Discussion, Features

[Bookish Discussion] Re-Rating Books?

I’ve been thinking about this topic for a while and finally decided that I wanted to write about it and get YOUR opinion on it. That topic?

Is Re-Rating Books A Thing Now?

Let’s go back to a book that I loved before I started book blogging – pretty much the catalyst for my starting this book blog: Twilight. Now, I LOVED that book when I first read it. I loved it so much that I think I read it 3 or 4 times. It got me into reading more and got me into blogging, and pretty much kicked off the last 10 years of being book obsessed.

A few years ago, I decided to revisit Twilight and I absolutely HATED IT. As in, I was cringing at every page and couldn’t believe that this was the epic love story that I pined over back in 2008. Needless to say, I rated this a lot lower than my initial rating after the reread. However, while I might cringe at the less-than-stellar vampire love story now, I have to admit that it was a book I loved back in 2008. The raving 5-stars I gave Twilight in 2008 is a reflection of me THEN.

But had I not reread Twilight, would I go back and downrate it? NO.

The great thing, for me, about Goodreads is that it tracks my reading journey. I try to track on the blog, but life gets in the way sometimes and I forget things. With Goodreads, it’s so easy to just add a book I’m reading, rate it when I’m done, maybe write a short review, and done. It’s one reason that I really hate adding a book in their new rereading system because now going back, a book that I might have read and loved 10 years ago but hated now won’t reflect that love in their star-rating system. Also, why I try (when I remember) to go onto the computer and put myself down as reading another edition of a book during a reread so that it shows up more than once on my shelf.

But these days I’m seeing something different. People will have read a book years ago, and now they’re downrating it. They might have loved it, raved about it, never shut up about it (in a good way), and now they’re like, “Welllll, people said this about it and now I see the problems so I’m giving it one star.” And I. Don’t. Get. It.

Shouldn’t reading be a reflection of who we are and how we are growing? Just because some people have opinions about a book that might ring true to us years down the road, should that devalue our reading experience of that book? Maybe when we read it, we didn’t notice certain issues were present, or maybe we didn’t see them as being the be-all-end-all to a story.

Let’s take another book I loved as an example. One of my most recent 5-star rated books was Aftermath by Kelley Armstrong, which just came out this year. Now, if someone told me, 10 years down the road, “Oh you LOVED that book? But did you not SEE how this happened in it and how it was WRONG? This book had SO MANY ISSUES! Can’t you see that NOW?” – would that make me want to say, “Oh wow, I never saw it that way!” Probably. But would I go back and change my rating of it from 10 years back? No! Why? Because it’s a reflection of who I was and what I loved this year.

I think it’s the same when I think of the issue of “Authors Behaving Badly.” I completely understand not wanting to read an author if they start to do really crappy things, but if I had already read a book by an author who now doesn’t reflect good in my eyes? I’d probably leave my old rating as it is and just not read more of their works. Yeah, they might be a crappy person, but that wouldn’t change the fact that I loved their book way back when.

Perhaps it’s just me and my opinions, but I just don’t understand why readers are doing this now. Like I said, to me my reading stats throughout the years are a reflection of who I was and what I loved in each year. My tastes change over the years and maybe I missed seeing things in books that others thought atrocious, or maybe an author did something now that is unforgivable, but that isn’t a reflection of THEN, but a reflection of NOW.

Tell me I’m not the only one! Do you ever re-rate books – not after rereading, but maybe after hearing issues that other people may have raised about it? Do you agree that reading stats and tracking are a reflection of who you are throughout the years? I’d love to hear your thoughts! 

Discussion, Features

[Bookish Discussion] Owning Multiple Copies of Books!

I thought about writing a post like this the other day, after I had gone to the bookstore and bought two books that I already owned – just different editions. Please tell me I’m not the only person who doesn’t just buy extra copies of books by accident, but on purpose!

Why do I buy new copies of books?

  • Because I’m thinking of rereading a certain book but my copy is old.
  • Because there’s a different edition of a book that has been catching my eye forever.
  • Because a copy I own might not be in a format I want to read.
  • Because I forget that I own a copy of a book.
  • Because I lent out a copy of a book, then want to reread it, and need a new copy.

There are lots of reasons I’ll buy a new copy of a book and I thought I’d share some of those reasons and also share some of the books I have duplicate copies of – and afterwards I’ll let you know some of the books that I still want to get different copies of.

Mansfield Park – Jane Austen

I have owned this GINORMOUS copy book of Jane Austen novels for years now. It has all 5 of her major books and it’s so pretty. But prettiness aside, this book is massive. It’s heavy and awkward – not really a great book to read at night unless you like concussions when you fall asleep. I had signed up for a read-along for Mansfield Park this year and did NOT want to read my giant hardback book, so I found a nice softcover at the used bookstore to read instead. It’s a great edition of the book, having background on Jane Austen, a timeline of her life, and a little bit about life in the time of Jane Austen. The ONLY thing it’s missing is a built-in bookmark.

Northanger Abbey – Jane Austen

This one is kind of hilarious, since I obviously have a ridiculous amount of copies of this book. Northanger Abbey is included in my massive bind-up of Austen books, so not exactly convenient to read, but it looks great on a coffee table. I bought one of the blue copies a year or so ago at the bookstore when I saw it on sale, then the OTHER blue copy at a bookstore closing sale, forgetting that I owned the other copy. And then the other day I was shopping for a few other editions of books and thought I’d get the Penguin English Library Edition of it because I have lots of these editions on my shelf and think they’re so pretty.

Emma – Jane Austen

Hi, my name is Kristilyn and I have a Jane Austen addiction. The floral version of this book, the Dover Thrift Edition, is one I’ve owned for years, even though I still haven’t read Emma. I then bought the one with the mug and blue plate at the bookstore closing sale. However, neither of these copies – oh, and did I mention this one is ALSO in my giant bind-up book, too? – were inspiring me to read the book. Then I saw the Penguin Classics Deluxe Edition and thought it was absolutely gorgeous and I just had to buy a copy. I had read one of these editions earlier this year and loved the formatting of it, not to mention the beveled pages (nerd, much?), so this will definitely be my next Austen read.

Wuthering Heights – Emily Bronte

I had first read Wuthering Heights way back in university, nearly 20 years ago and used the very academic Oxford’s World Classics edition. I decided this year to join the Bronte200 read-along and this was the first book to read and I was so excited to reread it – until I opened up my old copy and realized just how academic and old it felt. I also had notes throughout the book and they were very distracting. I was very happy when I was at the Goodwill and found the gorgeous Penguin Classics Deluxe edition for just $3! This really instilled my love of these editions – I love the illustrated covers and the beveled edges and the formatting inside (seriously, how annoying is it when you get a classic and the font is SO TINY or so CRAMPED TOGETHER and it just doesn’t feel like a real book?). This is the book that made me buy that copy of Emma.

War and Peace – Leo Tolstoy

I had been wanting to read War and Peace for quite some time, ever since Laura had her read-along last year for the massive classic. When I had a big gift card to use at the bookstore, I bought the version on the left because my preferred version (the one on the right) wasn’t available. I bought the version on the left maybe 6 months or so ago and could not stop thinking that I made a mistake. I adored the version on the right – the colours were just so pretty and when it came to translators of Russian classics, I’ve heard that Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky have done the best job. My old version wasn’t translated by them and I just knew I had to get the copy I initially wanted. So earlier this year I found the copy on the right and now that I finally have my preferred edition I should probably read it, right?

A Room With a View – E. M. Forster

This is kind of funny because the first edition I owned of this book was the one on the right, the Penguin English Library edition, but then I saw the one on the left at the thrift store and bought that copy, forgetting I owned the other one. This happens more times than I can count.

The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood

I first read The Handmaid’s Tale years ago – probably 6 or 7 – and loved it. Last year I had joined a book club and they were reading this book AND the TV show was coming out, too. I knew I wanted to reread it since it had been so long, but all I had was my little mass market paperback. A friend of mine also planned to join the book club and so before I even planned to reread the book, I lent her my only copy. Shortly after I decided I also wanted to reread it, so I bought the TV Tie-In Edition at the Costco. Just saying the words “TV Tie-In Edition” hurts my ears. However, this copy isn’t as cheesy as some of those editions can be, and it was a trade paperback size, which I prefer over mass markets (Seriously, who can read mass markets? They’re just so small! Also, and completely unrelated, as I write this I’m reading a “Pocket Edition” of Gone With The Wind, which is over 1,400 pages. NOT pocket-size, that’s for sure.). I had told my friend she could keep the copy I lent her, but she gave it back and now I have two!

Anne of Green Gables – L. M. Montgomery

The funny thing about this book is that I never actually read the physical copy of it – I first read this book by listening to the audiobook through the library. Then I think I saw the small paperback at a book sale somewhere and bought it, and then when the TV series came out last year I wanted to reread the story, but instead of looking towards the copy I already had on my shelf, I fell in love with the adorable trade paperback version on the left. I just couldn’t get that edition out of my head, so I picked it up (this was at the grocery store, where one obviously buys books) and can you believe I still haven’t reread it? I planned to but got distracted with something else. I’d love to continue on with this series, though, and hear that Virago has a whole set of the Anne books out. Tempting.

The Bell Jar – Sylvia Plath

I read this book so long ago that I really don’t remember anything about it. I never actually intended to reread it, but when I was at that same bookstore closing sale I’ve mentioned a few times already, I saw the Indigo hardback version of the book and just had to pick it up (at 75% off, how could I not? — said the book hoarder). These hardbacks are so pretty AND come with built-in bookmark ribbons, which I love. I plan to revisit this book at some point, hopefully this year, and having a new copy is always a good motivator.

The Shining – Stephen King

My first copy of The Shining was the one on the left and I remember trying to read it maybe 3 years ago. I had been enjoying it, but for some reason I couldn’t help but feel my copy was so old. I don’t even know why I thought that and it really wasn’t something that lent itself towards me putting the book down and getting distracted by something else, but when I finally started to get into King’s fiction works (starting with It, when the movie was coming to theaters), I knew I wanted a new copy of the book. This one is quite nice because it’s super floppy – another thing I love in books – and it made my second attempt at reading the book even more enjoyable.

Neverwhere – Neil Gaiman

So this is the book that started off my idea of even writing this post. I fell in love with his book Stardust way back in 1998 and when I saw the drugstore I worked at had Neverwhere for sale I picked up a copy. But I never actually got to it. I think I might have watched a really old TV edition of it on TV, but whenever I picked up the book to read, I just never had the patience to get into it. This year I am DETERMINED to read this book – as well as other Gaiman books I own and haven’t read – and so I bought a new trade paperback edition, with the author’s preferred text. I just really dislike mass market paperbacks and think that having something bigger – and new – will be more encouraging. Now that I have this copy I can’t wait to read it!

And those are all the books that I have bought duplicate copies of – or, at least, the ones I can think of offhand. I believe I used to own another copy of Jane Eyre, but I could be wrong because I think the first time I read it was via audiobook on LibraVox. But I bought a new edition of it last year to read this year. I’ve also bought a few books that I had gotten rid of in the past. I will say, when I got to thinking about what I had duplicates of, I had way more than I thought I did.

And I still want more!

Just thinking about the books that I would love to buy new copies of, here’s what comes to mind:

  • The Penguin Classics Deluxe edition of Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility
  • The Annotated versions of Wuthering Heights and Mansfield Park (and probably other classics as I read them, knowing I’d love to delve into them a bit more)
  • The Penguin Classics Deluxe edition of Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre
  • The Penguin Classics Deluxe edition of Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women
  • The Vintage Classics Russian Series edition of Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina (even though I haven’t read this one yet – they’re just so pretty!)
  • I don’t know if one exists, but I’d love a new copy of Neil Gaiman’s Good Omens because mine is the mass market version.
  • Penguin Clothbound Classics of the classics I’ve read – so far I only own A Christmas Carol and Little Women in this edition and they just look so beautiful on a bookshelf.

Tell me I’m not the only one! Do you collect other editions of books you already own? If you’ve read a book and a new edition comes out, are you likely to get a copy? What kind of editions are your favourite? 

Classics, Discussion, Features

[Bookish Discussion] When Reading A Book, When Are Spoiler Alerts Necessary?

Some quick thoughts today for a discussion! Last month I read a fun young adult book called Tash Hearts Tolstoy by Kathryn Ormsbee. It tells the story of Tash who is in love with a young Leo Tolstoy. She writes a web series based on his book Anna Karenina and suddenly the series gets super famous and the story takes off from there.

As I was reading this book, I was wanting more and more to read the Tolstoy classic but then the story was completely spoiled as a BIG part of the ending of Anna Karenina was talked about in the book. I mean, I know that Tolstoy’s books are classics and loads of people have read them and spoilers aren’t exactly unavoidable, but it made me wonder if spoilers like this are necessary in books, or if there should be some kind of spoiler alert in the book. It made me think of this one episode of The Big Bang Theory I watched a few years back, where parts of Harry Potter were spoiled – namely, the death of a certain character. I remember reading comments from people saying that it was wrong for the show to spoil Harry Potter, whereas other people said that the books and movies for Harry Potter have been out for a long time and you can’t keep spoilers away forever.

I was also reading a biography by Jane Dunn on Daphne du Maurier and her sisters. I enjoyed the book very much, but came across a few parts where Dunn talked about books that du Maurier had written and would give a brief synopsis on the book followed by “and ultimately, the story ended …” giving away the ending of whatever book she was talking about. I would skim over these parts in the biography because I have a huge pile of du Maurier books that I want to read and I don’t want to be spoiled on the endings. But in that case, should there be some kind of spoiler alert? Is it necessary?

ALSO, can we talk about book introductions? This isn’t something you’d usually find in more modern books, but I’ve found with reading classics that there tends to be introductions by other authors and that they INEVITABLY CONTAIN SPOILERS! For example, I was reading a short story collection by Daphne du Maurier, and the first sentence of the introduction talks about the ending of the second story. WHAT?? Why are these even introductions? Do publishers think that people reading these books will of course know to skip these until after reading the story? Why not put these at the end of the book so the reader can get more insight afterwards? I’m all for people talking about the book I’m about to read but for god’s sake, don’t ruin it for people before they get to enjoy the story!

Now obviously I’m not losing sleep over this, but part of me thinks that had I known there would be spoilers for Anna Karenina in Tash Hearts Tolstoy, that maybe I would’ve read the classic first. Or should it have been a given that a person reading a book about a love of Tolstoy would inevitably talk about the classic and ultimately ruin the ending?

I’d love to know your thoughts! Should we assume that if we read a book on a certain author, or a book based on another book, that we’ll ultimately be spoiled if we haven’t consumed the books that are talked about? Do you think it’s totally necessary to spoil classics in modern fiction, non-fiction, or in TV shows – or are classics fair game since they’ve been out forever?