Friday, 27 February 2015

Mini-Reviews For Books I Can't Really Remember Anymore, Vol 1

So remember in October when my life exploded and I started a Masters in Shakespeare (of course you do, it's all I ever talk about here anymore) and I threatened to keep posting shit but never really did? And remember in January when my life imploded and I became incapable of doing things that I didn't absolutely HAVE to do? Well, in that time, I actually have (believe it or not) read some books that aren't Shakespeare, and also before that time I read a couple of books that I never fully reviewed. Here are some tiny things I have to say about them, in the spirit of getting shit up to date and actually writing about books again (I KNOW. Crazy.)

A Drifting Life by Yoshihiro Tatsumi

I've been trying to read more graphic novels, because I think they're awesome, they're totally fast to read, and if I get them out of the library, I don't feel guilty about having library books out, because, you know, they won't take long to read! A Drifting Life, however, is a brick. It's the memoir of a graphic novelist, which I thought I would love because remember how good non fiction graphic novels are (See: Persepolis, Fun Home, Maus...)?

However. Tatsumi is a graphic novelist who has basically always been a graphic novelist. What this means, in practical terms, is that this book is over 800 pages of personal history, and of the history of manga in Japan in the mid 20th Century. Whilst I'm sure this would have been awesome for a lot of people, I grew ever so slightly more bored with it until I had to force myself to pick it up again because I wanted to add its pages to my page count for the year (I know, I know).

So. Unless you're crazy interested in the history of manga, this might not be your cup of tea, either. But then again, it does have its moments of almost too true and too relevant reality...

I Murdered My Library by Linda Grant
Fun fact: Linda Grant is totally the name of one of my seminar leaders at uni. This is not the same person. I Murdered My Library is a Kindle Single that I believe I paid 99p for, and it's almost like a long essay where the author talks about her lifelong addiction to owning and acquiring books, and what happened when she downsized and got rid of most of her books and OH THE HUMANITY. I don' t remember much about it (this is going to be a common theme in this post...) but I have general good feelings about it like I do books that talk about books by people who just fucking love books.

Side note: I said to my uni friend the other day that basically all I want in the world is to touch a First Folio in my lifetime, and she didn't really get the book fetish thing. I KNOW, RIGHT?!

Not That Kind Of Girl by Lena Dunham
I had actually half started a post about this book, but, let's face it, I'm never going to finish it so I'll just give you a mini-summary. I am kind of obsessed with Lena Dunham, so even though I had much Shakespeare-ing to do (I believe it was The Merchant of Venice week) I bought this, sat down with it on a Saturday afternoon and read for about 3 hours. It's pretty good! Some of the essays I related to way more than others, and of course this kind of thing is always hit and miss, but for me there were way more hits than misses and also I love that it is dedicated in part to Nora Ephron because now that we don't have her, we might need Lena, and many many other women to write funny and insightful and interesting essays, sometimes all at once. 

Did I just do a really good job of hiding the fact that I can basically remember the topics of about two essays? I think so!

Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
I'm really struggling with Americanah because I literally don't remember how it ends. I remember how I wanted it to end, and I remember some themes and stuff, but I really don't remember how it ends. Regardless, it's a really good book- it took me about 10,000 years to finish because Shakespeare (this is how I justify all things, these days) but it had some really interesting things to say about racial politics, and women, and Nigeria and America AND all of these things were said in the context of a story that I cared about, and wanted to finish, and wanted to FUCKING REMEMBER HOW IT ENDED. But I'm sure it was good. All I know is that I can wholeheartedly recommend it, two enthusiastic thumbs up.

Wednesday, 25 February 2015

I Am Not Dead: A Bumper Update Edition

I know, I know. It's been about 10,000 years (actual time: a whole calendar month, which is totally accidental!) and ohhhh my god, what a month. Let's see if I can even formulate any kind of coherent narrative for my life in all that time.

So. Since January 25th...

  • I've kind of been in a grief haze, which has meant I can carry on with life and stuff, but mostly I haven't really cared to. What it has essentially meant is that I can do all the things I NEED to do, but nothing more than that. I'm getting better now, which is kind of why this post even exists.
  • Shakespeare has happened! Obviously... I did another presentation and only have one to go (Thank. God.) and I'm actually starting to care about what I'm reading again, which I'm really grateful for because, come on: I'm only going to be doing a Masters in Shakespeare once in my life, you know? It doesn't hurt that I'm right in the middle of the juicy juicy plays (Romeo and Juliet, Hamlet, Macbeth, Othello) and it's difficult not to care about those.
  • My nan had a funeral and it was the saddest, except (EXCEPT) when we were leaving the church, my dad's trousers fell down TO THE ANKLES and it was THE most spectacular moment, possibly of my whole life. I felt kind of terrible for laughing as much as I did, but then everyone kept saying how much both of my dad's parents would have laughed at it (A LOT) and really that just made me feel super close to them, which was nice.
  • The day after my nan had a funeral, I went to London to hang out with Frances, which involved missing uni (whoops) but was, I think, exactly what I needed most in the world on that day. Best friends are pretty important, you guys. 
  • Two days after my nan had a funeral, my dad went into hospital again. He's out now. That's pretty much all I have on that, other than to say that it was a super tiring week and I'm pretty glad it's over.
  • Last week was reading week, which meant that out of a full 9 days, I had 6 off. This was unbelievably gratifying, and I managed to finish my first non-Shakespeare book of the year (a Stephen King book, natch) and made some good headway on a couple of others. I also read Macbeth ready for this week, and then somehow did no other work at all. Whoops?! (I may not fully have my Shakespeare motivation back...) 
  • I have watched more Gilmore Girls than you would necessarily think sensible for a person who has a Masters to complete vaguely well. Whoops? 
That's just a little taste of the insanity of my life at the moment, and why I haven't been around at all for a month. I have been reading blogs but super rarely commenting, but know that I still love you all and your posts brighten up train journeys and times when I've collapsed on the sofa and can't quite do the stairs to go to bed. My return right now has been motivated by two things: the fact that my sister actually sort of reminded me I even had a blog last night (I know. I suck.) AND the fact that Alice's Villette readalong is a thing that is happening starting next week and I really really want to be a part of it because BEST READALONG GROUP EVER. So that'll be a thing (we can but hope).

So. Blow the horns, sound out the bells, I am back and will be haphazardly and sporadically (Clueless) posting about stuff sometimes and not other times and GOD this was fun to write and OK I'm done now. How are you all?