Ten Scary Yet Fascinating Story Elements

Today’s Top Ten Tuesday (#TTT) book meme is a Halloween freebie. Here in the Netherlands, Halloween is becoming more popular than it used to be, but it’s still celebrated not nearly as much as in the United States.

I don’t really care for ghost stories or the like. I just can’t be fazed by them. That being said, there are a number of story topics I find scary. Yet most of these I also find fascinating.

1. Murderers. It’s interesting in this respect that I don’t often read thrillers or crime fiction, as I do love crime podcasts. I find it fascinating to understand what makes murderers tick, but I also find it pretty scary.

2. Epidemics. Okay, I haven’t read any book about an epidemic so far, except for an educational historical children’s book about the bubonic plague. That being said, I find it fascinating and scary at the same time when I come across books with this topic. I recently heard about a book by Dutch thriller author Tomas Ross about a fictional pandemic. The book was originally published in 1987 and was set in 1996. The book was recently republished because Ross’s pandemic bore interesting similarities to COVID-19.

3. Strange neurological diseases. I used to be fascinated by Oliver Sacks’s books, but still found them a little scary. The same goes for Lisa Genova’s Inside the O’Briens (see my review). That one really got me worried even though I have no reason to think I might develop Huntington’s Disease. Also, I remember once watching a documentary on a disease called fatal familial insomnia. It’d almost be funny to say I had trouble sleeping afterwards.

4. Medical stuff that doesn’t go well. I am fascinated by intriguing medical stories, but they also scare me, particularly when something goes wrong.

5. Poison. I find it generally fascinating to learn about how poisons work, but still I find it incredibly scary when someone in a story is poisoned even when they survive.

6. Dictatorships. This is one reason I have a love-hate relationship with dystopian novels. I loved Brave New World but still haven’t gotten down to reading 1984 and don’t think I ever will.

7. Insects. And snakes. And other dangerous animals. When I had a Netflix subscription, I loved watching 72 Dangerous Animals and the like. I am also still looking forward to reading Hatch, the sequel to Kenneth Oppel’s Bloom. Still, the topic does scare me.

8. Locked institutions such as prisons, insane asylums, etc. Particularly if strange/creepy things happen there. Like, I still want to read The Institute by Stephen King, but I’m not sure it might be too scary.

9. Cults. These are really scary and yet fascinating in a similar way that dictatorships are.

10. Nuclear weapons. Okay, I haven’t read any books on this topic, but I find the topic very frightening (of course) but also fascinating. I remember listening to Dutch historian Maarten van Rossem’s audio lecture on the atomic bomb some years ago and finding it so intriguing to know exactly what time the bomb exploded over Hiroshima.

What “scary” topics do you find fascinating in books or other media?

Children’s Books With Colors in Their Titles

Today’s Top Ten Tuesday (#TTT) is all about books with colors in their title. Wow, this challenge is hard! I could off the top of my head think of four books, then thought of another, but then I was stuck. So to give me some inspiration, I decided to search Bookshare. When I typed the first color, “green”, into the search box, already several hundreds of titles popped up even when I kept the search to children’s literature. In this list, you’ll find some kidlit books (from picture books to YA) with colors in their titles that I think may be worth a read.

1. The Green Children of Woolpit by J. Anderson Coats. This is a fantasy children’s book based on a classic British legend. I don’t usually read fantasy, but this one sounds particularly interesting.

2. Blue Daisy by Helen Frost. This is a children’s book about two children who find a dog in their neighborhood and grow to love it, but will the dog love them back?

3. Blue Skies by Anne Bustard. This sounds like such a fascinating middle grade novel. I don’t normally read books not set in the current time, but this one sounds great.

4. My Heart and Other Black Holes by Jasmine Warga. This was one of the books I already had in mind. I really want to read this YA novel. Too bad I am already reading several books now.

5. Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery. This one is also already on my TBR. In fact, I started listening to it as an audiobook on Scribd some months ago, but then stopped because I didn’t like the narrator’s voice.

6. Yellow Flag by Robert Lipsyte. I am absolutely clueless about racing, but this book sounds interesting.

7. The Doll With the Yellow Star by Yona Zeldis Mcdonough and Kimberly Bulcken Root. Another story centered around World War II, but it definitely sounds intriguing to me.

8. Red, Yellow, Blue (and a Dash of White, Too!) by Charles George Esperanza. This sounds like such a funny yet educational book for young children. It’s all about mixing colors and what this can achieve. I’m sad that I won’t be able to see the illustrations.

9. Silver Spurs by Miralee Ferrell. As a former horseback rider, I still love stories about horse girls. This one sounds truly endearing.

10. Silverlicious by Victoria Kann. This sounds like such an endearing read for young children. When Pinkalicious loses her sweet tooth, she writes to the tooth fairy to get it back. I sense that she’ll learn a valuable lesson.

Now I realize that most of these, I may not actually read. Still, I hope some of my readers will find these interesting for their children or students.

What books with colors in their titles do you like?

Top Ten Reasons Why I Love Reading

Today’s Top Ten Tuesday (#TTT) is all about our bookish loves. The prompt is “Top Ten Reasons I Love …”. I am going to interpret this broadly and list the reasons I love reading in general. Here goes.

1. Escapism. It is totally amazing to escape my daily worries and troubles for a bit by immersing myself in the world of books.

2. Broadening my horizons. Whether I read a work of non-fiction, memoir or a novel, it almost always has something in it that I can’t personally relate to. As such, reading gives me insight into things I may not know much about.

3. Perspective. I can too easily be caught up in negativity about my own life. When I read a realistic novel or memoir, it often puts my struggles into perspective.

4. Relatability. Pretty much the opposite of the above. Some books I relate to, give me the sense that I’m not alone in the world.

5. Learning new words. English is my second language. Though I rarely use a dictionary when reading, reading English-language books does help me widen my vocabulary.

6. The ability to hyperfocus and perseverate. I love browsing through Amazon or Apple books for things I may want to read. I can totally immerse myself in even this habit, even if I don’t end up reading anything right then. When I do read, I can totally focus on this and forget my surroundings.

7. Writing inspiration. I am a writer. To be more than a mediocre writer, you really need to be a reader too. I love getting inspiration from the books I read.

8. A book for every mood. Whether I’m in need of a laugh or a cry, there’s a book for every mood. There are also tons of books out there for my inner child parts.

9. Something to talk about. Other than myself, that is. Books really give me something to discuss with others that isn’t too personal. I love it when others have similar interests to mine.

10. The book blogosphere. And book Twitter, YouTube, etc. I totally love connecting to other bloggers. Even though I’m not primarily a book blogger, I love reading book-related blog posts and watching book-related videos on YouTube (BookTube’s actually how I discovered my love for YouTube vlogs).

Do you love reading? Why?

Top Ten Books Younger Me Would Have Loved

I’m a day late joining in with Top Ten Tuesday (#TTT), for which the theme this week is books your younger self would have loved. I wasn’t much of a reader as a child. I loved being read to, but hated reading myself, especially in Braille. I was fourteen when I first discovered reading for pleasure through Caja Cazemier’s books.

I didn’t know enough English to read any of these books at the appropriate age. Actually, I didn’t know enough English to actually understand most books much until I was at least fifteen. Even then, only classics were available in accessible formats here in the Netherlands. For this list, I’m pretending that either younger me knew enough English or the books were available in Dutch. Most of these books weren’t published when I was young anyway.

1. Peter’s Asparagus by Angela Nicole Krause. This is a chapter book about a young boy with Asperger’s (autism). I read it in early 2014 and loved it. Of course, younger me didn’t know I am autistic and Asperger’s wasn’t even added to the DSM as a diagnosis till 1994, when I was eight. Still, well, my inner children find it incredibly validating.

2. A Boy Called Bat by Elana K. Arnold. This is a book for slightly older children on the same topic. I read it in like 2018 and really feel it would’ve been a delightful read for younger me, even though it isn’t as relatable as the above one.

3. Deaf Child Crossing by Marlee Matlin. I didn’t finish this one, but I think my younger self would have loved to read it.

4. Lila and Hadley by Kody Keplinger. Okay, I see a theme emerge here. This one wasn’t published till a few weeks back and I haven’t read it. I want to, but it’s nowhere to be found in Dutch eBook stores. This one would definitely have encouraged younger me.

5. Amina’s Voice by Hena Khan. As a child and tween, I loved learning about different cultures. There was a whole series of children’s books about different countries and cultures out there back then, but as far as I know, the authors weren’t from those cultures. Khan is Pakistani-American and I loved her book. See my review.

6. Pictures of Me by Marilee Haynes. I read this one over New Year’s and loved it. It’d for sure be a comforting read to fifth-grader me.

7. Wonder by R.J. Palacio. I am 75% done with this one and think it’d for sure have given younger me some perspective.

8. Unspeakable by Abbie Rushton. Okay, I’m branching out into young adult books now. I really loved this one when I read it some five years ago and teen me would have loved it too.

9. Scars Like Wings by Erin Stewart. This would definitely have comforted teen me that she’s not alone in having problems. See my review.

10. Diagnosis Asparagus by Catherine O’Halloran. Okay, there are no doubt a ton of other books in the fiction category that younger me would have loved, but I just had to include this one. This one provides a teen’s perspective on being diagnosed with Asperger’s.

As a bonus, I’m going to mention Freaks, Geeks and Asperger Syndrome by Luke Jackson. That one was published around 2003, when I was self-diagnosed with Asperger’s. I would have loved it if my parents had allowed me to read it then.

What books would you wish your younger self had had access to?

Top Ten YA Books I Want to Read While Social Distancing

Today, I am joining in with Top Ten Tuesday. When this COVID-19 crisis first unfolded, I originally expected to read a lot during it. I love reading. Now that we’re not under complete lockdown as of yet, I love going outside even more though. I love taking long’ish walks and seeing my Fitbit activity tracker stats rise.

Still, I do read more than I used to. I’m a slow reader and don’t devote nearly as much time to reading as I’d want to. There are only 24 hours in a day, after all. Then again, this crisis is probably going to last for another while still to come and I’m expecting a complete lockdown at some point.

Today’s Top Ten Tuesday is a genre freebie. Young adult fiction about real-world issues is my favorite genre. For this reason, I’m listing ten YA books I’d like to read during this time of social distancing.

1. Heroine by Mindy McGinnis. I already started on this one and am loving it so far.

2. Five Feet Apart by Rachael Lippincott. This title is fabulously appropriate for the time we’re living in now. Though this situation isn’t what the book is about (the author couldn’t predict it), I just have to smile to myself.

3. Let’s Talk About Love by Claire Kann. I am on the asexual spectrum myself, being demisexual, so I love it that there’s a contemporary YA novel out there about asexuality that’s also pretty popular. I’m curious to see how it unfolds.

4. My Heart and Other Black Holes by Jasmine Warga. I’ve been wanting to read this book for a while, but so far never got down to it.

5. More Happy Than Not by Adam Silvera. This is the only non-contemporary book on this list. It is set in a dystopian near future. I found it by looking for books featuring LGBTQ+ characters on Goodreads and it fascinates me.

6. Openly Straight by Bill Konigsberg. Another queer-centric book, but who cares? I found this book on another Top Ten Tuesday participant’s list a few months back and it looks cool.

7. Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson. This book was first published in 1999, but the twentieth-anniversary edition came out last year. I discovered it a few months ago on Goodreads I think.

8. Risking It All by Sm Koz. This book sounds so interesting.

9. The Silence Between Us by Alison Gervais. Another book that was recommended by a book blogger (sorry, I can’t remember who). I love reading books about disability and this sounds like a really cool read.

10. Throwaway Girl by Kristine Scarrow. This book has literally been on my TBR list for years. I bought it back in like 2014 or 2015, but it crashed my Adobe Digital Editions and became unuseable then. Thankfully, I can now read it in Apple Books.

Have you read any of these? I’d love to hear your opinions.

Eight Ways in Which My Reading Life Has Changed Over the Years

This week’s Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl, is all about ways you have changed, particularly as a reader, over the years. I am not a book blogger, since posts about books make up not even ten percent of my total posts. I don’t read nearly enough to be a book blogger. This may be one reason I haven’t participated in #TTT for a while. However, I loved this week’s theme. Here are some ways in which my reading life has changed over the years.

1. I read because I want to, not because I have to. As a child and teen, I didn’t like reading much. Especially not the assigned literature we were supposed to read for school. For this reason, in my young adult life, I didn’t read much at all. Over the years though, I discovered a love of reading and now read for pleasure. Sometimes I still feel like I have to finish a book, but then it’s me creating the pressure.

2. I read almost exclusively English-language books. The book famine, ie. the lack of accessible books to people who are blind or otherwise print disabled, is still pretty severe in Dutch-language literature. In English, almost every book I want to read is available in an accessible format nowadays. This is one reason I enjoy reading books in English far more than in Dutch.

Another is the fact that I blog in English and, to be honest, I don’t do much in life (except for peeing and sleeping and eating) without some motivation related to my blog. I love to venture out into the bookish blogosphere at times.

3. The way in which I read, has changed. As a child, I almost exclusively read audiobooks. Oh and the occasional large print book suited for children much younger than me, because with how poor my vision was, ordinary large print was too small for me. I hated reading Braille, so unless I was forced to, I didn’t touch a Braille book.

Now I read almost exclusively by touch. I recently bought a few audiobooks, but to be honest am quite a bit disappointed in the narrators.

4. I discovered eBooks. As a teen, I read books my parents scanned for me. Then I didn’t read much at all as a young adult. In 2013, I found out that Adobe Digital Editions, the main program at the time to read EPUB eBooks, had been made compatible with screen readers. I read EPUB from then on, although I no longer use Adobe Digital Editions. I use the iPhone’s book app instead.

5. I joined Bookshare. Bookshare is the U.S.-based online book service for the print disabled. In 2005 and 2006, when I first started reading English-language books for pleasure, I was a member of the UK’s National Library for the Blind. I for a short while read physical Braille books then. That didn’t work out due to shipping issues. Bookshare, though it existed back then, wasn’t available to international customers at the time. It became available to those outside of the U.S. sometime around 2015. I joined Bookshare in mid-2016.

6. I found out about Kindle. That’s another eBook format that didn’t use to be very accessible. Back in like 2015, there was the accessibility add-on to Kindle software, which would read the content of the book aloud. Like I said, I’m not a fan of audiobooks and I’m certainly not a fan of the robotic-sounding voice of the Kindle accessibility add-on. Sometime in 2018, I found out that the Kindle app for iPhone, and to a lesser degree Kindle for PC, now support screenreaders and most importantly Braille displays. I still don’t buy Kindle books very often, as Bookshare has a wide selection of books too, but I know that if I really want to read a book, I can.

7. A larger percentage of the books I read is fiction. Roughly ten years ago, I only read a bit of teen fiction and mostly read biographies and other nonfiction. Now about half of the books I read and the majority of the books I finish are fiction.

8. I read a wider variety of books. Though most of the fiction I read still belongs in the young adult category, over the past few years I’ve ventured out into other genres as well. I love reading a diverse selection of books now.

How has your reading life changed over the years?

Books I’d Add to My Personal Library

Today’s Top Ten Tuesday is about books you’ve read that you’d add to your personal library. What is meant are books that you don’t own a physical copy of and wish you did. Well, I can’t quite use physical books, as I can’t read print and Braille books are very clunky. However, there are still books I wish I owned that I borrowed from the library. Here goes.

1. Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll. I read it in its Dutch translation in one of my last years in primary school and, though I didn’t enjoy it that much at the time, I’d love to read the original English right now. My father read it in English at the same time that I read it in Dutch.

2. Winnie-the-Pooh by A.A. Milne. My father read my sister and me the best Dutch translation by Nienke van Hichtum. This yet again isn’t a book I’d necessarily want a physical copy of, though that’d be nice, but I’d love to read it in its original language.

3. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley. I read this in my senior year of high school. Though I easily accessed it online back then, legally or not I’m not entirely sure, I would love to own a copy.

4. I Never Promised You a Rose Garden by Hannah Green. I borrowed this one from the UK’s National Library for the Blind and actually read it as a physical Braille book. Back then, you could send Braille books free of postage anywhere and the NLB offered its service to international customers. Bookshare, the U.S.-based online accessible book service, at the time didn’t, which was the main reason I used the NLB. I loved this book.

5. Planet of the Blind by Stephen Kusiisto. Another book I borrowed from the NLB. I loved how much I could relate to Kusiisto’s experienfce, going blind gradually from the same eye condition I suffer from.

6. Aspergirls by Rudy Simone. I had this book as an eBook, but lost it when I moved from Adobe Digital Editions to the iBooks app on my iPhone. I didn’t actually finnish this book, but would love to.

7. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams. I read the first book in this series in its Dutch translation at age twelve. Though I really don’t think I’ll ever read the other books, as they get really weird or so I’m told, I’d love to have a copy of this one.

8. All of Astrid Lindgren’s books. I don’t know whether they’re available in English, so I’d go with the Dutch translations.

9. Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank. I read it in Dutch when I was about thirteen, but I borrowed it from the library back then. I’d love to own a physical copy of both the original Dutch and the English translation.

10. Born on a Blue Day by Daniel Tammet. This was an intriguing autobiography by a man with Asperger’s. I read it in its Dutch translation before I had access to many English-language books and would love to own a copy of the original English.

Which books would you add to your personal library?

Book Characters I’d Like to Be Best Friends With

I first discovered Top Ten Tuesday, a weekly book-related linky hosted by Jana from That Artsy Reader Girl, a few weeks ago, but didn’t feel like joining in then yet. Today, the theme is book characters I’d like to be best friends with. There are a ton of lovely characters in the books I’ve read. Of course for the YA books, let’s assume I’m at a similar age to the characters.

1. Jasmine from Unspeakable by Abbie Rushton. I can relate to Megan very much and would love to have had a best friend like Jasmine when I was her age.

2. Beth and Jennifer from Attachments by Rainbow Rowell. I just recently read this book and the characters are totally hilarious.

3. Katie from Inside the O’Briens by Lisa Genova. She’s in a lot of ways similar to me. I bet she could teach me some proper yoga.

4. Caleb from Rules for 50/50 Chances by Kate McGovern. He’s so totally funny. He also sounds very caring and like he’ll do a lot for a friend.

5. Piper Reece from Handle With Care by Jodi Picoult. At least I’d be a lot more loyalthan Charlotte is. Then again, that’d destroy the storyline.

6. Mellie Baker from And She Was by Jessica Verdi. Someone I’d love to get to know beyond her gender identity.

7. Kate from My Sister’s Keeper by Jodi Picoult. I love her fighting spirit and her supporting Anna even if it may mean she’ll die.

8. Sophia from Believarexic by J.J. Johnson. I could also imagine myself befriending Jennifer herself, but I relate more to Sophia.

9. Alex Taylor from Don’t Wake Up by Liz Lawler. I can totally imagine myself being the only one to stand by her side, having myself often been accused of making up stuff for attention. Yes, even if it could cost me my life even earlier in the story than it did Fiona’s.

10. Allie Johnston from A Different Me by Deborah Blumenthal. I was going to choose a different character from that book, but I forgot his name. I’d want to get to know Ally too. She does sound a bit vain and not just because of her body dysmorphia, but I’m pretty sure we have some things in common.

What characters from books you’ve read would you like to befriend?