Friday 9 August 2019

Things I Read In July

Well howdy there, friends! Only 9 days into August and I'm wrapping up July, and hasn't all summer felt like that so far? I can honestly barely remember what I did in July at all (I think there was... stuff? And also things) and we're already basically a third of the way through August and... yeah. Have I been doing useful and worthy things? I doubt it! But I have been to my oldest friend's wedding, and also to the Summer Bookshop Crawl in Bath (last weekend, it was ace thanks for asking, yes perhaps I will do a post about it... in October) and also working and sleeping and, you know, all of that good stuff.

But what did I read?
These guys! The strangest thing about July is that I felt like I hardly read anything at all (still facing that Sims addiction, which is somewhat abating now) and yet I still finished 6 books - mad! I'm having trouble at the moment dedicating actual time to reading that isn't travelling time, because it always feels like there's something 'better' to do - this sometimes means The Sims, or TV, or (pertinently!) crafting wedding type things whilst watching TV. This is fine, life is long, etc etc, but I do miss fully dedicating myself to reading so I'm going to try and work on that.

Failing that, I am travelling somewhere for the next 3 out of 4 weekends (at least!) so... there really is plenty of reading time coming up anyway!

Books though - let's talk.

Fear by Bob Woodward - This is Bob Woodward's book about Trump, something which I started reading not long after I finished my Obama book (SO GOOD) and then really had to drag out because, ugh, who wants to spend their spare time reading about Trump? I feel like this was written before Trump's latest, really extremely heinous actions, which only means that is less of a selection of heinous acts for this book to talk about, but still, you know, a lot. What it mostly left me with is a sense of a man who has a complete lack of integrity or intelligence, and whose bottom line is only the economy, regardless of all advice to the contrary that he could, and should be listening to.

Uncommon Type by Tom Hanks - This book starts with a dedication to Hank's wife, and a thank you to Nora Ephron (no, I'm not crying, YOU'RE crying). I think I asked for this last Christmas because I like Tom Hanks and I like short stories, so what could go wrong? Turns out, nothing - this collection was actually so good and interesting and, I thought, gave the kind of insight into regular people that I didn't know movie stars could have (although Tom Hanks is maybe the least movie star-ish of all the movie stars). It was a really good read, and definitely worth your time.

Something New by Lucy Knisley - Why yes, I have already read this this year, and chances are I'll read it again before my wedding. IT IS 'RESEARCH', OK?!

William, An Englishman by Cicely Hamilton -  I get the point of this book - war is futile, English people are stupid and should realllllly learn to speak the language of countries they visit- but I didn't really like it. I didn't find it engaging, really, and mostly I just. Wanted. It. To. Stop. (Probably much like people felt about World War I, which is the backdrop and also main point of this novel). I found it a little too anti-protest for my liking, and just very very grim. Not my fave.

The Girls by Emma Cline - This was also not my fave (maybe this is why I haven't been reading much lately!). This is a novel about a girl who sort of joins a cult but doesn't fully commit to it, and whilst it has its moments (mainly its feminist musings about the forced sexuality of teenage girls) it also has one of those teaser plots that takes the longest time to get to the point, and once it has you... don't really care anymore? It's not terrible by any means, but it's also not a book I would be aching to pick up again, which is a shame because... hippies! Cults! What could go wrong?

Swing Time by Zadie Smith - Zadie Smith is my absolute QUEEN, and bless her heart for saving this reading month. Sort of like The Girls, the novel starts with teasing the ending, but unlike The Girls, it doesn't go on about it for the entirety of the book. Instead, Zadie tells her main character's life story through her friendship with another girl, both with the kinship of being mixed race, but with very very different paths in life. Zadie Smith hasn't disappointed me yet, but this was really just stellar - I still feel now like this actually happened, like both these girls are real, because UGH SO GOOD. Seriously, have you read any Zadie yet? If not, what are you waiting for?!

And that was my month! Looking at it now, I can see that actually I didn't read very much at all - the first two books were finished in the very early days of July, Something New is a comic book so only took a few hours to read, so really throughout the month I read 3 books, so... yeah, that feels right. Ah well, at least there are all these other months to right these wrongs!

Wednesday 17 July 2019

Still Devouring Stephen King: The Outsider

It has now been approximately a thousand years (6 months) since I read The Outsider, but have I ever failed to bring you a Stephen King review? No I have not! I will try and drag from the depths of my memory my feels about this book, so let's see how that goes...

I remember, firstly, being genuinely quite scared by this book. I've found that in a lot of his later work, King doesn't go straight for the scaries, and has been writing more in the crime/thriller genre than what I would classify as pure horror, so to feel genuinely rattled and like things might not be ok was pretty exciting. There were points where I had no idea how our heroes were going to get out of the situations they were in, or how they could possibly survive, and, because it's King, of course not all of the characters live (I think...)

The book starts with a horrific crime against a young boy which seems to have been perpetrated by the local kids' baseball coach - and I say seems to because said coach has an airtight alibi for the day of the crime - he was hundreds of miles away, and there is video evidence of it. So far, so weird, but what I really liked about this book was that although this was the initial tension, around a third (I think?!) of the way through, a big thing happens that completely changes the direction I thought the book was going in and made it so much better.

This book was unexpected in many ways, not least because it brought in Holly Gibney (last seen in King's Mr Mercedes Crime trilogy) to help investigate the case. I'm not going to lie, I just wasn't expecting to see her again, but it was a welcome reunion - I do wonder if King will team up Holly and Ralph Anderson (the police detective in this book) again, cause you know what? I would not hate that.

And so. I can't pretend to remember everything about this novel, but in the immortal words of Maya Angelou, 'people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.' The Outsider, you made me feel scared that some evil force could steal my identity and do a crime as me, nice work you bloody good book, you.

Sunday 14 July 2019

Sunday Sundries - Summer Reading

Summer Reading, had me ablast! Summer Reading, happened so fast!
There are so many things about summer - the long nights, the warm days, the general feeling of wellbeing I get from it - that just make me want to read outside all day long. Unfortunately I work full time and don't have a garden to sit in seclusion and read, but there are always weekends, and there are always parks, ya know?

But what will I be reading this fine summer, I hear you cry? Let's take a look:
Ahaha, what a good picture - can you tell I'm rusty at this blogging thing?! I'm not re-piling them, so this is the photo you're getting, alright?! They are, from top to the bottom:

  • William, An Englishman by Cicely Hamilton (spoiler, I have already finished this and I was not in love with it)
  • Swing Time by Zadie Smith
  • Moominsummer Madness by Tove Jansson (always Moomins, always summer)
  • 4321 by Paul Auster
  • The Establishment by Owen Jones
  • Stuffed and Starved by Raj Patel
  • Save Me The Waltz by Zelda Fitzgerald (token classic, because I try)
  • The Wonder by Emma Donoghue
  • The Girls by Emma Cline (send me your Emmas, I shall read their books)
  • On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong (that title! I'm trying to just shop my shelves at the moment, so almost all of these I've had for a year or more, but... that title!)
  • Voracious by Cara Nicoletti
So really, my summer is shaping up to be amazing - books about food and a giant Paul Auster, books by Emmas and one by an Ocean, plus Moomins and attacks on British Government. What could possibly go wrong?!

What will you/have you been reading this summer?

Monday 1 July 2019

Things I Read In June (and May... AND April........)

Oh hai there internets.

I'm not going to bore you too much with where the f I've been, but if I may just summarise - my computer broke around the time I would have written my 'Things I Read in April' post, which was a traumatic event in itself. It then resurrected at around the same time my friend informed me that I could download The Sims 4 for free, which has lead to about a month long fall down The Sims rabbithole (I have logged many many Sims hours) which has made both reading AND blogging (which, let's face it, I wasn't doing anything like frequently anyway) fall by the wayside a little.

However! I now have a new laptop (my old one died again for real this time a couple of weeks ago, and I'm no expert but is my laptop Jesus?!) which fires up so quickly I could weep, plus The Sims 4 has started to be annoying and glitchy, so dare I say... I'm back, baby! I probably don't, because the OTHER reason for being away for quite so long is that work has been genuinely insane for the past two months, and I don't see THAT changing any time soon, and also I'm me and have no staying power and stuff.

BUT ANYWAY. We still have today, and let me take you on a brief (I promise!) walk through what I've been reading amongst the chaos of my life.

I did read quite a bit in April, but for full disclosure, I read the first 6 books either before or on my birthday (to complete my 100 books from birthday to birthday challenge WHICH I SUCCEEDED AT BTDUBS) so basically as you will see through this post, I have read so little since I turned 30. SIGH *shakes fist at The Sims*.

Highlights of the month:
Difficult Women by Roxane Gay - Honestly this was just a divine collection of short stories from Roxane Gay who has taught me to expect nothing less than perfection from her. I think I pretty much read this book in a day, and it was harrowing and humbling and excellent.

Letter to my Daughter by Maya Angelou - I read this on the eve and morning of my 30th Birthday and I didn't realise it would be when I picked it up but it was the perfect send off to my 20s. Angelou does not have an actual daughter, but millions of women look up to her and this book is for us - it's stories, advice, and it's amazing.

Underground by Haruki Murakami - I didn't know what to expect from Murakami non-fiction, but the answer was a really interesting insight into the Japanese psyche of both the victims and perpetrators (ish) of a gas attack in Tokyo in the 90s. I felt not only better informed about World/Japanese events (did I know there was a gas attack in the 90s? I did not) but just truly intrigued about all of the different aspects of and attitudes to the same event. Would LOVE to read a Murakami book about other acts of terrorism because I'm sure we could all afford to look at things a different way.

Disappointment of the month:
The Power by Naomi Alderman - Alright, look. Almost all book disappointments arise from my own preconceptions of them, but am I alone in wanting The Power to be ABOUT the revolution as opposed to the events that lead up to it? I was disappointed by this because I wanted it to be a different story, essentially, and I truly feel like it could have been much better because the world building here is IMMENSE, but is (I feel) not used as well as it could be. Potentially an unpopular opinion, but it is still mine.

Also Reads:
Hygge - The Danish Art of Happiness by Marie Tourell Soderberg
Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng
The Age of License by Lucy Knisley (re-read)
How To Be Famous by Caitlin Moran
Kid Gloves by Lucy Knisley (re-read)

Ok, so I didn't read that much in May but I can honestly say that I loved every one of the above books. No disappointments at all! (I wish I could say the same for June...) I cried at AT LEAST three of the above, and yet, you know, I can still pick favourites, it's fine.

Highlights of the Month:
In Every Moment We Are Still Alive by Tom Malmquist - Your heavily pregnant wife is rushed to hospital, seriously ill, and within a few weeks you are a new father and a widower. If that sounds like a tearjerker then you must have a human heart, and yes, of course this book had me crying in public, what do you take me for? This is Malmquist's memoir of a really really really hard time, and whilst it is of course moving, I also want to applaud it for not being overly sentimental. He doesn't try to pretend that either he or his partner were perfect, but just that they were together, a unit, and now they are not. If you need a cry, read this, and if you need motivation to just get on with things, also read this.

To Obama by Jeanne Marie Laskas - THIS is a beautiful gem of a book and I want everyone to read it now now now. As President, Barack Obama used to read 10 letters every night to get something of a snapshot of the real America, and this book details the process of how these letters got to him out of the thousands received every day. It reprints many letters received (some of which, predictably, made me cry), as well as following up with the people and families that sent them. It really delves into the importance of a president who actually does listen to the people, as much as they can, and was a stark highlight of everything that has been lost since Obama left office.

The Making of a Marchioness by Frances Hodgson Burnett - The first half of this novel is wonderful. An unassuming, highborn but low fortune lady, who does odd jobs for richer women and genuinely takes pleasure in the tiniest things gets rewarded for her goodness by attracting and marrying a Marquess (I'd say spoiler, but the book is called The Making of a Marchioness!) and everything is fab. The second half is, unfortunately time appropriately racist as an Indian servant is suspected of witchcraft (voodoo?) to try and bring misfortune upon the Marchioness. I don't want to defend it by its age, and I was really uncomfortable reading these parts of it, but (but but) the Marchioness is such a wonderful, aspirational really, character that I had to put this aside a tad. A highlight AND A disappointment, then? I think so.

Also Reads (but also loved):
A Spool of Blue Thread by Anne Tyler
Today Will Be Different by Maria Semple


I have not enjoyed - or at least not wholly enjoyed - many of the books I've read this month, which is a bit of a shame but hey, it happens right? Let's try and find something good about the month...

Highlight of the Month:
Sunset Park by Paul Auster - Ok this was pretty ace, and coming at the end of the month it gives me optimism for future reading (that's a reasonable thing that people have, right?) I don't even know what to tell you about it really, except that it's Paul Auster, and I feel as though he just knows people better than almost any other writer, and writes better than most of them too. The story is held together with pop cultural threads (I believe all the characters watch a movie called The Best Years of Our Lives, which Auster has clearly thought a lot about) and they are just so human and flawed and exploring and trying to be better and just read all of Paul Auster's work and tell me you don't like him, alright?

Disappointment of the Month:
Coin Locker Babies by Ryu Murakami - This book goes under the category of books I should have stopped reading, but didn't. I realised I wanted to stop reading about halfway through, but since I'd already made about a 250 page effort, I didn't want to give up, plus I wanted to get to the point. Turns out, it didn't have one (surprise!) and honestly it felt a lot like the other Ryu Murakami books I've read, except they were way shorter so the disappointment was less. This was weird in an annoying way (as opposed to Haruki Murakami) and jumped all over the place and just in a general sense wasn't very pleasant or fun to read.

Also Reads:
A God in Ruins by Kate Atkinson
Girl Trouble by Carol Dyhouse

THANK YOU, for your efforts if you slogged all the way through that post! I'll try to make the next one just a leeeeetle bit shorter!

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.

Tuesday 12 February 2019

30 Books Before 30: #11 I Am Malala by Malala Yousafzai

Prepare yourselves, good people, for a raft of posts about books-I-don't-really-remember. It's going to be a wild ride for us all as we venture down the hazy fog of my damn memory. Let's get started.

Having said that, I do remember I Am Malala fairly well because of how impressive I found it. I'm not sure what I was expecting, but all I knew about Malala before reading this was that she got shot in the head when she was 15 (and since this happened in Pakistan, I doubt I would have known even that had she not been flown to the UK for treatment) and, you know, I don't have high hopes of teenagers.

This, I soon realised, was foolish. Granted, this book was written 'with' (i.e. by) someone else, but Malala's story is incredibly interesting and important and not very teenager-y at all. The first half of the book, in fact, is quite literally not teenager-y - it essentially tells the story of both the history of Pakistan as well as the history of Malala's family. I thought this was an amazing editorial decision - not only because, as Malala is so young, her family's story is her story, but also because, as an ignorant Western reader, I didn't really have a clear idea of Pakistan's recent political history. I have a much better idea now, but also more importantly, Pakistan's political history is fully pertinent to what happened to Malala.

And then, we get to Malala. Malala, I have to say, is kind of incredible. It's incredible for any person to face death and then come out of it stronger, but Malala's strength had been present long before she was shot in the head - in fact, it's sort of the reason she was. Malala was, in Pakistan, a young advocate of education for women (and, to be fair, everyone, but no one's trying to stop men learning) and it was her speaking out that got her shot in the head. She is a force of nature, really, unwavering in her belief that education rather than war is what the world needs to get better.

I would, then, really very highly recommend this book as a biography and a way to make yourself feel very not-accomplished compared to this amazing teenage activist. This made me feel all activist-y and angry and wanting-to-change-the-world-y, and although I really haven't done that yet (although sometimes being a smug vegan makes me feel that way, at least a bit) you never know what's round the corner!

Sunday 10 February 2019

Sunday Sundries: Let's Talk About Veganism (Baby...)

Good Morning folks, and Happy Sunday!

I spent (half of) my Saturday taking part in the London Bookshop Crawl, which was ace as always, and then the rest of my afternoon and evening blogging and watching Gilmore Girls, which is obviously the best way to spend a day ever ever ever.

Do you want to see the books I bought? What am I even saying, of course you do!
Ah my precious little booksies, how I love them. Hilariously, I didn't intend for this to even lead into my main topic for today, but hey, two of the books I bought were vegan recipe books, isn't that interesting?

Very, I know right?

As you may have guessed, Veganuary went really well. I had consciously been trying to reduce the amount of dairy in my diet for probably 6 months - a year before Veganuary, firstly because I knew I was going to try it out for the month, but also because I had started feeling a bit icky and weird after eating too much dairy (which may have just been the amount of fat I was consuming because you guys, I really really like cheese and also milkshakes). Eggs weren't really an issue for me because I don't really like them and only ever bought them to bake with, but I had already switched to vegan mayo before the start of the month, and I had also already switched to this awesome vegan butter that melts like real butter.

For some reason, in spite of all of the above, I thought this month would be really really difficult and I would die of starvation and all of that kind of rational thinking. Instead, you know what? I pretty much ate what I had previously, just without added cheese. It didn't hurt that literally every restaurant in the UK seemed to have jumped on the Veganuary bandwagon, and were offering beautiful vegan options. My fella and I ate out most weekends and I was always well fed, and I even called our favourite Chinese restaurant to ascertain whether there was egg in their noodles (there was not! Score!) There were only a very few occasions where I struggled a little to find a good vegan option, but even then, there always was one that I could cope with.

There are, of course, a few things I miss. I can basically only have dark chocolate now (although if anyone finds a good milk chocolate like alternative, please let me know) and vegan cheese is... not good, but I have found a vegan nutella that, honestly, tastes like nutella, and have already veganised yorkshire puddings and potato dauphinoise - two things which I haven't even made the animal product versions of. My sister called me the other day and, by the by, told me she was sad that I couldn't have 'normal' chocolate bars anymore and 'what about nutella?' (please see above for what about nutella). When I think about all the things I can't have anymore, I'm reminded of Jonathan Safran Foer's Eating Animals -

"Two Friends are ordering lunch. One says 'I'm in the mood for a burger,' and orders it. The other says 'I'm in the mood for a burger' but remembers that there are things more important to him than what he is in the mood for at any given moment, and orders something else." 

I really really like good chocolate, and I really really like cheese, but oh my god, I really love animals even more than that and I'm just not ok with baby cows being taken from their mothers, or their mothers being kept in a constant state of pregnancy or milking. I'm just not.

But anyway. As a welcome addition to following my own ethical compass (one that, honestly, I've been a ignoring for a while now), I felt amazing while I was eating vegan (possibly only because I was eating way less chocolate/sugar), and more alert and alive than I normally do in the winter for sure! I found that the people around me were accommodating and lovely (my mum is glorious and has gone wild buying all the vegan things she can find!) and that it was honestly so. much. easier. than I was anticipating it being.

So yeah, that's my vegan tale. It's not very dramatic, I just stopped eating a few things and started eating a few other things, but hopefully if this is something you're considering, this will help you to realise that it's perhaps not as intimidating as it might at first appear. I'm not really in the business of convincing other people to do things (bloody hate a preacher) but if this is something you're thinking about please let me know and I'd be happy to help you out and give you advice, if wanted! Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go and eat some pancakes because hey, those can be vegan too! Mmmmmmm, pancakes...

Friday 1 February 2019

Things I Read in January

Well hello there, pals! How are you this fine, freezing February day (ok, night)? I know, I know, I started this year with all the right words and intentions of a recommitment to blogging, but, well, life gets in the way sometimes, you know? I have been, it feels, very very busy and sociable and taking opportunities when they come and just trying to kind of like live as well as get ALL OF THE THINGS done.

And then, well, this happened:
I GOT ENGAGED (and obviously immediately bought [got fiance to buy] a book to work out how to do a wedding cause idk). People like to hear engagement stories, I have discovered, and mine is this - we were on holiday and it was fiancé's birthday, we went for a lovely meal and a (freezing) walk along the seafront, and instead of proposing in either of those places he waited til we were back in our hotel room to awkwardly do it. As we're both pretty awkward bears it felt pretty right, and I couldn't be happier right now!

And couldn't have thought less about blogging since then BUT STILL. Here I am, I am here. Let's get down to January reads - which includes the above book which I somehow forgot to add to my main photo but still read in its entirety within about a day because, you know, me.

Sooooo many books, and, I now realise, so much blog work to do... I'm on it, I swear! (maybe). Let's just talk about the books, shall we?

The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead
This was a 30 before 30 read so I'll discuss it in more detail (ahem... maybe... I actually can barely remember it now, shiiiiiiiiit...) but I can't remember being overly impressed by this? Hence, I suppose, my poor memory of it. Trying to rack my brains for a memory of this book is getting embarrassing now so I'm just going to stop and cobble together a review (LOL) at another point!

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by JK Rowling
Still going strong on re-reading Harry Potter before 30 (as I'm sure you can see!) and yep. This book is still v good. IT'S HARRY POTTER.

Not That Bad: Dispatches from Rape Culture by Roxane Gay (ed.)
In an almost direct contrast to The Underground Railroad, I kind of couldn't stop thinking about this book of essays regarding rape. This was very difficult to read at some points, and left me feeling all outraged and fired up and like I wanted to do something about this shit, which is super rare for me, a lazy person. Although the subject matter is so difficult, I think this book is vital in letting survivors know that they are not alone, that their reaction, whatever it was, is allowed, and for everyone to realise that This Shit Has To Stop.

Also, fuck all those fucking men. (Not literally).

Wild by Cheryl Strayed
Oh, Wild. A re-read for 30 before 30 (so a re-review is coming, I guess!), I had only read this once before but had cherished its memory ever since then. Upon re-reading, it's not at all as I remembered it (and interestingly is now tied into memories of Torch, Strayed's novel, now) but I still pretty much loved it, and gobbled it down. More thoughts to come soon...

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by JK Rowling
Yep. I really couldn't get enough Harry Potter this month. This book is still v good too, in case you were wondering.

The Mothers by Brit Bennett
Another 30 before 30 read! I really liked the way this novel was framed, and actually I just enjoyed it quite a lot - it's a fairly basic story (starts singing 'tale as old as tiiiiiiime') but its framing and also excellent characters make it just that little bit more special. Once again, I will review this eventually, but exactly when remains to be seen mwahahaha.

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by JK Rowling
What can I say? It's another Harry Potter. Also still v good, and possibly still my favourite? Who can say.

The Outsider by Stephen King
See, this is a Stephen King (obviously) so by law I have to fully review it? But.... so much to do. So very much (we'll see). This was actually an incredibly creepy story and I couldn't quite bear to read it when I was alone, which is the best kind of King. I'm relieved to know that all of that King reading hasn't immunised me against being scared of things still, although I could have done without some of the images that this book left me with *shudder*.

Something New by Lucy Knisley
Because I am me, one of the first things I obviously had to do upon becoming engaged was read Lucy Knisley's comic book on planning and executing a wedding. If I'm honest, it's something I have to do quite a lot anyway because it is just SO GOOD, but it felt important to read it at this moment of my life especially. I feel as though it's a useful manual on how not to lose your head (or all your money) over a wedding, and I still just love it ever so much.

Aside: Knisley's new book, on having a bebe, is out THIS MONTH and I couldn't be more excited. I realised yesterday that I would soon be in the month that I would have my hands on new Knisley, and excitedly looked up the release date and... it's basically at the end of the month. SIGH but also hooray!

Rock N Roll Bride by Kat Williams
My guy got amazon vouchers for Christmas and his birthday (I NEVER get amazon vouchers because I am embarrassingly easy to buy presents for) and so when I broadly hinted I would like this book he offered to get it from me out of them (what a peach!) This was pretty good - it has a lot of ideas for the bits and pieces of weddings, as well as good advice and (what might be invaluable for me) a checklist to try and keep everything on track and get everything done before ones wedding day. I also really liked that it's very much like 'you don't have to do all of the usual wedding things! Or any of them! Just do what you want!' plus I also like that there is a section on self care that acknowledges how stressful weddings can be because I feel that in my soul and I haven't really done anything yet! I was less enamoured that Williams seems to have studied at the Barbara Kingsolver school of I-did-this-so-I-don't-acknowledge-a-problem-with-it when it comes to changing one's name after marriage, but she does at least say that as long as you choose it, it's fine, so how can I argue with that?

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by JK Rowling
It. Is. Harry. Potter. Yeah? I do have a comment on this one, actually - I felt like I was more sympathetic towards Harry's angst this time around, and I don't know you guys, I feel like this book is really growing on me. GIMME ALL THE POTTER PLS.

So yea, January! It was quite the month, life wise, and I did not slack off on the reading, either! Do your worst, February...

Sunday 13 January 2019

Sunday Sundries: Apparently I'm Still Here?!

Happy Sunday everyone! I can never really tell if I'm happy or sad that it's Sunday, but I guess a switch comes somewhere in the middle of the day when I realise that I actually do have to go to work tomorrow, but it's about 4.30pm now and I'm still feeling pretty ok so that is fine with me!
I feel as though I stopped doing Sunday Sundries posts, actually mainly because I got out of the routine of blogging, but also because, *whispers* my life isn't really interesting enough to talk about. I say that, although one of my favourite things to read on the internet at the moment are money diaries, which is where people log all of their spending for the week (duh) but also jut generally talk about their lives and what's going on with those and I am always here for it! So maybe not so boring, but still... But still...

My most notable thing of this week is that I had a hospital appointment on Thursday, which in itself was not notable but it did mean that I worked from home for the rest of the day, and also the next day. I. Love. Working. From. Home. I can't overstate how much I enjoy avoiding the morning commute (and mine is quite nice!), or being able to have like a freshly cooked hot meal for lunch, or being, like, right at home when work is finished. It's just so good, and it's such a new privilege for me (I have only been able to do it since November) that it still feels like a treat AND I still feel kind of bad about it. Like, I told the doctor at the hospital that I was going to work from home after our appointment and she looked so sad and I tried to be comforting but maybe just ended up as smug (I should have told her not to worry, she earns WAY more than me anyway).

Anyway, they couldn't even do the thing they were going to do, so I'll have to go back, and then I'll have to work from home again, so... silver linings, you know?

This weekend has been a bit of a quiet one - I went up to London with my boyfriend quite literally just to go to this vegan diner (Temple of Seitan, look into it) and also to procure vegan doughnuts from Doughnut Time, so you can't say I'm not living my best life. The rest of the afternoon/evening was spent watching Futurama and then Luther (about which I have thoughts), and then today I have mainly been cleaning and reading and going for a walk and reading and I am about to make a yummy dinner and also there will probably be more reading. I have finished 3 books in the last 3 days you guys and I am on a roll - I have a goal to read 100 books between birthdays (the first time I have had a goal like this because it normally makes me want to never read again) and I now need to read 30 books in 85 days which at this pace seems do-able? We shall see!

This post mainly tells me I need to lead a more interesting life so I will work on that for y'all. I have a week off next week (which could explain why I don't feel so bereft this Sunday, so whilst this week coming will be business as usual, the week after might involve something a bit more interesting. But, then again, it might not because this is me we're talking about. ANYWAY - I hope you all have amazing weeks, and let me know about your boring boring lives too, please! 

Tuesday 8 January 2019

30 Books Before 30: #10 Pachinko by Min Jin Lee

Pachinko is another book that I read ages ago now and so pretty much have to rack my brains to review. Bear with me, it's going to be... Interesting.

Pachinko is a really ambitious and wide ranging novel, covering 4 generations of one family spanning across two different countries. It's a love story and a poverty story, a story about mothers and children and a story about men and the choices they make. It spans quite a large time period too, I want to say most of the 20th Century, and it's so odd to me that I can hate historical fiction that takes place in, say, the UK, but looove historical fiction that takes place in other countries. I suppose, not really knowing the history of these countries, to me it feels more like history than fiction, which is maybe not a good thing!

Speaking of history though - I feel like (actually, know) there is so much I don't know about the world, and this book just revealed my ignorance on the history of Korea and Japan. Like, did you know that there is serious beef between the countries? And, when a country is as powerful as Japan certainly was, and kind of still is, that pretty much equates to the squashing and suppression of an entire group of people, i.e. Koreans in Japan. Koreans had to register as citizens every year on their birthdays, for example, and were passed over for the best jobs, homes etc etc for their heritage, even if they were born in Japan and/or grew up speaking only Japanese. I like Japan a lot because of their current policy of non-engagement in conflict (because of the horrors of Hiroshima, pretty much) but it's worth remembering that they haven't always been the kawaii nation that they now kind of are (in my brain).

Pachinko, then, is the story of one Korean family's struggles against their Japanese oppressors and their attempts to just live a life and not have to take too much shit. The story begins when a Korean woman is seduced by an older man who gets her pregnant, and a travelling minister offers to marry her and raise her child with her as his own. The story of this, and of her child and his later struggles, is at the centre of the narrative, but I wouldn't necessarily say it's the most important - practically all members of this family get their say at one point of the novel, and they all have a unique and interesting perspective on their world.

Basically this was huge and interesting and I feel much better informed about Japanese-Korean relations than I ever have been before (in that I am informed at all). I wish I hadn't read it so long ago so that I could tell you more interesting things about it, but alas I am terrible and terribly behind in reviews. I was very engaged by this though, and even though it's quite a big book I still felt it was worth carrying around with me, so for whatever that's worth, that's how I felt about it. Read it, it is good.

Sunday 6 January 2019

Sunday Sundries

Hey guys! Welcome to the first weekend of the year (which is tragically nearly over, for me at least) and welcome back to Sunday Sundries!
I'm fairly certain this is one of those optimistic, start of year, yay I can blog type of things and your regular tumbleweed blogging style will start again soon, but in the spirit of optimistic start of year things, let's pretend I'm going to do this every week! Or most weeks... or, you know, once a month or something...

To kick start me off, though, I'm going to hark back to old faithful, the bread and butter of Sunday Sundries posts, because I think it'll be fun to look back and see what I was up to on the first weekend of the year. Get excited, because I am doing some STUFF at the moment!

Right now, I am...

Listening to: I am terrible and still basically only have Christmas music on my phone, and also terrible because I don't subscribe to any kind of music streaming things and stuff. Today, I went on a giant walk and listened to an episode of The Babysitter's Club Club podcast, and then to the first half of Hamilton, and you know what, my ears were pretty happy with that!

Reading: I just finished Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets today, so I'll soon be starting with Prisoner of Azkaban, since my 30th Birthday present to myself is reading all of Harry Potter again (see also, wine). I also started Not That Bad: Dispatches from Rape Culture which is an essay collection edited by Roxane Gay and which so far has made me furious but which is also so well written and ugh. Excited/terrified to read more of it, I guess.

Eating: Vegan! So I'm taking part in Veganuary which is an annual push to get people to try and eat vegan for a month. I'm 6 days in and I honestly haven't found it too difficult so far, although I will say that it is proving a bit of a challenge finding good vegan chocolate but that doesn't mean I'm going to stop trying! I feel like I will probably write a longer Sunday Sundries post about this because I'm having lots of feelings at the moment (mainly, why haven't I done this before?!) but I am loving trying new ways of making my favourites (hot chocolate is best made with oat milk and a little splash of maple syrup at the end, you are welcome).

Watching: Along with the rest of the world/internet, I have been watching Tidying Up with Marie Kondo on Netflix, and I've managed to watch the whole thing from Friday night to now. Firstly, I LOVE HER, she's so precious, but also, like, ok. So, I don't think I talk about it ever or have really acknowledged it until recently but I actually really like being organised and having systems in place to make life easier, so the KonMari method delights me, and it especially delights me when Marie recommends a thing that I already do. Still, one can always improve and so a significant part of this weekend has been spent refolding things and throwing a few things away and YAY ORGANISING! Ahem... This might need its own Sunday Sundries post too, just saying...

Making: You mean, making my house beautiful and organised isn't enough?! Honestly apart from food I haven't really been making too much recently, although crafts are sort of my happy place so I should really rectify that. I also have to ("have to") make two more beautiful things before I'm 30 (as per my 30 before 30 list) and so yes, I should definitely get on it. Any ideas on a postcard please!

Planning: I'm planning a few things at the moment, actually. Firstly there's a trip in a couple of weeks with my fella to the seaside for his birthday (although really that's already planned!), and then also I am planning to join a gym (egads!) because one near me has kickboxing classes and for some reason that really appeals! I have only held off because it's January and EYEROLL everyone is joining the gym right now, but... eh, why let that stop me?! Exactly. I'm also planning in my head for our spring/summer trip abroad, but that one might have to wait for a couple more paydays!

Feeling: Honestly, really really good at the moment. I can't work out if it's because I'm eating well(ish), or because I'm getting outside more, or because I feel like my brain has awoken from hibernation a bit, but I am feeling generally pretty good at the moment!

Loving: Kind of all of the above, really?! I am loving organising things, and eating vegan (I think it feels easier because I've wanted to do it for a really long time), and having plans and just generally life at the moment is being very kind to me. And long may it continue!

Wanting: My holiday to hurry up and get here (after three days back at work LOL) and just generally to plan lots of lovely things I can do with my days and evenings and all of those good times.

Thinking: At this very moment it's about rape culture and what the fuck is up with that, and in a wider sense I'm thinking more about my job and my life and what I really want to do with both things. I think this ALSO deserves its own blog post, but I've been feeling a lot about either doing something that is more interesting and satisfying, OR being ok with the job I have and not letting my job be my whole life. I'm not sure which path I'm going to take, but it's something to think about for sure.

Looking forward to: my January holiday, my summer holiday (as yet unbooked), trying to spend lots of time with people I love this year, going to get vegan burgers next weekend, and just generally trying to live as full a life as possible. Let's do this thing!

How about you? What's new with you?

Tuesday 1 January 2019

Things I Read in December

HAPPY 2019 FOLKS! I'm calling that a wrap on 2018, a year that, I think, started better than it ended, and which I am not at all sad to see the back of. Onwards and upwards and time to face being 30 with a shaky smile and a terror in my heart (or something slightly less dramatic, maybe).

December was, as always, Christmas month, so there were many traditions to adhere to and events to attend. For me, it was also a month where I felt poorly for lots of it, as well as just a little... bleh, maybe? Still, there was CHRISTMAS and I haven't been to work for days and days and days so who can complain?! Not I.

Books wise, there was reading indeed! Annoyingly, in November I convinced my boyfriend to buy me this literary Christmas Anthology (he's the best) but I ended up reading not very much of it when I had intended to read a little each day in December - sad face! Do you want to see what I did read, though? Of course you do:
Ah, my little loves. Here are my thoughts:

I Am Malala by Malala Yousafzai
Yet another 30 Before 30 read, this is Malala's autobiography (kind of, it's written with someone). Although I loved Malala from afar before, I didn't really know what she'd done, and so this book was both a revelation and really super interesting in that it taught me a lot about the history of Pakistan that I didn't know before. I'm not going to say too much more because I'm going to review it properly, but it's definitely worth a read if you want to know more about Malala's mission the it's definitely worth a read.

Making Conversation by Christine Longford
This is, I think, the first Persephone book I've read that I haven't been crazy about. It's kind of a coming of age story about a teenager who can't really bear pointless conversation - and whilst I can relate, I couldn't really get behind the kind of teenage superiority of the story's protagonist. I think it does exactly what it tries to do, it just kind of bugged me as it did so.

The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas
I spent the majority of December reading The Count of Monte Cristo (or so it felt) - forget decking the halls and watching Christmas films and all that jazz, I basically just constantly read The Count of Monte Cristo, but I finished the bugger! I actually had a lot of fun reading it so it didn't feel like a chore at all, and once again it's one I'm going to properly review so watch this space!

Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone by JK Rowling
Ah, Harry Potter. Due to my aforementioned feelings of meh in December, I felt the need to self-soothe and of course I chose to do that with Harry Potter. I mean, what can I say about Harry Potter that hasn't already been said? Not much, only that in this reading, I couldn't stop noticing all of the parts that relate to later parts of the series - oh JK, you wily minx.

I have also decided that I want to re-read all the Harry Potter's before I'm 30 too, so expect to see more of these in the monthly wrap ups to come!

Christmas Comes to Moominvalley by Tove Jansson
This was a Christmas present from my lovely boyfriend, and I decided that of course I had to read it on Christmas Day evening. It's lovely, of course, although I felt very slightly cheated as this is Jansson's story The Fir Tree, but dressed up with bigger illustrations. Still, it's Moomins and it's Christmas so can I complain? I cannot.

My Mum Tracy Beaker by Jacqueline Wilson
My sister and I decided to do Jolabokaflod this year (i.e. we gave each other a book on Christmas Eve) and this is the book she got me - PURE nostalgia, as Jacqueline Wilson was my favourite author when I was little, and Tracy Beaker, whilst not my favourite character, is probably her most famous. In this, Tracy is all grown up with a daughter of her own and honestly this book was pure joy - I read it throughout Christmas Eve and Boxing Day (and a little on Christmas Day) and it didn't take too much work but was delightful (albeit kind of angsty, as is Jacqueline Wilson's way!) Good stuff, if you like that kind of thing.

They Were Sisters by Dorothy Whipple
My last read of the year was really very different to what I was expecting. I've just had a little shock to my brain that I read this over just three days (I really use the Christmas holiday to read) because it felt like longer, but that's maybe just because the story was so traumatic it felt like it was on my mind all the time! This book is about three sisters - one of them was caretaker of the other two after their mother died, and is the sister doing the best - one of the others has a seriously emotionally abusive husband and the other is used to being a pretty ornament but has quite literally no character at all. This novel is about their trials and tribulations (of which there are MANY) and there is a bit with a dog that I simply can't talk about. It was not a christmassy read AT ALL (not that it needed to be!) but it was a very good one.

And, for the edification of the Court (and because I did it last year and really enjoyed it!) my favourite books of the month for the year:

Shrill by Lindy West


Talk Talk by T C Boyle

Eat Up! by Ruby Tandoh

The Home-Maker by Dorothy Canfield-Fisher

Hamilton: The Revolution by Lin-Manuel Miranda and Jeremy McCarter

My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante

A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara

Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff

It by Stephen King (Always)

When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi

Commonwealth by Ann Patchett

The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas

And that's a real real wrap on 2018 - onto the reads of 2019!