Wednesday 30 September 2015

Books I Have Devoured Over The Last Year, For Posterity

As you've probably noticed by the extreme amounts of tumbleweed blowing around this blog (wouldn't it be cool if neglected blogs actually started blowing tumbleweed around..? *drafts email to blogspot*) studying Shakespeare and working 3 days a week did not leave me much time for reading, and basically no time at all for reviewing, books. It was a strange because I was literally reading ALL THE TIME, but basically none of it was for me, and whilst I didn't mind that because- in case you haven't noticed- Shakespeare is kind of my guy, I did quite hugely miss just reading whatever, whenever. 

Of course, now I have the time to do that I'm doing all sorts of other things instead, but THAT'S NOT THE POINT. 

Anyway. I did read some- the first three and a half Harry Potter books being a notable example- and this post is an attempt to just suuuper briefly examine some feels about those books, get everything up to date (because I feel weird not logging like every single book I read here) so I can give proper actual blogging a real go again. Yay hobbies! So. *puts on glasses that are always on, examines reading diary* Let's begin!

Yes Please by Amy Poehler
I got Yes Please for Christmas last year, started reading it basically as soon as I got it, and it still took me until the end of February to finish it. This is not supposed to indicate the quality of the book, which is great, but to illustrate the severe lack of time I've had to read things EVEN WRITTEN BY MY FAVOURITE PEOPLE. Dammit, William... Anyway. This was good! There are parts of it that are excellent, parts of it that were maybe slightly less exciting, but I enjoyed it, it was a joy to read and if you like Amy Poehler at all then you're probably going to want to read it/have already done so!

Gosh, these are going to be so insightful, huh..?

South of the Border, West of the Sun by Haruki Murakami
I'm not saying I had to wikipedia the entire plot of this novel, but I did have to do exactly that. This isn't entirely because this novel was maybe a little bit forgettable (although... Sorry, Haruki!) but more because I think I read it over the course of a few train journeys, so I probably didn't even take it in properly as I was reading it. This is a mini-Murakami, more of a novella than a big ole novel, and although there are obviously a few elements of strangeness, it's a remarkably 'straight' Murakami novel. It's kind of about deep attachments to people that never really go away, about compromising on a life that you may have hoped had gone differently, and about wanting things that you can't, or shouldn't, really have. And, it's Murakami so I liked it quite a lot, in spite of the weird sex descriptions and seriously dude, can you cut that out please?

Blue Nights by Joan Didion
I read Blue Nights not long after South of the Border, West of the Sun; and I'm just remembering that this little burst of reading came in between the time when my nan died and the time when my grandad died, when I felt capable of reading again and was coming to the end of the taught part of my MA and realising I perhaps didn't need to do as much reading for that as I'd thought I did... (excellent student right here, wut wut!) But anyway. Blue Nights is almost a companion piece to The Year of Magical Thinking, which Didion wrote after her husband's death, only this was written after the death of her daughter less than two years later. I wasn't unmoved by it, but rather than a memoir of Didion's coping with grief, this is much more of a celebration of her daughter's life rather than a memoir of Didion's grief, which, we can assume, is beyond words anyway. I actually had a few issues with this book, namely Didion's denial of her daughter's massive privilege in the world (like, seriously. White rich people. There's always privilege) but it's difficult to be mad at it when the topic is so sad, and when the writing is so beautiful. I didn't exactly *love* this, but it didn't stop me from wanting to read all the Didion in the world, essentially.

After Dark by Haruki Murakami
After Dark was good! It's another little Murakami book (novellas have been my friends this last year) and is set over the course of the evening. There's a sense of danger running throughout the whole book, maybe because of the nighttime setting or maybe just because of the prostitute who nearly gets beaten to death, but the entire book fills you with a sense of unease, as well as displaying the kind of friendships that fall together for one night only and then fall apart again as soon as the sun comes up. I can't entirely remember what happened at the end of this one, again because I am TERRIBLE, but that doesn't mean it's not worth you reading and telling me what happens at the end...

No One Belongs Here More Than You by Miranda July
I bought this when it was a Kindle Daily Deal purely because I think the title is so excellent and it makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. This is a book of short stories and I don't feel like too much of a douche when I describe them as remarkable. The experience I had reading these stories was one where I felt completely and totally understood by another person, where, even if I didn't directly relate to the experiences of the characters, I still knew exactly how they felt. July writes about loneliness, about feeling out of place and out of step with the world, about things you didn't know you felt until they were written down in front of you and you had to stop for a bit because suddenly someone was writing about you and it creeped you out a bit.

Um. Yeah. I really really incredibly enthusiastically recommend this book, except that I feel a little bit breathless doing so because they sort of are me and I don't want you to not like them. But even if you don't, I guess I still will, so everything is fine.

Here endeth the first round of summarising posts, didn't we all have fun?! Now that I've done this and it was easier than I was expecting, I have grand plans- for a 'comic books I have read' post, a few Shakespeare posts (obvs) and I think a Shakespeare offshoots, and Shakespeare comic books post. THIS IS SO EXCITING, I'M BACK YOU GUYS!

Sunday 27 September 2015

Sunday Sundries: Whoops?

*Waves vigorously at the internet*

Hi internet, it's me! Did you miss me? I'm sure you did.

So, yeah. At this point there's not much use in bothering to explain/apologise for my absence from these here pages, except this time I shall say that I am still in recovery from my Shakespeare OD, I have just had 14 days off in the last 16 and have spent approximately 6 of them basically in bed, and reading and writing have kiiiind of been beyond me. But I know you'd like a list of the things I've been doing instead, so here it comes!

  • I have created an entirely new books database of all the books I own (digital and physical) which has led to the slightly overwhelming conclusion that I own 348 books that I haven't read, but will hopefully avoid the unnecessary expense of buying books I already own. Or at all, because NEARLY THREE HUNDRED AND FIFTY BOOKS TO READ WHAT EVEN AM I?!
  • The books database was part of a wider attempt to sort my room out after a year of just putting things wherever and hoping for the best. This sorting has been both successful and unsuccessful- my bookshelves look amazing, I've turned my Shakespeare table back into my sewing table, and I've gotten rid of a lot of stuff already. However. My cupboard full of crap is still a cupboard full of crap, and my bedroom floor is kind of filled with stuff that doesn't really have a home yet. This is all to say that I'm not really done yet, much as I wanted to be for the resumption of normal life tomorrow.
  • Outings! I have had some. So I've been to garden centres with my cousin, to London with Frances, shopping with my mum, and Canterbury to see Bex and Christine, my friend from uni who also lives in Kent, making visits there a handy two-for-one kind of deal now! I'm actually pretty proud of myself for having managed to go places without actually bankrupting myself (I have basically no money) and still having fun- who knew one could have fun without money?! (Me. I knew that.)
  • I was about to write that I've been sleeping a lot, but that's actually not quite true, I've just been tired for the large majority of the time. A lot of this is obviously Shakespeare hangover because oh my god my brain does so know what to do with itself half the time now, but, as identified when I actually did go to work for a couple of days, I hadn't actually been moving or keeping hydrated or eating as well as I generally try to. SO these past 5 days I've been walking everywhere (I walked about 5 miles on Wednesday, try not to be too impressed) and I have definitely felt less tired so goddammit I guess I have to admit my boss is right about some stuff. Poop.
  • In spite of this, however, there has just generally been quite a lot of resting. Much time in and around bed, watching anime or reading the internet, and just generally taking a bit of time to not-think for a change. I haven't been actively not-reading, but I also haven't been reading very much (with the exception of comic books which I am just gulping down at the moment) and I really don't feel bad about that because... Yeah. Damn. Remember when I had to read a Shakespeare a week? That was insane.
  • Probably most importantly, today we found my sister's old gameboy and my two games (Pokemon blue and yellow, bitches) and I basically spent the afternoon getting through these caves I'd been stuck in on both games with the help of a youtube tutorial, and FINALLY BEATING THE ELITE FOUR AND FINISHING BLUE. Like seriously. I can't even tell you my pride in myself. It's immense.
So, yeah. I've just generally been doing life, not thinking too much about anything (including the fact that I have a poor little neglected blog out in the world, bless it!) and kind of trying to enjoy myself juuuust a little bit before I think about job hunting and whatnot (GULP) (but like seriously, MASSIVE GULP). The constant reinforcement of people asking me when I'm going to blog again has led to this post, but it's not that it's something I've been putting off because I don't want to do it, I just haven't thought about it that much at all. I'm not sure which is worse, but to be honest, I don't want my writing brain muscles to atrophy anyway, and (AND!) The Monk Readalong starts on Thursday, and frankly if I am not ready to blog in a readalong, then I do not even deserve to still have a blog. 

I'm not entirely sure that sentence made sense, but remain there it shall (this ended up being my dissertation motto...) The point: I have been a terrible blogger for a year. I think I might actually be back now. Or at least I want to try to be. Now I just need to remember how to write about the things I've read...

Monday 7 September 2015

Re-re-re-re-readathon time!

So, I guess today was kind of a big day...
I only went and handed in my dissertation, meaning my MA is OVER. I have basically mastered Shakespeare now, so let's see what I can master next!*

Because I am possibly the coolest person in the world, I celebrated this miraculous day by trying to find Game of Thrones books in charity shops (no luck), doing my food shopping, washing up, cooking, having a nap and then tidying my room for the first time since... It would be uncouth of me to say when. Not exactly wild parties, but I think we all know me by now and yeah. Not going to happen really, is it?

I DID have two ciders while I was cleaning though, so no one can say I don't live life on the edge.** 

ANYWAY. The point is, I guess I'm kind of back! And the real actual point is, Bex's re-readathon started today, and let's face it, it's totally an event for meeeeeeee and that's all that matters hahaha. It runs from today until Sunday 20th, and whilst this week I am working 3 days and going to London to celebrate myself on Wednesday, I am off work next week (which is MY FIRST WEEK OFF IN A YEAR***) and I am maybe doing something one of those days so far? So yes. Reading will be done.

I have even made a little book stack! *wipes away a tear* I hadn't really thought about what I wanted to read, so while I was tidying I looked at my shelves, and I figured, I should basically just read the books that I read before blogging that essentially made me want to START blogging? That is, the books that I read, but no one else had, that I wanted to discuss with people but couldn't really? So yeah. That's pretty much my logic behind my book choices.

And here they are!
Omitted from this pile is Brave New World, which I have been in the middle of for quite a long time now, but still counts, right? I'm also somewhere near the beginning of Song of Susannah, the Stephen King I am in the middle of for my long neglected reading-all-the-Stephen King challenge, so let's pretend that's on the pile too. But basically, yeah. I'll just realllly briefly go through them and my reasons...

Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry- I read this very very very close to starting my blog, and even though I can't really remember it now, I remember needing to talk about it. This gets extra points for being a children's book and therefore shouldn't hurt my brain too much.

Fight Club- I mean, it's Fight Club. But I can't talk about it because of the first two rules of Fight Club, so sorry!

Catch 22- Actually not one I read near to blog starting, I remember being too young to read this as I read it, in that I didn't actually get it. I might still not get it now, but it's worth a re-read if you ask me.

Ready Player One- Ok, this is just for fun. IT'S READY PLAYER ONE, COME ON!

About A Boy- This is a book I've definitely toyed with getting rid of, but I can't quite do it because there's that girl who loves Nirvana and Nirvana are everything and and and... So it gets one last read at least.

The Handmaid's Tale- DEFINITELY one that I wanted to discuss but never could, and one of my most favourite books of all time. I only realised that I have a thing for dystopian novels when, having just met with my own dissertation supervisor, I heard a conversation between another student and a lecturer that went: "what do you want to write your dissertation on?" "dystopian novels" and felt an UNBEARABLE LONGING in my heart. Although that could have just been because I missed novels in general, to be fair...

I'm the King of the Castle- I remember being really really disturbed by this but not so much what it's completely about. So that'll be exciting and stuff. 

Notes on a Scandal- I think Alice read this a couple of years ago and I was REALLY EXCITED that someone else had read it so I could talk about it, then I realised I had mostly forgotten it. BUT STILL. I know it's pretty nasty, but also pretty great.

Rebecca- I mean. I've read this A LOT, but I got a pretty Virago (Virago? I'm not even sure now...) copy for my birthday and it is SO. GOOD. It also gets extra points because when I review it I can seek out the Mitchell and Webb sketch because it's the funniest thing in the whole world. PLUS it counts as a RIP book, so all is well.

SO! That's pretty much what I'll be reading for the next couple of weeks, unless I get bored/change my mind/just don't read anything ever again because oh god my poor brain... I may or may not post a pile of RIP books at some point, but they might sneak in too... The possibilities for my reading are just limitless now!

So you'll excuse me if I just spend the rest of the evening watching Sailor Moon... It's nothing personal, books, it's just... Anime...

*I am totally bullshitting. No one can master Shakespeare. Shakespeare is infinite. Shakespeare is life. 
**Everyone can say that. Tell all your friends. Laura lives life right in the middle.
***Off of uni AND work. I totally haven't been to work since last Tuesday hahaha.