Skip to content

Booktube: I have seen the future, and it has great hair.

Three months ago, I didn’t know what “booktube” meant. I was aware on some level that vlogging existed, and some vloggers must talk about books; and that sometimes book *bloggers* made videos, but I didn’t realize it was its own thing. That it’s not just an offshoot of book blogging, but has its own (much discussed, of late) culture.

Since making this momentous discovery, I’ve found a few booktubers that I really enjoy.  It’s hard to keep up, though. Book blogs are easy to follow because it’s quiet, I can do it surreptitiously, and I can quickly scan a post to see if it’s of interest. With booktube, it’s loud, I can’t multi-task, and a five minute video takes five minutes to watch. I can’t browse it or scan it.

Despite these drawbacks, I feel like the medium is gaining momentum. I don’t have any stats to back me up, but I get the feeling that book blogs have reached some critical capacity; there are too many for the system to support. Booktube, on the other hand, is new and shiny and YOUNG. My goodness it’s young. And judging by the drama that’s going around the community, it’s growing.

A few more random observations:

1. Flailing. My number one criteria for following a booktuber is a soft, calm speaking manner. I don’t need you to be Ben Stein, but I watch booktube late at night, after a long day with a toddler and a preschooler, so the last thing I want is to be SHOUTED at, squealed at, or flailed at. There’s… a lot of flailing on some of the popular channels. Be warned.

If I want to see flailing, I will watch Nicolas Cage in Face/Off. Or anything.

If I want to see flailing, I will watch Nicolas Cage in Face/Off. Or anything.

2. Book reviews are tough to find. Booktube is big on “hauls,” but I’m more interested in how booktubers translate reviews, which I’m used to reading, into interesting videos. I really like videos that fall somewhere between a haul and a review: a themed group of mini-reviews.

3. Booktubers have tons of followers and videos get a lot of views. More so than blogs, I would say. I’m not sure if that’s because the blogosphere is saturated and booktube is new, or what.

4. Diversity. It’s no secret that that book blogging is dominated by young white women. I’m noticing more diversity on booktube, maybe because it’s, well, visible. I think booktubers skew even younger than bloggers though, and I don’t think I’ve found ANY parents yet. There are plenty of us book bloggers with young kids, but not so much on booktube. It makes sense; the logistics of having the time, space, and quiet to make a video, let alone look presentable, are pretty daunting.

5. Booktubers tend to have GREAT hair. And skin. And make up. I think there’s some cross-over potential with Beauty YouTubers. I would totally watch a “get ready to film your next book haul” hair and makeup tutorial.

 

How I roll. PJs, couch, 11:00 p.m. on a Friday, flattering laptop screen lighting.

How I roll: PJs, couch, 11:00 p.m. on a Friday, flattering laptop screen lighting. NOT ready for my close-up.

Bonus #6: I hate the word “booktube.”  It sounds gross. “Booktuber” is even worse, it makes me think of a potato.

Booktubers you should follow immediately:

Bazpierce: Hilarious, snarky, obsessed with classics. He went on hiatus just as I subscribed, and I may have audibly squealed when I saw this come back video. Oh, and his commentary on the recent booktube drama-llama is perfect.

The Heavy Blanks: Great hair. Great voice. Tons of CanLit. Very thoughtful. Oh and he’s local! I promise you haven’t seen a haul like this:

Ron Lit: She is hilarious and smart and talks about all the dirty bits in the classics. Here’s a good example:

Words of a Reader: Great taste in classics. Owns the A Tree Grows in Brooklyn t-shirt. Just hit 10K subscribers and is doing some cool stuff to celebrate:

Climb the Stacks: Solid reviews and discussions of contemporary books. This recent video makes me want to read all these books and cry for days (well not The Poisonwood Bible, didn’t like that one at all!)

Librarian FanMail Another CanLit superstar! I loved her review of Edi Edugyan’s Dreaming of Elsewhere. 

Oh yeah, remember that time I made a video? Also, tell me about your booktube experiences!

Malarky by Anakana Schofield: Anatomy of a Review

This book is really weird. This review is really weird. Both the reading and the reviewing consumed me more than any other book this year. After struggling to make it fit a standard review format and failing, I’ve decided to strip away the “rating/synopsis/teaser/what I liked/what I didn’t/funny picture/conclusion” thing I usually do, and reveal what goes into a review here on Reading in Bed. I don’t do all this stuff for every book. Malarky works because I spent more time and energy than I usually do. The amount of work I put into a review is correlated with how strongly I feel about it, whether that’s love, hate, or yeah, sometimes obligation. This one is a labour of love.

Reading reviews
I heard about Malarky and about author Anakana Schofield in a book column that appeared in The Edmonton Journal back in October of 2013.

“I’ve decided it’s like a pan of porridge,” Schofield says, in her thick Irish brogue, of her writing process. “It’s permanently simmering, and then: a little bubble. And a little bubble. And a little bubble. Until there’s about 15,000 of these little bubbles.”

The image of a simmering pot of porridge is great. I added Malarky to my TBR list. I was reading Dragon Bound at the time, so I probably wasn’t thinking clearly, and let it languish there till March of this year.

After reading the book, I went back and read the usual suspects for CanLit reviews: Quill and Quire, Globe and Mail, National Post. The reviews are all positive, and all mention the experimental quality of the writing. The strange thing is, months after finishing, I didn’t remember the experimental stuff, or even the stream of consciousness stuff, though it is there. I remembered marriage and motherhood and sexuality described in ways I couldn’t really compare to anything else.

Reading the actual book
I finally picked the book up in March and read it in a week. I was reading The Monk at the same time so there were a lot of weird sex things being read in March.

I didn’t actually pick it up, I read it on my Kobo. I took a look in my local Coles and didn’t find it. I wasn’t too upset, because the ebook is usually cheaper, and I’m not a fan of the cover art, so didn’t feel I needed it on my shelf. I feel differently now. I would really like these words on my shelf, and would like to loan them to others. Maybe I can track down an American or UK cover, as I like them a lot more.

Canadian, UK and American cover art:

malarkyMalarky ukMalarky US Read more

In my bed: June 2014

Is there such thing as reverse-seasonal affective disorder? I get the urge to hibernate in summer. I crave sleep and comfort food. This summer, I’m not just choosing reading over blogging, but sleeping over reading. And lately, TV over both. I may have to stop smugly saying “actually, I don’t watch TV” if this keeps up. Damn you, OITNB.

There are tons of literary references and shout outs though. Hey Ian MacEwan!

There are tons of literary references and shout outs though. Hey Ian McEwan! via booksofoitnb.com

In addition to reading and blogging ennui, I’m buying books and not reading them, which I understand is normal book blogger behaviour, but it’s not normal for me. And I’m just not loving the books I’m reading lately. I don’t think it’s them. I think it’s me.

Sometimes, when I’m in a rut, I give something up for a while. I’m running low on things to give up, though. I’ve done social media-free months. That’s boring. I gave up caffeine and TV last year and am still off both, OITNB notwithstanding. I quit smoking. I don’t do drugs and I haven’t been drunk in five years.

No, I’m NOT going to quit blogging. But I do need to do something a little drastic… Read more

Follies Past by Melanie Kerr: Review and Author Q&A

 

folliespast

My rating: 3.5/5 stars
Goodreads
Synopsis:

Taking its facts from Austen’s own words, Follies Past opens almost a year before the opening of Pride and Prejudice itself, at Pemberley, at Christmas. Fourteen-year-old Georgiana has just been taken from school and is preparing to transfer to London in the spring. It follows Georgiana to London, to Ramsgate and into the arms of the charming and infamous Mr. Wickham.

Remember last year when I did Austen in August and decided that even though Austen is Awesome, she kind of wasn’t for me (with the exception of Persuasion because let’s face it, Captain Wentworth is for everybody?) It’s a credit to Ms. Kerr’s persuasiveness (sorry) that I decided to read Follies Past. I didn’t want to set myself up for a disappointing read, or deal with the awkwardness of a writing a bad review of a local, self-published book. But over the course of a few weeks’ email correspondence, she wore me down. I picked up the ebook and girded myself.

It wasn’t just Kerr’s salesmanship (thought it was impressive) that convinced me. She created a series of wonderfully overwrought book trailers that are far more entertaining than those of best selling authors. And she blogs. Her blog is neither in your face promotion nor dubious writing tips; rather, it’s an interesting and educational look at what goes into writing a historical novel and publishing it yourself. Kerr’s expertise in the Regency era comes through in her fiction, but her blog really drives it home. My favourite posts are those about about peculiarities of Regency language, but she also rants about misuse of “beg the question,” one of my pet peeves.

What about the book?
Right! The best thing about Follies Past is that the writing style comes oh-so-close to Austen, it feels completely natural and not at all like that “put a Zombie on it” brand of adaptation. Kerr’s wit isn’t quite as razor sharp, but that’s like saying you are slightly worse at playing piano that Mozart. I don’t know about you, but I read Austen for the sick burns more than the romance, and there are plenty here. Speaking of romance, here’s our hero contemplating marriage with Caroline: Read more

Library Book Sale Haul and Life Lessons

How did I call myself “bookish” for so many years, when I’d never shopped a library book sale? Okay, I never call myself bookish, but I have felt a vague sense of incompleteness. I finally went a few weeks ago with my colleague and cube-neighbour Christina. Have I mentioned that I have a bookish office mate? She’s into YA, which is perfect, because we didn’t fight over books.

wpid-20140530_135813.jpg

The Haul

1. Eleanor Rigby by Douglas Coupland: Because it’s Douglas Coupland. I admit I’m finding his Roots clothing/daily slogan thing a little tiring, but, I will always love him.

2. The Flying Troutmans by Miriam Toews: Because All My Puny Sorrows is way to hyped for me to read it right now, and my dad’s wife recommended it to me. We’re visiting them next month, so it’ll give us something non-controversial to talk about!

3. In the Skin of a Lion by Michael Ondaatje: Because I love him.

4. Away by Jane Urquhart: Because Urquart created a playlist for the book, which is kind of my thing. Prosperina by Martha Wainright made me cry.

5. When God was a Rabbit by Sarah Winman: Because I like the title.

6. The Sisters Brothers by Patrick DeWitt: Because everyone I know who’s read it orders me to read it. Immediately.

7. The Toss of a Lemon by Padma Viswanathan: Because of this review by friend-of-Reading-in-Bed Jennifer Quist.

8. We Were the Mulvaneys by Joyce Carol Oates: Because she is coming to Edmonton in November and I need something for her to sign. Also she has the best/worst/most absurd Twitter persona.

9. Icefields by Thomas Wharton (not pictured): Classic CanLit. The librarian who sold it was so excited for me.

The Life Lessons
1. Like many a newbie, I imagine, I went in all “I’ll just pick up a few books. One or two.” No. You’ll get ten or more. I put a few back because I had nowhere to put them. Come prepared. The true pros bring those little pull-along grocery carts. They’ve really made advances in the design of those since I delivered flyers in the 90s. I saw some that looked more like luggage.

wpid-20140530_135804.jpg

This shopper is employing a two-part strategy: backpack + man to carry books.

 

2. If you see a book you might be interested in, grab it. If you change your mind, you can put it back. I hesitated over The Signature of All Things in pristine hardcover, went back maybe three minutes later, gone.

3. You don’t have to go early. The line ups are for the DVDs.

4. Plan a separate day for kids’ stuff. There were so many books and dvds, but I didn’t have time or carrying capacity after I’d been through the adult stuff. Sorry kids!

5. Go more than once. They continually update the stock.I went twice in the same day and saw some of the same people on round two. Those were the pros with the grocery carts. They are hardcore.

The Edmonton Public Library’s next Books 2 Buy event is on August 15-17. I’ll be there!

For good measure, here is my neighbour’s book haul, which resides in her filing cabinet because she couldn’t carry it home. Yeah, I think we’ll get along just fine.

wpid-20140530_141128.jpg

The Shore Girl by Fran Kimmel

theshoregirl

My rating: 4/5 stars
Goodreads
Synopsis:

Rebee Shore’s life is fragmented. She’s forever on the move, ricocheting around Alberta, guided less than capably by her dysfunctional mother Elizabeth. “The Shore Girl” follows Rebee from her toddler to her teen years as she grapples with her mother’s fears and addictions, and her own desire for a normal life. Through a series of narrators–family, friends, teachers, strangers, and Rebee herself–her family’s dark past, and the core of her mother’s despair, are slowly revealed

The first sentence in the synopsis is bang on. Rebee Shore’s life is fragmented. So was my reading experience. So is this review.

I’ve been paralyzed for six months in writing this review. The reasons are uninteresting, but most come down to the fact that I don’t quite know what to make of the book. I enjoyed it, but my reactions were a little strange. Like how I didn’t cry while reading, despite many tragic circumstances, but cried suddenly and heartily upon finishing the last page. Because I was going to miss the characters? Because I had a bad feeling about the main character, Rebee? I think it was supposed to be a optimistic ending, but I had this sinking feeling…

I can tell you now that I’m all grown up, that I don’t need a mother to keep me safe. That might be a lie.

Read more

A Tale of Two Cities: The Afterword

I had this great idea for my TOTC wrap up post. Okay, I stole it from The Afterword Reading Society. I wanted readers to give me a tweet-length review and compile them here. We had a real diverse set of reactions and I wanted to convey that, and it might help those of you who are on the fence about reading this book. Also, what could be better than tweets and books?

Then I wrote my wrap up post really fast and forgot to do it. So here are a few mini-reviews. Now I’m really done with this book. If you’re jonesing for another read-along, check out Moby-Dick on Roofbeam Reader or The Hobbit on Another Book BlogRead more

A Tale of Two Cities Read-Along: Wrap up and contest winner

#1Tale2CitiesButton

We had everything before us, we had nothing before us.

That’s an excerpt from the first paragraph of A Tale of Two Cities. The “best of times” bit is the only part that’s ever quoted, but the whole thing’s pretty good. And this bit in particular sums up how I feel upon finishing this book and this read-along. On the one hand, well, that’s done (or as the Habs might say this week, “c’est tout.”) On the other hand, TOTC is like many classics: once you get that first reading out of the way, there’s lots more to discover. Read more

Yes, All Women

The other day, I made a “friend zone” joke here on the blog. I acknowledged that the whole concept of a friend zone is sexist and gross, but I still played it for laughs. The UCSB shooting happened shortly thereafter – a massacre motivated by the same sexist concept, that men are entitled to have access to women’s bodies.

I was making a point about how the characters in Dickens and Hugo who are “friend zoned” end up sacrificing themselves, as opposed to whining about why it’s not fair that the objects of their affection won’t sleep with them. My joke isn’t that bad. You can find something more offensive almost anywhere. But it’s not anywhere, it’s here, on a blog about books, written by a feminist. This stuff is insidious. It’s everywhere. Yes, I’m calling myself out. I’m also sharing some stuff I learned because most of my readers are young women and this is important.

I’m reading and participating in #yesallwomen which is a reaction to the instant refrain of “not all men” that comes up when an event like this is viewed from a feminist angle. Suggest that this massacre was motivated by misogyny and aided by a sexist culture, and you will immediately be informed that Not All Men are misogynists. Not all men think that way. Not all men abuse women. This isn’t a feminist issue, they say, it’s about gun control. It’s about mental health (and yes, it’s certainly those things too.) And women are saying, yeah, we get that. Not all men. But all women ARE affected by misogyny.  Every woman has a story, probably many stories. Go ahead and check out the hashtag. It’s relentless, repetitive, and extremely disheartening.

(If you haven’t figured it out, this post isn’t about books and it’s about to get really personal. )

Read more

Alberta Readers’ Choice Award: You have the power

readers choice

Sponsored by the Edmonton Public Library, the Edmonton Public Library Alberta Readers’ Choice Award is awarded annually for the best fiction or narrative non-fiction written by an Alberta author. The $10,000 award – presented annually by the Edmonton Public Library and  one of Alberta’s richest literary prizes – recognized the exceptional writing talent in Alberta and encourages readers to support Alberta authors.

I considered applying to sit on the jury for the Alberta Readers’ Choice Award this year, but was intimidated by the amount of reading I’d have to do. I shouldn’t have been; I’d already read five of the longlisted ten (chosen by library staff across Alberta) and of the shortlist (decided by the jury,) I’ve read three of five, and own another. Ah well. I’ll have to be satisfied with the power of my vote. Regular joes like us decide who wins, and the winner gets a novelty-sized cheque for $10,000.

The Alberta Readers’ Choice Award Final Five are:

  • Almost a Great Escape by Tyler Trafford
  • Come Barbarians by Todd Babiak (my review)
  • Pilgrimage by Diana Davidson (my review)
  • The Dilettantes by Michael Hingston (my review)
  • The Unfinished Child by Theresa Shea

Vote here. Voting is open for the whole month of May. Only one vote for person, so no annoying “vote everyday!” social media blitzes.

Today, I’m off to my local library branch, Jasper Place, to hear the four Edmonton-based authors read from their shortlisted books. We’ll also hear from readers, which is a cool twist! Check it out at 1:30 p.m. today, May 24th.

Last year’s winner was Frank Kimmel, for The Shore Girl, which is still on my to-review list (it’s great.) Check out Another Book Blog’s review and interview. I met Fran at a reading last year, and someone asked her what she spent that novelty-sized cheque on, which was a little rude if you ask me! Fran said she would spend it on upgrading her technology. The $10,000 prize would certainly be enough to get some sweet gear.

For me, the best Alberta book of 2013 wasn’t even on the longlist – Love Letters of the Angels of Death by Jennifer Quist. Roost by Ali Bryan was an oversight too. I don’t know if it’s proper etiquette to say who I voted for, but I’m nosy and I want to know who you are voting for, so here goes. I voted for the book that surprised me the most and brought me the most joy as a reader: The Dilettantes.

Which book has your vote? 

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,617 other followers