Graphic Content In Books: Can It Add Value?

This is a difficult post for me to write. For two specific reasons; I understand why not everyone can tolerate explicit content, and I do believe it must be limited to the right place and time. With that said, I recently finished The Lonely Hearts Hotel by Heather O’Neill and wanted to discuss why I am able to appreciate some of those heavy hitters that may leave others gritting their teeth or saying no.

Graphic Content in Books

I am one of those readers who can often be caught exploring darker titles that many I encounter have deemed too unsettling or even crude. A lot of times I will walk away from some of those books with mixed emotions. There is the side of me that easily grasps why the audience for such works as Burgess’ A Clockwork Orange or McCarthy’s The Road may be very specific and then there is that part of me that cannot help but feel they are deserving of so much more. So I am tempted to explore what it is that makes these dark and unsettling titles so powerful and effective. Why am I drawn to them? Clearly, I do not read about violence and disturbing scenes for the simple sake of doing so. It certainly is not fun.

I consider the audience.
There are limits in toleration that are more pronounced based on targeted audience. What one may find acceptable in an adult book could quite possibly become appalling in a middle grade or even YA title. Understanding the intended readers can alter the experience. If I were to pick up one of the above titles and believe the author was attempting to reach anything other than an adult audience, my moral compass would have gone haywire and I would not have completed the books. This is where YA and I walk a fine line together, however. I am still trying to understand the defining age group of today’s YA.

Then I find myself weighing in on whether it feels gratuitous.
Does that brutal scene that made your skin crawl serve a real purpose? Did the author achieve something of great significance or invoke a necessary emotion by adding that level of violence or discomfort? I constantly assess how each decision fits within the story and whether the omission of is would have resulted in a less memorable or impactful effect. Be it sexual, violent, or even graphic representation of drug abuse it must serve a true purpose in order for me to accept it.

So does graphic content add value?
In the end, if I feel it targeted an appropriate audience, carried a relevant theme and believe the author is mindful of how they chose to present the content, I have found my tolerance can be extremely high. And more often than not, some of my most rewarding encounters with books have been the more challenging ones. Life is full of hurdles, and as much as we may or may not talk about them, there are many disturbing issues that warrant discussion. I find incorporating these elements into books can bring about important discussion and raise much-needed awareness. Difficult themes are often thought-provoking and challenge us as readers and individuals. For that reason, I will always believe that there is value to be found in the addition of graphic content when utilized properly.

I hold a high level of admiration for authors who have the ability to take the edgier aspects of life and implement them successfully to give their stories that raw element of truth. But I feel it must be done so intelligently. Know your audience and prepare them.

How do you feel about graphic stories? Are you able to appreciate them or do you find that you are better off to avoid them? What are some of the limits you have set in place when reading stories with heavier themes and content?

Let’s Chat,

Danielle ❤

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Blogging Life: 10 Times I Failed As A New Blogger & Lived To Blog Another Day

Let’s face it. Blogging is not easy. It is incredibly rewarding and fun, but not easy. While we all like to play it cool, it is an ongoing process of trial and error. It might be a hobby, but most of us tend to take hobbies pretty serious. They embody our passions and usually include a few personal goals. And like most, I am no exception to rules. But if you follow this blog, you already know that. We learn from our mistakes as well as those of others. So today I thought it might be worthwhile to share 10 of the biggest mistakes I made as a new blogger and invite you to do the same! 

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10 Times I Failed As A New Blogger & Lived To Blog Another Day

(Please keep in mind these were mistakes for me, and I understand not everyone will consider them to be mistakes. We all have different goals and this more about sharing my experience not offering advice)

  1. Taking it all too personal. I am guilty of this on multiple occasions and it almost drove me to quit this past year. A few snide comments and unsolicited advice left me in tears. I will probably make this mistake again.
  2. I spent nearly 3 months purchasing and reading books I could care less about in order to keep up with what was trending. I followed the hype train and it derailed. During my first year of blogging, I believed I had to present content centered around what others were talking about and it backfired. My posts fell short of enthusiastic and so did my desire to keep reading.
  3. I joined the follow for follow frenzy because I did not know better. Okay, so technically this was a blogging and social media nightmare that I brought upon myself. I knew next to nothing of followers, except that I wanted them. Well, I gained a few and a massive headache.
  4. I commented on every single person’s blog that I followed daily. Again, this was a failed attempt to integrate myself into the blogging community that left me utterly exhausted, overstretched and ready to quit as soon as I began.
  5. As part of my enthusiasm to begin blogging and reach an audience, I opened accounts in every social media platform I could find. Do we even need to discuss why this did not work out in my favor?
  6. I posted every single day for nearly a month! It was terrible. My content was lackluster and rushed, and I found myself unable to keep up with responses. Even though I am not sure why anyone wanted to comment on that garbage. I eventually learned that it is not necessary to post daily. More power to those who can easily do it. I cannot.
  7. I blogged for nearly half a year before it dawned on me to check my spam folder or that I might even have one.. doh!
  8. I started this blog with the sole purpose of reviewing books, yet I had zero review policy or review index in place. Again.. doh!
  9. Then there was that time I became too relaxed and thought I could just wing it. That was funny. And a complete nightmare. I require a schedule and recommend some form of organization no matter how light it may be.
  10. In the beginning, I was overly enthusiastic about each review request and I overcommitted, overcommitted, overcommitted. Okay, I still do this but only with titles I actually want to read now.

What are some of the biggest hurdles or problems you remember encountering when you decided to take the plunge and start a blog? I have been blogging for nearly 3 years and still find I have so much to learn.

Let’s Chat!
Danielle ❤

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10 Things I Have Learned as a Blogger That Make Life Easier

In June, I will have officially been a blogger for 2 solid years. Some days this feels like a small amount of time, while others, it quite frankly feels like an eternity. Books, Vertigo & Tea is the only blog I have ever written and I am not sure I have reached that level of handing out advice just yet, but I have learned a few things over the couple years that make my life as a blogger better.

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Ten Things I Have Learned as a Blogger That Make Life Easier

  1. These 10 things will not hold true for everyone because we all blog with different goals and desires, but that is why I love this community and these are my 10 facts (or 9 😉 )that help me love it more.
  2. For me, it is all about the community. If you are not networking and reaching out, you are not experiencing the real benefits of being a connected blogger.
  3. Finding your distinct voice will only enhance your time blogging and grab you the ideal audience.
  4. Turning off stats even occasionally can be healthy. I made the decision last year to stop posting stats and viewing them daily. Now I spend my time worrying about others things, like what I want to post next (which is way more fun). I now look at specific insights only to determine which posts my followers enjoy the most and when I should be posting them.

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  5. Blog for yourself. It can be easy to feel the pressures of new releases and current trends, but in all reality, if you are not reading and sharing what you enjoy, your content will fall short. Lack of enthusiasm is a killer. I only pick up new and popular titles I am heavily interested in.
  6. Mix it up! Many of us started because we are book reviewers, but that does not mean we are limited or defined by this. Offer the occasional discussion post or share something nonbookish that you enjoy. Encourage people to get to know the blogger. I love introducing films and other topics with my Friday Favorites.
  7. Scheduling will make your life as a blogger much easier. It has taken me a year and a half, but I finally have a healthy schedule that allows me to share, catch up, manage social media and still be able to enjoy reading, life, and work. But some weeks will be harder than others. Don’t kick yourself when you need to skip posting.
  8. Limit social media accounts to the ones you are most interested in. Social media is a huge time sink if I am being honest. By limiting your social media accounts to ones you specifically enjoy, you are more like to find it easier to divide your time and provide quality content. Trust me.. I have a dying Pinterest & Tumblr account.
  9. Avoid the drama! Just like any community, you will encounter some negativity. Someone will always have something disagreeable to say. The key here is to remember that you have the ability to pick and choose your own battles. I prefer to unplug for a few days if I see too much of this on Twitter or Facebook (these seem to be the most ideal hangouts for aggressors as they offer a wide reached sounding platform). I am not telling you to avoid speaking out, but remembering you can turn it all off can really save your mental health as needed!

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  10. Have fun and when you do not, take a break. While blogging is a hobby for most, it is a demanding one. We put a lot of time and resources into it. It can start feeling like work and often is. Stepping back is often necessary to recharge and ensure we continue to find our passion. And life happens. Never feel guilty for needing a break.

How do you maintain your enthusiasm for blogging? Do you have any tips or advice for others that might find themselves overwhelmed?

Let’s Chat,

Danielle ❤

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