Category: Discussions

Mental Illness Awareness Week – blending mental health with fantasy & sci-fi

Hello everyone! As some of you may know, I’m a Clinical Psychology major with a focus on child and adolescent psychology. Hence, mental health is a subject dear to me, and for which I’d like to advocate in relation to books. The rep of mental health, regardless of what form, in books is of utmost importance, because books reach more people than almost any other medium (save for social media and newspapers).

For last spring’s Mental Health Awareness Week, I talked about good MH rep in contemporary books and posted a list of recommendations. For this month’s Mental Illness Awareness Week, I’d like to take a step away from contemporary, and ask you: Why aren’t there more mental illnesses depicted in fantasy & science fiction? If it’s alright to depict mental illness in a contemporary, but not for a character in a fantasy realm or a futuristic sci-fi setting to suffer from the same illness, then we’re still upholding a partial amount of the stigma mental illness faces. Where are the wizards and cyborgs suffering from Panic Disorder? Where’s the (space) pirate struggling with OCD? Why aren’t there any depressed vampires, schizophrenic mermaids, anorexic dragon hunters, autistic faeries, or shapeshifters with ADHD? There are still remarkably few books which blend genres like fantasy, sci-fi, or dystopian with everyday mental health issues.

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A Guide to Being a Busy Bookworm at University

So as you might’ve figured out from our descriptions or the many, many, many times we apologize during the year for university-caused absences, Chantal and I are hard-working students in two competitive fields of study. The ton of recreational reading we got done during school was a luxury we parted with when we enrolled at uni. Those of you who are in similar positions know what we’re talking about, I’m sure. The further into my studies I got, the less reading I was able to get done. Whereas I easily read 60 books a year during my undergrad studies, I’m now struggling to manage 50 books. During my internships, I also noticed how much less I was at home and yet got more reading done. The thing is: At uni, you always have some assignment to complete or studying to do, but I had no post-work obligations during my internships. Honestly, being back at uni pulled a break on my reading last semester. I am not surprisingly behind in my GR challenge, and I assume Chantal is, too. We don’t care about meeting the challenge per se but it allows for a direct comparison with our previous reading years which brings on nostalgia of times when we had more time to read.

At this point, you’re probably asking yourself whether this is going to be a page-long rant about how university has taken over our lives and so on. Actually, it is not.

Over the years, we’ve had to re-organise ourselves with regard to being bookworms – which means reading, reviewing, blogging, and bookstagramming. When the going gets tough, the tough get going. This post focuses on how to juggle one’s studies (or work) with reading which do not always go well together. We have to compromise a lot where book-related activities are concerned but we’ve found ways to get some reading (or blogging) done nonetheless. We’d like to share some of our tips and ideas with you. Please feel free to leave your own in the comments! From two bookworms to another, we’re always grateful for advice on squeezing in recreational reading into our busy schedules.

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The importance of mental health rep in YA

May is Mental Health Awareness Month (also referred to as National Mental Health Month) in the United States. In accordance, it is also Mental Health Awareness Week in the UK, having started on the 8th, so May is all about mental health right now. Similar to what I’ve been doing on Instagram, I would like to take the opportunity to dedicate a post on our blog to the mental health representation in YA literature, its importance, and its insufficiencies. Mental health (MH) being an important topic to both Chantal and me, we continue to seek accurate representations in various forms; be it the impact of grief, like in Everything I Never Told You, or the reality of suffering from a psychiatric disorder, like in Made You Up which features paranoid schizophrenia.

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Chantal’s Top 10 Favourite Books of 2016

So…that was 2016. What a year. Unfortunately, it was a pretty bad year for the world, socially and politically, and I can only hope that 2017 will be better. That we make it better. From a personal point of view, it was a year full ups and downs. I successfully finished my first year of university, made many new friends, read lots of books, started applying for jobs for the first time in my life. And perhaps most importantly for all you reading this: Nina and I started this blog! It’s been such a rewarding experience and I want to take a moment to thank all of you who follow us, leave comments, or just read our posts from the bottom of my heart. It truly always makes my day when any of this happens.

At the beginning of the year I set my Goodreads reading challenge to 50 books. I ended up meeting that goal in September and so upped it to 65. Once again, I was able to meet it and ended up reading 68 books.  Though I read a lot of good books this year, I also read many that I didn’t enjoy and I’m hoping that 2017 will bring many awesome new ones. So, to round off the year, here are my top ten favourites of 2016. I’m very happy with how diverse this list is in terms of genre; I’ve really expanded my reading horizon this year and that is something I want to continue doing in 2017. I have decided to take on the challenge and do a ranking, but please note that this was extremely difficult and I will probably look back on this list in two days and wish I would have put them in a different order, so take the chronology with a grain of salt. I have added age categories and genres in brackets for those of you who may have not heard of a book and would like a quick overview.

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Nina’s Top Five Favourites of 2016

2016 has come to an end, and it’s time to do a recap of a turbulent year. Foremost, 2016 was the year this blog was established, a project Chantal and I worked really hard for over the summer. This year, I received my Bachelor of Science in Psychology. I travelled to the place of my mother’s origin, the beautiful island of Sicily. I met two more Goodreads friends in person, after having finally met my friend and co-blogger Chantal last year. I worked at two child and adolescent mental health facilities which was so interesting and highly gratifying. I’ve seen half the globe but visited England for the first time ever, which was a dream come true. And can you believe Leonardo Di Caprio won his first Oscar this year? Yes? Yes.

Unfortunately, 2016 was a year of struggle, too. It was the year a majority of Great Britain’s population voted to leave the EU, though these weren’t necessarily the people who will have to bear this decision the longest. Many beloved celebrities died, most recently George Michael. It was a year in which terror and violence shattered us, poisoned our hearts. Ultimately, this lead to the biggest tragedy of them all in 2016: A misogynistic, racist, politically rash, rich white man took over the most powerful position this globe currently has to offer, spreading the poison fast like a viper. Suspicion and hate has flared like a wildfire.

Which is why I love logging into sites like Goodreads, connecting with friends on the blog, and gushing over other people’s bookstagram shots (which are truly amazing). Amongst the book community, though we have our differences about books, too, we spread love. Love for books. I feel that, through our mutual passion for books, many other gaps are bridged – people from different genders, sexual orientations, countries, races, and religions come together to share their enthusiasm for the written word. Literature is a weapon, and therefore we are armed and powerful. I hope that we will continue to find our strength in books and in each other as friends, regardless of the distances and time differences.

To share my love for books wrapped into one package, I would like to present my Top 5 favourites of 2016 which all merited 5 stars from me. Clicking on the titles will lead you to my reviews, either on the blog or on Goodreads.

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