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!