Tag: Literature

Best Books of 2023

Posted January 31, 2024 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Literature / 4 Comments

One of my favourite things about the end of December and the beginning of January is seeing everyone’s best of lists. It seems like the only times I have posted on my blog are to share my best of lists of 2022 but once again, I am hoping to get back into posting more frequently. The most important first post of the year will be my best books of 2023. I am trying not to complain about my reading lately, and my goal for 2024 is just to have fun and enjoy my reading experiences. I do wish I read more in 2023 but I do have to say that I am very happy with this top 10 list.

10. Our Share of Night by Mariana Enríquez (translated by Megan McDowell)
I absolutely love Mariana Enríquez’s short stories; they are a blend of gothic horror told from a feminist viewpoint that depict the harsh sociopolitical realities that women face every day. Our Share of Night is her first full length novel to be translated into English and it is an overly ambitious one. This is a 700+ horror novel that is set through out the different Argentinean dictatorships. Enríquez uses the horror genre to explore the horrific nature of dictatorships and the effects they have on the people. If I was able to understand more of what each metaphor or scene symbolised, I am sure I would have loved this book more, but those horrors still sit in my brain, and I know I will need to reread in the future.

9. Time Shelter by Georgi Gospodinov (translated by Angela Rodel)
The winner of the International Booker Prize this year and I had a lot of fun with this, even if I think it kind of waned in the last few chapters. I think this is an exciting novel about human connection, it focuses on a clinic designed to help people with dementia and other memory issues. But this clinic uses a relic that makes their patients believe they are living in the world of their younger selves. This novel may be clever but, sometimes I think it is too clever for its own good.

8. King Kong Theory by Virginie Despentes (translated by Frank Wynne)
This is a manifesto of pure feminist rage. Drawing from her own experiences, Despentes investigates sex work and porn, through a feminist lens. This is a book about the exploitation and sexual assaults on women, not just in sex work but all over the world. This is a gritty, emotional collection of essays and one that will sit with me forever. No words of mine could ever do this book any justice, so I will leave a quote from the author; “I write from the realms of the ugly, for the ugly, the frigid, the unfucked and the unfuckables, all those excluded from the great meat market of female flesh, and for all those guys who don’t want to be protectors, for those who would like to be but don’t know how, for those who are not ambitious, competitive, or well-endowed. Because this ideal of the seductive white woman constantly being waved under our noses – well, I’m pretty sure it doesn’t exist.”

7. Miss Kim Knows and Other Stories by Cho Nam-joo (translated by Jamie Chang)
Kim Jiyoung, Born 1982 remains a favourite of mine, it was one of those books, I finished and wanted to reread right away. In fact, I found the audiobook and listened to it with my wife while we travelled. It was a powerful book and when I saw this collection of short stories based around the book, I picked it up right away. I didn’t even know this existed until I randomly saw it in my local indie bookstore. This is what I loved about Kim Jiyoung, Born 1982 but expended to different age groups, a mixture of different microcosms; a story set in a school, a work place, even one that is capturing growing old. I think Cho Nam-joo has found her style and I want to see more stories like this.

6. An Untouched House by Willem Frederik Hermans (translated by David Colmer)
This is a novel I knew nothing about, but it was so mesmerising and haunting that I think maybe Hermans should be judged alongside authors like Joseph Heller and Kurt Vonnegut. Set in World War II, this book follows a Dutch soldier that is so exhausted from the war, that he finds an abandoned hour and just decided to inhabit it. This is a dark meditation on survival, the horrors of war and I found it both profound and unsettling.

5. Wifedom: Mrs. Orwell’s Invisible Life by Anna Funder
We all know who George Orwell is, but how much do we know about his wife Eileen O’Shaughnessy? Anne Funder decided to research more about her and what she found was very depressing. Of the six biographies she read that were written about George Orwell, there is little to no information about his wife. Almost like she had no importance, and yet the more Funder researched the more she how just how much of an impact Eileen had in shaping some of the greatest works written by Orwell. This is an exploration of just one of many unsung women whose work goes unnoticed and never mentioned in the background of these so-called great men’s lives.

4. Still Born by Guadalupe Nettel (translated by Rosalind Harvey)
I probably only read about half of the International Booker Prize longlist of 2023, but this is the one that I wanted to win. It reminded me of Ariana Harwicz’s Die, My Love, but maybe less depressing. This is a novel of Alina and Laura who have decided they didn’t want to have children; they wanted to enjoy life. Although, things change for Alina and then we are struck with the horrors of a complicated pregnancy. This is a very emotional book, and so much is happening in this novel. I have only read one other book from Guadalupe Nettel (After the Winter) which I also recommend but I know I want to read them all.

3. Chai Time at Cinnamon Gardens by Shankari Chandran
Normally when I get given a book to read from my book club, I’m a little nervous. Not that I hate most of them, I just tend to like what everyone else dislikes. Chai Time at Cinnamon Gardens was the winner of the Miles Franklin Award this year, so I knew this was a popular pick, so I went in a little worried, but this was an extraordinary book. It is very Australian, but it also really focuses on the systemic racism that has been built into the Australian culture. Looking at the way the White Australia Policies of the past has started to really shape the country now and the effects that racism has on a small Sri Lankan run retirement home. This is not a feel good read as the cover and title might lead you to believe.

2. Loop by Brenda Lozano (translated by Annie McDermott)
It is so hard to explain this novel, so much is happening, but nothing is happening. This is a narrative following the life of a woman waiting for her boyfriend to return from his trip from Spain. She buys a notebook and begins writing down her every thought and feelings. On the surface it just feels like an insight into her diary, but there is something deeper happening here. We are getting a look into her thoughts on the world, love, relationships, music and her writing process.

1. This is Not Miami by Fernanda Melchor (translated by Sophie Hughes)
This is my first experience with the literary genre known as cronicás, a genre that blends journalism with fiction. I now need to read more of this style of writing. There is something about the way these stories blend humour with facts, but is told it in almost a conversational tone, I need more of this, and I need recommendations. Fernanda Melchor delivers her usual dark and creepy style but because of this literary genre, this might be my favourite of her books (so far).


How Frankenstein Changed My Life

Posted June 14, 2018 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Literature / 2 Comments

Two hundred years ago, a book was published that literally changed my life. It is very rare to say that a book could have such a life changing effect on someone but in my case it is actually true. It happened about nine years, without going into too many details, I was not happy with myself. I was directionless and went through a self-destructive phase. While it was not just literature that saved me, I do have to give credit to my wife as well. Books ignited the spark in me that made everything else click into place. I am a very different person to who I was back then, I suddenly turned into a passionate and voracious reader thanks to Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein.

It all started with when I discovered a little radio show called The Culture Club by Craig Schuftan. This show explored similarities between music and the art world. This peaked my interest and I started reading his book Hey, Nietzsche! Leave Them Kids Alone which looked at the similarities modern rock had with the Romantic period. Looking at bands like My Chemical Romance, Weezer, and The Smashing Pumpkins. The Romantic poets were the rock stars of their time, and their angst felt very similar. I knew I had to read Frankenstein and it all fell into place from there. Reading this classic, I quickly identified with the creature Victor Frankenstein had created. Although his pain was far more real than my angst, I have people who care about me, I was just an outsider.

My feeling of not belonging in this world was similar to what I was reading in this novel. Frankenstein was the first book I picked up because of Hey, Nietzsche! Leave Them Kids Alone and I did that because of one of my favourite Smashing Pumpkin songs, Disarm. In this song Billy Corgan fantasises about cutting his parents limbs off, because he hated them for bring him into the world.

“It’s about chopping off somebody’s arms.. The reason I wrote Disarm was because, I didn’t have the guts to kill my parents, so I thought I’d get back at them through song. And rather then have an angry, angry, angry violent song I’d thought I’d write something beautiful and make them realize what tender feelings I have in my heart, and make them feel really bad for treating me like shit. Disarm’s hard to talk about because people will say to me ‘I listen to that song and I can’t figure out what it’s about.’ It’s like about things that are beyond words. I think you can conjure up images and put together phrases, but it’s a feeling beyond words and for me it has a lot to do with like a sense of loss. Being an adult and looking back and romanticizing a childhood that never happened or went by so quickly in a naive state that you miss it.”  — Billy Corgan on Disarm (RAGE, 1993)

This tenderness that Corgan reflects in Disarm is not dissimilar to the creatures own feeling. One of the most common themes I get while re-reading Frankenstein is this feeling of how society treats people who are different. For the creature, he came into this world and was immediately rejected by his creator. He was also rejected by everyone he encounters. He pleads with Victor Frankenstein to create him a companion; that is all he wants. He came into this world with love in his heart, but was denied it at every turn. Most of my early reading life focused on this idea of an outsider and how the world treated them. Books like American PsychoPerfume by Patrick Suskind and the Dexter Morgan series all deal with these monstrous characters and how the world and their situation has shaped them. I found comfort in the exploration of the outsider in literature. The idea of blaming society for the way I was felt good, but with my new found thirst for literature came a better understanding of myself and the way the world works. Nowadays I like to read transgressive fiction because it is very different to my own life but while writing this article I cannot help but wonder if it was originally because I identified with them more than with a protagonist that gets a happy ending.

Re-reading Frankenstein again I cannot help but reflect on how different each reading experience really is. There are so many different ways to read Frankenstein, commonly there is the idea of science taking things too fast, or the dangers of playing God. Or perhaps Mary Shelley wants to simply say actions have consequences. When I studied Frankenstein in university I knew a little more about Mary Shelley, so I was looking at Frankenstein with some context.

Before Shelley wrote Frankenstein she had given birth to a daughter, two months premature. This daughter only lived a few weeks, a year later she gave birth to William Shelley. After the birth of her son she suffered from postnatal depression. The birth of William happened a few months before the story of Frankenstein was conceived, so it wasn’t too surprising to see William’s name in the novel. William was Victor Frankenstein’s youngest brother, who was strangled to death by the monster. So, either Mary Shelley’s depression manifested an urge to strangle William, or there is something far more complex happening in the novel. Looking at the story arc of William’s death, we know a young woman is accused of the murder. So maybe there is something here to be said about the mother-child relationship, especially with the idea of maternal guilt and thinking about her lost daughter.

Maybe you want to explore this idea of creating life without the need of a woman, or maybe this is just a parody of creationism. Even the subtitle of ‘the Modern Prometheus’ means you can look at the similarities between this novel and Greek mythology. Paradise Lost by John Milton is another piece of literature that is often explored in relation to Frankenstein. I am struck by how many different ways we can look at Frankenstein and as I develop my own skills in analysing literature, I often return to this classic and see what I can find with a re-read. Mary Shelley is a very interesting person to read about, and I have picked up a few biographies on her, including The Monsters: Mary Shelley and the Curse of Frankenstein by Dorothy & Thomas Hoobler and Young Romantics: The Shelleys, Byron and Other Tangled Lives by Daisy Hay (my next one will be Romantic Outlaws: The Extraordinary Lives of Mary Wollstonecraft and Her Daughter Mary Shelley by Charlotte Gordon). I find knowing the context only enhances my enjoyment of a book. I know people read for many different reasons but for me it is all about educating and improving myself. I do read for escapism but I tend to enjoy a novel more if there is some interesting themes to explore.

For someone who has only been a reader since 2009, I feel like I have a lot of literature to catch up on but I still feel the urge to revisit my favourites over and over again. I started off wanting to re-read Frankenstein every year but that quickly faded away, but I still like to revisit the text, it still remains one of my favourites. Did you know there are two different editions of Frankenstein out there? The book was originally published in 1818 but it was then republished in 1831 with revisions made by Mary Shelley. While the 1831 edition is commonly the one that gets published, I like to switch between the two different editions.

I have lost count of how many copies I own of Frankenstein. I own some beautiful editions including a new hardcover of the 1818 text from Oxford World Classics which I am currently reading. The book means so much I have copies all over the house, and one at work. Plus there is the ebook and audiobook edition I can access from my phone at any time. Literature plays such a huge part of my life, even I have trouble imagining my life without them. Frankenstein played a big part in my own transformation. All I can hope is that people continue to find something in this piece of classic literature. I will be re-reading this for years to come and I hope it continues to make an impact to people over the next two hundred years.

This beautiful edition of the 1818 text of Frankenstein was sent to my by Oxford World Classics

This review was originally published in the literary journal The Literati


My Hot and Sticky Blog Re-evaluation

Posted July 7, 2016 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in My Essays, Writing / 2 Comments

It is often a good thing to re-evaluate your life, your goals and if you are a blogger like me, your blog. I have been thinking about this for a while and decided it is time to refocus. You may have noticed that I have not been as active on my blog as I would like. I had this goal to write something about everything I read, plus I wanted to do more than literature. However due to motivation, work and other plans, I have not achieved much at all on here. I would say I have about twenty books to review but is it really worth the effort? Maybe, but does this achieve what I want to achieve.

For the longest time I wanted to be a writer, I never was sure what I would write but it was something that was always in the back of my mind. When I started reading and blogging, that desire slowly faded, to the point where I convinced myself that I was not a writer. This became a problem, as I would always dismiss myself and any ideas that I might have. The ideas kept swimming around in my mind; I was just not doing anything with them.

It took me a long time to change my thinking, I am a writer. I may not be a writer of fiction but I love blogging and that is a form of writing. It is a skill I want to build and improve. I want to write more engaging posts and the only way to do that is to practice. My blog is a collection of my thoughts and writing and I can see improvement happening. I am happy to be write about literature instead of writing literature. I am happy in my own writing universe but I still feel the need to push the boundaries.

I started a BookTube channel as a way to develop my skills at communicating and ultimately become a better writer. I got addicted to the community and my writing started to suffer. I need to find the balance. The channel Stripped Cover Lit proposed a #HotAndSticky novel writing challenge. Similar to NaNoWriMo but instead, you have a more manageable 488 words a day over the course of a few months (June till September). I decided to join in as a way to push myself further and see if I can in fact write fiction.

story ideaI think 488 words a day is a good way to start developing a writing habit again and try something new. My first novel idea was to write a hard-boiled detective novel with a female protagonist. I wanted to explore the pulp crime genre but I also wanted to explore the idea of how women are treated in a male dominated job and even go into sexual manipulation and abuse. I had a great plot lined up but it was not working on the page. I do not know if I have the ability to write plot heavy stories, I tend to rush through the story arc.

I quickly put this idea on the backburner and decided to try something different. This idea was to explore a grumpy bookseller as he reflects on life and attempts to find a connection with someone, in a world he does not understand. I hoped that trying a transgressive story would work for me. I want to try developing a character and seeing how the idea progressed from there.

I did not have much luck here although I did found some fragments that I enjoyed, I just felt like a failure. Reflecting on this, I asked myself what type of writer I wanted to be and a few names popped into my mind. Mary Roach for her entertaining and educational style and Anne Fadiman for the way she wrote about books. Both authors are witty and knowledgeable; two things I admire greatly about their writing. I have come to the conclusion that if I want to write like this, I need to change the focus on my blog.

I still think reviewing is an essential skill to develop and I will continue to work on that. I have to stop reviewing every book I read and start practicing essay writing. I would love to write about my journey into literature in different essays, and develop that skill. But I also want to develop a more educational approach. A busy work and life schedule means I cannot achieve everything I want to achieve right now, but I need to work towards my goals. I would like to say ‘expect less reviews and more essays’ but this is a work in progress and I am not sure what the future will hold.

You can expect changes, but I feel like I am still trying to develop the skills I want, I think in order to do that, and I will need to try. I am a little unsure how to best write an essay but this is the place to experiment; Knowledge Lost houses a lot of my writing and blogging from when I first started. Most of it is embarrassing but it is a not so subtle reminder on how much I have improved.

I have some ideas planned and to begin with, this may be very focused on literature and my reading journey, I hope in time I will be writing about an array of topics. I hope this is enough to reinvigorate my passion for blogging and writing. Giving me the freedom to explore without the reminder of how many book reviews I am behind. I hope you will continue with me on this journey and if you have a topic you would like me to write about, I would love to know it.


Becoming a Philosopher

Posted August 11, 2015 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Philosophy / 2 Comments

Friedrich NietzscheWhile watching videos from the School of Life YouTube channel recently, in particular the video on Friedrich Nietzsche. I found myself feeling so envious towards people like Nietzsche and Alain de Botton (who was a founder of School of Life) because they are so smart, talented and make me feel like I have so much to learn. This is interesting, since Nietzsche believes envy is an important part of life; it is useful for understanding what we want to achieve and what we are working towards. In his 1887 book On the Genealogy of Morality (Zur Genealogie der Moral) Nietzsche theorises that the concepts of morality are controlled by the powerful (in his time, the clergy), therefore the concept of good and evil is subjective. While he never talks directly about envy, Nietzsche has often criticised the church for portraying envy as a sin and something we should feel guilty about. This is not the current teaching of the church regarding the seven deadly sins, these are just gateways we should be wary about because they can lead to sin. However this misconception can lead to an emphasis on envy which is leading people to feel insufficient with themselves, and that tends to leads to guilt rather than driving ambition.

Luckily in my case, my envy towards people like Friedrich Nietzsche is making me feel ambitious. I was thinking about life, and I asked Twitter how to become a philosopher and the first response I got back was “Be a dick to Plato”. This may not sound helpful but it really does cut to the core purpose of philosophy. If you look up philosopher in the dictionary you get something along the lines of “a person who offers views or theories on profound questions in ethics, metaphysics, logic, and other related fields.” Critically questioning ideas and theories, even the ones Plato wrote about, in essence would make you a philosopher.

My wife, in all her wisdom, said without thinking that everyone should be a philosopher. The ideas behind philosophy are to think about life and the world around us and to assess, accept, reject or expand on the ideas that have been presented to us. Granted, I have not worked out a way to make a career out of philosophy but the reason I started this blog was to story my thoughts and ideas in the one location. Literature has been a huge part of my life and has helped me to critically question the ideas I am faced with.

I have no formal background but I do believe academia does not have all the answers when it comes to philosophy. In the past education was the job of the clergy and the church. Universities were originally created during the decline of religion as a place for people to find meaning to life, ask questions, share ideas and be part of a community. However if you look at the state of today’s universities, you may not even find anything close to this idea. Rather, it feels like a place to tell people what they need to do in order to be qualified for the degree they are pursuing.  I have been in many classes where there is no questioning, no sharing of ideas and no community; you are given a print out and you get assessed on how well you align to the ideas found on the page. Can you imagine going to university in the hopes to become a teacher and then being taught how to teach a class with methods that are never recommended for a classroom setting?

While it is true that you’ll learn something by reading a piece of paper and writing about it (that is essentially what I do here), academia does not seem to be promoting a philosophical lifestyle. My autodidactic journey feels like it aligns with what I want to achieve more than academia does. I question what I read but when it comes to writing about it, I am doing so for myself. I am not being assessed on how well I align to the teacher’s ideas. Rather, I write to practise expressing my opinions and document my learning process.

Granted, if you want to make a living in philosophy, then working in academia would be useful but I often question the way academic papers are written. Reading some philosophical ideas that are written in an academic format can be very difficult, it makes me feel stupid and question my own intellect. I know I have a lot to learn but I think academic writing is more designed to sound smart so people will think the author knows what they are talking about. If I was to say “God is a woman” you might agree or reject my statement without any thought. However if I say “God is a woman and I have a hundred page academic paper to back that up”, your reaction might be a little different. You may think I am still wrong but it might take longer to reach that conclusion. If you disagreed with me but still chose to read the hundred pages, things could be different once again; you might question your own beliefs before accepting or rejecting mine. The purpose of a paper like this would be to express opinions and challenge ideas, however I prefer a more casual approach to writing.

I believe we can start a conversation about ideas without the need to alienate people with overly complex academic papers. If people are willing to share and exchange ideas there are people willing to listen and challenge. I call myself a philosopher because I like to question ideas and explore my thoughts via my writing. Also my twitter bio says I am a philosopher so it must be true. I hope to continue to learn and explore ideas, to question and challenge my way of thinking and if needed, I will be a dick to Plato.


What We See When We Read by Peter Mendelsund

Posted November 8, 2014 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Non-Fiction / 3 Comments

What We See When We Read by Peter MendelsundTitle: What We See When We Read (Goodreads)
Author: Peter Mendelsund
Published: Vintage, 2014
Pages: 419
Genres: Non-Fiction
My Copy: Paperback

Buy: AmazonBook DepositoryKindle (or visit your local Indie bookstore)

When reading Moby Dick, does Ishmael look like Richard Basehart? How about Anna Karenina? Please don’t tell me she looked like Keira Knightley. What We See When We Read takes a look at the activity of reading with such depth and insight. Looking at not only the way our brain fills in the images but also what the author is trying to say. Take for example Karenin in Anna Karenina; his ears are described a few times within the novel but they get bigger. The size of his ears is an artistic simulacrum that changes as Anna Karenina’s feelings toward him change.

Peter Mendelsund is Knopf’s Associate Art Director and has been responsible for some of their most iconic book covers. Just looking at his book cover designs I get the sense that he loves reading and the artistic side of literature. His book covers really capture a feeling; they stand out and often work well with the written word inside. He is major is in Philosophy and Literature and the two work well together in looking at the idea of reading and how our minds interpret the written word.

This is very much like Understanding Comics by Scott McCloud, it explores the idea of reading in different ways and explores different concepts. We all read slightly different and Mendelsund is able to go into different methods. A stand out for me is the way Vladimir Nabokov read Kafka’s Metamorphosis; there is an image of his copy of the book and it looks like he edits and rewrites the book to make it his own. It is an interesting way to get involve with the written word.

What We See When We Read is a combination of written words and images, which allows Mendelsund to illustrate his point and give the reader a better understanding of the feelings. A big bonus is the fact that he references other books, which gives me a huge TBR pile of books that explore this idea further in different ways. I love books about books so I am pleased to have a reading list.

I have to say What We See When We Read is a must for all book lovers. This book will be a joy to read and will look good on the shelf. I own the new Vintage edition, which is a paperback but it also has French flaps so it looks nice. I like how he went for a simple cover design; it stands out and works well with this book. I know this book is rising in popularity and I hope more people get a chance to read this one as soon as possible.


Time for some Cultural Studies

Posted August 17, 2014 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Education / 4 Comments

ms marvelWhile writing a review for Ms. Marvel: No Normal I came to the burning realisation that I don’t know how to review art work. As a result of this realisation, I had to leave out any thoughts of the art. This got me thinking, I have a book blog that has been a great tool for developing my skills in reviewing and talking about literature. This blog sadly still gets neglected a little too much but I think I can make use of it for developing my skills.

Knowledge Lost was created to allow me to talk about what I have learnt and I can apply them into a blog post. So I have to wonder why I am not trying to socially critique all things pop-culture. Thanks to two recent books I’m starting to see issues relating to feminism (The Fictional Woman by Tara Moss) and sexuality (Grasshopper Jungle by Andrew Smith) in everything I see. I’ve decided to practice these skills and start critiquing movies, TV shows and obviously art. The goal is to improve my writing skills in these areas and gives me an excuse to look more into pop-culture.

I have plans to talk about a few topics already, so I’m hoping that this blog is going to be neglected less. If you read my book blog you may have seen my manifesto where I have decided to write every day. So stay turned, it might not be as educational as before but this blog is now my new playground to practice and develop my abilities. I think the term for this is cultural studies, it is very similar to literary criticism but it applies to all things related to pop-culture.


ArmchairBEA 2014: Wrap Up

Posted May 31, 2014 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in ArmchairBEA / 2 Comments

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 The Book Expo of America ends today, which means this is the end for Armchair BEA.I hope everyone had a fun time and have filled your twitter and RSS feed with new blogs to follow (I really miss Google Reader). As always, I went into Armchair BEA with an opportunity to find more male book bloggers and while I found some, I’m still a little sad at how many there are out there. I have neglected some of my book reviews this week and I’m hoping none of my readers are too upset with this fact; I’ve got plenty of good ones coming up next month. Please be sure to check out my other ArmchairBEA posts, thanks for great event.

Other ArmchairBEA 2014 posts

ArmchairBEA is a virtual convention for book blogger who can’t attend Book Expo America and the Book Blogger Convention. Button by Sarah of Puss Reboots


ArmchairBEA 2014: Topic of Choice & Middle Grade/Young Adult

Posted May 30, 2014 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in ArmchairBEA / 35 Comments

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 Armchair BEA is starting to come to an end; it has been a fun experience and I hope you enjoyed visiting all the blogs. Today’s topic is Middle Grade and Young Adult fiction, plus a free choice. I’m not actually sure what to say about Young Adult fiction, it seems like a popular choice and I think the book blogging community have a strong handle on this genre. I’m old and cranky, so I would say there are too many blogs about young adult fiction. However Middle Grade literature doesn’t seem to get the same amount of attention. I am trying to read more children’s classics, I think my blog only has Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and now The Secret Garden on it. I know it is a genre I should put a little more focus on, so I’m hoping people will leave me recommendations in the comments below.

For the free topic, I had to think about what to talk about, the concept of ‘honest’ reviews. As a book blogger we are often sent books in exchange for an honest review but I very rarely see negative reviews. As book bloggers, are we giving honest reviews if we only share the books we like? I know we tend to abandon books that were not working but do we talk about these books on our blogs as well? I’m not accusing people of anything here; I just want the book blogging community to think about the topic. I enjoy negative reviews, I think they are fun to read and write but I still think we need to be constructive and non-aggressive about them.

If there is nothing else, consider this; your book blog is a reflection of your taste in books. How can people truly understand what your tastes are really like if they don’t know why a book doesn’t work for you. I’m hoping to get plenty of response from people telling me they do write negative reviews. I hope we all do, we can’t love every book and we sometimes need to discuss why we don’t like a book. If you don’t write negative reviews, try it, it can be fun. If you still don’t like to write them, let me know why.

ArmchairBEA is a virtual convention for book blogger who can’t attend Book Expo America and the Book Blogger Convention. Button by Sarah of Puss Reboots


ArmchairBEA 2014: Giveaways & Beyond the Borders

Posted May 29, 2014 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in ArmchairBEA / 43 Comments

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Day four and I hope everyone is having a lot of fun with Armchair BEA; today’s topics are Beyond the Borders and Giveaways. I’m excited to talk about going beyond the borders. I think we all need to step out of our comfort zone and experience books from different genres, countries and cultures. Literature opens new worlds from the comfort of our bed (or wherever you like to read). I’m a big believer of trying out translated fiction and books from different countries, but I will admit that sometimes I’m not doing this as often as I like. We can experience different lives and situations thanks to literature, we learn about other cultures and hopefully what mistakes not to make. The power of literature is amazing and I’m so glad I discovered reading.

However for the giveaway I thought I would do something slightly different. I’m going to give away a book that is not just powerful and moving but also one that will take people out of their comfort zones. This is not only a translated piece from another country (Germany), but it is also one that was written in the 18th century. This book influenced the Romantic Movement; it is a highly emotional love triangle that is also semi-autobiographical. If you hadn’t guessed it by now, I’m talking about Johann Wolfgang von Goethe’s classic novella The Sorrows of Young Werther. If you are interested, check out my review here.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

ArmchairBEA is a virtual convention for book blogger who can’t attend Book Expo America and the Book Blogger Convention. Button by Sarah of Puss Reboots


ArmchairBEA 2014: Introduction and Literature

Posted May 26, 2014 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in ArmchairBEA / 30 Comments

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This is my third year participating in the Armchair BEA event. While I am not an American I do like the opportunity to join with book bloggers around the world and talk about our favourite subject, books. I am sure most people know already but just in case; BEA is the Book Expo of America, held in New York, where people in the book industry of America get to be enticed with new books from publishers. There is an event now known as BookCon where book lovers can experience the same enticement, however they won’t get any diversity. Putting aside the problems with BookCon, I’m pleased to join all the fun with Armchair BEA. This is a virtual conference for the book bloggers that can’t make it to BEA. Over the next few days I will be joining in with this event and their daily blog post topic suggestions.

For the past two years I’ve been enjoying this event, it is a great way to meet new bloggers and show off your own book blog. As this is the first day of Armchair BEA I probably should move on to the topics for the day. Today we are introducing ourselves and talking about my favourite topic…literature. As a way of introduction Armchair BEA has provided ten questions and asks everyone to pick their favourite five and answer them.

Please tell us a little bit about yourself: Who are you? How long have you been blogging? Why did you get into blogging? Where in the world are you blogging from?

My name is Michael, I hail from North Queensland in Australia and I only became a reader in 2009. I started blogging not long after that over at Knowledge Lost as a way to sort my thoughts and explain what I had learnt along the way. I know I need to spend more time on that blog and I’m hoping to get back into it now that I’m forcing myself to write every day. I started Literary Exploration as a way to document my book journey and soon discovered I’m very passionate about books and book blogging. There is one thing I hate about book blogging but for the most part I really enjoy the whole experience.

Describe your blog in just one sentence. Then, list your social details — Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc. — so we can connect more online.

Literary Exploration is documentation of my bookish journey as I explore literature in all its forms.

You can normally find me on twitter: @knowledgelost or my blog @litexploration as well as Facebook, Instagram, sometimes Tumblr and Pinterest. I’m also very active on Goodreads (also check out the Literary Exploration Book Club), Literally and Booklikes.

What was your favourite book read last year? What’s your favourite book so far this year?

Highlights of 2013 include;

For more books check out my best of 2013 post

Highlights of 2014 (so far) include;

What is your favourite blogging resource?

One of the best investments I’ve made for my blog is the Ultimate Book Blogging Plugin. This one plugin has saved me a lot of time and makes my life so much easier. I can collect a lot of relevant information thanks to this plugin and it automatically updates my review index. It has a lot of cool features and I highly recommend it to all book bloggers. Of course you’ll all have to move to a self-hosted WordPress platform but that is a good idea anyway.

Spread the love by naming your favourite book blogs:

I’m always happy to recommend some great book blogs; here are some that I’m always happy to see updates from;

Time now to look at that all important topic of Literature: I’m a bit of a pretentious reader, so I’m always interested in reading books that are considered high literature. I’ve even set myself a life goal of reading the entire 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die List, I might even try to review them all too. I find myself drawn to literary more as I become a better reader; there is something about the prose and structure that stands out. As a literary explorer I try not to entrench myself in just one genre, but luckily there is plenty of great literary genre novels out there. I don’t have to sacrifice quality in order to read genre fiction.

However there are so many classics out there that I still have to read and I feel bad for not having read books like Middlemarch, The Brothers Karamazov, The Woman in White, The House of Mirth and so on. I want to catch up on all these great novels and I think classics are an essential part of the reading journey. I recommend every reader try to read more classics and to help you along, I suggest joining something like The Classics Club is a great way to challenge yourself to more classics. I want to take to the conversation to the comments but I’d like to ask some questions of the readers to help the conversation along;

  • What is your favourite literary novel (in any genre)?
  • Which classic would you like to read but are dreading?
  • What genre do you spend most of you time reading?
  • What genres tend to scare you?
  • Finally, are there classics that just seem too hard and why?

ArmchairBEA is a virtual convention for book blogger who can’t attend Book Expo America and the Book Blogger Convention. Button by Sarah of Puss Reboots