Wednesday, December 28, 2016

End of the Year plans

End of 2016 Plans: 

Hello everyone! 

I know you are seeing this post very late on Wednesday, however today I decide to focus on the reading of books solely. I have finished The Two Towers today because of the time and dedication that I gave to it! I am going to review that book in the new year along with many others, however for the rest of the year I have some quite loft plans!

Tomorrow I am going to be stopping into my favorite bookshop, Bear Pond Books, to swap books for store credit! After doing this I may browse and pick up some books while I am there, or just peruse the shop and hide bookmarks for my blog in the SFF section! Either way I will get to see my place of respite, this bookstore holds so many memories for me which makes this trip even more fun. After going to the bookshop I am intending to stop and rent some more movies, The Two Towers, and The Return of the King as these will be my end of the year watches. I will also peruse the old Science Fiction section and check out any that catch my fancy to watch on New Years Eve, leave suggestions in the comments section please. 
Christmas Wishes from MyBookishEmpire to you!

After stopping and running errands I intend to drop by my local library for a browse. This should not take too long as I do not need any more books to read though I always love perusing the new and obscure books. I may also swing into a local market to pick up some apple cider for a weekend or rest and relaxation, but only time will tell! 

I intend to come home tomorrow evening and dive headlong into the movie of The Two Towers and after I finish that I will launch into the last book of the trilogy (The Return of the King). This is something that I want to complete before the year is done! I will read as fast as possible to get this book done, while still enjoying the slow and meandering plot; though this last book is going to be nothing short of an explosive ride from Tolkien! Aside from completing The Lord of the Rings trilogy I may dip into some graphic novels to boost my Goodreads goal to completion as I am so very close. This will depend on how quickly I read the third Lord of the Rings book, but I am hoping to read Saga volume 6, Rat Queens volume 3, and Descender volume 2, and or The Wicked and the Divine volume 3. 

On New Year's Eve you can expect to hear from me with my January TBR! I will be planning this year in advance in order to complete my goals, and bring you all the most content and joy! Though you may find my TBR of January to be rather dry and predictable I am going to be making a wild shot to complete a long overdue series for me! 

I sincerely hope you have all had an amazing holiday season and go into the New Year with a light and open heart to embrace the future and all that it has in store. Without getting sappy I wish you all the best in the New Year, and I hope to see you here on the page in the New Year following all of my bookish antics! 

Happy Reading!
I am going to be coming back to you all on Friday with my favorite books of 2016! Check in then to see what I saw as the BEST that 2016 had to offer!

Monday, December 26, 2016

2017 Goals

Bookish Goals: 2017

Hello everyone! 

I am back today to tell you my lofty goals for the oncoming year for this blog, and my reading life. I cannot believe that another year has come and gone again, I am astounded by the atrocities that have occurred this year in the world and I am happy to be moving past this dismal year. In 2017 there are many things that I would like to do personally, and a few broad stroke ideas that I will be implementing here on the blog and in my reading life. I do not want to set too high of goals and fail at completing any, which I might add is how this goal setting fiasco has gone for the past few years. 

Blogging Goals:
  • Continuing to post three times a week, Monday, Wednesday, and Friday
    • I have a lot to say about the bookish world as you all will know by now, therefore giving you all posts three times a week as usual will not be an issue for me to continue.
  • More in depth reviews.
    • This past year I posted a review for Man Up: Surviving Modern Masculinity by Jack Urwin, and in that review I poured my heart and soul into which is seldom something that happens when I write reviews. I would like to create reviews with the same kind of fervor and emotion as I conveyed in that one in each and every review that goes live in 2017!
    • Man Up Review
  • Giveaways every other month!
    • This is something that I feel strongly about allowing everyone the opportunity to read and enjoy books. So for the next year there will be giveaways every other month to encourage people to read, these giveaways will be for books I have read and loved in the past as well as new releases and I will ship the book internationally. More details to come in February when the first giveaway will go live!
Reading Goals: 
  • Use the Library
    • I would like to make use of the huge library that is by my university in New York where I can request new releases to try them out before I purchase them with my own money to put on my shelves. This will also force me to read faster as there will always be a deadline behind me. I would also like to use the library system to branch out and try new authors assuming that they carry them in the catalog. 
  • Read one Classic a month
    • This I would like to do as a challenge for myself to push myself to read the cannon works that I will not be able to read at university because my course of study does not allow. I am going to attempt to stick with the reading list that I made a few months ago for what I read while at University for the spring semester: 2017 Classics Challenge
  • Read more Science Fiction
    • Enough said here, I do not read nearly enough Sci-fi as I love it so much and I am going to make a conscious effort to read more in 2017.
  • Read #OwnVoices books
    • I would like to read a more diverse selection of authors in the coming year and in doing so I want to make sure that atleast some of the books are written by those who are being represented in the novels. 
  • Spend less on Books
    • Books, yes they are a great hobby to have both to read them and collect them. However I have noticed that as of late I have spent a TON of money on books that still sit on my shelves unread even six months after buying them, this was not a problem for me last year, however I need to begin saving more and really investing small amounts into books that I am passionate about reading immediately.
  • Read the entirety of the Harry Potter series by: JK Rowling
    • I know I know, I have not completed this series yet. One series at a time; I am going to finish the Lord of the Rings by: JRR Tolkien and then I will move backwards into this series and work my way through completion. 
These are my goals to complete in 2017, there are quite a few of them I know but they are all simple. I will report monthly how much I spent on books, and what has come from the library or my shelves and current collection so I can be accountable in these goals. I also am aiming to start the Harry Potter books in early January before heading back to school so that I only need to bring the later books in the series, however that means I need to complete The Lord of The Rings very soon! 

Happy Reading!
I am off to read the last 300 pages of The Two Towers by JRR Tolkien today, check in on Wednesday to see a new post by me! And tune in Friday for the Best Books I have read this year!

Sunday, December 25, 2016

LoTR Review 1!

The Fellowship of the Ring:
by: J.R.R Tolkien 
Review


Hello all, 

I am so incredibly happy to be coming to report that this past week I finally finished The Fellowship of the Ring (further referred to as Fellowship)! I am astounded that is has taken me over 19 years to get around to read this book, though in all fairness I have only been able to read for about 3 years... Regardless of my excuses I could not be happier that I have finally read this book! 

As many of you know this book series and movie franchise has taken the world by storm since it was released over 15 years ago for the movies and many years ago for the books! I was always focussed on being "hip" and current with what is being released within the bookworld that often times I glanced past these books in favor for a new release; this book has taught me not to do that ever! I cannot believe what I was missing for all these years, an astounding character study and a romp in the woods. While this book is a slow moving plot with not a whole lot of action, I found myself immersed in the world and all of its events from page one. This book (Fellowship of the Ring) I feel makes a lot more sense after reading The Hobbit which I did many years ago now because my then girlfriend was obsessed with the stories and I never continued, which was very stupid on my part because I love these stories! 

Plot: 

Frodo Baggins knew the Ringwraiths were searching for him—and the Ring of Power he bore that would enable Sauron to destroy all that was good in Middle-earth. Now it was up to Frodo and his faithful servant Sam to carry the Ring to where it could be destroyed—in the very center of Sauron's dark kingdom." (Goodreads.com) 

Review Time: 

I found this book to be as though Tolkien was sitting right beside me reading this to me while I was wrapped in a huge blanket with a cup of tea. This may be the best example of the right book at the right time, as prior girlfriend just asked for a "break" about a month ago and I wa leary if I would ever read these books because they remind me so much of her and her joy for the world; however I have found that reading them is like having a comforting hug the whole way through. Ill keep reading these books because of the profound amount of light hearted fun they bring to me through the richly imaginative story that lies within their pages. 

While some readers may have issues with the slow pacing and seemingly aimless plot, this is the very aspect of this book that I could not get enough of! I feel as though this kind of storytelling is lost now in favor of those who can write a fast paced and gripping novel that will go to number one on the New York Times bestseller list; this was before that time and it truly is apparent. After recent events I have been taking things slowly and reading at my leisure, however, this book made me slow down to a new pace and enjoy every word that Tolkien crafted within this world. This slow moving plot lends a great deal of pressure to the character development for the entertainment of the reader, and Tolkien was spot on with his character development! 

Every character within the company that star in this book is fleshed out with the perfect amount of backstory and detail that allowed me to believe for an instant that they were real and my lifelong friends. This sense of friendship that is conveyed through this book is insane, while I would not like to be in the shoes of these little Hobbits, Elves, and Dwarves I do envy their comradery that is shared with the fellowship going to destroy the Ring. At first I must admit that I was leary of Frodo because I had already fallen in love with Bilbo and his story of acquiring the Ring; by the end of the first book there is no doubt that I like Frodo more than Bilbo! Frodo has a sense of humor that is witty and dry and he shows a multitude of personalities and depth of character which I appreciate as a reader enjoying this book and in a critical sense it allowed the story to come to life in my mind. 

in the end this was a joy to read with fun characters and writing that will suck any reader in for hours upon hours. This series is going to be the perfect way to end the reading year for me, as I hope to finish book two by the end of the year... I have also rented the movie and I am off to watch that right now! 

Rating: 5/5 
- Something about a meandering plot and the joyous characters that Tolkien created have captivated me from the very beginning. 

Happy Reading!
I hope that everyone celebrating Christmas has a wonderful day today celebrating, and that those of you who celebrate the other holidays have a safe and happy holiday season! 

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Book Expo America

Book Expo America:
A Solemn Response

Hello everyone.

I am going to try and temper this rant so that it does not get out of control, however I NEED to comment upon the newest release from the Book Expo team. Book Expo America for those of you who do not know is a bookish conference that happens each year in NYC or Chicago where publishers bring ARC (Advanced Reading Copies) of books coming out within the year to give to professionals in the field to read and review for them, the conference also holds panels and discussions about the book industry and marketing tasks. This conference is the biggest book conference in the United States at least, and this has been open to the public and bloggers/reviewers, however, this has infuriatingly changed this year! 

These changes are justified on their behalf as they have been cheated in the past. Some people who attend this conference each year will wait in long lines and get ARCs just to sell, which is illegal as they are getting them for free from the publisher to review and speak about on their medium of choice! The expo has also become violent at times to get books with people shoving and grabbing for books which is an issue as the safety of individuals is not worth jeopardizing for any ARC. However I believe in changing these regulations and applications that Book Expo has hurt the masses of good bloggers and loyal reviewers instead of just targeting the problematic attendees. I do understand that since this is a private event that they have the right to control admittance, however I feel that this is a bit over the top restrictive!

While Book Expo does not specifically state that you are unable to attend the conference, they has convoluted the application process to get tickets so much that many of the small book bloggers and YouTubers will not be able to go. They have succeeded in doing this by adding new criteria to the process to get tickets such as list employment, and have two contacts within the publishing industry; though the second task may not be hard for those of us who work closely with publishers I can assure you the first criteria is almost impossible. When they are asking for employer information what they are looking for is a connection to the bookish world in your daily life beyond sitting at home writing reviews and chatting about books because it is a passion, sadly many of us do not have that either. This is something that I think is a major flaw on Book Expos behalf. These readers and reviewerrs that they have essentially banished give great and a large percentage of the publicity each year for the upcoming books. I know personally, though I am a blogger that I get many of my ideas about what books are coming out soon and what to read from hauls of BEA each year; sadly this will be limited this year to the select few (if any) bloggers and YouTubers that get admitted to the event.

I am all the more bitter about this because this was going to be my first year going asmy following has grown recently which makes it possible for me to stand out with others; yet now because I do not work within the publishing industry and do not have friends there I will not be able to go. Thank you Book Expo for giving me so much hope in years past of all the post BEA book buzz, though your days of hype are surely over!

Ranting is done, I am sorry about this if it seemed unprofessional or as though I was attacking Book Expo, I am not attacking them at all. I love what they stood for and who they were, although I do not know if it will ever be possible for me to forgive the changes that they have made as it excludes so many. Best of wished Book Expo, I hope the industry thrives still as I love every aspect of the book world, even publishing though I do not work in the industry. 

Happy Reading!
Small bloggers (myself included) keep your heads up, your opinions do matter in the world. Keep reading and reviewing!

Monday, December 19, 2016

Gift Guide Part 2 (2016)

Book Gift Guide:
2016

Hello readers! 

As many of you know this is the last week before the holidays start to roll into full swing, so I am bringing you this very last minute bookish gift guide today to recommend books to you or those who you still need to get gifts for. I have a wide selection in this line up and I will link the BookDepository link with each, however know that for most contries this will arrive after Christmas, therefor you should check any local bookshops first.

I have read a wide array of books this year, though this list will encompass books that I have read in the past as well as ones that I have recently completed. I hope I have found something on here for everyone, if not you can leave a comment down bellow and I will get a recommendation to you by no later than Friday December 23rd. 

The Books!

  • Man Up: Surviving Modern Masculinity 
    • By: Jack Urwin
    • This book is one that I think can be gifted to anyone, as the messages within its binding are harrowingly simple and ever so necessary in this modern society. I would love to ship out a copy of this book to everyone in the world, alas money is very limiting. This book explores the toxic side of masculinity and how we as a society and individuals can combat this dangerous level of overcompensation and emotional repression, Urwin also has a winning sense of humor that will make any person laugh!
    • Man Up BookDepository page
    • Man Up Review
  • Swamplandia 
    • By: Karen Russell
    • This book still has me thinking about what was written within its pages even months after completing the book. This book follows two girls, Ossie and Ava and their Bigtree family's alligator theme park in Florida's Everglade swamp as they try to save it from foreclosure and deal with everyday stresses. I know in summary this book does not sound impressive, however through the writing and magical realism this book will blow you away! Russell has a way of writing that is wholly immersive and will not release you until you are complete, however I do not know if I will every be over this wonderful book! This book is for lovers of the swamp, character studies, and magical realism.
    • Swamplandia BookDepository page
    • Swamplandia Review
  • Ghost Talkers 
    • By: Mary Robinnette Kowal 
    • This book blew me away with the rich and deeply imaginative writing about Ginger's role within the war efforts as a medium. This book has countless amazing characters that will have you believing in love at first sight, you will never forget these wonderful characters once you have read this book. I love how slow moving Kowal's writing style is because it allows the reader to slow down and focus solely on the story at hand in all of its intricacies.
    • Ghost Talkers Review
    • Ghost Talkers BookDepository page
  • 1984
    • By: George Orwell 
    • This book is a classic that I read in highschool and absolutely fell in love with! I also think that this book is crucial for us to realize the peril we could be in in our modern age, with the recent election, and turmoil across the globe this book shows warnings and the dangers of this path we are on. Just give this book to everyone, it is truly a joy to read!
    • 1984 BookDepository page
  • Infomocracy 
    • By: Malka Older 
    • This book is another fictional political based book that shows us the dangers of fragmentation between parties and the issues that can ensue. I know for many that this will hit a little too close to home after recent events, however it is a fun and thought provoking read. This would make a great pair gift with 1984 too!
    • Infomocracy BookDepository page
  • The Power of One
    • By: Bryce Courtenay 
    • This book is one of my all time favorite novels! This book follows a young boy who barely escapes the Boer wars and is working his way up the ranks to become a prize winning boxer, however this book is expansive and a heart wrenching story of determination and love. This book is a powerful read that I would like everyone to read, however I would like you to know that there is strong imagery within this book of bullying and racism along with some foul language. Everything about this book makes me smile and jump for joy with its loving and kind message that shows the reader that we can survive even through the darkest times! 
    • The Power of One BookDepository page
  • Mistborn (The Final Empire) 
    • By: Brandon Sanderson
    • This is my all time favorite fantasy series! I love the sass and courage shown in Vin the protagonist, the magic system will have you questioning the powers that lay within each and every metal object you own as well. The characters within this book feel real and will quickly develop into your friends and partners in crime as they romp through Luthadel trying to save the city from imminent Peril! This is a very accessible fantasy novel even though it is so long, the writing is easy, the world is detailed and fleshed out completely leaving almost nothing unexplained; overall this is a fun fantastical romp!
    • The Final Empire BookDepository page
I hope this list has helped you to discover some bookish gifts, or even some books to purchase after the holiday season, all of these books are some awesome books for all to read!

Happy Reading!
I hope you all have a great holiday season and are able to read many amazing books in the coming days!

Saturday, December 17, 2016

#Cramathon TBR

#Cramathon TBR

Hello everyone! 

I am finally done University for the semester and I am home for the holidays! This means that you  can expect more regular and thoughtful posts once I am settled in once again. I am sorry for missing the Friday post, however I took an exam and drove the four hours home in that time, so I hope to make up for it now. 

As I will have a lot of free time over my break I intend to read quite a bit while I am home and coincidentally the #Cramathon was happening while I was home, therefore I pounced on the opportunity to participate! This readathon has become an annual or biannual event in the book world, where your overall goal is to read the most books to help boost your Goodreads reading challenge right before the year ends.  This wonderful idea was started by Whitney over at WhittyNovels on YouTube, and this year it is co-hosted by April from ApriliusMaximus on YouTube! This is going to be an awesome challenge to read all the books that I need to finish the challenges! 

The challenges are: 
1. Read a book under 200 pages
2. Read 2 books in 24 hours
3. Read a book set in a different country than where you live
4. Read a book you've been putting off/have been meaning to read for forever
5. A book with pictures
6. A graphic novel/manga
7. Read seven books total

I have decided to take part and read books for all of the challenges! This is going to be a stretch, however I have almost nothing to do and I will be able to focus on these books and my loft goals for this week! So without further ado let us see what I am hoping to read this week! 

My TBR going in order of the challenges: 
  1. The Vegitarian by:Han Kang 
    1. The page count for this book comes in at 188! 
  2. This will not be hard, as I am going to read: 
    1. Polotics and the English Language by: George Orwell (23 pages) and Forest of Memory by: Mary Robinette Kowal (85 pages)
  3. The Vegitarian by Han Kang 
    1. This book is set in Korea and I am from the United States of America so that is an easy challenge to pick off.
  4. The Fellowship of the Ring by: JRR Tolkien 
    1. I have had this on my shelves for a very long time and I have always known it was cannon Fantasy literature, however I never got around to it until now.
  5. The Wolf Gift: the graphic novel by: Anne Rice and art by: Ashley Marie Witter
    1. This is going to take care of challenge seven aswell to read a graphic novel!
  6. To read seven books total I am tacking on two short books that I know I will get to in the near future: 
    1. Used and Rare by: Nancy & Lawrence Goldstone
      1. I have started this one and I am currently halfway through it so I WILL be able to complete this one first.
    2. The Witches of Lychford by: Paul Cornell (144 pages)



I am sorry to anyone who was looking forward to my book gift guide today, I am going to make that for Monday and just focus on reading today and settling in at home once again... 

Happy Reading!

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Holiday Gift Guide 2016

Holiday Gift Guide
2016

Hello Everyone, 

I am putting together my bookish gift guide for this holiday season today! I know that I have this going live later than expected for this season, however it took me so long to compile the list of my favorite items for the year. I have put together this list of items that I love the sound of and will be giving this year to friends and family members, though if I am completely honest I will end up buying myself some of these gifts... 

I am compiling a book gift guide that will go live on Friday where I recommend my books that I would give most readily this year. Here I am putting all of my bookish trinkets together, and I have grouped them together in a way that they fit with a fandom if I have more than one item for each. 


Lord of the Rings: 
TheColorfulCatStudio Rivendell 
reBookART
FinePenArt Bookmark
VikitoGifts Bookmark (set 4)
ATouchOfEpic Bookmark















Harry Potter:
HolgaArt Bookmark
Oksis Bookmark
ThatBookieBookmarks Bookmark
NerdyGirlDesigns Bookmark
SamSkyla Bookmark

IceyDesigns Harry Potter Pencils
VividDelights Lantern
BoosTinyBits Hous Mugs
VintageSignDesigns Bookends
MilesToGoClothing Hedwig Journal

General Bookish Items: 
  • Journals
  • Pens
    • Gel pens 
    • Feather pens
  • Candles 
  • Tea
    • Harney & Sons 
      • This is a great tea company which I will link bellow, my favorite one is the Titanic black tea.
  • Blankets
    • These can be anything that is warm and comfortable to stay wrapped in when you are reading on a cold winter night.
Shops to Check Out: 
I want to take a second and clarify that I was not sponsored by any of these shops,  or their owners. I genuinely love the look of these items and would personally be delighted to receive any of these under the tree this year! 

Another message that I hope all of my readers understand is that the holidays are not solely based on the gifts that you receive and what you give to others; it is about friends and family. This is something that I am sometimes guilty of forgetting because I get drawn into the fun of buying and giving gifts, and this year I want us all to know small things in life such as friendship mean the most. With a cup of tea or cocoa and an hours chat with one of these small gifts could be the best gift that anyone will receive; let me know if you found this helpful or would give these gifts. 

Happy Reading!

Check in Friday to see the books that I recommend as gifts this year, some that I have read and some that I have seen highly praised...

Monday, December 12, 2016

Series, pure delight or a lot of effort?

Series... & My opinions:


Hello everyone! 

It is Monday which means that it is now time for another work week to begin for some and in the case of my life final exam week; I hope you have lots of fun reads planned for this week. I am going to be speaking about the reasons I have a love hate relationship with series today, in hopes that some of you will understand. 


Series, what are they? 
Well in short it is a group of books that must be read in chronological publishing order following the same characters through time. 

There are a few reasons why I like the idea of reading series and getting lost in an expansive world, though there definitely are drawbacks to being in a world for so long. I love series for the depth and expansive worlds that the author is able to explore throughout the series. In standalones it is often hard for an author to attain such great world building and character growth which is a must have for books that I read. I am amazed each and everytime that I open a new book in a series that the author is able to unfold yet another darkened corner of the map in their expansive world! Another aspect of series that I do not always stop and absorb completely is the comfort in knowing the characters and having them feel like old friends to you, creating a comfortable and safe place for you to escape into again. I am finding the Lord of the Rings series to provide that for me, as I have previously read the Hobbit I am eagerly welcomed back with open arms by the characters of Middle Earth. 

There are a few downsides to series. The biggest issue I have with series is not finishing them. I know this can easily be solved by me just completing the series that I have begun, however being so immersed in the book community I always have a stack of books a figurative mile high to tackle next. This dilemma is truly an issue when the books are incredibly long in the series, for example Game of Thrones; I read book one last year and have yet to continue on because of the time commitment that such a dense and long book takes. I know this is a personal problem for myself, but it is a driving force in how slowly I am able to tackle my TBR of many long series. In knowing that I own series is something that slows my reading tremendously, because knowing that these books will never go anywhere I tend to push them back and not get to them quite as quickly as I would hope to. To combat this, many times when I am reading series I will marathon the series to ensure that I complete the series and not get distracted, though as a squirrel trying to gather nuts I become scatter brained and distracted by the new and shiny books to which I will read first and put off the series for another day. This is something that I am trying to get better at, however I do not think much will work unless I just marathon the series as I move through them. 

These are just two of my countless opinions on series that I have found over the years both drive me to pick up new series and to shy away from finishing them. 

Let me know in the comments why you like or dislike reading series, I would love to know!

Happy Reading! 

I will be back on Wednesday hopefully with an awesome gift guide for the holiday season!
  

Friday, December 9, 2016

Friday Reads 12-9-16

Friday Reads! 
12-9-16

Hello everyone!

For those of you who are new here to MyBookishEmpire, welcome to the family. I do these videos occasionally as an informational type post to let you all know what I will be reading through the weekend and possibly into next week. This is usually a short segment so you can expect another post later on tonight with some more substance... Without further ado lets talk about the books that I will be reading this weekend.

I am focusing on one book this weekend and throughout the next week. I normally am reading multiple books at one time, however this upcoming week is final exams for my University semester therefor I must study and focus on them more than reading. I am going to pick up my reading pace after December 16th at which time I will be racing through my TBR to complete it throughout the rest of the month. As to what I am reading this weekend and next week: 
  1. The Fellowship of The Ring 
    1. By: JRR Tolkein 
      1. I am reading the entire Lord of the Rings trilogy this month for the first time, and as this is the first book it is only logical that I begin here. I am currently on page 54, at the end of the week I would like to complete this book which is a total of 458. In order to do this I will need to read 57 pages per day. This amount of reading may prove to be difficult with studying but I am up for a good challenge, I will use the Audiobook and speed it up in order to shorten the amount of time it takes. 
This is a series that I have long since wanted to read as it is so many people's favorite series and it has shaped the genre of fantasy for many years since. I must admit Tolkien has a way of writing that is both enthralling and entirely slow moving. This slow pacing is something that would be perfect to sit back and take in under the warmth of a glowing fire on a cold winter's night; though I guess for my sake I will read it by lamp light wrapped in my fleece blanket in the comfort of my dorm room. Anyway I should stop rambling her so that I can get back to the story and charge forth to read the rest of this book in one week's time!

Happy Reading!

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Man Up Review

Man Up
by: Jack Urwin 
Review

Photo Credit: Moi :)

While I was home for Thanksgiving break I managed to complete this book at long last, honestly this was only book that I finished in November. November was Non-Fiction November, during this month anyone who wanted to participate they were asked to read more Non-Fiction than they normally read in a month. I chose to pick up this book after I saw it on MercysBookishMusings YouTube channel, where she hauled the book in a video, needless to say I was intrigued. I am going to be honest about this book, it was truly a masterpiece that I feel everyone must read. As a 19 year old Universtiy student this is not exactly what would be expected of me to be reading, however this read is engrossing and incredibly important at this time in history. 
iCon Books: Author Photo

Who is Jack Urwin?
Jack Urwin is a journalist who writes for Vice. He came to the spotlight when he published his article, A Stiff upper lip is Killing British Men. This article was published on October 17th 2014 and took the world by storm with its open discussion of the issues surrounding masculinity. This is a piece that was later expanded upon to create the non-fiction wonderfully thought provoking book which is, Man Up: Surviving Modern Masculinity. He currently lives in Toronto Canada, where he is a prolific journalist for many outlets. 

General Thoughts: 
 This book is bloody brilliant, to put it simply. I would not go to say that this book covers topics that are revolutionary or radical in most definitions of the word. However, this book does tackle the issues with how men are portrayed within the world now and how societal pressures shape the men of today. These ideas are ones that I have thought many times throughout my short time here on the earth but I have been too shy to vocalize. This book may be dismissed when it is seen on the shelf initially by someone who thinks it will be anti-feminist or dry reading, this is NOT the case. Urwin is a self professed feminist who believes in gender equality and healthy relationships between everyone, a truly admiral quality. 

In this book Urwin covers topics such as what makes a man, sexuality and virginity among men, social constructs of masculinity, aggression and mob mentality, body image in the modern world, LGBTQ+ and masculinities roles within the other movements, as well as what we can do in the future to move beyond this macho atmosphere. These topics are covered throughout this book with full force which is also impeccably poignant and funny all at once. How? Well Urwin has the typical dry sense of humor that we would expect in an old British man, however he uses this dry and witty humor to engage with the reader on another level. This material without Urwin's signature wit and dry humour would have been a slog for any person to read, though through a few choice words he has single handedly made me aware of the flaws that are within masculine culture today. This is not to say that I did not realize that something was wrong with how men for example objectified women, acted like arseholes to impress friends, or even just create the "bro" or "lads lad" bond between one another; Urwin has shown me where these aspects of men that I so vehemently contest have come from. While this book is not a textbook I feel as though this book should be read widely as a warning to all in response to what has just occurred with America's recent election, and as an example of how we can move beyond these attitudes. 

In this book perhaps one of the major themes that I saw and agreed with most was that masculinity can be "toxic" if it is used in the correct environment. Urwin provides examples in nearly every section of his book, however, the general idea of "toxic masculinity" is harmful actions that are perceived as masculine/desirable and therefore are perpetuated. Some examples of toxic masculinity are seen in places such as Urwin's early childhood and perhaps many of our own, when parents tell their little boys that "boys don't cry". In such a simple phrase we have packed so much meaning, the meaning that the child should stop making a fuss is only the surface, when it is looked at under a finer comb it is seen that the subliminal message we are sending is "men do not show emotion or vulnerability". Though this is by no means what we intentionally want to send to our children, it is what is being received by them. This form can manifest in many ways: 
Photo Credit: Moi :)
  • Increased male suicide 
  • Alienation and feeling alone in the world/ Depression
  • Overcompensation to validate one's masculinity
  • Suppression of emotion & Poor communication skills
These are just four topics that are covered within this book, when in reality there are so many more aspects of life that can be affected for the negative when masculinity is portrayed in an incorrect light. These ideas of gender equality and ideas about how as a society we can correct some of the most harmful actions are a MUST read for anyone who is reading this right now! 

Since hearing what Urwin had to say about Modern Masculinity and how it is causing detrimental actions within our society I have been desperately pushing it into the hands of everyone. I have bought three copies so far and honestly may buy more as Christmas gifts for friends and family members! I am a small town kid from central Vermont USA and I have felt the pressures that are spoken about in this book, just as much as one from the city or anywhere around the globe would; this book has changed my outlook as a human. I think that a book this eye opening only comes along once in a lifetime. I am just grateful that I read this book at the time that I did. As you all will know I took a break from the blog a few weeks ago, that was because of a particularly painful break up between myself and the girl I saw as potentially being by my side through the rest of my life. Having read this book right after having such an incredibly hard life change occur I was shown that it both is not unmanly to cry, nor is it emasculating to talk to those around you for comfort. Both ideas play a huge role in Urwin's book, and they allowed me to evaluate how I act and how others may perceive me which is not something that I had previously done. I found that I was predominantly an open, caring, and loving guy which is something that this book is striving to have all men assimilate to some form of. This new found assurance that who I am is a valuable and productive member of society was just what I needed in my life at the time, thus making the messages all the more empowering and humbling. I am by no means trying to say that I am perfect, as no one is; however through this book I received comfort in the man I am becoming. 

While not everyone who reads this blog post will have gone through something that has changed them so drastically as that break up changed me, and I hope you will never have to. I do urge you to pick up this book and hear what Urwin is saying regardless of the circumstance. This book is an easy read which deals with topics that are pressing and harmful to today's society, not only does it identify the negative qualities seen in masculinity but gives a possible solution that is attainable. This solution begins with the children, we need to encourage open discussions of emotional significance and stop putting pressures on them to completely conform with gender binaries that are in society today. Though this is not something that can be implemented and take effect over night it surely is a starting point for a much needed change. 


Writing style: 
As mentioned above Urwin has a distinct writing style combining the sarcastic and witty with the inexplicably poignant. His writing is nothing that will wow you with impeccably crafted metaphors, but is more a utilitarian style to convey a message in a very succinct and clear way. 

Who should read it? 
  • Everyone who is mature enough to handle adult topics.
What groups in particular SHOULD read it? 
  • The President elect: Donald J. Trump
    • I seriously feel as though he would finally see where so many of his fellow citizens growing concerns are coming from. 
  • Greek Organizations
    • Fraternities and Sororities on college campuses everywhere. I am not saying that Greek Life is toxic in the broad sense, however it does seem to bring out the worst in guys especially when they come together. This will show how actions can hurt and have just as big of an impact as words (or not speaking about issues) can. 
  • Every one of my blogs readers!
Final Thoughts: 
This is a book written for everyone! This is not a book that is carried by men's interest groups, nor is it a book solely looking at feminist issues, this book heeds to no party. In heeding to no one specific party or line Urwin is able to openly and freely express his opinions and beliefs about the topic of "toxic masculinity".  This book will challenge what you have grown to accept as society's normalities and encourage you to reach beyond the tough barrier and change the perception of masculinity and its role within society. 


Rating: 5/5 stars!

Links: 

Happy Reading!

I hope you all saw that this book is truly an inclusive read and a constructive and valued addition to the conversation about modern Masculinity. It is truly one of my new all time favorite books!

Friday, December 2, 2016

TBR Time!

December 2016
TBR

Hello everyone! 

This month is going to be full of fun books and an awesome array of books. This month I have a few books that I am hoping to start and hopefully finish. This month is the month where I have a large end of the term break from university and I will have almost an entire month to slow down and enjoy books and family time, during which time I intend to read a ton! 

This month there are some fun readathons, and read-a-longs that will be happening and I intend to complete as many of them as possible! These events include the third annual, 

#HarryXMasToYou: 

This is a readathon where everyone tries to read all of the Harry Potter books and watch all of the movies during the month of December since these books evoke such a great feeling of joy and Christmas cheer. I as is suggested will be attempting to read the entire series! This may be a bit of a stretch, though I feel as though it is something that I need to do seeing as I am nearly 20 and I have yet to complete the series. This I know is almost sacrilege amongst the bookish community however it is something that I really would like to read them ASAP to avoid any future spoilers and experience the stories that so many people have fallen in love with. To be clear I am indeed adding: 
  1. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
  2. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets 
  3. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
  4. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire 
  5. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
  6. Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince 
  7. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows 
These books are all written by J.K Rowling as many people know. I think we all understand who wrote these astonishing books that have defined my generation. 


#LOTRathon

This is a read-a-long of The Lord of The Rings by: JRR Tolkien. this book series is yet another wildly popular series that I have not yet completed. This book is hosted by Reads and Daydreams which is a YouTube channel that I love! I read The Hobbit over two years ago and I really enjoyed it, however I was not in the mood for another incredibly slow burning book at the time so I did not read them. I now have changed my mind set about reading to reflect a slightly more morbid outlook; we are not guaranteed tomorrow so we should slow down and enjoy the books and days we have. In this new philosophy I have decided to actually take the time and read these chunky classic fantasy novels that I know are loved by so many. I will be reading the entire series: 
  1. The Fellowship of the Ring 
  2. The Two Towers 
  3. The Return of the King
All of which are by: JRR Tolkien. This series is something of an epic slow burning masterpiece, though I found myself immersed once I began them yesterday on December 1st. 

And there is also going to be the BookTubeAthon happening closer to Christmas Eve, though for that I will try to continue with these books or jump into some shorter books that I fancy at that time. There also will be the #Cramathon going on, which is done to help people get through the books that they need to in order to complete there Goodreads goal for the year. I fortunately seem to be on track to complete my challenge for the year of 52 books, however I still would love to break this goal!

The Rest of the Books: 
  1. Les Miserables by:Victor Hugo
    1. This is one book that I have been wanting to watch for so long and with this new found attitude to take the time and relax with those books I am putting off this is surely one I want to start here in the month of December. 
  2. Another Day in the Death Of America by: Gary Younge
    1. This is an incredible powerful non-fiction book about the state of gun violence in America, a topic I am truly behind on. I really need to become aware of my countries issues instead of ignoring them and working as though they are not happening. 
  3. Jerusalem by: Alan Moore 
  4. A Closed and Common Orbit by: Becky Chambers 
    1. I read The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet last December and it was the first book that I finished in 2016, so I see this only as appropriate to finish the year with the sequel to it! Also I am in the mood for some more light-hearted sci-fi.

Let us hope that I will be able to get through this month with all of the books on my TBR. I will have another post up tomorrow for a recent book that is amazing and I think is in the running for a yearly favorite! 

Happy Reading! 

Share in the comments what you are reading this month, I would love to know.