First Lines Fridays 1.1: In my fifteen years…

First Lines Fridays is a weekly feature for book lovers hosted by Wandering Words. What if instead of judging a book by its cover, its author or its prestige, we judged it by its opening lines?

  • Pick a book off your shelf (it could be your current read or on your TBR) and open to the first page
  • Copy the first few lines, but don’t give anything else about the book away just yet – you need to hook the reader first
  • Finally… reveal the book!

In my fifteen years, I have stuck my arm in a vat of slithering eels, climbed all the major hills of San Francisco, and tiptoed over the graves of a hundred souls. Today, I will walk on air.

9780399175411_OutrunTheMoon_BOM.indd

by Stacey Lee
ASIN/ISBN: 978039915411
Publication: May 24, 2016

San Francisco, 1906: Fifteen-year-old Mercy Wong is determined to break from the poverty in Chinatown, and an education at St. Clare’s School for Girls is her best hope. Although St. Clare’s is off-limits to all but the wealthiest white girls, Mercy gains admittance through a mix of cunning and a little bribery, only to discover that getting in was the easiest part. Not to be undone by a bunch of spoiled heiresses, Mercy stands strong—until disaster strikes.

On April 18, a historic earthquake rocks San Francisco, destroying Mercy’s home and school. With martial law in effect, she is forced to wait with her classmates for their families in a temporary park encampment. Though fires might rage, and the city may be in shambles, Mercy can’t sit by while they wait for the army to bring help—she still has the “bossy” cheeks that mark her as someone who gets things done. But what can one teenage girl do to heal so many suffering in her broken city? (from Goodreads)

I’m currently taking a break and rereading books–Outrun the Moon being one of them. I thought I might try to hook you with the first line. You already know my stance on Stacey Lee’s historical fiction novels so I won’t say too much. I’ll try to put up a review soon though. I hope you decide to give it a try!

Let’s Talk Bookish: Why do people lie about reading books?

Let’s Talk Bookish is a weekly meme hosted by Rukky @ Eternity Books and Dani @ Literary Lion. Discussions pertain to topics related to reading or books. Share your opinions, and spread the love by visiting other “Let’s Talk Bookish” posts.

Prompts: Some people will say they have read books when they really haven’t; why do you think that is? Have you ever personally lied about reading a book? How do you feel about people who lie about reading books? Do you think there’s a certain type of book people are more likely to lie about reading?

**Please note there may be some sarcastic remarks in italics **

Close friends usually tell me like to tell exactly what they think when I suggest they read a book I liked. This ranges from, “I don’t want to,” “Make me,” “I hate reading,” and the infamous “I’ll pick it up later.” (Translation: I will not be reading it, but I know this might make you feel better, and I know that it will make you stop pestering me about it for the moment.) I love my friends, and this is how it should be! We shouldn’t feel the need to lead each other on about whether we will or won’t read a book, but, on occasion, people may not be as forthcoming about reading books.

Social desirability bias refers to a response bias where participants in a survey provide the socially acceptable answer. Because participants want to be looked upon favorably, they give the answer that is expected of them.  For instance, if individuals are asked whether they voted, they are likely to respond that they did because it’s the socially acceptable answer. Being asked about reading likely works in a similar way. When individuals are asked if they’ve read a book lately, they may be likely to respond affirmatively because reading is viewed as “good behavior.” If I tell you that I read, maybe you’ll see me in a better light. Reading is often perceived to be associated with intelligence. If you are a reader, you must be smart! (Right?! Also the opposite assumption must be true then.)

However, not all reading may be considered positive. Let’s take this one step further and consider genres. Certain genres are seen as more acceptable or even more superior than others. For instance, romance novels are often viewed negatively whereas classics are viewed positively. Science fiction and fantasy are often perceived to be only for nerds and geeks. Romance novels are often perceived to be read only by women. Due to social desirability bias, these stereotypes can influence responses. Generally, people may be more likely to say they do not read romance novels, even if they do. The stigma surrounding romance novels may prompt these negative responses. Similarly, people may be more willing to respond that they’ve read books by Toni Morrison or Jane Austen because books by these authors are deemed literary classics. Smart people read classics. (Obviously!)

Why do people are people not as forthcoming about reading books? There are plenty of smart people who do not like to read but it is hard to say no when society tells everyone that it’s what they should do–it’s what smart people do (apparently). Of course, only certain types of books are acceptable though. While I love reading, I understand there are so many things other people may enjoy more. Time is a scarce resource so we should spend it doing the things we love. I might try to convince you to read a book but I also respect that you don’t want to.

What your thoughts on this? Why might people not want to disclose that they aren’t readers? Why might others lie about reading a book? What can we do to create a culture that doesn’t shame individuals who cannot read or do not like to read?