On Reading Fan Fiction

The last few months, I have been reading less and less books. I think I’m in some sort of a reading slump, and it just won’t go away. The only thing I’ve been reading consistently? Fan fiction. (Or fanfiction, whatever tickles your fancy). I started reading fan fiction in May, and I’m still doing so in August. So today I want to talk to you about it! 

So which fan fiction have I been reading the past few months? I’ve mainly stuck to the Harry Potter universe. I started out reading Remus Lupin/Sirius Black ones -or Wolfstar if you prefer that name. I thought it was a “safe” place to start because you don’t actually get to read about their years at Hogwarts. They’re already adults when you meet them in the original works. So these stories wouldn’t contradict anything I’d already read. 

I fell in love with the stories, and with Remus and Sirius. After reading so many of the stories, there is no doubt in my mind that these two were in love. That these Marauders belong together. I have absolutely nothing against Remus and Tonks, don’t get me wrong. But it’s just not the same. I adore the studious, quiet yet rebellious Remus and the punk, loyal rebel Sirius. I think these two work so well together. And they are now forever cemented in my mind. 

After reading copious stories on Remus & Sirius, I decided to venture into different territory. I started reading Harry Potter/Draco Malfoy fan fiction. This is a pairing I never really understood before, to be honest. Until I started reading the stories people have written about them. Now, I’m completely convinced. 

Afterwards, I ventured out of the Harry Potter universe fan fic. I also started reading fan fiction about Skam, The 100, Carry On and some Six of Crows ones. Now that I’ve been reading them for a little while, I wanted to talk about the reasons I love it -and why I think people should stop looking down on fan fiction. 

REASONS I LOVE FAN FICTION

  • It allows you to read about the non-canon pairing you love.

I think this is one of the most important reasons. For example, you might read a book with a love triangle, and your ship isn’t endgame. Where do you turn to for the stories you wanted? Other fans, who agree with your pick. 

But in my opinion, it also gives voices to diverse pairings who are so often lacking in books. My two favorite couples are still Sirius & Remus and Harry & Draco (although I do love Ginny and Luna as well). And I think we can all agree that there is a disturbing lack of diversity in Harry Potter. That’s something we can never change. The books have been written, the story has been told. But in fan fiction, we allow ourselves to write a different tale. The story of LGBTQ+ characters, who didn’t have a voice before.

I love the fact that in almost every single story I’ve read with the pairings mentioned above, Seamus and Dean are together. So many of the fans agree that this should have happened. But it didn’t. So these stories allow people to see themselves in their favorite characters, when they couldn’t before.

  • It allows you to read more about your favorite canon pairing!

The direct opposite of the argument above, I know. I mentioned that I love Sirius & Remus and Harry & Draco. Both pairings are definitely non-canon compliant. But I’ve also read a fair amount of fan fiction on pairings that are canon compliant. I love reading Simon Snow & Baz Pitch (Carry On by Rainbow Rowell) stories, and Isak & Even (SKAM) stories. There is so much more to their relationships that the stuff we get to see on TV/in the books and fan fiction allows you to explore that. 

  • It allows you to read more about the characters you love

This may seem like the same argument as the first one, but trust me, it isn’t. When I love a book, show, movie, etc. I tend to love the characters. After a while, they start to feel like friends or family because you know them so well. The easiest example to me is Harry Potter. Growing up with these books, they feel so familiar. Yet the story has been finished for a while now, and there is no new material for me to fall in love with. 

Fan fiction allows me to read more about my favorite characters. To read more about them, more new material that I haven’t read before. To read about parts of their lives I haven’t been privy to before, such as the Marauders’ era at Hogwarts, the Eighth Year at Hogwarts, or anything between the war and the epilogue. 

  • It’s a great way for people to start writing

I can imagine there are thousands of people out there who dream of being an author. And maybe you are just starting out on that journey. You want to write, but you don’t have any solid ideas yet for your own work. Maybe you’re having trouble create complex characters, relationships and/or plots. What better way to start writing and practicing than by writing fan fiction? 

The characters are already established. You have free reign to change the relationships to your liking. You can make it canon or non-canon compliant. There is so much you can do, but you can always fall back on the established world. I think it’s a brilliant way to start exploring your writing voice.

  • You can choose how much time you invest in each story

I’m not sure whether that truly expresses what I mean, but here we go. Fan fiction ranges from full on novel-length stories to one shots of maybe 100 words. The word count is always mentioned on websites like Archive of Our Own. So if you feel like you want to read a full story on a certain topic or relationship, you can. But if you don’t have much time, or you just want a quick story, that’s available too. 

  • Most stories have trigger warnings, tags and ratings

I think this is a discussion many people have had with regards to novels lacking trigger warnings. If that is important to you, then fan fiction is your friend. Most of the stories have trigger warnings either in the description or in the tags so if you see something you know you can’t/don’t want to read about, you’ll know to skip that story. That can go from mental health related content, to abuse, self-harm and even the level of maturity. All stories are rated so you know whether there will be any sexual content in it. 

I know many people think that fan fiction is just sex (or kinks) and that’s it. I can only tell you that is not true. There are many stories that don’t include sex -and Archive of Our Own has an explanation of their ratings on their website. There are many stories with platonic relationships, friendships and fluffy romance. There are stories of asexual characters. There is a story for everyone. So if you have never read fan fiction because you don’t want to read about sex, fear not. There are plenty of stories out there you’d love too. 

BUT…

It makes me sad to think that so many people are missing out on fan fiction. I think there are a few misconceptions about fan fiction out there, which prevent people from reading it. So let’s get these out of the way.

  • Fan fiction is not necessarily badly written

Of course there are stories with awful writing online. Then again, there are also plenty of novels with terrible writing. I can safely say that there are so many gems out there, and quite a few people whose writing I love.

  • Fan fiction is not just about sex

Like I’ve mentioned before, there are so many aspects to these stories. Friendship, love, family… There are plenty of stories out there without any sexual content, if that’s not something you like to read about. 

  • You can choose which relationship to read about, so you won’t feel uncomfortable

Bear with me here. There are A LOT of pairings out there, and a lot of stories written about relationships that make my skin crawl. Luckily, such things are personal. I, for example, don’t want to read anything that has Harry Potter/Severus Snape as a pairing. I know that there are definitely people out there who love them, I’m just not one of them. Thanks to the tag system on AO3 though, I can easily avoid those stories. Thus, I only read stories about characters that make me feel happy. 


So those are some thoughts I’ve been having on fan fiction lately! Do you read fan fiction? If so, what are your favorite pairings? I’d love to expand my reading. Also, if you use a different website, I’d love to hear about that too. I feel like I’ve explored AO3 quite well already, and don’t want to miss out on anything.

I’d actually love to hear some of your favorite F/F pairings! I unfortunately have read/watched more canon M/M relationships that F/F ones, so I don’t really know where to start. I’ve read some Eva/Noora ones from Skam and some Ginny/Luna and Ginny/Pansy ones from HP, but I’d love to read more F/F stories.

Do you agree or disagree with me? What do you think about fan fiction? Let’s discuss in the comments! 

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How Should a YA Fantasy Series End? My Thoughts On Series Endings.

Recently, I finished a few YA fantasy series and it made me think about how important a series ending really is for me. It can elevate the series to favorites-level, or make me think of it less fondly. So today, I thought I’d talk to you about what I believe is important when ending a (YA fantasy) series. 

Please note, I’m not a(n) writer/author and really have no authority here. So I can’t tell you what to write or what not to write. Let’s just hear me out without getting upset. 

Also, I am not going to spoil any of these series/endings for you! No worries, I won’t go into any specifics whatsoever. 

These are 5 series enders I quite recently read. With recently, I mean this year. I’ve read these books this year -and all of them are the last book in a YA fantasy series. Some endings I loved, some I didn’t like as much. 

Here’s my main point of this blog post: an ending to a series should feel realistic. It shouldn’t feel forced. And no matter how much we love our happy endings and romances, and for all our precious favorite characters to be happy forevermore, that’s not realistic. 

THE TOLL OF WAR AND CONFLICT

In a lot of YA fantasy series, there is a great war or conflict happening. For example, in the Remnant Chronicles, the Trylle trilogy and the Malediction trilogy I’ve shown above, several countries/species are at war -or at least a war is brewing. And in Six of Crows and The Infernal Devices shown above, there is a conflict going on as well. These characters are put into incredibly dangerous situations, at such a young age. 

These wars and conflicts will have an effect on the characters who have suffered through it all. If you’ve seen friends die, if you’ve been kidnapped or attacked: this will leave a lasting change. You will no longer be the same. You will always be someone who survived. 

I’ve been thinking about all of this ever since I read Six of Crows and Crooked Kingdom. I won’t tell you details, because I promised you I’d keep this post spoiler free. Many of the characters in this series have been through some trauma, and they aren’t just fine. The trauma had repercussions, as it should. I was so attached to the characters in this series, because they felt so real. And one aspect of them that made them seem so real was their scars (not just literally speaking here). 

In my opinion, more characters should portray these aspects of life. People suffer through many things after experiencing trauma: some people have PTSD, vivid nightmares, not being able to be touched, panic attacks, etc. Those are just some possible effects after going through something so terrible. So why do almost none of our heroes go through them? Why are most of our protagonists in fantasy absolutely fine after battlefields, murder and losing friends? Why don’t we talk about this? 

Usually by the last book in the series, our characters have gone through some real shit. So I think that at least in that book, our protagonists should show at least some aftershock or effect. 

THE CASE FOR (AND AGAINST) HAPPY ENDINGS

Here’s where you’ll really start to hate me. One of the books I read recently had an ending that was a bit… too happy for me. And I actually liked it less because of its happy ending.

If you have a main character group of 5 or 6 young people who go to war or have ended up in some sort of conflict, I think it’s a bit too optimistic to have them all come out of it not only without any sort of trauma, but with the love of their lives as well. 

Like I said before, I need a book to feel realistic. Even if it’s a fantasy novel. That’s how you get attached to the characters, after all. And I hate to burst your bubble, but not everyone gets their happy ending. That’s not how life works, after all. 

I’m going to cause myself some heartbreak by saying this, but I think that not every character should get their happy ending and that not every character should survive. Hundreds, thousands and millions of people die in a war or conflict. But if you’re a friend of the leader, apparently you don’t have to worry because you’re going to be okay, and you’ll even find your one true love. 

It’s just not realistic, and that makes reading it over and over again just a tad less fun to me. Yes, I want them to be happy. But I also don’t want to feel lied to? 

I want these characters to have the ending that feels right for them. The ending with choices that the characters would have made, instead of the ending the author wanted for them. That’s why I both love and hate the ending of the Lord of the Rings movies. I hate it because I want those little hobbits to live together forever and be happy. But I’m also happy, because it’s a choice that feels right for Frodo. Yes, the others will miss him -and he will miss them. But this is what HE needs. Not what I, as the reader, need. 

When you have these characters, who have dreams and plans for a life after this conflict, you cannot make them give it all up for love. That’s not a message you should send. You can love someone, and let them fulfill their dreams. Make a choice that your character would make. Do what THEY need. Do not be afraid of letting your readers down. If they understand your characters as well as you do, they will know why you ended it like that. 

THE CASE FOR HAPPY ENDINGS?

I’m not a complete monster. You shouldn’t kill everyone (or their loved ones) in the end. There should be a mix of happiness and sadness. A bittersweet moment at the end -like in real life. 

Of course, I do think that there should always be some books out there with the perfect happy ending. Books we can turn to when real life lets us down, to just feel hopeful and happy. But there’s a genre for that too: fairy tales. Fairy tales, their retellings, and so on almost always have a happy ending. That’s why we love them so much. Not just because they taught us morals, but because you want to see the prince and princess together by the end. 


So what do you think? Should there always be a happy ending? Should it always be bittersweet? Have you ever seen the difference between what a character would have done vs what the author wanted for their character?

Help Me Compile a Diverse Books List

So a while back, I wrote a discussion post on diversity, my privilege and how I felt uneducated on so many others’ experiences. In my quest to remedy my uneducation (what??) – so in my quest to educate myself- I have started a Google Spreadsheet on diverse books. I haven’t read all of them. In fact, I’ve barely read any of the list so far.

I included all kinds of diverse-reasons: maybe the author is POC, maybe it’s the main character who is diverse (POC, LGBTQIA+, gender related, …), etc. It doesn’t matter why the book is diverse. It just has to have one diverse aspect at the very least. 

While I have done my research, my knowledge is limited. So I’m asking you for help. I’ve made this into a Google Spreadsheet so anyone with the following link could edit. Help me create this diverse list -especially during these times.

Link: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1sNVBBfWtkqKy-FVsU7Qf0lIh5u1eGC9T-b-S9St7xUA/edit?usp=sharing

Add the diverse books you’ve read. The ones you want to read. Add everything you can think of, so we’ll get an enormous list. So everyone can find themselves represented in a book. So others with a lot of privilege can read about your experiences. It doesn’t matter whether it’s middle grade, YA, NA or adult. The genre doesn’t matter. Just add it all. 

On Diversity, Privilege and Feeling Uneducated

I woke up this morning feeling inspired to write this post. I knew I had to write it soon before I forgot it. I have never really made a diversity-post. Don’t get me wrong, I highly support diversity. I think it is a necessity to include all perspectives of human life in all aspects of our lives -and thus literature too. I follow the discussions on your posts, comment, follow them on Twitter and so on. But I’ve never written a post myself. Here’s why. 

I recognize my privilege. I am a privileged person. Let me count all the ways I am privileged: I am a white person, from a middle class family, well educated, come from a European (and thus rich) country, am heterosexual, an atheist, never had any money trouble, don’t have any illnesses whether that is mental health related or physical (aside from a stomach issue and loose joints), have never had a truly traumatic experience, have a loving family and have only ever lost one family member close to me. That’s a lot of privilege. And I recognize that. I am grateful for it every single day. 

The only privilege I do not have (I think) is being a man. So the only thing I have experienced is being catcalled, frightened when walking alone at night, frightened when followed by a man in the streets and other sexist remarks. Because I have had this experience, I am a feminist. I think everyone should be. Yet unfortunately, most feminists are people who have had these experiences -not those who haven’t. The feminist movement is big though, and we have made a lot of progress in the past years (and decades). 

I thought of this topic when Ely told me she didn’t like how disability was portrayed in Me Before You. I kindly asked her to expand her opinion, so she did. And it opened my eyes. I had never seen a problem with the story line before, but when Ely told me, I could see how it can come over as problematic. And then I was left thinking: how many books with problematic representation have I read, but never noticed? 

Here’s the thing. I understand and support all the diversity and equality movements, like #BlackLivesMatter. I don’t even know how we are still in a society that doesn’t respect all humans equally. And I understand and support the need of every human experience having to be in literature, especially YA, because that’s the time we all try to find a place where we belong, and for someone to say that are experiences are normal, okay and most of all: that you are not alone. 

But I also feel like I am uneducated about most diversity-issues because I haven’t experienced them first hand. I want to feel educated, so I can be a better person and participate in the movements more actively. I want to be educated, so I recognize bad representation. My privilege has kept me sheltered from a lot of issues in the world, and it’s time to take action and actively seek out information. It’s not enough to passively come across it anymore. I need to seek it out now. 

I want to learn about all the different cultures in the world. About mental health problems that are still taboo. About physical illnesses no one talks about or still aren’t talked about enough. About skin color and the difference it shouldn’t (but does) make. About sexuality (all types). About gender. About poverty. About oppression. About migration. About war. About political instability in your country. 

So help me. 

Teach me. 

Tell me about your culture. Your country.
Talk to me about your religion. Or recommend some books, articles and videos about it.

Recommend me books with great representation.

Recommend non-fiction books about every topic ever. Whether it’s feminism, your culture, mental health, physical health, I don’t care. 

Leave me links to articles, videos, blog posts about diversity and equality that you feel I should read.

If you are comfortable with it, tell me about your experience. 

Help me understand the world.

Putting Aside My Favorite Genre?

Most of you already know that fantasy is my favorite genre. It’s my love. Which is why I dedicated this blog to the speculate fiction I read. Sometimes I take a break for a romance review, or a non-fiction one, etc. But I always circle back to my main genre: fantasy. And lately, that hasn’t been the case. 

In October so far, I’ve read 1 fantasy book. In September I read 2 -aside from some of my Harry Potter re-reads of course. That’s ridiculous for me. Especially because while I’m writing this, I’ve read 20 books during that time -17 not including the Harry Potter ones. I can’t explain why I haven’t felt like reading fantasy as much as I otherwise do. 

The past few weeks, I’ve been in a mystery/thriller mood. The weeks before that, it was romance. And there is absolutely nothing wrong with expanding your genres, I’m not saying that. But I feel at times like I’m letting you guys down. I feel like, if you follow my blog, that’s because you love the books I usually read. Fantasy. And by not reading that genre, or speculative fiction in general, I’m letting you all down. 

It’s not that there are no fantasy books I’m excited to read! There are so many I want to pick up. Especially The Wise Man’s Fear, The Desert Spear and No Good Dragon Goes Unpunished. I’m really excited to read those! Yet I can’t seem to pick them up? 

I don’t want to let you all down. 
I want to tell you about all the amazing fantasy reads out there. 
I want to discover more amazing fantasy books. 
I just can’t seem to do so right now. 
I hope you’ll bear with me, while I go through some other genres. 


Have you ever gone through a period where you’ve stepped away from your favorite genre? Have you noticed the lack of fantasy here, or am I just making it up? Let me know! 

Why I Find It More Difficult to Rate Romance Novels

If you read my blog posts regularly you might know that while I do focus mainly on fantasy, I tend to break up long periods of fantasy reading with NA/Adult romance reads. If I’ve read too many heavy fantasy books in a row, I need a change of pace. Romance books tend to give that too me. They are easier, and much faster, reads -in my opinion. But while I almost always feel confident in my rating of fantasy books, I often doubt my ratings of a romance book. Why is that? 

I just want to make clear that this is not a romance-bashing post. I’m not at all saying they are an inferior genre. Please bear that in mind! I do love to read romance books 🙂 

ROMANCE BOOKS DESERVE AN HONEST RATING BECAUSE…

…they are also books. Just like any other. This really shouldn’t even be mentioned. But I feel like a lot of people tend to look down on the romance genre. That’s ridiculous. Why would a romance book by any less worthy of a rating than a general fiction or fantasy one? There is no doubt in my mind that they deserve an honest rating. Yet I find it much more difficult to decide on what that rating should be, than with other genres. 

IT IS MORE DIFFICULT TO RATE THEM BECAUSE…

  • I don’t know which aspects to base my rating on. With fantasy books, I rate on the world, the plot and the characters – but what do I rate on with romance books? Should I rate on the chemistry? How the people treat each other? The side characters as well? I have no idea. The plot usually revolves mostly around the romance, so you can’t say much about that without giving anything away. 
  • I find it much harder to give them a 5 stars rating. What is the perfect romance? Does it exist? I know this is kind of a hypocritical point, because there is also no such thing as the perfect fantasy. 
  • Because romance is something a lot of us can relate to, I tend to judge it more harshly. It’s easier to rate a fantasy, because the world and everything is made up and you can’t relate to living in it. But a romance I can relate to! So it needs to be more realistic and that definitely makes it harder to create/read the “perfect” romance. 
  • What if I missed something really problematic, and I recommend the book? With romances, I can sometimes get caught up in the chemistry and the quick read. And at times, that leads to me overlooking something really problematic that happened in the book. What if I recommend a really problematic romance to others? 
  • Often there is a bad start to the characters meeting, and so the main male character can come off a bit rude. I love the banter, but I don’t think being rude/acting like an asshole is okay. There is no reason to ever act like a dick. Ever. 
  • Maybe I’m even a little bit afraid that people will judge me. There, I said it. People tend to be really judgey when it comes to romance. And while I think that’s completely unfounded, I don’t want to be judged at the same time. 

So maybe I should just start looking for a completely separate way to review the romance books I read! You know I use world-plot-characters for my fantasy ones. Why not use 3 other aspects for my romance reads? I’ll definitely stick with characters. Maybe add chemistry? What else could I add?

Reading Slump or Reading Meh Books?

Today’s post is the result of my reading habits in the past month. I usually never pick up more than one book at a time -unless one of them is non-fiction. However, I now have 4 books on my currently-reading shelf. That really happens only once or twice a year. As you can see, I’m reading 4 books: 

Knipsel currently reading.PNG

I first started reading The Emperor’s Knife (Knife & Tower #1) by Mazarkis Williams at the end of June. I’m not that far in, as you can see because I wasn’t really feeling it at the time. So I put it down. Then, in the middle of July I left for Turkey and didn’t take it with me. So it’s been on my currently-reading shelf for over a month.

On vacation, I started reading Shadow of the Raven (Sons of Kings #1) by Millie Thom. I received this book for review ages ago. It sounded really great: about Vikings, Danish raids, kingdoms conquered and families torn apart. Sounds pretty epic right? But I’m halfway through and not really committed to it. I’m not invested in the characters. The only character I was invested in was Eadwulf, but at the middle-point of the book, I just don’t understand his actions anymore. Plus, I feel like this book is so long! It’s nowhere near as long as the books I usually read, yet I felt like I’d been reading for ages and only got to 50%. 

Because I wasn’t feeling Shadow of the Raven, I decided to start The Tiger and the Wolf (Echoes of the Fall #1) by Adrian Tchaikovsky while I was on vacation. I’m quite far into this one, so it wouldn’t take me all that long to finish it. Yet I don’t feel compelled to do so. I quite liked his other book, Empire in Black and Gold, but this book makes me feel so purposeless. I don’t know what the point is of the plot so far?

On Monday, I had to take the train to Brussels. And I was thinking which book I wanted to read on my way there. And I didn’t feel like reading any of the previous three. So I decided to start The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin. This one, I’m really enjoying. I’m advancing quite fast while reading, which is surprising for a non-fiction book. 


So here’s what I’m asking myself. Am I in a reading slump? Or am I just reading books I think are average?

Maybe I’m not enjoying/finishing the books I’m reading because I’m in a reading slump. That has happened to me before. When I’m in a reading slump, I can’t seem to commit to a story and finish it. So maybe that’s the reason I have 4 books on my currently-reading shelf. But if I really think about it, I do feel like reading. That’s not usually so in a slump -at least for me. That’s why I’m thinking it may not be a slump? I do want to read. That’s proven by the fact that I’m really into the Happiness Project and read about 100 pages yesterday evening. 

So maybe I’m just not impressed by the books I’m reading. I’m not really captivated by the first three reads, and therefore never really have the motivation to continue. Maybe it’s because to me, they are quite “meh”. You know? Those books that aren’t bad, but aren’t amazing either? They don’t really jump out at you. That’s how I feel about the books I’m reading now. They aren’t bad, certainly not. But they don’t feel special to me either. I’m not really attached to the characters, which means I’m not that motivated to find out what happens to them at the end of the book. 


Have you ever had this problem? Do you think I’m in a reading slump, or is it just the books? I feel bad DNFing Shadows of the Raven because it’s a review book. What do you think?