I went to a bookish event

hey!

so I went to a bookish event. I’ve never talked about bookish events on my blog before now, but I have commented on other people’s blogs about how I want to go to a bookish event.

I thought it’d be a fun idea to share my experience at the event with you guys because I’m still giddy from the event, which was four days ago.


I went to the Auckland Writers Festival. It is roughly a week long event which is held every year in my city, Auckland. I’ve never been before as I assumed it was for writers, and I’m not a writer (well I thought of an amazing idea for a story about six months ago and I plan to make it into a real story soon-ish).

About four days before the event I found out that Jennifer Niven was going to be at the Auckland Writers Festival because she posted about it on Instagram. I then messaged my friend about it, not knowing if I had to buy tickets or when it was. She said that she wanted to go, so I went on the website and looked it up. Luckily it was a free event and it was in the afternoon. fun tip. don’t do this, be prepared. organise yourselves!


My best friend and I went to Event #68 Light and Shade, which was on May 20th.

“Jennifer Niven (US) is the bestselling author of poignant stories that reveal the often tangled experience of adolescence, including Holding Up the Universe and All the Bright Places. Emma Neale (NZ) is the author of the 2017 Ockham New Zealand Book Award shortlisted Billy Bird – about a boy who kaahkaahs like a kea – which is a serious but humorous exploration of familial grief. Niven and Neale discuss the ways in which fiction can refract and illuminate the rigors of family life from childhood to parenthood, and provide both consolation and hope. In conversation with Catherine Robertson.”

I had never heard of Emma Neale before the event so it was really interesting to listen to her talk about her book. As a whole, I thought it was very interesting. There were a lot of discussions about grief, and writing grief and how not to flood the book with ‘shade’ and how to appropriately add more ‘light’/humorous scenes without taking away from the more serious topics. It wasn’t like a writing advice kind of thing, it was more how they, the authors, were able to find a balance between the lighter and darker moments in their own work. It was honestly such an interesting discussion.

Something that I thought was very important was the fact that they discussed the importance of accuracy when it comes to fiction and things such as grief or depression. Even though it is fiction, people use novels to find themselves and to get lost in another world. It’s important to have accurate representation, even if it is fiction. Books make us more empathetic, and having a real and accurate representation of what people go through in, not just books but our media is important. It’s important because it makes us as a society, more understanding when it comes to what the people around us are going through.


after the event, there was a signing. I don’t own any of Jennifer Niven’s books as I borrowed All The Bright Places from the library and I have an ebook of Holding Up The Universe. I brought a copy of Holding Up The Universe. And my friend and I waited in line.

when I actually met her I kinda freaked out and didn’t say much, which is embarassing. Luckily I had my best friend with me who was super chill and asked her about her time here in New Zealand and all this other fun stuff. there are so many things I wish I had said, but I didn’t.

Jennifer Niven took a selfie with us on her phone and got us to sign her copy of All The Bright Places, which was super cool. But I realised I don’t have a nice quality picture of the three of us on my phone…

overall I had a super fun time and I can’t wait to do something like this again soon!


I thought I’d end this post with some tips/things I should do next time to make the situation less stressful and just to generally be more organised:

  • plan. plan. plan. plan. and plan. seriously, I could have avoided so much stress, if I had planned what time I was going to arrive and even if I was going, more than two hours before the event.
  • don’t bring a heavy bag. trust me, you will have a sore back because you were too lazy to take your maths textbook out of your bag. (by you I mean me, seriously, learn from my mistakes)
  • take a moment to plan/think about what you are going to say to the author. you don’t want to do a Yasmin and say almost nothing because you were so shocked that you’re meeting the human being that wrote one of your favourite books.
  • bring a friend. if you’re anything like me, you need to bring a friend for two reasons: 1. emotional support and 2. to talk for you. also having a friend there makes the experience so much more fun

I hope you enjoyed this discussion, leave a comment if you’ve been to a bookish event before and tell me all about it and if you’ve completely blanked when you met an author you admire

Yasmin xx

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reading aloud 

Hi,

after watching Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them I was in a Harry Potter mood. My younger brother wanted to read the Harry Potter series and I thought it would be a good idea to read them with him so that we can have discussions about the books, and really just for some fun sibling bonding.

Originally we were going to read the books separately but we realised that it was going to be a bit difficult, as we only have one copy of the series. So we decided to take turns reading aloud a chapter each.

Reading aloud with a partner or a group reminds me of listening to audio books. A little less than a year ago I made a post about audiobooks, how I feel about them and why I liked listening to them.

The best thing about reading with a partner is the fact that you can stop halfway through a chapter and have a discussion about a fun sentence or something small a character has done. For example, in the Philosophers Stone Hermione makes Ron and Harry study timetables, my brother and I ended up talking about how good of a friend Hermione was for doing this.

I’ve never really had to read aloud before, but this is quite a fun and interesting way to read a book.

Let me know if you’ve ever read aloud to or had someone read aloud to you, other than when you were little or in school, in the comments

Yasmin xx

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diverse literature being taught in schools

Hi,

If you follow me on Twitter then you’d know that I am very passionate about diversity in all forms of media, that’s including books. After my last English Literature exam, I started a conversation on twitter about my feelings towards the texts that I’ve had to study in school and how the lack of diversity was quite unsettling.

This year I took IGCSE English Literature at school, I honestly hate the subject and which we didn’t have to take it but sadly we do.

After one of my exams, I was having a conversation with some friends of mine about the texts we’d studied over the year. We both agreed that the play An Inspector Calls by J.B. Priestley was the only text we enjoyed studying as it actually made sense and we felt a connection to the story.

The other texts we studied this year were I’m the King of the Castle by Susan Hill, The Merchant of Venice by William Shakespeare and an anthology of fourteen poems called Songs of Ourselves Volume Two.

I’m not going to summarise the plot of each of these texts or explain what each of the poems is about but they each have links to a page with general ideas on these texts if you’d like to know more about them.

The reason why I enjoyed studying An Inspector Calls over the other texts is because it dealt with the idea/theme of social responsibility in such a clear and impactful way, I believe the reason why so many other people (that I’ve talked too) felt the same way about this play.

I know that when I’m learning something at school if I enjoy it or have a teacher that makes me feel included or appreciated I am going to enjoy the subject/do much better in it than if I felt uncomfortable in the lesson. I find that if I’ve read a book I enjoyed I am able to start conversations about the plot, the themes and even small pieces of dialogue in the text, without it feeling like work.

Friends of mine stated that studying books with diverse characters helps students understand the novel better but also feel less alone. Learning about characters that students can relate to helps people feel valued and that they’re an important part of society.

One of the things not only I’ve noticed but also anyone who has studied any kind of text would have noticed is that whenever you studying text for school there will always be so much discussion about the text. There will be discussion about; the characters – who the characters are and what they stand  for, all those kind of important things that helped build a character which therefore helps build the story build the plot, because of this there will at some point be discussions about the context (what time in history and what country it is set in). For us both plays, the novel and the majority of the poems were set in Europe. Which meant the majority of the conversations we were having were about western cultures and European people.

When we studied The Merchant of Venice we had to learn about the historical background of Jewish people, and how society viewed Jewish people at the time, and how this impacted the story. I didn’t really know a lot about anti-Semitism (other than World War Two) and about the history of it. I think that learning a lot more about this helped me understand the discrimination that Jewish people received and still do. However, I think it could have been a lot more beneficial if we learned about a Jewish character that wasn’t built on stereotypes, who wasn’t portrayed to be the villain, who at the end of the play ends up losing in the end and the Christian characters gaining from the Jewish person losses. However if we’d studied a novel where everyone was equal or the people who actually done wrong badly ended up losing out, I think would’ve have helped people see Jewish people in a new light and helped remove stereotypes surrounding Jewish people, especially considering the fact that this character was built on stereotypes.One of the other things that were something that was annoying about the texts we studied  is that all the poems we studied, there was fourteen of them, over the year and almost every single one was written by a European poet, had something to do with a heterosexual relationship and Christianity.

Lastly, one of the other things that were something that was annoying about the texts we studied  is that all the poems we studied, there was fourteen of them, over the year and almost every single one was written by a European poet, had something to do with a heterosexual relationship and Christianity. I’m not saying that none of the poems should be about Christianity or Christian beliefs and that you can’t have poems about heterosexual relationships, but considering the fact that there were fourteen poems and none of them was about a relationship f/f or m/m relationship, the fact that none of them contain any other religious beliefs is horrifying.

If you’d like to check out some more discussions on diverse literature being taught in schools I have found a few that I thought were really interesting here;

Let me know in the comments if you have or haven’t studied a diverse text at school and if you have, tell me about it.

Yasmin xx

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The Library – Part Two

Hey,

I started a ‘mini-series’ on my blog, about a month ago, all about the library. In my last post in this series, I talked about the cons of the library. If you’d like to go see that post you can click here to go straight to it.

As I’ve previously talked about the negatives it’s obvious that this post is going to be about the positives.

Please note I’m not trying to force anybody to use the library or shaming people for not using the library.  I am just sharing my opinion and if you don’t agree with this, you can leave a comment explaining why, please don’t be mean. 


 

The main thing I love about using the library is that it’s free. This is obviously something that many people love about the library as buying books can be expensive, especially if you live somewhere where there are few bookshops and buying books online doesn’t work in your favour (due to shipping prices). There are sites, such as Book Depository, which ship to a lot of different countries for free. This is super helpful because shipping can be ridiculous especially if you live outside the US and the UK.

Not only is the library free, but if you don’t enjoy the book you can just return it. I know that there are a few books that I’ve read that I really didn’t enjoy and if I’d bought it I would’ve felt like it was a waste of money. The fact that the library is free also takes away the bad feeling you get when you’ve brought a lot of books and haven’t read them. I have gotten about fifteen books out from the library before and not even read half of them, I cannot imagine how bad I would’ve felt if I had brought those books and had them sitting on my shelf still.

Personally, I find that I am more likely to read a book that I need to return to the library or a friend than if I own the book. Needing to return a book on time or just to be considerate will, not so much pressure but motivate me to read it more. A great example of this is the Legend trilogy, I brought this trilogy  over a year ago and I’ve read Legend and I started Prodigy in December, I still haven’t finished it. But I’ll read a library book as soon as I can because I know I won’t have it forever.


 

Even though I just gave and explained many positives about the library, here are some things I don’t like about the library, which you can always go check out in my previous post in this series.

Leave a comment telling me about how you feel about the library and your experience with libraries.

Yasmin xx

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Bricks You Can Read and Fall Asleep With by Dane Cobin

Hi,

I recently received an email from the author and poet, Dane Cobin, asking if I wanted to work on a few things with him on my blog.

Over the past few months I’ve been reading/listening to a lot more poetry, and asked if he could write a poem for my blog, all he needed was five words of my choice and then he’d write something that included these words.

I decided to include a four other bloggers in this because I wanted to make this poem is more inclusive. I asked each person for one word each and I used one myself, our words were;

Jesalin (from JBelkBooks), her word was ‘Hope’, Nikki and Amy (from bookwormgirls123), their word was ‘Despair’, Fadwa (from Word Woonders), her word was ‘Passion’, Ola (from Ola Reads Books), her word was ‘Flat’ and my word, which was ‘Growth’

I thought this is something different and fun that I could do on my blog.


Bricks You Can Read and Fall Asleep With

I believe books are the bricks

we need to build society;

when the world was flat

and space was black,

and factories spewed gas

from a chimney stack,

we needed some hope

to go on with,

and now we need hope

more than ever,

you can feel it in your bones

when you’re home alone.

Books are just art from the heart,

like baking a cake with the words you say

until the passion you feel

is a miracle pill

for the people,

a point in time

where you can turn off the lights

and feel excitement.

An escape you can chase

when there’s despair in your face,

and the rest of the world

has lost its marbles.

Character growth

in a classical trope,

like Sisyphus

pushing boulders

up a hillside.

I believe words are the mortar

that oughta hold society together,

like when you talk about the weather

with friends you’ve never met,

when you’re stressed and upset

and can’t forget it.

Or maybe books

are just bridges

between people.

– Dane Cobin


I really enjoyed reading this poem and working with Dane on this post. If you’d like to know more about him and see some more of his work you can click here to go to his site.

Let me know what you thought of the poem in the comments and if you’d like to see different things, like this, on my blog.

Yasmin xx

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sexual orientation – labelling and educating ourselves

Hi,

Victoria from hermionefowl made a post called Sexuality – Do We Need Labels? in this post, she made so many good points about labels and how they can pressure us into fitting into a certain category but also how they can help us find new people who we have something in common with.

Her post really got me thinking about why we label people, why society feels like we need to fit into a certain category.

I believe that this is because in our society people who aren’t straight aren’t seen as “normal”, and for some reason, they just don’t understand how we could be different. We live in a society that assumes that we’re all straight, as homosexuality isn’t the norm. Labels help people understand who you are when it comes to your sexuality.

However, I can think of one big reason why labelling can get confusing. I feel like if I try to explain this it’ll be too complicated, so I’m just going to give an example.

Steven identifies as a bisexual. He tells this to his friend Julie. Julie then googles what bisexuality is (according to google Bisexuality is romantic attraction, sexual attraction, or sexual behavior toward both males and females, or romantic or sexual attraction to people of any sex or gender identity; this latter aspect is sometimes alternatively termed pansexuality.”)  but Steven doesn’t one hundred percent fit into this description. Now Julie is confused, and/or starts making assumptions about Steven which are not true.

These assumptions can create a social pressure to find a label which describes them perfectly. This can be seriously hard if someone doesn’t know exactly how they feel anyway.

No one should feel pressured into fitting into a certain category or labelling themselves just to make other people’s lives easier. You should do what makes your comfortable and what you believe is right for you.

After coming out, a question I’ve seen and gotten myself is, ‘well, how do you know you’re blank if you haven’t been with someone of the same gender?’ This question is one of the most annoying questions I have ever heard and it comes from people who don’t really understand the fact that not everyone is straight. I think the best answer to a question like this is, well how do you know you’re straight? Because it’s highly likely that they’ll respond with something along the lines of because I do or I just am.

I think a lot of the misunderstanding of other people’s sexual orientation comes from a lack of education surrounding social issues. This was something Victoria and I talked quite a lot about, we are both from New Zealand, are in high school and have both gone through a lot of our education (excluding university). The two of us have only had discussions about social issues, such as sexual orientation, once or twice throughout my eleven years of school and Victoria’s thirteen years. All of the conversations I have had at school about sexuality, gender, and race, that aren’t brief, have been with my friends at school.

Absolutely everything I know about sexual orientation, gender identity, I have learned through the internet. The lack of education when it comes to these social issues is so obvious when it comes to the misunderstanding of sexuality within the older but also the younger generation.

Recently I was watching a TV show with my younger brother, and there was a character on it who was bisexual. Because she kissed a woman (she’d previously had sexual and romantic relationships with men), my brother assumed she was a lesbian. I had to explain to him that, she’s bisexual, she likes both girls and boys, and it doesn’t matter who her partner is at the time, it doesn’t make her straight or gay. She’s a bisexual no matter who her partner is. I’d like to point out that my brother’s eleven, I wasn’t surprised that he was confused. But so many people are uneducated on sexuality to the point where if someone isn’t  straight they assume that they’re gay. I think this kind of thing needs to be taught in schools, sexual orientation isn’t black and white. There is so much more to sexuality than homosexuality and heterosexuality.

Do let me know how you feel on labelling in the comments, I’d love to discuss this issue further.

Yasmin xx

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THE LIBRARY – PART ONE

Hey,

A while ago on Twitter I saw a bunch of tweets discussing reading being a financial investment and from this came discussions on the use of the libraries.

If you’d like to see more of the discussion and things that were brought up though this tweet just check out the replies to this tweet.

I use my local library a lot and so I finally decided to make a post on the things I love about using a library and the things I don’t.

As I was making this post I realised I had a lot to say for both the positives and the negatives and didn’t want to flood people with a massive post, so I decided to split this into three posts, the first one which is about the negatives, the second one which is about the positives, and the third one which will be about my final thoughts on using the library which might also include some of the people who are reading these posts thoughts and feelings.


I decided to start with the negatives, because it’s always better to end with the positives.

The most obvious negative is the fact that you cannot keep the book, you have to return it. This sucks, especially if you really enjoyed the book. Also, to be honest I would love to have a visual record of all the books I’ve read (other than Goodreads) because I think it’s a pretty cool thing to have.

This kind of ties into my last point, but another thing I don’t like about libraries is that you can only keep the book for a limited amount of time. This is both a positive and a negative. I can only keep a book for four weeks, I know that this varies from library to library. But I know that all the libraries in my city can be borrowed for four weeks. You can also renew a book, I think for an extra for weeks, but you can only do this once and that is only if no one else has requested it.

Sometimes a book can take me a while to finish or I might have had it sitting around at home for a while and then I’ve had to return it while I was reading it. This has happened to me a few times and it’s really annoying.

One I think that is more important for some people is overdue fines. I haven’t ever had an overdue library book before because my local library is quite close and we don’t have to go out of our way to go and return a library book. However I know that having an overdue book can get pretty pricey and that’s obviously a negative because the main reason why people go to the library is because it is free.

Lastly I think one of the main reason why a lot of readers prefer to buy books over using the library is because of the small range of books that their local libraries have. I am extremely lucky to have quite a large range of books at my local library, I don’t think I’ve ever not been able to find a book before at my library. However this is not the case for everyone worldwide. I have heard many people say that they would actually use the library if they had books that they would read. I think that it’s really sad that not all libraries have a good range of books, because I think that so many more people would use their local libraries if they had a variety of good books.


Even though I just gave and explained many negatives about the library, I still really enjoy the library and have so many positives to talk about in the next part of this series.

Leave a comment telling me about how you feel about the library and your experience with libraries.

Yasmin xx

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