Another season, another TBR stack. If any bookworm denies having a TBR stack, they're lying. Below are the books I've stacked up to read during the warmer months. Let's see how many of them I get through, game on.
I have been itching to indulge in some YA for a while now as it's a genre I usually don't reach for. I attended an incredible talk featuring prominent YA authors Rainbow Rowell and David Levithan last year, and in that moment decided that I had to try YA — what better place to start than Australian YA?
The book opens with Milo, who is in Canberra visiting his girlfriend in Canberra. Whilst his girlfriend and all his mates are now basking in their newfound freedom now that they've finished high school, Milo hasn't worked out what he wants to do yet. Though the people around him think it's a disaster that he has no purpose yet, he's 17/18, and that's totally okay (I didn't either!). The book follows Milo as he decides what he wants out of life — whether it's to go to university, travel the world or remain working in the family bookstore.
Enter Layla. Milo hasn't seen his childhood neighbour and best friend for over 5 years, and suddenly she's back in town. Things feel different this time. Both begin to feel sparks that move beyond their playful friendship. Since the death of her mum, Layla has been unsettled, moving to different towns and is in a dysfunctional relationship with a drug dealer. The reemergence of Milo in her life has a calming effect on her and is a reminder of what he life felt like before things went off-track.
The romantic sub-plot will see you turning the pages quickly, but it's not the driving force of the book. What keeps you interested is watching two lost individuals work through their uncertainties of the future and what they truly want. The coming-of-age aspect of the book reigns supreme over the romance. Whilst I love a happily-ever-after ending, I also want an ending that feels real and I believe Remind Me How This Ends achieves this.
Remind Me How This Ends will take you on a journey through a range of emotions, but ultimately, it shows us that it's okay to not know what you want. You'll work it out in your own time.
Release date: March 27th 2017 by HarperCollins
Books have magical powers, nearly all of us can agree to that fact. But, there are some books I've come across on my reading adventures that I would describe as life changing. Life changing in the way they enlightened me, changed my thinking and introduced me to a whole new world.
Down and Out in Paris and London by George Orwell
What’s so inspiring about reading about a man living in a cramped apartment, pawning his clothes for money and being a dishwasher eighteen hours of the day? The fact that all of this led to Orwell becoming one of the greatest novelists of all time. Though, I won't be choosing his way of life in the pursuit of being a great writer, I'm not as brave as Orwell (plus, i'm not keen on washing the dishes). Orwell's semi-autobiography proves that with will and determination, you can battle through anything.
We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Before watching Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s TEDx talk, I was afraid of Feminism. The only version of Feminism I had ever come across was the extreme misandrist Tumblr version. I didn’t know where I fit into it — I felt the need to embrace girl power, but I didn’t think forming hateful arguments against men would help the cause. The things I saw people write online were so hateful and extreme against men that I didn’t know how to feel about Feminism. And then I came across Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's talk, and my mind was blown away. It was exactly what I needed to hear. Finally, I didn’t feel any less of a feminist because I love lipstick and wearing heels. She preaches that if it makes us feel good about ourselves, do it. Her anecdote that discussed her fear of wearing lip gloss as she was concerned that her students wouldn’t take her seriously was relatable. I also enjoyed her discussion of gender roles, especially where she says that “we do a great disservice to boys in how we raise them. We stifle the humanity of boys. We define masculinity in a very narrow way. Masculinity is a hard, small cage, and we put boys inside this cage”. This little pocket book should be owned by everybody...not just feminists.
Les Fleurs du Mal (The Flowers of Evil) by Charles Baudelaire
This was my first glimpse into the dark world of literature, and I liked it. This anthology consumed me in a way that is indescribable. I will admit it, after reading, I went through that pretentious lit student phase where I was cynical as hell and was obsessed with everything French (it happens to the best of us). This book changed my life as it opened my eyes to some pretty dark stuff that I didn't know existed. No wonder this book spent many years banned...
Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
This novel is my favourite book of all time. Sometimes as humans, we become consumed with creating a world so perfect, but is a perfect society even possible? Huxley’s novel exhibits a world so controlled where there is a solution for everything. But in the pursuit of this perfect society, no one has emotions or feelings, love isn't real and culture is forbidden. Also, suffering and pain don’t exist in this world. Before reading this novel, I wasn’t sure if I would like dystopian novels — after reading it, I want on a dystopian reading rampage. All of us come to a point in our lives where we feel like Bernard; lost and out of place in the world. Oh, and stop comparing this one to 1984, they’re two completely different books!
Freedom From Fear by Aung Sun Suu Kyi
I picked up this book originally when I was studying philosophy in my undergrad, as I wanted to learn more about human rights throughout history (particularly on an international level). The essays in this book touch on a range of topics, from her father, Burmese history, why democracy was going save the Burmese people and the importance in fighting peacefully. Her passion glows through her words and I think this book is a fantastic introduction to who she is and what she stands for.
The Beautiful and Damned by F. Scott Fitzgerald
Perhaps it’s a little weird to call this one ‘life changing’, but in a way, it was to me. This was the first Fitzgerald novel I read, and I was blown away. I can’t remember the last time a book impacted me on an emotional level where I was unable to function a few days after reading it (i'm not even kidding). His prose is brilliant, and I struggled to put it down. Even 7 years after reading this book, I still get emotional reading it.
With the rise in the use of technology and television for enjoyment, children are beginning to turn away from reading as a source of entertainment. According to a study completed by Scholastic, the amount of children who read for pleasure has decreased by 10% since 2010. Why you ask? It's complex.
This isn't a stereotype or a generalisation, but the socioeconomic status of a child's family influences their perception of books. Though I grew up in the western suburbs in Melbourne, I was blessed to grow up with parents who have always placed high value on reading and had good jobs. Many consider socioeconomic status as the suburb or area someone lives in. This is incorrect, one's socioeconomic status relates to an individual's or family's position based on factors such as income, education and occupation. Research has found that children of low socioeconomic families are less likely to read for pleasure. Reading for pleasure influences one's writing ability, vocabulary and general knowledge. Another aspect in regards to socioeconomic status includes a parent's attitude towards reading. Parents of low socioeconomic status are more likely to have a negative attitude towards books. The result this has on a child is that a cycle begins to form where children inherit their parents' attitude towards books and then pass this down to their children.
How do we break this cycle? The only way to break the trend is by providing additional support to these children. Sometimes a child's dislike for books is a result of having poor early literacy skills. It makes sense—if you can't read, how are you supposed to find it enjoyable? By helping children develop literacy skills, this will break the vicious cycle.
According to research conducted by Christina Clark and Kate Rumbold, reading for pleasure has many benefits. This includes positive development of reading attainment, text comprehension, grammar, and self-confidence. This shows that reading for pleasure doesn't only have entertainment value, it also helps literacy skills.
An important way to motivate children to love reading is by letting them choose the books they want to read. If you let them read what they desire, they will want to keep on reading. Think back to when you were in primary school or high school and you were forced to read a prescribed text—it's highly likely you didn't enjoy the book. Giving children the option to read what they want will create readers who are engaged and enthusiastic. For younger children, it is wise to quiz them on their interests. For example, if a child loves trucks, help them find books all about trucks.
Even though I am a trained primary school educator, i've always had a negative opinion on reading levels and benchmarks. Why do schools and parents feel the need to put this extra pressure on children? I have witnessed first-hand students being bullied about their reading level by those with better skills. Being bullied about reading levels will obviously cause student's to feel discouraged from reading. Parents (and many teachers) act as if grades are the most important thing about education. They're wrong—if you want children to enjoy reading, stop putting high academic expectations on them and let them have the freedom to read what they want.
If children value reading at a young age, they will become lifelong book lovers. Not only does this help create a highly literate society, it also means that society's love for books will continue to prosper in years to come.
Terrified that one of the people you love the most are turning into a hipster? Then maybe How To Spot A Hipster can help you see the signs.
Cassar's guide provides you all the essentials you need to know about this exotic species - whether it's their diet, physical attributes, culture, behaviour, and natural habitats.
Things you should watch out for?
- Beards - this can be one of the first signs of a hipster. How does do you work out if a beard is considered to be hipster? Hipster beards are 'sculpted, symmetrical and over an inch thick'.
- Moustaches - the book features such types as the handlebar, the Dali, the horseshoe, the thicker Fu Manchu, and freestyle.
- Warehouses - a popular habitat for hipsters to live.
- Protest parties - for some, this is one of their favourite weekly activities. Ask any hipster what they did on the weekend and guaranteed they would have been at a protest party.
- Mason jars - it isn't a beverage unless it's sipped out of a jar
Why should you buy this book?
Not only would it make an amazing present! This book's commentary is hilarious and will have you laughing page after page. The illustrations by Carla McRae are beautiful and add a new dimension to Cassar's quick-witted words.
Have a peek of inside the book:
This book was provided to me by Simon & Schuster Australia in exchange for an honest review.