The Importance of Quotations in Literature

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Hello fellow bookworms! It’s Sunday, which means it’s discussion time. This is when I write to think more deeply about books, why we read, and why literature is so important in our lives. As you may have discovered a pattern in my discussion posts, I like to have a discussion ‘theme’ for a month, because I feel it allows me to go into more depth about a specific topic without boring you all by putting it in one massively long post you probably won’t read.

Throughout August, I will be talking about quotations in literature, focusing on why they are so important to us as readers, and what we can do to make the most of these small snippets of literature in our everyday lives. Today’s post will be focused on what quotations mean to us as readers and why they are such an important part of the reader community…

What makes quotations from literature so important?

I find it difficult to express how much literary quotes mean to me. If you are familiar with the theory of horcruxes, it’s almost like taking a piece of a book and keeping it somewhere safe in your mind, so the book can continue to live, even when you’re not reading it.
This question could also be ‘why are quotes from literature different from inspiring quotes in general?’. Most quotes in our ‘collections’ are from the books that we’ve read and enjoyed, and they become a record of those books, so we are able to remember and cherish the stories through a snippet of literature. These quotes come from people who know how to do wondrous things with words, which means they quotes can also be read metaphorically and have more than one meaning, which adds depth to them that generalised quotes don’t tend to have. When we read a book, we are subconsciously on the look out for sentences or groups of words that come to life and bring meaning, whether it’s a well known quote we’ve heard before, or just a section that really resonates with us personally. These quotes then become a great comfort to us in times when we aren’t feeling our best, or need encouragement or motivation. If they come from our most treasured books, they become even more special. Those quotes that may not have been picked up by others, or are less popular among other readers, can be a lot more personal, and can seem like we have something special and unique. These literary quotes give us hope, they share morals and give insight into a world beyond what we know. Not only do these quotes have metaphorical depth, but they hold imagination that only readers can see, and allow us access to unknown places. They are fictional, but can be so much more!

How can you spot a quote when you’re reading?

If you’re reading a popular book, or something you have read before, you may be familiar with the quotes, and therefore spot them straight away when reading. However, if you’re reading a book that you aren’t familiar with, you may have to search around a bit more. I tend to find it sends a strange vibe through me, like I’ve struck a piece of gold in a mine full of words. It gives me the urge to sit back and think about what I’ve just read and think, or write it down immediately to make sure I don’t forget it, and so I can look back on it later. These are usually sentences or groups of sentences that resonate with you, because of something you have or are experiencing in life, which you draw wisdom from, or just words that are so well written they are just too beautiful not to savour.

Why and how do we collect our favourite quotes?

We collect the quotes we find in books to look back on them and remember the stories, and what the quotes meant at the time of reading. Maybe they mean something different now. So how do we go about making sure we have a record of these quotes, because let’s be honest, we are not all superhuman and cannot store hundreds of quotations in our brain! Personally, I use Goodreads to a keep a rough record of the quotes I find, but not all quotes are on Goodreads, and it isn’t easy to find them even when you have liked them. For the month of August, I am setting myself a task, or challenge of sorts. I am going to be keeping a ‘Note the Quote’ diary, writing down anything I read that I want to keep hold of for any reason. I will be aiming for at least 5 quotes per book, and at the end of the month, I will share all the quotes I found, and why I chose to write them down.
I hope you enjoyed reading, and if you have anything to add about why you feel literary quotations are important, please feel free to share in the comments!

Until next time…

Jade 🙂

Stories: How to Study a Story and Why We Do It

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It’s Sunday, which means it’s discussion time. This is when I write to think more deeply about books, why we read, and why literature is so important in our lives. Today is the final installment in the Stories collection, which aims to explore four of my favourite books, discussing characters and their relationships with each other, and how they are affected by predominant symbols in the story. This week I wanted to discuss how we study stories and why it is important for us to practice it whilst reading, along with a few of my experiences…

How to Study a Story

Reading a novel is one thing. Studying a novel is completely different. You can take in the story and understand what is happening, but to study a story is to find learn how literature techniques have been used and how to they contribute to the overall meaning. When reading a story to study it, you need to read carefully, and be attentive to the smaller details in the writing, taking notes on what is happening, what has been spotted, so they can be referred back to a linked to other parts of the story. The question is what notes should be made? Character appearances and personalities are important for the understanding of relationships, recurring themes help us to understand what the book is telling us about the underlying meaning of the story, and author’s writing style helps to identify key features throughout the book. Also note key details and quotes in the story, which will help when recalling the chronology later on, or write chapter summaries. Note down any links found between events, characters or plot as they are found, and what is important about them.

This is just the surface of what notes need to be taken. When studying a story, we also need to think about close reading. This includes four stages in the process of understanding what the story is trying to tell us. These four stages are: Linguistic, Semantic, Structural and Cultural. Linguistic is making notes about aspects of the vocabulary and syntax, and how the dialogue in the book is written. Semantic is thinking about what the words actually mean, and finding connotations within them. Structural is the relationships between the words and other words used in the same context, or in relation to characters or plot points. Cultural is thinking outside the text itself, and how it relates to other writing by the same author, or within the same genre, or points in history.

My Experience

When completing this project, I wanted to try and record my feelings towards certain parts of the books, as well as researching them in a more academic sense. This was a lot more difficult to do, as I find myself really getting into why the author has written in a certain way. I started with reading The Fault in Our Stars, and the amount of notes I took in the first chapter was extraordinary! I found myself picking apart every sentence and trying to figure out why John Green had structured his sentences in certain ways, and why he had chosen that particular vocabulary. Once I had narrowed down my field of research to character relationships and symbols, it was so much easier to pick bits out and find relevant information that I could use. I continued to do this selective method of research, while still paying to attention to the overall story for context, and it made a massive difference, as I was able to easily look back over my notes and find what I was looking for, without having to read through tons of irrelevant findings.

Why is it important to study literature?

My biggest regret in life is not continuing English Lit after GCSE level, because literature is such a passion of mine now, and looking back, I know my reasonings were pathetic. However, I still practice the study of literature through reading my own books, when I review them, and when I discuss them with other people. There is a surface level you can read a book on, and that is understanding the plot and the characters. For me, this just isn’t enough to satisfy my bookworm cravings. I think it’s so important to look for symbolism, character relationships, atmosphere and dialogue (to name a few!) because as soon as you do, the story comes to life even more than it did before. I have read The Fault in Our Stars a total of 5 times, and I am still amazed at what I learn when I try and think a little bit deeper about what is happening on a particular page. Going back to literature that we’ve already read, and just reading a little bit closer, can really open up a brand new perspective. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone was another book I read for about the 5th time, and I was shocked that there were some pieces of dialogue that had never caught my attention, but supplied crucial foreshadowing to the final few books.
To wrap this post, and the Stories post collection up, I wanted to send a message to all of you who read for pleasure, and devour your books in one sitting. There is absolutely nothing wrong with this, I often enjoy partaking myself, but next time you really want to have a reread of your favourite novel, just sit and cherish the words and what the author is trying to say to you. Think about recurring symbolism, the relationships between characters, and what they mean, because you may just uncover something new!

Until next time…
Jade 🙂

Stories: To Kill a Mockingbird

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It’s Sunday, which means it’s discussion time. This is when I write to think more deeply about books, why we read, and why literature is so important in our lives. Today is the last essay installment in the Stories collection, which aims to explore four of my favourite books, discussing characters and their relationships with each other, and how they are affected by predominant symbols in the story. I will have a final post to wrap the collection up next week, but for now, here is the final essay in the Stories series…

To Kill a Mockingbird

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In which we explore Scout and Boo’s relationship with regards to The Radley House

Scout and Boo’s relationship differs slightly from others in this collection, because Boo doesn’t make a physical appearance until the end of the book. However, there are ways we can see their relationship developing without being fully introduced to Boo. Scout Finch is our narrator throughout the story. She lives with her brother, Jem, her father, Atticus, and their nurse and cook, Calpurnia. She is a young girl, the story beginning aged 6, and ending aged 9, and she is very independent in how she thinks and feels about certain things, such as racism and gender tradition. Boo Radley is a neighbour of the Finches and is known for never leaving his house, and is often described as a hermit. He is assumed to be mentally unstable, and goes out only at nights to hunt and eat squirrels and cats. Most blame him for unexplainable happenings in the county of Maycomb, where the novel is set. Boo and Scout are neighbours. Scout develops, to some extent, an obsession with Boo Radley, and her and Jem often try and get him to leave his house. The Radley House is an important symbol in this relationship. It symbolises fear and mystery, particularly through the depth of description, paired with character assumptions of Boo. The house has a tree on it’s threshold, which comes into play later in the novel.
Boo and Scout don’t actually meet until the end of the book, but their relationship is prominent from the very beginning. Despite not ever meeting, Scout is infatuated with the man who never leaves his house, and with the rumours floating around about him. Deep down, she wants to know if he is truly as others say he is. They describe him as an ‘unknown entity’ and a ‘malevolent phantom’, but they do not know his honest character. The Radley House is introduced in the first chapter, being described as ‘jutted’, ‘darkened’ and ‘drunkenly guarded’. This gives it a very gothic vibe, not unlike a haunted house. The idea of Boo being a ghostly figure supports this. This shows that Boo’s personality is supposedly reflected through the house’s appearance. Scout trusting other’s opinions about Boo and his house also brings in the theme of innocence, and how Scout has not matured enough to fully form her own opinions at the beginning of the book. The children are scared of the Radley House, because they believe terrible things happen to people who cross the threshold, which is why Boo Radley is the way he is. The main connection between Scout and Boo here is the house, as it is the only physical representation of Boo as a character. This is the only thing that Scout has to judge Boo on, and because of the way the house is described, the judgement is not a good one, but neither is it fair. The idea of prejudice shines through here, which becomes a main theme through the later trial of Tom Robinson, but it is clear that Scout is judging Boo solely on appearance. However, instead of this being a case of black and white, it is the appearance of a physical object, rather than a person.

Boo begins to leave presents in a hole in the tree of the Radley House threshold. These gifts include chewing gum, coins and medals. Through this, the Radley House continues to be a part of Scout’s life, but instead of just through her figurative imaginings of Boo inside the house, there is now a physical connection. The gifts are one of the main things that connect Boo and Scout in the book. It brings Boo to life, rather than just being a ‘phantom’ in a house, by representing himself in the objects. Miss Maudie, another neighbour of the Finches, tells the story of Boo’s childhood, and how he was under the strict supervision of his father, which led people to believe Boo became crazy being honed up inside. Again, this brings Boo’s character to life more, and the house becomes a device for why people think of Boo as crazy. Scout is excluded from the fun when Jem and a friend, Dill, plan to try and touch the Radley House. She isn’t involved because she is seen as too young. This turns the house into a symbol of maturity, and how it shows the difference in the innocence of Scout, and the slightly more mature nature of Jem and Dill. This idea is extended later in the novel. After the thrill that comes from touching the Radley House, Scout and Jem find carved soap figures in the tree as a final gift. This shows the house continuing to be bought to life through the personalised soap figures, as they are carved into the shape of the two children, and again makes Boo seem more human and connected to the world, and Scout in particular.

After the gifts in the tree cease to appear, Boo is hardly mentioned, as the story turns it’s attention to the trial of Tom Robinson, the main plot point in the book. After the trial, Scout points out that her fear of the Radley Hosue has decreased, or ceased to exist entirely. This shows that Scout is growing up and becoming more mature, particularly after being exposed to a more adult world through the trial. This also goes back to a point made earlier about how the Radley House, or fear of the Radley House, can be an indicator of innocence developing into maturity, especially in Scout’s character. Her lack of interest in the house could also show that she as begun to respect Boo’s privacy, another way of showing she has matured through what she has experienced in the trial. In the final chapters of the book, Jem and Scout are attacked by Bob Ewell, who is the father of the young girl who Tom Robinson is accused of raping. Boo rescues the children from Mr Ewell, and takes them home. When in the Finch’s home, he is described as a fragile man with a ‘thin frame’, meaning it must have taken great strength for him to save the children. This shows he is a kind and courageous man, and nothing like anyone described him to be. With the appearance of Boo Radley, and Scout coming to a full understanding of who he is, her decreased fear of the Radley House is suddenly explainable. She is growing up, and has come to respect Boo a lot more. After everything settles down after the attack, Scout walks Boo home. She stands on the threshold of the house, but instead of looking towards it like she used to, she looks out from it, onto the street. She is finally found a moral connection with Boo, seeing things from his eyes. As her father once said, “you can never really understand person until you consider things from his point of view” (Lee, 31). Scout now understands why Boo liked to stay inside, because she has experienced the prejudice in the town, and understands why he wouldn’t want to be a part of that.

To conclude, Boo and the Radley House help the reader to realise the growth in Scout’s maturity throughout the novel. Scout’s relationship is always there in the background of the story, and is occasionally mentioned, the majority of the time in relation to her growing up. Despite not being fully introduced to Boo’s character, we see a major development, from what he was assumed to be at the beginning, to what he ends up actually being in the end. This is the perfect way to show prejudice, and how people assume to be something because of the way they live. This is how Scout sees Boo, and as she matures, and is faced with the problem of prejudice, so does her opinion of Boo. The Radley House, and Scout’s relationship with Boo, develops from being a symbol of fear, to a way of measuring Scout’s maturity levels.

If anyone has any thoughts on anything written here, then please feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments, as it will be very interesting to see what others have found when reading this particular book.

Seeing as this is the final installment in this (very exciting) collection of essays, here is a small conclusion to round up everything I’ve spoken about over the past four weeks.

Conclusion

This essay collection was comprised to explore character relationships, and how they can be developed over the course of the novel, as well as looking closer at narrative theories and symbolism. They successfully communicate how each of the separate character connections are formed, developed and closed, through the use of one main physical symbol.

If each of these essays can prove that physical symbols play an important part in character relationships, then we can track this across a wider range of literature. This is just a small selection of books, part of a much larger collection. Each of the stories referenced in these essays are from a different genre; modern classic, children’s fantasy, historical fiction, and young adult fiction. Even in this wide group of genres, the formula can still be applied. How characters come together can be tracked back to something physical in their lives, that plays a big part in the overall narrative. But what does this tell us about other books? Surely if this is proof, we can start to see the formula in action in every book we read. For example, Jane Eyre and Mr Rochester’s relationship can be symbolised by the chestnut tree, or how Gatsby and Daisy’ relationship can be symbolised by the green light across the water.

Each of these separate essays tell a story; the story of a relationship developing. The importance is how they come together to communicate a broader narrative. Collaboratively, they show how readers can begin to find links in the books that are part of their own reading journey, and teaches about the importance of using symbolism in literature.

Next week I will be discussing how I went about studying the stories I read for this project, what I have learnt from my experience, and how I want to apply it to my reading in the future.

Until next time…
Jade 🙂

I’m on Etsy! A Little Bit About My Journey…

Hello fellow bookworms! A few days ago I made an exciting announcement over on my Instagram, letting all my lovely followers know that I am now open for business on Etsy!

I’ve kept this project on the down low, because I constantly doubted my ability to make it this far, but after much perseverance and belief in myself, I have created my own small product range for my shop, The Literary Artisan.

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The purpose of this shop is to bring you handmade paper cut bookmarks with literary quotes, with the option to customise with your own chosen quote if you wish. I will provide a link at the end of this post for anyone who is interested, and I will be expanding my product range in the coming weeks!

This has been a very interesting, stressful, yet exciting process, and I thought I would just share with you a little snippet about why I joined Etsy and how I went about setting up my shop, through the research, branding, design, and production stages…

The idea came to me when I was struggling to find work experience, which was required as part of my university course. I had already completed a weeks worth of experience in London, but it wasn’t enough. I knew I had to take matters into my own hands and setting up an Etsy shop is something that I’ve always wanted to do. So I sat down and drafted ideas, and made a business plan. It felt so amazing to have an idea of how I wanted to use my summer to gain experience, and how to use what I enjoy the most in life, and on my course, and combine them to create products. I completed a lot of research into selling on Etsy, such as seller policies and online selling laws, before even starting to develop designs. I wanted to know exactly what I was getting into, and how much work I had ahead of me.

Then I needed a name, and oh my gosh I think this was the toughest part of the process. It took me a fair amount of time, but after trying to combine so many different aspects of what I wanted to do, and what I wanted to sell, The Literary Artisan kind of stuck (it was lot better than some of the earlier names). It embodied the theme of what I wanted to base my product range around, which was literature, while creating a professional sense of carefully hand crafted, one-of-a-kind products.

While ideas for products were zooming around in my brain, it still wasn’t time to start the production process. I had to brand my store to have a stable base for what I wanted from the store, and what I wanted the brand to embody. I worked on my brand values, and completed several logo trials with colour schemes before finalising these to have a completed strategy for the store.

Finally, it was time to start designing the products! It was lot more difficult than I first anticipated. I am not an illustrator at all, so I had to find a way to communicate what I wanted to say without learning how to draw! There was a lot of development, experimentation and several hours spent gathering inspiration on Pinterest, but I got there eventually. I went through bouts of creative block and bursts of inspiration, and went in circles, until I suddenly had this surge of creativity, and designs just came flowing out of me! Finishing my first product was the most amazing feeling, and it was at that point that everything started to fall into place.

I worked solidly for about a month creating my first wave of products, and I planned my final day of photographing, editing and putting my listings online. It was by far the most stressful day throughout the journey (so far), because nothing seemed to be going right. But, as soon as the photographs were taken, and edited the way I wanted them to look, and the listing were ready and prepared, it was time to go online.

It was a very overwhelmingly exciting feeling to think that what I had been working on over the past 2 and a half months was available for the world to look at and buy! I’ve only been open on Esty for a few days, but I feel like this project has been part of my life for so long, and wanted to share a little bit of background as to how the idea formed and where the ideas have been before being created.

If you wanted to have a little nosey around my shop, then feel free, you can get to it by clicking here. I can customise orders, so if you like a pattern, but want to change the quote, I am more than happy to talk about your ideas and make a personalised design. I am also pleased to say that I am able to ship worldwide, so anyone can have access to my products.

I hope you enjoy what I have created, and there will be more designs coming very soon!

Until next time…

Jade 🙂

Stories: Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone

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It’s Sunday, which means it’s discussion time. This is when I write to think more deeply about books, why we read, and why literature is so important in our lives. This collection of discussion posts is called Stories, and aims to explore four of my favourite books, discussing characters and their relationships with each other, and how they are affected by predominant symbols in the story. Here is the next installment in the Stories series…

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone

In which we explore Harry and Voldemort’s relationship with regards to Harry’s Scar

Harry and Voldemort’s relationship is probably the most complex relationship in this collection, as it has the chance to fully develop over a series of 7 books. However, how their relationship first comes to existence is crucial to the story of the first book, and can be explored in it’s own way. Harry is an orphan, who grows up in the Muggle (non-wizarding) world, until, on his 11th birthday, he is informed by half-giant Hagrid that he is a wizard. He has been accepted to study at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, where he meets fellow wizard Ron, and witch Hermione, who stay with him and form a strong bond together over the 7 books. Voldemort is known as one of the darkest wizards of all time. He was the one responsible for the death of both James and Lily Potter; Harry’s parents. Voldemort attempted to kill Harry, but failed when the killing curse rebounded and he supposedly died. We find out later that he is just without his body, and his soul has to latch on to another live being to continue surviving. Of course, Harry and Voldemort are arch enemies. We find out later in the series that there was a prophecy spoken about them, which explains that neither can live while the other survives. The main challenge that each face throughout the series is trying to kill the other. However, in the first book, Harry is only just beginning his journey to find out everything about this new world, and is presented with his nemesis that he must eventually defeat. There are several things that connect these two enemies across the series, but the main symbol we are introduced to in Philosopher’s Stone is Harry’s scar. It remains throughout the 7 books as a representation of Harry’s fame, and how he is recognisable as the only known wizard to survive a killing curse, making him somewhat of a celebrity. However, there are deeper meanings and problems behind the scar that are further explored as the story progresses.

At the beginning of the novel, we learn about the murder of Harry’s parents, committed by Voldemort. When he then tries to kill Harry, Voldemort unintentionally marks Harry with a lightning bolt shaped scar, not truly understand why the curse didn’t kill Harry, and what happened when it rebounded. The scar here is believed to create a connection between the two characters, which is unknown to either of them until a lot later in the series. Voldemort doesn’t make a full appearance until further into the novel, because of what happened to him on the night his curse failed, and some believe him to be dead. Before starting at Hogwarts, Harry journeys to Diagon Alley to get his wand, where he finds that the wand that has chosen him has a core similar with only one other wand, which belonged to Voldemort. This was the wand that gave Harry his scar, which helps us as the reader to start to see the connection between them forming. Harry doesn’t encounter any problems with his scar until he starts at Hogwarts. On the night of the start of term feast, Harry gets a burning sensation in his scar when Professor Quirrell has his back to him. We learn later that Voldemort is living in Quirrell, and Quirrell’s turban is hiding Voldemort’s face on the back of his head. This is the first time Harry feels pain in his scar, showing how Harry will come to experience pain whenever Voldemort is close or particularly powerful at the time, the fact of which is fully uncovered later in the series. Knowing this, it foreshadows the end of the first book when we find out about Voldemort’s soul latched on to Quirrell. That night, Harry has a dream about Quirrell’s turban, which foreshadows what it is hiding underneath. This could also suggest development later in the series when Harry starts having dreams connected to what Voldemort is doing, and find his dreams being somewhat controlled. This begins to show their connection through using the idea in the first book, and also points to why the scar provides the connection it does, which is the Horcrux that Voldemort accidentally left in Harry when he cast the killing curse.

As the novel continues, there are only subtle mentions of Voldemort, but the story mainly focuses on Harry and his first year adventures. However, when Harry, Hermione, Draco and Neville are taken into the Forbidden Forest on detention, a discovery is made. Voldemort is using Quirrell and going into the forest to kill unicorns and drink their blood, which offers you eternal life, albeit a cursed one. Harry experiences intense pain in his scar when they encounter Voldemort hovering over a dead unicorn, showing the connection between them whenever Voldemort is close to Harry. It also shows that Voldemort is getting stronger through drinking the unicorn blood, and therefore become more powerful. The pain in Harry’s scar continues even when Quirrell isn’t around, such as when Harry is sitting his exams, which further supports how Voldemort has gotten stronger through Quirrell and drinking the unicorn blood. Harry states that he thinks “it’s a warning… it means dangers coming” (Rowling, 192), showing Harry beginning to understand the severity of the situation he and his fellow wizards and witches face if Voldemort were to return. This takes us to the final chapter of the first book, when Harry faces Voldemort for the second time in his life.

Harry meets Quirrell when he is attempting to steal the Philosopher’s Stone for Voldemort, which would provide him with eternal life that is not cursed from unicorn blood. Quirrell asks Harry where the stone is, and after using the Mirror of Erised, a magical mirror provided by Dumbledore as a barrier to the stone, it appears in Harry’s pocket. When Harry is questioned, he insists he doesn’t know where the stone is, but Voldemort can tell he is lying. This could be through the connection they have through the scar. When Voldemort instructs Quirrell to attack Harry, and they come into contact, it causes Harry extreme pain, which solidifies that the connection was definitely between him and Voldemort, and the pain is caused when he is close, and is increased in severity the closer or more powerful he gets. However, Voldemort is unable to have Harry touch him, because of a protection Harry has from his mother, something that Voldemort will never understand. Love. This becomes an extremely important protective shield through the first half of the series.

In summary, the first novel in the Harry Potter series builds a strong foundation for Harry and Voldemort’s relationship to continue growth and development. The introduction of the scar is imperative in understanding how the two characters have a more magical connection, and how Harry will learn how to develop that connection over the rest of the series. The most important part of this first book is establishing the relationship between these two long term enemies and learning how they are connected, as well as showing how Harry’s scar will become a key symbol throughout the following 6 books, particularly with it’s clear link to one of the darkest wizards of all time.

If anyone has any thoughts on anything written here, then please feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments, as it will be very interesting to see what others have found when reading this particular book.

Until next time…
Jade 🙂

The Mid-Year Book Freak Out Tag

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Hello fellow bookworms! Today I’m doing the Mid-Year Book Freak Out Tag, where I’m basically going to freak out about all the books I’ve read so far this year, all the books I haven’t got to reading yet, and all the books I’m super excited about reading in the coming months. I first saw this tag done by Cait over on Paper Fury, so go check out her post as well if you haven’t already!

It was great to reflect back on the year so far, I’m two books behind on my reading schedule for the year so far (damn you, reading slumps) but I’m in a good position to reach my end of year goal if I read some slightly shorter books, because it’s been a year of chunky books so far! So without any more rambling, let’s get on with the tag!

The Best Book of the Year So Far

WHY DO PEOPLE FORCE US TO MAKE THESE DECISIONS?! Well I’m not necessarily being forced, but it was really tough to choose, so I narrowed it down to two…

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Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

Fangirl has been one of the only contemporary novels I’ve read so far this year, although I do plan to read more! I fell in love wih the characters and their relationships, and would recommend to anyone and everyone!

City of Glass by Cassandra Clare

City of Glass was difficult to choose out of all of the Shadowhunter books I’ve read (they make up almost half of my read count this year!!) but I feel like it had a really nice, rounded off ending where the series could have finished (thank goodness it didn’t) and everything was so action-packed and shocking and very, very good for anyone who ships Clace (yes! yes! yes!) If I could though, I would say The Mortal Instruments is my favourite book of the year. Can that be a thing? Can we get a bind up please, I don’t care if it comes out looking like a book cube!

Best Sequel

I’ve read plenty of sequels so far this year, but one recent one truly stands out as one I cannot deprive of this high honour, and that is…

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Lord of Shadows by Cassandra Clare

OH MY GOSH THIS BOOK WAS INCREDIBLE! I’ve never been much of a fantasy person, with the exception of Harry Potter, but the Shadowhunter Chronicles has completely transported me into this amazing world, and the most recent book from Cassie is no exception! A mix between fantasy and mystery made it so captivating and I fell in love with the characters from Lady Midnight all over again! If you want to read this book, however, then please beware, it will envelop you with feelings and you will finish it curled up like a gerbil for at least an hour afterwards. I reviewed this one if you wanna give it a read!

New Releases I Haven’t Read But Want To

Yes, plural ‘releases’, because blimey I have some catching up to do! Here are 4 books released so far in 2017 I haven’t read yet, all of which are sitting on my shelf, waiting to be given the love I hear they deserve!

One of Us Is Lying by Karen M. McManus

I’ve heard mixed, but mainly great things about this book, and I can’t wait to dive into this YA mystery that promises to keep me guessing until the very last page.

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

John Green blurbed it which meant I had to read it! I have heard nothing but high praise for this book, so I hope to enjoy it when I finally get round to reading it.

Heartless by Marissa Meyer

Alice in Wonderland spin off? I’m in! I love Alice in Wonderland, and I can’t wait to see what Marissa Meyer does with this beloved children’s classic (apparently it’s heart-breaking, and those are my favourite kinds of books!)

Caraval by Stephanie Garber

The premise of this book excites me greatly, and everyone is raving about it, so I hope I’m going to love it too!

Most Anticipated Release for Autumn/Winter

This one was easy, no questions asked, and this is also where the ‘freak-out’ part if this post comes in, so be prepared…

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Turtles All The Way Down by John Green

JOHN GREEN IS RELEASING A NEW BOOK THIS IS NOT A DRILL THIS IS ACTUALLY HAPPENING HELP ME I HAVE NOT RECOVERED FROM TFIOS YET!!! Can you tell I’m excited? John Green might possibly be one of my all time favourite authors and when he announced TATWD I was literally crying and had my copy pre-ordered from Waterstones within 2 minutes! Counting down the days until October 10th!

Biggest Disappointment of the Year So Far

What a way to kill the mood, but we have to talk about the bad books to appreciate the good, haven’t we? I’ve had two slightly disappointing reads so far this year, mainly because they had so much hype around them which I just didn’t understand when I was reading them. Those books were…

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History Is All You Left Me by Adam Silvera

I’ve only just recently read this one, but after hearing amazing things about this book and the author’s other works, I was really excited to read it. Also, Nicola Yoon and Patrick Ness, both of whom have released books that I have loved, have blurbed it and said it was heartbreaking and would make me cry, and we’ve already established that’s what I like in a book. Unfortunately I neither cried nor was heartbroken, does that make me a cold-hearted person? If you fancy reading more about what I thought of this book, I did write a review on it which you can read if you want to!

Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher

Another book I had heard really good things about. I tried reading it a few years back just after it had been released, but I just couldn’t get into it. When the hype resurfaced with the coming of the TV show, I thought I should probably give it another shot. Needless to say this time was not much better than the last, apart from the fact that I did manage to actually finish it this time! I just found it didn’t really come to much of a climax, and I’ve heard the TV show is so much better than the book because of this. Oh well!

Biggest Surprise of the Year

Ah, we’re lifting the spirits back up again, that’s better, isn’t it! While I have been surprisingly disappointed with books, I have also been surprisingly satisfied as well. Fortunately, my surprising pick for this tag led me on to a whole array of other books that has had me hooked and pulled in too deep to climb out now! Can you guess what book started it all off…?

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City of Bones by Cassandra Clare

If you read my ‘Shadowhunter Journey’ post, I talked about how I bought the entire box set of The Mortal Instruments just after Christmas last year, not knowing at all whether I would enjoy it not. My sister was watching the show on Netflix at the time, and had said it was good, but she wasn’t sure it was my sort of thing. The box set deal was just too good to resist though, so I thought I should at least try the first one out… Here I am 11 books later, having devoured all of the novels from 3 series so far, and with the spin off books to be read on my shelf! I was so surprised at how amazing this series was, and why I hadn’t gotten to it sooner! This brings me on to the next question…

New Favourite Author

Cassandra Clare, no question! 11 out of the 27 books I have read so far this year have been hers, if you wanted the statistics.

New Favourite Character

Of course, I have met so many new characters so far this year, and some I have spent a considerably amount of time with (and possibly planned our future wedding, house, and lives together)! There are three men on this list, yes, male characters, does this surprise you? Do we not all fall in love with fictional boys from time to time?

Jem Carstairs

From what I had heard, Will Herondale was the charming one in The Infernal Devices, and I would fall in love with him instantly. Surprisingly, this wasn’t the case, because I immediately fell for Jem Carstairs. OH MY GOSH, I cannot explain how much I love Jem, and how distraught I was when certain events happened in Clockwork Princess. However, he does make appearances elsewhere in other books, so I am eternally grateful to Cassie Clare for writing more Jem for me (and all the other Jem fans out there!)

Levi from Fangirl

Levi is my idea of the perfect guy (besides maybe the partying and the little hiccup in the middle of the book). He is just always so smiley and happy and adorable, it was hard for me not to fall in love with him. Cath was such a relatable character for me in Fangirl, and  I couldn’t help falling for Levi just like she did!

Jace Herondale

I am going to be completely honest now. I cannot remember the last time I fell so hard for a fictional character!! Augustus from TFIOS was a book boyfriend of mine (and still very much is) but oh my gosh Jace can be my book husband to infinity and beyond! I would literally go crazy every time I read about him, and imagined myself as Clary throughout the entire series in hope that I could disappear into the pages and love him with all my heart. Move over Augustus Waters (that was really difficult for me to write!) but Jace is my one and only for life (was that too dramatic?)

Book That Made Me Cry

Now this is what I’m talking about! I love a good cry when reading a book, and the books I’m about to talk about were perfect for just that…

A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness

I got through this book in a day. ONE DAY! Ok, yes, it’s a short book, but I was working in between that as well, and still managed to get it finished without reading it in one sitting. By the end, I was complete and utter mess! I was sobbing so hard, and I kid you not, I have tear stains on the pages. If that’s not a sign of a good book, I don’t know what is!

City of Heavenly Fire by Cassandra Clare

Going through this book and knowing it was the final book in the series, I was constantly wondering when I was going to get to the devastation and heartbreak that usually comes with final books (Deathly Hallows is a great example!) As I was reading, I found funny parts, I found cute parts, I found oh-my-gosh-Clace-I-cannot-deal-with-this parts that made me slightly too excited, but never anything drastic enough to make me cry. However, the last few chapters, I was balling! When the thing took a certain character’s things away so he couldn’t remember the other things (trying for the non-spoiler option here!) I just couldn’t stop the tears! They were coming out my eyes like the Niagra Falls, I was that heart-broken. Okay, so no dramatic deaths, but this one really hit me in the feelings!

Lord of Shadows by Cassandra Clare

This was very similar to CoHF, apart from the fact it wasn’t the end of the series. I knew there would be deaths, Cassie had tweeted about how many there were, but how devastating they would be, I had no idea, and I was not prepared! I went through the book, shedding a tear here or there but not sobbing terribly until the last few pages which ripped my heart out and left a hole in my chest that will be there for the next two years waiting for the sequel!

Books That Made Me Happy

On a more cheerful note, I have read some happy books this year so far as well, and my favourite one that had me grinning silly was…

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Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

This was such an adorable contemporary read, and the characters were so relatable. There were some scenes where I was grinning so hard my face hurt because I just couldn’t help loving Cath and Levi’s relationship. There were some happy tears at the end as well, again because it was so relatable! I have to read this one again and again!

Most Beautiful Book So Far

Being a bookworm who is constantly admiring covers and sometimes unnecessarily buying books because of how gorgeous they are, I was surprised when I could only find 2 books I have read so far this year that I wanted to put on the list (I’m clearly a picky person when it comes to cover design!)

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Lady Midnight and Lord of Shadows by Cassandra Clare

And Lord of Shadows appears again for the final time in this tag! These books are even more beautiful in person, with a gorgeous metallic shine and lovely matching spines. I love everything about these covers, from the typography to the clean photo editing and smaller details.

I hope you have enjoyed this (slightly longer than planned) tag post! I hope to do a tag once a month, because they are so much fun to write and reflect back on what I’ve read and myself as a reader as well.

What’s your favourite book so far this year? Do you have any new favourite authors, or characters you’ve fallen in love with? Let me know in the comments!

Until next time…

Jade 🙂

 

Stories: The Book Thief

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It’s Sunday, which means it’s discussion time. This is when I write to think more deeply about books, why we read, and why literature is so important in our lives. This new collection of discussion posts is called Stories, and aims to explore four of my favourite books, discussing characters and their relationships with each other, and how they are affected by predominant symbols in the story. Here is the next installment in the Stories series…

The Book Thief

In which we explore Liesel and Hans’ relationship with regards to the Accordion

 Liesel and Hans have an important relationship, although it is one that takes a while to come into full fruition. Liesel is a young girl, who loses her parents and is taken away with her brother to live with her new foster family, the Hubermanns. Her brother, however, does not survive the journey. Liesel continues to grow up in Germany during the time of Hitler’s dictatorship. Hans is a Hubermann, and end up being Liesel’s adoptive father. He is very much against the Nazi Party and everything Hitler stands for. Hans paints houses for a living, and plays the accordion. The accordion is symbolic throughout the novel for many reasons, and is part of many character relationships. For the benefit of Liesel’s relationship with Hans, it symbolises comfort, and is a form of distraction in tough times. As the book progresses, the relationship between Liesel and Hans develops, as does the symbolism of the accordion. Not only does it represent comfort, but it also becomes a representation of Hans himself, particularly in the later parts of the book when Liesel is older, and Hans goes off to war. Whatever the accordion symbolises, it plays a crucial part in the development of Liesel and Han’ relationship.

Hans is first introduced when Liesel refuses to get out the car when she arrives on Himmel Street. He is the only one who seems to get through to Liesel, and manages to persuade her to join them, establishing an immediate trust between the two characters. Shortly after arriving, Liesel has nightmares about her brother who dies on the journey to Himmel Street, and Hans comes to her side to comfort her with his accordion, which is when this instrument is first introduced into their relationship. Hans learns of a book she acquired at her brother’s funeral, The Gravedigger’s Handbook, but finds she cannot read. Hans himself isn’t the best reader, so they begin to learn together. As their relationship develops in it’s earlier stages, Hans continues to play the accordion for Liesel in particularly distressing moments, such as when she realises her mother is not going to answer the letters she writes. 
We learn how Hans came about owning the accordion, through a friend during World War I. Hans brings Max- his friend’s son, and a Jew- to Himmel Street, and him and Liesel form a very strong bond. Due to Hans’ possession of the accordion, Liesel gains a loving friend in Max and, in a way, Hans gave Liesel someone who would always be there for her as long as he remained hidden.

The accordion, in these first steps of Hans and Liesel’s relationship, is when it keeps it’s surface symbolism of comfort established in the introductory paragraph. 

Over the course of the novel, Hans and Liesel’s relationship grows ever stronger. Hans is called to paint windows to create blackouts for residents when the air raids come to Himmel Street. Liesel goes to work with him, and he takes his accordion to have easy access to a form of entertainment, especially during these darker times. The music brings Liesel and Hans closer, giving them something to bond over. Liesel has developed a particular fondness for books by this point in the novel, and can understand what music means to Hans through her love of books, and how reading makes her feel. When the air raids begin in Himmel Street, they have to relocate to closest shelter on the street. Hans leaves his beloved accordion behind, possibly for Max to have some comfort when he is left behind, not being able to leave the house. It could also be because Hans has come to trust Liesel to create her own distractions though reading. Again, this shows how the two have managed to translate each others feelings through their own sources of comfort. Liesel has learnt how to appreciate having her own source of serenity through Hans and his accordion.

Hans is eventually called off to war, leaving Liesel and Rosa, Liesel’s adopt mother, behind. He leaves his accordion, to provide them both with a memory of him. The accordion begins to act as a symbol of him, as well as a symbol of comfort. Hans asks Liesel to take care of his accordion, as a way of telling her to stay positive and strong. Liesel “lifted the accordion from it’s case and polished it…she placed her finger on one of the keys and softly pumped the bellows…It only made the room feel emptier.” (Zusak, 444), showing Hans is there in spirit, but the instrument cannot fully resurrect his presence, and they cannot play it with the expertise that Hans does.

Hans returns from the war, which is closely followed by an unannounced air raid on Himmel Street, in which Hans and Rosa both die. Liesel is protected as she is down in the basement writing. Despite it being deemed too shallow to be a proper shelter, it seemed to be enough for her to survive. Hans’ death draws a close to Liesel and Han’s relationship. Hans leaves his accordion behind when he dies, almost like a reminder of him for Liesel. This continues to support the idea from when Hans went to war, and the instrument came to symbolise him directly. The accordion is described as “an unhappy-looking accordion, peering through it’s eaten case” (Zusak 502), which could translate to how Hans has died, therefore so has the accordion. The novel uses a flashback to take the reader through the events leading up to the deadly bombing on Himmel Street. Hans sits with Liesel and plays the accordion as she writes in her notebook. She describes the accordion as ‘breathing’, giving it a final lease of life before it is destroyed, just like Hans spending those last moments with her before he dies. The flashback also solidifies the idea of the accordion appearing as a symbol of Hans, when Liesel says “sometimes I think my papa is an accordion” (Zusak, 531). The ultimate destruction of the accordion symbolises not just the death of Hans, but also the comfort ceasing to exist in Liesel’s life as her foster parents are taken from her in death, and expressing the end of Liesel and Hans’ relationship.
In conclusion, the accordion is extremely important, particular it’s symbolic meaning through the later parts of the story. The accordion provides comfort for Liesel and Hans, especially in times of need, and this feeling is transferred later into Liesel’s love of books and reading. Later, it comes to be a symbol of Hans, and stands in his place as somewhat of a father figure for Liesel, not necessarily as a person, but what it represents in her life. When Hans dies, the accordion follows in his footsteps, stripping Liesel of all happiness and comfort in a cruel way. Being constantly personified throughout the novel, described as ‘breathing’ and ‘having teeth’, the instrument becomes like a third character in a relationship built on belief and trust.

If anyone has any thoughts on anything written here, then please feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments, as it will be very interesting to see what others have found when reading this particular book.

Until next time…
Jade 🙂