When Alice Oseman started producing a webcomic about two teenage lads falling in love, she would have had no idea how important her work would be. Following her successful publication of ‘Solitaire’ – a book about an anxious Tori Spring – Alice decided to expand the focus onto her side characters. She gave Tori’s brother Charlie a storyline with his boyfriend Nick, which resulted in another novella and the Timblr ‘Heartstopper’ cartoons.
A Groundswell Of Love
Heartstopper was eventually rolled out as four books, initially, with two more editions to come. As a successful YA story about growing up and coming to terms with being gay and bi, it has been groundbreaking to witness its widespread success and acceptance.
In 2022 Hearstopper was made into an eight part TV show which was scripted by Alice and had 54 million views in its first month alone. For the LGBTQ+ community this has meant so much. When I was younger we had nothing like this on television. Now you can see two lads fall in love and witness other LGBTQ+ characters dealing with everyday dilemmas in a normal, comfortable way.
As the second season arrived on Netflix last night, I watched the first episode and could see that the high standard of production was continuing and meaningful stories were still being told.
This phenomenon is powerful because it sends out a clear message that you can live your life freely, as you choose. By showing such acceptance, dealing with the awkwardness of ‘coming out’ and other serious issues, such as mental health, Alice has worked wonders.
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Only the other day I was talking to a very kind lady who worked in Waterstones about the length of books. I had been looking for a shorter book to read between my meatier ones and thankfully her store currently had a section just for those books that are under 200 pages. We discussed the preference for short or long books and decided we both went through phases. Can you be a book lover and not have a favourite size?
Having considered this a bit more, I realised that friends of mine tend to lean towards one or the other. I have a colleague who reads long crime books one after another. They never seem to opt for short books and hardly ever step out of that particular genre.
Others read a mix of YA books and Tiktok recommendations, which also tend to be on the shorter side.
Benefits of reading shorter books:
– These stories tend to be straight-forward. No getting bogged down in side characters and sub-plots.
– Stories revolve around one or two key characters who you can immediately start getting to know. For example, The Cockroach explored a political character and his rise to power.
– Short books don’t always need chapters and if they do have them, then there are very few.
– You can get through these quicker and read more of a variety of books if they aren’t super long.
Benefits of longer books:
– Much more meat on the bones. Obviously.
– You really go deep into the world of the characters and their minds.
– Chapters break the novels into manageable chunks (almost like short stories).
– Storylines are fully developed and are able to explore full character arcs including side characters. Sometimes they go off on interesting tangents and explore related issues.
– Longer books are often great inspiration for movies.
What do you prefer?
Is your preference for short or long books? Are you someone who likes to finish a novella in one sitting or would rather enjoy a gritty novel over several months?
For me, I tend to do a bit of both. I am usually reading a 400 page book or two, whilst also dipping into a couple of well chosen novellas.
Thank you so much for taking the time to read my latest blog post. Check out my recent book review of Frazzled by Ruby Wax and perhaps consider following my blog for future book and TV reviews as well as environmental articles.
My regular readers will know that I love nothing more than a good book, a great TV show and something cool to listen to. Now that it is finally the summer holidays I intend to spend a lot of quality time immersed in great books and absorbing plenty of worthwhile entertainment. So let me find you some tasty morsels to read, watch and listen to in July.
Today I particularly wanted to share with you some of the most intriguing content that is keeping me occupied currently. As I lounge around on the settee, I need nothing more than access to a couple of paperbacks and a TV remote in order to be totally satisfied. Yes – I am easy to please. I do have high standards though and will soon give up on a TV show or story if it doesn’t sustain my interest. A podcast has to be eye-opening or funny to keep me coming back for more.
Heartstopper 3 by Alice Oseman
I love Heartstopper. It is easy to read any one of the (currently) four books in a single sitting. These stories originated as web-comics which were firstly posted in bursts on Tumblr and then published after the success of Oseman’s first novel – Solitaire.
Charlie and Nick have a love story that is full of twists and turns. It looks at the issues facing young people as they come to terms with their sexuality and is done in a fun and entertaining way. I feel that Heartstopper is groundbreaking and would have made so much difference if it existed in the nineties when I was growing up.
If you like to dabble in YA books, then these LGBTQ+ books are feel-good pockets of joy. I read the first two a while ago and have finally opened the third instalment, which was just as good as the rest.
HiJack – Apple TV Plus
I am in the middle of this exciting Apple TV Plus drama about a flight from Dubai to London which was taken over by hijackers. Starring Idris Elba as Sam, the confident tactician who finds himself amidst a hostile takeover in the air, this series is gripping and relentless.
Although we expect a hijack from the start, there are so many interwoven plot points which make this TV show unpredictable. It is cleverly written and fast paced. Each episode keeps you on your feet as you try to work out what on Earth is going on.
The Witch Trials of J K Rowling
This controversial and detailed seven episode series is a podcast which explores some of the issues surrounding J K Rowling being ostracised by parts of society.
I honestly knew very little about her situation but was aware that she had upset a large community because of her posts on twitter. I was recommended this podcast as a neutral exploration of the build up to this subject.
It is easy to take sides but I felt I didn’t have enough information to make an informed judgement. This podcast delves into unfair treatment of trans people and the possible interpretations of J K’s words.
I can see now from both sides what some of the issues are. Listen for yourself to be better informed about the matter. The podcast host probes J K deeply and cross-examines protesters as well. It seems a fairly balanced production with eye-opening revelations from both sides.
I hope that one of these suggestions has grabbed your interest. Every month I try to recommend something to read, watch and listen to and I value your thoughts on my choices. Please drop a comment with your take on any of them and your own suggestions.
If you are looking for another gritty drama, check out my review of the Paramount Plus series – Yellowjackets. Also please consider following my blog for similar future content.