Emily May

EM reading challenge 2

Isn’t she ALL of the motherfucking goals?

I joined Goodreads in April 2015 after coming across the site in the comment section of Popsugar’s 2015 Reading Challenge and I doubt I can fully articulate the impact it has had on my bibliophilia. I have spent countless hours on the site, learning a shitload of things, from ISBNs to book tags and everything in between. Yet in over three years I have only been interested in the reviews of one person.

I do not remember how I came across Emily May’s profile but IMO she unequivocally has the best reviews. I reckon I write fairly well. I would not have started a creative writing blog if I did not think so. But Emily’s writing skills are on another level. Like, I-am-the-roots-and-she-is-the-top-of-Jack’s-beanstalk kind of other level.

At the time of this post Emily’s Read shelf has 3,432 books. Impressive? Or very fucking impressive? As per her website (link here) Emily has been obsessed with reading for pretty much her entire life and in December 2010 she started posting online about how the books she read made her feel. She also offers beta reading services to aspiring and current authors. A beta reader is not an editor or proofreader. Instead, they view your finished manuscript as a reader and offer constructive criticism on the writing, characters, plot and pacing, as well as pointing out any inconsistencies. Beta reading, in addition to the fact that she has been reviewing books for almost eight years now explains why her skill is unparalleled.

Emily’s reviews are the reason my Want to Read shelf just keeps growing. She articulates her thoughts so well, giving me the biggest FOMO if I do not immediately click the want-to-read button. This is not to say I always agree with her reviews. Our reading tastes are not all that similar. Her favourite book of all time, Wuthering Heights, is a hard one-star read for me. My favourite author is Nora Roberts but I doubt Emily has read a single one of her books. She is not particularly drawn to the romance genre and especially hates insta-love, which is more common than not in Ms. Roberts’ books. Her reviews are so captivating though, I cannot help but want to read all of the books she gushes about.

She is also the creative genius behind Book Your Brains Out. I first came across BYBO in her YouTube video “25 FACTS ABOUT ME”, and till now it is one of the most brilliant things I have ever heard. Her About Me on her site says the bravest thing I’ve ever done, in my opinion, is stand up on a stage in a full lecture room and propose a book club society for my university. It’s still one of my proudest moments. I called it “Book Your Brains Out”. Learning that Emily is extremely introverted and struggles with social anxiety and OCD, I can only imagine how nerve-wracking it was for her to get up on that stage. I too, am extremely proud of her.

While planning my blog, there was only one thing I wanted to name the category that would be all things books. I reached out to Emily and she was kind enough to give me the green light to use Book Your Brains Out. She was also gracious enough to permit me to share her reviews that took the words out of my mouth. They will be tagged under Emily May Review.

Over and above being the best reviewer of all time *Kanye voice* she is also a highly conscious person. Em is woke AF!! Her interests include, but are not limited to, politics, philosophy, history and feminism. This comes across quite clearly in her reviews. She educates without being didactic. Because of Emily I am more cognizant of how the things we think and/or say subconsciously contribute to the biases and structures that stifle the marginalized. She has taught me to be aware of both the subtle and blatant privileges I have in society, not taking for granted that which others continue to fight for. She has also made me more conscious of slut shaming and I try as much as possible to avoid it. I no longer want to contribute to any narrative that upholds the patriarchy. If you are on Goodreads and are not following her, what are you waiting for?

With that said, let me leave you with what I feel is her most impactful review to date. Disclaimer, I have not read all her reviews. At the time of posting she has 1,485 reviews. It will obviously take me some time to go through them all. Another point to note, she has a multitude of other reviews that made me go hunting for a book among the second hand book sellers in the CBD, but I am yet to add (Don’t) Call Me Crazy to my Want to Read shelf. The reason I believe this is the best review to share is not only does it showcase her prowess, it also provides a powerful insight into why reviewing books is so important to Emily. She has bared her soul in this review, and I definitely stan an open, genuine, courageous young lady.


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