just don’t work for me. Let’s take a look at what bothers me while reading, shall we?

OVERUSE OF ELLIPSES AND DASHES

I don’t really mind the use of ellipses and dashes in general, before you come for me. When it’s used so often that I actually notice it though, it starts to bother me. Punctuation is an aspect of writing I usually don’t pay that much attention to, unless the author uses too much or too little of it.

I noticed the overuse of dashes and ellipses during my reread of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets in 2018. Not once had I taken notice of it before, even though I’ve read the series multiple times. I encourage you to pick up your copy of the book and look for the dashes and ellipses on the page. There’ll be a lot of them…

TOO MUCH EMPHASIS/EMPHASIS ON THE WRONG WORDS

Often, authors used italics or bold to put emphasis on a particular word in the sentence. Once again, in itself I have no problem with that. It allows the you to read in the way the writer intended it to be read. But when there’s an emphasized word every few sentences, it starts to lose all meaning for me. A few months ago I read The Woods, a graphic novel that falls victim to this writing technique. In every text bubble a word was emphasized. It made the characters sound ridiculous, because who puts a heavy emphasis on a word in every single sentence they speak?

The Woods also put emphasis on odd parts of the sentence. Parts you wouldn’t necessarily emphasize yourself while talking, which made the conversation seem awkward and stunted.

INCLUDING ANOTHER LANGUAGE, AND GETTING IT WRONG

This is one of the most annoying things, ever, to me. What I mean by including another language and getting it wrong is that the author will include characters who speak a language other than English, or have a book take place in a foreign country, and try to include the language of that country but get it wrong.

A prime example of this is The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt. For some background information, I am Belgian. My first language is Dutch, and that is still what I speak at home and usually at work. The Goldfinch partly plays out in Amsterdam where the official language is Dutch as well. I was so excited to come across a few Dutch words and sentences in the book! Come to realize that there’s probably not a single Dutch sentence without a mistake in there. Mistakes that could’ve easily been fixed through a simple Google search. Even worse, since the Dutch words are italicized or bold, it highlights the mistakes even more. Here are some examples.

[…] a lighted sign Beetaalautomaat op where Boris’s head […]

I have multiple problems with this sentence.

  1. Beetaalautomaat is not a word. Betaalautomaat on the other hand, is. You misspelled the word! This could’ve been fixed with one Google search.
  2. I don’t understand what this means? The payment machine is empty? The word ‘betaalautomaat’ means a machine that allows you to pay by credit/debit card. It’s not the same as a ‘geldautomaat’ from which you withdraw cash. So it doesn’t make any sense? The payments you have to do are empty?
  3. I don’t think we would ever even say that the ‘geldautomaat’ is ‘op’. I think we would say it’s empty (leeg) or has to be refilled. ‘Op’ is used more for things that aren’t about to be replaced, things that are gone. Like, do you want some cake? Can’t, it’s gone.

So many mistakes in TWO WORDS. Then there’s the next sentence.

Deze moorden kwamen als en schok voor.

In itself, this is a sentence that could be used in an article, like it’s supposed to be in the book. If not for one word: en. Quick Dutch lesson: en = and, een = an/a. Instead of saying that these murders came as a shock, you stated that these murders came as and shock. MAKES NO SENSE AT ALL.

This makes me so angry, because it’s clear no Dutch-speaking person read these sentences before publication. A Dutch child could’ve pointed these mistakes out. If you are including a language you don’t personally speak, PLEASE ask someone who does speak it to read over your work. Or you know, Google it.

INCREDIBLY LONG SENTENCES

There are some books in which the sentences make up half of a page. I’m sorry, you might be overestimating my memorization skills. By the time I’ve finished the sentence, I can’t even remember the start of it. There are some authors I love that are guilty of this, so I won’t automatically dislike every author who uses long sentences. I’m just asking you to make them a tad shorter as it’s much easier to read and digest. Sentences that make up entire paragraphs are just hard to get through, making it feel like much more of a struggle to read.

J.R.R. Tolkien is definitely guilty of this. There are so many descriptions in his Lord of the Rings series, and his sentences are SO LONG. It makes for a rather difficult read at times. Yet I do love the series.

SHORT. SENTENCES. OF. ONE. WORD. 

This is another one I can enjoy at times, in the right circumstances. For example, when the author switches to these very short sentences in scenes where tension needs to be built, and readers need to be at the edge of their seats. I believe this happens in the Red Rising trilogy. During tense scenes or battle scenes, the sentences become much shorter which leaves you a tad unsettled and with a sense of urgency.

When the entire book is made up of these short sentences however, it becomes a chore to read. It feels stilted and unnatural. It was the reason I chose to DNF The Inexplicable Logic of My Life. 

TOO MANY (RIDICULOUS) METAPHORS

I don’t mind the use of some metaphors at all. It can help the reader envision your characters or their surroundings, which can be difficult in a novel. However, I’m not really a fan of the use of a lot of metaphors. To me, it makes the read become to difficult and abstract and makes it harder for me to create an idea of it in my mind.

One example of this is I’ll Give You the Sun. I DNFed this book because the writing was just too much for me. I know that it’s actually the reason most people love and adore it but I didn’t work for me, and that’s okay.


There you have it, my writing pet peeves. Like I mentioned before, just because I don’t like these doesn’t mean you can’t. Of course, I also hate spelling mistakes and incorrect grammar but I assume that is a universal thing. What are your writing pet peeves? Do you agree with mine?

How fanfiction has saved and carried my love for Harry Potter

The title sounds a bit dramatic, I admit. But it’s true. I grew up reading Harry Potter, and it’s one of the series that made me the reader (and person) I am today. And I will always love the original 7-book series as they hold a special place in my heart.

My issues with the franchise and creator

But I can’t pretend like my love for Harry Potter hasn’t taken a hit in the past few years. The behavior of JKR has astounded me, and I no longer want anything to do with it. From liking transphobic stuff, to pretending there is any diversity in Harry Potter when there really isn’t, and keeping an abusive actor in the series because he’s famous. I can’t imagine any other reason to keep him in there other than his celebrity status considering he was only in the first movie for like 2 minutes and would be so easy to replace.

Don’t even get me started on The Cursed Child. I’m pretending that never happened.

I’ll be honest, I wrote this post before the trailer for the new Fantastic Beasts movie was released. I’m adding this extra part to it now, because once again JKR has blown my mind, and not in a good way. Apparently, Nagini has always been a cursed woman of color. So one of the only Asian characters in the series was apparently enslaved by Voldy and kept as a pet, milked by Wormtail and then beheaded by Neville. You’re kidding me, right? Right? This has got to be one giant cosmic joke!!

The point is, that I have started to ignore everything that happened after the release of the seventh book. My love for the 7 books will always be there, but that’s where it stops now.

However, this made me incredibly sad. There are so many aspects of the Wizarding World I still want to discover, and so many relationships to explore. Sadly, I no longer trust JKR with any of it. The last thing I want is more stories with exclusively straight, white and able-bodied characters. That’s where fanfiction comes in.

My love for HP fanfiction

I’ve previously written a post on fanfiction, and why I’ve fallen in love with it. If you want to read that one and discover my reasons for reading fanfic in general, feel free to check it out. Today, however, I want to focus on Harry Potter fanfiction, as it has kept my love for the original series alive.

I mentioned earlier that there are so many relationships I want to explore in the Wizarding World, and fanfiction has answered that call for me. I have fallen in love with pairings and ships JKR would never allow to be canon, but should’ve been in my opinion. 

For example, Remus Lupin and Sirius Black. At this point, I’ve read so much fanfiction on their ship during their time at Hogwarts that it has become canon in my mind. There’s no way those two didn’t fall in love and you can’t convince me otherwise.

I’ve always wanted to read more about the Marauders in their Hogwarts time, because I think it would be both heart-wrenching and hilarious. Seeing young Remus battle with becoming friends with the Marauders and keeping his secret at the same time, James’ ridiculous behavior towards Lily, and Sirius’ love for the Potters and his motorbike -and Remus.

Fanfiction has filled this gap in with wonderful stories on Wolfstar, and has allowed me to imagine the lives of these wizards in a different and more concrete way. Remus and Sirius have become one of my favorite relationships, and nothing can take that away from me. Not even JKR.

The second aspect of fanfiction that I love, is that it adds the diversity that should’ve been included from the start. Harry being a person of color, him being bisexual, pansexual or gay (I’ve read them all), Draco being gay, Ginny and Luna being together… I just love it all.

Just like I pretend that screenplay never happened, I’m also pretending the epilogue never happened. Sorry, not sorry. I have read SO MANY Drarry fics that it too has become canon in my mind. Although I can be swayed to the Cedric/Harry ship too… There are so many beautiful LGBT+ stories with these characters out there, a lot of them far more realistic (to me) than the actual story’s ending.

Lastly, I adore the nuance fanfiction writers bring to Slytherin house. I feel like Slytherin was somewhat mistreated during the series, and has ended up seen as ‘the evil house’. It’s ridiculous. After all, Pettigrew was a Gryffindor, wasn’t he? The fact that fanfic brings the Slytherin characters to life, and allows them to redeem themselves, is something I will always love. I’ve read so many fics with Pansy and Blaise in them, that I’ve started to become attached to them as well.

Is fanfiction all good?

Of course not. There are so many fanfiction works out there in which the characters don’t feel authentic, or with really weird pairings and ships. Seriously, what is wrong with some of you?? There are stories with horrendous spelling and grammar mistakes too. So I’m not going to pretend it’s all rainbows and unicorns. It’s not. Once you know what to look for, however, a new world will open up to you.

 

Loving Yourself, Loving Others and Being Loved | Why We Should Stop Speaking/Writing in Absolutes

I’ve been mulling over some things recently, and I decided to put my thoughts into this blog post here. After all, that’s why I started blogging. 

The thoughts that have been running through my head were inspired by some reviews I’ve seen of Becky Albertalli’s The Upside of Unrequited. You might know that this was one of my favorite books of last year. Don’t get me wrong, if you didn’t like this book, that’s fine. I’m not coming after you saying that it’s wrong to dislike this book. One of the reasons people disliked this book, is that they thought the main character, Molly, only started to think of herself as beautiful when she fell in love and was in a relationship – the love-fixed-me trope.

In case you don’t know, Molly is fat. She’s always been self-conscious about her weight and appearance. She has never truly thought of herself as beautiful and desirable. The Upside of Unrequited is part of her journey towards body positivity and self-love. And yes, that journey includes finding love.

First of all, I’ll say that I do agree: falling in love is not the final answer. It does not magically make everything go away. It doesn’t erase mental illness or insecurities. Anxiety does not disappear when you fall in love with someone. Self-deprecating thoughts won’t disappear entirely. And to portray relationships like that in books can be very harming. 

It can make people think that someone else is in charge of their (mental) health. Maybe it can make them too dependent on someone, or think that they should be ‘fixed’. 

But I am going to be honest with you. I think writing off stories because the character falls in love with someone else while learning to love themselves is harmful and wrong too.

In the society we live in, loving yourself is not easy. Especially for fat people. Being fat has become equal to being ugly, and finding your body type in mainstream media has become Mission Impossible. Today’s beauty standards are focused on tall, skinny/slim, elegant (and white) women, while men apparently can’t be handsome without being ripped.

When you don’t fit that standard of beauty, you automatically feel less. Less beautiful. Less desirable. Less wanted. Less secure. But more self-conscious. Rationally, you might know that just because you don’t look like Blake Lively, doesn’t mean you’re not beautiful. 

But rationally knowing it is not the same as feeling it. It’s not the same as feeling beautiful. As taking pride in your appearance. Learning to love yourself is a long journey.

Writing off stories in which people learn to love themselves while falling in love with someone else sends a signal that you can’t be loved by someone until you love yourself. And that is utter and complete bullshit.

Your journey is not any less meaningful because you had a partner by your side, who loves you and tells you you are beautiful or handsome. Sometimes, your self-confidence can be so shattered and non-existent that it takes hearing it from someone else to start that spark of self-love.

Is it a journey someone else can take for you? No. 
Is it necessarily a journey you have to take on your own? No.

The idea that you have to love yourself before you can love someone else, or before someone else can love you, is just as damaging as the idea that love fixes everything. Someone can see how wonderful and beautiful you are long before you can see it yourself. 

So allow yourself to love. Love yourself, and love others. They are not mutually exclusive, and should not be dependent on each other. One is not a prerequisite for the other.

We are tougher on ourselves than we are on others. With a loved one, we learn to accept their flaws and little quirks, while we struggle with doing the same for ourselves. Being in a healthy relationship might help you shift mindset and see yourself the way you see your partner. 

I’m not saying that you need to love someone else before you can love yourself. I’m saying that you don’t need to be alone to start your journey, nor do you need someone else. This depends entirely on you.

Lastly, who can truly say they have mastered self-love? Who doesn’t still have self-deprecating thoughts about themselves once in a while? Loving yourself is a journey, one I think we will always be on. So why can we not love someone else while being on that journey? Then most of us would have to be alone forever. 

If you truly don’t think of yourself as beautiful, desirable or worthy, you need a catalyst to start a change in mindset. Some people can be their own catalyst. Others might be lucky to fall in love, and have someone else’s love be that catalyst. Sometimes, it could be a body-positive article or Instagram post you’ve seen, that kickstarts your journey. 

We need to acknowledge every catalyst, and stop speaking in such absolutes.

As for novels, here’s my advice:

  • Write stories on people’s journey towards self-love
  • Write stories on people who don’t fall in love with others, but with themselves
  • Write stories on people who fall in love with another while learning to love themselves.
  • Write stories on healthy and uplifting relationships
  • Write stories on healthy and uplifting friendships
  • Write all the stories.

What do you think? Do you think you should love yourself before you can love someone else, or someone else can love you? 

On Reading Fan Fiction

The last few months, I have been reading less and less books. I think I’m in some sort of a reading slump, and it just won’t go away. The only thing I’ve been reading consistently? Fan fiction. (Or fanfiction, whatever tickles your fancy). I started reading fan fiction in May, and I’m still doing so in August. So today I want to talk to you about it! 

So which fan fiction have I been reading the past few months? I’ve mainly stuck to the Harry Potter universe. I started out reading Remus Lupin/Sirius Black ones -or Wolfstar if you prefer that name. I thought it was a “safe” place to start because you don’t actually get to read about their years at Hogwarts. They’re already adults when you meet them in the original works. So these stories wouldn’t contradict anything I’d already read. 

I fell in love with the stories, and with Remus and Sirius. After reading so many of the stories, there is no doubt in my mind that these two were in love. That these Marauders belong together. I have absolutely nothing against Remus and Tonks, don’t get me wrong. But it’s just not the same. I adore the studious, quiet yet rebellious Remus and the punk, loyal rebel Sirius. I think these two work so well together. And they are now forever cemented in my mind. 

After reading copious stories on Remus & Sirius, I decided to venture into different territory. I started reading Harry Potter/Draco Malfoy fan fiction. This is a pairing I never really understood before, to be honest. Until I started reading the stories people have written about them. Now, I’m completely convinced. 

Afterwards, I ventured out of the Harry Potter universe fan fic. I also started reading fan fiction about Skam, The 100, Carry On and some Six of Crows ones. Now that I’ve been reading them for a little while, I wanted to talk about the reasons I love it -and why I think people should stop looking down on fan fiction. 

REASONS I LOVE FAN FICTION

  • It allows you to read about the non-canon pairing you love.

I think this is one of the most important reasons. For example, you might read a book with a love triangle, and your ship isn’t endgame. Where do you turn to for the stories you wanted? Other fans, who agree with your pick. 

But in my opinion, it also gives voices to diverse pairings who are so often lacking in books. My two favorite couples are still Sirius & Remus and Harry & Draco (although I do love Ginny and Luna as well). And I think we can all agree that there is a disturbing lack of diversity in Harry Potter. That’s something we can never change. The books have been written, the story has been told. But in fan fiction, we allow ourselves to write a different tale. The story of LGBTQ+ characters, who didn’t have a voice before.

I love the fact that in almost every single story I’ve read with the pairings mentioned above, Seamus and Dean are together. So many of the fans agree that this should have happened. But it didn’t. So these stories allow people to see themselves in their favorite characters, when they couldn’t before.

  • It allows you to read more about your favorite canon pairing!

The direct opposite of the argument above, I know. I mentioned that I love Sirius & Remus and Harry & Draco. Both pairings are definitely non-canon compliant. But I’ve also read a fair amount of fan fiction on pairings that are canon compliant. I love reading Simon Snow & Baz Pitch (Carry On by Rainbow Rowell) stories, and Isak & Even (SKAM) stories. There is so much more to their relationships that the stuff we get to see on TV/in the books and fan fiction allows you to explore that. 

  • It allows you to read more about the characters you love

This may seem like the same argument as the first one, but trust me, it isn’t. When I love a book, show, movie, etc. I tend to love the characters. After a while, they start to feel like friends or family because you know them so well. The easiest example to me is Harry Potter. Growing up with these books, they feel so familiar. Yet the story has been finished for a while now, and there is no new material for me to fall in love with. 

Fan fiction allows me to read more about my favorite characters. To read more about them, more new material that I haven’t read before. To read about parts of their lives I haven’t been privy to before, such as the Marauders’ era at Hogwarts, the Eighth Year at Hogwarts, or anything between the war and the epilogue. 

  • It’s a great way for people to start writing

I can imagine there are thousands of people out there who dream of being an author. And maybe you are just starting out on that journey. You want to write, but you don’t have any solid ideas yet for your own work. Maybe you’re having trouble create complex characters, relationships and/or plots. What better way to start writing and practicing than by writing fan fiction? 

The characters are already established. You have free reign to change the relationships to your liking. You can make it canon or non-canon compliant. There is so much you can do, but you can always fall back on the established world. I think it’s a brilliant way to start exploring your writing voice.

  • You can choose how much time you invest in each story

I’m not sure whether that truly expresses what I mean, but here we go. Fan fiction ranges from full on novel-length stories to one shots of maybe 100 words. The word count is always mentioned on websites like Archive of Our Own. So if you feel like you want to read a full story on a certain topic or relationship, you can. But if you don’t have much time, or you just want a quick story, that’s available too. 

  • Most stories have trigger warnings, tags and ratings

I think this is a discussion many people have had with regards to novels lacking trigger warnings. If that is important to you, then fan fiction is your friend. Most of the stories have trigger warnings either in the description or in the tags so if you see something you know you can’t/don’t want to read about, you’ll know to skip that story. That can go from mental health related content, to abuse, self-harm and even the level of maturity. All stories are rated so you know whether there will be any sexual content in it. 

I know many people think that fan fiction is just sex (or kinks) and that’s it. I can only tell you that is not true. There are many stories that don’t include sex -and Archive of Our Own has an explanation of their ratings on their website. There are many stories with platonic relationships, friendships and fluffy romance. There are stories of asexual characters. There is a story for everyone. So if you have never read fan fiction because you don’t want to read about sex, fear not. There are plenty of stories out there you’d love too. 

BUT…

It makes me sad to think that so many people are missing out on fan fiction. I think there are a few misconceptions about fan fiction out there, which prevent people from reading it. So let’s get these out of the way.

  • Fan fiction is not necessarily badly written

Of course there are stories with awful writing online. Then again, there are also plenty of novels with terrible writing. I can safely say that there are so many gems out there, and quite a few people whose writing I love.

  • Fan fiction is not just about sex

Like I’ve mentioned before, there are so many aspects to these stories. Friendship, love, family… There are plenty of stories out there without any sexual content, if that’s not something you like to read about. 

  • You can choose which relationship to read about, so you won’t feel uncomfortable

Bear with me here. There are A LOT of pairings out there, and a lot of stories written about relationships that make my skin crawl. Luckily, such things are personal. I, for example, don’t want to read anything that has Harry Potter/Severus Snape as a pairing. I know that there are definitely people out there who love them, I’m just not one of them. Thanks to the tag system on AO3 though, I can easily avoid those stories. Thus, I only read stories about characters that make me feel happy. 


So those are some thoughts I’ve been having on fan fiction lately! Do you read fan fiction? If so, what are your favorite pairings? I’d love to expand my reading. Also, if you use a different website, I’d love to hear about that too. I feel like I’ve explored AO3 quite well already, and don’t want to miss out on anything.

I’d actually love to hear some of your favorite F/F pairings! I unfortunately have read/watched more canon M/M relationships that F/F ones, so I don’t really know where to start. I’ve read some Eva/Noora ones from Skam and some Ginny/Luna and Ginny/Pansy ones from HP, but I’d love to read more F/F stories.

Do you agree or disagree with me? What do you think about fan fiction? Let’s discuss in the comments! 

How Should a YA Fantasy Series End? My Thoughts On Series Endings.

Recently, I finished a few YA fantasy series and it made me think about how important a series ending really is for me. It can elevate the series to favorites-level, or make me think of it less fondly. So today, I thought I’d talk to you about what I believe is important when ending a (YA fantasy) series. 

Please note, I’m not a(n) writer/author and really have no authority here. So I can’t tell you what to write or what not to write. Let’s just hear me out without getting upset. 

Also, I am not going to spoil any of these series/endings for you! No worries, I won’t go into any specifics whatsoever. 

These are 5 series enders I quite recently read. With recently, I mean this year. I’ve read these books this year -and all of them are the last book in a YA fantasy series. Some endings I loved, some I didn’t like as much. 

Here’s my main point of this blog post: an ending to a series should feel realistic. It shouldn’t feel forced. And no matter how much we love our happy endings and romances, and for all our precious favorite characters to be happy forevermore, that’s not realistic. 

THE TOLL OF WAR AND CONFLICT

In a lot of YA fantasy series, there is a great war or conflict happening. For example, in the Remnant Chronicles, the Trylle trilogy and the Malediction trilogy I’ve shown above, several countries/species are at war -or at least a war is brewing. And in Six of Crows and The Infernal Devices shown above, there is a conflict going on as well. These characters are put into incredibly dangerous situations, at such a young age. 

These wars and conflicts will have an effect on the characters who have suffered through it all. If you’ve seen friends die, if you’ve been kidnapped or attacked: this will leave a lasting change. You will no longer be the same. You will always be someone who survived. 

I’ve been thinking about all of this ever since I read Six of Crows and Crooked Kingdom. I won’t tell you details, because I promised you I’d keep this post spoiler free. Many of the characters in this series have been through some trauma, and they aren’t just fine. The trauma had repercussions, as it should. I was so attached to the characters in this series, because they felt so real. And one aspect of them that made them seem so real was their scars (not just literally speaking here). 

In my opinion, more characters should portray these aspects of life. People suffer through many things after experiencing trauma: some people have PTSD, vivid nightmares, not being able to be touched, panic attacks, etc. Those are just some possible effects after going through something so terrible. So why do almost none of our heroes go through them? Why are most of our protagonists in fantasy absolutely fine after battlefields, murder and losing friends? Why don’t we talk about this? 

Usually by the last book in the series, our characters have gone through some real shit. So I think that at least in that book, our protagonists should show at least some aftershock or effect. 

THE CASE FOR (AND AGAINST) HAPPY ENDINGS

Here’s where you’ll really start to hate me. One of the books I read recently had an ending that was a bit… too happy for me. And I actually liked it less because of its happy ending.

If you have a main character group of 5 or 6 young people who go to war or have ended up in some sort of conflict, I think it’s a bit too optimistic to have them all come out of it not only without any sort of trauma, but with the love of their lives as well. 

Like I said before, I need a book to feel realistic. Even if it’s a fantasy novel. That’s how you get attached to the characters, after all. And I hate to burst your bubble, but not everyone gets their happy ending. That’s not how life works, after all. 

I’m going to cause myself some heartbreak by saying this, but I think that not every character should get their happy ending and that not every character should survive. Hundreds, thousands and millions of people die in a war or conflict. But if you’re a friend of the leader, apparently you don’t have to worry because you’re going to be okay, and you’ll even find your one true love. 

It’s just not realistic, and that makes reading it over and over again just a tad less fun to me. Yes, I want them to be happy. But I also don’t want to feel lied to? 

I want these characters to have the ending that feels right for them. The ending with choices that the characters would have made, instead of the ending the author wanted for them. That’s why I both love and hate the ending of the Lord of the Rings movies. I hate it because I want those little hobbits to live together forever and be happy. But I’m also happy, because it’s a choice that feels right for Frodo. Yes, the others will miss him -and he will miss them. But this is what HE needs. Not what I, as the reader, need. 

When you have these characters, who have dreams and plans for a life after this conflict, you cannot make them give it all up for love. That’s not a message you should send. You can love someone, and let them fulfill their dreams. Make a choice that your character would make. Do what THEY need. Do not be afraid of letting your readers down. If they understand your characters as well as you do, they will know why you ended it like that. 

THE CASE FOR HAPPY ENDINGS?

I’m not a complete monster. You shouldn’t kill everyone (or their loved ones) in the end. There should be a mix of happiness and sadness. A bittersweet moment at the end -like in real life. 

Of course, I do think that there should always be some books out there with the perfect happy ending. Books we can turn to when real life lets us down, to just feel hopeful and happy. But there’s a genre for that too: fairy tales. Fairy tales, their retellings, and so on almost always have a happy ending. That’s why we love them so much. Not just because they taught us morals, but because you want to see the prince and princess together by the end. 


So what do you think? Should there always be a happy ending? Should it always be bittersweet? Have you ever seen the difference between what a character would have done vs what the author wanted for their character?

On Diversity, Privilege and Feeling Uneducated

I woke up this morning feeling inspired to write this post. I knew I had to write it soon before I forgot it. I have never really made a diversity-post. Don’t get me wrong, I highly support diversity. I think it is a necessity to include all perspectives of human life in all aspects of our lives -and thus literature too. I follow the discussions on your posts, comment, follow them on Twitter and so on. But I’ve never written a post myself. Here’s why. 

I recognize my privilege. I am a privileged person. Let me count all the ways I am privileged: I am a white person, from a middle class family, well educated, come from a European (and thus rich) country, am heterosexual, an atheist, never had any money trouble, don’t have any illnesses whether that is mental health related or physical (aside from a stomach issue and loose joints), have never had a truly traumatic experience, have a loving family and have only ever lost one family member close to me. That’s a lot of privilege. And I recognize that. I am grateful for it every single day. 

The only privilege I do not have (I think) is being a man. So the only thing I have experienced is being catcalled, frightened when walking alone at night, frightened when followed by a man in the streets and other sexist remarks. Because I have had this experience, I am a feminist. I think everyone should be. Yet unfortunately, most feminists are people who have had these experiences -not those who haven’t. The feminist movement is big though, and we have made a lot of progress in the past years (and decades). 

I thought of this topic when Ely told me she didn’t like how disability was portrayed in Me Before You. I kindly asked her to expand her opinion, so she did. And it opened my eyes. I had never seen a problem with the story line before, but when Ely told me, I could see how it can come over as problematic. And then I was left thinking: how many books with problematic representation have I read, but never noticed? 

Here’s the thing. I understand and support all the diversity and equality movements, like #BlackLivesMatter. I don’t even know how we are still in a society that doesn’t respect all humans equally. And I understand and support the need of every human experience having to be in literature, especially YA, because that’s the time we all try to find a place where we belong, and for someone to say that are experiences are normal, okay and most of all: that you are not alone. 

But I also feel like I am uneducated about most diversity-issues because I haven’t experienced them first hand. I want to feel educated, so I can be a better person and participate in the movements more actively. I want to be educated, so I recognize bad representation. My privilege has kept me sheltered from a lot of issues in the world, and it’s time to take action and actively seek out information. It’s not enough to passively come across it anymore. I need to seek it out now. 

I want to learn about all the different cultures in the world. About mental health problems that are still taboo. About physical illnesses no one talks about or still aren’t talked about enough. About skin color and the difference it shouldn’t (but does) make. About sexuality (all types). About gender. About poverty. About oppression. About migration. About war. About political instability in your country. 

So help me. 

Teach me. 

Tell me about your culture. Your country.
Talk to me about your religion. Or recommend some books, articles and videos about it.

Recommend me books with great representation.

Recommend non-fiction books about every topic ever. Whether it’s feminism, your culture, mental health, physical health, I don’t care. 

Leave me links to articles, videos, blog posts about diversity and equality that you feel I should read.

If you are comfortable with it, tell me about your experience. 

Help me understand the world.