Disrespecting Libraries – Bookworms & Their Safe Haven.

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If you are in an area that is lucky enough to have a library, think back to the days you spent there as a child. Instead of maxing out credit cards, you were maxing out your library card. Browsing the same picture book section repeatedly every week in the hopes that they would have something that you hadn’t yet read. Making friends with other children, and often even befriending the librarians. Never getting late fees because you moved to the next stack of books so quickly, or always getting late fees because you found yourself reading the same story over and over because it was just that good.

Flash forward a few years, and you’re reading more grown up stories. Getting lost in chocolate factories, having sleepover clubs, and getting into mischief with Mary Kate and Ashley, all within the confines of that one building. Heck, maybe your parents even dropped you off for a few hours like mine occasionally did, and let me tell you, those few hours are one of the childhood memories that I remember most fondly.

Unfortunately despite my continued love of reading, libraries became somewhere I spent less and less time the more I got older. Perhaps it was due to education obligations or maybe it was even because my so called friends didn’t think it was a cool place to hang out. All I know is that I stopped going altogether.

Throughout my late teens I tried to recapture that feeling I used to have, except after my mental health took it’s toll, things started to look a bit differently to me. If there was someone else in the YA section, I’d go and pretend to look at a different genre that I wasn’t remotely interested in, in the hopes that they’d leave soon as my anxiety would be going through the roof. Or, there’d be the days that a big group of teenagers would decide to hang out in the library to mess around, despite not having a remote interest in it’s contents whatsoever. Instead of spending hours in there, I’d return my books, pick a couple of new ones out and promptly leave.

I know now that I’m not cut out for libraries. I struggle with OCD, and in all honestly because of that, reading a book that lots of people have already read, makes me feel really weird. Moving onto what this post is actually about however..the previously mentioned groups of disrespectful teenagers.

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A couple of nights ago, my boyfriend and I were looking for ways to kill time before we needed to catch our bus. We walked past the library and even if I don’t use them, the appeal of seeing lots of books in one place is just too much so we headed in. Just beforehand though, a group of around six teenagers were on their way out. One had a cigarette that was ALREADY LIT hanging out of his mouth.

I didn’t think anything of it other than my anxiety telling me to quickly walk past and get into the comforting atmosphere of the library. It was almost closing time by this point so the librarians were just hanging about and talking. I was picking up on their conversation every so often but was too busy looking at all the recently added YA titles. However, when I heard them talking about the teenagers that had just walked out, I immediately started paying attention. They were shaken up, and I mean heavily shaken up. To the extent that one of them was trying to persuade her husband to come and pick her up because she was too scared to walk home.

Apparently about an hour before, the group had walked into the library like they owned the place, just being generally loud and disruptive. I know this sucks, but unfortunately at least here in the UK, libraries are often used like this. It’s horrible, but expected. What’s unexpected however is what allegedly happened next. They proceeded to antagonise the librarians, getting quite personal and even used the names on their name tags to do this. I don’t know about you, but I feel like that’s such an invasion of someone’s privacy. Use their first names all you want if you’re well acquainted/using it in a polite way, but to take someones name and be rude to them is disgraceful.

THEN to finish it off, they began to unplug all of the computer systems in the library and became disruptive to the people just browsing the aisles.

From what I heard, the librarians threatened to call the police and they left, but I believe the police were indeed called and further action was going to be taken by getting in contact with their school.

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This whole thing upset me for a variety of reasons.

  1. No one should have to go through this in their work place EVER. I don’t understand what makes someone feel like it’s okay to antagonise staff, but I’ve seen this happen in other places as well.
  2. I don’t want to generalise, and often it’s probably not the case, but I know that a lot of us readers deal with mental health issues on a day to day basis. It’s a big possibility that the librarians themselves also have this issue, and if they don’t, they are going to feel anxiety whenever a group of teenagers walks through that door in future. Even if that group is perhaps full of the nicest kids you’ll ever come across.
  3. It furthers the ‘all teenagers are thugs’ stereotype even more, which is something the UK is really struggling with at the moment.
  4. Libraries are our safe haven. They’re our big, open, cosy reading nooks that everyone can enjoy. They’re meant to be peaceful, quiet and relaxed. Somewhere you can dip in and out of worlds in. Somewhere you can drop your children off and know they’re going to be safe and happy. Somewhere that you can make bookish friends if you’re feeling particularly confident. The thought of a bookworm going to a library only to get harassed is so upsetting to me. Libraries are our place, and to think that someone might struggle to go out but gathers the confidence to go to one, only to get that knocked back down by strangers is horrifying.

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I don’t know what can be done about this, or if anything even can. I mean, are we going to have to start having bouncers guarding the doors into libraries? It’s ridiculous. All I know is that I have a voice, and I wanted to share this with you because I know that you’ll understand and care.

Please feel free to comment and share your thoughts.

Matilda x

REVIEW – The Exact Opposite Of Okay by Laura Steven

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I truly believe that 2018 is going to predominantly be the year of diverse reads and feminism within the YA genre. Just take upcoming UK author Laura Steven’s debut for example. It deals with sexism, revenge porn, sexuality, and above all things, what it means to be a woman in the 21st century.

The Exact Opposite Of Okay follows the life of seventeen year old Izzy O’Neill. A creative, self-deprecating, and sexually experienced teenager dealing with the aftermath of a sex scandal involving a politician’s son.

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Before I get to why I LOVED this book, I’m going to get out the small issues I had with it first so I can gush freely about the positives!

  1. I felt that whilst the men in this book were jerks, that isn’t entirely accurate of everyday life. Yes, men can be exactly like those portrayed during the pages of this novel but there are some pretty nice ones out there too. Throughout the course of this book, I’m pretty sure that there was ONE guy that wasn’t a complete douche. I understand that this was mainly a book about women and empowerment but we don’t need to hate on men to do that! I’m certain this is not what Laura Steven was intending to do, but at times, it really felt like it was laying into men just a bit too much.
  2. Izzy’s humour was non stop to a ridiculous extent.  Every other line felt like another attempt at creating a funny quote, and whilst some of it was pretty funny, it was just a bombardment of jokes at the expense of ridiculing herself and her feelings. I know this actually gets cleared up towards the end of the novel, and fades out as Izzy’s character grows, so it didn’t end up diminishing the quality of The Exact Opposite Of Everything as much as I was originally worried it might, but it still left a slight negative blemish on an otherwise excellent book.

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Having said all of that, I still think this is a very important YA novel. It’s one of the first books I’ve read that doesn’t skirt around the fact that the female protagonist has sex. It never even occurred to me before reading TEOOO (shortened title) that it’s very rare that sex is written about so freely and un-romantically in young adult literature. Seventeen year old girls do indeed go to parties and sleep with someone they don’t really know. It happens. And it was nice to read about in a realistic way.

Unfortunately for Izzy, just as in the real world, she gets slut shamed. In the form of a website named Izzy O’Neill: World Class Whore. Now this could be seen to some as a view on the perils of modern day technology but no, this is a bigger problem altogether that I, and many girls face on a day to day basis. I once got hacked on Facebook before hacking was even a thing, and the next day at school I was called all sorts of awful names. I was distraught. Just like Izzy, you really do start to believe some of the things people say and the character building as she goes through it all is exceptionally well written.

I wasn’t a fan of the male characters but I’m pretty sure that was the whole point. It felt as if you were in Izzy’s shoes and you didn’t quite know who you could trust. As I said before however, it was done to the extreme and I think this may potentially alienate male readers which is a great shame because it’s an important read for them too.

As for the women, the stars of this book have to be Betty and Ajita who were female empowerment perfection. Her grandmother is forward thinking, modern and honest, and Ajita is a lovely, sweet being who must be protected at all costs. If you aren’t enticed to read this just by the discussion that slut shaming raises, then please read it for a great look at female friendship and guardianship.

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This is going to be one of those novels that I will think about for the foreseeable future. It’s an important book. It raises a lot of questions, and answers some old ones too. If you pick up one contemporary this year, make sure it’s this one.

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A big thank you to Netgalley, Egmont Publishing and Laura Steven for providing me with an ARC.

REVIEW – Here Comes Hercules (Hopeless Heroes, #1) by Stella Tarakson

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I am a firm believer that any book can be enjoyable to someone if they go into it with an open mind. Put aside your age, the intended target audience for a book and just dive in. We can all still be big kids at heart even if we’re not, just as we can put on our adult hats and get serious.

Now I don’t know about you but after Christmas, I’m pretty drained. I want to laugh, and I want a lighthearted read to welcome me into a new year and that is exactly what Here Comes Hercules achieved. In fact, I don’t quite remember the last time I actually giggled out loud during a book.

The story is about a young boy named Tim Baker. His mother is working two jobs to make ends meet and isn’t home enough to keep up with the housework, leaving Tim cleaning up most of the time. One day when tidying, he accidentally knocks over a valuable Greek vase and out pops Hercules. Chaos and hilarity ensue.

Firstly, if I had been a child reading this, I would have ATE. IT. UP. Even more than I already did. Heroes are cool. But Greek heroes are cool AND educational, and there’s nothing better than having fun getting lost in a book, whilst also being able to impress your teacher on Monday morning with your newfound knowledge. And just to clarify, the fun/education ratio is perfect in Here Comes Hercules.

Secondly, both Tim and Hercules were lovely characters. Tim was very typical of a ten year old boy. He’s having a hard time at school, but still rises above it to be a genuinely nice kid. Hercules was hysterically funny, and also a great hero to include. Especially with the way he was written. Boys often think it’s not okay to be emotional, but here we have one of the most famous and mighty heroes of all time, showing a lot of real emotion. We need to have more of this in children’s fiction, so I’m delighted that such a funny read also had a lot of heart.

Hopeless Heroes is going to be a fantastic series if this was any indication of quality. If you’re a big kid, or you have kids of your own, make sure this is on your list of books to buy. It was highly enjoyable, incredibly amusing and is sure to delight the ears and eyes of people everywhere.

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Thank you to NetGalley, Sweet Cherry Publishing and Stella Tarakson for providing me with an ARC.

 

Welcome to Matilda’s Library!

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Welcome, welcome, welcome! Gather round fellow readers and witness this five year Blogspot groupie’s descent into the madness of WordPress! It’s been a pretty scary process but I did it! I am here! I am an anxious wreck!

If you’re reading this, chances are you are either dating me, related to me or you follow me on Twitter. Whoever you are, thank you for taking the time to take a quick look at my blog and please feel free to follow me. There’s nothing more nerve wracking than being a blogger writing to no one but herself!

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I have spent over a year watching the book community from the sidelines, patiently waiting to gain the confidence in myself, and my reading, to join all of you. Yes, I’ve had blogs before, but they’ve all been about things other than reading. Things that in all honesty, I’m not sure I’m all that interested in. I guess I’ve grown up a little over the last few years.

Before I met my boyfriend John (also a blogger and book lover), I felt lost. I looked in the mirror and heard myself talk, but I had no idea who Matilda was anymore. I was every negative emotion squashed into one Matilda sized woman. I longed to be a child again, to restart my life and would have given anything to do so. However, after the previously mentioned ‘meeting of the boyfriend’, I started to find myself. I was happier, was doing things slightly more out of my comfort zone, and I was spending time with someone other than myself.

And then… I also discovered Gilmore Girls. Something my old self would never have bothered watching. A sugary sweet TV show about sugary sweet people in their picture perfect town? Not in a million years! But there I was, getting involved in the lives of the Gilmore women, night after night, after night. Surprisingly, I saw my childhood self in Rory. Innocent and intelligent. Barely ever a moment without her head in a book. Exactly like I was.

So that year I picked up my first book in a while. I’d read a couple of highly publicised books over the years, but none that ever sparked my love of reading again past the end of their – what were typically – trilogies.

I read about five books that year. Most notably three Holly Bourne books and Harry Potter & The Cursed Child (although the less said about the latter, the better!)

It still hadn’t quite re-sparked my obsession, but it was a start. And then I found THAT book. THE book. The book that would change my reading habits for good.

It was wrapped up under the Christmas tree inconspicuously. My mother had seen it in a bookstore and the movie was about to be released soon so she thought I might like it. It was a zombie dystopian called The Girl With All The Gifts by M.R. Carey. I have always despised zombie stories, so was very dubious about picking it up. But I did, and I fell in love with reading all over again.

I ended up reading 80 books that year. AND… religiously watching booktube and following bookstagram blogs. AND… updating my Goodreads constantly. And then they once again became all I could talk about, like they were when I was a child.

Fast forward to today and I’ve started a blog dedicated to my love of reading. I have over 100 followers on a book themed Twitter, and I’m considering starting up my own YouTube channel at some point this year.

So, that’s the story of Matilda’s Library.

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I found myself again through books and I will continue doing so! In every book, between every page, there is always the possibility that that particular book will change the person you are forever. And that is why I love reading.

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So please join me on this blog and on my journey. I will take part in reading challenges, book tags and write reviews as well as lots of other fun content that I’m already planning out!

I look forward to talking to you all! Please feel free to follow me on here and on Twitter, and please comment and let me know the book that got you into or back into reading!

For now, I’m going to eat my weight in pasta and garlic bread. Have a great day/evening and thank you for reading!

-Matilda.