Wednesday, 15 August 2018

30 Books You Should (Apparently) Read Before You Turn 30

As mentioned in my Sunday post, I have an aim and a goal and a purpose for life (ok maybe not that last bit) which is to read all of the books on the abovementioned list before I'm 30, which, I hate to admit, is less than 8 months away ahahaha how did I get so old please someone stop me.

I don't know exactly how I feel about such lists because AS IF there are even 30 books that all people need to read before they reach a certain age, but I'm always up for trying to complete a list of books even though I never knowingly have. This particular list, also, seems a little less high-minded than some of the '30 before 30' lists I've seen (am I actually ever going to read Siddharta or Ulysses? I am probably not) and so more achievable, you know, maybe.

Also I've already read nearly half and some of the other books I already own, so totally achievable! Yes!

Let's look at the list, shall we? You can find it here, in its original form, and also below with my commentary...

1. The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy by Douglas Adams - I own this! I haven't read it to my complete SHAME. I agree with the list, it is time.

2. The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood - IT IS AMAZING and I am completely not against reading it again before I'm 30, if my friend ever gives me my copy back...

3. The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K Le Guin - I haven't read any Ursula K Le Guin but this sounds GREAT so I'm here for it

4. I Am Malala by Malala Yousafzai - I am 100% here for Malala's book

5. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen - I also would read this again any time. Obviously.

6. I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou - Done and done.

7. The Mothers by Brit Bennett - Another one I haven't heard of but I am also here for. There's a reason I want to complete this list, and it's because everything sounds GREAT

8. Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris - I am ashamed to say that I haven't read any David Sedaris, but pleased to say that I do own this so yeah, I'm gonna read this for sure (and at last!)

9. Wild by Cheryl Strayed - I mean, duh. I love it, you should also read it before you're 30, or after.

10. Bossypants by Tina Fey - Yup.

11. When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi - This sounds so tragic that I almost can't even, but I do want to so yeah.

12. Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie - Very pleased that this made the list because it's excellent. I do have a couple of other books by her, so perhaps I shall read one of those instead of this one.

13. The Second Sex by Simone De Beauvoir - I own this already so I know how dense and challenging this is, so maybe this will turn into 29 before 30, but I want to give it another try!

14. Catch 22 by Joseph Heller - I have been meaning to re-read this for a long time since I read it when I was about 15 and didn't really understand things and stuff, so yeah.

15. The Rules do not Apply by Ariel Levy - I feel like I've heard about this and don't know much about it, but ONCE AGAIN, the description sounds great so I am also here for it.

16. Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff - I own this! Hooray! I feel like I read something good about it and in a fit of passion (ooer) put it on my amazon wishlist where I believe Bex bought it for me, so thing I read that I can't remember, you'd better be right! *stern face*

17. The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas - I also own this! What could go wrong?!

18. The Hobbit by J R R Tolkien -  Eh, this is fine but I'm not sure it really deserves a place on this list. Just put all of Lord of the Rings on it, dammit (or, you know, not...)

19. Between The World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates - I have, once again, not heard of this because I am an ill-educated swine, and once again it sounds pretty great.

20. Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden -  This is, without question, one of my favourite ever books and a quick search just told me that I haven't even read it since I started blogging. THIS MUST CHANGE.

21. Slaugherhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut - I'm not overly enamoured with Vonnegut, but I have read this. It's fine.

22. Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison - I haven't read any Toni Morrison, to my eternal shame, so this'll be a good way to kick me off and actually read the two books of hers I own as well.

23. One Day We'll All Be Dead and None of This Will Matter by Scaachi Koul - Word.

24. My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante - ALL THE PRAISE HANDS

25. The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead - OK FINE I'll read an award winning book I guess, are you happy now?

26. Station Eleven by Emily St John Mandel - This is soooo very good - I can't remember if I ever reviewed it because I think I read it when I was doing my MA (oh wait, yes I did and no I didn't) but dystopia + Shakespeare = Dreamy.

27. Pachinko by Min Jin Lee - I have extra never heard of this, and just as much am convinced that it sounds great.

28. Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides - It's another one that I read ages ago but that is fabulous. AGH this is making me want to read AND re-read...

29. The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion - Heartbreaking, beautiful, incredible writing - do I need to go on?

30. Commonwealth by Ann Patchett - Finishing off the list with another one... I've never heard of. Ann is pretty solid though, as I understand it, so what's the worst that can happen?

ISN'T IT A GOOD LIST?! I've got 8 months and 16 books to go - as long as I remember to read these exact books, what can go wrong? I think I"m going to come back to this page and update it when I've read books from it, and if you'd like you can come back and check my progress - 8th April 2019 is my cut off point, so I'll let y'all know if I've been successful after then!

Are you currently undertaking any book challenges?

Sunday, 12 August 2018

Sunday Sundries: A Coupla Things I'm Gonna Do

Good... ok, Afternoon, wow, and a happy Sunday one and all! I've had an interesting Sunday morning of waking up early and then falling asleep trying to read my book a couple of hours later, and then waking up THE GROGGIEST EVER, so here I am, waking myself up with blogging, and you are so welcome!

Here are some things I have been up to:

My sister's wedding was last Friday which was lovely and exhausting and I pretty much needed the next two days to recover from it, so in spite of my mild irritation that it was on a Friday (but my annual leeeeeave), in the end that turned out to be a good thing!

Workity work work. We're in a really busy phase at the moment which has been fine but also kinda tiring so I'm really glad that the next 3 weeks in a row are 4 day weeks (best feeling!) plus I have a week off (kinda) coming up in September which is obviously the actual best.

Yoga! I have been doing some! I don't even really know what has happened this past week (and it has just been this past week) but I guess that on Monday I got tired of not doing things and decided to... do a thing? This is partly because of one of my 30 before 30 goals to make my evenings more purposeful (and to do some kind of regular exercise!), I guess, but I really don't know where my specific motivation came from on Monday, and I'm pretty happy not to examine it too closely! The point is, yay yoga! I've been doing Yoga with Adrienne and have started off one of her 30 day challenges (if you're interested, I believe it's one from 3 years ago?) and omg I am so sore, but so pleased with myself for the 6 days IN A ROW I have already done (including after drinks with work friends on Wednesday, and before going round my friend's for dinner on Friday!)

Wow, that was a lot of talking about yoga, huh? I'm just REALLY PROUD OF ME OK?!

Moving swiftly onwards, let's talk about BOOK THINGS! I really do have a couple things I'm gonna do, and please allow me to tell you all about them.

Firstly, THE MINITHON is back for its... X number time and after X number of years, ok look it's the minithon so we like to keep things a little loosey goosey when it comes to numbers and stuff ok? The premise of the minithon is to keep things small (short books, short stories, stories with children in... it's pretty much 'make your own adventure' time) and tiny snacks are encouraged and also adorable. It's also mini in that it's 8 hours long, as opposed to the 24 hour readathon, and you can sign up here and why wouldn't you? Exactly.

FINALLY - From the start of this year, all I've been able to do is scream I'M GOING TO BE 30 NEXT YEAR in abject horror
(this, when I was a mere 28 years old). I think that realistically I'm actually ok with it, but it's fun to be dramatic about how ancient I am. What I also think is going to be fun is trying to complete this list  of 30 Books You Should Read Before You Turn 30 that I saw on Book Riot yesterday because yay book lists! I was just gonna whack the whole list in this post and then talk about it, but actually this has gotten pretty unwieldy so I think I'm going to make a whole new post for it I KNOW DON'T GET TOO EXCITED! Or do, I'm not the boss of you.

So yeah. Exciting book things and general life happening. Go me, and go you too! Please tell me about your week/month/year, I'll be thrilled to hear about it.

Wednesday, 1 August 2018

Things I Read in July

Oh HAI again, internet folken! That's right, my things I read in July post is right on time and in tip top condition, look at me go! I guess I covered this somewhat in my very very late things I read in June post, but July basically consisted of me being off work for two weeks due to some (keyhole) surgery (nothing to worry about, but it was ow), and then going back to work and being very very very busy. Although I had two weeks to read to my heart's content, I mostly watched Six Feet Under and felt reasonably bad for not being at work (and read a few books), and since I've been back at work I've been doing a few extra hours here and there to help out, and consequently have been (almost) too tired to read, like, ever. HAVING SAID THAT, I did in fact finish 9 books in July, but having said THAT, three of them were totally comic books and one was a children's book. Why yes, I was comfort reading, why do you ask?

Here they are though, and honestly they look like an impressive bunch!

Let's delve a little deeper, shall we?

Attachments by Rainbow Rowell
This is not, as you may know, my first time reading this book, but it was maybe my most therapeutic. When you wake up from day surgery, after you've been in recovery (where they have the goooood drugs), they make you sit on the ward for two hours to make sure you're not going to keel over or whatever, before they let you go home. I am not a very good waiter and I'm especially not a good waiter in hospitals, and I didn't really want to hold a book that could fall onto my stitches and what have you, so I opened my trusty kindle app where I keep a copy of Attachments, in case of emergency. Attachments saw me through that two hours, and when I woke up in the middle of the night because of general anaesthetic sleep, it saw me through until morning, too. Thanks, Rainbow.

Moomins Vol 2 by Tove Jansson
Ah, the Moomins. I basically think about the Moomins every day and am even considering getting a Moomin tattoo, but whilst I love them and find them adorable and know their basic philosophies (and love that a cartoon even has a philosophy), I haven't actually read many of their stories. I started to rectify that this month, first with this volume, which is made up of about 4 or 5 comic strip stories, ALL OF WHICH are fabulous. I enjoy being validated of my love of moomins, by actually reading the Moomins, ya know?

A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara
You've probably read this already. Everyone else seems to have done, but I, as always, had it on my shelves for ages, but avoided it like the plague because have you SEEN the size of it?! This was foolish because this book is unbelievably good. By good, I mean, obviously, that it ripped its hand into my belly and pulled my guts out, then squeezed my heart until it broke, and, you know, I won't labour the point- it's really really really sad. I can't tell you anything, obviously, but I did spend the last 100 pages softly weeping, and it was only soft because it was about 1am at that point and my boyfriend was asleep next to me. This book is truly an emotional journey, and I am both mad at it for breaking me, and in awe of it for the same. Read it if you want to remember what it feels like to wholly inhabit a fictional world, and to care for characters as if they're (your own) flesh and blood.

Moomins Vol 3 by Tove Jansson
I'm pretty sure I read this to come back up from the A Little Life low, and hey, it worked. There's nothing like the Moomins to cheer you up, it has to be said.

The Story of a New Name by Elena Ferrante
Oh hey, it's the second book in the quadrilogy that I really liked when I started it in June! I believe I started reading this pretty much straight after My Brilliant Friend, but it fell by the wayside a little post-op. This was still great- a more mature narrator means that things get much more complicated for her and her brilliant friend, and I am all over the whole thing, if I'm honest. I feel like I definitely need to write a whole post about these books once I'm done with them, because feeeeeelings, I have tons of them!

Ballet Shoes by Noel Streatfeild
I've written before about my love for this book (it was my everything as a child) and it's one of the books that has made it to pride of place on the 'vital books' shelf next to my bed. I felt like reading it one day during sick leave, and by golly that's what I did. It took me about a morning, and it was a beautiful and nostalgic slice of loveliness. *dances off into the sunset*

Something New by Lucy Knisley
Have I mentioned that it's WEDDING SEASON in my life at the moment? Because it is and aghhh (2 DAYS TIL MY SISTER'S!!!) Something New remains my favourite thing I have read about weddings, and it will take a lot of beating - it's essentially the story of Knisley's own wedding, interlinked with various wedding traditions and why they're a lot of nonsense. It makes me sad that both 1) I didn't go to her wedding which seems ace, and 2) we're not best friends already, cause honestly I think we could find a LOT to talk about. Still, I will have to be satisfied with following her on instagram and counting down the days until her next book (Kid Gloves) comes out - I'm sure THAT will become my favourite book on having babies, T.B.H.

The Brooklyn Follies by Paul Auster
Oh Paul Auster. I don't think I've ever been disappointed by Paul Auster, but this one did feel especially good to me. I'm not sure how many of his novels I've read over the past... I'm gonna say 8 or so years when he was first introduced to me at university, but there are some things I've come to expect from him and The Brooklyn Follies hit all of those, and hard. The references to books and art, the plucky young man, even the very capable older man, the strange things happening and fortuitous circumstances... Have I mentioned that I love Paul Auster yet? I'll say this for this month of reading - I usually try to get rid of a few of the books I've read in the month (because, you know, space) but this month I just can't bear to part with any of them, so yeah- it's been that kind of reading month.

Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay by Elena Ferrante
I was determined to finish this in July, and by jove, I totally managed it! I managed it so well, I even had to read something on my kindle on the bus home yesterday because I'd run out of book to read. This is (you may have guessed) the third book in the Neapolitan series, and I mean, just... I feel like a part of me is expecting the quality to drop with each book, and it just isn't happening. IT IS SUCH A GOOD SERIES, I mean, just YES. I would add that the end of this one is probably more cliffhangery than the other two, which means that I will be starting the fourth book today, and just YES I am so glad these books exist in the world.

And that was July! I really did do a ton of comfort reading, and it was exactly what I needed at the time so I'm not even a little bit sorry. August will bring who knows what (other than a wedding and another hen do, AM I DONE YET?!), but I know for sure that I am going to Bristol one weekend which involves a lot of train reading time so squeeeeee *bounces excitedly*. How about you guys?

Sunday, 29 July 2018

Things I Read in June

Hiiiiii! I know, I know, I'm completely and utterly late with the things I've read in June and it's practically the end of July and I should just go and slink away into a hole or something. I. Know. I am very ashamed. However, for once I have (kind of) a good excuse that doesn't even involve laziness so much as (minor) surgery that has left me achy and sore and... well not too grumpy cause my boyfriend did a stellar job of looking after me, but grumpy because boooooored, ya know?

I mean, I've also been back at work two weeks now, so I have no excuse for that time period so yeahhhh... SHAME FACE.
I genuinely think about this all the time.

June was a BIT of a month. Just a bit. It started with my mum's 60th Birthday (literally, her birthday is 1st June), my cousin got married (FREAKING MARRIED!) which was exciting and a beautiful day, and I went to the zoo and I saw Foo Fighters and there was all sorts of wedding admin going on for both my sister and cousin's weddings, and basically, it was super tiring. I'm not saying that it has been a lovely relaxing break having holes punched into my stomach and cysts drained from my ovaries, but I'm also not NOT saying that (I am joking, I wouldn't recommend that as a method of taking a break. Seriously.)

Anyway. What did I read in June though, I hear you cry? I dunno, let's look:
Firstly, I have to apologise for the crappy photo- I'm hardly a photography wizard anyway, but this month I feel like I hit a new low... did you want the sun in your eyes? You didn't? TOO BAD!

Anyway. That indistinct form on top of the books is my iPad because lo and behold, I read a couple of ebooks last month, look at me go! I use the kindle app on the iPad (and on my phone) and yes I know amazon, and yes I'm sorry. SORRY. Let's talk books though, yes?

The Hate You Give by Angie Thomas
I hardly read YA at all because I JUST CAN'T ok, but I had read some good things about The Hate You Give online, and found a copy at my mum's house (I think it's my sister's?) and so I subtly borrowed it. It was good! I'm never going to go to YA for the greatest writing in the world (and I want that always), and I didn't get that here, but I found this really thought provoking and interesting, and also very humanising in a way that black people do not always get in literature or culture or media or... you get the idea. It made me pretty angry since, you know, a black teen gets shot in the first chapter and that. Shit. Is. Actually. Happening, but I think it's important to be mad about it and to try and do things to change it. Reading this book is maybe a tiny start.

The Children Who Lived in a Barn by Eleanor Graham
At this point, I feel pretty much assured that I'm going to have a good time when I read a Persephone book. This book was no exception, and I'll start with the foreword which is by my favourite author as a child, Jacqueline Wilson. In it, she describes reading this book as a child, and how, even though she can read a book now and remember nothing about it a week later (lol, I feel you, JW) she remembers the exact plot of this, as well as other childhood books so well. It just made me feel all warm and fuzzy cause that's how I feel about her books as well as a few other childhood favourites. This book, I know, if I had read it would have been one of my favourite books because it touched all of my kids books tingly spots- children forced to fend for themselves, the difficult realities of their everyday lives, the people who help them... It's just all good stuff. It was a weird experience to read and think, who knows, maybe one day I might have a kid who will read this and it'll become one of their childhood favourites - you just never know!

Just Kids by Patti Smith
I had some interesting feelings about Just Kids, which, firstly, was written with such beautiful sorting prose that it made me feel almost breathless, so nice work Patti. My interesting feelings were, I think, feminist ones, where it felt like Patti was putting herself and her work aside to help and to forward the work of Robert Mapplethorpe, but then the book is basically a memoir of the relationship between the two and is not really any of my business to comment upon. That's the weird feeling it actually left me with- this idea that, although it maybe made me feel a little uncomfortable in a feminist way, this is actually so intimate, and so between the two of them that I felt, and still feel, extremely uncomfortable commenting on it at all in a critical sense. Really though - A+++ writing.

Why Have Kids? by Jessica Valenti
I'm not sure why I ended up reading two kindle books in a row in June, or where the heck my physical books were, but it is what it is. I also don't remember buying Why Have Kids which leads me to assume that it was a Kindle Daily Deal purchase early one morning because yeahhhh... Anyway, this book was fine. It wasn't really an exploration of why you should or shouldn't have kids (say, focusing on overpopulation vs human need to reproduce or something like that, which I would totally read) but more on why people should stfu on commenting on women who have, or have chosen not to. THIS I can get on board with, so I did mostly read it going 'THEY DID WHAT?!' or 'yeah, she SHOULD do what she wants' and so on. This was pretty much preaching to the choir, but I'm kind of glad someone wrote it.

Also it is bullshit that maternity leave is not a legal thing in the US and I'm sorry your country sucks so bad. ALSO it is bullshit that in most countries paternity leave is only 2 weeks, but that's a whole other story.

Ham on Rye by Charles Bukowski
Ummm. Bukowski. Listen. I got the point of this book (a kind of bildungsroman for horrible people) but I just kind of... didn't like it? It would be reductive to say 'too many male characters' cause, I get it, boys growing up have their own tribes and blah blah blah but the women in this book were basically just the main characters mother and women he found attractive and wanted to fuck. I'd call it misogynistic but it's pretty much just misanthropic, and not really my cup of tea at all. Can you both get something and not really like it? Cause I'm pretty sure that's what happened here.

My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante
I went to Naples in April and I think a little bit beforehand, my friend sent me a link to an Elena Ferrante article in The Guardian which I found was excellent, and then I found the first two Neapolitan novels in a charity shop and the rest is history. This book is almost the exact opposite of Ham on Rye- the story of two girls, growing up in Naples, with different opportunities and different attitudes and outlooks on life, but still a certain sense of love and devotion between them. It is still, disturbingly, incredibly rare to read a book about the friendships between women, which is so ridiculous when, speaking as a woman, these are the bulk of our friendships. They may not quite shape our big life decisions in quite the same way as a romantic relationship, but they shape us in hundreds and thousands of tiny ways, every day. This book is important, and more than that it's good engaging and unflinching and not just, like, sweet and lovely because they're women, but complicated and deep and interesting because they are. I'm currently on the third book in the quadrilogy and STILL LOVING IT, oh yes.

Little Boy Lost by Margharita Laski
Once again- you know you're going to get a good read with a Persephone! This book, about the search for a child lost during WWII was very moving, and then towards the end, kind of annoying. The main character is the child's father, but the child's father is kind of a tool- some of which can be put down to the stress of wanting to find his son, but some of it is just him being a tool, which makes it kind of hard to root for him. Still, the ending was super satisfying, and I guess I have to read books about men SOMETIMES... I guess...

And that was June! Stay tuned for what I read in July in mere days because I am not doing the same thing again next month, all of this was a real struggle to remember! I hope you've had, well, two great months, and please, believe my lies when I tell you I'll be back on top of things in August. IT'S THE THREE WEDDING SUMMER, IT'S KILLING MEEEEEEE.

Friday, 1 June 2018

Things I Read in May

Hi hi hi hi! I'm so excessively tired that I just typed 'things I read in June' so that should tell you something about where my brain is at tonight- but let's try and think about how May was... May was alright, I think. It was a bit of an adjustment working ALL THE DAYS (all the working days, that is) after my super relaxed May and ugh, can't I just retire already? There were, however, two bank holidays in May and so I tried to make the most of them, and this past week has been nice with a bank holiday, three work days with lunches out all of the days, and a Friday off... It's going to be a bit of a shock getting back to normal this week coming!

Reading-wise, May has been a bit of a slump. I can't really pinpoint the reasons why, but I think it has something to do with reading short stories, reading a large novel that I wasn't in love with, and having to spend my lunch breaks mostly harassing my hospital to give me an appointment... It's been a fun time, obviously. I did, however, finish a book in almost a day this week, so I'm hopeful things are back on track, reading-wise.

Let's look at my reeeeeeads!

Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman by Haruki Murakami 
This ended up being only my first collection of Murakami short stories of the month, and I don't really know what to tell you about that. From what I remember of it (don't all short story collections blur into one?), this was a fairly good collection - not too many duds, and quite a few that still stand out vividly to me even now. If anything, this collection was retrospectively... not ruined for me, but I realised that this collection didn't have as cohesive a thread running through it as did the one I read later on in the month. This still doesn't make it bad at all, just less memorable than a collection with a far stronger connecting theme.

Here I Am by Jonathan Safran Foer
Ugh, Jonathan. Jonathan, Jonathan, Jonathan. Reading Jonathan Safran Foer books always seems like a good idea until I'm balls deep in them and wishing that I was reading anything else in the world. By the end of this book, I was actively resenting the fact that I was reading it, and even though I know how stupid that is when it was quite literally my choice to do that, it was what it was. His writing is still good, of course, but I am noticing more and more in myself these days an unwillingness to read about the problems of rich white men*. I can honestly tell you that this is a novel about a man with quite literally no problems, who makes everything into a problem. I don't really think we're supposed to like him, but at the same time, the novel treats him with much more sympathy than I'm comfortable with. JUST UGH MEN, ya know?

Hamilton: The Revolution by Lin-Manuel Miranda and Jeremy McCarter
I knew that it was important for me to own this book, but I didn't completely understand what it was- before owning it, I only allowed myself tiny glimpses because I didn't want to ruin any of the staging for myself before seeing the show. My lovely fella bought it for me for my birthday, and I obviously had to read it (almost) immediately and OMG. It's so good. It's essentially all of the lyrics from the show, combined with photos of it, as well as (my favourite part!) LMM's footnotes on the lyrics which taught me so much more about the show and its inspirations than I even knew I wanted. Combined with all of this is Jeremy McCarter's writing about the growth and evolution of the show from the kernel of an idea to a Broadway hit, which also taught me so much more about the background of the show and how it came to be. I LOVE HAMILTON SO MUCH, so this is essentially a perfect book to me- if you like it at all, you're going to want to read this too.

Men Without Women by Haruki Murakami
THIS was an excellent short story collection. This DID have a cohesive thread running through it, essentially one of men who have lost, or maybe never had women, and the various ways that has fucked up their lives. Murakami's short stories, in many ways, seem to me to be him at his most normal- fantastical things happen in them, but structurally they actually end in definitive ways that his novels do not always do. I like this side of his writing (I mean, I like all of the sides of his writing, really) and I am all over the Murakami short story thing. Also, shout out to my boyfriend again, this was a late birthday present (paperback was released this month, look into it) and apparently I can only read new books always.

The Amateur Marriage by Anne Tyler
Anne Tyler is an absolute dreamboat and I love her. I had only read one of her books before this one, but ever since then, I have held her in my heart as an excellent and engaging and everything good author. This book fully lived up to my expectations- the story of a family, told over three generations and about 50 years, and it just felt so true and real and important and human- it actually, if I could be so bold, feels as though the kind of novel Jonathan Safran Foer wants to write but he gets too caught up in how difficult life is for men with no problems. Tyler includes just the right amount of angst, just the right amount of joy, just the right amount of everything, actually, to make me really really want to read all of her words. Keep your eye out, because I'm probably going to be reading a lot more of her stuff in the near future, because sighhh so good!

I fully forgot last month to do the reading challenge, HOWEVER the May's topic was book to screen which technically I didn't do but also technically I kind of did because Hamilton: The Revolution was kind of book to, well, stage, but how long will it be until it's a film? Exactly! Anyway. This month's prompt is Crack the Case - Read a mystery, detective, true crime or any type of whodunit story. Having perused my spreadsheet, I tragically don't really have many (any?!) mystery books to read so I have chosen Little Boy Lost by Margharita Laski- it sounds like it might have a mysterious element to it, even though it's not technically a mystery, so let's go with that!

How was your May reading, and what are you going to read next month? TELL ME EVERYTHING




*Shall we debate whether or not Jewish people are white? I honestly don't know the answer to this, but for the purposes of my point

Sunday, 20 May 2018

Sunday Sundries: Where Have I Been?

Happy Sunday, everyone!

I guess the more usual title for this post would be 'where I have been' but honestly, I'm not even sure I could tell you. CONFUSING but there it is, May has gotten away from me somewhat- I have hardly read anything or, it seems, done anything, but it is nearly at its end now so like literally
what is happening.

Today is my dad's 60th birthday which is a BIG DEAL (Happy birthday papa!) so I at least I know where I'll be today- eating cake and hopefully sunning myself in my parents' back garden. As for the rest of it, let's do a little 'I have been' to try and work out where my damn month has gone (ok, fine, at least the first 19 days of it...)

Lately I have been...

Writing: OMG literally nothing. It's a little bit sad after my burst of creativity (or just... writing some words) at the start of the year, but I always knew this year was going to be weird and busy and weirdly busy so I'm pretty much just going with it at the moment. As you have seen, I apparently don't even have time to write a blog post (debatable) so any other extraneous writing has not been happening. HOWEVER I wrote to my friend the other day cause she was feeling down and needed a present, so I at least get good friend points I THINK.

Reading: Ok so also this month something weird is happening and I am just not finishing books! I feel as though I'm reading as much as ever (although I suspect I am not) but I have only read 3 books so far this month - hardly a crisis, but for me it's like wtf is happening?! I suspect the main problem here was my reading a Jonathan Safran Foer book that was deceptively long (I feel like I had an edition with really thin pages cause it has like 571 of the fuckers but looks the same length as like a 330 pager that I also managed to finish this month?) and expect to get back onto some kind of track soon, or something.

Listening: My answer to this is always pretty much the same cause I literally just listen to three podcasts. The other day I did listen to some music (Carole King - Tapestry) whilst walking home from my parents and it reminded me how nice it is just to zone out and walk and think about things, which I don't really do enough of these days.

Watching: Ok, so remember how I haven't been writing or reading much? I have watched 4 films in the last week, which may explain something about how I've been spending my time (see also: Kimmy Schmidt, which has made me understand something about me and Tina Fey, which I may share at some point or maybe also not). Quick rundown: Manchester by the Sea- completely heartbreaking and SO GOOD; Tully- very interesting and raises some pertinent points about motherhood; I, Daniel Blake- also VERY HEARTBREAKING; in a closer to home way than Manchester by the Sea; The Intern- not very good, but really could have been a lot better with some small changes? I was rooting for it, anyway. YAY for movies, and I feel as though I'm making the most of Netflix and Amazon Prime subscriptions at the moment.

Also, ask me this tomorrow and The Handmaid's Tale will be my everything again cause it's back tonight. CAN I EVEN COPE, not really!

Looking: At movies, I guess! I'm also looking at some creative things I want to do with myself and I will say no more about that because it is too revelatory and this is top secret stuff. HOW CRYPTIC, but not from you, dear internet.

Learning: How to schedule my time when there are a bajillion things to do. It turns out, planning ahead really helps! I basically have the next two weeks of my life fully planned out because there are quite a few things to fit in there so yes, this is going to be interesting!

Feeling: I'm feeling alright, you know? I feel like I've been kind of dreading wedding season because SO MUCH TO DO, and whilst that is true, it is also the case that I am my own worst enemy and tend to think things are going to be much worse than they actually are when I am living them. Case in point- yesterday I went somewhere that involved a bus and a train and a walk to get to, and in my brain that sounded like far too much effort but in practice it was actually fine and I had a great day.

In summary, shut up brain. Also I guess this could have easily gone in the learning section, huh?

Anticipating: Please see above: wedding season! I guess I've finally gotten to the point where it's more exciting than it is a chore- Hooray! I have a lot to look forward to the next few months, and I'm happy that that is the case.

Wishing: Oh I can't tell you about this one or it won't come true. But I am, more generally, wishing for good things for all because that is a cop out and a half.

Loving: This damn beautiful May weather we've been having! Maybe it is the movies that have stopped me from reading and blogging, or maybe, just maybe, it's all the beautiful May walks I've been going on because it's been so warm and lovely and just YES. I am basically a flower- I need the sun to LIVE.

So that is kind of me. In summary, been busy, not much time for internet. Except for Harry Potter game, which I am obviously obsessed with (even though it takes about a year to get anything done) and Pokemon Go because I am a child of the 90s, dammit.

How about you, my pretties? What have you been doing? Where have YOU been?

Tuesday, 1 May 2018

Things I Read In April

Oh hai, May! Is it just me, or is this year being ridiculous? Like January was the longest month ever but that was basically yesterday and now suddenly it's May? It's probably just me, but, you know... Go home, 2018, you're drunk.

April was a bit of a dud month blogging wise which means, as it often does, that it was a FAB month, life-wise. I only had 11 days at work all month, and they were beautifully spread out, and consequently this is my first full week at work since (the week of) 19th March which is making it hard (and, as I write this, it's only Monday!) April though... it was filled with wonderful things and a whole new-to-me country, and HAMILTON and so much not-working (don't underestimate the sheer joy of not-working!) and ugh yes. JOY! It was a really good month, ya know?

The blogging may have been lacklustre (or just... lacking), but the reading was pretty good! There was definitely a gap in the middle where I was just doing All The Things except reading, but the readathon reaaaally boosted my numbers up and I ended up reading 10 books. Not too shabby, right?! Let's look at 'em:
Boooooks! I love 'em (duh)

Call Me By Your Name by Andre Aciman
In case you haven't been around here at all, I have a tiny (huge) obsession with the movie Call Me By Your Name. It's been in my life for less than 2 months but it's pretty much my first and last and everything right now. I am, at this moment, trying to decide if I have enough time to watch it tonight (answer: yes, but only if I finish this quickly) and that's pretty much just my life now. I held off from reading the book because there were some things about it that made me feel a bit uneasy, but realistically I held off for literally less than a month before reading it so, you know, obsession time is weird. The book is pretty good- the film is faithful to much of it- but I couldn't help but feel like I was just experiencing a much lesser version of the film. I actually wrote a blog post about this but became too lazy to type it (yup) so perhaps one day you will know all of my thoughts, or perhaps I will keep my overthinking obsessive mind to myself, who can say.

N-W by Zadie Smith
Oh Zadie, Zadie, Zadie. I know that this book was good, I just can't remember all that much about it. Its split into 4 parts (I remember that much), each focusing on a different character living in N-W London. One of the sections is set up really interestingly with a character's life story told in tiny snippets, and I just really enjoyed the level of introspection that was happening. Basically, this is definitely Zadie Smith-good... I'm just going to have to read it again to work out exactly how!

Relish by Lucy Knisley 
I love Lucy Knisley. Have I ever mentioned that before? (Yes) This was my very first re-read of the year, basically just because it was nearly my birthday and this was exactly what I wanted to read? So I did. It remains as wonderful as ever, and I intend, as ever, to make all of the recipes included in it, someday. MOST EXCITINGLY Knisley put the cover of her new book on Instagram today, and February 2019 can't come soon enough!

The Nakano Thrift Shop by Hiromi Kawakami
Hmmm... This book was strange. I mean, it's Japanese fiction so of course it's strange, but as well as being just regular strange, this was kind of strange in terms of storytelling. It's supposed to be a love story, and it is, kind of, but it felt to me that everything hung together really weirdly, which is to say, it didn't at all, really. I think I did like it as I was reading it, which is something, but I also don't think it was that great now? All of this makes complete sense, right?

Why I'm No Longer Talking To White People About Race by Reni Eddo-Lodge
I chose to read this book as my holiday read because I'm a super fun chick BUT ALSO because I bought it not long before and couldn't bear to not be reading it anymore. This book is fabulous, but more than fabulous, it felt like I was reading something that was really important. Something that I, as a white person, definitely needed to read, and something that other white people, but also just other people need to read. Eddo-Lodge is incredibly honest and doesn't pull any punches while talking about the way race is perceived and treated by a variety of groups and in a variety of mediums. I really can't overemphasise how much I want everyone to read this, but more than that, how important I think it is that they do. DO IT.

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman
This is a book that, given too much time to think about it, I'm not going to think is very good. It's not a masterpiece, it's a bestseller - but what that means is that it's immensely readable and entertaining and omg so upsetting, I'm not going to lie. I read the majority of this on the flight back from Naples, and it made it go SO QUICKLY, so there's that for a start. Eleanor Oliphant is an outsider of epic proportions, and after growing up in care is literally incapable of forming relationships with other people. After she finds the love of her life (who she has never spoken to), she undergoes a journey of great changes that eventually lead her to see the parts of her that really need changing. You know what? This is entertaining as hell, and how else do you make a flight go super quick? Bestsellers are it, ya know?

The Home-Maker by Dorothy Canfield-Fisher
THIS BOOK WAS AWESOME and I'm going to write something fuller about it if I can. For now, though, this is a book about how stupid gender roles are, and how difficult they are to overcome (especially in the 1920s, when it was written). Although this was written in the 20s, there were parts that felt incredibly relevant to now, even, and it made me wonder how far we've really come in terms of thinking beyond gender (answer: not very) and AGH it just made me think about so much, it is so good. Persephone Books, you guys- they're always great!

At Home by Bill Bryson
Oh hey, I reviewed this yesterday (aka I just wrote this title and realised that I really had to review it now or never). It's Bill Bryson, what more is there to say? Everything he does is perfect, even if I didn't know I cared about the thing he was writing about until he was writing about it. It's brill, basically. BRILL.

Tetris: The Games People Play by Box Brown
I bought this book last year at the Oxford Bookshop Crawl, because, I figured, how could a book about Tetris and its history be bad? Bad this wasn't, but great? It also wasn't. I didn't really love the drawing style, just for a start, but for me the problem was really that I didn't actually find the story of the origins of Tetris that... Interesting? There's a lot of Russian government officials and rich white men and deals that I didn't quite get (not, I think, because I'm stupid but because they weren't very well explained). I found the stuff about the science behind why Tetris is so addictive fascinating though, but overall I would probably rather have spent the couple of hours playing Tetris than reading this.

Obama: An Intimate Portrait by Pete Souza
I feel a bit cheeky counting this as a book when it's mainly (fabulous) photos, but hey it's my blog (and I'll cry if I want to). This book is wonderful, and was quite literally 8 years in the making- it's kind of a compilation of the best photos taken by Souza, the official White House photographer, over the entire Obama presidency. It also does what it says on the tin- it provides a very intimate portrait of Obama and his presidency, both photographically, but also through Souza's insight into Obama's life and work. This insight isn't overbearing, but it is there, and brings something a little extra to all of these amazing images that he managed to capture. For reals this is a great coffee table book, and so much more than I was hoping it would be.

And that was the month in reading! I liked it, it was pretty good, although still not as good as the month in life. I just love April so much, you guys.