Rethinking Reading Ethics

Hullo, world!

I am so excited about today’s post! Some of you may already know, but it’s been weighing heavily on my heart for some time now about a certain topic that is close to my heart…the art of reading. 

And not just reading, but reading ethics, specifically.

I know, I sound kind of bland when I say it like this, but ever since I reviewed my reading in this blog post, I’ve been extra conscious about how I read, what I read, and why I read. It’s probably going to be a bit controversial, and some people may disagree with what I’m going to say. But if you’ve ever felt like your reading has stagnated, or worse, deteriorated in some way, hang tight! 

Me reading last year.

Without further ado, I present to you: Rethinking Reading Ethics.

THE WHAT

But first things first, what the deuce is Reading Ethics? Well, put it simply, this is what I call the 5W1H of Reading. 

5W1H is WHO, WHAT, WHEN, WHERE, WHY, and HOW. Ethics is about the heart of reading–what is truly deep and meaningful reading? Why do we read what we read? When are we more prone to read, and how can we align reading with our beliefs?

Those are what Reading Ethics are about. 

THE WHY

What is of wanting most when we think about Reading Ethics is “Why do we read?” One exercise I often do whenever I don’t understand the reason I did something or think the way I do is asking myself “Why?” five times. I applied this principle to the question of reading ethics and why I read:

  1. Why do I read?
    1. I inhale [when I read]
    2. Knowledge is power
    3. Stories give me power
    4. I am found [through stories]
    5. Books complete me

Wow. Starting from an abstract statement like “I inhale when I read”, I got myself to admit that reading books complete something inside me. Let’s take a look at my response to reading ethics.

  1. I want to rethink and reinvent my reading ethics.
    1. Quantity is never quality
    2. I only have so much time
    3. I want to focus  on what really matters in my life
    4. We are what we eat
    5. I want to focus on God’s design and truth for my life

I think I already sort of knew the whys for this question, but it was still good to sort out my thoughts and reasonings. If you’re curious about what you think about reading, take a moment right now to ask yourself, “Why do I read?” and “Why do I want to rethink/reinvent my reading ethics?” (Or if  you don’t think you need to, still ask yourself why you don’t need to rethink it.)

BEFORE & AFTER

I also made a chart outlining what I was seeing in my reading ethics (specifically of 2020) and comparing it with what I wanted to see in 2021 or what it used to be like (circa 2019).

BeforeAfter
I read books that interested me or/and was on a reading list
My reading habit became inconsistent (ref. Reading Pie chart)
I will read in a rigorous way that takes into account my entire reading diet
It will improve imbalance and open new avenues and perspectives!
Quantity mattered more
Constructing a strong reading habit mattered, but quality fell away the more I read
Quality will matter more
What I put inside me is much more important than how much I have inside
I read to meet due dates and became stressed
I was  borrowing too many books and  not reading the books that mattered to me
I will only borrow books  once a month and return them before I borrow more
This will help with sorting out the books that really matter to me
Some books on my shelf be like:

From the above points, I realised that books had weight to them as grades did. Honours classes are much tougher than a normal class load, as do AP classes. Classics are much denser than YA. Specifically, Classic nonfiction is denser than classic fiction. Classic fiction dated after the 19th century is less dense than ones before that date. Scientific nonfiction is about as dense as Literary Fiction. 

Of course, these are my perspectives, and I know some people will disagree with me, but I came to realise I wanted to surround myself with books that were truly deep and meaningful. If you’re interested, take a look at my Weighted Book Chart.

READING LIST 0.5

So with these insights in my head, I came up with a new reading habit. I read not only because it’s fun and liberating, but because it’s my way of expanding horizons and becoming better equipped to serve God. 

  1. Omnibus 1 list*
  2. YA
  3. Omnibus 2
  4. Nonfiction
  5. Omnibus 3
  6. Japanese
  7. Omnibus 4
  8. Indie
  9. Onibus 5
  10. Fiction
  11. Omnibus 6
  12. Juvenile/Middle-grade

*Omnibus is a Veritas Press classical education program. This is the list if you’re interested 🙂

And that’s my rough reading list. I might change the order, but that’s what my current reading habits look like. As far as this month is going, I’m glad I made the switch since I feel much healthier in my reading diet reverting to more classics and books I don’t read as often. If I have more time in the month than what I have allotted, then I might read extra fiction or two. 

This is my way of Rethinking Reading Ethics. 

This is what reading ethics is all about!

What do you think? How can you rethink your reading ethics? Do you know why you read the book you read? What do the books you read tell about you? Let me know in the comments below; I’d love to chat with you!

My 12 Christmas List

Hullo, world! 

Can you believe we’re less than a week until Christmas? (I can’t and I can.) 2020 has been this weird, convoluted and longish short year that will stay in my memory as a pivotal time. And even though I probably won’t see many people other than my immediate family this Christmas, it will always be a time of great joy and celebration. 

One of the things I’ve been thinking about Christmas is the iconic 12 Days of Christmas song. I love to sing that song (and play it on the piano), so I thought, “Why don’t  I create a blog twist to it?” 

And this is the list I came up with! (It literally has nothing to do with the numbers, but bear with me. Lists of any kind makes me happy.)

So without further ado, I present to you My 12 Christmas List filled with the winter wonderland vibes…

1. Dutch Blitz

If you are confused, I apologise ahead of time. But ever since we got Dutch Blitz in Japan with a German-English instruction, we loved this game! I’m still confused if it’s Dutch or German in origin (okay, it’s German, I just looked it up on Wikipedia) but that doesn’t change the fact it’s a Vonderful Goot game! 

Also, our siblings are super competitive, so we have to make sure we have a 911 call close by…

2. It’s A Wonderful Life

I know, I sound cliché. I am. 

Yet I don’t see how anyone in their right mind wouldn’t watch It’s A Wonderful Life on Christmas. 

And that’s all I’ll say on this movie. 

3. The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe

Since I pulled the It’s a Wonderful Life card, it can be reasonably deduced I will next jump the gun to Narnia. (And if any one of you want to check out the depth of my obsession with the series, check out The Narnia Tag I created!)

No Christmas is complete without the first adventures of the Pevensie siblings. I’m planning to re-read the book (for the hundredth time), listen to the epic soundtrack, and watch the movie!

4. Little Women

I’m basically going down the Christmas classics with this list, and this is something I default revert to during the Christmas season. My sister has been on my heels to re-watch the 2019 version Little Women, and now that it’s officially Christmas season, I’m all for it!

5. Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker Album

Courtesy of Pinterest

I am a huge fan of Tchaikovsky, and what better way to spend Christmas than by listening to his Nutcracker ballet? It’s absolutely magical, and although I don’t do ballet, I love banging out his variant dances and waltzes–especially his Waltz of the Flowers. 

6. Wicked Saints

This is where I veer off from the classical Christmas list. But having read this book in mid-summer in the mountains, I felt like I had to do it justice and put it back in the proper season it belonged to–winter. 

Wicked Saints is everything winter can be–white, endless, bitter and cruel. At the same time, it’s also breathless and wonderful, inversing our perspectives. 

7. A Darker Shade of Magic

Courtesy of Pinterest

I love the four Londons that come out in this book, especially White London. *collective gasps* I know, I’m that one weird person who had to go ahead and say that. 

Anyhow, I’m looking  forward to curling up beside the fireplace re-reading this book over the winter break. 

8. A Winter’s Promise

Courtesy of Pinterest

Some of you might have already heard me screaming about  this book since I found out about its existence in May. If not, check out my review on the first book and the second book on my blog. 

A Winter’s Promise is the reverse of Wicked Saints in that it has the same Russian-Polish vibes of the harsh winter, but also combines the sparkling effects of other European winter expertly. It’s another thick tome I wouldn’t mind nibbling on during winter! (Plus, one can never have enough of Ophelia, her scarf, and Thorn.) 

If you like Howl’s Moving Castle, Castle in the Sky with a decided arranged marriage twist, you will like A Winter’s Promise. 

9. Brooklyn Tabernacle Christmas Album

Okay, I did sort of go off on a completely different tandem again, but hear me out. 

I grew up in a nondenominational international church in Tokyo run by Southern Baptist pastors. We had a two-week Christmas concert with six showings, with a completely different show each week. Since my parents were in choir, we were singing Christmas gospel songs from July. 

I know, such is a life of a Christian homeschooler. 

So any Christmas is not complete without a spectacular gospel-infused Christmas music. 

10. The Snow Queen

Courtesy of Pinterest

And we’re back to the classic list! I love Hans Christian Andersen’s Snow Queen, it was probably my favourite fairy tale growing up. On that note, it still is! 

So I beg you to give it a read if you have not, since none of the movies out there give  it enough justice to this gem. 

11. Caramel Brûle Latte

Courtesy of Pinterest

I’m not sure if this is a Canadian (or North American) thing, but it doesn’t feel like Christmas until Starbucks start promoting their Caramel Brûle Latte. I drink at least two or three cups before it’s Christmas!

12. The Book of Isaiah 

And lastly, no Christmas is Christmas without a good re-reading of the Book of Isaiah from the Bible. Ever since I was little, Isaiah (along with Jeremiah and Eccelsiastes) were one of my favourite books of the Bible. I think the biggest reason is all the Messianic prophesies streamlined in it. It offers me great hope and also prepares my heart for the coming of Christ–which is what Christmas is. 

So that’s My 12 Christmas List! Thanks for reading this far. 

What did you think? Do you have 12 things that makes you think of Christmas? Are you familiar with any of the things I mentioned? What do you think should be on a Christmas list? Let me know in the comments below; I’d love to chat with you!

5 Favourite Contemporary YA Reads

Hullo, world!

It’s Wednesday again. (For some strange reason, I kept thinking it was still Tuesday.) Sadly, we’ve lost all the sunshine and it’s back to being Rain-couver. Very sad. 

Today, I will share with you my 5 Favourite Contemporary YA Reads (+1!) I actually don’t really read contemporary books so much, so I had to think a little about it. But once I did compile some book list, I realised I had 5+1. I think I like adding one more to lists like these, because it’s sort of like a bonus!

Without further ado, let’s take a look at the lineup…

1: Me and Earl and the Dying Girl

Audience: R(18+)

Content: Swearing, Sexual Content, Dying, Chronic Illness, Some Illegal Activity

My Rating: 4 Stars

This is the funniest book you’ll ever read about death.

It is a universally acknowledged truth that high school sucks. But on the first day of his senior year, Greg Gaines thinks he’s figured it out. The answer to the basic existential question: How is it possible to exist in a place that sucks so bad? His strategy: remain at the periphery at all times. Keep an insanely low profile. Make mediocre films with the one person who is even sort of his friend, Earl.

        This plan works for exactly eight hours. Then Greg’s mom forces him to become friends with a girl who has cancer. This brings about the destruction of Greg’s entire life.

        Fiercely funny, honest, heart-breaking—this is an unforgettable novel from a bright talent, now also a film that critics are calling “a touchstone for its generation” and “an instant classic.”

I’ve avoided reading this book for as long as possible. For some strange reason, this book and The Perks of Being a Wallflower since I encountered them in the library. Now that I’ve read ME+DG, I think I will give Perks a try, too. One thing I really liked about this book was how the first part is painful-gut laugh-worthy, and then the humor starts being flat and bleak as the story progresses. It’s sort of like a “sick-girl story” parody, and I would recommend it to anyone who might find this interesting. 

2: What I Like About You 

Audience: PG15+

Content: Some Swearing (I think), Romance, Dealing with Death, Online activity

My Rating: 5 stars

Can a love triangle have only two people in it? Online, it can… but in the real world, it’s more complicated. In this debut novel Marisa Kanter explores what happens when internet friends turn into IRL crushes.

There are a million things that Halle Levitt likes about her online best friend, Nash.

He’s an incredibly talented graphic novelist. He loves books almost as much as she does. And she never has to deal with the awkwardness of seeing him in real life. They can talk about anything…

Except who she really is.

Because online, Halle isn’t Halle—she’s Kels, the enigmatically cool creator of One True Pastry, a YA book blog that pairs epic custom cupcakes with covers and reviews. Kels has everything Halle doesn’t: friends, a growing platform, tons of confidence, and Nash.

That is, until Halle arrives to spend senior year in Gramps’s small town and finds herself face-to-face with real, human, not-behind-a-screen Nash. Nash, who is somehow everywhere she goes—in her classes, at the bakery, even at synagogue.

Nash who has no idea she’s actually Kels.

If Halle tells him who she is, it will ruin the non-awkward magic of their digital friendship. Not telling him though, means it can never be anything more. Because while she starts to fall for Nash as Halle…he’s in love with Kels.

Okay, can we just stop and comment about how much I loved this book? I mean, I almost never write reviews on Goodreads. After finishing WILAY, I went straight to Goodreads to rant about this book. And that’s really all you should know about it, other than the fact you should be reading this book now. 

3: Fangirl 

Audience: R18+

Content: Swearing, Romance, Partying, Online Activity, Psychological Problems, LGBTQ2+

My Rating: 4 stars

A coming-of-age tale of fan fiction, family and first love.

Cath is a Simon Snow fan.

Okay, the whole world is a Simon Snow fan..

But for Cath, being a fan is her life—and she’s really good at it. She and her twin sister, Wren, ensconced themselves in the Simon Snow series when they were just kids; it’s what got them through their mother leaving. Reading. Rereading. Hanging out in Simon Snow forums, writing Simon Snow fan fiction, dressing up like the characters for every movie premiere.

Cath’s sister has mostly grown away from fandom, but Cath can’t let go. She doesn’t want to.

Now that they’re going to college, Wren has told Cath she doesn’t want to be roommates. Cath is on her own, completely outside of her comfort zone. She’s got a surly roommate with a charming, always-around boyfriend, a fiction-writing professor who thinks fan fiction is the end of the civilized world, a handsome classmate who only wants to talk about words… And she can’t stop worrying about her dad, who’s loving and fragile and has never really been alone.

For Cath, the question is: Can she do this? Can she make it without Wren holding her hand? Is she ready to start living her own life? Writing her own stories?

And does she even want to move on if it means leaving Simon Snow behind?

This was a bittersweet story (and surprisingly serious look) about life in college. It was really fascinating how the story unfolds where it’s not just about Cath’s love of her life, Simon Snow and the fanfic, but also very much about her pain and hurt when her mother left. It’s a really thoughtful book; it does contain LGBTQ2+ elements that is important in the story, so it’s not for everyone. 

4: The Alex Crow 

Audience: R18+

Content: Swearing (I think), Sexual assault/content, refugee camp, violence 

My Rating: 5 stars

Once again blending multiple story strands that transcend time and place, Grasshopper Jungle author Andrew Smith tells the story of 15-year-old Ariel, a refugee from the Middle East who is the sole survivor of an attack on his small village. Now living with an adoptive family in Sunday, West Virginia, Ariel’s story of his summer at a boys’ camp for tech detox is juxtaposed against those of a schizophrenic bomber and the diaries of a failed arctic expedition from the late nineteenth century. Oh, and there’s also a depressed bionic reincarnated crow. 

I actually wasn’t sure if I could place this book as a “contemporary YA”, but I do think it does. It’s a delightful mixture of something like urban legend, the road to becoming a refugee, and a sciency-adventure filled to the brim with boys. Yes, boys. There’s hardly any girls in this story (which is refreshing) and you’d have to endure the silliness of boys as well as all their weirdness (totally not looking at my brother) and quirks. It’s also very emotional and thought-provoking. This is one of the books I’m glad to have met and would re-read. 

5: 100 Days of Sunlight 

Audience: PG13

Content: Accident induced illness, online activity, romance

My Rating: 5 stars

When 16-year-old poetry blogger Tessa Dickinson is involved in a car accident and loses her eyesight for 100 days, she feels like her whole world has been turned upside-down.

Terrified that her vision might never return, Tessa feels like she has nothing left to be happy about. But when her grandparents place an ad in the local newspaper looking for a typist to help Tessa continue writing and blogging, an unlikely answer knocks at their door: Weston Ludovico, a boy her age with bright eyes, an optimistic smile…and no legs.

Knowing how angry and afraid Tessa is feeling, Weston thinks he can help her. But he has one condition — no one can tell Tessa about his disability. And because she can’t see him, she treats him with contempt: screaming at him to get out of her house and never come back. But for Weston, it’s the most amazing feeling: to be treated like a normal person, not just a sob story. So he comes back. Again and again and again.

Tessa spurns Weston’s “obnoxious optimism”, convinced that he has no idea what she’s going through. But Weston knows exactly how she feels and reaches into her darkness to show her that there is more than one way to experience the world. As Tessa grows closer to Weston, she finds it harder and harder to imagine life without him — and Weston can’t imagine life without her. But he still hasn’t told her the truth, and when Tessa’s sight returns he’ll have to make the hardest decision of his life: vanish from Tessa’s world…or overcome his fear of being seen.

100 Days of Sunlight is a poignant and heartfelt novel by author Abbie Emmons. If you like sweet contemporary romance and strong family themes then you’ll love this touching story of hope, healing, and getting back up when life knocks you down.

*takes deep breath* CAN WE JUST TALK ABOUT HOW CUTE THIS BOOK IS!!! (I totally didn’t use all caps.) 

100 Days of Sunlight is probably the cutest (and not annoying) book I’ve met in my entire life. It chronicles Tessa’s journey of suddenly losing eyesight, being plunged into the darkness, to finding life even more vibrant and dazzling and…alive. It’s so alive. The prose can be somewhat simple, but it makes it up by adding other forms of writing like poetry. It’s one book I will continue to fangirl and squeal about for my entire life. 

+1: Grendel’s Guide to Love & War

Audience: PG15+

Content: Romance, Partying, Illegal Activity, Some Swearing (I think)

My Rating: 4 stars

The Perks of Being a Wallflower meets Revenge of the Nerds in this tale of a teen misfit who seeks to take down the bro next door, but ends up falling for his enemy’s sister and uncovering difficult truths about his family in the process.

Tom Grendel lives a quiet life—writing in his notebooks, mowing lawns for his elderly neighbors, and pining for Willow, a girl next door who rejects the “manic-pixie-dream” label. But when Willow’s brother, Rex (the bro-iest bro ever to don a jockstrap), starts throwing wild parties, the idyllic senior citizens’ community where they live is transformed into a war zone. Tom is rightfully pissed—his dad is an Iraq vet, and the noise from the parties triggers his PTSD—so he comes up with a plan to end the parties for good. But of course, it’s not that simple.

One retaliation leads to another, and things quickly escalate out of control, driving Tom and Willow apart, even as the parties continue unabated. Add to that an angsty existential crisis born of selectively reading his sister’s Philosophy 101 coursework, a botched break-in at an artisanal pig farm, and ten years of unresolved baggage stemming from his mother’s death…and the question isn’t so much whether Tom Grendel will win the day and get the girl, but whether he’ll survive intact.

This is one of the most weird and amazing contemporary books I’ve ever read. It’s actually a modern retelling of Beowulf, which I read (in both the unreadable language and the translation) but retain no memory of. So I can’t really talk to you about the authenticity of it. If you think it’s loosely inspired, that might help. I also really liked the main character, Tom Grendel, and I want to give him rosemary bagels and earl grey hot chocolate. 

So that’s it  for now. And remember, my blogiversary is coming up soon, so if you have any questions about me, just leave it in the comments or in the contact page!

What do you think? Do you recognise any of the books? Are you interested in reading some of the books from this list? Do you like contemporary YA? Let me know in the comments  below; I’d love to chat with you!