They're Mini! REVIEWS!

So ... I think I've been having the opposite of a reading slump lately. A reading lift? A reading sit-up-straight? 


Whatever it is, I'm liking it. I read a book in a day! And then kept doing that! (I know some of you guys do this most of the time. I see you with your 300 book Goodreads goals. But hush. Some of us are mere mortals and get excited about that sort of thing)

So, since these two books were wholly awesome and I'm - ever so sadly - not going to get the time to review them in full, I present you with ... MINI REVIEWS!

*confetti cannon and manic cheers*

Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertelli
Sixteen-year-old and not-so-openly gay Simon Spier prefers to save his drama for the school musical. But when an email falls into the wrong hands, his secret is at risk of being thrust into the spotlight.
Judging by the Goodreads comments, it's kind of obligatory to read this book in about ten seconds flat. Because it's ... well, it has this amazing balance between being fluffy and entertaining and easy to read, and being serious enough to feel like it matters. Very few books have that. It's so refreshing to see an LGBT+ book that isn't just about coming out - it's also about changing friendships, about the way a new relationship blossoms, and families being about the weirdest, most brilliant relationships you can get sometimes.

There's also an awful lot of behind-the-scenes drama-kid hijinks, which ... well, you guys know how much I love theatre. Not to mention that I pretty much fell in love with Blue from his emails despite the fact that I'm pretty much the polar opposite of a gay dude.

GAH! READ THE DARN BOOK ALREADY, WOULD YOU?

The Girl in the Blue Coat by Monica Hesse
The missing girl is Jewish. I need you to find her before the Nazis do.
If Holocaust lit is done in a halfway decent fashion, then I'm going to like it, but this was just particularly special to me. Maybe it was something about Hanneke, the girl who tried not to get involved with anything for fear of her own safety,  deciding to risk her life to find someone she'd never even heard of, let alone met? How it showed the Dutch people, in such desperate times, still finding ways to be brave and make a difference? Or the way it made so clear what you see on the outside of a person is rarely what's on the inside - whether what you don't see is worse or better?

Actually, I do know. It was the attention to detail, the planning, the fact that the story fit so seamlessly with the true history of the Dutch occupation. I've seen many beautiful books set in the Holocaust that sacrifice historical accuracy - or at least make the setting and its characters as vague as possible - in order to create that beauty, which is understandable. But because this book was so real, I could relate to it. I've been to Amsterdam and seen the Hollandsche Schouwburg, and every time I read about it on the pages of this book it felt like I was back there. When Hesse described the masses crammed into that room, knocked half dead with the stench of excrement and sweat and fear, I knew they'd existed beyond my imagination. It was such a powerful experience, and ... well, I'd like to thank the author for giving me that with her writing, with characters that were so alive it was like I was talking to them directly.

In the comments: Have you guys read either of these books? What did you think? Do you have anything to recommend me that's similar?
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The Secret Life of A Book Blogger | Tag

I was just looking back in my blog archives, and I haven't done a tag since August. AUGUST.

AUGUST.
That's an awful long time for someone with a mild blog addiction and a serious affinity for tagging, so ... well, I'm rectifying the situation. I stole* this Secret Life of a Book Blogger Tag from Lizzy @ MyLittleBookBlog, but after what seems like hours of googling, I can't for the life of me work out who created it originally. If it was you, give me a shout!

*(Yes. I have been stealing to fuel my addiction. This may be a problem.)

How long have you been a blogger?

Photo by Mohammed Fkriy
Since ... *squints* ... *brief pause as I urgently scroll through my post archive* ... April last year. I'm only an eighteen month old blogger baby, and I'm already having toddler tantrums. BRACE YOURSELVES FOR THE TERRIBLE TWOS, PEOPLE.

Anyway - it's not that long in the grand scheme of blogging, I suppose, but I already feel like I've been doing this forever. It's kind of second nature by now, to the point where I get really twitchy - as in "you make a twitchy little ferret" levels of twitchy - if I haven't blogged for a while. And I really do think that I talk to bloggy folks online more than my real life friends some days.


So yeah. Eighteen months.

At what point do you think you’ll stop blogging?

Photo by Bethany Legg
In an ideal world? Never. NEVER NEVER NEVER. Did you miss the part where I got twitchy without it? Blogging has opened me up to so many new opportunities and possibilities - I honestly feel like if I lost it, it would be like losing a part of myself.

However, lately I've been not having as much time to blog - school happens to be getting crazy just about now; apparently just because the teachers constantly encourage you to take as many extra-curricular activities that come your way doesn't mean they're willing to let up on homework - and at times like that trying to keep up a regular posting schedule ends up as unnecessary pressure. I can imagine that, if I ever stopped, it would literally just be because I had no time and trying to blog was stressing me out more than anything.


What is the best thing about blogging?

Photo by Helloquence
Oh, the people, without any question whatsoever. I LOVE YOU GUYS SO MUCH, OKAY? I can log on to Twitter at pretty much any time of day I want and have a conversation about Harry Potter, or diverse representation in YA, or scary crime shows with someone halfway around the world. It's amazing how, when you start a book blog, your reading isn't just about you and a book anymore. It's about this brilliant community who will accept you and look after you and cry with you about people you only know in your imaginations. And ... that was something I could never fully imagine before I started blogging, but now it's something I can't fully imagine being without.
It's a sparkly spiderweb network of unicorns and things that smell like books, and I love it more than anything.

What is the worst thing? What do you do to make it OK?

Photo by Rayi Christian Wicaksono
Like I said above, probably the whole thing about being stressed and never having the time I really want to dedicate to this lovely little corner of the internet. This site's kind of like my baby; I want to look after it the best I possibly can, and when I don't have the time or skills to do that, it's frustrating. 

To make sure I do as much as possible with the time I've got, I do try to schedule posts and spend my extra time doing other maintenance. That said, most of what I do to make the  whole thing ok is just letting go of perfection, I guess.

How long does it take you to make/find pictures to use?

Photo by Mario Calvo
Oh, it used to take absolutely forever. I'd trawl around the internet for probably more time than I spent writing the post to find some images to use, locate the perfect ones ... then remember that they aren't royalty free, and have to spend twice that amount of time again trying to take my own photos and edit them enough that they look like I know how to hold a camera.

Then I discovered Unsplash. Unsplash is a blogger's best friend.

All the pictures on there are donated by professional photographers, and licensed under Creative Commons Zero, which pretty much means you can do whatever you fancy with them with or without crediting the artist (although most photographers would prefer you credit them if possible). They might not have as much variety as some other CC0 sites, like Pixabay, but the quality is ridiculously brilliant. I use their photos whenever I possibly can just because they're so beautiful.



Who is your book crush?

Photo by Mayur Gala
Um ... I ... don't tend to get crushes on book characters? Very much? Am I going to be ostracised from the book community for that?

*backs off slowly, hoping no-one cares*

What author would you like to have on your blog?

Photo by Álvaro Serrano
All of them? Authors are magically brilliant people and I would pretty much want any of them to visit my blog. I mean, obviously, J.K. Rowling would be ideal, but she's probably busy being the Queen of all Literature, so Alison Cherry would be an amazing guest. She was the person that gave me the confidence to talk to authors on Twitter when I first started blogging, has a brilliant sense of humour and shares hilarious stories about living in NYC.
She's probably too busy being awesome as well, but a girl can dream, right?

What do you wear when you write your blog post?

Photo by Jeff Sheldon
Pyjamas. School uniform. My funny t-shirt that says "well behaved women rarely make history". Leggings. Sweatpants. A party frock.
Basically, whatever I happen to be wearing whenever I have both the time and inspiration to blog.

How long does it take you to prepare?

Photo by Veri Ivanova
Um ... preparation? Are we supposed to do that? *looks sideways in panic*
I don't think I'd ever get many posts written if I tried to plan them too hard - it takes up way too much time and energy for me. Of course, I do have endless admiration for people who draw up proper schedules and brainstorm posts and stuff like that, but personally? I just come up with a post idea (which can take hours if my brain's being particularly uncooperative), start typing, and hope for the best.

As you can probably see from the sheer messiness that is my stream of consciousness in some posts, the best doesn't always happen.

How do you feel about the book blogger community?

Photo by William White
I'm reasonably sure I covered this with my assertion that "it's a sparkly spiderweb of unicorns" earlier, but the book blogger community can be incredible. It can be beautiful. It can be my favourite thing about blogging.
But - and I mean ever so occasionally - it can have a dark side. I've never experienced this myself, but I've heard stories of bullying, of plagiarists being defended, and of other generally upsetting things, and it makes me so sad. The book blog community is, for the most part, absolutely awesome, and it has the power to support so many people. It's horrible to think that those incidents - which might not be small, but in my experience are few and far between - can put people off participating in the community, and stop them getting that support.

What do you think one should do to get a successful blog?

Photo by Josh Felise
Enjoy yourself. I wrote this whole post a year or so ago about how I don't think a successful blog has to be a popular one, but basically I believe you're being a successful blogger as long as you're having fun with it. 

So ... why don't you just go have fun?

Ely @ Tea and Titles (because I always want to hear what you want to say, Ely)

Trisha @ That Slytherin Writer (because I'm a nosy person who wants to know all the Slytherin secrets)

Mia @ Mia in Narnia (because the secrets of Narnia just have to be interesting, right?)

I'm going to let you guys know on Twitter, and I'd love to see your version of this tag, but no pressure! I promise not be cross if you decide to ignore me ;-) And if you fancy doing this and I haven't named you, consider yourself tagged! It's not like I got it through completely legitimate means ...

***
In the comments: Do you agree with my answers to these questions? Or are you going to ostracise me for not having book crushes? Don't forget to link me to any versions of this tag you make!
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9 Literary Halloween Costumes That'll Get You A Bunch of Treats

The nights are drawing in. The leaves are turning. People are starting to spookify their Twitter handles.
Halloween's a-coming, folks.

And what's that? You HAVEN'T got the perfect literary costume to show off your bookishness and originality all at the same time? Don't worry, I've got you covered.

What follows should hopefully be a list of costume ideas that you can put together in pretty much any way you want - if you're one of those uber-creative, artsy people who love nothing more than making brilliance out of cardboard, chicken wire and glue, then there's plenty of opportunity for you to go to town. And if, like me, you stick your fingers together every time you go anywhere near a craft table, there should be a lot of scope for you to make a killer costume without needing to spend hours crying over a sewing machine.

(By the way, I've linked to example costumes rather than including photos, just because I'm not sure about copyright. Any time you need to see some picture references to make a costume, don't forget to check those links!

#1 - Matilda Wormwood (Roald Dahl's Matilda)

To make the classic, 90s film version of Matilda, all you really need is a red ribbon, a cute print dress, and some hairspray. And ... who wouldn't want to dress up as one of the bookwormist bookworms ever to be in a book? It gives you the perfect opportunity to spout lines like "oh yes, I like to read" and "make sure everything you do is so crazy it's unbelievable".

And, if you want to take the character in a different direction entirely (and are willing to do a whole lot of backcombing), have a look at the stage show costume. It channels the more out-there, stuck-in-your-imagination side of being a bookworm amazingly, without making a mockery of it - and it's definitely enough on the crazy side to fit with Halloween and its spookiness.

#2 - Luna Lovegood - (J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter Series)

Yes, you could go as Hermione. She's a beautiful character and brilliantly bookish ... but everyone goes as Hermione.

The great thing about dressing up as Luna is that her long, blonde hair is really all a lot of people need to identify her. So as long as you've got that (either naturally or with an awesome wig - checking cosplay forums is a great way to find good-quality brands that you can afford), you can go in a billion different directions with the clothes. For something ridiculously easy, you could just wear knitted clothes and say you're on a Hogsmeade weekend; if you want the more traditional look, there's about a billion different people offering Ravenclaw robes online, most of them for under twenty pounds. And for those of you who really do want to stretch your creative muscles, how about making a full lion's head and radish earrings?

Yeah ... maybe that is too much work for three weeks. But it'd be a pretty darn cool costume, right?

#3 - Violet Beauregarde (Roald Dahl's Charlie and the Chocolate Factory)

One has two choices when making a Violet Beauregarde costume. You either go full blueberry, or no blueberry. If you've got a way to make yourself a massive round thing, then it would make a pretty impressive thing to wear - but if not, then you can just go with a blue tracksuit, gum, and maybe some blue face paint across the nose. It's hopefully inventive without being difficult (that was my intention, anyway).

By the way, if anyone reading this knows me IRL and is going trick-or-treating with me ... THIS COSTUME'S MINE. HANDS OFF.

#4 - Sherlock Holmes (Arthur Conan Doyle's Adventures of Sherlock Holmes)

You thought this would be all girl characters, didn't you? Well don't panic, fellas - if, for whatever reason, you don't fancy embodying Matilda, Luna, or Violet - I've still got your back! (And FemSherlocks are awesome too. I feel I absolutely must add that you do not need to have ANYTHING in common with the character you're costuming. BE WHOEVER YOU DARN WELL WANT TO BE.)

Anyway, what I love about Sherlock as a costume is that there are almost as many film and TV versions of the character as there are decades since he was written. You could do anything from traditional Basil Rathbone to modern-day Benedict Cumberbatch, and there's certainly no question about whether your character will be recognised.

Here's a gallery of Holmes adaptations through the ages, if you need some inspiration. And here are some costumes.

#5 - Eleanor and Park (Rainbow Rowell's Eleanor & Park)

Rainbow Rowell is heralded by an awful lot of people as the queen of contemporary YA romance. That she may be, but she's definitely the queen of contemporary YA couples costumes. If you fancy an 80's vibe, you could go as Eleanor and Park - or, although I can't find many image references, Levi and Cath from Fangirl would make such a cute costume too. And if you're a Star Wars fan, how about painting Yodas on your cheeks and going as Elena from Attachments?

There are SO MANY Rainbow Rowell options, you guys. Let your imaginations run wild.

#6 - The Cat and His Things (Dr. Seuss's The Cat in the Hat)

You certainly needn't be worried about a lack of inspiration or reference for these costumes. Pinterest is absolutely teeming with various takes on the costume - there are an awful lot of super-cute family ideas, with cat-parents and thing-kids, out there, but I've also seen some more ... sophisticated ones, with net skirts and whiskers drawn on with eyeliner.

It's also a really, really easy costume if you're running out of time, because LOOK AT HOW EASILY YOU CAN BUY IT! There's no shame in shop-bought, y'know.

#7 - Elmer (David McKee's Elmer the Patchwork Elephant)

This one's a cuteness overload, guys. I'm just going to warn you.

Every little kid should wear an Elmer costume at some point in their lives. (I mean, I didn't, but since when have I led by example?) Even if it's just a patchwork apron and a rolled-up tube of patchwork paper for a trunk, it makes for the cutest thing you've ever ever seen. One boy in my nursery school had a full cardboard Elmer head for world book day once, and he was the talk of the playground for weeks.

If you're an adult who wants to join in all the picture-book fun, how about being a grown-up gruffalo? You could even dress up any small people in the vicinity as mice.

#8 - Alice (Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland)

Thanks in part to the amazing Tim Burton adaptation of Alice, you can go super-creepy or super-cute with this costume. Are you going to be the Alice who cried so much she literally made a river, or the Alice who slayed the Jabberwoccy?

I know what I would choose, but I'm not going to suggest that traditional Alice is weak, because ... a) she's not, and b) I think I'd be in the crosshairs of classic lit fans everywhere.

(Also, I've no real clue what the caption means by "classy girls", but LOOK AT THAT CHESHIRE CAT MAKE-UP!  If you or someone you know is capable of doing something as gorgeous as that, you've got to make use of the skill somehow.)

#9 - Effie Trinket (Suzanne Collins' The Hunger Games)

Effie is simply fabulous, darling. Why wouldn't you want to dress up as her? 

Ok, FINE. Maybe making a costume like this would be a little difficult. BUT IT'S TOO AWESOME FOR ME NOT TO GET EXCITED REGARDLESS.

*takes deep breath*

***
In the comments: Do you guys celebrate Halloween? If not, where are you going to wear your glorious costume? If so ... how many sweets do you reckon you can score?

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Metaltown by Kristen Simmons

First off, I received a copy of this book from its publicist for free in return for an honest review - thanks for thinking of me, Saichek Publicity! It doesn't change any of my opinions, though.
The rules of Metaltown are simple: Work hard, keep your head down, and watch your back. You look out for number one, and no one knows that better than Ty. She’s been surviving on the factory line as long as she can remember. But now Ty has Colin. She’s no longer alone; it’s the two of them against the world. That’s something even a town this brutal can’t take away from her. Until it does.

Lena’s future depends on her family’s factory, a beast that demands a ruthless master, and Lena is prepared to be as ruthless as it takes if it means finally proving herself to her father. But when a chance encounter with Colin, a dreamer despite his circumstances, exposes Lena to the consequences of her actions, she’ll risk everything to do what’s right.

In Lena, Ty sees an heiress with a chip on her shoulder. Colin sees something more. In a world of disease and war, tragedy and betrayal, allies and enemies, all three of them must learn that challenging what they thought was true can change all the rules.

Via Goodreads 


This book ... well, it definitely wasn't what I expected.

When I read the blurb, I guess I was expecting your typical dystopia. I figured it was bound to have a futuristic world, a romantic love triangle, and some kind of revolution.

I was only right on one out of three.

The world has more in common with the Industrial Revolution - it has all the grittiness of eighteenth century London; the smog, the dangerous working conditions, even the feeling of cold seeping into ever bone - but with modern ideas sprinkled in every so often to create a refreshing fusion of ideas. You'll probably have seen from some of my other reviews how much I love Fantasy worlds that take inspiration from many different parts of history - to me, it just makes the whole setting so much richer.

And then we have the characters. Whom ... I liked. Ty especially - she's this spiky little ball of determination and toughness who spends most of her time trying to guard her heart. And of course she fails in the feels-iest of ways. The one problem I had was that, while there's nowhere very near a love triangle in this book, the girls don't like each other very much. And, having identified so strongly with Ty, I couldn't help but share her hatred of Lena at least a little bit.

This, while not really being anyone's fault - curse me and my over-attachment to characters' emotional states - did make Lena's point of view chapters a little difficult to read through at times, even though I punched the air a little every time she mentioned classical singing. There wasn't nearly enough musicality there though. I NEEDED MORE, GOSH DAMMIT! GIVE ME MY MUSIC FIX!

(I am, however, incredibly glad that the three POVs were different enough that their voices didn't blur together, and that they all reacted differently to the same situations. Authors, kindly remember that this is the kind of thing that makes me happy.)

What else do I need to cover? Plot? 

For the first few chapters, everything was slightly slow and maybe a tad confusing - it certainly took me a while to get my head around the geography of Metaltown, the Beltway and the River District - but it really picks up, I promise you. It's a longish book at 380 pages, but definitely doesn't drag (HUZZAH) - you get some violence, but not exactly graphic, and ... well. Stuff changes in Metaltown. Stuff changes for the characters. Stuff JUST CHANGES.
(Also, I can't find any mention of this on the Goodreads page or anywhere else, but I'm pretty sure Colin has two gay mums? It's a really tiny part of the book, only ever really implied, but it made me smile.)

In conclusion - I has an up and down kind of relationship with one if the POV characters here, but the setting is a brutally, refreshingly Dickensian thing that adds in modern technology in a fascinating way. Also VERY revolutionary plot: if you're the kind of person who likes dystopia, even only some of the time (like me), this'll probably be up your street.

***
In the comments: Have you guys read Metaltown? What did you think? If not, does it sound like your sort of thing?
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9 Book Blogs I Love - And You'll Love 'Em Too!

So ... as a book blogger, I spend a lot of time skulking round my little corner of the internet, visiting all my neighbours and generally just soaking up all of that bloggy brilliance.
Well. I try to spend a lot of time skulking round. I'm a very busy bean sometimes, what with school and reading the books I want to rave about and people actually expecting me to talk to them once in a while (honestly ... how dare they?), and that means that I don't get to check my favourite blogs as often as I'd like. Commenting ... also tends to not happen very often. And this is sad because I really, truly, love them and the people behind them, so I figured I'd do my bit as a good fangirl by spreading the word here. 

Have a visit of the ones that interest you, wouldn't you? It'd make me so happy to know I'd sent a new reader to even one of these beautiful sites.

  • Disability in Kidlit - These guys write the disability-YA crossover posts that I wish I could write. They're basically a site dedicated to reviewing books that feature prominent disabled characters - which is amazing, because it's always so difficult to find books and characters I can relate to as a disabled person - and they also write some pretty awesome posts about disability trends within YA in general. What makes them even more brilliant is the fact that books are only ever reviewed by someone who has the disability (this includes mental health issues and things such as ADHD too, by the way), so you know their opinion of the representation will be pretty much accurate. HuzZAH!
          And, by the way, if you're reading this and thinking that as an able-bodied person, this website             won't be interesting to you, just ... I promise it is. It's written to be accessible to everyone and I           truly think you'll enjoy it.

  • Pages Unbound - Briana and Krysta are the gurus of classic literature blogging, in my mind at least in my mind. Expect a blog stuffed full with reviews of all kinds, but especially of classic lit, and lots of other features that really make them stand out. My personal favourites are their Academic Success series, which is aimed at new college students trying to work out what studying looks like at a higher level; and the Classic Remarks meme that they have created, writing a classic-related discussion, and then opening the question up for other people to write their own posts. I've never participated, because my classics knowledge is sadly lacking, but I love reading everyone's opinion every month.
  • Paper Fury - Now, I know everyone knows about Cait and her world-domination plans already, but there's no earthly way I could write a post about my favourite blogs and not include her. Since she re-branded from Notebook Sisters to Paper Fury, I don't think I've missed a single post of hers. They're just too sarcastically brilliant. AND SHE ALSO POSTS SNIPPETS OF HER WRITING THAT ARE EQUALLY SARCASTIC.
  • (Also, have you seen that blog design? And the post graphics? *swoons*)
  • The Librarian Who Doesn't Say Shh! - This is another blog with a beautiful design, but what I love most about it is the fact that Tara is a librarian ... which you probably got from her blog name. But it means that she knows a LOT about the traditional side of YA - genres, how to write a proper critical review, and other things I really like to read not just as a YA lover, but also knowing that being anywhere near that much wisdom must help my blogging skills somehow.
  • The Devil Orders Takeout - I really do not get round to reading Alyssa's blog enough, but this is a crying shame becuase it is AMAZING. Think snippets of Mulan-inspired writing and pieces on diversity as well as a lot of other awesome bookish stuff - there's far too much brilliance to describe here, quite honestly, so you might as well just go have a look for yourself.
  • Tea and Titles - I can't imagine anyone's particularly surprised at me loving this blog. Ely and I chat on Twitter quite a bit - it's probably clogging up your timeline by now - and I love how her personality comes across in her posts. I'm also a big fan of Michelle's TV recommendation posts (I'm always in need of a new show to watch), and their joint Top Ten Tuesdays never fail to be awesome.
  • Queen of Contemporary - Lucy's just back from a super-long blogging break, and I'm so glad I can read her posts again! Her BookTube is utterly beautiful, of course, but as someone who prefers to read text posts, I enjoy her content even more when it's written. My personal favourites include her feminism-related posts, her general fangirling over Victorian literature ... and of course the guinea pigs.
  • The Tree of Books - Frankly, this is one of those blogs that I'd follow even if it suddenly started talking exclusively about cheese, just because I'm a pretty similar person to Julia, its blogger. Anyone who will talk about Disney with me (despite my shocking lack of knowledge on the early films) and share my opinion on the Rainbow Magic series deserves a follow in my book.
  • The Magic Violinist - Really, Lara? You enjoy the blog of a person you interviewed and majorly support in her quest to get her book published? I never would have guessed. Seriously, though, I love Kate's posts because they're basically the fangirl life in 1000 words or less. If you ever need a Potter, Dr Who or Supernatural fix, you know where to go.
So, that was the nine blogs. YOU KNOW WHAT TO DO, HUMANS! Go check then out! Go follow! Go spread their awesomeness around the bloggersphere!

***
In the comments: Do you have a favourite blog or ten you think deserves some recognition? SHARE SHARE SHARE! I'll be visiting as many as possible to show support and solidarity and stuff.
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Should Classics be Forgiven for Prejudicial Attitudes?

It's hard to deny that times - and literary expectations - were very different in the eras of Austen, the Bröntes and even Dahl. Different things were considered acceptable, and there's no getting away from that when you read classics. Attitudes we'd call sexist, racist and ableist (plus a bunch of other -ists, I'm sure) are woven throughout lots of the narrative, just because no-one batted an eyelid at them at the time.

But does that mean those attitudes should be forgiven or ignored by modern-day readers?

On the one hand, well. Some of the 'dodgy' things that happen in those classics really are dodgy. In The Secret Garden alone, all these things happen (and it's still one of my favourite classics, but it's kind of tricky to  If you're trying to avoid spoilers, maybe don't read the last part of this list, but I tend to assume that once a book's been out for several hundred years it's fair to analyse the whole plot:
  • The main character refers to native Indians as 'servants' who are 'not people'. 
  • Not only that, but her flawed personality is blamed on growing up in a country full of black people, not 'respectable' whites. 
  • No, I'm absolutely serious. I quoted all those words.
  • She also hates black as a colour and is dressed in white to signify her change from being disagreeable to agreeable. Subconscious racism? Maybe?
  • There's this bedridden boy named Colin - good representation, right? - well, no. He is taken out into the garden, and after a few short weeks he jumps out of his wheelchair. And walks. For some reason, everyone's reaction is 'oh, isn't it wonderful!' not 'something weird's going on we need to call a doctor like, now'.
  • This also implies that all you need to cure a disability is a good attitude! Anyone can do it! If you have a disability, you must just have a bad attitude! 
  • What about this do you think is making the disabled girl growl?
I'm going to have to stop listing these before I get angry. I can still remember identifying with Colin so strongly when I first read the book, and then he was snatched away from me, the thing that I empathised with him for most just magicked away. And while that was the thing that offended me most, I know other people could have been horrified about a lot of other things. Honestly, knowing that books have so much power to hurt people makes it difficult to forgive the pain they cause.
However, we can't deny that, while many classics might have elements we don't agree with, they are amazing stories. They've stood the test of time. And if we don't forgive them for the things that were never really intended to hurt us, then how are we going to experience those amazing stories? If they were edited to make them more politically correct, it would mess with the heart of the story - that editing would be a form of censorship, which ... well, isn't generally considered a good thing. Some people might even argue that if you're going to do that, you might as well pull the books of the shelves altogether.

That said, the tolerance of prejudicial attitudes in classic books sets a double standard. We expect modern-day writing to be tolerant and - in the best case - reflective of the diverse world we live in. It doesn't always work out that way, or I guess we wouldn't need things like the #WeNeedDiverseBooks campaign. But those expectations are super super super important for making sure that we as humans move forward with our art, not back - and if we say that certain books don't apply? I guess it could set a dangerous precedent.
Yet if we think about it, those expectations come from our desire to de-normalise discrimination in the world - it's especially important for children's and YA books to be inclusive because they help us form our opinions. But classics are usually enjoyed by people who read A LOT, or read them for classes where they are guided through the themes by a teacher who really knows their stuff - and that means readers know the context of what they're reading. To erase that would be erasing a part of history, and refusing to admit that prejudice used to be so acute (and still is in many places) through literature would be as bad as the fact it existed in the first place.

So what do you think we should do with those attitudes? Just forget them? Forgive the authors for not intending to hurt their readers? Or neither forget nor forgive, just realise the context of the work and accept those attitudes as a part of the whole? 

Please share your opinions in the comments. LET'S HAVE A CHAT, YOU GUYS!
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