a new blog feature for bookish content!
Joining the bookish community, specifically book Twitter, is an exciting way to get back into reading and to connect with authors and bookish creators. I love reading everyone’s perspectives, and it inspires me to join the discourse as well.
I’ve tried my hand at updating my Goodreads account regularly and posting reviews of books I read, but I realize that I actually hate writing reviews. It feels very similar to grading papers–which I already do a LOT in my day job–and it takes the fun out of reading for leisure. I do like using my brain when I read, but I am not fond of a very scientific approach of breaking down a novel and discussing each aspect. Sometimes I’m just drawn to one aspect, and I couldn’t care less about the not-so-stellar parts of the book. Mundane plot but with fully fleshed out characters? Yes, yes, yes! Cringey dialogue but awesome use of tropes? Sign me up!
I think that in order to give books an accurate rating, I would have to come up with a very very very detailed rubric, and I am so not doing that in my spare time. I get enough flak for my rubric-writing skills when I submit my syllabi or subject matter outlines, thank you very much. Besides, a lot of people write great, thoughtful reviews. I would rather boost their work than do a half-assed attempt at something I don’t particularly like doing.
Moreover, I realize, too, that I am a very character-driven reader. I like latching on to one character and viewing things from their perspective, no matter how much or how little page space they actually occupy. I like putting myself in their shoes and screaming their (fictional) heads off at all their shenanigans, and I try figuring out how they fit into the grand scheme of things. I want to know more about what they represent and to interrogate their ideologies that influence every word and action.
Because of this, I am starting a new tag/series called Margin Letters, where I write fictional letters to characters of books, TV series, movies, and whatnot. It is named after my love for scribbling in the margins of my readings, both academic and for leisure. My margin notes are not just notes; they are snippets of addresses to both real and imagined characters in texts. I want to put my notes together to form longer and more composed letters, and I think that this format is the best way to put my own spin on bookish content.
This also solves my frustration that fandoms only highlight the protagonists. What about people who represent institutions or work in the background? What if they are not flashy enough, eccentric enough, or even pretty enough to merit fanart or threads on Twitter? Do their contributions not matter anymore? These are questions that fuel my thought process, and I hope that through writing, I can see some semblance of an answer.
By writing in a format that I find comfortable, the monster that is the impostor syndrome will slowly fade in time. This is something that I believe I can do, and if I can’t do it well on the first try, then it is something worth doing badly. I do hope that I will get better at the craft the more that I practice. In time, I can ask better questions, notice more important details, and be more adept at putting together clues scattered throughout a text. I am excited to learn!
I am currently drafting my first one, and it has been an eye-opener in terms of how I relate with what I read. The format gives me space to grapple with themes and to pull together references that would not have much place if it were a review, and I constantly have to keep editing it because I keep veering away from the topic at hand haha. I am also surprised that I’ve managed to quote my freshman history professor and my curriculum studies concepts in one letter, and I want to know what other influences I will draw from in order to relate to other characters.
If you want to know more about the thought process that brought this project to life, you can read my previous post on metacognition and responding to stories.
I’m excited to release it soon, and I would love to know what you think!