Saturday, 6 April 2019

Dewey's 24 Hour Readathonnnnnn!!!

Well hello friends! We're back, we're back, for another day (literally) of reading.
 I say day, what I actually mean is... afternoon and evening with a nice early night because I didn't sleep brilliantly last night, with a nice break somewhere near the beginning to go food shopping (the bonus here, however, is SNACKS). So, by readathon, what I actually mean is, I'm going to do some reading today! Huzzah!

Ever overly optimistic, below is my book stack for the day:
Hahahahahaha I will probably read like one book, but options are good and this will serve me as a spring reading stack anyway! I have started reading Little Fires Everywhere and also Hamlet so potentially I will just finish those today, but if you can see a book that is REALLY REALLY GOOD then let me know and I. Will. Prioritise.

And now, as is tradition, the opening survey:

1. What fine part of the world are you reading from today?
I'm in Surrey, England (basically just London ok) and it is cold and gross and I am not feeling outside today (aka it's perfect readathon weather!)

2. Which book in your stack are you most looking forward to?
In general, or which do I actually think I'll read today?! I think Difficult Women by Roxane Gay is probably the one I'm most looking forward to, but no guarentees I'll get to it today!

3. Which snack are you most looking forward to?
You know what guys, I am woefully unprepared on the snack front, but I'll be going out shortly(ish) for the best food shop ever - it's my birthday this week so I am literally going to get all the things I want that I normally go 'but it's too expensive!' because this is MY TIME TO SHINE/EAT WHAT I WANT. Oh, and yes - there will be snacks haha!

4. Tell us a little something about yourself!
Come on man, the history of my 20s is documented on this blog! (Kinda) Ok FINE, I am about to be 30 SOMEHOW (pretty sure I was JUST 12), I really love moomins and well, I just really really like books, ok?

5. Something you're going to do differently today
I'm doing this readathon very casually (see: lack of snacks prepared) which was sort of always going to be the case but became the case for sure because I'm v tired today! But, I am here and I am so ready to reeeeead! (ngl I have totally already started so yeah)

Update the First: 6:04pm

Hey guyssssss! So I've probably read for... say 2 1/2 - 3 hours at this point, which I am very ok with. I haven't been chatty at all (my bad) because I think just... I want to do lots of reading and I am in a beautiful sofa cocoon without a care in the world right now! I may venture onto the twitters or insta later (when the eyes get tired) but for now I'm perfectly happy just reading Little Fires Everywhere and waiting for my wonderful fiance (eeee!) to bring me food. Am I the luckiest? I certainly am!

Books Finished: 0 (oops!)
Books Read From: 1
Pages read: 146
Snacks consumed: A handful of pringles and some bourneville buttons (just realised this is my first vegan readathon! But don't worry, I'm still eating like a nutritional moron ahahaha)
Notable Distractions: Food shopping! But am now the proud owner (?!) of some vegan Ben & Jerrys which is very ok with me.

Onwards with the readings!

Update the Second: 10:22pm

So I have finished TWO BOOKS in the last 4 and a bit hours, but one was a comic book because I decided I couldn't do anymore, like, novel reading so another book added to the total it is! I'm off to bed now - I will likely read SOMETHING before 1pm tomorrow, but am heading off to IKEA so it's not going to be my top priority... But I will try to remember to update this when I get home so I can accurately, y'know, add up my reading total when the readathon is done.

Books Finished: 2
Books Read From: 2
Pages Read: 545
Snacks consumed: Fiance made us a lovely bits and pieces tea, so I sort of had many snacks eaten all at once. It. Was. Ace.
Notable Distractions: Literally the only break I've had is to hang out the washing, which is how I burned through so many pages! YAS READING

Night everyone, and happy reading!

Monday, 1 April 2019

Things I Read in March

Hello hello hello litle readers! There has been some radio silence here, which I can't really explain except to say that, you know sometimes you feel like there's nothing really going on and sometimes feel like every moment of your days have been filled? For me, it's been the latter this month, and so blogging (as always!) has fallen by the wayside.

So what have I been doing, I hear you cry? Well. Tons and tons of reading (I made a goal to read 100 books on my 30 before 30 list, and welp, I'm 5 books away with like 8 days left... but guess which readathon there is this weekend!), wedding crafting (yes, already), and an upsetting amount of work (end of the tax year, innit). I also decided, one month before the final season's premiere that I would rewatch all of Game of Thrones (smart) so that is taking up quite a lot of my time, along with just the general seeing of people and living life and omg enjoying the spring that has joyfully just sprung!

But, you know, the books are the thing. But what were they? Let's take a look.

GLORIOUS (apart from the photography, obvs). Let's discuss (relatively briefly, because LOOK HOW MANY)

Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison - This was one of my last reads from my 30 books before 30 list, so in theory I will review it fully (you know, one day) but I found this kind of magnificent - the story of a family and of a town with a pleasingly circular conclusion and a ton of heartache and just, ugh, you know? So good.

Feminists Don't Wear Pink (and other lies) by Various - Look. I really wanted to love this book, but for me it was just a little tiny bit too much like introduction to feminism as opposed to the advanced feminism that I think I'm looking for (*guiltily eyes primary texts like The Second Sex that she STILL hasn't read*) I think there is a place for books like this for, you know, people who need to be introduced to feminism, but for me, the essays were too short, and the sentiments a little too much like 'oh I realised you can still be a feminist AND be girly!' for me - at least for the most part.

Elevation by Stephen King - As a person who is up to date now with Stephen King reads, I really have to object (on behalf of whoever bought this for me for Christmas) to novellas being produced in hardback and sold for the same price as a lengthier novel. Now that that's off my chest... I obviously need to do a full review of this (LOL) but I found this pretty good - King is into social justice again like for that bit of time he was a feminist, and even though he does these things clumsily, he clearly cares and I am here for it. An odd book, probably not worth the giant amount it cost but it's Stephen King so yeah.

Kid Gloves by Lucy Knisley - I HAVE BEEN WAITING FOR THIS BOOK FOR FOREVER! I genuinely believe this may be my most anticipated book ever (I preordered it in, like, September even though amazon FAILED ME and didn't deliver and also, fuck those guys) and it did not disappoint. It was a little more harrowing than I was expecting, not really knowing about Knisley's baby experience, but it was so good and thoughtful and interesting (history of pregnancy, yo!) as I have come to expect from her books. I read it the night I got it, so... enough said really?

One Day We'll All Be Dead and None of This Will Matter by Scaachi Koul - The final book on my 30 reads before 30 list (or at least the last one I'm intending to read - more on this in another post) this was also the hardest to find, which is a shame because it's good! A better than your average collection of essays on growing up as an Indian-Canadian woman (all of those things are relevant here) including an insight into the crazy-fucked up world of Indian weddings (they put SAFETY PINS into HAIR - which also means HEAD). That's the stand out from the book for me, apparently, but like I say - insightful and funny and just very very good. I should also be reviewing this in full at some point, but this is me we're talking about so who knows?

Cheerful Weather for the Wedding by Julia Strachey - I found this book weirdly stressful? It's only a novella (see how hard I've been trying to get those 100 books in?!) but it's kind of based around all the hubbub of an English wedding in... a certain era (Idk, google it) and it's all bustling around and rushing and 'where's Jim' and 'What is Florence up to now?' and so on and I found it a bit exhausting? Amidst all of this there is a giant revelation, but by the time I got to it I was so exhausted I sort of... didn't care? Basically, it was all a bit much and now I need a lie down (much like, I imagine, the bride in this book).

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them by JK Rowling - See what I mean about getting my numbers up! Is it worth reviewing a 'textbook' of magical creatures created for charity? Not really. But this was fine, but mostly worth a flick through for Harry and Ron's additions to the text and Dumbledore's foreword (I don't care for the Fantastic Beasts films, tbh).

King Lear: The Graphic Novel by William Shakespeare and Ilya - I haven't read any Shakespeare for ages, I thought. What could go wrong, I thought? I'm not going to say this was bad because, you know, it's Shakespeare, but I do have some notes because hello, I wrote my dissertation on Shakespeare in cartoons, this is *kind of* my thing. The front of the book and the art throughout presents Lear as a Native American chief, but, with the exception of Kent posing as his servant, there is literally nothing else to suggest that anything Native American is happening. As a king dispossessed of his lands, this comic could have done SO MUCH MORE on this theme, but instead it pretty much plops two native Americans in... Tudor England? It's really weirdly done, and it's frustrating because it could have been so impactful and effective had it actually referenced Native American history more.

But, you know. Read King Lear, it's really good.

Almost Midnight by Rainbow Rowell - Eeeeee! So I've been trying to read Midnights (one of the short stories in this book) for so long, but neither wanted to pay £10 for a teensy book (sorry, Rainbow) nor wanted to buy the collection of YA short stories it's in (sorry YA authors). Anyway, I borrowed this from my local library and I just SQUEEEEEEEE because it is so very cute! It's basically a short story over 4 (3? SORRY RAINBOW) New Years Eves and watching from afar and looks and squee squee squeeeeee you know?! The other story in the book, Kindred Spirits, I already own and have read a few times but of course I read it again because it's adorable and how can one person be so good at writing about blossoming love?! I don't know but she's great. SQUEEEEEEE.

The Road to Little Dribbling by Bill Bryson - Oh Bill, you belligerent old man. This book is a sequel of sorts to Notes from a Small Island, but it also is not that at all since, ya know, Britain has a lot of places to write about even if it's not that big (it isn't). I liked this plenty but (BUT) I found that Bryson kind of started to... grate on me a little bit. I think this is mostly because he's talking about my country (ooh, there's that patriotism I never had) but a lot of his complaints start to feel sort of classist and uncomfortable after a while, and I found myself thinking 'oh just let people do what they WANT' more than once. Having said that, it's still a pretty good travelogue because of course it is, and I do enjoy Bryson's joy and wonder at the beauty of this fine land *tears up a bit and starts singing the national anthem* excuse me a sec...

Bossypants by Tina Fey - That's right, I TRICKED you! This book is not in that photo because I listened to a whole audiobook (I know!) and well. WELL! This is also on my 30 before 30 book list thing (what isn't?!) and whilst I had read this, I had never listened to the audio and what a DIFFERENCE! I am in love and awe and yes, good. Good good good.

Excellent Women by Barbara Pym - It's rare for me to read a book that I immediately know would be perfect for someone else, but I knew about 3 pages into this book that Frances needed to read it, so it's ending up in her hands the next time I see her. As for me, I enjoyed this a whole lot - it's funny and good and the main character truly is an excellent woman (very funny) who DESERVES BETTER than all these men. I don't remember how that book made it into my house (did someone recommend?!) but I'm glad it did and I will be on the lookout for more Pym - for both Frances and me, I guess!

South and West by Joan Didion  - I snuck another slender read in just at the end of the month! This isn't so much a book as some diary entries and fragments of writing for a couple of articles Didion never wrote, but quite frankly, they could publish Joan's shopping lists and I would probably read them (they're probably FASCINATING, and insightfully written). So, yeah, of course this is good, it's Didion - some thoughts about the South and how she just wants to get the f out of there, and then some thoughts about her native California and her upbringing and all of that good stuff. Once again, it's Didion, which is all I really need to say, isn't it?

Ok, that was not brief AT ALL, and for this I apologise. I shall be back on Saturday for 24 hour readathon goodness (WHO ELSE IS READING?!) but I hope your March was fabulous and that you have an even better April. It is now officially my birthday month so I am here for treating myself super duper hard, and what better than an entire day of reading? Literally nothing, eh? Tell me all about your lives in the comments below pls!

Tuesday, 5 March 2019

30 Books Before 30: #15 The Mothers by Brit Bennett

Ahhhh. That sweet sweet feeling where you read the book a very long time ago (ok like less than 2 months) and can't really review it well because eh, what do I know?

Mind you, that is always true, so here we go anyway!

Here's one thing I remember about this book - its framing is very very interesting and I like it. The start of each chapter is narrated by 'The Mothers', a group of women at the local church who see things, and talk about things, even if they don't fully understand what's going on. This means that the start of the chapters read like the whispered gossips of a group of not-too-well-informed ladies, and then open out into the wider, actually true*, story.

I liked this as a framing device a lot, as I feel like it echoes what happens a lot in real life - a little bit of if you knew what had happened to people behind the scenes, you wouldn't be so quick to judge, and other important things to remember like that. HAVING SAID THAT, I sort of wish that the mothers weren't exclusively a framing device, and had a little more to do with the novel than just lurking around and gossiping - but I guess that's kind of the point of them, and it's fun when they do turn up in the main story as background characters, just as the main characters become background to The Mothers' lives - just another thing that happened to someone else.

The story itself is an age old one, and I have to admit I saw it coming from miles away - but then I don't think this novel is supposed to be one of surprises so much as an exploration of why people sometimes do inexcusable things (hint: it's definitely more complex than you think). Having said that, it was the forgone conclusion feeling about this book that prevented me from really loving it, since when it finally got to its inevitable end, it was kind of like an 'eh, sure' rather than any sense of real excitement or interest.

Having said that, I did pretty much read the whole thing in a day so... I guess it can't have been so terrible? I mean, I'd say it's pretty entertaining and all of that good stuff (and sometimes that's all you neeeed) but that's kind of... It. You probably won't regret reading this at all, but it just might not change your world (nor, I suppose, should it have to). THE END.

*Well, not ACTUALLY because it's fiction. But you know what I mean.

Friday, 1 March 2019

Things I Read In February

What the flippity flop, it's March!
We had a ridiculously warm end of February that I was not complaining about because I knew, as has happened, that it would soon turn to shit and we'd be freezing again. Lo and behold, I am currently under a duvet, with a heater on, because BLOODY HELL it is cold. Also yes hello I am English, we do talk about the weather A LOT, huh?

February! It was a month. I had to work later than usual this month (9-5 as opposed to 8-4) to cover things while one of my colleagues were off, and honestly by the end of it I was in SUCH A BAD MOOD. This was for a variety of work reasons, but mostly it was just mood mood moodily mood, come home, watch Brooklyn 99, all is well (ON WHICH: I know you all know about it, but this is my first time watching it and OMG what how is this so good and funny I just can't what I gimme more yes AGH!). This past week I have been back to normal hours and have, on the whole, been much more pleasant to be around which is good good good.

Working different hours gave me extra time on the bus, so I'm surprised I didn't finish more books, but on the flip side quite a few of the books I read this month were quite weighty (1200 pages of Harry Potter, yo!) plus I had all of that Brooklyn 99 watching to do! I also joined a gym (!!) this month for the first time in my adult life, which is about half reading time (on a bike) and half not reading time (on the rowing machine/stairs because I spend my time on those mostly longing for death). It has actually been good and I feel a lot more energetic in a general sense so this is ALL GOOD STUFF.


Look at the precioussssss...

Becoming by Laura Jane Williams -  Oh man. My best friend and I have a mild to moderate obsession with Laura on instagram because honestly she is filled with positivity and joy and is just a delight in general. I was really excited when I saw this book in the library whilst getting Japan guidebooks (yasss buddy) and then I read it. And... Well. It's not like it's the worst thing I've ever read or anything, and there were definite moments of excellent insight, but there were a few too many people telling the author how amazing she is, and too much sort-of-bad dialogue for my liking. I wanted this to be so much better than it was, and on the whole I think I'll stick with her instagram.

Courage Calls To Courage Everywhere by Jeanette Winterson - This teensy book was a bit of a delight - a manifesto by Jeanette Winterson on, ya know, women and their rights and all of that kind of stuff. ALL OF THE GOOD THINGS, basically. The book also contains a speech Millicent Fawcett gave in the early 20th Century supporting and promoting the vote for women which is disarmingly modern and still relevant (why is it still relevant?!) Very good and feminist stuff.

Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince by JK Rowling - The Harry Potter re-read continues! It's dangerous and serious and all very terrifying and stuff, and, you know, still so very good. So very, very good.

Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides - This month became something of a month of re-reads for me (I ain't mad about it) and Middlesex was the most surprising of these for me in that I had hardly remembered any of it, and what I did remember almost ruined it for me (in a certain way, to be revealed in my full review!) I really FELT those 8 years that passed since reading it last, and I'm not sure that was in a good way!

Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden - THIS one I remembered pretty well (I have read it... more than once before, although the last time was maybe before I read Middlesex so, shrug) and, you know what, it's still gorgeous and amazing and... I obviously now have some feelings about a white man speaking for a Japanese woman but then also at the same time he makes it clear he's done his research and... More hand-wringing in the real review, I guess!

Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates - Not a re-read, but a future re-read, I think! This is another 30 before 30 book, so gets a full review, but this one really packs a punch - a black father's letter to his son, you can really feel the fear and anger in Coates' history, and this somehow manages to be both personal and global at the same time. We'll talk about this soon, ok.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by JK Rowling - Oh man. Was this book always this good or did I just really need some Harry Potter in my life as comfort as I approach 30? EITHER WAY, this was so good. I had so much fun with this book (and tears, and stress, and so on), and even the camping didn't feel as tedious as usual. Having watched the films leading up to Christmas last year also, I was impressed all over again by the last two films which are kind of ok-ish. HIGH PRAISE, huh?

Pages for You by Sylvia Brownrigg - My friend lent me this book and sold it to me with the promise that it was the lesbian Call Me By Your Name so, you know, SOLD. This is the lesbian Call Me By Your Name in the sense that an impressionable youth has a relationship with an older (but not, like, disgustingly older) academic, but it's also a lot more... sexual than CMBYN. Whilst CMBYN is almost the whisper of a relationship that could have been, Pages for You is a burning love affair that fizzles out, that just isn't quite there, that doesn't quite make it... Ok, I guess that does sound pretty similar, but this one isn't in Italy. ANYWAY - it was good, I liked it a lot, definitely worth a read if you come across it and want to relive teen/20s love affairs.

So, yeah. Life, life, I like books. Bookie bookie book books. Happy basically spring everyone! We made it (ish)!

Thursday, 21 February 2019

30 Books Before 30: #14 Wild by Cheryl Strayed

Oh, Wild. For a book that I hold in my heart with a lot of fondness, I found upon re-reading it that I really didn't remember much about it at all. It also shocked me that I had only read it once before, but since half of the content is fairly similar to Strayed's novel (Torch), I guess I have kind of read it one and a half times at least.

I also read it when it was fairly new out, and before it became this whole big thing. In one of the episodes of the Gilmore Girls reboot (which itself was *gulp* over two years ago now!), Lorelai goes to 'do Wild' - i.e. find herself on the PCT, along with a whole load of women 'going through stuff'. This is obviously meant as a kind of joke on women who try to emulate an experience that was life changing for just one person ('Movie or Book?!' the women ask each other, trying to find their correct group), but it also helps to show the reach the novel (and, I guess, the movie) have had since I last read it.

I still haven't seen the movie, by the by, for no reason other than it's not available to stream anywhere and I don't really want to spend money on it. I'm sure it's good because Reese Witherspoon is ace, and I'm looking out for the opportunity to watch it whenever I can. But, for now, there is always the book.

And, you know what? It's still a good book. I'm not sure that it still had the same impact on me that it had back in 2013 (wow), but I think I need it less than I did then - I have a much better idea about myself than I did 6 (again, wow) years ago, and I feel somewhat that I need it less than I did then. Nonetheless, it's still charged with emotion, and very inspiring and heartbreaking, and you know, all of that good stuff.

This wasn't really a review, I realise, so much as a review of me, but if you want more of an idea of the book you can take a look at my vintage review of 2013 (again WHAT EVEN). I completely understand this book's inclusion on the 30 before 30 list, because of its inspirational and uplifting essential message - we all have the power to change our own lives, if and when it's needed.

Tuesday, 19 February 2019

30 Books Before 30: #13 The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead

Hey, remember when I said I read a load of books that I now can't remember? This one is the main one I can't remember, something which I put down to reading it over the Christmas period when I was mostly high on sugar and cheese (ah, cheese). I have an inbuilt mistrust of books that have won awards because those things are almost always wrong, and, based on the lack of an impact this novel had on me, I have no reason to revise this feeling.

Ok, let's get through this the best way we know how. The story (wikipedia tells me) follows the story of two escaped slaves Cora and Caesar (thanks Wikipedia) as they both decide to and then do escape from the plantation on which they are enslaved. Many many events ensue, which kind of show the huge and disgusting and horrible impossibility of being an escaped slave in America in the 1800s, as obstacle after obstacle throws itself in their, and later just in Cora's, faces.

And just... Eh. I, of course, don't mean eh about slavery, or about violence faced by black people in America since, you know, they were bought and brought there until jut about the present day because of course that is bullshit and fuck that and just urgh. This book itself though, I just... Well. Apart from the fact that it apparently had no impact on me, I just didn't feel like it was, like, good enough to tackle the subject or to hold my interest or I don't know, maybe I'm just a monster?

I also felt that the violence in the novel became a little gratuitous in parts - which is not me trying to downplay the very real violence that we all know happened, so much as I almost feel as though fictionalising it almost makes the real things that happened less important. This feeling is something akin to the way I feel about Holocaust fiction, where I don't really think it should exist, except possible when written by the people directly affected by it. It's almost, to me, that some things are too horrid to be turned into fiction because it diminishes the real events in some sense.

Or maybe I just didn't really like this book.

Have you read this? Do you remember it? Can you tell me why it's supposed to be so great and make me reconsider myself? Thanks in advance!

Thursday, 14 February 2019

30 Books Before 30: #12 The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas

Oh, The Count of Monte Cristo. Do you know how long it took me to read The Count of Monte Cristo? Or, another question, do you know how hard it is to make yourself read a giant book when you have so many smaller books laying round? (I'm sure you probably do). I started The Count of Monte Cristo... I'm not even sure when, and only when I dedicated many evenings solely to reading it did I finally get through it.

You should not take this, however, as an indication of my feelings towards the story because I looooved it. It is ridiculously dramatic, and I loved every second of its well-crafted, insane beauty. Let's get into it.

The story is essentially a fairly simple one. A good man, an innocent man, is imprisoned by a group of jealous and/or self-interested men, left to rot for a lot of (let's say 20?) years, until he finally escapes, goes to get the treasure from the island of Monte Cristo so that he is rich beyond all reason, and then seeks his revenge on the men who imprisoned him. DID I MENTION IT IS RIDICULOUSLY DRAMATIC? Because, yeah.

I'd love to tell you that the drama and the ridiculousness is a downside of the book, but I loved the drama and indeed the ridiculousness. It's not meant to be a book that you take too seriously (imho), and you really just have to let yourself go and enjoy all the crazy plot twists and unlikely coincidences and so on and so forth. I would say that the book could honestly be half the size if you cut out a lot of the foreshadowing and plotting, but why the heck would you when it's this much fun to read?!

I would super recommend reading The Count of Monte Cristo if you want to feel super accomplished for reading a classic, but don't really want to struggle through a super serious and (let's face it) difficult one. It is honestly a lot of fun, with a few deeper moments but mostly a lot of dressing up as other people and handing out diamonds and revenge, revenge, so much revenge! Read it, enjoy it, don't carry it around with you cause it's super heavy and stuff.