3 Classic Female Authors You Must Read

I have always felt that somehow when it comes to classic fiction, women do not receive as much hype as men do. So let’s explore some excellent classic female authors this month for women’s day.

3 Classic Female Authors You Must Read

The top 3 female authors for me when it comes to classics are:

  1. Anna Katherine Green (I recommend: Miss Butterworth Trilogy)
  2. Virginia Woolf (I recommend: A Room Of One’s Making)
  3. Mary Shelly (I recommend: The Haunting Of Hill House & The Lottery)

There are many other great female authors, but if you want to get started, these three are pretty excellent.

Happy Women’s Day!

October Buddy Reads At RMFAO, My Bookclub

October Buddy Reads At RMFAO, My Bookclub

Hello, guys. Finally, we have the book picks for the October Buddy Read at RMFAO. The books that were selected by voting are If It Bleeds by Stephen King and My Dark Vanessa by Kate Elizabeth Russell.

I you’d like to participate in either or both the buddy reads then following are the respective Threads Of Discussion for each of the books:

Buddy Read (BOTM #1): If It Bleeds by Stephen King

Buddy Read (BOTM #2): My Dark Vanessa by Kate Elizabeth Russell

Everyone is invited! So do come and join us for these month-long buddy reads πŸ™‚

5 Bookish Websites That Every Book Reader Must Know

5 Bookish Websites That Every Book Reader Must Know

I strongly believe that to be a better writer, you have to be a reader first. I mean, why would you even write, if you don’t like reading in the first place?! I have a very strong opinion about people who want to write even when they don’t like reading, but I’ll discuss it some other time. Today, I want to discuss the 5 Bookish Websites That Every Book Reader Must Know.

I have been reading stories in various forms like comics, storybooks, magazines, and of course, novels since childhood, but studies and life came in the way and, well, I wasn’t able to read as much as I had wanted to. 2012 was the year when I dropped out of my Engineering College and decided to find my calling. Having nothing to do to distract me, I started reading and, to cut a long story short, 2 years and some 50-60 books later I realised that I wanted to write. Fast-forwarding to today, I am a published author with one full-length novel published along with an anthology, 3 books in various stages of publishing and another 3 in various stages of writing and it is all because once I started reading, I simply never stopped.

Today, I read about 80-100 books a year without having affecting my writing (well, sometimes I do leave my writing behind to finish a novel that I really like.) And on this beautiful journey if something remained constant then it was a couple of websites that really, really helped me! In my list of 5 Bookish Websites That Every Book Reader Must Know, I have introduced these treasures as well as some recent favourites. So do check out these awesome websites and let me know which ones you already knew about and which ones are new to you.

To sum this video up, here’s my list of 5 Bookish Websites That Every Book Reader Must Know:

  1. Goodreads – The biggest social media platform dedicated to books.
  2. Project Gutenberg – The one place where you can find all the classics available in the public domain.
  3. Librivox – Get all the classics in audio format that are available in the public domain.
  4. NetGalley – If you don’t know what NetGalley is, then read this article I wrote a couple of years back (and which is still one my most viewed articles of all time): Are you a β€œProfessional Reader” at NetGalley?
  5. Audible – Amazon for audiobooks (literally!)

If you are already on Goodreads, then feel free to send a friend request to or a follow my Goodreads Author Profile.

If you’d like to explore new books and crave discussing books with other book-lovers, then I’d love to invite you to my Book Club – RMFAO, which stands for Reading my Frigging A** Off.
If you’re not on Goodreads and still want to join my Group then I do have a RMFAO Facebook Group for it and even a WhatsApp one – to become a member of RMFAO WhatsApp group please email me your WhatsApp number along with your name at rmfaobookclub@gmail.com

Please feel free to share your personal favourite websites that help you in your everyday reading as I would love to know about them!

How To Write A Book Analysis

How To Write A Book Analysis

Analysing a book is too often confused with writing a book review. It is a very common misconception and one that needs to be busted especially if you are planning to become a writer or are one already.

A book review is an informal way of sharing one’s thoughts about any book of the reader’s choice and can, quite literally, be done in any way. There are no rules, no particular way or structure that needs to be followed, it should just be informative that’s all. Whereas a book analysis follows a structure and has to contain certain bits of information in it. It is a formal approach to studying a book and is often given as practice exercises by professors, teachers or lecturers (like myself) of creative writing to their students for some particular book or story, fiction or non-fiction. As I primarily teach fiction, the scope of this post will be limited to fiction Book Analysis.

So let’s see how it is done because a lot of writers, especially in our country where creative writing is not taught in schools or colleges, don’t know the right format for it.

HOW TO WRITE A BOOK ANALYSIS

Before we begin with how to write a Book Analysis, let’s first have a look at the structure of the book analysis so that you’ll know what notes to take while reading the book or text.

Book Analysis is made up of three parts:

1. Introduction:

It should contain the name of the book, the author, the time period in which the book was written, genre, the time and settings of the book, a brief outline of the plot (preferably in 1-2 sentences) and any other relevant information related to either the book or the author.
Look at this as the opening of your Analysis, therefore try and give information regarding the book you’re going to analyse, who it is written by and what exactly is it about as if the reader of your essay has no idea about the book you’re analysing.

2. Main Body:

The main body of the analysis consist of more than one paragraph (2-3 are ideal.) This is where you will have to summarise the book and give brief descriptions of the main events.

This is followed by your analysis of the work – what you think of it and how you interpreted the book you read. Write about the story, main themes and ideas, characters and their development, writing style employed by the author, symbolisms used, the overall structure of the story or any obvious pattern or style used to write it. Also, write about the literary devices used in the book and make a note of any positive or negative traits about the plot of characters you notice.

3. Conclusion

The conclusion is where you make your main point about the book – do you agree about the book or not and why? You need to present your argument in a respectable and friendly way not showing any kind of bias. using quotes from the book is a great way to support your argument. Though make it a point that if you do not agree with the author, there are instances when it happens, to try and add a line or two showing why do you think the author thinks a certain way – remember to be respectful.

For example, if the author is being misogynistic then try to understand why he is being that way, maybe it is because of the time period in which the book was written and the general mentality of the masses.

So this is the structure of a Book Analysis, Fiction Book Analysis to be specific, though however, for most of the non-fiction stories, especially biographies, autobiographies and memoir you can follow the same structure. Though, if you are writing a critical analysis on a factual book or a research paper then you’ll have to follow a different format which is similar to this one but focuses on the facts and the author’s previous works and thesis heavily.

Here’s a handy graphic depicting how a book analysis is written:

Please give appropriate credit – Heena Rathore-Pardeshi, and a link back – crazycatwriter.com, while using this image.

Now le’s have a look at the steps in which you can examine a book critically and prepare your argument:

  1. Reading the book and identifying the main theme, narrative style and literary devices used. Also, keep a keen eye out for the language and the settings used by the author.
  2. Make use of online dictionaries, encyclopedias or articles to understand the ideas that may be foreign to you or to understand the overall mentality or thought-process of the people of certain parts of the world or time period.
  3. Take notes of paragraphs or sentences/lines that particularly resonate with you or stand out.
  4. Write a summary of the story (in about 300-500 words) for your own reference.
  5. Make a special note of how the book made you feel emotionally because it is important as it will form the basis of your argument.
  6. Take note of any illustrations or maps added in the book
  7. Note down your thoughts as you read the book as they will help you in writing the analysis.
  8. Re-read the book or the story again. You’ll have a better understanding of the story and a lot more clarity upon reading the book or the story a second time. You will also come across a lot of things you might have missed in the first reading. I strongly recommend a second reading.

Book analysis can, and if I am being honest then should be, practised as a necessary exercise by creative writers because it is a great way of learning the intricacies of creative writing that can only be learned through reading. Analysing a book helps creative writers to critically study a work of writing that has already been published and therefore, helps them to learn from it and absorb details that cannot be all taught by someone else and can only be picked up through reading.

What do you think about writing a book analysis as a creative writing practice? Do you do it or, like most fiction writers, you dread having to write it? I’d love to hear your thoughts about it so feel free to share your experiences and related resources int he comments below. All comments are welcome πŸ™‚

Thank you for reading.

8 Steps To Develop A Reading Habit

8 Steps To Develop A Reading Habit

A lot of people love reading but when it comes to practising it on a regular basis most of them fail. Wonder why?

More often than not daily life, responsibilities and “important” things come in between you and your love for the written word. Oft times we get too involved or busy in other things that we have no time for something as “time-consuming” or as “frivolous” as reading. Right? WRONG. All these are nothing more than excuses! If you really want to read, you will read – simple as that.

If you love books then they should be important enough for you to make some place for them in your daily life. Reading is my first love and I manage to read anywhere from 5 to 8 books a month. I am a writer, editor in chief and Β a manuscript critic, so sometimes work does come in the way, but so far as I can remember, in the last 7 years I cannot remember a time when I wasn’t reading something. Being a writer it is kind of a necessity for me, but the truth of the matter is that I would not have been a writer in the first place had it not been for my love of reading books.

Just like achieving anything else in life, it needs a bit of patience, effort and planning, and of course, the will to do it.

This article is for those book lovers who, for whatever reason, haven’t been able to cultivate a reading habit and need a little nudge, and for those who have somehow, fallen out of the habit of reading regularly and are looking for a way back in. This article is also for those parents who want to incorporate a reading habit in their child’s or teen’s routine.

8 Steps To Develop A Reading Habit

Reading should be fun, but sometimes to get into a habit you have to make a conscious effort until it comes naturally to you. As a writer, I have to do the same for writing in order to get work done and reading is no different. Please remember that this is only for those who actually love reading and want to develop a routine that’ll help them in reading the books they long to read and not for those who love the idea of reading and have no particular interest in it.

 

1) Make a reading list

Cultivating a consistent reading habit, or any other habit for that matter takes a bit of planning. Reading list, or as we bookworms call it TBR-list) is a list of books that you want to read. Preparing a list of books ahead would not only help you in knowing what exactly to buy, borrow or issue from the library but will also set the mood for a great start. Write down the names of books you’ve always wanted to read. They can be classics or the latest releases. Don’t forget to add the books whose movie adaptations you like because chances are the book would be a hundred times better than the movie.

Search the internet for the top ten books in genres you prefer and go through the first 5-10 lists youΒ find and note down the books that catch your attention, or simply the ones that are common in all or most of the lists. If you want to research further, then read a couple of reviews of these books but be sure of spoilers. Throw some of these names too in your reading list. This way your list would have a nice mix of new and old books which will make reading more exciting for you.

 

2) Get the books in your reading list:

Check the pricing of the books on your reading list online, if you like what you see then buy the books in your preferred format. If the prices of paperbacks and hardbacks are too much, then try going for e-books; they are generally cheaper and can be read on any device including the most basic smartphones. If you don’t like what you see, then check your local bookstores or get the book from a library in your area (if you are in India, JustBooks is a very good library option and has a great online service too.)

Living in this amazing digital age provides us with so many options when it comes to book formats, so go crazy and try them all! You might love the snazzy new Electronic or Audio versions of books that you might have been sceptical about. Get at least two e-books and one audiobook. You can get free classic ebooks at Project GutenbergΒ (if you are in India, this link might not work, try this one instead.) For free classic audiobooks, you can visitΒ LibriVox. Audiobooks are horrendously priced in India so this website is a great starting point if you are new to audiobooks. Though, you can try the free trial of Audible as well (I did and liked it so I buy a lot from there as they are pretty good.)

 

3) Create goals

Now that you have the books, chalk out your goals because without goals you won’t get far. Set a simple monthly goal or if you really want to be doing this, go for aΒ yearly goal (once you get into the habit of reading, you can set weekly goals too.) For monthly goals, set the number of books you want to complete in a month and likewise for yearly goals. If you are just starting or re-starting after a long time, start with only one book as your goal. Then gradually go up from there. In setting an unreal goal you would only be setting yourself up for failure.

If you want to stick to one book a month only, then your yearly goal would be 12 books in a year, but that’s rarely the case because on your reading journey you’ll find some books you simply won’t be able to read fast enough and will end up finishing them earlier than planned and there will be some books that will turn out to be not as good as you expected them to be. Also, with each passing month, your speed will increase and so will your capacity, so there’s a good chance that you’ll be reading more than 12 books in the first year itself. I’d suggest setting 15 books a year as your first goal if you are serious about developing a consistent reading habit. A lot of my fellow book readers read 100, 200 and some even 500 books a year, so don’t underestimate yourself.

 

4) Create a routine

In order to develop the habit of reading, set aside anywhere from 15 minutes to 1 hour daily as your ‘reading time.’ It can be while you have your morning coffee or your breakfast, or in the afternoon just before taking a nap or with the evening tea/coffee or, my favourite, just before sleeping in the night – bed-time reading. Do note that this is the time you will be consciously putting into reading – which means for your ‘reading time’ you will deliberately sit, preferably in a comfortable chair or sofa or bed, and put a conscious effort and read the book you’ve picked up. Initially, you might not enjoy reading this way every time, but it’s okay to feel that way, just make sure to read for the minimum amount of time you’ve set for yourself. As the days will pass by and as you’ll start to take interest in the book you are reading, you’ll settle into the routine nicely. You can even set a number of chapters or pages to read every day instead of setting time.
Note that your ‘reading time’ should not be affected by any other times you might decide to read the book during the rest of the day. Treat these extra opportunities as a bonus.

 

5) Utilize weekends and holidays

Read twice or thrice the number of pages or chapters or minutes you generally read on the weekdays. If you have a book that is not too long, say 100-150 pages, then try and finish it over the weekend. It’ll be a great boost to your confidence and will help you ward off boredom which might otherwise settle upon you if you keep on following your routine for long periods of months.
Same way, try and use any unexpected holidays and vacations as an opportunity to get some extra reading time and finishing the book you started. A great way to make use of holidays is to listen to audiobooks while doing something mundane such as doing the laundry or gardening or cooking.

 

6) Always carry a book

This is like a thumb rule or a ‘mantra’ for all bibliophiles. It doesn’t matter if you’re going to work or just taking a walk to the local park or going to school or college or the mall or the movies; always carry a book with you. You should have a book at hand when you are out in the real world in case if you have to wait for someone at a cafe or classroom or if you get some free time on your commute from one place to another or maybe if the queue you’re waiting on takes a really long time to move? These and many more opportunities will always knock on your doors when you are outdoors and it is the best thing to have a book to indulge in at hand. It can be the book you’re already reading or some other book entirely. If carrying a book is physically impossible, then carry ebooks or audiobooks on your smartphones or tablet.
Most of the time I read more than one book at one time so I always carry my Kindle with me whenever I go out in addition to the audiobooks and ebooks that I can access on my phone through LibriVox Audio BooksΒ and GuteBooks Ebooks apps respectively.

 

7) Check off the books read and add new ones to the list

Check off the books you’ve finished on your to-read list – strike them off and I bet you’ll feel ecstatic doing it. Don’t forget to add new books to your list that you find along the way or that someone recommends you, but keep in mind not to add ten new books for every one book you read. It’ll only lead you down a path where you might get unnecessarily overwhelmed. Cut off one book and add another. Stick to this as much as you can. But again, don’t limit yourself entirely.
Once in a while, ditch your to-read list and pick up some random good book that you come across in a bookstore or a friend’s place or maybe a book whose adaptation is going to be released in the coming weeks.

 

8) Explore, experiment and enjoy

Once you have developed or at least have started with a reading habit, try to go for different genres. Explore new genres and revisit the old ones from your past. It’ll add another layer of self-indulgence to your reading experience. Also, try and connect with other readers amongst your friends or join online or local book clubs to be in the know of new releases and to discuss books you’re reading or want to read. I highly recommend that you join Goodreads because it is the best place to be online for any book aficionado. I myself run an online book club on Goodreads – RMFAO, and it has helped me and many others tremendously in reading a lot more and better books. I am also a member of a couple of book-dedicated Facebook pages and groups, such as Did You Read Today, and they are amazing and the interacting makes reading more fun as we share our progress, book hauls and random reading-related thoughts there with other like-minded bibliophiles.
Apart from that, you can even join various reading challenges on Instagram (if you are a regular ‘grammar.) They greatly help in making the to-read lists more fun and diverse. You can also follow book-related accounts and hashtags like #bookstagrammers, #readingislife, and many, many more in order to get creative and fun ideas to make your reading a bit more rewarding.

 

In a couple of months, before you even know it, you’d be reading more than you ever imagined you could and that too without even trying too hard. You’ll just have to put in a little effort at the beginning and then once you develop the habit, you won’t even have to try at all. I followed these steps when I re-started reading 7 years ago and haven’t looked back since. I started with reading 1 book in 2-3 months and now can read up to 10 books in a month.

Reading is a beautiful adventure and it should be enjoyed thoroughly in order to experience it completely. keep these steps in mind only at the beginning, later, when you develop your reading routine, forget all the preconceived notions and follow your instincts. This article is just to get you started on the right track.

If you have any questions related to reading or want any book recommendations or want to share your bookish thoughts then feel free to comment below.

Happy Reading!

Ciao ❀

Note: All the images used in this article are my own (except for the featured image which was taken from Pixabay). Visit me @crazycatwriter on Instagram.

10 Books To Read While Social-Distancing During Corona Virus Or COVID-19

10 Books To Read While Social-Distancing During Corona Virus Or COVID-19

I was born in the year 1990 and since then I do not remember a single instance in my life where I have been in quarantine. Although it can get tiring and frustrating sometimes, I still feel that this is something that we might never get to see again. In this time of self-quarantine or social-isolation, you can either be negative about it and sit and crib or you can simply roll along with it and try to stay positive and make the best out of it.

I am simply reading a lot and writing a lot so I am basically catching up with all the reading and writing I missed out on in the last few months. So here I am with a list of 10 books that I recommend reading in this time of social-distancing during the outbreak of Corona Virus or COVID-19.

Please note – All these books belong to dark fiction, mostly apocalyptic, post-apocalyptic or horror with an odd psychological thriller and a non-fiction true-crime book. I will be doing another list of books in which I will be listing lighter reads.

10 Books To Read While Social-Distancing During Corona Virus Or COVID-19

  1. Duma Key by Stephen King
  2. Swan Song by Robert McCammon
  3. The Grown-Up by Gillian Flynn
  4. The Girl With All The Gifts by M.R. Carey
  5. The Hypnotist by Lars Kepler
  6. The Monster Of Florence by Douglas Preston
  7. Haunting Of The Hill House by Shirley Jackson
  8. Strange Weather by Joe Hill
  9. 77 Shadow Street by Dean Koontz
  10. World War Z: An Oral History Of The Zombie War by Max Brooks + The Zombie Survival Guide by Max Brooks

So these are my picks based on the dark writing style and the overall gloomy tone of the books with resonates a lot with the current situation. What are your picks?

You can also check out my video of 10 Books To Read While Social-Distancing on my YouTube Channel:


Connect with me:

RMFAO 2020 Reading Challenges

RMFAO 2020 Reading Challenges

Hello, dear readers. Happy New Year to you, and your families, and I hope that this new year, and the beginning of this new decade, turns out amazingly joyous and fulfilling for you all.

2020 is very special, most of all because it marks the beginning of the 6th year of my online Goodreads book club RMFAO – Reading My Frigging A** Off. While I’m at it, I would like to grab this opportunity to thank my wonderful and ever-helpful (and very, very knowledgeableΒ co-moderators – DagnyΒ and Cheryl. RMFAO wouldn’t have been even nearly as fun as it is today had it not been for you both, so a big THANK YOU to you guys.

For those of you who might not know, at RMFAO we host a bunch of year-long reading challenges that not only motivate the hell out of all of us members but also help us plan and organise our reads in a much simpler and fun way. It also incites us to pick random books based on recommendations and explore new authors, eras and writing-styles. Honestly, guys, it is a big fat slice of heaven and I love it to bits! ❀

As a lot of readers are not registered on Goodreads, I’ve created a trial page for RMFAO on Facebook as well. So if you are on Facebook (which I am sure you are) then do check it out – RMFAO on Facebook.

Back to the point, we just announced the 6th instalment of our most popular challenge on RMFAO – RMFAO 2020 Genre Challenge. In this challenge, we read as per the list of chosen genres. This year we’re doing it our old way by having 1 unique mainstream genre per month. The participants will just have to refer their TBRs and pick up the books of that genre for that month. This way you get to read 12 genres (some might be new to you some might be your dear old friends) in one year while finishing off your TBR – isn’t it simply amazing!
Anyway, in case if you guys want to participate, just join the group (if you haven’t already) and announce your participation on the main challenge thread:Β RMFAO 2020 Genre Challenge

Note: We have separate threads for separate months which can all be found here as the year progress (new thread for the next month is added a couple of days before the running month ends): RMFAO 2020 Genre Challenge Discussion Board

Here is the link tot he January thread:Β January 2020 – Science Fiction

The second most popular challenge at RMFAO is the Classics Catchup challenge.Β Hosted by RMFAO’s own Classics’ Professor, Dagny, this challenge gives you a chance to read the Classics. But the best part for me about this challenge is Dagny’s classic recommendations! I’ve read so many different classics (so much more than I’d have ever read on my own) since I started joining this challenge. She and the other classic literature aficionados have helped me explore so many great classic authors and stories that have greatly satiated my reading appetite. So if you’re a classic lover then this place is definitely for you, but in case if you’re like me who is not a lot into classics and hate the famous known classic authors then this is the best place to discover authors that are new to you!

You can participate in the Classics Catchup challenge here: RMFAO 2020 Classics Catchup

Apart from these two widely popular challenges, the third challenge that is really starting to pick up and is becoming the new favourite of a lot of members is the Audiobook Challenge. OMG, you guys we have a member, Fran, who read 100+ audiobooks last year! How totally awesome is that! I am telling you, this challenge is really crazy and the participants are totally insane. But that doesn’t mean you have to be listening to so many audiobooks to participate. No. We have readers who listened to only one or two audiobooks last year. So it is open for all. The main thing is these challenges are for you to challenge yourself and not to compete with others. If you completed 1 book last year then you will be motivated to complete 2 books this year. That’s the main thing about these challenges. They encourage you to read more and break your own limitations.

You can participate in the Audiobook Challenge here: RMFAO 2020 Audiobook Challenge

And lastly, we have the Series Challenge, which is for the utterly dedicated reads focusing on completingΒ book series. You can either complete a series your started earlier and never got around to finishing it somehow, or you can start a new one and try to finish it within the year.

You can participate in the Series Challenge here: RMFAO 2020 Series Challenge

New members are always welcome to join any time of the year, so don’t forget to drop by and have a look around! Also, feel free to share information and graphics related to these challenges with your friends and reading buddies on your social media channels. And if you do participate then give me a shoutout at CrazyCatWriter (I’m there on all the major platforms.) Remember, the more, the merrier.

Ciao ❀