Monday, December 29, 2014

Dive Into Diversity Challenge

Monday, December 29, 2014
I've talked about this before, really don't like reading challenges. I know they're fun for some people but, for me, it's one of those things that just stress me out. Reading is an escape for me, and when I have to read something it stops being an escape.

That said, I'm participating in a reading challenge in 2015. The Dive Into Diversity Challenge is hosted by the awesome Magan and Estelle at Rather Be Reading and is inspired by the also awesome We Need Diverse Books campaign.

Unlike some of the other challenges out there, this one is relatively lax- all you have to do is read at least one diverse book a month. A lot of characters who don't fit the mythical norm (white, straight, middle-class, abled, etc.) don't get as much attention in media, including YA books but the We Need Diverse Books campaign (and, by extension, this challenge) seeks to change that.

What is all this diversity talk about? I'll let one of my favorite organizations, the Harry Potter Alliance, explain why representation is not just cool, but really necessary (I added the bold for emphasis):

"1. It gives people a stronger sense of self and affirmation of identity.
2. It gives children somebody to relate to and look up to.
3. It expands people’s assumptions of their capabilities (assumptions that are often relayed to them through constant negative media portrayal).
4. It provides a more realistic look at the world’s population.
5. It fights the idea that straight/white/male = normal and everything else is “other” (think about your local bookstore: there’s probably a section for African American Fiction, Gay and Lesbian Fiction, and Women’s Fiction, and while these can be positive spaces for marginalized groups to find books that include them and portray their issues with honesty and authenticity, it’s important to discuss the reasons why they have to have separate sections, and why they’re not already included in general literature and fiction)."

I was privileged enough to grow up with access to a great library at my synagogue, and reading about other Jewish kids really helped me find my own faith and appreciate my culture. Every kid of every race, religion, social class, etc. should have that chance.

After all, we can only benefit from diversity. The more stories are told, the more we as readers can better understand and empathize with people who may not share our background. Growing up and reading YA books about characters who grappled with their sexuality or gender (like Ask the Passengers or Luna)  is a large part of why I'm a feminist today. Books like Libba Bray's Beauty Queens (one of the most diverse books out there) was honestly a huge factor in my decision to double major in Women's & Gender Studies and Government.

Put very simply, diversity is important because everyone's story is important.

I'm going to start a tab with a bunch of my favorite diverse reads and I'd love your recommendations! Fantasy and realistic fiction are my favorite, but I also love a really great sci-fi, or a thriller...let's be real, I'll read anything.

Anyway, Happy New Year! Let's hope it's a great year, full of great (and diverse) books.

Will you participate in the Dive into Diversity Challenge this coming year?

Friday, December 26, 2014

Opening Up

Friday, December 26, 2014
I'm not good at opening up around new people. I'm a friendly person, but I kind of hold myself back out of fear I'll come on too strong or say the wrong thing. With awesome people in real life, I can usually get over this pretty quickly (*waves at new college friends*) but on the Internet, it's a bit harder for me. It's a lot trickier to break the ice with people in 140 characters on Twitter or in the comments of a blog. I can't recover from something awkward I've said with a quip because my words are out there, in print, and I can't take them back. You know, the Internet is forever and all that.

So I do what I always do: I go for perfection.

As anyone who is a perfectionist will know, a lot about perfectionism is being a people-pleaser. You want to make others happy all the time and feel like a failure if you slip up. Does that sound exhausting? It is. I've been blogging for three years and throughout all this time, I've tried to come up with the perfect formula to please my readers and put all of this pressure on myself until there were days or weeks or months where I didn't like blogging anymore.

The thing is, there is no formula to blogging. Every time I would do something differently or put more work into more features or try a new form of social media, I would end up back at Square One wondering why my blog wasn't good enough.

A lot happened in the last few months - I started college, met a group of wonderful new people, started dating a guy I'm crazy about, took phenomenal classes, read awesome books - that has made me reexamine a lot about how I interact with myself. One of the biggest influences was Amy Poehler's Yes Please, which I would recommend to pretty much anyone. It's a quirky, comedic, really honest memoir that I tore through in about a day.

The thing about Yes Please is that Amy conveys this balance of openness and strength that go together seamlessly. It reminded me of one of her quotes (not from Yes Please, I don't actually know where it's from) where she said, "Vulnerable people are powerful people. Opening your heart and sharing it means you're going to get so much love in your life." 

And I thought about that, and how in real life I'm a fairly open book with those who know me, and I'm going to try and do that more on The Page Sage. I'm going to be open - which is definitely a form of vulnerability, especially on the very, very public world of the Internet. I want to do it for me. I want to have a space where I can be honest and nerdy and relaxed because blogging is not my job, nor do I want it to be. 

Another thing that struck me in Yes Please is how Amy's strength comes from knowing who she is and not being afraid to be ridiculous. I'm a pretty (read: really) ridiculous person at times (read: a lot of the time) and by constantly censoring every sentence I put online, I sap away a lot of  the creativity and fun I have on this blog. That doesn't mean I'm going to start swearing like a sailor on here, but I'm not going to worry if something sounds a little weird or awkward because who cares? 

Who cares if someone thinks my blog isn't good enough? It's my blog, and it's certainly good enough for me. 

As we start to head into the new year, that's where I'm going to try to keep my head. It's hard for me, and this constant need for perfection extends far past my blog, but maybe it'll be a good start to tackle it here. Anyway, wish me, luck (and go read Yes Please if you haven't already). 

(Seriously, it's awesome.)

Do you ever struggle with perfectionism or doubt while blogging? How do you cope?

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

That Blogging Thing I Used to Do

Wednesday, December 24, 2014
Hey, remember when I said in October that I was returning to blogging? And then I blogged maybe once before disappearing yet again? Well, about that...


In hindsight, it was ridiculous to think I could handle NaNoWriMo and a return to blogging in November. November, the month during which every professor assigns papers, exams, and presentations all before you head into finals. I realized how fruitless this plan was halfway into the month and at that point, I was not giving up on NaNo.

The Leslie Knope Guide To Get You Through Finals
The Leslie Knope Guide To Get You Through Finals

I won NaNo (yayayayay!) but that meant I had to continue my hiatus on the blog. At this point, I was starting to ask myself, do I even want to blog anymore? I haven't been really present in months, barely anyone is going to read this post, and I don't even know what my blogging friends are up to anymore since I haven't really kept in touch with them. While I'll definitely get back in touch with my friends, I had to ask: is it worth it to keep blogging?

I was this close to saying no. But the truth is I'm not ready to give up blogging. If I have to start from the ground up again then I will because I love talking about books with all of you. I love nerding out and having a space where I can just have fun.

So here's the plan as I head into a New Year of Blogging:

1. Say Hi

Reconnect with people! I'll say hi to my old bloggy friends who I've stupidly neglected (waves at Alicia) and make some new ones!

2. Have Fun

The Page Sage is a pressure-free zone. On here there is no need to be perfect- I just get to write and read and have a good time doing it.

3. Post What I Want

Was there a cool episode of Supernatural I want to talk about, even though it isn't bookish? I'm going to do it. This is my blog, after all- if I want to talk to you guys about something I'm allowed to do that (though it will still be mostly bookish).

4. Have Fun.

This one is important, so I'm listing it twice.

That's the plan anyway. I hope you're all gearing up for a happy holiday and that you get lots and lots of books!

Talk to you guys soon. :)