Bemused vs Amused: Do you know the difference?

discussion posts

This is such a huge pet peeve of mine. Authors use the word “bemused” when they really mean “amused” all. the. TIME. Let’s review definitions, shall we?

amused definition

bemused definition

 

 

 

 

I read a book recently where the author used the word bemused TWICE. Now, I’ll say giving the author the benefit of the doubt, bemused could hypothetically have fit the situation. However, in the context of the story, amused would have made much more sense. And here I am, as a reader, wondering how nobody knows the difference between these two words! Not the author, not the editor, not anyone else who read this book before it got published.

But to be completely transparent with you, when I looked up bemused on Dictionary.com, this is something else that popped up:

The¬†verb¬†bemuse¬†(usually¬†as¬†the¬†adjective¬†bemused)is similar in sound to amuse, and has in fact taken on the meaning “to cause to be mildly amused.” Many usage experts and traditionalists consider this a misuse of bemuse, pointing out that its proper meaning is “to bewilder or confuse.” However, the history and use of bemuse has shown that is meaning is often ambiguous. It’s often the case that one’s feelings are a combination of bewilderment and amusement: Their customs bemuse most Americans. Even when it clearly means “to bewilder or confuse,” bemuse usually retains a lighthearted tone: one would not typically say: I was bemused by his motive for the murder.

So apparently, because everyone keeps using this word wrong, it’s starting to mean what everyone has been using it to mean. Isn’t that weird? It’s just so…frustrating to me, because it’s wrong! Just because people keep getting a math answer wrong doesn’t change what the answer actually is, right?

I was telling my husband about this strange phenomenon and he told me that the same thing happens with travesty vs tragedy. A lot of people use the word travesty to mean an even bigger tragedy, when in reality it means: “a false, absurd, or distorted representation of something.”

Anyway, there’s my rant for the day. Are there any words that you’ve noticed authors (or other people) consistently get wrong? Why do you think editors don’t catch that kind of thing?

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DISCUSSION: Is the term “clean” harmful?

I read an article from Book Riot the other day discussing why the term “clean” is harmful. The author explains that sex, underage drinking, and swearing are not “dirty” things and so calling books that don’t contain those things “clean” is harmful.

discussion posts

I understand the author’s point completely and, to an extent, I agree. My main issue with the article is that she ends with this paragraph:

Publishers and authors are in the business of words. I trust they can find a better, less holier-than-thou way to say what they mean. Unless, of course, this is exactly what they mean.

Honestly, this paragraph feels a little “holier-than-thou” to me, but that’s beside the point. My problem is that she never offers an alternative to the term currently being used. I live in a super religious and conservative community. We have patrons coming into the library EVERY DAY looking for “clean” reads. That’s just the term they understand and we have to call these books something. I’d love to use another term, but…what other descriptors are there? This is not a rhetorical question, I’d really like to know. I discussed this very thing with one of my fellow librarians and we were pretty stumped.

In library school, it was very heavily emphasized that a librarian’s job is to be discreet and that no patron should feel judged in any way for what they choose or choose not to read. With that being said, obviously no self-respecting librarian wants a patron to feel dirty or less-than if they choose not to read “clean” books. Because of this, I almost feel like if a better word were out there, then librarians would have found it already?

Another point where I kind of disagree with the author is where she says how all books that aren’t considered “clean” must, in fact, be dirty.

And the word ‚Äúclean‚ÄĚ when applied to books is a clear value judgement against books that aren‚Äôt clean. Not ‚Äúclean‚ÄĚ = dirty. ‚ÄúThose books‚ÄĚ are deemed less-than, worthless, like a used tissue.

I don’t really think it’s that black and white and I don’t think that the existence of “clean” books necessarily implies that not “clean” books = worthless. The way I see it, the term “clean” is more a descriptor of what the book is than what other books aren’t. However, I can see the point that labeling a book “clean” may imply that the acts of sex, drug/alcohol-use, and swearing are “unclean” or “dirty” (which, again, is not how we want patrons to feel).

In the end, I agree that “clean” isn’t the¬†best term, but I don’t agree that it’s the worst. Sometimes I feel like we’re in a world that is so sensitive about the littlest things (and this is coming from a POC who has lived for the last seven years in a very white community). I’m not saying we shouldn’t be sensitive to things, and I’m not saying that this specific example should be something we ignore. But I feel like every alternative to the word “clean” that I’ve come up with, could be argued as insensitive to someone, somewhere. And thinking about that makes me so very exhausted.

What do you think? Should we move away from the “clean” label? What would you use as an alternative?

The eternal struggle of rating books

In March I’ll have been running this blog for 4 years. That’s so crazy to me! It doesn’t feel like it’s been that long, but I guess it has. I started this blog shortly after I graduated from college and before I was working full-time or had completed my Master’s. Apparently that was 4 years ago! Over that amount of time, I feel like my ratings have become more consistent. Early on, I definitely gave more five star ratings than I do currently. This is basically a short rundown of how I rate books these days.

discussion posts

Firstly, if it was just up to me, I would probably give half-star ratings (and I do occasionally). But since Goodreads doesn’t allow half-star ratings, I try not to do that unless I have to. I want my ratings on here to match the stars I give a book on Goodreads.

One Star

I rarely give out one star ratings. That’s just because if I dislike a book enough to give it one star, I’ve probably DNFed it and I don’t give ratings to books I DNF. Here’s a link to my post about why I DNF books.

Two Stars

I finished it, but I didn’t like it. I didn’t absolutely HATE it, but I wouldn’t generally recommend it.

Recent(ish) two stars: S.T.A.G.S. by M.A. Bennett, Hello, Sunshine by Leila Howard, Coming Up for Air by Miranda Kenneally

Three Stars

This book was okay. Pretty good even. I didn’t hate it, but there’s still room for improvement in my opinion. Maybe the writing wasn’t great, the characters were a little annoying, the world wasn’t convincing, or the plot was lacking. It’s not something that I would necessarily recommend, but it was fine.

Recent three stars: The Gilded Wolves by Roshani Chokshi, Love √° la Mode by Stephanie Kate Strohm, The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken

Four Stars

I liked this book a lot and would highly recommend it! Maybe there were a couple little things that didn’t make sense or jive with me, but I’m willing to overlook them!

Recent four stars: Truthwitch by Susan Dennard, Sadie by Courtney Summers, The Feather Thief by Kirk Wallace Johnson

Five Stars

As I said earlier, I have definitely become more selective with my five star reviews. At this point, a five star comes when I absolutely LOVE a book. If I finish it, close the cover, and then hug the book (or my Kindle) to my chest (possibly holding back tears, but that’s optional), it’s a five star book.

Recent(ish) five stars: Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman, Bone Gap by Laura Ruby, Alex, Approximately by Jenn Bennett

How do you rate books? Do you find you’re freer or more stingy when handing out five star ratings? Do you ever one star books or do you just DNF? Do you do partial star ratings?

To reread? Or not to reread?

I almost exclusively buy physical books that I’ve already read and liked. I just don’t want to waste money on a book that I end up not liking, you know? So unless it’s one of my auto-buy authors (Sarah Dessen) or part of a series that I’ve been reading and enjoyed, I’m only going to buy something if I already know that I like it. But then a lot of my books just sit on my shelf unopened because I already read the ARC or the library copy or whatever and I don’t get around to rereading.

discussion posts

Pros/Cons of Rereading Books

Pro – You know what you’re getting

You’ve already read the book, you know how the plot is, how quirky the characters are, how swoony the romance is, you know how it’s going to make you feel. You can purposefully pick a book to perfectly suit the mood you’re in.

Con – There are no surprises

Chances are you remember that mindblowing twist at the end of the book. It is never going to be exactly as satisfying as the first time you read it because you know what’s going to happen.

Pro – Additional insights

Sometimes you get something else out of a book on a second or even third read-through. I think this is especially true with books you may have read when you were much younger or with series’ where you had to wait years between books. For me, Harry Potter fits both those categories.

Con – Time constraints

Who has time to even think about rereading books when new books are being published EVERY DAY. If you’re spending time rereading a book, you’re not spending time reading a new book–a book that would probably become your new favorite book of all time.

Pro – Can help you out of a reading slump

This is definitely the case for me. If I’m ever in a bad slump, I can pick almost any Sarah Dessen book off my shelf and I’m back. Rereading a favorite book can be like slipping into that cozy, old sweater you only wear on rainy days. There’s something very comforting about losing yourself in those worn pages.

Con – It might ruin the book for you

Perhaps you read a book when you were younger and you remember really enjoying it. It’s been a few (or more) years and you decide to pick it up again. To your horror, you realize that the writing is not that good, the protag is especially weak, and the love interest is alarmingly problematic in a number of ways. Some things are just better left as a rosy memory.

So yeah, I’m still pretty on the fence about rereading. There are obviously points on both sides and readers should probably take it on a case-by-case basis.

How do you decide whether or not to reread a book? Any pros/cons that I missed?

Discussion: Thoughts on YA Novellas and Short Stories

I’ve noticed a trend over the last few years where YA authors are putting out lots of novellas and short stories to accompany their series. Examples:

throne of glass novellas

The selection novellas

Please tell me, WHO ASKED FOR THESE??? I already have a hard enough time reading all of the books in a series, but now I have to read all of these novellas and short stories too? I know that I don’t HAVE to read them–nobody’s forcing me. But it feels like if the author’s putting it out there, then maybe I’m supposed to get additional information about characters or events from these stories.

However, I’ve found that a lot of times reading the extra material does not help or change my viewpoints about characters or events. If the events in the short story or novella were so important, then the author should have included that information in the book/series to begin with. To be completely honest–and I don’t really like feeling this way–it feels to me like these short stories and novellas are published purely to make more money by milking an idea that’s working for all that it’s worth. And that just leaves a bad taste in my mouth where that author is concerned. I feel like I, as a reader, am being taken advantage of.

kim kardashian money gif

So my position is that these little “extras” are unnecessary and just create added stress as a reader (not to mention cost, because libraries don’t often carry these–you actually have to buy them). Let’s think about one of the greatest series that has ever been: Harry Potter. If she wanted to, J.K. Rowling could 100% write a million more stories about day-to-day life at Hogwarts featuring a variety of characters. But she hasn’t. Sure, she’s fleshed out the world and made movies, etc. but she hasn’t done anything else with Harry, Ron, and Hermione and their time at Hogwarts. If she wanted to, I know for a fact that people would pay for that. So why hasn’t she chosen to do that while many lesser known and less popular authors with smaller fandoms have?

At the end of the day, I’m just sitting here pleading for authors to give me the whole story in one or two books (three max). I don’t have time to read four, five, eight book series anymore and I certainly don’t have time to read 50-100 page novellas and short stories.

What are your opinions on YA short stories and novellas? Are you a fan? Why do you think authors write them? Let me know in the comments!

To monetize or not to monetize?

Hi Everyone!

I’m still on my semi-hiatus and it’s felt really good. I took a step back from NetGalley and have almost completely disconnected from the blogosphere. I’ve just been able to relax a bit and not really stress about getting ARCs read on time, etc. I’ve also been able to read some books that I’d been meaning to read, but hadn’t been able to get to (and even reread a couple of old faves!).

But there are some changes looming on the horizon. Baby is due in May and at that point I’ll be quitting my full-time job to become a full-time mama. I feel that at this point I will need some kind of project for myself and I hope that reading and this blog can be that project.

Now I come to the question in my title. I’ve briefly thought about upgrading my WordPress account in order to monetize in the past, but I didn’t feel that I posted regularly enough or generated enough views for that to really make sense. Now I find myself thinking about it again and I just wanted to find out what experience you guys have had with monetizing/not monetizing.

To those who decided not to monetize:
What made you decide not to monetize? Do you ever see yourself monetizing in the future?

To those who did decide to monetize:
What made you decide to monetize? Do you feel that it’s worth it? How much time per week do you spend working on your blog? (And if you don’t mind my asking) how much do you generally make per week?

Thanks for the help!

DISCUSSION: Diversity in YA

Diversity in Books

This is a topic that I’m sure you guys have been hearing a lot about lately and I know you’ve all been wondering what I think about it…right? As a POC (person of color) myself, I do feel like I have a small sliver of authority on this subject. After all, I’m the kind of person who’s underrepresented, right? I came across a post myself just today and I left this long comment which made me think that I really just needed to write my own post. So here we are.

Just as an introduction, I’m half Chinese and a quarter Panamanian and I grew up near the Seattle area so there was a fair amount of diversity at my high school (mostly white, but a pretty large representation¬†of Asian, some Hispanic, and some Black as well). I’ve always been a reader but it honestly never really bothered me that the books I was reading were all about white people. It’s just not something that I ever thought about. Growing up with parents and countless other family members who were part of interracial relationships made it so that race was seriously a non-issue for me growing up. Even now, despite the fact that I live in a very white area, I rarely¬†feel uncomfortable or like I stand out because of my ethnicity. At the same time, I know that a lot of people have had a different experience than me. I know some people have acutely felt the lack of diverse characters in YA books–I’m just not one of those people.

Let me make sure to say¬†that I do think we need more diversity in books. Absolutely. But I think we’re looking for that diversity to come from the wrong people. We complain about straight white authors who are only writing about straight white characters. Well…what else are we supposed to expect? For the most part, authors (and other creators–this can be expanded to television and movies) write about the things they know about. They write about what they have experience with. If they’re a heterosexual white person, then they’re most likely going to write about and focus on white people in heterosexual relationships. That’s just how it is. As a POC I would never write a book with 100% white characters because I don’t have experience living a 100% white life. I honestly don’t know what it was like to grow up in a white household. Anything that I would try to write would be inauthentic and probably stereotypical.

I think the worst thing that could happen is for authors to become so badgered by the “diversity police” that they start including diverse characters just to get people to shut up. There was a book I read not too long ago but I can’t for the life of me remember what it was…anyway, a character was included who had a diverse characteristic, but it literally had no affect on the character.¬†The character might as well have not had that diverse characteristic. I don’t think it’s helpful to have characters who don’t embody the traits they’re supposed to possess. Just saying that a character is Asian doesn’t make the book more diverse if the Asian character acts like every other white character. I don’t just want to¬†see diversity, I want to¬†feel diversity. Despite my skin color, deep down I feel pretty white. I’ve never been to China or Panama. I don’t speak Cantonese or Spanish (to the disappointment of my grandmother). I don’t know how to cook authentic Chinese or Panamanian dishes. I live, basically, like a white person. That being said, my heritage¬†and my culture still affects me. If everything else in my life remained the same, I would still be a different person if I had white parents. Those are the people I want to see represented in YA books. If white authors include characters who are diverse only on the surface, it’s not going to help diverse readers feel like they belong any more than a book full of not diverse¬†people.

Then what is the solution? More diverse authors (and other creators). We need people out there who can tell our story because they’ve lived our story. It’s unfair for us to expect authors who aren’t part of “our group” to represent us. Instead, “our group” needs to step up to the plate instead of just complaining about how we’re underrepresented. We have stories to tell, but how are the white people supposed to know that? They’re too busy telling their own stories! I’m not a fan of everything that Jenny Han writes, but what I do love about To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before is that she incorporates Laura Jean’s Korean heritage. I love hearing about the food they eat and the special things they do over the holidays. Even though Laura Jean is American, she’s also Korean and Han does a great job of highlighting¬†that in Laura Jean’s story.

I’m not discouraging straight white authors from doing the research and including diverse characters in their books. If they want to do that, I think that’s great. What I am saying is that it’s not really their fault if they don’t include diverse characters. It doesn’t mean they’re racist or homophobic. It doesn’t mean they don’t think diversity’s important. I honestly¬†believe¬†they just don’t think about it when they’re sitting down to draft a new book. So instead of complaining about how authors need to include diverse characters that represent us (and not them) in their books, let’s do something about it ourselves. Instead of saying we need more diverse books, let’s let the publishing houses know that¬†WE WANT MORE DIVERSE AUTHORS¬†instead and support the ones that we already¬†have.