[Bookish Discussion] Reality Check: No One Cares! And Other Thoughts on Blogging.

Back when I started really getting into book blogging, way back in 2011, I starting making these arbitrary rules for myself:


There were many other “rules” that I felt I had to follow and I had it in my head that if I didn’t follow these rules, people would be disappointed in me.


If I said I was going to read a certain 5 specific books in the month and didn’t get to any of them, people would be disappointed.

If I posted a TBR for the first two months of the year and then stopped, people would be disappointed.

If I didn’t finish a book by the end of the month, people would be disappointed.

If I said I was going to participate in x number of read-alongs or read-a-thons in a month and didn’t participate in them all in a timely manner, people would be disappointed.

If I took a week or a month or more off of blogging, people would be disappointed.

Needless to say, I had it in my head that I would be failing people if I didn’t follow through with certain things. I would be failing my readers.

This extended into the way I posted. Back when I was having my first child, I scheduled my blog like a lunatic, because if I didn’t post every other day, people would forget about me, people would be disappointed, I would be letting down my blog. I mean, heaven forbid things change when I had children! Even after having kids, I couldn’t let a week go by without posting.

Not post three times a week like clockwork? People would be disappointed!

But news flash: NO ONE CARES.

I know this sounds crass, but let me explain. I’ve seen people comment that they’re going on vacation and won’t be able to post for a week, or apologize that they weren’t able to post a video on their regularly scheduled day. I still find myself slipping back into this idea that I am SO IMPORTANT and that if, say, I had posted every Wednesday, that people would be upset — or that people would even notice — if I posted on the following Monday.

But do you know what I am slowly learning? That I am NOT so important. Even now, I feel like I’m letting myself down by saying this because aren’t we all important people? I mean, yes, it’s amazing that we are all alive and living and breathing and that we even exist in this world and that this world exists and can you believe I grew two human babies inside of me and HOW AMAZING IS ALL OF THIS!?

And while that is amazing and we might all be unique and important in our own way, unless you have maybe millions of followers or are a major celebrity, people aren’t going to notice or care if you don’t have a scheduled post for a certain day. Of course, they probably will notice if you decide to just take a month off of social media and blogging without telling anyone, but if you say you’re going to read these 10 books next month but decide to watch Netflix instead? NO ONE IS GOING TO CARE.

Does that sound crass to say that? What I’m trying to say is that for me, I had this over-inflated sense of importance that maybe people will notice in real life, like if I wasn’t answering the phone, or if my kid didn’t show up for school for a week. But when it comes to reading and blogging, the only person I’m really disappointing is myself.

And should I even be disappointed? NO!

Back before I started blogging, I didn’t read all the time. I would pick up a big book and read it, maybe taking a week or a month, not reading anything else, and that was okay. I wasn’t thinking about content and what I was going to post for the month if I only read one book, because back then all that mattered was that I was fitting reading into my life. The number of books didn’t matter, the type of books didn’t matter, I didn’t feel the need to track anything, tell anyone what I was reading, and I didn’t feel this obligation to wrap everything up in a bow to show everyone at the end of the month.

(Of course, if you do do that, that’s all up to you – what I’m saying is that you should do certain things because you want to do them and like to do them, but not be disappointed if you can’t.)

I mean, yes, it’s fun to blog, but it’s still a hobby. It’s something I started for myself and should continue to do for myself. Some days the only views my blog gets are from me, other days I might get 100+ views. Same thing with my BookTube channel – if no one watches a video, or if I get 2 views, I feel like I’m doing something wrong.

But you know what? I’m not. If I didn’t want to do it, I wouldn’t do it. I blog and make videos just because I love books. Because I realized that while it was fun to read a book prior to blogging, it was even more fun to bring my love of reading to the internet because other people loved reading, too. I didn’t (and still don’t) have a pile of readers in my life to talk to about books, so it was such an amazing thing to find people who were similar to me, who enjoyed reading and talking about books as much as I did. Blogging isn’t a job – no one is keeping track of how much I post in one week, how many book reviews I post in a row, how many books I read in a month, or how many books I don’t talk about. The only one who’s paying any attention to this is me. That’s all!

I guess what I want to say in this discussion is that there are no hard and fast rules to reading and blogging.

  • Read whatever you want! Do you want to read classics for the whole month? Fluffy romance the next month? Science fiction the next? Do it! No one cares if your reading is all over the place, if you’re not sticking to just one genre.
  • Read whenever you want! Do you want to watch Netflix for the whole month and graze over the same book for the month, maybe not even finishing it? Do it! NO ONE CARES!
  • Rate books or don’t rate books! I find myself finishing a book and hemming and hawing over what kind of rating I should give it. But who cares? It should just matter that I finished a book and enjoyed it without having to tack on a rating.
  • Use Goodreads or don’t use Goodreads! Do you know what I did before I discovered Goodreads? I still read! There are other ways to track books if you like to track, and if you don’t want to track your books, YOU DON’T HAVE TO! Because … say it with me … no one cares!

I think what I’m ultimately saying is that I think we all go through a time where we have an overinflated idea of how important we are in the reading world, when it almost feels like someone is forcing us to finish books, do certain posts, have a certain format or schedule, when in the grand scheme of it all, it’s really just us forcing these rules upon ourselves.

So, some new “rules” I’d like to follow:

  1. Read whatever I’m in the mood for. No one cares if I read different genres or books meant for different age groups.
  2. Quit following the hype because it rarely ends up being something I like.
  3. If I don’t know how to rate a book, maybe just don’t rate it! It’s okay to just talk about what I liked and disliked about a book without giving it any stars.
  4. Post when I want to, take a break when I want to – I may be important and needed in my real life, but if I don’t post for a week, no one is going to notice.
  5. Don’t review everything I read, or feel the need to review everything I read – sometimes a blurb is enough, and sometimes I shouldn’t even have to write anything on my blog. Sometimes just to say “it was a good book” or “I hated that book” should be enough.
  6. Have fun with reading! Join read-alongs and read-a-thons, make friends with people who are lax in their reading style and who read the same books I enjoy, but also don’t feel like I have to read the same as what they read. Our different reading styles is what makes us all unique.
  7. Don’t make reading a competition. Ultimately I’m just in competition with myself, but it’s okay to have a day where I don’t read, or a week where I don’t read, or to not finish a book by the end of a month or year.
  8. Don’t worry where books come from. Yeah, other book bloggers and BookTubers make book ownership look amazing but I already have lots of books. It’s okay if a book is a tattered used copy, a brand new copy, or a library copy. Shouldn’t the point just be reading?

Now, obviously I don’t mean that no one cares about anyone, but the message I want to pass on with this post is that it’s okay to cut yourself a break when it comes to blogging and reading. It’s okay to do something for you without feeling like you need to justify to your readers why you’re doing so. It’s okay to let go of any guilt you feel when it comes to blogging because, in the end, we all do this because we love books and that’s what matters.

Do you have any set of rules you follow for blogging, reading, or BookTubing? Have you gotten harder on yourself as you’ve blogged more, or used Goodreads more? Have you eased up on yourself for certain rules you might have had in the past?


[Book Talk] The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah

Book Details:

Format: Hardback (& eARC)
Source: Bought & Publisher
Read: March 2018


Alaska, 1974.
Unpredictable. Unforgiving. Untamed.
For a family in crisis, the ultimate test of survival.

Ernt Allbright, a former POW, comes home from the Vietnam war a changed and volatile man. When he loses yet another job, he makes an impulsive decision: he will move his family north, to Alaska, where they will live off the grid in America’s last true frontier.

Thirteen-year-old Leni, a girl coming of age in a tumultuous time, caught in the riptide of her parents’ passionate, stormy relationship, dares to hope that a new land will lead to a better future for her family. She is desperate for a place to belong. Her mother, Cora, will do anything and go anywhere for the man she loves, even if it means following him into the unknown

At first, Alaska seems to be the answer to their prayers. In a wild, remote corner of the state, they find a fiercely independent community of strong men and even stronger women. The long, sunlit days and the generosity of the locals make up for the Allbrights’ lack of preparation and dwindling resources.

But as winter approaches and darkness descends on Alaska, Ernt’s fragile mental state deteriorates and the family begins to fracture. Soon the perils outside pale in comparison to threats from within. In their small cabin, covered in snow, blanketed in eighteen hours of night, Leni and her mother learn the terrible truth: they are on their own. In the wild, there is no one to save them but themselves.

In this unforgettable portrait of human frailty and resilience, Kristin Hannah reveals the indomitable character of the modern American pioneer and the spirit of a vanishing Alaska―a place of incomparable beauty and danger. The Great Alone is a daring, beautiful, stay-up-all-night story about love and loss, the fight for survival, and the wildness that lives in both man and nature.

My Thoughts

Thank you to St. Martin’s Press for sending me an eARC for review – I ended up buying the hardback, too, since it’s Kristin Hannah and I can never wait to read her books!

I actually did put off reading this for a bit when I had the review copy and I don’t know why – I saw so many people speaking very highly of this book and so I went back and looked at the synopsis and when I read that it took place in Alaska, one of my favourite places, and that it was a family’s test of survival I had to dive in right away. I adore reading books about homesteading, so reading one that takes place in one of the most beautiful places in the world, the last frontier, was exactly what I wanted.

What I wasn’t expecting was how majorly addicting this book would be! I’ve always loved Kristin Hannah’s writing but I feel like this was one of her most enthralling and anxiety-inducing books ever. I sat and read this story in large chunks but couldn’t read it right before I went to sleep because I couldn’t put it down! I didn’t realize that this was a story about a man changed, after returning from the Vietnam war, and the reader was to witness his complete deterioration into madness in “the great alone” – and taking his family down with him.

Man, oh, man … this book had my stomach in knots for the majority of the reading. There were parts that were so intense that I burst into tears and could physically feel my body shaking. Getting to the end of this book was like a test of keeping it together as a reader – I felt a huge weight lifted once I finished and felt like that bookish cliche, like I was letting out a breath I didn’t realize I was holding. What I expected was a story about a family trying to make it in Alaska, maybe in over their heads, but I didn’t expect such an intense story that I literally had to put aside in order to read something else, just so I could sleep.

But while this story is intense in its family drama, it is also a gorgeous book about Alaska. I loved hearing about the landscapes, the vast amounts of untouched land, the beauty of this wild state that takes no prisoners, a place where you better be prepared to stay in because if you’re not, you could literally die. I visited Alaska about 10 years ago for my honeymoon and it was amazing to revisit the beauty of it, the mystery of it, and feel its pull. Kristin Hannah does such a great job of not only showing us the beauty, but also the dangers of such a place. This book shows not only how wild Alaska could be, but also the wildness within man.

And lastly, the characters! I adored Large Marge, Tom Walker, Leni, Matthew. I felt so frustrated by Cora, and by Ernst. Kristin Hannah wrote some great characters in this story and it was hard not to feel immense love for some and immense hate for others. Even Alaska is a character in itself. There are some really beautiful relationships, especially between women, and Kristin Hannah presents us with a community that would do anything to protect their own.

Honestly, I thought that Kristin Hannah hit it out of the park with The Nightingale but this book was absolutely amazing. The Great Alone is a book that you will not want to put down – trust me – and one that will leave you shaking afterwards. It’s intense, beautiful, dark, gripping, heartbreaking, and completely, completely addicting. Kristin Hannah’s writing is getting better and better and I can’t wait to see what she presents to us next.

[Just Finished] Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte — Now What To Read?

wuthering heights 1In case you weren’t aware, Lucy from Lucy The Reader is the Young Ambassador for #Bronte200, this year the Bicentenary of the birth of Emily Bronte. Bronte 200 itself is a 5-year program celebrating all of the Bronte’s and has taken place since 2016. Over on Goodreads, Lucy is hosting a year-long read-along of the Bronte works, starting with Wuthering Heights for January/February, Agnes Grey by Anne Bronte in March/April, Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte in May/June, The Complete Poems of Emily Bronte in July/August, Shirley by Charlotte Bronte in September/October, and The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Bronte in November/December.

Warning: If you haven’t read Wuthering Heights, don’t read any further – there will be spoilers!

This month I finished reading Wuthering Heights for the second time. I first read it back in university for a 19th-century literature course I took. I honestly can’t remember if I liked it or didn’t like it and diving into it again I didn’t recall a lot of what was going on. I took out my old copy of the book from university and started reading one afternoon when the kids were having quiet time and immediately I fell in love with Emily’s writing. I forgot that this was told from the perspective of Nelly Dean, a servant to the Earnshaw family who was there when the family acquired young Heathcliff all the way until his death. It was nice to have someone else tell the story since it separates the reader from the story. Both Heathcliff and Catherine are very, very passionate characters and the story would be quite different from their point of view. On top of Nelly’s narration, we also get the narration of Lockwood, a man passing through who stays at Thrushcross Grange, the home near Wuthering Heights where Catherine lives.

wuthering heights 2One thing I forgot was how unlikeable both Catherine and Heathcliff are – they’re both selfish, stubborn, and wild, and they connected so well when they were younger, with their similar personalities, but through the rest of the story I couldn’t help but think about the saying of how opposites attract – they might have had similar personalities, but all of that passion and stubbornness meant they could never be together.

“My love for Linton is like the foliage in the woods: time will change it, I’m well aware, as winter changes the trees. My love for Heathcliff resembles the eternal rocks beneath: a source of little visible delight, but necessary. Nelly, I am Healthcliff! He’s always, always in my mind: not as a pleasure, any more than I am always a pleasure to myself, but as my own being.”

But is this a love story? For some reason, I had it in my head that this was a love story, since I’ve heard other people talk about it as such. But reading it, it felt like a story of these similar souls who were just too much for one another. I think they had such a deep friendship in their youth that Heathcliff couldn’t handle Catherine moving away from him. That led him to his path of revenge, but even that verges on the insane. Is it revenge to practically kidnap the offspring of your former friend and force them to marry your own child? THEN to keep them isolated in the house, abused by your terrible moods and outbursts? This is definitely a story about passion, but love? Maybe love from friendship, but nothing more.

wuthering heightsI did really enjoy the ghost story aspect of this, though I think I thought it would be more. I loved in the beginning how Lockwood sees the ghost of Catherine, which ultimately led me to think of Kate Bush’s song Wuthering Heights with the lyrics, “Heathcliff, it’s me Cathy, I’ve come home, I’m so cold, let me into your window.” That combined with the ending was probably my favourite part of the story, the fact that the only way they could be together would be in death.

“And I pray one prayer–I repeat it till my tongue stiffens–Catherine Earnshaw, may you not rest as long as I am living! You said I killed you–haunt me, then!…Be with me always–take any form–drive me mad! only do not leave me in this abyss, where I cannot find you!”

Another thing I loved about this story was the atmosphere and mood. The whole story is so dark and tragic, but the setting of the Yorkshire moors, as well as the separation from society, gave me a shiver and I could almost feel like I was there. You could just feel the loneliness of where the story takes place. These descriptions of both Wuthering Heights and Thrushcross Grange were very well written and made me realize why I love Emily Bronte’s writing. I also enjoyed how she didn’t write likeable characters – throughout the whole story, I think the only likeable character was Hareton, whose story I LOVED, especially towards the end of the book as he forms a relationship with the young Catherine. Even our narrator, Nelly Dean isn’t very likeable and one might say that her narration is a bit biased because she was never a fan of Heathcliff. As a reader, Heathcliff is an interesting character. Some might see him as a dark and brooding hero, a romantic lead; others might see him as the antihero. For me, I feel like his character brings up the concept of nature vs. nurture. Are people born evil? Looking at Heathcliff, you can see that he probably could’ve been a different person had he not been banished by Hindley and raised as he was. He wasn’t given love and affection by anyone but Cathy. If he had been a part of the family and given love and affection he might have turned out completely different, rather into the angry man, reminiscent of those who brought him up.

I’m very interested to read this again, but the annotated version. I think there are so many themes that I just touched the surface of on my second read, and I’d love to read more notes on the text, as well as what other people have had to say about the story. Emily Bronte writes very complex characters and this story has so many layers that to read it once just wouldn’t be enough.

Now what to read?

I happen to love retellings of classic literature, and found some titles based off of Wuthering Heights that I am really interested in trying out!

nelly dean wuthering heightsNelly Dean: A Return to Wuthering Heights by Alison Case

Synopsis: Young Nelly Dean has been Hindley’s closest companion for as long as she can remember, living freely at the great house, Wuthering Heights. But when the benevolence of the master brings a wild child into the house, Nelly learns she must follow in her mother’s footsteps, be called “servant” and give herself over completely to the demands of the Earnshaw family.

But Nelly is not the only one who finds her life disrupted by this strange newcomer. As death, illness, and passion sweep through the house, Nelly suffers heartache and betrayals at the hands of those she cherishes most, tempting her to leave it all behind. But when a new heir is born, a reign of violence begins that will test even Nelly’s formidable spirit as she finds out what it is to know true sacrifice.

Nelly Dean is a wonderment of storytelling and an inspired accompaniment to Emily Bronte’s adored work. It is the story of a woman who is fated to bear the pain of a family she is unable to leave, and unable to save.

catherineCatherine by April Lindner

Synopsis: Catherine is tired of struggling musicians befriending her just so they can get a gig at her Dad’s famous Manhattan club, The Underground. Then she meets mysterious Hence, an unbelievably passionate and talented musician on the brink of success. As their relationship grows, both are swept away in a fiery romance. But when their love is tested by a cruel whim of fate, will pride keep them apart?

Chelsea has always believed that her mom died of a sudden illness, until she finds a letter her dad has kept from her for years—a letter from her mom, Catherine, who didn’t die: She disappeared. Driven by unanswered questions, Chelsea sets out to look for her—starting with the return address on the letter: The Underground.

Told in two voices, twenty years apart, Catherine interweaves a timeless forbidden romance with a compelling modern mystery.

The Heights by Juliet Bell

Two hundred years since Emily Brontë’s birth comes The Heights: a modern re-telling of Wuthering Heights set in 1980s Yorkshire.

The searchers took several hours to find the body, even though they knew roughly where to look. The whole hillside had collapsed, and there was water running off the moors and over the slick black rubble. The boy, they knew, was beyond their help.
This was a recovery, not a rescue.

A grim discovery brings DCI Lockwood to Gimmerton’s Heights Estate – a bleak patch of Yorkshire he thought he’d left behind for good. There, he must do the unthinkable, and ask questions about the notorious Earnshaw family.

Decades may have passed since Maggie closed the pits and the Earnshaws ran riot – but old wounds remain raw. And, against his better judgement, DCI Lockwood is soon drawn into a story.

A story of an untameable boy, terrible rage, and two families ripped apart. A story of passion, obsession, and dark acts of revenge. And of beautiful Cathy Earnshaw – who now lies buried under cold white marble in the shadow of the moors.

The first one, Nelly Dean, I’m really interested in reading, and I just love that cover. The second, Catherine, is one I’d like to reread. I read it years ago and liked it okay, but now that the story is a little fresher in my mind, I think it would be fun to revisit. And the third, The Heights, is one that I just recently discovered and it sounds so interesting, with it being a retelling of Wuthering Heights and somewhat of a mystery/crime novel?

wuthering heights babylitAnd if you have children, there’s always this adorable BabyLit Primer of Wuthering Heights – I had been curious how the story would be adapted for very little children, but this looks to be a weather primer, which could be fun. Though, wasn’t it always cold and gloomy on the moors? I guess I’ll have to pick this up for my kids to see!

Have you read Wuthering Heights before? How did you like it? What were your favourite parts of the story? Have you reread it in the past years? What would you recommend that is similar to Wuthering Heights? Have you read any other Bronte works?