Book Club – It’s Complicated: The Social Lives of Networked Teens

Last week (sorry for the late update) I got together with my fellow Social Media MA students for a book club. It was my first ever book club actually, and I really enjoyed it. The book we discussed was danah boyd’s It’s Complicated: The Social Lives of Networked Teens.

The first thing I noticed about It’s Complicated is how America differs from the UK. As someone who grew up with MySpace and forums, I could relate to the teenagers in this book. But some of the parents’ viewpoints seemed extreme compared to mine.

Fear seemed to be the main theme for of all parents, so, as we have quite a multicultural group, it was interesting to see how the group’s parents react to social media differently. It seemed that the level of fear depended on culture, class and local media coverage of the area. I definitely think there is more of a fear of social media among American parents.

Every chapter discussed one area of fear, but managed to dismiss it as an overreaction. We all agreed that boyd has a very utopian view of social media, which makes this book very one-sided. But if you look at the wider picture with media’s scaremongering and social media hate campaigns, I think that we need a book to fight for the other side.

Near the end of It’s Complicated she noted, “As computer scientist Vint Cerf has said, “The internet is a reflection of our society and that mirror is going to be reflecting what we see. If we do not like what we see in that mirror the problem is not to fix the mirror, we have to fix society.”” (Vint Cerf quoted in Ward, “What the Net Did Next.”) (boyd, 2014: 212)

I think this is an important point because as new technology develops we blame it for society’s problems. There’s always a new culprit with no solutions. I believe that, used properly, social media can help to fix this.

There are so many other important themes that we looked at in this book that I couldn’t cover them all in one blog post. So I’ll come back to them in later posts.

If you’re interested in social media in any way you should read this book. The chapters are written so you can just pick out and read the ones you want without having to go through the whole thing.

Here’s a free PDF – It’s Complicated: The Social Lives of Networked Teens.

boyd, d. (2014) It’s complicated: The social lives of Networked teens. New Haven: Yale University Press.

A Book You Can Finish in a Day

When I was a kid I could easily read a book in day. I’d get through a couple of Enid Blyton books a night and still have time to read the next one in the morning. But children’s books are so much shorter than adults’ books and we seemed to have so much time on our hands back then.

This was basically my bed when I was a kid…

I think this is why so many people don’t read. I hate starting a novel then realising I haven’t picked it up in a month and have to start again. How many people look at a novel and think, “When am I going to have time to get through that?” Then there’s the sequel, and another, maybe a prequel…

This is why I love short stories. But as an adult it’s not as easy to find them – unless you’re looking for something sickeningly romantic or sexy, then Amazon is full of free ones.

A while ago I was watching Neil Gaiman talking about his Likely Stories. He said (I’m pretty sure he was quoting someone) that a short story is like the last chapter of a book. It’s true. They just get to the point, don’t faff around too much with a background story, and  before you know it you’re at the end.

Neil Gaiman is one of the great short story writers. If you haven’t already, read Coraline and Other Stories, there’s one story that’s like a weird retelling on the Three Billy Goat’s Gruff. I could read that over and over.

How the Marquis Got His Coat Back (Paperback)Anyway this brings me to the cutest little short story book I found in Waterstones (yes Neil Gaiman again) – How the Marquis Got His Coat Back. If you’re familiar with Gaiman you may have read Neverwhere. I sadly haven’t yet. It’s on my list. Well this book is a Neverwhere story. But as I said I haven’t read it  yet and I still enjoyed this.

Short stories tend to come in groups.. collections? But not this one. The best £1.99 i have ever spent for something that just slips in my bag. The best thing about it – it’s not just a book you can read in a day, it’s a book that you can read in the time of a football match. I read pretty fast so I had to watch some football but I’m getting used to that.

But yes, for you football widows, bus/train commuters, shift workers with short breaks, I bring you the single short story! (that’s totally how they should advertise them)

If anyone knows of any other authors who write single short stories, let me know. This tiny book made my day.. and it has also one crossed off my 2016 Reading Challenge list. So win win for me!

Keep Reading

Last night I read a whole book… Well most of a book. I’d already read a couple of chapters a while ago.

Anyway, I’m pretty happy about it.

As a kid I used to sit up all night reading the same few books over and over. But nowadays I don’t feel like I have enough time to read. I start a book then forget about it, or I don’t start a book I really want to read because I know I’ve already started others… and there’s just not enough time.

But you know what? There’s always enough time. If there’s not I’m going to make time because I really love reading. I can’t think of anything that makes me happy in that booky kind of way.

So now I’m going to start making my way through my Reading Challenge starting with American Gods by Neil Gaiman – A book I’ve been meaning to read.

I’ve also just got an email to say LoveReading is going to send me another book to read and review. Don’t you just love free books?

Oh I almost forgot. The book I read was Mrs Jefferies Dusts for Clues. It’s the second in the series of a mystery collection by Emily Brightwell. If you like shows like Rosemary and Thyme and Murder She Wrote you’d love it. The first book was published in 1992 and the latest one will be published this year so it’s a loooong running series, almost as old as me.

I think I got the book when I worked in a charity shop for a bit. Oh the hidden gems in charity shops. But that’s another story…

2016 Reading Challenge…

When I was a kid my favourite author was Enid Blyton. I wanted to read everything she’d written. It helped that my mom had most of her books from when she was a kid. I was so much more of a bookworm then.

Nowadays I’d say my favourite author is Neil Gaiman. I love how he writes, how he speaks, just everything about him. I met him at the book signing for Ocean at the End of the Lane and he was such a lovely, quirky person. I read his blog, look out for his Facebook posts. But I’ve realised I haven’t actually read that many of his books.

I’ve read Coraline, a few of his short stories, Ocean at the End of the Lane of course. I bought Stardust because I loved the film, but never got round to reading it. I had a flick through The Graveyard Book before I was a fan in those days I worked round the corner from a library.

At the moment I’m feeling like one of those girls who wears the t-shirt but never really listens to the band. So today I bought two of his books. I know I’ll enjoy The Graveyard Book because I’ve already kind of read it. American God’s seems to be the ‘one to read’ so I bought that too.

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Time to start acting like a real fan. I loved books so much as a kid and I’m so much happier when I’m part way through one… Which brings me on to the reading challenge. In Waterstones I saw this.

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So that’s my plan for 2016. Back into reading it is!

When a Book Just Jumps Out at You…

I was in a Waterstones a few days ago, just browsing. I’ve recently finished a book and I wanted something new. This just jumped out at me. – Reasons to Stay Alive by Matt Haig.

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I’ve never been suicidal. But I have had anxiety problems for as long as I can remember, so I thought I’d have a flick through.

I’m not a fan of self help books or stories about childhood trauma, etc, etc. But a close friend of mine commited suicide when I was a teenager, and I’ve never really understood why. He’s been on my mind a bit lately…

Anyway, I had a flick through, straight to a bit about explaining things to an alien. This literally sang to me. The only way I’ve ever been able to describe my anxiety is feeling like an alien. It’s as if we all look similar, sound similar, but there’s something different about me.

Now I haven’t read this book yet. But just reading the first few pages I can see it’s going to be interesting. I usually don’t like books like this because they’re too close to home. But it’s nice to step out of my comfort zone and buy something different once in a while. I’ll let you know how it goes.

On another note… I said I’d just finished a book. Summer at Sea by Katie Fforde hasn’t been published yet but I got a free copy (yay free books!) from Lovereading in exchange for a review. It’s a great read if you want to chill with a romantic adventure. It was just what I needed after the rush of Christmas. You can read my review here.

My Three Favourite Books for World Book Day

If you didn’t already know, today is World Book Day. So I thought I’d show you my current favourite three books.

1. The Hobbit – JRR Tolkien

2. Coraline – Neil Gaiman

3. Men, Money and Chocolate – Menna Van Praag

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Looking through my bookshelves has made me realise a couple of things (other than the fact that my room is way too small to hold all the books I want).

Firstly, I need to find my Enid Blyton books (well my mom’s actually). They will always be on my list of favourites, and I haven’t read them in ages.

Secondly, I really need to expand my reading list. My books are either chicklits or fantasy. There has to be something else out there that I like… Or maybe I’ll just stick to being a creature of habit.

Well that’s it.. just a short post today…

HAPPY WORLD BOOK DAY!

Go read something…

National Libraries Day 2014 – 5 Reasons Why I Love Libraries

As you may know, it was National Libraries Day 2014 last Saturday (8th February). This post was planned for Friday, but I forgot to finish it… oops… But we should be appreciating our libraries everyday anyway!

I’ve always loved libraries. I remember visiting them as a child, and my bed was basically a mini-library, with books piled at the end of my bed and hidden under my pillows. I’m not sure libraries are given as much recognition as they should be these days.

So here are my five reasons why I love them!

1. So many books

There’s just something enchanting about being surrounded by books. If you’ve ever watched Beauty and the Beast, the look on Belle’s face when she’s shown the HUGE library in the Beast’s castle says it all.

Where else can you find so many books? Maybe a bookstore? which brings me on to number 2…

2. You don’t have to buy the books

You can just browse all day if you want to, have a walk round, read a book or two. There’s no need for payment, even for a library card.

Last time I forgot to take a book back (I’m usually pretty good with that sort of thing) it only cost me 15p in late fees.


Best episode of Arthur ever!

3. A quiet place to relax

Libraries are one of the most peaceful places  you can find, especially if you live in a big city or somewhere busy. In fact everything is automated now so if you don’t want to, you don’t have to talk to anyone.

You might get one of those busy days where are the school kids are in. But most libraries have designated children’s areas now… And if anyone is ruining the peace by being too loud, you can always tell on the nearest librarian.

One of the best things about that job (apart from the books of course) must be shhuushhing people.

4. They can be beautiful

My favourite library is the new Library of Birmingham. It’s so unusual looking – but I believe that all of our libraries should stand out like this one.

Doesn’t it just look like you could climb it?

There are also many beautiful libraries around the world too. They’re not just those boring little mobile-classroom type things we had at school.

New York Public Library, New York City [via]

5. It’s not just about the books

When you think about libraries you probably imagine shelves full of books. But it’s no longer all they have to offer. Nowadays libraries have computers, TVs, cafes, quiet places to study, theatres, etc, etc.

A lot of libraries also have events for kids – readings, author signings, fun activities, workshops – The Library of Birmingham even has a Sunday Film Club.

They really are just a nice place to hang out, get some peace and quiet, and… if you feel like it… read a good book.

So next time you’re stuck for something to do, the kids are off school, or you’re just bored on your break at work, pop into your local library.