How I read multiple books at once

Books

I was going to write a post with tips on how to handle reading multiple books at once until I remembered that I already did that. I don’t really want to change anything I wrote in that post, but I thought I’d take a minute to add a few things about my own personal habits. I’m not going to reiterate everything from that post because I figure you can read it if you’re so inclined. I do, however, want to emphasize that reading multiple books at once isn’t for everyone and if it doesn’t work for you, that’s totally fine. This is just my own personal preferences.

My reading can be place bound.

A number of years ago, I read an article about different types of multi-book readers and how for some, their reading is place-bound, meaning they only read certain books in certain places. I wish I could find that article again, because I thought it was interesting and clearly it stood out to me if I’m still thinking about it years later. For me as a reader, certain formats get read in certain places. All my physical books are stored in my bedroom, so I’m most likely to have a physical book near my bed to read before bedtime. I’d really rather prefer to read a physical book before bed – something about looking at a screen right before bed makes it difficult for me to sleep.

However, my bedroom is on the top floor of a three story home. If I want to read a physical book on the first floor of the house (which I often do when I’m working on laundry), I’d need to carry a book up and down two flights of stairs. And I’ve discovered that this doesn’t work for me. Part of that has to do with laziness on my part, but there are also practical reasons why this doesn’t work too well. Namely, it’s difficult to carry a book when my arms are full of laundry. Instead, I’ve been leaving my ereader on the first floor. The benefit to this is that my ereader takes up less space and I can have tons of books on there without having to worry about carrying books up and downstairs when I’m done with them.

My reading is also situational.

So I’ve touched on how I work physical books and ebooks into my life.

One of the things I love about audiobooks is that they make it possible for me to experience a book in situations when it wouldn’t be practical or possible for me to have eyes on text – when I’m folding and putting away the mountains of laundry I’m always doing, for example. I also much prefer listening to an audiobook to trying to read print when I’m eating.

So I hope this gives you some more ideas about how to work multiple books into your life if you’re so inclined.

Do you read multiple books at once? If so, tell me about your habits in the comments.

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How to read multiple books at once

Books

Hello. I’m Joss Arden and I’m a cheater. I cheat on my books. It’s fairly common for me to have two or more books going on at once. And it’s not that I intended to be a book polygamist; indeed I wasn’t always like this. I think it started when I was in school and had to juggle several books because they all had to be read for different classes. These days, reading multiple books is what feels natural for me. Understand, however, that book polygamy isn’t for everyone. If you’re a one book kind of person, that’s fine. If, however, you’re interested in trying to read multiple books at once and don’t know how to go about it, here are some things to keep in mind.

  • Consider the sort of reader you are and what you hope to get out of reading multiple books at once. Are you the sort of person whose reading mood shifts quickly and drastically? Are you hoping to experience books in situations you may not have been reading in the past? Or are you the sort of person who can’t focus on a book until you’re done with the last one you started? Just because other people read multiple books at once doesn’t mean it’s something you’d enjoy.
  • Try playing around with different formats. Some people report that if they’re going to have multiple books in progress at once, it helps if they’re in different formats – such as an audiobook and a physical book. In addition to being very different ways to experience books, different formats might be better for different situations. For example, some people enjoy listening to audiobooks while driving, doing chores, or during other tasks when they can’t have their eyes on a book. Some people might find it convenient to carry around an ereader because it’s possible to have many books on an ereader, which translates into less space/weight than carrying around physical books.
  • Make sure your reading is varied. I’ve seen people express concern that if they have multiple books going at once, they might get confused about the contents. I can see this possibly being a problem if you only ever read the same kinds of books. But might I suggest branching out and trying different things? To combat this issue, I make a point of ensuring that the books I‘m reading are very different. I might, for example, have a work of fiction and a work of non-fiction going at the same time. Some books might work better in some situations than others. I’m personally very place bound with my books. There are two rooms in my home where I do most of my reading: my bedroom and the living room. I’ve found that I’m horrible at moving my books around with me, mostly due to laziness. So I store my physical books in my bedroom and leave my ereader in the living room. And I find that the type of reading I do in each location is different. I prefer to read denser, more difficult reads in my bedroom where I have more control over noise levels. I tend to read more fast paced books in the living room because I find them easier to read in locations where I have less control over the noise. I have a difficult time reading in public, but I imagine fast paced books would be best in that kind of situation as well. Point being: you might want to consider the types of environments you expect to be reading in and which kinds of books are best for those environments.
  • As with many other things in life, reading multiple books at once can boil down to trial and error and getting used to it. You might not figure out what works for you on the first try and that’s fine.
  • Reading multiple books at once doesn’t necessarily mean you read more or faster. I mean, it might. If reading multiple books at once means you’re reading in situations you previously weren’t, then you’ll probably read more. But if you’re dedicating the exact same amount of time to reading that you did before and just adding more books to the equation, you might not be. In fact, you might get through books more slowly.
  • Reading multiple books at once isn’t for everyone. If it’s not something you enjoy or want to do, don’t feel like you’re missing out on something.<
  • /ul>

    Do you read multiple books at once? What advice would you give someone who wants to read multiple books at once?

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Knowing where to jump in

Televison

A while ago, Erika (of Verity! – which is wonderful Doctor Who podcast that you should totally start listening to if you’re not already doing so.) wrote a blog post about jumping into a serialized piece of media mid stream. Erika’s post was influenced by a Star Trek podcast episode – which I admit that I haven’t listened to largely because I haven’t really watched much Star Trek yet (I know, I know – I need to watch all the Star Trek). I really wanted to discuss this topic a bit and if I reiterate a point from the podcast I apologize in advance.

So Erika’s main point was that you shouldn’t feel like you have to start a television show or other piece of serialized media at the beginning if you don’t want to. Not only is it possible to get a lot out of something you jump into midstream, but jumping in midstream can have some advantages. And I agree with Erika on those points, but my nerd brain still wants to jump in with some thoughts.

Erika mentioned her great grandmother watching (listening to?) the soap opera Guiding Light. This made me laugh because my grandmother used to be the same way about All My Children and One Life to Live. My grandmother used to watch my siblings and I a lot while we were growing up and if either of those shows happened to be on, you can bet my grandma would stop everything to watch. Of course with shows like GL or AMC or OLTL it was quite common for viewers to jump in late in the game. And make no mistake: these shows ran on American televisions for decades. Hundreds of episodes of these shows were filmed. Attempting to start any of these series from the beginning would have been an extremely daunting task. But I wonder: with long running soap operas (or possibly comics or other types of media) did anyone involved in the show really expect new viewers to go back and watch early episodes? Correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t think there’s even a legal way to go back and watch old episodes of daytime soaps like GL, AMC, or OLTL even if you wanted to (I did a quick search on Amazon, and it looks like bits and pieces of them are available for sale but not the whole thing). I kind of feel like those shows are written in such a way that new viewers can pick up on enough of the back story pretty quickly.

Is a show like Babylon 5 really the same? I’m currently watching the series for the first time myself and started at the beginning. I can’t imagine experiencing the show any other way – which isn’t to say that starting the show midstream like Erika did is wrong. But I’m also not sure that it’s fair to compare the commitment associated with watching Babylon 5 from the beginning to that of watching a daytime soap opera from the beginning. The former ran for five 22 episode seasons while the latter generally ran five days a week for decades, often with no noticeable season breaks.

Erika notes that if she had begun watching Babylon 5 in its first season, she might not have stuck with it. That’s fair. It did, however, make me think of how often I’ve come to enjoy shows with shaky first seasons. Farscape. Babylon 5. Pretty much any Whedon show. I’ve pretty much come to expect the first season to be rough. With all the options we currently have to watch TV, it’s pretty rare for me to watch something as it airs. Instead, almost everything I watch has been off the air for years. If I were someone who watched things as they aired, I’d probably give up on a show like Babylon 5 if I tried watching it around the time the first season was airing. Hell, I attempted to watch the first few episodes of Agents of SHIELD when they were first airing and gave up for this very reason. These days, if someone tells me “the first season of this show is really shaky, but it starts getting good in season 2,” I’m likely to believe it.

All that said, if jumping into a show midstream is what you need to do in order to get into a show you’re interested in, then by all means – do it. Not that you need my permission to do anything.

TL;DR: Erika is awesome and while I agree with the central point of her blog post, my nerd brain decided it needed to word vomit all over my blog.

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Life is Strange

Video Games
Life Is Strange cover

I really wasn’t planning on writing this blog post about Life is Strange, but after I completed it recently, I realized I had things I wanted to say about it. It should be noted that I’ve never written a post like this about a video game, so if this seems all over the place, I hope you’ll understand. Also: the following post contains spoilers for various plot elements up to and including the final episode. If you don’t want to be spoiled, I suggest you stop reading this post.

Let’s start with some basics, shall we? Life is Strange is a story based game where you play as Max Caulfield, an 18 year old who moves back to her hometown to attend a boarding school. Once there, she reunites with her childhood best friend and gets wrapped up in a murder mystery. As Max, you explore the fictional town of Arcadia Bay and make choices that influence the outcome of the game. I played Life is Strange on my Playstation 4, but as far as I know, the game is also available on PC and Xbox One.

My favorite things about Life is Strange is the art, the soundtrack (which set the mood perfectly) and the voice acting (everyone seemed to be perfectly cast).

Despite enjoying the voice acting, one bit of weirdness I saw was that the lip syncing was way off. The characters’ mouths only vaguely moved when they were speaking; their mouths made nowhere near the shapes you’d expect them to make if they were actually saying the words they were supposedly saying. Further, if the game didn’t want Max to interact with specific characters, those characters would ignore Max in ways that were almost comical. You, as Max, could walk right up to a character, practically get in their face, and they’d just look past you with a vacant expression.

Another issue I had was that there didn’t seem to be the ability to manually save progress. I had to either wait for the game to auto save or replay portions of the game I had already played.

The thing that was really hit or miss for me, though, was the writing. Don’t get me wrong, there were things I liked about the writing. I really enjoyed exploring Max’s relationship with her childhood friend, Chloe, for example.

The dialogue, however, was fairly awful. A modern day teen wouldn’t really say something like “I’m ready for the mosh pit, shaka brah,” would they?

I mentioned in a previous post that I felt like I was living in a YA novel while playing Life is Strange – and that’s mostly because Life is Strange is full of many of the same tropes you’ll find in a YA novel. There’s the mean girl, the bad boy, the overweight girl who gets picked on a lot. It all felt very familiar.

What really bugged me was when the plot didn’t make much sense or important elements were conveniently left out. In the first episode, Max discovers she has time travel capabilities. We never learn, however, where these powers came from or why she has them. Worse, there didn’t seem to be one set of rules that applied to each circumstance and the powers seems to come and go without explanation as to why. For example, there was never any explanation as to why Max couldn’t rewind time when she was on the roof with Kate – other than that that what was convenient.

I, like others who have played Life is Strange, was frustrated with the final choice presented Max. My frustration stemmed with having so many unanswered questions. What if Max chose to save Chloe in that moment? Arcadia Bay would be destroyed, but would Chloe continue to die by various means indefinitely? Would Max continue to have to be faced with having to choose between sacrificing Chloe or sacrificing others? Does Max continue to have rewind abilities in either or both scenarios? What would happen If Max chose to sacrifice Chloe, but then chose to use her rewind abilities in some scenario unrelated to Chloe in the future? What would the consequences be?

And I was very confused by Mr. Jefferson as villain. What exactly was Mr. Jefferson’s arrangement with Nathan Prescott? What was Mr. Jefferson’s master plan? We learn in episode 5 that he was Life is Strange when he drugs and kidnaps Max. So..he drugged people and tied them up so he could take pictures of them because he liked the way they looked drugged? What was he planning on doing with these pictures? Surely he couldn’t have possibly expected to show these pictures publically and put his name on them? At best, they prove he drugged and kidnapped people. At worse, they make him look guilty of murder if the people he photographs turn up dead. Like, was he really going to take pictures of Max, kill her, and then show the pictures at some gallery somewhere? And he didn’t think the police would show up and be all “hey, so this Max Caulfield chick disappeared/died around the time these pictures were taken. What do you know about what happened?”

That said, I was unclear as to what the evidence they ultimately had on Mr. Jefferson due to all the jumps back and forth in time. I think we’re supposed to assume Max tipped off the police, but if that’s the case, it’d be really interesting to hear her explain how she got her information from. Remember that up until Mr. Jefferson kidnapped Max, the evidence we see Max and Chloe collect suggests that Nathan Prescott – not Mr. Jefferson – is the guilty party. Sadly, the only information we’re given is that Mr. Jefferson was arrested.

I’m sure I could keep going, but I think I’ll end here.

Have you ever played Life is Strange? What did you think of it?

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Three features I wish Netflix offered

Internet

I like to joke that I’m behind the times when it comes to technology. Netflix is one of the few things I was an early adopter of, having signed up way back when it was primarily a DVD by mail rental service. I’ve been with Netflix so long that I seem to have been super mega grandfathered in when they decide to raise their prices.

So basically, it should come as no surprise that I’m one of those weirdos who still uses Netflix to rent DVDs and Blu Rays. I use Netflix streaming like everyone else, but use the DVD service to supplement my viewing.

As someone who has used Netflix for DVDs for a number of years now, I keep coming back to the fact that there are features I wish were available to those of use who still rent DVDs. I fully acknowledge that most of the people who have Netflix only have streaming. I’m sure Netflix probably isn’t all that concerned with adding features to their DVD service. If anything, I expect them to scale back their DVD service more and more.

Still, I find myself dreaming of the things I wish were available to Netflix DVD customers. Particularly, I’d love to see the following features available on the Netflix DVD website:

  1. The ability to lock in your DVD queue order. Right now, Netflix assumes that customers want discs to arrive as quickly as possible. So if the first disc in your queue has a wait on it, Netflix will skip over that disc and send you the next available disc in your queue. And that’s usually fine. I’m sure many DVD customers prefer it that way. But what if you want to watch your queue in a very specific order? As examples: what if you want to watch the original before the remake? What if I want to watch every film your favorite director has ever made in the order in which they were released? What if you want to watch all the films in the Marvel Cinematic Universe in the order of release (like I recently did)? What if you’re willing to wait a bit longer to ensure that you can watch things in the order of your choice? To be fair, I’ve occasionally had Netflix skip over a disc with a wait on it only to send me said disc when it became available – thus giving me a “bonus” disc out. But to be honest – and maybe I’m weird in saying this – that practice doesn’t really help me if I’m wanting to watch something in a particular order. It means the disc they send me is going to sit around my house while I wait for the disc with the wait on it to arrive and I watch it. It means there’s a greater chance of my misplacing that disc or something happening to it while it sits around my house. It means the other Netflix customers who want that disc are going to have to wait longer for it.

    I’m not suggesting Netflix completely do away with the ship discs based on what’s available model. What I propose is giving customers a choice – would you rather skip over something in your queue with a wait on it in order to get discs faster, or would you rather wait and receive discs in the order in which they appear in your queue? It could be as easy as checking a box on the website.

  2. “I’d prefer to receive [format], but [other format] is fine if it becomes available first.” I’m paying a bit extra each month in order to receive Blu Rays from Netflix where available. I generally prefer receiving Blu Ray discs. However, like every Blu Ray player I’ve ever heard of, my Blu Ray player is backwards compatible and plays DVDs. There’s no reason I couldn’t watch a DVD if I wanted to. One of the things I’ve noticed is that for some titles, there is a “very long wait” for the Blu Ray version but no wait at all for the DVD version. The difference in wait time is not something you’d even realize unless you switch back and forth between formats in your queue. And that’s not something I always remember to do. What I would love would be for there to be an option to check a box saying something to the effect of “Blu Ray is preferred, but DVD is fine if that version of the title becomes available first.” Barring that, it’d be nice to at least get a notice when I add the title to my queue that one format has a wait, but the other doesn’t (I realize there are already alerts to tell you there’s a wait on a title, but it doesn’t let you know if the other format also has a wait).
  3. Different login information for different members of the same household who share the account. Like I’m sure many other Netflix users, I share my account with other members of my household. I remember at one point, it was possible for each Netflix profile to have its own login information, but Netflix seems to have dropped that option. It’s not like I don’t trust the people I share my account with. But I also understand that sometimes mistakes happen – especially when some people are less technologically proficient than others. Letting each profile holder have their own login can be helpful for both streaming and DVD subscribers. I mean – what if you’re a parent and want to control what your kid is able to watch? If there’s one login for all members of the household, a savvy enough kid could find a way to watch things you don’t feel is appropriate for them.

So that’s it. That’s what I’d like to see instituted on Netflix, though I doubt it will. What do you think? Do you get DVDs from Netflix? What types of things would you like to see available on Netflix?

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Fandom and me

Pop Culture

I’ve been thinking lately about fandom and my place in it. I’ve never been one to participate in fandom to a huge extent. Sure, there are many pieces of pop culture I enjoy. But I’ve never really felt like I’ve participated in fandom in a write fan fiction / create fan art / hang out in forums dedicated to a thing sort of way.

But maybe I’m confused about what fandom even is and whether I’m participating in it. For example, I don’t see myself as participating in fandom because I have this blog. What fandom would I even say I’m a part of? I often feel very isolated in this little corner of the internet. I rarely get comments, so when I post something, it’s like I talk and all there are are tumble weeds. And I mean, that’s fine. It’s largely my own fault that this blog doesn’t get more traffic and interaction.

But anyway. I’ve been thinking about what It would mean to be part of a fandom; to interact with other fans. Two things I know for sure:

  1. I’m not much of a musician or visual artist, so I’m not going to be creating fan works in either of those mediums.
  2. I don’t have the patience for editing. Like, at all. So podcasts and videos will present a problem.

I’m probably the type of person who will hang out on a forum somewhere. Or write something. But regardless of what my jam is, I feel like participating in fandom is a huge commitment. And I’m not sure how I’d work that kind of commitment into my life.

Take my love of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, for example. I loved it so much that I decided to try my hand at a podcast, even though I’d never recorded a podcast before and knew nothing about the process. Alan from Gatecast even agreed to cohost. But if you’re not familiar with my ill fated Slayercast, I can’t blame you. Slayercast only really lasted for five minutes, because it became pretty clear pretty quickly that I was way over my head.

But Slayercast was kind of unusual in one regard: I’m not much of an ideas person. So while It’s pretty typical for me to not finish something I started, it was pretty atypical that I even had the idea for the podcast in the first place.

And then something happened to made me consider fandom for another angle.

I recently finished watching the original Sailor Moon anime, a fact I’ve talked about both here and elsewhere. I loved Sailor Moon in all its cheesy goodness. And I got to thinking: since Sailor Moon fights for love and justice, wouldn’t it be fun to incorporate Sailor Moon and sonnets? I could write (admittedly bad) sonnets for each episode of the anime or each volume of the manga. Or something. One obvious concern I had about this plan was that there’s a relatively high chance I’d burn out on this plan before I finish – there is, after all, 200 episodes of the original anime, and that doesn’t even include the manga or Crystal.

But here’s another concern I have: would it even be appropriate for me, as a white Westerner, to even participate in Sailor Moon fandom when Sailor Moon – and indeed anime and manga in general – was created by Japanese artists? When it comes to enjoying a piece of media that was made by a culture other than your own, what activities are and aren’t acceptable? At what point does my involvement in Sailor Moon fandom become racially questionable at best and outright racist at worst? I totally understand that it would be wrong of me to dress in Sailor Moon cosplay and I have no intention of doing so. But what other things should I know before attempting to participate in a fandom created by a culture not my own? What are the dos and don’ts?

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Strong Female Characters

Pop Culture

Ah, the strong female character. The phrase is thrown around quite a bit. But I’m going to let you in on a little secret: I absolutely hate this term. This might come as a surprise. After all, I’m a woman who supports gender equality and loves television shows like Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Veronica Mars. You’d think I’d be out there advocating for more strong female characters, right? Well…no. Let me try to frame this in terms of two questions that often come to mind when I hear “strong female characters.” There are other questions and issues that we could talk about, but today I want to focus on two.

  1. What the hell is a “strong female character” anyway?
    The term “strong female character gets thrown around, but I don’t know if there’s really a consensus as to what it actually means. And it bugs me when terms get used as if everyone agrees on its meaning, even though they obviously don’t. Several years ago, s.e. smith wrote an article for Tiger Beatdown asking this very question. When we talk about a strong female character, are we talking about a woman who’s physically strong and could kick your ass if she wanted to? Or are we talking about a well-developed complex female character? As s.e. smith points out, characters that are often held up as strong female characters like Buffy Summers (BtVS), Veronica Mars (Veronica Mars) and Kara “Starbuck” Thrace (Battlestar Galactica reboot) arguably fit both definitions. That said, however, I suspect what most people mean is a woman who’s physically strong. But I’m not positive that most people actually mean that and I would love to be proven wrong. Does a woman need to display stereotypically masculine traits in order to be considered strong? Is it possible for a female character to display only stereotypically female traits and still be considered strong?
  2. Who gets to be a strong female character?
    s.e. smith pointed out the term “strong female character” doesn’t get applied to women of color. And I think ou is right, to an extent: most of the characters that are hailed as strong female characters are played by white women. There are the aforementioned Buffy, Veronica and Starbuck, all played by white actresses. And it makes me wonder: would these characters continue to be hailed as “strong female characters” if the only thing you changed about them is the race of the actress playing the part? But while it’s rare for a woman of color to be called “strong” in pop culture, I have seen a few that have been called strong. Zoe from Firefly comes to mind as one example. Let’s get real, though: characters played by women of color rarely get labeled strong.

As far as I know, nobody has ever called a trans woman, disabled woman, or other minority woman “strong.” Perhaps the issue is that there aren’t a lot of roles out there for these groups of women (which is a problem in and of itself). But how we think about women of color, trans women, and disabled women also plays a huge part. The preconceived stereotypes we hold about certain groups of women (and people in general) play a large part in how roles are written and how the audience views a particular character.

What I’d like to see are female character that are well written, engaging, have good story arcs, and feel like actual human beings with both strengths and weaknesses. I don’t want my characters to display only stereotypically female or only stereotypically male traits. I absolutely think that stereotypically female traits should be held up as being equally valuable as stereotypically male traits. However, I will tell you that while I consider myself a woman, I don’t think I hold only stereotypically female traits. I suspect there are others out there who feel the same way. What I would like to see in my idea world would be for characters of all genders to have a mix of stereotypically male and female traits and have those seen as perfectly normal and acceptable.

So let’s talk, folks. Tell me in the comments what you think about the things I’ve said. How do you feel about the term “strong female character”? Who are some of your favorite female characters?

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This post contains spoilers.

Pop Culture

Ok, so that title is a lie. I’m not here to spoil any major plot points for you today. However, I do want to talk about spoilers today.

I’ve been thinking about spoilers because I recently finished the audiobook of Allegiant by Veronica Roth. For those of you who have been living under a rock, Allegiant is the third and final book in Roth’s Divergent series. When Allegiant first came out, there was talk around the bookish internet, particularly among those who read and review YA, about the huge spoiler that takes place at the end of the book. Personally, I’m someone who tends to prefer to avoid spoilers of books (and movies and TV shows) I think I’m going to consume at some point (In case you were wondering, I might look up spoilers if it’s not something I think I’ll ever want to invest time in). In the case of Allegiant, however, the ending was spoiled by mistake and without my permission. I was leaving a movie theater after a viewing of Catching Fire, and a young woman was yelling into her phone about Allegiant and the spoiler that occurs. I really wasn’t trying to eavesdrop, but the conversation was hard to tune out. So I left the movie theater annoyed that this random stranger had spoiled a book for me. Annoyed because she was loudly yelling into her cell phone (a pet peeve of mine) outside a movie theater that was clearly playing a movie that attracted audiences similar to the book you were spoiling (shouldn’t be too hard to figure out that maybe some of those folks were planning on reading Allegiant and didn’t want to be spoiled…because duh). But you know what? I got over it. She doesn’t/didn’t know me, didn’t know I didn’t want to be spoiled, and didn’t owe me anything.

I take the following attitude towards spoilers:

If I don’t want to be spoiled for something, it’s on me to avoid them.
This might mean staying away areas of the internet where I might accidently come across a spoiler or politely ask those I’m talking to that I don’t want to be spoiled. I think it’s polite of people to ask questions like “have you read this?” and “Do you want to be spoiled?” But, I don’t think anyone is under any obligation to do so.

If a spoiler “ruins” the book/movie/TV show for you, the problem is the book/movie/TV show, not the fact you know the spoiler.
Let’s say you get accidently spoiled for something. I think that if that thing hinges on the spoiler you accidently learned, it probably wasn’t that well written anyway.

There’s a difference between a spoiler and a content/trigger warning.
Some people are survivors of horrible things, such as sexual assault, childhood abuse, etc. For folks like this, certain things (like scene of sexual assault) may be triggering or otherwise harmful. And you don’t always know whether this is true of someone – even someone you consider a close friend may not have disclosed this information to you. If the media you’re talking about contains something you think might trigger someone in certain instances, I think it’s not only ok but incredibly important to say something along the lines of “I wanted to let you know that there’s a rape scene in this book. I wanted to make sure you were aware going in, just in case that’s something that might bother you.” By phrasing it in this way, you’re not “spoiling” which character(s) are involved or under what circumstances while also alerting the person you’re talking to that there’s something potentially harmful in the plot.

I’d like to end this post with a few questions for you: how do you feel about spoilers? Do you intentionally look them up? Avoid them? Do you think people who have a conversation in public have any obligation to the people who might accidently overhear their conversation?

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Confessions of a comic book newbie: three things I’m embarrassed to admit that I didn’t know.

Books, Comics

I’ve been reading comics off and on for several years now, but I still consider myself a bit of a newbie. Mostly because I haven’t been reading them consistently. I thought it’d be fun to periodically talk about comics here….because why not? Since I’m still getting the hang of how comics work, today I want o talk about three things I’m embarrassed to admit that I didn’t know about comics until relatively recently.

  • Pull lists are a thing.
    I had no idea what a pull list was the first time I set foot in a comic book shop. I thought that you had to show up every Wednesday and hope that the issue(s) you wanted hadn’t been sold out. If you couldn’t make it into the shop on Wednesday, you were screwed, I thought. Imagine my surprise to learn that you could request titles in advance! And your shop would hold them for you! And doing this could help keep a struggling series afloat!
  • Trades are also a thing.
    There was this one time a few years ago when I decided I really wanted to read the New 52 run of Wonder Woman. By that point, there was already a ton of issues out and I thought I’d have to buy each issue individually. Because I didn’t realize that trades were a thing that exists. So I went to the comic book shop prepared to take my chances and spend quite a bit of money. The shop ended up having many, but not all, the issues that were out. When I took the issues I could find to the counter, the very helpful employee I encountered said, “you know, there’s a trade of this over there.” And pointed to a shelf on the wall opposite from where I’d been looking. Whoops. My mind was blown.
  • Don’t have access to a comic book shop? Not enough space? Digital comics can help with that.
    You guys. It wasn’t until very recently that I even discovered that things like Comixology and Marvel Unlimited even existed. And while these services have their limitations (I think buying comics a la carte from Comixology can get expensive – I feel that there should be some discount on buying a comic digitally; Marvel Unlimited’s selection is obviously limited to Marvel comics), they make it possible to read comics if you don’t have access to a comic book shop or a place to store physical comics.

What are some of the things about comics that took you time to figure out?

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Confessions of a comic book newbie: I have no idea whether I like the art in comics

Books, Comics

One of the things I’m always ashamed to admit is that I have no idea how to talk about art – whether it be the art in comics or elsewhere. I just don’t have a lot of experience talking about art in general and I mostly lack the appropriate tools to discuss them.

And I’m finding that because I don’t know how to talk about art, I’ve gotten really overwhelmed by it. One of my coping mechanisms for things that overwhelm me is to not think about it. And when I don’t think about something, I’m not going to actively find a way of rectifying the situation. See where this is going?

So instead of looking at comic book art, I’m mostly ignoring it – choosing instead to focus on the story.

Let’s take Ms. Marvel for example. I absolutely love that Kamala Khan is a Pakistani-American Muslim teen. This might be the YA lover in me, but I totally appreciate her struggles to fit in. I’ll probably be cheering for her in that regard to my last breath. Despite my love of the story, I have no fucking idea whether I like the art in Ms. Marvel or not. Well, I mostly have no idea. I’ve seen some people comment that they don’t care for the art in Ms. Marvel. So I went beck and read the first two Ms. Marvel trades (having only previously read it in single issues). And you know what? I found myself thinking, “yeah, I guess I can see what these folks are saying….” But you know what? I had to stop myself. I went into that reading of Ms. Marvel with those comments in mind, which is never a good idea if I’m wanting to form my own opinion about something. In a situation like this, I can’t be sure if I would have come to this conclusion on my own or not.

The truth is that when it comes to comics, I read the test on the page and largely ignore the art. I mean, I look at the art to the extent that it helps tell the story, but I put zero thought into what I do and don’t like about the art. Does that make sense? And I know – I know – I’m doing it wrong but I have no idea how to change this habit.

Help me internet: how can I fix this issue?

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