Sunday 31 December 2017

End of Year Wrap Up and Everything

Hi, Hi, Hi! Here I am, limping in on the last day of the year like I've been here all along, did you miss me so much or what? As always, I come without promise of any kind of posting consistency in the new year, but with much enthusiasm for the year just passed.

Having looked back on this post from last year, I can see that I got a little out of control with the word count, mainly because of, you know, having to fit the news of a whole year into one post because hey, remember me? I am the girl who is bad at updating her blog. This year, I'll try to keep it brief, but who can promise about such things? Definitely not me.

So, 2017. The biggest personal thing for me was moving away from the house I'd been in for 4 years, and moving in with my boyfriend! This is definitely not what I expected at the start of the year, but it has so far turned out to be the best big life decision I've made since... Well, the last time I moved! Work wise, things haven't been so good, but I may have news regarding that soon so watch this space (which, you know, I will try to update hopefully maybe more often but who knows).

Life this year, though, has really been all about spending all the time with my boyfriend that I can (he has had three different jobs and all of them have had weird ass hours), making good use of my network railcard to visit him until we lived in literally the same place, and the rest of the time trying to see friends and family and generally having a balanced life and stuff. I guess it makes sense that the year feels like it's been split into two (uneven) halves, but it's strange to think that at the start of the year I was living in a completely different place, newly in love and going about my usual daily business and now I'm basically just a cohabiting partner, innit?

Reading wise, it's also been a split year. To start with I was really spending a lot of time with my boyfriend and so practically forgot that books existed, and now I spend over an hour on buses every day which has been so good for my reading I can't even tell you. It's also the year I discovered Rupi Kaur, finally, FINALLY finished my Stephen King challenge, and ALSO finally read all of Maya Angelou's memoir series. I guess it's been a year of finallys, in that sense, and I feel like I can face the new reading year with less things to feel guilty about not reading, and more things to look forward to reading.

Shall we look at some stats? I think we should.

Number of Books Read: 80
Number of Pages Read: 27,720
Fiction vs. Non-Fiction: 59/21
New Reads vs. Rereads: 74/6
Men vs. Women: 36/44
White vs. Non-White: 62/18 (ooof)
Translated vs. Not: 6/74
Digital vs. Physical: 3/77

I think from that, we can pretty much ascertain that I read physical books originally written in English by white men or women. I'm fairly proud that my women reads outweigh men this year (this might be the first year that's happened because of Stephen King reasons) but overall MUST DO BETTER. I'm thinking of maaaybe doing a challenge or two this year though, so that might spur me on to read better. You know, maybe.

And and and can we look at this little thing because I have NEWS:

So last year, I didn't do so well with this challenge. I read my own books, sure, but I also bought a lot of books to replace the ones that I had read. That was not the point AT ALL, so nice work, me. This year, yes, I still bought books. Of course I did. However, I definitely tried to stay conscious whilst in a bookshop and only buy books that I REALLY wanted, rather than ones that just sounded kinda interesting. Of the books I've bought, I would only count 29 as outstanding, which means less than 30 books added this year to the books left to read, which I don't think is so bad. More importantly, though, let's talk about this figure. I started the year with 338 books left to read, and I am ending the year with, wait for it, 256! Still an obviously ridiculous number, but let me tell you, moving does wonders for getting rid of a whole load of books you're probably never going to read. And that's not all- out of 80 books read this year, 58 of them were books I had already owned, and I am very very ok with that number.

In 2018, I'm still completely focusing on reading my own damn books, and because I kind of want to try and save some money a little, I kind of don't even want to buy any books (she says now)? I'm not enforcing any kind of strict ban, but at the same time I'm just trying to be sensible and also read all of the lovely books I've already bought! I have very very very many obligation things to do next year (THREE WEDDINGS!) so who knows how much I'll get to read, but, you know, I can guarantee it'll be something...

Friday 1 December 2017

Things I Read In November

IT IS DECEMBER AKA THE MOST WONDERFUL TIME OF THE YEAR! (I'm a little bit into Christmas, can you tell?) Before delving into December and Christmas wonder though, let's talk about November! November was a mixture of a whole load of hard work, very very necessarily lazy weekends and then a much needed holiday spent basically sitting and knitting and buying Christmas things. The last two days of the month, however, I've been off work sick because URGH stuffed up head and sore throat and I just cannot. I haven't been reading much because urgh head but I have watched a whole load of Gilmore Girls and I'm finally watching The OA (IT IS SO COULD, how have I not watched this earlier, I love Brit Marling!)

Anyway. It hasn't been a super eventful month, and evidently not much blogging has happened, but that's ok, I was just preparing myself for CHRISTMAS MONTH. Let's see what I read in the meantime.

Fat Is A Feminist Issue by Susie Orbach
I went into this expecting a feminist text, and instead I got... Not that. I don't really know how to feel about this book, because it seems like in the 70s/80s, it was probably revolutionary to people that emotions affect your eating (the book mostly looks at solving compulsive eating) but now it really just... isn't. This book also suffers from age, in the sense that self acceptance is such a thing now that the feminist issue IS this book, rather than the way the book approaches the topic. I also only read the first part of the book, as the second part is more of a self help guide to overeaters, which I didn't really feel the need for, personally. For me, fat absolutely is a feminist issue, but not in the way Orbach identifies it, and dammit I want to read the ACTUAL way in which fat is a feminist issue. Someone write THAT book, please.

Manhattan Beach by Jennifer Egan
This book is not A Visit From The Goon Squad, nor, I think, should it be expected to be. This book is, however, the only Egan book other than Goon Squad that I could actually see myself reading again at some point. This is very strange because it's a work of historical fiction (!!!) but it is also the story of a young woman who becomes the first female diver during WWII as well as so many other interlinking, awesome things. I was so enthusiastic about this 400+ page hardback that I carried it around with me and actually missed a bus stop once because I was so busy being absorbed by the world of the story. That is pretty much the reason I read, so yeah, you could say that I liked this book.

Bright Lights Big City by Jay McInerney
This book has a great title, but unfortunately that's pretty much the best thing about it. Firstly, it's written in the second person (EYEROLL). Secondly, the 'you' that you're supposed to be is a whiny, entitled (I assume) white man who has a pretty good job that he just can't get his shit together to actually do. I found it really hard to empathise with his self-pitying, self-sabotaging bullshit, and even though there's a pretext for all of his behaviour that you discover at the end, it was too little too late for me to actually care.

The Universe Versus Alex Woods by Gavin Extence
I was surprised by The Universe Versus Alex Woods, because I wasn't that into it until about 60% through when things took a turn for the assisted suicide and I remembered how much I support that and how emotional old men make me and yeah, it's kind of good, I guess. It's narrated by the titular Alex Woods, who I didn't really like as a character (he's described at some point as being older than his years in intelligence and younger emotionally/in life skills which is pretty much it but I found it annoying because... why?) but I enjoyed his friendships and relationships and generally being in his world. It's not a book I'm going to keep and cherish forever, but I liked it a whole bunch.

I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
I have had Maya Angelou's 6 part biography for the longest time, but have only ever read this, the first book of the collection. I started reading this because, after starting My Struggle by Karl Ove Knaussgard, I feel as though I shouldn't be reading the 'struggles' of a middle class white man before I read about the actual struggles of an African-American woman. Maya has too much grit and class to describe her life as a struggle, though, and even though her childhood was filled with the unimaginable, there is always a sense of positivity to her writing that probably buoyed her through her life. This is one of the last books I read before starting blogging, and it's just as good as I remember- so honest and heartbreaking and the writing is just so good. It's in required reading territory, so if you haven't read it yet, I don't know what you're waiting for.

Gather Together In My Name by Maya Angelou
And so, for reals, I have a goal to finish all 6 parts of Angelou's life story before the end of the year. This is the second part of her life story, and it feels unflinchingly honest, even when it doesn't show Maya in the best possible light. She technically runs a whorehouse, and becomes a prostitute herself to 'save her man' (ick), so you see what I mean by unflinchingly honest. The only thing that is maybe surprising about this book is that Angelou doesn't really ascribe any judgment to some of her more questionable choices, but I guess it's not so surprising when you think of one of her most famous quotations: "I did then what I knew how to do. Now that I know better, I do better.' Maybe judging her past seems pointless when it involves a teenager's decisions, and it's interesting to me in a sense that maybe we shouldn't judge ourselves and our pasts at all, but in fact we should all just 'do better'.

And that was November. I've been working pretty hard at trying to finish Little Women, but that's going to have to be a thing I read in December, along with, I hope, the rest of Angelou's biography. Other than that, I hope that Book Riot are going to have a brand new literary advent calendar for me to enjoy this year, and if not, I shall just have to read A Christmas Carol and watch Elf a whole load of times. What are your December plans, reading or otherwise?