Review: Where The Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens

I’ve wanted to read Where The Crawdads Sing for a while now, but it most recently became a time-sensitive read when I learned that its film adaptation’s coming out soon. I rarely read the more popular books because I cave and end up watching the movies, which spoil them for me. But, for once I get to have an upper hand and full knowledge of the details that movies often miss out on. This book has many elements to it. It’s a saga of multiple timelines and perspectives- a murder mystery alongside a coming-of-age story. It’s set in the small sea town of Barkley Cove on the North Carolina coast from the 1950s onwards. However, our protagonist, Catherine “Kya” Clark lives in the adjacent swamplands, alone in a shack in a secluded area of the marsh where she has survived for years, with nature as her only companion. She rarely ventures into town and is in fact afraid to do so as the townspeople paint her as some sort of creature- savage and uncultured. This prejudice against the ‘Marsh Girl’ bubbles over when the beloved quarterback of Barkley Cove- Chase Andrews is murdered and all fingers point to Kya.

The book is of course about much more than that. The case progresses in 1969, clues are revealed and secrets are uncovered as we read about Kya, from the time she’s six and is abandoned by everyone she holds dear. She learns to fend for herself, getting better at making a life for herself day by day. This is really where the aspect of nature comes along. The marsh and all it has to offer; green lagoons, oak forests, squiggling sand crabs, palmettos, surprisingly friendly seagulls and a coast navigable by creeks and estuaries are the very essences of this book and Kya’s soul. The chapters are incredibly rich in imagery and the scenes Delia Owens paints with her words are one of the most compelling parts of the book. The marsh is both intriguing and terrifying. Kya’s loneliness is never at the forefront. She doesn’t fully express it either because the marsh is her home and always has something to offer her. It is her life and its explorations encompass her day. Nature is used to foreshadow, to set the scene. The author has very cleverly used her descriptions to portray the sight of the murder, or Kya’s favourite spots or turning points in the plot.

Although, I think where Owens excels in imagery she lacks in characterization. Kya as a protagonist felt bland. Her interactions with others and conversations were more fast-moving and exciting as compared to her individual chapters. Yes, her observations of the marsh and reliance on nature were great but that was all there was to her. Each to his own, but I like characters that express more and have a personality that dictates what happens next. Similarly, Kya had little to no character development. It seemed like times changed, her life changed yet she stayed the same but more mature and practical

Different themes stand out to different readers. To me, the theme of literature and reading is one. To reiterate, this book awakened this sort of thirst for writing in me. It made me want to express and describe everything around me in detail. The author couples nature-related poems with her fantastic imagery. Books and poetry become one of Kya’s connections to the outside world. Where words fail, often poetry is quoted to communicate what she’s going through. I don’t think Kya’s love for reading is talked about enough. She and books are such an unlikely pair but they’re kind of the perfect solace for someone that longs to learn but is restricted by her circumstances. They also give her the knowledge that sets her apart as the insightful and perceptive woman whom others are surprised to find. I’m reminded of a quote from the book that’s famous, “I wasn’t aware that words could hold so much. I didn’t know a sentence could be so full.”

Coming to the ending, don’t worry no spoilers. I wasn’t satisfied with it. The book as a whole seemed to move along much better and built the plot up very well. However, towards the end, it fizzled out and didn’t amount to a “great reveal” as it is in murder mysteries. The ending was unexpected but not unbelievable. Some found certain aspects like the actual carrying out of the murder and Kya’s survival alone in the marsh unrealistic or impossible, but I would say that that’s the beauty of fiction. As readers, we often complain that real life is never as sudden or galvanising as life in fiction. It’s a similar situation where the author has let her imagination run wild and in doing so, highlighted little parts of wildlife and nature we fail to notice. So, don’t try to make sense of it just sit back and enjoy!

Final thoughts~ Where The Crawdads Sing doesn’t settle on any one as its genre. It’s a coming-of-age, a romance, a period piece and a mystery, however you choose to look at it. A description of what it truly means to be lonely and an indirect ode to nature, its many components we haven’t yet discovered. I guess this book is similar in that sense. You could spend hours picking out metaphors and bits of symbolism and discover some new underlying themes. Delia Owens is a retired wildlife scientist, and she interestingly delves into certain ways of life or functioning of the marsh and relates it to human behaviour. A review described how the ‘case studies’ in her book are both human and natural- and I think that perfectly describes the balance she maintains between her professional knowledge and the insights she wishes to leave us with.

“Faces change with life’s toll, but eyes remain a window to what was..”

~Delia Owens, Where The Crawdads Sing.

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Review: The Palace of Illusions by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni

I’ll be honest this book wasn’t on my TBR and reading it was a rather spontaneous decision. It is a retelling of the Mahabharata which is a major Indian epic that is at its core, the tale of a devastating war between two clans- the Kauravas and Pandavas. It’s a very detailed, intricate tale so I’d suggest looking up the characters and understanding the basic storyline before reading this book. I never explored the genre of mythological texts much before and that’s why I only had a loose idea of what the Mahabharata was about. That was until I came across a more philosophical explanation of it and realized that this story has more than meets the eye.

For those unfamiliar with the epic: the Pandavas are five brothers and cousins to the Kauravas. A multitude of events and instances of betrayal causes a civil war between the two. The duration of this war is filled with revelations, acts of love and sacrifice and interludes of mythical stories. Moreover, it is a wonderful description of Indian culture and traditions. Keep in mind, the original book is huge and this novel talks of more of the main events and offers a new perspective on this compelling tale. It is narrated from the point of view of Panchaali, wife of the five Pandava brothers and a very important part of the epic. Although there have been various tv shows, movies and interpretations of the Mahabharata, they are for the most part male-centric. But, Panchaali plays a very crucial role in this war and she has such an interesting, unique history too. This is my mom’s favourite book and she has been urging me to read it, but I refused thinking it wasn’t my cup of tea(sorry mom).

However, when I found out the distinctive perspective this book offers and that Panchaali was no damsel in distress but an outspoken, fierce and opinionated queen,(literally) I wanted to read this book immediately. If you can’t tell already, I loved it and my mom had an ‘I told you so’ moment. Anyway, it’s surprising that Panchaali’s viewpoints haven’t been explored much before because she was the immediate cause of the war and in general, a female character not only known for her prophesized birth, but her inquisitive nature and drive to push boundaries and enter places reserved for men in ancient India. However, the thing that sets her apart and makes her known across lands is that she is queen of the Pandavas.

Throughout the book, Panchaali expresses her desire to make a name for herself and to go down in history as someone who was revolutionary or different. As her name Panchaali goes, she was one of a kind living in a time where only kings have several wives all at once. Becoming this legend of sorts is only the beginning of a lifetime of instances where she indirectly influences major events of the Mahabharata. Panchaali has some dialogue or history with almost all male characters in the book, she advises some and seeks advice from some. These moments, even if they don’t play a part in driving the story forward are still at the back of her head and we see how they affect her when those characters are on a battlefield fighting for their lives.

The author also highlights some other background female characters equally interesting as Panchaali. These women made a difference in their way and it’s great the way they all come together at the end. If there’s an emotion I noticed was very well put forth in this novel, it was regret. Panchaali often forgot the consequences of her actions in pursuit of her ambitions and these consequences would return to haunt her. Chitra Banerjee brought something new to the table in her portrayal of Panchaali’s deepest desire playing out unexpectedly. She wanted to make her mark on history and she did, but by starting a war. Towards the end, she has an almost apologetic tone as she never wanted for so many lives to be lost, women to be widowed and survivors left forlorn and regretful.

Final thoughts~ This book had a bittersweet, beautiful ending. Though mythological it is very versatile and has some great lessons to teach no matter where you’re from. The title particularly intrigued me because I couldn’t figure why the Palace of Illusions which is the name given to the extraordinary palace Panchaali inhabited, was particularly important. I think it’s meant to be symbolic because this palace was the first place she ever belonged, was ever happy and when the war and devastation began in her life; the palace, the crux of her joy was something she never saw again. I could go on about this book, but I’d rather you read it and understand where I’m coming from. I want to explore more of this genre because mythological stories are truly timeless!

“A situation in itself, is neither happy nor unhappy. It’s only your response to it that causes your sorrow.”

~Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni, The Palace of Illusions.

Is It Over Yet?

To all of those people that said, ”it will be over in no time, we’ll all be back to normal soon and you can go back to school!” Well, it’s 2021 and I’m still here. At home, still on Zoom and so are teachers and students in many parts of the world. Now don’t get me wrong I’m not blaming anyone nor do I wish to re-open schools and universities when it would be irresponsible to in rising COVID cases. But, on a lighter note, as an introvert, I never thought I’d want to leave my house. Yesterday, I was looking back at some blog posts from March 2020 about ‘things to do in quarantine/ a lockdown’ and I was surprised to find that I had tried most of them. Take a look!

Above we have the quintessential lockdown list. At the very beginning, we have the WordPress blog (by far my best idea and a delight to tick off the list). It seems like a lot but I swear I tried the Pinterest Board, the journal, the foreign language (not my cup of tea I quit in two weeks), the baking, the organizing, the board games, the podcasts, a lot of the music and sleep, some sketching and which lockdown experience is complete without the video calls? So, I did all the steps, why am I still here?!

It isn’t entirely without its positives though, I’ll admit re-discovering some of these activities I loved was great. I’ve found some incredible authors, movies, content creators and bloggers in this past year, I’ll give this lockdown that. Am I proud of myself for being productive even at times when I felt overwhelmed? Yes. But I have been demotivated lately. Especially when it comes to writing, which I look forward to doing, I find myself without any inspiration, yet grasping at straws for ideas. This is a very common dilemma that I’m sure most writers have faced at some point which is being full of amazing article/story/blog post ideas, but sitting at your laptop only to find yourself blank.

I need inspiration, I need a change. Back in October, when I started this blog I had one idea after another because there was so much going on! I still have ideas, I just don’t have the right idea, you know what I mean? Well, except this one.

Every morning I check my phone hoping to read that I can stop wearing my mask now or I can get back to school. I know that can’t happen that quick, but till then, fingers crossed!

Shakespeare wrote some of his best works during a plague, so are so many of you on WordPress and other authors out there. I too have some book reviews lined up but I’m constantly looking for that one-in-a-millionth idea. I’d love to hear from my readers, what do you all want to read on the blog next?

Dwell in Possibilities

Last blog post of the year! Usually, at the end of a year I recount the things I’m thankful for, so this time I want to emphasize one of the things that got me through this nightmare of a year- nostalgia. When I think of nostalgia, buzzwords like memories and dreams come to mind. I once read that being nostalgic means you’re stuck in the past. I’ve even read that nostalgia is a form of day-dreaming! However, this year, I’ve realized that it is anything but. I realized what being nostalgic truly feels like. As the world came crashing down, nostalgia was my getaway. Thinking of good times from 2019 or earlier became a coping mechanism.

To some, nostalgia is a picture, a memory, a book. To me, music is what unlocks nostalgia, is what unlocks that overflow of bitter-sweet memories that you can’t help but smile at. This year, I think we all needed an escape sometimes and that’s okay. Recounting memories isn’t living in the past, but is cherishing it. When I’m nostalgic, I find myself thinking how fast something went by and it makes me all the more intent on enjoying the present. Nostalgia also has more of a motivating factor for me. It gives me that rush of adrenaline I need to finish that last bit of work or read that last chapter as my eyes get heavy. Sometimes you need that boost from the past to enjoy the present.

This post doesn’t really have a lesson, rather I want to bring to light an underrated emotion. Think about it, in every book or movie, when nothing seems to work out for the main character or they lost the love of their life or their idea didn’t go as planned- what helps? They flashback to a better time in their lives and they are inspired to continue, to start anew. Then follows the happy ending.

Nostalgia also gave me hope. Hope that things will get better, hope that the next day won’t be as bad. Hope is always followed by something good. If anything, 2020 was a year filled with hope. Even if it wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows, we had our good moments. I certainly did, and nostalgia got me there. Even now, as the year ends and we say ‘I hope 2021 is better’ that’s hope. That’s the light at the end of the tunnel. Whatever came our way, we never stopped hoping. For me, a part of that hope came from nostalgia. From the bitter aspect of it, which reminded me of all my blue days, and how they didn’t last.

So, thanks nostalgia. You can keep collecting my memories and letting them out when someone asks me ‘What’s a memory that you cherish?’ or ‘What’s a time you’d wish to relive?’ and then, follows the sudden rush of joy and a dash of longing I like to call nostalgia.

As 2020 ends, there are some moments I’d like to remember but overall, I think this year will be a reminder to me, that disaster struck but we went on, times changed but we slowly adapted, and that no matter what happens you have to keep going.

PS.- Of all things, I’ll remember this as the year I started this blog:)

Happy New Year!

The Liebster Award

This is part two of my awards post and it also features one of my favorite awards. I posted part one- on the Mystery Blogger Award, you can read that here . Anyway, I am always excited to be nominated for any award but the Liebster Award is, in my opinion, a great innovation in so many ways. It’s actually the first award I read about, the one which introduced me to the whole blogging award concept! For those of you unfamiliar with it, the Liebster Award is a badge of recognition of sort. Only given to bloggers with less than 3,000 followers, it’s main aim is to bring new and aspiring bloggers up and help them grow. As an aspiring and relatively new blogger myself, I think the Liebster Award is so important. For many of us, it’s the first award we’re nominated for. Personally, it’s not only motivated me to work all the more harder on A Writ Much, but it’s given me that feeling of reassurance that yes, someone out there is reading my words and they think they’re good. Now I know that I’m not just sending my thoughts into a desolate void!

Also, thanks once again Tall Blonde Tales for the nomination. Check her blog out!

“The Liebster Award” is an award for bloggers by bloggers. The award recognizes new blogs with great content. The purpose is bloggers supporting other bloggers. This award gives bloggers a voice and encourages more people to interact with us and follow our journeys!

Source- https://www.suewherewhywhat.com/uncatagorized/liebster-award/#:~:text=About%20the%20Liebster%20Award,new%20blogs%20with%20great%20content.

Rules:

  1. Thank the person who nominated you and provide a link back to their blog so others can find them.
  2. Share 11 facts about yourself.
  3. Answer the questions asked by the blogger who nominated you.
  4. Nominate other bloggers (with less than 3,000 followers) and ask them 11 new questions.
  5. Notify the nominees about it by commenting on one of their blog posts.
  6. List the rules and display a Liebster Blogger Award on your post and/ or your blog site.

11 Facts About Me:

  1. I have this process in which I don’t read a new book until at least 24 hours after I’ve finished my last one. I do the same with tv shows. It’s not for any other reason but so that I can bask in the essence of that show/book and just, think about it for the next 24 hours. Maybe you do it too, but everyone around me makes fun of it!
  2. I am actually a published author. I haven’t published a novel but a short story I’d written was published.
  3. I can listen to Adele for hours on end.
  4. I am still trying to find my favorite author because I don’t have one at present. Although I think Khaled Hosseini or Rainbow Rowell are close contenders for the esteemed position.
  5. I love listening to a good podcast.
  6. I was and I guess I still am obsessed with the city of Paris.
  7. Movies which leave me speechless are my favorite kind.
  8. Pasta comes second to sushi on the list of foods which always make me drool.
  9. Although I can sketch well, I’m the worst when it comes painting.
  10. Even if thought-provoking movies are my first choice, I am ever ready to enjoy a good rom-com.
  11. I have some quotes which I often read for inspiration. They help, I don’t know how and I really recommend doing it.

Tall Blonde Tales’ Questions:

  1. What do you enjoy most about blogging? 

The best part about blogging is when I see someone’s comment on one of my posts because I love hearing from readers whether it’s feedback or their views on the topic/book.

2. What is your biggest problem/challenge when it comes to blogging?

I think choosing the right topic every week stands as my biggest challenge. I brainstorm a lot of ideas to come up with the perfect one, which I think my readers would enjoy but I feel strongly about as well.

3. How long does it usually take you to finish a blog post?

I usually have a clear idea of what I want to write before actually sitting down to write it so, it doesn’t take me more than 2 days. Sometimes 3.

4. If you were to name three goals you’d want your blog to achieve in the next year, what would they be?

I want to explore other genres in writing and reading too.

I really hope to reach 100 followers.

I want to develop a rapport with more bloggers.

5. What is the greatest achievement your blog has received? IF you haven’t got any, what would be the achievement you’d want to receive? 

So far, winning the awards has been my greatest achievement.

6. What is your best viewed post? Share it with us by providing a link and a short description about it. 

My best viewed post is Is History Trying to Tell Us Something?. The post is about how we see certain acts and parts of history repeating themselves which is intriguing to see because it seems like a sign rather than coincidence. It’s something I’ve wondered about for a while and I’m thinking of maybe writing another post to elaborate on it!

7. If you were to give out three pieces of advice to yourself as a blogger, what would they be? 

Your passion for writing is why you started a blog and it should always be fun. Don’t ever let it become something you dread doing.

Remain consistent with your blog, be regular with posts and networking.

Some posts won’t do as well as others and that’s okay.

8. Which blog or blogger inspires you the most? 

So, this opinion of mine is constantly changing because I come across a lot of different blogs, but I always look forward to reading Myths of The Mirror and Introverted Thoughts! They write some captivating posts and have inspired me on occasion. Do check them out!

9. What is your favorite thing about being a blogger? 

I think everybody says this but my favorite part is interacting with other bloggers and reading their work. The blogosphere is such a great place and I’ve read and talked to a number of talented and like-minded writers.

10. What are your top blogging tips? 

First and most importantly, don’t underestimate networking and make an effort to interact with others on the blogosphere because it is one of the core things which will help along the way. Nothing works overnight so don’t be discouraged when things are a little slow for you towards the beginning because it will pick up and you’ll be growing in no time! Also, I would give the same advice I gave myself because that’s what keeps you going too.

11. What is the most amazing thing you have ever done? (besides starting your blog)

I’ve been scuba diving, that was really cool and also being published, it’s something I hold pride in.

My Questions for Nominees:

  1. Has COVID-19 and this year in general taught you anything?
  2. What are 3 things you can’t live without?
  3. How did you come up with the name of your blog?
  4. Who is your favorite fictional character?
  5. Which of your posts is your favorite?
  6. What’s a place you want to visit, but have never been?
  7. If you could pick a decade or a year to live in, which would you pick?
  8. Why did you start blogging?
  9. Name a movie that you can watch a million times and never be tired of.
  10. What is a quote that inspires you?
  11. What is the most ridiculous fact you know?

Finally, the Nominees:

The Mind of Litha

The All Nigerian Girl

The Manuscript Maniac

Mad Lad Mindfulness

M’Shasho

Insurgent

I’m so glad I got to do my first awards posts, they were truly so much fun to write. Looking forward to reading my nominees’ posts!

The Mystery Blogger Award

Last week I was nominated for two awards by the amazing Tia from Tall Blonde Tales! Go check her blog out, she writes some great posts which are definitely worth the read! Tia’s been a wonderful blogging peer from the start and I was super excited to be nominated by her. She’s also initiating Blogmas on her blog so check that out too! So, thanks Tia for the nominations. Anyway, I was nominated for the Mystery Blogger and Liebster Award and since I want to focus on both, this will be a two-part awards post. Onto the Mystery Blogger Award!

“The Mystery Blogger Award” is an award for amazing bloggers with ingenious posts. Their blog not only captivates; it inspires and motivates. They are one of the best out there, and they deserve every recognition they get. This award is also for bloggers who find fun and inspiration in blogging; and they do it with so much love and passion.
– Okoto Enigma

Source- https://www.okotoenigmasblog.com/my-greatest-creation-yet/

Rules:

  1. Put the award logo/ image on your blog
  2. List the rules
  3. Thank whoever nominated you and provide a link to their blog
  4. Mention the creator of the award and provide a link as well
  5. Tell your readers 3 things about yourself
  6. Nominate other bloggers of your choice
  7. Notify your nominees by commenting on their blog
  8. Ask your nominees any 5 questions of your choice; with one weird or funny question (specify)
  9. Share a link to your best post(s)

3 things about myself:

  1. I can eat sushi for breakfast everyday if you ask me to.
  2. Sketching is my go-to during writers’ block.
  3. I’m one of those teens who’s crazy about her parents. (I mean, I’m not ashamed to say that I’m one of those rare ones :))

My best posts:

I’ve loved writing all my posts but if I had to pick favorites I think The Bechdel Test: A Call for Representation for it was a topic that I’d spent months thinking about and finally sharing my thoughts on it felt great. In terms of book reviews, I would pick Review: Pachinko by Min Jin Lee because it was not only an exceptional book which I enjoyed reviewing, but it also featured some of my best writing in my opinion!

Tall Blonde Tales’ Questions:

What have you done this week that made you feel good about yourself? 

Especially this year, anytime I complete the tasks lined up on my to-do list is when I feel the most accomplished. I’m proud to say that I successfully managed to check off everything on my list this week and it sure does feel good.

What were the last 5 emojis you used? 

💜🙈😟😍🤷‍♀

Describe the most embarrassing incident of your life.

Sports and I, don’t exactly get along, but that never stopped me from playing them whenever I got the chance to! So, once some friends asked if I’d like to join them in a game of football. Now, I didn’t and still don’t know how to play. Yet, I agreed and went on to play with utmost confidence- the stars weren’t in my favour. Throughout the game, I scored goals for the other team, kicked the ball off the field and I’m pretty sure ‘the weather’ wasn’t the reason the game ended early. Gosh, even writing about it makes me cringe in embarrassment.

What is your best achievement in blogging till now? 

Undoubtedly, my best achievement has to be being nominated for the awards. I’m so glad I started my blog because I love writing for it and interacting with everyone on the blogosphere. But, the nomination is my best achievement.

[Weird question] If you could switch places with one actor in any scene in any movie/tv show, which would it be?

I would love to be Saoirse Ronan as Jo in Little Women. It’s one of my favorite movies for a lot of reasons- the cast, the plot and it was also the last movie I saw in a theatre before they were closed. Honestly, you can name any of her scenes in the movie and I’d happily switch places.

My Questions for my Nominees:

  1. If you could interview any famous person (a celebrity, an author, a world leader even an activist) who would it be?
  2. What’s the first thing on your bucket list?
  3. What motivated you to start your blog?
  4. What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever done?
  5. [Weird Question] Would you rather be in a musical on Broadway or part of an acapella group?

Finally, my Nominees:

Banter Republic

My Healthy and Wealthy Life

Fun With Philosophy

Caffeinated Fae

Yuvi’s Buzz

My One Penny Wisdom

I enjoyed writing this awards post and can’t wait to read my nominees’ answers to my questions, and learn more about them as well!

Is History Trying to Tell Us Something?

In two of the last books I read, Pachinko and The Bastard of Istanbul I saw a common theme; that our past lives within the present, and history often repeats itself, when we don’t know it. Now, these thoughts are much too overwhelming to analyze. I don’t know about you, but knowing that certain instances I’ve seen are just the past recurring? To me, that sounds like the plot of a fantasy novel, where the world is stuck in some sort of punishment. Considering the human race is one that thrives on the idea of ‘different’, I am shocked that we even let history repeat itself!

What’s common between the people that history, that the world idolizes? What makes them inspiring? It’s the fact that they all thought unique. They innovated and brought unconventional ideas to the table. When someone doesn’t stick to the ‘status quo’, that’s the start of every great movement, the beginning of every revolution. No-one wants to be ordinary! We’re ordered to think differently. Yet, every revolutionaries’ story begins with society condemning them… But that’s a debate for another time.

I’m not saying different is bad, uniqueness makes the world better. But I’m surprised that history can still repeat itself when all each generation wants to do is make their mark, ensure that their new ideas are recorded in history books.

source: https://pin.it/3WrAgwK

Above is one of the many common quotes you read about time. We’ve all heard or read that phrase: history repeats itself when we choose to ignore it- or a variation of it. I completely agree. We see it happening even now- with the same tragedies, discrimination, and issues faced by us decades ago, still prevalent. Every day, I see yet another disturbing act of violence making the headlines, another case of injustice taking place, and think: why? Why aren’t we learning from history?

So, as I pen this blog post I realize that yes, history does repeat itself when we ignore the past when we rule it out because we often feel that the world has evolved. But, that posed yet another puzzling question in my head. As the world fights the COVID 19 pandemic, analyses have come to show that a full-scale pandemic seems to occur every 100 years. Examples of this are the Plague in 1720, Cholera in 1820, and the Spanish flu in 1918. Finally, right on time, we are currently in a pandemic in 2020.

We also see striking similarities between these pandemics whether in their effects or how they are conducted. Now, here’s where I am confused. If this is another act of history-repetition, what exactly are we to learn from it? If the past indeed repeats itself because we ignore it- what about the Plague or even the Coronavirus are we disregarding? This is truly something I want to understand so if you have a theory do tell me about it!

OTHER BLOG POSTS ON THE TOPIC:

Why Does History Repeat Itself?

Infinite Loop

Does History Repeat Itself When We Refuse To Acknowledge It?

The Bechdel Test: A Call for Representation

No study of female representation in media is complete without the Bechdel Test. Advocacy for diversity in every field is increasing, as it should. Yet, few understand the need for it in movies. Everybody loves movies, they tell stories that leave us crying, laughing, and always longing for more. They’re a different kind of comfort food. There’s a movie about anything you could name. But, we see a pattern in most of them. A code of conduct that a majority of filmmakers follow.

The Bechdel Test created by Allison Bechdel in 1985 is a test of the representation of women in fiction. Although it can be used to analyze books as well, its original focus was cinema when it was introduced in the form of a comic strip by Bechdel who credited the idea to her friend Liz Wallace and the writings of Virginia Woolf. There are three criteria a work of fiction must include to pass the Bechdel Test:

Do you see how little the test asks for? Note the words ‘at least two named women’ and ‘anything besides a man’. On first reading this, I thought; How hard could it be? We’re in the 21st century! I’m sure 80% of the movies I’ve seen easily pass it. You will be surprised at the number of movies you consider ‘hits’ and ‘blockbusters’ which barely pass the test.

Take a look at the numbers- a report shows that just 33.1 percent of speaking roles in 2018’s top-grossing films. We see an improvement in the 2019 numbers where 45 to 54.9 percent of all speaking roles were women. So, we have two or more women who talk to each other- you’re almost there just one more step and your movie has passed the test. But here’s where most films fail. According to the criteria, these women must have at least one conversation (this conversation only has to happen once for a film to pass) about something, anything besides a man. It leaves so much to the imagination!

A BBC Analysis of the Oscars revealed that fewer than half of the 89 films named best picture passed the test. Why is this the case? Why are filmmakers still struggling to fulfill the most minimal criteria? Besides, if the largest and most influential film industry in the world can’t implement the Bechdel Test in its award-winning movies, how should we expect the rest of the world to follow?

I think the most common misconception people have of the Bechdel Test is that it asks for ‘feminist’ and women-centric movies. But the plot of a movie does not have to revolve around the conversation of its characters. A movie needs to have some reality to it, so why doesn’t the scene cut to the female supporting characters talking about the news, or their favorite show, or even the game last night? Instead of how cute that guy is, should I text him? Women have other things to talk about too, you know.

When it comes to having two named female characters, I think a well-rounded personality is all we’re asking for. Someone who isn’t just defined by that one line they said or the plot of the movie.

Now I’m not saying all films should have the same characters, the same storyline. But a little representation wouldn’t hurt. Diversity makes this world stronger, it’s the sundae and the rest is the cherry on top. There are some great movies out there made by some talented people, but their uniqueness gives them that wow-factor. Although its criteria seem quite normal, the Bechdel Test asks for something different in today’s film industry. I think it’s time we see that change!

Which of the movies you’ve seen pass the Bechdel Test?

P. S- If you’d like the names of some movies which pass the test I’ve included a link under sources.

This is a line from the ‘Carry On’ series by Rainbow Rowell. It’s one of my favorite series and the first place I read about the Test!

SOURCES:

2019 Statistics| Women and Hollywood

2019’s Bechdel Passing Films

What is the Bechdel Test and why are movies still not passing it?

It’s time to move beyond the Bechdel Test

OTHER BLOG POSTS ON THE TOPIC:

The Bechdel Test: Is It Still Relevant Today?

Movies I Like That Pass The Bechdel Test

Stop and Smell the Roses

Staycation. The term has really been trending this year!

Staycation:

A holiday spent in one’s home country rather than abroad, or one spent at home and involving day trips to local attractions.

Source:https://www.lexico.com/definition/staycation

I recently got to go on a staycation of sort. Obviously, due to the current situation, none of us can travel. But, if anything this pandemic has shown us the human race’s ability to adapt and in this case we did! Instead of their trips to Paris and shows in London (and retreats in Bali and charities in India) celebrities are posting pictures of their elaborate homes with gargantuan lawns where they plant trees and ride their horses every morning.

Of course, they have a full face of makeup on and are drinking ‘organic kale juice’ while doing so.

After months of staying home; missing out on an entire year of school and bored with the four walls of my home, I decided I needed a change of scene. Fortunately, my parents were on the same page. We concluded that the best way to have a vacation while staying safe at the same time was to go somewhere close to home, by road.

So, we set off for the weekend on a six-hour drive to a resort on the hillside. The drive wasn’t really a road trip, since we had a destination but yet I took it upon myself to curate the perfect playlist which was basically the families’ favorite songs (it took me two minutes to make it). As we went further out of the city and into the hills, I could feel myself drifting into stay-cay mode. We were surprised at how full the resort was. I guess everyone needs a break but nonetheless, we wore masks and sanitized religiously. It’s the new norm and we have to get used to vacationing this way right?

The view all around was breathtaking and the weather was perfect with it being pleasantly cold. It rained every night followed by fog the next day. The perfect setting to crack open a new book alongside a cup of coffee while listening to Conan Gray. It may not seem appealing to you but it was my ideal staycation. We spent most of our time inside the resort, walking around or playing games. There were a few trails nearby and so, we went trekking every morning.

The trails we went down were beautiful, with different flowers and plants adorning the path but most importantly, they were empty. So, for once we weren’t viewing the dreaded outdoors with a masked perspective! The treks were freeing and refreshing because there wasn’t a soul around. Just us and the open road. The end was the best part, the view was like something from a Bob Ross painting.

Of course, I have to share the view with you 🙂

All in all, the staycation was a godsend and all of us agreed that it was something we unknowingly needed. Who doesn’t need a break right?

Everyone, no matter who you are needs some time for relaxation and recreation at some point. We’re not machines after all. Taking a break isn’t a sign of laziness or illness, it’s normal. Everyone at every stage of life needs time off- as a student I do and as adults, my parents do too. In my post, Living through History while Postponing Revolution I wrote about being troubled by the sword of productivity hanging above my head and how the present situation makes it harder.

However, I think that regardless of what’s going on around us, those feelings of exhaustion that sometimes come upon us, be it mentally or physically will always be there. That’s why when you feel stressed, overworked or overwhelmed, it’s okay to take a break.

I’ve come across so many online personalities who document their lives online, take a break from social media or their job occasionally. I’ve even seen bloggers in the WordPress community who’ve taken some time off posting for almost a year and have returned feeling stronger and more inspired to write than ever.

Your surroundings may be telling you to catch a breath in many ways. You just have to recognize it. A break doesn’t only mean a staycation. It could mean going off all social media for a while or unwinding with a favorite hobby or favorite food. As long as you feel at peace and ready to take on any challenge at the end of it, it’s a break.

So, put your feet up and take a breather, everything else can wait.

What’s your go-to me-time activity?

OTHER BLOG POSTS ON THE TOPIC: It’s Okay To Take A Break

A Bug In My Beer- News and Nonsense from my Staycation

Living through History while Postponing Revolution

#blogging #pandemic

We’re in October. When did that happen? Only two months and this nightmare of a year will be over. But even though we’ve all been saying things like ‘I can’t WAIT for this year to be over!!!’ what are we hoping for? Do you think the minute the clock strikes 12 on the 31st of December, that COVID-19 will just vanish into thin air? Or will vaccines fall from the sky into our hands? The year does not have anything to do with the unfortunate events that are going on in the world. Racism, bad presidents, wildfires and violence against women are all things which were always prevalent and will continue to remain prevalent in 2021. Only the dates of their happenings will change. But amongst everything that has happened in the past 9 months, of all the changes that this pandemic has brought about, something that I find really hard to believe- something I still can’t fully wrap my head around is the fact that what I’m currently going through, what we as a world are going through is living history. This pandemic is a global crisis, a major milestone on the timeline of the human race. It’s something that students decades later will probably study. Coronavirus and the toll it’s taken on the world, what it’s putting the human race through is something that history books will record, that generations like me will look back on. Stories will be written about it and generations to come will talk about it and wonder, what we went through during this time. It’s the same way we talk about the plague or the Spanish flu. There are entire books and movies based on past pandemics. We find those black-and-white or brown pictures; of people with masks on the infected lying on hammock-type beds. I can imagine it: as students of the future are given the list of history’s worst pandemics, the coronavirus pandemic will be at the very bottom. I’m hoping it will in fact be at the bottom and no other successes it.

This is from an article I read which was the inspiration for this post. If you’d like to read it, I’ve attached the link at the end!

However, back to the present, did we all forget that 2020 was supposed to be THE year. The start of a new decade, plans for a better world were made. Visionaries had set out to change the world in 2020! Our leaders had promised us, ‘By 2022, India/USA/China/Saudi Arabia/ literally any other country will be at the top of the world!’ they said. Right now, with the economy crashing I do not see that happening any time soon. For me in quarantine, every day is pretty much the same. I wake up, attend classes for school if I have any and then spend the rest of the day just laying around. But every night, before I sleep I plan the tasks I want to accomplish the next day.  Say, complete the three projects I have from school or do something productive instead of just watching television or being on my phone and of course, I always find myself in the same, unaccomplished position. But so far, writing regularly is the only thing I’ve managed to keep up. The work I plan to do each day almost never gets done and I feel guilty every single day for being a procrastinator. But, in times like these when every day things just seem to get worse and even walking out my front door seems impossible…. I feel unmotivated. And I think that’s okay. This generation of the human race has NEVER seen anything like this before. So, trying to push yourself to actually get something done when anxiety is taking over your brain because the world feels like it’s coming to an end is hard. I’m sure everyone has had what I call the ‘2020 panic attack’ before. All I’m telling myself right now is that it’s okay to do nothing because we all need a break, sometimes. Things feel out of place and getting back to normal is currently every person’s fantasy. So, one day I WILL tick off each task on my to-do list: 

1. Complete schoolwork

2. Get out of bed before 12

3. Learn 2 languages

4. Write a book

5. Sketch a scenery 

6. Cure cancer

7. Become a revolutionary and change the world

You know, the usual things we all do to pass time! Jokes aside, if you’re having a bad day and it happens to the best of us, just relax. What is the most relaxing activity you can think of? Do that. I’ve been having one of those weeks and I call such days/weeks a mental health break. Maybe tomorrow I will wake up and feel motivated and energetic enough to do stuff, to have a productive quarantine. That day is just not today. 

This is from an article by the New York Times which really lifted my spirits about not being productive. The link has been attached!

ARTICLES WORTH THE READ:

The New York Times Article

We Are In The Midst Of Making History