Mark Reads/Mark Watches (markdoesstuff.com)
I recommend review blog Mark Does Stuff to almost everyone I know, sooner or later. So, while reviewing a review blog might seem unorthodox, I would like to recommend him here, too. Blogger Mark Oshiro is, from all appearances, a warm-hearted and engaged person. I have been following him since his first foray into total-book reviews, Mark Reads Twilight, some years ago. This project, and all projects since, start with his near-complete lack of knowledge of the subject matter. There have been some surprising gaps in his pop-culture knowledge, many of them made understandable by aspects of his upbringing which he relates in several reviews. It has been a delight to watch his style and personality develop over time.
Though it doesn’t likely mean much in this era of fan-involvement, I was inordinately pleased when Mark Oshiro added me back as a friend on facebook. Being shy and socially awkward, I have since made no effort to contact him. He has speculated about a possible journey to Australia next year. To demonstrate my affection I almost offered him transport across Melbourne before managing to restrain myself until he threw out the question*. Yes, a virtual internet stranger. He has that effect on people. Or perhaps it’s just me.
Mark Reads Twilight is an excellent source of fun for people who, like me, are firm haters of the Twilight series. It is Mark at his most acerbic as he eviscerates the books and highlights many of theri most problematic elements. I can credit Mark Reads Twilight, amongst other things, with introducing me to many of the concepts which led to me embracing feminism instead of “I’m not a feminist I’m an equalist” reasoning.
Mark has written retrospectively about his experience with Twilight and the transition into his next project, Mark Reads Harry Potter. It is clear now that he was at a very difficult point in his life—one of many difficult points he has experienced. He readily admits that he started the Harry Potter project expecting to despise the books. Instead he falls deeply in love with the series and it is wonderful to behold. At the same time, further biographical musings, though often heartbreaking, provide an extra dimension to the reviews.
Mark Does Stuff follows the formula of both Mark’s earlier projects. With little to no knowledge of the series, Mark reads books and watches tv shows, posting chapter-by-chapter or episode-by-episode reviews. Earlier projects include the occasional gimmick. For example, reviews are written in the style of character diary entries. However, these gradually became less common and seem to have disappeared entirely in recent years. The bitter humour of Mark Reads Twilight has faded as Mark’s emphasis has moved into actual reviews rather than humour. Mark has also moved away from including biographical narratives in his pieces, for various reasons, though personal touches remain a signature of his style. He makes an effort to see the positive in most things, while never ignoring negative aspects, so his reviews are well balanced and never slide into vitriol—quite the opposite. He is lavish in his praise of authors and characters he admires.
In addition to his text reviews, Mark offers videos wherein he reads or watches, and reacts to, chapters and episodes in real time. Expect swearing, disbelief, overblown reactions of every kind. They are a joy.
Mark’s earlier projects are available for purchase as e-books from his website. He is currently reviewing Tamora Pierce’s body of work, all of the Discworld novels, and the entirety of Star Trek in its varying incarnations, among other incidental material such as short stories. With these mammoth tasks, Mark should be writing and entertaining for a long time to come.
*but it is still something I would be happy to do, Mark, within reason, if you ever read this, and if you don’t get a better offer (likely)